Browsing by Subject "Orosius"

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  • Hämeen-Anttila, Jaakko; Department of Cultures (Brill, 2018)
    Bibliotheca Maqriziana
  • Kahlos, Maijastina (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2015)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences ; 17
    Late Antiquity from the third to the sixth centuries was the era of the development of the great Christian narrative, an interpretatio Christiana of the history of humankind. This meant reassessing and relocating past histories, ideas and persons on the historical mental map. In this construction of the past, Christian writers built on the models of the preceding tradition, creating competing chronologies and alternative histories. This article analyses the concept of history conveyed by two Christian fourth- and fifth-century historians, Eusebius of Caesarea and Orosius, and discusses the various ways in which these writers created the Christian past. One of the ways was to determine the greater antiquity of Christianity in comparison to the Greco-Roman tradition. This led Eusebius to develop his synchronistic chronology of the human past in his Chronici canones. In his approach, Eusebius developed further the Greek chronographic tradition for Christian apologetic purposes. Another way was to interpret history as guided by divine providence. For example, for Orosius in his Historiae adversus paganos, the appearance of Christianity in the Roman Empire was part of the divine plan for humankind. The concept of divine providence was also connected with ideas of divine favour and anger. In the world view of ancient Christian writers such as Orosius, divine retribution played an important role in explaining the adversities of humankind. Even though Orosius is usually dismissed in modern scholarship as a crude and unsophisticated historian, his ideas deserve a more nuanced reading. This article argues that both Eusebius and Orosius developed their views of history in contention with other, prevailing views of the past. Both writers aimed to challenge these views – Eusebius with his synchronistic chronology and Orosius with his reappraisal of the entire history of Rome.