Ancient Church History

(Prof. Dr. Heike Grieser)

Allied Deities: Victories and Defeats and their Interpretation from Pagan and Early Christian Perspectives

The military successes and failures of ancient and Early Medieval rulers are interpreted and propagated differently through literary and material sources, partly due to the considerable distance in time from the events. This debate on the interpretative domination of events, carried out on different levels, can take place in the Christian discourse by embedding it in a soteriological conceptualisation, while pagan authors strove to present other explanations. In the context of the doctoral thesis, a longitudinal analysis will be conducted to set the Christian and pagan perspectives in relation to each other. In addition to identifying contemporary patterns of argument, this thesis will seek to delineate authorial perspectives on decisive military successes and defeats as they change across time.


War as Purely a “Man’s World?” The Role of Women in Early Christian Discourse

Until the 20th century, warfare was seen as a “man’s world” in which women had no place. Since then, several studies on this have emerged, but an investigation from a Christian perspective is still wanting. In Late Antiquity, the historian Orosius seems to have been convinced that the disappearance of female warriors could be used as an argument for the superiority of the Christian era over that of the pagans, but other questions also arise. How did the assignment of the values “man = war, woman = peace” relate to Christian empresses? What was the estimation of fighting women and goddesses in Christianity?