This work did not have to wait until he wrote his Retractions very late in life to be corrected, but was promptly corrected in his Confessions over thirty years earlier in 397-401. And even by which time Augustine no longer had a copy of this first work, "De Pulchra et Apto," in his possession.
The writing of this work happened thus. Financed by a family friend at the age of sixteen, Augustine had moved from his native town, Thagaste, to Carthage to complete his formal education by studying rhetoric. In Carthage at the age of seventeen he read Hortensius by Cicero. It inspired him to come to know the truth.
Soon Augustine joined a religious sect called the Manichees. They were a religious group that stressed purity of life and the the importance of Christ. They seemed so valuable to Augustine because they stressed purity of life (something he lacked in practice, but was seeking at the philosophical level). The Manichees promised him the "truth" he sought. It was while with them that Augustine at the age of sixteen years in 380 wrote his first work, which dealt with aesthetics. He named it "De pulchra et apto (On the Beautiful and the Fitting)." Augustine understood the Manichaeans equating the Good with the Beautiful."The Beautiful" was taken to mean that which engenders tranquil pleasure. Conversely, evil was considered to be a disturbance of this state, whether spiritually or physically. When writing Confessions during the years 397-401, Augustine was no longer a Manichean but a Christian bishop. In Confessions 4, 25-27 he quickly re-appraised what he had written in On the Beautiful and the Fitting.
The latter book had argued that there were two kinds of beauty: beauty inherent in the thing itself and beauty by virtue of the thing's use. There were a number of retractions Augustine made concerning this work. In On the Beautiful and the Fitting, Augustine had argued that evil was a substance that causes division and conflict. He now saw that that was an impossibility if God is to be all powerful and present everywhere.
Secondly, there was the idea of the mind as "the supreme and unchangeable good." In his Confessions, Augustine considered this second error to be "amazing nonsense." The soul, he now knew, was not itself the fundamental truth or good. It participates in God, but is not itself God, or some small piece of God.
The error about evil and this error about the soul together constituted, in the thinking of Augustine, a massive arrogance characteristic of Manichean beliefs: that evil is thought to exist due to God's impotence (rather than through human impotence), and hence humans mistake themselves for God. AN2111