Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Miles C. Doleac

Advisor Department

Foreign Languages and Literature


Scholars from a variety of disciplines have done some incredible work on the subject of martyrdom, but the story is far from complete, particularly in terms of how and why it was so similar to the Roman concept of public deaths. The primary sources include the surviving Christian martyrologies, Greco-Roman philosophical treatises, and Roman, Christian, and Jewish histories. Martyrdom itself was a tool of assimilation that somehow bridged the communities of the empire together. There is a huge body of information in a variety of genres that contribute to this project. But there exists a hole in the combined scholarship that my research will fill. Although I am building on important studies that have already been completed, my research on martyrs will support the idea that there was indeed a relationship, if not a direct link, to the main query in my thesis, thus adding to the dialogue of these respected scholars. Through the use of the writings of the early Church fathers, like Tertullian and Ignatius, and Roman and Jewish historians, such as Tacitus, Livy, and Josephus, I am able to provide the history and context of what was happening to and around these martyrs and how it was connected to Roman death rituals. There is a whole socio-political angle that must be applied to the events being discussed. This project combines interdisciplinary research in history, religion, and languages, both Latin and Greek. Most of the primary sources do have an English translation, but in order to trace the etymology of specific words and phrases, it is best to compare the original document against my translations. The linguistic context is of the utmost importance in understanding the authors’ intentions. My research is not only significant to my discipline, but has far reaching implications on our modern society, which is based on the governments, philosophies, and religions flourishing during this time period.


Honors College Award: Top Thesis