In The Magnificent Seven (1960), the iconic Robert Vaughn plays Lee, the dapper but penniless hired gun who has lost his nerve and is on the run. The final irony is that he chooses to follow Chris (Yul Brynner) south to defend a Mexican village – ‘a deserter’, as he puts it, ‘hiding in a battlefield’. Late one night, woken by nightmares, he reveals his growing fear to two of his hosts; his decline is given a physical symbol as he swipes at three flies on the table where he sits. He opens his fist to reveal just one: ‘One? There was a time I would have caught all three.’ For many commentators, Augustine is a sadder character even than Robert Vaughn's ‘Lee’: there never was a time when all three Trinitarian persons were grasped. Such views usually stem from treating the language of memory, intelligence and will as his sole analogy for the Trinity and assuming that, hence, Augustine can really only comprehend God as one (mind). Those who see Augustine failing to treat the Spirit as a fully irreducible divine ‘person’ only confirm the judgement.
The reading of Augustine that I have offered differs because I have argued that we must take seriously his insistence that the divine three are irreducible, and that he consistently founds the unity of God in the Father's eternal act of giving rise to a communion in which the mutual love of the three constitutes their unity of substance.