Augustine's City Of God places heavy emphasis on trilogies, and his theories on women are no exception. In City Of God, Augustine says that women are either temptresses, wives, or mothers. (Augustine) Dependent on her role, the woman is an instrument of the devil, her husband, or "God's creativity." (Augustine) To Augustine, women are not autonomous individuals, acting for themselves.

Augustine begins to deride women as seductresses early in City Of God. Recalling the story of Eve in Genesis, Augustine argues that sin wrapped its coils around women from the beginning. Augustine notes the inherent wisdom of Adam, for Adam was not deceived by the wily serpent. Adam went along with Eve's insistence to eat the forbidden fruit because of Adam's fear of being lonely. Augustine explains: "…The man could not bear to be severed from his only companion, even though this involved a partnership in sin." (Augustine) Whether Adam's sin is more egregious because Adam consciously chose to sin is up for debate. Adam and Eve were both expelled from the Garden regardless due to their disobedience to God.

As a wife, the woman becomes "an instrument of her husband." (Augustine) Augustine comes from a time where hetero-normative culture is rising in precedence, so there is no mention of LGBT couples. Because a woman, to Augustine, is nothing more than an extension of her husband, the husband and head of the household is responsible to ensure that everyone under his roof worships God. Augustine elaborates:

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"But those who are true fathers of their households desire and endeavor that all the members of their household, equally with their own children, should worship and win God, and should come to that heavenly home…" (Augustine)

Augustine is also showing his Roman roots in this passage, believing that the head of the ideal household is a stern paterfamilias. (Augustine) It is up to the husband to maintain the peacefulness of the family unit, and the wife should defer her autonomy to him in order to live a Godly life. (Augustine)

To Augustine, the only way that a woman can truly become an instrument of God is through motherhood, in which the woman becomes a vessel of God's creativity. (Augustine) Even through gestation and birth, the child that emerges from the woman's flesh, in a torrent of blood, is not truly her own. The child is a testament to God, a masculine entity, working through the woman. Childbirth was inherently dangerous in Augustine's time, so perhaps having a woman simultaneously being close to death and the divine was no coincidence.

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In Augustine's City of God, women have a trifold destiny, of being either a whore, a wife, or a vessel of God's creativity. In the earthly city, as a perverted sex object, the woman is dammed. (Augustine) In the divine city, where a woman adopts the role of obeying her husband, and tending to her children, she is blessed. (Augustine) Modern day readers can argue that Augustine is projecting upon women, understanding that Augustine had a hedonistic past prior to finding alleged grace. That being said, Augustine views women as non-autonomous individuals who are nothing but vessels for the Devil, their husbands, or the Divine.

Works Cited

Augustine. Women, History of Ideas on. City Of God . n.d. 73-80.