CEMERS lecture Thursday – Ancient Christian Martyrs

Eusebius of Caesarea

Eric Rebillard, professor of classics and history at Cornell University, will speak on “Collecting Narratives about the Ancient Christian Martyrs from Eusebius (Fourth Century) to Ruianart (Seventeenth Century) and Today” at noon Thursday, May 4, in LN-1106. Rebillard has published five monographs, including The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity (2009), Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa 200-450 CE (2012), and Transformations of Religious Practices in Late Antiquity (2013).

Jean Bolland (1596-1665), in the preface to the Acta sanctorum, and Thierry Ruinart (1657-1709), in the introduction to the Acta primorum martyrum sincera et selecta, both inscribe their project of collecting martyr narratives in continuity with Eusebius’ Collection of Ancient Martyrdoms (c. 300). However, attention to ruptures as well as to continuities will help in elucidating what was at stake in collecting martyr narratives between the end of the persecutions in the Roman Empire and the beginning of modern hagiography. Such a critical review allows us, in turn, to situate contemporary collections of Greek and Latin narratives about the ancient martyrs.