protectors.73 He proceeds with illustrations from Horace, Sallust, Livy and Lucian, among others, to deconstruct the pagan story of Rome's elite triumphing over their enemies, guided by destiny and protected by the gods.

Augustine's overtly Christian re-telling of history is a departure from the precedent set by the first Christian chronicler, Eusebius of Caesarea, whose Historia ecclesiastica sought to establish the antiquity of the Judaeo-Christian tradition from the birth of Abraham. There is, however, room to compare the two in that both Augustine and Eusebius incorporated Christian apologetic into their accounts of history. More strictly in line with Eusebius' approach is Jerome, whose Chronicle was a Latin adaptation of Eusebius up to 325, supplemented by the history of events to 378. Theodoret's Historia ecclesiastica, covering the period 324 to 428/9, concentrates mainly on ecclesiastical affairs.

Pagan authors continued to contest these interpretations ofhistorical events as manifesting the providential hand of God. Ammianus Marcellinus produced a pagan history that was critical of leading Christian figures of the third to fifth centuries, and full of praise for Julian. In the early sixth century the pagan Zosimus, in response to Christian historical revisionism, wrote a New history which covered the first four centuries ofthe Roman empire, ending just before the sack of Rome in August 410. Zosimus did his own revision of the facts of history, by changing the dates of key events, such as the conversion of Constantine, to suit his narrative, which attributed the collapse of Rome to its neglect of pagan sacrifices.74

Public orations

Libanius reports somewhat smugly that with the accession ofJulian, 'the art of prophecy came again into its own, that of oratory came again to be admired',75 reflecting a common feeling that Christianity had led to the degradation of one of classical culture's jewels, public oratory. Certain categories of the classical oratio, such as epideictic rhetoric (speeches of praise or blame), were well used by Christian authors to make a case for their religion publicly, or to criticise an opponent (as for instance Gregory of Nazianzus' Or. 4, an apology against Julian). A convincing case has recently been made for the relevance of two other branches of ancient Greek oratory to a full understanding of

73 Augustine, De civitate Dei 1.3.

74 E.g., Constantine's conversion was moved to 326 so that his military successes appeared to belong to the pagan era, and no mention was made of Arianism or the Council of Nicaea in 325; see Zosimus: New history, trans. Ridley, xiii-xiv and 157 n. 64.

75 Libanius, Autobiography 119 (trans. Norman, 185).

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