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tion. After a well-graced actor leaves the stage, the eyes of men are idly bent on him who enters next; so in reading these Acts, the scenes in which Perpetua appears stand out prominently before the mind, and so strong an impression is made by her nobility and her practical ability, that if we were condemned to write in one of those question-books which were in fashion a few years ago, and were called on to say what female character in history is most worthy of admiration, we do not know that we could make a better answer than Perpetua.

We can understand her character the better because so much of the story is told in her own words. The first thing that strikes us is the strong filial affection she exhibits. Her family had been heathen, she herself was but a catechumen; so was also her brother, but her father remained unconverted, and from the time Perpetua got notice of her approaching trial, and was put under surveillance,' he beset her with entreaties to deny her faith when brought before the magistrates. But from her point of view to say 'the thing that is not' was a simple impossibility. Do you see this vessel,' she said, 'it is a pitcher. Can you call it anything else? I am a Christian, and I can be called nothing else.' After she had been cast into prison he continued urging her, reminding her of the care he had ever taken of her, and the love he had borne her beyond any of his children. 'Think of your mother and your aunt and your infant son, who cannot live without you. Subdue your obstinate spirit, and do not ruin us all, for not one of us will be able to hold up our face if anything should happen to you.' Then he kissed her hands, and cast himself at her feet weeping, calling her, not Daughter, but Lady. She was terribly grieved, and said what she could to comfort him, but would make him no promise. She felt his sorrow all the more because he was the only one of the family who did not rejoice at her passion. Finally, when she was brought to trial, her father appeared bringing her infant with him. The magistrate seconded his entreaties that she would have compassion on his grey hairs, and take pity on her infant son; but when she persisted in her refusal the old man continued to be so clamorous in his entreaties to her, that the magistrate was obliged to

1 Ἔτι ἡμῶν παρατηρουμένων. Gibbon (c. xvi.) favourably contrasts the processes of the heathen courts with those of the Inquisition, in that instead of seizing on a suspected person, they merely summoned him to appear before the tribunal at an appointed time. But this passage sufficiently disposes of his improbable suggestion, that it would be easy for the accused person, if not inclined for martyrdom, to use the interval to save himself by flight.

order him to be removed from the court. The lictor had to hasten his departure by striking him with his rod, and Perpetua tells how she felt the blow as if it had been given herself.1

Her narrative enables us to realize what a frightful place a Roman prison was. The prisoners were thrust into small underground dungeons, without light or air. Never before had Perpetua experienced such horrible darkness. And so many were put in that the heat was stifling. No wonder that in such a Black Hole of Calcutta the death of a prisoner was a common occurrence. On this occasion one of the confessors, Secundus, so died. Another, Quintus, had died similarly in the same persecution. About sixteen died in the same way in the Lyons persecution of 177. Fortunately one great use of these dungeons to the jailers was that they might get money for letting prisoners out of them, and through the instrumentality of the deacons of the Church, the requisite bribes were administered, and Perpetua and her companions. transferred to better quarters. The change included liberty to converse with her friends. She saw her mother and her brother, and was enabled to suckle her infant. When she was allowed to keep the babe with her the prison became a palace in her eyes, and she was happier there than anywhere else.

If Perpetua's father thought her imprisonment matter of disgrace, it was otherwise with the Christian members of her family. Her brother suggested to her that in such dignity as she was she would be successful if she asked for a vision revealing the issue of her trial. It is likely that the Visions of Hermas was a book then usually read in the Christian community. She promised to ask, and that night she saw herself in vision ascending a ladder all set with hooks and swords and javelins, and beneath it a huge dragon scaring away all who might have wished to mount. Her father in the faith, Saturus, went before her, and encouraged her to climb, warning her to beware lest the dragon should bite her. She cried,' In the Name of Jesus Christ it shall not hurt me,' and up she went trampling on its head. At the top she found

It is surprising that all through no mention is made of Perpetua's husband, and we know no better solution than that he was dead at the time. Mr. Harris, who is ever on the look out for Montanist illustrations, recalls that Montanus's two prophetesses had deserted their husbands to turn preachers, and suggests that Perpetua and Felicitas had done the same. This is a scandalous libel on poor Perpetua, who had not even been baptized at the time she was accused. As for Felicitas, it is likely that Revocatus, her fellow slave who suffered with her, was her husband. VOL. XXXII.—NO. LXIII.


a spacious meadow in which sat a white-haired shepherd of great size milking his flock. He welcomed her arrival, and gave her a morsel of the cheese or curd he was milking. She took it with joined hands; the bystanders cried Amen, and at the noise she awoke. From this vision she concluded that the result of her imprisonment would be not release but martyrdom, and that Saturus would suffer first.

There can be no doubt that the closing scene in this vision has a Eucharistic reference. Some very literal persons, not considering that in the fitness of things milk or cheese was what might be expected to be presented by a shepherd, have inferred that Perpetua must have belonged to a sect which celebrated its Eucharist with bread and cheese. Mr. Harris, in whose head Montanism is perpetually running, has revived an idea of Ittigius, that this was a Montanist practice, but this combination falls to pieces at every joint. That there were such people at all as those whom Epiphanius calls Artotyritæ is but hearsay repeated by him in the least authentic chapter of his work; Epiphanius thinks that the Artotyritæ were a sect akin to the Montanists, but he does not think that the Montanists generally had the peculiarity from which this sect derived its name, nor is there any other evidence to that effect. Lastly, there is no reason to think that Perpetua ever partook of a cheese Eucharist. She had been only baptized just before her apprehension, and very possibly had not partaken of the Eucharist more than once, and that must have been the Eucharist of the Catholic Church, with which she was in full communion.'

One other of Perpetua's revelations must be mentioned on account of the controversial use that was early made of it. One day, in prison, when they were at prayers, the name

1 This is clear from the manner in which the bishop is mentioned by Perpetua's fellow-martyr Saturus. In vision he saw himself entering Paradise with his companions, and there finding those who had been martyrs before him. At the entrance he saw Optatus the bishop, and Aspasius the Presbyter. Apparently they had had some dissension among themselves; possibly the election of Optatus had not been unanimous. Now, in the vision, they were seen casting themselves at the martyrs' feet imploring them to make reconciliation between them. But the martyrs, shocked at this reverence being paid them by their ecclesiastical superiors, protest: 'Why cast yourselves at our feet? Are you not our father, and you our Presbyter?' It is an amazing effect of prejudice that Mr. Harris (p. 36) imagines he finds pity or scorn' in the words Οὐχὶ σὺ πάπας ἡμέτερος εἶ; It is true that the bishop is ordered to rebuke his people for their party spirit, but the command is given him not by the martyrs but by angels. If Saturus had been set, by Montanist tendencies, at variance with his bishop, the angelic rebuke could have been, not for party spirit, but for slowness to believe a divine revelation.

of Dinocrates suddenly suggested itself to her. This was a brother of hers who had died when seven years old of a gangrene in his face, apparently some considerable time before. It had never occurred to her to pray for him before, but she looked on the suggestion as a divine admonition to do so now, That night in vision she saw the child coming out of a dark place, with his face all disfigured by the sore, and consumed with thirst, for though there was a fountain there, the rim of the basin was too high for the child to reach. She continued instant in prayer for him, and shortly before her martyrdom she again saw the child in vision, but now the place was light which had been dark before, the child was well clad and of cheerful countenance, the wound in his face was healed, the water was within his reach, and she saw him come and drink and then go off to play with other children. The difficulty here is that there is every reason to suppose that Dinocrates had never been baptized. The family was heathen; Perpetua and her brother were but catechumens when she was arrested, and were only baptized immediately before her imprisonment. It is not likely that there would have been more haste to baptize a younger child, and it is quite possible that Dinocrates may have died before the conversion of his elders. Accordingly, this story was much appealed to in opposition to the doctrine of St. Augustine, who held strongly that unbaptized infants could not be saved, and who consequently has to discuss this story three or four times in his anti-Pelagian treatise De Anima. His first answer is that the Acts of Perpetua are not Canonical Scripture; but as he owns them to contain divine revelations, he is reduced to say that Dinocrates must certainly have received baptism, since otherwise he could not have been cleansed from original sin and made capable of everlasting happiness.

Considering the age in which she lived, and the tension of mind caused by the circumstances in which she was placed, it is not wonderful that Perpetua should have had visions, but no one could have been less of a visionary or have had her wits more completely about her. Indeed, it is wonderful what a lead this girl of twenty-two took among her companions. No doubt she had made a distinguished marriage, and as a Roman matron had learned to rule her house. When the prisoners were experiencing rigid treatment in their last prison (for the tribune who had charge of them had been told that there was danger of their freeing themselves by magical incantations), Perpetua said to him, 'Is this the way you treat such notable prisoners as we, who are to be brought out

to do honour to Cæsar's birthday? Will it not be a disgrace to you if we come out in bad condition?' And the appeal was successful. Again, when they were to be brought out into the amphitheatre, it was attempted to force them, according to custom, to wear the habits, the men, of priests of Saturn, and the women, of Ceres. But Perpetua remonstrated. 'This is not fair treatment; we are giving our lives in order that we may have nothing to do with idolatry; you ought to keep your part of the bargain.' The justice of her appeal was acknowledged, and they were permitted to wear their own garments.

When the martyrs made their procession into the amphitheatre, the Christians marked the calm dignity with which Perpetua moved along, and the bold confidence with which she faced the gaze of the brutal spectators. Ἠκολούθη δὲ ἡ Περπετούα πράως βαδίζουσα ὡς ματρώνα Χριστοῦ, ἐγρηγόρῳ ὀφθαλμῷ, καὶ τῇ προσόψει καταβάλλουσα τὰς πάντων ὁράσεις. When exposed to the beasts, Perpetua was in such exaltation of spirit that she had scarce knowledge of what was befalling her. She was put into a net and tossed by a wild cow. Unconscious of pain, but mindful of her modesty, she pinned together her torn garment, and fastened up her dishevelled hair. Then she rose and went to pick up her fellow-sufferer, the slave-girl Felicitas. Yet these acts must have been performed almost mechanically, for when presently the cruelty of the spectators, satiated for the time, permitted her to stand aside,' and wait without further torture for the last act of the drama, she seemed to wake out of sleep and asked when she was to be cast to the wild cow. And it was not until a catechumen who stood by the barrier pointed out to her the marks on her own person of what she had gone through, that she could be persuaded that she had already sustained the trial. She sent the catechumen to fetch her brother, and exhorted them both to stand fast in the faith, to love one another, and not be scandalized by the sufferings which they witnessed. Finally, when the other martyrs had also finished their combat with the beasts, the spectators would not permit them to be privately despatched by the confectores, but insisted on witnessing the closing scene. The martyrs walked as they were desired to the midst of the arena, gave each

1 She was sent to the Túλn (wrin, through which surviving gladiators and pardoned criminals passed out; her male companions to the opposite gate through which the dead bodies were wont to be removed. But if there had ever been a thought of making a difference in their fate, it was soon abandoned.

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