On Demons – St. Augustine’s City of God (Book IX)

Topics: 5th century Christian Demonology, Demons, Demonization of the Pagan Gods, Platonism/Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Apuleius, Aulus Gellius, Plotinus, Souls, Philosophy, Passions, Virtue, Vice.

Translated by Marcus Dods. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 2. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: CLP Co., 1887.)

For Context [from Wikipedia]: “On the city of God against the pagans (Latin: De civitate Dei contra paganos), often called The City of God, is a book of Christian philosophy written in Latin by Augustine of Hippo in the early 5th century AD. The book was in response to allegations that Christianity brought about the decline of Rome and is considered one of Augustine’s most important works, standing alongside The Confessions, The Enchiridion, On Christian Doctrine, and On the Trinity. As a work of one of the most influential Church Fathers, The City of God is a cornerstone of Western thought, expounding on many profound questions of theology, such as the suffering of the righteous, the existence of evil, the conflict between free will and divine omniscience, and the doctrine of original sin.”

Note that this is not the only book of Augustine’s concerned with demons. It should be taken in the context of these other works which come before and after it in order:

“- Book VI: a refutation of the assertion that the pagan gods are to be worshipped for eternal life (rather than temporal benefits). Augustine claimed that even the esteemed pagan theologist Varro held the gods in contempt.

– Book VII: a demonstration that eternal life is not granted by Janus, Jupiter, Saturn, and other select gods.

– Book VIII: an argument against the Platonists and their natural theology, which Augustine views as the closest approximation of Christian truth, and a refutation of Apuleius’ insistence of the worship of demons as mediators between God and man.

– Book IX: a proof that all demons are evil and that only Christ can provide man with eternal happiness.

– Book X: a teaching that the good angels wish that God alone is worshiped and a proof that no sacrifice can lead to purification except that of Christ.”


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