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Sosipatra of Pergamum

Philosopher and Oracle

Heidi Marx

26 August 2021

ISBN: 9780197571231

152 pages

Price: £16.99



This volume is the first book length treatment of the elusive and intriguing fourth-century CE philosopher, teacher, and prophet Sosipatra of Pergamum. Through a rich contextualization of the ancient evidence, it presents a lively and engaging portrait of this remarkable woman.

  • The first full-length study of the life of Sosipatra, an understudied figure from Late Antiquity
  • Provides an in-depth examination of the ancient evidence for Sosipatra's life that fleshes out Eunapius's single historical account
  • Features new translations of selections from Eunapius's Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists

About the Author(s)

Heidi Marx, Professor of Religion, The University of Manitoba

Heidi Marx is Professor of Religion at the University of Manitoba and the author of Spiritual Taxonomies and Ritual Authority: Platonists, Priests, and Gnostics in the Third Century CE.

Table of Contents

    Chapter One: Introduction
    Chapter Two: Sosipatra as a Child and Student
    Chapter Three: Sosipatra as a Wife, Mother, and Widow
    Chapter Four: Sosipatra as Teacher
    Chapter Five: Sosipatra as Theurgist and Oracle
    Chapter Six: Conclusion
    Appendix: Translation of Passages Relating to Sosipatra in Eunapius's Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists


"Sosipatra is educated by mysterious strangers. Widowed early, mother of three sons, she is a teacher and a seer. Can we believe the short account in Eunapius? Marx locates Sosipatra in her social context as an elite woman of the later fourth century, and in her intellectual and religious context as a philosopher endowed with spiritual powers." - Gillian Clark, University of Bristol

"Sosipatra of Pergamum offers a compelling biography of one of Late Antiquity's most enigmatic and mysterious women. Marx probes deeply into the ancient sources for Sosipatra and her time, peeling back their layers to reveal a dynamic and charismatic female philosopher who inspired her students while offering a pagan alternative to Christian ideas about how holy women should behave. This book is a model for how one can understand the impact of poorly documented figures whose lives and legacies resonated greatly." - Edward Watts, University of California, San Diego