True Fire: Saint Augustine in an Age of Crisis

Our exclusive event for legators, by invitation only

We are delighted to invite our legators to an upcoming online talk by Bart van Es, Pro-Master and Professor of English at St Catherine’s College. Bart is the author of several books on Shakespeare and Spenser, and in 2019 his biography of a holocaust survivor, The Cut Out Girl, won the Costa Book of the Year. His next book, True Fire, about St Augustine, will be released next year.

True Fire: Saint Augustine in an Age of Crisis

How does crisis change us? In 384ad Augustine was an ambitious young Professor of Rhetoric in Milan, a city with excellent transport connections, clean running water, public baths, sports teams, and theatres. He was unmarried and lived with his partner and teenage son and had a passion for literature, philosophy, and public debate. On the surface at least, the Roman empire that he was born into—which stretched from Spain to modern Iran and from Britain to his native Africa—felt like our world today.

When Augustine died in 430ad he was bishop of Hippo in North Africa. By then, the whole of the western empire had fallen and his own city was now besieged by the Vandals, who would conquer and burn it a few months after his death. The world of paganism had also all but vanished.

In True Fire, Bart van Es examines how a world in crisis transformed Augustine and how he, in turn, transformed our world. Under the pressures of his age, Augustine originated a new understanding of time itself; was the first to formulate Just War Theory; invented the genres of autobiography and soliloquy; and created the doctrine of Original Sin.

Drawing parallels with crises today including climate change, border wars, migration, and political extremism, Bart van Es examines our own moment through the lens of history. Already contracted in 7 different languages, True Fire will show why Saint Augustine—far from being a distant figure—is starkly relevant to our own troubled century.

Please find the booking link for this special event below – we hope you can join us!


18 September, 2024




On Zoom

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