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hidden from sight but still untouchable, is primarily found in Syrian sources that relate the lives of monks fixed to a tree, a certain stone or a pillar. The most famous of these was the older Symeon the Stylite, who stood on his pillar on a hilltop in northern Syria for forty-seven years until his death in 458.18 Such a monk is both immovable and out of reach, but still visible and often also to be contacted through a trusted disciple.

• Anchorites living in cells, usually a master and one or two disciples often clustered in larger groups; this form of monasticism is characterised by its interaction with society and the wider monastic community and by its stress on the teaching of disciples. The emergence of organised anchoretic monasticism seems to be largely an Egyptian matter, represented early in the fourth century by St Anthony and later by the desert fathers of Nitria and Scetis, among them Evagrius. With a strong emphasis on authority based in experience, on the teaching of disciples and on obedience, the anchoretic tradition gives an impression of having its roots partly in the tradition of philosophical teaching. The emphasis on the complete isolation and remoteness of the cell of the single monk, stressed in the sources, is in many cases probably a literary ideal, rather than a physical reality.

• Coenobites, monks living in a centrally organised monastery, often enclosed by a wall; this completely new model is first visible in the foundations by Pachomius in Egypt. The rapid growth and diffusion of this type of monastic life throughout the empire and its successful history is yet to be explained. Undoubtedly rooted both in the urban establishment of ascetic households and the anchoretic tradition of a master and his disciple, the communal monasteries create new models of ascetic life and establish new tensions in Christianity by providing strong alternative institutions within the church. In the sources for the earliest monasteries of this kind, three traits stand out as characteristic. The first is the emphasis on learning and teaching. The members of the community are not only taught the rules necessary for an organised community but also the motives behind them and the biblical support given to them, and are supposed not only to listen to exhortations, but to undertake study through reading. Second, the monasteries are organised for common work, primarily either agricultural or social, and in their relations to other sections of society they function as economic entities. Third, the

18 On Symeon there are three different Lives: one by Theodoret in his Historia religiosa 28, one by a disciple called Antonius, and an anonymous Syriac Life. All three are conveniently gathered in English translation with references to editions and explanatory notes in Robert Doran, The Lives of Simeon Stylites.

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