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Perpetua's Passion

In 203 AD a group of Christians in Carthage, North Africa, were sentenced to the beasts in the arena. One of these, a twenty-two year old young mother, wrote a diary while she was imprisoned awaiting execution; later, this diary was completed by an observer who described her death in the arena. This poignant and personal narrative is the focus of this study of the conflict that resulted in the martyrdom of Perpetua.
"Perpetua's Passion" studies the third-century martyrdom of a young woman and places it in the intellectual and social context of her age. Conflicting ideas of religion, family and gender are explored as Salisbury follows Perpetua from her youth in a wealthy Roman household to her imprisonment and death in the arena. The author explores the ideas that shaped Perpetua's experience and the memories that appeared in her dreams and text, including metaphysical reflections, Carthaginian ideas of sacrificial suicide, and early Christian praise of prophecy and passion. "Perpetua's Passion" also encompasses more earthly dilemmas such as family, gender roles and motherhood, using the experience of this young martyr to explore these conflicting ideals and the conflict of ideologies. This book examines concepts of martyrdom and memory as her prison diary was preserved and read for centuries.
"Perpetua's Passion" provides insights into early Christian communities and the spiritual aspirations that shaped the converts, and will be of interest to classicists and medievalists, church historians and anyone interested in spirituality and the origins of Christianity.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1. Rome: Home and Hearth, Empire and Emperor, Longing for the Divine 2. Carthage: The City, Life and Culture, Sacrifice and Suicide 3. Christian Community: Origins, Presence of the Divine, Christian Life, Confrontation with Authority 4. Prison: Prison and Trial, Dreams and Visions, The Confessors' Dreams, Final Preparations 5. The Arena: The Amphitheater, The Spectator, The Martyrs 6. Aftermath: Rome and Carthage, The Christian Community, Memory and the Text, Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

Joyce E. Salisbury holds the Frankenthal Professorship of Medieval History and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. She is widely published in the fields of religion and medieval studies, and her most recent books include The Beast Within: Animals and Bestiality in the Middle Ages (Routledge, 1994) and Church Fathers, Independent Virgins (1992).


..."this book is a very pleasant and engaging read, both for the neophyte and for the expert who has come to relish the clarity, precision, and courage of [Salisbury]." -"Religious Studies Review ..."a compelling read...." -"Journal of Women's History "Salisbury provides well-founded responses to a number of long-standing issues." -"Trinity Seminary Review "Salisbury's investigation of a Christian martydom in 203 and its subsequent impact appeals beyond its apparent natural audience of scholars because it is an engagingly told story." -"Booklist, 10-98 "Salisbury has performed the important work of bringing the story of Perpetua to a much-deserved wider reading audience. She has also invited readers unfamiliar with the ancient world into its vibrancy and complexity, and she has done so with a good deal of insight and lively narrative style." -"Women's Review of Books, 3/98

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