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Romanianus, Citizen of Tagaste

Wace's Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

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Romanianus, a wealthy citizen of Tagaste, possessing there and at Carthage a house and other property. He shewed great kindness towards Augustine in his early life, which he did not fail in later days gratefully to acknowledge. In a passage of the second book against the heathen philosophers Augustine relates with pathetic simplicity how when he was but a boy and in poverty arising no doubt from his father's "spirited" disregard of expense, he found in Romanianus a friend who provided him a home and pecuniary help in his studies at Carthage, and shewed him what he valued more than these—friendship and kindly encouragement. After the death of Augustine's father in 371, Romanianus received him into his house at Tagaste as his honoured guest, and though, in a patriotic spirit, he tried to dissuade him from returning to Carthage, when he saw that his youthful ambition desired a wider range than his native town could afford, he supplied him with the necessary means. Nor, as Augustine mentions with special gratitude, was he offended at a neglect to write, but passed over it with considerate kindness (Aug. Conf. ii. 3, vi. 14; c. Acad ii. 2; Ep. 27, 4). Romanianus had a son Licentius, who may have been a pupil under Augustine while he was teaching rhetoric at Carthage, but of this there is no evidence, though he undoubtedly was 10 or 12 years later at Milan. Romanianus appears to have had another son, Olympius, frequently mentioned in the various discourses composed by Augustine at Cassiciacum near Milan, who received baptism at the same time as Augustine, and who afterwards became bp. of Tagaste, of which place he was certainly a native, and of a rank in life agreeing entirely with that of Romanianus (Aug. Conf. vi. 7). Like Augustine himself, perhaps in some degree through his influence, Romanianus fell into the prevailing errors of Manicheism, which, however, he appears to have cast off, though without adopting as yet the true philosophy of the gospel, by the time when, as we gather from the description of Augustine, he visited him at Milan in 385. He had gone thither on important business, and entered with some warmth into the scheme of a life in common of 10 members. In 386, while Augustine was with his friends in the house of Verecundus at Cassiciacum, and meditating the great change of life which he made in 387, he composed 4 discourses, dedicating to Romanianus the one against the academic philosophers, entreating him to abandon their doctrines, and declaring his own intention to abide by the authority of Christ, "For," says he, "I find none more powerful than this" ( c. Acad. i. x; iii. 20; Retract. i. 1–4). Some time during the 3 years following the conversion of Augustine Romanianus became a Christian, thus drawing still closer the intimacy between Augustine and himself and his family. The same year Augustine addressed to Romanianus his book on true religion ( c. Acad. ii. 3, 8; de Ver. Rel. 12; Ep. 27, 4; 31, 7). We find Augustine also writing, A.D. 395, to Licentius, entreating him in the most affectionate manner to shake off the bonds in which he was held by the world, to visit Paulinus at Nola and learn from him how this was to be accomplished (Aug. Ep. 26, 3). This letter he followed up by one to Paulinus, introducing to him Romanianus, the bearer of the letter, and commending Licentius to his attention ( Ep. 27, 3, 4, 6). In 396 Paulinus wrote to Romanianus congratulating the church of Africa on the appointment of Augustine as coadjutor-bp. of Hippo, and expressing the hope that the trumpet of Augustine may sound in the ears of Licentius, to whom he wrote both in prose and in verse, exhorting him to devote himself to God (Paulin. Epp. vii. viii.).


Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Romanianus, Citizen of Tagaste'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography.​dictionaries/​eng/​hwd/​r/romanianus-citizen-of-tagaste.html. 1911.