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Week 13. Egeria
For the past several weeks we have been reading from the popular legends and stories of the Middle Ages. Many of these compositions are anonymous; they were probably composed by men in monastic milieus, but we cannot be sure. Beginning this week, we will take an entirely different approach and consider instead some texts whose authorship is more certain: texts by women writers of late antiquity and the Middle Ages.
We will begin with Egeria, and her account of the pilgrimage she made to the Holy Land in the late fourth century C.E. This makes Egeria a contemporary of Augustine and Jerome. Her account of this journey to Jerusalem is of profound importance for the history of the Latin language: unlike Jerome and Augustine, Egeria was not trained as a rhetorician. Egeria writes in the Latin language that was the language of her daily life; reading her words, you will hear a woman's voice from the final years of the Roman empire, while Christianity was still in its formative years.