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The Old English Orosius

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Chapter Summary

"Her onginneð seo boc þe man Orosius nemneð". This rubric is the work of an eleventh-century scribe. This chapter considers the work's authorship and date and also examines the handling of the text, the nature of the additions and omissions made, the geographical and classical knowledge displayed, and aspects of language and style. Paulus Orosius' Histories against the Pagans was much studied and copied in the Middle Ages. A work covering world history from a Christian standpoint up to 418 A.D, with its concluding sections conveniently overlapping the opening chapters of Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum for which it was a source, it might, if not already available, seem, as Dorothy Whitelock said of the Bede, a very likely candidate for inclusion in King Alfred's scheme for providing translations of books "most necessary for all men to know".

Keywords: Augustine; Bede; Christian; Dorothy Whitelock; Histories against the Pagans; King Alfred; Paulus Orosius

10.1163/9789004283763_013
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