The Hortensius was a ‘protreptic’ dialogue written by Cicero. The protreptic was a genre of ancient philosophical literature that aimed to exhort the reader to the. One of the most extensive resources on the internet for the study of early Christianity. “Augustine on how he was influenced by reading Cicero’s Hortensius”. Hortensius or On Philosophy is a lost dialogue written by Marcus Tullius Cicero in the year 45 BC. The work had followed the conventional form of a protreptic.

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The writings of Cicero hindered Augustine, and then helped him. The classical Roman writer and politician, Cicero BCwas a twofold influence on the young Augustine. In reading Cicero, Augustine first lost his interest in taking up the Christian faith, but years later was still influenced by Ciceronian thought patterns hortfnsius writing style. But later, through a love of wisdom in him that was inspired by Cicero, Augustine was attracted back to the Christian faith and to baptism by an inner calling that finally he could no longer resist.

The influence of Cicero then pervaded in both the thought and Latin writing style of Augustine until the day he died.

Augustine received his early education in Thagaste and then in nearby Madaura, studying especially cidero the persuasive use of language and Latin literature. He learned to read by studying the Roman poet Virgil BCand he learned to speak well by studying the Roman orator and politician, Cicero BC. In Carthage at about the age of nineteen Augustine fell in love with the concept of wisdom through reading the works of Cicero.


Indeed, it was a turning point in which his heart was changed profoundly: The Hortensius also counselled against the pursuit of sensual pleasure because it distracted a person from the discipline of thought. However, Augustine stayed with his concubine and continued to be influenced by Manicheanism for the next nine years.

Even so, he began to question deeply the meaning of evil and the power of sin. Classical scholars identify the influence of Cicero – some would go further to say the emulation of Cicero – in some cidero the writing style of Augustine, and in his choice of writing topics.

Through his writings Cicero, who lived four centuries before Augustine, was a mentor to Augustine. Since the writings of Cicero who had died centuries earlier in the year 43 BC made no mention of Christ whom Augustine had heard of as a boy, he decided to compare the wisdom of Cicero to the Christian Hprtensius.

In comparison with the writings of Cicero, however, Augustine in his adolescence found the Latin quality of the Scriptures very disappointing. In later hortensus that time of his life, Augustine said: During his time of growing up and early adulthood, Augustine had decisively departed from the Christian teachings concerning truth and morality that he had received as a youth.

Yet this same very search for truth and wisdom led him to seek Christian baptism a dozen years later. hotrensius


Through all of the years of spiritual unease “restlessness” up to the time of the conversion of Augustine to the Christian religion, Cicero would remain the one master from whom the young African learned the most. Coninued on the next page. For the Augnet photo gallery containing images of the Philippines including those on this pageclick her e.


Augustine became great admirer of Cicero, acknowledging him as “the greatest master of Roman eloquence. A full copy of Hortensius no longer exists, but there are fragments or quotations of it quoted in later works – of which sixteen are in Augustine’s writings.

Hortensius (Cicero)

The book was a protreptic; in other words, it was a treatise designed to inspire in the reader an enthusiasm for the discipline of philosophy. It had probably been used as an introductory manual or text book for the philosophy that Augustine was being taught.

On reading Hortensius by Cicero, a strong desire for true wisdom was awakened in Augustine. When he read this book, he tells us, “My spirit was filled with an extraordinary desire for the eternal qualities of wisdom I was on fire then, my God, I was on fire to leave created things behind and fly back to you, nor did I know what you would do with me; for with you is wisdom.

But that book filled me with the love of wisdom which is called philosophy in Greek. As Augustine later realised, the Hortensius taught him “to love wisdom itself, whatever it might be, and to search for it, pursue it, hold it, and embrace it firmly.