Volume 21, 2018
Augustine’s Concupiscent Table
In his biography on Augustine, Possidius writes: “His table was frugal and sparing, though indeed with the herbs and lentils he also had meats at times for the sake of his guests or for some of the weaker brethren”.1 Given the importance of friendship in Augustine’s life, it is not surprising that he ate meat for the sake of others and not for his own pleasures. However, Augustine spends much time in Book X of his Confessions obsessing over his delight in everyday activities, including eating2. Indeed, Augustine examines the relationship between desire and the object of desire throughout the Confessions, his ultimate focus being on the nature of our concupiscent hearts. In this paper, I will explore Augustine’s seemingly unhealthy relationship with food by discussing the place of food in his eschatology, his account of concupiscence and will, and his theory of interiority as given in the Confessions. Ultimately, for Augustine, there is a beauty to eating that is found in its relationship to the sensual experience of God.