370c.1

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Saint Augustine Recalls Punishment for Youthful Ball Games

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Bans, Famous
City/State/Country: North Africa
Game Xenoball
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Youth
Notables Saint Augustine
Text

In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo - later St. Augustine - recalls his youth in Northern Africa, where his father served as a Roman official. "I was disobedient, not because I chose something better than [my parents and elders] chose for me, but simply from the love of games. For I liked to score a fine win at sport or to have my ears tickled by the make-believe of the stage." [Book One, chapter 10] In Book One, chapter 9, Augustine had explained that "we enjoyed playing games and were punished for them by men who played games themselves. However, grown up games are known as 'business. . . . Was the master who beat me himself very different from me? If he were worsted by a colleague in some petty argument, he would be convulsed in anger and envy, much more so than I was when a playmate beat me at a game of ball."

 

Sources

Saint Augustine's Confessions, Book One, text supplied by Dick McBane, February 2008.

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Query

Can historians identify the "game of ball" that Augustine might have played in the fourth Century? Are the translations to "game of ball," "games," and "sport" still deemed accurate?

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Submitted by Dick McBane



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