From the earliest years of Christianity, women distinguished themselves during times of persecution by suffering the same hardships as men in their confession and martyrdom. Their struggles earned them great admiration among the faithful, but if their male counterparts were easily assimilated to ‘soldiers’ and ‘athletes’ of Christ in contemporary religious literature, certain adaptations were necessary to extend these exclusively masculine comparisons to women, considered weak and malleable by nature. Convents of nuns were relatively numerous from the fourth century onwards. The ascetic renunciations practised by some of these nuns, often assimilated to a sort of bloodless martyrdom, were the object of much wonder among their fellow Christians. Alongside monastic examples, female eremitism also enjoyed a certain popularity in Byzantine hagiography, especially up until the seventh century. In the case of women, this way of life was often driven by a desire either to preserve their virginity by escaping a family-imposed marriage, or to perform penance for some serious sins.