Late Roman Lodging and the Law: when travelling Clerics get comfortable

Norman Wetzig (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut)

Abstract

When Ammianus Marcellinus in his res gestae lamented the excessive use of the cursus publicus by bishops, saying that „since throngs of bishops hastened hither and thither on the public post-horses to the various synods, as they call them, … he (viz. Constantius II) cut the sinews of the courier-service,“ he was mainly complaining about the alleged economical burden, the travelling clerics imposed on the public purse. It stands to reason if clerics with an imperial evectio were also given the right of hospitium, in the meaning of compulsory quartering and hospitable arrangements, as e.g. soldiers. Many laws and rescripts from the time of Constantine the Great onwards defined the position of higher clerics in the empire’s legal system, granting them tax exemptions or the exemption from compulsory services like the requirement to receive quartered persons. Yet the imperial legislation as well as the some canons from the early church councils evoke the image of a scenario in which clerics should not travel and thus lodge too much and too comfortably. In this paper an attempt is made to clearer determine the written and unwritten laws of Late Roman lodging for clerics and a theory is brought forth about how the church took a new measure to reduce the economical burden it allegedly caused the public.

Keep the door open: hospitality as an obligation in an age of Christological controversy

Konstantin Klein (Otto Friedrich Universität Bamberg)

Abstract

Just as many hagiographical writers before him, Cyril of Scythopolis (fl. mid-fifth century) recorded a considerable number of seemingly stereotypical and repetitive admonitions allegedly uttered by the protagonists of his Vitae, namely that future generations of monks should continue their deeds in the pious field of hospitality: hosting the poor (as well as the rich) and never closing the doors of the monasteries to strangers. Often integrated in the monastic fathers’ deathbed speeches, these testament-like admonitions turned into moral obligations just as well as into a justification for the monasteries’ activities in the political and social sphere. This paper aims to cast a close look upon hospitality as an admonition, an obligation, and a method to gain influence in an age of Christological controversy following the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It will become clear that rivalling monasteries entered into a ‘real’ competition in which the virtue of hospitality served as a powerful tool to gain influence – as well as into a literary competition in which the acts of hospitalities worked as just one more metaphor for the fame and renown of ascetics, abbots, and monks.

The Monastic Paradox: negotiating monastic seclusion and pilgrim hospitality in the Late Antique Near East

Marlena Whiting (University of Amsterdam)

Mosaic from the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha (Heptapegon) in the Galilee (c) Elias Khamis/Manar al-Athar
Mosaic from the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes at Tabgha (Heptapegon) in the Galilee (c) Elias Khamis/Manar al-Athar

There is a paradox within the monastic ideal: on the one hand, monks are meant to withdraw from the world into spiritual and ascetic seclusion; on the other hand, scripture enjoins hospitality on all Christians, to emulate the model of Abraham at Mamre – “for in this way some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). This paradox becomes especially pronounced in the course of the fourth and fifth centuries AD, as monastic communities become custodians of the increasingly popular pilgrim shrines in the Holy Land and elsewhere in the Near East. Some practitioners took this paradox to extremes, such as the stylite saints, who maintained a highly visible seclusion while at the same dispensing advice and blessings to large numbers of visitors. Historical texts, such as saints’ lives or pilgrim accounts, describe the tensions that arise from the paradox. Below I explore the scriptural and pious models for hospitality and charity, and the resulting conflict between monastic seclusion and pilgrim hospitality as described in the sources. I will also look at issues such as different levels of access to public and private space, differentiation between monastic and lay guests, and differentiation by gender.

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La réglementation de l’hospitalité en milieu monastique tardoantique en réponse à un nouveau besoin : celui de ne pas devoir rompre le jeûne

Emmanuelle Raga (Université libre de Bruxelles)

Le combat de Carnaval et de Carême, P. Bruegel l'Ancien, 1559 (a) domaine public
Le combat de Carnaval et de Carême, P. Bruegel l’Ancien, 1559 (a) domaine public

L’enjeu de l’hospitalité pour les aspirants ascètes de l’Antiquité tardive pose une difficulté très concrète : comment embrasser pleinement une vie contemplative sans négliger le fondamental devoir d’hospitalité ? La visite d’hôtes empiète en effet sur plusieurs aspects d’une vie contemplative. Non seulement elle impose d’interrompre toute activité pour recevoir le ou les invités mais de plus cette action ne peut être pleinement accomplie sans l’offre et le partage d’aliments (de surcroît idéalement d’aliments sortant de l’ordinaire) et impose donc de rompre le jeûne et l’abstinence alimentaire qui accompagnent tout projet contemplatif. De manière générale, la double injonction à vivre une vie contemplative sans pour autant négliger les devoirs d’une vie active confronte tous les aspirants ascètes à un dilemme requérant un compromis. Ce dilemme se pose naturellement également pour les communautés monastiques.

Continuer la lecture de « La réglementation de l’hospitalité en milieu monastique tardoantique en réponse à un nouveau besoin : celui de ne pas devoir rompre le jeûne »