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Perpetua's PassionsMultidisciplinary Approaches to the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis$
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Jan N. Bremmer and Marco Formisano

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199561889

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199561889.001.0001

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Exemplum and Sacrifice, Blood Testimony and Written Testimony

Exemplum and Sacrifice, Blood Testimony and Written Testimony

Lucretia and Perpetua as Transitional Figures in the Cultural History of Martyrdom

(p.180) IX Exemplum and Sacrifice, Blood Testimony and Written Testimony
Perpetua's Passions

Sigrid Weigel

, Joel Golb
Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a comparative reading of the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis (AD 203) and the earlier account of the death of Lucretia appearing in the first book of Livy’s History of Rome (27 BC). It draws attention to a specific cultural-historical constellation: one forming the backdrop for a questioning of the widespread thesis of the singularity of the Christian conception of martyrdom. Consideration of those elements tying the narrative of Lucretia’s death to that of the death of Perpetua shows that the idea of ‘true’ martyrs only stepping onto history’s stage with the events transmitted in the Acta Martyrum is unsustainable. An analysis of the connections between the two figurations can also illuminate their differences, hence the specific elements significant for the emergence of the Christian culture of martyrdom.

Keywords:   Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis, Christians, martyrs, Livy, History of Rome, Christian culture

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