Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 533
Augustine, bishop of Hippo (North Africa), writes to the Donatist presbyter Donatus, who tried to commit suicide and may have been manhandled by the Catholics afterwards. Augustine, Letter 173, AD 411/414.
Letter 173
1. Si posses uidere dolorem cordis mei et sollicitudinem pro salute tua, fortasse miserereris animae tuae placens Deo in audiendo uerbo non nostro sed ipsius nec eius scripturas sic in memoria tua figeres, ut contra eas cor clauderes. Displicet tibi, quia traheris ad salutem, cum tam multos nostros ad perniciem traxeritis. quid enim uolumus, nisi te comprehendi et praesentari et seruari, ne pereas? Quod autem aliquantum in corpore laesus es, ipse tibi fecisti, qui iumento tibi mox admoto uti noluisti et te ad terram grauiter conlisisti. Nam utique alius, qui adductus est tecum, collega tuus inlaesus uenit, quia talia sibi ipse non fecit.
Augustine records that Donatus earlier threw himself, of his own will, into a well (paragraph 4). He mentions Donatus' village of Mutugenna (paragraph 7).
(ed. Goldbacher 1904: 640-648)
Letter 173
1. If you could see the sorrow of my heart and my concern for your salvation, you would perhaps take pity on your soul, pleasing God by hearing not our word but his, and you would not fix his scriptures in your memory so that you close your heart against them. You are unhappy because you are being dragged to salvation, though you have dragged so many of our people to destruction. For what do we want but that you be seized, brought here, and kept from perishing? But as for the injury you have suffered in the body, you did it to yourself, for you refused to use the mount that was immediately offered to you and you fell roughly to the ground. For the other man, your companion, who was brought along with you, arrived uninjured because he did not do such harm to himself.
Augustine records that Donatus earlier threw himself, of his own will, into a well (paragraph 4). He mentions Donatus' village of Mutugenna (paragraph 7).
(trans. R. Teske 2004: 124; summary by S. Adamiak)


The context is not completely clear, but the presbyter Donatus was probably taken away from his church by the Catholics, otherwise the reference to an animal offered to bear him could not be understood.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Hippo Regius
  • Mutugenna

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The letters of Augustine of Hippo cover a wide range of topics: Holy Scripture, dogma and liturgy, philosophy, religious practice and everyday life. They range from full-scale theological treatises to small notes asking someone for a favour. The preserved corpus includes 308 letters, 252 written by Augustine, 49 that others sent to him and seven exchanged between third parties. 29 letters have been discovered only in the 20th century and edited in 1981 by Johannes Divjak; they are distinguished by the asterisk (*) after their number.
The preserved letters of Augustine extend over the period from his stay at Cassiciacum in 386 to his death in Hippo in 430.
A. Goldbacher ed., S. Augustini Hipponiensis Episcopi Epistulae, Pars 3, Ep. 124-184A, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 44, Vienna-Leipzig 1904.
Saint Augustine, Letters 156-210, trans. R. Teske, New York 2004.


Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Donatist
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
Conflict - Violence
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER533,