Analysis Of The Poem ' The Setting Of Perpetua 's Martyrdom

2133 Words Nov 19th, 2014 9 Pages
On March 7, 203 AD, five Christians were condemned to death in an amphitheater in the North African city of Carthage. One was a young mother named Perpetua, a wealthy and likely well-educated woman from a Roman patrician family. Her prison diary is the earliest surviving account authored by a Christian woman, and provided an enduring model for the genre of martyr literature, stories that comforted Christians during the persecutions of the early church and continued to inspire the faithful all the way from the Middle Ages to well into the modern day.

Historical Context:
The setting of Perpetua’s martyrdom is third century Roman Carthage, an ancient city in Northern Africa located in what is now modern Tunis, Tunisia. Third century Carthage held a prominent place on the world stage as one of the largest cities of the Roman Empire and as the center of the province of Africa.
However, perhaps the most important contextual consideration in approaching Perpetua’s text is the seemingly obvious question of “Why were Christians persecuted by the Romans in the early church?” Ostensibly, the charges leading to the martyrs’ execution were similar to those leveled at Christians during the sporadic persecutions experienced by pockets of early church communities within the Roman Empire: A refusal to recognize any other god’s, including the emperor, or to make civic sacrifices to the state cult on religious holidays. According to Backman, this reaction on the part of the…
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