Orosius and the Rhetoric of History

Paperback | June 28, 2015

byPeter Van Nuffelen

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The Histories Against the Pagans of Orosius, written in 416/7, has been one of the most influential works in the history of Western historiography. Often read as a theology of history, it has been rarely been set against the background of ancient historiography and rhetorical practice in thetime of Orosius. Arguing for the closeness of rhetoric and historiography in Antiquity, this book shows how Orosius situates himself consciously in the classical tradition and draws on a variety of rhetorical tools to shape his narrative: a subtle web of interextual allusions, a critical engagementwith traditional exempla, a creative rewriting of the sources, and a skilled deployment of the rhetoric of pathos. In this way, Orosius aims at opening the eyes of his adversaries; instead of remaining blinded by the traditional, glorious view of the past, he wishes his readers to see the past andthe present in their true colours. The book paints a more complex picture of theHistories, and argues against the tendency to see Orosius as a naive apologist of the Roman empire. In fact, he can be shown to put the Church at the heart of view of Roman history. Setting Orosius in the context ofcontemporary historiography and literature, it sheds new light on the intellectual life in the early fifth century AD.

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The Histories Against the Pagans of Orosius, written in 416/7, has been one of the most influential works in the history of Western historiography. Often read as a theology of history, it has been rarely been set against the background of ancient historiography and rhetorical practice in thetime of Orosius. Arguing for the closeness of...

Peter Van Nuffelen is research professor at Ghent University, Belgium. His work focuses on Greco-Roman religion and the history and historiography of late Antiquity. Recent publications include the monograph Rethinking the Gods. Philosophical Readings of Religion in the Post-Hellenistic Period (Cambridge, 2011), two edited volumes wit...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.57 inPublished:June 28, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019874501X

ISBN - 13:9780198745013

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Unexpected Pearls: Prefaces and the Rhetoric of Deference2. A Tale of Two Cities: Book 2 and the Fall of Rome3. The Past as Literature: exempla and the Culture of Rhetoric4. (Re)sources of Narrative5. A Sense of the Past: The Truth of Rhetoric6. A Past for the Present: On Metaphors and Panegyric7. Beyond Rome: Universal History and the Barbarian8. What Difference Does Christianity Make?

Editorial Reviews

`Any person interested in Orosius and the Historiae, or rhetoric in the ancient world, will surely find this book immensely useful and stimulating. It is lucid and easily accessible, and excellent signposting is sustained throughout. ... This is an important book which merits a large andserious readership. The Histariae is engaged with as a deserved subject of scrutiny, and the author's approach avoid exaggeration or pretention.'Victoria Leonard, Journal of Ecclesiastical History