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Oro'sius, Paulus

a Spanish presbyter, a native, as we gather from his own words (Histor. 7.22), of Tarragona, flourished under Arcadius and Honorius. Having conceived a warm admiration for the character and talents of St. Augustine, he passed over into Africa about A. D. 413, in order that he might consult him upon the dogmas of the Priscillianists, which at that period were a source of great dissension in the churches of the Western peninsula. The bishop of Hippo flattered by the deep respect of this disciple, gave him a most cordial reception, and after imparting such instructions as he deemed most essential, despatched him to Syria in 414 or 415, ostensibly for the purpose of completing his theological education under St. Jerome, who was dwelling at Bethlehem, but in reality to counteract the influence and expose the principles of Pelagius, who had resided for some years in Palestine. Orosius having found a warm friend in Jerome, began to carry out the object of his mission by industriously spreading the intelligence that Coelestius had been condemned by the Carthaginian synod, impressing at the same time upon all the close connection which subsisted between this convicted heretic and Pelagius, against whom he at length brought a direct charge of false doctrine. The cause was formally heard before the tribunal of John, bishop of Jerusalem, and ended in the discomfiture of the accuser, who, having indulged in some disrespectful expressions towards the judge, was in turn denounced as a blasphemer. He remained in the East until he had ascertained the unfavourable result of the appeal to the council of Diospolis, after which, having obtained possession of the relics of St. Stephen, the protomartyr, the place of whose sepulture had not long before been marvellously revealed, he returned with them to Africa, and there, it is believed, died, but at what period is not known.




dedicated to St. Augustine, at whose suggestion the task was undertaken. The gentiles of this age were wont to complain that the dishonour and ruin which had so long threatened the empire, and which had at length been consummated in the sack of Rome by Alaric and his Goths, must be ascribed to the wrath of the ancient deities, whose worship had been abandoned and whose altars had been profaned by the votaries of the new faith. In order to silence their clamour Orosius, upon his return from Palestine, composed this history to demonstrate that from the earliest epoch the world had been the scene of crimes not less revolting, and that men had groaned under calamities still more intolerable from war, pestilence, earthquakes, volcanoes, and the fury of the elements, while they could look forward to no happiness in a future state to console them for their miseries in the present. The annals, which extend from the Creation down to the year A. D. 417, are, with exception of the concluding portion, extracted from Justin, Eutropius and inferior second-hand authorities, whose statements are rashly admitted and unskilfully combined, without any attempt to investigate the basis upon which they rest, or to reconcile their contradictions and inconsistencies. Although such a compilation might be held in high esteem in the fifth century, and might command the applause of the ecclesiastical biographers from Gennadius downwards, and even of some scholars of a later date, its defects could not escape the keen discernment of Sigonius, Lipsius, and Casaubon, who soon perceived that no original sources of information had been consulted, that the Greek writers had been altogether neglected, either through ignorance or indifference, and that the whole narrative so abounded with gross errors in facts and in chronology as to be almost totally destitute of utility, since no dependence can be placed on the accuracy of those representations which refer to events not elsewhere chronicled. The style which has been pronounced by sonic impartial critics not devoid of elegance, is evidently formed upon the two great models of the Ciristian eloquence of Africa, Tertullian and Cyprian. Among the various titles exhibitet by the MSS., such as, Historia adversus Paganorum Calumnias; De Cladibus et Miseriis Mundi, and the like, one, which has proved a most puzzling enigma, appears under the varying forms, Hormesta, or Ormesta, or Ormista, sometimes with the addition, id est miseriarum Christiani temporis. Among a multitude of solutions, mIany of them altogether ridiculous, the most plausible is that which adoptillg Ormista as the true orthography supposes it to be a compound of Or. m. ist.--an abbreviation for Orosii mundi historia.


The Editio Princeps of the Historia was printed at Vienna, by J. Schüssler, fol. 1471, and presents a text derived from an excellent MS. Another very early impression is that published at Vicenza, in small folio, without a date, by Herm. de Colonia, and from this the Venice editions of 1483, 1484, 1499, and 1500, appear to have been copied. The only really good edition is that of Havercamp, Lug. Bat. 4to. 1738, prepared with great industry, and containing a mass of valuable illustrations.


A translation into Anglo-Saxon was executed by Alfred the Great, of which a specimen was published by Elstob at Oxford in 1690, and the whole work accompanied by a version of the Anglo-Saxon text into English appeared at London, 4vo. 1773, under the inspection of Daines Barrington and John Reinhold Foster. There are old translations into Gerlman and Italian also; into the former by Hieronymus Bonerus, fol. Colmar, 1539, frequently reprinted; into the latter by Giov. Guerini Da Lanciza, without date or name of place, but apparently belonging to the sixteenth century.

II. λιβερ απολογετιξυς δε αλβιτριι λιβερτατε

written ten in Palestine, A. D. 415. Orosius, having been anathematised by John of Jerusalem as one who maintained that man could not, even by the aid of OGod, fulfil the divine law, published this tract with the double object of proving the injustice of the charge and of defending his own proceedings by demonstrating the fatal tendency of the tenets inculcated by Pelagius. By some oversight on the part of a transcriber, seventeen chapters of the De Natura et Gratia, by Augustine, have been inserted in this piece, a mistake which has led to no small confusion.


The Apologeticus was first printed at Loavain, 8vo. 1558, along with the epistle of Jerome against Pelagius, and will be found also in the Bibliotheca Patrum Max. Lugdun. 1677, vol. vi.; it is appended to the edition of the Historiae by Havercamp, land is included in Harduin's collection of Councils, vol. i. p. 200.


The earliest of the works of Orosius, composed soon after his first arrival in Africa, for the purpose of explaining the state of religious parties in Spain, especially in reference to the commotions excited by the Priscillianists cillianists and Origenists. It is usually attached to the reply, by Augustine, entitled Contra Priscillianistas et Origenistas Liber ad Orosium, vol. viii. ed. Boned.

Some Epistolae ad Augustinum appear to have been at one time in existence, but are now lost.

Other works ascribed to Orosius

The following productions have been commonly ascribed to Orosius.


found among the works of Augustine.


printed along with Augustini Responsio, at Paris, in 1533.


attributed by Trithemius to Orosius, but in reality belonging to Honorius Augustodunelsis.

4. The

mentioned by Trithemius, supposed by many to be a spurious treatise, is in reality the Commonitorium under a different title.


No complete edition of the collected works has yet appeared.

Further Information

Augustin. de Ratione Anim. ad Hieron. ; Gennad. de Viris Illustr. 39. 46 ; Trithem. de Script. Eccles. 121; Nic. Anton. Bibl. Hispan. Vet. 3.1; G. J. Voss. de Historicis Lat. 2.14; Schönemann, Bibl. Patr. Lat. vol. 2.10; Bähr, Geschichte der Römischen Litterat. § 238 ; suppl. band. 2te Abtheil. § 141; D. G. Moller, Dissertatio de Paulo Orosio, 4to. Altorf. 1689 ; Voss. Histor. Pelag. 1.17; Sigonius, de Historicis Rom. 3; Lips. Comment. in Tacit. Ann. ; Casaubon, bon, de Rebus Sacris, &100.1.12, especially Mörner, De Orosii Vita ejusque Historiarum Libris septem adversus Paganos, Berol, 1844.


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