The Philosophy of Law in The Writings of Augustine
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The Christian theologian and bishop of Hippo, Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus), was born in A.D. 354 to a non-Christian father and a Christian mother in that part of Roman North Africa that is today Algeria. Despite his mother’s efforts Augustine initially found her religion uncongenial and intellectually unsophisticated. He received an education typical of ambitious, provincial Romans, becoming a student of Latin rhetoric in Carthage before he left for Rome in 383, whereafter he became a teacher of rhetoric in Milan. As had been the case during the last century of the Roman Republic, to be skilled in oratory with its uses in legal practice and local governance could lead to a civil service posting. During the late Roman Empire Augustine had considered such a career option. He had friends and contemporaries with whom he corresponded throughout his life who had chosen this path. As this chapter will show, Augustine’s familiarity with the intricacies of contemporary Roman law had important consequences for his own political theory where he expressed his views not only on what politics was for but also on the compatibility of Christianity and politics.