This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.
City of God 5.1–12.
5.1–3. Augustine claims that he will begin to discuss why the Roman state was so successful. He has spent the last four books explaining why one should not attribute Roman success to the gods. It seems that he realizes at the beginning of book five that he left out an important bit. He launches into a refutation of astrology so that his reader will not attribute Roman success to destiny. An explanation of the real foundations of Roman success will have to wait.
“Destiny” as determined by the stars cannot explain the events of history. Augustine argues his point by examining how the Stoics, and others, tried to explain away the different experiences of twins. Even though he has trouble moving on to the main point of book five, I enjoy these passages in which Augustine talks through the absurdity of astrology. Astrology had a fairly serious reputation in ancient Rome.