ABSTRACT

There was, however, an in-built tension as pietas required a dutiful attitude towards both earthly and heavenly families. In traditional usage, pietas towards other members of the household was at the same time an indication of one’s disposition towards the patria and towards the rule of the gods, but in the Christian rhetoric, different modes of pietas were separated from each other to build up a hierarchy. Yet the need to break the old family loyalties was spelled out in the traditional language. The requirements of pietas were to be kept when the ultimate loyalty and the source for identity was shifted to the family of Christ. As long as family members followed the requirements of the godly lifestyle, pietas towards the family of God and pietas towards one’s earthly family go hand in hand, and even support each other. Asceticism would not be an antithesis to family pietas; it would perfect it. In this way, seemingly paradoxical passages of the Scripture were reconciled, and family values and concepts were adopted for Christian use.