Augustine Built the Medieval World With the Help of His Mother, Concubine, Empress, and 10-Year-Old Fiancé

History Unplugged Podcast

Apr 25 2023 • 51 mins

Saint Augustine of Hippo is one of the most important figures of the Latin Middle Ages, and his writings have shaped Western thought on marriage and sexuality. However, few have considered the deeply influential role of the women in his life and how they shaped his thinking. Drawing on how Augustine’s presents them in his startlingly intimate memoir, Confessions, it becomes clear that this canonical Western is not only arguably the first autobiography; it offers a rare account of the Classical World through the eyes of women. Today’s guest is Kate Cooper, author of Queens of a Fallen World, a book that explores the troubled world of the waning Roman Empire through the lens of four prominent women whose lives were chronicled in Saint Augustine of Hippo’s startlingly intimate memoir, Confessions — Justina, the troubled empress of ancient Rome; Tacita, the ten-year-old Milanese heiress from whom Augustine broke his engagement, irrevocably altering the course of both their lives; Monica of Thagaste, Augustine’s mother; and Una, Augustine’s mistress, companion of fifteen years and mother to his illegitimate son. It'sa story of not only Augustine, but, more broadly, the role of women in Antiquity.

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