1st Edition

In Defiance of History
Orosius and the Unimproved Past

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after January 31, 2022
ISBN 9781472474681
January 31, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
200 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

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Book Description

This volume offers a counterbalance to the dismissal that Orosius’s Histories Against the Pagans has suffered in most recent criticism. Orosius is traditionally considered to be a mediocre scholar and an essentially worthless historian. This book takes his literary endeavour seriously, recognising the unique contribution the Histories made at a crucial moment of debate and uncertainty, where the present was shaped by restructuring the past. The significance of the Histories is recognised intrinsically rather than only in comparison with other texts and authors, principally Augustine of Hippo, Orosius's mentor. The approach of the book is historiographical, exploring the form, purpose and meaning of the Histories. The themes of divine providence, monotheism, and imperial authority are examined, and the subjects of war and the sack of Rome receive extended analysis. The book foregrounds Orosius's significant historiographical innovations that are seldom explored, such as the subversion of imperial history within a Christian spectrum in the synchronisation of the emperor Augustus and Christ. Each chapter contributes to the progression of knowledge about Orosius’s Histories and the wider literary and historiographical culture of disruption that characterised the late fourth and early fifth centuries CE.

Table of Contents


Mark Humphries




Chapter 1. Orosius as a Writer of History


Chapter 2. The Making of Time


Chapter 3. The Emperor and the Divine


Chapter 4. Apologetics and the Providence of War


Chapter 5. The Sack of Rome: Christianizing Disaster

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Victoria Leonard is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities at Coventry University, and at the Institute of Classical Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her research focuses on the late antique and early medieval western Mediterranean. She has published on religious conflict, gender and violence, and ancient historiography. Most recently, she co-edited the volume Bodily Fluids in Antiquity with Mark Bradley and Laurence Totelin, which was published by Routledge in 2021.