Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access


The early Christian text, Passio sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis, outlines the martyrdom of Vibia Perpetua and fellow catechumens in North Africa in 203 B.C. By looking at the original Latin text and contextualizing the story in its Carthiginian context and focusing on the words exchanged between Perpetua and her paterfamilias and the descriptions concerning them, this deeper analysis situates Perpetua’s agency. Perpetua inverts the role of the paterfamilias, which can be seen through her language choice. Moreover, Perpetua’s paterfamilias’ change in word choice reflects Perpetua’s ability to make her own choices in the male-dominated Roman society. Perpetua defies societal, gender, and familial roles and finds her own sense of patriarchy-defeating agency while continuing to profess her faith, sum Christiana.



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