Prudentius' Peristephanon is a collection of martyr texts from a vital period for the growth of martyr cult in the West. Building on recent work on the cult of the saints and on the sacralization of the space and time, Roberts demonstrates how the Peristephanon relates to developments in late fourth century spirituality.
The author examines how Prudentius creates an idiom to express devotion to the martyrs, particularly in the structuring of narrative and the use of poetic language. Roberts concludes by demonstrating how Prudentius employs the model of martyr cult to articulate the status of Christian literature, the role of the bishop in the Christian community, and the symbolic status of Rome in the Christian West.
Michael Roberts is Robert Rich Professor of Latin, Wesleyan University.
Jacket art: Gold-glass vase, after A.D. 350. By permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.