estates from which to support themselves. Hermits and recluses still formed part of the monastic scene - the writings of Bishop Gregory of Tours indicate the existence of a rich variety of ascetic experience in sixth-century Francia. However, they also suggest the nervousness of the episcopate in relation to exotic experiment and a conviction that shrines and relics were, ultimately, easier to control than eccentric holy men and women.14

The development of monastic rules in the West

Rather than set down minutely detailed regulations, the earliest monastic rules frequently attempted to capture the essence of the spirit inspiring the groups from which they originated. In the fifth century, Latin versions of Basil of Caesarea's Long and Short Rules - Basil's replies to a number of questions on religious life - circulated in the West. Even Rufinus of Aquileia's translation of an early and incomplete set, which turned Basil's prefatory discourse to Christians living in the world into one aimed specifically at a monastic group, preserves the Gospel injunctions which Basil considered to be fundamental to Christian community: 'Love God with your whole heart and soul' and 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'

Another example of the attempt to capture the essence of community can be found in Augustine's monastic rule, the Praeceptum or Regula tertia, composed in the 390s, which would go on to become one of the most influential monastic rules of the middle ages, associated with the renewal of canonical life in the twelfth century and the Dominican order in the thirteenth.15 Addressing community members, it declares: 'The chief motivation for your sharing life together is to live harmoniously in the house and to have one heart and soul seeking God.'16 In highlighting these Gospel injunctions, both rules seek to express the spiritual bonds of community in which the boundaries between individuals are dissolved and conventional structures are rendered redundant. The setting down of written regulations together with the emphasis placed on the need for obedience to the superior in itself reflects a degree of institutionalisation of relationships, but it is still the case that neither rule elaborates very much in the way of structures and hierarchies. Augustine envisages that community members will mutually observe and correct each other. Basil

14 Gregory of Tours, Life of the fathers.

16 Augustine, Praeceptum 1.2; trans. Lawless.

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