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Women Marriage Virginity Christianity Notes

History Notes > Augustine and the Last Days of Rome: 370-450 Notes

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Gender, Marriage, Household and Christianity Kate Cooper, 'Insinuations of Womanly Influence: an aspect of the Christianisation of the Roman Aristocracy', The Journal Of Roman Studies, Vol 82 (1992), pp. 150-164.?????(I) In literature, women are presented as key agents. o In reality, these were rhetorical presentations for the benefit of men.
? Uses
? To attack of defend notion of "common good" in Christianisation process
? Assign value, positive or negative, to the decisions and character of men. Public life o Romans were conscious of conflict between private life and public duty.
? A man, was not infallibly committed to common good.
? He needs to show moral righteousness o Conjugal unity can broadcast temperance. (II) Classical rhetoric of womanly influence Positive o Women exercising a soothing influence on man, persuading him to hear the voice of reason.
? Plutarch
? Finding a wife could yoke pleasure to chaste, virtuous purpose, which would otherwise be uncontrollable. Negative o Women acting as temptresses, distracting man from public duty. (III) Christianity, Asceticism and Conflicting Ideas of Moderation Appeals to the above topoi are made in late 4th C Shaken up o Should Christians marry?
? Jerome
? In Adversus Jovinianum o Implies any serious Christian would avoid marriage +
priests should know better than to engage in such business.
? Why does he say this?
o Clear a place for clergy and celibates in the Christian clergy to challenge the consensus that leadership of a married clergy whose probity as householders indexed their fitness for Christian authority.
? Uses negative topos of womanly influence to discourage marriage
? The uncertainty o Of whether you are marrying an odious wife or one worthy of love o Thus,
? The man who runs the risk of marrying, is a man who can't be trusted.
? He is bent on extirpating the sexual urge altogether!


Challenges to Jerome o Theodosian Code XVI.2.44 Honorius and Theodosius to Palladius (420)
? Men to be ordained cannot be separated from husbands
? Wives made husbands worthy for the priesthood. o Paulinus of Nola
? Jerome warned him
? Therasia (his wife) was a stumbling-block to his ascetic progress.
? Letter 44
? Instructs Aper that Amanda's chaste influence upon him made him well suited for his career. Civically minded bishops o Avarice equally worrying ? a betrayal of the civic entity
? Chrysostom
? Marriage could become a school for virtue, cultivating temperance and shunning greed. IV. Imputations of Womanly Influence: A Strategy of Christian Rhetoric Augustine + Chrysostom o Sexual immoderation
? Something to be feared, but less pernicious than failing in the community (that sexual immoderation would record). Augustine o Letter 262
? Ecdicia complains that her husband was adulterous
? Augustine
? It is Ecdicia's fault o Ecdicia abandoned her (rhetorical topos of the woman) feminine modesty and bullied her husband, leading to his moral downfall.
? The ideal wife should be a persuader to temperance.
? Ecdicia however, o Became chaste and no longer looked after their children, she gave her wealth to passing monks.
? The problem: o She didn't (a) allow husband to share good deeds (b) coax him to accepting asceticism and her through her wifely charm, a woman's most vital expedient for her husband's edification. o She didn't have tact.
? She should have been compassionate, gently ironic and substantially misleading ? a bit like Augustine's rhetoric!
Firmus Put off baptism because of career ambitions o Augustine wants to persuade him to a mid-career baptism.
? He says 'You men who balk at taking up such a great burden do not consider how easily you are bested by those women who have assumed it, who constitute the pious multitude of the chaste and faithful' o Positive womanly influence:
? Using women as humble, pious to shame husband into conforming with norms of a clerical mentor


? A good wife would put him on the right track. Challengers to Christianity using trope Libanius o Oration 13
? Exhorts Theodosius to retreat from a policy which left destruction to polytheist temples, unpunished.
? A product of Christian prefect, Cynegius' wife, Acanthia. o Monks and Christian women conspired, through Acanthia's influence over her husband (the rhetoric) to make Cynegius, an otherwise, virtuous man, err. V: Christianisation and the Rhetoric of Womanly Influence Why do women keep cropping up, if indeed, their influence was not actually that great?
o The writing of history as a means of moral instruction o Eruption in balance of power among Roman men. Competition o Between two types of Romans:
? Married men in civic positions
? Celibate, lower ranked men. o What actually is Christianisation by the way?
? Eclectic
? People are trying to work it out o Augustine, Confessions
? Marius Victorinus and presybter Simplicanus could still banter over whether Christianity was compatible with polytheism.
? Ascetic o Just one brand of Christianity emergent. Bishops o Realise they have to cater to the civic man. Ascetics o Use rhetoric of womanly influence to destabilise current male authority and forge a new one.
? By saying a woman influenced a man's private life negatively could removed him from rational discourse.

Peter Brown, The Body and Society (Columbia, 1998)??Chapter Twelve: 'Make to yourselves separate booths; Monks, Women and Marriage in Egypt' In 320s, Christianity increasingly meant continence. o Theodore
? Driven into the desert through fear of his own susceptibility to women. Women o Presented as a source of perpetual temptation Such presentation would have seemed banal. o But soon,
? Even monks, male and female were charged with sexual feeling.
? Virginity
? Of monks is extremely valued Chapter 18: 'Learn of Me a Holy Arrogance', Jerome

????Jerome o Learned Greek at Antioch
? 375-377
? Went to Chalcis (a Syrian desert) where he lived as a hermit.
? Returned to Constantinople
? Learned from Gregory of Nazianzen; referred to Basil of Caesarea as teacher. o Translated Origen's Homilies on the Song of Songs Letter 22 o In theory a letter to Eustochium, a consecrated virgin, on how best to shield her spiritual life from corruption. o Also an album of caricatures of clergy and upper-class Christians December 384 o Jerome is forced out 380s - 390s o Admirer of Origen
? Sees no reason why women can't undertake Origenist ideal of unrelenting ascetic labour of the mind.
? Paula has a magnificent grasp of Greek.
? Melania the Elder moved the disturbed Evagrius to live up to his ascetic vocation. Virginity and 'fecundity of mind o Virginity as a state encourages creativity Hypocritical: o Ascetics like Jerome benefitted from (spiritually and financially) from close contact with women.
? But equally they attacked ladies from such companionships with anyone else. Relations between men and women: o In 390s,
? Belief women threatened the celibate clergy of the West, 'a pure white Senate house' o Jerome's dilemna:
? His favouring of women in culture was based on austerely spiritual view of human beings.
? Sexual characteristics were ephemeral things and thus irrelevant.
? But he equally,
? Talked about the weaknesses of the flesh. o Knew little of it himself
? Taken of Evagirus o Origen Tradition
? 'Apatheia' ? a transcendence of the passions Jerome in the desert: o 'I often found myself surrounded by bands of dancing girls. My face was pale with fasting; but though my limbs were cold as ice, my mind was burning with desire, and the fires of lust kept bubbling up before me while my flesh was as good as dead'
? Powerful portrait
? Applies this to Eustochium in Letter 22:

o??I.e. If I felt this way, you must be feeling much worse as a young girl.

For Jerome: o The human body was roaring with wild beasts.
? Only controllable through avoiding occasions for sexual attraction.
? Not enough to just be a good ascetic. o Men and women were an uncontrollable and constant source of temptation. Flesh o Flesh meant to Jerome, an unrelieved sense of sexual danger 393 o Against Jovinian: very polemical
? Pammachius takes it out of circulation.
? Jovinian placed married couples on part with consecrated vigins of the church.
? Jerome
? Argued marriage was a regrettable capitulation of the flesh
? Second marriage o One step away from the brothel. Opposition: o Ambrosiaster:
? Celibate clergy compatible with once-married clergymen.
? Sexuality as amenable to self-control. o An author to Gregoria
? Followed Chrysostom's sermon
? Possible to be married and have a pious Christian life. o The pious woman turned a Roman household into a holy place. Origen o Gets the stigma of heresy. (though bear in mind he died in 284)
? Jerome must choose which persona he wants
? 395 o Firmly believes in irremovable risk of sexual temptation between men and women. o Implications of making Origen a heretic
? They did not wish their bodies to be rendered evanescent by the vertiginous immensity implied by Origen's notion of the slow transformation of all created spirits. CARRY ON FROM PAGE 381

Chapter 19: Augustine: Sexuality and Society?In 386, Augustine arrives, a 32-year old in Milan; a professor of rhetoric. o Garden of Milan
? Comes down to: can Augustine abandon an active sex life?

397. o The decision to be continent was the hand of God reaching down to him. Confessions o Written a specific group
? 'servants of God'

o??? Catholics of ascetic experiences similar to Augustine's own. Sexuality was presented as a facet of human social relations just as much as it was a problem of the will. Sexuality and society.

o Regret o That strictly non-sexual ties of intellectual friendship and the sober concord of a legitimate Roman marriage had eluded him as a young man. o Disjunction
? 372 (aged 18)
? Augustine finds a women with whom he lives for 13 years (until 385).
? 373
? Aedoatus (a son) is born. o Looks back sympathetically on his concubine
? Had the stability of a good marriage. Male friendship o 'To talk and laugh. To do each other kindnesses. To read pleasant books together'.1 o Seen as something more intellectual. Marriage o Wouldn't do for someone of marginal social position like Augustine. o Monica
? Doesn't get him a wife; an early, arranged marriage could be shackling for young ambitious men on the rise. Concubinage o Acceptable to Christians
? Children were all illegitimate, but could be based on love. o Manichee
? He was an auditor to the church of Mani since 373.
? Sexuality was incompatible with the Manichean community. o Belief that intercourse collaborated with the headlong expansion of the Kingdom of Darkness at the expense of the purity of the Kingdom of Light. o Strange they let Augustine in then!
? He's got a concubine after all. 384 o Augustine does marry.
? He wants a wife to integrate into the governing Milanese classes (get himself a provincial administrational role, wealth, status).
? Monica finds a wife who is 10 years old. o Concubine
? Goes back home as was the custom?
o Sermon 392:
? 'This problem often arises. If a man and a woman live together without being legitimately joined, not to have children, but casue they could not observe continence' and if they have agreed between themselves to have relations with no one else, can this be called a marriage? Perhaps, but only if they had resolved to maintain until death the good faith which they

1 Page 389.


had promised themselves...But if a man takes a woman only for a time, until he has found another who better suits his rank and fortune: and if he marries this woman as being of the same class, this man would commit adultery in his heart, not towards the woman he wished to marry, but towards the woman with whom he had once lived."
? Augustine here, argues, the man who leaves his concubine to marry a woman of more appropriate status, he is committing adultery. Augustine
? Feels any relationship with a woman, lawful marriage included, must be sexual.
? Page 395.

Brent D. Shaw, 'The Family in Late Antiquity: the Experience of Augustine' Past and Present, 1987??No clear model of 'family' o A much larger group of kin then what we term 'the nucleus family'. Bear in mind: sources are mainly upper-class Augustine o Did he come from a poor family?
o Poor compared to a Petronius Probus or Melania
? But,
? Parents were of the local ruling order
? Patrick sends Augustine for a city education o At a time when formal education would not have been a high priority in a fragile agrarian economy. Contrast between family idea and reality Bear in mind: o Augustine's life as part of his parents' family is written through an ideological prism in 397,
? Will be a little distorted conception of his own life.

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