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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 245: Orosius (1)



Orosius (1)

After Augustine wrote of Psalms 67, 71, and 77 in Letter 169, he lists both the works he sent to Jerome through Orosius and the one he addressed to Orosius himself on the Priscillianists. Orosius, named Paul in the remainder of the works from his own pen, lived in that part of Spain bordering the ocean.2 He may have been born in Braga, Portugal since he calls Avitus his fellow citizen and Avitus was a priest in Braga.3 Avitus says he had seen the entire Braga church in the person of Orosius.4 Nevertheless Orosius himself says his hometown is Tarragona on the Mediterranean Sea.5 This may merely mean he was a Spaniard.

No doubt Orosius was ordained a priest before leaving Spain. From the beginning Augustine qualifies him as a priest, even when calling him a young man.6 Orosius grieved seeing his country ravaged by the Vandals, the Alani, and the Suevi from 409 onward.7 Orosius viewed these barbarians with dismay and avoided their weapons only with difficulty. After they had conquered the country, he humbly submitted to their cruelties. He was cautious of their infidelity and in the end escaped their snares.

He was Catholic by communion, pious and zealous by temperament. He lamented seeing the faith under siege in Spain through various errors more than he regretted seeing his country ravaged through barbarian cruelty. Priscillianism was troubling the Spanish Church. Two Spaniards, both named Avitus, went...

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