Orosius Through the Ages

map with historic castles
Conference / Exhibition

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Wednesday 25 May 2022 to Friday 27 May 2022

10:15 AM - 03:45 PM


The Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, University of London

Event details

The Spanish presbyter Paulus Orosius wrote his Historiae adversus paganos, described as the first universal Christian history, around 417 CE. From the fifth century to the present, the text has been lauded and condemned, but it has never been forgotten.

The exceptionality of the Historiae is indicated by its incredibly rich and diverse reception over the subsequent centuries. The work became the standard point of reference on antiquity for the medieval and early modern world. It had an enormous impact of the historiography of later centuries, from Bede and Otto of Freising, to Petrarch and Dante, to Edward Gibbon.

At least two hundred and seventy-five manuscripts survive, the oldest dating to the sixth century, and the work was translated into Old English, Arabic, Aragonese, and Castilian prior to the modern period. Despite its significance, Orosius’s Historiae has long been overlooked, and there has been little critical energy directed to the long-view of the reception of the work.

This international three-day conference provides a unique and timely opportunity for knowledge-exchange about Orosius and the reception of his Historiae across history, within and beyond the Mediterranean. It aims to bring together scholars from a range of backgrounds and career-stages, working in contingent fields on different aspects of Orosian studies, from the reception of Roman history in the fifth-century Latin Historiae, to the Arabic translation of the Historiae in Muslim Spain in the tenth century, and onwards into early modern Christianity and the turbulent politics of the Reformation.

The conference features keynote addresses from Elizabeth M. Tyler, Professor of Medieval History at the University of York, and Peter Van Nuffelen, Professor for the Cultural History of the Ancient World at Ghent University. Prof. Van Nuffelen will speak on ‘Orosius the Historian: Historiographical Traditions and Treading the Line’. Prof. Tyler will speak on ‘Orosius, Universal History and the Making of Imperial England: From Alfred the Great to the Conquest’.

The conference is generously hosted by the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London. The event blends in-person and online participation, as far as the restrictions of the pandemic allow. The physical element of the conference will take place at the Institute of Classical Studies in London, including both keynotes. Contributions from around the world are encouraged, especially those of postgraduate and early career academics.

The conference is organised by Victoria Leonard (Coventry University and the ICS), Elisa Manzo (University of Naples Federico II), and Cameron Wachowich (University of Toronto).

The conference is generously sponsored by the Royal Historical Society, the Classical Association, Coventry University, Past & Present, and the Institute of Classical Studies.

Please note: A full schedule for this event can be viewed on the conference website.


For enquiries please contact Victoria Leonard