images from ms. of De civitate Dei

Week 6: Augustinus: De civitate dei.

Background | Background Quiz | Starting Assumptions | Resources | Extras
Vocabulary | Etymology | Grammar | Perseus Dictionary | Perseus Tool

Reading Overview | Reading Quiz: English
| Reading Quiz: Latin
Discussion Questions | Latin Composition | Weekly Checklist

Discussion Questions

Please choose 3 of the following questions to answer and send your response in an email to the instructor ( Each answer should be a solid paragraph (150-250 words for each English discussion question, 500-750 words for the overall assignment).

You should then post your answers to the class Discussion Board. You need to have sent the email and posted your answers by Friday midnight. At some point you will also be posting at least two replies to comments posted by the other students; you may do that at any time during the week, until Monday midnight.

1. Religion and magic. Defining the difference between magic and religion is extremely difficult. Given the amount of supernatural activity and magical (or magic-like) phenomena in the Bible, this has been a serious problem for Christian theologians. How does Augustine approach the problem of distinguishing between bad magic and good religion? What are the things that Numa and Pythagoras do that get them into trouble? Does Augustine believe that these kinds of magical practices are possible, but sinful - or does he think that these practices are simply impossible? How is Augustine's argument represented visually in this depiction of Numa and Pythagoras at work?

2. Monstrous birth legends. Why do you think people were so interested in "monstrous" births and weird quasi-human creatures? Are these kinds of legends still popular today? Are they exactly like the legends of antiquity, or do the modern legends involve different kinds of "monsters"? What are some of the functions of these popular legends? Are they simply entertaining? Or do they serve other kinds of social purposes as well?

3. The bodies of women. What exactly are Augustine's reasons for believing that women really will be resurrected in their own bodies, rather than in the bodies of men? Summarize his argument point by point. How does Augustine's position relate to feminism or gender theory as you understand it today? Are there any points of comparison between Augustine's concern with "equal rights in the afterlife" and the kinds of equal rights that are a matter of public debate for us now?

4.The allegory of Eve. Augustine makes a detailed allegorical comparison between the creation of Eve and the existence of the Christian Church. Analyze his allegorical equation point by point: how do each of the physical details contribute to Augustine's theological interpretation? What is the appeal of this kind of symbolic allegory? If such an allegory is "true," what is the foundation of its truth?

Adam and Eve as allegory of Christ and Church
Adam = ?
Adam sleeping = ?
Adam's side opened up = ?
Eve = ?

5. Favorite image for the week. Was there one of the images for this week which made a big impression on you? Provide a link to the webpage where that image is found, and give a detailed description of the image. What attracted your attention to this image? What are the details that stick in your mind? Do you think that image fits in well with the words of the text? What makes this image stand out from the other images that we looked at this week?

6. Reflecting on the week. Take a look back at what you wrote as your "starting assumptions" for this week, and look at the starting assumptions of the other students in the class. Did anything you read or studied this week make a big change in your starting assumptions? Did the assignment turn out to be pretty much what you expected? More interesting? Less interesting? What surprised you the most? If you were going to continue with this topic, what kind of research and reading would you want to do? What questions are still left unanswered?

7. Grammar revelations. Did you have a Latin grammar crisis this week? Did you get through it? What did you learn? Is there something you grasped this week that was never really clear to you before? A grammar epiphany? Is there something you are still really struggling with? What do you do when you are having trouble understanding a passage in Latin? Where do you look for help? In general, was the reading this week easier or harder than expected? What are you going to concentrate on in your Latin work in the coming week?

8. Website critique. Pick one of the websites that you visited this week as part of your work for this class (it could be a website about this week's topic, or a website for learning Latin). Provide a link to the site, and a brief desription of its contents. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this website? Who would find this website useful? What did you use this website for? What did you find there? Do you think you will visit this website again?


Modern Languages 4970 / MRS 4903: Medieval Latin. Spring 2003 Online Course at the University of Oklahoma. Visit for more info.
Laura Gibbs, University of Oklahoma - Information Technology © 2003. Last updated: December 29, 2002 7:12 PM