This essay eavesdrops upon a coded literary debate conducted among Latin ascetic writers in the closing years of the fourth and the early years of the fifth century about the viability of the mode of romance as a model for Christian biographical narratives. Three distinct positions can be discerned, each negotiating between the claims of aristocratic privilege and the ideals of an ascendant asceticism: the romance of renunciation, in Jerome's hagiography; the family romance, in Rufinus' Recognitiones and Jerome's Liber Tobiae; and the renunciation of romance, in Sulpicius Severus' Vita Martini. To judge from the evidence of structural and lexical resemblances, the Latin Historia Apollonii Regis Tyri seems to have existed as a known literary landmark against which these Christian writers charted their own hagiographic designs.


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pp. 531-557
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