Chapter III.—Argument. Perpetua is Again Tempted by Her Father. Her Third Vision, Wherein She is Led Away to Struggle Against an Egyptian. She Fights, Conquers, and Receives the Reward.
1. “Again, after a few days, Pudens, a soldier, an assistant overseer 8991 of the prison, who began to regard us in great esteem, perceiving that the great power of God was in us, admitted many brethren to see us, that both we and they might be mutually refreshed. And when the day of the exhibition drew near, my father, worn with suffering, came in to me, and began to tear out his beard, and to throw himself on the earth, and to cast himself down on his face, and to reproach his years, and to utter such words as might move all creation. I grieved for his unhappy old age. 8992
2. “The day before that on which we were to fight, I saw in a vision that Pomponius the deacon came hither to the gate of the prison, and knocked vehemently. I went out to him, and opened the gate for him; and he was clothed in a richly ornamented white robe, and he had on manifold calliculæ. 8993 And he said to me, Perpetua, we are waiting for you; come! And he held his hand to me, and we began to go through rough and winding places. Scarcely at length had we arrived breathless at the amphitheatre, when he led me into the middle of the arena, and said to me, Do not fear, I am here with you, and I am labouring with you; and he departed. And I gazed upon an immense assembly in astonishment. And because I knew that I was given to the wild beasts, I marvelled that the wild beasts were not let loose upon me. Then there came forth against me a certain Egyptian, horrible in appearance, with his backers, to fight with me. And there came to me, as my helpers and encouragers, handsome youths; and I was stripped, and became a man. 8994 Then my helpers began to rub me with oil, as is the custom for contest; and I beheld that Egyptian on the other hand rolling in the dust. 8995 And a certain man came forth, of wondrous height, so that he even over-topped the top of the amphitheatre; and he wore a loose tunic and a purple robe between two bands over the middle of the breast; and he had on calliculæ of varied form, made of gold and silver; and he carried a rod, as if he were a trainer of gladiators, and a green branch upon which were apples of gold. And he called for silence, and said, This Egyptian, if he should overcome this woman, shall kill her with the sword; and if she shall conquer him, she shall receive this branch. Then he departed. And we drew near to one another, and began to deal out blows. He sought to lay hold of my feet, while I struck at his face with my heels; and I was lifted up in the air, and began thus to thrust at him as if spurning the earth. But when I saw that there was some delay I joined my hands so as to twine my fingers with one another; and I took hold upon his head, and he fell on his face, and I trod upon his head. 8996 And the people began to shout, and my backers to exult. And I drew near to the trainer and took the branch; and he kissed me, and said to me, Daughter, peace be with you: and I began to go gloriously to the Sanavivarian gate. 8997 Then I awoke, and perceived that I was not to fight with beasts, but against the devil. Still I knew that the victory was awaiting me. This, so far, I have completed several days before the exhibition; but what passed at the exhibition itself let who will write.”
[St. Aug. Opp. Tom. v. p. 1284.]702:8993
It seems uncertain what may be the meaning of this word. It is variously supposed to signify little round ornaments either of cloth or metal attached to the soldiers dress, or the small bells on the priestly robe. Some also read the word galliculæ, small sandals.702:8994
[Concerning these visions, see Augustine, De Anima, cap. xviii. el seq.]702:8995
“Afa” is the Greek word ἁφή, a grip; hence used of the yellow sand sprinkled over wrestlers, to enable them to grasp one another.702:8996
[Ps. 44:5, Ps. 60:12, Ps. 91:13, Ps. 108:13.]702:8997
This was the way by which the victims spared by the popular clemency escaped from the amphitheatre.