Federica Candido, Donne, insegnamento e scritture nel Symposium di Metodio di Olimpo [Women, Teaching and Scriptures in the Symposium of Methodius]
The issue of the access to education for women and the possible forms of female teaching in the ancient world and within the Christian communities of the first centuries has been analyzed through different perspectives and several disciplines, even though the available sources are somehow erratic. Discussing the position that within the Symposium of Methodius (270-290 C.E.) seems to be assigned to the virgins in the field of the access to religious education and teaching, this paper aims to identify the roots of the connection between the birth and the development of specific female ascetic models with precise didactic, educational and catechetical skills that are recognized and attributed to the virgins. Despite the literary fiction, that is the true vehicle of images and cultural conceptions that need to be deciphered, we can affirm that the Symposium, in which the process which attests the growing prestige of virgins at the expense of widows is clear, describes and “codifies” a new model of virgin (the “virgin διδάσκαλος”).
Keywords: Asceticism – Education – Methodius of Olympus – Allegorical exegesis – Virginity