Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Augustus's Confessions

While reading Augustus's "Confessions," I noticed that he discussed how people enjoy watching others suffer. He writes, "Yet the spectator does want to feel sorrow, and it is actually his feeling of sorrow that he enjoys." (page 909) I thought this was an interesting and somewhat accurate observation of humankind. Augustus asserts that if a spectator cries because of a tragedy, he is satisfied and believes the show was effective, whereas if no emotion is evoked, he is left feeling disappointed. I think, to a certain extent, that Augustus's observation holds true today. For example, dramatic movies and plays that evoke emotion are usually regarded as better than those that do not. This ties into Aristotle's definition of tragedy as a genre that must elicit pity and fear from the audience, as well as generate a catharsis. Augustus comments on pity and fear in his "Confessions" as well: "Now when a man suffers himself it is called misery; when he suffers in the suffering of another, it is called pity."


Samantha said...

I also thought it was interesting how Augustine discusses the elements of pity and fear. In this manner, "Confessions" links to the ancient world as this idea emanates from Aristotle. In addition, as I read "Confessions," I noticed many similarities between Augustine and James Joyce's Stephen Dedalus. Both men possess similar childhoods and suffer from debilitating obsessions with lust. Therefore, "Confessions" also links to modern literature.

Blaine said...

I agree with you Samantha. I too found a definite similarity between Stephen Dedalus and Augustine. Both writings portray the childhood of Steven and Augustine and end with a spiritual growth. Both experience an astronomical amount of lust during their teenage years and once they eventually mature, they realize their the evils of lust and sin in general.