Perpetua of Carthage

Portrait of a Third-Century Martyr


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About the Book

This is a study of the life and times of Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicity and their companions, all martyred at Carthage in A.D. 203. Unlike most early Christian saints, whose lives are often shrouded in legend and myth, Perpetua left an authentic prison diary, later completed by an anonymous eyewitness to her execution, that is now considered a classic of Christian, Latin and feminist literature. Perpetua was also unusual in that she was wealthy, educated, married, and a young mother. The book includes the first English translations of French archaeological scholarship covering the discovery of the martyrs’ tombs.

About the Author(s)

William Farina has written books on Arthurian legend, early Christianity, the American Civil War, Shakespeare and baseball. He lives in Evanston, Illinois, and works as a real estate consultant for the federal government.

Bibliographic Details

William Farina
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: appendices, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3713-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8263-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Overview      1


1. “I was not to fight with beasts, but against the devil”      11

2. The Christian Aeneid      20

3. A Middle Road for Martyrs?      27

4. Africa Conquers Rome      34

5. “Their courage astonished the pagans”      41

6. A Family Feud      48

7. Blood of Martyrs Became Seed of the Church      55


8. “What victory a more glorious than this?”      63

9. Jewish Apocalypse      70

10. The Great Leveler      78

11. Universal Divine Favor      87

12. Empire within Empire      95

13. Guarded by Poverty and Ignorance      103

14. “Injustice acknowledged justice”      110


15. “As I was merry in the flesh, so I am still merrier here”      117

16. Yearning for Metamorphosis      124

17. Saint Augustine, Male Chauvinist?      131

18. The Illusion of Prosperity      138

19. “Pleased to play, as children will”      144

20. Contempt for the Gods      151

21. “The flower of perpetual felicity”      159


22. The Weapon of Empathy      167

23. Guilty of Inflexible Obstinacy      174

24. The Montanist Heresy      181

25. Religious Laissez-Faire, or Agreeing to Disagree      187

26. Vandal Plunder and Byzantine Extortion      193

27. A Devout Persecution      200

28. “My prison suddenly became a palace to me”      208

Summation      215

Appendix I: Christian Archeology in Carthage      221

Appendix II: A Guide to Pagan Worship in Roman Carthage      230

Appendix III: Tunisian Historical and Religious Timeline      233

Appendix IV: Maps      236

Chapter Notes      241

Bibliography      259

Index      263