A Past for the Present: On Metaphors and Panegyric

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 Past for the Present: On Metaphors and Panegyric

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In line with classical historiography, Orosius repeatedly compares the history of Rome to the human lifespan and concludes his work in a panegyrical vein. The comparison with a lifespan usually draws attention to how the weakness of old age is overcome. Contrary to the traditional idea of a rejuvenation of Rome, however, Orosius uses the metaphor to draw attention to the imminent fall of Rome. The concluding panegyrical chapters rely heavily on the end of Book 5 of Augustine's City of God and praise not so much Rome as God, who responds to individual virtue and sin. At the same time, they remind the target audience of the current safety and prosperity of Africa and Sicily, in contrast with the uncertainty of the past.

Keywords: Augustine; metaphors for history; fall of Rome; panegyric; audience; christian morality

Chapter.  10748 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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