If there were men who recommended tolerance and peaceful coexistence of Christians and pagans, they were rapidly crowded out. The Christians were ready to take over the Roman empire, as Eusebius made clear in the introduction of the Praeparatio evangelica where he emphasizes the correlation between pax romana and the Christian message: the thought indeed was not even new. The Christians were also determined to make impossible a return to conditions of inferiority and persecution for the Church. The problems and the conflicts inside the Church which all this implied may be left aside for the moment. The revolution of the fourth century, carrying with it a new historiography, will not be understood if we underrate the determination, almost the fierceness, with which the Christians appreciated and exploited the miracle that had transformed Constantine into a supporter, a protector and later a legislator of the Christian Church.
One fact is eloquent enough. All the pioneer works in the field of Christian historiography are earlier than what we may call their opposite numbers in pagan historiography. De mortibus persecutorum was written by Lactantius about 316. Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History probably appeared in a first edition about 312 (5). His life of Constantine — the authenticity of which can hardly be doubted — was written not long after 337 (6). Athanasius’ life of St Anthony belongs to the years around 360. Among the pagan works none can be dated with absolute certainty before the death of Constantine. The Historia Augusta purports to have been written under Diocletian and Constantine, but the majority of modern scholars prefer — rightly or wrongly — a date later than 360 (7). The characteristic trilogy, to which the Caesares by Aurelius Victor belong, was put together later than 360 (8). The lives of the Sophists by Eunapius — which are pagan hagiography — were published about 395 (9). Ammianus Marcellinus, too, finished his work about 395 (10). On the whole, the Christians come before the pagans in their creative writing. The Christians attack. The pagans are on the defensive.
Towards the end of the century the situation changed. Theodosius’ death precipitated a political crisis, and the barbarians were soon taking advantage of it with invasions on an unprecedented scale. The intervention of the state in theological matters appeared less attractive to people who had witnessed the trials of the Priscillianists and the cruel executions that concluded them. Many Christians became less certain of themselves and went back to paganism. Many pagans became more aggressive and dared to say openly that the new religion was responsible for the collapse of the empire. In the pagan field resignation yielded to fury, and in the Christian field aggressiveness had to be turned into self-defence. This incidentally brought about a revival of pagan historical writing in Greek: pagan Greek historiography had been conspicuously absent from the ideological struggles of the fourth century. It thus becomes clear that the years between 395 and 410 saw new developments in historiography which are beyond the scope of this lecture. Though we shall not disregard them altogether, we shall confine our analysis to the years 312-95. The clear-sighted determination of the Christians, which became suddenly apparent about 312, was the result of centuries of discipline and thought. In times of persecution and of uneasy tolerance the Church had developed its idea of orthodoxy and its conception of the providential economy of history. It emerged victorious to reassert with enhanced authority the unmistakable pattern of divine intervention in history, the ruthless elimination of deviations. The foundations of Christian historiography had been laid long before the time of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.
We all know the story of the man who went into a London bookshop and asked for a New Testament in Greek. The assistant retired to a back room and after ten minutes came back with a grave look: ‘Strange, sir, but Greek seems to be the only language into which the New Testament has not yet been translated.’ The story may remind us of two facts. The first is that there was a time in which the New Testament was only available in Greek. The second and more important is that at that time it was as difficult as it is now to find a bookshop with a New, or for that matter an Old, Testament in Greek. About A.D. 180 a man like Galen could walk into a bookshop only to discover that they were selling an unauthorized edition of his own lectures. But though he was interested in the Christians, Galen would hardly have found a Bible. The Bible was no literature for the pagan. Its Greek was not elegant enough. Lactantius noted: ‘apud sapientes et doctos et principes huius saeculi scriptura sancta fide care(a)t (Inst.v.1.15). If we find a pagan who had a slight acquaintance with the Bible, such as the anonymous author of On the Sublime, we suspect direct Jewish influence: justifiedly so, because the author of the Sublime was a student of Caecilius of Calacte, who, to all appearances was a Jew (11). Normally the educated pagans of the Roman empire knew nothing about either Jewish or Christian history. If they wanted some information about the Jews, they picked up second-hand distortions such as we read in Tacitus. The consequence was that a direct acquaintance with Jewish or Christian history normally came together with conversion to Judaism or to Christianity. People learnt a new history because they acquired a new religion. Conversion meant literally the discovery of a new history from Adam and Eve to contemporary events (12).
The new history could not suppress the old. Adam and Eve and what follows had in some way to be presented in a world populated by Deucalion, Cadmus, Romulus and Alexander the Great. This created all sorts of new problems. First, the pagans had to be introduced to the Jewish version of history. Secondly, the Christian historians were expected to silence the objection that Christianity was new, and therefore not respectable. Thirdly, the pagan facts of life had to get into the Jewish-Christian scheme of redemption. It soon became imperative for the Christians to produce a chronology which would satisfy both the needs of elementary teaching and the purposes of higher historical interpretation. The Christian chronographers had to summarize the history which the converts were now supposed to consider their own; they had also to show the antiquity of the Jewish-Christian doctrine, and they had to present a model of providential history. The result was that, unlike pagan chronology, Christian chronology was also a philosophy of history. Unlike pagan elementary teaching, Christian elementary teaching of history could not avoid touching upon the essentials of the destiny of man. The convert, in abandoning paganism, was compelled to enlarge his historical horizon: he was likely to think for the first time in terms of universal history.
The spade-work in Christian chronology was done long before the fourth century (13). The greatest names involved in this work, Clemens Alexandrinus, Julius Africanus and Hippolytus of Rome, belong to the second and third centuries. They created the frame for the divine administration of the world; they transformed Hellenistic chronography into a Christian science and added the lists of the bishops of the most important sees to the lists of kings and magistrates of the pagan world. They presented history in such a way that the scheme of redemption was easy to perceive. They showed with particular care the priority of the Jews over the pagans — in which point their debt to Jewish apologetic is obvious. They established criteria of orthodoxy by the simple device of introducing lists of bishops who represented the apostolic succession. Calculations about the return of Christ amid the ultimate end had never been extraneous to the Church. Since the Apocalypse attributed to St John had established itself as authoritative in the Church, millennial reckonings had multiplied. Universal chronology in the Christian sense was bound to take into account not only the beginning, hut also the end; it had either to accept or else to fight the belief in the millennium. Chronology and eschatology were conflated. Both Julius Africanus and Hippolytus were firm believers in the millennium, without, however, believing in its imminence. But the higher purpose of philosophy of history was never separated from the immediate task of informing and edifying the faithful. Hippolytus’ introduction to his Chronicon is explicit. To quote a sentence from one of its Latin translations (another was incorporated in the Chronographer of 354), it was his purpose to show ‘quae divisio et quae perditio facta sit, quo autem modo generatio seminis Israel de patribus in Christo completa sit.’
At the beginning of the fourth century Christian chronology had already passed its creative stage. What Eusebius did was to correct and to improve the work of his predecessors, among whom he relied especially on Julius Africanus (14). He corrected details which seemed to him wrong even to the extent of reducing the priority of the Biblical heroes over the pagan ones. Moses, a contemporary of Ogyges according to Julius Africanus, was made a contemporary of Kekrops with a loss of 300 years. Eusebius was not afraid of attacking St Paul’s guesses about the chronology of the Book of Judges. He freely used Jewish and anti-Christian sources such as Porphyrios. He introduced a reckoning from Abraham which allowed him to avoid the pitfalls of a chronology according to the first chapters of Genesis. He seems to have been the first to use the convenient method of presenting the chronology of the various nations in parallel columns. None of the earlier chronographers seems to have used this scheme, though it has often been attributed to Castor or to Julius Africanus. He made many mistakes, but they do not surprise us any longer. Fifty years ago Eduard Schwartz, to save Eusebius’ reputation as a competent chronographer, conjectured that the two extant representatives of the lost original of Eusebius’ Chronicon — the Latin adaptation by St Jerome and the anonymous Armenian translation — were based on an interpolated text which passed for pure Eusebius. This conjecture is perhaps unnecessary; nor are we certain that the Armenian version is closer to the original than St Jerome’s Latin translation. Both versions reflect the inevitable vagaries of Eusebius’ mind to whom chronology was something between an exact science and an instrument of propaganda.
But we recognize the shrewd and worldly adviser of the Emperor Constantine in the absence of millenarian dreams. Eusebius, and St Jerome who followed him, had an essential part in discrediting them. Of course, they did not stamp them out. Millenarian reckonings reappear in the De cursu temporum which Bishop Hilarian wrote at the end of the fourth century (15). They also played a part in the thought of Sulpicius Severus about that time(16). As we have already said, the disasters of the end of the century made a difference to dreams, as they made a difference to the other realities.
Thanks to Eusebius, chronography remained the typical form of Christian instruction in the fourth century. It showed concern with the pattern of history rather than with the detail.
The Christians indeed were not alone in having a problem of historical education. The pagans had their own problem. But we can state immediately the difference between pagans and Christians in the teaching of history. The pagans were not concerned with ultimate values in their elementary teaching. Their main concern was to keep alive a knowledge of the Roman past. After the social and political earthquakes of the third century a new leading class had emerged which clearly had some difficulty in remembering the simple facts of Roman history (17). This explains why Eutropius and (Rufius?) Festus were both commissioned by the Emperor Valens to prepare a brief summary of Roman history. Eutropius was the first to obey the royal command. But the seventy-seven pages of his Teubner text must have proved too many for Valens. Festus, who followed, restricted himself to about twenty pages. He was not modest, but literal, when he commended his work to the gloriosissimus princeps as being even shorter than a summary — a mere enumeration of facts. The new men who, coming from the provincial armies or from Germany, acquired power and wealth, wanted some knowledge of the Roman past. They had to mix with the surviving members of the senatorial aristocracy in which knowledge of Roman history and antiquities was de rigueur. The establishment of a new senate in Constantinople, by adding another privileged class, complicated this educational problem. The senators of Constantinople, picked as they were from the municipal upper class of the East, were not likely to be uneducated, but they were not particularly strong either in the Latin language or in Roman, history. These people too needed breviaria. Eutropius was soon translated into Greek by a friend of Libanius and began his momentous career in the Byzantine world. There can be few other Latin authors able to boast of at least three successive translations into Greek.
In their characteristic neutrality, the pagan breviaria presented no danger to the Christians. They were so devoid of religious content that they could not give offence. On the contrary, the Christians could easily exploit them for their own purposes. Eutropius was very successful in Constantinople where the aristocracy soon became predominantly Christian. The Christian compiler known as the Chronographer of 354 incorporated in his own work a pagan recapitulation of the history of Rome — the so-called Chronica urbis Romae (18). When St Jerome decided to continue Eusebius’ Chronicon to 378 he used pagan writers such as Aurelius Victor and Eutropius, not to mention the Chronica urbis Romae which he probably knew as a part of the Christian chronography of 354. All this, however, only emphasized the fact that the Christians had no compilation, comparable to Eutropius and Festus. If breviaria were not needed during the fourth century when the Christians felt very sure of themselves, they appeared less superfluous towards the end of the century when the pagan version of Roman history gained in authority. Sulpicius Severus, who had absorbed pagan culture in Gaul, was the first to realize the deficiency and to fill the gap just about A.D. 400. He combined Christian chronographers and the Bible with historici mundiales, the pagan historians. His purpose was still the dual one of the earlier Christian chronography: ‘ut et imperitos docerem et litteratos convincerem’. Later, about 417, Orosius followed his example when he was requested by St Augustine to produce a summary of the history of Rome in support of his Civitas dei. Orosius gave what from a medieval point of view can be called the final Christian twist to the pagan epitome of Roman history (19).
Epitomes are only on the threshold of history. So far we have considered books which were meant to remind the reader of the events rather than to tell them afresh. But an important fact has already emerged. Whether in the form of chronographies or, later, in the form of breviaria, the Christian compilations were explicit in conveying a message: one can doubt whether the majority of the pagan compilations conveyed any message at all. Sulpicius Severus and Orosius fought for a cause, and it is to be remembered that Sulpicius Severus expressed the indignation felt by Ambrosius and Martin of Tours against the appeal to the secular arm in the Priscillianist controversy. Consequently, it was very easy to transform a pagan handbook into a Christian one, but almost impossible to make pagan what had been Christian. Later on we shall consider one possible exception to the rule that the Christians assimilate pagan ideas, while the Pagans do not appropriate Christian ones. The rule, however, stands: it is enough to indicate the trend of the century — and, incidentally, to explain why the Christians were so easily victorious. Just because the trend is so clear, we can perhaps conjecturally add yet another case of the easy transformation of pagan historical breviaria into Christian ones. All is in doubt about the first part of the Anonymus Valesianus —which is a brief life of Constantine under the name of Origo Constantini imperatoris. But a fourth-century date seen highly probable; and it also seems clear that the few Christian passages are later interpolations from Orosius. If so, the Origo Constantini imperatoris is a beautiful example of a short pagan work which, was made Christian by the simple addition of a few passages (20). The Christians could easily take it over because of the relatively neutral character of the original text. The pagans for their part kept away from Christian explosives.
Christian initiative was such that it did not hesitate to appropriate Jewish goods also. Pseudo-Philo’s Liber antiquitatum Biblicarum was originally a Jewish handbook of Biblical history. It seems to have been written its Hebrew for Jews in the first century A.D., it was later done into Greek, and, to all appearances, in, the fourth century, it was changed into a Christian handbook and translated into Latin (21).
The question then arises whether the Christians became the masters of the field also on the higher level of original historical writing and whether here, too, they confirmed their capacity for assimilating without being assimilated.
If the question were simply to be answered by a yes, it would not be worth asking. The traditional forms of higher historiography did not attract the Christians. They invented new ones. These inventions are the most important contributions made to historiography after the fifth- century B.C., and before the sixteenth century A.D. Yet the pagans are allowed by the Christians to remain the masters of traditional historiographical forms. To put it briefly, the Christians invented ecclesiastical history and the biography of the saints, but did not try to Christianize ordinary political history; and they influenced ordinary biography less than we would expect. In the fourth century A.D. there was no serious attempt to provide a Christian version of say, Thucydides or Tacitus — to mention two writers who were still being seriously studied. A reinterpretation of ordinary military, political or diplomatic history in Christian terms was neither achieved nor even attempted. Lactantius in the De Mortibus persecutorum is perhaps the only Christian writer to touch upon social and political events. He does so in a conservative and senatorial spirit which must be embarrassing to those who identify the Christians with, the lower middle class, but he never seriously develops his political interpretation: he is not to be compared as an analyst with, Ammianus Marcellinus or even with the Scriptores Historiae Augusta.
The consequence is plain. No real Christian historiography founded upon the political experience of Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy and Tacitus was transmitted to the Middle Ages. This is already apparent in the sixth century when a military and political historian like Procopius was basically pagan in outlook and technique. When in the fifteenth, and sixteenth, centuries the humanists rediscovered their Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy and Tacitus, they rediscovered something for which, there was no plain Christian alternative. It is not for me to say whether an alternative was possible: whether an earlier Tacitus christianus would have been less foolish, than the post-Reformation One. What I must point out is that the conditions which made Machiavelli and Guicciardini possible originated in the fourth century AD. The models for political and military history remained irretrievably pagan. In the higher historiography there was nothing comparable with the easy Christianizing of the pagan breviaria.
Here again Eusebius was the decisive influence. How much he owed to predecessors, and especially to the shadowy Hegesippus. we shall never know, unless new evidence is discovered (22). But it is fairly clear that Hegesippus wrote apologetic, not history. Apart from him, there is no other name that can seriously compete with Eusebius’ for the invention of ecclesiastical history. He was not vainly boasting when he asserted that he was the ‘first to enter on this Undertaking as travellers do on some desolate and untrodden way’ (23).
Eusebius, like any other educated man, knew what proper history was. He knew that it was a rhetorical work with a maximum of invented speeches and a minimum of authentic documents. Since he chose to give plenty of documents and refrained from inventing speeches, he must have intended to produce something different from ordinary history. Did he then intend to produce a preparatory work to history, hypomnema? This is hardly credible. First of all, historical hypomnemata were normally confined to contemporary events. Secondly, Eusebius speaks as if he were writing history, and not collecting materials for a future history.
It was Eduard Schwartz who in one of his most whimsical moments suggested that German professors of Kirchengeschichte had been the victims of their poor Greek. They had not understood that Ekklesiiastike historia did not mean Kirchengeschichte, but Materialen zur Kirchengeschichte. Eduard Schwartz, of course was fighting his great battle against the isolation of ecclesiastical history in German universities, and we who share his beliefs can hardly blame him for this paradox. But a paradox it was (24).
Eusebius knew only too well that he was writing a new kind of history. The Christians were a nation in his view. Thus he was writing national history. But his nation had a transcendental origin. Though it had appeared on earth in Augustus’ time, it was born in heaven ‘with the first dispensation concerning the Christ himself’ (1.1.8). Such, a nation was not fighting ordinary wars. Its struggles were persecutions and heresies. Behind the Christian nation there was Christ, just as the devil was behind its enemies. The ecclesiastical history was bound to be different from ordinary history because it was a history of the struggle against the devil, who tried to pollute the purity of the Christian Church as guaranteed by the apostolic succession.
Having started to collect his materials during Diocletian’s persecutions, Eusebius never forgot his original purpose which was to produce factual evidence about the past and about the character of the persecuted Church. He piled up his evidence of quotations from reputable authorities and records in the form that was natural to any ancient controversialist. As he was dealing with a Church that represented a school of thought there was much he could learn, in the matter of presentation from the histories of philosophic schools which, he knew well. These dealt with doctrinal controversies, questions of authenticity, successions of scholarchs. But he did away with all that was anecdotal and worldly in the pagan biographies of philosophers. This is why we shall never know whether Clemens Alexandrinus was fond of eating green figs and of basking in the sun — which are established points in the biography of Zeno the Stoic. At the same time Eusebius certainly had in mind Jewish-Hellenistic historiography, as exemplified for him and for us by Flavius Josephus. In Josephus he found the emphasis on the past, the apologetic tone, the doctrinal digression, the display (though not so lavish) of documents: above all there was the idea of a nation which is different from ordinary pagan nations. Jewish historiography emphatically underlined the importance of the remote past in comparison with recent times and the importance of cult in comparison with, politics.
The suggestion that Eusebius combined the methods of philosophic historiography with the approach, of Jewish-Hellenistic historiography has at least the merit of being a guide to the sources of his thought. Yet it is far from accounting for all the main features of his work. There were obvious differences between the history of the Church and that of any other institution. Persecution had been an all-pervading factor of Christianity. Heresy was a new conception which (whatever its origins) had hardly the same importance in any other school of thought, even in Judaism. An account of the Christian Church based on the notion of orthodoxy and on its relations with a persecuting power was bound to be something different from any other historical account. The new type of exposition chosen by Eusebius proved to be adequate to the new type of institution represented by the Christian Church. It was founded upon authority and not upon the free judgement of which the pagan historians were proud. His contemporaries felt that he had made a new start. Continuators, imitators and translators multiplied. Some of them (most particularly Sozomen) tried to be more conventional in their historiographical style, more obedient to rhetorical traditions. None departed from the main structure of Eusebius’ creation with its emphasis on the struggle against persecutors and heretics and therefore on the purity and continuity of the doctrinal tradition.
Eusebius introduced a new type of historical exposition which was characterized by the importance attributed to the more remote past, by the central position of doctrinal controversies and by the lavish use of documents.
I am not yet able to answer two questions which are very much on my mind: whether in the Middle Ages there was a school of pure ecclesiastical history from Cassiodorus to Bede, to Adam of Bremen and to John of Salisbury; and whether this school, if any, was characterized by a special interest in documents. What is certain is that from the sixteenth, to the eighteenth, century ecclesiastical history (especially of the early Church) was treated with a much, greater display of erudition, with much more care for minute analysis of the evidence than any other type of history. There is no work in profane history comparable with the Magdeburg Centuriators and with Baronius. Naturally this is the expression of the fiercely controversial character which ecclesiastical history assumed with the Reformation. But we may well wonder whether the ecclesiastical historians of the Renaissance would have entered upon this path of erudition and documentation — and incidentally of illegibility — without the powerful precedent of Eusehius and his immediate pupils. Conversely, we may well wonder whether modern political historiography would ever have emerged from rhetoric and pragmatism to footnotes and appendixes without the example of ecclesiastical history. The first man who applied careful scrutiny of the evidence to the history of the Roman empire was Le Nain de Tillemont, who came from ecclesiastical history and worked in both fields. Among the Maurists of St Germaim-des-Prés erudition spread from ecclesiastical to profane, even to literary history. Perhaps we have all underestimated the impact of ecclesiastical history on the development of historical method. A new chapter of historiography begins with Eusebius not only because he invented ecclesiastical history, but because he wrote it with a documentation which is utterly different from that of the pagan historians (25).
Thus we are brought back to our main point. Eusebius made history positively and negatively by creating ecclesiastical history and by leaving political history alone. In a comparable manner another Christian invented the biography of the saints and left the biography of generals and politicians to the pagans. The inventor was Athanasius, whose life of St Anthony was promptly made available in Latin by Euagrius. The complicated pattern of suggestions which, lies behind the rise of hagiography - exitus illustrium virorum, Jewish legends, lives of philosophers, ‘aretalogies’, etc. — cannot detain us here. The studies by K. Holl amid R. Reitzenstein seem to have established that Athanasius was more directly inspired by the Pythagorean type of the theios aner, such as we find in the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus and in the life of Pythagoras himself by Iamblichus (26). Athanasius intended to oppose the Christian saint who works his way to God with the help of God to the pagan philosopher who is practically a god himself. By imparting a mortal blow to the ideal of the pagan philosopher, he managed to produce an ideal type which became extremely popular among ordinary Christians. Only small groups of pagans believed that Pythagoras or Diogenes was the best possible man. The great majority of pagans was more interested in Hercules, Achilles and Alexander the Great. But in Christian society the saint was soon recognized as the only perfect type of man. This gives hagiography, as begun by Athanasius, its unique place. It outclassed all other types of biography because all the other types of men became inferior to that of the saint. In comparison, the ordinary biography of kings and politicians became insignificant. One of the most important features of the lives of saints is to give a new dimension to historiography by registering the activity of devils in the plural. It is no exaggeration to say that a mass invasion of devils into historiography preceded and accompanied the mass invasion of barbarians into the Roman empire. A full treatment of ‘Devils in historiography’ must be reserved for a future course at the Warburg Institute on ‘Devils and the Classical Tradition’. But so much can be said here: the devils seem to have respected the classical distinction of literary genres. They established themselves in biography, but made only occasional irruptions into the field of annals.
The difficulty of writing a Christian, biography of a king as distinct from the life of a saint is already apparent in the life of Constantine by Eusebius, though it was produced perhaps twenty years before the composition of the life of St Anthony by Athanasius. Eusebius had no other choice but to present the life of Constantine as a model of a pious life — paradeigma theosebous biou, as he himself says. The task was certainly not beyond Eusebius’ ingenuity, but it flouted anybody’s respect for truth. Moreover, it inspired neglect of all that counts in a life of a general and a politician: military glory, political success, concern for ordinary human affairs, and the rest of the passions power carries with it. No wonder that this life of Constantine was never a success, had hardly any influence on later biographies, and found some modern scholars ready to deny the Eusebian authorship even at the risk of being contradicted by papyrological evidence. It continued to be easier for a Christian to work on the life of a saint than to write the life of an emperor. We may sympathize with Eginhard when he decided to go back to Suetonius for his life of Charlemagne.
We can thus see that a direct conflict between Christians and pagans is not to be expected on the higher level of the hsistoriography of the fourth century. The Christians, with all their aggressiveness, kept to their own new types of history and biography. Eusebius’ life of Constantine was an experiment not to be repeated — historiographically a blind alley. The pagans were left to cultivate their own fields. This perhaps reinforced their tendency to avoid any direct discussion with their formidable neighbours in the field of historiography, The opposition to Christianity can be guessed rather than demonstrated in the majority of the pagan students of history. It shows itself in the care with which pagan historians of the past — such as Sallust, Livy and Tacitus — were read and imitated. It is also apparent in the implicit rejection of the most characteristic Christian values, such as humility and poverty. But it seldom takes the form of direct critical remarks. There are two or three sentences in the Historia Augusta which sound like a criticism of the Christians. One is the good-humoured remark that in Egypt ‘those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are in fact devotees of Serapis’ (Firmus, 8, 2). In the last sentence of Aurelius Victor’s De Caesaribus there is perhaps a criticism of Constantius II’s Christian ministers : ‘ut imperatore ipso praeclarius, ita apparitorum plerisque magis atrox nihil’. But notice with what care the emperor is declared blameless. Finally, there are the well-known criticisms of Ammianus Marcellinus against the Roman clergy and other bishops, such as Bishop George of Alexandria. But here again notice that the same Ammianus praises Christian martyrdom, and respects the blameless life of provincial bishops. The pagans were bound to be prudent —and their mood was altogether that of a generous and like-minded liberalism. The Historia Augusta is by no means the big anti-Christian pamphlet which some scholars have seen in it. On the contrary, the ideal emperor Severus Alexander worships Jesus with Abraham in his private chapel. Ammianus Marcellinus makes an effort to disentangle what is absoluta and simplex religio and what is anilis superstitio in Christianity (xxi, 16, 18). According to him what matters is virtus, not paganism or Christianity. As we all know, this attitude is also to be found in Symmachus, in some of the pagan correspondents of St Augustine and in the Panegyricus by Nazarius (IV, 7, 3). Rufius Festus, who was an unbeliever but whose pagan sympathies are shown by the disproportionate amount of space he devotes to Julian is full of deference towards the Christian God of his master Valens: ‘Maneat modo concessa dei nutu et ab amico cui credis et creditus es numine indulta felicitas’. ‘May long last the happiness that was granted to you by the friendly god whom you trust and to whom you are entrusted.’ This is a very decent way of saving one’s conscience without offending one’s master.
The only exception is Eunapius, whose history of the fourth century was so anti-Christian that, according to Photius, it had to be re-edited in a less offensive form. The greater part of this history is lost, but Eunapius’ attitude is clear enough from the extant fragments and even more so from his lives of the Sophists, where Julian is the hero and the apology for Neoplatonic paganism is unbridled. If Julian won victories it was because the right gods helped him. We can still read in the margins of the Codex Laurentianus of Eunapius’ lives of the Sophists the indignant remarks of one of his Byzanitine readers. Eunapius clearly meant his lives of the Sophists to compete with, the lives of the Christian saints whose cult he despised (Vit.Soph. 472). But Eunapius reflects the changed mood of the end of the century when even the most optimistic pagan could no longer nurture illusions about Christian tolerance (27). Furthermore, his particular type of reaction is that of a professor who wrote for Greek literati rather than for the pagan aristocracy of the West. As we observed, the Greek pagans of the East seem to have become vocal only at the end of the century. During the century itself Latin was the main language of pagan historiography.
In the West, among the Latin historians, the resistance to Christianity showed itself in a mixture of silence amid condescension; Christianity is rarely mentioned. If it is mentioned, kindness and good humour prevail. What counts is the vast zone of silence, the ambiguity which gives Latin pagan historiography of the fourth century its strange imprint of reticence and mystery. Seldom are historians of historiography faced by works so difficult to date, to analyse in their composite nature and to attribute to a definite background. For the first time we come across historical work done in collaboration, — which adds to its elusiveness.
The Historia Augusta is the classic example of historiographic mystery. The work purports to have been written by six authors at various moments of the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine. Some at least of the alleged authors claim to have written in collaboration. This very claim of team-work is baffling: cooperative ‘Cambridge histories were not common in antiquity. The writing is sensational and unscrupulous, and the forged documents included in this work serve no obvious purpose. One or two passages may point to a post-Constantinian date either for the whole collection or at least for the passages themselves. But the date and the purpose of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae remain au unsolved problem.
A less famous, but no less remarkable, mystery is the tripartite corpus under the tithe Origo gentis Romanae — a title which incidentally must be translated as History of the Roman people. It includes a history of Roman origins from Saturnus to the murder of Remus, a collection of short biographies from Romulus to Augustus (the so-called De viris illustribus), and, finally, short and accomplished biographies of Roman emperors to AD. 360. The imperial biographies were written by Aurelius Victor whom we know to have been a friend of Julian and a praefectus urbi under Theodosius. The other two sections of the trilogy are anonymous: they were written by two different authors, neither of whom can be identical with Aurelius Victor. A fourth man acted as editor and put together the three pamphlets to form the present trilogy. All these people were pagan. I have elsewhere suggested that the editor of the trilogy may have tried to produce a complete pagan history of Rome at the time of the Emperor Julian. But this is a pure guess, though not an unreasonable one, I trust. The compiler himself does not say anything about the precise meaning and date of his compilation. He may have known the Christian Chronographer of 354: he has certainly adopted a compositional scheme which reminds us of the Chronica urbis Romae included in the Chronographer of 354. What is extraordinary and to my mind, important in this trilogy is the absence of any direct allusion to Christianity. The author is pagan: there is no reference to the Christians.
Ammianus Marcellinus is not a mystery in the sense in which the Historia Augusta and the tripartite Origo gentis Romanae are mysteries (28). He speaks about himself more than the majority of the ancient historians ever did. His keen eye is constantly on the lookout for individual features. He is a man full of delightful curiosity. Yet what do we ultimately know about Ammianus? He does not even tell us why he, a Greek from Antioch, chose Latin, as his literary language. He says very little about the theological controversies of his time and almost nothing about the religious feelings of the people he must have known best. Magic seems to interest him more than theology. Yet theology counted most. He was a soldier. Yet he is apparently not interested in military organizations. He has an uncanny ability to describe a character without defining a situation. He never gives himself away. His histories might have for motto his own words: ‘quisquis igitur dicta considerat, perpendat etiam cetera quae tacentur’ (XXIX.3.1). It is symbolic that the greatest feat of his military career was to escape unnoticed from besieged Amida while the Persians were breaking into the city. He may have become more reticent about religion in the Books xxvi—xxxi which he wrote after 392 when Theodosius hardened against the pagans. But even the earlier books, written as they were in more tolerant years, are not much more explicit. He dislikes the Germans, yet his unwillingness to analyse the causes of the barbarian successes is notorious. He deplores the greed and avarice of some Roman aristocrats, especially of the Anicii who were just then turning to Christianity. But he cannot have had any general objection against the senatorial class among which he had his pagan friends, Praetextatus, Eupraxius and Symmachus. An acute and passionate judge of individuals, he avoids our direct questions and leaves us wondering. His master Tacitus is a paragon of directness by comparison.
If reticence, love of the pagan past, moderation and erudition were the prominent features of these Latin historians, the Christians did not have much to fear from their work. Historians of this kind could please other historians. Ammianus Marcellinus, the Historia Augusta and the now lost histories by Nicomachus Flavianus were read in the sixth century in the circle of Symmachus and Cassiodorus, when there was a revival of interest in Roman history (29). But Ammianus, the Historia Augusta, and Aurelius Victor were never popular for all we know. The fact that at least one of these historical works, the Historia Aurusta, is guilty of professional dishonesty is not a sign of strength, for historiography of this kind. It would be unfair to generalize since so much of the fourth-century historical production is lost. Within the limits of our knowledge we are constantly reminded of the fact that the true pagans of the fourth century found their most profound satisfaction, not in writing new history, but in copying existing histories, trying to solve problem of antiquarianism, commenting on Virgil and other classics, reading and writing poetry in a pagan spirit. The real passion was in those who tried to revive the past by direct religious worship, by discussion of ancient custom, by the study of ancient writers. Our instinct is right, I think, when we consider Macrobius, Symmachus, Servius and Donatus more typically pagan than Ammianus Marcellinus Festus who wrote the historical breviarium has sometimes been identified with Festus Avienus, the translator of Aratus. The identification is not to be maintained. The historian Festus was even accused of atheism by Eunapius (p. 481). The poet Festus Avienus, a friend of the Nicomachi Flaviani, was warmly devoted to Jupiter and to the Etruscan goddess Nortia of his native country (30). When he died, his son wrote on his tomb that Jupiter was opening the skies to him — the son echoing in his lines his father’s lines:
Nam Iuppiter aethram
Pandit, Feste, tibi candidus ut venias
Iamque venis ( I.L.S. 2944)
This seems to have been the driving spirit of dying paganism in the West. Therefore, St Augustine, who knew where to look for the real enemy, was not worried by contemporary pagan historians in the Latin tongue, such as Ammianus Marcellinus. Greek historians, such as Eunapius, worried him even less because he probably did not know them: his command of Greek was modest. But he was disturbed by the idealization of the Roman past which he found in fourth-century Latin antiquarians, poets and commentators of poets. He saw in them the roots of the new resistance against Christianity which became evident towards the end of the century. He went back to the sources of their antiquarianism, and primarily to Varro, in order to undermine the foundations of their work. He fought the antiquarians, the sentimental and emotional pagans, of his time — not the contemporary historians. The latter might be left to die from natural causes. But the former had to be fought. The result is to be seen in the De civitate dei. It is also to be seen in the work of St Augustine’s pupil Orosius who was induced by him to write against the readers of Livy, not against the readers of the Historia Augusta or of Ammianus. All went according to plan, except that the pagan historians of the fourth century were not really going to die. They were only going to sleep for some centuries. They belonged to that classical tradition in historiography for which ecclesiastical history, whatever its merits, was no substitute. Though we may have learnt to check our references from Eusebius — and this was no small gain — we are still the disciples of Herodotus and Thucydides: we still learn our history of the late empire from Ammianus Marcellinus (31).
2. Cf., however, P. Bruun, ‘The Battle of the Milvian Bridge: The Date Reconsidered’, Hcnncs, lxxxviii, 1960, pp. 361-70, which puts the battle in 311.
3. The standard commentary is by J. Moreau, Sources Chrétiennes, Paris, 1954. Cf. W. Nestle, ‘Die Legende vom Tode der Gottesverächter’, Arch. f. Religionsw., XXXIII, 1936, pp. 246-69, reprinted in Griechische Studien, 1948, p. 567. In general J. Stevenson, Studia Patristica, i, Berlin, 1957, pp. 661-77. Not convincing S. Rossi, Giorn. Ital.. Filol., X1V, 1961, pp. 193-213.
4. The facts are gathered by H. J. Lawlor and J. E. L. Oulton, Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History and the Martyrs of Palestine, translated with introduction and notes, London, 1928; reprint, 1954, ii, p.332. Cf. S. Liebermann, Ann. Inst. Phil. Hist. Orient., vii, 1939-44, pp. 395—446.
5. On the controversial question of the various editions of the Ecclesiastical History, with which I do not intend to deal here, see especially E. Schwartz, introduction to his ed. major, Berlin, 1909, Volume iii, and article in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie, s.v. Eusebius (now reprinted in Griechische Geschichtscheiber, 1957, pp. 540ff.); R. Laqueur, Eusebius als Historiker seiner Zeit, Berlin and Leipzig, 1929; H. J. Lawlor and J. E. L. Oulton, introduction to their translation, 1928; H. Edmonds, Zweite Aufiagen im Altertum, Leipzig, 1941, pp. 25-45 (with bibliography).
6. Bibliography until 1956 in B. Altaner, Patrologie, 5th ed., Freiburg im Br.. 1958, p. 209. Add J. Straub, Studia Patristica, i, Berlin, 1957, pp. 679-95.
7. My essay reprinted in Secondo Contributo alla storia degli studi classici, Rome, 1960, pp. 105-43, gives the bibliography to which I wish to add W. Ensslin, Studi Calderini-Paribeni, i, 1956, pp. 313-23; J. Straub, Bonner Jahrbücher, clv-clvi, 1955-6, pp. I36-55, and more particularly E. M.. Staerman,Vestnik Drevnej Istorii, 1957, i, pp. 233—45, translated in Bib. Class. Oreint., v, 1960, pp. 93-110, and A. I. Dovatur, V.D.I. quoted, pp. 245—56. I am not moved by the arguments of J. Schwartz, Bull. Fac. Lettres Strasbourg, xl, 1961, pp. 169—76. Further bibl. in Eng. Hist. Rev., lxxxiv, 1969, p. 566, and in the masterly paper by F. J. Bickerman, Riv..Fil.Class., 101, 1973, pp. 25-31.
8. The problem is discussed in my Secondo Cotntributo alla storiac degli studi classici, pp. 145-89. A later date is suggested by G. Puccioni, Studi Ital. Fil. Class., xxx, 1958, pp. 207-54, and Ann. Scuola Normale Pisa, xxvii, 1958, pp. 211-23.
9. Cf. also W. R. Chalmers, Class. Quart., N.S., iii, 1953, pp. 165-70.
10. Cf., however, O. J. Maenchen-Helfen, A.J.Ph., lxxvi, 1955, pp. 384-400.
11. Cf. A. Rostagni, Anonimo-Del Sublime, Milan, 1947; F. Norden, ‘Das Genesiszitat in der Schrift vom Erhabenen’, Abh. Berlin. Akad., 1954, p. I.
12. On the implications of the Christians vision of history see, for instance, L. Tondelli, Il disegno divino nella storia, Turin, 1947; O. Cullmann, Christus und die Zeit; 2nd ed., Zurich, 1948; W. Kamhah, Christentum und Geschichtlichkeit, 2nd ed., Stuttgart, 1951; R. L. P. Milburn, Early Christian Interpretations of History, London, 1954; K. Löwith, Weltgeschichte und Heilgeschehen, Stuttgart, 1953; C. Schneider, Geistesgeschichte des antiken Christentums, Munich, 1956. See also H. Rahner, Griechische Mythen in Christlicher Deutung, Zurich, 1945, and the studies by S. G. F. Brandon and K. Löwith in Numen, ii, 1955.
13. Besides the fundamental H. Gelzer, Sextus Iulius Africanus und die bvzannt. Chronographie, Leipzig, 1880-98, I shall only mention A. Hamel, Kirche bei Hippolyt. von Rom., Gütersloh, 1951; M. Richard, Mél. Sciences Religieuses, vii, 1950, p. 237, and viii, 1951, p. 19 (on Hippolytus); B. Kötting, ‘Endzeitprognosen zwischen Lactantius und Augustinus’, Hist. Jahrb., lxxvii, 1957, pp. 125-39; P. Courcelle, ‘Les Exégèses chrétiennes de la quatrième églogue’, Rev.Etud. Anc., lix, 1957, pp. 294—319; A.-D. Van Den Brincken, Studien zur Lateinisclten Weltchronik in das Zeitalter Ottos von Freising, Düsseldorf, 1957; with bibliography.
14. The essential work after F. Schwartz is R. Helm, ‘Eusebios’ Chronik und ihre Tabellenform’, Abh.Berl.Akad., 1923, p. 4. Cf. also R. Helm, Eranos, xxii, 1924, pp. 1-40, and A. Schöne, Die Weltchronik des Eusebius in ihrer Bearbeitung durch Hieronymus, Berlin, 1900, D. S. Wallace- Hadrill, ‘The Eusebian Chronicle: the extent and date of composition of its early editions’ , J. T.S., N.S. vi, 1955, pp. 248-53.
15. Tine text is edited in C. Frick, Chronica Minora, i, 1892.
16. S. Prete, I chronica di Sulpicio Severo, Vatican City, 1955.
17. E. Malcovati, ‘I Breviari del IV secolo’, in Annali Universit?* Cagliari, xii, 1942.
18. Mommsen, Über den Chronographen vom J. 354, 1850, partially reprinted in Ges.Schriften, vii, is still the standard work. Text in Mommsen, Chronica Minora, i, 1892.
19. Among the recent literature see K. A. Schöndorf, Die Geschichtstheologie des Orosius. Munich 1952. (if. also J. Straub, ‘Christliche Geshcichtsapologetik in der Krisis des römischen Reiches’, Historia 1, 1950, pp.52-81
20. Text and discussion by R. Cessi in his edition of the Anonymus Valesianus, Rev.Ital.Script., 1913, but his conclusions are not accepted here. The Groningen dissertation by D. J. A. Westerhuis, 1906, is still very valuable. New edition by J. Moreau, Leipzig, 1961.
21. See the edition by G. Kisch, Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Bibliacaruml, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1949.
22. Among the recent literature see K. Mras, Anz. Oesterr. Akad., 1958, pp. 143—5; W. Telfer, Harv. Theol. Rev., liii, 1960, pp. 143—54.
23. Cf., among many, H. Berkhof, Die Theologie Eusebius’ von Caesarea, Amsterdam, 1939; idem, Kirche und Kaiser, Zürich, 1947; F. F. Cranz, Harv.T-92; F. Scheidweiler, Zeitschr.f.d.Neut.Wissenschaft, xlix, 1958, pP. 123-9; D. S. Wallace-Hadrill, Eusebius of Caesarea, London, 1960.
24. ‘Über Kirchengeschichte’, 1908, in Gesammelte Schriften, 1, 1938, Pp. 110-30.
25. W. Nigg, Die Kirchensgeschichtsschreibung Munich 1934. Cf. H. Zimmermann, ‘Ecclesia als Objekt der Historiographie’, Sitzungsb. Akad. Wien, ,CCXXXV, 1960.
26. Cf. R. Reitzenstein, Sitzungsb. Heidelberg. Akad., I, 1914, n. 8; K. Holl, Ges. Aufsätze, ii, 1928, pp. 249-69; K. Heussi, Ursprung des Mönchtums, Tübingen, 1936; A.-J. Festugière, Rev. Et. Grecqucs, I, 1937, pp. 470-94; H. Dörries, Nachr.Ges.Wiss.Göttingen xiv, 1949, Pp. 359-410. Cf. also the English translation of the life of St Anthony by R. T. Meyer, Ancient Christian Writers, X, 1950.
27. The Vitae sophistarum are now to be read in the edition by G. Giangrande, Rome, 1956
28. It will be enough to refer to the two well-known monographs on Amminaus by W. Ensslin, Klio, Beiheft, XVI, 1923, and E. A. Thompson, Cambridge, 1947. Full bibliography will be found in C. P. T. Naudé, Am.M. in die lig van die antieke Geskiedskrywing, diss., Leiden 1956. V. S. Sokolov, Vestntik Drevnej Istorii, 1959, 4, pp. 43-62. Cf. also S. Mazzarino, ‘La propaganda senatorinale nel tardo impero’, Doxa, IV, 1951, pp. 121—48. Idem, ‘La democratizzazione della cultura nel Basso Impero’, Rapports XI Congrès Intern.Sciences Historiques, ii, Stockholm, 1960, pp. 35-54. L. Dillemann, Syria, XXXVIII, 1961, pp. 87-158.
29 . Sec my Secondo Contributo alla storia degli studi classici, 1960, p. 198.
30. Cf. A. Garroni, Bull.Comm.Arch.Com., 1915, pp. 123-35.
31. Cf. also J. Sirinelli, Les Vues historiques d’Eusèbe de Cesarée durant la période prénicéenne, thèse Paris 1961 and W. Lammers, ed., Geschichtsdenken und Geschichtsbild im Mittelalter, Darmstadt 1961 with bibliography.