By discussing several of the issues that complicated the Christian's cohabitation and political participation in "this wicked world," as Augustine saw them, the remainder of this contribution will garrison the ground we have gained collecting the bad news he conveyed in his city. We shall inquire whether the assorted "consolations" he enumerated compensated for the corruption. And we shall consider one reason he might have had for composing his tome as a massive disorienting device. Of course, certainty about authorial intent is impossible to pocket, yet one can make the case that Augustine dropped City of God into the post-410 conversation about empires, conquest, glory, and cupidity to put such ephemera in perspective. Might he have wanted to give pause to colleagues who too readily acquiesced in the hot pursuit of trifles in their terrestrial cities? Before attempting to answer, we ought to ask if "dystopia" is the right term to characterize Augustine's city where trifles and the desire to possess them dominated the practice of politics - a city of gaud - or, to be precise, to characterize his depiction of his terribly flawed and "wicked world."
Copyright © 2012 Cambridge University Press. This book chapter first appeared in Augustine's City of God. Reprinted with permission by Cambridge University Press.
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Kaufman, Peter Iver. "Augustine's Dystopia." In Augustine's City of God: A Critical Guide, 55-74. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.