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Rufinus’ Historia monachorum in Aegypto and the Promulgation of Evagrian Ascetic Teaching

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Around 403 Rufinus composed his Historia monachorum in Aegypto, a Latin translation of Ἡ κατ’ Αἴγυπτον τῶν µοναχῶν ἱστορία (“Inquiry about the Monks of Egypt”). This Greek work, authored anonymously years earlier by one of the monks in his monastery on the Mount of Olives, chronicles the author’s months-long travels throughout Egypt, where he met notable monastic personalities and recorded for posterity their deeds and teachings. In rendering the Greek original into Latin Rufinus made certain amendments which point to possible reasons why he undertook this ambitious translation project. In this article I draw attention to amendments he made pertaining to the figure and teachings of Evagrius of Pontus and I argue that one of his principal authorial objectives was to promulgate and popularize the core principles of Evagrius’ ascetic mysticism among a western readership.

Affiliations: 1: University of Colorado, Classics Department


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