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Lesley Dean-Jones, Chair 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3400, Austin, TX 78712-1738 • 512-471-5742

Spring 2010

LAT 323 • Christian Martyrs in Roman Empire

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
32943 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
WAG 112

Course Description

By the late second century CE, the Roman government believed that Christianity posed serious threats to the unity of the Roman Empire. Christians refused to offer sacrifices to the imperial cult and boldly renounced their familial relationships and responsibilities. Rumors flew, claiming that Christians engaged in incest and cannibalism, among other things. In an effort to curb the growth of Christianity and to remind Christians that they were sons and daughters of the Roman state rather than the Christian god, the imperial government announced various edicts. One edict made it ill egal to be baptized a Christian. Another edict required all Roman citizens to offer sacrifice to the imperial cult. Failure to comply with the edict resulted in prosecution by a local representative of the imperial government. Faithful Christians who refused to obey these imperial edicts were frequently sentenced to death. Upon their death, they became Christian martyrs and the stories of their resistance and often torturous deaths were written down to inspire future generations of Christians. Drawing on the classical genres of epic and biography in particular, these martyr narratives evolved into a distinctively Christian literary genre. In this course, we will read several important texts that illuminate our understanding of Christian martyrdom in Imperial Rome. Among our readings will be: Perpetua's account of her martyrdom; Tertullian’s short treatise offering advice to prospective martyrs; and selections from Augustine’s Confessions and sermons. In addition to reading substantial amounts of Latin, we will also discuss a selection of recent secondary articles on the Latin texts and the broader literary and historical context. Assignments will range from approximately 25=0 Alines of Latin early in the semester to 45-50 lines by the end of the semester. In addition to translation exams, students will be asked to produce a short (8-10 pp) research paper on a topic related to the material covered during the semester. The final grade will be composed of: class participation and preparation (10%); 2 midterm examinations (50%); the final exam (25%); and an 8-10 page scholarly paper (15%). Required Texts: James W. Halporn (ed.), Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis (Bryn Mawr Latin Commentaries, 1984). ISBN: 0-929524-47-0. J. Campbell (ed.), The Confessions of St. Augustine: Selections from Books I-IX (Bolchazy-Carducci, 1984). ISBN: 0865160589. Tertullian, Ad Martyras (text and commentary to be provided)


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