Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis seeks to understand the demons found in Augustine's City of God, particularly as they appear as an inseparable component of the political thought he develops in this text more broadly. It has been asserted in contemporary scholarship that the presence of demons in Augustine's writing represents a vestige of his years as a Manichee that undermines the greater political vision he develops in The City of God to the extent that the postulation of demons as such is anti-or apolitical. However, I argue that not only is Augustine's understanding of the nature of demons consistent with his refutation of Manichaeism, but, in fact, Augustine's narration of the origin of demons in the fall of the angels precisely constitutes this refutation. The upshot of this is that, far from being apolitical, Augustine's demons are actually political creatures, and are hence only intelligible when located in his greater political vision. Augustine sees in much of Rome the fellowship of the earthly city in which men and demon alike are bound to one another, captive to the vice that proceeds from their idolatry. I argue that the centrality of demons in Augustine's polemic__Rome cannot be a just commonwealth because it offers worship to demons instead of God__makes a great deal more sense when we appreciate that the worship of God demons occlude is the basis for Augustine's politics. One can only reject Augustine's demons if one has missed the most crucial element of his politics, namely, participation in God through the movement of the Holy Spirit. I conclude by showing Augustine's political demonology to represent the continued development not of a Manichaean sensibility but of a host of biblical traditions regarding the peril of the demonic for God's people.
Wiebe, Gregory David, "The Politics of Possession: Augustine's Demonology in The City of God" (2009). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4565.
McMaster University Library