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Historian Diarmaid Mac Culloch has written: "[Augustine's] impact on Western Christian thought can hardly be overstated; only his beloved example Paul of Tarsus, has been more influential, and Westerners have generally seen Paul through Augustine's eyes." Augustine's family name, Aurelius, suggests that his father's ancestors were freedmen of the gens Aurelia given full Roman citizenship by the Edict of Caracalla in 212.
In Rome, he reportedly turned away from Manichaeanism, embracing the scepticism of the New Academy movement.(He had to wait for two years because the legal age of marriage for women was twelve.) By the time he was able to marry her, however, he instead decided to become a celibate priest.—he tells us that his first Greek teacher was a brutal man who constantly beat his students, and Augustine rebelled and refused to study.By the time he realized that he needed to know Greek, it was too late; and although he acquired a smattering of the language, he was never eloquent with it. He became an expert both in the eloquent use of the language and in the use of clever arguments to make his points.According to his contemporary Jerome, Augustine "established anew the ancient Faith".In his youth he was drawn to Manichaeism, later to neo-Platonism.
Disturbed by unruly students in Carthage, he moved to establish a school in Rome, where he believed the best and brightest rhetoricians practiced, in 383.