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The Constantinopolitan Monastery of Panagiou in its Eleventh-Century Context

Dirk Krausmüller, Queen’s University Belfast, Fellow 2005–2006

During the last nine months, I have prepared a monograph about the Constantinopolitan monastery of Panagiou and its literary legacy: a typikon, a Life of Athanasios the Athonite, and a metaphrasis of this Life, the so-called Vita A, all of them written before 1025. These texts are of crucial importance for the understanding of the coenobitic movement of the eleventh century: the Panagiou typikon is the earliest surviving extended rule and the Lives are the earliest examples for the influence of typika on the hagiographical genre.

I first give a historical overview and reconstruct the lost texts. Comparison between the Bachkovo typikon and the Vitae A and B of Athanasios proves the existence of the Panagiou typikon and the first Life, and study of the metaphrastic techniques employed by the author of Vita A permits the conclusion that Vita B represents this first Life with only minor changes. Then I discuss the rivalries between Panagiou and other monastic settings. I show that the author of the first Life claimed that Panagiou and not Lavra followed the Athanasian monastic tradition. I further argue that he inserted into the text a much extended version of the short rules of Athanasius in order to match the claim of the Studites that their extended version of the original Studite Hypotyposis was based on the teachings of Theodore.

Next, I study the texts as indicators for a transformation of the two literary genres to which they belong. I argue that the transition from shorter to extended rules reflects growing emphasis on communal rituals, which had previously been of little significance. I further show that the integration of typikon material into the Lives and the presentation of Athanasios as interacting with his community marks a new development when Lives are no longer exclusively written to prove the sanctity of the protagonist but also function as models for monastic life, or in other words, as typika in action. Lastly, I study invectives against extreme and ostentatious asceticism and against private almsgiving. I demonstrate that these activities were widely accepted and that they were an intrinsic part of the traditional ideal of sainthood. I then show that the authors of the Lives of Athanasios engaged in a complex reinterpretation of traditional topoi in order to present Athanasios as a “traditional” saint and at the same time to make sure that his behavior would not be emulated.