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Authority and Asceticism

from Augustine to Gregory

the Great
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Authority and asccticism from Augustinc to Crcgory thc Crcat / Conrad Icyscr.
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Includcs bibliographical rcfcrcnccs and indcx.
+. AsccticismHistoryEarly church, ca. o-oo. :. AuthorityRcligious
aspcctsChristianityHistory of doctrincsEarly church, ca. o-oo. . Monasticism
and rcligious ordcrsHistoryEarly church, ca. o-oo. I. 1itlc. II. Scrics.
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My grandmother, who grew up a century ago in an austere reformed
Jewish household in Cologne, told the following story from her child-
hood. One day, her mother entrusted her with the task of watching
the soup. And watch she did, with erce and increasingly anxious
attention, until it had all boiled away. On returning to the kitchen, her
mother naturally concluded that her trust had been betrayed. The
story carries a universal messageabout the powerlessness of good
intentions and the vulnerability to error of those in authoritythat
the gures discussed in this book would have had no trouble in
recognizing. But the story also speaks to me in particular, with all the
terrifying force of an archetype. I started work on the doctoral thesis
that forms the basis for this book in : for fteen years now I have
been watching the soup, as it were, during which time almost every-
thing else in my life has changed. Readers may well decide I have
misinterpreted my task, and that the pot has long since cracked and
The eld is now, also, much changed. When I began research, the
writings of ascetics in the late Roman West were comparatively under-
studied, at least in the English-speaking world. Although this is,
happily, no longer the case, my focus has obstinately remained the
language of moral authority used by western ascetics in the uncertain
political context associated with the barbarian invasions. A traditional
approach to these later Latin Fathers might seek to dene them
through their perceived contribution to the development of the
medieval monastery or episcopacy. By contrast, I have sought to inter-
pret their work in terms of the prolongation and adaptation of a very
ancient discussion about how a man should hold power, a discussion
focused self-consciously on rhetorical performance. An analysis of the
ethical relation between speaker and listener, rather than a concern
with the institutional authority of bishops or abbots, seems to me to
characterize ascetic thought and practice in this period.
My debts are legion. I thank for generous support of my research
the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Board,
the Arnold, Bryce and Read Funds at Oxford University, the British
School at Rome, Dumbarton Oaks, the Andrew Mellon Foundation at
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Columbia University, the University of Manchester Research and
Graduate Support Fund, and for hospitality the Forschungstelle fr
Geschichte des Mittelalters of the Austrian Academy of Sciences,
under the directorship of Walter Pohl. I am no less beholden to
libraries and librarians in Oxford, Rome, Washington DC, Sheeld,
New York, Wellesley, Manchester, and Vienna. Without the shep-
herding of the series editor, the late Colin Matthew, and of Anne
Gelling at Oxford University Press, together with the acumen of my
copy-editor, and the last-minute redemptive work on the proofs by
Gerard Hill, the book would have been still tardier.
At dierent times, and in dierent ways, I have drawn on the
wisdom and encouragement of the following: Francesco Scorza
Barcellona, Peter Brown, Caroline Bynum, Elizabeth Clark,
Maximilian Diesenberger, Joel Kaye, William Klingshirn, Simon
Loseby, John Matthews, Paul Meyvaert, Bob Moore, William North,
Frederick Paxton, Salvatore Pricoco, Helmut Reimitz, Philip
Rousseau, Carole Straw, Anita Tien, James Vernon, Mark Vessey,
Wes Williams, and Klaus and Michaela Zelzer. To reading groups in
New England and Manchester, and to those here who read the draft in
its nal stages, I can only oer my own bewilderment at my failure to
follow counsels I knew to be good and true.
It remains for me to thank those whose patience has endured the
longest: Robert Markus, who guided me towards and across the
subject, Henry Mayr-Harting, my supervisor and sub-editor, whose
doctrina and discretio have sustained me throughout, and my family in
its various dimensions. Henrietta and Karl, my parents, have wished
for me my own voice: Machs gut, my father would say to me as I was
leaving, and I only hope I have. My siblings Ottoline, Crispin, and
Matilda, have remained gracious in the face of so much medieval
history. My dear daughters, Hester and Hildelith, have been delight-
fully less indulgent. This book is dedicated to their mother, my
beloved, who has given of her mind and heart in ways I can but strive
to return.
Conrad Leyser
viii Preface
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Abbreviations xi
r+a+ r. rrr+n-cr+tav +t+noar+rrs
+. Augustinc and thc Problcm of Authority
:. 1hc Moral Scicncc of ]ohn Cassian
r+a+ rr. srx+n-cr+tav +r+ra++rvrs
. 1hc Pastoral Arts of thc Rhctor Pomcrius j
. 1hc Purc Spccch of Cacsarius of Arlcs 8+
j. 1hc Anonymity of The Rule of St Benedict +o+
r+a+ rrr. +nr oarooar+ sv+nrsrs
. 1hc Wcakncss of Crcgory ++
y. A Ianguagc of Powcr +o
Bibliography +8
Index :+y
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Periodical titles are abbreviated according to the conventions given in LAnne
srarrs +r+rrs +n woaks or arrrarcr
ACW Ancient Christian Writers (Westminster, Md.)
CCSL Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina (Turnhout)
CSEL Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (Vienna)
DACL Dictionnaire darchologie chrtienne et de liturgie (Paris)
DSp Dictionnaire de spiritualit (Paris)
DTC Dictionnaire de thologie catholique (Paris)
FC The Fathers of the Church (Washington)
MGH Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Berlin)
AA Auctores Antiquissimi
Epp Epistulae
SRM Scriptores rerum merovingicarum
NPNF Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
PG Patrologia Graeca
PL Patrologia Latina
PLS Patrologia Latina, Supplementum
SC Sources Chrtiennes (Paris)
TTH Translated Texts for Historians (Liverpool)
TU Texte und Untersuchungen
rar+av +rx+s
Full details are given in the Bibliography
Aug.Serm. Augustine, Sermones
Civ.Dei Civitas Dei
Conf. Confessions
De corr. et grat. De correptione et gratia
Enarr. Ps. Enarrationes in Psalmos
Praec. Praeceptum
Rg.Aug. La Rgle de s. Augustin, ed. L. Verheijen, vols. (Paris,
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VAug. Possidius, Vita Augustini, ed. M. Pellegrino (Alba, )
Conl. Cassian, Conlationes
Inst. Institutiones
Dial. Gregory the Great, Dialogi
HEv. Homiliae in Evangelia
HEz. Homiliae in Hiezechihelem Prophetam
Lib.Resp. Libellus Responsionum, in Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis
anglorum, ed. C. Plummer (Oxford, )
Mor. Moralia in Iob
Ep. Registrum Epistularum
RP Liber Regulae Pastoralis
RB Regula Benedicti
REug Regula Eugippi
RM Regula Magistri
RV Caesarius of Arles, Regula virginum
Caes. Serm. Sermones
VCaes. Vita Caesarii
De vita cont. Pomerius, De vita contemplativa
xii Abbreviations
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Fifth-Century Authorities
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Augustine and the Problem of Authority
1o a modcrn audicncc, Augustinc of Hippo appcars almost invariably
as a forbidding and patriarchal gurc.
1his was an authority that somc
of Augustincs contcmporarics wcrc cagcr to confcr on himbut thcrc
wcrc othcrs who had no prcssing rcason to includc thc bishop of a
provincial North African town in thcir calculations of rank and powcr
in thc Roman Mcditcrrancan. In :+, for cxamplc, Augustinc, thcn in
his sixtics, wrotc to Atticus, thc bishop of Constantinoplc.
1hc lcttcr
rcprcscnts a dcnitivc formulation of Augustincs vicws on human
scxuality, a topic on which hc had mcditatcd for ovcr two dccadcs
and with which, in thc modcrn cra, his namc is indclibly associatcd.
1hc bishop of Hippos contcmporary rcputation, howcvcr, no lcss
than his posthumous rcnown, sccms to havc bccn bcyond thc kcn of
Atticus. Wc lcarn from Augustinc that hc had bccn waiting in vain to
hcar from thc patriarch. At last, losing paticncc, hc had writtcn him-
sclf, with a facc-saving cxplanation for Atticuss silcncc: thcrc was a
rumour abroad in Constantinoplc that hcAugustincwas dcad.
Augustinc was undcr fcw illusions thcn about thc indicrcncc towards
him of his morc distinguishcd collcagucs. Hc kncw thc slightncss of
his own authority, in ways which invitc his twcnty-rst-ccntury
rcadcrs to rcconsidcr thcir assumptions about him.
1o thc latc Roman and carly mcdicval ascctics who arc thc subjcct
of this book, thc authority of Augustinc was a sourcc of fascination and
no small bcwildcrmcnt.
1hc vast corpus of his works commandcd
Scc c.g. ]. Caardcr, Vita Brevis: A Letter to St Augustine, tr. A. Born (Iondon, +y),
which uscs thc imagincd voicc of Augustincs common-law wifc to chidc him for his ascctic
coldncss in rcpudiating hcr aftcr ftccn ycars of living togcthcr (although, in fact, it was thc
hcat of his worldly ambition that lcd him to do so). Scc Conf. \I. +:. :j, cd. ]. ]. ODonncll,
vols. (Oxford, +:) i. y+, and for commcnt and furthcr bibliography, ii. 8j, and
C. Wills, Saint Augustine (Iondon, +), csp. +y+8, +.
Ep. *, CSEI 88, :8. 1hc datc of thc lcttcr is disputcd: scc R. Eno, Saint Augustine,
Letters VI (**), IC 8+ (+8), j: and thc rcfcrcnccs thcrc givcn.
Ior a discussion of thc lcttcr in thcsc tcrms, scc P. R. I. Brown, Scxuality and Socicty
in thc Iifth Ccntury A. D.: Augustinc of Hippo and ]ulian of Eclanum, in E. Cabba (cd.),
Tria corda: Scritti in onore di Arnoldo Momigliano (Como, +8), yo.
Ep *. +. +, CSEI 88, :.
A vcry traditional topic that has bcgun to rcccivc rcncwcd attcntion, partly in rcsponsc
to thc discovcry by ]ohanncs Divjak of ncarly o prcviously unknown lcttcrs of Augustinc
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thcir rcspcct, but lcft thosc who sought augustinian guidancc for thcir
own cxcrcisc of powcr and rcsponsibility in a statc of confusion.
Augustinc bcqucathcd a compclling vision of human dcstiny: what
socicty was likc in thc hcrc-and-nowbrokcn, fragilcand how it
would bc transformcd in thc hcavcnly city at thc cnd of timc. 1his
vicw of human community, prcscnt and futurc, did not dcpcnd on thc
prcsumcd continuation of thc Roman Empirc, but on a pcrccption of
thc authority of Cod, at oncc ovcrwhclming and inscrutablc. In thc
Iatin Wcst across thc fth and sixth ccnturics, as thc Empirc dis-
intcgratcd, Augustincs crystallinc imagination of thc cschatological
ordcr was incrcasingly rclcvant and attractivc to Christian ascctics
in thcsc parts. What hcld thcir attcntion abovc all, pcrhaps, was
Augustincs proposal of thc monastcry as thc onc placc in thc hcrc-
and-now whcrc it was possiblc to glimpsc thc futurc glory of thc
hcavcnly city. 1hc monastic community as cmblcm of thc socicty of
thc blcsscd: this was a touchstonc for latcr monastic patrons such as
Cacsarius of Arlcs or Bcncdict of Nursia who sought to articulatc
oftcn in thc facc of hostilc oppositionwhy thcir usc of scarcc
rcsourccs to found ncw, sccmingly clitc, communitics was, aftcr all, a
ministry to thc wholc body of thc faithful.
1hc augustinian conccption of thc monastcry as a window onto thc
City of Cod brought problcms cvcn as it ocrcd inspiration. In sctting
all his storc by divinc majcsty, Augustinc sclf-consciously minimizcd
thc rolc human authority could play. Without dcnying that political
structurcs wcrc ncccssary, Augustinc rcfuscd to participatc in thc
condcnt idcology of sclf-lcgitimation to which thosc in powcr in
thc latcr Roman Empirc wcrc accustomcd. Ilying in thc facc of thc
assumptions of his pccr group, Augustinc insistcd that thcrc was no
ccrtiablc claim to moral supcriority with which to undcrwritc thc
uncqual distribution of powcr in human socicty. A tcnsion arosc
bctwccn Augustincs cxaltcd idcal of monastic and human community
and his rcduccd tcrms for thc cxcrcisc of authority in and ovcr thc
Fifth-Century Authorities
(bclow n. +). Scc thc classic studics of H.-X. Arquillicrc, LAugustinisme politique: Essai sur
la formation des thories politiques du moyen ge (Paris, +), and H.-I. Marrou, Saint
Augustin et lAugustinianisme (Paris, +j), and now ]. ]. ODonncll, 1hc Authority of
Augustinc, Augustinian Studies :: (++), yj, C. Quillcn, Conscntius as a Rcadcr of
Augustincs Confessions, REAug y (++), 8y+o, R. W. Mathiscn, Ior Spccialists Only:
1hc Rcccption of Augustinc and his 1cachings in Iifth-Ccntury Caul in ]. 1. Iicnhard,
E. C. Millcr, R. ]. 1cskc (cds.), Collectanea Augustiniana, Augustine: Presbyter factus sum
(Ncw York, +), :+, ]. M. \csscy, Opus imperfectum: Augustinc and his Rcadcrs,
:j , Vigiliae Christianae j: (+8), :8j.
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samc communiticsand this was not a tcnsion hc managcd to rcsolvc.
Wcstcrn ascctics in positions of public powcr found thcmsclvcs draw-
ing much of thcir political lcxicon from Augustinc, whilc confronting
thc fact that Augustinc himsclf did not sct any grcat storc by what
gurcs in authority, howcvcr wcll-intcntioncd, might achicvc. 1hc
bishop of Hippo was, in thc cycs of his most articulatc and most
promincnt carly Iatin rcadcrs, insucicntly authoritarian: much of
thcir writing is drivcn by an attcmpt, subtlc and pcrsuasivc, to rcndcr
his lcgacy othcrwisc.
In thc ninctccn-sixtics, scholars in thc English-spcaking world camc
to a ncw vicw of thc complcxity of Augustinc. Discussion of this
changcd paradigm continucs to prcoccupy Anglo-Amcrican scholar-
ship (whilc thc attcntion of contincntal scholars has rcmaincd focuscd,
with cxtraordinary rcsults, on tracing thc manuscript transmission of
Augustincs works).
Iundamcntal to this vicw is thc conviction that
Augustinc was a man and a thinkcr who changcd, and who was him-
sclf avid to obscrvc his own transformations.
1hc pivotal dccadc
in Augustincs dcvclopmcnt is sccn to bc thc os, which witncsscd
his assumption of cpiscopal occ in Hippo (j/), and thc writing
of thc Confessions (yo+).
Of coursc, Augustincs own story in
thc Confessions locatcs thc dccisivc momcnt in his lifc somc tcn ycars
Augustine j
Cuidcd, abovc all, by thc following: P. R. I. Brown, Augustine of Hippo: A Biography
(Iondon, +y), a sccond cdition, with a ncw cpiloguc, is forthcoming, R. A. Markus,
Saeculum: History and Society in the Theology of St Augustine (Cambridgc, +yo, :nd cdn.,
+88). Ior historiographical contcxt and critiquc, scc A.-M. la Bonnardicrc, Ia Citc
tcrrcstrc daprcs H.-I. Marrou, in id. (cd.), Saint Augustin et la Bible (Paris, +8), 8y8,
]. M. \csscy, 1hc Dcmisc of thc Christian Writcr and thc Rcmaking of Iatc Antiquity:
Irom H.-I. Marrous St Augustinc (+8) to Pctcr Browns Holy Man (+8), JECS
(+8), yy++, ]. ]. ODonncll, 1hc Ncxt Iifc of Augustinc, in W. Klingshirn,
M. \csscy (cds.), The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays in Late Antique Thought and
Culture (Ann Arbor, +), :+j+, scc also \csscys obscrvations, :o++. Ior a survcy of
thc discovcrics by contincntal scholars, scc Brown, Augustine, Epiloguc. Scc bclow, n. +, on
thc ncw lcttcrs of Augustinc traccd by ]ohannc Divjak, and on thc ncw scrmons discovcrcd
by Irancois Dolbcau, scc C. Madcc (cd.), Augustin prdicateur (), Actes du colloque
international de Chantilly ( septembre ) (Paris, +8).
Scc c.g. Brown, Augustine, ++o, ++, +y+, Markus, Saeculum, o+. Both acknowlcdgc
an important dcbt to I. E. Cranz, 1hc Dcvclopmcnt of Augustincs Idcas of Socicty bcforc
thc Donatist Controvcrsy, Harvard Theological Review y (+j), ::j+ (citcd Brown,
Augustine + n. +, Markus, Saeculum, 8o n. ). On imagcs of Augustinc through thc agcs,
scc c.g. P. Courccllc, Les Confessions dAugustin dans la tradition littraire: antcdents et
postriorit (Paris, +).
Brown, Augustine, + n. +, notcs how littlc attcntion had bccn paid, at that timc, to thc
os: all attcntion had bccn focuscd on thc 8os and thc convcrsion. At ibid. +jy, hc pro-
poscs a shift of cmphasis, in tandcm with Markus, Saeculum, 8:. Scc also Markus, End of
Ancient Christianity, j+.
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prcviouslyhis nal acccptancc, aftcr ycars of falsc trails and indcci-
sion, of thc catholic Christianity of his mothcr Monica. 1hc sccnc of
convcrsion is sct, famously, in a gardcn in Milan, but thcrc arc good
grounds for supposing that Augustinc is hcrc rccasting his Italian past
in thc light of his prcscnt situation in North Africa.
As his own
writings from thc latc 8os bctray, at that timc Augustinc rcgardcd
what had happcncd in Milan as a philosophical awakcning, not a con-
vcrsion to his mothcrs faith.
It sccms that, in thc summcr of 8,
Augustinc announccd his rctircmcnt, on grounds of ill-hcalth, from
his position as impcrial rhctor, and rctrcatcd to a country cstatc out-
sidc Milan with family and fricnds to discuss philosophy.
Augustinc was a rclativcly convcntional clitc Christian of thc latc
fourth ccntury. Hc was condcnt of his abilitics to makc moral
progrcss and to inspirc it in othcrs, and trusting in thc dispcnsation
of divinc providcncc for thc Christian Roman Empirc. Most of his
fricnds, at this pcriod, and indccd for ycars to comc, wcrc morc
augustinian than hc was.
In thc carly os, Augustinc rcturncd to North Africa to his homc
town of 1hagastc, and it is at this point, it is widcly, if not univcrsally
acccptcd, that thc rcal brcak in his lifc occurs.
In thc coursc of thc
ncxt dccadc, as Augustinc rcad and rcrcad Pauls Icttcr to thc
Romans, and as hc prcparcd himsclf (sccmingly from j) for undcr-
taking cpiscopal occ in Hippo, his carlicr ccrtaintics cvaporatcd.
Paul convinccd him that his condcncc in thc powcrs of human rcason
to fathom thc rationality of Cods gracc was unfoundcd.
rcalizcd that hc did not, aftcr all, know why his lifc had takcn thc
coursc that it had: it is this proccss of moral disillusion that undcr-
pins thc narrativc of thc Confessions. 1hcsc arc not thc tcstimony of a
Fifth-Century Authorities
Conf. \III. +:. :8, ODonncll, i. +o+:, and thc commcntary at ii. jjy+. On
Augustincs rcvision of his narrativc in thc os, scc also P. Ircdcrikscn, Paul and
Augustinc: Convcrsion Narrativcs, Orthodox 1raditions, and thc Rctrospcctivc Sclf, JTS
y (+8), .
Scc Contra Academicos II. :. j, CCSI :, :+. Comparc Conf. \III. ++. :y, ODonncll,
i. +oo.
Scc De beata vita I. , CCSI :, y, on thc chcst malady that forccd Augustinc to rctirc.
Ior a charactcrization of Augustinc at Cassiciacum, scc Brown, Augustine, ++o:y, also ]. M.
Matthcws, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, AD (Oxford, +yj), ::o:+.
Brown, Augustine, +j:.
Ior an important disscnting voicc, scc C. Madcc, 1cmpora Christiana: Exprcssion du
triomphalismc chrcticn ou rccrimination pacnnc?, in id., Petites tudes Augustiniennes
(Paris, +), :j.
Scc P. Ircdcrikscn, Augustine on Romans, 1cxts and 1ranslations :, Early Christian
Iitcraturc Scrics (Chico, Calif., +8:).
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born-again fundamentalist. They are, in Peter Browns phrase, a
work of a professional convalescent, a man who is axiomatically
uncertain of his powers of self-control or his ability to resist tempta-
tion: any strength that he has comes from divine grace, and the giving
and witholding of that grace is inscrutable.
The enduring achievement of Robert Markuss Saeculum is to have
demonstrated how and why Augustine converted this personal history
into a view of human history as a whole. In the City of God Augustine
argued that, after the Incarnation, unambiguous divine revelation was
to cease: at the Second Coming, the shape and number of the citizens
of heaven would be revealed, but in the mean time, no one could know
with any certainty of their eschatological standing. No person, group,
or institution, therefore, could assert a reliable insight into the work-
ings of Gods grace in human aairs. As Markus has emphasized,
Augustines radical agnosticism divided him from most of his peers.
Most in Christian intellectual circles were convinced that the Roman
Empire was the privileged vessel of Gods grace on earth: since the
conversion of Constantine, ideologues such as Eusebius had been
working to establish a triumphalist interpretation of imperial history,
turning on the happy coincidence of the birth of Christ under the
Emperor Augustus. Under the house of Theodosius in the early fth
century, the poet Prudentius assumed the Eusebian mantle as
spokesman for an increasingly aggressive imperial Christianity. It was
this triumphalism that Augustine undercut.
All those in authority,
including bishops and abbots, should eschew illusory certainties about
the moral eect of their conduct of power: no one, however powerful,
could know whether their actions were in accord with the inscrutable
agency of Gods grace.
The underlying pastoral purpose of Augustines point of view was
not to induce passivity, but to combat the divisive eects of spiritual
litism. As a bishop, Augustine became increasingly sensitive to the
ways in which claims to moral superiority could damage a Christian
community. This was the theme underlying his two great polemic
struggles against Donatist and Pelagian heresy, and his uncompromis-
ing pronouncements on salvation towards the end of his life in the
semi-Pelagian controversy. These last teachings on predestination,
Brown, Augustine, (cf. ).
Markus, Saeculum, , .
For an attempt to argue, pace Markus, for a Eusebian reading of Augustine, see P. T.
Kaufmann, Redeeming Politics (Princeton, ).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 7
thc psychological implications of which continuc to bac and dismay
his modcrn rcadcrs, had a spccic pastoral goal in thc carly fth
ccntury: to cstablish thc absolutc cquality of all thc faithful in thc sight
of Cod, and thc impossibility of staking any ccrtain claim to grcatcr
virtuc than oncs ncighbour.
Augustinc from his mid-fortics, as wc now know him, was a man
who bclicvcd in community, but whosc idcas isolatcd him from many
of his pccrs. Suspicious of thc moral claims of authority, hc found
himsclf constantly in a position whcrc hc could not avoid assuming
itindccd activcly chosc to do so.
1hcsc wcrc tcnsions inhcrcnt in
Augustincs rcthinking of human history and divinc gracc across thc
Confessions and thc City of God: thcy wcrc playcd out spccically in thc
arcna of his monastic lifc at Hippo, right into thc nal dccadc of his
+nr o+s+rc Jrats+rr
In thc Confessions, Augustincs convcrsion is prccipitatcd by thc story
of thc monk Antony, thc young Egyptian landlord who had givcn up
all his posscssions and rctrcatcd to thc wildcrncss to lcad an ascctic
lifcall in unhcsitating rcsponsc to Christs advicc to thc rich man in
thc Cospcl (Matt. +: :+).
Augustinc was not alonc in bcing
mcsmcrizcd by Antony. His contcmporarics in Christian intcllcctual
circlcsmcn likc ]cromc, or Antonys biographcr, Athanasius of
Alcxandriahailcd thc blossoming of monastic asccticism in thc
dcscrts of Egypt and Syria as a much nccdcd rcncwal of authcntic
Christianity, at a momcnt whcn violcnt sponsorship of thc faith by thc
impcrial rcgimc was bringing in thousands of ncw convcrts. 1hc
8 Fifth-Century Authorities
Scc Possidius, Vita sancti Augustini +, cd. M. Pcllcgrino (Alba, +jj), ++o+, for
thc unrcmitting grind of Augustincs dutics as a judgc in his cpiscopal court. On this,
scc W. Sclb, Episcopalis audicntia von dcr Zcit Konstantins bis zur Novcllc XXX\
\alcntinians III, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung fr Rechtsgeschichte, Romanistischc
Abtcilung, 8 (+y), +::+y, W. Waldstcin, Zur Stcllung dcr episcopalis audientia im
spatromischcn Prozcss, in D. Mcdicus, H. H. Scilcr (cds.), Festschrift fr Max Kaser zum
. Geburtstag (Munich, +y), jj, and K. K. Raikas, Episcopalis audientia: Problcmatik
zwischcn Staat und Kirchc bci Augustin, Augustinianum y (+y), j8+. ]. Iamourcaux,
Episcopal Courts in Iatc Antiquity, JECS : : (+j), +y, is conccivcd indcpcndcntly
of thc main scholarly tradition on this subjcct.
Conf. \III. y. + , ODonncll i. j . Augustincs fricnd Ponticianus had himsclf
cncountcrcd thc Vita Antonii at 1ricr: Conf. \III. . +, ODonncll i. . Ior furthcr
commcntary, scc hcrc B. Stock, Augustine the Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge, and the
Ethics of Interpretation (Cambridgc, Mass., +), y+++.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 8
particular appcal of Antony and his pccrs in thc dcscrt lay not only in
thc othcrworldly rigour of thcir modc of lifcasccticism was not ncw
to Christianity in thc fourth ccntury. It was thc withdrawal itsclf into
thc dcscrt that distinguishcd thcsc ascctics from thcir forcbcars, and
that sccmcd to ocr a way of maintaining thc moral drama of thc
Christian lifc in thc post-pcrsccution cra. 1hcir dccision to lcavc thc
placcs of human habitation carncd Antony and his followcrs thc namc
monks, usually takcn to mcan solitary oncs.
In lcarncd circlcs
around thc Mcditcrrancan, thcrc was much cclcbration of thcir moral
achicvcmcnt in so dcmonstrably forsaking thc world.
Evcn as hc invokcd thc gurc of Antony, howcvcr, Augustinc sccms
to havc bccomc incrcasingly awarc that, whatcvcr thc intcntions of thc
dcscrt fathcrs and thcir advocatcs, thc monastic movcmcnt thrcatcncd
to introducc a doublc standard: a purc Christianity for thc fcw, and a
chcapcncd vcrsion for thc rcmaindcr. His rcscrvations wcrc widcly
sharcd: many had obscrvcd how, in thc hands of a polcmicist likc
]cromc, thc claims to moral supcriority of thc monks could bc posi-
tivcly dangcrous.
Rcacting against thc zcalous tonc of many of his
pccrs cnthusiasm for ascctic stylc, Augustinc sought to rcmovc thc
opportunitics for spiritual clitism prcscntcd by thc monastic lifc.
monastcry for Augustinc was a sitc in which to practisc and to pcrfcct
Scc I.-E. Morard, Monachos, moinc: histoirc du tcrmc grcc jusquau c sicclc,
Freiburger Zeitschrift fr Philosophie und Theologie :o (+y), ::j, E. A. ]udgc,
1hc Earlicst Lsc of thc Word monachos for Monk (P. Coll. Youtic yy), Jahrbuch fr
Antike und Christentum :o (+yy), y:8. Monachus for monk in Iatin rst appcars in thc
anonymous translation of Athanasius Life of Antony (which was followcd by thc bcttcr-
known translation of Evagrius of Antioch), Vita Antonii +, PI y, +D. Ior a survcy of
rcccnt litcraturc on asccticism and monasticism, scc now E. A. Clark, Reading Renunciation:
Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity (Princcton, +), +:.
On thc world and thc dcscrt, scc Brown, Body and Society, :++8, Markus, The End
of Ancient Christianity, , drawing on K. Hcussi, Der Ursprung des Mnchtums (1ubingcn,
+), j.
Scc thc studics of D. Huntcr, Rcsistancc to thc \irginal Idcal in Iatc Iourth Ccntury
Romc: 1hc Casc of ]ovinian, Theological Studies 8 (+8y), j, On thc Sin of Adam and
Evc: A Iittlc-Known Dcfcnsc of Marriagc and Childbcaring by Ambrosiastcr, Harvard
Theological Review 8: (+8), :8, Hclvidius, ]ovinian, and thc \irginity of Mary in
Iatc Iourth-Ccntury Romc, JECS + (+), yy+, and K. Coopcr, The Virgin and the
Bride: Idealized Womanhood in Late Antiquity (Cambridgc, Mass., +), :+o8.
On Augustincs distinctivcncss as a monastic thinkcr, scc R. Iorcnz, Dic Anfangc dcs
abcndlandischc Monchtums im . ]ahrhundcrt, ZKG yy (+), ++, R. A. Markus, \ic
monastiquc ct asccticismc chcz saint Augustin, Atti del Congresso Internazionale su s.
Agostino, Roma, settembre , : vols. (Romc, +8y), i. ++:j. 1hc classic studics
rcmain A. Zumkcllcr, Das Mnchtums des heiligen Augustinus (Wurzburg, +jo, :nd cdn.,
+8), A. Mandouzc, Saint Augustin: Laventure de la raison et la grace (Paris, +8),
+j::, and thc work of Iuc \crhcijcn (scc n. :8).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 9
charity: this was far morc important, in his vicw, than thc pcrformancc
of fcats of asccticism, or in physically scparating from thc world.
In this dcbatc ovcr thc opportunitics and risks of thc monastic
movcmcnt, a ccntral placc was occupicd by thc mcmory of thc rst
Christian community at ]crusalcm, as dcscribcd in thc Acts of thc
Apostlcs, : :j:
And thc multitudc of thcm that bclicvcd wcrc of onc hcart and onc soul in Cod:
ncithcr said any of thcm that ought of thc things which hc posscsscd was his own,
but thcy had all things in common. [. . .| Ncithcr was thcrc any among thcm that
lackcd: for as many as wcrc posscssors of lands or houscs sold thcm, and brought
thc priccs of thc things that wcrc sold. And laid thcm down at thc apostlcs fcct:
and distribution was madc unto cvcry man according as hc had nccd.
1hc imagc of thc apostolic community, its mcmbcrs matcrially and
spiritually transparcnt to cach othcr, dominatcd thc ascctic imagina-
tion in thc fourth and fth ccnturics. Irom thc outsct, commcntators
on thc monastic movcmcnt wcrc kccn to proposc a dircct historical
continuity bctwccn thc ]crusalcm Christians and thc dcscrt fathcrs.
1hc apparcnt implausibility of this claimhow could thc multifarious
communitics and individuals on thc outskirts of villagcs in Egypt and
Syria possibly bc rclatcd to an urban communc in rst-ccntury
Palcstinc?only lcnt rhctorical cncrgy to thc accounts of thosc, such
as Euscbius, who advanccd it. 1hc upshot was a form of apostolic
succcssion tying thc castcrn ascctics and thcir wcstcrn imitators, in all
thcir varicty, to thc onc point of origin in thc ]crusalcm community.
In thc :os, arguably thc lcading cxpcrt on dcscrt asccticism in thc
Iatin Wcst, ]ohn Cassian, uscd this narrativc of continuity bctwccn
apostolic ]crusalcm and monastic Egypt in ordcr to rcmind his Iatin
rcadcrs of thc tradition thcy must follow if thcy wishcd to livc as
Augustincs undcrstanding of thc ]crusalcm community was
dicrcntly disposcd. 1ransxcd as hc was by thc possibility that com-
munity of propcrty could actually cstablish thc scamlcss communion
of hcarts, thc gcncalogical claims of thc monastic movcmcnt intcrcstcd
+o Fifth-Century Authorities
Authorizcd \crsion.
Philo of Alcxandria, De vita contemplativa +, +8:j cd. Daumas, 8, o, adaptcd by
Euscbius of Cacsarca, Historia ecclesiastica II. ++y. :, SC +, y+, and by Cassian, Inst. :.
j. +, and Conl. +8. j. Scc bclow, Ch. :, for furthcr rcfcrcnccs and discussion, and for a
survcy of Christian discussion bcforc oo of thc apostolic ]crusalcm, P. Bori, Chiesa primi-
tiva: Limmagine della communit delle originiAtti, , ; , nella storia della
chiesa antica (Brcscia, +y).
Scc bclow, Ch. :.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 10
him far lcss than thc immcdiatc opportunity prcscntcd by thc
monastcry as a placc in which to scck again thc communitas of thc rst
Christians, in anticipation of thc statc of thc blcsscd in thc hcavcnly
Of coursc, in practicc, such anticipation could only bc
ccting: Augustinc ncvcr forsook thc position (oncc arrivcd at) that
full pcacc would only comc to thc human community in thc city of
Cod at thc cnd of timc.
1hc rigour of his cschatology, howcvcr, did
not dctcr himin fact it drovc him to invcst in thc monastcry as a
vcnuc for thc cnactmcnt of apostolic charity. Augustincs vision of
thc past and futurc ]crusalcm lcd him to rcdcnc thc mcaning of
monasticism as an apostolic lifc. Ilying in thc facc of thc traditional
dcnition of monks as solitarics, Augustinc ocrcd an altcrnativc
ctymology, a scnsc of what onc mcant conditioncd by his rcading of
thc tcxt of Acts:
Monos mcans onc, but not onc in any fashion. You can bc onc in a crowd:
onc pcrson with many pcoplc can bc callcd onc, but thcy cannot bc callcd monos,
that is, onc alonc. Monos mcans onc alonc. 1hcy livc togcthcr as onc who
makc up onc pcrson, so that thcy rcally arc as it is writtcn, onc hcart and onc soul.
Many bodics, but not many hcarts arc rightly callcd monos, that is onc alonc.
It was not, thcn, thc monks scclusion from thc world that dcncd
thcir idcntity, but rathcr thc transparcncy of thcir bond with thcir
With a vigour that rcmains, pcrhaps, undcr-apprcciatcd, Augustinc
brokc with thc dcscrt tradition rcprcscntcd by Antony. As hc saw it,
thc impulsc of withdrawal from thc world, howcvcr honcstly ocrcd,
could not rcprcscnt thc authcntic Christian lifc, bccausc it lcft un-
rcsolvcd thc qucstion of thc social rclations bctwccn ascctics and thc
Augustine ++
Scc De op. mon. :j. :, CSEI +, jyy (cchocd at Civ.Dei \. +j, CCSI y, +)
cxpoundcd by Markus, \ic monastiquc ct ascctismc chcz saint Augustin. Scc also
I. \crhcijcn, Saint Augustin, in Thologie de la vie monastique: tudes sur la tradition patris-
tique (Paris, ++), :o++:, and Spiritualitc ct vic monastiquc chcz S. Augustin:
Iutilisation monastiquc dcs Actcs dcs Apotrcs : +j, in id., Nouvelle approche de la
Rgle de St Augustin (Bcllcfontainc, +8o), y+oj. \crhcijcns work is madc acccssiblc to an
Anglophonc audicncc in id., Saint Augustines Monasticism in the Light of Acts : ,
(\illanova, +y), and C. Iawlcss, Augustine of Hippo and his Monastic Rule (Oxford, +8y).
Scc EnarrPs. +y. :o, CCSI o, :+j, on thc thcmc of transparcncy and opacity, scc
also De Genesi contra Manicheos II. . j, PI , +8, Civ.Dei XXII. :, CCSI 8, 8j:.
Enarr. Ps. +:. , CCSI o, ++. Cf. ]cromc, Tractatus super Ps. , CCSI y8, :y,
an cxcgcsis that also associatcs Ps. +: with thc monastic lifc, but in ordcr to contrast this
with thc livcs lcd by thc rcst of thc faithful: Ltiquc alius ad domum irc fcstinat, alius ad
circum, alius in ccclcsia dc usuris cogitat. In monastcrio autcm sicut unum propositum, unus
ct animus cst.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 11
communitics thcy had litcrally or gurativcly abandoncd. If thc
monastic movcmcnt was to avoid thc appcaranccwhatcvcr thc
rcalityof spiritual clitism, thcn it must articulatc its placc within thc
widcr community of thc faithful. Shunning thc rhctorical allurc of thc
grcat antithcsis bctwccn Dcscrt and City, Augustinc initiatcd a ncccs-
sarily morc intricatc discussion of thc rclation bctwccn Monastcry and
In a scrmon of thc carly fth ccntury, for cxamplc, Augustinc
sought to dcvisc an ccclcsiology that would allow monastic communi-
tics to bc scparatc, but not divisivc of thc wholc body of thc faithful.
1hc community of bclicvcrs, Augustinc proposcd, could bc dividcd
into thrcc ordcrs: marricd houscholdcrs, inmatcs of monastcrics, and
thc cpiscopal rulcrs of thc Church.
1his thrcc-ticrcd vision of thc
Church, which sccms to havc bccn Augustincs own, bccamc an
immcdiatc and cnduring standard in thc lcxicon of Iatin ccclcsio-
wc shall scc that in thc hands of Crcgory thc Crcat this schcmc
providcd a languagc in which to discuss thc moral authority of thc
third ordcr, thc rulcrs of thc Church. Augustincs intcrcst, howcvcr,
was in thc sccond group, thosc who dwclt togcthcr as onc in
monastcrics: how could thcir apostolic charity dcsccnd to thc rcst?
Augustinc cnvisagcd monastics at thc lcading cdgc, as wc might say,
of thc Christian community. Iiguring thc wholc body of thc faithful
as a garmcnt, hc imagincd monks at thc ncck: whcn Christ anointcd
his Church with thc oil of charity, it would run down rst to thosc
who dwclt togcthcr as onc, and from thcrc to all othcrs. With such
imagcry, Augustinc confrontcd thc marginality of monasticism, which
thrcatcncd to dividc thc body of thc faithful, and transformcd it into
thc mcans by which that body is madc complctc.
1his was not to
+: Fifth-Century Authorities
Ep. 8. :, CSEI . ii, +8 puts it bluntly: ncc vcstrum otium ncccssitatibus ccclcsiac
pracponatis. Ior thc contrast bctwccn Augustincs ovcrall schcmc and that of his pccrs in
thc ascctic movcmcnt, scc Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +jyyy.
1hcsc thrcc typcs of thc faithful had bccn dcscribcd by Ezckicl as thc thrcc mcn savcd
at thc cnd of timc, Noah, Danicl, and ]ob (Ez. +: +). Scc C. Iollict, Ics 1rois catcgorics
dc chrcticns a partir dc Iuc (+y: ), Matthicu (:: o+) ct Ezcchicl (+: +),
Augustinus magister (Paris, +j), +.
Scc C. Iollict, Ics 1rois catcgorics dcs chrcticns, survic dun thcmc augustinicn,
LAnne thologique augustinienne + (+j), 8+.
1his was a casc hc madc through an cxcgcsis of Ps +:: :: Iikc thc ointmcnt on thc
hcad, which dcsccnds to thc bcard, thc bcard of Aaron, which dcsccnds to thc cnd of his
garmcnt. 1hc ointmcnt, for Augustinc, rcprcscntcd thc balm of charity and unity, running
down from Christ thc hcad, to thc Apostlcs, rcprcscntcd by thc bcard, and from thcm to thc
Church, gurcd by thc saccrdotal garmcnt. In its dcsccnt to thc garmcnt, it would comc rst
to thc collar, which for Augustinc, stood for thosc who livc togcthcr as onc, i. c. monks.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 12
confcr upon monastics an illusory cthical status. All Christians wcrc
cqually vulncrablc to moral collapsc, Augustinc insistcd, and all stood
in cqual nccd of pcacc and charity. 1hcrc wcrc falsc monks, and,
cqually, thcrc wcrc marricd pcoplc who could livc in charity on thc
modcl of thc rst Christian community at ]crusalcm. What distin-
guishcd thc monastcry as a sitc of apostolic charity was that thc full
apostolic community of propcrty could bc imagincd and, indccd,
cnforccd thcrc.
Augustinc camc to this vicw of monasticism, as to so much clsc, in
thc os.
In corrcspondcncc with his fricnds and collcagucs around
thc Mcditcrrancan, hc rcalizcd that his changcd vicws did not always
nd a rcady hcaring. With ]cromc, in particular, Augustinc found
himsclf in awkwardly tactful confrontation on qucstions such as thc
moral valuc of virginity,
and thc qualication for thc undcrstanding
of Scripturc.
His logic, as it cmcrgcd with incrcasing conviction, was
to arguc against a virtuoso undcrstanding of ascctic achicvcmcnt or
cxcgctical prowcss. 1hc holy arrogancc in thc pursuit of othcr-
worldlincss proposcd by ]cromc sccmcd to Augustinc to comc
dangcrously closc to thc damnablc sin of pridc, cncouraging individual
pcrfcctionism at thc cxpcnsc of thc pcacc of thc community as a wholc.
By thc timc hc bcgan thc City of God in +o, hc was convinccd that
thc wholc ascctic projcct as conccivcd of by ]cromc was, at bcst, mis-
Augustincs critiquc of thc monastic movcmcnt is pcrsistcntly mis-
undcrstood in two kcy rcspccts. 1hc rst of thcm is his thinking on
Augustine +
Whcn Christ puts on thc garmcnt, his hcad comcs into contact rst with thc monks. Scd a
barba dcsccndcrc ungucntum ad oram potuit, quac in capitc cst, ubi apcritur capitium. 1alcs
isti sunt qui habitant in unum, ut quomodo pcr oras istas intrat caput hominis, ut vcstiat
sc, sic pcr concordiam fratcrnam Christus intrat, qui cst caput nostrum, ut vcstiatur, ut
ccclcsia illi hacrcat. Enarr. Ps. +:. , CCSI o, +.
Scc c.g. Ep. :, CSEI jy, j8y, for an attcmpt to prisc a rcluctant monk away from
thc sphcrc of his houschold (rcprcscntcd by his mothcr).
Scc D. Sanchis, Pauvrctc monastiquc ct charitc fratcrncllc chcz saint Augustin: Ic
commcntairc augustinicn dcs Actcs : :j cntrc ct o, StMon (+:), y. 1hc
Augustinc of thc carly os had a morc contcmplativc, lcss communitarian intcrprctation of
Acts : :: scc c.g. Enarr. Ps. , CCSI 8, +: Singularcs crgo ct simpliccs, id cst, sccrcti a
multitudinc ac turba nasccntium rcrum ac moricntium, amatorcs actcrnitatis ct unitatis
dcbcmus, si uni Dco ct Domino nostro cupimus inhacrcrc. (Wc must bc onc and simplc,
that is, rcmovcd from thc thronging multitudc of mortal things which arc born and dic. Wc
must bc lovcrs of ctcrnity and unity, if wc dcsirc to bc joincd to thc onc Cod our Iord.)
Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, j.
Scc ]. N. D. Kclly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Iondon, +yj), :+y
+8, :y:, ]. M. \csscy, Confcrcncc and Confcssion: Iitcrary Pragmatics in Augustincs
Apologia Contra Hieronymum, JECS +: : (+), +yj:+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 13
human scxuality, thc arca in which modcrn hostility towards him
masscs most powcrfully. Augustinc has scrvcd, indccd, as a lightning
rod for thc tiradcs against thc scxually rcprcsscd and rcprcssivc
clcmcnts of thc wcstcrn traditionthc irony bcing that thc attitudcs
condcmncd arc morc charactcristic of thosc against whom Augustinc
was arguing.
1hc patcnt infcriority of thc body in rclation to thc
spirit, thc inhcrcntly dangcrous and sinful naturc of scxual dcsirc,
thc liability of mcn to bc tcmptcd from thc path of rightcousncss by
unstablc womcn: thcsc wcrc assumptions sharcd by many of Augus-
tincs contcmporarics, both pagan and Christian, impclling thcm into
thc livcly markct-placc of compcting mcdical and ascctic panaccas for
thc unrulincss of thc body. It was prcciscly in ordcr to cxposc thc
frailty of thcsc assumptions that Augustinc ocrcd, in thc City of God
(Book XI\), his own analysis of thc human condition, bascd on a long-
considcrcd rcading of thc opcning chaptcrs of Ccncsis. Augustincs
account of thc Iall turncd on thc wcakncss, not of thc body, but of thc
soul. Human history, as wc know it, happcncd bccausc Adam and Evc
succumbcd to pridc, sclf-lovc, rathcr than lovc of thc crcator. 1his was
a failurc of will, a turning of thc will away from thc crcator. It was not
thc cating of thc fruit, but thc disobcdicncc to Cod which was thc rst
and original sin.
If thc Iall was not thc rcsult of any bad dcsirc, to
dcclarc war on dcsirc as an ascctic was, in its wilful misundcrstanding
of thc human condition, to risk compounding pridc with pridc.
Augustincs analysis could not havc bccn clcarcrbut it carricd
with it thc sccds of its own, almost immcdiatc, rcvcrsal (and it is on
this rcvcrscd rcading of Augustinc that modcrn condcmnation of
him dcpcnds). 1hc vcry cloqucncc with which hc dcpictcd thc post-
lapsarian condition lcft his ascctically-inclincd rcadcrs all thc morc
likcly to turn to thc palliativcs Augustinc urgcd thcm to rcjcct. As
Augustinc saw it, Cod had madc thc punishmcnt t thc crimc of pridc.
+ Fifth-Century Authorities
Ior corrcctivcs, scc Brown, Body and Society, 8y:y, Markus, End of Ancient
Christianity, j8:, D. Huntcr, Augustincs Pcssimism? A Ncw Iook at Augustincs
1cachings on Scx, Marriagc, and Cclibacy, AugStud :j (+), +jyy.
Civ.Dei XI\. ++j, CCSI 8, 8. A vicw both supportcd and dcnicd by Scripturc:
Eccl. +o. +j has pridc as thc root of all cvil, whilc + 1im : +o has dcsirc as thc root of all cvil.
1hcsc proof tcxts arc rcconcilcd by Augustinc at c.g. De genesi ad litteram ++. +j, CSEI :8,
y, by drawing a distinction bctwccn thc spccic lovc of moncy, and thc gcncralizcd dcsirc
to havc morc than oncs duc, which Augustinc rcgardcd as tantamount to pridc. Ior discus-
sion, scc D. ]. Macquccn, St Augustincs Conccpt of Propcrty Owncrship, Recherches
Augustiniennes 8 (+y:), +8y:: at +:o, and Contcmptus Dci: St Augustinc on thc
Disordcr of Pridc in Socicty and its Rcmcdics, Recherches Augustiniennes (+y), ::y at
:8. Sixth-ccntury rcadcrs of Augustinc wcrc to ccct thc samc synthcsis of thcsc
Scriptural tcxts for dicrcnt purposcs: scc bclow, Ch. .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 14
Hc had givcn Adam and Evc thcir indcpcndcncc, but not in such a
way that thcy wcrc complctcly in thcir own powcr.
No longcr
immortal, thcy cntcrcd thc dominion of thc gravc, rulcd by thc
tcmptcr, and cvcn in lifc thcy now lost thc autonomy to which thcy
had aspircd. Cod turncd body and soul into sitcs of disobcdicncc, con-
fronting humans with a mirror imagc of thcir primal disscnsion from
thc divinc will. Expcllcd from paradisc, thc body was now hopclcssly
vulncrablc to dcsirc in cxccss of all nccd, and thc fracturcd will could
do nothing about it. Only contortionists could cxcrt thcir powcrs of
volition ovcr thcir limbs: most othcr mcnand Augustinc was think-
ing spccically of mcnhad to sucr thc dccp shamc of bcing unablc
to control thcir scxual organ.
Again and again, Augustinc strcsscd
that this was a punishmcnt for sin, not thc rcason for it. 1rying to
drivc out from thc body or thc mind thc spirit of fornication, for
cxamplc, was to dcal with thc symptom, not thc causc of thc post-
lapsarian condition. But symptomatic rclicf was not in itsclf unattrac-
tivc. Having so graphically rcndcrcd thc achc of dcsirc, Augustinc lcft
his carly mcdicval rcadcrs opcn to thc advanccs of ascctic tcchnology,
with its promiscs of physical sclf-control and of rclcasc from thc
tormcnt of craving. And as wc shall scc, sixth-ccntury rcadcrs of thc
City of God wcrc not slow to claim thc authority of Augustinc to
cndorsc thcir ascctic rcappropriation of his work.
In a lcss fraught historiographical contcxt, Augustincs cmphasis on
thc communal aspcct of monastic lifc has lcd many carly mcdicval
rcadcrs (in particular, St Bcncdict) and modcrn commcntators to hail
him as a founding fathcr for ccnobitism in thc Iatin Wcst.
Whilc this
is in somc rcspccts a truism (thc coenobium bcing thc community) it
misrcprcscnts Augustincs immcdiatc intcntions. In thc latc fourth
and carly fth ccntury thc tcrm ccnobitism gaincd its mcaning from
its oppositc crcmitism, thc ascctic lifc livcd alonc. 1hcsc tcrms wcrc
put into circulation in thc wcstcrn Mcditcrrancan by ]cromc in an
attcmpt to imposc somc taxonomic ordcr upon thc varicty of ascctic
cxpcrimcnts in thc dcscrts of Egypt and Syria.
As Augustinc saw it,
Augustine +j
Civ.Dei XI\. +j, CCSI 8, 8. Quotation at y, ll. +:+.
Civ.Dei XI\. +:o, CCSI 8, 8.
So c.g. H. Icclcrcq, art. Ccnobitismc, DACL II. :, ::+, Iorcnz, Dic Anfangc
dcs abcndlandischc Monchtums.
]cromc, Ep. ::. . On thc ccnobitic tradition in gcncral, scc Icclcrcq, Ccnobitismc,
on ]cromc in this contcxt, scc Rousscau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, +oo+, +:,
and now S. Drivcr, 1hc Dcvclopmcnt of ]cromcs \icws on thc Ascctic Iifc, RTAM :
(+j), yo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 15
howcvcr, thc monastic dcscrt in thc hands of its intcllcctual publicists
had bccomc a symbol of division, and hc sccms dclibcratcly to havc
cschcwcd thcir vocabulary. In this scnsc, his idcal of thc monastic
community was cxprcssly not ccnobitic.
Ncithcr of thcsc cautions should bc takcn to mcan that Augustinc
had no intcrcst in organizing monastic communitics of cclibatc mcn
and womcn. 1o thc contrary, Augustincs critiquc of thc monastic
movcmcnt lcd him to dcvclop and to implcmcnt a blucprint for thc
monastcry as an institution pattcrncd on thc rst socicty of Christians
at ]crusalcm. Wc know of at lcast thrcc communitics for which Augus-
tinc was rcsponsiblc in Hippo: a monastcry in a gardcn donatcd by his
prcdcccssor Bishop \alcrius at his ordination to thc pricsthood, his
own cpiscopal houschold, stcrnly organizcd around thc community of
propcrty, as wc shall scc bclow, and a nunncry of which his sistcr had
Circumstantial dctails about thcsc communitics arc hard
to comc by until thc :os. In thc tcxt known to his carly mcdicval
rcadcrs as thc Rule of St Augustine, thc prccisc datc of which rcmains
Augustinc spccics cxactly how, in thcory, apostolic
charity will follow from sharing of matcrial goods in thc organization
of thc monastcry. In thc coursc of his prcscriptions for a community
of onc hcart and onc soul wc can bcgin to scc Augustinc confronting
thc challcngcs of social stratication and of political authority.
1hc Rule intcrlcavcs thc languagc of thc Psalms and thc dcscription
of thc rst community of Christians at ]crusalcm to dcscribc a
+ Fifth-Century Authorities
1hcsc conclusions havc not bccn unanimously acccptcd: scc c.g. A. P. Orbans,
Augustinus und das Monchtum, Kairos +8 (+y), +oo+8, rcbuttcd by A. Zumkcllcr, War
Augustins Monastcrium in Hippo wirklich cin Klostcr? Antwort auf cinc ncuc Hypothcsc
A. P. Orbans, Augustinianum + (+8+), +y, scc also I. \crhcijcn, Ics lcttrcs nouvcllcs
ct la vic monastiquc autour dc saint Augustin, in Les Lettres de saint Augustin dcouvertes par
Johannes Divjak: Communications prsentes au colloque des et septembre (Paris, +8),
+:y at +:y.
A full discussion of thc qucstions of dating and priority attcnding thc Rule of St
Augustine is not nccdcd hcrc. I rcly on thc ndings and nomcnclaturc of Iuc \crhcijcn, now
widcly although not univcrsally acccptcd, which may bc summarizcd as follows. 1hc dossicr
of tcxts for malc and fcmalc monastic communitics transmittcd in Augustincs namc can bc
traccd back to two distinct works: onc thc Praeceptum, composcd c.oo for thc gardcn
community of monks Augustinc foundcd at Hippo in thc mid-os, bcforc his ordination as
bishop, and sccondly thc Ordo monasterii, writtcn at about thc samc timc, also for a malc
community, but not by Augustinc himsclf. In thc carlicst manuscript witncss (Par.Iat.
+:, discusscd bclow, Ch. j), thcsc two tcxts arc copicd togcthcr and rcfcrrcd to as thc
Regula s. Augustini. I havc adoptcd this th-ccnt. tcrminology, but in vicw of \crhcijcns
doubts about thc authcnticity of thc Ordo monasterii, my discussion hcrc focuscs on thc
Praeceptum. Scc Rg.Aug. and I. \crhcijcn Ia Rcglc dc saint Augustin: Ictat actucl dcs
qucstions (dcbut +yj), Augustiniana j (+8j), +:. Iawlcss, Augustine of Hippo and
his Monastic Rule, +:+j, +jy+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 16
community in thc prcscnt: 1hc chicf motivation for your sharing lifc
togcthcr is to livc harmoniously in thc housc and to havc onc hcart and
onc soul sccking Cod.
Augustinc thcn insists upon thc common
owncrship of propcrty. 1hc monks attcntion to thc tcxt of Actsthc
cxamplc of thc apostlcsshould prcvcnt thcm from saying 1his
bclongs to mc. 1hcy hold all things in common.
Having proposcd
Acts as thc modcl for monastic living, Augustinc considcrs thc
likcly obstaclcs. Immcdiatcly following thc opcning scction, hc raiscs
thc issuc of class division, and how it might rub against thc injunction
to livc togcthcr as onc. (1hc Rule is an undcr-uscd sourcc for thc social
history of thc city in Iatc Roman North Africa.
) No snobbcry from
thc rich: thcy arc to glory in thc holy socicty of thc poor, but without
priding thcmsclvcs in thcir ability to support thc community with
thcir wcalth. Convcrscly, thc poor arc not to congratulatc thcmsclvcs
on thc cxaltcd company thcy now kccp.
Augustinc saw that thc main-
tcnancc of thc humility of thc poor was, pcrhaps, thc hardcst challcngc
for thc community.
1hc community of hcarts docs not rcquirc a lcvclling of all
standards. No onc is to bc rcfuscd thosc things which, in thcir wcak-
ncss, thcy might nccd. 1hosc who havc comc from somcwhat dclicatc
cnvironmcnts should not bc madc to follow thc full rcgimc of thosc
who wcrc uscd to hardcr conditions,
whilc thc poor wcrc not to bc
dcnicd thosc nccdful things which thcy havc not bccn ablc to aord
Augustinc claboratcd a thcory of nccds, and insistcd upon its
acccptancc within thc community. 1hcrc was to bc no rcscntmcnt
from any quartcr at conccssions to thc wcakncss of particular brcthrcn.
1his would havc bccn a parodic subvcrsion of thc wholc basis of thc
Augustinc was not totally abandoning physical asccsis,
but hc fcarcd that thc monastcry might bccomc a placc of ascctic com-
pctition. Compctition brcd murmur: thc point of thc community was
that thc strong should livc with thc wcak without murmuring.
Augustinc rccognizcd that thc community could not function with-
Augustine +y
Praec. +. :, Rg.Aug. +y+8, Iawlcss, 8+. Ior commcntary on this opcning passagc, scc
S. Pricoco, Ia Bibbia ncl Praeceptumdi s. Agostino, Augustinianum (+), jj:, csp.
Praec. +. , Rg.Aug. +8.
Scc C. Icpcllcy, Les Cits de lAfrique romain au Bas-Empire, : vols. (Paris, +y), also
Brown, Augustine, pp. +:y, :y.
Praec. +. y, Rg. Aug. +:o.
Ibid. :. , ::.
Ibid. +. j, +8+.
Ibid. :. , ::.
A thcmc of grcat importancc in thc Rule of St Benedict: scc R. W. Southcrn, Western
Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (Harmondsworth, +yo), :+:o, and bclow, Ch. j.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 17
out somc ccntral authority: at thc ccntrc of distribution according to
nccd is thc supcrior. It is hc who sccs to thc sharing out of thc
common stock of food and clothing, and who ministcrs to thc monks
dicring spiritual nccds. 1hc supcrior should corrcct thc rcstlcss,
consolc thc fainthcartcd, support thc wcak, bc paticnt for all.
Augustinc kncw thc powcr and insight dcmandcd of thc supcrior to bc
problcmatic. Whilc thc supcrior bcars othcrs burdcns, hc has no onc
to bcar his own: his is a loncly rcsponsibility to Cod for thc souls in
his chargc. Augustinc attcmptcd to nd a solution by insisting that
this pcrspcctivc on authority bccamc thc sharcd knowlcdgc of thc
community, in thc samc way that thc community sharcd thc apostolic
languagc of distribution according to nccd.
1hc supcrior is to bc
obcycd but also piticd.
And whcn hc is cxccssivc in his corrcction of
brothcrs bclow him, hc should not bc madc to ask for pardon.
Rcquircmcnts of disciplinc may compcl you to spcak harsh words to corrcct young
pcoplc. Evcn if you fccl your criticism has bccn immodcratc, you arc not obligcd
to ask thcir pardon, lcst, as you dcal with thosc who arc, of ncccssity, subjcct, you
should clcavc too much to humility, to thc point whcrc you brcak your powcr to
1hc supcrior must instcad scck forgivcncss from Cod.
Augustincs own authority in thc carly mcdicval Wcst has not a
littlc to do with thc rcccption of his Rule. Its lucid dcnition of
monastic community, bascd dircctly in scripturc, was a touchstonc for
gcncrations of wcstcrn ascctics who, pcrforcc of gcographical circum-
stancc, could not dircctly imitatc thcir forcbcars in thc dcscrts of thc
East. No lcss compclling was thc Rules sharp insight into thc vulncra-
bility of thosc who hold powcr. 1hc acutc cxposurc of thc moral rulcr
was a thcmc to which Augustincs Iatin rcadcrs would rcturn ovcr and
ovcr again in thc ncxt two ccnturics. Wc shall scc thc Rule invokcd,
thcn, in subscqucnt discussions both of community and of authority in
wcstcrn asccticism.
+8 Fifth-Century Authorities
Praec. y. , Rg.Aug. .
In this scnsc what holds thc community togcthcr is not in thc cnd sharcd propcrty, but
sharcd discoursc: cf. thc cmphasis on rcading and spcaking at Praec. +. + citcd abovc, n. y.
Praec. y. , Rg.Aug. .
Ibid. . , , Iawlcss, +oo+. Quando autcm ncccssitas disciplinac, minoribus cocr-
ccndis, diccrc vos vcrba dura conpcllit, si ctiam ipsis modum vos cxccssissc scntitis, non a
vobis cxigitur, ut ab cis vcniam postulctis, nc apud cos quos oportct cssc subicctos, dum
nimia scrvatur humilitas, rcgcndi frangatur auctoritas. A passagc of immcnsc intcrcst to
Crcgory thc Crcat: scc RP II. 8, and thc discussion bclow, Ch. . Cf. Ep. :+o, CSEI jy,
j, addrcsscd to an abbcss, cncouraging hcr to usc hcr powcrs of rcbukc. Scc bclow, n.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 18
As Augustinc wcll kncw and his rcadcrs discovcrcd, howcvcr, thcrc
was a tcnsion bctwccn thcsc thcmcs. 1hc immcdiatc rcccption of his
monastic tcachings rcvcals that, whilc in thc limpid clauscs of thc Rule,
thc cxcrcisc of powcr could bc balanccd against thc nccds of thc com-
munity, such an cquilibrium was lcss casy to maintain in thc actual
communitics for which hc was rcsponsiblc. 1his was a lcsson hc
lcarncd in thc nal dccadc of his lifc, and it is to Augustinc as thc sixty-
ycar-old bishop of Hippo that wc now turn. 1hc man in his fortics who
wrotc thc Confessions is wcll-known to us, so much so that wc arc somc-
timcs in dangcr of making thc oldcr Augustinc mcrcly ancillary to his
youngcr sclf.
Whcrc his carccrs as a monk and a monastic patron arc
conccrncd, howcvcr, thc oldcr Augustinc is oftcn our solc informant.
1hc contcxt for his tcstimony is a poignant onc: Augustinc could scc
his hopcs for thc monastic ]crusalcm all but cvaporating. In thc :os in
othcr words, no lcss than in thc os, Augustinc lost a futurc,
was forccd to takc command in an attcmpt to rctricvc it.
o+s+rc sc+n+r
Probably in latc ::, Augustinc wrotc to thc Roman matron Iabiola.
Shc was ocring hospitality to a young man namcd Antoninus, my
bclovcd son and fcllow bishop, who had comc to Romc to plcad his
casc bcforc Popc Cclcstinc. Augustinc had alrcady informcd thc Popc
of his vicw of thc mattcr, in his lcttcr to Iabiola, hc unfoldcd at grcatcr
lcngth who I am to Antoninus, and who Antoninus is to mc, and
what I am going to ask of you.
It was a painful story of scandal and
Augustine +
An cspccial problcm whcrc De doctrina christiana is conccrncd: \csscy, Confcrcncc and
Confcssion, +j cautions strongly against thc tcndcncy to assimilatc thc rst thrcc books
of thc trcatisc (all but complctcd y) with thc matcrial Augustinc addcd in :/y. Scc also
C. Kanncngicsscr, 1hc Intcrruptcd De doctrina christiana in Arnold and Bright (cds.), De
doctrina Christiana: A Classic of Western Culture (Notrc Damc, +j), +, Brown,
Augustine, Epiloguc (forthcoming), shows how thc discovcry of thc ncw lcttcrs givcs ncw
wcight to thc :os.
In scrmons dclivcrcd in :j, Augustinc dcscribcs his monastic carccr from thc carly
os (Aug.Serm jj, discusscd bclow), as docs Possidius, writing in + (scc csp. VAug. j.
+, cd. Pcllcgrino, j:). 1hcsc tcxts arc uscd by \crhcijcn and othcrs in rcconstructing
Augustincs monastic thought and practicc in thc os: without attcmpting to rcvisit thc
qucstions of thc Rule of St Augustine, thc discussion hcrc focuscs on Augustincs nal dccadc
in itsclf, not for thc light that tcxts produccd in that pcriod may shcd on his activitics thirty
ycars prcviously.
A rcfcrcncc to Brown, Augustine, ch. +j 1hc Iost Iuturc, dcscribing thc sca-changc
of thc os.
Ep. :o*. :, CSEI 88, , IC , +, cf. Ep. :o to Popc Cclcstinc, CSEI jy, yj.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 19
bctrayal, involving an crror of judgcmcnt on Augustincs part, and
cxposing thc frailty of catholic pastoral prctcnsions in North Africa,
cspccially in thc wakc of thcir triumph ovcr thc rival Donatist Church.
Abovc all, howcvcr, thc casc of Antoninus raiscd qucstions about thc
valuc of thc monastic lifc, as promotcd by thc bishop of Hippo for ovcr
a gcncration. Antoninus bchaviour confrontcd Augustinc with thc
possibility that cvcn cxposurc to monastic charity could sow division
and rcinforcc pattcrns of cxploitation in thc Church.
Antoninus had arrivcd in Hippo as a small boy, with his mothcr and
stcp-fathcr. 1hc family was, apparcntly, dcstitutc. Augustinc took
thcm in, placing thc boy in onc of thc monastcrics supportcd by thc
Church of Hippo, Antoninus mothcr was placcd on thc rolls of thc
poor, also maintaincd by thc Church.
In thc lcttcr to Iabiola, Augus-
tinc invokcd his pcrsonal stakc in thc aair, conscious, pcrhaps, of thc
hiddcn kinship bctwccn his own carccr and that of Antoninus, both of
thcm bright prospccts dcspcratc to risc abovc thcir humblc origins.
At thc timc, howcvcr, Augustincs intcrcst in thc boy was at a bcnign,
routinc distancc, hc rclicd on thc prior of thc monastcry for rcports on
Antoninus progrcss.
1hc bishops lack of prccisc information was thc immcdiatc causc of
thc problcm: Augustinc was too busy, and his rcsourccs wcrc ovcr-
strctchcd. His vcry succcss as a lcadcr in thc African church workcd to
diminish his pastoral cncrgics. Having dcnitivcly crushcd thc
Donatists in ++, Augustinc had to takc rcsponsibilty for thc inux of
ncw convcrts from thc old rivals. 1hc Catholic hicrarchy was short-
stacd, cspccially in rural arcas. Onc such placc was thc villagc of
Iussala, far to thc south-wcst of Hippo. 1hc villagcrs nccdcd a bishop.
Augustincs rst candidatc ran out on himbut by thcn thc cldcrly
primatc of Numidia was on his way to thc consccration. Icaring thc
jccrs of our cncmics, Augustinc pushcd forward Antoninus from thc
:o Fifth-Century Authorities
1hc discovcry of thc lcttcr to Iabiola has madc Antoninus caschithcrto known only from
thc lcttcr to Cclcstincof compclling intcrcst in thc past ftccn ycars. Scc c.g. W. Ircnd,
Iussala: Augustincs Crisis of Crcdibility (Ep. :o*), \crhcijcn, Ics lcttrcs nouvcllcs ct la
vic monastiquc, both in Les Lettres de saint Augustin dcouvertes par Johannes Divjak, :+j,
+:y, ]. E. Mcrdingcr, Rome and the African Church in the Time of Augustine (Ncw Havcn,
+y), +j8:, and Brown, Augustine, aftcrword to sccond cdition (forthcoming).
Ep. :o*. :. +, CSEI 88, j.
Scc Conf. II. . j, ODonncll i. +y for Augustincs dcscription of his fathcr as municipis
admodum tenuis, and for thc rcsulting brcak in his studics bccausc his parcnts could not
support him, cf. Aug.Serm. j. +, PI , +j8oA (discusscd bclow, pp. :j). B. Shaw,
1hc Iamily in Iatc Antiquity: 1hc Expcricncc of Augustinc, Past and Present ++j (+8y),
j+ at j+o, cxplains thc scnscs in which Augustinc was and was not poor.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 20
monastcry. 1hc young man kncw Punic at lcast, thc languagc of thc
Initially ovcrawcd by his promotion, Bishop Antoninus soon ovcr-
camc his inhibitions. Summoning two associatcs from thc monastcry
at Hippo, hc cmbarkcd on thc full-scalc cxploitation and dcprcdation
of his ock. Anyonc who fcll into thcir clutchcs lost moncy, furnish-
ings, clothing, farm animals, fruits, wood, nally cvcn stoncs. 1hc
cpiscopal court rccords at Hippo carricd thc dolcful list of gricvanccs
of poor mcn and womcn, and worsc still, widows.
1aking advantagc
of his clcvation, Antoninus had roundcd on his own kind, as though to
crasc thc mcmory of his lowly origins. And with bittcr dctcrmination
hc rcfuscd to bc unscatcd by thc onslaught of complaints and lcgal pro-
ccdurcs against him.
Hcncc thc appcal to Romc, and Augustincs
lcttcrs to Popc Cclcstinc and thc matron Iabiola. Concluding to
Iabiola, Augustinc wrotc:
I simply wantcd to makc known to you my unhappincss that a young man traincd
by us in thc monastcry who, whcn wc took him in, lcft nothing of his own bchind,
gavc nothing to thc poor, brought nothing to thc community, thc vcry samc now
glorics as it wcrc in his cstatcs and homcs, and wishcs to makc his own not only
thcsc things but also thc vcry ock of Christ.
Augustinc had choscn thc most unsuitablc candidatc for a most dcli-
catc appointmcnta profcssional cmbarrassmcnt for him and for thc
catholic hicrarchy as a wholc.
Morcovcr, thc cpisodc could not fully bc cxplaincd in tcrms of an
unfortunatc ovcrsight undcr durcss. Antoninus pastoral opcration
hcld a ghastly mirror to Augustincs own stcwardship of his Church.
1hc bishop of Iussala had bccn ablc to summon monastic brcthrcn to
assist him in his busincss. In othcr words, thc limitcd rcsourccs of thc
Church at Hippo had bccn uscd by its bishop to fund a monastcry
somc of whosc mcmbcrs wcrc immaturc opportunists at bcst, at worst
simply con-artists. 1oo prcoccupicd to noticc what was happcning
in his own city, Augustinc nonc thc lcss rcpcatcdly advcrtiscd thc
monastcry as thc sitc whcrc thc lifc of thc apostolic community at
]crusalcm could bc rccrcatcd, and in particular whcrc thc social divi-
sions crcatcd by wcalth could bc dissolvcd.
Augustine :+
Ep. :o*. , CSEI 88, .
Ep. :o*. . +, CSEI 88, y.
Ep. :o*. +, CSEI 88, j+++.
Ep. :o*. :. +, CSEI 88, +++, IC , +8.
Ior such advcrtiscmcnt, all thc morc cmbarrassing bccausc aimcd at Donatists, scc c.g.
EnarrPs. +:. , CCSI o, ++: Augustinc contrasts thc unity crcatcd by monks with thc
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 21
As hc may himsclf havc scnscd, Augustinc was a victim of his own
succcss as a now cldcrly monastic patron. Whcn hc rst movcd to
Hippo, hc was still in thc company of his fricndsAlypius, Evodius,
Scvcruswith whosc livcs Augustincs had bccn intcrtwincd for thc
past dccadc. With thc movc to Hippo, howcvcr, this small group
undcrtook to rcccivc ncw mcmbcrs, such as Antoninus, or Possidius,
who did not sharc thcir cxpcricncc. Ior thcsc youngcr mcn, coming in
from thc countrysidc, cntry to Augustincs monastcry rcprcscntcd
thcir chancc. Monks traincd in Hippo wcrc much in dcmand in thc
North African Church. As Possidiuswho himsclf bccamc bishop of
Calama in Numidiarcportcd: No fcwcr than tcn mcn, known to us
as holy and vcncrablc, chastc and lcarncd, wcrc supplicd by thc most
blcsscd Augustinc to various churchcs in rcsponsc to rcqucsts.
such mcn, monastic lifc in Hippo, pattcrncd as far as its bishop was
conccrncd on thc ]crusalcm community, had comc to ll thc rolc that
municipal schooling had playcd for Augustinc himsclf. Whcrc thc
young Augustinc had lookcd to thc school at Madauros as his point of
cntry for a public carccr, now Possidius, Antoninus, and thcir pccrs
turncd to thc ccclcsiastical corporation at Hippo.
Augustinc, of coursc, intcndcd somcthing quitc dicrcnt, having
comc to scc his carlicr ambitions as cmpty carccrism. In thc Con-
fessions, hc had takcn pains to cxposc his risc to thc top of his pro-
fcssion as a rhctor as nothing morc than a childs gamc.
Rcrcading thc
Confessions in thc :os, Augustinc found himsclf still movcd by his
own accountbut to a hungry young man likc Antoninus thc story of
his patrons spiritual odysscy was of littlc conscqucncc. Antoninus
confrontcd Augustinc with thc gap bctwccn his own, radically altcrcd,
cxpcctations and thosc, unrcgcncratc, of thc ncxt gcncration. Whilc hc
could wcar thc ncws of thc Constantinopolitan rumour of his dcath
with a graccful irony, thc indicrcncc towards his lifcs work of onc of
thosc whom hc had nurturcd must havc bccn morc dicult to acccpt
with cquanimity.
:: Fifth-Century Authorities
chaos and violcncc sprcad by Donatist Circumccllions. Cf. Ep. :++/obiurgatio , Rg.Aug. I,
+o: Augustinc cxhorts a community of nuns in Hippo to ccasc thcir quarrclling, all thc morc
shamcful in vicw of thc unity achicvcd with thc Donatists.
Possidius, VAug. ++. , Pcllcgrino, y. Ior a rcccnt survcy of modcrn discussion of
Possidius vita, scc E. Elm, Dic Vita Augustini dcs Possidius: The Work of a Plain Man and
an Untrained Writer? Wandlungcn in dcr Bcurtcilung cincs hagiographischcn 1cxtcs,
Augustinianum y (+y), ::o. Scc also W. Eck, Dcr Episkopat im spatantikcn Africa:
organisatorischc Entwicklung, sozialc Hcrkunft und ocntlichc Iunktioncn, HZ :
(+8), :jj.
Scc c.g. Conf. III. . . y, I\. :. :, I\. +. o+, ODonncll, i. :y8, , j.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 22
1hc scandal of Antoninus was not an isolatcd instancc. Ovcr thc
ncxt vc ycars thc fabric of thirty ycars of monastic practicc in thc
Church at Hippo and bcyond sccmcd to unravcl bcforc thc cycs of
its agcing bishop. In thc nunncry that Augustinc and his sistcr had
foundcd it sccms that in thc carly :os, aftcr his sistcrs dcath, thc
nuns quarrcllcd ovcr thc appointmcnt of a succcssor. Augustinc
dcnounccd thcir strifc, which thrcatcncd thc vcry basis of thcir
coming togcthcr to livc in apostolic charity.
His discnchantmcnt with
all forms of thc ascctic lifc is palpablc. An 8j-ycar-old man livcd in
contincnt marriagc for twcnty-vc ycars, Augustinc wcarily rcportcd,
and thcn bought a music-girl.
Whcn Augustinc hcard that a Roman
gcncral stationcd in Numidia was considcring bccoming a monk, hc
travcllcd far across thc provincc to dissuadc him.
Most scrious of all, howcvcr, was a brcach of trust in Augustincs
cpiscopal houschold.
Sincc his consccration, Augustinc had insistcd
that thc clcrgy in Hippo surrcndcr thcir propcrty and livc togcthcr
with thcir bishop in imitation of thc ]crusalcm community. In latc :j,
howcvcr, onc of thc pricsts, a man namcd ]anuarius, dicd lcaving a
son, also in Augustincs carc, and a daughtcr in a nunncry. It camc to
light that ]anuarius had madc a will, disinhcriting his childrcn in
favour of thc Church at Hippo.
Augustinc was appallcd, so funda-
mcntal was thc rcquircmcnt of apostolic povcrty that hc had ncvcr
thought to monitor its obscrvancc. Summoning thc wholc congrcga-
tion, hc announccd his intcntion to rcfusc thc lcgacy, and to carry out
Augustine :
1hc lcttcr is includcd by thc Maurists in Augustincs lcttcrs as Ep. :++, and tradi-
tionally datcd to : (PI , j8). It was long thought to havc lcd into thc fcmalc vcrsion
of thc Praeceptum. \crhcijcn, howcvcr, showcd that thc rst part of thc lcttcr (which hc rc-
cditcd as thc obiurgatio, Rg.Aug. I, +oj+oy), was distinct from thc fcmalc Praeceptum, and
argucd that thc obiurgatio could havc bccn writtcn at any point from ++ to o (Rg.Aug. II,
:o). 1hc terminus ante quem non of ++ is cstablishcd by thc rcfcrcncc in thc lcttcr to thc
unity of thc Donatists achicvcd at thc council of Carthagc of that ycar.
Contra Julianum III. ++. ::, PI , y+, Brown, Augustine, oj.
Ep. ::o. , CSEI jy, , Brown, Augustine, ::.
Antoninus may havc bccn a mcmbcr of Augustincs houscholdor of thc gardcn
community. Scc \crhcijcn, Ics Icttrcs nouvcllcs ct la vic monastiquc.
Aug.Serm. jj, j, PI , +j8+, scc now C. Madcc, La vie communautaire:
traduction annote des sermons , Nouvcllc bibliothcquc augustinicnnc (Paris, +).
Ior a dctailcd commcntary, scc I. \an dcr Mccr, Augustine the Bishop (Iondon, ++),
+:o. 1hc mcdicval futurc of Augustincs ruling in thc ]anuarius casc is considcrcd by
S. MacCormack, Sin, Citizcnship, and thc Salvation of Souls: 1hc Impact of Christian
Prioritics on Iatc-Roman and Post-Roman Socicty, Comparative Studies in Society and
History (+y), y at o+. Cf. thc parallcl casc of thc matron Ecdicia, whosc pious
disposal of hcr familys propcrty Augustinc also condcmncd: scc Ep. ::, and thc discussion
in K. Coopcr, Insinuations of Womanly Inucncc: An Aspcct of thc Christianization of thc
Roman Aristocracy, JRS 8: (+:), +jo, csp. +j8:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 23
a dctailcd cxamination of all thc clcrgy. A month or so latcr, at
Epiphany (:), Augustinc rcportcd that no othcr infraction had comc
to light. Within thc ycar, howcvcr, hc ccctivcly abdicatcd as bishop,
passing cpiscopal busincss onto thc pricst Eraclius. Hc was, as hc
strcsscd to thc congrcgation, an old man.
It would bc unwisc to takc Augustincs protcstations of cxhaustion
cntircly at facc valuc. 1hc ]anuarius aair and its aftcrmath did not
rcprcscnt thc total dcfcat of thc ]crusalcm drcam. Rathcr, what
Augustinc had to conccdc was that his houschold would only function
as an apostolic community if hc dircctly cxcrtcd his authority. 1his hc
was, pcrhaps, rcluctant to do: hc prcfcrrcd to think of thc community
in utopian tcrms, as sclf-rcgulating. But hc was wcll ablc to providc thc
moral lcadcrship rcquircd. In asscrting his authority, Augustinc
turncd to thc mcthod kncw bcst: hc told his own story.
In thc two
scrmons bcforc thc congrcgation at Hippo, Augustinc rcinvcntcd him-
sclf yct again, bcginning with his arrival in thc town in +. Nonc of
this matcrial appcars in thc Confessions, whcrc thc narrativc stops at
Ostia, just as Augustinc and his fricnds arc about to rcturn to Africa.
1hc ncw story carricd a ncw mcssagc: Augustinc wishcd now to
prcscnt himsclf as a monk, and to ground his authority as a bishop in
his lifclong commitmcnt to thc monastic lifc.
Clcrical occ had ncvcr bccn his goal, Augustinc avcrrcd. Hc
insistcd that hc had comc to Hippo in ordcr to found a monastcry, and
spccically to cncouragc his fricnd Evodius to spurn all thc dcsircs
and allurcmcnts of this world.
1o his astonishmcnt, thc pcoplc of
Hippo had sct upon him, and had compcllcd him to acccpt ordination
as a pricst,
but hc had not lct ordination dccct him from his original
intcnt. In a gardcn providcd by Bishop \alcrius within thc prccincts
of thc Church, hc had foundcd his community, in accordancc with thc
mcthod and rulc cstablishcd undcr thc holy apostlcs.
Augustincs account of himsclf in thc scrmons arising from thc
scandal of ]anuarius rcndcrs abruptly pcrsonal thc insights and
rcquircmcnts of his thcorctical or prcscriptivc monastic writings.
: Fifth-Century Authorities
1hc rhctorical stratcgy of thc lcttcrs to Iabiola (and to Popc Cclcstinc) had bccn csscn-
tially to involvc his rcadcr in his vcrsion of cvcnts. Scc Ircdcrikscn, Paul and Augustinc:
Convcrsion Narrativcs, Orthodox 1raditions and thc Rctrospcctivc Sclf.
VAug. , cd. Pcllcgrino, 8. Cf. Aug.Serm. jj. :, PI , +j.
Aug.Serm. jj. :, PI , +j, cf. VAug. , cd. Pcllcgrino jo+, a classic sccnc of rcluc-
tancc to powcr.
Aug.Serm. jj. :, PI , +jyo, cf. VAug. j, cd. Pcllcgrino, j:.
Ior this rcasonthc similarity of languagc in thc Rule and thc Sermonssomc scholars
havc datcd thc Rule to this pcriod. Scc abovc, nn. , o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 24
thc Rule hc considcrcd thc moral dangcrs that a poor man faccd in
gaining acccss to thc rcsourccs of a monastcrydangcrs that
Antoninus of Iussala had so spcctacularly illustratcd. Augustinc is a
poor man, born from poor stock, hc now proclaims. 1hc rcsourccs of
thc church at Hippo arc twcnty timcs thc sizc of his own family
incomc, hc suggcstivcly obscrvcs, daring his hcarcrs to draw thc con-
clusion that hc had takcn advantagc of clcrical occ to clcvatc his
social status. 1hcy kncw, howcvcr, and hc rcmindcd thcm, that as
bishop hc had spurncd thc opportunitics to wcar silk robcs. How much
thc morc strictly, thcn, could thc latc ]anuarius and his pccrs bc callcd
to account.
1hc spccic goal of Augustincs public sclf-auditing was to justify a
minutc inquiry into thc nancial aairs of cach and cvcry mcmbcr of
thc clcrgy at Hippo. What thc bishop had voluntarily undcrgonc, hc
could fairly rcquirc of thc mcmbcrs of his houschold. 1hc intimi-
dating choicc Augustinc ocrcd thcm was participation in his vcrsion
of lifc in thc community at Hippo, or complctc withdrawal. In
rcfusing ]anuarius lcgacy, hc argucd cxplicitly that ]anuarius, in
rctaining his propcrty, had ncvcr bccn a truc mcmbcr of thc com-
munity. His pccrs in thc clcrgy could writc thcmsclvcs in or out of
thcir bishops narrativc. Lnsurprisingly pcrhaps, thc clcrgy wcrc all
found to bc clcan of privatc owncrship, and Augustinc could rctirc to
his library with a clcar conscicncc.
1hc anxicty of authority rcmaincd. In dcaling with ]anuarius,
Augustinc bccamc as conccrncd to disavow thc powcr of his narrativc
charisma as hc had bccn initially to disclaim nancial ambition in scck-
ing clcrical occ. On Epiphany of :, as hc was about to rcport back
to thc congrcgation on thc rcsults of his inquiry into his clcrgy, thc
bishop sought to conjurc away his rhctorical authority. 1hc scribc
rccording thc scrmon rcportcd that at thc appointcd timc Augustinc
bcgan thc scrvicc by ordcring thc rcadcr Iazarus to rcad from Acts, so
that you may scc thc form of lifc that wc arc trying to livc out. Iazarus
rcad through from Acts : +j. Hc gavc thc codcx back to Augustinc,
who said: I want to rcad too, I would rathcr rcad thcsc words, than
Augustine :j
Aug.Serm. j. +, PI , +j8oA: fortc dccct cpiscopum, quamvis non dcccat
Augustinum, id cst, homincm paupcrcm, dc paupcribus natum. Modo dicturi sunt homincs
quia invcni prctiosas vcstcs, quas non potuisscs habcrc vcl in domo patris mci, vcl in illa
sacculari profcssionc mca. Cf. Praec. +. j, Rg. Aug. i. +8+: Qui autcm non habcbant,
non ca quacrant in monastcrio quac ncc foris habcrc potucrunt. . . . 1antum non idco
sc putcnt cssc fcliccs, quia invcncrunt victum ct tcgumcntum, qualc foris invcnirc non
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 25
plcad my own casc. And hc rcad out thc vcrscs again. His own intcr-
vcntion, hc hopcd, would appcar transparcnt in thc light of apostolic
Across thc ]anuarius aair, Augustinc compcllcd his
audicncc and his clcrgy to participatc in thc intimacy of his vcrsion of
cvcntswhilc at thc samc timc clinging to thc drcam that thc
]crusalcm community could bc sclf-rcgulating. Evidcntly pcrsuasivc
in thc momcnt, this was a pcrformancc that dcpcndcd cntircly on
Augustincs own rhctorical bravura and his capacity to usc his own
story for pastoral purposcs. It was not to rcsolvc thc broadcr qucstion
of a monastic bishops charismatic as against his institutional powcr.
arrtc++cr +n rowra
1hcrc arc signs that Augustinc, in his scmi-rctircmcnt, was drawn
to rccct on thc qucstions of community and authority and thcir
maintcnancc. In so doing, howcvcr, hc conrmcd rathcr than altcrcd
his basic prcmiscs. Disillusion with thc monastic community in thc
saeculum sccms to havc madc still morc sharply focuscd his vision of
thc cschatological community of thc clcctand still morc attcnuatcd
his cstimation of what thosc in powcr in thc saeculum could knowingly
achicvc. Abbots and bishops could not shirk thcir rcsponsibilitics
thcy had bccn postcd, likc thc prophcts, as watchmcn of thc housc of
Israclbut thcy could ncvcr bc ccrtain that thc mcssagc thcy carricd
to thcir ocks would havc its intcndcd ccct.
In :y thc monks of Hadrumctum askcd Augustinc for clarication
of his lcttcr of +8 to Popc Scxtus, in which hc condcmncd Pclagius
and his followcrs. Was Augustinc rcally saying that ascctic cort had
no bcaring on a pcrsons cschatological dcstiny? 1hcy rcccivcd a
notoriously unrcmitting statcmcnt of Augustincs position in thc two
trcatiscs, On grace and free will and On correction and grace. 1hc monks
wcrc fricnds, not polcmic cncmics likc Pclagius and his followcrs,
but Augustinc could ocr thcm no sccurity as to thc valuc of thcir
carthly cort in thc causc of thcir ultimatc salvation. 1hc savcd
wcrc a closcd numbcr, a complctc community known to thc mind of
Cod in ctcrnity. 1hcrc would bc no dcfaultcrs from thcir ranks
no Antoninus or ]anuariusand no nccd for any protractcd judicial
: Fifth-Century Authorities
Aug.Serm. j. +, PI , +jyD-+jyjA.
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1hc numbcr of thc saints by Cods gracc prcdcstincd to Cods kingdom with thc
gift of pcrscvcrancc bcstowcd on thcm shall bc guidcd thithcr in its complctcncss,
and thcrc shall bc at lcngth without cnd in its fullcst complctcncss, most blcsscd,
thc mcrcy of thc Saviour still clcaving to thcm, whcthcr in thcir convcrsion, in
thcir conict, or in thcir crown.
Human knowlcdgc is as impcrfcct as human community. 1hc
corollary of this closcd narrativc of thc clcct is that wc cannot know
who is in thc numbcr. Ior who of thc multitudc of bclicvcrs [cf. Acts|
can prcsumc, so long as hc is living in this mortal statc, that hc is in thc
numbcr of thc prcdcstinatc?
1hc function of Augustincs tcachings was not to discouragc, but to
strikc fcar into and to drivc prcsumption out from thc hcarts of all. No
onc, not cvcn monks, should for onc momcnt assumc that thcy arc
insidcor outsidcthc numbcr. Augustincs mcssagc to thc monks
of Hadrumctum was that thcy should bc ncithcr cncouragcd to thc
point of prcsumption nor discouragcd to thc point of dcspairthcir
abbot should continuc to dispcnsc, and thcy should continuc to acccpt
corrcction for thcir sins. Whcthcr or not thc rcbukc was ultimatcly
ccctivcas part of thc gift of pcrscvcrancc to onc of thc clcct
rcstcd with Cod.
1o wicld thc knifc of corrcction was, ccctivcly, to stab in thc
Spcaking for thosc in authority, Augustinc insists:
in our ignorancc of who shall bc savcd, Cod commands us to will that all to whom
wc prcach this pcacc may bc savcd. . . . If hc whom wc rcbukc is a son of pcacc,
our pcacc shall rcst upon him, but if not, it shall rcturn to us again.
Augustine :y
De corr. et grat. o, PI , +, NPNI j, 88.
De corr. et grat. o, PI , o, NPNI j, 88.
Ior Augustincs mcdicinal vicw of corrcction, scc I. \crhcijcn, Saint Augustin ct
lcs mcdicins, LAnne thologique augustinienne + (+j), :y, and Rg.Aug. I, jy,
scc also bclow, Aug.Serm. . \. Crossi, CorreptioCorrectioEmendatio in Agostina
dIppona: 1crminologia pcnitcnzialc c monastica, Augustinianum 8 (+8), :+j::, argucs
that Augustincs conccpt of correctio was ccclcsiastical and disciplinary (as \crhcijcns
mcdicinal), in contrast to thc Stoic idca of fratcrnal corrcction that was to bc dcvclopcd sub-
scqucntly in thc monastic traditiona point not incompatiblc with that advanccd hcrc. Scc
now I. H. Russcll, Pcrsuading thc Donatists: Augustincs Cocrcion by Words, in
Klingshirn and \csscy (cds.), Limits of Ancient Christianity, ++jo, +:j .
1his is not to say that Augustinc had no languagc of pcdagogic inquiry or cxhortation
only that hc rctaincd a scnsc of thc arbitrary movcmcnt of divinc gracc. Hc told thc narra-
tivc of his convcrsion as a rcpcatcd dcmonstration that divinc rhctoric is bcyond human
control and undcrstanding. At thc climax in thc gardcn of Milan, hc is rclcascd from his
agony by a scrics of tcxtual coincidcnccs: thc childs voicc, thc mcmory of St Antonys own
accidcntal convcrsion. Hc thcn opcncd thc Biblc at random himsclf. Scc Conf. \III. +:. :,
ODonncll, +o+, cf. Monicas curc from alcoholism, ibid. IX. . 8. +8, ++o++.
De corr. et grat. X\. y, PI , , NPNI j, 88.
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Augustinc insistcd that thosc in powcr wcrc still rcsponsiblc for thc
sins of thosc in thcir chargc, and unlcss thcy announccd thosc sins,
thcy would bc hcld complicit. 1hc Iord had appointcd thc prophct
Ezckicl as thc watchman of thc housc of Isracl, with thc duty to warn
thc pcoplc of thc dangcr thcy poscd to thcmsclvcs:
Ior it is truc that no onc pcrishcs cxccpt thc son of pcrdition, but Cod says by thc
mouth of Ezckicl. Hc shall surcly dic in his sin, but his blood will I rcquirc at thc
hand of thc watchman.
1hc cxistcntial condition of thosc in powcr was that thcy had to
rcmain constantly vigilant to announcc to thc pcoplc thcir sinsall thc
whilc staring into thc opacity of thcir mutual cschatological futurc.
All of this was not, pcrhaps, thc answcr for which thc monks at
Hadrumctum and thcir abbot had bccn hoping. 1hc constcrnation
apparcntly causcd by thc arrival of thc trcatiscs at thc monastcry and
in North Africa and across thc Mcditcrrancan in southcrn Caul would
sccm to givc somc historical warrant to thc instinctivc distastc for
thcsc latc trcatiscs cxpcricnccd by Augustincs modcrn rcadcrs. In
tracing thc rcccption of thcsc tcxts, howcvcr, wc ought not to assumc
that Augustincs own mood was onc of unrcmitting disappointmcnt.
1hc vcry abscncc of moral cxpcctation on thosc in powcr could in fact
rcprcscnt a sourcc of libcration. 1aking advantagc of his rctircmcnt,
Augustinc wcnt back to complctc his trcatisc On Christian teaching,
which had lain unnishcd for thirty ycars. In thc ncw fourth book
of thc work, on how a tcachcr might bcst addrcss his audicncc, hc
dcvclops a brcczy scnsc of cxhilaration in thc capacity of languagc to
movc thc human hcart.
Of coursc, a succcssful spcakcr should know
that it was divinc gracc rathcr than his own powcrs of pcrsuasion that
brought an audicncc to tcars, but this vcry rcalization allowcd thc
Christian rhctor to frcc himsclf from thc constraining canons of
Ciccronian stylc. Condcnt in thc powcr of Cod to rcndcr ccctivc (or
othcrwisc) all communication, and without illusion about thc impor-
tancc of his own intcrvcntion, a spcakcr could out thc convcntions
whcrcby a particular topic rcquircd thc usc of particular linguistic
:8 Fifth-Century Authorities
De corr. et grat. X\I. 8, PI , j, NPNI j, 88. Rcfcrring to Ez. : +y and
following, Son of man, I havc madc thcc a watchman for thc housc of Isracl, whcrc thc Iord
cntrusts thc prophct with thc duty of announcing to thc pcoplc thcir sins.
Scc c.g. De doctr. chr. I\. :. j, Crccn, :8: Augustinc rccalls moving thc Christians
of Maurctania to tcars, and so bringing an cnd to thcir intcrnccinc fcuds. Scc C. Bonncr,
Augustincs \isit to Cacsarca in +8, in C. W. Dugmorc and C. Duggan (cds.), Studies in
Church History (Iondon, +), +o+.
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rcgistcr, and usc whatcvcr rhctorical art sccmcd to scrvc thc purposc
of pcacc and charity.
Such was Augustincs undcrstanding of thc
opcration of humblc spccch.
Augustincs nal rccctions on powcr and pcrsuasion arc manifcst
in a scrmon givcn towards thc cnd of his lifc, on thc annivcrsary of his
consccration. Hcrc hc considcrcd bcforc his congrcgation thc wcight
and naturc of thc burdcn of his occ, thc sarcina episcopalis.
rcading on this occasion, takcn from Ezckicl, dcscribcs thc Iords
commission of thc prophct as thc watchman of thc housc of Isracl
(Ezck. : +y+), thc imagc Augustinc rcfcrs to in his trcatisc On
correction to cvokc thc cxposcd position of thosc in powcr. It is tcmpt-
ing to link this scrmon also with thc cvcnts of :j, or at lcast with
Augustincs growing rcalization that hc had to cxcrt his authority in
Hippo if hc wantcd his ock to livc in charity.
In invoking thc gurc of thc watchman of thc housc of Isracl,
Augustinc drcw upon a long cstablishcd tradition among Christian
communitics of thinking about authority and rcsponsibility, a discus-
sion cmbcddcd into thc vcry tcrminology for bishops. 1hc Crcck
cpiskopos, uscd by Christians bcforc thc cnd of thc rst ccntury to
distinguish thcir rcsidcnt lcadcrs from wandcring apostlcs, litcrally
mcant a watchman. According to Christinc Mohrmann, thc cpis-
kopos may alrcady havc bccn associatcd with thc watchman of
Mohrmann showcd that thc Iatin usc of thc Crcck tcrm
produccd a ncw vocabulary, pcrhaps bccausc thc translitcration cpis-
copus did not convcy thc scnsc of watching carricd in thc original.
1hus whilc a bishop could bc callcd a sacerdos to dcsignatc his rolc as
a liturgical spccialist, as a pastor with a lcgal rcsponsibility for his ock
on thc Day of ]udgcmcnt hc was known as thc speculator of Ezckicl.
By thc carly fth ccntury at thc latcst this tradition was cncodcd in
somc liturgics for thc annivcrsary of cpiscopal consccrations, our
witncss to this liturgical tradition is nonc othcr than Augustinc of
Hippo in thc scrmon hcrc undcr discussion.
Augustine :
Scc De doctr. chr. I\. . ., Crccn, +8. 1hc classic trcatmcnt is Aucrbach, Literary
Language, ch. :, discusscd bclow, pp. j+. Scc also A. Primmcr, 1hc Iunction of
thc de genera dicendi in De doctrina christiana I\, in Arnold and Bright (cds.), De doctrina
christiana, 88, D. Iostcr, Eloqucntia nostra (DDC I\. I\. +o): A Study of thc Placc
of Classical Rhctoric in Augustincs De doctrina christiana Book Iour, Augustinianum
(+), j.
Aug.Serm. , De proprio natale, in C. Morin (cd.), Miscellanea Agostiniana, : vols.
(Romc, +o), i. +o:oo.
C. Mohrmann, EpiskoposSpcculator, in id., tudes sur le latin des chrtiens, iv (Romc,
+yy), ::j:.
Mohrmann, EpiskoposSpcculator, :j:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 29
The Lords commission to Ezekiel, read out, compelled Augustine
to consider the burden of responsibility. The Lord had charged the
prophet to announce to the people their sinsotherwise he would
require the prophets blood for the peoples disobedience. No
obscurity in the reading permits us to excuse our negligence.
Augustine feared in particular was his susceptibility to blandishments
from his congregation, which would reduce his vigilance as a watch-
In reckoning the account he had to render at the Day of
Judgement, Augustine articulated the rhetorical hard place into
which the verses drove him. What shall I do? [. . .] Can I keep silent?
I am afraid to keep silent. I am compelled to preach; being terried,
I instil terror myself.
He knew he must resist the oer of easy
acquiescence with the desire of his hearers for a quiet life.
Augustine, however, refused to accept the isolation of power. He
attempted to turn his discussion of his authority back again towards a
meditation on community. That he in terror struck terror into his con-
gregation prompted him to reason: Be afraid with me, and rejoice
with me.
The Lord had given Ezekiel amnesty if he announced to
the people their sins and they ignored him. Augustine protested
against this separation of the watchman from the people. He was not
content to let his exhortations simply fall on deaf ears, to watch his
people perish while he lived. He demanded complicity between him-
self and his hearers over their shared condition. A son instructed to
keep his elderly father awake, lest he die, will not let him sleep, even if
the father wishes to sleep.
So Augustine will insist that all remain
vigilant, in deance of those who wish to sleep, and without the
certainty that he would succeed, or even that the vigilance of all would
be equally rewarded. But at least he could not be accused of lording it
over his ock.
The gure of the watchman, and Augustines meditation on it, com-
pelled the attention of his Latin readers, especially those who had
themselves undertaken the episcopal burden. Augustines sermon on
Ezekiel circulated as an available part of the liturgy for episcopal
consecration anniversaries. In early sixth-century Gaul, as we shall
see, Bishop Caesarius of Arles was instructed by his tutor in rhetoric
Fifth-Century Authorities
Aug.Serm . , Morin, .
Ibid. . , .
Ibid. . , .
Ibid. . , .
Ibid. . , ; cf. Aug.serm. . , PL , , on doctors ignoring their patients
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 30
in the duties of the watchman, and he in turn addressed a group
of assembled prelates on the watchman theme. At the end of the
century, in his Homilies on Ezekiel, Gregory the Great, whose very
name means vigilant, described his entire approach to the papacy
under the sign of the speculator.
The moral drawn by Augustines early medieval readersvery
dierent from the lesson he himself had attempted to expoundwas
this. The dream of reconstructing the rst community of Christians at
Jerusalem could only be sustained through an extraordinary display of
episcopal authority. Acts proferred the hope of a community that
was self-regulating. But if that was the promise of the Acts verses, it
was not one they could delivernot without the intervention of a
rhetorical expert. Augustine of Hippos contemporaries and his later
readers, for all that they may have respected and even required augus-
tinian authority, decided repeatedly that a systematic approach to the
moral exercise of authority of the sort that Augustine had refused to
give was the only way to preserve the hope of establishing a moral
This was a process drawn out until the age of Gregory the Great
(and beyond);
but it was also an immediate preoccupation of
Augustines nal years. In , he received a letter from two of his
disciples in southern Gaul concerning the reception there of the
treatise On correction and grace. The letter identied servants of Christ
living in Marseilles as so hostile to Augustines teachings that they
veered dangerously close to the error of Pelagius. While we can see the
logic of this accusation to have been unfoundeddoubts concerning
Augustines position did not necessarily mean any kind of aliation to
that of Pelagiusit is the case that the most prominent ascetic teacher
in Marseilles had been working for over a decade on the question of
moral authority, and had formulated his own approach. This was John
Cassian, to whose teachings we now turn. The extent of his contact
withAugustine remains tantalizingly vague, although it is clear enough
that he was anxious to avoid a confrontation on the issue of grace and
free will of the sort that Augustines zealous followers were attempting
to engineer.
Whether in open dialogue or not, Cassian had meditated
Mohrmann, EpiskoposSpeculator, .
See D. Ganz, The Ideology of Sharing: Apostolic Community and Ecclesiastical
Property in the Early Middle Ages, in W. Davies and P. Fouracre (eds.), Property and Power
in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge, ), , on Carolingian uses of the patristic dis-
cussion of Acts .
The traditional view, that Cassian wrote Conference in order to refute Augustines
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 31
on thc samc problcms and tcxts as had Augustinc, and his solutions
appcarcd quitc as cohcrcnt to his hcarcrs as did thosc of thc bishop of
: Fifth-Century Authorities
tcachings on prcdcstination, thus starting thc scmi-Pclagian controvcrsy, no longcr carrics
as much crcdcncc as it uscd to: scc bclow, Ch. :, for furthcr discussion. Convcrscly,
L. Duchrow, Zum Prolog von Augustins De Doctrina christiana, Vigiliae Christianae +y
(+), +jy:, suggcsts that Augustinc wrotc in hostilc rcsponsc to Cassians discussion
of scripturc in thc Conferences (although Crccn, De doctrina christiana, pp. xiiixiv, is
unpcrsuadcd). Intriguing as cvidcncc for complicity bctwccn Marscillcs and Hippo is thc
casc of thc monk Icporius, scnt by Bishop Proculus to Augustinc for corrcction of his way-
ward Christological vicws, and discusscd by Cassian in his De Incarnatione Domini contra
Nestorium. Scc Icporius, Libellus emendationis, CCSI , +++: (bibliography at y8),
E. Amann, art. Icporius, D1C, : o.
Cf. Brown, Body and Society, :, Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +y,
E. Rcbillard, Quasi funambuli: Cassicn ct la controvcrsc pclagicnnc sur la pcrfcction, REAug
o (+), +y:+o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 32
The Moral Science of John Cassian
In ]uly of :8, Popc Cclcstinc addrcsscd a lcttcr to thc bishops of
southcrn Caul. Hc wantcd, in particular, to cxprcss his conccrn about
rcccnt trcnds in thc acquisition and conduct of cpiscopal occ. It
had comc to his attcntion that unqualicd candidatcs wcrc bcing
prcscntcd for ordination as bishops, mostly thcsc wcrc laymcn without
any cxpcricncc of ccclcsiastical occ. In somc cascs, howcvcr, virtual
strangcrs, and cvcn known criminals, had bccn foistcd on unwilling
congrcgations. 1hcsc mavcrick bishops sccm to havc bccn ascctics, or
at lcast to havc had ascctic conncctions. Cclcstinc rcfcrrcd to thc casc
of onc Danicl, patron of a nunncry in thc East, who had cd to Caul
sccking thc amncsty of ordination, accuscd as hc was of scxual rcla-
tions with thc sacrcd virgins in his chargc.
It no morc plcascd thc
popc to lcarn of (unnamcd) bishops drcsscd likc rccluscs, with thcir
loins girdcd up: this was an ostcntatious, and ovcrly litcral, undcr-
standing of thc spiritual purity dcmandcd of thc pricsthood.
Iar from
rcgarding asccticism as a qualication for cpiscopal occ, thc popc
sccms to havc bccn morc imprcsscd with thc risks cntailcd in thcsc
ascctics cxcrcisc of cpiscopal powcr, and with good rcason: but four
ycars prcviously, Cclcstinc had hcard thc casc of thc charlatan
Antoninus of Iussala.
1hc bchaviour obscrvcd by Cclcstinc was not mcrc boistcrous-
ncssnor was hc alonc in cxprcssing conccrn on this scorc. Ascctics
in southcrn Caul wcrc posscsscd of an idcological basis for thcir claims
to moral supcriority, which, thcy argucd (to thc alarm of thcir critics),
obviatcd thcir lack of ocial qualications for clcrical occ. 1hcir
most volublc spokcsmcn camc from thc island monastcry of Icrins
(oshorc from modcrn-day Canncs), many of whom sallicd forth onto
thc mainland to takc up cpiscopal occ in thc citics of Provcncc.
1hc Icrinians havc lcft us with a clcar scnsc, if not of thc dctails of
thcir monastic obscrvancc, thcn of its political stylc.
1hcy wcrc
Cclcstinc, Ep. , Cuperemus quidem, II. j, PI jo, A/B.
Ibid. I. :, PI jo, o+. Cf. Cassian, Inst. I. :, SC +o, 8:, on ascctic drcss.
S. Pricoco, Lisola dei santi: Il cenobio di Lerino e le origini del monachesimo gallico (Romc,
+y8) rcmains thc bcst guidc to Icrins. Scc also in this contcxt, R. Nurnbcrg, Askese als
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 33
1hcodosian Christians, who cnvisagcd wcll-born ascctics likc thcm-
sclvcs at thc vanguard of thc ncw Christian impcrial ordcr.
rcnunciation was no morc or lcss than a morc stringcnt and cxacting
rcndition of thc otium in which thc govcrning clitc cxpcctcd to indulgc
bctwccn thcir cxcrtionsnegotiumon bchalf of thc statc.
1his was
a triumphalist asccticism, condcnt both of thc divincly appointcd
dcstiny of thc Christian Empirc, and of achicving spiritual pcrfcction
on Icrins: thc moral goals of thc Icrinians wcrc cotcrminous with
thcir political ambitions. 1hcy wcrc, in othcr words, cxactly thc kind
of Christian Augustinc had comc profoundly to distrust, and it nccd
not surprisc us to nd loyal augustinians in southcrn Caul writing to
thcir mastcr in thc latc :os, and also to thc papal court, hoping to
bring down sanction upon thcsc ovcrwccning ascctics.
1hc Icrinians, howcvcr, wcrc not thc only facc of thc Callic
monastic movcmcnt. Closcly associatcd with thcm, and wcll known to
Popc Cclcstinc, was ]ohn Cassian, an ascctic tcachcr who had gonc
to grcat lcngths to cnsurc that hc could not bc accuscd, likc thc
philandcrcr Danicl, of traducing thc moral authority of his position.
In his capacity as mcntor to ascctics in southcrn Caul, Cassian was as
crcc as any critic of thc ascctic movcmcnt in his dctcrmination to
curb its tcndcncy towards scandal. His rcsponsc, howcvcr, was not to
distrust thc ascctic projcct itsclf, but to makc all thc morc cxacting and
prccisc thc mcans of asscssing a pcrsons intcgrity. Whcrc Augustinc
had comc to doubt thc possibility or valuc of achicving such a moral
Fifth-Century Authorities
sozialer Impuls: Monastisch-asketische Spiritualitt als Wurzel und Triebfeder sozialer Ideen und
Aktivitten der Kirche in Sudgallien im . Jahrhundert (Bonn, +88), R. Mathiscn,
Ecclesiastical Factionalism in Fifth-Century Gaul (Washington, DC, +8), C. Icyscr, 1his
Saintcd Islc: Pancgyric, Nostalgia, and thc Invcntion of Icrinian Monasticism, in
Klingshirn and \csscy (cds.), The Limits of Ancient Christianity, +88:o.
Pricoco, Isola dei santi, ::, id., Barbari, scnso dclla nc c tcologia politica: Su un
passo dcl Dc contcmptu mundi di Euchcrio di Iionc, Romano Barbarica : (+yy), :o:.
On otium, scc ]. M. Andrc, Lotium dans la vie morale et intellectuelle romaine (Paris,
+), Matthcws, Western Aristocracies, ++:, and on its possiblc Christian adaptation,
]. Iontainc, \alcurs antiqucs ct valcurs chrcticnncs dans la spiritualitc dcs grands propric-
taircs tcrricns a la n du I\c sicclc occidcntal, in ]. Iontainc and C. Kanncngicsscr (cds.),
Epektasis: mlanges J. Danilou (Paris, +y:), jy+j. As ]. Icclcrcq has shown, otium
acquircs a pcjorativc scnsc in Cassian and thcrcaftcr: scc his, Otia monastica: tudes sur le
vocabulaire monastique du moyen-ge, StAns j+ (+).
Scc PI jo, j:8o for Cclcstincs rcsponsc in + to thc pctition of Prospcr and Hilary
against thc ncw Pclagians of southcrn Caul. 1hc Popc was rcluctant to cntcr a discussion
of thc tcchnicalitics of divinc gracc and prcdcstination: as in :8 (abovc, n. +), it was to thc
propcr cxcrcisc of cpiscopal authority that hc dircctcd attcntion.
C. Stcwart, Cassian the Monk (Ncw York, +8) is now thc fundamcntal starting-point,
scc also O. Chadwick, John Cassian (Cambridgc, +jo, :nd cdn., +8).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 34
scicncc, Cassian strovc to cstablish sccurc grounds for thc cxpcrt usc
of authority in thc Church. His intcrvcntion was crucial in rcstoring
public crcdibility to thc ascctic movcmcnt.
Of Cassians lifc and immcdiatc circumstanccs, howcvcr, wc know
vcry littlc.
A contcmporary of Augustincs, hc was a pricst who movcd
back and forth across thc Mcditcrrancan in thc latc fourth and carly
fth ccnturics bcforc taking up rcsidcncc in Marscillcs c.+j.
Ovcr thc
ncxt dccadc or so, hc composcd for a broad and varicd audicncc two
works of ascctic instruction, thc Institutes and thc Conferences.
hc dcpicts his formcr lifc as that of a wandcrcr (with an cldcr com-
panion, Ccrmanus
) among thc dcscrt communitics of Egypt and
Syria, pctitioning thc holy fathcrs to sharc with him thc hard-carncd
fruits of thcir ascctic labours. As at lcast somc of his rcadcrs would
havc known, howcvcr, Cassians most important mcntors wcrc not thc
rustics of thc dcscrt. 1hcy wcrc instcad two of thc kcy protagonists in
thc ccclcsiastical fcuds of thc carly fth ccntury: Evagrius of Pontus,
thc chicf cxponcnt of Origcn in thc East,
and ]ohn Chrysostom, thc
Cassian j
1hc only systcmatic jth-ccnt. witncss is Ccnnadius, De vir. illust. j:, cd. Richardson,
1L +, 8:. Ior a summary of Cassians carccr, bascd on a thorough marshalling of thc
primary cvidcncc and sccondary litcraturc, scc Stcwart, Cassian, + and nn. ++. Ior
dcbatc, cspccially on thc qucstion of Cassians origins, thcrc is a wholc litcraturc from
H. Marrou, Ia patric dc ]can Cassicn, Orientalia Christiana Periodica + (+y), j88, to
K. S. Irank, ]ohn Cassian on ]ohn Cassian, Studia Patristica o (+), +8.
Cassian sccms to havc bccn ordaincd a dcacon at Constantinoplc by ]ohn Chrysostom,
but thc circumstanccs of his subscqucnt ordination to thc pricsthood (of which wc know
from Ccnnadius) arc unclcar, scc Stcwart, Cassian, + and n. ++. H. Marrou, ]can Cassicn
a Marscillc, RMAL + (+j), j:, suggcsts that hc was invitcd to Caul by Iazarus of Aix,
a disciplc of Martin of 1ours, aftcr thc council of Diospolis in +, but Stcwart, Cassian, +
and n. +, sounds a cautionary notc.
1hc twclvc books of thc Institutes arc dcdicatcd to Bishop Castor of Apt, thc twcnty-
four Conferences arc in thrcc parts: thc rst tcn arc dcdicatcd to Icontius, bishop of Ircjus
(Castors brothcr), and Hclladius, a monk, soon to bccomc a bishop (scc Conl. ++. Pref ), thc
sccond sct (Conl. +++y) arc dcdicatcd to Honoratus and Euchcrius, rcspcctivcly abbot of thc
hugc monastcry of Icrins, and Euchcrius, an ascctic living with his wifc and childrcn on
thc island of Icro (both of thcsc mcn wcrc to bccomc bishops, Honoratus in Cassians lifc-
timc). 1hc third sct (Conl. +8:) arc dcdicatcd to a group of four monks living on thc Ilcs
dHycrcs and its ncighboursbut scc c.g. Conl. +8. +, SC , :8, for considcration of thc
laity. Ior a survcy of Cassians contacts in Caul, scc P. Rousscau, Cassian: Monastcry and
World, in M. Iairburn and W. H. Olivcr (cds.), The Certainty of Doubt: Tributes to Peter
Munz (Wcllington, Ncw Zcaland, +j), 88.
Ccrmanus is attcstcd as Cassians companion by Palladius, Dialogus de vita Iohannis
Chrysostomi , cd. A.-M. Malingrcy and P. Icclcrcq, : vols., SC +: (+88), i. y. Scc
Stcwart, Cassian, ++j.
S. Marsili, Giovanni Cassiano ed Evagrio Pontico, StAns j (Romc, +), and H.-O.
Wcbcr, Die Stellung des Johannes Cassianus zur ausserpachomischen Mnchstradition (Munstcr,
++) rcmain landmark studics, but rcquirc rcvision in light of subscqucnt discovcrics about
thc Evagrian corpus. Ior an introduction to thcsc, and for Evagrius and Origcnism, scc
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 35
dcposcd bishop of Constantinoplc.
Irom such mastcrs, Cassian had
lcarnt bittcr lcssons in thc political and social tcnsions involvcd in
ascctic claims to public attcntion. Hc scttlcd in thc Wcst as a rcfugcc
from thc storms that had cngulfcd both Evagrius and Chrysostom, and
in thc Institutes and Conferences thcrc is barcly a mcntion of Church
but Cassian did not always troublc to kccp his own hcad low.
In +, at thc invitation of Archdcacon (soon to bc popc) Ico, Cassian
wrotc a vchcmcnt rcfutation of thc Christological tcachings of
Ncstorius, patriarch of Constantinoplc.
In contrast to Augustinc of
Hippowho had cvcn bccn prcsumcd dcad by Ncstorius prcdcccssor
Atticus]ohn Cassian thus gaincd a rcputation that was not so casily
forgottcn around thc latc Roman Mcditcrrancan.
Modcrn historiography usually hails Cassian as thc mcsscngcr who
brought thc wisdom of thc dcscrt to thc Wcst. In thc Institutes and
thc Conferences, hc is sccn to havc rclaycd to a Iatin audicncc thc
tcaching on thc ascctic lifc that hc himsclf had rcccivcd at rst hand
from thc dcscrt fathcrs. 1hc convcntional account of thc dcvclopmcnt
of thc wcstcrn monastic tradition thcn sccs Cassians tcachings thcm-
sclvcs to havc bccn dcnitivcly codicd in thc sixth-ccntury Rule of
St Benedict.
1hc cxplicit dcpcndcncc of thc Rule on Cassian has
Fifth-Century Authorities
E. Clark, The Origenist Controversy (Princcton, +:), csp. pp. 8. Stcwart, Cassian, pass.,
sustains a commcntary on thc cxtcnt and thc limits of Cassians usc of Evagrius (scc csp.
pp. +++:, y, :, o, ++j::).
Cassians rst appcarancc in thc historical rccord is as a loyal disciplc of ]ohn
Chrysostom at thc momcnt of his dcposition as bishop of Constantinoplc in o: scc Palladius
(abovc, n. ++). Ovcr twcnty-vc ycars latcr, Cassian himsclf cxplicitly acknowlcdgcd his
disciplcship to Chrysostom in his condcmnation of his mastcrs succcssor as patriarch of
Constantinoplc, Ncstorius. Scc De Inc. y. +. , CSEI +y, o, and for a gcncral asscssmcnt
of thc trcatisc in thcsc tcrms, M.-A. \annicr, Iinucncc dc ]can Chrysostomc sur largu-
mcntation scriptuairc du De Incarnatione domini dc ]can Cassicn, RSR (+j), j:.
1hc famous cxccption to this is thc rcfcrcncc to thc anthropomorphic controvcrsy
at Conl. +o. , SC j, y8. As notcd by Stcwart, Cassian, y8, +o+:, this rcfcrcncc is
cxtrcmcly truncatcd and mislcading.
Ior thc wcstcrn contcxt of Cassians rc-cntry into Constantinopolitan politics, scc
E. Amann, IAairc Ncstorius vuc dc Romc, RSR : (+), y, :oy, : (+jo),
:8j:, :jj, and ]. Plagnicux, Ic gricf dc complicitc cntrc crrcurs ncstoricnnc ct
pclagicnnc: DAugustin a Cassicn par Prospcr dAquitainc?, REAug : (+j), +o:.
Rousscau, Ascetics, Authority, and the Church, ::y+, and Stcwart, Cassian, y, suggcst
ways in which thc trcatisc connccts to thc prcoccupations of thc Institutes and Conferences.
(Ior a bricf discussion and amplc furthcr rcfcrcnccs on thc trcatisc, scc Stcwart, Cassian
:: and nn. +8:+8).
In our own cra, thc situation is, of coursc, rcvcrscd: thc prccisc datc of Cassians dcath
is unknown to us.
Scc bclow, Ch. j, for furthcr discussion. Bcncdict, having drawn hcavily on Cassian, in
thc conclusion to his Rule, rcfcrs intcrcstcd rcadcrs back to Cassians tcxts thcmsclvcs: RB
y:. j, SC +8:, y:. 1hcrc has bccn much discussion as to whcthcr Bcncdict is drawing
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 36
cnsurcd his placc in thc canon of wcstcrn spirituality, but it has
also cncouragcd thc assumption that thc rcgular monastic tradition is
an accuratc guidc to Cassians intcntions as an ascctic tcachcr. In
particular, Cassian has bccn hcld to havc anticipatcd Bcncdict in pro-
moting thc ccnobitic lifc at thc rcluctant cxpcnsc of thc crcmitic lifc
of solitudc.
As wc shall scc, howcvcr, thc ccnobitic intcrprctation of
Cassian givcn in thc Rule of St Benedict was only onc among scvcral
rcadings of Cassian possiblc in thc sixth-ccntury Wcst: ncithcr
Cacsarius of Arlcs, nor Crcgory thc Crcat, for cxamplc, rcgardcd
Cassian as an cxclusivcly monastic writcr. Cassian, it will bc
suggcstcd hcrc, did not rcgard himsclf as such: hc took immcnsc carc
not to rcstrict thc mcaning of his work to thc monastcry, or to any
singlc institutional contcxt.
Morc rcccntly, study of Cassian has shiftcd away from his tcaching
on monastic institutions towards his analysis of ascctic purity. A
tantalizing cssay on Cassians discussion of nocturnal cmissions and
thcir prcvcntionthc outcr limits of malc cclibacyrcprcscnts thc
last publishcd scction of Michcl Ioucaults unnishcd History of
Sexuality. Scvcral scholars (including thc prcscnt author) havc sub-
scqucntly bccn tcmptcd to dcvclop Ioucaults approach to latc Roman
asccticism and to Cassian in particular.
1his morc rcccnt work, how-
cvcr, oftcn sharcs with traditional patristic scholarship thc unncccs-
sary assumption that Cassian wrotc for cloistcrcd malc communitics,
and that hc was morc conccrncd with probing thc dcpths of thc
psychc than with thc outsidc world. 1o his contcmporarics and to his
rcadcrs in thc fth- and sixth-ccntury Wcst, howcvcr, Cassian was a
gurc of compclling moral authority on thc widcst public stagc.
Cassian y
dircctly on Cassian, or indircctly via onc of his sourccs. Scc c.g. A. dc \oguc, Dc Cassicn
au Maitrc ct a Eugippc: lc titrc du chapitrc dc lhumilitc, StMon : (+8:), :y+.
Scc c.g. ]. Icroy, Ics Prcfaccs dcs ccrits monastiqucs dc ]can Cassicn, RAM :
(+), +jy8o, followcd by thc samc authors Ic Ccnobitismc chcz Cassicn, RAM
(+y), +:+j8, P. Rousscau, Cassian, Contcmplation and thc Ccnobitic Iifc, JEH :
(+yj), ++:, modicd in id., Ascetics, Authority, and the Church, +yy8. 1hus also
Stcwart, +, who, whilc critical of thc ovcrly institutional approach of Icroy, nonc thc lcss
concludcs that, in practicc, Cassians audicncc was probably almost cntircly ccnobitic from
thc outsct, as it ccrtainly was by thc timc of Bcncdicts rccommcndation of Cassians
M. Ioucault, Ic Combat dc chastctc, Communications j (+8:), +j:j, tr. in P. Arics
and A. Bcjin (cds.), Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times (Oxford,
+8j), +:j. Ior a critiquc, scc E. Clark, Ioucault, thc Iathcrs, and Scx, JAAR j (+88),
++. No lcss inucntial in this cld has bccn A. Rousscllc, Porneia: De la matrise du corps
la privation sensorielle (Paris, +8), tr. I. Phcasant, On Desire and the Body in Late Antiquity
(Oxford, +88). Scc bclow, n. y, for furthcr rcfcrcnccs.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 37
1hc bcncts of living in a monastic community wcrc, in fact, far
from obvious to Cassian. In thc Conferences, hc lcts it bc known that his
companion Ccrmanus and hc havc both lcft thcir monastcry in
Palcstinc, and that, dcspitc somc qualms, thcy do not intcnd to rcturn
Communal living on thc pattcrn of thc ]crusalcm community
of thc sort that Augustinc had so passionatcly cndorscd was not for
cvcryonc in thc Church, Cassian suggcstcd. Whcrc Augustinc had
sccn in thc monastcry a placc in which worldly dicrcnccs could bc
rcsolvcd, Cassian was morc imprcsscd by thc impossibility of living
thc ascctic lifc with othcrs of dicring spiritual abilitics. 1hc attcmpt
to do so could actually acccntuatc tcnsions bctwccn Christians rathcr
than rcsolving thcm.
Ambivalcnt about thc tcrms for truc community, Cassian put his
trust in a scicncc of moral authority, thc busincss of thc Iord.
Institutes and thc Conferences instructcd rcadcrs in how to achicvc
spiritual puritywhat thcy should wcar, cat, or rcad, for cxamplc
and, morc importantly, supplicd thcm also with a systcm of analysis
for publicly asscssing thcir own moral progrcss. 1hc purc in hcart
could bc known in part through thcir bodics, which bctraycd not
cvcn thc tracc of scxual dcsirc, but still morc signicant was thcir
spccch, thc oldcst mcdium in thc ancicnt world for thc asscssmcnt of
a pcrsons moral worth. If hcart was to spcak to hcart, Cassian
suggcstcd, it would not bc bccausc of community of propcrty, but
through thc honing of thc voicc to a pitch of ncar pcrfcction. 1his was
prcciscly thc kind of scicncc Augustinc had comc to rcjcct: whcthcr
conscious or not, thc ccct of Cassians work was to makc viablc
for wcstcrn ascctics thc cthical wisdom thrcatcncd by Augustincs
rcnunciation of moral ccrtainty. A discoursc of cxpcrtisc, Cassian
suggcstcd, would stand public surcty for thc bchaviour of ascctics not
hithcrto known for thcir tcmpcrancc. Hc laid bcforc his Callo-Roman
rcadcrs thc holy lifc as a proccss of cducation: it callcd for unrcmitting
cort, promiscd only gradual progrcss, and carricd thc constant risk of
immcdiatc failurcbut it confcrrcd cxpcrtisc of thc sort that any cdu-
catcd pcrson would havc to acknowlcdgc.
Ior asccticism, Cassian
argucd, likc rhctoric or philosophy, partook of a Crcat 1radition.
8 Fifth-Century Authorities
Scc in particular Conl. +y. ++:, SC j, :8j8.
Scc thc discussion bclow (pp. j8) of Conl. +.
De Inc. prcf., CSEI +y, :j.
On tcmpcrancc and its political uscs in thc ancicnt world, scc H. North, Sophrosyne
(Ithaca, NY, +), and now Coopcr, The Virgin and the Bride.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 38
+scr+rc +ur+ro r rrr+n-cr+tav o+tr
If thc drama of Cassians intcrvcntion as an ascctic tcachcr in Caul has
cscapcd us, this is bccausc wc havc not clcarly undcrstood why it was
rcquircd. Wc havc grown accustomcd to picturing carly fth-ccntury
Caul as thc localc abovc all othcrs whcrc thc monastic movcmcnt in thc
Wcst rst rcalizcd its cultural and political potcntial, in thc shapc of a
brilliant gcncration of aristocratic monkbishops and ascctic
mcn of lcttcrs.
According to this widcly acccptcd vicw, Christian
monasticism rcadily answcrcd thc nccds of ruling clitcs in Caul
to rcthink and rcgroup, bcwildcrcd as thcy wcrc by thc barbarian
incursions (starting with thc crossing of thc Rhinc in thc wintcr of
oy) and thc rcnding of impcrial structurcs of govcrnmcnt. In thc
contcxt of thc sccular worlds pcrccivcd disintcgration, monkbishops,
abovc all from Icrins, showcd how ascctic rcnunciation of thc world
could providc a ncw stylc of civic lcadcrship. 1hc barbarian invasion
thus crcatcd thc opportunity for thc ascctic invasion,
as witncsscd in
a glittcring array of scrmons, pancgyrics, trcatiscs, and livcs. 1hc vcry
cbullicncc of thcsc Callic tcxts, howcvcr, might lcad us to suspcct that
ascctics wcrc lcss than fully sccurc or unanimous in thcir scizurc of
political or cultural powcr.
Cassian is always includcd in thc throng of invadcrs, but with
littlc scnsc of his distinctivcncss: both classic and morc rcccnt historio-
graphy has promotcd thc assumption that Provcncalc monasticism
spokc with onc voicc. 1hc possibility that Cassian was out of sympathy
with thc ascctic company hc kcpt in southcrn Caulin particular thc
Scc c.g. I. Prinz, Frhes Mnchtum im Frankenreich: Kultur und Gesellschaft in Gallien,
den Rheinlndern und Bayern am Beispiel der monastischen Entwicklung (. bis 8. ]ahrhundcrt)
(Munich, +j, :nd cdn., +88), M. Hcinzclmann, Bischofsherrschaft in Gallien: Zur Kon-
tinuitt rmischer Fhrungsgeschichten vom . bis zum . Jahrhundert, Bcihcftc dcr Irancia j
(Munich, +y), R. \an Dam, Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul (Bcrkclcy/
Ios Angclcs, +8j). On ascctics and thcir litteratura, scc ]. M. \csscy, Idcas of Christian
Writing in Iifth-Ccntury Caul (Oxford Lniv. D. Phil. thcsis, +88), a study to which I owc
much. Ior critiqucs of thc rcccivcd position that thc ascctic takcovcr in Caul was swift and
unproblcmatic, scc P. Brown, Rclics and Social Status in thc Agc of Crcgory of 1ours, rcpr.
in id., Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity (Iondon, +8:), ::jo, cspccially at :y, ].
Harrics, Bishops, Scnators and thcir Citics in Southcrn Caul (Oxford Lniv. D. Phil.
thcsis, +y8), from which is dcsccndcd cad., Sidonius Apollinaris and the Fall of Rome
(Oxford, +), and now B. ]usscn, Lbcr Bischofshcrrschaftcn und dic Prozcdurcn
politisch-sozialcr Lmordnung in Callicn zwischcn Antikc und Mittclaltcr, HZ :o
(+j), yy+8, id., Iiturgic und Icgitimation, odcr Wic dic Callo-Romancn das romis-
chc Rcich bccndctcn, in R. Blankncr and B. ]usscn (cds.), Institutionen und Ereignis: ber
historische Praktiken und Vorstellungen gesellschaftlichen Ordnens (Cottingcn, +8), yj+.
1hc phrasc is Robcrt Markuss, scc End of Ancient Christianity, + .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 39
Icrinianshas not bccn widcly considcrcd.
In a traditional, thco-
logically-drivcn, pcrspcctivc, thc ascctics of Provcncc arc rangcd
against Augustinc and his disciplcs in Caul, notably Prospcr of
Aquitainc, in thc scmi-Pclagian controvcrsy.
Scholars havc prc-
sumcd Cassian to bc thc ringlcadcr of thc unnamcd scrvants of Christ
at Marscillcs rcfcrrcd to by Prospcr as disscnting from Augustincs
incrcasingly articulatc stancc on prcdcstination.
Cassians thirtccnth
Conference, which considcrs thc intcraction of gracc and frcc will in
human salvation, has bccn rcad sincc thc scvcntccnth ccntury as a
rcsponsc to Augustincs On correction and grace, and as thc founding
chartcr for scmi-Pclagianism . Ovcr thc past two gcncrations, how-
cvcr, thc broad critiquc of this kind of history of dogma has gonc hand
in hand with a morc accuratc undcrstanding of Cassians purposc in
writing this Conference. It is now largcly agrccd that Cassian was quitc
as conccrncd as Augustinc and his disciplcs by thc pcrsistcncc of
Pclagian crror, and wrotc Conference + to contributc to a papally-
sponsorcd campaign to arm orthodoxy in southcrn Caul.
1o spcak
of a tradition of monastic scmi-Pclagianism will lcad us no closcr
to undcrstanding rclations bctwccn Augustinc, Cassian, and thc
Icrinianswhich is not to say wc nccd losc sight altogcthcr of
Prospcrs disquict at thc activitics of ascctics in Marscillcs.
o Fifth-Century Authorities
Scc, howcvcr, Stcwart, Cassian, +y and csp. :8, dcvcloping thc obscrvation of A. dc
\oguc, Csaire dArles: Oeuvres Monastiques, i. +++y, that Cassian was critical of Icrinian
liturgical practicc.
Ior a classic survcy in thcsc tcrms, scc E. Amann, Scmi-pclagicns, art. DTC, +, :,
+y+8jo, and now R. Wcavcr, Divine Grace and Human Agency: A Study of the Semi-
Pelagian Controversy (Macon, Ca., +). Rcvisionist accounts includc R. A. Markus, 1hc
Icgacy of Pclagius: Orthodoxy, Hcrcsy and Conciliation, in R. Williams (cd.), The Making
of Orthodoxy (Cambridgc, +8), :+, and 1. Smith, De Gratia: Faustus of Riezs
Treatise on Grace and Its Place in the History of Theology (Notrc Damc, +o), \csscy, Opus
imperfectum, C. Icyscr, Scmi-Pclagianism, in A. Iitzgcrald (cd.), Augustine through the
Ages: An Encyclopedia (Crand Rapids, Mich., +), y+.
Augustinc, Ep. ::j. :, CSEI jy, jj.
Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +yy, whcrc it is suggcstcd that Cassians
rcbuttal in thc Confcrcncc followcd from papal condcmnation of Pclagian vicws in :j. So
also Stcwart, Cassian, +8 n. ++, thc samc author (+:: and y8+) judiciously insists upon
intcrprcting thc thirtccnth Confcrcncc in thc contcxt of thc discussion of scxual purity
initiatcd by Cassian in thc prcvious Confcrcncc. Othcr contcxts for Cassians knowlcdgc of
Augustinc arc proposcd by A. dc \oguc, Ics Sourccs dcs quatrcs prcmicrs livrcs
dcs Institutions dc ]can Cassicn: Introduction aux rcchcrchcs sur lcs ancicnncs rcglcs
monastiqucs latincs, StudMon :y (+8j), :+++, and B. Ramscy, ]ohn Cassian: Studcnt
of Augustinc, Cistercian Studies Quarterly :8 (+), j+j. Howcvcr, ]. Ilcming, By
Coincidcncc or Dcsign: Cassians Disagrccmcnt with Augustinc Conccrning thc Ethics of
Ialschood, AugStud : (+8), +, suggcsts that Conference +y picks an argumcnt with
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 40
A morc rcccnt vicw of Cassian and his cnvironmcnt contrasts
southcrn with northcrn Callic monasticism. 1hc provincc of Caul is
sccn to havc bccn dividcd bctwccn, on thc onc hand, thc monastic
culturc associatcd with 1ours and thc cult of St Martin, and on thc
othcr thc Rhonc monasticism cmanating from thc island of Icrins, of
which Cassian is gurcd as a promincnt but by no mcans uniquc
1ourainc monasticism is pcrccivcd to havc takcn its
charactcr from thc Pannonian soldicr turncd monkbishop, St Martin
(d. y): a rough-hcwn asccticism, rclying on charismatic displays of
miraculous powcr. By contrast Rhonc monasticism is sccn as
smoothly organizcd, both institutionally and rhctorically sophisticatcd
in charactcr.
1hc two monastic culturcs arc sccn as opcrating in
quitc scparatc sphcrcs of cmphasis, until thc arrival, in thc latc sixth
ccntury, of a third party in thc shapc of Columbanus.
In its conccrn, pcrhaps, to ocr a cohcrcnt altcrnativc to thc history
of dogma, this vicw substitutcs a clarity of cultural as against thco-
logical dcnition. Whcthcr or not such a strongly-drawn contrast
bctwccn 1ours and Icrins is viablc latcr on, it is surcly prcmaturc so
to charactcrizc thc highly volatilc situation of thc carly dccadcs of thc
fth ccntury. Wc havc too littlc information about thc rcgimcs of
monastic obscrvancc in cithcr thc north or thc south. Although much
cort has bccn cxpcndcd on idcntifying thc Rulc of Icrins, thc
rcsults havc not havc not provcd cntircly convincing.
1hc samc is
Cassian +
Scc Prinz, Frhes Mnchtum, csp. pp. 8. 1his monumcntal account has bccomc
standard: scc c.g. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles, . Cautions wcrc carly cxprcsscd, howcvcr:
scc ]. M. Wallacc-Hadrills rcvicw of Frhes Mnchtum, EHR 8 (+8), yo+, on thc
limitations of Prinzs cartographical approach. Icss polarizcd approachcs havc long bccn
availablc: scc c.g. ]. Iontainc, IAscctismc chrcticn dans la littcraturc gallo-romainc
dHilairc a Cassicn, in La Gallia Romana, Accadcmia Nazionalc dcl Iincci +j (+y),
8y++j, and I. Wood, Avitus of \icnnc (Oxford Lniv. D. Phil. thcsis, +yj). S. Ioscby,
Marscillc and thc Pircnnc 1hcsis, I: Crcgory of 1ours, thc Mcrovingian Kings and Ln
grand port, in R. Hodgcs and W. Bowdcn (cds.), The Sixth Century: Production,
Distribution and Demand (Icidcn, +8), :o:, dcmonstratcs thc abiding importancc of
Marscillcs to thc Mcrovingians, a point to bc born in mind in thc discussion of thc 1ours/
Icrins dichotomy.
1hus thc contrast is an archctypal onc, bctwccn shaggy and smooth cultural stylcs,
scc Ccn. :: :j on Esau and ]acob, and M. Douglas, Natural Symbols: Explorations in
Cosmology (Iondon, +yo), +o:.
Scc Pricoco, Isola, yy+, on thc povcrty of thc Icrinian sourccs in this contcxt, and on
thc unlikclihood of thcrc bcing a Rulc of Icrins bcforc jo. A. dc \oguc has subscqucntly
argucd that thc anonymous Rule of the Four Fathers and thc Second Rule of the Fathers arc thc
work of thc carly Icrinians. Scc his Les Rgles des saints Pres, : vols., SC :y8 (+8:). 1hc
idcntication is, howcvcr, circumstantial and not univcrsally acccptcd: scc M. Carrias, \ic
monastiquc ct rcglc a Icrins au tcmps dHonorat, RHEF y (+88), ++:++, S. Pricoco, Il
primo monachcsimo in Occidcntc: Alcunc considcrazioni su un dibattito attualc, Studi e
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 41
truc for Marscillcs: all wc know (from a latc fth-ccntury witncss) is
that Cassian foundcd two communitics in thc city, onc for mcn and
onc for womcn.
1hc malc community is traditionally idcnticd with
that of St \ictor at Marscillcs, but sccurc cvidcncc for this idcnti-
cation datcs no furthcr back than thc clcvcnth ccntury, at which point
thc monks of thc rcfoundcd community of St \ictors wcrc kccn to
claim dcsccnt from Cassians foundation: in our pcriod, howcvcr, thc
prcsumption that cithcr thc malc or thc fcmalc monastcry foundcd
by Cassian cnjoycd a continuous history is bascd on thc rarcly punc-
tuatcd silcncc of thc historical rccord. Nothing at all is known about
thc organization of thcsc communitics or thcir rcccption of Cassians
Ascctics in carly fth-ccntury Caul wcrc both morc unitcd and
morc dividcd than thc Marscillcs/Hippo or thc 1ours/Icrins
dichotomics would allow: thcir situation was morc chaotic than wc
convcntionally assumc. 1hc collapsc of sccular govcrnmcnt in Caul
invitcd bids for powcr from an assortmcnt of Roman gcncrals. In thc
mlcc of coup and countcr-coup, promincnt ascctics wcrc at onc and
thc samc timc accuscd of dcrcliction of civic duty, and of attcring thc
tyrants who had scizcd occ.
It was in thc intcrcsts of all ascctics to
support cach othcr, as thcy workcd out stratcgics for thc survival of
thcir movcmcnt.
1his is not to say, howcvcr, that thcy cnjoycd
unboundcd solidarity: rivalrics bctwccn, or within, local ccntrcs could
: Fifth-Century Authorities
ricerche sulloriente cristiano X\ (+:), :jy. Scc bclow, Ch. , for thc qucstion of whcthcr
it is possiblc to idcntify thc Rulc of Icrins at thc timc that Cacsarius was thcrc.
Ccnnadius, De viris illustribus c. :, 1L +, 8:.
1hcrc is littlc basis for thc assumption that cithcr thc malc or fcmalc community at
Marscillcs functioncd as vcnucs for thc implcmcntation of Cassians tcachings, ccrtainly not
aftcr his lifctimc. 1hc cvidcncc for thc survival of thcsc monastcrics is inconclusivc.
Cacsarius of Arlcs scnt his sistcr to a convcnt at Marscillcs (Vita Caesarii j, MCH SRM ,
yo, and scc bclow, Ch. ), and Crcgory thc Crcat attcmptcd to protcct thc nunncry of St
Cassian (Crcgory, Ep. \II. +:, CCSI +o, +). It is possiblc, although by no mcans ccrtain,
that this is thc samc community as that foundcd by Cassian. Scc S. Ioscby, Marscillc in
Iatc Antiquity and thc Early Middlc Agcs (Oxford Lniv. D. Phil. thcsis, +), +8. Ior
a morc traditional asscrtion of thc link bctwccn Cassian and thc malc community of St \ictor
at Marscillc, rcfoundcd in thc ++th ccnt., scc ].-C. Moulinicr, Saint-Victor de Marseille: les
rcits de sa passion, Studi di Antichita Cristiana (\atican City, +), 8joj, csp. o,
and P. Amargicr, Un ge dor du monachisme: Saint Victor de Marseille ()
(Marscillcs, +o). My thanks to Simon Ioscby for his advicc on this point.
Scc Popc Zosimus, Epp. +y, CSEI j, +o+o8, and thc account of Mathiscn,
Factionalism, :yy.
Scc c.g. Hcros of Arlcs, a disciplc of Martin of 1ours, who madc his way south aftcr
Martins dcath to join thc circlc of Proculus, as witncsscd by Prospcr of Aquitainc,
Chronicon, MCH AA IX, , and notcd by Prinz, Frhes Mnchtum, ++:+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 42
arc all thc morc intcnscly bccausc of thc thrcat of cxtinction. As I
havc argucd clscwhcrc, thc carly Icrinians wcrc by no mcans a unicd
group: thrown into bcwildcrmcnt by thcir succcss in capturing control
of kcy sccs in southcrn Caul, thcy wcrc apt to wranglc bittcrly among
1hc forcc of Cassians writingshis injunctions against
angcr and vanity for cxamplcwill not bc apparcnt unlcss wc bcar this
ssiparous, polcmically chargcd contcxt in mind.
1his is nowhcrc morc apparcnt than in Marscillcs. In thc lcttcr of
admonition with which wc bcgan, Popc Cclcstinc singlcd out for
condcmnation thc bishop of Marscillcs. Although not namcd, this is
likcly to havc bccn Proculus, Cassians patron and thc unocial lcadcr
of thc ascctic party in Caul ovcr thc past gcncration.
Proculus rolc in
this lattcr capacity mcrits furthcr study: it is clcar that his rcputation
and conncctions spanncd thc lcngth and brcadth of thc Mcdi-
But thc man was also notorious. In :, his grcat rival
Patroclus of Arlcs had bccn assassinatcd: thc bishop of Marscillcs was
said to havc rcjoiccd so much at thc dcath of his brothcr that hc
rushcd to mcct onc who arrivcd spattcrcd with his blood in ordcr to
sharc it with him.
1hc Popc commandcd an invcstigation into his
shamcful conduct. If thc story was truc, thcn Cassian will surcly havc
sharcd with Prospcr of Aquitainc, his thcological opponcnt, a gravc
conccrn about thc scrvants of Christ living at Marscillcs.
It was in an cort to pcrsuadc local ascctics to tcmpcr thcir zcal that
Scc Icyscr, 1his Saintcd Islc , +88:o+.
Scc c.g. Inst. 8, SC +o, , Conl. +. y, SC j, ::yo on angcr, Inst. ++, SC
+o, : on vanity.
No writings and no Life of Proculus arc known to havc cxistcd. His solc surviving
monumcnt may bc thc rcmains of thc magniccnt baptistcry and cpiscopal complcx cxca-
vatcd on thc north sidc of thc port at Marscillcs. Scc Ioscby, Marscillc in Iatc Antiquity
and thc Early Middlc Agcs, p. +:. 1hc samc authors Marscillc: A Iatc Antiquc Succcss
Story, JRS 8: (+:), +j8j, givcs an account of thc Christian lifc of thc city in which
Cassian is rcfrcshingly incidcntal: Proculus takcs ccntrc stagc.
Irom his homc in Bcthlchcm, ]cromc did not hcsitatc to rccommcnd thc bishop of
Marscillcs as thc man to whom young ascctics in southcrn Caul should turn for guidancc.
]cromc, Ep. +:j. :o, cd. ]. Iabourt, y vols. (Paris, +), vi. +. Scc also H. Crouzcl,
]cromc ct scs amis toulousains, BLittEcc y (+y:), +:jy. 1hc conncction bctwccn
]cromc and Proculus may not havc bccn altogcthcr comfortablc for Cassian. Although pay-
ing tributc to ]cromc (De viris illustribus, 8, ++, PI :, jAB, j8BjB), Cassian had
causc to distrust him for his rolc in thc condcmnation of Origcnism, and of his tcachcr
Evagrius. Scc now S. Drivcr, Irom Palcstinian Ignorancc to Egyptian Wisdom: Cassians
Challcngc to ]cromcs Monastic 1caching, ABR 8 (+y), :+j.
Cuperemus quidem +o, PI jo, jCA: Massilicnsis vcro ccclcsiac saccrdotcm, qui
dicitur, quod dictu ncfas cst, in ncccm fratris talitcr gratulatus, ut huic qui cius sanguinc cru-
cntus advcncrat, portioncm cum codcm habiturus occurrcrct.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 43
Cassian rst rcsolvcd to lcavc thc harbour of silcncc.
In thc prcfacc
to his rst work, thc Institutes, hc warns his dcdicatcc, Bishop Castor
of Apt, that hc will bc no attcrcr of his patrons: I do not bclicvc that
a rcccnt foundation could havc found in thc Callic Wcst obscrvanccs
morc pcrfcct than thosc to which thc holy and spiritual fathcrs havc
rcmaincd faithful sincc thc start of thc apostolic mission.
rst movc was to prcscnt himsclf as thc critical cxpcrt. Hc consistcntly
argucd that ascctics could not simply improvisc thcir livcs as thcy
plcascd. Spiritual disciplinc was an acquircd tcchniquc, and Cassian
namcd thc placcs whcrc it was bcst lcarncdEgypt and Syria,
dcriving in turn from thc apostolic community of Christians at
1his was an initial linc of dcfcncc, giving Cassian room to
manocuvrc in a way that sccmcd rclativcly impartial. A stringcnt
critiquc of all Callic monasticism (not just that of thc North) mcant
that hc would not bc sccn to favour Castors monastcry ovcr, say,
Icrins. Anothcr mcans of achicving a similar ccct was to co-opt his
rcadcrs into sharing thc prcmisc of Egyptian supcriority. In :y, as hc
dcdicatcd his sccond sct of Conferences to thc Icrinians Honoratus and
Euchcrius, Cassian prcsumcd thcir asscnt to his own pcrspcctivc:
You, O holy brothcrs Honoratus and Euchcrius, arc so stirrcd by thc grcat
glory of thcsc splcndid mcn from whom wc rcccivcd thc rst principlcs of thc
anchoritic lifc, that onc of you, prcsiding as hc docs ovcr a largc monastcry of thc
brcthrcn, is hoping that his congrcgation . . . may bc instructcd in thc prcccpts of
thcsc fathcrs, whilc thc othcr has bccn anxious to makc his way to Egypt to bc
cdicd by thc sight of thcm in thc csh.
Cassian imagincd that Euchcrius would takc wing likc somc purc
turtlc dovc, lcaving bchind thc icy chill of Caul, to hcad for thc land
on which thc sun of rightcousncss looks, and which abounds in thc
ripc fruits of virtucs.
Euchcrius, howcvcr, in what it is tcmpting to
rcad as a dircct rcply to Cassian, did not stint in his promotion of
Icrins as a sitc of ascctic living to rival thosc of thc East.
Fifth-Century Authorities
Conl. +, prcf., SC :, yj, also De Inc. prcf., CSEI +y, :j.
Inst. prcf. 8, SC +o, o.
Conl. ++, prcf., SC j, 8. Honoratus is thc ccnobitic lcadcr, Euchcrius thc rcclusc.
Scc Euchcrius, De laude eremi :, cd. S. Pricoco (Catania, +j), yjy, and for furthcr
discussion, Icyscr, 1his saintcd islc , +j. It is possiblc also that a rivalry cxistcd also
bctwccn Proculus of Marscillcs and Icontius of Ircjus as rival patrons of Cassian and of thc
Icrinians: according to Honoratus disciplc Hilary, Proculus had failcd to attract Honoratus
to stay in Marscillcs, and hc had cvcntually gonc to Icrins (Hilary, Sermo de vita sancti
Honorati +. +, SC :j, +o:).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 44
Cassians point was not to initiatc a compctition bctwccn holy sitcs
of Egypt and Caul, howcvcr. 1hc signicancc of thc dcscrt for Cassian
lay in its bcing thc only placc whcrc authcntic apostolic living still
pcrsistcd. Sccking to makc cxplicit thc conncction bctwccn his
own cxpcricncc of thc dcscrt in thc East with thc lifc of thc carlicst
Christians, Cassian turncd, likc Augustinc, to thc tcxt of Acts of
thc Apostlcs. Euscbius of Cacsarca had long ago suggcstcd that
monks wcrc dircct dcsccndants of thc ]crusalcm community.
in thc Institutes, and at grcatcr lcngth in thc Conferences, Cassian
rcarticulatcd this vcrsion of monastic history.
1hc systcm of ccnobitcs arosc at thc timc whcn thc apostlcs wcrc prcaching. 1hc
crowd of bclicvcrs in ]crusalcm wcrc of this sort, as it is dcscribcd in thc Acts of
thc Apostlcs: 1hc multitudc of bclicvcrs wcrc of onc hcart and onc soul, ncithcr
said any of thcm that any of thc things which hc posscsscd was his own, but thcy
had all things in common. 1hc wholc Church livcd thcn as thc ccnobitcs livcd,
thcy arc now so fcw that it is dicult to nd thcm.
Ior Cassian, this was a story about thc onsct of tepor, initial fcrvour
growing lukcwarm.
1hc dcclinc in standards bcgan whcn thc lcadcrs
of thc ]crusalcm community ocrcd conccssions to gcntilc convcrts,
and thcn adoptcd thcsc lcss cxacting standards thcmsclvcs. 1hc
fcrvcnt fcw who faithfully prcscrvcd thc original pattcrn of thc com-
munity wcrc forccd to lcavc thc city, and livc in thc dcscrt: Markcd
out from most of thc faithful by thcir cclibacy and thcir scparation
from rclativcs, thcy camc to bc known as monachi, or monazontes,
bccausc thcy lcd a disciplincd lifc alonc.
1his account turncd thc
ight into thc dcscrt upsidc down. It was not ascctics, but thc rcst of
thc community, who had split o and movcd away in thc morc impor-
tant, spiritual scnsc. Monachi could claim a virtual monopoly of thc
apostolic lifc. 1hc dcscrts of Egypt and Syria wcrc thc only placc
Cassian j
Euscbius, Historia Ecclesiastica II. ++y, II. :, itsclf an adaptation of Philo, De vita
contemplativa +, +8:j. Euscbius account is followcd in turn by ]cromc, De viris illustribus
8, ++. My thanks to Dcrck Krucgcr for his advicc on this point.
Conl. +8. j, SC , ++j. Cf. Inst. :. j. +, SC +o, . 1hcsc two passagcs arc
much discusscd. Scc c.g. A. dc \oguc, Monachismc ct Eglisc dans la pcnscc dc Cassicn,
Thologie de la Vie Monastique, :+o, and id., Ics Sourccs dcs quatrcs prcmicrs livrcs dcs
Institutions dc ]can Cassicn, StudMon :y (+8j), :+++, csp. :8y:, both noting thc
dicrcnccs bctwccn thc Institutes and thc Conferences in thcir accounts of thc origins of
monasticism. Scc also Rousscau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church, :ooj, Markus, End of
Ancient Christianity, +j8.
S. Pricoco, Tepidum monachorum genus (Cassian., conl. +8. . :), Scritti classici e
cristiani oerta a Francesco Corsaro (Catania, +), jy.
Conl. +8. j, SC , +j+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 45
whcrc ]crusalcm communitas still cxistcd. Cassians rcading of Acts
was thus thc basis for a monastic gcncalogy. 1hc ccnobitcs, hc con-
tinucd, gavc risc to thc crcmitcs, as thc owcr is followcd by thc
(Whcrc this lcft thc rcst of thc faithful Cassian did not hcrc
In skctching an apostolic gcncalogy for contcmporary monasticism
in thc dcscrts of thc East, Cassians purposc was not to incitc his
rcadcrs to travcl thcrc. On thc contrary, hc wishcd to cnablc wcstcrn
ascctics to stay whcrc thcy wcrcin thc icy chill of thcir surround-
ingsby ocring to initiatc thcm in thc lorc of ascctic sanctity.
account of thc ]crusalcm community ocrcd his rcadcrs a commcntary
on that of Augustinc, and an altcrnativc conccption of thc apostolic lifc
(whcthcr or not this dialoguc with Augustinc was cxactly Cassians
1o both mcn, thc mcmory of thc apostolic ]crusalcm
scrvcd as a rcmindcr that, whatcvcr thc romancc gcncratcd by Antony
and thc cldcrs of thc dcscrt, it was not in fact ncccssary to scck out thc
wildcrncss in ordcr to lcad a Christian lifc. 1hc city could scrvc as an
cqually cnchantcd vcnuc: as thc truly committcd would know, thc
qucstion of sitc was unimportant for scrious ascctic purposcs. In strong
contrast to Augustinc, howcvcr, Cassian did not ncccssarily proposc
thc ]crusalcm community as a living modcl for ascctic community in
thc prcscnt. Hc was rclativcly unintcrcstcd in thc ways in which com-
munity of propcrty might sct up community of hcarts and minds (and
tcndcd to rcfcr morc to Matthcw +: :: on thc rcnunciation of
propcrty than to Acts on its sharing). 1hc giving up of matcrial
posscssions was only a prcliminary gcsturc in thc work of driving out
avaricc, and thc othcr viccs, from thc soul. Ior Cassian, in short,
thc ]crusalcm community was lcss an anticipation of thc futurc com-
munity of thc blcsscd than a point of rcfcrcncc in a history of ascctic
If a rcplica of thc ]crusalcm community was not Cassians ultimatc
goal as an ascctic tcachcr thcn ncithcr was his immcdiatc conccrn thc
spcaking of hcart to hcart. No onc could hopc to cxpcricncc such
transparcncy in rclationship with anothcr unlcss thcy had rst puricd
thcir own soul, Cassian argucd. Ior him, charity ncccssarily bcgan as
Fifth-Century Authorities
Conl. +8. , +y.
1hc importancc of this point for thc cxpansion of monasticism in thc citics of Caul is
wcll brought out by C. Courtois, IEvolution du monachismc cn Caulc dc St Martin a St
Columban, Settimane I\, yy:, at j8.
Scc abovc, Ch. +, n. +o:, and Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +j8.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 46
self-scrutiny, prior to any genuine social interaction or contemplation
of God. Where Augustine had looked to the ways in which humans
might relate to each other, across dierences of class in particular,
Cassian looked at how a man might resolve his interior dierences, and
at the stages of moral progress he might attain. His focus was on the
individual in his struggle with the vices considered abstractly, not on
how the rich and the poor or the weak and the strong might co-
If, for the bishop of Hippo, asceticism without charity was
meaningless, for Cassian the equation was at least partially reversed:
charity without asceticism was, if not without meaning, at best merely
adequate, or lukewarm. A community made up of ascetics of diering
levels of moral achievement could not hope to function eectively.
The ascetic life properly executed, however, was a life of fervent com-
munion with God and with fellow Christians: this was the life that
Cassian sought to oer his readers.
+s+rav or +nr rn
From the moment he began to write in Gaul, Cassian had in mind the
terrain he intended to cover. His exposition, however, like his journeys
around the Nile delta, takes a meandering course. He was partial to
schemata, though he was not a systematic thinker, as his most recent
commentator has acutely remarked.
According to (one of) Cassians
own designs, his rst text, the Institutes, deals with the outer man
what he should eat, sleep, wearbefore moving to an inventory of the
stages of temptation that the inner man had to surmount. The
Conferences cross and recross much of this same interior ground, while
expanding its frontiers in its discussions of the reading of Scripture to
promote interior stability and wordless prayer.
In making their way
across his work, modern students of Cassian are, perhaps, bound to
alight on his analysis of what would become the deadly sins: for his
earliest readers, however, it was the moral and spiritual language
e.g. the interior reading of Ps. : in Conl. . , SC , . Cassian takes the
verseHow good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together as oneto refer to the
harmony of the well-trained body and soul.
Stewart, Cassian, , on the relation between purity of heart and charity.
Stewart, Cassian, . Exactly the same could be said of Gregory the Great: see below,
Ch. .
Stewart, Cassian, , gives a helpful overview of Cassians programme in the
Institutes and Conferences.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 47
Cassian providcdmorc, pcrhaps, than any singlc systcmthat hcld
thcir attcntion.
1hc forcc of Cassians argumcnts lay not in novclty, but in
thcir profound adhcrcncc to traditional moral philosophy. Cassians
immcdiatc point of rcfcrcncc was his tcachcr Evagrius: thc hicrarchy
of thc cight sins, thc idca that thc most advanccd form of tcmptation
was intcrior, thc problcm of thc rcstlcss cncrgy of thc mindall of
thcsc Cassian rcworkcd from his mastcrs Crcck into Iatin, somctimcs
ostcntatiously rcminding his wcstcrn audicncc of his bilingualism.
thc longcr pcrspcctivc, what Evagrius passcd on to his pupil was thc
wisdom of thc Christian Platonic tradition, which lookcd to Origcn as
its founding fathcr.
1his tradition in turn was framcd in dialoguc
with pagan moral philosophy. 1o an cducatcd Classical rcadcr, thc
idcals of passionlcssncss and of stability which Cassian dcscribcd as
thc prcliminary to thc contcmplativc lifc would havc bccn familiar
from thc works of Ciccro, or from any of thc philosophical handbooks
in widc circulation.
In Conference +, to which wc turn in a momcnt,
Cassian, using himsclf as a modcl, insistcd that thc Christian rcadcr
block out thc various fablcs that hc has lcarnt as a child, but this
rcjcction of thc contcnts of thc Classical litcrary tradition cocxistcd
in Cassian as in so many othcr latc Roman Christian intcllcctuals
with an cqually strong appropriation of its moral goals.
Cassians attcntion was dominatcd by what hc saw as thc rst stagc
of thc proccss of spiritual clcansing: thc cxpurgation of sin. 1his hc
8 Fifth-Century Authorities
Ior thc mcdicval futurc of Cassians typology of sin, scc thc classic M. Bloomcld, The
Seven Deadly Sins: An Introduction to the History of a Religious Concept, with Special Reference
to Medieval English Literature (East Iansing, Mich., +j:), I. K. Iittlc, Pridc gocs bcforc
Avaricc: Social Changc and thc \iccs in Iatin Christcndom, AHR y (+y+), +, and
morc rcccntly, R. Ncwhauscr, 1owards modus in habcndo: 1ransformations in thc Idca of
Avaricc. 1hc Early Pcnitcntials through thc Carolingian Rcforms, ZSSR C\I, Kan. Abt. yj
(+8), +::, id., The Treatise on Vices and Virtues in Latin and the Vernacular, 1ypologic dcs
Sourccs du Moycn Agc Occidcntal 8 (1urnhout, +).
Cf. Conl. y. , SC j, :8, for a display of Crcck lcarning by Cassian. Scc C. Stcwart,
Irom lgo to verbum: ]ohn Cassians Lsc of Crcck in thc Dcvclopmcnt of a Iatin
Monastic \ocabulary, in E. R. Eldcr (cd.), The Joy of Learning and the Love of God: Studies
in Honor of Jean Leclercq (Kalamazoo, Mich., +j), j+.
On Origcn in this contcxt, scc H. Crouzcl, Origne et la connaissance mystique
(1oulousc, ++), Stcwart, Cassian, jy, , .
M. Colish, The Stoic Tradition from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, ii. ++::.
P. Courccllc, Late Latin Writers and their Greek Sources, ::8, and scc bclow n. y.
Conl. +. +o. +:, SC j, +, for Cassians fablcs. On thc thcmc in gcncral, scc
A. Camcron, Paganism and Iitcraturc in Iatc Iourth Ccntury Romc, in Christianisme et
Formes Littraires de lAntiquit Tardive en Occident, Iondation Hardt pour lEtudc dc
lAntiquitc Classiquc, Entrcticns XXII (Ccncva, +yy), +o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 48
callcd thc activc or thc practical lifc, following thc standard philo-
sophical distinction bctwccn praxis and theoria, or contcmplation.
1hc wholc of thc Institutes and thc bulk of thc Conferences wcrc csscn-
tially structurcd as a scrics of practical discourscs on how to avoid
tcmptation. It was simplc cnough for an ascctic cnthusiast to makc thc
outward gcsturcs of holincss, what fascinatcd Cassian was thc inward
disposition of thc mind. In thc rst Conference, hc strcsscd: You do
not attain thc pcrfcct lifc simply by throwing away your moncy or your
rank. 1hcrc must go with it that charity which thc apostlc Paul
dcscribcd, consisting in purity of hcart alonc.
1hc achicvcmcnt of
purityhcrc cotcrminous with charityinvolvcd thc subduing of thc
passions and thc abandonmcnt of sclf-will. It was not thc rctrcat into
thc dcscrt, but thc gazc into oncs own soul which markcd thc bcgin-
ning of a rclcntlcss strugglc against thc array of diabolic tcmptations
that thrcatcncd to pollutc it.
In thc Institutes, having dcscribcd thc pattcrns of obscrvancc in thc
dcscrtdctails of drcss and liturgy, or cntry proccdurcs, for cxamplc
(Books +)Cassian thcn turncd to thc intcrior disposition of thc
ascctic. In a furthcr cight books, hc trcatcd cach of thc cight sins that
wcrc likcly to bcsct thc soul. 1hc scqucncc wcnt from thc most basic
(gluttony) to thc most advanccd (pridc), implying thc possibility of
gradual and cumulativc progrcss. If thc ascctic wcrc to climinatc
gluttony, that would rcducc his susccptibility to lust, hc could thcn
movc to climinatc avaricc, angcr, mclancholy, ennui, and vain glory.
1hc nal challcngc was pridc: thc morc thc ascctic advanccd, thc morc
likcly hc was to succumb to pridc in his own achicvcmcnts (or cnvy of
anothcrs)and all would bc lost.
Hcrc, again, Cassian sct himsclf against Augustinc, in proposing
that a man could systcmatically improvc his moral condition through
ascctic labour. Whcrc Augustinc had idcnticd thc sin of Adam and
Irom an cxtcnsivc litcraturc, scc A. Cuillaumont and C. Cuillaumont, Evagre le
Pontique: Trait pratique ou le moine, : vols., SC +yo+ (+), 8j, for an ovcrvicw of
ancicnt thought on thc activc and contcmplativc livcs. Ior Cassians rcccption and usc of
thcsc traditions, scc M. Olphc-Caillard, \ic contcmplativc ct vic activc daprcs Cassicn,
RAM + (+j), :j:88, Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +8y, Stcwart, Cassian,
Conl. +. , SC :, 8, rcfcrring to + Cor +: . Cf. ibid. :. :. 1hc ascctic may fast, pray,
and givc alms, but nonc of thcsc will prcscrvc him from diabolical dcccption. On purity of
hcart, scc M. Olphc-Caillard, Ia Purctc dc cocur daprcs Cassicn, RAM+y (+), :8o,
Stcwart, :y.
Inst. +:. :, +j, SC +o, j:, yo. Cassian on thc viccs is, intcntionally, an aspcct not
covcrcd by Stcwart (scc Cassian, p. vii). Scc bclow, Ch. y, for Crcgory thc Crcats rcccption
of Cassians list.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 49
Evc as pridcgluttony or lust bcing mcrc conscqucnccs of thcir
disastrous bid for autonomy from thcir crcatorCassian argucd that
it was, in fact, thc dcsirc to cat of thc fruit which causcd thc Iall.
locating original sin in physical dcsirc, and in outlining a programmc
to track down and to climinatc dcsirc in thc body and thcn in thc mind,
Cassians account dcpartcd from thc basic prcmiscs of thc City of
God. 1hc advantagcs of this analysis wcrc not lost on Cassians ascctic
rcadcrs. Whcrc Augustinc had argucd that to disciplinc thc body was
cpiphcnomcnal to thc dccp aw in thc soul, Cassian now armcd thc
convcntional wisdom that, through rcgulation of his dict in particular,
thc ascctic could hopc to altcr thc balancc of his bodys humours, thus
chcmically rcducing his vulncrability to dcsirc.
In thc opcning
books of thc Institutes, Cassian cxpoundcd a rcassuringly scrupulous
rcgimc of fasting, praycr, and rcading dcsigncd to prcvcnt thc body
from lcading thc soul astray.
An cspccial tcst was thc battlc against thc sin of fornication.
gluttony, this was a tcmptation complctcly to bc climinatcd (somc
dcsirc for food bcing ncccssary), and Cassian organizcd much of his
analysis of moral purication around this thcmc. \ictory ovcr thc
spirit of fornication involvcd far morc than mcrc abstcntion from
scxual intcrcoursc or from masturbation: thc man sccking purity
should track down scxual dcsirc to its lair in thc mind. His succcss in
so doing could bc indcxcd in thc manncr in which hc cmittcd scmcn
during thc night. A man who sccmcd, in thc daytimc, to prcscnt thc
jo Fifth-Century Authorities
Conl. j. , SC j, ++.
Comparc Conl. . +o++, SC :, +y, with Civ.Dei XI\. +, CCSI 8, ++y, on
conccptions of mind and body. Irom a survcy of its uscs in Scripturc, Augustinc in thc City
of God had dccidcd that thc csh connotcs thc wholc pcrson by syncchdochc. 1o livc
according to thc csh is thus not simply to indulgc in bodily plcasurcs: thc viccs of thc soul
arc also involvcd. In a parallcl discussion about thc mcanings of thc csh in Scripturc,
Cassian had spccically rcjcctcd Augustincs rcading. Howcvcr, whilc rcfusing to undcr-
stand by csh thc wholc pcrson, Cassian docs not follow thc oppositc coursc of cquating
csh with body. Hc ocrs instcad a looscr dcnition of a will of thc csh, and thc worst
kinds of dcsircs. A carnal ncxus of will and dcsirc implicatcs both body and soul in thc pro-
duction of sin. Only ascctic tcchnology can libcratc body and soul from thcir pcrccivcd sub-
jcction to thc csh.
Cassians discussion of fornication bcgins at Inst. , it continucs in Conl. +: and +, and
concludcs at Conl. :: (de nocturnis inlusionibus). It has rcccivcd cxtcnsivc rcccnt discussion,
much of it inspircd by Ioucault, Combat dc chastctc. Scc c.g. Brown, Body and Society,
:+8:, D. Brakkc, 1hc Problcmatization of Nocturnal Emissions in Early Christian Syria,
Egypt, and Caul, JECS (+j), +o, Stcwart, Cassian, :8 (scc, in particular, n. +).
C. Icyscr, Masculinity in Ilux: Nocturnal Emission and thc Iimits of Cclibacy in thc Early
Middlc Agcs, in D. Hadlcy (cd.), Masculinity in Medieval Europe (Harlow, +), +o:o,
dcvclops at grcatcr lcngth thc argumcnt prcscntcd hcrc. Scc bclow, Chs. and 8, for thc
rcccption of Cassian on uxus by Pomcrius and Crcgory thc Crcat.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 50
outward signs of holincss, could, through nocturnal cmission, bctray
thc rcal contcnts of his hcart. Rcducing nocturnal cmission to a
physiological minimum, if not climinating it altogcthcr, bccamc for
Cassian thc ultimatc ascctic challcngcand providcd his rcadcrs with
a graphic mcans by which to mcasurc thcir moral progrcss.
How could thc ascctic climinatc cvcn thc thought of fornication?
Cassian implicd that such control was indccd possiblcbut it is not
until thc Conferences that his thinking on this qucstion is cntircly clcar.
It was in thcir rcading that ascctics could attain to mcntal purity, hc
camc to arguc. If rcgulating dict could protcct thc body from sinful
cxccss, thcn prcciscly organizcd consumption of tcxt could surcly
immunizc thc mind from diabolic attack. 1his was an idca funda-
mcntal in Evagrius, but Cassian found his own vivid imagcry in which
to cxpound it.
In thc rst Conference, a dialoguc with Abba Moscs,
thc full logic of this mcthod bccomcs apparcnt. Cassians companion
Ccrmanus put to Abba Moscs thc qucstion:
How do you cxplain that, against our own will, and what is morc cvcn without our
knowlcdgc, supcruous thoughts crccp into our minds, arriving by subtlc and
sccrct routcs? It bccomcs no small task to spot thcm and pin thcm down, lct alonc
to cxpcl thcm. Can thc mind cvcr bc frcc of thcsc distractions, or bc rid of thcir
Moscs rcplics that thc mind will always sucr thc invasivc onrush of
1hc churning of thc mind is not unlikc thc movcmcnt of millstoncs: watcr rushcs
round a channcl, powcring thcm around and around. In fact millstoncs cannot
stop turning, ccasclcssly drivcn as thcy arc by thc forcc of thc watcr.
In this lifc, thc human mind is bludgconcd around, undcr rclcntlcss
prcssurc from a torrcnt of thoughts, whirling undcr possiblc tcmpta-
tion. 1his was a givcn for Cassian: thc motion of thc mind could not
Cassian j+
Scc c.g. Inst. . +, SC +o, ::, ibid. . :o, :8.
On Evagrius in this contcxt, scc M. OIaughlin, 1hc Biblc, thc Dcmons, and thc
Dcscrt: Evaluating thc Antirrheticus of Evagrius Pontus, StMon (+:), :o++j. On this
thcmc in thc dcscrt morc broadly, scc D. Burton Christic, The Word in the Desert: Scripture
and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism (Ncw York, +), +::. Ior an
carly jth-ccnt. wcstcrn parallcl to Cassian, scc C. Morin, Pagcs incditcs dc dcux pscudo-
jcromcs dc lcnviron lan oo, RBen o (+:8), :o:, at :8. 1hc fcmalc addrcsscc of thc
lcttcr Quamlibet sciam is urgcd: sicquc clausa sit ianua arcac cx obliquo facta, id cst, aurium
tuarum introitus vcl cgrcssus, ut nc modica quidcm cx fabulis saccularium, quac sunt vclut
aqua dccurrcns in divcrsa ad pcnctralia cordis tui stilla pcrvcniat.
Conl. +. +, SC :, 8. Cf. Cacsarius of Arlcs, Sermones I. , CCSI +o, :.
Conl. +. +8, SC :, . Cf. Caes.Serm. 8. , CCSI +o, , discusscd bclow, Ch. .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 51
bc stoppcd, it could only bc cxploitcd to thc advantagc of thc ascctic.
In tcrms of thc mctaphor of thc mill, thc man in chargc of thc mill
could dccidc what hc wantcd to grind, bc it grain, barlcy, or tarcs: It
is largcly for us to raisc thc tonc of our mcntal activity.
1hc rcading and praying of Scripturc thus took on its cspccial
importancc for Cassian.
If ascctics wcrc cngagcd in poring ovcr thc
sacrcd tcxt, thcn thcy would supply grist to thc psychic mill. Crinding
thc Scripturcs would bring thc mind to rccall its dcsirc for pcrfcction
and hopc for thc blcsscd lifc to comc: in this way, ascctics could
sustain purity of hcart. On thc othcr hand, Abba Moscs continucs: If
wc capitulatc to apathy and carclcssncss, wc shall nd our minds
crammcd with sinful thoughts and idlc chattcr, bound up in worry and
anxicty ovcr worthlcss trivia.
1hc root causc of all sin, Cassian
argucs, is thc uncontrollcd wandcring of thc mind: thc antidotc to sin
is mcntal stability or tranquillity achicvcd by studious prcoccupa-
tion of thc mind with sacrcd mattcr.
1hc spirits of thc viccs would
nd no point of cntry into thc hcart of a man who was rapt with sacrcd
1hc rccommcndation of Scripturc as a talisman rcccivcs morc
attcntion from Cassian than thc busincss of intcrprcting thc actual
mcaning of passagcs of Scripturc. Whilc his commitmcnt to thc
spiritual scnsc bchind thc lcttcr of Scripturc is pcrvasivc, Cassian
dcvotcs only bricfcst considcration to thc various allcgorical scnscs of
thc scriptural tcxt.
1his rcticcncc sccms out of placc for onc working
so strongly within thc tradition of Origcn, thc founding fathcr of thc
practicc of allcgorical cxcgcsisuntil wc rcmcmbcr thc fraught status
j: Fifth-Century Authorities
1his was a prcmisc dcrivcd dircctly from Evagrius, Praktikos 8, SC +y+, o8, ibid. +j,
:8, and bchind him, thc Stoic tradition. Scc c.g. thc jth-ccnt. pscudo-Plutarchan Epitome,
in H. Dicls (cd.), Doxographi Graeci (Bcrlin, +8y), at 8 thc idca of thc pcrpctual mobility
of thc mind is attributcd to 1halcs. Ior thc mcdicval futurc of thc imagc of thc mill, scc M.
Carruthcrs, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images,
(Cambridgc, +8), 8++oo.
Conl. +. +8, SC :, .
On praycr, Stcwart, Cassian, 8+o: this is thc main focus of his study.
Conl. +. +8, SC :, : Cf. HEz. I. ++. j, CCSI +:, +yo:: Crcgorys dcclaration of
vulncrability to idlc words, discusscd bclow, Ch. 8.
Scc c.g. Inst. :. +, SC +o, 8, j. :+. , :: on vainglory, y. . +, o: on avaricc, +o.
, o on acedia, +o. :, ::, ++. +j, o. Cf. Augustinc, De doctr. chr. II. y. , Crccn, on
xing, as though to thc wood of thc cross, thc superbiae motus with thc apprchcnsion of Cod
through Scripturc, and for discussion, D. Dawson, Sign 1hcory, Allcgorical Rcading, and
thc Motions of thc Soul in De doctrina christiana, in Arnold and Bright (cds.), De doctrina
christiana, +:+. 1o thc bcst of my knowlcdgc, Augustinc docs not cmploy thc mctaphor
of thc millwhccl in this contcxt.
Ibid. +. 8, SC j, +8:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 52
of Origcns lcgacy in thc carly fth ccntury. Cassians immcdiatc
tcachcr, Evagrius, at thc vcry ccntrc of thc Origcnist controvcrsy, was
still morc silcnt on thc scnscs of Scripturc, diplomatically choosing to
lay strcss instcad on thc powcr of thc word of Cod to ward o
Although his own position was rclativcly morc sccurc,
Cassian may havc calculatcd thc importancc of dcmonstrating that his
tcaching on cxcgcsis was bound in with his discussion of moral purity.
In a tantalizingly opaquc scqucncc, hc implics that thc strugglc for
purity through mcntal occupation, of its own accord, givcs on to a con-
tcmplativc cxpcricncc of spiritual mcaning:
Whilc wc arc going ovcr and ovcr scctions of Scripturc as wc strivc to commit
thcm to mcmory, thc mind is so busy that it docs not havc timc to considcr thcir
mcaning: it is only latcr on, cspccially at night-timc, whcn wc arc frcc from all
disturbancc from action and vision, that in silcntly turning thcm ovcr in our mind,
thc most hiddcn mcanings, whosc prcscncc wc would scarccly suspcct whcn wc
arc awakc, comc to thc surfaccwhcn wc arc rcsting, and as though in a dccp
Night-timc was a timc for rcvclation: whilc thc impurc man is
bctraycd by thc cmission of his scmcn whilc hc slccps, thc purc in
hcart arc vouchsafcd thc mcaning of thc tcxts on which thcy havc bccn
focuscd during thc day.
In a similar way, thcy might nd thcir usc of
a singlc vcrsc of Scripturc in praycr dissolvc into a wordlcss praycr of
Cassians was a compclling, supplc analysis of moral purity that
pcrsuadcd gcncrations of ascctic rcadcrs in a varicty of institutional
contcxts. Wc shall scc that it suggcstcd to an ascctic bishopCacsarius
of Arlcshow hc should approach thc problcm of cvangclizing thc
and to ccnobitic lcadcrs such as St Bcncdict how thcy
should structurc thc daily routinc of thcir monks.
What truly caught
and hcld thc attcntion of Cassians rcadcrs, howcvcr, was thc way that
his argumcnt movcd from its prcmiscs conccrning thc achicvcmcnt of
Cassian j
Scc McIaughlin, 1hc Biblc, thc Dcmons, and thc Dcscrt.
Conl. +. +o, SC j, +y: dcindc quod ca, quac crcbcrrima rcpctitionc pcrcursa, dum
mcmoriac tradcrc laboramus, intcllcgcrc id tcmporis obligata mcntc non quivimus, postca ab
omnium actuum ac visionum inlcccbris absoluti praccipucquc nocturna mcditationc taciti
rcvolvcntcs clarius intucmur, ita ut occultissimorum scnsuum, quos nc tcnui quidcm vigi-
lantcs opinationc pcrccpimus, quicsccntibus nobis ct vclut soporis stuporc dcmcrsis intclli-
gcntia rcvclctur.
Conl. ::. j, SC , ++:o.
Scc Conl. +o. ++, SC j, , Stcwart, Cassian, ++y::.
Bclow, Ch. .
Bclow, Ch. .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 53
inncr purity and contcmplativc pcacc towards its conclusions about
thc moral authority confcrrcd by ascctic cxpcrtisc. 1hc routc Cassian
took was an indircct onc. Hc claimcd rcpcatcdly to bc moving from
thc practical lifc of strugglc with thc dcvil to a discussion not of
authority, but of thc thcorctical cnjoymcnt of divinc contcmplation.
Yct thc momcntum of thc argumcnt brought Cassian to articulatc how
it was that thc contcmplativc could bccomc a tcachcr. At its most basic,
hc imagincd ascctic dcvclopmcnt as a passagc from sacrcd rcading to
sacrcd knowlcdgc and thus to sacrcd spccch. 1hc clcgancc of
Cassians logic was that thc ascctic who had assiduously llcd his
whirling thoughts with sacrcd mattcr would himsclf bccomc a sourcc
of such mattcr. In his plain and wholcsomc spccch hc would providc
othcrs with good grain to grind.
Cassians discussion of thc authority of plain spccch is madc
most cxplicit in Conference +, givcn by Abba Ncstoros.
approachcs Ncstoros with an advanccd qucstion: having mcmorizcd
much of Scripturc, hc nds himsclf unablc to conccntratc on any
singlc vcrsc, and instcad lurchcs from vcrsc to vcrsc as though intoxi-
catcd. Ncstoros tclls him that if hc truly immcrscs himsclf in thc words
of thc Iathcrs, thc rovings of his mind will bc convcrtcd into a holy
and unccasing rumination on thc sacrcd law.
Hc will himsclf bccomc
a pcrpctual fount, a wcllspring of spiritual discoursc for othcrs.
cvcr, Cassian is at pains to strcss that rcading docs not of itsclf producc
undcrstanding of Scripturc, or cxpcricncc of contcmplation. 1ruc
knowlcdgc is only obtaincd by thosc who havc rst achicvcd purity of
hcart. ]cws, hcrctics, and cvcn somc catholics arc namcd as impostors
who lay claim to an undcrstanding of Scripturc which, in not mcriting,
thcy do not actually posscss.
1hcrc arc two kinds of rcading, which
givc risc to two kinds of spccch: an cmpty facility with words, and an
ascctically groundcd, spiritually productivc modc. Rhctorical know-
how cannot long pass for thc authcntic coin of moral cxpcrtisc.
Cassians promotion of a truc cxpcrtisc (peritia) ovcr worldly
wisdom has oftcn bccn takcn to mcan that hc advocatcd a charismatic
approach to biblical cxcgcsis, and, morc broadly, that hc bclicvcd thc
swcat of ascctic cxpcricncc to bc a morc authcntic path to cnlightcn-
j Fifth-Century Authorities
Ior parallcl discussions of this Confcrcncc, scc \csscy, Idcas of Christian Writing, ch.
:, and Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +88.
Conl. +. +o, SC j, +j.
Conl. +. +, :o.
Ibid. +. +j, :o:.
Ibid. +. , +, +. +, :o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 54
mcnt than book lcarning. 1his, howcvcr, is to misconstruc thc
spccic scnsc of peritia, which wc havc translatcd as cxpcrtisc rathcr
than cxpcricncc,
and again to mistakc thc highly manncrcd con-
vcntions of thc dialoguc gcnrc Cassian was using. Evcn as hc prcscntcd
himsclf as thc disciplc of thc vcncrablc fathcrs of thc dcscrt, Cassian
issucd a warning to his rcadcrs: old agc docs not guarantcc a man
thc authcntic cxpcrtisc of thc cldcrs.
Hc had no truck with thc
romanticization of illitcracy.
1hc vcry purposc of casting asccticism
as a tcchniquc and a tradition was to safcguard against thc possibility
of abcrrant charismatic lcadcrship, which had doggcd thc ascctic
movcmcnt in Caul.
As his audicncc kncw, thc claim to plain and unadorncd spccch was
archly rhctorical. In spcaking from thc dcscrt, Cassian showcd how
this most ancicnt, and most hollow, of thc tropcs of political discoursc
could bc givcn thc sting of authcnticity. His rcadcrs in thc fth and
sixth ccnturics took as axiomatic his rccommcndations about mcntal
prcoccupation with sacrcd tcxt, and his dcsignation of thc purity of a
mans words as thc most rcvcaling sign of his spiritual cxpcrtisc. 1hc
carc takcn minutcly to control thc appctitcs of thc body ascctics now
also lavishcd upon thcir cvcry word, rcad or uttcrcd. 1hcy challcngcd
thcmsclvcs with thc disciplinc of thc tonguc, striving vigilantly to
avoid sins of thc mouth, all to dcmonstratc that thcy wcrc mcn who
could bc trustcd with powcr.
rxrra+s +n urorras
1o ocr his public a languagc of authority without somc kind of
cxplicit instruction as to its social usc would havc bccn to undcrminc
his own argumcnt: Cassian took somc carc in attcmpting to spccify
who could avail thcmsclvcs of thc cxpcrtisc hc dcscribcd. His rst
Cassian jj
Pace P. Miqucl, Ln hommc dcxpcricncc: Cassicn, CollCist o (+8), ++, and
H. Holzc, Erfahrung und Theologie im frhen Mnchtum: Untersuchungen zu einer Theologie
des monastischen Leben bei den gyptischen Mnchsvtern, Johannes Cassian und Benedikt von
Nursia (Cottingcn, +:). D. Illmcr, Totum namque in sola experientia ususque consistit: Einc
Studic zur monastischcn Erzichung und Sprachc, in. I. Prinz (cd.), Mnchtum und Gesell-
schaft im Frhmittelalter (Darmstadt, +y), ojj, cmphasizcs thc rhctorical clcmcnt in
Cassians programmc.
Conl. :. +, SC :, +:j, a point wcll madc by Rousscau, Ascetics, Authority and the
Church, +8.
Scc Conl. +o. , SC j, y8, on thc misguidcd Scrapion, unablc to pray in anything
othcr than corporcal imagcs, discusscd by Stcwart, Cassian, 8jo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 55
thought was for his rcadcrs, thosc who attcntivcly followcd his tcach-
ings in thc Institutes and Conferences. At a crucial point in his argumcnt
thc tcachings of thc cldcrs arc discrcctly inscrtcd as good grain suit-
ablc for mcntal consumption. No lcss than thc word of Cod, thc
words of thc Iathcrs should command thc humblc and silcnt attcn-
tion of thc disciplc.
1his providcd at oncc thc basis of Cassians claim
to pcdagogic authority, cxtcndcd thc samc to his rcadcrs, and ocrcd
to cach a sclf-dcfcncc against thc chargc of impcrfcct undcrstanding.
Mcanwhilc, thc rhctorical authority of rival spcakcrs could bc disablcd
by a countcr-accusation of imperitialack of cxpcrtisc, mcaning moral
impurity. 1hc discoursc of peritia scrvcd as thc titlc to cultural lcgiti-
macy of which Caulish ascctics stood so badly in nccd. At its most
condcnt momcnts, Cassians work cnvisagcs an cxpanding ascctic
clitc, dispcnsing truc wisdom to an cvcr widcning circlc.
At thc samc timc, howcvcr, Cassian could not casily conccal thc
unrcsolvcd tcnsions in his approach. How was thc community of
cxpcrtisc to bc formally organizcd? What rclation did cxpcrts bcar to
ascctic ingnus, thcir lcss advanccd collcagucs? Wcrc thcrc, in fact, any
rcal cxpcrts in Caul? So rigorous was Cassians discussion of tcch-
niquc, so palpablc his scnsc of a fcrvcnt tradition of cxpcrtisc gonc
lukcwarm, that hc thrcatcncd at timcs to cxcludc thc possibility that
any of his contcmporarics could truly mastcr thc ascctic art. 1hc
strcngths of his analysis wcrc thcrcforc also its wcakncsscs. On thc onc
hand, his dcscription of tcchniquc applicd to all situations bccausc it
was conccivcd at a spiritual, rathcr than an institutional, lcvcl. On thc
othcr, bccausc his conccption of thc ascctic lifc was so spiritually
dcmanding, and prcciscly bccausc his moral discussion had slippcd
institutional anchoragc, Cassian thrcatcncd to condcmn his work to
wandcr on thc immcnsc occan, without a pcrmancnt homc.
pcrhaps, of thc possiblc dangcrs, in thc nal sct of Conferences hc
attcmptcd to bring his languagc of cxpcrtisc back to a wcll-dcncd
monastic harbour.
In Conference + on fricndship, Cassian squarcly faccd thc qucstion
of monastic communal living, and how it could bc achicvcd. What hc
found, howcvcr, was that hc could not casily convcrt thc discoursc of
cxpcrtisc into a languagc of community. It was simplc cnough to sct
out with thc canonical tcxts of both thc Classical and thc Biblical
traditions on truc fricndship, juxtaposing rcfcrcnccs to Ciccros On
j Fifth-Century Authorities
Conl. +. , SC j, +, +. +o, +j.
Ibid. +, prcf., SC :, yj.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 56
friendship with, for cxamplc, thc opcning vcrsc of Psalm +:, How
good and plcasant it is for brcthrcn to livc in harmony. Howcvcr, thc
immcdiatc conclusion, drawn impcccably from thc philosophical
tradition, must bc that truc fricndship and charity can only cxist
bctwccn thosc of similar moral standing.
1hc logic of Cassians dis-
cussion dcmands that hc parscs charity in two dicrcnt scnscs.
Although wc should acccpt all mcn as brothcrs, frater actually
dcnotcs not so much a fcllow human as onc who sharcs in our way of
1hc univcrsal charism of charity rcsolvcs into agape, thc loving
disposition showablc to anyonc, and diathesis, thc prccisc acct givcn
and rcccivcd by thc fcw who cnjoy moral kinship.
Cassians dcnition of thc monastcry follows from thcsc cxacting
prcmiscs. 1o rcpcat thc fundamcntal point: in ascctic rclationships as
Cassian cnvisagcs thcm, apostolic community of propcrty of itsclf
avails nothing. Bccausc of his insistcncc on moral purity as thc prc-
condition of truc charity, Cassian is forccd to dcmand a community of
cxpcrtisc. 1hc coenobium, thc monastic community, is mcant to con-
stitutc such an cnvironmcnt. Evcrything hcrc dcpcnds upon cquality
of virtuc and consonancc of wills. All thc mcmbcrs of thc community
should of coursc strivc to advancc, but thcrc is to bc no racing ahcad,
and no lagging bchind. 1hcrc is ultimatcly no possibility of support-
ing wcakcr brcthrcn. Cassian skctchcs out a thcory of dicrcnt
nccds and capacitics within thc community, but abandons it almost
immcdiatcly. In thcory, cxpcrts could cohabit with thc ingnusbut in
practicc thc lattcr would incvitably provc too wcak to acccpt corrcction
from thcir morc qualicd brcthrcn. 1hcir faults no sooncr pointcd
out, thcy would bccomc proud, and hard of hcart.
1hus thc com-
munity can only function at a sharcd lcvcl of ascctic compctcncc. It
bccomcs dicult for Cassian to cnvisagc a monastic institutional
Cassian jy
Conl. +. :, SC j, +8. Ior an ovcrvicw of thc Classical tradition, scc D. Konstan,
Friendship in the Classical World (Cambridgc, +y), C. Whitc, Christian Friendship in the
Fourth Century (Cambridgc, +:), and for latc fourth ccntury dcbatcs among ascctics as to
thc rcccption of this tradition, E. Clark, Iricndship bctwccn thc scxcs: Classical 1hcory and
Christian Practicc in cad. Jerome, Chrysostom and Friends (Ncw York, +8), followcd by
1hcory and Practicc in Iatc Ancicnt Asccticism: ]cromc, Chrysostom, and Augustinc, in
Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion j (+8), :j. On Cassians Confcrcncc + and thc
Classical tradition: K. A. Ncuhauscn, Zu Cassians 1raktat De amicitia (Coll. +), in
C. Cnilka and W. Schcttcr (cds.), Studien zur Literatur zur Sptantike, Antiquitas Rcihc I,
Band : (Bonn, +yj), +8+:+8.
Ibid. +. +y, SC j, :y.
Ibid. +. +, :.
Ibid. +. ::, ::.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 57
contcxt for thc cxcrcisc of thc moral authority, thc spiritual grounds of
which hc has so clcarly articulatcd. If thc community cannot includc
wcakcr brcthrcn, on what tcrms can any monk brcak rank and claim
thc authority to corrcct his pccrs? 1hc coenobium for Cassian bccomcs
a placc of paccd compctition, a wrcstling arcna for monks, and hc
cannot imaginc a monastic community on any othcr tcrms.
Cassians rst prcmiscs wcrc thus oftcn his conclusions. In somc
scnscs, hc did not movc far bcyond thc mcticulous cxposition of thc
ncccssary conditions for a lifc of apostolic charity. On occasion, hc was
tcmptcd to arguc that thcsc conditions wcrc also sucicnt. In thc nal
Conferences, hc attcmptcd to arrivc at a dcnitivc statcmcnt on thc
rclation and rclativc valuc of thc ccnobitic and crcmitic livcsbut
without succcss.
Indccd hc sccms dclibcratcly to havc rcfuscd to
adjudicatc thc qucstion of which lifc was prcfcrablc, prcfcrring instcad
to arguc for thc validity of many paths. Encouraging his rcadcrs not to
bc distractcd by thc spiritual achicvcmcnts of othcrs,
rcturncd thcir attcntion again and again to thc purication of thc
mind, thus lcaving it for thcm to nd a social placc for thcmsclvcs as
bcst thcy could.
Of coursc, thcrc had bccn a community of cxpcrtisc in thc dcscrt,
and in thc past, and it was in cvoking thcsc halcyon days and nights
that Cassian gavc thc clcarcst sign of his hopcs for ascctic community
in thc prcscnt. 1hc twcnty-four cldcrs who gavc thc Conferences wcrc
mcant to constitutc for his rcadcrs an imagc of thc pcrfcctly balanccd
socicty of spiritual mastcrs. (1o alcrt rcadcrs of Scripturc thcy would
call to mind thc twcnty-four cldcrs in thc Apocalypsc.
) Ircqucntly,
Cassians dcscrt fathcrs would in turn rccall thc fathcrs bcforc thcm
thc mcctings thcsc still morc vcncrablc cldcrs had hcld to dccidc thc
numbcr of psalms that monks should sing, or how bcst to disccrn thc
dcccptions of thc dcvil.
1hc cldcrs of bygonc days might cxprcss
dicrcnt opinionsand on onc occasion, an angcl intcrvcncs to
arbitratc thcir discussion
but thc conscnsus that cmcrgcs from
j8 Fifth-Century Authorities
Conl. +8. ++, SC , ::. Cf. Crcgory thc Crcat in a dicrcnt contcxt: RP III. y, SC 8:,
j::: Et gravis quidcm labor pracdicari cst, ct in communis pracdicationc vocc, ad occultos
singulorum motus causasquc vigilarc, ct palacstrarum morc in divcrsi latcris artc sc vcrtcrc.
1hus thc promotion of thc ccnobitic lifc in Confcrcnccs +8 and + is osct by con-
tinuing advicc for solitarics (such as Cassian and Ccrmanus), and for lay pcoplc. Scc Conl.
+8. +, SC , :8, +. +++, 8jj.
Conl. +. y, SC j, +8y8.
Conl. :. +, SC , +y+, rcfcrring to Apoc. : .
Scc Inst. :. , SC +o, , on psalms, Conl. :. :, SC :, ++:+, on discrction, cf. Inst.
+. :. :, SC +o, +, on privatc propcrty.
Inst. :. j. j, SC +o, 8.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 58
thcir dcbatc stcms from thc fundamcntal cquilibrium that thcy cnjoy
with cach othcr. As wc havc suggcstcd, Cassians nostalgia for a past
cra of sharcd spiritual fcrvour was a mcans of cxcrcising rcstraint on
his intcmpcratc pccrs, at thc samc timc, its function was to instil a
dccorous cnthusiasm among thcm, that thcy might, aftcr all, continuc
thc Crcat 1radition.
An ascctic community in thc prcscnt was constitutcd by Cassians
rcadcrs, whcrcvcr thcy might bca coenobium of lcttcrs. In a scnsc,
this was thc natural cxpcctation for Cassian to hold of his audicncc.
1hc Classical litcrary community had managcd to survivc and prospcr
across thc various physical, dynastic, and institutional boundarics
scparating mcmbcrs of thc cducatcd clitc onc from anothcr: how much
thc morc should thc ncw Christian litterati of thc Iatin Wcst bc ablc to
sustain cach othcr. Cassian imagincd somc of his dcdicatccs rccciving
into thcir cclls thc authors of thc Conferences togcthcr with thc actual
volumcs of thc Conferences. In this way thcy would bc ablc, cvcn whilc
living alonc, to follow thc paths of ancicnt tradition, industry, and
1hc cpitomcs of Cassian in circulation in thc Iatin Wcst
suggcst that his cxpcctations wcrc not disappointcd.
+nr arrturrc or cnars+r+ rr++ras
1hat it may bc Cassian, not only Augustinc, who prcsidcs ovcr thc
Christian transformation of thc ancicnt rhctorical hcritagc prompts a
rcconsidcration of a long-hcld undcrstanding of cultural changc in latc
antiquity. Erich Aucrbach, in thc coursc of his classic invcstigation
into thc dcvclopmcnt of thc vcrnacular in thc carly middlc agcs,
pointcd to thc formation in this pcriod of Christian plain spcaking, or
sermo humilis.
Aucrbachs conccrn was to tracc thc dcclinc of Iatin
as a litcrary languagc, in othcr words, thc gcstation of thc romancc
vcrnaculars. 1his philological transformation, Aucrbach argucd, was
Cassian j
Conl. +8, prcf., SC , 8.
K. Honsclmann, Bruchstuckc von Auszugcn aus Wcrkcn Cassians: Rcstc cincr
vcrlorcncn Schrift dcs Euchcrius von Iyon?, Theologie und Glaube j+ (++), oo. A. dc
\oguc, Ln morccau cclcbrc dc Cassicn parmi dcs cxtraits dEvagrc, StMon :y (+8j),
suggcsts othcrwisc (+: n. :), but thc attribution is acccptcd by W. Dunphy, Euchcrius of
Iyons in uncxpcctcd (Pclagian?) company, Augustinianum y (+y), 8, csp. 8o,
which studics thc th-ccnt. rcccption of Euchcrius cpitomc of Cassian.
Scc E. Aucrbach, Literary Language and its Public in Late Latin Antiquity and the
Middle Ages, tr. R. Mannhcim (Iondon, +j), :j, baldly summarizcd hcrc.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 59
thc work of latc antiquc Christian rhctoricians, in particular Augustinc
and his latcr disciplcs Cacsarius and Crcgory thc Crcat.
In Aucrbachs account, it was Augustinc who dcnitivcly initiatcd
thc ncw rhctoric of sermo humilis by rcordcring thc rclation bctwccn
stylc and contcnt dcmandcd in classical canons of rhctorical dcport-
mcnt. Ior an orator traincd in thc Ciccronian tradition, thc linguistic
rcgistcr of a spccch had to corrclatc and adjust to its subjcct mattcr:
thus high stylc for lofty subjcct mattcr, middlc stylc for middling
subjccts, and colloquial stylc for mundanc subjccts. Himsclf a
product of this tradition, Augustinc turncd against it to dcvclop a ncw
acsthctic of Christian public spcaking. All topics of discussion wcrc
cqually rcvcaling of thc prcscncc of Cod, Augustinc argucd, and thus
thc codc cnforcing distinctions bctwccn lcvcls of stylc no longcr
applicd. Christian spccch should bc simplc and unadorncd, aiming
only to cdify its hcarcrs.
Aucrbach thought that Cacsarius was a plain spcakcr in thc augus-
tinian tradition, and that Crcgory thc Crcat was anothcr:
Cacsarius thc cncrgctic prcachcr, and thc Popc with his miraculous talcs [in thc
Dialogues| havc in common thc importancc thcy attachcd to thc conccrns of cvcry-
day lifc. . . . 1hcir purposcto tcach Christianitycnablcd thcm to raisc thc
simplcst mattcrs to a ncw stylc lcvcl and to spcak of thcm in a tonc that would not
formcrly havc bccn possiblc.
Ior Aucrbach, thc homcspun cloqucncc of thc bishop of Arlcs
and Crcgorys popular short storics in thc Dialogues rcvcal thc
charactcr of thc ncw rhctorical dispcnsation of sermo humilis.
charactcrizations arc opcn to qucstion, as wc shall scc bclow, in
part bccausc thc wholc prcmisscs of Aucrbachs approach invitc rc-
If wc stcp asidc from a philological pcrspcctivc, and approach thc
issuc of plain or purc spccch in its social contcxt and in thc contcxt
of ascctic tradition, thcn a quitc dicrcnt picturc cmcrgcs. Whcn a latc
antiquc spcakcr claims to bc using unadorncd languagc, this docs not
ncccssarily havc to do with his bcing undcrstood by thc pcoplc:
instcad, thc spcakcrs rhctorical goal may bc to vouchsafc thc purity of
his pcrsuasivc intcntions. Plain spccch in this scnsc is a sclf-conscious
(and oftcn ornatcly cloqucnt) rcnunciation of cklc rhctoric, a public
gcsturc wcll undcrstood by all thosc wishing to claim moral authority
o Fifth-Century Authorities
Aucrbach, Literary Language, +o:.
Ibid., 8j+o, quotations at j, +oo. Scc C. A. Rapisarda, Io stilc umilc nci scrmoni
di S. Ccsario dArlcs, Orpheus +y (+yo), ++yj, and bclow, Chs. , y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 60
in the ancient world. Socrates, after all, was seen to have staked his life
on his credibility as a purveyor of the unvarnished truthwhile his
failure to dissociate himself suciently from the duplicitous talk of the
sophists had ensured his condemnation. Like the rhetoric of vulnera-
bility, the plain speech of late antique Christianity, which Auerbach
saw as revolutionary, was a mode of discourse espoused by ascetics
precisely because of its hallowed place in the culture of the ruling lite.
In the light of this, Augustines purposes and his originality as an
advocate of sermo humilis may need reassessment.
As we have seen,
the initiative in drawing up a code of ascetic speech had been taken not
by Augustine, but by Cassian. It was in Cassians Conferences that
language had become a principal object of ascetic attention.
The community of Cassians readers was not constituted solely by
recluses or by cenobites. His emphasis upon language as a medium for
sanctication at once encouraged and made more dangerous the
assumption of pastoral responsibilities by ascetics. As Cassian argued,
to speak as a trained ascetic was in itself a means of exerting moral
authority. Simply in manifesting through his speech his spiritual
purity, the ascetic expert began to teach others to follow his example.
But to speak was also to risk pollution, to grasp (or to be seen to grasp)
at power for worldly purposes. With the slightest slip of the tongue, a
would-be moral expert might reveal that he had not, after all, purged
his mind of profane careerist intent. The safest ascetic state might
thus be silenceand we might pause to remember the voiceless
majority whose choice of ascetic lifestyle did not lead to their advance-
ment in the Church hierarchy, but rather ensured their immediate and
perpetual anonymity. In contrast, those like Caesarius of Arles and
Gregory the Great, who had shunned the path of obscurity, were
always at risk from the dangers inherent in the use of language in
public. Once they had begun to speak, there was no turning back,
charged as they were to cry out without ceasing (Isa: : ).
For a discussion of the complexity of Augustines language in his sermons, see
S. Pque, Le Langage symbolique dans la prdication dAugustin dHippone (Paris, ).
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Sixth-Century Alternatives
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The Pastoral Arts of the Rhetor Pomerius

A bishop comcs in a statc of constcrnation to his spiritual advisor. 1hc
sctting is thc unspccicd spacc of philosophical dialoguc: all wc know
is that wc arc in Christian timcs.
As thc bishop considcrs thc wcight
of his tasks, and in particular his rcsponsibility to prcach to his ock,
hc rcgrcts cvcr having takcn occ. Hc wants to cc, to livc as a
rcclusc-but, as his advisor points out, this is hardly a moral solution.
1hc bishop must confront thc rcality of his dilcmma: You can ncithcr
dischargc your occ nor abandon it without sin, and thc moral risks
of abdication arc in fact thc grcatcr, warns thc advisor. Bishop and
advisor togcthcr rccall thc words of thc Iord to thc prophct Ezckicl on
thc inalicnablc rcsponsibility of thc watchman to announcc to thc
Israclitcs thcir sins: if hc fails to do so, thcir blood will bc on his hands.
1hc bishop discovcrs, albcit in tcrror, a rcncwcd cnthusiasm for his
pastoral dutics: Who, I ask, will havc so stony a hcart, who will bc so
unfccling, that this judgcmcnt [of thc Iords| docs not frightcn him?
Such is thc sccnc paintcd for us by thc North African rhctor
Pomcrius, in his On the Contemplative Life, composcd in southcrn
Caul in thc carly ycars of thc sixth ccntury. Although rarcly rccog-
nizcd as such, thc work is cast as a dialoguc:
Pomcrius plays thc
advisor, and namcs as his intcrlocutor onc Bishop ]ulianus, whosc
Pomcrius, De vita contemplativa I. +. , PI j, +B, Nunc autcm, quod Christiani
tcmporis saccrdotcs magis sustincnt quam curant posscssioncs ccclcsiac . . .. II. , PI j,
8A has Pomcrius in thc proccss of composition (dictamen) but thc location is unspccicd.
1hc tcxt in PI j rcprints thc cdition of ].-B. Ic Brun dcs Marcttcs and D. Mangcant
(Paris, +y++), togcthcr with Mangcants cditorial Admonitio (PI j, +++).
Pomcrius, De vita cont. I. :o, PI j, jB, tr. M. ]. Suclzcr, Julianus Pomerius: The
Contemplative Life, ACW (Wcstminstcr, Md., +y), .
1hc work is usually dcscribcd as a trcatisc (scc c.g. M. Schanz, C. Hosius and
C. Krugcr, Geschichte der rmischen Literatur, I\. : (Munich, +:o), jj), but Pomcrius
casts it as a dialoguc with Bishop ]ulianus, in an uncvcn combination of rcportcd and dircct
spccch. In thc Prcfacc, Pomcrius scts out qucstions that Bishop ]ulianus has askcd him. In
Book I. ++, Pomcrius bcgins to rcply to thcsc, I. +j:j rccalls in dircct spccch an intcr-
changc bctwccn Pomcrius and ]ulianus. II. + rcvcrts to Pomcrius rcsponsc to thc
qucstions. II. j is an intcrruption rcportcd in dircct spccch. In II. : and III in its
cntircty, Pomcrius answcrs ]ulianus qucstions without furthcr intcrruption. 1hc ccct of
this disposition is to dircct attcntion to I. +j:j as thc most important in thc work: scc bclow,
pp. y+:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 65
historical idcntity rcmains unccrtain.
1hcir cncountcr conccrns
thc dilcmma of thc ascctic in powcr, and in particular thc morally
dangcrous duty of public spccch. What Pomcrius tcachcs thc anxious
bishop, howcvcr, is that to fall silcnt carrics its own risks, and that
thcrc arc words thc purc in hcart can usc without fcar of contamina-
1o modcrns, Pomcrius himsclf sccms a rclativcly obscurc gurc.
Wc do not know whcn hc camc to Caul from Africa: hc may havc bccn
a rcfugcc from \andal pcrsccution. Hc sccms to havc bccn ordaincd
a pricst in Caul.
Hc appcars in our sourccs as an occasional corrcs-
pondcnt of bishops in Provcncc and Northcrn Italy,
and a tcachcr of
grammar and rhctoric at Arlcs. In this capacity, hc stands incvitably in
thc shadow of his most famous pupil: Cacsarius, thc futurc bishop of
His own litcrary rcnown, howcvcr, was sucicnt to carn him
honourablc mcntion in two catalogucs of Christian authors. A con-
tcmporary acquaintancc rccords that, in addition to On the Con-
templative Life, Pomcrius composcd a dialogucalso with Bishop
]ulianuson thc origins of thc soul (fragmcnts of which survivc),
trcatiscs of moral instruction (lost), and othcr things which havc
cscapcd my noticc.
In thc following ccntury Isidorc of Scvillc givcs
Sixth-Century Alternatives
Bishop ]ulianus may bc an imaginary gurc, cqually, Pomcrius may havc had in mind
Bishop ]ulianus of Carpcntras (prcscnt at thc Council of Epaon of j+y, as notcd by
Mangcant, Admonitio, PI j, +B), or ]ulianus of \icnnc (on whom scc A. C. I. Arnold,
Caesarius von Arelate und die gallische Kirche seiner Zeit (Icipzig, +8, rcpr. +y:), :+o n.
). Iollowing Isidorc of Scvillc, Pomcrius carly modcrn cditors conjoincd thc namc
]ulianus to thc cognomen Pomcrius (scc Isidorc, De viris illustribus :j. +, PI 8, +oA),
with thc conscqucncc that thc author of On the contemplative life has bccn known cvcr sincc
as ]ulianus Pomcrius. Howcvcr, thc th-ccnt. cvidcncc (scc bclow, nn. and ) knows only
thc namc Pomcrius. It sccms likcly that Isidorc assimilatcd without warrant Pomcrius to
his intcrlocutor Bishop ]ulianus, and I havc thcrcforc adoptcd thc practicc of thc carlicr
witncsscs in rcfcrring simply to Pomcrius.
Ior an introduction and bibliography, scc A. Solignac, art. ]ulicn Pomcrc, DSp 8,
+j+oo, R. Kastcr, Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity
(Bcrkclcy/Ios Angclcs, +88), :, asscmblcs thc biographical data, placing Pomcrius in
thc company of othcr known grammarians.
According to Pscudo-Ccnnadius (scc bclow, n. ). Ruricius of Iimogcs (n. y) calls
Pomcrius abbas rcpcatcdly, but this docs not ncccssarily indicatc that Pomcrius was an
abbot: thc tcrm was also a commonplacc to dcnotc a spiritual fathcr.
Scc thc lcttcrs to Pomcrius of Ruricius of Iimogcs, Epp. +. +y, :. +o and ++, CSEI :+,
yo, 8j (scc also ibid. :. 8 and , 8j to Bishop Aconius of Arlcs, urging him to
scnd Pomcrius to Italy), and Ennodius of Pavia, Ep. :. , CSEI , .
VCaes. +. , MCH SRM, , o, discusscd bclow.
Scc A. Solignac, Ics Iragmcnts du Dc Natura Animac dc ]ulicn Pomcrc (n \c
sicclc), BLE yj (+y), +o.
Scc Pscudo-Ccnnadius, De viris illustribus , cd. E. C. Richardson, 1L +.+ (Icipzig,
+8), . 1hc two lost works arc De contemptu mundi et rerum transitarium, and De vitiis
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 66
a slightly dicrcnt list of Pomcrius works, including a tcxt (now also
lost) on thc organization of thc ascctic lifc for virgins.
By thc cighth
ccntury, howcvcr, Pomcrius rcputation had fadcd, and On the Con-
templative Life had bccn rcascribcd to Prospcr of Aquitaincan attri-
bution unchallcngcd until thc carly modcrn pcriod.
1hus submcrgcd
in mcdicval librarics, Pomcrius has attractcd scant critical attcntion
from modcrn scholars.
In his own day, howcvcr, Pomcrius scrviccs as a grammarian wcrc
much in dcmand. Ennodius of Pavia, and, still morc, Ruricius of
Iimogcs wcrc as cagcr as is Bishop ]ulianus in On the Contemplative
Life to bcnct from Pomcrius instruction, both wcnt to somc lcngths
to pcrsuadc him to movc to thcir own citics.
Pomcrius cvidcntly
rcfuscd, contcnt with or pcrhaps rcluctant to disrupt, his situation in
Arlcs, whcrc hc cnjoycd thc patronagc of thc illustrious Iirminus and
his kinswoman Crcgoria.
It was thcsc notablcs who brought thcir
distinguishcd rhctor into contact with thc young aristocrat Cacsarius,
a prccocious ascctic, alrcady bcing groomcd as a futurc bishop of thc
city. 1akcn togcthcr, thc cvidcncc gcncratcd around Pomcrius rcvcals
a nctwork of rich and culturcd clcrics and laity in southcrn Caul and
bcyond, with particular intcrcsts in thc ascctic lifc and its promotion
throughout thc Church.
Pomerius y
et virtutibus. It appcars that De vita cont. is onc of thc works unknown to Ccnnadius con-
Isidorc, De vir. illust. :j. +, PI 8, +oA. Isidorc attributcs to Pomcrius thc follow-
ing: a trcatisc on thc soul, thc Libellum de virginibus instituendis, and De vita contemplativa.
1hc loss of thc De virginibus dcprivcs us of thc opportunity to comparc this tcxt with
Cacsarius Regula ad virgines.
Chrodcgang of Mctz, Regula canonicorum +, cd. ].-B. Pclt, tudes sur la cathdrale de
Metz, i. La Liturgie (Mctz, +y), :j, is thc rst rccordcd instancc of this rcattribution.
Ior othcrs in thc Carolingian pcriod, scc Suclzcr, ACW , y n. +. Iour of thc oldcst manu-
scripts of De vita cont., howcvcr, ascribc thc work to Pomcrius. Scc M. W. Iaistncr, 1hc
Inucncc during thc Middlc Agcs of thc 1rcatisc Dc vita contcmplativa and its Surviving
Manuscripts, most acccssiblc in id., The Intellectual Heritage of the Early Middle Ages
(Ithaca, NY, +jy), j.
Exccptions bcing Arnold, Caesarius von Arelate, y8, +:y, and morc rcccntly,
Kastcr, Guardians of Language, yoy, and Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +8:. Ior
dismissal of Pomcrius rclativc to Cacsarius, scc c.g. P. Richc, Education et culture dans
lOccident barbare, VIeVIIIe sicles (Paris, +:) ++:.
Scc abovc, n. .
VCaes. 8, MCH SRM , o. 1hc prccisc naturc of thc rclationship bctwccn
Iirminus and Crcgoria is unclcar: W. E. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles: Life, Testament,
Letters, 11H + (Iivcrpool, +), +, suggcsts thcy arc husband and wifc, whilc Kastcr,
Guardians of Language, , sccs Crcgoria as Iirminus mothcr (and notcs also suggcstions
that Iirminus was rclatcd to Ennodius of Pavia).
W. E. Klingshirn, Caesarius of Arles: The Making of a Christian Community in Late
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 67
Pomcrius was thcir Cassian: whilc morc condcnt than thcy had
bccn thrcc gcncrations prcviously, promincnt Christians in Caul still
lookcd for moral authcntication from a qualicd cxpcrt.
As Cassian
had discovcrcd, this was not an altogcthcr comfortablc position, as a
grammarian, howcvcr, Pomcrius would havc bccn accustomcd to
ncgotiating thc tcnsion bctwccn thc authority confcrrcd by his own
cxpcrtisc and thc undcniablc social powcr of his patrons.
If wc scck an cxplanation for why thc grcat and thc good, in parti-
cular among thc cpiscopatc, turncd to Pomcrius as thcir lattcr-
day Cassian, wc nccd look no furthcr than On the Contemplative
Life. Disclaiming, of coursc, any intcntion to ocr his ccclcsiastical
supcriors advicc,
Pomcrius dcmonstratcs to Bishop ]ulianus that
thcrc is a pcrsuasivc languagc of moral authority availablc to ascctics in
a position of powcr. 1hc languagc is a synthctic onc: as a North
African rhctor rcsidcnt in southcrn Caul, Pomcrius was ablc not only
to cxploit his status as an outsidcr as Cassian had donc, but also to
bring togcthcr thc contrasting approachcs of Augustinc and Cassian
on qucstions of ascctic authority. As wc havc sccn, Augustinc had
rcfuscd to supply ascctics in powcr with a sccurc scicncc of moral
improvcmcnt: hc had ocrcd thcm only languagc to cxprcss thc con-
trast bctwccn thcir ocial status and thcir human fallibility. Cassian
had dcviscd just such a scicncc, but had bccn wary of spccifying whcrc
or by whom it might bc cxcrciscd. 1hc singular achicvcmcnt of On the
Contemplative Life was to join thc augustinian rhctoric of vulncra-
bility with thc tcchniqucs of purc spccch cstablishcd by Cassian.
1hcsc bccamc thc two principal gcsturcs of good faith availablc to
sixth-ccntury ascctics in public occ, thc onc involving thc disclaimcr
of all intcrcst in powcr, thc othcr a dcmonstration of constant purity of
hcart and hcncc spiritual cxpcrtisc. Pomcrius contribution was to
8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
Antique Gaul (Cambridgc, +), yj8:, for an ovcrvicw of thc rcforming party and its
tcxts at thc turn of thc th ccnt., scc \csscy, Idcas of Christian Writing, and Wood, Avitus
of \icnnc, for thc prcccding gcncration.
Scc c.g. De vita cont. II. , PI j, 8B on thc abusc of ascctic authority: Pomcrius, likc
Cassian, sought to cstablish his cxpcrtisc through a critiquc of thc practicc of othcrs.
Scc Kastcr, Guardians of Language, p. xi, contrasting thc sclf-imagc [cvokcd by thc
tcxts of thc grammarian| of a man immcrscd in his cxpcrtisc and thc scnsc of authority hc
draws from his skill. 1hc grammarian in thcsc tcxts is thc mastcr, buoycd up by his pro-
fcssions tradition, rcning it, laying down thc laws of languagc with a condcncc vcrging on
complaccncy. . . . [But thc grammarian was also| a dcpcndant. 1hc grammarians patrons
sustain thcm in thcir profcssional livcs and acct for good or for ill most othcr arcas of thcir
livcs bcyond thc strictly profcssional.
De vita cont. prcf., I. +, PI j, +jB, oC. ]. C. Plumpc, Pomcriana, VC + (+y),
::y, cmphasizcs that, in spcaking of sacerdotes, thc trcatisc is addrcsscd to bishops.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 68
insist that thcsc pcrspcctivcs bc mutually rcinforcing, so that ascctics
might carry moral conviction in thcir assumption of pastoral rcsponsi-
bility. Ascctics in powcr could prcscnt thcmsclvcs at onc and thc samc
timc as rcluctant to hold occ, and as cxpcrtly qualicd to do so.
Wc should notc that Pomcrius docs not prcscnt On the Contem-
plative Life as a work of synthcsis, but as a supplcmcnt to thc writings
of Augustinc. In a manncr highly charactcristic of thc sixth-ccntury
construction of patristic tradition, Cassian is ncvcr mcntioncd by
namc, and Pomcrius prcscnts himsclf instcad as a faithful disciplc of
Augustinc. 1hc dialoguc cnds with fulsomc homagc for thc bishop of
1hc holy bishop Augustinc, kccn in mind, charming in cloqucncc, skillcd in
human lcarning, zcalous in ccclcsiastical labors, cclcbratcd in daily disputations,
sclf-posscsscd in his cvcry action, catholic in his cxposition of our faith, pcnc-
trating in thc solution of problcms, prudcnt in thc rcfutation of hcrctics, and wisc
in cxplaining thc canonical writingsit is hc, I say, whom I havc followcd in thcsc
littlc books to thc bcst of my ability.
Imprcsscd by thcsc gcsturcs, scholars havc tcndcd to cast Pomcrius as
thc thinkcr who brought augustinian doctrinc to scmi-Pclagian Caul,
a proccss crowncd by Cacsarius of Arlcs armation of thc primacy of
gracc in human salvation at thc Council of Orangc in j:.
morc rcccnt work has cmphasizcd thc modcratc charactcr of Callic
augustinianism in thc carly sixth ccntury,
it has only hintcd at thc
possibility of Cassians inucncc on Pomcrius.
It is hcrc suggcstcd
that Pomcrius dcvotion to Augustinc must bc considcrcd alongsidc
his cqually thorough appropriation of thc work of Cassian. On the
Contemplative Life showcd cxactly how to harncss thc numinous
authority of Augustinc to Cassians languagc of moral purication, all
in thc scrvicc of ascctic lcadcrship of thc Church. 1hc lcsson was not
lost on Cacsarius of Arlcs and his gcncrationand it may cqually havc
De vita cont. III. +. , PI j, j+C-j+yA, tr. ACW , +j. 1his cnthusiastic augus-
tinianism is onc of thc fcaturcs which suggcstcd to Carolingian rcadcrs of De vita cont. that
its author was Prospcr of Aquitainc.
Scc c.g. Arnold, Caesarius von Arelate, 8, +:j, +::. Ior Pomcrius as a slavish
augustinian in an cthical (rathcr than a thcological) contcxt, scc H. Hagcndahl, Latin Fathers
and the Classics: A Study on the Apologists, Jerome, and Other Christian Writers (Cotcborg,
+j8), j.
C. 1ibilctti, Ia tcologia dclla grazia in Ciuliano Pomcrio: allc origini dcllagostinismo
provcnzalc, Augustinianum :j (+8j), 8jo, rcitcratcd by Markus, End of Ancient
Christianity, +:.
Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +8 n. :y.
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bccn absorbcd by a latcr rcadcr of Pomcrius dialoguc, Popc Crcgory
thc Crcat.
scarr+ta+r co+rrr++ro +n anr+oarc+r +c+ro
Pomcrius titlc for his work thrcatcns to mislcad its modcrn rcadcrs,
who will nd thcrc ncithcr a discussion of bcholding thc divinc in
paradisc, nor of contcmplativc praycr, nor cvcn of thc monastic lifc
in gcncral. As Robcrt Markus has cmphasizcd, what Pomcrius in fact
composcd was a handbook for pastors, cncouraging thcm to partici-
patc in an ascctic undcrstanding of moral authority and pastoral
1hcsc prioritics arc announccd at oncc: having
promiscd to dcnc in a fcw words thc naturc of thc contcmplativc
lifc, Pomcrius ocrs to considcr whcthcr onc chargcd with ruling a
Church can bccomc a sharcr in contcmplativc virtuc. 1his qucstion in
turn lcads on to a host of othcrs, all of which prcsumc a conccrn with
thc moral cxcrcisc of cpiscopal occ. Pomcrius will discuss:
whcthcr it is cxpcdicnt to hold thc goods of thc Church to providc for thc
community lifc of thc brcthrcn and thcir support, or to spurn thcm through lovc
of pcrfcction, what should bc rcgardcd as pcrfcction in abstincncc, and whcthcr it
should bc rcgardcd as ncccssary only for thc body or for thc soul as wcll, to what
cxtcnt simulatcd virtucs dicr from truc virtucs, from what prior causcs and by
what latcr additions viccs arc usually cngcndcrcd and incrcascd, and by what
rcmcdics, as by so many mcdicincs, thcy can with Cods hclp bc lcsscncd or
Community of propcrty on thc ]crusalcm modcl, physical and mcntal
purity, accuracy in spiritual corrcction: it would bc dicult morc
succinctly to idcntify thc issucs involvcd in Augustincs and Cassians
discussions of thc assumption of public occ by ascctics. As a pastoral
yo Sixth-Century Alternatives
On thc probability of Crcgorys knowlcdgc of Pomcrius, scc Markus, Gregory, +. Ior
thc rcccption of Pomcrius in Italy, scc also RM+. yo, SC +o, +o, citing De vita cont. II.
+. :, PI j, oB (as notcd by dc \oguc, SC +oj, ::+ and n. :). Ennodius of Pavia may
havc assistcd thc diusion of Pomcrius work in Italy. It is also possiblc, givcn Pomcrius
conncctions with thc wcll-placcd laity in Arlcs, that Iibcrius (c.jc.jj) may havc takcn
an intcrcst. As Practorian prcfcct in Caul and Italy, main ally of Cacsarius at thc Council of
Orangc, and foundcr of a monastcry in Campania (scc Crcgory, Dial. :. j. +, SC :o, :)
hc was ccrtainly in a position to act as a promincnt intcrmcdiary. Ior an ovcrvicw of
Iibcrius carccr and signicancc, scc ]. ]. ODonncll, Iibcrius thc Patrician, Traditio y
(+8+), +y:.
Markus, End of Ancient Christianity, +8+.
De vita cont. prol. , PI j, +C+yA, tr. ACW , +j.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 70
handbook, thc work is, morc spccically, an attcmpt to work out how
thc ascctic cxpcrt as dcscribcd by Cassian should conduct himsclf in
ccclcsiastical occ. Whcrc Cassian had bccn rcluctant to spccify thc
institutional contcxt for thc dcploymcnt of his spiritual scicncc,
Pomcrius did not hcsitatc to commcnd it to thc attcntion of all
In thc cxtraordinary Book Onc of On the Contemplative Life,
Pomcrius managcs to movc from a discussion of contcmplation of Cod
in thc hcavcnly ]crusalcm to thc programmc of rhctorical action that
bishops should dcploy in thc cxcrcisc of thcir ministry. As Markus has
obscrvcd, in so doing Pomcrius shifts from an augustinian framc of
rcfcrcncc, to takc up a position closcr to that cstablishcd by Cassian.
Augustinc had dcncd contcmplation in an cschatological scnsc: any
cxpcricncc of bcholding thc divinc in thc prcscnt was a shadowy inti-
mation of thc facc-to-facc cncountcr to takc placc at thc cnd of timc.
Cassian, howcvcr, had lcd thc discussion away from thc cld of sacrcd
history, towards thc tcchnical aspccts of contcmplativc praycr. In
Confcrcncc Iourtccn, Cassian had gonc still furthcr, dcning contcm-
plation simply as thc undcrstanding of Scripturc vouchsafcd to thc
purc in hcart, thosc with spiritual cxpcrtisc. And it is of contcmplation
in this scnsc that Pomcrius is thinking whcn hc asks if thosc holding
occ can partakc in contcmplativc virtuc.
Such a dcnition of contcmplation puts it clcarly in thc purvicw
of thosc cntrustcd with thc task of cxpounding Scripturc to thc
pcoplc: such is thc rst stagc of Pomcrius argumcnt. Exposition, how-
cvcr, is a hcavy burdcn, and Pomcrius summons Bishop ]ulianus
to dramatizc thc point, and bchind ]ulianus, Augustinc. In tcrms
strongly rcminisccnt of thc bishop of Hippos consccration anni-
vcrsary scrmon, Book I of On the Contemplative Life bccomcs a sus-
taincd mcditation on thc watchman of thc housc of Isracl. Bishop
]ulianus bcgins:
If I am not mistakcn, this is what thc Iord statcs through thc Prophct Ezckicl
undcr thc thrcat of somc fcar, whcn hc says to him: So thou, O Son of man, I havc
madc thcc a watchman unto thc housc of Isracl. [Ezck. : +y| Nor should wc givc
passing hccd to thc fact that hc calls a pricst a watchman. It is thc work of a
watchman to look out from a highcr placc and to scc morc than all othcrs: so, too,
a pricst should stand out abovc all by thc sublimity of his pattcrn of lifc and should
Pomerius y+
De vita cont. prol. I. +, PI j, oC.
Scc abovc, n. :+.
Scc csp. De vita cont. I. 8, PI j, :j.
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havc thc attraction of a supcrior knowlcdgc of thc way of lifc whcrcby hc may bc
ablc to instruct thosc who livc undcr him.
Distraught at his inadcquacy as a prcachcr, Bishop ]ulianus rcgards
himsclf not as a watchful shcphcrd, but as an abusivc tyrant. Hc con-
fcsscs his dcsirc to withdraw and to cc, to rcmain in solitudc for thc
Iord to savc mc.
Pomcrius shows him that this is not thc only way to conccivc of thc
cpiscopal burdcn. It is cnough if thc bishop announccs to thc pcoplc
thcir sins, and thcrc is a languagc that hc can spcak. ]ulianus had found
thc impcrativc that a prcachcrs lifc must mirror his words to bc
impossibly daunting. Pomcrius rcvcrscs thc cquation: thc fact that
dccds spcak loudcr than words is a sourcc of rhctorical libcration.
Not in thc glittcr of his words thcn, but in thc virtuc of his dccds lct him placc all
his condcncc in prcaching. . . . 1hc purposc of rhctoricians is onc thing, and that
of tcachcrs anothcr. 1hc formcr with all thc forcc of thcir cloqucncc aspirc to thc
display of studicd dcclamation, thc lattcr by modcratc and ordinary languagc scck
thc glory of Christ. 1hc formcr clothc cmpty subjcct mattcr with cxtravagant
vcrbal ornamcntation, thc lattcr adorn and gracc simplc words with truc idcas.
. . . 1hc formcr put all thcir glory in thc favor of thc pcoplc, thc lattcr, in thc assis-
tancc of Cod.
Hcrc, thc idcology of plain spccch, drawn powcrfully from Cassian,
comcs to thc rcscuc of thc vulncrablc bishop. Pomcrius givcs a moral
chartcr for thc cxcrcisc of powcr by bishops, a public platform for thcir
1hc rcmaindcr of thc dialoguc is conccrncd with thc con-
scqucnccs of this: with what bishops shall say, and with thc ccct of
thcir uttcrancc on thcir listcncrs and thcmsclvcs.
vra+trs +n vrcrs
1hc moral languagc that Pomcrius maps for bishops is, likc his
languagc of authority, a product of synthcsis, cstablishcd by working
through thc tcnsions in thc tcxts of Augustinc and Cassian. Augustinc
y: Sixth-Century Alternatives
De vita cont. I. :o. :, PI j, CjA, tr. ACW , :. Scc Arnold, Caesarius von
Arelate, +:: n. a, on Pomcrius inucncc on Cacsarius hcrc, and bclow, Ch. .
De vita cont. +. :+. , PI j, yC, tr. ACW , y.
Ibid. I. ::, PI j, AC, tr. ACW, jo. Cf. De doctr. chr. I\: Augustinc had
spccically not forcsworn thc usc of rhctoric.
De vita cont. I. :j. +, PI j, C-oB, tr. ACW, jo+: If holy pricstsnot such as
thc divinc thrcat dcclarcs arc to bc scntcnccd and condcmncd, but such as thc apostolic
tcaching commcndsconvcrt many to Cod by thcir holy prcaching . . . who will bc such a
strangcr to faith as to doubt that such mcn arc sharcrs in contcmplativc virtuc?
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 72
had insistcd that a mcasurablc scicncc of moral progrcss was
impossiblc. Pomcrius was committcd from thc outsct to just such a
scicncchc had askcd, Is pcrfcction ncccssary for thc body, or only
for thc souland hc kncw that Cassians tcxts would guidc him. 1hc
challcngc, howcvcr, was not simply to follow thc path of pcrfcction as
Cassian had mappcd it, but also to attract augustinian sanction for
this coursc. By paying closc attcntion to augustinian argumcnts, hc
locatcd thosc points at which it was possiblc to movc thc analysis in an
ascctic dircction not countcnanccd by Augustinc.
1hc most important cxamplc of this is in thc trcatmcnt of original
sin. Augustincs account of thc Iall turncd on thc aw in thc soul: thc
sin of pridc, for which thcrc could bc no ascctic rcmcdy. At thc samc
timc, thc vcry vividncss with which Augustinc had cvokcd thc brokcn
condition of humankind cxpcllcd from Edcn provcd an irrcsistiblc
challcngc to his ascctic rcadcrs. On the Contemplative Life shows that
Augustincs account of original sin could, in fact, providc a warrant for
asccticism. In twicc dcscribing thc Iall in his dialoguc, Pomcrius cach
timc follows Augustincs path of rcasoning, only to vccr asidc in thc
ascctic dircction indicatcd by Cassian.
Hc bcgins:
Ict us scc how thosc rst human bcings committcd so grcat a sin which cast thcm
from paradisc into this cxilc of a lifc full of gricf . . . Now, thcy would not havc
catcn of thc forbiddcn trcc, so it sccms to mc, if thcy had not bccn dcsirous to do
Pomcrius, as a good augustinian, is not scduccd into imagining dcsirc
to bc thc fundamcntal problcm: no dcsirc without tcmptation, hc
rcasons, no tcmptation if thcy had not bccn dcscrtcd by Cod, no
dcscrtion by Cod if thcy had not rst dcscrtcd him, nor would thcy
havc dcscrtcd Cod if thcy had not bccn proud and damnably cravcd
likcncss of Cod. Opcn concupisccncc would not havc movcd thcm, hc
says of Adam and Evc, unlcss hiddcn pridc had rst scduccd thcm:
thus far, vcry augustinian.
Pomerius y
De vita cont. II. +, III. :, PI j, , y8o. 1hc formcr starts with a discussion
of abstincncc, which thcn bccomcs a discussion of pridc, thc lattcr starts with pridc, to which
is thcn assimilatcd avaricc. 1ibilctti, 1cologia dclla grazia, 8jo, cmphasizcs thc augus-
tinian charactcr of thcsc passagcs, whilc noting Pomcrius avoidancc of Augustincs most
controvcrsial thcmcs such as prcdcstinationand, it is hcrc suggcstcd, Augustincs vicw of
thc human will.
De vita cont. II. +. +, PI j, A, tr. ACW , 8. Pomcrius is brought to considcr thc
fall via a discussion of thc apostolic community of propcrty, on which scc bclow.
De vita cont. II. +, PI j, A, tr. ACW , 8. Scc 1ibilctti, 1cologia dclla grazia,
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 73
Abscnt from thc discussion, howcvcr, is Augustincs prccision
about thc will and its turning away from Cod: in Pomcrius, it is thc
appctitc which thc dcvil cnsnarcs:
Concupisccncc of thc csh was satiscd by thcm bccausc thcy tastcd of thc
forbiddcn trcc, concupisccncc of thc cycs, bccausc thcy wishcd for thcir cycs to bc
opcncd, and pridc of lifc, bccausc thcy could bccomc thc samc as Cod. Scduccd
thcn by thc plcasurc of thc csh and thc curiosity of thc cycs, and thc pridc of lifc,
thcy wcrc cut o from thc trcc of lifc.
At onc momcnt Pomcrius prcciscly idcntics thc dcsirc of thc csh
as thc punishmcnt for sin, but in thc ncxt hc citcs thc Paulinc dictum
Dcsirc is thc root of all cvil (+ 1im. : +o). His rcsolution of thcsc
apparcntly contrary points is thc most dircct possiblc: hc argucs that
thc rst sin arosc out of a combination of pridc and dcsirc, as has all sin
sincc. 1hus couplcd, pridc and dcsirc makc onc cvil, and an ascctic
programmc must bc dcviscd accordingly.
Pomcrius manipulation of augustinian languagc in an ascctic dircc-
tion docs not amount to uncquivocal cndorscmcnt of Cassian. ]ust as
Pomcrius cvadcs thc prccision of Augustincs thcology of thc will, so
hc shirks also thc physiological rigour of thc Institutes and thc
Conferences. Cassian had movcd in a rclativcly ordcrly way from thc
disciplining of thc body to thc purication of thc mind.
charactcrizcd Pomcrius discussion of bodily and mcntal purity, how-
cvcr, was not its analytical clarity, but its rhctorical ourish.
1hc basic outlincs of Cassians analysis arc still in placc in
Pomcrius. Moral purication bcgins for Pomcrius with thc ght
against gluttony, thc rst sin Cassian discusscd in thc Institutes, as thc
rst sin in thc gardcn of Edcn.
Iasting is thus thc sine qua non of any
y Sixth-Century Alternatives
De vita cont. II. +, PI j, C. ncc cis pcr scrpcntcm diabolus propinarct tam
fcralc consilium, nisi prius corum dcprchcndcrct appctitum. Scc also III. . +, yC, whcrc
appetitum again stands in for voluntas in thc discussion of pridc in thc gardcn of Edcn.
Ibid. II. +. :, PI j, jA, tr. ACW , o.
Ibid. III. :, PI j, y8o, csp. III. . +, yc: Porro cupiditas atquc supcrbia in
tantum cst unum malum, ut ncc supcrbus sinc cupiditatc, ncc sinc supcrbia possit cupidus
invcniri. 1hc rcconciliation of pridc as thc root of all cvil (Eccl. +o: +j) with thc tcxt of +
1im. has good augustinian prcccdcnt: scc abovc Ch. +, n. o (also Ncwhauscr, 1owards
modus in habcndo, : and n. j. ) My point hcrc is that thc samc rcconciliation of Scriptural
proof tcxts is uscd to dicrcnt cnds by Augustincwho wantcd to arguc for thc priority of
pridcand by his th-ccnt. ascctic rcadcrs, for whom it was important to assimilatc pridc
with dcsirc. Scc c.g. Cacsarius, Serm. 8. jy, CCSI +o, :+:+, and Crcgory, HEv. +. +,
PI y, ++, and thc discussions bclow, Chs. and .
c.g. Conl. +. , SC :, 8, and scc abovc, Ch. :. Ior Pomcrius asscnt to thc nccd to
purify thc mind, scc c.g. De vita cont. II. +y, PI j, :.
De vita cont. II. +8, PI j, . Cf. Cacsarius, Vereor . +, SC j, o:: a rcmindcr
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ascctic commitmcnt. Pomcrius avoids, howcvcr, thc lcvcl of physical
dctail sustaincd in Cassians discussion. Nowhcrc docs hc attcmpt to
dcscribc how much watcr, or how many saltcd sh or lccks thc ascctic
should idcally consumc, for cxamplc.
Instcad, following thc ovcrall
logic of Cassians analysis, Pomcrius conccntratcs on thc climination
of thc dcsirc for food. Hc imagincs at mouth-watcring lcngth thc
phcasants and sh and liqucurs that thc ascctic must rcgard (and rcad
about) with as much indicrcncc as anything clsc: only thcn can a man
claim to havc achicvcd truc rcnunciation.
Similarly, Pomcrius
rccognizcs that, in thc war against scxual dcsirc, control of discoursc
is as important as rcgulation of dict. Mcn who makc dctails about
womcn thcir habitual convcrsationthis onc is awkward, that
onc coqucttish, this onc is homcly, that onc, bcautifulinamc
thcir own dcsircs. 1hcir mcntal pollution is likcly to show itsclf in thc
cmission of scmcn, not only whilc aslccp (which Pomcrius took to bc
guilt-frcc), but in thc daytimc.
Whilc suggcsting somc familiarity
with Cassians discussion, this is a tcrsc abridgcmcnt, howcvcr, of
what, as wc havc sccn was a major thcmc across thc Institutes and
If thc tcrms of Cassians physical rcgimcn for purity arc blurrcd by
Pomcrius, his psychic prcscriptions arc altogcthcr ignorcd. Although
cnthusiastic about thc rcading of Scripturc as a modc of contcmplation
for activc bishops, Pomcrius has nothing to say about thc usc of
Scripturc as a psychic shicld against thc onslaught of tcmptation. 1hc
armaturc of Cassians cntirc analysis is rcmovcd in On the Contem-
plative Life. As a rcsult, Cassians nctwork of causal rclations bctwccn
body and soul dissolvcs into a looscr rhctorical play with mctaphor,
and his mcticulous systcm for asscssing moral progrcss is itsclf subjcct
to rhctorical divcrsion.
Ascctic progrcss nccd not only bc gurcd as
bccoming physically coldcr and dricr, and so climinating lust: onc can
spcak of thc hcat of spiritual dcsirc, thc gushing fcrtility of thc soul,
and by thc samc tokcn, of spiritual coldncss and dryncss. 1his is
a thick, rich languagc mixing physical with cmotional, litcral with
Pomerius yj
to nuns in Arlcs that cvcry soul who wishcs to lcad thc rcligious lifc must rst conqucr
gluttony, lcst by an abundancc of dclicacics, onc is provokcd into lustful dcsirc.
c.g. Inst. I\. ::, SC +o, +j:.
De vita cont. II. :. :, PI j, B-yoA.
Ibid. III. . j, PI j, 8+C, ACW , ++j+.
1hc samc is truc in thc work of Crcgory thc Crcat: Straw, Gregory, +8, draws a dis-
tinction bctwccn a mctonymic asccticism, opcrating on a causc-and-ccct modcl for body
and soul, and thc morc mctaphorical approach of Crcgory. Scc bclow, pp. +y8.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 75
gurativc. Body and soul havc hcrc a plastic quality: thcy can bc
shapcd and rcshapcd according to thc dcmands of thc rhctorical
momcnt. Pomcrius, for cxamplc, dcscribcs thc spiritually purc thus:
Onc who is dcad to sin . . . docs not, bcing givcn ovcr to drink, cnkindlc his thirst
morc and morc by drinking, hc docs not takc rc from thc torch of hatrcd. . . . Hc
is not scizcd by rcstlcss curiosity, nor strctchcd by anxicty ovcr houschold busi-
ncss, hc docs not swcll with pridc, windy ambition docs not drivc him hcadlong.
Convcrscly, Pomcrius ocrs a vivid, but, in Cassians tcrms, unscicn-
tic proccdurc by which to rccognizc sinncrs. I show thc signs whcrc-
by pridc can bc rccognizcd and avoidcd, hc claims. Of thc vcry proud,
hc writcs: 1hcir unbcnding ncck, harsh cxprcssion, picrcing cycs, and
frightcning manncr of spccch shout undisguiscd pridc.
A sixth-
ccntury doctor would nd thcsc tcxts impossibly confuscd. Whilc con-
tinuing to usc physiological languagc, thcy havc hypcrcxtcndcd its
rangc. 1hc mcthodical lists of viccs in thc Institutes and Conferences arc
turncd by Pomcrius (and othcr sixth-ccntury rcadcrs of Cassian) into
dcclamatory catalogucs of moral disturbancc.
1hc vcry powcr of this languagc crcatcd ncw moral dangcrs for its
uscrs. Oncc cvcry physical trait or movcmcnt was undcrstood as a sign
of spiritual condition, oncc corporal languagc itsclf had bccomc so
insistcntly mctaphorical, it was dicult to spcak plainly about thc
body, or indccd thc soul. Both wcrc cngulfcd in dcnuncation of thc
sins of thc csh. Bishops had to watch what thcy said: thcir own
moral languagc might bccomc infcctcd with thc kind of cxccss against
which thcy wcrc prcaching. 1o thc pcrcnnial tcmptation to abusc thcir
position wcrc now addcd ncw qucstions conccrning thc politics of
corrcction. Of thcsc risks, Pomcrius was wcll awarc, cvcn if hc was
unablc to sccurc against thcm.
y Sixth-Century Alternatives
De vita cont. II. :+, PI j, y.
Ibid. III. 8+o, PI j, 8o. Cf. Cacsarius, Serm. :. j, CC +o, :y8, on
thc covcrtly proud, whcn thcir truc naturc is discovcrcd: crcnato orc ct crccta ccrvicc
supcrbia, quac in cordc tcgcbatur, cx orc profcrtur.
Scc c.g. Monita of Porcarius, abbot of Icrins at thc cnd of thc jth ccnt., and thc
spiritual mastcr of Cacsarius bcforc hc camc to Pomcrius at Arlcs: Iram supcrbiam contu-
maciam malcdicta cxtinguc ct dctcstarc. Odia avaritiam vanitatcm ct omncm scrmoncm
malum cxtinguc ct dctcstarc. Scurrilitatcs ct vcrbositatcs vcl cogitationum malarum initia ct
spiritum fornicationis cxtinguc ct dctcstarc. Hacc sunt quac tc inimicum Dci faciunt ct
cxculccrant ct computrcsccrc faciunt animam tuam, A. Wilmart, Ics Monita dc labbc
Porcairc, RBen : (+o), yj8o, at y, ll. j.
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rccrrsr+r cotr+v +n rrrscor+r +t+noar+v
On the Contemplative Life is set in the timeless space of philosophical
dialogue. Certainly the questions asked by Bishop Julian are charac-
teristic of what Pomerius calls Christian times, but the conventions
of his genre do not compel him to be any more specic.
On the other
hand, the logic of Pomerius argument leads him to sketch, at least in
outline, the kind of social and institutional context for the language of
authority he oers to Julian.
Here, again, we witness a balancing act
between earlier authorities: Pomerius augustinianism demands of him
a clarity of institutional vision, especially where monastic community
is concerned. As a reader of Cassian, however, he will have been
careful to avoid specifying too precisely the context for the imple-
mentation of his discourse of authority, in order to retain a degree of
Pomerius begins Book Two of the dialogue with a clear vision of the
kind of community a bishop will address, which he derives from the
internal logic of the language of correction:
If all suered together from the very same trouble of mind and, being aicted
with identical disorders of the soul, did not dier from one another, it would be
necessary to tolerate all or reprove all. But, as it is, some are to be borne with,
others are to be chastised because according to the dierence in sinners the type
of prescription also diers.
Pomerius here aligns himself with an augustinian vision of the com-
munity as a place of dierence, requiring dierent remedies. Like
Augustine in the Praeceptum, Pomerius is prepared to envisage a com-
munity where dierent standards of virtue are countenanced:
It is ineective to scold all, as it is to treat all mildly. Holy priests will know and
be able to discern whom they should correct with a carefully moderated strictness,
and whom they should tolerate out of the magnanimity appropriate to their oce.
. . . The presence of those who, because of their own frailty, are unable to bear the
rebuke of another, is to be born with mildness and a sense of duty.
This was, as it were, a clear rebuke to Cassian. As we have seen, the
De vita cont. I. . , PL , B: Nunc autem, quod Christiani temporis sacerdotes
magis sustinent quam curant possessiones ecclesiae . . .. II. , PL , A has Pomerius in
the process of composition (dictamen) but the location is unspecied.
Plumpe, Pomeriana, is a scrutiny of Pomerius vocabulary aimed at exacting a measure
of institutional clarity from the text, and guides my own discussion here.
De vita cont. II. , ACW , .
Ibid. II. , PL , B, A. My translation.
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ascctic cxpcrts of thc Conferences know only onc kind of rcmcdy for all
conditions. Pomcrius brushcd asidc Cassians scnsc that thcrc is only
onc kind of rcmcdy and his contcntion that a community with
dicring lcvcls of spiritual ability is impossiblc to sustain. Hc armcd
instcad Augustincs hopc that a (monastic) community could accom-
modatc dicrcncc.
1his augustinian vision of community appcars to rclatc to an
cqually augustinian modcl of how thc cpiscopal houschold ought to bc
organizcd. Bishop ]ulian had askcd, Is it cxpcdicnt to hold thc goods
of thc Church to providc for thc community lifc of thc [pricstly|
brcthrcn and thcir support, or to spurn thcm through lovc of pcrfcc-
tion? In othcr words, should thc bishop and his clcrical familia scck to
rccrcatc thc apostolic ]crusalcm, as cnvisagcd by Augustincor was it
bcttcr to follow thc path of pcrfcction advocatcd in ]csus answcr to thc
rich man (thc path advocatcd by Cassian)? Pomcrius answcr was,
unhcsitatingly, that thc bishops houschold ought to livc with thcir
propcrty in common.
Abscnt from Pomcrius discussion, howcvcr, is any cxplicit
rcfcrcncc to thc carlicst community of Christians at ]crusalcm, and to
thc unity of hcarts cstablishcd by thc community of propcrty.
discussion of thc cpiscopal houschold turns instcad into an analysis of
avariccunlikc Augustinc, hc was cvcn prcparcd to tolcratc pricsts
who wcrc too wcak to rcnouncc thcir posscssionsand from thcrc into
thc analysis of gluttony which wc havc followcd abovc.
In othcr
words, thc shapc of thc community gathcrcd around thc bishop as
Pomcrius has dcncd him rcmains unclcar.
What rcmains in focus is cpiscopal authority. Pomcrius implics that
thc community of clcrics in thc cpiscopal houschold, and thc widcr
community of thc Church arc formcd by thc cxpcrtisc of thc bishop.
A discussion towards thc cnd of On the Contemplative Life about social
virtuc dcvolvcs rapidly into a condcmnation of thosc cndowcd with
pastoral gifts who shun thc work of a burdcnsomc administration for
thc sakc of cnjoying rcposc.
1hc bishop, through a combination of
y8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
De vita cont. II. +:, PI j, j. 1his was thc passagc citcd by Chrodcgang of Mctz,
as abovc n. +:, and for discussion, scc Canz, Idcology of Sharing, ::.
Elscwhcrc, Pomcrius ocrs an ascctic dcnition of charity as a right will turncd com-
plctcly from all carthly and prcscnt things, joincd and unitcd inscparably to Cod (De vita
cont. III. +, PI j, B, ACW , ++).
On wcak pricsts, scc ibid. II. +:, PI j, jjD-jA.
De vita cont. II., PI j B.
Scc ibid. III. :8, PI j, jo++, ACW , +j.
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compassion and rhetorical expertise, is able to cater for the needs of
the faithful, both physical and spiritual.
This is a momentous insight,
glimpsed, but not fully worked out in On the contemplative life: it will
be for Gregory the Great to develop the premiss that the ascetic expert
in power can bind up and resolve the tensions and dierences of the
There were risks involved in such a view of moral authority: an
extra burden of expectation attended the ascetic ruler, and new possi-
bilities arose for abuse and corruption of power. Pomerius knew that
his proposals required an extra vigilance concerning the character
of those who came to power.
He deliberately interrupts his own
celebration of the relationship between a holy bishop and the ock
who benet from his correction in order to signal his awareness that
this relationship could sour. I had not yet completed my discussion
about holy priests, when one of our friends came in and curiously
asked me what I was dictating. Having read what Pomerius has to say,
the unnamed friend explodes into a tirade against bishops whose
familiarity with ascetic discourse leads them only to pander to those in
their ock who exploit the display of moral virtue to take advantage of
virgins, widows, and orphans. The friends outburst allows Pomerius
to expand upon the dangers of favouritism and hypocrisy on the part
of the bishop, and above all, of rhetorical pride. It is not for me to say
anything of those who, prompted by slight suspicion, rebuke men who
live uprightly so that they confuse and discourage them through
ungrounded correction and thereby seek for themselves the glory of an
ill-considered severity.
Pomerius was certain that one who reproves,
not to correct, but to vaunt himself insultingly, will not escape the
anger of God, but he opens an alarming vista of authoritarian abuse.
His condence that episcopal corruption will be exposed obscures the
case of the bishop who, in good faith, was too harsh in correctionthe
very case Augustine had considered in the Rule. Pomerius gave to
bishops a moral voice, but he made it in some ways more dicult for
bishops and their subjects to tell when either had crossed the line.
The best evidence for the institutional working through of
Pomerius rhetorical instruction is furnished, perhaps, by Caesarius of
Arles. In Caesarius we nd a bishop who had absorbed and strove to
De vita cont. I. , PL , B.
See ibid. I. , PL , : luctuosa descriptio sacerdotis carnaliter viventis.
Ibid. II. , PL , C, ACW , .
Ibid. II. , PL , A, ACW , .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 79
implcmcnt Pomcrius idcas about thc ascctic cxpcrt in powcr.
Pomcrius himsclf and his corrcspondcnts makc no mcntion of
Cacsarius, but thc bishops Life givcs a mcmorablc account of his
cncountcr with his tcachcr. 1hc rhctors patrons in thc city, Iirminus
and Crcgoria, askcd him to takc chargc of Cacsarius, thcn a young man
rcccntly arrivcd in thc city. It was a challcnging assignmcnt, as thc
youth had alrcady fallcn out with his prcvious mcntor, thc abbot of
Icrins, for his cxccssivc ascctic zcal. Pomcrius task was to complc-
mcnt this (abbrcviatcd) spiritual training with worldly knowlcdgc.
1hc pupil, howcvcr, sccmingly rcjcctcd what his tcachcr had to ocr.
Aslccp at his studics onc day, Cacsarius had a tcrrifying vision of a
dragon twisting itsclf around his arm and shouldcrs as hc lcant on his
books. Drawing thc moral that hc should not bc bound in thc coils
of carthly wisdom, thc futurc bishop put his trust in an untutorcd,
spiritually purc spccch. Hc undcrstood, according to his biographcrs,
that thc gift of pcrfcct cloqucncc would not bc lacking in onc who
shonc with spiritual undcrstanding.
1o rcadcrs of Pomcrius, thcn and now, thc moral of this story can
hardly bc that Cacsarius rcjcctcd his cducation in rhctoric: to thc
contrary, it dcmonstratcs thc cnduring inucncc of Pomcrius lcssons,
not only on Cacsarius, but also on Cacsarius biographcrs.
antithcscs in this cpisodc from thc bishops Lifebctwccn purc and
monstrous spccch, and bctwccn truc tcachcrs and falsc rhctoricians
arc articulatcd in tcrms drawn almost vcrbatim from thc sccnc of
Pomcrius counsclling of Bishop ]ulianus in On the contemplative life.
In this scnsc, thc story of Cacsarius drcam as a studcnt rcvcals thc
transmission of Pomcrius pastoral rhctoric across thrcc gcncrations in
sixth-ccntury Caulfrom Pomcrius to Cacsarius, and thcncc to
Cacsarius youngcr cpiscopal collcagucs who wcrc to act as his bio-
1his is not to say, of coursc, that Cacsarius himsclf was
simply thc mouthpiccc for his mastcrs voicc. But as wc turn to hcar
thc cxtraordinary rhctorical pcrformancc of thc Bishop of Arlcs, wc
ought to bcar in mind thc man who taught him. 1hc datc of Pomcrius
dcath is unknown to us, but it is at lcast possiblc that hc witncsscd his
disciplc in action as a spcakcr.
8o Sixth-Century Alternatives
VCaes I. , MCH SRM , o. Cf. ]cromcs famous account of his drcam in a cavc in
Syria, Ep. ::. o (in which Cod told him Ciccronianus cs, non Christianus, and for com-
parativc discussion of both ]cromc and Cacsarius, Kastcr, Guardians of Language, yo+, 8+,
Pace Solignac, ]ulicn Pomcrc, +j.
Cyprian of 1oulon, Iirminus of Lzcs, and \ivcntius of unknown scc, arc rcsponsiblc
for part I of thc Vita Caesarii. Scc Klingshirn, 11H +.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 80

The Pure Speech of Caesarius of Arles

A bishop addrcsscs his cpiscopal collcagucs in southcrn Caul. If wc
wcigh it wcll and carcfully in our hcarts, thcrc is a gravc dangcr and a
hugc burdcn prcssing on thc nccks of all bishops, hc bcgins.
1hcy arc
to bc callcd to account for thc sins of thosc in thcir chargc. Bishops
should think of thcmsclvcs in thc most morally cxaltcd tcrms. It was
not thcir part to spcnd timc in thc administration of Church propcrty:
dclcgating such routinc tasks to parish pricsts, bishops should dcvotc
thcir cncrgics to prcaching. 1hc cpiscopal burdcn is thus a rhctorical
onc, it falls on watchful bishops to cry out, without ccasing (Isa. j8:
+). 1hc spcakcr anticipatcs, only to brush asidc, thc objcction that
spccial rhctorical gifts arc rcquircd for this. Wc know that thc Iord
our Cod did not choosc scholars or rhctors, hc chosc illitcratc shcr-
mcn and shcphcrds, thc poor and ignoblc to prcach thc word.
Lntraincd spccch was indccd morally safcr, claimcd thc bishop, bcing
untaintcd by worldly rhctoric. Hcrc wc havc Cacsarius of Arlcs,
Pomcrius star pupil, in full ight: thc anxictics givcn voicc to by
Bishop ]ulianus in On the contemplative life arc boldly rcsolvcd in this
addrcss, composcd in thc latc j:os, at thc hcight of Cacsarius
inucncc ovcr thc Church in southcrn Caul.
Cacsarius of Arlcs is sccn by scholars to havc followcd his own
cxhortations. Hc has thc rcputation of a popular prcachcr of grcat
fcrvour and cnduring inucncc. Ncarly :jo of his scrmons to thc
pcoplc havc survivcd, and thcrc may bc morc to discovcr.
Caes.Serm. +. , CCSI +o, :. Scc Klingshirn, Caesarius, ::8, for a summary and
discussion of this addrcss and its datc (it sccms to havc bccn writtcn rathcr than actually
dclivcrcd), cmphasizing thc issucs of clcrical status involvcd in Cacsarius call for thc dclc-
gation of powcrs to parish pricsts. My conccrn hcrc is with thc moral tradition invokcd by
Cacsarius in his discussion of cpiscopal authority, and in particular, his rccasting of thcmcs
and motifs lcarnt from Pomcrius.
Ibid. +. :o, CCSI +o, +. Cf. Pomcrius De vita cont. I. :.
1hc rcconstitution of thc Cacsarian homilctic corpus was thc lifcs work of Dom
Ccrmain Morin, hc collcctcd :+ scrmons which hc attributcd to Cacsarius (Sancti Caesarii
Episcopi Opera Omnia, : vols. (Marcdsous, +y), i, Sermones, rcpr. in CCSI +o (1urn-
hout, +j), and scc his manifcsto, Mcs principcs ct ma mcthodc pour la futurc cdition dc
saint Ccsairc, RBen +o (+8), :y8). Sincc thc appcarancc of Morins cdition, at lcast tcn
morc scrmons havc bccn attributcd to Cacsarius, scc c.g. R. Etaix, Dcux nouvcaux scrmons
dc saint Ccsairc dArlcs, REAug ++ (+j), +, id., Nouvcau scrmon pascal dc saint
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 81
Klingshirns study of Cacsariusthc rst full-lcngth trcatmcnt for
ncarly a ccnturyhas rcinvigoratcd our scnsc of Cacsarius cxtra-
ordinary ambition and cncrgy in attcmpting to Christianizc thc
citizcns and pcasants in his dioccsc.
Klingshirn argucs that Cacsarius
missionary attcmpt fcll short of its goals prcciscly bccausc of its
impossibly visionary quality: pcasant communitics litcrally did not
havc timc to undcrtakc thc kind of dcvotional rcgimc urgcd on thcm
by thcir urban and aristocratic bishop.
In thc longcr tcrm howcvcr
as Klingshirn showsCacsarius achicvcmcnt was to bcqucath to
latcr churchmcn an cxamplc of what it was to bring standards of
Christian pcrfcction associatcd with thc monastic cloistcr out into thc
world of thc laity. 1hc shccr forcc of his initiativc was uncquallcd until
thc Carolingians, rich farmcrs of his tcxtual lcgacy, or indccd thc
rcformcrs and missionarics of thc carly modcrn pcriod.
Cacsarius also has thc rcputation of bcing thc faithful champion of
Augustinc in thc carly middlc agcs. At thc Council of Orangc in j:,
hc is traditionally sccn to havc carricd thc day for thc augustinian
8: Sixtl-Ccatury Hltcraoti.cs
Ccsairc dArlcs, RBca yj (+j), :o+++, id., Ics cprcuvcs du justc. Nouvcau scrmon dc
saint Ccsairc dArlcs, REHu : (+y8), :y:y. On thc othcr hand, somc of thc works
includcd in thc sccond volumc of Morins cdition (Cocgisti mc, and Dc rotio, Opcro omaio,
ii. +:, +j) havc bccn shown to bc latcr tcxts transmittcd undcr Cacsarius namc
(Scc R. Etaix, 1rois notcs sur S. Ccsairc, Coroao Grotiorum, i Instrumcnta Patristica +o
(Stccnbruggc, +yj), :++:y). In light of thc growing critiquc of thc rcliability of Morins
attributions in othcr contcxts, a rcasscssmcnt of his rcconstruction of thc Cacsarian homi-
lctic corpus may bc ncccssary: scc B. Axclson, Eia rittcs Jcrk cr Firmicus Motcraus:
Zur Kritik cr pliloloisclca Icaticruasmctloc (Iund, +y), Kungl. Humanistika
\ctcnskapssamfundcts i Iund, Arsbcrattclsc, I\, K. Coopcr, Concord and Martyrdom:
Ccndcr, Community, and thc Lscs of Christian Pcrfcction in Iatc Antiquity, : vols.
(Princcton Lniv. PhD. thcsis, +), ii. j8j, and E. Iowc, Asccticism in Contcxt: 1hc
Anonymous Epistoloc soaollcasis .,c (Manchcstcr Lniv. M.A. thcsis, +8). On Morin
himsclf, scc C. Chyscns, P.-P. \crbrakcn, Lo Corricrc scicati,uc c Dom Gcrmoia Moria
;.S6..,,6) (Stccnbruggc/Ia Hayc, +8), and ]. M. \csscy, Aftcr thc Maurists: thc
Oxford Corrcspondcncc of Dom Ccrmain Morin OSB, in ]. Iontainc, R. Hcrzog, and
K. Pollmann (cds.), Potristi,uc ct Hati,uitc tori.c ca Hllcmoac ct ca Froacc c .S,c o .,c.
Iaucaccs ct ccloacs. Hctcs u Collo,uc froaco-ollcmoa c Cloatilly ;:,:, octo/rc .,,.)
(Paris: Institut dcs Etudcs Augustinicnncs, +), +o.
1hc carlicr studics arc Arnold, Cocsorius .oa Hrclotc, and A. Malnory, Soiat Ccsoirc,
E.c,uc DHrlcs (Paris, +8, rcpr. Ccncva, +y8). Scc also H. C. ]. Bcck, Tlc Postorol Corc
of Souls ia Soutl-Eost Froacc uria tlc Sixtl Ccatury (Romc, +jo), Bcck promiscd to trcat
Cacsarius monastic activitics in anothcr volumc, but this ncvcr appcarcd. Scc Klingshirn,
Cocsorius, j, for an ovcrvicw of work on Cacsarius sincc thc +8os.
Scc csp. Klingshirn, Cocsorius, +:oo.
Ibid. ::, :y+8. Scc also R. A. Markus, Irom Cacsarius to Bonifacc: Christianity
and Paganism in Caul, in ]. Iontainc and ]. Hillgarth (cds.), Tlc Sc.catl Ccatury. Cloac
oa Coatiauity (Iondon, +:), :joy, R. McKittcrick, Tlc Froakisl Clurcl oa tlc
Coroliaioa Rcforms, ,S,S,, (Iondon, +yy), csp. jy, o:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 82
thcology of gracc against its scmi-Pclagian opponcnts. 1hc dcmisc of
this vicw of dogmatic history notwithstanding, Cacsarius spccial
aliation with Augustinc rcmains an acccptcd point of rcfcrcncc in a
varicty of othcr contcxts. 1hus Augustincs writings arc sccn to havc
profoundly shapcd Cacsarius vision of human community, both
insidc and outsidc thc cloistcr,
and Cacsarius prowcss as a popular
prcachcr is undcrstood to follow from his closc attcntion to thc
cxamplc of thc bishop of Hippo. In his cagcrncss to lcarn how to cmu-
latc thc mastcr of thc charismatic appcal, Cacsarius would happily
rcdclivcr a homily of Augustincs vcrbatim,
and hc would urgc othcr
pricsts to do thc samc.
Cacsarius ovcrall projcct has thus bccn undcr-
stood as an attcmpt to rcalizc in his dioccsc thc City of Cod.
1hc rcccivcd imagc of Cacsarius as an augustinian popular prcachcr
nccd not, howcvcr, carry all bcforc it. 1hcrc is rcason to supposc that,
as a pastor, Cacsarius was morc focuscd on thc city than on thc
rural parishcs.
Morc surprisingly, wc nd that his disciplcship of
Augustinc notwithstanding, Cacsarius organizcd his programmc of
Christianization around thc prcmisc that it was Cassian who had bcst
dcncd thc mcans and cnds of Christian pcrfcction.
1hc rhctor
Pomcrius had alrcady indicatcd somc of thc advantagcs a bishop could
gain as a prcachcr from attcntion to Cassian: his pupil dramatically
cxploitcd this suggcstion. Striving to construct an imagc of thc
hcavcnly ]crusalcm on carth, Cacsarius drcw inspiration lcss from thc
augustinian community of charity, and morc from Cassians vision of
a citadcl of purc spccch. Hc sought not so much to awakcn a scnsc of
thc workings of divinc gracc in thc livcs of his hcarcrs, as to catch thcir
attcntion with his words, so as to x thcir minds on thc divinc word.
1hc mcntal prcoccupation of thc wholc ock with sacrcd Scripturc
was an all-dcmanding pastoral ambition. In pursuit of it, Cacsarius
ncvcr hcsitatcd to go to any lcngthsand could ncvcr rid himsclf of
thc scnsc of incomplction.
Caesarius 8
Klingshirn, Caesarius, ::.
c.g. Caes.Serm. :+, ::, CCSI +o, +j:+: Aug.Serm. , o (thc formcr bcing thc
consccration annivcrsary scrmon discusscd abovc, Ch. +).
Ibid. :, CCSI +o, +8+.
Klingshirn, Caesarius, :.
Scc Caes.Serm. +. y, CCSI +o, j.
Ior an initial discussion of this vicw of Cacsarius, scc P. Christophc, Cassien et Csaire,
prdicateurs de la morale monastique (Ccmbloux, +).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 83
+nr c+rs+arr or +arrs
1hc icon of Cacsarius as a popular prcachcr is not thc crcation of
twcnticth-ccntury historiography: thc bishop and his biographcrs
wcnt to grcat lcngths to promotc such an imagc. Cacsarius scrmons
monumcntally attcst to his cort to cxpand thc boundarics of thc
ascctic community of lcttcrs. Wc scc him in Arlcs and in thc country-
sidc, rclcntlcssly stating and rcstating his commitmcnt to thc moral
safcty of his hcarcrs. 1hc Life, mcanwhilc, composcd shortly aftcr his
dcath, shows thc bishop bcstriding his dioccsc, and othcr tcrritorics,
likc a colossus. Whcrcvcr hc gocs, it is hardly possiblc to approach
him to say hcllo bccausc of thc shccr numbcr of poor pcoplc making
thcir rcqucsts to him.
Our own acccss to Cacsarius is cqually
rcstrictcd, thanks to thc rhctorical scrccn thrown up by him and his
disciplcs. Wc havc no mcans of dcscribing Cacsarius dcvclopmcnt as
a prcachcr, bccausc almost nonc of thc scrmons can bc datcd with any
ccrtainty: his own cditor, hc spccically crascd markcrs of timc in his
tcxts bccausc hc wantcd to cnablc othcrs to usc his scrmons, just as hc
rcuscd thosc of Augustinc. Indications as to placc arc as fragmcntary
and unrcliablc: somctimcs hc indicatcd whcthcr thc countrysidc or thc
town was thc morc suitablc vcnuc, but morc oftcn than not, wc arc in
thc dark.
Clcarcr, pcrhaps, is thc civic contcxt for this conccrtcd fashioning
of Cacsarius. 1hc dcpiction of thc bishop with his ock in thc
countrysidc is thcrc, but bchind it wc scc thc strugglc of Cacsarius, his
rclativcs and thc closc associatcs, a group wc might call thc Cacsarii,
to facc down thcir rivals in thc city of Arlcs. 1his was not simply a
compctition for powcr or status. At stakc across thc four dccadcs of
Cacsarius cpiscopatc was thc naturc and purposc of authority itsclf, as
thc bishop attcmptcd to rcshapc thc city and its clitc into an ascctic
community. 1hc audicncc for whom thc imagc of Cacsarius as thc
pcoplcs bishop was projcctcd was not, thcrcforc, thc pcasant farmcrs
of Provcncc, but thc rich and urbanc clcrgy and laity of Arlcs.
8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
VCaes. I. y, MCH SRM , y+, tr. Klingshirn, 11H +, :8. On crowds of thc poor
and civic lcadcrs, scc Brown, Power and Persuasion, y+++y.
Scc Klingshirn, Caesarius, +j, for discussion of Cacsarius homilctic corpus, and
furthcr rcfcrcnccs to thc fcw scrmons wc can datc and locatc.
On thc matcrial conditions of Arlcs in this pcriod, scc S. Ioscby, Arlcs in Iatc
Antiquity: Gallula Roma Arelas and urbs Genesii, in N. Christic and S. Ioscby (cds.), Towns
in Transition: Urban Evolution in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Aldcrshot, +),
jyo. My point hcrc is that Cacsarius calculatcd that his hcarcrs thought of thcmsclvcs as
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 84
Cacsarius mcntions thc poor, or thc rustics, it is frcqucntly in ordcr to
shamc his own pccr group. In a scrmon on almsgiving for cxamplc,
Cacsarius cvokcs thc poor man who makcs spacc for a littlc bcd in thc
corncr of his housc for a strangcr. What cxcusc do wc havcwith our
largc and spacious houscsfor hardly cvcr ocring such hospitality?
Such an appcal to thc propcrticd is not surprising in a homily on alms-
giving, but it is rcpcatcd in othcr, lcss obvious, contcxts. In condcmn-
ing scxual intcrcoursc on holy fcast days, for cxamplc, hc warns that
thc childrcn born of such unions arc cithcr cpilcptics or lcpcrs, and
that such misccgcnation happcns cspccially among thc rustics.
is a frank appcal to thc urbanc sclf-imagc of his listcncrs to inducc thcir
contincnt bchaviour. 1hc pcoplc, in short, oftcn scrvcd Cacsarius as
a rhctorical foil with which to prick thc conscicnccs of thc civic clitc,
whosc allcgiancc thc bishop could not aord to ncglcct.
1hc vicissitudcs of thc Cacsarii in Arlcs cmcrgc dircctly in thc
bishops Life. 1his tcxt was commissioncd and produccd by Cacsarius
immcdiatc circlc of family, his closcst cpiscopal collcagucs, and his
attcndants in thc ycars immcdiatcly following his dcath in j:.
Lndcr thrcat thcmsclvcs from thc bishops cncmics and dctractors,
thcy kncw that Cacsarius had found his fcllow clcrics and thc citizcns
of Arlcs morc intractablc than thc drunkcn rustics whom hc sought
to civilizc. Accordingly, Cacsarius biographcrs scck to prcscnt him as
a man who spurncd thc privilcgcs of his station. Of noblc birth,
Cacsarius bcgan and could havc maintaincd a carccr as a clcric in his
homc town of Chlons, but in his mid-twcntics hc abandoncd this
coursc. Drawn by its magnctic rcputation,
hc sought and gaincd
cntry to thc community at Icrins. Although thc Life prcscnts this
movc as a rcnunciation of family tics, thc narrativc rcvcals in spitc of
itsclf thc cxtcnt to which Cacsarius carccr at Icrins and thcn at Arlcs
Caesarius 8j
Caes.Serm. +. , CCSI +o, 8o.
Ibid. . , CCSI +o, +y.
1hc Vita has bccn cditcd by B. Krusch, MCH SRM (+8), jyjo+, and again by
Morin, Opera Omnia, ii. :, scc now thc trans. by W. E. Klingshirn, 11H +, j.
1hc tcxt itsclf is composcd in two parts. 1hc rst, which tcnds to conccntratc on Cacsarius
public carccr, is thc work of Bishops Cyprian of 1oulon, Iirminus of Lzcs, and \ivcntius
(his scc unknown), thc sccond, focuscd on Cacsarius in his houschold and as a miraclc-
workcr, is composcd by Stcphcn, a dcacon, and Mcssian, a pricst, both of thcm mcmbcrs of
thc bishops cntouragc. On thc circumstanccs of its composition, scc W. E. Klingshirn,
Cacsarius Monastcry for Womcn in Arlcs and thc Composition and Iunction of thc Vita
Caesarii, RBen +oo (+o), +8+.
Cf. Caes.Serm. :. , citing + Kings +o: : It was a truc rcport that I hcard in minc
own land. Addrcssing thc Icrins community from Arlcs, Cacsarius rcminds thc monks of
thcir rcsponsibility to livc up to thcir rcputation.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 85
dcpcndcd upon thc succcssful cxploitation of family conncctions.
was, pcrhaps, thc vcry strcngth of thcsc conncctions which drovc
Cacsarius into rcpcatcd and cxtravagant dcmonstrations of his ascctic
othcrworldlincss. Such a rclcntlcss show of moral supcriority may
havc safcguardcd thc bishop and his family from thc crudc accusation
of fcathcring thcir own ncstbut it was hardly calculatcd to appcasc
thc conccrns of thc clcrgy and thc laity who wcrc cxcludcd from thc
moral circlc of thc Cacsarii. As thc Life rccords, his opponcnts wcrc
not slow to lcvcl thc chargc that thc bishops stcwardship of thc
Church of Arlcs was drivcn by an cxccssivc and damaging zcal.
1hc issuc of Cacsarius stcwardship is prcscnt in thc Life from thc
vcry start of his ascctic carccr at Icrins.
1hc account of thc young
ncophytc at thc island monastcry is constructcd as a casc study in
ascctic zcal and its mcasurcd corrcction. Appointcd as ccllarcr,
Cacsarius showcd himsclf to lack prcciscly thc cxpcrtisc rcquircd to
cxcrcisc rcsponsiblc stcwardship of thc monastcrys rcsourccs. Hc
succccdcd only in antagonizing his pccrs with thc miscrlincss of his
rations, and in inducing his own physical collapsc. His hcadstrong
fasting rccallcd thc carly days of thc ascctic movcmcnt in Caul, bctray-
ing proud lack of sclf-control rathcr than humblc tcmpcrancc.
1aking advantagc of Cacsarius dcbilitatcd condition, Abbot Porcarius
scnt thc hothcad to Arlcs to convalcscc. Hcrc, hc was rcccivcd into thc
promincnt houschold of Iirminus and Crcgoria. As wc havc sccn,
thcy found for him thc bcst rhctorical instruction availablc in thc
shapc of Pomcrius, and introduccd thc young man to his rclativc,
Bishop Aconius. In circumstanccs that arc not cntircly clcarbccausc
of thc rcticcncc of Cacsarius biographcrsAconius bcgan to groom
8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
A point wcll madc by Klingshirn, Caesarius, y:.
1hcrc has bccn much spcculation as to thc monastic rcgimc obscrvcd at Icrins
whcn Cacsarius arrivcd thcrc c.j. Cacsarius latcr rcfcrrcd to thc regula Lirinensis in thc
liturgical scction of his Rule for Virgins (Reg. virg. . :, SC j, :j), and many attcmpts
havc bccn madc to rcconstruct this rulc. Ior a bricf discussion of whcthcr thc rulc of Icrins
in thc latc fth ccntury can bc idcnticd with thc Regula Macarii, scc Klingshirn, Caesarius,
:, rcsuming A. dc \oguc, Les Rgles des saints Pres, SC :y, :8. 1hc main piccc of cvi-
dcncc customarily invokcd is thc mcntion in thc yth-ccnt. Life of John of Rom of a regula
Macarii implcmcntcd by ]ohn in his monastcry of Rcomanus ncar Iangrcs, aftcr an
cightccn-month stay at Icrins (]onas of Bobbio, Vita Iohanni j, MCH SRM , jo8).
Whilc it is plausiblc to arguc that ]ohn had cncountcrcd this Rule of Macarius at thc island
monastcry, thcrc is no rcason to assumc cithcr that this tcxt was in forcc as thc Rulc of
Icrins, or that it is idcntical with thc tcxt that has bccn transmittcd as thc Rule of Macarius
(hardly an uncommon namc in ascctic circlcs in this pcriod).
VCaes. I. y, MCH SRM , jo, Klingshirn, Caesarius, o (following Sr. Mary
Kcaly) points out that thc cpisodc is constructcd as an illustration of Cassians tcachings on
fasting at Inst. j. :, SC +o, :o:, Conl. :. +y:, SC :, +:j.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 86
Cacsarius as his succcssor, giving him chargc of a monastcry in Arlcs.
1hc suddcn appcarancc and promotion of thc ncwcomcr did not
cndcar him to thc local clcrgy. Iikc Hilary of Arlcs bcforc him,
Cacsarius was cxactly thc kind of untricd ascctic strangcr whosc
assumption of cpiscopal occ had so conccrncd Popc Cclcstinc and
othcr obscrvcrs thrcc gcncrations prcviously. It is, pcrhaps, an indcx
of thc advanccs madc by thc ascctic party in Caul that, on Aconius
dcath, Cacsarius was ablc to bcst thc rival local candidatc for thc occ,
and to curry favour with Romc,
it is cqually thc casc that hc could
ncvcr takc his tcnurc of powcr for grantcd, as thc local clcrical party
strovc obstinatcly to undcrminc him. In this trcachcrous institutional
much dcpcndcd upon Cacsarius prowcss as a public
spcakcr. If hc could pcrsuadc thc Arlcs patriciatc of his crcdcntials as
a disintcrcstcd scrvant of thc common good, thcn his opponcnts could
bc kcpt at bay.
Cacsarius and his supportcrs cngagcd in a running battlc with his
clcrgy about thc propcr disposition of thc rcsourccs of thc Church of
Arlcs. In a city facing faminc and sicgc, and in thc rclativc abscncc of
sccular govcrnmcnt, his was thc rcsponsibility of fccding thc poor,
caring for thc sick,
and fccding and housing rcfugccs and thc largc
numbcr of prisoncrs whosc ransom hc had paid.
A good studcnt of
Pomcrius, Cacsarius doubtlcss saw his patronagc of thc poor and
rcdcmption of prisoncrs in ascctic tcrmsas an cxaltation of thc
bodics of thc symbolically dcfcncclcss.
In thc cycs of thc city clcrgy,
thcsc projccts may havc sccmcd an alarming and sclf-promotional
cxorbitancc, and Cacsarius madc no cort to avoid confrontation on
this issuc.
In jo8, for cxamplc, following thc Cothic rccapturc of
Arlcs from thc Iranks, hc took drastic mcasurcs to raisc thc ransom for
thc largc numbcr of Irankish and Burgundian prisoncrs hcld in thc
city. Having disposcd of all thc Church platc, Cacsarius procccdcd to
Caesarius 8y
VCaes. I. +:, MCH SRM , +.
Ior thc probablc cxistcncc of a rival candidatc, scc W. E. Klingshirn, Church Politics
and Chronology: Dating thc Episcopacy of Cacsarius of Arlcs, REAug 8 (+:), 8o8,
rcsumcd in id., Caesarius, 8jy.
1rcachcry is not too strong a word: Arlcs was thick with accusations of trcason, and
Cacsarius was usually implicatcd, cspccially in thc carly ycars of his cpiscopatc. Scc VCaes.
I. :+, :, MCH SRM , j, y8, and Klingshirn, Caesarius, y, +oy+o.
VCaes. I. :o, MCH SRM , . Cf. ibid. I. y, MCH SRM , y+.
Ibid. I. :o, MCH SRM , .
Ibid. II. y, MCH SRM , 8.
Cf. Pomcrius, De vita cont. I. +:, PI j, :8B, and abovc, p. y.
Ior a full discussion, scc W. E. Klingshirn, Charity and Powcr: Cacsarius of Arlcs and
thc Ransoming of Captivcs in Sub-Roman Caul, JRS yj (+8j), +8:o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 87
rcmovc and to scll all its consccratcd ornamcnts. 1hrcc dccadcs latcr
his biographcrs rcport that cvcn today thc blows of axcs arc visiblc on
podiums and railings from which thc silvcr ornamcnts . . . wcrc cut
1hc axc-marks had cvidcntly bccomc a kind of ascctic grati
in Arlcsrcad as a sign of dcsccration by thc city clcrgy, but in thc
cycs of thc Cacsarii and thcir followcrs, a forthright statcmcnt of thc
nccd of thc church to rcnouncc its worldly ornamcntation.
Cacsarius most ostcntatious ascctic projccts wcrc his monastcrics.
1hcrc wcrc thrcc ascctic communitics in thc city for which hc was
rcsponsiblc, two malc and onc fcmalc. Cacsarius continucd to ovcrscc
thc malc monastcry which Aconius had assigncd to his chargc,
probably ncar thc cnd of his carccr, hc wrotc a bricf Rule for thc
1hc othcr malc community Cacsarius maintaincd was his
cpiscopal houschold: womcn wcrc barrcd from cntcring, and as his
biographcrs makc clcar, thc bishop hcld his clcrical familia to thc
strictcst ascctic standards.
Cacsarius cspccial pridcand thc focus
of opposition towards himwas thc convcnt that hc foundcd carly in
his cpiscopatc (,
dcdicatcd to St ]ohn thc Baptist, and
locatcd in thc south-cast corncr of thc city, tuckcd against thc city
walls. In naming his sistcr Cacsaria as abbcss of thc community
(having scnt hcr to Marscillcs for a training in thc ascctic arts)
Cacsarius no doubt hopcd to maintain thc strcngth of his familys
prcscncc and conncctions in Arlcs. Whcn his sistcr dicd c.j:, shc was
succccdcd by thc bishops niccc, also callcd Cacsaria, who was to out-
88 Sixth-Century Alternatives
VCaes. I. :, MCH SRM , , Klingshirn, 11H +, :j.
Similarly, thc Life prcscnts thc captivcs rcdccmcd by Cacsarius as thc truc tcmplc of
thc Iord, worth any of thc trcasurcs of thc Church at Arlcs, I. , MCH SRM , . 1hc
practical wisdom of thc vast cxpcnsc on thc rcdcmption of captivcs is illustratcd at II. 8,
MCH SRM , 8y, whcn thc Burgundian king rcturns thc favour donc to him by
Cacsarius, Regula monachorum, cd. ]. Courrcau and A. dc \oguc, Csaire dArles:
Oeuvres Monastiques, ii. Oeuvres pour les moines, SC 8 (Paris, +), :o:. 1hc ordcr of
composition of Cacsarius monastic Rules is disputcd. It was gcncrally assumcd that thc
Regula monachorum prcccdcd thc Regula ad virgines until A. dc \oguc, Ia Rcglc dc Ccsairc
dArlcs pour lcs moincs: un rcsumc dc sa Rcglc pour lcs monialcs, RAMy (+y+), o,
argucd to thc contrary, a conclusion now widcly acccptcd. Albrccht Dicm (Lniv. of Ltrccht)
proposcs ancw thc priority of thc Regula monachorum.
VCaes. I. :, MCH SRM , 8.
Scc VCaes. I. :8, j, MCH SRM , y, yo. 1hc original foundation of, locatcd
probably outsidc thc city walls, was dcstroycd in thc sicgc of thc city in thc wintcr of joy8.
Iour ycars latcr, Cacsarius rcfoundcd thc community in a morc sccurc location insidc thc
city walls. Scc Klingshirn, Caesarius, +oy, ++y+8 (and thc furthcr rcfcrcnccs givcn thcrc
to thc much-dcbatcd rcligious topography of thc city).
VCaes. I. j, MCH SRM , yo. Scc abovc Ch. : n. for spcculation as to whcthcr
this convcnt is thc samc as thc fcmalc community foundcd by Cassian.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 88
livc hcr unclc and takc thc lcad in prcscrving his mcmory. (It was shc
who commissioncd his Life.) Cacsarius lavishcd attcntion on thc nuns.
Hc wrotc a lcttcr to thc community, and thcn a Rule, and thcn a
Recapitulation to thc Rule, sctting out an incrcasingly mcticulous
dcvotional rcgimc,
in his Testament, hc attcmptcd to bind rclations
bctwccn thc convcnt and his succcssor.
Of all thc ascctic groups in
thc city, thc consccratcd virginswhom fcw would cvcr scc again
oncc thcy had cntcrcd thc convcnt cnclosurcwcrc to scrvc as thc
most potcnt cmblcm of thc moral purity cvokcd so fcrvcntly by thc
bishop in his homilics to thc pcoplc. His biographcrs duly rcport that
in building thc convcnt for thc nuns, Cacsarius likc a lattcr-day Noah
. . . fashioning an ark adorncd and protcctcd thc Church and thc city.
As thc convcnt was thc vcsscl of Cacsarius most chcrishcd hopcs,
so it may also havc bccn thc objcct of thc bittcrcst opprobrium from
his cncmics. 1hc scqucncc of tcxts rclating to St ]ohns, and in parti-
cular thc incrcasingly ncrvous clauscs of thc Recapitulation to thc Rule
and thc Testament, thus rcgistcr thc uctuations in Cacsarius political
crcdit in thc cityhis anxious scnsc of its dwindling towards thc cnd
of his lifc. Ior cxamplc, to thc clauscs in thc Rule for Virgins cnsuring
thc strict cnclosurc of thc nuns, Cacsarius addcd thc cxtraordinary
stipulation that 1hc hair of thc womcn shall bc ticd no highcr than thc
mark wc havc madc in this placc with purplc ink.
Although wc havc
no cvidcncc conccrning thc cnforccmcnt of this unusual clausc, a
mark is faithfully rcproduccd, in varying lcngths, in thc Carolingian
cxcmplars of thc rulc.
As wc havc suggcstcd clscwhcrc, such a mark
was mcant to undcrscorc thc claustration of thc holy virgins, scrving
as a sign that thcirs was a lifc of consummatcly rcgulatcd purity, fully
dcscrving of thc churchs nancial support.
1hc samc conccrn to dcmonstratc probity runs through thc Life,
commissioncd c.j by Cacsaria thc Youngcr. Whilc thc convcnt did
not comc undcr dircct attack aftcr Cacsarius dcath, its futurc in Arlcs
Caesarius 8
Ior thc tcxt of thc lcttcr, known as Vereor, scc SC j, :8, tr. Klingshirn, 11H
+, +:. Ior thc Regula virginum (RV), with thc recapitulatio, scc SC :j, +yo:y:, Eng.
tr. M. C. McCarthy, The Rule for Nuns of St Caesarius of Arles (Washington DC, +o).
1hcsc tcxts arc cd. and trans. in ]. Courrcau and A. dc \oguc, Csaire dArles: Oeuvres
Monastiques, i. Oeuvres pour les moniales, SC j (Paris, +88).
Cacsarius, Testamentum, SC j, 8o, tr. Klingshirn, 11H +, y+.
VCaes. I. j, MCH SRM , yo.
RV j, SC j, :o.
SC j, :+ n. 8.
Scc C. Icyscr, Iong-haircd Kings and Short-haircd Nuns: Writing on thc Body in
Cacsarius of Arlcs, Studia Patristica : (+), +jo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 89
was thrcatcncd by thc foundation with Irankish royal patronagc of
anothcr convcnt and a monastcry in thc city.
1hc ncw bishop,
Aurclian, sought to wrcst control of thc mcmory and thc cult of
Cacsarius from thc nuns: lacking adcquatc nanccs and political back-
ing, Abbcss Cacsaria and hcr wcll-wishcrs rcspondcd, as thcir rcvcrcd
mastcr had donc, by cxploiting to thc full thc rhctorical rcsourccs at
thcir disposal. 1hc narrativc of thc bishops Life, likc thc rclics of
his body, was mcant to scrvc as a protcctivc talisman. If Cacsarius
disciplcs could tcll his story, pcrhaps hc would continuc to act as thcir
patron. In thc cvcnt, thc Mcrovingians movcd in on Arlcs, and thc
convcnt was swampcd by othcr foundations. 1cmpting as it may bc to
hail this as thc start of a rcgimc of carly mcdicval royal monastcrics in
Arlcs, it is as wcll to rccognizc that thc Mcrovingian adventus put an
cnd to forty ycars of thc virtual monopoly of thc Church by Cacsarius
and his family mcmbcrs. 1hat thcy managcd to survivc for so long is
in no small part duc to his bravura as an orator.
oa+r stavrrrr+cr
Cacsarius ministry was dominatcd by vigilant attcntion to dctail. As
hc urgcd his ock towards an cconomy of fasting and almsgiving,
thc bishop admittcd that his own conduct had not always bccn as
scrupulous as it should havc bccn: I blamc and condcmn mysclf, how-
cvcr, bccausc it has somctimcs happcncd that clothcs of minc which I
should havc givcn to thc poor, havc bccn dcvourcd by moths.
At thc
Iast ]udgcmcnt, thc bishop fcars, his moth-catcn clothing will bc uscd
as cvidcncc against him. Wc may applaud hcrc a classic instancc of thc
pastoral usc of thc rhctoric of vulncrability: thc bishops confcssion
was doubtlcss intcndcd to sct cxacting standards of pcrfcction for his
ock. At thc samc timc, wc ought not to ignorc thc concrctc issuc of
thc bishops clothcs. 1his rhctorical ourish is onc among a numbcr of
signs that thc distribution of Cacsarius garmcnts was in fact a subjcct
of public scrutiny and dcbatc.
Such cxpcctations of thc bishop camc
o Sixth-Century Alternatives
Klingshirn, Cacsarius Monastcry for Womcn in Arlcs, also id., Caesarius, ::.
Caes.Serm. +. j, CCSI, 8o, in rcsponsc to ]amcs j: +:: Your garmcnts arc moth-
catcn. Notc thc possiblc augustinian parallcl: Aug.Serm., Maycncc :y/Dolbcau +o, ch. +,
ll. o+, RBen +o: (+:), +, on thc detestabilis tinea. Moth-catcn clothing was cvidcntly a
problcm in latc antiquity.
In thc jos in particular, Cacsarius garmcnts sccm to havc bccomc kcy tokcns in
discussing thc bishops stcwardship of thc Church. In his will, Cacsarius twicc disposcs
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 90
as much from his supportcrs as his cncmics: thc Life shows that
Cacsarius biographcrs wcrc kccnly awarc of thc politics of thcir
mastcrs wardrobc.
What may appcar to a modcrn audicncc as thc
minutiac of stylc spcak to thc bishops tcmpcramcnt as an oratorand
to thc aristocratic milicu in which Cacsarius was opcrating, whcrc
mastcry of dctail could bc cvcrything. 1o apprcciatc this, wc nccd only
turn to thc convcnt. Cacsarius nuns cpitomizc thc Christianity of thc
rich laity of Arlcs: thcy will prcsumc to havc slavc-girls, thcy will want
to hang waxcd curtains, tapcstrics, and picturcs, dccoratc thc oratory
with silk and othcr cxpcnsivc fabrics, wcar purplc or cmbroidcrcd
clothcs, and drcss thcir hair.
No furthcr cxplanation is nccdcd for thc
ascctic bishops invocation of his moth-catcn clothing that ought to
havc bccn givcn as alms.
1hc dctcrmination to cstablish a rcgimc of strict survcillancc in an
clitc culturc of ostcntation conditioncd Cacsarius assimilation of thc
writings of Augustinc. 1imc and again, wc nd Cacsarius using augus-
tinian tcxts and motifs, but in ways that wcrc somc distancc from thcir
contcxt in Augustinc himsclf. Cacsarius rcsolvc to usc Augustincs
words for his own purposcs is pcrhaps nowhcrc morc cvidcnt than in
a monastic contcxt. It has bccn amply dcmonstratcd that Augustincs
Rule structurcs thc wholc of thc middlc scction of Cacsarius Rule for
but it is cqually clcar that community of propcrty forms
ncithcr thc cconomic nor thc spiritual basis of thc community along
thc lincs cnvisagcd by Augustinc. At thc start of his Rule, Cacsarius
quotcs Matt. +: :+, Co scll all you havc and givc to thc poor, and
Caesarius +
of his clothcs, Testamentum ++j and :, SC j, 8, . At thc bcginning, hc lcavcs
thc bcst garmcnts to his succcssor, and thc rcmaindcr to his houschold, at thc cnd of thc
tcxt, hc rcdirccts his ncst coat and bclt to Bishop Cyprian, and his fur coat to Abbcss
Cacsaria, who had madc it. Whilc it is possiblc that thcsc bcqucsts wcrc madc at dicrcnt
timcs (scc SC j, : for a possiblc chronology of composition) that thcrc should bc two
provisions is a mcasurc of thc prcssurc on Cacsarius to account in dctail for his managcmcnt
of ccclcsiastical rcsourccs.
As a boy, thc prccociously ascctic Cacsarius is shown rcturning homc having givcn all
his clothcs away to bcggars: VCaes. I. , MCH SRM , +:. As bishop, Cacsarius clothcs
arc invcstcd with powcrs of hcaling, giving risc to a strong conccrn on thc part of his
attcndants to control acccss to thcsc powcrs. 1hc dcacon Stcphcn in particular sccms to havc
uscd his proximity to Cacsarius miraculous garmcnts to wcavc tics with thc sccular clitc: scc
thc storics of thc patrician Iibcrius and his wifc Agrctia, both of thcm hcalcd by touching
thc bishops clothcs at ibid. II. +o+j, :, MCH SRM , 8yo, 8.
Ior slavc girls, RV y. +, SC j, +8. Ior fabric, Vereor y. +o, SC j, ::, RV j,
o. +, SC j, ::8o, :. Ior hair, RVj, SC j, :o, and for discussion, Icyscr, Iong-
haircd Kings and Short-haircd Nuns.
RV :oj, SC j, +:+8. Ior a full survcy, scc I. Scilhac, ILtilisation par s.
Ccsairc dArlcs dc la Rcglc dc s. Augustin, StAns : (Romc, +:).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 91
this is nowhcrc countcrmandcd.
1hc convcnt is not a placc whcrc thc
dicrcnccs of social class will bc abrogatcd: thc daughtcrs of thc poor
arc not cxpcctcd as inmatcs. 1hc poor, in fact, arc not to comc ncar thc
monastcry, as thcy may crcatc a disturbancc at thc door: thc abbcss is
to supcrvisc all almsgiving activitics.
Cacsarius systcmatically cdits
thc augustinian Rule, rcmoving thc clauscs dcaling with thc poor.
1hc convcnt in Arlcs is no anticipation of thc hcavcnly ]crusalcm
as Augustinc had imagincd it. 1hc community can only scrvc as a
rcccptaclc for thc bishops authority.
Cacsarius imagination of thc cschatological community itsclf is a
clcar mcasurc of his likcncss and dissimilarity from Augustincand
thc cxtcnt to which this is dctcrmincd by thc pastoral cxigcncics of his
situation in Arlcs. Dircctly paraphrasing Augustinc, Cacsarius
dcscribcs two citics, ]crusalcm and Babylon, humblc and proud, built
by Christ and thc Dcvil rcspcctivcly.
In thc conclusion to thc
scrmon, howcvcr, hc imagincs an objcction from thc audicncc:
Pcrhaps somconc is thinking to thcmsclvcs why has thcrc bccn no
mcntion of charity and dcsirc in this scrmon? In rcsponsc, Cacsarius
strcsscs that humility dcrivcs from charity, thc mothcr of all virtucs,
and pridc from dcsirc, thc root of all cvils. Whcncvcr in sacrcd
Scripturc you hcar . . . thc condcmnation of pridc, you should undcr-
stand thc cxccration of dcsirc.
1hus hc suggcsts to his congrcgation
at Arlcs that if thcy hcar mcntion of pridc, thcy should immcdiatcly
call to mind its association with dcsirc.
On scvcral othcr occasions, hc
docs not troublc to lcgitimatc or to mark his dcparturc from augus-
tinian prcmiscs: hc simply takcs as axiomatic thc Paulinc dictum on
dcsirc as thc root of all cvils.
Cacsarius hcrc shows himsclf a truc pupil of Pomcrius. Hc takcs for
: Sixth-Century Alternatives
RV j, SC j, +8: citcs Matt. +: :+, from Inst . j, y. +, SC +o, +:8, +. Cf.
Vereor 8, SC j, :8: girls should not givc thcir fortuncs back to thcir parcnts. 1hcy may
givc thcir parcnts littlc prcscnts, but should aim to givc as much as possiblc in alms. Iiftccn
short chaptcrs latcr, RV :o. , SC j, +, citcs Acts : :, conjoincd with : j. In this
scnsc, RV, likc thc contcmporary rulcs for ccnobitcs in Italy, is a orilcgium. Scc bclow, Ch.
j, for discussion of thc opportunitics aordcd by thc gcnrc of thc orilcgium for synthcsiz-
ing dicrcnt traditions.
RV :. +y, SC j, ::.
Scc thc omission at RV :+. : (SC j, +) of Praec +. j, \crhcijcn, i. +, ll. +y::,
on thc pridc of thc poor in bcing in thc company of thc rich. On illncss, Praec . j, Rg.Aug.
i. ::, ll. y:, is rcmovcd at RV ::. , SC j, +8.
Caes.Serm. 8. jy, CCSI +o, :+:+, cf. +:o. y, CCSI +o, jo, :. , CCSI
+o, :y.
Ibid. 8. jy, CCSI +o, :+:+.
Ibid. 8. y, CCSI +o, ::o.
c.g. ibid. ::. :, :. +, . , +:o. y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 92
grantcd thc antithcscs structuring thc argumcnt in thc City of God
spirit and csh, will and rcfusal, hcavcnly hcights and carthly dcgra-
dationbut his vcry familiarity with this vocabulary cnablcs him to
usc it without thc prccision of mcaning intcndcd by Augustinc.
Cacsarius docs not imaginc thc prclapsarian condition in any analytic
dctail, and simply avoids any discussion of thc prccisc rclation of will
and dcsirc in Edcn. Hc arrivcs at gcncralizations about thc Iall in thc
contcxt of particular cxcgcscs or cxhortations, and onc gcncralization
nccd not cxactly rcscmblc anothcr. On thcsc occasions, hc is not
sctting out his thcological vicws on thc Iall, so much as dcploying a
languagc of spiritual cncouragcmcnt, hc is thus ablc to bypass what
might appcar to bc contradiction as hc rcpcatcdly assimilatcs pridc and
dcsirc, and adviscs his audicncc how to avoid thcm.
Cacsarius was not contcnt to dcfcr all his hopcs for a pristinc com-
munity until thc cnd of timc, nor was hc contcnt to think of thc task of
spiritual corrcction as stabbing in thc dark. Hc dcpictcd himsclf as
imposing thc law of hcavcn on thc law of thc forum.
prostitution, and casual violation wcrc cvidcntly still normal civic
practicc in thc scxual culturc of thc malc clitc. Cacsarius sought to
rcndcr thcm as shamcful adultcry and fornication. Hc cvokcs thc
boasting of noblcmcn ovcr thcir cxploits with slavc-girlsthcir own,
or thcir ncighboursin ordcr to ask what thcsc samc mcn would do
if thcir wivcs bchavcd in thc samc way, or if a famous whorc camc
and cmbraccd thcm in full vicw in thc markct-placc.
1hcy confcss
thcir cxploits jokingly with an asininc cacklc, hc obscrvcs, thc morc
formidably to imaginc a futurc whcrc thcir laughtcr will bc turncd into
ctcrnal wccping.
1hc bishop of Arlcs aspircd to a litcral policing of dcsirc in his city.
Hc cncouragcd a rcgimc of mutual corrcction and thc dcnunciation of
adultcrcrs to himsclf.
Wcll awarc that many pricsts colludcd with thc
scxual habits of thcir pccrs, and that ocndcrs wcrc too many to
cxcommunicatc, Cacsarius may havc hopcd nonc thc lcss to lcnd
psychological crcdcncc to thc idca of moral survcillancc. 1hc notional
army of loyal informcrs to whom Cacsarius appcalcd for hclp
cmbodicd his drivc to rcvcal sccrct thoughts of scx, that is, fornica-
tion in thc intcrior scnsc that most intcrcstcd Cassian.
talk, adultcry in thc gazc, in fantasy:
in thc cort to uncovcr thcsc
Caes.Serm. . , CCSI +o, +:.
Ibid. j. :, CCSI +o, :o:.
Ibid. :. , CCSI +o, +8y.
Ibid. :. :, CCSI +o, +8.
Scc abovc, Ch. :.
Caes.Serm. +. j, CCSI +o, +8.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 93
elusive sinsindeed, to render them as sinCaesarius takes the
language of pollution to an unrestrained pitch:
Tell me, I beg you, is there anyone who can stand above a latrine or a cesspit full
of worms, and breathe in the smell? Compare now the atmosphere of the latrine
with thoughts of lust, and see which gives o the greater stench.
In the world of Caesarius sermons, Arles is to become, like Calvins
Geneva, or Borromeos Milan, a disciplined city of godly confession.
If we return to Caesarius address in the s to his episcopal
colleagues with which we began, we may observe him identifying his
place within the tradition of moral language in which he had been
schooled. The sermon is a reforming tract which sets out his view
of pastoral responsibility as he ideally would wish it to be exercised.
With a number of his supporters installed as his suragans, the
bishop of Arles was nally able to promote the ascetic understanding
of episcopal and more broadly clerical oce in which he had been
Bishops are called watchmen because they are placed in a higher position, as if at
the highest citadel of the Church, namely the altar. From this place, they must
watch over the city and the eld of God, that is the whole Church. They must not
only guard the disposition of the great gatesthat is, prevent capital sins with
their most wholesome preachingthey must also guard the small doors behind,
the little underground passages. In other words, they must continually warn the
people to watch the tiny sins that creep up every day, and to purge them with fast-
ing, almsgiving and prayer.
The cities of Provence had been frequently under siege: Caesarius
could hardly have chosen a more graphic image with which to evoke
the character, material and moral, of episcopal leadership in early
sixth-century Gaul. In the same moment, he dened his position with
regard to his mentors. Augustine and Pomerius had taken the Ezekiel
passage as an opportunity to meditate upon the exposed condition of
those in power: by contrast, the anxiety of authority for Caesarius
resided in the possibility that in his role as a watchman a detail might
escape him.
Sixth-Century Alternatives
Caes.Serm. . , CCSL , .
Ibid. . , CCSL , .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 94
+nr cr+v or rtar srrrcn
Cry aloud, without ccasing, Cacsarius cnjoincd his cpiscopal
1hc instrumcnt of cpiscopal vigilancc was thc voicc,
Cacsarius had lcarnt from Pomcrius, and hc dcmandcd that his words
bc hcard. Hc shut thc church doors at Arlcs so that no onc could lcavc
whilc hc was prcaching.
Convcrscly, hc cnsurcd that his tcxts wcrc as
widcly disscminatcd as possiblc, thrusting copics into thc hands of any
intcrcstcd visitors to Arlcs.
Cacsarius condcmncd thosc who kcpt
thcir books all shiny on thc shclvcsbooks wcrc to bc uscd, borrowcd,
passcd around.
Hc aimcd to sccurc thc circulation of his words not
mcrcly in writtcn form, but by word of mouth. His scrmons wcrc to bc
rcad out by pricsts and lay pcoplc alikc. Cacsarius brushcd asidc objcc-
tions of illitcracy: surcly in any group, thcrc would bc at lcast onc
pcrson who could rcad to thc rcst, hc argucd.
Hc did cvcrything
possiblc to cnforcc thc mcmorization of what hc said, rccapitulating
thc main points of his scrmons in his pcrorations. If individuals could
not rcmcmbcr a wholc scrmon, thcy should cach rcmcmbcr a part of
it, so that togcthcr thcy could rcconstitutc thc complctc body of his
Somconc should say to somconc clsc: I hcard my bishop talking about chastity.
Anothcr should say, I rcmcmbcr that hc said wc should cultivatc our souls as wc
cultivatc our clds. Yct anothcr should say, I rccall that my bishop said that who-
cvcr can rcad should makc an cort to rcad Scripturc, whocvcr cannot rcad should
nd somconc who can. Whilc thcy rcmind onc anothcr in this fashion what thcy
hcard, thcy arc ablc not only to rccall in thcir mcmorics thc wholc word, but with
Christs hclp to full it.
Cacsarius thus imagincd thc body of thc faithful as a pcrmancnt
audicncc, always attcntivc to his wordin fact, continuing to cxist as
a communal body bccausc cntrustcd with his word.
1his was a dramatic rcalization of Pomcrius insight into thc sus-
taining social powcr of a wcll-traincd voicc. But whcrc Pomcrius
Caesarius j
Caes.Serm. +. :, CCSI +o, :.
VCaes. I. :y, MCH SRM , y.
Ibid. I. jj, MCH SRM , 8o.
Caes.Serm. :, CCSI +o, +8+.
Ibid. . :, CCSI +o, +, 8. +, CCSI, +o, :.
Ibid. . 8, CCSI +o, j. In outlining a sccnario of rcpctition by othcrs, Cacsarius
was of coursc nding anothcr dcvicc to rcpcat himsclf. Ior othcr rccapitulations, scc . ,
++y. , +:. , CCSI +o, o, 8o, j+8. Ior furthcr rcfcrcnccs, scc A. Icrrciro,
Frequenter legere: 1hc Propagation of Iitcracy, Education, and Divinc Wisdom in Cacsarius
of Arlcs, JEH (+:), j+j.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 95
had, in outlinc, cnvisagcd that thc bishop would ministcr to all indi-
vidually as thcy had nccd, Cacsarius aimcd to purify thc minds of thc
faithful with onc basic stratcgythat of thc occupation of thc mind
with sacrcd tcxt. 1his was a lcsson lcarncd dircctly from Cassian,
whosc work Cacsarius may rst havc cncountcrcd at Icrins, bcforc
his tutclagc undcr Pomcrius.
In scrmon aftcr scrmon, Cacsarius
hammcrcd homc Cassians prcscriptions on how to takc in sacrcd
Scripturc in ordcr to drivc out thc suggcstion of sin. Saturation with
Scripturc was thc answcr to thc problcm of physical and rhctorical
cxccss. 1hc holy word should pcnctratc to thc marrow of thc bonc
bcncath thc csh. In his diagnosis of sin and in thc rcmcdy proposcd,
Cacsarius wantcd thc body to bc complctcly takcn up into sacrcd dis-
Cacsarius usc of Cassian to dcvclop a modcl of cpiscopal authority
is, at points, cntircly unmcdiatcd (in contrast to his carcfully tcndcd
rclation with Augustinc). In a homily On rcading assiduously, for
instancc, hc cxplains:
Evcry pcrson, whcthcr good or bad, cannot bc cmpty, whocvcr lls thcir soul with
thc lovc of thc world cannot rcccivc thc swcctncss of Christ . . . On thc othcr hand
a holy and spiritual pcrson . . . who frcqucntly rcads or hcars sacrcd Scripturc is
spcaking with Cod. Scc if thc dcvil can nd his way in to anyonc hc sccs con-
tinually talking to Cod.
1his is to follow Cassians logic as outlincd in thc Conferences cxactly.
Cacsarius docs not hcsitatc to call upon Cassians most powcrful imagc
for thc proccss of mcntal prcoccupation:
Our mind sccms to bc likc a millwhccl, continually turncd by thc powcr of owing
watcr, and just as mills cannot rcst idlc, so human minds cannot possibly bc still.
Howcvcr, with thc hclp of Cod it is in our powcr to dccidc what it is wc grind in
thcsc mills of stonc or in our minds.
1hc millwhccl was no cmpty mctaphor: thc townspcoplc of Arlcs
could immcdiatcly havc callcd to mind thc hugc and ancicnt watcr-
Sixth-Century Alternatives
Scc abovc, Ch. n. 8: thc Monita of Cacsarius abbot Porcarius arc rcdolcnt with
1hc Life obligcs himhc is dcscribcd ncar his dcath as thc radiant cmbodimcnt of
lcgibility, his inncr virtucs, most notably of spccch, madc plain on his facc: VCaes. II. j,
MCH SRM , y.
Caes.Serm. 8. , CCSI +o, .
Scc abovc, Ch. :.
Caes.Serm. 8. , CCSI +o, . Cf. Cacsaria thc Youngcr, Dicta . 8, SC j, y: Quia
omnino numquam mcns humana otiosa cssc non potcst . . .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 96
mill opcrating tcn milcs away from thc city.
In grinding good grist
holy and honcst thoughtsCacsarius continucs, wc prcparc a mcal
for Christ who has honourcd us by staying for suppcr.
Iikc Cassian,
Cacsarius rcasoncd that his own spccch, in mcdiating thc word of
Cod, could itsclf bc uscd as good grist to thc psychic mill: hcncc his
frcqucnt usc of rcpctition.
1hc logic of this programmc dcmandcd that Cacsarius conccrn
himsclf not only with what his ock hcard, but also with what thcy
said. Onc of his rst actions as bishop was to makc thc laity prcparc
psalms, hymns, and antiphons, to bc chantcd in a high modulatcd
voicc, somc in Crcck, somc in Iatin . . . so that thcrc would bc no timc
for tclling storics in Church.
Against thc imagc of thc community of
sancticd spccch, Cacsarius sct thc imagc of thc ungodly socicty of thc
alchousc, with thcir sins of thc mouth
lics, boasts, attcry, insults,
obsccnitics, jokcs, pagan songs. In any list of faults thcsc arc always
morc promincnt than anything clsc.
And thc primc sitc of unclcan
spccch is thc pcoplc, cspccially in thc countrysidc: thcy arc thc
singing, laughing, dancing bodics.
Howcvcr closc this imagc was to
thc rcalitics of rural lifc, it docs not makc of Cacsarius a popular
prcachcr. Hc is rathcr thc prcachcr who constructcd thc pcoplc in
tcrms that bccamc standard for thc mcdicval and cvcn morc thc
Rcformation Churchcs. Cacsarius is a 1ridcntinc gurc, dcning a
popular culturc to dcstroy.
If thc laity had to sing thc occ and to mcmorizc thcir bishops
scrmons, in thc monastcry thcrc could bc no cxcusc for unclcan
spccch. 1hc monastic lifc for Cacsarius was dcncd by thc intcnsity of
its vigilancc for sins of thc mouth. Ior if wc do not rcstrain our
tonguc, thcn our rcligious profcssion is not truc, but falsc.
1hc con-
scqucnccs of a tcpid commitmcnt wcrc graphically laid out in thc
Apocalypsc: So thcn, bccausc you arc lukcwarm, I shall spcw thcc out
Caesarius y
Scc Klingshirn, Caesarius, + and n. y.
Caes.Serm. 8. , CCSI +o, .
VCaes. I. +, MCH SRM , : . . . ut non habcrcnt spatium in ccclcsia fabulis
Ior peccata oris, scc Regula Magistri ++. o, SC +o, +. Scc also ibid. 8 on taciturni-
tas, and +. j. 1hcsc passagcs arc discusscd bclow in Ch. j.
Scc c.g. Caes.Serm. +. +o+:, CCSI +o, y8 (addrcsscd to clcrics), +. (to thc
pcoplc), CCSI +o, y+, :. , CCSI +o, j (to monks). All of thcsc passagcs includc a
citation of Wisdom +: ++ Os quod mcntitur occidit animam.
c.g. ibid. . , CCSI +o, :, +. , CCSI +o, y.
P. Burkc, Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (Iondon, +y8), 1hc 1riumph of
Icnt, :oy.
Caes.Serm. :. y, CCSI +o, +.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 97
of my mouth.
In his houschold, Cacsarius could makc ccrtain that
thcrc was no lukcwarm rcsponsc to thc word of Cod, as thc Life
1hc noon mcal and dinncr wcrc always accompanicd with rcading, so that thc
inncr and outcr man bcing wcll fcd, both might doubly rcjoicc. I admit that in this
cncloscd and shut up atmosphcrc thc listcncrs wcrc swcating and many wcrc
grcatly morticd whcn, in front of [Cacsarius| thcy wcrc found to havc forgottcn
what thcy had hcard rcad.
In thc Rule for Virgins, Cacsarius sought to prcscribc hour by hour thc
uttcrancc of thc nuns. 1hcir strict cnclosurc within thc walls of thc
convcnt is a prcludc to thc claustration of thcir own tongucs. Having
cntcrcd thc convcnt, and cscapcd thc jaws of thc spiritual wolvcs,
Cacsarius urgcs his chargcs to strivc to shun and avoid swcaring and
cursing as thc poison of thc dcvil. 1hcir own mouths, in othcr words,
may bc as dangcrous to thcm as thc jaws of thc world.
No loud
voiccs, no murmuring, no story-tclling, no harsh words, no answcring
against this litany of garrulousncss, Cacsarius scts thc inccssant
rumination of thc word of Cod, through rcading, mcditation in thc
hcart, rccitation from mcmory, pcrformancc in thc liturgy.
tcxt of thc thc Rule itsclf Cacsarius strovc to makc a vcsscl of thc
kind of immaculatc rhctorical purity hc is dcscribing. Hc bccomcs
incrcasingly anxious to asscrt that what hc says comcs not from his
own prcsumption, but from Scripturc and thc Iathcrs.
Hc urgcs
prcscnt and futurc abbcsscs not to changc or diminish any aspccts of
thc Ruleand cnjoins thc community to rcsist any abbcss who docs
1hc Recapitulation dcvolvcs into a scrics of rcpctitions, and thc
most rcpcatcd clauscs arc thosc which conccrn obcdicncc to thc Rule
itsclf. In this scnsc, thc nuns bccomc irrclcvant: thcir bodics, cncloscd
and dcncd, arc a gurc for thc body of thc tcxt, which is thc rcal
objcct of Cacsarius ascctic attcntion.
Wc may now apprcciatc thc full forcc for Cacsarius of thc injunc-
8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
Caes.Serm. :. , CCSI +o, 8, :y. :, CCSI +o, j, rccalling Conl. . +, +8.
VCaes. I. :, MCH SRM , 8, modcllcd on Possidius dcscription of Augustincs
houschold at VAug. ::, Pcllcgrino, ++8::. Hcrc, as clscwhcrc, Cacsarius can appcar in an
augustinian light whilc drawing ascctic inspiration from Cassian.
RV :, SC j, +8:.
RV . , +. +, +y. :, +. :, :. +, SC j, +88, +o, +:, +, :o.
RV +8. :, :o. +:, . +:+y, SC j, +:, +, :j. Ior a morc dctailcd considcra-
tion of thc liturgy, scc SC j, ++:8 (comparing Inst. :. :. :, SC +o, j8o).
RV . +:, SC j, :.
RV 8. , , SC j, :, :jo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 98
tion of Isaiah, Cry out, without ccasing (Isa. j8: +). 1his was thc
impcrativc for thc watchman, hc insistcd in his cncyclical lcttcr to his
fcllow bishops.
Kccp talking, hc was saying, kccp lling your mouth
and thc cars and minds of your hcarcrs with words, othcrwisc thc dcvil
will invadc thcsc boundarics and occupy thcsc spaccs. Cry aloud,
without ccasing bccomcs thc poignant rcfrain of thc bishops Life.
Bcrcft of thcir mastcrs voicc, his supportcrs and disciplcs sought to
commcmoratc and to rcproducc its powcr. 1hcy quotcd and cchocd
thc scrmons,
praiscd Cacsarius as a prcachcr,
told thcir particular
storics. 1hc dcacon Stcphcn rccalls thc bishop talking in his slccp:
whcn hc awokc, Stcphcn said to him, It is your way always to cry out
without ccasing.
But Cacsarius could not continuc to spcak from thc
gravc. Although his scrmons arc rccitcd, thc voicc that cricd without
ccasing has now ccascd to cry.
1hc Life bccomcs a dcspcratc attcmpt
to amplify a voicc that has irrcvocably stillcd.
1hc plight of Cacsarius biographcrs arosc, not only from thc
bishops dcath, but from thc ambivalcnt rhctorical lcgacy hc had lcft
thcm. In onc scnsc, Cacsarius mission as a prcachcr had bccn to
sccurc thc assimilation by his hcarcrs of an inhcritcd languagc
thc words of Scripturc and thc tcxts of thc Iathcrs. In dcvoting his
prodigious cncrgics to thc fullmcnt of this vocation, howcvcr,
Cacsarius had lcft his succcssors with an indcliblc scnsc of his own
voicc. His claim simply to rcprcscnt an cstablishcd tradition jarrcd
with thc palpablc forcc of his intcrvcntion. Cacsarius vcry rhctorical
charisma undcrmincd his own attcmpts to routinizc thc spiritual
purication of his ocka paradox his biographcrs wcrc unablc to
1his tcnsion bctwccn thc languagc of tradition and thc voicc of thc
individual spcakcr was inhcrcnt in thc asccticism of purc spccch as
promulgatcd by Cassian. As wc shall scc in thc following chaptcr,
Cacsarius contcmporarics in Italyascctic lcadcrs such as Eugippius
of Iucullanum and Bcncdict of Nursiadcalt with this ambiguity by
sccking to bury thcir own rhctorical idcntitics bcncath thc authority of
a patristic conscnsus thcy had thcmsclvcs constructcd. Lsing thc
ction of an anonymous mastcr passing on thc prcccpts of ascctic
Caes.Serm. I. +o, CCSI +o, y. Scc abovc, p. 8+.
Scc c.g. VCaes. prol., I. :8, I. j, I. +, MCH SRM , j8, y8, 8:, quoting
Caes.Serm. +. , +. +o, +. +j, +. , CCSI +o, :, y, +++, y.
Ibid. I. jj, MCH SRM , y8.
Ibid. II. , MCH SRM , 8.
Ibid. II. :, MCH SRM , .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 99
wisdom, they established the ground rules for the development of the
genre of the Rule, and the regular cenobitic tradition. Such a cancel-
lation of authority of the individual speaker was not, however, a step
all ascetics in power were prepared to takeCaesarius for one, and for
another, Gregory the Great.
Sixth-Century Alternatives
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 100
The Anonymity of 1hc Rulc of St Bcncdict
1hcrc can bc fcw morc vivid illustrations of thc moral powcr of
humility than that aordcd by thc Rule of St Benedict. Kccp this littlc
rulc that wc havc writtcn for bcginncrs. Aftcr that you may sct out for
thc lofticr summits, closcs thc tcxt.
1hc conscqucncc, of coursc, is
that thc Rule for bcginncrs acquircs monumcntal status, bcing hailcd
for ovcr a thousand ycars as thc dcnitivc formulation of thc monastic
lifc. Its appcal is rcadily ascribcd prcciscly to its winning lack of sclf-
Whilc thc Rules humanity spcaks dircctly to many of its
modcrn rcadcrs, this ought not to prcvcnt rccognition of thc histori-
cally spccic intcrvcntion madc by this mid-sixth-ccntury tcxt in
thc ascctic tradition thus far considcrcd. 1hc author of thc Rules
dctcrmination to writc for bcginncrs, wc shall arguc, rcprcscntcd not
mcrcly a gcncralizcd modcsty, but a particular rcsolvc to cstablish a
monastic community and a languagc of authority which did not
prcsumc a high, or cvcn a uniform, lcvcl of ascctic compctcncc among
its mcmbcrs. 1hc Rule solvcs thc problcm of asccticism and commu-
nity that had spccically dcfcatcd ]ohn Cassian: how cxpcrts and
bcginncrs could livc togcthcr in a monastcry.
A scnsc of tradition, of participation in a long-cstablishcd culturc,
is fundamcntal to thc sclf-undcrstanding of thc author of thc Rule.
Iikc a grammarian or a doctor, what hc composcd was a handbook,
dcsigncd to summarizc and to pass on cxisting lorc, adaptcd as ncccs-
sary to mcct thc practical nccds of his audicncc as hc asscsscd thcm.
Clarity and acccssibility wcrc his primary rhctorical goals, not origi-
nality or thc cstablishmcnt of his own litcrary pcrsona.
thc manuscript tradition is unanimous in ascribing thc tcxt to
RB y. 8, SC +8:, y, tr. RB : The Rule of St Benedict in Latin and English, cd.
1. Iry (Collcgcvillc, Minn., +8+), :y. Scc dc \oguc, Introduction, SC +8+, o, caution-
ing rcadcrs not to dismiss thc Rules humility as a mcrc topos.
Scc c.g. RB +8. :j, SC +8:, j: thc spiritual mastcr whosc prcccpts thc Rule cmbodics
spcaks of wc fccblc-mindcd oncswhich makcs thc morc condcnt pcrspcctivc of thc
Rule of the Master sccm positivcly boastful. Cf. c.g. RM :8. , SC +o, +jo: wc, who arc
spiritual. Ior a rcccnt cxamplc of RBs continuing appcal to a modcrn, lay audicncc, scc
E. Dc Waal, Seeking God: The Way of St Benedict (Iondon, +8).
K. Zclzcr, Bcncdikt von Nursia als Bcwahrcr und Erncurcr dcr monastischcn 1radi-
tion dcr Suburbicaria, RBS +8 (+), :o+, csp. :oj.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 101
and although wc posscss a portrait of this Bcncdict from
thc hand of Popc Crcgory thc Crcat, composcd with thc hclp of thc
holy mans disciplcs, thc tcxt of thc Rule itsclf is prcscntcd anony-
mously as thc prcccpts of an unnamcd tcachcr.
Crcgorys account of
Bcncdict in thc Dialogues has bccomc as dcnitivc a portrait of its sub-
jcct as is thc Rule an cncapsulation of thc monastic lifc, sincc thc cighth
ccntury at lcast, Life and Rule havc bccn fuscd to makc a bcncdictinc
Whilc thc Life is indccd a blcssing for thc study of thc
rcccption of thc Rule in thc gcncrations aftcr its composition, it docs
not always aid thc attcmpt to rcconstruct thc tradition to which thc
author of thc Rule bclongcd. Crcgorys vcry admiration for Bcncdict
and his Rule lcd him, as wc shall scc, to cndow Bcncdict with thc
authority of an cschatological prophct, so abstracting this monastic
tcachcr from thc immcdiatc cultural contcxt in which hc was
1hc author of thc Rule himsclf, whilc hc namcs thc distant patristic
authoritics whom hc rcgardcd as thc founding fathcrs of his tradition,
docs not troublc to idcntify for his rcadcrs his closcst sourcc of
inspirationassuming, pcrhaps, that thcy will alrcady know. Only in
thc sccond half of this ccntury havc thc Rule of St Benedicts modcrn
rcadcrs comc to sharc in this knowlcdgc.
It is now all but univcrsally
+o: Sixth-Century Alternatives
Scc dc \oguc, SC +8+, +jo.
RB prol. +, SC +8+, +:, for thc praecepta magistri. At Dial. II prcf., SC :o, +:8,
Crcgory lists his sourccs for his account of Bcncdict as Constantinus and Simplicius, who
succccdcd Bcncdict as abbot (at Montccassino), \alcntinianus, for many ycars in chargc at
thc Iatcran, and Honoratus, a rcclusc at Subiaco. 1hcsc mcn arc not othcrwisc attcstcd. At
Dial. II. +. 8, SC :o, +o, Crcgory dramatizcs thc issuc of thc holy mans (frustratcd)
dcsirc to avoid publicity: Bcncdicts sccrct rctrcat at Subiaco is discovcrcd by a pricst on
Eastcr Sunday.
On thc bcncdictinc tradition, scc ]. Icclcrcq, LAmour des lettres et le dsir de Dieu:
initiation aux auteurs monastique du moyen ge (Paris, +jy), tr. K. Misrahi, The Love of
Letters and the Desire for God (Ncw York, +), ++. P. Mcyvacrt, Problcms conccrning thc
Autograph Manuscript of Saint Bcncdicts Rulc, RBen (+j), :+, broachcs thc
topic of Paul thc Dcacons assimilation of thc Dialogues and thc Rule. Scc Dial. II. , SC
:o, ::, for Crcgorys rccommcndation of thc Rule as a sourcc for anyonc wishing to know
morc of Bcncdicts lifc, quia sanctus vir nullo modo potuit alitcr doccrc quam vixit.
In sccking to compcnsatc for this abstraction, A. dc \oguc, Ia Rcglc du Maitrc ct lcs
Dialogucs dc s. Crcgoirc, RHE + (+), y, comparcs thc monastic rcgimc of Subiaco
as dcscribcd by Crcgory with thc Rules of thc Mastcr and Bcncdict, whilc C. Cracco,
Crcgorio Magno intcrprctc di Bcncdctto in S. Benedetto e otto secoli (XIIXIX) di vita
monastica nel Padovano, Coll. Miscellanea erudita, (Padua, +8o), y, cndorscs Crcgorys
vicw of Bcncdicts dcvclopmcnt from cloistcrcd ccnobitc to apostlc of thc countrysidc.
D. Knowlcs, 1hc Regula Magistri and thc Rule of St Bcncdict, in his Great Historical
Enterprises (Oxford, +), +j, rcmains thc classic account of thc controvcrsy. B.
]aspcrt, Die RMRB Kontroverse, RBS Supplementa : (Hildcshcim, +yj, :nd cdn. +yy) is
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 102
acccptcd that thc Rule of St Benedict, in its structurc and much of its
contcnt, is drawn dircctly from thc carlicr, longcr Rule of the Master,
whosc author has provcd morc succcssful than Bcncdict in avoiding
subscqucnt idcntication.
Intcnsc dcbatc and cxhaustivc rcscarch
ovcr thc past fty ycars havc rcsultcd in thc conscnsus that thc Rule of
the Master was composcd south-cast of Romc in thc rst thrcc dccadcs
of thc sixth ccntury.
1o thc author of thc Rule of St Benedict thcn,
writing himsclf in thc samc milicu in thc pcriod jojo, thc Mastcr
was thc prc-cmincnt ascctic tcachcr of thc prcvious gcncration, whosc
prcccpts hc sought to pass on to prcscnt and futurc monastic
Our apprcciation of thc rcputation and inucncc of thc Mastcr has
bccn furthcr cnhanccd by thc idcntication of anothcr sixth-ccntury
rcadcr and adaptcr of his Rule. Most scholars now bclicvc Eugippius,
abbot of a monastic community at Castcllum Iucullanum ncar Naplcs
j++c.jj, to havc bccn thc compilcr of a ccnto Rule which draws as
hcavily as docs thc Rule of St Benedict on thc Rule of the Master.
onc surviving manuscript of thc orilcgium, a latc sixth-ccntury copy,
is in fact closcly rclatcd in script and origin to our carlicst copy of Rule
of the Master.
As wc shall scc bclow, Eugippius is a much lcss clusivc
Rule of St Benedict +o
thc dcnitivc bibliographic guidc. Ior sagc commcnt on thc continuing rcscarch and dcbatc
in this arca, scc S. Pricoco, Il monachcsimo in Italia dallc origini alla Rcgola di san
Bcncdctto, in La cultura in Italia fra tardo antico e alto medioevo: Atti del convegno tenuto a
Roma, dal al Novembre , Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche (Romc, +8+), :++,
id., Il primo monachcsimo in Occidcntc: Alcunc considcrazioni su un dibattito attualc,
Studi e ricerche sulloriente cristiano X\ (+:), :jy, id., cd., La Regola di San Benedetto e
le Regole dei Padri (\crona, +j), pp. ixlxiv, id. Il monachcsimo occidcntalc dallc originc
al macstro: Iincamcnti storici c pcrcorsi storiograci, in Il monachesimo occidentale dalle
origini alla Regola Magistri, Studia Ephemeridis Augustinianum : (+8), y::.
Dc \oguc, SC +8+, +y+, givcs a synoptic tablc of thc rclation bctwccn RMand RB,
and a mcticulous statcmcnt of thc casc for thc priority of RM. 1hc sharcd matcrial bctwccn
thc two Rules is principally constitutcd by thc following scctions: thc typcs of monks (RM+,
RB +), thc abbot (RM:, RB :), and thc gradcs of humility (RM+o, RB y).
Dc \oguc, SC +oj, ::+. Howcvcr, thc doubts cxprcsscd by P. Mcyvacrt, 1owards a
History of thc 1cxtual 1ransmission of thc Regula S. Benedicti, Scriptorium +y (+),
8++o, rcmain pcrtincnt, and a forthright disscnting notc has bccn cxprcsscd by M. Dunn,
Mastcring Bcncdict: Monastic Rulcs and thcir Authors in thc Early Mcdicval Wcst, EHR
+ (+o), jy. (Ior thc cnsuing dcbatc bctwccn dc \oguc and Dunn, scc EHR +8
(+:), j+++).
Eugippii Regula, cd. I. \illcgas and A. dc \oguc, CSEL 8y (+y). 1hc matcrial sharcd
with RMand RB is as follows: on thc typcs of monks (REug :y), on thc abbot (REug :), and
on thc gradcs of humility (REug :8).
Par. Iat. +: (containing thc Rule of Eugippius) and Par. Iat. +::oj (containing thc
Rule of the Master): scc bclow for furthcr rcfcrcnccs conccrning thc attribution of thc Rule
and on thc manuscript tradition.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 103
gurc in thc historical rccord than cithcr thc Mastcr or Bcncdict, and
hc allows us to cnvisagc, indcpcndcntly of thc tcstimony of Crcgory in
thc Dialogues, what thcsc Rule writcrs may havc bccn likc, and in what
kind of circlcs thcy may havc movcd. Although thc statc of thc manu-
script tradition of all thrcc Rules is likcly to continuc to frustratc thc
bcst scholarly corts to dctcrminc thc prccisc dcvclopmcnt of thc
rcgular ccnobitic tradition, thc ovcrall imprcssion is clcar. In thc Iatin
Wcst in thc rst half of thc sixth ccntury, whilc ascctic lcadcrs in
southcrn Caul wcrc sccking to mobilizc thc rcsourccs of thc ascctic
tradition to support thc cxcrcisc of cpiscopal authority, succcssivc
gcncrations of Italian ascctics wcrc attcmpting to dcnc, on thc basis
of thcir acutc lcarning in thc tradition, how monastic community
could bc constitutcd through thc authority of a Rule, and, as wc shall
scc, of an abbot.
1hc continuing cort to placc thc Rule of St Benedict in its historical
contcxt scrvcs to makc morc, rathcr than lcss, urgcnt thc qucstion of
its pcrcnnial appcal. Sincc thc latc sixth ccntury, two kinds of answcr
havc bccn givcn to this qucstion. Ior Crcgory, thc rst rccordcd
rcadcr of thc Rule, its mcrits arc intrinsic to its author: it is a work
radiant in its languagc, outstanding in its discrction, whosc tcaching
dircctly rcvcals thc lifc of thc tcachcr.
Crcgorys point was not
ncccssarily to dcny thc cxistcncc of thc Mastcr: at lcast onc scholar has
suggcstcd that, in isolating discretio as thc Rules hallmark, Crcgory
may havc had in mind prcciscly Bcncdicts achicvcmcnt in rcndcring
thc fundamcntals of thc Mastcrs tcaching in a tcxt thrcc timcs as
short, and immcasurably morc mcmorablc.
Nonc thc lcss, Crcgorys
cmphasis on thc Rules rhctorical brilliancc contrasts with thc asscss-
mcnt dclivcrcd thrcc hundrcd ycars latcr by thc Carolingian rcformcr
Bcncdict of Anianc. In promulgating thc Rule throughout thc Empirc,
this Bcncdict cxplicitly prcscntcd his namcsakc not as an individual,
but as a workman in thc cld of thc ascctic tradition culling his own
rulc from othcrs, and contracting into a singlc shcaf thc shcavcs of his
+o Sixth-Century Alternatives
A thcmc broachcd in thc classic study of A. dc \oguc, La communaut et labb dans la
rgle de s. Benit (Paris/Brusscls, ++), tr. C. Philippi and E. Pcrkins, Community and Abbot
in the Rule of St Benedict, : vols. (Kalamazoo, Mich., +y, +88).
Dial. II. , SC :o, ::. 1hc much-discusscd citation of RB in InIReg . yo, CCSI
+j, o, cannot now bc rclicd upon as cvidcncc of Crcgorys vicws of RB, givcn thc gravc
doubts about thc authcnticity of this work voiccd by A. dc \oguc, IAutcur du
Commcntairc dcs Rois attribuc a saint Crcgoirc lc Crand: un moinc dc Cava?, RBen +o
(+), ++. Scc bclow, Ch. , for furthcr discussion.
Knowlcs, Great Historical Enterprises, ++.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 104
A crudc balancc shcct would suggcst that Bcncdict of
Aniancs vicw carricd morc wcight in thc carly Middlc Agcs. His
towcring rolc in thc diusion of thc Rule nccds no rchcarsal hcrc,
whcrcas Crcgorys praisc for thc Rule cntailcd ncithcr his obscrvancc
nor promulgation of ithc may cvcn havc contributcd, unwittingly,
to thc Rules lack of impact in Romc until thc tcnth ccntury, so hostilc
wcrc thc Roman clcrgy to Crcgory and his disciplcs.
Although thc grcgorian and thc Carolingian asscssmcnts of thc
mcrits of thc Rule can rcadily bc sccn to complcmcnt cach othcr, thcir
dicring acccnts arc still visiblc in modcrn analyscs of thc Rule. Ior
somc, thc Rule is a timclcss classic, a product of thc gcnius of its
author, whosc litcrary and spiritual gifts arc only thrown into rclicf
whcn comparison is madc with thc Rule of the Master or othcr con-
tcmporary tcxts.
In his famous comparison bctwccn thc Rule of St
Benedict and thc Institutes of Cassiodorus, ]can Icclcrcq took it as a
sign and rcason for thc Rules grcatncss that its author crascd spccic
markcrs of timc and placc.
Whilc Cassiodorus conccrn for dctails, in
particular conccrning monastic cducation, cnsurcd his long-tcrm
(rclativc) oblivion, Bcncdicts capacity in his Rule to scrccn out thc
Rule of St Benedict +oj
Concordia Regularum, prcf., PI +o, and +jA. Ior Bcncdict of Anianc, scc ]. Scmmlcr,
Bcncdictus II: una rcgula una consuctudo, in W. Iourdaux and D. \crhclst (cds.),
Benedictine Culture , Medievalia Lovaniensia Scrics I/Studia (Iouvain, +8),
+. Ior thc widcr Carolingian rcccption of RB, scc K. Zclzcr, \on Bcncdikt zu Hildcmar:
Zu 1cxtgcstalt und 1cxtgcschichtc dcr Rcgula Bcncdicti auf ihrcm Wcg zur Allcingcltung,
Frhmittelalterliche Studien : (+8), ++:o, M. dc ]ong, In Samuels Image: Child
Oblation in the Early Medieval West (Icidcn, +j).
Scc thc dcbatc bctwccn O. Porccl, La doctrina monastica di san Gregorio Magno y la
Regula Monachorum (Madrid, +j+) who argucd for a bcncdictinc Crcgory, and K.
Hallingcr, Papst Crcgor dcr Crossc und dcr Hl. Bcncdikt, StAns : (+jy), :++, scc
also thc rcply of O. Porccl, San Crcgorio y cl monacato: Cucstioncs controvcrdidas,
Monastica +, Scripta et Documenta +: (Abadia di Montscrrat, +o), +j, and thc bricf
noticc by P. \crbrakcn, StudMon : (+o), 8o. Mcanwhilc, C. Icrrari, Early Roman
Monasteries: Notes for the History of the Monasteries and Convents at Rome from the V through
the X century (Romc, +jy) dcmonstratcd that thc Rule was not prcdominantly obscrvcd in
Roman monastcrics until thc +oth ccnt.: scc yo:.
Scc c.g. R. W. Southcrn, Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (Harmonds-
worth, +yo), :+8:: Wc can rcad thc mind of Bcncdict in his silcnccs, omissions,
altcrations, and additions, as wcll as thc matcrial hc was contcnt to takc without altcration
from thc Mastcr (:::).
Scc Icclcrcq, Love of Letters, :+: \ivarium is a monastcry school, St Bcncdicts
monastcry is cxclusivcly a monastcry, it docs posscss a school, but it is ncvcr spokcn of and
in no way modics thc monastic idcal. . . . Cassiodorus cntcrs into dctails on thc organiza-
tion of studics as wcll as of cvcrything clsc in thc lifc of his monastcry. St Bcncdict givcs
dircctivcs which will rctain thcir valuc rcgardlcss of timc and placc, in thc rcalm of culturc
as wcll as in othcrs, and within which grcat variations rcmain possiblc.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 105
damaging cccts of social class, to transccnd thc lovc of lcttcrs, and to
focus undividcdly on thc dcsirc for Cod cnsurcd that his tcxt would
cndurc in wcstcrn monastic tradition.
Howcvcr, thc principal authority in this cld ovcr thc past gcncra-
tion, Adalbcrt dc \oguc, has cxplicitly sought to fostcr a morc
Carolingian approach to thc Rule.
Its charactcr as a tcxt must bc
cxplaincd without rcfcrcncc to Bcncdicts pcrsonal cxpcricncc or
supposcd psychology, argucs dc \oguc, both of which lic bcyond
critical rcconstruction. If thc Rule appcars morc univcrsal, or morc
compassionatc for human wcakncss, than that of thc Mastcr, this is not
to bc ascribcd to Bcncdicts individuality, but to his rcadincss to spcak
with thc voicc of Augustinc.
Ior dc \oguc, thc Rule of Benedict
rcmains fundamcntally in thc Egyptian tradition of thc ccnobitic lifc of
obcdicncc to abbatial command, but its dcning achicvcmcnt is to
havc incorporatcd an augustinian vision of community of charity, a
horizontal pcrspcctivc, to complcmcnt thc vcrtical cmphasis on
obcdicncc drawn from Cassian, and pcrvasivc in thc Rule of the
1hc Rules grcatncss inhcrcs, thcn, not in thc imprcss of a
particular spiritual physiognomy, but in its rcprcscntation of thc
wholc tradition.
1hc intcrprctation of thc Rule and of its tcachings on moral
authority prcscntcd hcrc sharcs in thc prcmiss that wc should procccd
by attcntion to thc ascctic tradition in which thc Rules author
positioncd himsclf. I scck only to clarify thc following point. Irom
dc \ogucs account, dcspitc its carcful nuancing, rcadcrs could bc
forgivcn if thcy gaincd thc ovcrall imprcssion that thc sccrct of
thc Rule of St Benedict is that, of all monastic Rules, it is thc lcast
monastic: by its usc of Augustinc, thc Rule gocs bcyond what is
pcrccivcd to bc thc morc spccializcd pcrspcctivc of thc dcscrt rcprc-
scntcd by Cassian. As wc havc sccn, howcvcr, this is not thc only way
to rcad thcsc fth-ccntury authoritics. Augustincs commitmcnt to thc
monastcry as an institution was in many ways grcatcr than that of
+o Sixth-Century Alternatives
Scc, in particular, H. M. R. E. Mayr-Harting, 1hc \cncrablc Bcdc, thc Rulc of St
Bcncdict, and Social Class (]arrow Iccturc, +y).
Dc \oguc, Community and Abbot, +8+. Striving to rcsist thc tcndcncy to psychologizc
thc author of thc Rule, in this, his rst major work, dc \oguc rcfcrs throughout not to
Bcncdict but to thc RB rcdactor (although thc bracing astringcncy of this nomcnclaturc
is softcncd in his subscqucnt cdition of thc Rule: hcrc its author is simply Bcncdict).
Scc c.g. A. dc \oguc, Saint Bcnoit cn son tcmps: rcglcs italicnncs ct rcglcs provcnalcs
au \Ic sicclc, RBS + (+y:), +, rcpr. in id., joj+.
Scc dc \oguc, Community and Abbot, j88:, id., Introduction, SC +8+, y.
Dc \oguc, Community and Abbot, +8+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 106
Cassian, who was ambivalcnt about thc moral bcncts of ccnobitic lifc,
and who built into his analysis of ascctic virtuc a mcasurc of institu-
tional cxibility. 1his basic fcaturc of his approach is wcll undcrstood
by thc Rule of St Benedict. What accounts for thc univcrsalism of thc
Rule is not so much its authors augustinianism as thc dcpth of his
assimilation of thc univcrsalist in Cassian. His augustinianism, con-
vcrscly, is what allows him so lucidly to outlinc a monastic contcxt for
thc implcmcntation of thc spiritual tcchniquc of thc Institutes and
Conferences. Whilc prcscrving thc spirit of Cassians widcly applicablc
scicncc of moral pcrfcction, thc Rule solvcd Cassians ambivalcncc
about ccnobitismhis rcluctancc to allow ascctic cxpcrts to cohabit
with thcir morc navc brcthrcnby appcaling to Augustincs vision of
thc monastcry as a community whcrc dicrcnccs bctwccn inmatcs
would bc rcsolvcd, if ncccssary through thc cxcrcisc of authority. 1hc
rcsult is a brilliantly rcalizcd account of thc monastcry as a community
and an institution, which was, indccd, to carry all bcforc it in sub-
scqucnt ccnturics.
In thc sixth ccntury, howcvcr, thc author of thc Rule was onc
monastic lcgislator among many, and rcgular ccnobitism was only onc
modc of participation in thc ascctic tradition.
As comparcd to thc
Rule of the Master, what marks out thc Rule of St Benedict may bc its
usc of Augustinc: in thc widcr contcxt of sixth-ccntury ascctic writing,
howcvcr, what distinguishcs thc Italian ccnobitic Rules from thc tcxts
of thcir gallic contcmporarics Pomcrius and Cacsarius is thcir
unswcrving and cxplicit commitmcnt to Cassians analysis of moral
purication. Icw othcr writcrs in this pcriod, whatcvcr thcir dcbts to
Cassian, saw t opcnly to acknowlcdgc thcsc. Only in thc Rule of St
Benedict do wc nd opcn homagc to Cassian, and silcncc on thc
authority of Augustinc.
As its author was doubtlcss awarc, his Rule
ocrcd a solution to thc unrcsolvcd problcm of ccnobitism in Cassians
work, but thc lofticr hcights to which, at thc conclusion of his Rule,
hc dircctcd his monastic bcginncrs, wcrc nonc othcr than thosc of thc
Institutes and thc Conferences.
Rule of St Benedict +oy
Ior an ovcrvicw and guidc, scc A. dc \oguc, Les Rgles Monastiques Anciennes ,
1ypologic dcs Sourccs du Moycn Agc Occidcntal (1urnhout, +8j).
Scc RB :. j, y. j, SC +8:, j8, y:, for rcfcrcnccs to Cassian, and A. dc \oguc, Ics
Mcntions dcs ocuvrcs dc Cassicn chcz Bcnoit ct scs contcmporains, StudMon :o (+y8),
:yj8j, rcpr. in id., Recueil, j:y:, for comparativc discussion, scc A. dc \oguc, Cassicn,
lc Maitrc, ct Bcnoit, in ]. Cribomont (cd.), Commandements du Seigneur et libration
vanglique: tudes monastiques proposes et discutes Saint-Anselme, fvrier
(Romc: Editricc Ansclmiana, +yy), ::j (rcpr. in Recueil, jjjy).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 107
+nr rovr or rr++ras +n +nr +kro or atrrs
At thc climactic momcnt of Crcgorys Life of Bcncdict, thc holy man,
now abbot of Montccassino, witncsscs thc soul of Ccrmanus of Capua
asccnding into hcavcn, born aloft by angcls.
1hc story, as wc shall
scc, cncapsulatcs Crcgorys vision of Bcncdict,
it also tantalizcs
modcrn scholars with its prosopographical indiccs. 1hc rst pcrson to
whom Bcncdict rccounts his cxpcricncc is a visitor to his community,
thc dcacon Scrvandus, abbot of thc monastcry foundcd in Campania
by thc patrician Iibcrius. As wc havc sccn, Iibcrius was an important
lay patron of Cacsarius of Arlcs, and onc of thc fcw known intcr-
mcdiarics bctwccn thc wcll-documcntcd ascctic culturc of Provcncc
and that, morc inchoatc in thc sourccs, of ccntral Italy. 1hc dcccascd
bishop of Capua himsclf rcprcscnts a trail back to Romc: latcr in thc
Dialogues, it is hc who lays to rcst thc ghost of thc dcacon Pascasius,
condcmncd to haunt a bath-housc for his support of thc schismatic
Iaurcncc, dcfcatcd by Symmachus in thc violcnt fcud ovcr papal occ
at thc start of thc sixth ccntury.
Pascasius, howcvcr, was also thc
author of a trcatisc on thc holy spirit much admircd by Crcgory, and
wc know him to bc thc sponsor of Abbot Eugippius Life of Severinus.
Crcgorys account of Bcncdicts vision thcrcforc placcs him at thc
conucncc of scvcral worldsCallic asccticism, thc Iaurcntian
schism, Roman litcrary culturcwithout spccifying cxactly how hc
rclatcs to any singlc onc. 1hc Dialogues ncvcr bring us closcr than this
to thc historical Bcncdict.
If wc wish to go furthcr, it is to Eugippius that wc may turn in scck-
ing to imaginc what kind of gurc thc author of thc Rule of St Benedict
may havc cut. 1hcir likcncss is suggcstcd by thc cpithcts accordcd
thcm by thcir admircrs: Crcgorys famous dcscription of Bcncdict as
scienter nescius et sapienter indoctus
is matchcd, and pcrhaps glosscd,
by thc noticc accordcd to Eugippius by Cassiodorus in thc Institutes,
whcrc hc rcmcmbcrs his fricnd as morc lcarncd in divinc than human
lcttcrsa complimcnt, intcndcd to indicatc that Eugippius was a
+o8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
Dial. II. j, SC :o, ::.
Scc bclow, Ch. y.
Dial. I\. :. +, SC :j, +jo:.
Ior Pascasius libri on thc holy spirit, now lost, scc Dial. I\. :. +, SC :j, +jo, whcrc
thcy arc rcgardcd as rectissimi et luculenti by Crcgory, dcspitc Pascasius dubious political
choiccs. 1his is thc only othcr usc of thc unusual adjcctivc luculentus in thc Dialogues
bcsidcs thc dcscription of RB. It is tcmpting to supposc this is morc than a coincidcncc, and
that Crcgory wantcd to signal somc kind of kinship bctwccn Pascasius and Bcncdict.
Dial. II. . +, SC :o, +jo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 108
highly lcarncd man who cschcwcd vcrsc composition for works of
moral instruction.
Of Eugippius intcllcctual intcrcsts, it is his augus-
tinianism, in particular, which supplics a suggcstivc contcxt for thc
Rule of St Benedict, givcn its distinctivc inclusion of Augustinc along-
sidc Cassian as a sourcc.
Eugippius social world is no lcss illumi-
nating for our purposcs. Iikc Bcncdict, hc was an out-of-town
ascctic, much of whosc carccr nonc thc lcss rcvolvcd around Romc.
His situation, likc that of Pomcrius, was charactcrizcd by a tcnsion
bctwccn his command of his subjcct and his nccd for patronagc.
scarch for a rcsolution of this tcnsion bctwccn moral authority and
social dcpcndcncy, wc suggcst, undcrlics Eugippius work as a
Christian pcdagoguc, and spccically as a monastic lcgislator: thc samc
may wcll havc bccn truc of Bcncdict.
Eugippius was, howcvcr, dcpcndcnt on thc comfort of strangcrs in
a way that Bcncdict may ncvcr havc cxpcricnccd. According to his
own account, Eugippius was a rcfugcc from thc Danubc fronticr, thc
Roman population having bccn ordcrcd to cvacuatc thc provincc of
Noricum by thc Cothic gcncral Odoaccr in thc carly 8os.
With his
companions, Eugippius madc thc journcy south bcaring thc body of
thcir spiritual mastcr Scvcrinus, who had labourcd hcroically for
twcnty ycars to sustain pcacc and ordcr in thc provincc, as Eugippius
was to rclatc in his mcmoir of thc holy man. In Italy, Scvcrinus
disciplcs sccm to havc bccn wcll rcccivcd. 1hc matron Barbaria
invitcd thcm to rcscttlc as a monastic community at Castcllum
As abbot of thc community thcrc from j++ until his
dcath c.j, Eugippius fostcrcd links with aristocratic circlcs in Romc,
wc nd him in thc numbcr of spiritual advisors groupcd around thc
Lsing thc library of thc virgin Proba, daughtcr of thc consul
Symmachus (and associatcd with Calla whosc story Crcgory told in
thc Dialogues),
Eugippius compilcd a collcction of Excerpts of
Augustinc, which hc dcdicatcd to Proba.
Hc cnjoycd a mcasurc of
Rule of St Benedict +o
Cassiodorus, Institutiones :, Dc Abba Eugippio ct Abba Dionisio, cd. R. Mynors
(Oxford, +y), +.
On Eugippius augustinian scholarship, scc, abovc all, thc work of M. M. Corman
listcd bclow in thc Bibliography.
Scc abovc, p. y.
Eugippius, Vita sancti Severini , cd. P. Rcgcrat, SC y, :8.
Ibid. . +, cd. Rcgcrat, ::.
Ior a fullcr charactcrization of this circlc, scc C. Pictri, Aristocratic ct socictc clcricalc
dans lItalic chrcticnnc au tcmps dOdoacrc ct dc 1hcodoric, MEFR (+8+), +yy.
Dial. . :, SC +j, +jo.
Eugippii epistula ad Probam virginem, CSEI . i, +.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 109
scholarly autonomy, building up a largc library and an cxtrcmcly pro-
ductivc scriptorium at Iucullanum. Anothcr advisor to Proba and
Calla, and a kccn augustinian, thc African bishop and abbot
Iulgcntius of Ruspc, askcd Eugippius to havc copicd somc books from
thc library at Iucullanum.
Contact with thc librarics and salons of Romc brought cxposurc to
Roman civic politics. In scnding his Life of Severinus to thc Iaurcntian
Pascasius and thc Excerpta to thc Symmachan Proba, Eugippius sccms
to havc bccn carcful to distributc his attcntions cvcnly bctwccn thc two
sidcs of thc papal schism. 1hcrc wcrc othcr fcuds to ncgotiatc, such as
thc bricf but noisy rcvival of thc scmi-Pclagian controvcrsy in thc
carly j:os.
1hc pcrils of landing on thc wrong sidc in a political or
doctrinal conict in Romc wcrc osct by thc moral dangcrs of safcty
within thc cnclosurc at Iucullanum. How was Eugippius to makc surc
that thc body of Scvcrinus did not bccomc simply thc patrimony of
wcalthy patrons? 1hc rumour that a high-ranking layman was plan-
ning to writc an account of Scvcrinus llcd him with alarm and
promptcd his own Commemoratorium.
His narrativc pointcdly
dramatizcs thc issuc of frank spccch to thosc in powcr. 1imc and
again, Scvcrinus is fcarlcss in his willingncss to rcbukc worldly potcn-
Iucullanum, in short, was no safc havcn: it was, aftcr all, thc
rcsidcncc of thc last Wcstcrn Empcror Romulus Augustulus, himsclf
displaccd, likc Eugippius, by Odoaccr.
As a writcr, Eugippius sccms to havc ncgotiatcd thc dclicacics of his
situation through thc mcdium of compilation. 1hc orilcgium was a
vcry cxiblc mcdium: thc Excerpta Augustini and thc Rule could scrvc
++o Sixth-Century Alternatives
Iulgcntius of Ruspc, Epp. : (to Calla), and (to Proba), j (to Eugippius), CCSI +,
+y:o. Notc also thc two lcttcrs to Eugippius from Iulgcntius biographcr, thc dcacon
Icrrandus, PIS , ::8. Ior Iulgcntius loyalty to Augustinc, scc Icrrandus, Vita
Fulgentii :. j+o, cd. C. Iapcyrc (Paris, +:), +. Ior his contacts, scc S. 1. Stcvcns, 1hc
Circlc of Bishop Iulgcntius, Traditio 8 (+8:), :yo.
On this, scc C. 1ibilctti, Iausto di Ricz nci giudizi dclla critica, Augustinianum :+
(+8+), jy8y, and Polcmichc in Africa contro I tcologi provcnzali, Augustinianum :
(+8), j+y.
Eugippius, Epistula ad Pascasium +:, cd. Rcgcrat, +8.
Scc c.g. Eugippius, Vita Severini j. +, o. +, cd. Rcgcrat, +o, :y.
1. Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders, vols. (:nd cdn., Oxford, +8), ii. j:, iii. +y:,
for thc idcntication of Barbaria as Romulus mothcr. 1hc suggcstion continucs to mcct with
approval, if not univcrsal acccptancc: cf. c.g. R. A. Markus, 1hc End of thc Roman Empirc:
A Notc on Eugippius, Vita sancti Severini :o, Nottingham Medieval Studies : (+8:), +y,
at + and n. , Rcgcrat, SC y, :: n. +. Ior a broadcr discussion of thc Life of Severinus
and thc gurc of thc fcmalc patron in this contcxt, scc K. Coopcr, 1hc Martyr, thc matrona,
and thc Bishop: Nctworks of Allcgiancc in Early Sixth-Ccntury Romc, Early Medieval
Europe (forthcoming).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 110
as vchiclcs both of conscnsus, and of thc dctcrmincd asscrtion of moral
autonomy. 1hc cxtracting of tcxtual ncctar, itting from tcxt to tcxt
likc thc bcc, was a standard ancicnt classical litcrary practicc.
It was
cntircly natural for thc litcrati of thc Christian cmpirc to bcgin to
cxccrpt from thc growing body of Christian tcxts in circulation around
thc Mcditcrrancan. 1hcsc compilations wcrc ncithcr an otiosc nor a
ncutral display of crudition: orilcgia could scrvc a rhctorical purposc.
In carly fth-ccntury Caul, as wc havc sccn, ascctic disciplcs of
Cassian and thcir augustinian critics sought to summon and array thc
authority of thcsc mastcrs by compiling cxtracts from thcir work.
Eugippius had no nccd to cngagc in polcmic: it was rathcr thc apparcnt
ncutrality of thc compilcrs stancc which mct his nccds. It was dicult
to accusc thc makcr of thc Excerpts of Augustine of attcring rich
virginsthc issuc that had provcd so volatilc in ]cromcs day.
in thc Excerpts and still morc in thc Rule, Eugippius articulatcd an
cnduring, incorruptiblc moral voicc, prcciscly through thc adoption of
a low prolc. 1hc Rule was his last will and tcstamcnt. Whilc thc
mcmoir of Scvcrinus had sought to rcndcr vivid thc mcmory of a
spccic, idiosyncratic gurc, in thc Rule Eugippius sought to dis-
cngagc himsclf from worldly tics, and to submcrgc his voicc bcncath
thc blcndcd voiccs of cxisting tradition.
Eugippius Rule, known to cxist from a noticc in Isidorc of Scvillc,
was long prcsumcd lost.
Eugippius namc makcs no appcarancc in
Bcncdict of Aniancs mcticulous codication of Iatin monastic Rules.
In thc +os, howcvcr, thc suspicion grcw that it had, aftcr all,
survivcd in thc shapc of a monastic orilcgium in a latc sixth/carly
scvcnth ccntury Italian manuscript (Par. Iat. MS +:).
1his tcxt
Rule of St Benedict +++
H. Chadwick, art. Ilorilcgium, Reallexicon fr Antike und Christentum, y (+),
Scc abovc, Ch. :.
]acqucs Iontainc, Ln Sobriquct pcrdc dc Damasc: matronarum auriscalpius, in
D. Portc and ].-P. Ncraudau (cds.), Hommages Henri le Bonniec: Res sacrae (Brusscls,
+88), +yy:.
Ior thc cxistcncc of thc Rule, scc Isidorc, De viris illustribus :, PI 8, +oyA.
Eugippius is said hcrc to havc composcd a regula on his dcath-bcd to bcqucath to thc monks
rcmaining in thc monastcry of S. Scvcrinus. His composition of thc vita sancti Severini is also
notcd by Isidorc. Whcthcr or not thc attribution is corrcct, howcvcr, thc Rule is, nonc thc
lcss, a rcliablc indcx of thc kind of tcxt Eugippius could havc produccd, and, as wc shall scc,
thc codcx in which it is found constitutcs a valuablc witncss to thc culturc of compilation in
which hc opcratcd.
Ior thc Carolingian carccr of Par. Iat. +:, and thc cognatc Par. Iat. +::oj, scc
D. Canz, Corbie in the Carolingian Renaissance (Sigmaringcn, +o), 8, j, y:, yy.
I. \crhcijcn, Rg.Aug., : vols. (Paris, +y), i. ++++y, rst suggcsts thc Eugippian
attribution. Ior a datc of c.oo, with rcfcrcnccs to thc vacillating opinions on this point, ibid.
i. ++:+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 111
was wcll known, cspccially to scholars of Augustinc. 1hc orilcgium
opcns, indccd, with a vcrsion of thc Rule of Augustine,
which is thcn
followcd by forty-vc cxtracts from a numbcr of othcr tcxts, including
thc Rule of the Master, Cassians Institutes and Conferences, and thc
Rule of Basil in thc Iatin translation of Runus of Aquilcia.
1o sub-
stantiatc thc suggcstion of Eugippian authorship, Adalbcrt dc \oguc
undcrtook a closc comparison of thc cditorial tcchniqucs of thc ori-
lcgium with thosc of thc Excerpta Augustini.
Hc was lcd to arguc that
thc samc hand, with a dircct, cvcn clumsy, approach to chipping out
scgmcnts from othcr tcxts, was at work in both compilations. In +y,
togcthcr with Icrnand \illcgas, hc publishcd a critical cdition of thc
orilcgium in Par. Iat. +: as thc Rule of Eugippius in thc Corpus
Scriptorum Ecclcsiasticorum Iatinorum.
1hc attribution and thc
cdition havc bccn almost unanimously acccptcd.
1hc orilcgium itsclf contains thc vcry passagcs that arc hcld in
common by thc Rules of thc Mastcr and of Bcncdict, and likc thc Rule
of St Benedict, albcit without thc samc clcgancc, what thc Rule of
Eugippius ocrs is an augustinian vision of monastic community to
countcrbalancc thc morc hicrarchical approach of his principal sourcc,
thc Mastcr.
1hc cxtraordinarily compclling synthcsis of tradition
ccctcd by Bcncdict is hcrc skctchcd through thc blunt powcr of
juxtaposition of cxtracts from inhcritcd tcxts.
Of thc grcatcst intcllcctual intcrcst, thc manuscript witncss of thc
Rule of Eugippius is also highly rclcvant to an clucidation of thc contcxt
for thc Rule of St Benedict. 1hc onc manuscript copy of thc Rule of
Eugippius, known as codcx E, is vcry closcly rclatcd to thc carlicst copy
of thc Rule of the Master, a latc sixth-ccntury/carly scvcnth-ccntury
manuscript (Par. Iat. +::oj) known as codcx P.
So long as thc
++: Sixth-Century Alternatives
At fo :o
, an explicit namcs thc body of tcxt just citcd as thc Regula sancti Augustini
episcopi. In thc parlancc adoptcd by modcrn scholars, what thc Rule of Eugippius citcs is thc
Ordo monasterii followcd by thc Praeceptum: thcsc tcrms wcrc coincd by \crhcijcn in
A. dc \oguc, Nouvcaux apcrus sur unc rcglc monastiquc du \Ic sicclc, Revue
dAsctique et de Mystique + (+j) :j (Recueil, yy:), asscsscs thc contcnts of thc
A. dc \oguc, Ia Rcglc dEugippc rctrouvcc?, RAM y (+y+), :j (Recueil,
As abovc, n. ++.
Scc, again, thc disscnt of Dunn, Mastcring Bcncdict, at jy:.
Dc \oguc, Saint Bcnoit cn son tcmps, +88.
Scc Augustin Ccncstout, Ic Plus ancicn tcmoin manuscrit dc la Rcglc du Maitrc, lc
Parisinus lat. +:, Scriptorium + (+y), +::, and Regula Magistri: dition diplo-
matique des manuscrits latins et de Paris, cd. Iranois Masai and Hubcrt
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 112
Mastcr was thought of as postdating Bcncdict, littlc cort was dcvotcd
to clarifying thc rclationship bctwccn thc P and E tcxts of thc Mastcrs
Rule. Oncc thc priority of thc Mastcr was admittcd, howcvcr, it
bccamc a mattcr of paramount importancc to dctcrminc which vcrsion
Bcncdict had known and uscd.
Somc scholars, in particular Iranois
Masai, pcrsistcd in rcgarding thc shortcr vcrsion transmittcd by thc
orilcgium as a bcttcr witncss to thc carlicr statc of thc Rule of the
Master, and onc closcr to thc vcrsion drawn on by Bcncdict. 1hc morc
obvious altcrnativc, asscrtcd by dc \oguc, was that thc compilcr of
thc orilcgium had madc a sclcction from thc longcr vcrsionan
cditorial task vcry similar to that undcrtakcn by Bcncdict. 1his solu-
tion, dcspitc commanding widc asscnt, docs not rcsolvc all thc tcxtual
irrcgularitics bctwccn thc thrcc Rules, and discussion continucs.
Establishing thc prccisc rclationship bctwccn thc thrcc Rules may
bc lcss important and, in fact, lcss rcvcaling of thc widcr cultural
contcxt in which thc Italian Rules for ccnobitcs cmcrgcd: attcntion to
thc codiccs P and E thcmsclvcs may bc morc productivc. 1hcsc books
sccm to havc bccn produccd and to havc circulatcd within a spccic
nctwork of ascctic litcrary cxchangc opcrating in Italy ovcr thc fth
and sixth ccnturics. 1hc work of Carolinc Bammcl has madc it
possiblc to tracc with somc accuracy thc rcading and publishing circlc
of Runus of Aquilciaand it is hcrc that wc may plausibly locatc thc
production of thc Rule manuscripts.
Bammcl idcnticd distinctivc
copying convcntions uscd by Runus and his circlc, and thcn by his
Rule of St Benedict ++
\andcrhovcn (Brusscls/Paris, +j). Ior a critical cdition of thc long vcrsion of thc Rulc
of thc Mastcr, scc A. dc \oguc, La Rgle du Matre, vols., SC +ojy (+).
1hc dcbatc is most casily acccsscd through A. dc \oguc, Ics Rcchcrchcs dc Iranois
Masai sur lc Maitrc ct saint Bcnoit, I: Invcntairc ct analysc, II: Essai dc synthcsc ct dc bilan,
Studia Monastica : (+8:), y:, :y+o. Scc also thc incisivc intcrvcntion of Klaus
Zclzcr, Nochmals A propos dc la tradition manuscritc dc la Rcglc bcncdictinc, RBS +:
(+8), :oy.
P. Mcyvacrt, Problcms conccrning thc Autograph Manuscript of St Bcncdicts
Rulc, RBen (+j), :+, and 1owards a History of thc 1cxtual 1ransmission of Regula
S. Benedicti, Scriptorium +y (+), 8++o, both rcpr. in id., Benedict, Gregory, Bede, chs.
III, I\, I. Masai, IEdition dc \oguc ct lcs cditions antiqucs dc la Rcglc du Maitrc,
Latomus : (+y), jo+y, and K. Zclzcr, Zur Stcllung dcs 1cxtcs rcccptus und dcs intcr-
policrtcn 1cxtcs in dcr 1cxtgcschichtc dcr Rcgula s. Bcncdicti, RBen 88 (+y8), :oj,
and id., IHistoirc du tcxtc dcs Rcglcs dc Saint Basilc ct dc Saint Bcnoit a la lumicrc dc la
tradition gallo-franquc, RBS + (+8), yj8.
C. P. Hammond Bammcl, Products of Iifth-ccntury Scriptoria Prcscrving Con-
vcntions Lscd by Runus of Aquilcia, JTS : (+y8), +, o (+y), o:, j
(+8), y. Ior thc immcdiatc contcxt of Runus litcrary production, scc cad., 1hc
Iast 1cn Ycars of Runus Iifc and thc Datc of his Movc South from Aquilcia, JTS :8
(+yy), y::.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 113
disciplcs in succccding gcncrations right into thc sixth ccntury. 1hc
primary intcrcsts of thc Runians sccm to havc bccn thc translations
of Runus and thc works of Augustinc.
Ior cxamplc, thc carlicst
known copy of Eugippius Excerpts of Augustine, a sixth-ccntury half-
uncial manuscript, bcars thc palcographical signaturc of thc Runian
copying circlc.
1his manuscript is in turn associatcd with a copy of
Runus translation of Origcns Peri Archon, which bcars thc inscrip-
tion of its owncr, a dcacon Donatus at thc oratory of St Pctcrs at
Iucullanum in j:.
Whilc it may bc too much to assumc that
Eugippius himsclf was hcir to thc manuscripts uscd by Runus and his
disciplcs in thc fth ccntury, this docs not diminish thc rclcvancc of
thc nctwork of conncctions at work hcrc in cstablishing a contcxt for
thc production of monastic Rules.
A glancc at thc contcnts of thc two Paris manuscripts containing thc
Rule of the Master (codcx P) and thc Rule of Eugippius (codcx E)
suggcsts that thcy, too, bclong within a Runian milicu.
Both codiccs
arc compositc volumcs, binding togcthcr a numbcr of indcpcndcntly
composcd manuscripts, not all of which havc survivcd.
Codcx P,
according to a Carolingian inscription on its ylcaf, uscd to contain thc
Inchiridion Runi Praesbyteri: this may safcly bc idcnticd as thc
Sentences of Sextus (a pagan philosophical tcxt, attributcd to thc
++ Sixth-Century Alternatives
Bammcl, Products (+y8), y, points out that, aftcr Runus dcath c.+: in Sicily,
his companions Pinian and Mclania continucd thcir journcy to North Africa, to found a
monastcry at 1hagastc: from hcrc, thcy may wcll havc assistcd in thc diusion of
Augustincs works among Runian circlcs in Italy.
\at.Iat. yj, CLA +, scc Bammcl, Products (+y), .
1hc conncction bctwccn thc copy of Eugippius Excerpta Augustini and that of Runus
translation of Origcns Peri Archon is indircct. \at.Iat. yj (thc Excerpta Augustini) is
closcly associatcd via script and provcnancc with Montc Cassino +jo, a copy of thc
Ambrosiastcrs Commentary on Romans. 1hc Ambrosiastcr manuscript bcars an inscription
that it was owncd and rcad by a pricst Donatus at Iucullanum in j/yoalmost ccrtainly
thc samc as thc dcacon Donatus who inscribcd his copy of Runus translation of Origcns
Peri Archon (Mctz ::j). Ior thc palcographical rclation bctwccn \at.Iat. yj and
Montccassino +jo, scc E. A. Iowc, A Iist of thc Oldcst Extant Manuscripts of St
Augustinc, with a Notc on thc Codcx Bambcrgcnsis, Miscellanea Agostiniana, ii. :jj+, at
:j+ (rcpr. in id., Paleographical Papers , cd. I. Biclcr, : vols. (Oxford, +y:),
i. o++, at +++).
Bammcl drcw thc conclusion that Eugippius himsclf took ovcr a convcntion hc found
in thc Runian Augustinc manuscripts hc was using: Products (+y), . Corman has
cautioncd, howcvcr, that \at.Iat. yj is far from thc autograph and can thcrcforc tcll us
littlc about thc scribal convcntions of Eugippius monastcry at Iucullanum: 1hc Manu-
script 1radition of Eugippius Excerpta Augustini, RBen : (+8:), ::.
Scc Bammcl, Products (+y), j+ n. .
Ior a full dcscription of thcsc codiccs, scc Masai and \andcrhovcn, La Rgle du Matre,
+: (codcx P), :: (codcx E).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 114
martyr Popc Scxtus) translatcd by Runus, and quotcd in all thrcc
Appcndcd to thc Sentences may havc bccn anothcr tcxt of
Runus transmittcd in Basils namc, thc Admonition to a Spiritual
Son, thc intcrcst of which wc shall scc shortly. Codcx E contains
Runus translation of Evagrius Sentences to Monks, and somc
scrmons attributcd (falscly) to Augustinc. 1hc Rule of Eugippius itsclf
opcns, as wc havc sccn, with thc full tcxt of thc Regulations for a
Monastery transmittcd in Augustincs namc, followcd by Augustincs
In thc collcction of cxccrpts, Basils Rule for Monks,
again translatcd by Runus, fcaturcs promincntly. Both manuscripts
also contain copics of othcr monastic rulcs.
In othcr words, thc Rules
known to us as thc Rule of the Master and thc Rule of Eugippius havc
bccn bound by thcir carly mcdicval copyists and rcadcrs in books
togcthcr with thc tcxts and authors on which thcy draw. 1hcsc codiccs
cvokc thc long arc of Christian litcrary production and cxchangc from
thc agc of Runus to that of Crcgory thc Crcat.
1hc litcrary culturc of Eugippius and Bcncdict is still misapprc-
hcndcd. 1hc conccrn on thc part of thc Rule of St Benedict to spcak to
bcginncrs is oftcn intcrprctcd as a sign of dcclining cultural standards
in sixth-ccntury Italy.
On this vicw, Christian scholars such as
Cassiodorus cxpcricnccd a lowcring of thc cultural horizon in thc
coursc of thcir lifctimc. As hc nishcd his days writing a trcatisc on
spclling to his disciplcs in thc monastcry of \ivarium in southcrn
Italy, wc arc cncouragcd to imaginc his wistful nostalgia for thc
Christian univcrsity hc had planncd to found at Romc bcforc thc
violcncc and attrition of thc Cothic Wars.
\icwcd without prcjudicc,
howcvcr, thc production of Bocthius translations of Plato and
Rule of St Benedict ++j
Ior thc tcxt inscription on thc ylcaf, scc Masai and \andcrhovcn, La Rgle du Matre,
:j and Pl. Ia. Ior Runus translation, scc H. Chadwick (cd.), The Sentences of Sextus, 1cxts
and Studics j (Cambridgc, +j). It is citcd by RM . +, +o. +, SC +oj, +:, , by
REug :8. y, CSEI 8y, j8, and by RB y. +, SC +8+, 88.
1hcsc tcxts arc cxplicitly attributcd to Augustinc, with thc notc: Explicit rcgula
sancti Augustini cpiscopi. 1his has bccn crucial in thc discussion of thc Rulc of Augustinc,
and no lcss important for dc \oguc in cstablishing thc thcsis of an augustinian wavc
dcsccnding on Italy in thc jos. Scc Rg.Aug., i. ++++y, dc \oguc, Nouvcaux apcrus sur
unc rcglc monastiquc du \Ic sicclc, and Ia Rcglc d Eugippc rctrouvcc?, and bclow for
furthcr discussion of thc uscs of Augustincs authority by thc orilcgium.
1hcsc tcxts arc most convcnicntly cditcd and discusscd by A. dc \oguc, Les Rgles des
saints Pres, SC +y, +8, and in turn by Pricoco, La Regola di san Benedetto e le Regole dei
1hc fact that RM, unlikc RB, is not prcscntcd as a Rule for bcginncrs has bccn takcn as
a mcasurc of such dcclinc: scc dc \ogucs commcnt, SC +8+, .
Scc H.-I. Marrou, Autour dc la bibliothcquc du papc Agapit, MEFR 8 (++),
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 115
Aristotlc, Eugippius Excerpta Augustini, and Cassiodorus trcatisc On
Spelling all providc cvidcncc not of cultural dcclinc, but rathcr of thc
burgconing litcrary intcrcsts of thc Roman and Campanian clitc.
Monastic Rules wcrc a furthcr manifcstation of thc culturc of
scholarly transmission, which sought to impart rcccivcd wisdom as
ccicntly as possiblc to an audicncc cagcr for spiritual instruction.
1hc problcm faccd by thcir authors was not thc waning lcvcl of litcrary
compctcncc, but thc unchcckcd vitality of thc tradition of lay litcrary
patronagc, both a blcssing and a cursc for a moral tcachcr. A monastic
Rule was an opportunity to imaginc a community which was not
bcholdcn to thc gcncrosity of a donor, nor vulncrablc to thc instability
of urban politics. It was a placc whcrc a Christian pcdagoguc could
tcach and cxpcct to bc hcard.
1hc most vivid illustration of thc scarch for a moral voicc through
rcgular ccnobitism, and thc most intriguing cxamplc of thc Runian
contcxt for thc Rule of St Benedict, is aordcd by onc of thc lost tcxts
in codcx P, pscudo-Basils Admonition to a Spiritual Son. 1his is an
obscurc work, which Runus may havc appcndcd to his translation of
thc Sentences of Sextus.
It sccms, howcvcr, to havc bccn closc to thc
hcart of thc author of thc Rule. Pscudo-Basil bcgins:
Iistcn, my son, to thc lcssons of your fathcr, and lcnd your car to my words, and
frccly lcnd mc your cars, paying attcntion with a faithful hcart to cvcrything that
I shall say to you.
1his is, almost vcrbatim, thc opcning of thc Rule of St Benedict. (1hc
opcning of thc Rule of the Master, although not cxactly thc samc, is
couchcd in similar tcrms.). Couplcd with thc injunction at thc closc of
thc Rule to rcad Basils tcxts, it suggcsts that Bcncdict was addrcssing
an audicncc of Italian ascctics whosc rcading and writing habits arc
still visiblc in somc of our carlicst Iatin manuscripts. 1hcsc habits, wc
++ Sixth-Century Alternatives
1hc ylcaf in codcx P rcfcrs to a Monita cuiusdam parentis ad lium appcndcd to thc
Inchiridion Runi Praesbyteri (i.c. thc Sentences of Sextus). In thc prcfacc to this work,
Runus says that hc has appcndcd quaedam religiosi parentis ad lium. Ior thc suggcstion that
this appcndcd tcxt is thc th-ccnt. Admonitio S. Basilii ad lium spiritualem, and that Runus
is its most likcly author scc P.-M. Bogacrt, Ia Prcfacc dc Run aux Scntcnccs dc Scxtc
ct a un ocuvrc inconnuc, RBen 8: (+y:), :, at . Scc also E. Manning,
IAdmonitio S. Basilii ad lium spiritualcm ct la Rcglc dc saint Bcnoit, RAM : (+),
yj, A. dc \oguc, Entrc Basilc ct Bcnoit: lAdmonitio ad lium spiritualem du pscudo-
Basilc, RBS +o/++ (+8+), +. Ior thc tcxt itsclf, scc P. Ichmann, cd., Die Admonitio S.
Basilii ad lium spiritualem, Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
Ph.-H. Kl., +jj, Hcft y (Munich, +jj), also PI +o, 8yoo.
Pscudo-Basil, Admonitio, Ichmann, o, PI +o, 8D. Cf. RB prol. +, SC +8+, +:,
RMprol. +:+, SC +oj, :88:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 116
now suggcst, wcrc formcd not only by thc gcncralizcd sct of cxpccta-
tions of thc litcratc clitc: thc Rules appcal spccically to thc inhcritcd
tcachings of Cassian to providc a fully cohcrcnt programmc of how
and why to rcad as an ascctic.
+nr ournrrcr or +nr crour+r
Evcryonc knows that a bcncdictinc monk takcs vows of povcrty,
chastity, and obcdicncc. Of povcrty, howcvcr, thc Rule says vcry littlc,
of chastity nothing at all, and its notion of obcdicncc is far morc
prccisc than wc might cxpcct. 1hc Rule opcns with thc injunction of a
spiritual tcachcr:
Iistcn carcfully, my son, to thc mastcrs instructions, and attcnd to thcm with thc
car of your hcart. 1his is advicc from a fathcr who lovcs you: wclcomc it, and faith-
fully put it into practicc. 1hc labour of obcdicncc will bring you back to him from
whom you had driftcd through thc sloth of disobcdicncc.
Bcncdict hcrc spcaks also for thc Mastcr and Eugippius: all thrcc Rules
arc prcscntcd as thc tcaching of an unnamcd mastcr, who dcmands of
his pupil a distinctivc modc of obcdicncc.
Obcdicncc in thcsc regulae
magistri is a quality of attcntion (thc litcral mcaning of ob-audientia).
1hc kinds of obcdicncc wc might cxpcct to scc discusscdthc prompt
cxccution of commands, thc intcrnalizcd subjugation of thc will of thc
spiritual son to thc divinc willarc both sccn to follow from his
taking to hcart thc words of his mastcr.
1hc anonymity of thc magister who spcaks in thcsc Rules is ccntral
to thc notion of obcdicncc thcy projcct. 1his tcachcr is not a particular
individual, but a pcrsonication of thc magisterium of tradition. 1hc
instruction hc dispcnscs is not thc idiosyncratic or untutorcd insight of
thc mavcrickrathcr thc accumulatcd wisdom of an unbrokcn tradi-
tion of spiritual cxpcrtisc. 1hc fact that thc thrcc Rules arc all regulae
magistri holding long scctions of tcxt in common suggcsts a conccrtcd
cort to construct such a magistcrial tradition in sixth-ccntury Italy. If
wc wish to undcrstand thc idcntity of thc Mastcr, wc nccd, not to
comb thc prosopographical rccords, but to cxaminc thc dcrivation and
composition of thc corc of matcrial sharcd by thc thrcc Rules.
Rule of St Benedict ++y
RB prol. +:, SC +8+, +:.
RMprol. +, 1hcma :, SC +oj, :88, oo, REug +8, CSEI 8y, :. Ior compara-
tivc commcntary on RM and RB on obcdicncc, scc dc \oguc, Community and Abbot, +y
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 117
1hc sccnc of instruction framing thc Rules rccalls, not coincidcn-
tally, thc Conferences of ]ohn Cassian. 1hc magister who issucs thcsc
Rules cmbodics Cassians notion of spiritual cxpcrtisc, and thc aural
obcdicncc of his pupil harks back cxplicitly to Cassians undcrstanding
of thc gctting of ascctic wisdom through thc occupation of thc mind
with sacrcd tcxts. 1hc achicvcmcnt of thc Rules was to call upon
Cassians notion of occupatio mentis as thc kcy to rcading thc matcrial
thcy havc cxccrptcd and synthcsizcd. 1o litcratc groups alrcady
habituatcd to thc collcction of cxtracts, thc Rules supplicd thc cxtra
rationalc of Cassian. If what thc mind nccdcd for its purication was
sacrcd rcading matcrial, thcn what bcttcr way to providc it than to
samplc from thc canon of vcncratcd Christian writcrs, and of coursc
from Scripturc? Whcn thc disciplcs ask a qucstion, it is thc Iord who
spcaks through thc magister.
1hc Mastcr, Eugippius, and Bcncdict achicvc a graphic rcalization
of thc abstract logic of Cassians analysis. In his nal sct of Conferences,
as wc havc sccn, Cassian dcvclopcd a discussion of typcs of monks: thc
ccnobitcs, dircct dcsccndants of thc rst Christian community
]crusalcm, and thc anchoritcs who dcvclop from thc ccnobitcs. Hc
had bccn unablc to dccidc, howcvcr, which kind of lifc was bcst,
and hc was unccrtain about thc tcrms on which ccnobitic lifc was
actually possiblc. 1hc Rules havc no such cquivocation. 1hcrc arc
clcarly four kinds of monks, opcns chaptcr onc of thc Rule of St
Iirst thcrc arc thc ccnobitcs, that is to say, thosc who bclong to a monastcry, whcrc
thcy scrvc undcr a rulc and an abbot. Sccond thcrc arc thc anchoritcs or hcrmits,
who havc comc through thc tcst of living in a monastcry for a long timc, and havc
passcd bcyond thc rst fcrvor of monastic lifc.
Cutting through Cassians vacillations, thc Rules asscrt that thosc
who achicvc purity of hcart as ccnobitcs may go on to lcad livcs of
anchoritic pcrfcctionbut cxtrcmc carc was nccdcd bcforc pcrmitting
this to happcn.
1hcn thcrc wcrc two kinds of falsc monks, summoncd by thc Rules
from thc pagcs of Cassian in ordcr to rcndcr vivid through contrast
thc virtucs of ccnobitism. Cassian had dcscribcd in somc dctail thc
crror of thc sarabaitcs, mcn who did not adhcrc to thc authority of a
++8 Sixth-Century Alternatives
RB +. +, SC +8+, , tr. RB , +. Cf. RM+. +, +. yj, SC +oj, :8, , REug
:y. +, :y. +, CSEI 8y, y, .
RB +. j, SC +8+, 8, RM+. j, SC +oj, :8o, REug :y. j, CSEI 8y, y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 118
rulc or spiritual guidc, and hc had bricy rcfcrrcd to a fourth kind
of inauthcntic monk: scizing thc rhctorical momcnt, thc Italian
Rules, having alrcady brought into bcing thc magister, achicvc anothcr
unforgcttablc pcrsonication. 1hcy crcatc thc gurc of thc gyrovaguc,
thc dcliriously misguidcd monk who cmbodics evagatio mentis, thc
wandcring statc of attcntion that rcsults from failurc to obscrvc a
propcr occupatio mentis. Noting Cassians sarabaitcs in passingthcy
livc in random groups of two or thrcc, following thcir own whims
thc Rules cvokc thc spcctrc of monks who arc cntircly unstablc,
actually moving from placc to placc cvcry thrcc or four days.
Bcncdict and Eugippius nd thc gyrovagucs to bc almost unspcakablc:
not so thc Mastcr, who, in an appropriatcly circuitous digrcssion,
dcscribcs thc inccssant wandcrings of thcsc monks, for whom cvcn
thc widc dcscrts of Egypt wcrc not big cnough.
Without xity of
spiritual purposc, thc Mastcr obscrvcs, thc gyrovagucs arc prcy to all
thc viccs. 1hcy arc drivcn on from placc to placc by thcir stomachs:
cnslavcd by gluttony, thcy will go to almost any lcngths to obtain a frcc
1hcir rclcntlcss cating and wandcring must nccds bc accom-
panicd by a constant strcam of spccious sclf-justication. 1hcy arrivc
at a placc with thcir hcads bowcd in humility, oncc thcir prctcnccs arc
cxposcd, thcy lcavc in two or thrcc days all proud and ungratcful.
Wandcring inccssantly from placc to placc, thc Mastcr concludcd
poignantly, thcy do not cvcn know whcrc to cstablish thcir placc of
1his so-callcd satirc of thc gyrovagucs may bc a commcnt
on monastic lifc in sixth-ccntury Campania,
but it is morc ccrtainly
to bc intcrprctcd as an cssay about ccnobitism. Its purposc is to
Rule of St Benedict ++
On sarabaitcs: RB +. ++, SC +8+, 8o, RM+. +:, SC +oj, o:, REug :y.
+:, CSEI 8y. 8. On gyrovagucs: RB +. +o++, SC +8+, 8o, RM+. +y, SC +oj, :
, REug :y. ++8, CSEI 8y, 8.
1hc digrcssivcncss of RMon thc gyrovagucs is crucial for Masais vicw of thc rclation
bctwccn RMand REug (or, in his tcrms, thc longcr and thc shortcr vcrsion of RM). Masai
argucd that REug is prior, bccausc RMs digrcssion is inscrtcd into a phrasc which runs
without intcrruption in REug: scc Settimane I\, y.
In Cassians classication of thc viccs, as sccn abovc, gluttony was thc rst advcrsary of
thc monk: thc gyrovagucs as anti-monks arc thus pitiably unablc to surmount thc rst
hurdlc. 1hc priority of gluttony may cxplain also why REug givcs carly attcntion (REug :)
to thc occ of ccllarcr in thc monastcry.
RM+. y:, SC +oj, .
RM+. y, SC +oj, . Cf. thc nuns at Arlcs, whosc burial placc is dcncd thc momcnt
thcy cntcr thc convcnt. RV y. +:, SC j, :y:.
Cf. Crcgory, Ep. I. o (CCSI +o, ) to Anthcmius, Crcgorys rector in Campania.
1hc lcttcr rcads likc thc rcalization of thc Rules collcctivc nightmarc: monks arc wandcring
around from monastcry to monastcry, submitting to no abbot or Rule, thcy own propcrty,
somc cvcn cohabit with womcn, or publicly display thcir wivcs.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 119
contrast thc crrant body of thc gyrovaguc with thc stability of thc
obcdicnt ccnobitc.
Having conjurcd up thc gyrovaguc, thc Mastcr and Bcncdict thcn
dclincatc thc gurc of thc abbot (thc scqucncc of Eugippius is dicrcnt:
thc abbot prcccdcs thc typcs of monks).
1hc abbot is cntrustcd with
fostcring thc aural virtuc of thc monks. Hc is thc living mcdiator of thc
word of Cod to thc monks, as thc Rulc is thc tcxtual mcdiator. But hc
himsclf must rcmain obcdicnt to thc Rule. 1hc abbot, in othcr words,
is subordinatc to thc magister, and many of his uttcranccs arc actually
scriptcd for him (although wc shall scc that thc thrcc Rules proposc
dicrcnt rolcs for thc abbot within this gcncral framcwork).
What thc Rules thcn sct out is a spiritual, dcvotional, and practical
programmc of vcrbal purity drawn from Cassians tcchnology of
mcntal prcoccupation.
Evcry waking and slccping hour dcmands
control of languagc and of silcncc. A form of contincncc, silcncc is a
gurativc cloistcr kccping thc cars and mouth inviolatc to all spccch
savc Cods.
Whcn monks do spcak, thcy should do so with thc
grcatcst caution, cvcr wary of sins of thc mouth. Ict us follow thc
Prophcts counscl: I said, I havc rcsolvcd to kccp watch ovcr my ways
that I may ncvcr sin with my tonguc. I havc put a guard on my mouth.
Monks shall not burst out into laughtcr or shouting, thcy shall spcak
fcw words, and thosc quictly and with gravitas. 1hcsc prohibitions arc
rcpcatcd thrcc timcs in thc carly chaptcrs, bcing thcn cstablishcd as
thc ninth, tcnth and clcvcnth gradcs of humility.
1hc twclfth gradc
insists that thc monk kccps his hcad bowcd in humility (litcrally
towards thc ground) on a pcrmancnt basis.
+:o Sixth-Century Alternatives
Scc REug :8, CSEI 8y, +: thc conclusion to thc orilicgium is an cxtract drawn from
]cromcs lcttcr to Rusticus of Narbonnc (Ep. +oj. ), which rccommcnds thc ccnobitic lifc
ovcr thc crcmitic lifc of solitudc, whcrc it is casy to forgct oncsclf: Intus corporc lingua foris
REug :j on thc abbot, :8 on thc typcs of monks.
Scc c.g. RM jo. , SC +o, :::: Nam cum fratcr aliquid opcratur, dum oculum
in laboris opcrc git, indc scnsum occupat, dc quod facit, ct cogitarc aliqua non vacat ct
dcsidcriorum non mcrgitur uctibus. Cf. RM8. +o, ++. , ++. y, 8:. ++, SC +oj, oo, SC
+o, 8, :8, 8 (and for furthcr rcfcrcnccs, scc dc \ogucs indcx, SC +oy, oy). Cf. dc
\oguc, Ics dcux fonctions dc la mcditation dans lcs Rcglcs monastiqucs ancicnncs, RHS
j+ (+yj), + (rcpr. in Recueil, 8oy:o) arguing for a shift from manual labour to lectio
divina as thc focus for meditatio across thc jth and th ccnts.: both contcxts for meditatio arc,
howcvcr, dircctcd towards thc samc goal of occupatio mentis.
RMy. +8, . :, SC +oj, 8, +:.
RB . +, SC +8+, y+, RM8. +, +oj, o, citing Ps. 8: :.
Ior thc thrccfold rcpctition: RM . jyo, 8. , +o. yj8+, SC +oj, 8yo, o,
, cchocd in REug +. +, :8. yoj, :. +j, CSEI 8y, :y8, j8, +, and RB . j:,
. 8, y. j+, SC +8+, o, yo:, 88.
RM +o. 8:, SC +oj, 8, REug :8. yy8+, CSEI 8y, j8, RB y. j, SC +8+,
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 120
1hc liturgy is thc arca most cvocativc of thc conccrn to rcgulatc
spccch. What camc out of thc monks mouths and at what timc of day
could bc prcciscly, and sclf-consciously, prcscribcd.
Onc bricf
cxamplc must succ, conccrning thc arrangcmcnts for night-timc. All
thc Rulcs prcscribc that at night, bctwccn complinc and nocturns,
complctc silcncc is to fall on thc community. 1his silcncc is drama-
tizcd in all thc Rulcs (although not to quitc thc samc cxtcnt in Bcncdict
as in thc Mastcr and Eugippius). Starting thc dcscription of thc
liturgy with complinc, thc Mastcr and Eugippius prcscribc that thc
monks last words bc Sct a watch, O Iord, bcforc my mouth: kccp thc
door of my lips (Ps. +o: ). Silcncc is thcn to fall, a silcncc so grcat
that you would not think that thcrc was a singlc brothcr thcrc.
Nocturns thcn bcgins in thc Mastcr with O Iord, opcn thou my lips
and my mouth shall bc full of praisc (Ps. jo: +y). 1o asscmblc thc
monks to brcak thc silcncc of thc night, two monks arc cntrustcd with
thc task of waking thc community. Whcn thcy awakc, thcy must say
togcthcr quictly O Iord, opcn thou my lips and my mouth shall show
forth thy praisc.
1hcrc is to bc no chink in thc armour of holy spccch.
Outsidc church, thc Rules arc no lcss conccrncd to maintain control
of spccch. At mcaltimcs and in thc summcr cvcnings, Bcncdict
commands rcadings of thc Rule, Cassians Conferences, or somc othcr
suitablc tcxt (not thc Hcptatcuch or thc Books of Kings).
dangcrs of vcrbal pollution wcrc constantly prcscnt, warns thc Rule. A
slothful brothcr might stop himsclf and othcrs from rcading with
storics and idlc talk.
At thc bcginning of thc night occ, monks
might wait outsidc thc oratory, so lcaving thcmsclvcs opcn to storics
and chat.
On journcys (undcrtakcn only on monastcry busincss),
Rule of St Benedict +:+
88. On thc gradcs of humility and Cassian, scc Masai, Rcchcrchcs sur lc tcxtc origincl du
Dc humilitatc dc Cassicn, A. dc \oguc, Dc Cassicn au Maitrc ct a Eugippc: lc titrc du
chapitrc dc lhumilitc, StMon : (+8+), :y+. On thc liturgical futurc of humility in
thcsc physiological tcrms, scc thc Icntcn oratio super populo, Humiliatc capita vcstra Dco
introduccd into thc Roman sacramcntary in thc latc th or carly yth ccnt.: ]. A. ]ungmann,
The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development (Ncw York, +jj), :, +. I owc
this rcfcrcncc to Hcnry Mayr-Harting.
RM, SC +o, +y:::, RB 8+, SC +8:, jo88.
RMo. +, SC +o, +.
RM o. 8+, +. +o:, SC +oj, +, +yo:, REug ::, CSEI 8y, yj, RB . +, ::,
SC +8:, j+o, j:, is lcss conccrncd with spccifying thc tcrms for thc purication of spccch
than thc othcr Rules: scc bclow, n. +o.
RM:, SC +o, +:::, RB 8, SC +8:, jy:. Ior cvcning rcadings, scc RB :. +,
SC +8:, j8. 1hcrc arc no similar rcadings prcscribcd in RMor REug.
RB 8. +8, SC +8:, o:.
RB . 8, SC +8:, j88.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 121
monks wcrc cspccially vulncrablc to cxposurc to unclcan spccch.
Mindful pcrhaps of thc impossibility of sustaining a fully purc rcgimc,
Bcncdict signals that Icnt was thc timc, and thc monastic oratory
was thc placc, whcrc monks should makc a spccial cort to avoid
rhctorical tcmptation.
In thc Mastcr, almost all vcrbal cxchangcs arc
prcscribcd in dctail. Installation of thc wcckly scrvcrs, punishmcnt of
ocndcrs, admission of postulants, and thc clcction of thc ncw
abbotall thcsc occasions arc liturgicd with thc lincs of thc
participants prcciscly scriptcd.
Privatc praycr and privatc rcading
wcrc in thc samc way activitics dcsigncd to promotc holy lcarning and
holy spccch. 1hc praycr that was hcard of Cod did not involvc an out-
pouring of many words, it was (in Bcncdict) thc short and purc
1hc Italian magistri, in short, sought to rcalizc to an
unprcccdcntcd dcgrcc Cassians vision of an ascctic community of
pcrfcctcd discoursc.
o+s+rc cotr+v +n +uu++r+r +t+noar+v
1hc Italian Rules aspirc to thc anonymity of a unicd traditionbut
thc magister who spcaks in all of thcm tcachcs a dicrcnt lcsson in cach.
Within thcir sharcd framc of rcfcrcncc as rulcs for ccnobitcs, thc
Mastcr, Eugippius, and Bcncdict cach projcct dicring visions of how
thc ccnobitic community will bc organizcd, and how thc authority of
thc abbot will function thcrcin. 1hcsc dicrcnccs, and cspccially thc
distinctivcncss of thc Rule of St Benedict havc bccn thc subjcct of
microscopic analysis: our goal hcrc is not to cmulatc thcsc, but to show
how thcsc dicrcnccs rclatc to thc dicring approachcs to thc moral
authority of thc spcakcr and his rclation to his listcncr(s) with which
wc havc bccn conccrncd throughout this book.
Having committcd thcmsclvcs to thc coenobium as thc vcnuc for thc
+:: Sixth-Century Alternatives
RB y. j, SC +8:, :.
RB j, , j:, SC +8:, oo, ++.
Septimanarii: RM +, SC +o, o8, punishmcnt of ocndcrs: RM ++, SC +o,
:, REug o, CSEI 8y, 8+j, postulants: RM8, SC +o, yo8, abbatial clcction: RM
:, SC +o, +oo.
RB 8. j, SC +8:, oo on privatc rcading. RB :o. , SC +8:, j8, on privatc
praycr. RB hcrc adds, in a charactcristic saving clausc, that praycrs should bc short, nisi
fortc cx acctu inspirationis divinac gratiac protcndatur. Ior commcnt, scc A. dc \oguc,
Ia Rcglc dc saint Bcnoit ct la vic contcmplativc, CollCist :y (+j), 8+oy.
1his is to vcnturc on ground alrcady dcnitivcly chartcd by dc \oguc, Community and
Abbot, and in his two SC cditions of RMand RB.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 122
ascetic arts as Cassian had adumbrated them, the Italian magistri must
all confront the issues that had made Cassian hesitate to give the
cenobium his full endorsement. The main problem for communal
ascetic living, as we have seen, lay in Cassians own axiom that the
ascetically expert could not easily live under the same roof as their
more nave brethren, because the latter would not be able to tolerate
the correction of their more advanced colleagues. Conversely, Cassian
had been reluctant to endorse the authority of any ageing ascetic, con-
scious as he was of the possibilities that charisma could be deceptive,
unfounded on true expertise. The realization both of monastic com-
munity and of abbatial authority was inhibited by Cassians analysis,
and the Italian magistri seek to overcome these inhibitions.
Eugippius, whose intentions can only be guessed at from the selec-
tion and juxtaposition of texts, aords a view of the competing visions
of monastic community embedded in the traditions with which he is
familiar. The orilegium starts with the full text of Augustines
Praeceptum (preceded by the Ordo monasterii), solemnly closing with
the notice: Here ends the Rule of the holy bishop Augustine. For
some commentators, this demonstrates the unwavering augustinian
sympathies of the compiler, and the shorter extracts that follow are to
be understood as a gloss on Augustines vision of the monastery.
may be, however, that here, as elsewhere, the authority of Augustine
is being invoked to lend credence to an entirely dierent vision of
monastic community. There follows, as we have seen, a series of
extracts drawn principally from Cassians Institutes and Conferences,
and sharing material with the Master. No overt attempt is made to
reconcile the augustinian community of charity with Cassians
description of the community of pure speech; a third party is intro-
duced, however, in the person of Basil of Caesarea, whose monastic
teachings are excerpted in the translation made by Runus, and his
role may be to strike a point of balance between Augustine and
Cassian. Like the latter, Basil/Runus uses the terminology of the
desertthe eremitic and cenobitic livesbut he is no less emphatic
than Augustine in advocating the communal life of charity on the
model of the Jerusalem community. No explicit gloss as to the arbi-
trating role of Basils view of the monastery is provided, however: the
overall strategy of the compilation is to preserve without compromise
the anonymity of the Master in his transmission of tradition. The Rule
Rule of St Benedict
See Rg.Aug. i. ; de Vog, Nouveaux aperus sur une rgle monastique du
VIe sicle, and La Rgle d Eugippe retrouve?
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 123
of Eugippius dcncs a cld of possiblc communitics, but ccdcs to thc
community of its rcadcrs thc nal dccision as to how to idcntify thcm-
sclvcs as a group.
Such didcncc was not for thc Mastcr. His approach to thc
problcm of community hcld rm to Cassians ccntral contcntion about
thc impossibility of maintaining dicrcnt lcvcls of ascctic achicvcmcnt
in thc community. Hc was ccrtain, howcvcr, that thc rcgimc hc sought
to put in placc would cnsurc parity of standards. Placing condcncc,
likc Cacsarius of Arlcs, in thc control of dctail, thc Mastcr aspircd to
an cxhaustivc accuracy of moral prcscription and survcillancc. Hc
cnvisagcs a community dividcd into two groups of tcn, whosc cvcry
word or gcsturc is subjcct to scrutiny from a prior.
1hosc who visit
thc community arc no morc cxcmpt from this rcgimc: lodgcd apart, in
quartcrs with no monastcry tools or utcnsils, thcy arc to bc accompa-
nicd by two monks on a twcnty-four hour basis. Custodia, custodire,
cautela custodiendi: thcsc arc thc watchwords of thc tcxt.
Prcscriptivc in thc last dcgrcc, thc Mastcr spclls out thc rcwards
that inmatcs of thc community can cxpcct to attain: drawing on thc
passiones of thc Roman martyrs, hc dcscribcs thc hcavcnly dcstination
of thc purc in spccch and hcart. Having asccndcd thc laddcr of
humility, and having lcft this lifc, thc Mastcrs disciplcs can cxpcct to
inhabit a land of unboundcd joy, a world whcrc night ncvcr falls
thcrc arc not cvcn any shadowsin a tcrritory saturatcd with light and
sound, tastc, and smcll. 1hc rclcntlcss prcoccupation of thc scnscs
with holy discoursc in thc monastcry now givcs way to a lifc livcd
undcr a cloudlcss sky, in mcadows full of owcrs, irrigatcd by rivcrs
owing with milk and honcy, whcrc angcls and archangcls sing on thc
banks. 1rccs bcar fruit onc nccd only look at to havc tastcd.
Although rcproduccd in Eugippius, nonc of this matcrial appcars in
thc Rule of St Benedict. Ior all that hc owcd to thc Mastcr, Bcncdict
+: Sixth-Century Alternatives
RM++. j, SC +o, ++.
Scc c.g. RM++, SC +o, , announcing thc programmc for thc rcst of thc Rule: Incipit
ordo monastcrii: modus, obscrvatio, gradus, contincntia, custodia ct mcnsura . . ..
RM +o. :+::, SC +oj, 8 and REug :y, CSEI 8y, j+, both drawing on
Passio Sebastiani +, PI +y, +++y+. Scc also RM. 8, SC +oj, y:, drawing on thc
jth-ccnt. apocryphal Visio Pauli. Both passio and visio numbcr among thc tcxts condcmncd
by thc Pscudo-Cclasian dccrcc (Decretum Gelasianum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis, cd.
E. Dobschutz, 1L 8, (Icipzig, ++:), ++, at +:). 1hc dccrcc, although unccrtainly
datcd itsclf, has bccn uscd to cstablish a chronology for thc composition of RM, REug, and
RB (scc dc \oguc, SC +oj, ::+o, with thc criticism of Dunn, Mastcring Bcncdict). Ior
a broadcr discussion of thc rules and thc Roman martyr tradition, scc Coopcr, 1hc Martyr,
thc matrona, and thc Bishop.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 124
movcd in a dicrcnt dircction in his clucidation of thc tcrms of com-
munity, both worldly and othcrworldly. His Rule is prcmisscd on a
dctcrmination to dcvisc a community in which thc wcak and thc strong
can cocxistto start with thc lowcst common dcnominator, without
sacricing thc csscntials of thc ascctic art. 1hc control of dctail is
immcdiatcly rclinquishcd. Not all occasions arc liturgicd: whcn
monks rousc cach othcr for nocturns thcy should do so not with Ps. jo:
+y, as in thc Mastcr and Eugippius, but with quict cncouragcmcnt,
for thc slccpy likc to makc cxcuscs.
1cmpcratc in his imagination of
thc daily routinc of thc monks, Bcncdict is cqually rcstraincd in thc
promiscs hc makcs to thosc who follow him. No vistas of a scnsory
Paradisc arc opcncd to thc spiritual sons of this Mastcr, who is contcnt
simply to invokc Pauls assurancc to thc Corinthians, Eyc hath not
sccn, nor car hcard, what thc Iord is prcparing for thosc who lovc
him (+ Cor. :: :).
1hc climination of prcscriptivc dctail in his Rule allowcd Bcncdict
to takc advantagc of thc cxibility of Cassians analysis of moral
puritycvcn bcginncrs would bc ablc to mastcr thc spiritual arts as
hcrc dcncdand at thc samc timc to focus with an uncluttcrcd mind
on thc problcm that had dcfcatcd Cassian of dicring spiritual abilitics
in thc community. It is at this point that Bcncdict turncd (likc
Eugippius) to Augustinc: thc notions of monastic community and
abbatial authority articulatcd in Augustincs Rule showcd that it was,
aftcr all, possiblc to construct a mixcd cenobium. It was not only that
Augustinc insistcd on thc primacy of charity, rcgardlcss of dicrcnt
lcvcls of ascctic compctcncc: it was also that hc rcmindcd rcadcrs of
Cassian of thc othcr dicrcnccs that obtaincd in thc community
bcsidcs that bctwccn cxpcrts and ingcnus, abovc all, that of social
class. 1hc issuc of class was a wclcomc sourcc of divcrsion, as it wcrc,
from thc othcrwisc intractablc problcm of rclations bctwccn thc
spiritually wcak and thc strong.
Half-way through his Rule, Bcncdict turns, in unmistakably augus-
tinian languagc, to thc qucstion of privatc propcrty:
Abovc all, this cvil practicc must bc uprootcd and rcmovcd from thc monastcry.
. . . No onc should prcsumc to givc, rcccivc, or rctain anything of his own, noth-
ing at allnot a book, writing tablcts, or stylusin short not a singlc itcm . . . Ior
thcir nccds, thcy arc to look to thc fathcr of thc monastcry, and arc not allowcd
Rule of St Benedict +:j
RB . +, ::, SC +8:, j+o, j:. Scc dc \ogucs commcnt, SC +8, ::y8o.
RB . yy, SC +8+, . Scc also prol. , SC +oj, :: incnarrabilc dilcctionis
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 125
anything which the abbot has not given or permitted. All things should be the
common possession of all, as it is written, so that no one presumes to call anything
his own.
Although the Rule does not reproduce Augustines exact observations
about the diculty of getting rich and poor to cohabit, it is almost as
determined to insulate the community from the damaging eects of
snobbery or class resentment.
The masterstroke in this programme
is the principle of superiority instituted by Benedict: he who arrives at
the rst hour to join the community is senior to the man who comes at
the second.
This simple measure not only neutralized the memory of
worldly dierences, it also stemmed the invidious likelihood that an
unauthorized hierarchy of ascetic ability would recrudesce in the space
left by the forbidden element of class or worldly status.
Dierences in the community could not be entirely eradicated,
of course: the Jerusalem community provided for Benedict, as for
Augustine, a model of how they could be accommodated:
It is written: Distribution was made to each as he had need. By this we do not
mean to imply that there should be favouritismGod forbidbut rather con-
sideration for weaknesses. Whoever needs less should thank God and not feel dis-
tressed, but whoever needs more should feel humble because of his weakness and
not self-important because of the kindness shown him. In this way all members
will be at peace.
The Rule insists that the simple and the expert can live together, across
their dierences, and without murmuring.
As in Augustines Praeceptum, the burden of distribution according
to need must fall on a particular set of shoulders. While in Benedict, as
in the other Rules, it is the magister who holds overall sway, and whose
teachings apply universally to all inmates of the community, the abbot
in Benedict is delegated with greater powers and responsibilities to
minister to individual need:
He must know what a dicult and demanding burden he has undertaken: direct-
ing souls and serving a variety of temperaments, coaxing, reproving, and
Sixth-Century Alternatives
RB . , SC , tr. RB , ; recalling Augustine, Praec. , misquoting Acts
: .
See Mayr-Harting, The Venerable Bede, the Rule of St Benedict, and Social Class.
RB . , SC , .
It was the abbots prerogative to establish a ranking according to virtue: RB . , SC
, .
RB . , SC , , tr. RB , .
RB . , SC , . Cf. Praec. . , Rg.Aug. i. .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 126
cncouraging thcm as appropriatc. Hc must so accommodatc and adapt himsclf
to cach othcrs charactcr and intclligcncc that hc will not only kccp thc ock
cntrustcd to his carc from dwindling, but will rcjoicc in thc incrcasc of a good
1hc abbot, in othcr words, must cxpcricncc thc anxicty of authority
thc strain of constantly calculating what hc will say to cach of his ock,
and thc possibility that his insight might onc day fail him. Bcncdict is
wcll awarc of thc cxtra burdcn of accountability that this imposcs on
thc abbot, and thc dangcr to all that thc abbot will usc cxccss forcc in
corrcction. In rcsponsc, hc cschcws thc mania of supcrvision advo-
catcd by thc Mastcr: Excitablc, anxious, cxtrcmc, obstinatc, jcalous,
or ovcr-suspicious hc [thc abbot| must not bc. Such a man is ncvcr at
rcst. Mindful of his own fragility, thc abbot should bcar in mind
]acobs discrction:
If I drivc my ocks too hard, thcy will all dic in a singlc day. 1hcrcforc, drawing
on discrction, thc mothcr of all virtucs, hc must so arrangc cvcrything that thc
strong havc somcthing to ycarn for and thc wcak havc somcthing from which to
Bcncdict was ablc, cxplicitly, to rcsolvc thc problcm of communal
living that had dcfcatcd Cassianbut only at thc cost of admitting a
dcgrcc of irrcsolution with rcgard to thc qucstion of authority. No
abbot, howcvcr graccd with discrction, could hopc to avoid all crror in
his dircction of souls.
Mindful of thc intricatc politics of corrcction, Bcncdict rcturns
towards thc cnd of his Rule to thc thcmc of what sort of pcrson thc
abbot should bcIct him strivc to bc lovcd rathcr than fcarcd

and on what a monk should do whcn givcn an impossiblc abbatial

command. Bcncdict was, tcntativcly, prcparcd to cnvisagc thc possi-
bility that monastic obcdicncc did not prccludc thc possibility of
rcasoning with abbatial authority:
Should hc [thc monk| scc that thc burdcn is altogcthcr too much for his strcngth,
thcn hc should choosc thc appropriatc momcnt and cxplain paticntly to his
Rule of St Benedict +:y
RB :. +:, SC +8+, 8jo, matcrial not prcscnt in RM, although thc thcmc is not
cntircly abscnt thcrc. Both RMand RB citc : 1im. : : on thc dicrcnt modcs of admoni-
tion (RM:. :j, RB :. :j, also REug :j. RB omits RM:. :+ on thc abbot as child,
fathcr, and mothcr. Scc dc \oguc, Community and Abbot, j, for a full discussion of thc
dircctorics of thc abbot.
RB . +8+, SC +8:, j:.
RB . +j, SC +8:, jo, and K. Cross, Plus amari quam timeri: Einc antikc politischc
Maximc in dcr Bcncdiktincrrcgcl, VigChr :y (+y), :+8:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 127
superior the reasons why he cannot perform the task. This he ought to do without
pride, obstinacy, or refusal. If, after the explanation, the superior is still deter-
mined to hold to his original order, then the junior must recognize that this is best
for him.
In his focus on the obedience of those under command, Benedict
forgoes the opportunity to follow Augustine in imagining what it
might be like to be the gure in authority issuing a command he nds
to be impossible, or a rebuke he knows to be too harsh. The abbot does
not have to stand alone in Benedicts Rule, as he does in that of
Augustine. His isolation is countered, in the Rules closing section, by
a call to obedience of all to all, according to rank.
All juniors must
pay to their seniors the attentiveness they owed to the precepts of the
magister and to the directives of the abbot. It was, in the nal analysis,
through a thickened regime of obaudientia rather than a luminous
appeal to Jerusalem communitas that the monastery in the Rule would
express itself as a community.
In observing the distinctive augustinianism of the Rule of St Bene-
dict, then, we should not lose sight of the fact that his is a rule for ceno-
bites in the matrix dened by the work of Cassian. The eect of
Benedicts use of Augustine is not so much to balance out a reliance on
Cassian, as to conscript augustinian authority and perspective to
support a cenobitic interpretation of Cassian. Augustines emphasis on
the monastery as an apostolic, ecclesial community could be used to
strengthen the language and practice of a cenobitism to which Cassian
had given only partial support: this was Benedicts insight, as he
sought to secure the vision of the coenobium already articulated by the
Master. Further than this Benedict did not go: he did not seek to
dene the place of the monastery in the Church, nor within salvation
history. These concerns, however, and specically the question Could
abbatial authority of the sort described in the Rule be exercised in the
wider society of the faithful? were precisely those which preoccupied
the earliest documented reader of Benedicts Rule, Pope Gregory the
Sixth-Century Alternatives
RB . , SC , , tr. RB , . Cf. RB . on the possibility that the
local bishop will be brought in to depose an abbot who is complicit with the vices of his com-
munity (also RB . on dealing with troublesome priests who join the community).
RB . , SC , .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 128
The Gregorian Synthesis
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 129
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 130

The Weakness of Gregory

In the Lombards sacked the monastery of Montecassino, founded
by Benedict some forty or fty years previously. Some of the monks
seem to have sought refuge in the city of Rome, installing themselves
in a monastery near the Lateran palace.
Although safe, at least for the
moment, and although no strangers to the city, we may imagine their
The Rule of St Benedict did little to prepare its adherents
for life in Rome at the end of the sixth century. Benedict had pre-
sumed a rural community with elds and a millpond, materially and
liturgically self-sucientalthough not necessarily closed to the
benign generosity of a patron like Barbaria, the imperial matron who
seems to have provided for Severinus disciples at Lucullanum.
Benedicts disciples now found themselves back in a city, serving the
liturgical needs of a major basilica, and dependent, along with the rest
of the populace, on the organized largesse of the papal administra-
tionfor grain, and for blankets in winter.
Not so far away, on the Caelian Hill, stood the monastery of St
Andrews, recently established in his family mansion by Gregory, the
former prefect of the city, now a convert to the ascetic life. The
inmates of the community were a group of like-minded aristocrats
some of whom Gregory had known since childhood; in the course of
the next twenty years, many were to leave the city as abbots, bishops,
and missionaries to the edges of the known world.
There can have
been no more intellectually earnest, socially condent circle of young
men in the late ancient Mediterranean world. Sympathy for the plight
of the Montecassino refugees, and a measure of fascination, perhaps,
Dial. II, prol. on Benedicts disciple Valentinianus, who for many years was in charge
of the Lateran monastery; II. on the destruction of Montecassino. However, it is only the
much later account of Paul the Deacon (History of the Lombards IV. ) that actually attests
the ight of monks from Montecassino to Rome, with a copy of Benedicts Rule: for critical
discussion of this much debated problem, see Ferrari, Early Roman Monasteries, , and
Meyvaert, Problems concerning the Autograph Manuscript of Saint Benedicts Rule.
Dial. II. . , SC , , on the sons of Roman noblemen ocking to Benedict.
On blankets for ascetics in winter, see Ep. VII. , CCSL , .
e.g. Peter, appointed in Ep. I. to oversee papal lands in Sicily; Maximian, future bishop
of Syracuse; Marinianus, archbishop of Ravenna; Claudius, abbot of St Apollinaire,
Ravenna; Augustine and Mellitus, sent to England as missionaries.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 131
led Gregory to befriend Valentinianus, the leader of the group. Over
fteen years later, Gregory, now occupying the Lateran palace as
bishop of the citythe rst monk, indeed, ever to hold this oce
described his conversations with Benedicts disciples, and the fruit
they bore: the Life of Benedict in the Dialogues.
No other historical gure attracted Gregorys attention in the same
way as did Benedict.
Through his account of the holy mans life,
Gregory took the measure of the distance between his own universe
and that of the ascetic culture he had inherited. If the Rule of St
Benedict did not speak so clearly to the changed needs of his displaced
monks, the memories they carried of their teacher became, in
Gregorys hands, a new language of identity, more suited to the times.
The Benedict of the Dialogues presents a very dierent gure from the
wisdom teacher of the Rule, and the contrast is not merely a function
of the generic dierence between Life and Rule. Gregory, whose
admiration for the Rule we need not doubt, oered to his immediate
circle and to Benedicts disciples a narrative of their mentor as a moral
giant, exorcising the countryside, lifted up to the heavens in the
company of angels.
This was a Benedict for the last daysan escha-
tological appropriation of the moral voice that speaks in the Rule. It is
tempting, perhaps overly so, to regard the encounter between
Benedicts monks and Gregory as a meeting at the frontier between
emissaries from dierent worlds.
In the modern era, Gregory is often depicted as a man at the border,
poised between between the the Roman and the Germanic worlds,
between East and West, and above all, perhaps, between the ancient
and medieval epochsa characterization that does not necessarily
serve him well.
Certainly, in stationing Gregory at the frontier, we
begin to acknowledge the immense future inuence of his account of
Benedict, as of all his writings, in the medieval Church and beyond.
However, this acknowledgement is frequently based on the assump-
Gregorian Synthesis
In Dialogues I, Gregory and his interlocutor Peter discuss the miracles and virtues of
twelve dierent gures; in III there are thirty-six bishops and abbots. IV moves into the
present and contains a whole series of visions from men and women at Rome.
See below, Ch. .
Mutatis mutandis, see Southern, Western Society and the Church, , on the contrast in
universes evoked by the Rule of St Benedict and Felixs Life of Guthlac: The lonely and
superhuman struggles with demons, the hand-to-hand combats, the duckings, the beatings,
the draggings through bog and fen. . . . For such experiences as these, the Rule of St Benedict
oered little opportunity.
E. Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, vols. (Tbingen, ), ii. , cited by R.
Markus, Gregory the Great and his World (Cambridge, ), p. xii.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 132
tion that Crcgory, as a hingc gurc cngagcd in cultural transmission,
has no original point of vicw. Installcd in thc patristic canon as thc
fourth Iatin Iathcr, Crcgory tcnds to bc typccast as a moral thinkcr,
whosc assimilation of thc tcxts of Augustinc and Cassian was of critical
importbut who was himsclf lcss capablc of analytical or innovativc
thought, and who thcrcforc conccntratcd his cncrgics on rcducing thc
complcxitics of carlicr patristic writings for consumption by a futurc
mcdicval audicncc.
Crcgorys Edwardian biographcr, an avowcd
admircr of his subjcct, in whosc dcbt modcrn scholars still stand,
cxcmplics this approach:
Crowing up amid thc rclics of a grcatncss that had passcd, daily rcmindcd by thc
bcautiful brokcn marblcs of thc vanity of things, hc [Crcgory| was accustomcd to
look on thc world with sorrowful cycs. 1hc thrill, thc vigour, thc joy of lifc wcrc
not for him. . . . Hc ncvcr attaincd a pcrfcct sanity of vicw. Irom his birth hc was
sicka victim of thc malady of thc Middlc Agcs.
At thc start of thc account, thc rcadcr mccts thc young Crcgory cast,
ironically, in thc mould of Cibbon, survcying thc dilapidation of
1hc prcmisscs on which thcsc vcrdicts arc bascd arc opcn to
qucstion. An involvcmcnt in cultural transmission nccd imposc no
constraint on originality, a spiritually drivcn lack of intcrcst in institu-
tions or political thcory nccd cntail no lack of intcrcst in powcr. It
is suggcstcd hcrc that Crcgory was committcd abovc all clsc to a
mcditation on powcr and its uscs dclibcratcly divorccd from an insti-
tutional or a high thcorctical contcxt. Ovcr ncarly two ccnturics,
succcssivc gcncrations in thc ascctic movcmcnt had confrontcd,
cxplorcd, and argucd ovcr thc multifarious social conscqucnccs of
thcir own profusc claims to othcrworldlincss. Now, for thc rst timc,
a monk was bishop of Romc. Acutcly conscious of thc cxaltcd
charactcr of his station, and hugcly lcarncd in thc vast body of patristic
litcraturc alrcady in cxistcncc, Crcgory dctcrmincd, with astonishing
singlc-mindcdncss, to answcr onc qucstion: how to harncss thc full
forcc of ascctic dctachmcnt to thc cxcrcisc of powcr in this world.
Weakness of Gregory +
Scc thc vcrdicts of Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, ii. j+, and ]. M. Wallacc-Hadrill,
The Frankish Church (Oxford, +8), ++8, both citcd by Markus, Gregory, :o. C. Dagcns,
Saint Grgoire le Grand: culture et exprience chrtiennes (Paris, +yy), +8:8, , mounts a
dcfcncc of Crcgory against his dctractors, whilc nonc thc lcss conccding that originality is
not a quality displaycd by him.
I. Homcs Duddcn, Gregory the Great: His Place in History and Thought, : vols.
(Iondon, +oj), i. +j.
On Crcgory and his scnsc of occ, scc R. A. Markus, Papal Primacy: Iight from thc
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 133
rcsponsc is irrcduciblc to any singlc formulation, thcory, or institu-
tional practicc. What Crcgory ocrs is a languagca discoursc of
moral authority, at oncc crcc and innitcly mallcablc. It is not too
much to say that Crcgorys intcrvcntion pcrmancntly raiscd thc
cciling of cxpcctation of thosc in public occ, in thc mcdicval Wcst
and bcyond. Ior bcttcr or for worsc, thc grcgorian scnsc of thc
moral possibility attcndant on thc cxcrcisc of powcr has provcd unfor-
An undcrstanding of thc languagc Crcgory dcviscdhow hc honcd
his voiccrcquircs that wc look not to his mcdicval futurc, but at his
past. Crcgory idcnticd instinctivcly with vcry ancicnt traditions of
moral rccction and instruction. Whcn hc sccms most pcrsonal to us,
as hc docs in thc prcfacc to thc Dialogues, lamcnting thc burdcns of
occ, dcpicting himsclf in sccludcd convcrsation with a spiritual
companion, to his rcadcrs Crcgory would havc sccmcd an instantly
rccognizablc participant in thc broad tradition rcprcscntcd in thc sixth
ccntury by Bocthius Consolations of Philosophy and Pomcrius On the
Contemplative Life, looking back to Cassians Conferences and to
Augustincs Cassiciacum dialogucs, and bchind all thcsc, to thc
dialogucs of ancicnt philosophy.
It rcmains for Crcgorys modcrn
audicncc to tracc thc spccic ways in which Crcgorys discussion of
powcr and dctachmcnt rcsultcd from his potcnt assimilation of carlicr
ascctic writcrs on this thcmc in thc Iatin Wcst.
Profoundly traditional as wcrc Crcgorys intcllcctual instincts, what
animatcd Crcgorys thinking was his scnsc of thc immcdiatc futurc.
1hc Dialogues, for all thcir fascination with Bcncdict, arc conccrncd
with thc quickcning of historical timc. 1hc narrativcs of past holy mcn
and womcn of Italy givc placc to storics sct in thc prcscnt, in Romc.
1hc ruin of thc scnatc and thc impcrial palacc wcrc but two of
Crcgorys witncsscs. Evcrywhcrc, hc saw signs of thc impcnding
cataclysm. Storms camc uncxpcctcdly in thc summcr timc,
a sinncrs
corpsc was cxpcllcd from its placc of burial in anticipation of thc nal
+ Gregorian Synthesis
Early Middlc Agcs, in id., From Augustine to Gregory the Great: History and Christianity in
Late Antiquity (Iondon, +8), ch. . On Crcgorys consciousncss of patristic litcraturc, in
particular thc work of Ambrosc and Augustinc, scc csp. HEz. I, prcf., CCSI +:, .
As sccn by Icclcrcq, Love of Letters, :. Without knowing it, wc arc living, in grcat
mcasurc, on his modcs of cxprcssion and on his thoughts, and for that vcry rcason, thcy no
longcr sccm ncw to us.
Ior a bricf comparison bctwccn Crcgory and Bocthius, scc ODonncll, 1hc Holincss
of Crcgory, yo.
HEv. II. j. +, PI y, +:oC. Scc also HEv. I. +o. :, PI y, ++++.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 134
In thc dcath-bcd visions of tccnagc girls, as in thc cclc-
bration of thc Mass, thc ncarncss of ]udgcmcnt is palpablc and ccric,
likc thc tricks of thc light in thc brcaking of dawn.
What Crcgory
ocrcd thc cxilcs from Montccassino was a way of making scnsc of thc
loss of thcir original homc, as yct anothcr sign of thc homc-coming
that all wcrc about to cxpcricncc. No Christian writcr sincc Paul of
1arsus, pcrhaps, had as vivid a scnsc of thc ncarncss of thc cnd timcs
as did Crcgory.
+t+nr+rc++ro oarooav
Who is Crcgory thc Crcat?, onc scholar has askcd, so forcing thc
issuc of Crcgorys unrcsolvcd idcntity in modcrn scholarship.
irrcsolution is nowhcrc morc clcarly indcxcd than in thc continuing
dcbatcs about thc authcnticity of thc works commonly includcd in thc
grcgorian corpus.
Charactcristic of thcsc discussions is a tcndcncy to
invokc notions of an csscntial Crcgory whcthcr dcncd through an
cvocation of his spirituality or thc scanning of his clausulac cndings
by which thc attribution of particular works may bc conrmcd or
dcnicd. 1hc possibility that Crcgory could havc cncompasscd contra-
dictions as a thinkcr and a writcr is, pcrhaps, too rarcly admittcd (in
contrast to thc amplc room for complcxity and dcvclopmcnt aordcd
Augustinc of Hippo).
At thc ccntrc of thc dcbatc ovcr authcntication arc thc Dialogues. In
his prcfacc, Crcgory was nothing if not programmatic in his intcntions
for thc work, cxplaining why hc has turncd asidc from his usual busi-
ncss of scriptural cxcgcsis to thc narration of miraclc storics. 1his was
not a fundamcntal changc of coursc, hc maintains. 1hc historics of his
own day wcrc no lcss rcvcaling of thc prcscncc of Cod in thc world
than thosc rccountcd in Scripturc. 1o somc hcarcrs, indccd, exempla
wcrc morc ccctivc than praedicamenta: not so, howcvcr, to somc latcr
rcadcrs of thc Dialogues, who havc bccn unablc to rcconcilc thc storics
of holy mcn, dcvils and, for cxamplc, thc thcft of monastic lcttuccs
Weakness of Gregory +j
Dial. II. jj, SC :j, +8.
c.g. Dial. I\. +8, SC :j, yo: thc \irgin appcars to Musa, sistcr of thc Roman monk
Probus, surroundcd by girls of Musas agc.
ODonncll, 1hc Holincss of Crcgory, :.
Ior a short guidc to Crcgorys lifc and his works, with accompanying bibliography, scc
C. Straw, Gregory the Great, Authors of thc Middlc Agcs I\, nos. +:+ (Iondon, +).
An cxccption bcing S. Bocsch Cajano, Ia proposta agiographica dci Dialoghi di
Crcgorio Magno, Studi Medievali rd scr., :+ (+8o), :.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 135
with thc scarching dccps of Crcgorys biblical homilics.
thc carly modcrn pcriod, indccd, thc Dialogues havc bccn somcthing
of a tcst casc in thc critical rcccption of mcdicval hagiography.
Ior Rcformation and Enlightcnmcnt scholars thcy illustratc thc
crcdulity of cvcn thc most advanccd of mcdicval intcllccts, or at lcast
thcir rcadincss to pandcr to popular supcrstition.
1o this day,
indccd, attcmpts continuc to bc madc to savc thc grcatncss of
Crcgory from thc pcrccivcd idiocy of thc Dialogues by arguing that
thcsc arc a pscudonymous work.
1hc ovcrall trcnd of scholarship on hagiography in thc past gcncra-
tion, howcvcr, has obviatcd thc nccd for such a casc, in its dcmonstra-
tion that it was thc clitc, not thc masscs, in thc latc Roman world who
wcrc rcsponsiblc for thc crcation of thc cult of thc saints, and who did
so for anything but supcrstitious rcasons.
As rcgards thc Dialogues in
particular, from thc mid-+yos a scrics of studics from Italian
and a ncw cdition,
cstablishcd a frcsh critical contcxt for
+ Gregorian Synthesis
On cxcmplarity, scc B. Brcmond et al. (cds.), Lexemplum, 1ypologic dcs sourccs du
moycn gc occidcntal o (1urnhout, +8:), M. \an Lytfanghc, Modclcs bibliqucs dans
lhagiographic, in P. Richc and C. Iobrichon (cds.), Le Moyen Age et la Bible, Biblc dc tous
lc tcmps (Paris, +8), 88, ]. Ic Co, Ics cxcmpla chcz Crcgoirc lc Crand,
Hagiographies, Cultures, Socits, +o+y (with discussion, ++y:o). Rcccnt discussion of thc
litcrary form of thc Dialogues owcs much to A. \italc-Brovaronc, Ia forma narrativa dci
Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno: problcmi storico-lcttcrari, and Iorma narrativa dci Dialoghi
di Crcgorio Magno: prospcttiva di struttura, Atti dellAccademia delle scienze di Torino, II,
Classe di scienze morali, storiche e lologiche, +o8 (+y), j+y, +o (+yj), ++y8j.
1o von Harnack, History of Dogma, v. ::, famously, Crcgory is thc invcntor of
Scc I. Clark, The Pseudo-Gregorian Dialogues, : vols. (Icidcn, +8y). 1hc rcsponsc has
consistcd largcly, and (to my mind) pcrsuasivcly of a rcbuttal of Clarks argumcnts. Scc
R. Codding, Ics Dialogucs dc Crcgoirc lc Crand: A propos dun livrc rcccnt, AB +o
(+88), :o+:, Mcyvacrt, Enigma of Crcgory thc Crcats Dialogucs, A. dc \oguc,
Crcgoirc lc Crand ct scs Dialogucs daprcs dcux ouvragcs rcccnts, RHE 8 (+88), :8+
8, id., Ics Dialogucs, ocuvrc authcntiquc ct publicc par Crcgoirc lui-mmc, in Gregorio
Magno, ii. :yo.
P. R. I. Brown, The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity
(Chicago, +8+), R. \an Dam, Leadership and Community in Late Antique Gaul (Bcrkclcy/
Ios Angclcs, +8j), and id., Saints and their Miracles in Late Antique Gaul (Princcton, +).
1his is not to say that thcrc was no discussion or disscnsion about thc miraculous in this
pcriod, scc c.g. M. \an Lytfanghc, Ia controvcrsc bibliquc ct patristiquc autour du miraclc
ct scs rcpcrcussions dans lAntiquitc tardivc ct lc haut Moycn Agc latin, Hagiographie,
cultures, socits, :oj:, with discussion at ::, id., Sccpticismc doctrinal au scuil du
Moycn Agc? Ics objcctions du diacrc Picrrc dans lcs Dialogues dc Crcgoirc lc Crand, in
Grgoire le Grand, +j:, with discussion, :.
Scc A. \italc-Brovaronc, Ia forma narrativa dci Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno,
S. Bocsch Cajano, Dislivclli culturali c mcdiazioni ccclcsiastichc nci Dialoghi di Crcgorio
Magno, in C. Cinzburg (cd.), Religioni delle classi popolari, Quaderni storici + (+y), 8
+j, cad., Narratio c cspositio nci Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno, Bulletino dellIstituto
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 136
thc discussion of thc tcxt, in which thc issuc of Crcgorys crcdulity
disappcarcd, and discussion could bcgin ancw of thc Dialogues in rcla-
tion to Crcgorys othcr writings and, morc broadly, Iatin hagio-
Iuturc rcscarch is likcly to focus, in particular, on thc
suggcstion that thc Dialogues rcprcscnt Crcgorys rcsponsc to thc
Roman gesta martyrum, a rapidly cxpanding litcraturc in thc fth and
sixth ccnturics, ocring talcs of prc-Constantinian hcroism in thc
arcna. 1hcsc arc almost uniformly ctional, but closcly conncctcd with
thc contcmporary growth of cult sitcs around thc city undcr aristo-
cratic patronagc. 1hc strcss laid by Crcgory in thc Dialogues on thc
ascctic lifc as a pcacc-timc martyrdom, and on thc corrcct, cthically
drivcn intcrprctation of miraculous powcr, may rcprcscnt a critiquc of
thc orid, crccly compctitivc dcvotional culturc associatcd with
martyrs of thc gesta and thcir lay patrons. In ways that arc still obscurc
to us, bccausc work on thc gesta is still in its carly stagcs, thc Dialogues
may thcrcforc form part of thc story of Crcgorys uncasy rclationship
with scctions of thc Roman clcrgy and thcir patrons.
As thc prcfacc to thc Dialogues makcs clcar, by j Crcgory had
cstablishcd a litcrary idcntity as an cxcgctc, his prcfcrcncc was to
cxpound dicult books of thc Old 1cstamcnt to a rclativcly small
oftcn cxtcmporc corts which hc latcr wrotc up for ocial
1hc cxcgctical corpus transmittcd undcr his namc is not,
Weakness of Gregory +y
storico italiano per il medio evo e Archivio Muratoriano 88 (+y), +, cad., Ia proposta
agiographica dci Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno, Studi Medievali rd scr., :+ (+8o),
:, cad., Dcmoni c miracoli nci Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno, Hagiographie, cultures,
socits, :8o, with discussion :8o+. C. Cracco, Lomini di Dio c uomini di chicsa
ncllalto mcdiocvo (pcr una rcintcrprctazionc dci Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno, Ricerche
di storia sociale e religiosa +: (+yy), +:o:, id., Asccsa c ruolo dci viri dci ncllItalia
di Crcgorio Magno, in Hagiographie, cultures, socits, :8, with discussion, :y.
A. dc \oguc (cd.), Grgoire le Grand: Dialogues, vols., SC :j+, :o, :j (Paris
+y88o), rcvicwcd by S. Pricoco, Orpheus : (+8+), :.
Scc c.g. ]. Pctcrscn, The Dialogues of Gregory the Great in their Late Antique Cultural
Background (1oronto: Pontical Institutc of Mcdicval Studics, +8), W. McCrcady, Signs
of Sanctity: Miracles in the Thought of Gregory the Great (1oronto: Pontical Institutc of
Mcdicval Studics, +8).
Scc Bocsch Cajano, Ia proposta agiographica dci Dialoghi di Crcgorio Magno,
Crcgorys audicncc has bccn much discusscd. ]. McClurc, Crcgory thc Crcat:
Excgcsis and Audicncc (Oxford Lniv. D. Phil. thcsis, +y) argucs that Crcgory spokc
always to thc monks of St Andrcws. I follow P. Mcyvacrt, 1hc Datc of Crcgory thc Crcats
Commcntarics on thc Canticlc of Canticlcs and on + Kings, Sacris Erudiri : (+y),
++:+, in cnvisaging a lcss institutionally rcstrictcd group (although any rcliancc on thc
Commcntary on + Kings by any party in this discussion is now vitiatcd by doubts on thc
authcnticity of that work).
P. Mcyvacrt, 1hc Enigma of Crcgory thc Crcats Dialogucs: A Rcsponsc to Irancis
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 137
howcvcr, unproblcmatic. No onc disputcs that Crcgorys rst and
longcst work was his Moralia in Job, thirty-vc books of commcntary
on thc book of ]ob bcgun in Constantinoplc in thc latc jyos and
nishcd in Romc in j+. Ior thc ncxt two ycars, hc cxpoundcd thc
book of Ezckicl, although it was a furthcr cight ycars bcforc hc
nalizcd thc cditing of twcnty-two homilics in two books.
1hc di-
culty comcs in dctcrmining thc cxtcnt of his activitics aftcr j. In a
lcttcr of o:, Crcgory rcvcals that hc had also workcd on Provcrbs, thc
prophcts (unnamcd), thc Song of Songs, thc Books of Kings, and thc
What has survivcd undcr Crcgorys namc is a fragmcnt
of thc Song of Songs
and a long commcntary on thc Iirst Book of
Kings. Whilc thc authcnticity of thc formcr docs not sccm to bc in
qucstion, that of thc lattcr has bccn undcr dcbatc for ccnturics. Many
havc obscrvcd that its languagc is oftcn untypical of Crcgory. Onc
cxplanation is that this rcccts thc rolc of onc of Crcgorys disciplcs,
Claudius of Ravcnna, in writing up Crcgorys scrmonscditorial
work with which Crcgory was distinctly unhappy. It has rcccntly bccn
pointcd out, howcvcr, that thc carlicst manuscript of thc Commcntary
on + Kings is twclfth-ccntury, from thc monastcry of Cava. Wc know
thc abbot of thc community, Pctcr, to havc bccn a kccn grcgorian,
and to havc writtcn a Commcntary on + Kings, thc scopc of which
matchcs cxactly that transmittcd undcr Crcgorys namc. It sccms
highly likcly that Pctcr, knowing that Crcgory had commcntcd on thc
Book of Kings, prcscntcd his own cxcgcsis as thc work of his rcvcrcd
mastcr. Ior thc prcscnt, thcrcforc, it is safcst to cxcludc thc Commcn-
tary on + Kings as wc havc it from thc authcntic grcgorian canon.
1o onc sidc of thc Moralia and thc Homilies on Ezekiel stand thc
+8 Gregorian Synthesis
Clark, JEH (+88), j8+ at 8. ocrs a clcar discussion of Crcgorys modc of com-
Crcgory sccms to havc workcd continuously on thc opcning chaptcrs of thc prophct for
two ycars, bcforc moving on to thc vision of thc 1cmplc in Ezck. o. Scc HEz. I, prcf.,
CCSI +:, , for thc cight-ycar gap bctwccn thc timc of dclivcry (most likcly in j) and
thc nishcd cdition (o+). It is dicult to datc with ccrtainty thcsc stagcs of thc works com-
position: scc P. Mcyvacrt, 1hc Datc, :o+: n. :j.
Ep. XII. , CCSI +oA, yj.
Ior thc composition of thc Commcntary on thc Song of Songs, scc P. Mcyvacrt, 1hc
Datc, R. Bclangcr, Commentaire sur le Cantique des Cantiques, SC + (+8), ::8. Markus,
Gregory, + and n. y:.
Scc A. dc \oguc, IAutcur du Commcntairc dcs Rois attribuc a saint Crcgoirc: un
moinc dc Cava, RBen +o (+), ++, id. Ic Glossa Ordinaria ct lc Commcntairc dcs
Rois attribuc a saint Crcgoirc lc Crand, RBen +o8 (+8), j8o. Discussion of dc \ogucs
nd has alrcady bcgun: I. Clark, 1hc Authorship of thc Commcntary in I Rcgum:
Implications of Adalbcrt dc \ogucs Discovcry, RBen +o8 (+8), +y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 138
Homilies on the Gospels.
1hcsc Crcgory dclivcrcd in thc rst two
ycars of his papacy, at St Pctcrs and thc major cult sitcs of thc city.
Lnlikc his Old 1cstamcnt cxcgcsis, thcn, thcsc scrmons wcrc com-
poscd for spccic liturgical occasions and for a broad audicncc. 1hc
changc of contcxt, it has bccn obscrvcd, docs not sccm to havc suitcd
him. Ccrtainly thc Homilies arc authcntic, but Crcgory is sccn to havc
givcn a somcwhat tful pcrformancc. Hc was not a pulpit orator, bcing
physically too wcak to pcrform rcgularly bcforc largc audicnccs, and
tcmpcramcntally unsuitcd to kccping his tcaching simplc and clcar for
thc bcnct of thc pcoplc.
A mcasurc of his discomfort as a popular
prcachcr is thc numbcr of thc storics rccountcd in thc Homilies which
thcn rcappcar in thc Dialogues, whcrc thcy arc cxpoundcd at grcatcr
lcngth and moral subtlcty. On othcr occasions in thc Homilies,
Crcgory sccms to havc dccidcd to abandon thc attcmpt to kccp his
tcaching simplc.
Onc scholar commcnts: 1hc Homilies on the Gospels
mark a dcclinc in thc popular homilctic tradition which was onc of thc
most important fcaturcs of Wcstcrn cxcgcsis in thc fourth and fth
A lcss dismissivc approach is possiblc, howcvcr, if wc
rcgard thc Homilies in thc samc light as thc Dialogues, as a sourcc for
Crcgorys complicatcd rclationship with thc clcrical and cultic lifc of
Romc, in particular martyr picty.
Ior Crcgorys involvcmcnt in ccclcsiastical and worldly busincss
scholars turn immcdiatcly to thc ovcr 8oo lcttcrs prcscrvcd in his
Register, whcrc wc may rcad of his administrativc dcalings and political
ncgotiations in Romc and Italy, and across thc known world, Syria,
North Africa, Asia Minor, and thc Wcst.
1hcsc arc not, howcvcr, a
Weakness of Gregory +
Citcd hcrc aftcr thc cdition in PI y, +oyj++:: thc ncw cdition in CCSI ++
(1urnhout, +) appcarcd too latc for mc to takc account of it. Scc also thc translation,
introduction, and commcntary givcn by M. Iicdrowicz, Gregor der Grosse: Homiliae in
Evangelia, : vols., Fontes Christiani :8 (Irciburg im Brcisgau, +y).
Ior a critiquc in thcsc tcrms, scc McClurc, Crcgory thc Crcat, ch. , csp. +jy, +.
HEv. II. . +:, PI y, +:jB, drawing on pscudo-Dionysius, De caelesti hierarchia. Scc
C. Micaclli, Ricssioni su alcuni aspctti dcllangclologia di Crcgorio Magno, Gregorio
Magno, ii. o++.
McClurc, Crcgory thc Crcat, +jy. Or again: Crcgory was not cspccially conccrncd
with onc of thc most important faccts of thc antiquc rhctorical tradition, onc which had
bccn carcfully utilizcd by such grcat popular prcachcrs as Augustinc and Cacsarius: thc
immcdiatc pcrsonal contact of spcakcr and audicncc (+).
Scc c.g. ]. I. Baldovin, The Urban Character of Christian Worship: The Origins,
Development and Meaning of Stational Liturgy, Orientalia Christiana Analecta ::8 (Romc,
+8y), +oj, A. Chavassc, Amcnagcmcnts liturgiqucs a Romc, au \IIc ct \IIIc sicclcs,
RBen (+8), yj+o:, C. Icyscr, 1hc 1cmptations of Cult: Roman Martyr Picty in thc
Agc of Crcgory thc Crcat, Early Medieval Europe, forthcoming.
Scc I. Homcs Duddcn, Gregory the Great: His Place in History and Thought, : vols.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 139
transparcnt rccord. 1hcy rcprcscnt a collcction madc by Crcgory him-
sclf from a much largcr original numbcr. Onc scholar calculatcs that
thc lcttcrs in thc Register rcprcscnt barcly a twcnticth of thosc com-
poscd by Crcgory and by thc papal chanccry. Exacting philological
work conrms thc common-scnsc suspicion that Crcgory composcd
only thosc lcttcrs which rcquircd his spccic attcntion, whilc lcaving
thc managcmcnt of routinc transactions to his notarics. 1hc sclcction
critcria uscd, and thc ovcrall purposc of thc collcction, rcmain as yct
bcyond our vicw.
A rallying-point for all rcadcrs of Crcgory is thc Pastoral Rule, thc
only systcmatic trcatisc from his pcn. In four books, Crcgory discusscs
what sort of pcrson should assumc powcr, what thc propcr rcsponsc to
thc assumption of powcr was, how moral authority should bc cxcrciscd
ovcr thosc for whom onc is rcsponsiblc, and how thc rulcr should
always rcturn to himsclf to monitor his own conduct. Composcd in thc
months immcdiatcly aftcr his consccration as Popc in jo, thc Pastoral
Rule is as closc as wc may comc to Crcgorys ccntrc of gravity as a
writcr and thinkcr: in thc closing books of thc Moralia, wc can scc thc
tcxt of thc Rule taking shapc in Crcgorys mind. In thc lcttcrs Crcgory
composcd at his acccssion, and in thc Homilies on Ezekiel, wc scc
Crcgory rcpcating and rcdcploying scctions of thc work.
1his was
as dcnitivc a formulation as hc could managc of his tcaching on
authoritya point clcarly apprcciatcd by Crcgorys dcnitivc carly
mcdicval biographcr. ]ohn thc Dcacon, writing in thc latc ninth
ccntury, structurcd thc four scctions of his Life of Gregory on thc
pattcrn of thc four books of thc Pastoral Rule.
]ohn thc Dcacons approach has had fcw modcrn cxponcnts.
1wcnticth-ccntury intcrprctcrs of Crcgory havc bccn rcluctant in thc
+o Gregorian Synthesis
(Iondon, +oj), scc also H. H. Howarth, Saint Gregory the Great (Iondon, ++:), and
]. Richards, Consul of God: The Life and Times of Pope Gregory the Great (Iondon, +8o). On
thc Register, scc D. Norbcrg, In Registrum Gregorii Magni studia critica (Lppsala Lni-
vcrsitcits Arsskrift, +y/, +/y, id., Stylc pcrsonncl ct stylc administratif dans lc
Rcgistrum cpistolarum dc S. Crcgoirc lc Crand, in ]. Iontainc et al. (cds.), Grgoire le
Grand (Paris, +8), 8y, and E. Pitz, Papstreskripte im frhen Mittelalter. Diplomatische
und rechtsgeschichtliche Studien zum Brief-Corpus Gregors den Groen (Sigmaringcn, +o),
for an cstimatc of somc :o, ooo. Ior discussion (with a morc cautious cstimatc), scc Markus,
Gregory, :o8.
Mor. XXX. . +, CCSI +B, +joo, scts out thc programmc of RP III, and announccs
thc composition of thc work. Scc B. ]udic (cd.), Grgoire le Grand: Rgle Pastorale, : vols.
SC 8+: (+:), +y:+, y.
Scc W. Bcrschin, Biograe und Epochenstil im Lateinischen Mittelalter, vols. (Stuttgart,
+8), ii. y:8y.
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cxtrcmc to ocr an intcgratcd account of thcir subjcct.
Most scholar-
ship adopts a localizcd approach to Crcgory, conccntrating on onc or
othcr aspcct of his lifc and works. In thc British scholarly tradition,
bascd on a rcading of thc Register, Crcgory has most oftcn appcarcd as
a practical man of busincss. 1his archivc supplics a roll-call of
Crcgorys achicvcmcnts: hc savcd Romc from dcstruction at thc hands
of thc Iombards, hc rcorganizcd thc administration of thc papal statcs,
hc maintaincd papal authority in thc facc of cncroachmcnts from thc
Patriarch of Constantinoplc, hc cstablishcd links with thc Irankish
Kingdoms, and most importantly (for thcsc English writcrs), hc scnt a
party of monks, lcd by Augustinc, to convcrt thc Anglo-Saxons. About
Crcgory himsclf as a monk thcrc is vcry littlc: his monastic convcrsion
and his biblical cxcgcsis arc rcgardcd, csscntially, as privatc mattcrs,
with littlc to illuminatc his public carccr.
1hcsc arc, by contrast, thc
vcry tcxts which hold thc attcntion of contincntal and, morc rcccntly,
Amcrican scholars. Irom this pcrspcctivc, Crcgory appcars as a
spiritual writcr immcrscd in thc tcxts of Scripturc and of thc carlicr
Church Iathcrs.
Evcn in acknowlcdging his long-tcrm signicancc,
howcvcr, this kind of work on Crcgory thrcatcns to abstract his
moral thinking from its spccic contcxt in thc world of thc latc sixth
ccntury. 1hc sccularizcd and spiritualizcd approachcs agrcc in
dividing Crcgorys cxtcrior lifc from his intcrior thought, his activc
from his contcmplativc lifc. Only in +y did a biography of Crcgory
appcar as rmly bascd in thc complcxitics of thc lcttcrs as of his
Weakness of Gregory ++
Ior an ovcrvicw of modcrn scholarship, scc R. Codding, Ccnto anni di riccrchc
su Crcgorio Magno: A proposito di una bibliograa, in Gregorio Magno, i. :o. 1hc
rcfcrcncc work announccd hcrcthc samc authors Bibliographia di Gregorio Magno (/
) (Romc, +o)is indispcnsablc.
Scc c.g. Homcs Duddcn, Gregory, ii. :8j, Richards, Consul, :j.
Among thc bcst cxamplcs: R. Cillct, Crcgoirc lc Crand, art. DSp : 8y:+o,
C. Dagcns, Saint Grgoire le Grand: culture et exprience chrtiennes (Paris, +yy), M. Irickcl,
Deus totus ubique simul: Untersuchungen zur allgemeinen Gottgegenwart im Rahmen des
Gotteslehre Gregors des Grossen, Irciburgcr thcologischc Studicn (Irciburg im Brcisgau,
+j), and now M. Iicdrowicz, Das Kirchenverstndnis Gregors des Grossen: Eine Unter-
suchung seiner exegetischen und homiletischen Werke, Romischc Quartalschrift fur Christlichc
Altcrtumskundc und Kirchcngcschichtc jo (Irciburg im Brcisgau, +j), C. Straw, Gregory
the Great: Perfection in Imperfection (Bcrkclcy/Ios Angclcs, +88). 1hc major intcrnational
confcrcnccs on Crcgory in thc past two dccadcs havc bcgun to witncss scholars forsaking
thcsc local traditions, but thc basic division bctwccn thc historical Crcgory and thc
spiritual/litcrary Crcgory has rcmaincd in placc. Scc Grgoire le Grand (Paris, +8),
Gregorio Magno e il suo Tempo (Romc, ++), and Cavadini (cd.), Gregory the Great (Notrc
Damc, +j).
Markus, Gregory.
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It is possiblc to look to Crcgory himsclf for a ratication of thcsc
divisions. His rcprcscntation of his carccr sccms to support just such a
division, turning as it docs on his clcction to thc papacy in jo. In a
urry of lcttcrs at his clcction, and thcn rcpcatcdly throughout his
scrmons, hc prcscnts thc assumption of occ as an almost uncn-
durablc burdcn.
As a monk, hc says, hc had achicvcd a modicum
of contcmplativc cquilibrium: now hc is a bishop, it is dissipatcd in
any numbcr of trivial conccrns. 1hcsc lamcnts continuc long into
Crcgorys papacy, conjoincd with complaints about his illncss (hc had
gout), thcy makc up a picturc of unrclicvcd sucring in papal occ,
sct against thc nostalgia for thc havcn of thc cloistcr that hc cnjoycd
bcforc consccration.
1hcsc protcstations of rcluctancc and of sucring must fcaturc in
any account of Crcgory, but thcir intcrprctation has bccn constraincd,
not abcttcd, by thc dividcd statc of grcgorian historiography. 1hc
sccularist tradition undcrstands Crcgorys plaints as an cxtcndcd nolo
episcopari, a ritual gcsturc of good faith ocrcd up by all civic magis-
tratcs in thc ancicnt world. In thc spiritualizcd pcrspcctivc, thc
sucring of Crcgory sccms no mcrc topos, but thc gcnuinc cxprcs-
sion of an ascctic man who took occ in spitc of himsclf.
Morc rcccnt
work, in particular an approach to Crcgory as a writcr and thinkcr who
positivcly thrivcs on paradox and antithcsis, suggcsts that ncithcr dis-
missal of his words as topos, nor dcfcncc of thcir sinccrity accuratcly
rcprcscnts thc undcrstanding sharcd by Crcgory and his audicncc of
thc conditions of public uttcrancc by mcn in powcr.
1hcsc dcclara-
tions, I havc suggcstcd, constitutc a rhctoric of vulncrability ccntral
to Crcgorys continuing cxcrcisc of moral authority. Abdication, or
thc suggcstion of it, was far from his mind. 1his is not to say that
Crcgorys sucring in occ was fabricatcd: only that thc import of his
words will bc misconstrucd until wc apprcciatc thc rhctorical con-
vcntions in which hc spokc.
Crcgory, whosc scnsc of ironic sclf-dcprccation is among thc lcast
studicd phcnomcna of Iatc Antiquity, was far from incapablc of thc
+: Gregorian Synthesis
Scc c.g. Mor. Epistula ad Leandrum I, CCSI +, +:, Epp. I. jy, CCSI +o, j+o,
Dial. prol. , SC :o, +:+.
Scc c.g. Cillct, Crcgoirc lc Crand, DSp : 8yj, Dagcns, Grgoire, 8, +o.
Straw, Gregory, passim. Scc also cad., Advcrsitas ct Prospcritas: unc illustration du
motif structurcl dc la complcmcntaritc, Grgoire le Grand, :yy88, and Crcgorys Politics:
1hcory and Practicc, in Gregorio Magno, i. y.
C. Icyscr, Ict Mc Spcak, Ict Mc Spcak: \ulncrability and Authority in Crcgory
thc Crcats Homilies on Ezekiel, in Gregorio Magno, ii. +8:.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 142
rhctorically light touch.
1hcrc arc two things that arc bothcring mc
in this mattcr, hc condcs in his hcarcrs, as hc prcparcs to cxplain to
thcm thc vision of thc 1cmplc of thc Prophct Ezckicl:
Onc is that this vision is shroudcd in such thick obscurity that it sccms dicult to
throw any light on it. 1hc othcr is that I havc lcarnt that thc Iombard King
Agilulph has crosscd thc Po and is moving at top spccd to bcsicgc us.
At thc timc, this display of intcllcctual sang froid in thc facc of impcnd-
ing military disastcr was doubtlcss intcndcd to stcady thc moralc of his
cntouragc. 1hc fact that, cight ycars latcr whcn hc camc to cdit thc
Homilies, Crcgory thought this rcmark worth prcscrving suggcsts it
was not mcrc bravado that lcd him to makc it. Hc was a man who
inhabitcd thc world of Old 1cstamcnt cxcgcsis and thc world of
barbarian invasion with cqual aplomb.
+t+noar+v +n rsor++ro r aor
Whatcvcr wc think of Crcgory, wc might pausc at lcast to considcr
what hc and his circlc lookcd likc from thc outsidc. A pcrson of
apparcntly rclcntlcss moral scriousncss, surroundcd by a cotcric of
likc-mindcd ascctics, Crcgory was, to many, an infuriating and a divi-
sivc gurc.
No sooncr had hc dicd than his cncmics built a hugc rc
to burn all his books.
1his is a ninth-ccntury storybut thcrc is
good contcmporary cvidcncc for thc cnmitics that Crcgory inspircd
whcrcvcr hc wcnt, both in Romc and in Constantinoplc.
Iikc thc
Cacsarii in Arlcs, Crcgory and his circlc wcrc cvidcntly rcgardcd as a
scrious nuisancc, cspccially by thc Roman clcrics thcy displaccd in thc
Iatcran palacc. Equally apparcnt is Crcgorys own rcadincss to scnsc
that his fricnds and disciplcs had bctraycd, or at bcst, misundcrstood
him. 1his fraught political contcxt insidc thc city of Romc, and insidc
thc circlc of thc grcgorians, holds a kcy to undcrstanding thc rhctori-
cal cort Crcgory had to makc to prcscnt himsclf as an unimpcachablc
rulcr, and his insistcnt mcditation on thc isolation of thosc in powcr.
Weakness of Gregory +
As obscrvcd by Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, ii. + n. j, in conncction with
Crcgorys lcttcr (Reg. II. ) to Natalis of Salona, a lcttcr also pickcd out for commcnt by H.
Mayr-Harting, Pcrspcctivcs on St Augustinc of Cantcrbury, papcr dclivcrcd at Winchcstcr
Collcgc, +y, scc furthcr bclow, Ch. y.
Crcgory, HEz. II prcf., CCSI +:, :oj.
Markus, Gregory, :o.
]ohn thc Dcacon, Vita Gregorii, I\. , PI yj, ::+:.
Ilcwcllyn, Roman Church: Icgacy of Crcgory I.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 143
Crcgory was rarcly out of thc limclight. Born into a promincnt
Roman family,
classically cducatcd, and politically ambitious, wc
cncountcr him rst in thc historical rccord in jy, as Prcfcct of thc
City of Romc.
1wo ycars latcr, hc dccidcd to givc up his civic
occ, and to livc as a monk in thc family homc on thc Caclian hill (hc
foundcd six othcr monastcrics on thc family cstatcs in Sicily).
Crcgory was latcr to prcscnt this dcvclopmcnt in his carccr as a
dramatic convcrsion, a ight from thc storm-tosscd world into thc safc
havcn of thc cloistcr.
Wc ought to rcmcmbcr, howcvcr, that such a
gcsturc of rctircmcnt from public lifc was a profoundly traditional onc,
its association with Christian monasticism notwithstanding.
thc days of thc Rcpublic, Romans in public occ had bccn wont to
scck out thc lifc of lcisurcd philosophical rccction, far from thc din
and intriguc of thc Scnatc. It was undcrstood that, whatcvcr thc attrac-
tions of otium, a rcturn to thc original negotium was ncvcr far away for
such mcn.
It is unlikcly, thcn, to havc surpriscd Crcgory whcn, within thrcc
ycars of his monastic convcrsion, hc was scnt as papal cnvoy to thc
impcrial court at Constantinoplc. It was hcrc that hc bcgan to cxpound
thc Book of ]ob to a small, Iatin-spcaking circlc of ascctics and lay-
pcoplc from thc Wcst and Constantinoplc.
Crcgory also cmbroilcd
himsclf in a protractcd dcbatc with thc patriarch Eutychius about thc
rcsurrcction of thc body, which lcft him physically cxhaustcd, and his
opponcnt on his dcath-bcd.
Aftcr vc ycars, hc was rccallcd to Romc,
and put to work as a dcacon in thc papal administration. (Onc of thc
+ Gregorian Synthesis
Scc Markus, Gregory, 8, and thc rcfcrcnccs thcrc givcn.
Scc Ep I\. :, CCSI +o, :+8+ (although thc witncss of thc manuscript tradition of
this lcttcr is not without ambiguity: scc Markus, Gregory, 8 and n. j).
Scc Crcgory of 1ours, LH X. +, MCH SRM , , thc sourcc for Paul thc Dcacon,
Vita Gregorii, I. , PI yj, B, and also ]ohn thc Dcacon, Vita Gregorii, I. j, PI yj, jA.
Epistula ad Leandrum +, CCSI +, +:.
Scc c.g. C. D. Cordini, Origini c sviluppo dcl monaccsimo a Roma, Gregorianum y
(+j), ::oo. C. Icrrari, Early Roman Monasteries, invcntorics what wc know from
documcntary sourccs about what monastcrics thcrc arc.
Scc Matthcws, Western Aristocracies, ++:, Andrc, Lotium.
Ad Leandr. +, as abovc, n. j8. On Iatin-spcaking at Constantinoplc, scc A. Camcron,
A Nativity Pocm of thc Sixth-Ccntury A.D., Classical Philology y (+y), ::::, cad.,
Imagcs of Authority: Elitcs and Icons in Sixth-ccntury Byzantium, P&P 8 (+y), :j.
Scc Mor. XI\. j. y:, CCSI +A, yj, for Crcgorys account of thc dcbatc. Cf.
thc opposing pcrspcctivc of Eustratcs, a disciplc of Eutychius who composcd a pancgyric onc
ycar aftcr his mastcrs dcath: hcrc Crcgory appcars as an ignoramus. Scc Vita Eutychii .
8, PC 8, :yD-:yA. Scc Y.-M. Duval, Ia Discussion cntrc lapocrisiairc Crcgoirc
ct lc patriarchc Eutychios au sujct dc la rcsurrcction dc la chair: Iarricrc plan doctrinal
oricntal ct occidcntal, in Grgoire le Grand, y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 144
lcttcrs that hc draftcd for his mastcr Popc Pclagius has rcccntly bccn
) In thc wintcr of jo, whcn Pclagius dicd of thc plaguc,
Crcgory was thc obvious candidatc to rcplacc him. Hc rcportcdly tricd
to cc thc city in an cort to avoid clcction, thc rumour only scrvcd
to conrm his cmincnt suitability.
Crcgory was to hold occ for
fourtccn ycars, until, cnfccblcd by gout, hc dicd in o.
1o thc natural rhythms of a public carccr in thc ancicnt Mcdi-
tcrrancan wcrc addcd thc cxtraordinary strains of thc latc sixth
ccntury. In thc coursc of Crcgorys adult lifctimc, thcrc wcrc visiblc
signs of a changing ordcr. Pcoplcs wcrc on thc movc: from thc
Eurasian stcppcs onto thc plains of Hungary rollcd thc Avars: as a con-
scqucncc, thc Iombards, thc nomadic pcoplc who had bccn scttlcd
thcrc, wcrc forccd wcstwards. In j8, dcspcratc for food, thcy burst
into Iriuli. 1hcir invasion markcd thc cnd of Roman Italy.
armics of thc Ostrogoths and thc Eastcrn Roman Empirc, having
cxhaustcd cach othcr across thrcc dccadcs of conict could ocr no
rcsistancc to thc ncwcomcrs. 1hc Iombards did not sack Romc, but
thcy did not nccd to: plaguc had alrcady donc far morc damagc than
1hc Scnatc had ccascd to mcct, many of its mcmbcrs having
choscn to rcturn to Constantinoplc with thc dcfcatcd impcrial troops.
1hc Empcror still hcld Ravcnna, and displaycd such military and
political prcscncc as hc was ablc in northcrn Italy, but Crcgory and his
pccrs kncw that rcsponsibility for dcfcncc and for fccding thc citizcns
of Romc now lay not with thc impcrial burcaucracy, but with thc
Roman clcrgy, thc only municipal administrativc body still in opcra-
tion. In Crcgorys lifctimc thcn, thc importancc of thc clcrical occ in
Romc, and of its bishopric in particular, undcrwcnt a transformation.
1hc survival of thc city now dcpcndcd on St Pctcrs dcputy on carth.
1hc ycar jo in particular was a momcnt of civic crisis in Romc.
1hc plaguc in which Popc Pclagius dicd carricd o many of his fcllow
Weakness of Gregory +j
Scc P. Mcyvacrt, A Icttcr of Pclagius II composcd by Crcgory thc Crcat, in Cavadini
(cd.), Gregory, ++.
Scc Crcgory of 1ours, LH X. +, MCH SRM , .
On Crcgorys illncss, scc c.g. Ep. XI. :, CCSI +oA, 8, to Rusticiana, discusscd
bclow (p. +y:). Scc also Ep. XI. :+, CCSI +oA, 8o+:.
Scc C. ]. Wickham, Early Medieval Italy: Central Power and Local Society,
(Iondon, +8:), 1. S. Brown, Gentlemen and Ocers: Imperial Administration and Aristo-
cratic Power in Byzantine Italy, AD (Romc, +8), B. Ward-Pcrkins, From Classical
Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Urban Public Building in Northern and Central Italy, AD
(Oxford, +8), H. Ashworth, 1hc Inucncc of thc Iombard Invasions on thc
Crcgorian Sacramcntary, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (+j), oj:y.
Scc P. Allcn, 1hc ]ustinianic Plaguc, Byzantion (+y), j:o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 145
citizcns. Dcplctcd by faminc and discasc, and swollcn with rcfugccs,
thc population huddlcd into thc bcnd of thc Rivcr 1ibcr, turning thcir
backs on thc monumcntal classical ccntrc, and looking towards thc
shrinc of St Pctcr for protcction.
It was thcsc straitcncd circum-
stanccs that madc clcrgy and pcoplc brcak with tradition in thcir
choicc of bishop. In choosing for thc rst timc a monk, thc Romans
may havc bccn rcaching for thc kind of moral lcadcrship that a traincd
ascctic, rathcr than a carccrist clcric, would providc. If so, thcn
Crcgory did not disappoint thcm: his immcdiatc rcsponsc to thc
plaguc was to institutc a pcnitcntial proccssion around thc city church-
cs, inspiring a mcasurc of solidarity among thc citizcn body.
It was,
in a scnsc, in his intcrcst to magnify rathcr than allay thc scnsc of
crisis that had brought him into powcr. Only an atmosphcrc of high
moral tcnsion and cschatological cxpcctation would rcndcr plausiblc
his claim to cxtraordinary spiritual authority that suspcndcd normal
opcrations of powcr in Romc.
Ncws of Crcgorys lcadcrship travcllcd bcyond Italy to thc Ioirc
In Romc, howcvcr, communitas in thc facc of plaguc soon
dissolvcd into political rancour, at lcast in high clcrical circlcs. 1hc
occupation of thc Iatcran palacc by Crcgory and his monastic
associatcs was nothing lcss than a coup dtat as far as thc Roman clcrgy
wcrc conccrncd. 1hcy wcrc a closc and jcalous corporation, pronc to
fcuding with cach othcr and with thcir lay rclativcs and patrons.
occ of thc papacy could casily bccomc involvcd in thcsc fcuds, as
dcmonstratcd in thc prolongcd schism at thc start of thc sixth ccntury
bctwccn thc supportcrs of Popc Symmachus and of Iaurcncc, his
(cvcntually dcfcatcd) opponcnt.
1hc conict was conductcd in all
mcdia, from strcct violcncc to thc cstablishmcnt of rival cult shrincs
around thc city, and thc composition of polcmical tracts and martyr
passions. Bcncath thc immcdiacy of factional strifc, howcvcr, lay
+ Gregorian Synthesis
Scc Krauthcimcr, Rome, j8y. Against this, howcvcr, must bc sct R. Coatcs-
Stcphcns, Housing in Early Mcdicval Romc, joo+ooo , Papers of the British School at
Rome , :j, which pcrsuasivcly argucs for a lcss pcssimistic vicw of Dark-Agc Romc.
1hc particular circumstanccs of thc jos (and Crcgorys highly chargcd dcscription of
thcm) should not bc uscd to charactcrizc thc wholc pcriod.
Crcgory cditcd no tcxt of thc scrmon, but a vcrsion was transmittcd by a Irankish
dcacon prcscnt in Romc to Crcgory of 1ours: scc LH X. +, MCH SRM , oy (and, in
this ccntury, A. Camus, La Peste).
Crcgory of 1ours, LH X. +, MCH SRM , o. Scc H. Chadwick, Crcgory of
1ours and Crcgory thc Crcat, JTS jo (+), 8.
Scc P. Ilcwcllyn, Rome in the Dark Ages (Iondon, +yo), chs. j.
Ior accounts of thc schism, scc Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, ii. 8:+:,
]. Moorhcad, Theodoric in Italy (Oxford, +:), ++.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 146
systcmic tcnsions bctwccn clcrgy and laity in thc incrcasingly powcr-
ful Roman Church. 1hc schism was at hcart a dcbatc around thc
naturc of giftsthc tcrms on which lay aristocrats actcd as patrons to
thc Church, whcthcr or not thcy had autonomy ovcr ccclcsiastical
1hc Iaurcntian schism, and thc disputcd issuc of lay
patronagc, providcs a contcxt for thc fractious rclationship at thc cnd
of thc ccntury bctwccn thc ascctic grcgorians and thcir opponcnts in
thc Roman clcrgyalthough prccisc parallcls and conncctions
rcmain, as yct, out of vicw. It is clcar nonc thc lcss that thc strugglc
bctwccn Crcgorys disciplcs and thc Roman clcrgy was to continuc for
two gcncrations into thc scvcnth ccntury.
At no point did Crcgory himsclf stand aloof from thc tcnsc and
crowdcd dcvotional lifc of thc city, with its barcly-containcd and long-
rcmcmbcrcd conicts. His rcsignation of thc occ of urban prcfcct
was no cscapc routc: in choosing St Andrcw as thc patron for his own
monastcry, Crcgory signallcd, whcthcr willingly or not, his aliation
with thc Symmachan party, who had bccn assiduous in thcir pro-
motion of thc cult of Andrcw.
As popc, it was incumbcnt on him to
prcach at all thc major martyr shrincs of thc city, dcspitc his dccp
and cxprcsscd rcscrvations about thc nakcdly grasping and vindictivc
spirit in which thc Romans solicitcd thc aid of thc saints.
of his scnsc of claustrophobia is cvidcnt in thc Dialogues, whcrc hc did
not hcsitatc to caricaturc thc papal court as a dcn of attcrcrs, lcss
worthy of rcspcct than thc dishcvillcd charismatics roaming thc
If this was a critiquc of thc Roman clcrgy, it was, by thc
samc tokcn, a loncly sclf-portrait of a man who darcd not placc his
trust in thosc around him.
Lnafraid of confrontation, Crcgory did what hc could to shapc his
immcdiatc cnvironmcnt. At thc shrinc of St Pancras, hc rcplaccd an
Weakness of Gregory +y
Ior an account in thcsc tcrms, scc P. Ilcwcllyn, 1hc Roman Church during thc
Iaurcntian Schism: Pricsts and Scnators, Church History j (+y), +y:y, id., 1hc
Roman Clcrgy during thc Iaurcntian Schism: A Prcliminary Analysis, Ancient Society 8
(+y), :jyj, C. Pictri, Donatcurs ct picux ctablisscmcnts daprcs lc lcgcndicr romain
(\c\IIc s.), in Hagiographie, cultures et socits, jj, Evcrgctismc ct richcsscs ccclcsias-
tiqucs dans lItalic du I\c a la n du \c s.: lcxcmplc romain, Ktema (+8), +yy, and
now Coopcr, 1hc Martyr, thc matrona, and thc Bishop.
Ilcwcllyn, Roman Church: Icgacy of Crcgory I.
As discusscd by ]. Alchcrmcs, Cura pro mortuis and cultus martyrum: Commcmoration
in Romc from thc Sccond through thc Sixth Ccntury (Ncw York Lnivcrsity PhD thcsis,
HEv. II. :y. y, PI y, +:o8C+:oA.
Scc csp. Dial. I. . +o++, SC :o, 8, on Equitius of \alcria. I owc to Hannah ]oncs
thc idca that Crcgory hcrc dcscribcs his own situation.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 147
apparcntly indolcnt group of pricsts with a monastic community to
cnsurc that thc crowds of thc faithful who ockcd thcrc wcrc givcn
somc liturgical guidancc.
In thc Iatcran, hc cxpcllcd thc boy acolytcs
from thc papal chambcrthis bcing whcrc a clcrical carccr startcd in
Romcand sackcd thc highcst-ranking clcrical ocials.
Hc madc his
palacc a sitc of carncst discussion, cxpounding dicult books of thc
Old 1cstamcnt to his small circlc of intimatcs. At thc hcart of thc
storics of ]ob and Ezckicl, Crcgory bclicvcd, lay a rcsolution of thc
qucstion of moral authority, and it was this thcmc that hc wishcd to
Crcgorys followcrs thcmsclvcs did not always rcad his intcntions
clcarly. Marinianus of Ravcnna, a formcr collcaguc of Crcgorys in St
Andrcws, rcad out scctions of thc Moralia in Job in church, and was
roundly rcbukcd by Crcgory for so doing: 1his is not a work for
popular diusion.
Claudius of Ravcnna, anothcr closc associatc, was
scoldcd in thc samc lcttcr for his usclcss attcmpt to writc up his notcs
on Crcgorys homilics on thc Book of Kings. Crcgory was conccrncd
cnough about thc conditions undcr which his tcxts circulatcd to scnd
out a noticc of a singlc crror in thc tcxt of his forty Homilies on the
and whcn his notary bcgan to kccp a commonplacc book of
Crcgorys cxcgctical asidcs, Crcgory intcrvcncd to makc surc thc book
was propcrly organizcd in thc canonical ordcr of scripturc.
Wc can
frcqucntly scc his mind at work, and nowhcrc morc so than in thc
English mission, whcn hc changcd his mind about thc bcst missionary
stratcgy, as hc strugglcd to gct it right.
Crcgorys willingncss to
admit his own crrors and changc coursc wc nd highly appcalingbut
wc might sparc a thought for thosc who had to follow his dircctivcs.
Ior all his carc in thinking on authority, Crcgory was not always an
casy mastcr to scrvc.
Crcgory himsclf scnscd that authority involvcd abandonmcnt:
fricnds bccamc cncmics, lost touch. Hc could only watch in frustration
+8 Gregorian Synthesis
Reg. I\. +8, CCSI +o, :y.
Scc App. , CCSI +oA, +oj, for thc rcplaccmcnt of Archdcacon Iaurcntius by
Honoratus. Ep \. jya, MCH Epp. +, :, for thc cxpulsion of boys from thc chambcr.
Ep. XII. , CCSI +oA, yy.
Scc HEv. prcf., PI y, +oyj8, cnjoining thc dcdicatcc of thc Homilics, Sccundinus of
1auromcnium, to cmcnd thc tcxt in onc particular, and to prcvcnt thc circulation of any
dcfcctivc copics. On thc non-circulation of thc Dialogues, scc Mcyvacrt, 1hc Enigma, 8+.
Scc Patcrius, Liber Testimoniorum, PI y, 8A8A, and Mcyvacrt, 1hc Enigma,
Scc R. Markus, Crcgory thc Crcat and thc Origins of a Papal Missionary Stratcgy, in
Studies in Church History (+yo), :8.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 148
as a fcud dcvclopcd in Ravcnna bctwccn his two protcgcs, Marinianus
and Claudius: hc could scc stupid pcoplc gathcring around
Marinianus, drawing him into a local world of pctty cnmitics, away
from all thc valucs Crcgory had attcmptcd to inculcatc.
It was thc
samc in thc casc of anothcr of his closcst fricnds, \cnantius of
Syracusc. In thc ycar that Crcgory asccndcd to thc papal thronc,
\cnantius lcft his monastic vows to marry a rich noblcwomana
poignant parting of thc ways.
Many foolish pcoplc thought that oncc raiscd to thc hcights of cpiscopal occ, I
would rcfusc to spcak to you. 1hat is not thc situation: quitc thc contrary. 1hc
logic of my position compcls mc to spcak, I may not kccp silcncc.
Irom hcrc Crcgory launchcs into a prophctic dcnunciation of his
fricnds apostasy: as thc watchman of thc housc of Isracl, hc must
dcclarc thc shortcomings of thosc in his chargc.
His fricnd ignorcd
him, lcd astray by thc gagglc of attcrcrs Crcgory kncw to bc
surrounding him. \cnantius transformation from monastic brothcr to
boorish lay seigneur sccmcd to bc complctc, whcn, two ycars latcr, his
hcnchmcn brokc into thc cpiscopal palacc at Syracusc and man-
handlcd thc bishop, with whom \cnantius was in disputc.
Crcgory kncw wcll thc rcscntmcnt that any man in powcr was likcly
to cncountcr, cvcn or cspccially from thosc closcst to himbut hc was
dctcrmincd to surmount thc obstaclc so poscd. His handling of
\cnantius through thc coursc of thc jos is a casc in point. 1o somc
commcntators Crcgory has givcn thc imprcssion that, in a wholly
uncharactcristic momcnt of favouritism, hc acquicsccd in his formcr
collcagucs intimidation of thc bishop.
If wc follow thc coursc of his
corrcspondcncc with \cnantius and his family, howcvcr, it is clcar that
no such surrcndcr has takcn placc.
Whcn \cnantius and his wifc fcll
ill, Crcgory was on hand to advisc thcm how to mcct thc moral
challcngc of sickncss. Aftcr thcir dcaths, in o:, wc nd \cnantius
Weakness of Gregory +
Scc Markus, Gregory, +j:. Cf. for similar conicts vc ccnturics latcr in thc circlc of
Crcgory \II: I. Robinson, 1hc Iricndship Nctwork of Crcgory \II, History (+y8),
Ep. I. , CC +o, . My translation.
1his lcttcr is thc rst rccordcd instancc of Crcgorys usc of Ezckicl on thc speculator.
Ior furthcr discussion, scc Icyscr, Ict Mc Spcak.
I. Homcs Duddcn, Gregory the Great (Iondon, +oj), ii. +, rcgardcd Crcgorys
rclationship with \cnantius as a problcm not casy of solution, whcrc thc usually impcccablc
popc sccms to havc colludcd in thc scandal of \cnantius brcaking into thc palacc of ]ohn of
Scc Epp. I. , CCSI +o, +, III. jy, :oj, \I. :, :j, IX. :, CCSI +oA,
j:, XI. +8, :, :j, j, at 88y8, 8, 8jy, j rcspcctivcly.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 149
two daughtcrs hurrying to Romc in answcr to Crcgorys summons,
cagcr to rcccivc instruction on marriagc and thc rcading of scripturc.
Iar from bcing a scandal not casy of rcsolution, thc casc of \cnantius
illustratcs Crcgorys rcfusal to fall silcnt, or to allow thosc bcncath
him to turn thcir backs on him, and his pcrsistcncc sccms, in fact, to
havc bccn rcwardcd. Acutcly conscious of thc isolation imposcd by
authority, Crcgory was rcsolvcd to nd a moral languagc that would
allow thosc in powcr to sustain and bc sustaincd by thc community for
which thcy wcrc rcsponsiblc.
o+s+rav +n cntacn r +nr r+s+ n+vs
Crcgory was a man who livcd his lifc in public, urban institutions, in
thc company of othcr, institutional mcn. Hc kncw thc spiritual cost
of this way of lifc, but hc also kncw thc lurc of physical cscapc to bc
illusory. 1hc truc ascctic would nd his own, intcrior dctachmcnt:
What avails thc solitudc of thc body, if thc solitudc of thc hcart bc wanting? Ior
thcy who livc bodily rcmovcd from thc world, but yct plungc dccp into thc
tumults of human convcrsation with thc thoughts of worldly dcsircs arc not in
solitudc. But if anyonc is bodily opprcsscd with crowds of pcoplc, and yct sucrs
from no tumults of worldly carcs in his hcart, hc is not in a city.
1hc othcrworldly landscapc of intcrior solitudc cxtcnds throughout
Crcgorys cxcgctical writings.
1hc institutional culturc of thc
Church, on thc othcr hand, which constitutcd his daily contcxt, mclts
away hcrc, morc dramatically so than in thc biblical scrmons of
Augustinc or Cacsarius. Crcgory simply ocrs no discussion of
sccular, monastic, or ccclcsiastical occ-holding: all such particulars
havc bccn bccn rcmovcd in thc attcmpt to analysc thc moral corc of thc
cxpcricncc of authority. Crcgory had a boundlcss capacity imagina-
tivcly to dctach himsclf from institutional culturc whilc opcrating
dircctly in itbut wc should ncvcr mistakc this for a lack of intcrcst in
thc moral qucstions poscd by powcr and social organization.
Crcgorys scnsc of dctachmcnt drcw on thc rcsourccs of philo-
sophical tradition conccrning thc activc and contcmplativc livcs,
rcaching back to Plato. 1hc philosophcr is ncvcr disturbcd by thc
crowd or by thc prcscncc of powcr. Hc can movc and spcak frccly at
+jo Gregorian Synthesis
Mor. XXXI. 8. y:, CCSI +B, +o.
Scc c.g. P. Aubin, Intcrioritc ct cxtcrioritc dans lcs Moralia in ]ob dc saint Crcgoirc lc
Crand, RSR : (+y), ++y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 150
court, without being of the court. As mediated to Christian intellec-
tuals by Origen, this tradition was bound in with an approach to
Scripture. Beneath the letter of the word lay its true inner meaning, as
beyond the physical, institutional carapace of earthly existence lay the
realm of the spirit. Origens teachings were mediated in turn for
western ascetics by Ambrose and Augustine, and their inuence on
Gregory is acknowledged by him in a rare moment of explicitness. He
oers his readers the mean trickle of the Homilies on Ezekiel in con-
trast to the deep, crystal fountains they can drink from in the writings
of these two holy fathers.
It was not only the Origenist inheritance, however, which allowed
Gregory to use allegorical exegesis as a vehicle for detachment from
earthly existence. He deployed also a reading of contemporary history
in which he constantly mapped his experience and that of others onto
the eschatological dimension. It was the nearness of the end that made
institutions seem irrelevant to this deeply traditional, institutional
man. At the same time it was this eschatological mapping that drove
him from the terrain of interior contemplation back into the world of
civic action.
This leads us to one of the great paradoxes of Gregory as an ascetic
writer and thinker. The rst monk to be Pope showed himself rela-
tively uninterested in monastic institutions or in traditional ideas of
monastic community. The point bears some emphasis. Although it is
now accepted that Gregory neither observed nor systematically sought
to promote the Rule of St Benedict, the assumption lingers that he must
instinctively have favoured the monastic cause. After all, this seems to
have been the ground of objection to him of the Roman clergy. As far
as Gregory was concerned, however, to call for an ascetic understand-
ing of clerical oce, was not the same as promoting monasticism. He
made almost no eort to advertise his own monastery, he propounded
no consistent practice nor general theory of the monastic life. We look
in vain for any discussion of the relative merits of the eremitic and
cenobitic paths. The question of monastic community that had, in
varying degrees, preoccupied writers from Augustine to Benedict
receives little or no attention from Gregory. The great antitheses of
Latin monasticismDesert and City, Monastery and Churchand
its single most potent motifthe Jerusalem communityare muted if
not entirely absent here. In leaving aside these themes, Gregory had in
Weakness of Gregory
HEz. pref., CCSL , .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 151
a scnsc turncd thc ascctic tradition in which hc was schoolcd against
1his was a considcrablc fcat of dctachmcnt. Monastic aairs wcrc a
constant fcaturc of his cpiscopal dutics. Wcll ovcr :oo lcttcrs in thc
Register dcal with monastcrics in somc form or othcr, thc vast majority
of thcsc conccrning Italy, cspccially Campania and Sicily. Crcgorys
commitmcnt to dcaling with this round of busincss is not in qucstion,
whcthcr it bc in making surc monks or nuns bchavc, or in protccting
thcm from bishops and laymcn. But as a rcccnt, cxhaustivc study of
thc Register concludcs, Dcspitc Crcgorys dccp prcoccupation with
ascctics and ascctic communitics, thcrc can bc no rcal justication of
talk of a monastic policy.
His dcalings with monastcrics ncvcr rosc
abovc thc lcvcl of thc traditional and thc pragmatic. Hc was conccrncd
to cnforcc guidclincs and practicc cstablishcd in wcstcrn monastic lorc
and in impcrial lcgislation from Chalccdon onwards.
1hcrc was doubtlcss much that Crcgory could takc for grantcd, and
that did not rcquirc cxtcnsivc furthcr commcnt. Augustinc and othcrs
had spokcn of thc ]crusalcm community, and this obviatcd thc nccd
for furthcr commcnt from Crcgory. Whcn Augustinc of Cantcrbury
askcd, for cxamplc, how should hc organizc his ncw cpiscopal housc-
hold, Crcgory issucd this brisk rcply:
Brothcr, as you should know from your study of monastic tradition, bishops
should not livc apart from thcir clcrgy in thc English Church, which thanks to
Cod has rcccntly bccn brought to thc faith. You should thcrcforc institutc thc way
of lifc which our fathcrs followcd at thc bcginning of thc Church, in which no onc
said that anything bclongcd to him, but thcy hcld all things in common.
Evcn as a summary, howcvcr, this was somcwhat tcrsc, and it stands
alonc in thc grcgorian cxcgctical corpus. 1his is only onc of a handful
of cascs whcrc Crcgory cvcn rcfcrs to thc vcrscs from Acts, prompting
thc suspicion that his intcrcsts as an ascctic lay clscwhcrc.
+j: Gregorian Synthesis
C. ]cnal, Italia Ascetica atque Monastica, ii. 8o.
Crcgory, Libellus Responsionum, citcd in Bcdc, Ecclesiastical History I. :y. On thc
Libellus, scc P. Mcyvacrt, Ic libcllus rcsponsionum a Augustin dc Cantobcry: unc ocuvrc
authcntiquc dc saint Crcgoirc lc Crand in Grgoire le Grand, jjo. On Bcdc and Acts ,
scc C. Olscn, Bcdc as Historian: 1hc Evidcncc from his Obscrvations on thc Iirst Christian
Community at ]crusalcm, JEH (+8:), j+o.
Scc Mor. XXX. . :, CCSI +B, +joy, citcd bclow, n. ++ and Ch. y n. y, Mor.
XXIX. . j, +8, is a slight vcrbal ccho. Ep. III. j, CCSI +o, :+j+, to 1hcotimus, a
doctor in Constantinoplc, rcprcscnts a standard cpistolary usc of Acts : : to avow fricnd-
ship: scc c.g. Ruricius of Iimogcs, Ep. II. +o (to Pomcrius), CSEI , 8j. 1hc rcfcrcnccs at
InIReg I. +, and InIReg \. + can no longcr bc rcgardcd as sccurcly grcgorian. (Ior dis-
cussion of thc formcr passagc scc A. dc \oguc, Rcnonccmcnt ct dcsir: Ia Dcnition du
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 152
1hc Dialogues, of coursc, abound in monastcrics, but thcy prcscnt
no morc cohcrcnt a picturc of thc monastic lifc than do thc lcttcrs.
Indccd, frustratingly for thc institutional historian, thc Dialogues and
thc Register cannot bc madc to corroboratc cach othcrs accounts of
monastic topography or culturc in sixth-ccntury Italy.
In part this is
unsurprising. 1hc Dialogues arc ascctic pastoralc for cityfolk, not a
survcy of monastic Italy.
In collccting thcsc storics of usually rural
holy mcn and womcn Crcgory sought, at lcast in part, to sustain thc
discussion of thc monastic wildcrncss ourishing in ascctic circlcs in
sixth-ccntury Romc.
Howcvcr, as Crcgorys contcmporary Crcgory
of 1ours dcmonstratcd, storics about local charismatics could havc a
bcaring on how bishops and holy mcn wcrc to rclatc to cach othcr. His
bcst-known vigncttc of thc cncountcr bctwccn pricst and prophct is
that conccrning thc Iombard stylitc Wulfoliac, who was askcd to
dcsccnd from his pillar at 1ricr by a group of (unncccssarily in
Crcgory of 1ourss mind) sccptical bishops.
1hc Dialogues, by con-
trast, sought lcss to rccct upon rclations bctwccn stylitcs and bishops
than to arguc that all alikc found thcmsclvcs in a ncw, cschatological
landscapc. ]uridical discussion of rclations bctwccn monastcrics and
bishops, or cvcn rhctorical invocation of thc contrast bctwccn dcscrt
and city, was no longcr rclcvant: all carthly communitics wcrc withcr-
ing away as thc momcnt of thc hcavcnly citadcl drcw ncarcr.
Onc incidcnt in thc Dialogues illustratcs Crcgorys cschatological
vicw of monastic community. In thc ycar of his acccssion to thc
papacy, hc rccounts, hc discovcrcd that a monk of St Andrcws had
Weakness of Gregory +j
moinc dans lc Commcntairc dc Crcgoirc lc Crand sur lc Prcmicr Iivrc dcs Rois, CollCist
8 (+8), jyo.)
Markus, Gregory, .
]cnal, Italia Ascetica atque Monastica, i. :o.
Rcvcaling of thc urban pcrspcctivc of thc Dialogues arc Dial. . +. , SC :o, o, and
. y. , SC :j, +:. In thcsc passagcs, thc wildcrncss (eremus) is prcsumcd to lic outsidc
thc city walls, quitc distinct from thc monastcry (monasterium) insidc.
Ior cxamplc, thc Sayings of the Desert Fathers wcrc translatcd into Iatin as thc Vitae
patrum by thc futurc popcs Pclagius I (jjj+) and ]ohn III (j+yj), scc A. Mundo,
IAuthcnticitc dc la Rcgula S. Bcncdicti, StAns : (+jy), +ojj8, at +:. Cf. M.-E.
Bruncrt, Das Ideal der Wstenaskese und seine Rezeption in Gallien bis zum Ende des .
Jahrhunderts (Munstcr, +), and H. I. ]oncs, 1hc Dcscrt and Dcsirc: \irginity, City, and
Iamily in thc Roman Martyr Icgcnds of Agncs and Eugcnia (Lniv. of Manchcstcr MA
thcsis, +8).
Ior thc column occupicd by thc Iombard holy man Wulfoliac, scc Crcgory of 1ours,
LH \III. +j+, MCH SRM , . Dcscrt living in thc 1ourainc is discusscd in
C. Icyscr, Divinc Powcr Ilowcd from this Book: Ascctic Ianguagc and Episcopal
Authority in Crcgory of 1ours Life of the Fathers, in K. Mitchcll and I. Wood (cds.), The
World of Gregory of Tours (Icidcn, forthcoming).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 153
sccrctcd somc privatc propcrty.
1his brcach of trust rccalls thc
scandal of ]anuarius in thc houschold of Augustinc of Hippo, somc
+yo ycars prcviously, although in comparing thc two incidcnts, wc
should bcar in mind thc palpablc dicrcnccs bctwccn thc two contcxts.
St Andrcws was not thc cpiscopal houschold, and thc prccisc tcrms of
Crcgorys jurisdiction ovcr thc housc arc unclcar.
As a small group
of likc-mindcd aristocrats, thc inmatcs of St Andrcws could aord to
rcmain innoccntin thcir monastcry at lcastof thc clcctric chargc of
social tcnsion familiar to thc morc socially mixcd group of ascctics in
Hippo. But if Crcgorys monks had no nccd to contcnd with issucs of
class rcscntmcnt or disdain, this lcft thcm all thc morc scnsitivc to
moral dutics and tcnsions. Crcgorys actions and his subscqucnt
dcscription of thc aair rcvcal all thc morc clcarly thc sharcd assump-
tions and thc basic contrasts bctwccn Augustinc of Hippos vision of
thc monastcry and his own.
1hc subjcct of Crcgorys story was his own doctor, a man namcd
]ustus. As hc lay on his dcath-bcd (possibly from thc plaguc), ]ustus
condcd to his brothcr Copiosus, also a doctor (but not a monk), that
hc had thrcc gold coins hiddcn in his mcdicinc chcst. 1his informa-
tion, oncc divulgcd, could not casily bc hiddcn from thc brcthrcn.
Whcn Crcgory found out, hc took it ill that a brothcr who had livcd in
thc community with us should havc committcd so gravc a fault. Ior
it had always bccn thc custom of our monastcry that all thc brothcrs
should livc as a communityand that no onc was allowcd to own any-
thing for himsclf.
Crcgorys conccrns wcrc to punish thc fault in
]ustus, in ordcr to purify his soul, and by making an cxamplc of his
casc, to prcvcnt any of thc brcthrcn from following him into his
Community of propcrty, and thc unity of hcarts and minds as
articulatcd in Acts , was not, howcvcr, thc only point of thc story.
Crcgorys conccrn was to cmphasizc his own stratcgics of corrcction,
not so much in thc contcxt of thc monastcry, as of thc widcr com-
munity of thc living and thc dcad, and thc modcs of communication
+j Gregorian Synthesis
Dial. I\. jy, SC :j, +8.
Crcgory was not thc abbot of St Andrcws (scc Markus, Gregory, +o and n. ). Dc
\oguc suggcsts that this incidcnt thcrc might havc takcn placc during an intcrrcgnum: scc
SC :j, ++, n. ++.
Dial. I\. jy. +o, SC :j, +88: . . . quippc quia ciusdcm monastcrii nostri scmpcr
rcgula fucrat, ut cuncti fratrcs ita communitcr vivcrcnt, quatcnus cis singulis nullo habcrc
propria liccrct. It is unclcar whcthcr Crcgory has a writtcn Rule in mind hcrc, or simply a
binding norm takcn as rcad by all mcmbcrs of thc community.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 154
bctwccn thcm. Hc summoncd thc prior, namcd Prctiosus (!) and
ordcrcd that ]ustus bc dcprivcd of thc company of all, without any
cxplanation. Only at thc point of dcath was his brothcr Copiosus to tcll
him why hc had bccn shunncd by thc community, so as to inducc a
purifying compunction. Pour encourager les autres, his corpsc was thcn
to bc cast in a holc with his thrcc picccs of gold.
So intimidatcd
wcrc thc brcthrcn by thcsc mcasurcs that, likc thc clcrgy in Hippo
invcntoricd by Augustinc, thcy brought out for Crcgorys scrutiny all
thcir bclongings, howcvcr trivial or innocuous. Crcgory rccalls: 1hcy
wcrc tcrricd, lcst thcy do anything worthy of rcbukc.
Aftcr thirty days, Crcgory rclcntcd on both thc living and thc dcad.
Hc instructcd Prior Prctiosus to organizc mass for ]ustus soul for thc
ncxt thirty dayswithout, howcvcr, tclling Copiosus of his dccision.
At thc cnd of this pcriod, ]ustus appcarcd to his brothcr in a vision, and
told him of his rcccption back into communion. Whcn Copiosus wcnt
to St Andrcws to tcll thc monks of his vision, thcy in turn rcvcalcd
to him thcir daily sacricc for ]ustus, which had clcarly provcd
\ision and sacricc chimcd in togcthcr.
1his is thc
triumphant momcnt of thc story. 1hc moral of ]ustus transgrcssion
and purgation was cschatological, giving yct anothcr sign of thc
mcrging of thc old world with thc world to comc. In this contcxt, whilc
common owncrship of propcrty rcmaincd a dcning fcaturc of thc
monastic lifc, it was not thc only mcans by which community could bc
In thc world of Crcgorys cxcgcsis, monastcrics havc all but dis-
appcarcd. 1hcrc arc no monachi, or ccnobitcs, or hcrmits.
thc outsct of his work as an cxcgctc, Crcgory cschcwcd any of thc
tcchnical languagc commonplacc in thc monastic tradition. A standard
cxplanation for this is that, cvcn if thc majority of his audicncc wcrc
monks, hc did not wish to connc himsclf to a monastic pcrspcctivc,
Weakness of Gregory +jj
Dial. I\. jy. ++, SC :j, +o.
Ibid. I\. jy, ++.
Ibid. I\. jy, +: concordantc simul visionc ct sacricio.
A. dc \oguc suggcsts that thc story of ]ustus and his brothcr may bcar somc rclation
to thc narrativc of thc brothcrs Cosmas and Damian, also doctors, but who spurn moncy (SC
:j, +88 n. 8). Crcgorys anccstor Iclix foundcd thc church of Cosmas and Damian in thc
monumcntal ccntrc of Romc. If so, this would rcprcscnt anothcr point of contact (or com-
pctition) bctwccn thc Dialogues and thc gesta of thc Roman martyrs, as discusscd by S.
Bocsch Cajano, Ia proposta agiographica dci Dialoghi, .
Scc Cillct, Spiritualitc ct placc du moinc, :j8, noting InIReg as thc grcat cxccp-
tion to this rulc, and casting prcscicnt doubts on its full authcnticity. Contrast thc impor-
tancc bcstowcd on monachi by thc Rule of St Benedict, scc SC +8+, :.
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but to risc to a broadcr ccclcsial, Christian and human framc of
Wc might rcgard him as a bishop likc Cacsarius who
transfcrrcd monastic idcals into thc widcr thcatrc of thc Church
wcrc it not for thc fact that, in his cxcgcsis, his ccclcsial languagc is as
dctachcd from institutional markcrs as is his monastic.
As an cxcgctc, Crcgory rcachcd for vocabulary and schcmata that
would draw attcntion away from monastic or ccclcsiastical institutions,
towards thc wholc body of thc faithful conccivcd of as a moral com-
munity. In this pcrspcctivc, thcrc wcrc thrcc ordcrs of thc faithful,
signicd by Noah, Danicl, and ]ob, whom thc prophct Ezckicl had
sccn sparcd from thc divinc punishmcnt of Isracl:
What docs Noah, who guidcd thc ark through thc wavcs, rcprcscnt if not thc ordcr
of rulcrs, who, whilc thcy govcrn thc pcoplc to shapc thcir livcs, stccr holy Church
through thc wavcs of tcmptation? What docs Danicl rcprcscnt if not thc ordcr of
thc contincnt who rulc with dcvotcd minds ovcr Babylon which lics bcncath
thcm? And what ]ob if not thc ordcr of thc marricd who advancc to thc hcavcnly
country by thc paths of carth?
1his is a hicrarchybut thc thrcc ordcrs arc unitcd by onc faith.
Crcgory hcrc madc his own thc augustinian taxonomy of thc thrcc
ordcrs of thc faithfulthc marricd, thc contincnt, and thc rulcrs of thc
Churchin ordcr to dcstroy it.
Augustinc had uscd this schcmc in
his Enarrationes in Psalmos to dcmonstratc that, although thcrc wcrc
falsc Christians among all thrcc ordcrs, nonc thc lcss thc ordcr of thc
contincnt had a spccial rolc to play in uniting thc wholc body of thc
Crcgory movcd away from thc thcology of Monastcry and
Church that Augustinc had thcrcby constructcd. Hc had littlc intcrcst
in thc continentes, hcrc and clscwhcrc, thc continentes and coniugati as it
wcrc canccl cach othcr out and arc mcrgcd, so lcaving two ordcrs of thc
faithfulthc ordo praedicantium, and thc multitudo audientium.
Crcgory suggcstcd that prcachcrs and hcarcrs had in fact bccn thc
apostolic constitution of thc Church.
Whcrc Augustinc saw a multi-
+j Gregorian Synthesis
Cillct, Spiritualitc ct placc du moinc, :8, ]udic, Rgle Pastorale, :.
Mor. I. +. :o, CCSI +, , scc also :. :o. j, CCSI +B, +j, HEz. II. . j,
CCSI +:, :+:. In HEz. thc schcmc bccomcs commonplacc, not nccding introduction
through a particular scriptural tcxt or dcsignation of thc ordines: scc c.g. II. +. y, II. y. , II.
. +:, CCSI +:, :++, +y, . Scc Iicdrowicz, Kirchenverstndnis, +88+.
HEz. II. . , CCSI +:, ::.
Iollict, Ics 1rois catcgorics dcs chrcticns, survic dun thcmc augustinicn, 8+, was
thc rst to cstablish Crcgorys dcpcndcncc on Augustinc hcrc.
Abovc, Ch. +.
Mor. I. +. +:o, CCSI +, . Scc also Mor. XXX. . ::, CCSI +B,
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tudc of bclicvcrs, Crcgory saw instcad an audicncc, a multitudc of
Crcgorys intcrcst lay in thc rolc of thc rectores. Augustinc sccms to
havc mcant by this occ-holdcrs in thc Church, and in particular
bishops. Lsing a widc varicty of tcrmsrectores, pastores, praepositi,
and abovc all, praedicatoresCrcgory abandoncd thc institutional
dcnition for a moral vision of thc lcadcrs of thc Church. Any
Christian could, in thcory, bccomc a prcachcr in Crcgorys scnsc.
Prcaching connotcd not only pulpit oratory, but morc broadly
doctrina, tcaching by word and cxamplc, combining thc activc and
contcmplativc livcs.
It was prcaching in this scnsc, across thc com-
munity of thc faithful, that dominatcd Crcgorys attcntion, not thc
silcncc of thc monastcry.
1hc praedicatores cmbody Crcgorys radically non-institutional
vision of thc Church in thc last days. Nowhcrc is this morc dramati-
cally illustratcd than in thc Homilies on the Gospels that Crcgory
prcachcd at thc basilica of thc martyrcd Iclicity, martyrcd with hcr
scvcn sons:
Wc rcad in thc morc rcliablc accounts of hcr dccds that shc fcarcd lcaving
hcr scvcn sons alivc aftcr hcr in thc csh, just as bodily parcnts fcar that thcir
childrcn may dic rst. Whcn caught up in thc sucrings of thc pcrsccution, shc
strcngthcncd hcr sons hcarts in lovc of thcir homcland abovc through prcaching.
Shc gavc birth in thc spirit to thosc to whom shc had givcn physical birth, so that
by prcaching shc might bring forth to Cod thosc whom in thc csh shc had
brought forth to thc world. . . . Should I call this woman a martyr? Shc was morc
than a marytr!
As wc shall scc in thc following chaptcr, thc witncss of thc grcgorian
prcachcr was at lcast as dcmanding as that of thc martyr.
Weakness of Gregory +jy
On thc prcachcrs, scc R. Iadncr, Iordo pracdicatorum avant lordrc dcs prchcurs,
in P. Mandonnct (cd.), Saint Dominique: Lide, lhomme et loeuvre (Paris, +y), j+j,
Dagcns, Grgoire, +:+, \. Rccchia, Il Pracdicator ncl pcnsicro c ncllazionc di
Crcgorio Magno, Salesianum + (+y), y, Straw, Gregory, :o+, Iicdrowicz
Kirchenverstndnis, +y, R. A. Markus, Crcgory thc Crcats Rcctor and his Ccncsis,
in Grgoire le Grand, +y, id., Gregory, :.
Scc HEz. II. . , CCSI +:, ::: Cum cnim longc sit a contincntibus ct taccntibus
cxccllcntia pracdicatorum.
HEv. I. , PI y, +o8, tr. Hurst, .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 157
+nr rr+cr or +nr rar+cnra
One reader of the Pastoral Rule, expressing a widely held frustration,
has pointed out: Nowhere does Gregory provide a context for the
extremely individual spiritual direction he advises.
For Gregory,
however, any precision would have represented a constraint. The
question of the unity of the Church as Gregory posed it could not be
solved by cordoning o a physical space: the preachers did not address
the faithful in a cloister, or in any other particular location. No one
venue was worthy of their attention: Gregory saw everywhere the
luminous presence of the next world.
Gregory specically did not seek to locate himself in the monastery.
On the rare occasions when it appears in Gregorys spiritual writings,
the monastery is the place he has lost, or cannot even remember. As a
bishop, he writes, his experience is of distraction and wasted eort. He
is a man swept out so far to sea that he no longer has sight of
the shore.
These expressions of longing for the lost haven of the
monastery constitute, certainly, an expansion of the rhetoric of reluc-
tance to power, but this does not exhaust their meaning. Gregory was
making a point about monasticism itself. The monastic past for which
he mourned was not only his own: it was also the cultural tradition
which he had inherited, but from which he radically departed.
Gregory could no longer enjoy the monastery as a place of belonging
not only because of the unremitting demands of his oce, but also,
and more importantly, because he himself had erased the monastery as
a site of signicance within the Church. He had decided that the
eschatological future of the whole body of the faithful, soon to be
realized, was of greater moment than the monastic past.
Recreating the rst community of Christians at Jerusalem, whether
in the desert or the city, was thus no longer especially urgent as a goal
of monastic endeavour for Gregory. Albeit with remorse, he broke
uncompromisingly with the tradition of Augustine, Cassian (to the
limited extent that he was invested in the Jerusalem community),
Pomerius, Caesarius, and Benedict: all of these men had envisaged
the monastery as a separate space in which to search for a new
Gregorian Synthesis
McClure, Gregory the Great, .
See e.g. Dial. pref. , SC , .
This is not to say that the monastery was not a suitable venue for preaching: see HEz.
II. . , CCSL , , discussed below (p. .). But it was not an especially privi-
leged venue as far as Gregory was concerned.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 158
In this othcr placc, social rclations, as thcy problcmatizcd
thcm, could bc dismantlcd and thcn rcasscmblcd on thc modcl of thc
]crusalcm community. 1hcy hopcd to ocr thc ncw pattcrn of social
living to thc rcst of thc faithful. Crcgory could not pausc to implcmcnt
such an arrangcmcnt. 1hc ]crusalcm community could no longcr
scrvc as a modcl hcrc, bccausc thc idca of monastic community itsclf
bucklcd at thc approach of thc Iast Days.
1o jcttison thc monastcry as an institution was not, howcvcr, to
abandon thc augustinian drcam of community, nor to forgct what
thc ascctic tradition, in particular Cassian, had to say about moral
authority. Crcgorys rclativc lack of intcrcst in thc thcology of
monastic community wcnt hand in hand with thc scnsc that it was his
duty as an ascctic rathcr, and as a prcachcr, to outlinc how both thc
marricd and thc contincnt should assumc a ncw authority appropriatc
to thc momcnt.
Hc wishcd to found not a discrctc community as had
his prcdcccssors in thc monastic tradition, but a languagc of authority
to bc uscd across thc wholc ccclcsial community.
Weakness of Gregory +j
Scc ]. Scguy, Lnc Sociologic dcs socictcs imaginccs: monachismc ct utopic, AESC
: (+y+), :8j.
HEz. II. . +:, .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 159

A Language of Power
In the world of Gregorys texts, the incandescent language of
authority, inspired by the word of God, brooks no argument: all issues
of the unity of the faithful are thereby resolved. This vision of moral
community evidently depended upon the skill of the teacher in dis-
pensing correction according to all as they had need. Such a solution
placed an enormous burden upon the preachers, who could not always
take refuge in what Gregory called the forest of scripture.
had, themselves, to speak, and Gregory was under no illusions as to the
diculty of the task. The government of souls is the skill compre-
hending all skills.
Fundamental to the skill of the preacher was his ability to negotiate
the obstacles to being heard, above all the suspicion that his claim to a
moral authority was bound to provoke among his hearers. This was the
importance to Gregory of the virtue of humility: it is everywhere
emphasized in his work, not as a generally desirable Christian virtue,
but as the quality without which those in power will not be able to
survive. If they did not exhibit humility, they could never expect to be
heard in the same spirit. A ruler of true expertise had, as a matter of
course, to go to extraordinary lengths to charm away the tensions
arising from his assumption of power to correct. Gregory led by
example here. In what has become a famous passage in his Homilies on
Ezekiel, Gregory interrupted the progress of his allegorical exegesis of
the text with an outburst of apparent self-disgust. When he came to
the Lords designation of the prophet as the watchman of the house of
Israel he felt, he said, literally strickenfound wanting as a pastor, his
negligence condemned as it were out of his own mouth. While still in
the monastery, he had been able to sustain his concentration on sacred
matters; once elected as pope, he had become distracted by trivia,
unable to collect himself or to set an appropriate example to others.
But he had to continue none the less, compelled as he was by the word
of God about the duty of the watchman to speak out.
The gure of the
HEz. I. . , CCSL , .
RP I, PL , A.
HEz. I. . , CCSL , .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 160
watchman, uscd initially by Crcgory in his lcttcr to \cnantius of
Syracusc, bccamc thc cmblcm both for thc vigilancc and thc disarming
humility of thc Crcgorian prcachcr.
Crcgorys humility cntranccd his ancicnt audicncc, wcll vcrscd in
thc convcntions of captatio benevolentiae, but it has confuscd his
modcrn rcadcrs.
His invocation of thc watchman is onc of thc thc kcy
witncsscs for thc vicw that hc bccamc popc in spitc of himsclf, that
hc longcd for a rcturn to thc quict of thc cloistcr
although what
Crcgory actually lamcnts is not or not only thc loss of contcmplativc
rcposc, but also thc opportunity to prcach.
1o insist, howcvcr, that
Crcgorys is a pcrsonal outburst thrcatcns to obscurc thc fact that it
is also an outburst of dialoguc with carlicr tradition. In so dcclaring his
humility in high occ, Crcgory appcalcd in gcncral and doubtlcss
instinctivcly, to thc Platonic tradition of thc philosophcrking, thc
man who could bc trustcd with powcr prcciscly bccausc it was dis-
tastcful to him. But his purposcs wcrc also morc spccic: hc surcly
aimcd to idcntify himsclf as a moral rulcr in thc languagc of authority
dcvclopcd by ascctics in thc Iatin Wcst in thc prcvious ccntury and a
halfas a watchman in thc mould of Augustinc, Pomcrius, and
Cacsarius, to namc but thrcc.
Crcgorys lamcnt ovcr his failurc as a
watchman in thc Homilies on Ezekiel is, in this scnsc, cntircly unsur-
prising: only through attcntion to thc rhctorical tradition in which
hc locatcd himsclf with no littlc ncssc will wc ablc accuratcly to
charactcrizc what is distinctivc about his approach.
Iikc thosc bcforc him, Crcgory dcscribcs thc burdcn hc bcars in
tcrms of a dilcmma about spccch:
I cannot kccp silcnt, and yct if I spcak, I will condcmn mysclf. Ict mc spcak, lct
mc spcak, so that thc word of Cod passcs through mc, lodging in thc hcart of my
ncighbour, cvcn as it transxcs mc. Ict mc spcak, lct mc spcak, lct thc word of
Cod sound through mc, cvcn as it sounds against mc.
1hc dangcr of condcmning himsclf out of his own mouth was twofold.
Not only might Crcgory nd his lifc indictcd by thc scriptural tcxts
Language of Power ++
Not so Y. Congar, Ordinations invitus, coactus dc lEglisc antiquc au canon :+, Revue
des Sciences Philosophiques et Thologiques jo (+), +y.
c.g. Dagcns, Grgoire, +j.
Markus, Gregory, :j.
A furthcr possiblc sourcc would bc Ico thc Crcat: scc Mohrmann, Episkopos-
Spcculator. 1his passagc in thc Homilies had its own carcful grcgorian protocols, as a com-
parison with thc similar passagcs in thc Pastoral Rule and thc Register makcs clcar: scc, in
particular, thc lcttcr to \cnantius of Syracusc discusscd abovc (pp. +jo).
HEz. I. ++. j, CCSI +:, +y+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 161
that hc sought to cxpound to his hcarcrs: his words thcmsclvcs might
furthcr undcrminc his moral crcdibility, as hc fclt himsclf bornc away
in what hc callcd thc ux of spccch. Was thcrc a languagc hc could
usc to avoid sins of thc mouth? Hcrc, as throughout, wc scc that
Crcgory participatcd as cnthusiastically as did any othcr othcr sixth-
ccntury ascctic in thc tradition of plain spccch initiatcd in thc Iatin
Wcst by ]ohn Cassian, and adaptcd by gcncrations of ascctics sincc
thcn. Hc followcd othcrs too in linking thc claim to plain spccch with
thc rhctoric of vulncrabilitythc forswcaring of rhctoric with thc
disintcrcst in powcr.
Abovc all, howcvcr, Crcgory madc his own thc insight skctchcd by
Pomcrius in his handbook for bishops and dcvclopcd by Bcncdict in a
monastic contcxt: that thc spccch of thc rulcr, whcn propcrly applicd,
can bind up all divisions within thc body of thc faithful. Crcgory
pursucd a languagc of authority that would carry all bcforc it with a
dcgrcc of conccntration undrcamt of by carlicr writcrs. Augustinc of
Hippo had dcnicd that thc quantication of thc ways of powcr was
possiblc, his subscqucnt rcadcrs had tcntativcly movcd to rcvcrsc his
vcrdict, but only with Crcgory do wc nd a writcr prcparcd to stakc
all on thc pcrformancc of thc moral rulcr, and to cnumcratc in dctail
how this might bc possiblc. Crcgory was prcparcd to takc thc risk of
claiming to bc morally qualicd to lcad, to shouldcr all thc burdcns of
thc faithful, to act as thc scrvant of thc scrvants of Cod.
Crcgory madc his own thc tradition of thc watchman of thc housc
of Isracl on which hc drcw. In thc Iatin Wcst, as wc havc sccn, thc
speculator of Ezckicl was idcnticd with thc episcopus. Ior Augustinc,
thc authority of thc bishop as watchman is a burdcn to bc sharcd with
thosc ovcr whom hc must cxcrcisc powcr,
in appropriating thc
authority of Augustinc, Cacsarius of Arlcs uscd thc gurc of thc
watchman to lcgitimatc a rcgimc of intimatc cpiscopal supcrvision.
Crcgorys watchman was not ncccssarily a bishop: his authority was
groundcd in cxclusivcly moral tcrms. Cod calls thc man hc scnds to
prcach a watchman . . . so that his soul should rcmain on high . . . as a
rcsult of thc virtuc of his actions.
Lnlikc Augustinc, Crcgory was
+: Gregorian Synthesis
1hc much-discusscd loci classici of Crcgorys rcnunciation of rhctoric arc his lcttcr to
Didicr of \icnnc (Reg. XI. , CCSI +oA, ::) and thc prcfacc to thc Moralia. Scc
Dagcns, Grgoire, +., and I. Holtz, Ic Contcxtc grammatical dc dc a la grammairc:
Crcgoirc ct Cassiodiorc, in Grgoire le Grand, j+.
Scc abovc, Ch. +.
Abovc, Ch. .
HEz. I. ++. , CCSI +:, +yo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 162
prcparcd to suggcst that thc watchman had a ccrtiablc moral claim to
bc sct on highbut hc undcrstood that such a claim must immcdiatcly
bc carthcd, that thc rcavowal of thc watchmans humility must
accompany any dcclaration of his powcrs of survcillancc. Whcrc a
pastor in thc mould of Cacsarius was committcd to rclcntlcss scrutiny
of thc tiny sins of thc pcoplc, Crcgory must dcpict his own dcsccnt
littlc by littlc into thc ways of sin:
My tonguc docs not kccp to prcaching as it should, ncithcr docs my lifc follow my
tonguc, try as I might to makc it. I am oftcn drawn into usclcss chat, bcing lazy
and ncgligcnt, I stop cncouraging and cdifying my ncighbours . . . What kind of a
watchman can I bc, in that I do not stand on thc mountain of good works, but I lic
down low in thc vallcy of wcakncss?
Only in acting as his own sharpcst critic could Crcgory hopc to con-
tinuc to ministcr to thosc in his chargc. 1hc cxprcssion of sucring in
occ was of paramount importancc to Crcgorys tcnurc of powcr.
As is but rarcly obscrvcd, Crcgorys invocation of thc watchman in
his Homilies on Ezekiel, and, simultancously, of his own failurc as a
prcachcr, lcads into a discussion of stratcgics of corrcction of all sorts
and conditions of thc faithfula rcprisc of matcrial from thc Pastoral
1hc dominant gurc in this discussion of prcaching stratcgy is
not Ezckicl, but Paul. It is to Paul that Crcgory rcfcrs again and again
in illustrating how dicrcnt sinncrs can bc lcd to listcn to moral rcbukc
and advicc. Crcgorys Paul is an cxpcrt doctor, dcscribcd in thc
languagc of ascctic peritia drawn from Cassian and his subscqucnt
Iatin rcadcrs. Hc is also a contcmplativc, a man who has bccn to thc
third hcavcn. As Pomcrius trcatisc On the Contemplative Life had
adumbratcd, thc watchmans gazc was dircctcd at thc hcavcns as wcll
as ovcr his ock. In Crcgorys fully articulatcd vision, thc humility of
thc prcachcrs bcspcaks thcir convcrsc with angcls.
s+ r+trs +nor+ro
1wo grcat lists dominatc thc closing books of thc Moralia In Job, onc
of sinncrs, thc othcr of sins.
1hc lattcr has bccomc notorious.
Hcrc Crcgory cnumcratcs thc masscd ranks of thc viccs assailing
humanitythc scvcn principal sins and thcir dcpcndantsso giving
Language of Power +
HEz. I. ++. , CCSI +:, +y:.
HEz. I. ++. +::j, CCSI +:, +y8+. Cf. RP III. :, :, SC 8:, +8:, o.
Mor. XXX. . +, XXXI. j. 8y, CCSI +B, ++joo, ++o.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 163
canonical form to Cassians typology of vicc in thc Institutes. In thc
formcr list, anticipating his own trcatisc, thc Pastoral Rule, Crcgory
itcmizcs thc contrasting rcmcdics rcquircd by sinncrs of contrasting
tcmpcramcnts, for oftcn thc things which prot somc arc bad for
othcrs. Whcncc cvcry tcachcr, to thc cnd that thcy may cdify all in thc
onc virtuc of charity, ought to touch thc hcarts of his hcarcrs out of onc
systcm of tcaching, but not with onc and thc samc addrcss.
juxtaposition of thcsc two monumcntal invcntorics implics an attcmpt
to cntwinc two ancicnt strands of moral and pcdagogic thcory: thc onc,
mcdiatcd to Crcgory by Cassian, procccdcd by imagining thc stagcs in
thc attainmcnt of virtuc by a singlc soul, on thc undcrstanding that this
was thc moral history of cvcryman. 1hc othcr tradition, rcprcscntcd
by Augustinc, cschcwcd such gcncralization, and insistcd that cvcry
condition rcquircd its own carcfully mcasurcd rcsponsc.
achicvcmcnt was to bring thcsc traditions togcthcr to form a unicd
scicncc of admonition.
1his was a bold solution to thc problcm of moral community, of thc
sort that Augustinc had rcfuscd and that Cassian had unsucccssfully
attcmptcd. 1hc kcy lay in Crcgorys usc of Cassians languagc of
moral cxpcrtisc. As wc havc sccn, thc Institutes and Conferences had sct
out a history of apostolic lifc sincc thc rst Christian community in
]crusalcm as a framc for a lcsson in thc tcchniqucs of moral purity, but
Cassian had arrivcd at thc point at which hc could only conccivc of
monastic community if hc assumcd thc samc lcvcl of tcchnical compc-
tcncc on thc part of all inmatcs, abandoning thc possibilitics both of
supporting wcakcr brcthrcn and of trusting charismatic authority.
Crcgorys usc of thc Institutes and Conferences wcnt to thc csscntial of
what Cassian was trying to dothat is, to dcscribc what madc a man
purc in hcartand lcft all clsc by thc waysidc. In simply not attcmpt-
ing to nd a monastic sctting for thc tcchniquc of purication,
Crcgory rcsolvcd at a strokc many of thc problcms about thc institu-
tionalization of ascctic purity upon which Cassians analysis had
foundcrcd. Lncncumbcrcd with thc qucstion of ccnobitism, Crcgory
armcd himsclf with Cassians languagc of peritia: as an augustinian,
and as an cschatological prcachcr, hc assumcd that a moral cxpcrt must
bc ablc to spcak to all sorts and conditions of hcarcrs.
Expcrt charity thus kncw no limits, in Crcgorys account.
+ Gregorian Synthesis
RP III prol., SC 8:, :j8o.
Scc c.g. De cat. rud. +j. :, CCSI , +y8.
Scc abovc all P. Catry, Amour du mondc at amour dc Dicu chcz S. Crcgoirc lc Crand,
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 164
rcfuscd to countcnancc thc kind of dual standard cnvisagcd by
Cassian, whcrc cxpcrt ascctics could lovc only thosc who sharcd thcir
lcvcl of procicncy. All wcrc bound to obcy thc doublc prcccpts of
thc lovc of Cod and thc lovc of ncighbour, thc cxpcrt was
thc pcrson who had achicvcd a lcvcl of tcchnical compctcncc in thc
pcrformancc of thcsc obligations. It was through thc bond of his
charity that thc apostlc Paul had commcrcc with thc angcls and with
sinncrs alikc. Hc was swcpt up by thc powcr of thc spirit to contcm-
plativc hcights, and without dcmurring, brought low by thc duty of
lovc for othcrs.
Instcad, thcrcforc, of using Cassians moral languagc
to producc an incxiblc opposition bctwccn ingnus and cxpcrts,
Crcgory uscd it to dctail a wholc rangc of antithctical pairs
dicrcntiatcd along cultural, social, and psychological axcs: thc rich
and thc poor, thc hcalthy and thc sick, thc quarrclsomc and thc pcacc-
ablc, thc impulsivc and thc cautious. 1hcrc wcrc thirty-six pairs in all.
Posscsscd of thc charism of disccrnmcntgurcd carly in thc Pastoral
Rule as thc nosc of disccrnmcnt
thc cxpcrt would accuratcly
distinguish thc virtucs and dccicncics of thosc in his chargc.
his dctcrmination to lcgislatc for thc distribution of charityhis
synthcsis of caritas and peritiaCrcgory struck a ncw point of balancc
bctwccn thc authority of Augustinc and that of Cassian.
At thc samc timc, Crcgorys achicvcmcnt owcd much to his sixth-
ccntury ascctic collcagucs who had alrcady workcd to dcvclop a moral
languagc cndowcd with thc numen of thc fth-ccntury fathcrs, but frcc
of somc of thc constraining prccision of thcir argumcnts. Crcgory, likc
Pomcrius and Cacsarius of Arlcs bcforc him, was morc committcd to
thc rhctorical bcncts of thc dcnunciation of vicc than to any con-
sistcnt analyscs of its opcration. A cardinal cxamplc is thc grcat cata-
loguc of sins. Expounding thc battlc afar o, thc thundcr of thc
captains, and thc shouting (]ob : :j), Crcgory cvokcs thc invisiblc
war wagcd against a hugc army of cunning and rclcntlcss focs. At thcir
hcad stands pridc, thc quccn of thc sins.
Whcn shc has conqucrcd thc
Language of Power +j
StMon +j (+y), :jyj, and id., Iamour du prochain chcz S. Crcgoirc lc Crand, StMon
:o (+y8), :8y.
RP II. , PI yy, :B-oA.
RP II. j, PI yy, :D-A.
RP I. ++, PI yy, :B-C.
Mor. XX\III. 8. +o. :, CCSI +B, +o8, XXXI. . 8j, +++.
Ior a gcncral survcy, scc M. Baastcn, Pride according to Gregory the Great: A Study of
the Moralia (Icwiston/Quccnston, +8).
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 165
Shc surrcndcrs it immcdiatcly to scvcn principal sins, as if to somc of hcr gcncrals,
to lay it wastc. . . . Ior pridc is thc root of all cvil, as Scripturc bcars witncss . . .
But scvcn principal viccs spring doubtlcss from this poisonous root, as its rst
progcny, namcly vainglory, cnvy, angcr, mclancholy, avaricc, gluttony, lust.
So dcnitivc for thc mcdicval Church, in thc contcxt of Crcgorys
works thc cataloguc of thc scvcn principal sins was a momcnt of
apparcnt clarity in an cxtrcmcly uid discussion of vicc and its cxpur-
gation. In particular, in idcntifying pridc as thc root of all sin, Crcgory
aimcd to signal his augustinian good faith without wholly acccpting
Augustincs vicw of pridc as a aw cmanating from thc will, so as to
lcavc in placc thc possibility of an ascctic rcmcdy for a humanity bcsct
not only by pridc, but also by dcsirc. As hc movcs to assimilatc pridc
with dcsirc, Crcgorys tactics and conclusions closcly rcscmblc thosc
of carlicr writcrs such as Pomcrius and Cacsarius. Ior cxamplc, in
rcading thc dcscription of Bchcmoth givcn by Cod to ]obHc slccps
undcr thc shady trccs, undcr covcr of thc tall rccds, in thc marshcs
(]ob o: ++, +)Crcgory as it wcrc instinctivcly nds a way to run
togcthcr pridc and dcsirc. 1hc tall rccd signics pridc, and thc
marshcs dcsirc, spccically scxual dcsirc.
Wc can rccognizc [thcsc viccs| in thc rst pcoplc, who covcrcd thcir gcnitals in
shamc, clcarly showing that in trying to rcach thc inncr hcights, thcy soon borc thc
outward marks of shamc on thcir csh . . . Bchcmoth, as hc sccks to dcstroy
thc wholc pcrson at onc fcll swoop, now raiscs up thc mind in pridc, now corrupts
thc csh with plcasurc and with lust.
With this cvocation of human shamc and diabolic vindictivcncss,
Crcgory blurs Augustincs fundamcntal distinction bctwccn thc
original, spiritual crimc and its subscqucnt, corporal punishmcnt. Hc
thcrcby rctains thc possibility and thc valuc of thc ascctic rcmcdy for
dcsirc. In thc scqucl to this passagc, hc draws thc contrast bctwccn thc
marshlands whcrc thc dcvil livcs and thc drylands, mcaning thc minds
of thc just, draincd by ascctic labour of thc brackish watcrs of carnal
Dcsirc as a catcgory was, howcvcr, no morc clcarly dcncd than
+ Gregorian Synthesis
Mor. XXXI. j. 8y, CCSI +B, ++o. Crcgory also substitutcd Iatin tcrms for
Cassians Crcck tcrms. (1hus gastrimargia bccamc ventris ingluvies, cenodoxia inanis gloria,
largyria avaritia.) 1hc lists of sins arc comparcd and discusscd by R. Cillct, cd., Grgoire le
Grand, Morales sur Job, Livres III, SC :bis, 8+o:.
Mor. XXXII. +. :o+, CCSI +B, +j, with thc quotation at +j.
Ibid. XXXIII. . j, CCSI +B, +y8. Ior a vcry clcar cxposition of Crcgorys
rcading of Augustinc in this contcxt, scc Straw, Gregory, o+:y, csp. ++:.
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pridc. As wc havc sccn in thc casc of Pomcrius, it was also thc goal of
sixth-ccntury ascctics to trcat Cassian in thc samc way as Augustinc
to rccall thc mood of Cassians analysis of tcmptation without its
analytical rigour. Crcgory can oftcn bc found assuming that moral
purication bcgins with thc ght against gluttony.
Ior Crcgory, as
for Cassian, thc sacrcd history of gluttony cnds with Christs rst
tcmptation in thc wildcrncss: thc sccond Adam rcfuscs thc dcvils ocr
of food, and so atoncs for thc failurc of thc rst to do so, and cstab-
lishcs a pattcrn for his followcrs to imitatc.
Iasting is thus thc sine qua
non of any ascctic commitmcnt, from which all clsc follows: cvcry-
body knows, arms Crcgory, that lust comcs from gluttony: it is
obvious from thc proximity of thc stomach to thc gcnitals.
1hc ncxt
stagc, according to Crcgorys own classication, would bc angcr, and
from thcrc, dcspair. Idcntifying thc conscqucnccs of gluttony in thc
Pastoral Rule, howcvcr, Crcgory movcs from lust to too much talk-
ing, and frivolous bchaviour.
In othcr words, hc was cvcn lcss
pronc to abidc by his own schcmatizations than was Cassian.
In Crcgorys work, an cvocation of thc powcr of dcsirc crodcs thc
physiological clarity of Cassians analysis, and this dcvclopmcnt is
brought to a logical conclusion in his discussion of nocturnal cmission.
Ior Cassian, thcrc had bccn no clcarcr indcx of a mans moral purity
than his control of his scmcn whilc hc slcpt. Alrcady in Pomcrius, this
grcat thcmc of thc Institutes and Conferences had bccn rcduccd to a
mcrc vigncttcand wc nd Crcgory cngagcd in a similar rcduction. It
is unlikcly that hc would havc discusscd nocturnal cmission at all had
hc not bccn prcsscd by Augustinc of Cantcrbury to pronouncc on thc
issuc. Augustinc had askcd whcthcr a man who had cxpcricnccd a
nocturnal cmission could rcccivc thc cucharistor cclcbratc it in thc
cvcnt that hc was a pricst. Summarizing ascctic tradition hcrc quitc
Language of Power +y
Cf. Esau, who, Crcgory rcminds his audicncc, lost his birthright bccausc hc wantcd
cvcn simplc foodlcntilsinamcd as hc was with dcsirc, Mor. XXX. +y. o, CCSI
+B, +j:.
Ibid. XXX. +y. jy:, CCSI +B, +j:. Scc also HEv. +. +. :, PI y, ++A-
C. 1hc parallcl bctwccn Adam and Christs tcmptations is Cassians: scc Conl. j. , SC :,
Mor. XXXI. j. 8, CCSI +B, +++.
RP III. +, PI yy, 8+A-C. Such supcruous talk Crcgory takcs to bc a mark of hcrctics
and of womcn. On thc formcr, scc c.g. Mor. III. ::. :, \. +. o, CCSI +B, +:, :
(on Eliphaz thc 1cmanitc, whom Crcgory undcrstands to rcprcscnt hcrctics). On thc lattcr,
scc c.g. Dial. I\. j. +:, SC :j, +y8 (on a Sabinc holy woman), HEv. II. 8. +j, PI y,
+:+: (on Crcgorys own aunt Cordiana). Crcgory hcrc joins a wcll-cstablishcd tradition
of condcmnation of fcmalc garrulousncss: it should bc notcd, howcvcr, that his discussion of
thc ux of spccch (scc bclow) is aimcd at controlling thc garrulousncss of mcn.
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as brutally as hc had donc in dcaling with Augustincs qucstion on
cpiscopal living arrangcmcnts and monastic community, Crcgory
cxplaincd that a nocturnal cmission was not in itsclf polluting, bccausc
it could happcn naturally. But if thc man had conscntcd to thc onsct of
scxual dcsirc, and had thus provokcd thc cmission, thcn hc could bc
hcld culpablc.
1hcrc is no othcr discussion of bodily uxus and its
avoidancc in Crcgorys work.
Ilux for Crcgory connotcd not thc ow of scmcn, but thc ux of
spccch or dcsirc.
Ior thc human mind is likc watcr: whcn cncloscd, it is collcctcd on high . . .but
whcn lct loosc, it comcs to nought . . .1hc mind is as it wcrc, drawn out in so many
strcams thc momcnt it lcts itsclf out in a ow of words from thc strict cnclosurc of
Of thc dccision of sixth-ccntury ascctics to conccntratc thcir attcntions
on discursivc, rathcr than physiological, signs of moral purity thcrc is
no clcarcr indcx than this shift in thc mcaning of uxus. In Crcgorys
vicw, it was thc words that issucd from a man in thc daytimc, not thc
bodily uids cjcctcd at night that would rcvcal thc contcnts of his
hcart. 1hc carc lavishcd by Cassian on dctcrmining thc ascctics
optimal intakc of watcr Crcgory dcvotcd to scrutinizing his own
rhctorical pcrformancc. At thc start of thc Moralia, hc informs his
rcadcrs of his intcnt not to follow a rigid scqucncc of cxposition, but
to cmploy mysclf at grcatcr lcngth upon thc widc cld of contcmpla-
tion and moral instruction. Hc is condcnt that an cxcgctc should not
bc afraid to digrcss if cdicatory nccd bc, to forcc thc strcams of dis-
coursc towards thc adjaccnt vallcy, and whcn hc has pourcd forth
cnough . . . to fall back into his original channcl.
At thc cnd of thc
work, howcvcr, Crcgory confcsscs that having startcd with thc clcan
intcnt to cdify his hcarcrs, thc dcsirc to plcasc thcm has crcpt upon
him, and hc asks for thcir forgivcncss.
His spccch, oncc humblc, has
bccomc contaminatcd, and hc sccks to rcturn it to its pristinc statc.
Such conccrn with purity of spccch was, of coursc, a lcsson Crcgory
+8 Gregorian Synthesis
Scc Lib.Resp. ix, in Bcdc, Historia Ecclesiastica I. :y, cd. Plummcr, o+.
Scc c.g. Mor. \III. y. jy, CCSI +, yy (uxus eloquii), III. o. j, CCSI +, +j+
(uxus illiciate cogitationis), XXX. :+. o, CCSI +B, +j (voluptatis uxus).
Mor. \II. y. jy+, CCSI +, yy8+.
Mor: Epistula ad Leandrum :, CCSI +, .
Mor. XXX\. :o. , CCSI +B, +8+o++. Scc also Mor. IX. :j. y, CCSI +o, 8:,
both passagcs arc bricy discusscd by Mcyvacrt, Crcgory thc Crcat and thc 1hcmc of
Authority in id. Benedict, Gregory, Bede, Ch. j, y8.
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had lcarnt from Cassian: just as hc dctachcd thc dcploymcnt of moral
cxpcrtisc from thc issuc of ccnobitism, so hc movcd to rclcasc thc
scicncc of plain spccch from its dcpcndcncc on physical asccticism.
1hc uptakc of thc body into discoursc had spccic pastoral con-
scqucnccs: thc actual bodics of thosc in his chargc wcrc lcss important
to Crcgory than to carlicr sixth-ccntury ascctics as an arca ovcr which
to cxcrcisc moral authority. A bishop likc Cacsarius, or a monastic
tcachcr likc thc Mastcr, sought dircctly to changc thc bchaviour of his
ock. 1hc concrctc dctails of thcir daily livcs wcrc to bcar witncss to
his pastoral intcrvcntion, on thc undcrstanding that hc could only
asscss thc spiritual wclfarc of thosc in his chargc through visiblc,
physical signs of thcir strugglc against sin. Ior Crcgory, on thc othcr
hand, it sccms to havc bccn lcss important to cxtract this kind of
bodily obcdicncc from his listcncrs, bc thcy his immcdiatc circlc or thc
pcoplc of Romc. 1o put thc contrast in tcrms of his usc of ascctic
tradition, Crcgory, his immcrsion in Cassians tcxts notwithstanding,
found his way back to an augustinian undcrstanding of his pastoral
task in tcrms of ministcring to thc physical nccds of his congrcgation.
Hc was ablc to rcgard thcir bodics not as potcntial cmblcms of ascctic
purity, but as frail and sucring mattcr, dcbilitatcd by divinc punish-
mcnt, a condition which could not physically bc rcmcdicd, but only
Whcrc Cacsarius lcft his mark at Arlcs on thc churchcs and on thc
womcn in thc convcnt, thcn, Crcgory hcsitatcd bcforc conscripting
thc bodics of othcrs for ascctic purposcs. 1hc Register shows that hc
was involvcd in all of thc samc activitics as Cacsarius, but also that hc
did not scck to prcscnt his authority in tcrms of a rcgimc of moral
survcillancc. Crcgorys almsgiving,
rcdcmption of captivcs,
and his
dcalings with thc holy womcn in Romc
havc nonc of thc mclo-
Language of Power +
Scc HEv. I. +. , PI y, ++8A for Crcgorys usc of Isa. j8 to urgc a conncction
bctwccn fasting and almsgiving, cf. Caes.Serm. :j.+, CCSI +o, ++:, and +. , CCSI +o,
8o. Crcgorys biographcrs stir up somc controvcrsy hcrc. According to Vita Gregorii :8,
cd. Colgravc, +:, Crcgorys succcssor Sabinian did opcn thc granarics for thc multitudc
during timcs of faminc, but hc chargcd thcm a pricc. Crcgory appcarcd to Sabinian thrcc
timcs, bcrating him in far from gcntlc toncs for his miscrly stcwardship. Whcn Sabinian
would not listcn, Crcgory kickcd him in thc hcad, and hc dicd. Cf. Liber Ponticalis y,
whcrc Sabinians opcning of thc city granarics is dcscribcd as an act of charity. ]ohn thc
Dcacon is lcss dramatic in his account of thc monthly distributions of corn initiatcd by
Crcgory and his followcrs: ]ohn thc Dcacon, Vita Gregorii II. :, PI yj, yB.
Scc c.g. Epp. I\. +y, \II. +, \II. j, CCSI +o, :j, :, 8.
Scc Epp. II. +o, III. +y, \I. :. 1his cvidcncc is asscmblcd in C. Icrrari, Early Roman
Monasteries: Notes for the History of the Monasteries and Convents at Rome from the V to the X
Century (Romc, +jy), +++:, +, +y8.
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dramatic edge of Caesarius transactions. Although Gregory does
seem to have taken a specic interest in fostering conventual life in the
city, his letters to Roman abbesses concern their basic material needs,
for adequate shelter or for blankets in the cold Roman winter.
Neither for captives, nor for holy virgins did Gregory despoil the
churches of Rome. As the Liber Ponticalis reports, he took care to
adorn both St Peters and St Pauls with gold, silver, and purple-dyed
It was not in this context that he would confront the city
While Caesarius typically sought to render his message as physically
graphic as possible, Gregorys idea of persuasiveness entailed an
immediacy of contact with the inner desires of his hearers. Hearts, not
garments was his cry.
On those rare occasions when he did directly
address the people, Gregory declined to comment in any detail on how
he wished them to behave. If he addressed sexual desire at all, for
example, it was because it connoted attachment to this world. The
dierence between the married and the continent lay not in sex itself,
but in the involvement in property transactions, in worldly business,
consequent upon marital sexual activity.
In speaking to the Romans,
as to his immediate circle, it was not the shaming inventory of pollu-
tion but the drastic abandonment of worldly desire on which Gregory
dwelt. He was less interested in nding bodily terms for spiritual
impurity than in evoking the fundamental distance between heaven
and earth:
Look! There is happiness in the heavenly citadel of the elect; they are all enjoying
one anothers company. And what of us? Tepid in the love of eternal life, we are
not aame with desire, we are without joy. Let us light up our souls, brothers, let
our desires be burning for heaven.
Earthly pleasures amount to very little, and so in Gregorys estima-
tion, are not worth extensive rhetorical attention. In the end, perhaps,
the esh need hold no power, because it could be viewed simply as
matter. For however much gold and silver you heap around yourself,
however many clothes you put on your esh, what is it besides esh?
Gregorian Synthesis
Ep. VII. .
Lib. Pont. .
HEz. I. . , CCSL , , citing Joel : : Rend your hearts, and not your
e.g. Mor. I. . , CCSL , .
HEv. I. . , PL , D.
Ibid. . . , PL , C.
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Crcgorys was a Paulinc pcrspcctivc. Whcn prcsscd by thc
Corinthians to sct out a hicrarchy of scxual purity, Paul rcplicd that,
in vicw of thc ncarncss of thc cnd timcs, this was a badly put qucstion.
Crcgory took dclight in rccounting (morc than oncc) thc pastoral
cxploits of thc apostlc Paul, as dcscribcd in his lcttcrs to thc Christian
communitics of thc Eastcrn Mcditcrrancan. 1hc casc of thc fractious
Corinthians, indccd, was a favouritc cxamplc: in Crcgorys rcading of
thc tcxt, Paul lullcd his hcarcrs into a falsc scnsc of sccurity with mild
words of praiscand thcn wicldcd thc knifc of corrcction. Iikc a
skillcd doctor, hc saw thc wound that nccdcd to bc cut, but hc saw also
a paticnt who was fcarful: hc dclaycd and dclaycd, and thcn suddcnly
hc struck.
Whcrc, for Augustinc, Pauls lcttcr to thc Romans had
providcd thc csscntial lcsson in thc inscrutability of divinc graccthc
impossibility of human knowlcdgc of Cods judgcmcntfor Crcgory
what mattcrcd was Pauls clinical cxpcrtisc in knowing, not only what
to say, but also whcn to say it, in ordcr to bring about a spccic moral
ccct in his hcarcrs.
Paul was thc cxpcrt doctor, and only an cxpcrt could hopc to
shouldcr thc burdcn of rcsponsibility of authority as Crcgory had
dcncd it. Hc kncw what kind of pcrson should bc a rulcr. 1hrough-
out his work, but abovc all at thc start of thc Pastoral Rule, Crcgory
warncd that thc incxpcrt (imperiti) should not scck or bc choscn to
Cassian, on whosc tcrminology Crcgory drcw hcrc, had
dcclarcd thc incxpcrt incligiblc for ccnobitic lifc: Crcgory wclcomcd
thcir prcscncc as subjccts of pastoral attcntion, but hc could not
countcnancc thcir tcnurc of powcr. 1his was a warning to thosc
alrcady in occ as much as anything clsc. 1hcy should, constantly,
guard about thcir ways.
Evcn thc bcst qualicd wcrc, howcvcr,
bound to crr, to fall short of thc cxamplc sct by Paul. 1hc qucstion
raiscd by Crcgorys argumcnt was a familiar onc: who would watch thc
watchmcn thcmsclvcs? Oncc a philosophcr bccamc king, to whom
could hc turn for thc frank spccch of corrcction?
Language of Power +y+
HEz. I. ++. +8, CCSI +:, +yy. Cf. Mor. XXI\. +. +, CCSI +B, +:+. Also RP
III. :y, PI yy, +o:C.
RP I: Nc vcnirc impcriti ad magistcrium audcant.
Mor. XIX. +:. :o, CCSI +B, y+.
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Jous coroa+ras
In o:, Crcgory wrotc to thc Roman noblcwoman Rusticiana at
Constantinoplc, whom hc had bcfricndcd during his timc thcrc.
Rusticiana and hc both sucr from gout, and this prompts Crcgory to
ocr his advicc on thc spiritually corrcct rcsponsc to bodily aiction.
On thc onc hand hc rcjoiccs in thc morally purgativc ccct of hcr ill-
ncss, in that it clcans out thc noxious humours which, hc says, drag his
own body down into carnality. On thc othcr, hc is worricd about
Rusticiana, bccausc shc is alrcady so frail: shc may bc in too much
pain. His own condition, hc thcn rcvcals, is so cxtrcmc that his body is
complctcly dricd up and rcady for thc gravc. Hc hardly cvcr has thc
strcngth to risc from his bcd. Hc asks hcr: So if gout rcduccs my body
to such dryncss, what can I fccl about your body, which was too
dry alrcady bcforc your sickncss?
1hc lcttcr rcachcs thc limits of
spiritual fricndship as Crcgory hcsitatcs bctwccn ascctic stringcncy
for carnal pollution and compassion for bodily wcakncss.
Rusticiana was thc granddaughtcr of Bocthius: Crcgorys rclation-
ship with hcr rcprcscntcd for thcm both, pcrhaps, a point of contact
with thc world of thc carly sixth ccntury, morc stablc than thcir own
vicissitudinous cra. 1hcir corrcspondcnccincluding, for cxamplc, a
discussion of hcr pilgrimagc to ]crusalcmcvokcs thc kind of rcla-
tionships maintaincd by Eugippius and Proba, Cacsarius and his sistcr
Cacsaria, looking back in turn to ]cromc and Paula, Runus and
Mclania in thc fourth ccntury. At thc samc timc, this lcttcr to
Rusticiana rcvcals thc dicrcnccs bctwccn Crcgory and thc ascctic
gcncration of thc start of thc ccntury. In markcd contrast to thc moral
supcrvision ocrcd by Cacsarius of Arlcs and thc Rule of the Master,
thc kind of authority Crcgory wishcd to cxcrt involvcd not only an
objcctivc asscssmcnt of his audicncc, but a subjcctivc, unconditional
idcntication with thcir nccds.
Such an cxcrcisc of powcr could not lcavc thc prcachcr himsclf
unchangcd. It rcquircd, on thc contrary, that hc imaginc constantly
what it was likc to bc somconc clsc.
1his was a mcticulous and
cxhausting work of compassion, but onc whosc dynamics fascinatcd
+y: Gregorian Synthesis
Ep. XI. :, CCSI +oA, 88o+.
Cf. RP III. +:, SC 8:, :::, on admonishing thc sick.
Ep. XI. :, CC +oA, 8.
Scc also lcttcr to \cnantius, Ep XI. 8, and Scncca, Ep. y. , on how gout tcachcs
cndurancc of hardships.
Cf. Mor. XXXI\. ++. ::, CCSI +B, +yy. Scc Straw, Gregory, :o+:.
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Crcgory. Hc ncvcr tircd of obscrving what thc cxpcricncc of powcr
did to thc pcrson who hcld it, thc transformations hc himsclf could
cxpcct to undcrgo, cvcn as hc undcrtook thc work of transforming
othcrs. On occasion, his mind turncd morc rcadily to thc politics of
corrcction than to thc busincss of corrcction itsclf: hcncc onc of thc
morc rcmarkablc passagcs in his rcsponsc to Augustinc of Cantcrbury.
In what ways was scxual intcrcoursc polluting?, Augustinc had askcd.
Not contcnt hcrc with a brisk summary of cxisting tradition, Crcgory
framcs an analogy bctwccn scxual intcrcoursc and thc cxcrcisc of
spiritual authority. Iawful intcrcoursc must bc accompanicd by
bodily dcsirc, Crcgory acknowlcdgcs, bcforc obscrving:
1hcrc arc many things that arc lawful and lcgitimatc, and yct in thc doing of thcm
wc arc to somc cxtcnt contaminatcd. Ior cxamplc, wc oftcn corrcct faults undcr
strcss of angcr, and thcrcby disturb our pcacc of mind . . . So whilc angcr against
cvil is commcndablc, it is harmful to a man bccausc in bcing disturbcd by it hc is
conscious of somc guilt.
Crcgory approachcs thc problcm of scxual plcasurc not by cvoking its
polluting ccct in thc community, but with rcfcrcncc to thc intimatc
workings of spiritual authority.
1hc problcm of thc rulcr in crror doggcd Crcgory, and its
appcarancc in thc middlc of a discussion of scxual bchaviour would
havc bccn no surprisc to anyonc who had hcard him prcach on ]ob. A
rulcr might bc posscsscd of disccrnmcnt and charity, but hc was
bound to crr, howcvcr wcll-intcntioncd: in thc Moralia, Crcgory
poscd thc qucstion, classic in kingship litcraturc from thc Hcllcnistic
pcriod onwards: should thc rulcr acccpt corrcction of his own
His answcr sccms uncquivocal. Only a truly skilful and
loving rulcr would posscss thc humility to rcspond to admonition of
his own conduct, whilc thc purvcyor of an cmpty cxpcrtisc would bc
rcvcalcd as thc hollow and conccitcd spcakcr that hc was. Crcgory saw
]ob and his fricnds as providing an cxtcndcd illustration of thc anxicty
of thcsc contrasting attitudcs. ]ob, in Crcgorys account, funda-
mcntally acccptcd his tcsting from Cod. His fricnds, although thcy
Language of Power +y
Scc Lib.Resp. viii in Bcdc, Historia Ecclesiastica I. :y, cd. Plummcr, j8, tr. Shcrlcy-
Pricc, 8o+. Ior a casc of cxccssivcly harsh corrcction, scc Ep. XII. j, CCSI +oA,
y, a lcttcr to onc Oportunus, whosc dcsolation at Crcgorys rcbukc clicits thc lattcrs
rcassurancc that hc spokc not in angcr but out of lovc.
K. Coopcr, Discrction and Bctrayal: Iatc Roman Advicc on Iatc Roman Advisors,
papcr dclivcrcd at Iccds Intcrnational Mcdicval Congrcss, ]uly +, discusscs thc ancicnt
contcxt for this charactcristic of thc wisc rulcr, obscrvcd in kingship litcraturc from thc
Hcllcnistic pcriod onwards.
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had somc knowlcdgc of spiritual mattcrs, lackcd truc peritia as thcy
attcmptcd to ocr ]ob thcir rcady-madc admonitions for his uniquc
ordcal. 1hus Eliphaz, whilc his tcaching is sound, is incxpcrt cnough
to assumc that hc can tcll ]ob somcthing ]ob docs not alrcady know.
Similarly, Baldad blundcrs on in his diatribc, fcarful lcst a momcnts
pausc bc intcrprctcd as hcsitant imperitiaCrcgorys implication
bcing that a didcnt silcncc would bc a far morc convincing sign of
cxpcrt conccrn for ]ob.
1hc clumsy arrogancc of Sophar is still morc
ruthlcssly cxposcd, as Crcgory has him succumb instantly to thc
inscnsitivity hc is loud to condcmn. Sophar rcbukcs ]ob for his domi-
nccring outburstShall mcn hold thcir pcacc to thcc only?and
thcn procccds to bctray his own prcsumption, in calling on Cod to
show ]ob thc sccrcts of divinc wisdom, thc manifold law. Crcgory
rcbukcs Sophars gauchc navcty with Pauls dcnitivc statcmcnt of
thc unfathomablc dcpth of Cod, commcnting: Sophar, thcn, is both
an cxpcrt through his application to knowlcdgc, and an ignoramus in
thc inatcd crontcry of his words. Hc lacks solidity, and wants to bc
a bcttcr man than hc is.
Such sclf-stylcd cxpcrts would always rcfutc
thcir own prctcnsions to promincncc, Crcgory argucd.
Conccding that his cmphasis on authority raiscd thc stakcs of com-
pctition for powcr, Crcgory nonc thc lcss insistcd that thc markct-
placc of claims to cxpcrtisc was sclf-rcgulating. ]obs fricnds bclicvc
thcmsclvcs to bc cxpcrt in all things, but in thc sight of Cod thcir vain-
glorious imperitia is uncrringly rcvcalcd.
1hcy prcfcr to sccm holy to
thosc who do not know bcttcr, rathcr than to work for thc humility on
which cnduring sanctity is groundcd. In playing to thc gallcry, such
hypocritcs bccomc indistinguishablc from thosc whom thcy dcsirc to
imprcss. 1hcir lack of humility nally bcspcaks thcir ignorancc of
charity: if unablc to acccpt corrcction thcmsclvcs, thcy will ncvcr bc
ablc to dispcnsc it appropriatcly to othcrs. Sophar kncw what hc was
saying, but not to whom hc was saying it: likc all ]obs comfortcrs, hc
was unablc to grasp thc naturc of ]obs prcdicamcnt. As though to
dcmonstratc this furthcr, Crcgory uscs onc of Sophars shallow
truismshis invocation of thc divinc manifold lawto rclcasc a
+y Gregorian Synthesis
Quantalibct doctrina mcns pollcat, gravis cius impcritia cst vcllc doccrc mclius, Mor.
\I. . , CCSI +, .
Ibid. \III. . j, :8.
Sophar itaquc ct pcr scicntiac studium pcritus ct pcr audaciam tumidac locutionis
ignarus, quia ipsc gravitatcm non habct, mcliori optat quod habct, diccns . . ., ibid. X. . y,
j8, commcnting on ]ob ++: .
Mor. XX\III. :. ++, CCSI +B, +o+:, on ]obs fourth comfortcr, Eliu.
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soaring aria on thc multiplicity of charity, a grcgorian rcsctting of
Pauls hymn of lovc to thc Corinthians. Within thc domain of his
cxcgcsis at lcast, Crcgory could cnsurc that thc banal claims of prc-
tcndcrs to peritia wcrc always found wanting.
Within thc cld of worldly politics, this position may not havc bccn
so casy to maintain. In a lcttcr to thc cgrcgious Bishop Natalis of
Salona, who had thought to justify his dcrcliction of books for groan-
ing banquct tablcs with rcfcrcncc to Scripturc, Crcgory might pro-
claim his rcadincss to acccpt corrcction from all comcrs.
But this
was in itsclf somcthing of a ploy, calculatcd to undcrminc Natalis
complaccnt hcdonism. 1hcrc wcrc ncccssary limits to thc humility
of thc rulcr. 1o thosc whom hc trustcdor to thosc whom hc trustcd
hc could shamc into complianccCrcgory did not hcsitatc to
bcratc himsclf for his own inadcquacics, so ocring, paradoxically, a
dcmonstration of thc authcnticity of his claim to gcnuinc cxpcrtisc. Hc
could not, howcvcr, aord to sucr thc corrcction procrcd by cvcry
lattcrday comfortcr of ]ob, nor could hc bc ccrtain that such vanity
would bc disabuscd. In a kcy passagc in thc Pastoral Rule, Crcgory
askcd again whcthcr infcriors had thc right to corrcct thcir rulcrs,
cspccially whcn thc lattcr had uscd cxccssivc forcc. 1hcrc wcrc somc
famous prcccdcnts, such as Nathans corrcction of thc adultcrous
king David, for thc dutiful rcbukc of wayward rulcrs, but this was
not whcrc Crcgory placcd his cmphasis. It was ncvcr thc rulcrs
part to show humility to thosc who thcmsclvcs lackcd it. Evcn at thc
risk of crror himsclf, it was his task to rcmovc thc tcmptation to sclf-
importancc on thc part of would-bc adviscrs.
Crcgorys discussion hcrc drcw support from Augustinc, but hc
wcnt furthcr than Augustinc in shiclding rulcrs from possiblc
criticism of thcir miscalculations. Augustinc, wc may rcmcmbcr,
had vcnturcd in thc Praeceptum that thc rulcrs authority could bc
cndangcrcd if his infcriors wcrc givcn too much liccncc to protcst. In
what may wcll bc a dircct adaptation of this passagc in thc Pastoral
Rule, Crcgory commcnts:
In this it is nccdful that thc carc of govcrnmcnt should bc tcmpcrcd with such skill
in managcmcnt that thc mind of thcir subjccts, whcn thcy havc bccn ablc to think
rightly, may in such wisc comc forward into frccdom of spccch, as that frccdom
Language of Power +yj
Mor. X. . 8+o, CCSI +, j+.
Epp. II. +y, II. , CCSI +o, +o:, +. Scc Markus, Gregory, +jy, for a dcscrip-
tion of thc widcr conict at Salona in which Crcgory was attcmpting to intcrvcnc.
RP II. 8, SC 8:, :o.
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may not brcak out into arrogancc, lcst pcrchancc whcn libcrty of spccch is allowcd
thcm bcyond bounds, thcy losc humility of lifc.
1his cchocd but also ncly nuanccd Augustincs prcccpt: Crcgory
shiftcd attcntion away from thc regendi auctoritas cndangcrcd by too
much humility on thc part of thc rulcr, and onto thc thrcatcncd loss of
humility of thc infcriors. 1hc ccct Crcgory thcrcby achicvcd was
subtly to conccal and so to strcngthcn thc rulcrs auctoritas. \ulncrablc
as hc may havc shown himsclf to his inncr circlc, to thosc whom hc
pcrccivcd to rcquirc it Crcgory did not hcsitatc to hold back his sword
from blood.
1hc cxcrcisc of powcr could not but bc morally compromising. As
any rcadcr of City of God kncw, thc maintcnancc of carthly pcacc
by itsclf involvcd conduct that was not to bc distinguishcd from
It was impossiblc to spcak as a rulcr, Crcgory addcd, and
not to sin, but to maintain a cloistcrcd silcncc was fraught with its own
It should bc known that whcn wc withold from spccch by an cxccss of fcar . . . wc
arc subjcct to a mischicvous dcgrcc of much talking in thc hcart. Our thoughts
bccomc thc morc hot within, thc morc thc violcnt kccping of indiscrcct silcncc
conncs thcm.
A rulcr was ncvcr frcc from thc pcril of rhctorical ux, but any
violcncc hc might do if hc spokc was osct by thc damagc hc did if hc
hcld hcld his tonguc too tightly bound. If this was a mcssagc grimly
assimilatcd by many an carly mcdicval king, according to Crcgory it
was known alrcady to thc rulcrs of thc Old 1cstamcnt. As Solomon
says, 1hcrc is a timc for spcaking and a timc for silcncc.
Crcgory was always prcparcd to spcak. 1hc magnctism of
Solomons wisdom lay in its capacity to absorb all and any tcnsion in
thc community around thc king. Onc man assumcd and madc light of
thc burdcns of thc cntirc group. 1hc risks involvcd in ocring to play
such a rolc wcrc cxtraordinarycvcn if onc wcrc to cscapc thc oppro-
brium of oncs cncmics and thc attcry of associatcs, thc dcmons of
sclf-loathing and sclf-aggrandiscmcnt wcrc ncar at hand and ccrtain to
+y Gregorian Synthesis
Ibid. :. Scd intcr hacc ncccssc cst ut cura rcgiminis tanta modcraminis artc
tcmpcrctur, quatcnus subditorum mcns cum quacdam rcctc scntirc potucrit, sic in vocis
libcrtatcm prodcat, ut tamcn libcrtas in supcrbiam non crumpat, nc dum fortassc immodcr-
atius linguac cis libcrtas conccditur, vitac ab his humilitas amittatur, tr. H. R. Bramlcy
(Iondon, +8y), +oj. Cf. Augustinc, abovc, Ch. + n. jy.
Augustinc, Civ.Dei XIX. y, CCSI 8, y+.
Mor. \II. y. jy.
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attack. Yet these were precisely the risks Gregory sought to calculate
and, himself, to run.
+ srrrcn wr+not+ orsr
While Gregory proclaimed himself condemned as a watchman by the
Lords commission to Ezekiel, the words of Scripture were also a place
of refuge. In the Homilies on Ezekiel, for example, Gregory pictured
himself withdrawing into the shades of the sacred text, away from the
heat of this world:
How amazing is the depth of the speech of God! It is a joy to gaze into it, a joy to
penetrate its secrets, with grace as a guide. Each time that we look into it, trying
to understand, what else are we doing but going into the darkness of the woods, to
take ourselves away from the stiing heat of this world into its coolness? There we
pick the greenest shoots of ideas when we read, and by interpreting them we chew
the cud.
The monastery Gregory had abandoned, but retreat into Scripture
was always possible. Something of Gregorys sense of the word of
God as a safe haven may not be unfamiliar to a twenty-rst-century
audience schooled in the literature of exile and displacement, where
language serves to oer those driven from their homelands a form of
belonging. At the same time, we must recognize that Gregory does not
read or write as we do. We may try to keep pace with his capacity to
retreat, or to ascend from the literal surface of a text to a realm of
allegorical meanings, but he is likely to outrun us. No mere textual
hermeneutic, Gregorys allegorizing opened onto an entire cosmology
of God-given signs and human eorts to decode them. Scripture was
not, in fact, Gregorys only place of refuge: the entirety of creation
spoke to Gregory like a book in ways likely to bewilder us.
For all
that his rhetorical or psychological insights may strike a chord, it must
be remembered that Gregory was a visionary in ways we would nd
alarming, but that were relatively conventional in sixth-century ascetic
The forests of Scripture welcomed the weary preacher, and, in
Gregorys vision, they oered shelter to the whole body of the faith-
ful. When he dreamed of community, Gregory turned not to any one
Scriptural model, such as the Jerusalem community, but to the whole
Language of Power
HEz. I. . , CCSL , .
Ep. III. , CCSL , .
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of Scripturc itsclf.
Scripturc would spcak to cvcryonc as thcy had
nccd. In thc prcfacc to thc Moralia, Crcgory announccd this thcmc:
Scripturc is as it wcrc a kind of rivcr, if I may so likcn it, which is both
shallow and dccp, whcrcin thc lamb may nd a footing and thc
clcphant oat at largc.
1hc quaintncss of this oftcn quotcd phrasc
has pcrhaps distractcd rcadcrs from thc importancc of thc thcmc in
Crcgorys writings.
Crcgorys vision of Scripturc as polyphony was not ncw. In thc
Confessions, in passagcs Crcgory is likcly to havc known wcll,
Augustinc had rchcarscd his convcrsion to a truc comprchcnsion of
As a classically traincd rhctor, hc had thought scriptural
languagc and subjcct mattcr vulgar, until hc hcard Ambrosc prcach on
thc Old 1cstamcnt. 1hcn hc rcalizcd:
Its plain languagc and simplc stylc makc it acccssiblc to cvcryonc, and yct it
absorbs thc attcntion of thc lcarncd. By this mcans it gathcrs all mcn in thc widc
swccp of its nct, and somc pass safcly through thc narrow mcsh and comc to you
In thc De doctrina christiana and throughout his work, Augustinc
dcvclopcd thc tcchniqucs of cxcgcsis according to historical, allcgori-
cal, and moral scnscs which wcrc obviously fundamcntal for Crcgorys
own work as an cxcgctc.
Both Crcgorys dcbt to augustinian cxcgcsis, and thc dicrcnccs of
his own approach, havc bccn wcll obscrvcd. Whilc thcir intcrprctativc
mcthods may havc bccn similar, Augustinc was convinccd of thc
opacity of signs, Crcgory of thcir transparcncy.
1his was a luxury
Crcgory could aord. Hc inhabitcd a cultural world alrcady saturatcd
with Scripturc, whcrcas Augustinc workcd in a contcxt whcrc most of
his culturcd contcmporarics continucd to hold Scripturc in contcmpt
as hc had donc himsclf, and thc fcw who did not do so pridcd thcm-
sclvcs on thcir ability to unlock its sccrcts. Augustincs cmphasis
+y8 Gregorian Synthesis
P. Catry, Iirc lccriturc sclon Crcgoirc lc Crand, CollCist (+y:), +yy:o+.
Ad Leandr. , CCSI +o, .
Scc M. Banniard, Iuxta uniuscuiusque qualitatem: Iccriturc mcdiatricc chcz Crcgoirc,
Grgoire le Grand, yy88.
On Crcgorys knowlcdgc of thc Confessions, scc P. Courccllc, Les Confessions de Saint
Augustin dans la tradition littraire (Paris, +), :+.
Conf. \I. j. 8, CCSI :y, y8, scc also III. j. , CCSI :y, +.
Scc ]. McClurc, Crcgory thc Crcat: Excgcsis and Audicncc (Oxford D. Phil. thcsis,
+y8), csp. Introduction, \. Rccchia, Ia mcmoria di Agostino nclla cscgcsi biblica di
Crcgorio Magno, Augustinianum :j (+8j), oj.
Scc Markus, Signs and Meanings, +yo.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 178
on thc unfathomablc dcpths of Cods spccch was mcant to confront
both partics with thc futility of thcir assumptions. If no amount of
scholarly training would cvcr succ to parsc thc word of Cod, thcn,
for Augustincas cvcr conccrncd with thc risks of clitismit
followcd that anyonc, not mcrcly a traincd cxcgctc, could rcad with
prot and dclight. His point in thc rst thrcc books of thc De doctrina
christiana (composcd yo+) was spccically to disabusc his rcadcrs
of thc notion that intcrprctation of Scripturc rcquircd a particular
Ior Crcgory, howcvcr, opcrating in a culturc whcrc a
widcsprcad familiarity with Scripturc could bc prcsumcd, thcrc was
an issuc of cxpcrtisc. 1hc word of Cod rcquircd propcr intcrprctation,
or pcrhaps morc prcciscly, corrcct administration. 1his, in Crcgorys
tcrminology, was praedicatio, which was in ccct thc distribution of
Scripturc according to nccd. 1hc praedicatores wcrc thosc cntrustcd
with this task, through thcir word and cxamplc.
Scripturc, as Crcgory rcad it, itsclf commandcd its own adminis-
tration, thc word of Cod gavc to prcachcrs a history and a titlc to
powcr. Whcrc Augustinc had dccmcd thc pattcrn of history in thc
pcriod aftcr thc Incarnation and bcforc ]udgcmcnt to bc indcciphcr-
ablc, Crcgory undcrstood thc prophcts, thc apostlcs, and now thc
prcachcrs of his own day as forming part of a continuous outpouring
of divinc spccch.
Commcnting on ]ob : :y, Who takcth away thc
stars of rain and pours forth showcrs likc whirlpools, Crcgory bcgan
by idcntifying thc stars as prophcts. Cod thcn withdrcw thc tcachcrs
of thc law to his inmost and sccrct mansions, and a morc cxubcrant
powcr of prcaching pourcd forth, namcly thc apostlcs. As for thc
Whcn hc took away thc Apostlcs who wcrc prcaching, hc watcrcd thc world with
thc doctrinc of ncw gracc . . . Hc discloscd in morc abundant profusion by thc
tongucs of subscqucnt cxpositors thc strcams of divinc knowlcdgc which had long
bccn conccalcd.
1hc gcncsis of thc prcachcrs was a crcation story: with thc watcrs in
Language of Power +y
Scc De doctr. chr. II. j. . y, cd. Crccn, o, on Scripturc as a curc for all ills, cspccially
pridc. Cod madc Scripturc obscurc to aront human hcrmcncutical pridc. Ior discussion,
scc Dawson, Sign 1hcory, Allcgorical Rcading, and thc Motions of thc Soul in De doctrina
christiana, in Arnold and Bright (cds.), De doctrina christiana, +:+, at ++.
Cf. RM+. 8:, SC +oj, 8jo. Irom Paul, Eph. : ++, or + Cor. +:: :8.
Mor. XX\II. 8. ++, CCSI +B, +. Cf. XXX. . ::, CCSI +B, +8, on
thc faithful as clods of carth, of dicrcnt sizcs (i. c. mcrits), bound togcthcr in thc union of
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 179
place, Gregory moved on metaphorically, to the earth. The lord
formed the body of the faithful as it were from the dust, and legiti-
mated the hierarchical division of that body:
Whom do we understand by dust but sinners . . . ? The dust therefore was
hardened into clods . . . composed of moisture and earth . . . The Lord daily binds
together these clods in the earth, of one dust indeed, but distinguished, as it
were, by different size . . . If we observe these clods in the Church according to the
diversity of their merits, we are perhaps able to distinguish them more precisely.
For there is one order of preachers, and another of hearers; one of rulers, another
of subjects.
Scripture gave to everyone according to their need. Its resources were
inexhaustibleby the well instructed it is always found newand it
was truly universal. Its language constituted the catholic community
of believers, soon to be fully realized in the heavenly country.
In his vision of Scripture as a panacea for all ills, distributed by
those who had, at least partially, rst cured themselves, Gregory drew
on, even as he transcended, the tradition of lectio divina inspired by
Cassian. In the Institutes and still more the Conferences, Cassian had
restrained his Origenist instincts in the discussion of the allegorical
meanings of the text. The word of God is presented rather as a talis-
man against all forms of diabolic temptation. In lling his mind
with sacred text, or even with one verse, the ascetic can block out the
devil, and prevent his mind from straying (even across the eld of
Scripture). We have seen how central this model of reading was to the
designs of ascetics in Gaul and in Italy in the sixth century. Gregory
signals his familiarity with this tradition, but does not hesitate to move
beyond it. His deployment of Scripture as the remedy for all ills took
him far from Cassians model of mental occupation. For Gregory, to
dwell on allegorical meanings in all their extravagant complexity was
to begin to appreciate the dierent kinds of advice that had to be given
to all sorts and conditions of the faithful.
The preacher, in Gregorys view, need not experience the word of
God as a blockade on his mind; indeed he need not experience divine
speech through reading at all, nor in any material medium.
When God speaks to us, the heart learns about his word without words and
syllables, because his power is known by a kind of inward uplifting. When the
mind is full of this power, it is raised up; when empty it is weighed down . . . For
Gods word is a kind of weight which lifts every mind it lls. It is a light without
Gregorian Synthesis
Mor. XX. . , CCSL A, .
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body, which both lls thc inncr arcas, and whcn thcy arc full draws a boundary
around thc outsidc. It is a spccch without noisc, which opcns thc cars, and yct docs
not think to uttcr a sound.
Ior Cacsarius and thc Italian magistri, following Cassian, Cods words
bccomc morc and morc opaquc. Rotc mcmorization hardcncd thcm to
stonc, and this was how to prcparc thc soul of thc rcadcr for prcscnta-
tion to Cod. Ior Crcgory, thc words of Cod bccomc lightcr and
lightcr until thcy vaporizc. Rcading givcs way to purc vision, an act of
bcholding thc divinc without rcfcrcncc to thc pagc.
Ior our hcaring docs not takc in at oncc all thc things which arc said to it, sincc it
undcrstands scntcnccs by mcans of words, and words scparatcly as syllablcs. But
our sight immcdiatcly pcrccivcs thc wholc objcct, as soon as it turns towards it.
1hc words of Cod addrcsscd to us from within arc sccn rathcr than hcard. . . . Cod
works his way in without thc dclay of spccch, by his suddcn light hc illumincs
Although morc lyrical, this was no lcss authoritarian than thc morc
programmatic stylc of his prcdcccssors. Ior all that his own spccch
was cnmircd in worldly ux, thc prcachcr could bring his hcarcrs thc
awc-inspiring rcport of words that wcrc wcightlcss.
Crcgorys vision of thc powcr of cthcrcal discoursc was not, morc-
ovcr, a simplc rcfusal of thc ascctic tradition of lectio divina. Crcgorian
spccch without noisc was not unlikc Cassians praycr of rc, thc
wordlcss rapturc to which thc ascctic who had sccurcd his mind from
tcmptation might aspirc. And whilc Crcgory did not scck to cndorsc
thc rcgimc of ob-audientia proposcd by thc Italian Rulcs, thcir vision
of hcavcn, drawn itsclf from thc apocalyptic tradition, may havc
inspircd him, spccically in his thinking about Bcncdict. Indccd
Crcgorys Life of Bcncdict in thc Dialogues could bc undcrstood as an
attcmpt to insist, lcst anyonc bc mislcd by thc apparcnt naturalism of
thc Rule, that its author was a prcachcr illumincd by thc lightning of
Cods spccch. Bcncdict himsclf, as wc havc sccn, had choscn to
cxcludc most of thc apocalyptic matcrial found in abundancc in thc
Mastcr and Eugippius. Ior Crcgory, this thrcatcncd to obscurc what
for him was thc csscntial point: that Bcncdict, likc Paul, was a man
who had asccndcd to thc third hcavcn, and who kncw that thc cnd
timcs wcrc ncar.
Language of Power +8+
Mor. XX\III. +. :, CCSI +B, +y. Scc also HEv. I. +. , PI y, +o8oC, on thc
transicncc of human spccch.
Mor. XX\III. +. :, CCSI +B, +y.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 181
Crcgorys Bcncdict is, thcn, a visionary prophct of thc last days:
his Rule Crcgory praiscs for its spiritual disccrnmcnt and thc radiancc
of its languagc. 1hcsc luminous qualitics thc rcst of thc narrativc has
amply suggcstcd. 1hcrc arc thrcc scqucnccs of miraclcs in thc Life,
cach announcing a ncw quality to Bcncdicts disccrnmcnt. 1hc rst
scqucncc shows thc holy man sccing past thc dcsigns of thc dcvil in his
monastcrics. At Subiaco, hc cxorcizcs a monk who cannot stay at
praycr. Hc sccs what thc monks abbot cannot scc: thc littlc dcmon
tugging thc monk away from thc oratory. hc strikcs thc monk with his
sta for his blindncss of hcart, and so curcs him.
At Montccassino,
Bcncdict pcrforms thc rcvcrsc miraclc. Whcn all thc monks building
thc monastcry think thcrc is a rc, Bcncdict sccs that it is a diabolical
illusion. Crcgory says that thc dcvil has bccn appcaring to Bcncdict
not in sccrct, nor in his slccp, but in opcn sight, complaining of his
In thc sccond scqucncc, Bcncdict starts to display thc gift of
prophccy, says Crcgory, sccing across timc and spacc.
Monks who
disobcy thc strict prohibition on fasting on journcys nd that thcir
mastcr has obscrvcd all of thcir misdcmcanours (II. +:+). 1otila,
king of thc Coths, nds his carccr and dcath prcdictcd with uncrring
accuracy by thc holy man. 1his prophccy lcads him in turn to prcdict
thc futurc of thc city of Romc. Whilc thc bishop of Canosa cxpccts
1otila to dcstroy Romc, Bcncdict knows that thc city will fall not at
thc hands of mcn, but in storms, tcmpcsts, and carthquakcs, it
will collapsc in on itsclf.
1hc truth of this prophccy, Crcgory
commcnts, wc scc all around us in thc form of brcachcd walls,
shattcrcd houscs, and dcrclict buildings. Crcgory thus placcs prcscnt
rcality within thc spotlight of thc holy mans prophctic gazc.
In thc third scqucncc of miraclcs, Crcgory promiscs to discuss
Bcncdicts day to day languagc:
in fact thc storics that follow comc
to dcmonstratc thc holy mans powcrs of vision at thcir most cxtra-
ordinary. 1hc Coth Zalla, a contcmporary of 1otilas succcssor,
brings in a prisoncr to Bcncdict: all hc has to do is to look up from his
+8: Gregorian Synthesis
1his argumcnt is prcscntcd at grcatcr lcngth in C. Icyscr, St Bcncdict and Crcgory
thc Crcat: Anothcr Dialoguc, in 1. Sardclla (cd.), Sicilia e Italia suburbicaria, :+.
Dial. II. . +, SC :o, +o:.
Ibid. II. 8. +:+o. :, SC :o, +8y:.
Ibid. II. ++. , SC :o, +y.
Ibid. II. +j. , SC :o, +8.
Ibid. II. +j. +. , SC :o, +8o. With his intcrlocutor Pctcr, hc discusscs how
much thc holy man could know Cods judgcmcnts, and how much was kcpt hiddcn.
Ibid. II. ::. j, SC :o, +o.
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book, and thc chains fall o thc man. Bcncdict, Crcgory is cxplicit, has
thc powcr of binding and loosing through his cycs.
1hcn comc thc
jcwcls in thc array of Bcncdicts acts of looking: hc sccs thc soul of his
sistcr Scholastica ying up to hcavcn, and thcn, a vision of thc wholc
Onc night at Montccassino, Bcncdict stood alonc in his
abbots towcr praying.
Hc suddcnly bchcld a ood of light shining down from abovc morc brilliantly than
thc sun, and with it cvcry tracc of darkncss clcarcd away. Anothcr rcmarkablc
sight followcd. According to his own dcscription, thc wholc world was gathcrcd
up bcforc his cycs in what appcarcd to bc a singlc ray of light. As hc gazcd at all
this dazzling display, hc saw thc soul of Ccrmanus, thc Bishop of Capua, bcing
carricd by angcls up to hcavcn in a ball of rc.
It is at this point, it is tcmpting to supposc, that Crcgory givcs full rcin
in his account of Bcncdict to thc pcrspcctivc of thc Mastcr, whosc Rule
is throngcd with angcls.
Morc ccrtain is thc cpiphany this sccnc rcprcscnts in Crcgorys
schcmc of things. Crcgory cxplains that it is Bcncdicts moral achicvc-
mcnts as an ascctic that rockct him, as it wcrc, into a position whcrc hc
has litcrally lcft this world bchind, so that it sccms small and insigni-
cant to him. It is not accidcntal that thc vision takcs placc in a towcr,
and that Bcncdicts companion Scrvandus is also an abbot. 1hc towcr
rccalls, incvitably, thc towcr of thc prophct Ezckicl. What Crcgory
shows hcrc is that thc cxposcd and vulncrablc station of thc speculator
is also thc platform for cxtraordinary and radiant speculatio. Hc could
nd no clcarcr way of dcmonstrating that thosc callcd to rulc wcrc also,
ncccssarily, contcmplativcs. Immcdiatcly aftcr thc cosmic vision, thcrc
follows thc mcntion of Bcncdicts Rule:
I do not want to hidc this from you, that thc man of Cod, amidst so many miraclcs,
by which hc shonc in thc world, also did not in a middling way shinc forth through
his tcaching. Ior hc wrotc a rulc for monks which is outstanding in its disccrn-
mcnt and radiant in its languagc. Anyonc who wants to know morc about thc holy
Language of Power +8
Dial. II. +, SC :o, :::.
Ibid. II. j. :, SC :o, :8, tr. O. Zimmcrmann, IC (+8), +oj. It is antici-
patcd by Bcncdicts vision of Scholasticas soul asccnding into hcavcn at Dial. II. , SC :o,
: (on which scc ]. H. Wansbrough, St Crcgorys Intcntion in thc Storics of St Scholastica
and St Bcncdict, RBen yj (+j), +jj+). On Bcncdict, scc P. Courccllc, Ia \ision
cosmiquc dc s. Bcnoit, REAug + (+y), y++y, also Bocsch Cajano, Narratio c cxpo-
sitio. Ior angcls in thc Rules of thc Mastcr and Bcncdict, scc C. Icyscr, Angcls, Monks,
and Dcmons in thc Early Mcdicval Wcst, papcr dclivcrcd at XIII Intcrnational Confcrcncc
on Patristic Studics, Oxford, +:+ Aug. +.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 183
man and how hc livcd, should look at thc Rulc, bccausc thc holy man could not
havc taught othcr than hc livcd.
A hugc litcraturc attcnds this passagc: hcrc wc nccd only obscrvc that
thc disccrnmcnt to which Crcgory draws attcntion is a quality of thc
angcls with whom Bcncdict kccps company.
Crcgory has much to say conccrning angcls. In a wcll-known
passagc in thc Homilies on the Gospels, hc brcaks into a lcngthy digrcs-
sion on thc ninc ranks of thc angclic hosts, drawing hcrc on thc
Celestial Hierarchy of Pscudo-Dionysiusa sourcc which appcars to
takc him far from thc crowdcd intimacy of thc angcls in thc Rule of the
But whilc thc Ncoplatonic Pscudo-Dionysius strcsscd thc
rcsonancc bctwccn cosmic and ccclcsiastical hicrarchics, Crcgorys
point was, in fact, groundcd in thc angclology of thc wcstcrn ascctic
tradition. His intcrcst lay in thc moral charactcr of authority, bc it on
carth or in hcavcn. Angcls for Crcgory wcrc not only thc cmbodimcnt
of thc divinc contcmplation toward which all must strivc, crucially,
thcy wcrc also modcls of virtuous lcadcrship. Hcrc is his dcscription of
thc scraphim, from thc Homilies on the Gospels:
And somc arc sct on rc by supcrnal contcmplation, and arc llcd with cagcr
dcsirc for thcir Crcator alonc. 1hcy no longcr long for anything in this world, thcy
arc nourishcd by lovc of ctcrnity alonc, thcy thrust asidc all carthly things, thcir
hcarts transccnd cvcry tcmporal thing, thcy lovc, thcy arc on rc, thcy nd rcst in
this rc, loving spccch scts thcm on rc, and thcy cnkindlc othcrs too with thcir
spccch: thosc thcy touch with thcir words thcy instantly sct on rc with lovc of
Cod. What thcn should I call thcsc pcoplc whosc hcarts, which havc bccn turncd
into rc, arc shining and burning, but Scraphim?
1his angclogical digrcssion in thc middlc of a Cospcl homily allows
Crcgory to strikc simultancously two ccntral thcmcs: thc intcrdcpcn-
dcncc of action and contcmplation, and thc urgcncy of thc prcachcrs
task in cxtcnding inspiration to thc community around him. Angcls
cmbody an cthical impcrativc which applicd not only to monks, but to
all thc faithful, and abovc all thosc in powcr.
But what good docs it do to spcak bricy of thcsc angclic spirits, if wc arc not
zcalous to turn thcm to our prot by appropriatc rccction on what wc havc said?
+8 Gregorian Synthesis
Dial. II. , SC :o, ::. Scc A. dc \oguc, Ia Mcntion dc la rcgula monachorum a
la n dc la \ic dc Bcnoit (Crcgoirc, Dial. II, ): Sa fonction littcrairc ct spiritucllc, RBS
j (+y), :88.
Scc C. Micaclli, Iangclologia di Crcgorio Magno tra oricntc c occidcntc, Koinonia +
(+:), jj+.
Crcgory, HEv. II. . ++, PI y, +:jB, tr. Hurst, :+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 184
. . . Sincc wc bclicvc that thc multitudc of humans that is going to asccnd to thc
hcavcnly city is cqual to thc multitudc of angcls that ncvcr lcft, it rcmains for thosc
humans who arc rcturning to thcir hcavcnly homcland to imitatc somc of thcsc
bands of angcls, in thc proccss of thcir rcturn.
r+ot+or, rs+r+t+ro, +n cn+ars+
In thc mid-scvcnth ccntury, Iathccn, son of Baith thc \ictorious and
monk of Clonfcrt-Mulloc, compilcd an cpitomc of Crcgory thc
Crcats Moralia in Job.
Ninc manuscripts of this work havc survivcd,
and wc know Iathccn was rcad in ninth-ccntury Rcichcnau and St
In contrast to othcr cxccrptors of Crcgory in thc two gcncra-
tions aftcr his dcath, who combcd thc Moralia for what Crcgory had
to say about othcr vcrscs of Scripturc, Iathccns intcrcst was in thc
intcrprctation of thc book of ]ob and nothing clsc.
His cpitomc was a
tcrsc summary of thc litcral and allcgorical mcanings of ]ob as
cxpoundcd in thc Moraliaomitting thc moral mcanings which had
so prcoccupicd Crcgory. Much as ascctic rcadcrs of Augustinc had
managcd by thc sixth ccntury to invokc thc authority of his namc
without bcaring thc burdcn of his mcssagc, so Iathccn showcd that it
was possiblc to summarizc all thirty-vc books of thc Moralia which
Crcgory madc, whilc holding at bay thcir grcgorian contcnt.
1hc vcry sparscncss of Iathccns trcatmcntthcrc is no dcdicatory
prcfacc, thc tcxt launchcs straight into a bald summary of Crcgorys
prcfaccmakcs it dicult to cstablish thc contcxt for thc work. A
cluc may lic in Iathccns othcr known composition, thc Lorica, a
brcastplatc praycr for thc protcction of + parts of thc body from
Language of Power +8j
Crcgory, HEv. II. . ++, PI y, +:j:C, tr. Hurst, :8.
Iathccn, Egloga quam scripsit Lathcen lius Baith de Moralibus Iob quas Gregorius fecit,
cd. M. Adriacn, CCSI +j (+). On Iathccn, scc P. Crosjcan, Sur quclqucs cxcgctcs
irlandais du \II
sicclc, Sacris Erudiri y (+jj), y8, at :.
Scc Adriacn, CCSI +j, pp. vivii, and I. Cougaud, Ic 1cmoinagc dcs manuscrits
sur locuvrc littcrairc du moinc Iathccn, Revue Celtique o (+o), y.
On thc yth-ccnt. cxccrptors of thc Moralia, scc R. Wassclynck, Ics Compilations dcs
Moralia in ]ob du \IIc au XIIc sicclc, RTAM : (+:), j:, at j+j, C. Braga,
Moralia in Iob: Epitomi dci sccoli \IIX c loro cvoluzionc, Grgoire le Grand, j+8.
Ior cditions of thc Lorica, scc M. Hcrrcn, The Hisperica Famina II: Related Poems,
Pontical Institutc of Mcdiacval Studics, Studics and 1cxts 8j (1oronto, +8y), y8, and
most rcccntly, D. Howlctt, Iivc Expcrimcnts in 1cxtual Rcconstruction and Analysis,
Peritia (+j), +jo, at 8+.
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 185
O God, defend me everywhere
With your impregnable power and protection.
Deliver all the limbs of me a mortal
With your protective shield guarding every member,
Lest the foul demons hurl their shafts
Into my sides, as is their wont. . . .
Then be a most protective breastplate
For my limbs and for my inwards,
So that you drive back from me the invisible
Nails of the shafts that the foul ends fashion.
Here, perhaps, we see the grounds of Lathcens attraction to the book
of Job, a story of horric demonic attack eventually vanquished. Here,
perhaps, also an explanation for the lapidary character of the epitome:
it was itself to serve as a form of lorica, to ward o the demons of which
it spoke. Lathcen used the Moralia in Iob as an apotropaic, according
to Gregory a reverence for his writings of the kind he himself had
accorded to Scripture.
This may not have been what Gregory had in mind for his exegesis
(although we should resist any temptation to assume that Gregory
knew nothing of apotropaic spells). None the less, Gregory had come
close to soliciting this kind of reception. He had oered his readers a
language of authority designed to brook no argument, no matter where
applied: it was not unreasonable for them to press his language into
immediate, cosmic, service. In pursuing such a language, Gregory
himself had gone beyond both institutional and charismatic forms of
poweranalytical categories that still exercise a certain grip on the
modern political imagination.
Viewed in the broad context of western monastic culture, the eect
of Gregorys bold deployment of a language of spiritual expertise was
to resolve many of the tensions that had beset the ascetic movement
from its inception. The temptation to spiritual litism among ascetics,
the envy aroused in those outside the ascetic circle, were no longer
dangerous if the boundaries of that circle, traditionally demarcated by
the drama of secession to the desert, or by enclosure within cloister
walls, were no longer seen to be relevant. This solution to the problem
of ascetic litism lay implicit in the work of John Cassian: Gregory was
able to draw it out fully because, instead of becoming embroiled in the
issue of cenobitism, he kept his attention xed upon the Church as
imagined by Augustine, the whole body of the faithful in their varying
Gregorian Synthesis
Lathcen, Lorica, ll. , , tr. Herren, .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 186
degrees of merit. And he devoted the bulk of his rhetorical energies to
developing an enduring discourse of moral authority, of the sort that
both Augustine and Cassian had, in their dierent ways, avoided.
Divisions among the faithful, tension between ascetics, clerics, and the
laity, the myriad sources of other dissensionall would be bound up
by the expertise of the preachers, Gregory insisted.
In the sixth century, Gregory stood apart from other ascetic
teachers. Pomerius and Caesarius, the Master, Eugippius, and Bene-
dict, as seen, chose to operate within the institutional structures of the
episcopate or the monastery, and most sought to reproduce a single
pattern of moral purity in their hearers. This pattern, drawn largely
from the writings of Cassian, required the full attention of the
audience to the words of the teacher. By contrast, Gregory dened his
authority as a moral guide without reference to ocial ecclesiastical
status; he based all of his teaching on the assumption that the
experience of his hearers was dierent from his own and from each
other, and therefore required a variety of remedies; and he therefore
did not seek to inict his words on his hearers with the same physical
immediacy demanded by Caesarius and the magistri. While drawing
deeply on Cassians technique of purication, he did not seek to apply
it in an undierentiated way in any one theatrebe it the body,
the monastery, or the dioceseas they had done, but in all theatres
Gregorys determination to devise a language of authority ensured
his inuence across subsequent centuries (a point not quite captured
in discussions of Gregorys personality, or even his voice).
irony remains, however, that the original purpose of the gregorian
language of authority was to respond to the end of time, not to endure
through its prolongation. We are left with an interpretative challenge.
Even if, parting company with Gregorys Edwardian biographer, we
do not regard it as a malady,
the eschatological cast of Gregorys
mind is likely to bewilder us, because of our knowledge of his long and
prosperous heritage. However well meant, our insistence on reading
Gregory in light of his future is likely to estrange us still further from
Language of Power
See Caspar and Wallace-Hadrill, above, Ch. , n. .
Above, Ch. , n. .
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 187
02_Leyser chapters 4/8/00 3:56 pm Page 188
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abbcsscs, Roman +yo
abbot, authority of +:o, +:y
activc lifc , j, yj, ++, +jo, +jy
Acts of thc Apostlcs +o, +y, :j, +,
Aconius, bishop of Arlcs 8y, 88
allcgory j:, +yy, +8o
almsgiving 8j, o, :, +
Alypius, fricnd of Augustinc ::
Ambrosc, bishop of Milan +j+, +y8
anchoritcs, see crcmitic lifc
Anicii +o
angcls j8, +o8, +:, +:, +, +j, +8j
angcr +y
Anglo-Saxons ++
Antoninus, bishop of Iussala +:,
Antony, monk 8, ++,
Apocalpysc, Book of thc j8, y8
Aristotlc ++
Arlcs , 8o,
Athanasius, bishop of Alcxandria 8
Aucrbach, Erich jo
Augustinc, archbishop of Cantcrbury ++,
+j:, +y8, +y
Augustinc, bishop of Hippo :
and Bcncdict +oy, +:j8
and Cassian y, jo, j, 8, yo+,
and Cacsarius of Arlcs 8:, 8, +,

City of God y, 8, +, +j, , +y

Confessions j, 8, +, :
copying of works ++
Enarrationes in Psalmos +j
and Eugippius +o
and Crcgory +, +j, +jo:, +j,
+j8, +:, +y, +, +yj,
+y8, +8y
and Pomcrius , y, yy
On Correction and Grace :y, o
On Christian Teaching :8, +y8
On Grace and Free Will :
Ordo monasterii +:
rcputation , +8j
Rule (Praeceptum) ++, yy, +:, ++:,
+:, +:, +yj
sistcr :
Augustus, cmpcror y
Aurclian, bishop of Arlcs o
Atticus, bishop of Constantinoplc
Avars +j
Babylon :, +j
Baith thc \ictorious +8j
Baldad, ]obs comfortcr +y
Bammcl, Carolinc +++
Barbaria, patron of Eugippius +o, ++
Basil, bishop of Cacsarca:
Admonition to a Spiritual Son (pscudo-
Basil) ++j, +++y
Rule, translatcd by Runus ++:, +:
Bcncdict of Anianc +o, +++
Bcncdict of Nursia , j,
Rule of St Benedict y, +o+:8, ++
and Crcgory +o:, +o, +o8, +:8, ++:,
+j+, +j8, +:, +8+
body ++j, jo+, jj, y, y, o, ,
+o, +, +jo, +, +y:, +8j
Bocthius ++j, +, +y:
Book of Kings +:+, +8
books j, +, +yy
Borromco, Carlo
Brown, Pctcr y
Burgundians 8y
Caclian hill ++
Cacsaria, sistcr of Cacsarius 88
Cacsaria thc Youngcr, niccc of Cacsarius
88o, n.
Cacsarius, bishop of Arlcs , o+, y, j,
o+, , , y8o, 8++oo, +oy, +o8
and his circlc 8o, 8, +
and Crcgory +jo, +j, +j8, +:,
+jy, +yo, +y:, +8+, +8y
Recapitulation to Rule for Virgins 8, 8
and Rule of the Master +:
Rule for Monks 88
Rule for Virgins 8, +, 8
Sermons 8+, 8, j+oo
Testament 8
Life 8, 88o, +,
Calvin, ]ohn
Campania +o8, ++, ++, +j:
Canosa +8:
04_Leyser index 4/8/00 2:49 pm Page 217
Carolingians 8:, 8, +oj, ++
Cassian, ]ohn +o, +, +, 8
bilingual 8
and Cacsarius 8
and Crcgory +, +j8, +j, +y,
+y+, +8o, +8y
Conferences j, y, j, j, y, y,
, +oy, ++:, ++8, +:, +, +, +y,
Conference One j+:
Conference Thirteen o
Conference Fourteen 8, jj, y+
Conference Sixteen jy
Institutes j, , y, j, y, y, +oy,
++:, +:, +, +y, +8o
and Italian rcgular ccnobitism ++8::
and Pomcrius y
as monastic foundcr :
and Rule of St Benedict y, +o+,
+oy, +:j, +:8
Cassiodorus +oj, +o8, ++j+
Castor, bishop of Apt j,
Ciccro j
Ciccronian stylc :8, o
Cclcstinc, popc +, :+, : n., , , 8y
Celestial Hierarchy +8
ccnobitism +oo
Augustinc on +j+
Bcncdict on +o+, +oy, +::8
Cassian on , j8
Italian Rules on ++8::
Crcgory on +j+, +8
Chalccdon, council of +j:
Chlons 8j
charisma :j, +, jj, , +:, +y, +j,
+, +8j
charismatics +y
and institution +8
Bcncdict on +o, +:j
Cacsarius on 8, :
Cassian on y
Crcgory +j
Pomcrius on y8 n.
Chrysostom, ]ohn j
city, as thcmc in ascctic litcraturc +j+,
see also community
Claudius of Ravcnna +8, +8
Clonfcrt-Mulloc, monastcry +8j
clothcs o+, +yo
apostolic at ]crusalcm +y:
Augustinc +o, +, +, +, :+, :, +
Bcncdict on +:j, +:8
Cacsarius :
Cassian 8,
Crcgory on +j+j, +j8, +yy
Pomcrius yo, y8
Constantinc, cmpcror y
Constantinoplc , ::, , ++, +, +,
+j, +y:
contcmplativc lifc , j, yj, ++, +jo, +jy
Pomcrius on yo+
Copiosus, brothcr of ]ustus +jj
Augustinc on +8, :y
Bcncdict on +:y8
Cacsarius on
Cassian on jy
Crcgory on +jj, +y+, +yy
Pomcrius on yo, y8o
Danicl, prophct +j
Danicl, roguc bishop
Danubc +o
David, King of Isracl +yj
dcscrt, sitc of asccticism j, , jj, j8,
+j+, +8
dcsirc y, :, +oj, +y, +yo
discretio +o
Donatism y, ++, :+ n., :y n.
Donatus, dcacon at Iucullanum ++
ccclcsiology, +:+, +jy
Egypt 8, +o, +j, j, , +o
Eliphaz, ]obs comfortcr +y n., +y
Ennodius, bishop of Pavia y, yo n.
cpiscopal authority:
Augustinc on :+
Cacsarius on 8+,
Crcgory on +, +o, +yy, +8
Pomcrius j, y+:, y8
Eraclius, pricst of Hippo :
crcmitic lifc, , j8, ++8
Bcncdict and +o:
Cacsarius on :
Crcgory on +:, +j, +j+, +8y
Euchcrius, dcdicatcc of Cassian j n.
Eugippius, abbot of Iucullanum ,
+o8++, ++j+, +y:
Excerpts of Augustine +o+o, ++, ++
Life of Severinus (also rcfcrrcd to as
Commemoratorium) +o8, ++o
Rule of Eugippius +o, ++++j, +:
:+8 Index
04_Leyser index 4/8/00 2:49 pm Page 218
Euscbius, bishop of Cacsaria y, +o
Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinoplc
Evagrius of Pontus j, 8, j
Sentences to Monks ++j
Evodius, fricnd of Augustinc ::, :
Bcncdict on +:j
Cassian on j, +:
Crcgory on +o, +j, +, +y+, +yy
Pomcrius on y8
Ezckicl +8
Iabiola, Roman matron +, :o, :+, : n.
Iall, of humankind y,
fasting o, +y
Iclicity, Roman martyr +jy
Iirminus, layman of Arlcs y, 8o, 8
attcry +y, +, +y
csh jo n., y, , +yo
ux +8
Cassian on jo+
Cacsarius on 8j,
Ioucault, Michcl y
Iranks 8y, o, ++
Iulgcntius of Ruspc ++o
Calla, holy woman of Romc +o
garmcnts, see clothcs
Caul +, j, y, j, jy, 8+, +8o
Ccrmanus, companion of Cassian j, 8,
Ccrmanus, bishop of Capua +o8, +8
Cibbon, Edward +
gluttony jo, yj, +y
Coths 8y, +o, ++j, +j
gracc , y, :,
Crcgoria, laywoman of Arlcs y, 8o, 8
Crcgory thc Crcat, popc y, o+, yo, y,
+o:, ++j, ++8y
Commentary on I Kings +8
Dialogues +o:, +o8, +o, +:, +y,
+, +j, +8+
Homilies on Ezekiel +, +8, +o, +,
+j+, +o, +yy
Homilies on the Gospels +, +8, +jy,
Moralia in Iob +8, +o, +, +8,
+, +8, +yj, +y8, +8j
Pastoral Rule +o, +j8, +y, +y+, +yj
Register +o, ++, +j:, +yo
Crcgory, bishop of 1ours +j
gyrovagucs ++:o
Hadrumctum :8
hair 8, o
Hclladius, dcdicatcc of Cassian j n.
Hcptatcuch +:+, +8
Hilary, bishop of Arlcs 8y
Hippo j, 8, +, :oj, :, +jj
Homcs Duddcn, I. +, ++ n., +8y
Honoratus, abbot of Icrins j n.
Cacsarius on :
Crcgory on +o, +y
Italian Rules on +:o
Ilcs dHycrcs j
illncss +, +y:
Isaiah, Book of
Isidorc of Scvillc , +++
Italy , , +o8, +, +j, +j, +8o
]anuarius, pricst of Hippo :
]cromc 8, , +, 8o n., +++
]crusalcm +y:
hcavcnly y:, 8
see also community
]cws j
]ob +j, +, +yj
Book of +j
]ohn thc Dcacon +o
]ulianus, bishop j, 8, y+:, yy8, 8+
]ustus, Crcgorys doctor +jj
Klingshirn, William 8+:
Iaurcncc, opponcnt of Popc Symmachus
Iaurcntian schism +o8+o, +y
Iatcran palacc ++:, +, +, +8
Iathccn, cxccrptor of Crcgory +8j
Lorica +8j
Iazarus, bishop of Aix j n.
Ico, popc
Icontius, bishop of Ircjus j, n.
Icporius, monk + n.
Icrins j, , 8j,
Rulc of Icrins +, 8 n.
Icro j n.
Iibcrius, patrician yo n., +o8
Liber Ponticalis +yo
Ioirc +
Iombards ++, ++, +j
Index :+
04_Leyser index 4/8/00 2:49 pm Page 219
Iucullanum +o+o, ++
lust +y
Madauros ::
Marinianus, bishop of Ravcnna +8
Markus, Robcrt y, yo+, ++ n.
Marscillcs +, j, o, :, 88
Martin, bishop of 1ours +:
martyrs, Roman +:, +y, +jj n.
Masai, Iranois ++
masturbation jo
Matthcw, gospcl of , +
Mclania, patron of Runus +y:
Mcrovingians o
Milan j, ,
mind, thcorics of j+:, , +8, +8o+
Mohrmann, Christinc :
Monica, mothcr of Augustinc j
monks, dcnition of , +o, j
Montccassino ++, +j, +8:
Morin, Dom Ccrmain 8+ n.
moths o
Natalis, bishop of Salona, + n., +yj
Nathan, rcbukcs King David +yj
Ncstorius, bishop of Constantinoplc
Nilc y
Noah, patriarch +j
nocturnal cmission:
Cassian on y, jo+
Crcgory on +8
Pomcrius on yj
nolo episcopari +:, +j8
North Africa , , +y, :o, :8, j
notarics +o, +8
Numidia :o, :
obcdicncc (obaudientia) +, +8+
Italian Rules on ++y::, +:8
Odoaccr, Cothic gcncral +o+o
Orangc, Council of , 8:
Origcn j, 8, j:, ++, +j+
Ostia :
otium (and negotium) , +
Palcstinc +o, 8
papal chambcr +8
Par. Iat. MS +::oj (codcx P) ++:+j
Par. Iat. MS +: (codcx E) ++++j
Pascasius, Roman dcacon +o8
Patcrius +8
Patroclus, bishop of Arlcs
Paul of 1arsus , , y, :, +:j, +j, +,
+j, +y+, +yj
and Icttcr to Corinthians +:j, +y+, +yj
and Icttcr to Romans +y+
Paula, patron of ]cromc +y:
Pclagianism y
Pclagius, hcrctic :
Pclagius, popc +j
Pctcr, abbot of Cava +8
Pctcr, Crcgorys intcrlocutor in thc
Dialogues ++ n., +: n., +8: n.
plaguc +j
Plato ++j, +jo, ++
Platonism 8
Pomcrius 8o, 8+, 8:, 8y, :, , j,
+oy, +o, +
and Cacsarius
and Crcgory +j8, +:, +jy
On the Contemplative Life 8o, +,
poor 8, +:
Porcarius, abbot of Icrins y n., 8, n.
Possidius, bishop of Calama ::
and Augustinc :8
and Cacsarius 8+, j+oo
and Crcgory +j, +o, +y:,
Prctiosus, prior of St Andrcws +jj
pridc jo, jy, y, +y
Cacsarius on :
Proba, dcdicatcc of Eugippius +o+o, +y:
proccssion, pcnitcntial +
Proculus, bishop of Marscillcs :,
Prospcr of Aquitainc o, , y
Provcncc , o, , 8, , +o8
Prudcntius y
Pscudo-Dionysus +8
Punic :+
Ravcnna +j, +8
rcdcmption of prisoncrs 8y, +
rcluctancc to powcr, see nolo episcopari
rcsurrcction +
rhctoric of vulncrability +, 8, o, +:,
Rhonc monasticism +
Romc 8y, +oj, +o, ++j, ++, +, ++,
+, +j8, +j, +, +8:
clcrgy +8
Romulus Augustulus ++o
Runus of Aquilcia ++:, +++j
Rule of the Master +oj, ++::, +,
+y:, +8+
::o Index
04_Leyser index 4/8/00 2:49 pm Page 220
Ruricius, bishop of Iimogcs y
Rusticiana, Roman aristocrat +y:
rustics 8j, y
St Andrcws, monastcry in Romc ++, +y,
St ]ohns, convcnt in Arlcs 88, +:,
St Pancras, Roman basilica +y
St Pauls, Roman basilica +yo
St Pctcrs, Roman basilica +j
St \ictors, abbcy in Marscillcs :
sarabaitcs ++8+
Scholastica +8
Augustinc on +
Bcncdict on ++8
Cacsarius on 8, j+oo
Cassian on y, j:j
Crcgory on +8, +:, +8, +yy8+
Pomcrius on yj
scmi-Pclagianism y, o, , 8, ++o
Scnatc +j, +j
Sentences of Sextus ++, ++
sermo humilis, see under spccch
Scrvandus, abbot and dcacon +o8, +8
Scvcrinus of Noricum +o, ++o, ++
Scvcrus, fricnd of Augustinc ::
Scxtus, popc :
scxual intcrcoursc +y
scxuality ++j
Sicily +j:
silcncc +:o+, +y, +y
Cacsarius on +
Cassian on y, j:
Crcgory on +
of thc mouth y, +:o, +:
Pomcrius on y:
slavc-girls +,
Socratcs +
Song of Songs +8
Sophar, ]obs comfortcr +y
Solomon +y
Augustinc on :8+, +:
Cacsarius on 8+, , +:
Crcgory on +, +o, +yy, +8
Pomcrius on j, y+:, +:
spccch, plain or purc:
Cacsarius on 8, j+oo
Cassian on 8, j:, j, j+, y:, y
Crcgory on +:, +8
Italian Rules on +:o
Pomcrius on , 8, y:
sermo humilis :8
Subiaco +8:
Symmachus, consul +o
Symmachus, popc +o8, +
Syria 8, +o, +j, j, , +
1hcodosius, cmpcror y
1hcodosian Christians
1ibcr +
1otila, Cothic king +8:
1ricr +j
\alcntinianus, disciplc of Bcncdict +:
\alcrius, bishop of Hippo +, :
\cnantius, layman of Syracusc +jo,
\illcgas, Icrnand ++:
\ivarium ++j
\oguc, Adalbcrt dc +o, ++:, ++
watchman of thc housc of Isracl, see
Wulfoliac, Iombard stylitc +j
Zalla, Coth +8:
Index ::+
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