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Monasteries: Institutionalisation and Organisation of Space in the Byzantine World until the End of the Twelfth Century

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Chapter Summary

Anthony, one of the fathers of monasticism - or at least considered as such by all who followed him, to such an extent that his Life, written by the patriarch. Athanasius of Alexandria, constitutes one of literature's best-sellers - initially wished to live alone in the desert as a hermit, which does not require any institution to return better into the world to convert it and make "of the desert a city": he was thereby referring to a major institution of the late Roman world. Space and institutionalisation thus met. This chapter examines this dialectic between space and institutionalisation in the history of Byzantine monasticism: monasticism organised the space in which it developed, being itself both the cause and the means by which it and others organised space. The very concept of retreating from the world, inherited from pagan Antiquity guided the early monks, seems the opposite of the institution.

Keywords: Alexandria; Byzantine monasticism; institutionalization; late Roman world; patriarch; space



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