Orosius, Paulus

Orosius, Paulus

(ōrō`shēəs), c.385–420, Iberian priest, theologian, and historian, b. Tarragona, Spain or Braga, Portugal. He went to see St. Augustine (c.413) and wrote, on request, a summary of the errors of Priscillian and of Origen. Augustine then sent him to Palestine to warn St. Jerome of the menace of Pelagianism. Unable to return to Spain, which was overrun by the Vandals, Orosius remained in Africa, where he completed the Seven Books of History against the Pagans (tr. by I. W. Raymond, 1936), which had been undertaken to continue the thrust of Augustine's City of God. The work became a kind of textbook of universal history for the Middle Ages; it treats world history as a concrete proof of the apocalyptic visions of the Bible. King Alfred translated it into Anglo-Saxon.

Orosius, Paulus

 

Born circa 380; died 420. Roman historian.

Of Spanish descent, Orosius was a priest and a follower of St. Augustine. His work Seven Books of Histories Against the Pagans, which encompasses events from ancient times until 417, was written upon Augustine’s suggestion in order to expose pagans and heretics. He attempted to prove that Christianity was the salvation of mankind and that the calamities that befell Rome in the early fifth century were retribution for evil deeds of previous centuries.

Orosius periodized world history into four “world kingdoms”: Babylonia, Macedonia, Carthage, and Rome. His work is a compilation of material from the chronicles of Eusebius of Caesarea, Sulpicius Severus, and pagan Roman authors. Of special interest are his books containing excerpts from nonextant works by Livy and Tacitus, and his books containing information on the Black Sea area of the first and second centuries B.C. that is not found in other sources. Orosius’ works were widely known in the Middle Ages.

WORKS

Historiarum adversum paganos libri VII. Edited by C. Zangemeister. Leipzig, 1889.
In Russian translation:
Excerpts from Orosius’ work in Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1949, no. 4, pp. 263–64.
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