Saturday, 21 March 2015

Michael Pilarski: Nebridius, Friend of St. Augustine

My communication deals with Nebridius, a friend of St. Augustine who grew up in the vicinity of Carthage. He is mentioned several times in the Confessions. Additionally, he has exchanged letters with Augustine. Of this correspondence, twelve letters are still extant.
Based on these two sources, I will first give an overview of Nebridius' life. Then I will discuss a couple of problematic aspects of his biography in detail. Thereby, I will focus on the turning points of his life, some of which are difficult to understand: Why did he follow Augustine to Milan? When did he decide to become a Christian? When and why did he go back to Africa? Trying to clarify these issues I will open the field for two more general questions.
Firstly, I will have to discuss the value of the Confessions as a historical source. In particular, I will consider whether the central figures in the Confessions are idealised in order to fit into Augustine's interpretation of his own life before his baptism.
Secondly, having tried to discover much more about Nebridius than what the sources are explicitly offering, I will ponder on the limits of my own work: In order to fathom a rather marginal personality of the fourth century, how much speculation is sensible?

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