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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

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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Note 62: Orosius’ Historia


NOTE 621

Orosius’ Historia

Marcellinus’ Chronicle dates Orosius’ Historia in seven books under the consuls of 416. Orosius himself says that he finished this work the year 5598 from the creation of the world.2 Baronius has read 5618 (VMDCXVIII) in the place where others have read VMDXCVIII, eliminating one number.3 Vossius also reads year 5618—the other number is doubtless an error.4 According to his supposition, Baronius says the year 5618 is 417 A.D. Rather the year should read 419 since Orosius dates the birth of Christ at the end of the forty-second year of Augustus, 5199 since the creation of the world.5

Orosius had finished his work after he had seen Jerome in Bethlehem and after Vallia, king of the Goths, had made peace with Honorius and given him Placidia.6 According to chronicles of Prosper and Idatius, this peace took place in 416. In the previous year, Vallia had seen his navy perish. He had sent his navy against Africa before he made peace with the empire. We can not date this event any later than 416. Thus Orosius began his history in 416 and completed it no later than 417. ← 442 | 443 →

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