Augustine's devoutly Catholic mother. She accompanied him on many of his moves from city to city, spending time with him not only in Thagaste but also in Carthage, Milan, and Ostia. Augustine gives great credit to Monica for being God's instrument for his own salvation; although she postponed his baptism as a child (feeling he wasn't ready), she never stopped encouraging him to convert to Catholicism. A number of visions are associated with Monica in the Confessions.The most significant is the vision of "eternal wisdom" that she and Augustine share in Ostia (Book 9).


Augustine's pagan father. In spite of being married to the devoutly Catholic Monica, Patrick remains a pagan until he is baptised into Catholicism on his deathbed.


Cicero is the author of the Hortensiusa treatise in defense of the pursuit of philosophy. Reading the work at age eighteen, Augustine gets his first urges to give up his indulgent lifestyle and devote himself to the pursuit of truth (although this will take quite a while).

The Manichees

Followers of a sect whose doctrine Augustine encounters and during his studies in Carthage. Augustine spends nearly ten years as a strong believer in Manichee doctrine, until rational philosophy and astronomy persuade him that the colorful Manichee cosmology is false.


Augustine meets Faustus, a highly respected Manichee, during his time as a teacher in Carthage. Faustus impresses Augustine with his modesty, but disappoints him by using loquacious language and by failing to answer Augustine's challenges to the Manichee cosmology. The meeting pushes Augustine further from Manichee beliefs.


Ambrose was the Catholic Bishop at Milan. He is, along with Monica, one of the people most directly responsible for Augustine's conversion. Ambrose's interpretation of the bible (particularly the Old Testament) had an immense influence on Augustine, who had previously been put off by its simple and apparently literal language. Ambrose interprets the scriptures in a much more abstract, spiritual sense--an approach which allowed Augustine to overcome Manichee objections to specific phrases in the text. Ambrose baptized Augustine alongside Adeodatus and Alypius.


One of Augustine's close friends in Milan, Nebridius accompanies Augustine and Alypius in their philosophical struggles. He also joins Augustine in his decision to convert.


Augustine's closest friend and philosophical companion at Milan. It is during a conversation with Alypius that Augustine becomes enraged at himself, storms out into the garden, and has his conversion experience. Alypius joins him in conversion and in baptism.


Augustine's son by his long-term concubine. Adeodatus dies at age seventeen, two years after he is baptized alongside his father and Alypius.


Greek philosopher who lived from c. 427-347 BCE and progenitor of philosophy of Platonism. Plato's philosophy in Meno and other dialogues influences Augustine's conception of memory. Plato believed that learning is a kind of remembering, in which the soul rediscovers a truth it knew before birth. Augustine's early insistence on philosophy as the most noble pursuit in life comes partly from Cicero, who is heavily influenced by Plato's similar claim. Augustine also follows Plato in refusing to claim to know how the soul is joined to the body at or before birth.