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Lausiac History (Palladius)


A history of the desert Fathers, written about 419420 by Palladius, Bishop of Helenepolis, who dedicated it to Lausus, the royal chamberlain at the court of Theodosius II. The work gives the biographies of the monks of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor, many of whom Palladius had met in his sojourn in those countries. At one time he had attempted the solitary life himself, so he knew whereof he spoke. Of the historical validity of much of the work there can be no doubt; some of the stories he heard second hand, and of these we may be less certain. Palladius presented no theory of asceticism, he merely reported what he saw. If he tells of a backsliding monk or a fallen nun, he shows how the defection happened through pride or through abstention from the Liturgy and the Sacraments. It is a rich document for the history of monasticism, and it spread throughout the East. So popular a work was soon translated into Latin and many Oriental languages.

Bibliography: j. meursius, ed. (Leiden 1616). c. butler, ed., 2 v. (Texts and Studies 6.12; Cambridge, Eng. 18981904) critical ed. For Butler's notes on this ed. see journal of theological studies 22 (192021) 2135, 138155, 222238. r. t. meyer, ed. and tr. (Ancient Christian Writers, ed., j. quasten et al. [Westminster, Md.-London 1946] 34; 1965). j. quasten, Patrology (Westminster, Maryland 1950) 3:177179. h. rahner, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 195765) 5:390391. e. honigmann, Patristic Studies (Studi e Testi 173;1953) 104122. c. e. butler, The Lausiac History of Palladius: A Critical Discussion together with Notes on Early Egyptian Monachism (Hildesheim 1967). g. frank, The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity (Berkeley 2000).

[r. t. meyer]

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