Paulus Orosius

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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The book provides an impressive coverage of the medieval authors, some of them almost unknown, although King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of Paulus Orosius's Historiarum adversus Paganos libri vii is not mentioned, despite Kempshall's very lengthy treatment of that Spanish writer, covering sixteen pages (compared with just five pages for Eusebius and only three for Boethius).
He himself translated Pope Gregory I's Pastoral Care, the world history by the 5th-century historian and theologian Paulus Orosius, and The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius.