Hating Homer, Fighting Virgil: Βooks in Augustine’s Confessions


  • Vincent Hunink


The Confessions of Augustine are not often associated with the genre of the ‘fictional’ novel. However, as a first person narrative with dramatic action, and interesting minor characters, the book can actually be analyzed in terms of an ancient novel. The paper first studies these and other points of similarity between the Confessions and the ancient novel. The second part zooms in on books and texts in the Confessions. Augustine has some strikingly negative comments on Homer and Virgil. But some books appear to have deeply influenced him at turning points in his life: Cicero’s Hortensius, the Life of St. Anthony, and The letters of St.Paul.

Vincent Hunink (1962) is Associate Professor of Latin and Early Christian Greek and Latin at the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Netherlands ( and also works for the Augustinean Institute at Eindhoven, Netherlands ( He has published widely on Lucan, Apuleius, and Christian Latin authors. Among his publications are numerous translations, mainly in Dutch, often with facing Latin text (