Abstract

This study examines four different fifth- and early sixth-century Christian authors (Pseudo-Joshua, Socrates Scholasticus, Philostorgius, and Timothy Aelurus). It then analyzes the biblically derived interpretative structures that each uses to explain fifth-century political catastrophes such as the decline of western Roman political power. All of these authors incorporated a Christian explanation of disasters into a rhetorical strategy designed to advocate certain behaviors. Not all authors expected this rhetoric to influence behavior, but some, such as Pseudo-Joshua and Timothy Aelurus, believed that it could convince people to act in particular ways. The study concludes by arguing that, whereas late antique religious explanations of catastrophe often serve as a literary trope, they need not always be dismissed as empty or ineffectual rhetoric.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1942-1273
Print ISSN
1939-6716
Pages
pp. 79-98
Launched on MUSE
2009-03-20
Open Access
No
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