On whose side is St. Augustine of Hippo in the ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry? In his four Cassiciacum dialogues, Augustine obviously favors the former, but his rhapsodic use of poetry in the dialogues—and indeed his own poetics in crafting these works—point to a more complicated attitude than is initially apparent. This essay offers an overview of the conflict between philosophy and poetry in Plato’s Republic, establishes the reemergence of that conflict in Augustine’s four earliest dialogues, and explores Augustine’s somewhat surprising solution.


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