Original Research

Five brave pagan women in the work of Tertullian

Marianne R. Dircksen, Beate Britz
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 48, No 2 | a1777 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v48i2.1777 | © 2014 Marianne R. Dircksen, Beate Britz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2013 | Published: 09 December 2014

About the author(s)

Marianne R. Dircksen, School of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Beate Britz, School of Ancient Languages and Text Studies, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa


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Abstract

Historical exempla have been employed as a rhetorical stratagem since the 8th century BCE. The Christian apologist Tertullian, who received thorough training in rhetoric, was familiar with this device. Lucretia, Cleopatra, Dido, ‘the wife of Hasdrubal’ and Leaena also appear in the works of Roman authors as typical examples of bravery. In his Ad Martyres (4), Tertullian groups together all five as fine examples of bravery when facing death. Four of the examples appear in his Ad Nationes (1.18) and two in the Liber Apologeticus (50). Both the Ad Nationes and the Liber Apologeticus were written in defence of the Christians. In Tertullian’s De exhortatione castitatis (13.3) and the De Monogamia (17), Lucretia and Dido are referred to as exempla of chastity and monogamy. The first four paragraphs preceding the analysis of these texts provide the context and contain background information on the Christian apologists, a short biography of Tertullian,a few remarks on the use of history as a rhetorical tool and a discussion on the place of these women in ancient pagan literature. The investigation of Tertullian’s use of the exempla to bolster his argument reveals how he adapted these stock examples of pagan women to fit the Christian context, and illustrates how and why ancient rhetoric became part of Christian literary tradition.

Vyf dapper heidense vroue in die werk van Tertullianus. Historiese exempla word al sedertdie agtste eeu v.C. as ’n retoriese strategie benut. Die Christen apologeet, Tertullianus, wat ’n grondige opleiding in retoriek ontvang het, was vertroud met hierdie tegniek. Lucretia, Cleopatra, Dido, ‘Hasdrubal se vrou’ en Leaena kom ook in die werke van Romeinse outeurs voor as tipiese voorbeelde van dapperheid. In sy Ad Martyres (4) groepeer Tertullianus al vyf saam as goeie voorbeelde van dapperheid in die aangesig van die dood. Vier van die voorbeelde kom in die Ad Nationes (1.18) voor en twee in sy Liber Apologeticus (50). Albei hierdie werke is geskryf om die Christene te verdedig. In Tertullianus se De exhortatione castitatis (13.3) en die De Monogamia (17) word na Lucretia en Dido as voorbeelde van kuisheid en monogamie verwys. Die eerste vier paragrawe wat die analise voorafgaan, gee die konteks en bevat agtergrondinligting oor die Christen apologete, ’n kort biografie van Tertullianus, ’n paar opmerkings oor die gebruik van geskiedenis as retoriese instrument en ’n bespreking van die plek van die vyf vroue in antieke heidense letterkunde. Die ondersoek na Tertullianus se gebruik van hierdie exempla om sy argument te versterk, dui aan dat hy die standaardvoorbeelde van heidense vroue aangepas het om by die Christelike konteks te pas, en illustreer hoe en waarom antieke retoriek deel van die Christelike literêre tradisie geword het.


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