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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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Perpetua’s Martyrdom and the Metamorphosis of Narrative

Perpetua’s Martyrdom and the Metamorphosis of Narrative

(p.291) XV Perpetua’s Martyrdom and the Metamorphosis of Narrative
Perpetua's Passions

David Konstan

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a reading of the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis and Xenophon of Ephesus’ Ephesiaca. It shows that the Passio Perpetuae has a form that is not wholly alien to that of the romantic novel. Greek novels celebrate the love and fidelity between a man and a woman who endure a separation and hardships that test their mutual commitment, and mark as well their transition to adulthood and the establishment of a family of their own. In both narratives the heroines undergo fierce torments, which do not succeed in breaking their will. Perpetua shares with the heroes and heroines of the novels a capacity for endurance, which rests on fidelity to a moral commitment that their trials put to the test. The final triumph is manifested differently in the two narratives: but there is a common sensibility of suffering and deliverance that unites them.

Keywords:   Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis, romantic novel, Greek novels, Xenophon, Ephesiaca, narratives

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