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Augustinian Studies

Volume 51, Issue 1, 2020

Doug Clapp
Pages 79-98

The Challenge of Augustine’s Epistula 151

Epistula 151 shows Augustine trying to exert pressure on a high-ranking imperial official from his position outside of the senatorial elite. The aristocrat Caecilianus had written a letter, now lost, chastising Augustine for his lack of correspondence. Augustine’s reply begins and ends according to typical epistolary conventions. The heart of the letter, however, narrates Augustine’s harrowing experience of the arrest and execution of the brothers Marcellinus and Apringius by the imperial commander Marinus. The profound spiritual contrast between villain and victims has the potential to damage Caecilianus’s reputation, forcing him into a corner. He can only agree with Augustine and act accordingly.

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