Augustine of Hippo was born in Thagaste (present-day Souk Ahras, Algeria) on 13th November, AD 354. His father, Patricius was a pagan but his mother, Monica, was a devout Roman Catholic. When he reached the age of eleven he was sent to school at Madaurus. It was here that he came under the influence of the writings of Cicero.
In 371 he moved to Carthage in order to continue his education in rhetoric. He had been brought up by his mother as a strict Catholic but he abandoned his faith and lived with a woman who eventually gave birth to a son, Adeodatus. During this period Augustine taught grammar at Tagaste.
In 375 Augustine started his own school in Carthage. He was considered to be an outstanding teacher of rhetoric and in 383 opened a similar school in Rome. Although the school was not a financial success, he developed a reputation as a fine teacher and in 384 the prefect of the City of Rome, Symmachus, arranged for him to become professor of rhetoric for the imperial court at Milan.
Augustine's mother followed him to Milan and tried to persuade him to return to the Roman Catholic faith. He agreed to abandon his mistress and his mother arranged for him to marry a woman from a highly respectable family. However, he had to wait two years until his fiancée came of age and in the meantime began living with another woman. It was at this time that he made the comment: "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet".
In 386, Augustine read an account of the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert. This inspired him to return to the Catholic Church. He abandoned his teaching career in Milan and after cancelling his marriage plans, moved back to Africa. Soon afterwards, both his mother and son died.
Augustine gave his wealth to the poor and turned his house into a monastery. In 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius and over the next few years became an influential preacher. In 396 he was appointed as Bishop of Hippo. The following year he published The Confessions, a masterpeice of introspective autobiography.
Augustine wrote several books including City of God, in which he supported using coercive measures against paganism and non conformist Christianity and Augustine died in AD 430 during the siege of Hippo by the invading Vandals.