walk around trying to please benefactors by sweet preaching, beautiful prayers or useless blessings. Nilus' letters reveal a strong emphasis on education and spiritual guidance.59


The beginnings of monasticism in Constantinople are linked to one of the earliest bishops of the city, Macedonius, and to his deacon Marathonius. The latter is said to have been encouraged by Eustathius of Sebaste. According to Sozomen, he founded not only urban monasteries, but also hospitals and poorhouses served by the monks, thus initiating a close link between monastic life and care for the poor and sick in the capital.60 The monastic houses in Constantinople seem to have been primarily located in the outskirts and often attached to important shrines where relics of martyrs or saints were protected and honoured by the monks. In the fifth century, there seems to have been an almost endless row of shrines and monastic settlements in the suburbs of Constantinople leading off along the Bosporus. These monastic houses and their welfare programmes were financed by the patronage of rich officials and families, including the emperor himself. This is made clear in the history of the first famous monk of Constantinople, Isaac, who arrived in the city in the 370s to combat Arianism and who, after the rise of Theodosius, became the central figure of Constantinopolitan monasticism until his death around 416.61 In this period, monastic presence in Constantinople grew rapidly as the capital had great appeal for anyone who was in search of better income, a larger audience or a higher reputation. Attempts by the emperors to ban monks from the city proved futile and eventually had to be retracted. Thus the emperor Theodosius I in392 cancelled a lawpromulgated only two years earlier ordering all monks to stay in deserted places.62 These bans were impractical because the monks had made themselves indispensable for civic administration by becoming providers of welfare for a growing poor and potentially disruptive layer of society (not to mention serving as spiritual advisers in times of crisis). The growth of monasticism, its imperial and aristocratic patronage and its service to the people made the city's monastic leaders (archimandrites) into

59 On the problem of the letters attributed to Nilus, see Averil Cameron, 'The authenticity of the letters of St. Nilus of Ancyra'.

61 For early monasticism in Constantinople see Caner, Wandering, begging monks, 191-9 and Gilbert Dagron, 'Les moines et la ville'.

62 CTh 16.3.1; see Caner, Wandering, beggingmonks, 199 for further references.

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