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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:53144
Doc. No:TL23098
Call number:‭3207122‬
Main Entry:Annette Kleinkauf Morrow
Title & Author:Struggling with the passion of Saint Perpetua: Gendering the female body in Late Antiquity and beyondAnnette Kleinkauf Morrow
College:University of Arkansas
Date:2005
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2005
Page No:201
Abstract:On 7 March 203, a young Roman noblewoman, Vibia Perpetua, experienced a series of disturbing visions while she and her slave, Felicitas, awaited execution in a Carthaginian prison. In the first of these revelations, Perpetua witnesses the opening of the heavens and the miraculous appearance of an ethereal ladder, stretching from the earth to the sky. Loitering at the bottom rung lies an enormous dragon waiting to attack anyone attempting to ascend. On the ladder itself, are a series of impalement instruments---a dagger, sword, and hook---familiar objects to Roman citizens who witnessed the massacre of helpless victims in the local arena. In the "autobiographical account" of her martyrdom, recorded in the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis , the female mystic gingerly navigates through the multitude of barbed weapons and enters the gates of paradise where "the Good Shepherd" symbolically feeds her communion consisting of sweet ewe-milk. Her other visions include one of the first non-scriptural references to purgatory as well as spiritual transvestism---baptized in an aura of dripping breast milk. Historians and theologians approach the Passio to illuminate the real context behind the lives of Roman matrons and women martyrs. Indeed, as historians attempt to recreate some sort of a literate past for women in general, they look to the Passio as the birth of a uniquely feminine literary genre. Yet, the Passio offers the contemporary gender-theorist a unique opportunity to explore the deeply ambiguous nature of sacred gender in late antique Christendom. It is the contention of this dissertation that "Perpetua" is a constructed image, drawn from a variety of heroic figures from Greco/Roman, Hebrew, and Christian sacred texts. The compilers of the edition of the Passio that has come down to us use the ecstatic journey of Perpetua as a guide for the liturgical and theological instruction of Christian catechumens. This dissertation also traces the history of the Passio narrative through time. From the sermons of St. Augustine to nineteenth-century novels, the Passio is a brilliant example of how editors can manipulate a text in order to suggest certain agendas for a variety of purposes.
Subject:Social sciences; Baptism; Female body; Gendering; Late Antiquity; Passion; Perpetua, Saint; Roman Empire; Ancient civilizations; 0579:Ancient civilizations
Added Entry:L. Coon
Added Entry:University of Arkansas