A Tale of Two Cities: Book 2 and the Fall of Rome

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

A Tale of Two Cities: Book 2 and the Fall of Rome

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Book 2 opens with the four‐empire theory, which has been interpreted as implying Orosius' belief in the eternity of Rome. When compared with earlier uses of parallelism in historiography, it becomes clear that for Orosius, Rome has come to the end of its historical lifespan but is provisionally saved by God. Judicious allusions to Vergil's description of the sack of Troy throughout Book 2 suggest what Rome's fate should have been had the Christians not implored God, whilst also shedding doubt on Vergil's promise of an empire without end. This is the core of Orosius' message: the traditional perception of the Roman past, as exemplified in Vergil, is wrong and it is only Christian morality that sways God to postpone the inevitable.

Keywords: Vergil; Troy; four‐empire theory; eternity of Rome; christian morality; parallelism in ancient historiography

Chapter.  7745 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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