Gender and Martyr Piety

Vasiliki M. Limberis

in Architects of Piety

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199730889
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895229 | DOI:
Gender and Martyr Piety

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This chapter examines the complicated relationship between the Cappadocians’ articulation of gender—both male and female—and martyr piety. In the martyr panegyrics, is the condition of gender stronger than martyrdom? What messages about gender are the Cappadocians preaching through the panegyrics? Where does gender fit into the laity’s martyr piety? What is gender’s role in the devotion of family members to the martyrs? Part one enunciates a distinction between academic theorizing about gender and the seemingly unyielding, hierarchical view of gender the Cappadocians embraced and promoted through rhetoric. Consistently they use the household to reinscribe the Greco-Roman hierarchy of social relationships, defined primarily by power and social class. The second part analyzes the Cappadocians’ enormously different rhetorical strategies in their funeral panegyrics, epigrams, letters, and the martyr panegyrics to construct “maleness” and “femaleness” in their preaching about proper Christian conduct lived out in the paradox of gender and transformation.

Keywords: gender; martyr piety; hagiography; sexuality; violence; femininity; masculinity; sin of Adam and Eve; mortality; immortality

Chapter.  24055 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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