This is the assignment page for the topic "The Ecclesiastical Cultural Environment" for J. B. Owens's sections of the lower-division undergraduate course, History 101, Foundation of Western Civilization. The sole purpose of this page and all of the pages linked to it is to provide an orientation for those students enrolled in History 101.

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The Ecclesiastical Cultural Environment

ID: Tertullian (ca. 155-ca. 225), Augustine of Hippo (359-430), Plato (426-347 B.C.E.), Neo-Platonism, Donatist Heresy, Pelagian Heresy, Boethius (ca. 480-524), The Consolation of Philosophy, Cassiodorus (484/490-577/590), Ostrogoths, Theodoric (r. 489-526), Ravenna, civilitus, humanitas, Emperor Justinian (r. 527-565), Gothic Wars (536 ff), Lombard Invasion (568 ff), Vivarium, Pope Gregory I, the Great (r. 590-604)

  1. Why did Tertullian (ca. 200 C.E.) oppose the study of ancient Greco-Roman philosophy by Christians?
  2. What, according to Augustine of Hippo, is the relationship of virtue and the happy life? What is the role of discipline in the life of a Christian? Why did Augustine believe that the soul could be perfected?
  3. Why did Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, attack the defense of free will of Cicero who lived 400 years before?
  4. Why was Augustine of Hippo consistently hostile to the claims of thinkers like Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) and Pelagius (ca. 354-after 418 C.E.) for the beneficial effects of human activity in the natural world?
  5. Why did Cassiodorus feel that Greco-Roman rhetoric was relevant to those who lived in northern Italy in the sixth century?
  6. Why did Boethius argue that humans were in the center of a chain of being that went from the beasts to the angels?
  7. Why did Pope Gregory the Great argue that both contemplation and activity in the community are necessary for the person who wants to reach "the summit of perfection"?


Owens, chapter 3, "The Ecclesiastical Cultural Environment"; Augustine of Hippo [359-430], Confessions (select "Book Two" from this Table of Contents, and on the bottom of that page, select the arrow pointing to the right. Then read Chapter IV, which is also Part 9. Print this selection and have it available for consultation in class.). Augustine of Hippo, From the City of God, read Chapter 8, Chapter 9, and Chapter 10 (print a copy of these chapters so that we can consult the material in class. What technical terms and logical arguments do you not understand?); Kishlansky, 54-55, 58, and 63-64 (on Greek philosophy), 119-121 ("Divinity, Humanity, and Salvation"), 152-154 ("Italy: From Ostrogoths to Lombards").

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J. B. Owens
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Revised: 9 May 2006