Patricius (Patrick) worked in the local Roman administration. He was a decurion, which meant that he was a town councillor with the duty of collecting taxes. Although he belonged to the influential class in the local society, Patricius lived in difficult financial circumstances. Augustine said that his father owned only a small amount of land.
His vineyards were worked by slaves, and Augustine had a slave (called a pedagogue) who took him to school. (For the pages in Augnet about slavery in North Africa at this time, click here.) Patricius seems to have had nothing remarkable either in mental ability or in character. He was a lively and sensual person, and one who easily became angry. He was entirely taken up with his daily concerns. He was hostile to the Christian church until the end of his life. Thanks to the efforts of Monica, Patricius died a baptised Christian.
Augustine's mother Monica came from a devout Christian family. She was married by arrangement to Patricius when he was aged 40 and she was aged about 22. His main assets were that he was from a good family and could be generous at times. Following their marriage Monica shared their house with the mother of Patricius, which was a constant source of friction for her. Patricius was verbally abusive to Monica, and also did not particularely hide that he broke their marriage vows.
They had at least three children. Aurelius Augustinus - to give Augustine his full name - had (at least) one brother, who was named Navigius. There was a sister whose name Augustine never included in his voluminous writings. (Without any historical foundation, the name Perpetua has often been assigned her for the sake of literary convenience). When a widow later in her life, the sister of Augustine led a Christian community of women, probably with some guidance from Augustine.
Augustine was the first-born, and was very intelligent. His parents, Patricius and Monica, were determined to provide a secure future him. At age of twelve years, Augustine was sent to Madaura for four years to begin his study of rhetoric. In the year 370, when aged sixteen years, Augustine had to return home for a year while Patricius saved money for Augustine's third and final stage of education.
This year in 370 without formal education led Augustine into acts of dissipation and sexual adventure. These are recounted in Book Two of the Confessions. During this unsettled time in the life of the young Augustine, Patricius died. The lives of Patricius and Augustine, his eldest son, had overlapped for sixteen years.
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. According to historians who have studied that culture and era, the enthusiasm of Patricius typical of his class and station in life in North Africa. The historian, Rousselle wrote, "The appearance of pubic hair and his first ejaculations were a cause for celebration for the whole household, particularly the father... When he came to take a wife, his father would have to give assurances to her family that his son was biologically able to become a parent. At these first manifestations of sexual maturity the young man would be the object of renewed attentions." (Rouselle, Porneia, 59)
By her patience and prayers, Monica his wife had been able to have both her husband and his mother become Christians just before Patricius died. For years afterwards, Patricius received from his son, Augustine, a cold contempt. This was because of his infidelity in his marriage with Monica, and also for not giving Augustine the necessary guidance and sense of discipline during his turbulent adolescence. Possibly as a consequence of this, Augustine searched throughout his life for substitute fathers in his older masculine guides.
The negative feelings in Augustine for his deceased father became more gentle over a period of years. By the time he wrote Book Nine of the Confessions, he had greatly softened his attitude. There he asks his readers that both his parents be remembered in prayer with "holy affection." In fairness to Patricius, however, it is important to propose that the extraordinary gift for affection and friendship within Augustine was partly a legacy from the sociable Patricius.
There is more material on Patricius in the Augnet pages that overview the life of Augustine. Use the "Patricius" tag on the left-hand side of this page.
Despite this unsatisfactory relationship with his father, or perhaps precisely because of it, Augustine was exceptionally close to his mother, Monica, and she to him. She was a great influence on Augustine.
Entorno familiar de Agustin - Su padre, Patricio, era un modesto hacendado, funcionario del municipio, pero persona de escasas posibilidades. Patricio era pagano. Era generoso, pero de un carácter violento y no siempre fiel a su esposa Mónica, aunque nunca llegó a ponerle las manos encima, algo inusual en aquel tiempo….. http://www.oala.villanova.edu/agustin/entorno2.htmlAN1029