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Miss Victoria Leonard 

  • Overview
Position:PhD in Religious Studies (Late Antique Studies).

Academic History

BA Cardiff (2007).
MA Cardiff (2008).
Title of MA Dissertation: ‘Orosius and Rome: Paradox and Idealism in Early Fifth-Century Historiography’.
PhD Cardiff (2009-Present) funded by the AHRC.

PhD Research

Working Title: ‘Imperial Authority and the Providence of Monotheism in the Historia adversus paganos’.

My doctoral research focuses on the Historia adversus paganos, an apologetical work written in the early fifth century AD by the presbyter Paulus Orosius. The seven-book Historia is a response to pagan accusations that Christian worship was responsible for the fall of Rome in AD 410. It argues that the pagan past had actually been much worse than the troubled Christian present. All history is given a purpose which transcends the narrative of events to complement the polemic of ever-worsening or ever-improving time, depending on proximity to the beginning of the Roman empire and the Incarnation. The thesis is primarily a historiographical investigation of the text, concentrating on imperial authority and the hegemony of empire, especially the Roman empire, and on the associated role of divine providence and Christian monotheism. The thesis is in three parts. Part I is broadly historiographical, considering Orosius’s methodology as a writer of history, and the concept of time in the Historia. Part II looks at imperial authority principally through the figures of Augustus and Theodosius. Part III investigates the text’s representation of war, before concluding with an examination of the construct of ethno-religious identity and the statement of Christian Roman identity that the Historia offers.

Start Date: October 2009

First Supervisor: Dr Nic Baker-Brian

Second Supervisor: Professor Josef Lössl


Review of A. T. Fear, Orosius: Seven Books of History against the Pagans (2010), in JLARC (Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture).

‘Nefarious Acts and Sacrilegious Sacrifices: Live Burial in the Historia adversus paganos’, in Hierà kaì lógoi. Estudios de literatura y de religión en la Antigüedad Tardía, ed. by Alberto J. Quiroga Puertas, (Zaragoza: Libros Pórtico, 2011).

Additional Information


May 2012 North American Patristics Society Conference, Chicago, paper presented as part of the ‘Augustine and Orosius’ panel, ‘Orosius and the Construct of Time in the Historia adversus paganos’. Funded by the AHRC.

April 2012 The Classical Association Conference, University of Exeter, panel convener for ‘Historiography in Late Antiquity’. Paper presented, ‘Orosius and the Construct of Time in the Historia adversus paganos’. Other participants included: David DeVore (Berkeley) ‘Direct Quotation, Character and Speech-Acts: from Greek Historiography to Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History’; James Corke-Webster (Manchester) ‘Eusebius and Imperial Authority in the Historia ecclesiastica’; and Jamie Wood (Manchester) ‘History and Pedagogy in Late Antiquity’. Half-bursary awarded by The Classical Association.

October 2011 University of Cardiff, Ancient History Seminar Series, paper presented, ‘The Darkest Death:  Live Burial and the Vestal Virgins in Christian Apologetic’.
August 2011 The International Conference on Patristics, University of Oxford, paperpresented, 'Nefarious Acts and Sacrilegious Sacrifices: Live Burial in the Historia adversus paganos'.

April 2011 The Classical Association,Conference, University of Durham,  paper presented, 'Nefarious Acts
and Sacrilegious Sacrifices: Live Burial in the Historia adversus paganos'. Half-bursary awarded by The Classical Association, partly funded by the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, University of Cardiff.

April 2011 History Postgraduate Forum, University of Cardiff, paper presented,'Nefarious Acts and SacrilegiousSacrifices: Live Burial in the Historia
adversus paganos'.
November 2010 Delegate at ‘410 AD. The Sack of Rome Conference’, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome.

April 2010     The Classical Association Conference, University of Cardiff, paper presented, ‘Location, Location,
Location: The Priscillianist Controversy and the Physical Presence of Heterodox Groups in Society’. Half-bursary awarded by The Classical Association.

May 2010 ‘Visions of the Past: Ancient and Modern Representations of Antiquity’, Gregynog Ancient History and Classics Colloquium, Gregynog, organised by the School of History, Archaeology and Religion, University of Cardiff, paper presented, ‘The Representation of the Reign of Augustus in the Historia adversus paganos: the Paradox of Rome and the Rhetoric of Christian Universalism’.

May 2010 Religious and Theological Studies Postgraduate Seminar Day, University of Cardiff, paper presented, ‘Paulus Orosius, the Historia adversus paganos, and Early Fifth-Century Historiography’.

November 2009    Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient Literature, University ofBirmingham, paper presented, ‘A (Very) Blurred Line: Historical and
 Religious Division in the Historia adversus paganos’. Travel bursary awarded by AMPAL.

May 2009       International Network for the Study  of Late Antiquity, ‘Integration and Diversity in the Culture and Religions of Late Antiquity’, University of
=Tennessee, Knoxville. Poster and presentation, ‘Orosius and Rome: A Study in Paradox and Idealism in Early Fifth-Century Historiography’. Funded by the International Network for the Study of Late Antiquity.

March 2009 Joint Postgraduate Conference, University of Bristol, paper presented, ‘Universalism and Rome in Early Fifth-Century Historiography:Orosius and the Historia adversus  paganos’.

Conference Organisation

July 2011 Committee Member for the Transformations Conference, University of Cardiff, a Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Conference for the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Postgraduate Tutor for Archaeology Undergraduate Second and Third Year Module, ‘Death and Burial in the Roman World’, 2011-12, University of Cardiff.

Postgraduate Tutor for Ancient History Undergraduate First Year Modules, ‘Introduction to Ancient Rome’ and ‘Introduction to Ancient Greece’, 2010-11 and 2011-12, University of Cardiff.

Postgraduate Tutor for Religious Studies Undergraduate First Year Modules, ‘Religion, Culture and Society’ Part I and Part II, 2010-11, University of Cardiff.

Outreach and Impact

Placement with ‘Researchers in Residence’, a scheme funded by Research Councils UK and supported by the Wellcome Trust. This involved training and support to organise and fulfil the placement with St Cuthbert Mayne Secondary School and Sixth Form, Torquay, in order to disseminate my knowledge and promote my research in a school environment to AS and A-level students.