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The Epitaphium is one of the core primary texts on female spirituality (both real and idealized) in Late Antiquity, and it also is one of Jerome's crowning literary achievements, yet until now it has not received the depth of scholarly analysis that only a proper commentary can afford. This book presents the first full-scale commentary on this monumental work in any language. Cain accesses a very extensive array of ancient sources to fully contextualize the Epitaphium and he comprehensively addresses stylistic, literary, historical, topographical, theological, text-critical and other issues of interpretive interest, including relevant matters of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin philology. Considerable effort also is expended on extricating the elusive Paula of history from the sticky web of Jerome's idealized hagiographic construct of her. Accompanying the commentary is an introduction which situates the Epitaphium in the broader context of its author's life and work and exposes its various propagandistic dimensions. The critical Latin text and the facing-page translation will make the Epitaphium more accessible than ever before and will provide a reliable textual apparatus for future scholarship on this key Hieronymian writing.
Andrew Cain is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.