Monasticism began in Egypt (q.v.) with the asceticism (q.v.) of third-century eremites, also called anchorites (qq.v.), as well as monks (from monachos, a man who has forsaken society to devote himself to God), who lived in cells (q.v.) in the desert. In the fifth century eremites like Symeon the Stylite the Elder and Daniel the Stylite (qq.v.) became famous in Syria (q.v.). John Moschos (q.v.) collected stories about many of them. In the fourth century Pachomios (q.v.) created the prototype of communal monasticism, the koinobion (q.v.), a more developed form of the lavra (q.v.). In the same century, Basil the Great (q.v.) created the Long Rules, the enduring organizing principles for Byzantine monasticism, centered around a daily routine of work and prayer. By the fifth century these two chief forms of monasticism, that of the individual ascetic, and of communal koinobion, were established. Sometimes these two forms existed together; sometimes they were practiced separately. During the period of Iconoclasm (q.v.), monks proved the greatest defenders of icons (q.v.). After Iconoclasm ended in 843, monasticism experienced a remarkable expansion, fueled by grants of land and the promotion of monks to positions in church and state. Imperial patronage included direct subsidies and exemptions from taxation (such as exkousseia [q.v.]). Some emperors (q.v.) became renowned for their support of monasticism. Nikephoros II Phokas (q.v.), for example, supported Athanasios of Athos (q.v.) in founding the Great Lavra on Mount Athos (qq.v). However, monastic estates became so extensive by the 10th century that Nikephoros II tried, unsuccessfully, to limit them. Nowhere did orders develop, as in the West. Monasticism remained administratively fragmented, as compared to the West, and individual monasteries often bore the imprint of the individuals who founded them. Thus, monastic republics like Mount Athos bore no resemblance to the greater size and more centralized administration of Cluny (founded in 910), in French Burgundy. Another difference was how much the inequality of the world was reflected inside Byzantine monasteries, with former aristocrats treated better than poorer monks. The pervasive philanthropy (q.v.) of monastic charitable institutions included hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the aged, even as places of retirement for the aristocracy (q.v.) and for failed political figures. Monasteries were also battlegrounds for important religious movements, e.g., Iconoclasm and Hesychasm (q.v.). Monks wrote hymns, and the vitae (q.v.) of saints. Much of Byzantine art and architecture, e.g., manuscript illustration, wall frescoes, and mosaics (qq.v.), were tied to monastic patronage. The golden age of monasticism was actually in the Palaiologan (q.v.) period, as the political and military fortunes of the empire declined. Today, Byzantium continues to live in numerous Byzantine monasteries that still flourish, many of them spectacular in their setting and architecture (e.g., Mount Athos and Meteora [q.v.]).

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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  • Monasticism — • The act of dwelling alone (Greek monos, monazein, monachos), has come to denote the mode of life pertaining to persons living in seclusion from the world, under religious vows and subject to a fixed rule, as monks, friars, nuns, or in general… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Monasticism — is based on loving to be completely devoted to worship. Monasticism systems: 1 Solitude (Hermits): a monk lives in a cell or cave. 2 Coenobitic discipline where monks live together, participating in some prayers and eat together. 3 Communal Order …   Dictionary of church terms

  • Monasticism — Mo*nas ti*cism, n. The monastic life, system, or condition. Milman. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • monasticism — 1795, from MONASTIC (Cf. monastic) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

  • monasticism — [mō nas′təsiz΄əm, mə nas′tə siz΄əm] n. the monastic system or way of life …   English World dictionary

  • monasticism — /meuh nas teuh siz euhm/, n. the monastic system, condition, or mode of life. [1785 95; MONASTIC + ISM] * * * Institutionalized religious movement whose members are bound by vows to an ascetic life of prayer, meditation, or good works. Members of …   Universalium

  • Monasticism — Trappist monk praying in his cell. Monasticism (from Greek μοναχός, monachos, derived from Greek monos, alone) is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one s self to spiritual work.… …   Wikipedia

  • monasticism — Synonyms and related words: Albigensianism, Catharism, Franciscanism, Sabbatarianism, Trappism, Waldensianism, Yoga, abstinence, anchoritic monasticism, anchoritism, asceticism, austerity, bachelordom, bachelorhood, bachelorism, bachelorship,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • MONASTICISM —    the abandonment of ordinary life and family responsibilities to live in celibate religious communities. The earliest example of monasticism is the Sagha in BUDDHISM from which it spread first into HINDUISM and then CHRISTIANITY …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • monasticism — monastic ► ADJECTIVE 1) relating to monks or nuns or their communities. 2) resembling monks or their way of life, especially in being austere or reclusive. DERIVATIVES monastically adverb monasticism noun …   English terms dictionary

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