'Til Death Do Us Part: Exceptional Women in Classical Athens and the Roman Empire Open Access

Porter, Mary (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/12579t315?locale=en


It is in moments of extremity and inversion of social norm that the boundaries of a society’s civic realities can best be understood, because it is then that the society is forced to react and reassert itself to settle once again in a state of equilibrium. This thesis seeks to identify two such extraordinary instances of social inversion in the historical record through which we might examine some of the boundaries that defined women and their public esteem or censure in classical antiquity. Euripides’ Alcestis and Vibia Perpetua in particular set themselves apart as apt for this comparative study due not only to their roles in larger stories about societal disruption, but also because of their remarkable similarities. The titular heroine of Euripides’ Alcestis and the Christian martyr Perpetua both represent high-born young women, wives, and mothers whose self-sacrifice defined them as truly great in their cultures. It is my hope in examining these women together to span a more than six-hundred-year gap and put their texts in context and conversation with one another. 

Table of Contents

I. Introduction: 1

II. Alcestis as a Classical Greek Woman: 4

Chapter I: 4

Chapter II: 11

Chapter III: 26

Chapter IV: 36

III. Perpetua: A Roman and a Christian: 50

Chapter V: 50

Chapter VI: 57

Chapter VII: 68

Chapter VIII: 81

IV: Conclusion: 92

Bibliography: 96 

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files