The Daughters of Pola
Daughter of a noble Roman family, Agnella had heard tell of the vain beliefs and foul practices of the Christians. Everyone knew that they murdered infants and drank their blood from silver vessels. They venerated a criminal who died ignominiously on a cross. They worshipped a god with the head of an ass. What good person wouldn t hate such a vile sect? Yet Agnella s experiences of the rites of Aphrodite had given her reason to wonder why her own gods encourage such shameful behavior.
When Diocletian Augustus declared that all men and women must offer sacrifice to the immortal gods or be punished, Agnella s father, Marcus Acilius Dolabella, praefect of Histria, was quick to put the emperor s command into effect. Little could he imagine that a single elderly slave within his household would not only upset his plan, but would also lead his own daughter down a path where her actions would provide seed for the burgeoning Christian Church.
Hearkening to the ancient and authentic acts of early Christian martyrs like Saint Perpetua, Felicity, Agnes, Lucy, Cecilia and Crispina, The Daughters of Pola is a beautiful novella written in the learned yet captivating style of John Mason Neale. Cleverly crafted as a sequence of personal letters among the characters, the story follows Angella as she discovers that holding fast to the truth demands a heavy cost and the courage of a gladiator who stands alone in the arena.
This edition of a classic originally written in 1861 includes a new preface to help introduce the historical aspects of the tale to modern readers, as well as three beautiful antique illustrations by Giovanni Piranesi showing the impressive Roman ruins of the city of Pula, Croatia as they existed in the 18th century.