Lucian's Response to Augustine Conversion and Narrative in Confessions and Nigrinus
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In the case of the extraordinary experience of a conversion, the shortcomings of a verbal rendering are felt with particular force. Augustine's account of his conversion in Confessions 8, however, not only ignores the gap between experience and narrative, but entwines them in a way that seems to erase the boundary between Life and life. In Nigrinus, Lucian trenchantly satirises the kind of chain between conversion and its representation envisaged by Augustine. At the same time, a comparison with the much later reception of the Confessions in Petrarch throws into relief the common ground which Lucian and Augustine share. Taken together, the Confessions and the Nigrinus give us a glimpse of what may have been a rich tradition of protreptic conversion literature in the Hellenistic and Imperial Eras.