The only-known brother of Augustine (November 13, 354 - August 28, 430) (q.v.; cf. Q 4.342-462), bishop of Hippo, was born to the union (c.345) of Patricius (q.v.; c.315-371), a “pagan” father, and Monica (q.v.; 331/2-387), a Christian mother. In contrast to his more famous brother as a consequence of the latter’s autobiographical “Confessions,” of Navigius little can be documented; even within his brother’s narration, though present at their mother’s deathbed (Confessions IX.11), he is no more named than are their sisters. Most of what is known of these siblings is derived from the Vita Augustini (PL 32.33-66) of Possidius of Calama in Numidia, who “belonged to Augustine’s circle of friends and was a member of the monastic community in Hippo” (W. Geerlings, DECL 496-497; cf. OEEC 705). The elder sister “was a widow and lived only a house away as the superior of a great convent in Hippo, where also lived other nieces and relatives (of Augustine as bishop of Hippo after 396), including possibly the daughters of his brother Navigius” (van der Meer 1961:221 citing Vit. Aug. 46).
William Hugh Clifford Frend has observed that Navigius “was probably the most representative member of the curial class in his family at this period . . . (being) nominally a Christian, liberal-minded, sceptical of authority and believing that happiness could be found through inquiry and quest” (1988:150 citing De Academicis). Augustine elsewhere reported his brother to have been “of delicate health.” He is encountered at Cassiciacum in Italy, to which Augustine had withdrawn before baptism, where he appears briefly within the three earlist Augustinian treatises: De ordine (I.2,5), De Academicis (I.2,5-6), and De beata vita (I.6,7;II.14) (cf. Q 4.357-358; DECL 65-66). As Peter Brown noted, Navigius “was the only one of the group of friends at Cassiciacum who persistently refused to see the point of what his brother was saying” (1967:112) – at least as is evident in and from those treatises.
Clyde Curry Smith
Bibliography (see link to abbreviations table below):
OEEC 584 (ADBerardino)
Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, by Peter R L Brown. London: Faber and Faber.
Saint Augustine Confessions, translated with an introduction by R. S. Pine-Coffin. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd., 1961. (Cited by Book and section)
“The Family of Augustine: A Microcosm of Religious Change in North Africa,” by William Hugh Clifford Frend, in Atti del Congresso internazionale su S. Agostino nel XVI centenario della conversione (Roma, 15-20 settembre 1986), I (Studia Ephemeridis “Augustinianum,” 24). Rome, 1987: 135-151; reprinted in Archaeology and History in the Study of Early Christianity, by William Hugh Clifford Frend. London: Variorum Reprints, #VIII.
van der Meer 1961
Augustine the Bishop: Church and Society at the Dawn of the Middle Ages, by F. van der Meer, translated by Brian Battershaw and G. R. Lamb. London: Sheed and Ward Ltd.
This article, received in 2004, was researched and written by Dr. Clyde Curry Smith, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History and Religion, University of Wisconsin, River Falls.