Subversion and Sexual Violence: A Reading of the Roman System of Punishment and Entertainment in the Hypostasis of the Archons

E. Meaghan Matheson


Sexual violence is a vivid trope employed in the Nag Hammadi text the Hypostasis of the Archons.  The three female agents within this retelling of the Genesis creation narrative, namely the female spiritual principle, Eve, and Norea, are repeatedly pursued by sexual assaults from the archons. This paper looks to offer a reading of this theme of sexual violence in the text by placing it in conversation with the larger Roman culture that dominated its social world.  In doing so, this paper argues that the Hypostasis of the Archons is drawing on the Roman system of punishment and entertainment to create a farce of its textual archons, and by extension all worldly rulers; sexual violence in this text is used to create a social and theological commentary on ancient political powers.


Nag Hammadi; Roman Punishment; Sexual Violence; Gendered Violence; Religious Bodies; Political Commentary; Norea

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Copyright (c) 2015 E. Meaghan Matheson

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