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Jerome Dedicates his Vita Hilarionis

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Jerome's three exercises in hagiography, his Paul, Malchus, and Hilarion, as printed in our standard editions, lack dedications. The manuscript tradition, however, reveals a special (possibly first) edition of the Hilarion explicitly dedicated to the ascetic Roman woman Asella. The present study reviews the nature of the pertinent manuscript evidence, identifies the discovery of the dedication in the early seventeenth century, and then discusses the dedication's loss from scholarly sight (and why it was lost), until its rediscovery by a graduate student at the University of Illinois in the 1930s. Finally, the literary and social contexts prompting Jerome's dedication of this particular vita to Asella are discussed.

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