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Perpetua's Passion: The Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman

Perpetua's Passion: The Death and Memory of a Young Roman Woman

Hardback

By (author) Joyce E. Salisbury

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  • Publisher: ROUTLEDGE
  • Format: Hardback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 230mm x 22mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 1 January 1998
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0415918367
  • ISBN 13: 9780415918367

Product description

Perpetua's Passion studies the third-century martyrdom of a young woman and places it in the intellectual and social context of her age. Conflicting ideas of religion, family and gender are explored as Salisbury follows Perpetua from her youth in a wealthy Roman household to her imprisonment and death in the arena.

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Author information

Joyce E. Salisbury holds the Frankenthal Professorship of Medieval History and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. She is widely published in the fields of religion and medieval studies, and her most recent books include The Beast Within: Animals and Bestiality in the Middle Ages (Routledge, 1994) and Church Fathers, Independent Virgins (1992).

Review quote

..."this book is a very pleasant and engaging read, both for the neophyte and for the expert who has come to relish the clarity, precision, and courage of [Salisbury]."-"Religious Studies Review ..."a compelling read...."-"Journal of Women's History "Salisbury provides well-founded responses to a number of long-standing issues."-"Trinity Seminary Review "Salisbury's investigation of a Christian martydom in 203 and its subsequent impact appeals beyond its apparent natural audience of scholars because it is an engagingly told story."-"Booklist, 10-98 "Salisbury has performed the important work of bringing the story of Perpetua to a much-deserved wider reading audience. She has also invited readers unfamiliar with the ancient world into its vibrancy and complexity, and she has done so with a good deal of insight and lively narrative style."-"Women's Review of Books, 3/98

Editorial reviews

An insightful, moving account of the death of an early-third-century Christian martyr, based on her own diary. Vibia Perpetua was the daughter of an old respected Roman family of Carthage and, although raised in accordance with the pagan religious traditions of Rome, converted to Christianity, one of many faiths competing for devotees in the Roman Empire. Just 22 years old, she was arrested with several other converts to Christianity and, because she refused to acknowledge the divinity of the emperor Septimus Severus (and even though she was the mother of an infant), was sentenced to be killed by beasts in the Carthaginian arena. Salisbury (Medieval History and Humanities/Univ. of Wisconsin, Green Bay) uses the text of Perpetua's diary, written in prison, to explore this extraordinary young woman's decision to renounce her prosperous life and embrace a horrible death, and to depict in vivid and fascinating detail the world of pagan Rome and the insular community of the early Church, with its emphasis on prophecy and speaking in tongues. Salisbury notes the contrast between the Roman religion, with its thousands of household gods, and monotheistic/trinitarian Christianity with its claim to be the only universally true religion. Also, the patriarchy of traditional Roman society, which restricted women to the roles of wife and mother, stood in stark contrast with the egalitarian promise of Christianity, which taught that all persons were equal before God and often gave women a leading role. Using Perpetua's text, Salisbury shows that, despite the dangers, the young woman turned her back on her affectionate family and infant son to become a Christian because of her profound conviction that she was experiencing the presence of God. A uniquely absorbing and poignant study of the vanished world of the early martyrs. (Kirkus Reviews)

Table of contents

Introduction. 1. Rome: Home and Hearth, Empire and Emperor, Longing for the Divine 2. Carthage: The City, Life and Culture, Sacrifice and Suicide 3. Christian Community: Origins, Presence of the Divine, Christian Life, Confrontation with Authority 4. Prison: Prison and Trial, Dreams and Visions, The Confessors' Dreams, Final Preparations 5. The Arena: The Amphitheater, The Spectators, The Martyrs 6. Aftermath: Rome and Carthage, The Christian Community, Memory and the Text Bibliography. Index.