LAUSIAC HISTORY (PALLADIUS) A history of the desert Fathers, written about – by Palladius, Bishop of Helenepolis, who dedicated it to Lausus, the. Palladius: The Lausiac History (Ancient Christian Writers) [Robert T. Meyer] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A monumental project which . THE LAUSIAC HISTORY OF PALLADIUS. He who would adequately portray the meaning and character of the Christian life of the century that followed the.

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London The Macmillan Company. MY interest in monasticism was first awakened inwhen I was a theological student at Cambridge, by the publication of the second volume of Abbot Cuthbert Butler’s Lausiac History of Palladius.


The appearance of a new work of scholarship, however excellent, would have meant little to me at that time, but my imagination was struck by the dinner which the theological teachers at Cambridge combined to give the author in honour of the completion of his arduous task.

Somehow I had not associated monks with dinnerparties, and they appeared to me henceforward in a more human and attractive guise. In I began to study monasticism, taking Abbot Butler’s works as my guide, and have never since lost interest in the subject. During the past year I have tried, during the few leisure hours which were alone possible under war conditions, to forget the tragedies of the time by making a translation of the Lausiac History.

I do not know whether an ordinary critical text, where an editor merely gives the finishing touches to the labour of his predecessors, is copyright so far as the right of making a translation is concerned. But in this case the text belongs to Abbot Butler in a special way, since before him all was chaos.

Laussiac am grateful therefore to him, lqusiac the Cambridge University Press his publisher, for readily granting viii permission to make the present version. There is nothing original in my book; if it succeeds in popularising the work of the Abbot of Downside, on hlstory the mantle of the great Benedictine scholars of old has descended, my purpose is accomplished.

To a lesser extent I am indebted to M. Lucot’s excellent edition and lausixc. Occasionally he seems to me to have missed the meaning, but his French clarity of vision has frequently given me the clue to the right English rendering. Finally I must express my gratitude to the Society of which I have the honour to be Secretary for undertaking the publication of this work at a time when it might have been tempted to postpone all such projects until a more convenient season.

Egypt, hail, thou faithful strand! Hail, thou holy Libyan land! IN the fourth and fifth centuries of our era Egypt had come to be regarded with great reverence throughout Christendom as a Holy Histor of piety. Pilgrims came from all parts to visit the saints who lived there, and several wrote descriptions of hiistory they saw and heard, which are among the most interesting documents of the early Church.

Palestine was so near that it was usually included in their tour; the glamour jistory its sacred sites, which remains with us still when that of Egypt has faded into oblivion, was already potent. But Palestine was clearly second to Egypt in the affections of the pilgrims.

The prevailing sentiment was expressed by Chrysostom with admirable clearness Hom. It was eminently appropriate, he explains, that the lausjac Jesus should be taken to Egypt to escape Herod. Palestine persecutes Him, Egypt receives Him. This typifies the position Egypt was to occupy in the development of the Church.

The land which had oppressed the children of Israel, had known a Pharaoh, had worshipped cats, was destined to be more fervent than any other, to have its towns and even its deserts peopled by armies of saints living the life of angels, and to boast the greatest, after the apostles, of all saints, the famous Antony. Palladius, the author of our book, who was destined 16 to be Chrysostom’s devoted adherent, made a pilgrimage to this holy land, like so many others, and stayed there many years.

The following is an outline of his life, with the dates as established by Butler. He was born in Galatia in orand dedicated himself to the monastic life in or a little later. In he went to Alexandria; as Paul went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, James, and John, so, he says in the Prologue, did he go to Egypt to see the saints for himself.

About he passed on to Nitria, and a year later to a district in the desert known as Cellia from the multitude of its cells, where he spent nine years, first with Macarius and then with Evagrius.


Lausiac History – Wikipedia

At the end of the time, his health having broken down, he went to Palestine in search of a cooler climate. In he was consecrated bishop of Helenopolis in Bithynia, and soon became involved in the controversies which centred round St. The year found him in Rome, whither he had gone to plead the cause of Chrysostom, his fidelity to whom resulted in his exile in the following year to Syene and the Thebaid, where he gained first-hand knowledge of another part of Egypt.

In he was restored, after a sojourn among the monks of the Mount of Olives. His great work was written in and was called the Lausiac History, being composed for Lausus, chamberlain at the court of Theodosius II. Palladius was also in all probability the author of the Dialogue on the Life of Chrysostom. He died some time in the decade The character of the man stands out clearly in the History, He was sincere, simple-minded and not a little credulous.

His deep religious fervour, of the ascetic type, needless to say, appears throughout the book, and especially in the concluding chapter, which almost attains eloquence. But he had a fund of good 17 sense, so we learn from the Prologue, which predisposes us to a favourable judgment on the rest of the book.

What could be saner, for example, than his summing up of the question of teetotalism: We need not attach much importance to the accusation of Origenism which has been the slur on his reputation.

If he admired Origen, that great and original thinker, it will hardly redound to his discredit to-day. And he was in good company in his own day. Saints such as Basil, the two Gregories and Chrysostom shared his tendencies; if Chrysostom the master is forgiven his Origenism, Palladius the disciple may be forgiven also.

It has been the lot of many a scholar to grapple with the difficulties of an ancient text so successfully that the result of his labours has been accepted as substantially representing the original work of the author: His conclusions were at once recognized as correct, and much that had been written on early monasticism became obsolete, based as it was on an erroneous estimate of the original authorities.

The document which was accepted till recently as the Lausiac History, called by Butler the Long Recension. In a Greek text was published by du Duc purporting to be the original of Rosweyd’s Latin, though in reality it was patched up from various sources. This is the text which, with some additions, is reprinted in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, xxxiv. Butler’s Short Recension, called originally Paradisus Heraclidis, printed by Rosweyd in his appendix.

The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto, which was till recently supposed to have been written in Latin by Rufinus, but turns out to be Rufinus’ translation of a Greek original compiled by an anonymous writer and describing a visit paid by a party of seven, in which Rufinus was not included, to the Egyptian ascetics in The Greek text has been edited by Preuschen, and a text of Rufinus’ Latin version forms part of the Long Recension, as stated above.

Tillemont long ago had seen the lines on which the problem was to be solved, but subsequent investigators dismissed his suggestion as impossible, and it was left for Butler to show with a wealth of argument the true relations of the documents.

His solution is briefly this: B is not an abridgment of A, nor is A Palladius’ second edition of B. In Sozomen, who used the Lausiac History see Hist. The early versions, especially the Latin and Syriac, confirm these results. There is no reason 19 to think that Palladius used Greek documents, or that he translated from the Coptic.

Having established this fact, that the Latin version in Rosweyd’s appendix represents substantially the work of Palladius, Butler proceeds to discuss which is the best text of the Greek original of this. He finds that the MSS. Ruling out the A group according to the rules of textual criticism, as between B and G, he pronounces in favour of the latter, which is supported by Sozomen and the versions, and is superior intrinsically as well.

B is a “metaphrastic” text, says Preuschen, and Butler styles it “rhetorical, turgid and overladen. It remains to discover the best examples of the G text. Butler finds these in a MS. The latter was not available until more than half of the text, had been printed, and therefore to get Butler’s mature judgment on the text of the earlier part a number of readings from W given in the appendix must be substituted for those of the text. Occasionally neither are extant, and the printed text is Butler’s critical reconstruction from the other sources.


The story of Egyptian monasticism is inevitably an oft-told tale, and need not be repeated here, since summaries of it are readily accessible. Asceticism was inherent in Christianity from the first; 4 it could hardly have been otherwise among the disciples of Him Who had not where to lay His head.

The Lausiac history of Palladius

In 1 Corinthians St. Paul teaches that in view of the shortness of the time before the end the unmarried state is preferable to the married. John, convinced that it was the last hour, bade his little children keep themselves from idols, a command which in practice involved renunciation of the world. There was as yet no formal separation from the world; devotees of both sexes lived at home and were described as bearing “the whole yoke of the Lord.

Two questions may be asked at this point: Why did monasticism begin when it did? Why did Egypt witness its beginning rather than some other land such as Asia 21 Minor, which was perhaps the most Christian lausoac of the empire at that time? In answering the first question one would be inclined to attach importance to the tradition which connects the origin of monasticism with the Decian persecution c. Some at least of these must have been living the ascetic life at home, which they would naturally continue in the desert under more rigorous conditions.

When a later tradition affirms that certain of these remained in the desert permanently and became the first Christian hermits, it is intrinsically so probable that one is justified in concluding that the Decian persecution was the historic occasion which led to the origin of monasticism. Paradoxical as such an argument may seem at first sight, the cessation of persecutions may be adduced as a main cause of the great development of monasticism.

The deliverance of the Church from this danger coincided with the adoption of Christianity as the State religion, the swamping of old landmarks by a flood of historh instructed adherents, and the lowering of standards in the direction of worldliness. Monasticism in one of its aspects was the reaction of the sterner spirits against the secularisation of the fourth-century Church.

Hitherto there had been an intermittent warfare of the State against the Church which expressed itself in persecution. When persecution ceased, a need was felt on the part of the Church for a “moral equivalent for war”; this the Church found in monasticism, which represented the Church militant against worldliness within. If we turn to our second question, it hixtory not hard to see 22 why Egypt, rather than some other country, was the motherland of monasticism. The solitudes of Histody Minor with their rigorous winter climate were not suitable places for ascetic experiments.

Egypt, however, was ideal for laausiac purpose. The climate was warm and practically rainless, the desert was never far away from the narrow strip of cultivable land, and the neighbouring mountain ranges abounded in natural caves. Another reason may be suggested. The recent discoveries of papyri have thrown a flood of light upon the conditions of life in ancient Egypt. We can trace the ever-tightening hold of the Government upon the people and the process by which the peasants became ascripti glebae.

Accordingly the pressure of taxes and public burdens was greatest in Egypt, and the temptation to escape from them by running away became very strong. In the second and third centuries whole districts became depopulated by the flight of their inhabitants.

Lausiac History (Palladius) |

Things became worse in the fourth century. In the village of Theadelphia became “utterly deserted”; so did that of Philadelphia in The peasants ran away from their intolerable burdens. What some did from economic, others could do from religious motives; doubtless in some cases both causes operated.

Such an explanation seems far more plausible than that which used to be given, according to which the pagan monasticism of Egypt was the model for the Christian institution. There is little to be said for such a theory, which is indeed now generally abandoned.