Polycarp’s Cups: The Function of Imitation in the "Martyrdom of Polycarp"
Wed, September 15, 2010 • 4:00 PM • Burdine Hall 436A
The Workshop on Late Antiquity Presents:
Polycarp’s Cups: The Function of Imitation in the Martyrdom of Polycarp
A lecture by Stephanie Cobb, Hofstra University
While scholars have long acknowledged that the author of the Martyrdom of Polycarp employs a pronounced imitatio Christi motif, the literary presence and function of allusions to Socrates’ death have been underappreciated. In addition to the narrative emphasis on the divine sign, there are many other similarities between the accounts of Socrates’ and Polycarp’s deaths. This paper demonstrates that the imitation of Christ is hermeneutically significant when read in light of the imitation of Socrates: the author of the Martyrdom of Polycarp reconceptualizes Jesus’ death by his implicit allusions to Socrates. The Martyrdom of Polycarp, therefore, serves as an apology for Jesus’ death, specifically, and for Christian beliefs generally.