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Contextualizing CassianAristocrats, Asceticism, and Reformation in Fifth-Century Gaul$
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Richard J. Goodrich

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199213139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199213139.001.0001

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Experientia vs Gallic inexperience

Experientia vs Gallic inexperience

(p.32) 2 Experientia vs Gallic inexperience
Contextualizing Cassian

Richard J. Goodrich

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses one of Cassian's strategies for swaying an audience, his claim to a level of experience that trumped that of Gallic practitioners. It examines Cassian's critique of Gallic asceticism. If this was reduced to a single word, it would be inexperience. The Gallic monks, lacking experience, had created idiosyncratic ascetic structures that Cassian condemned. The chapter notes that the principal problem of Gallic monasticism was the untrained abbot who had the temerity to establish his own monastery without first having served as a disciple under an experienced master. This action, the epitome of pride, undermined one of the chief goals of the ascetic life, the cultivation of humility. Cassian portrayed himself as a man with impeccable credentials, an author whose experience could correct the disorder of Gallic asceticism.

Keywords:   experience, Gallic asceticism, Gaul, abbot, monks

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