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Document Details :

Title: Female Asceticism in Early Medieval Armenia
Author(s): POGOSSIAN, Zaroui
Journal: Le Muséon
Volume: 125    Issue: 1-2   Date: 2012   
Pages: 169-213
DOI: 10.2143/MUS.125.1.2162442

Abstract :
The paper tackles some issues related to female asceticism in early Christian Armenia (fourth to sixth centuries). It first draws the general picture of various ascetic currents in other Christian cultures and places the Armenian case in this context. The article then analyses the early Armenian sources that mention female religious congregations and concludes that female religious/ascetic communities most likely existed in the middle of the fourth century. The evidence seems to indicate that those were known also just before the Battle of Awarayr in 451. The second part of the paper explores some common topoi associated with female asceticism, such as women’s ascetic zeal that makes them stronger than men, the preference for virginity versus ascetic widowhood. It appears that these topoi are common both to the Patristic literature and to early Christian Armenian authors. Finally, based on the example of the Passion of Šušanik the paper looks at what historical and social conditions could stand behind the choice of a woman to renounce the world and her husband, as well as the difficulties she could face when going against the accepted social codes through her choice of asceticism.

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