While a considerable amount of scholarly energy has been devoted to the Latin versions of the Passion and Acts of the African martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas, by comparison rather little serious attention has been devoted to the Greek translation of the narrative of their martyrdom. Such an investigation requires a focus not just on technical problems of the similarities and differences between the Greek translation and a putative Latin original, but also attention to the more strategic problem of its place in the context of translations of Latin Christian texts. Although a Greek translation could have been made soon after the first appearance of the Latin narrative, this essay argues that a more likely context for the translation and for a heightened interest in the cult of Perpetua in Italy and in the East is a much later fifth- and sixth-century one. When we consider the cultural as much as the literary “translation” of Perpetua's martyrdom, we see that the drive to exploit the images and social power of a specific group of African martyrs explains the emphasis placed on them not only in Africa (specifically at Carthage) but also in a cluster of sites at the head of the Adriatic. These particular connections logically suggest concomitant ones with the eastern Mediterranean of the Byzantine state of the fifth and sixth centuries C.E.
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Brent D. Shaw; Doing It in Greek: Translating Perpetua. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 September 2020; 4 (3): 309–345. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2020.4.3.309
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