With Peter at the Games: Ritual Memory and the »Acts of Peter«
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This article uses the social memory theory to demonstrate ritual correspondences between the Acts of Peter (Acts Pet.) and the ritual acts of violence found in gladiatorial games and the ancient battle of the rex nemorensis at Aricia. There are allusions to common ritual elements found in the ritual of the rex nemorensis at Aricia, the ritual battle between two slaves, and the Acts Pet. Similarly, the gladiatorial games were a central part of Roman Imperial life and provided a political dialogue between the people and the Emperor as well as a sense of social and religious identity. By using the social memory theory in relating these two ritual events as sites of memory, there is evidence that the apocryphal narrative provides early Christian audiences with a narrative of acculturation with imperial rituals while maintaining Christian loyalties and ethical commitments. Thus, Christianity is presented as powerful but not overtly hostile toward the Roman Empire.