While reading The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw (I’m a sucker for historical novels) it occurred to me that the book’s heroine Charis was the same age as Augustine of Hippo, both being around sixteen in 371, when the novel opens (Charis in Ephesus and Augustine in Carthage), so I pulled out the copy of the Confessions that I’d had for years and never read (the Penguin edition translated by the unfortunately named R.S. Pine-Coffin, about whom there is no information either in the book or online). Naturally, I wanted to compare it with the Latin original, and a moment’s googling produced the mother lode: the 1992 edition, with commentary, by James J. O’Donnell (who has a new biography of Augustine coming out next month).
Each book of the text has a link to introductory commentary on that book, and each section of the text has a link to detailed comments on the section. Links within the commentary connect not only to the section of text directly being annotated, but also to other parts of the text and commentary. Footnotes in the commentary appear at the end of each book; the footnote numbers are links from the commentary text to the footnote and from the footnote text back to the commentary. Where possible, links have been provided to the texts of classical works and Biblical passages cited in the commentary. Links at the end of each book of the text and commentary allow navigation to the next book or the previous one of text, commentary, or both together.
Just in the commentary on the bit of Book I I’ve read so far, O’Donnell has cited T.S. Eliot, Lawrence Durrell (Justine: ‘Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?’), and Wittgenstein, so the scholarship is not of the dry-as-dust variety. It’s amazing to me that such a recent edition is freely available, and I thought I’d pass it along.
I have to say, I’m disappointed to find that Augustine disliked the Greek language: “quid autem erat causae cur graecas litteras oderam, quibus puerulus imbuebar?” (Pusey: “But why did I so much hate the Greek, which I studied as a boy?”)