Biography: Paulus Orosius

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Biography: Paulus Orosius

Paulus Orosius. (c.385–420), Iberian priest, theologian, apologist, and historian

Born in Tarragona, Spain or Braga, Portugal. He went to see St. Augustine (c.413) and wrote, on request, a summary of the errors of Priscillian and of Origen. Augustine then sent him to Palestine to warn St. Jerome of the menace of Pelagianism.

Unable to return to Spain, which was overrun by the Vandals, Orosius remained in Africa, where he completed the Seven Books of History against the Pagans (Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri Septem, tr. by I. W. Raymond, 1936)

This history is a continuation of the thrust of Augustine’s "City of God". Augustine urged Orosius to write this history to refute a certain Symmachus who in an address to Emperor Valentinianus in 384 C.E. alledged that the Roman Empire was crumbling due to Christianity. At Augustin’s request, Paulus Orosius wrote his history to refute Symmachus. The work treats world history as a concrete proof of the apocalyptic visions of the Bible.

The work became a kind of textbook of universal history for the Middle Ages; and therefore many manuscripts exist all over Europe. King Alfred translated it into Anglo-Saxon. Orosius history was translated into Arabic under Al Hakam II, an Umayyad Caliph in Cordoba, and is one of the main references on European history in Ibn Khaldun's history.

Old Norse

What parts of Orosius' History against the Pagans is based on Old Norse texts?