Through a discussion of power dynamics with a critical eye towards the political situation of influential Christian leaders including Constantine, Damasus, Ambrose, and Augustine, Death’s Dominion demonstrates the ways in which these individuals sought to craft Christian identity and cultural memory around the martyr shrine. Other recent scholarship on the martyr cult has conflated issues of the early fifth century with those from the early fourth, with little discussion of the development of the martyr cult during the intervening decades. Death’s Dominion corrects that omission by presenting a diachronic focus on the development of the martyr cult in the pivotal fourth century. During this period the martyr cult was repeatedly a decisive tool for the augmentation and solidification of civil and religious authority.
Late in the fourth century pilgrimage created a network within Christianity which ultimately led to a catholic Christian understanding of the martyrs’ graves by broadening the appeal of regional practices to disparate audiences. This simultaneously reinforced and subverted the desired message of those who sought to craft the meaning associated with the martyrs’ remains. Pilgrims helped manufacture a homogenized understanding of the martyr cult ultimately enabling it to become one of the most identifiable features of Christianity in subsequent centuries.
Published: Sep 15, 2016
|Introduction: Discursive Acts and the Formation of Memory at the Graves of the Saints||Nathaniel Morehouse|
|To Begin: The Life of the Dead is Set in the Memory of the Living||Nathaniel Morehouse|
|To Build Up: The Erection of Shrine and Reputation||Nathaniel Morehouse|
|To Control: The Places and Practices Associated With the Remains of the Saints||Nathaniel Morehouse|
|To Reject: Not Everyone Loves a Corpse||Nathaniel Morehouse|
|To Accept: Unification Through Travel||Nathaniel Morehouse|