St. Augustine’s City of God is my white whale. I have tried and tried and tried to finish this book, which I love and which I happily declare a masterpiece. But. It’s. So. Long. Every few months to a year I pick it up again and have to go back to the beginning to get back into it because I completely forget where I have left off. I think I’ve read Book I maybe 12-15 times now. I’ve read a lot of books of not-inconsequential length before, but this one somehow just slays me every time.
One of my enduring delights about City of God–despite being trapped in it like Groundhog Day–is St. Augustine’s ambivalent approach to the Roman gods. It’s an ambivalence that I’ve shared for a long time, primarily thanks to reading a lot of fantasy literature as a kid. Reading classics and especially medieval stuff like Ariosto has strongly reinforced it. We may summarize the whole problem by taking a sharp left turn and considering a dinner-table conversation in my house.
“Dad,” sayeth the heir. “Are the Greek gods real?”
Respondit the father, “Uh….” Continue reading Read More: City of God