Augustine, De divinatione daemonum / On the divination of demons – now online in English

How is it that demons are able to predict the future, and so support the pagan practices of oracles, soothsaying, and the like?  This question bothered some of those around St Augustine, and he wrote a short treatise to answer it, De divinatione demonum (CPL 306).

It is very well worth reading.  But there is no freely available translation accessible online.  Today I heard from Mattias Gassman, who prepared his own translation of it while a British Academy post-doctoral fellow.  He has kindly made it available here, and also on his own new and interesting blog, Multa Legenda (  Here are the files:

Dr G. modestly adds that:

…the translation aims rather at literalism than style, though some concessions to ease of reading are inevitable. The target audience are people who want to know what Augustine said, and might be able at least to consult the Latin, even if they cannot really read it.

But it is a very decent bit of work.  Thank you very much!


6 thoughts on “Augustine, De divinatione daemonum / On the divination of demons – now online in English

  1. Hi Roger! Thanks for putting this up. It might be worth adding that a Latin text of all of Augustine’s works can be accessed–without apparatus–at There are also translations into various modern languages, those in English largely from the obvious public domain series.

  2. That is pretty interesting. Lots of stuff about the difference between God’s will and God’s permissive will, but not in that wording. So I guess it’s before that term had come up.

    And it’s the Serapeum again.

  3. Thank you for this!

    I would, however, note one mistake in the opening words of the translation. “Holy Week” refers to the time from Palm Sunday until the Sacred Triduum (Thursday, Friday, Saturday Vigil of that same week). A celebratory period of eight days — an “octave” — then follows, starting with Easter Sunday.

    As far as I know, Holy Week has never been referred to as “the Octave” in Western Christian tradition.

    This seems like an occasion where the Translator’s attempt to interpret has betrayed the author’s meaning in the text.

Leave a Reply