This chapter discusses the key issues surrounding Perpetua’s life and her narrative, the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis. It introduces the most perplexing circumstances around her life and times: the authorship of her Passio (which is written in at least three different hands); her life and family; the conditions of her martyrdom and of martyrdoms during the pre-Constantinian period; the status of martyrdom texts as personal, social, or historical documents; whether persecutions can be historically verified or were exaggerated by the Christians and others; and the afterlife of Perpetua and her text in writers from the third century to contemporary times. The introduction lays out the arguments for these thorny issues and tries to find a reasonable position on each one.
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