Saturday, 11 April 2015

Anna Lankina: Reassessing Post-Eusebian Historiography in Late Antiquity: Sozomen, Philostorgius, and Olympiodorus on Empire

Scholars have long asserted that in his Ecclesiastical History Eusebius presented a new vision of Christian and imperial history, which formed the foundation of the genre of church history, marking a break with the classical past. Over time scholars have questioned Eusebius’s establishment of a new genre, instead analyzing his sources and his immediate apologetic purposes. Yet, traditional scholarship on post-Eusebian historiography draws strict lines of demarcation between non-Christian and Christian historiography and also excludes non-Nicene Christian histories.
More recently, scholars have showed that the church historians of the fifth century—both orthodox and heterodox—shared the same audience as non-Christian historians. While Christian historiography gradually came to dominate definitions of the past, the fifth century still constituted a time of contest over the nature of the past of the now Christian Roman Empire. Still, there has not been a close comparison of Christian and non-Christian histories. The pro-Nicene historian Sozomen, the non-Nicene Philostorgius, and the non-Christian Olympiodorus serve as a good starting point for the reintegration of these historians back into dialogue with each other as evidence shows that they read each other. I propose to examine the approaches of these historians to demonstrate their commonalities while at the same time giving voice to their claims for distinctiveness. Specifically, I will focus on how they presented imperial rule, war, and “barbarians” as a preliminary investigation into how these histories related to each other in their broader representations of the Christian empire.

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