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Nicetas Stethatos


Byzantine controversialist and mystical writer; b. c. 1000; d. c. 1080. He received his epithet of stethatos or pectoratus (the lionhearted) when he openly rebuked Emperor constantine ix Monomachus for his immorality. When Nicetas was 14 years old, he became a monk of studion monastery, where he became a devoted disciple of symeon the new theologian. He was driven from the monastery for a time when he honored Symeon as a saint after his death. In the conflict (105354) between michael cerularius and humbert of silva candida (see eastern schism), Nicetas played a leading part in support of Cerularius but was forced by the emperor to an insincere recantation of his attacks against the Roman Church. Of his polemic on this occasion, the Dialexis and Antidialogus became the nucleus of a later comprehensive compilation on the azymes, or unleavened bread, and the Synthesis against the Latins, which attacked the filioque, was later to be included in nicetas choniates' Thesaurus of Orthodoxy. Stethatos' principal contribution to mysticism was his Life of Symeon the New Theologian, written to establish Symeon's sanctity against his detractors, but incidentally setting forth Nicetas's own ascetical and mystical views. Along this same line he published Symeon's works with an introduction, and composed Against the Saint's [i.e., Symeon's] Accusers. Independent writings on mysticism included a treatise on the soul and the Spiritual Paradise. These and his other essays on mysticism and miscellaneous subjects reveal an ascetical and mystical system that followed very closely that of his master.

Bibliography: Works. Dialexis, Antidialogus, Synthesis, v.2 of Humbert und Kerullarios, ed. a. michel, 2 v. (Paderborn 192430); life of Simeon the New Theologian, in Un Grand mystique byzantin: Vie de Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, 9491022, ed. with Fr. tr. by i. hausherr and g. horn (Orientalia Christiana 12; Rome 1928). Literature, m. t. disdier, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 11.1:479486. Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich 535536. h. g. beck, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 53 (1960) 132133.

[m. j. higgins]

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