Unexpected Pearls: Prefaces and the Rhetoric of Deference

Peter Van Nuffelen

in Orosius and the Rhetoric of History

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199655274
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191745232 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Unexpected Pearls: Prefaces and the Rhetoric of Deference

Show Summary Details


The prefaces to the Historiae and to another, minor work of Orosius, namely, the ‘consultation to Augustine about the errors of the Priscillianists and Origenists’, strategically deploy biblical and Vergilian citations, as well as allusions to Augustine's literary production (in particular the Confessions and the City of God). Whilst suggesting his submission to Augustine, Orosius also claims Augustine's authority for the works he is publishing. As such, the prefaces construe a rhetoric persona for Orosius, which need not be identical to the historical one. This literary self‐presentation, in conjunction with the well‐chosen Vergilian allusions, shows that some views of Orosius as a superficially educated clergyman are incorrect. In fact, Orosius was esteemed by his contemporaries for his clear rhetorical ability.

Keywords: prefaces; Vergil; Augustine; Augustine; self‐presentation; rhetorical education

Chapter.  8107 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.