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Living Well And Living On: Martyrdom And The Imago Vitae In The Early Modern Age

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Chapter Summary

The imago vitae and the concepts surrounding it all concentrate on the possibility of transcending the limitations of physical death, whether this is brought about by violence, old age, or suicide. Thinkers in the early modern period took over classical ideals of the superiority of the inner life to construct the manner in which respected individuals in their own period, whether roughly contemporary (anabaptist martyrs, Luther) or understood as part of their intellectual heritage (Seneca, Paul), could live on because they had lived well. Thus the 'textual image' of an admired individual and an interpretation of the individual in terms of their spiritual development was a literary genre which continued to have currency well into the twentieth century. This chapter examines the roots of this genre in the early modern era and then questions to what degree this can be seen as the reception of an ancient model.

Keywords: imago vitae; inner life; literary genre; live on; lived well; martyrs; textual image



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