Symeon and the Cycle of his Daily Reading
Symeon the New Theologian lived in an epoch when books were rare and extremely expensive, but was nevertheless surrounded by books during the whole of his life. Apart from listening to scriptural, ascetical, and hagiographical readings in the church, Symeon used to read books privately. There were several libraries available to Symeon in different periods of his life, including one owned by his parents in the village of Galati and the Studite library. Of course, the Bible occupied the first and most prominent place in Symeon's daily cycle of reading. Nikitas Stithatos several times mentions that Symeon devoted some time every day to the reading of Scripture, and Symeon himself emphasizes the necessity of daily reading of it. Nikitas indicates that Symeon constantly read ‘the lives of ancient ascetics’. Hagiographical literature was in fact the favourite reading of Byzantine people; and indeed in the monasteries the lives of prominent monastic saints were particularly widely read. Surprisingly, Symeon very rarely refers to ascetical literature, which he must have known quite well.
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