But we need not fear their suggestions, for by prayer, fasting, and faith in the Lord their attack immediately fails. But even when it does they cease not, but knavishly by subtlety come on again. For when they cannot deceive the heart openly with foul pleasures they approach in different guise, and thenceforth shaping displays they attempt to strike fear, changing their shapes, taking the forms of women, wild beasts, creeping things, gigantic bodies, and troops of soldiers.
Athanasius on St Anthony
Athens was the cultural center of the world in Plato’s time; Rome in Augustine’s. The Piraeus is the port town of Athens (9 km, says Google); Ostia of Rome (26 km). In the Piraeus Socrates gives his Allegory of the Cave (Republic, VII) narrating the soul’s metaphysical ascent from appearance to reality; in Ostia Augustine and Monica join in a mystical ascent (Confessions, IX).
I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine how conscious Augustine himself might have been of the Piraeus-Ostia connection and whether he then wittingly or unwittingly uses it to compare/contrast pagan and Christian metaphysics. And indeed what many things the compare/contrast yields - as a poetic evocation, I imagine there is no limit. To get things started, I throw in my own observation of what I see as a primary, if not the primary, distinction: For Augustine and Monica the ascent was one of truth and communion, whereas with Plato’s cave (forget for a moment dialogical direction of the Phaedrus and the Seventh Letter), a truth achieved is achieved alone.
I mention this by way of introduction Huysman’s En Route, which as a conversion narrative naturally enough invites comparison with Augustine. The overall difference: the one talks with God; the other with himself, and I submit that this has everything to do with why we have a St. Augustine and not a St. Joris-Karl.