In 386, shortly after his conversion, Augustine gave up his post as professor of rhetoric at Milan to devote himself, together with a group of relatives, friends and students, to the otium philosophandi in Cassiciacum. There, together with his familia, he deals with questions of classical philosophy. The discussions that Augustine led at this time formed the basis for the Dialogues of Cassiciacum Contra Academicos, De beata vita, and De ordine, which had just taken place thereafter.
In the introduction of De beata vita, which is dedicated to Theodorus, Augustine compares the human life with a stormy sea. The salvation of man is the port of philosophy, from where one reaches the mainland of the beata vita. The metaphor is very detailed. A central spot in the entire picture is dominated by the inmanissimus mons, which is located in front of the harbor and presents a great danger to sailors.
There is no clear interpretation of this passage in the secondary literature. The aim of the present text is to propose in parallel reading of two passages from Confessiones with De beata vita to explain the image of the huge mountain as a metaphor for Neoplatonism.
At the beginning of the series of Augustine’s earliest extant literary works are the three philosophical dialogues Contra Academicos, De beata vita and De ordine, which were composed in the autumn of 386 during Augustine’s otium philosophandi in Cassiciacum. In the introductions of all three works, the marine metaphors are widely used. The author compares human life with a stormy sea and sees as the only salvation the port of philosophy. In beata v. 1. 2 Augutin compares the people to whom philosophy can accommodate with navigantes, which he groups in tria genera. Although the people who belong to the respective group are described in detail, the author does not mention names. This arouses research interest and justifies the attempt to propose a representing person for each group.
The present work sets itself the goal by parallel reading of beata v. 1. 2, with some passages from Cicero’s Epistulae, Tusculanae disputationes and De officiis to make a new proposal. And this in addition to the currently existing assumption that Romanianus, to whom the dialogue Contra Academicos is dedicated, should be considered as a representative of the second group of seafarers. However, the author of the present work now ventures a completely new approach, in which Cicero can be accepted as a representative of this group.