A Mother’s Martyrdom: Elite Christian Motherhood and the Martyrdom of Domnina
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award First-Place Winner
This article examines the Martyrdom of Domnina as recorded by John Chrysostom and Eusebius of Caesarea in order to show how early Christian ideas of mothering and motherhood for upper-class women were constructed through rhetorical examples. It is interested in how the martyr tale created new notions of Christian pudicitia (feminine modesty) and pietas (piety) through the rhetorical model of a devout mother who kills her two children as an act of Christian martyrdom. Through its comparative analysis of the ideal Roman matrona and the ideal Christian matrona as she emerged through the Domnina narrative, this article demonstrates how ideas about the elite Christian mother developed through the referencing and reframing of contemporary notions of Roman elite motherhood.
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