21. But what was it that prompted me, O Lord my God, to
dedicate these books to Hierius, an orator of Rome, whom I knew not
by sight, but loved the man for the fame of his learning, for which he
was renowned, and some words of his which I had heard, and which had
But the more did he please me in that he pleased others, who highly
extolled him, astonished that a native of Syria, instructed first in
Greek eloquence, should afterwards become a wonderful Latin orator,
and one so well versed in studies pertaining unto wisdom. Thus a man
is commended and loved when absent.
Doth this love enter into the heart of the hearer from the mouth of the
commender? Not so. But through one who loveth is another inflamed.
For hence he is loved who is commended when the commender is believed
to praise him with an unfeigned heart; that is, when he that loves him
22. Thus, then, loved I men upon the judgment of men, not upon
Thine, O my God, in which no man is deceived. But yet why not as
the renowned charioteer, as the huntsman? known far and wide by a
vulgar popularity but far otherwise, and seriously, and so as I
would desire to be myself commended?
For I would not that they should commend and love me as actors are,
- although I myself did commend and love them, but I would
prefer being unknown than so known, and even being hated than so
loved. Where now are these influences of such various and divers kinds
of loves distributed in one soul?
What is it that I am in love with in another, which, if I did not
hate, I should not detest and repel from myself, seeing we are
equally men? For it does not follow that because a good horse is loved
by him who would not, though he might, be that horse, the same should
therefore be affirmed by an actor, who partakes of our nature. Do I
then love in a man that which I, who am a man, hate to be? Man
himself is a great deep, whose very hairs Thou numberest, O Lord,
and they fall not to the ground without Thee? And yet are the hairs
of his head more readily numbered than are his affections and the
movements of his heart.
23. But that orator was of the kind that I so loved as I wished
myself to be such a one; and I erred through an inflated pride, and
was "carried about with every wind," but yet was piloted by Thee,
though very secretly. And whence know I, and whence confidently
confess I unto Thee that I loved him more because of the love of
those who praised him, than for the very things for which they praised
him? Because had he been upraised, and these self-same men had
dispraised him, and with dispraise and scorn told the same things of
him, I should never have been so inflamed and provoked to love him.
And yet the things had not been different, nor he himself different,
but only the affections of the narrators. See where lieth the impotent
soul that is not yet sustained by the solidity of truth! Just as the
blasts of tongues blow from the breasts of conjecturers, so is it
tossed this way and that, driven forward and backward, and the light
is obscured to it and the truth not perceived. And behold it is before
us. And to me it was a great matter that my style and studies should
be known to that man; the which if he approved, I were the more
stimulated, but if he disapproved, this vain heart of mine, void of
Thy solidity, had been offended. And yet that "fair and fit,"
about which wrote to him, I reflected on with pleasure, and
contemplated it, and admired it, though none joined me in doing so.