Abstract

This article examines the significance of breastfeeding in the self-definition of Perpetua, author and protagonist of the Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis. Through close readings of all relevant passages, this discussion intends to demonstrate that Perpetua’s desire to continue nursing her son in prison as well as her eventual resignation to lactation cessation exemplify her struggle to balance her roles as mother and martyr. By illustrating how motherhood foreshadows martyrdom in the Passio, this analysis also highlights the narrator’s thorough knowledge of the realities of breastfeeding as an argument that further supports female authorship.

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