Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 266: Orosius (2)
According to the chronicle of Marcellinus, Orosius wrote his history of the entire world in 416.1 He may have begun the work in 416, but he certainly finished it later in 417. Apparently Orosius wrote the work while in Africa: he addressed it to Augustine at the beginning and the end.2 The work is extant and is divided into seven books.
Orosius undertook this work at Augustine’s insistence.3 In not considering the future and forgetting the past, pagans continually sought to use the sack of Rome and other misfortunes which had happened to the empire to their advantage, and would then claim the Christian religion was the cause of these evils. According to them, these events occurred because idols were no longer adored. Augustine exhorted Orosius to gather from various works of many authors the terrible events which had previously occurred, such as wars, epidemics, famines, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, extraordinary rock-slides, well known crimes, and other tragic events. Augustine directed Orosius to follow the course of human history to see whether more of these sorts of misfortunes had occurred since the advent of Christ than previously. Augustine could not dedicate himself to this research because of his other occupations, principally De ciuitate dei XI. Thus he urged Orosius through Julius, a deacon at Carthage where he may have been at that time, to dedicate himself to this work.