Hermas, Metanoia, and Manliness
This chapter examines the interplay in The Shepherd of Hermas between desire and self-restraint, and does so as an entrance into the text’s larger concern with metanoia (repentance or conversion), self-scrutiny, and masculinity. The long, repetitive text evinces a striking array of techniques for self-examination, akin to those Foucault describes as ancient strategies for discursive self-formation. Scattered scenes with images of erotic desire are spread across the three sections of The Shepherd (Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes) and invite close analysis. Yet erotic sins or dangers seem less important than others, particularly economic sins, in the ethical register of this text. Rather, images of desire function metonymically within a broader discourse of virtue. In the end, metanoia and manliness in The Shepherd involve not so much the suppression of desire as the choice of its proper object, and even manly abandonment to holy desires.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.