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Perpetua's Dignity on the Arena of Carthage
Åbo Akademi.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2203-7977
2023 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Rarely are competing ideologies as sharply contrasted as in early Christian martyr stories, where the heroes are executed for rejecting what in Roman society is regarded as fundamental norms. A prominent example is the second-century Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity, which claims to document a young Christian woman’s own experiences, emotions, and mystical visions while awaiting her death among the beasts on the Carthaginian arena. This study makes use of Kathryn Tanner’s theory of cultures as overlapping sets of behavioral patterns, continuously renegotiated by consensus efforts within a social group, to discern the norms and ideals of the implied author of the Martyrdom, and compares those to well-established patterns within the larger Greco-Roman culture. It concludes that the contrast is considerably less sharp than depicted: while Perpetua’s refusal to sacrifice to the Roman gods and her insistence on human dignity even for prisoners awaiting execution are in conflict with Roman society, her visionary ability and calm bravery in face of death are patterns well in tune with Greco-Roman ideals, and serve to elevate Perpetua’s status in the eyes of her tormentors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Biblical Studies, New testament
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ths:diva-1966OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ths-1966DiVA, id: diva2:1794527
Conference
Second International Conference on Early Christian Literature, Late Antique and Byzantine Hagiography: ”Imitationes Christi and Women Martyrs”, Universitat de València 5–7 September
Available from: 2023-09-05 Created: 2023-09-05 Last updated: 2024-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Berglund, Carl Johan

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  • nn-NB
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