But his teen years were far less dramatic than later descriptions have portrayed it. This is true even in the matter of his sexual exploits. He did have a concubine and an illegitimate son, but in Roman times the story of Augustine was far more moderate than that in many other biographies. Even so, from adolescence to the age of thirty two years Augustine frequently lost in the battle with his sexual passions. His struggle with sex began in Thagaste his home town. He later wrote that it was at the age of sixteen years that "passion gripped me and I surrendered myself entirely to sex."
At sixteen, he had come home from school at nearby Madaura. Unfortunately he had too much time on his hands. He waited for a year while Patricius, his father, tried to raise money to send him to the final stage of schooling at Carthage. Both his parents were aware that he was "floundering in the broiling sea of … sexual immorality," but each responded differently. Augustine noted in his Confessions that his father was delighted when at the public baths he noticed that Augustine had developed the body of an adult.
Thus is was that his father, who himself broke the vows of his marriage, was amused at the budding sexual interests of his son.The prospect of grandchildren appealed to Patricius, regardless of whether or not the children were legitimate. Monica, the mother of Augustine, faced a problem. She did not suggest marriage for quelling the sexual fires. Yet she feared that a hurried marriage would hinder the career opportunities of her talented son.
At the same time, however, she earnestly warned him about his lack of sexual restraint. When she told him, "above all [do] not seduce any woman who is a wife," Augustine laughed at her advice. As a student eighteen years of age at Carthage, Augustine formed a sexual relationship with a woman, and they became parents to a son they named Adeodatus.
As much as rhetorically Augustine in his Confessions portrayed himself as a libertine, he was faithful to this one woman in a de facto relationship that lasted a dozen years. The relationship was finally broken quite reluctantly so that Augustine could begin approaching somebody of his own social standing that he might marry.
Video: Augustine Growing Up A lecture by the late Fr George Lawless OSA at Villanova University, USA. He was an Augustinian scholar until his death on 9 March 2018. (YouTube, one hour in duration).
Augustine arrived in Carthage in the year 370 at seventeen years of age to complete his education. He arrived with the dream of becoming a famous speaker or a government official. When, however, he encountered the writings of the famous pagan writer Cicero, he switched his goal to seeking "the wisdom of eternal truth." [Confessions 3, 4, 7-8] It is clear from his account of effect of Cicero upon him that his passion was not for philosophy as often understood today, i.e. an academic, largely argument-oriented conceptual discipline.
Rather, philosophy for Augustine was centred on what is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "the problem of evil." For Augustine still in late adolescence, this problem was of an existential nature. It was the issue of how to make sense of and to live within a world that seemed so adversarial and filled with inconsistencies. How did a person best survive in a world in which so much of what matters most to people was so easily discarded? For example, Cicero suggested that the passion for wisdom was nurtured best by a denial of the senses, yet Augustine was in the midst of a passionate relationship and of parenthood. How was the wisdom of eternal truth attainable in this world? Were his desires for Truth and his desires for sensuality both truly operative in one and the same human nature? And was he responsible for the apparent battle between Truth and sexual sin in his daily living? In this sense, the wisdom - the "answers" - that Augustine sought was a common denominator in the conflicting views of such Greek philosophical schools as the Epicureans, Stoics, Sceptics, and among Neoplatonists (though this is a later title) such as Plotinus and Porphyry.
It also appeared in many Christians of varying degrees of orthodoxy, including very unorthodox gnostic sects such as the Manicheans. As part of his search for Truth, he briefly examined the Christian Bible, but was immediately put off by the poor quality of the Latin translation. Unfortunately, at this early stage of his life, his pride was too great for him to face a poor Latin translation in order to discern the truth being conveyed. He then turned instead to a religious sect, and this was the beginning of his dozen years as a "hearer" of the Manichean religious sect. He convinced the two persons who were to become his friends for life, Alypius (who also was his former pupil) and Nebridius, to become Manicheans with him.
Philosophy and religion aside, Augustine had to supply food for the table of his partner, his son and himself. He began his teaching career in Carthage at the age of nineteen. He continued doing so, successively at Carthage, Thagaste, then in Carthage again, Rome and Milan, until he was twenty-nine years of age.AN1026