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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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(p.208) Conclusion
Contextualizing Cassian

Richard J. Goodrich

Oxford University Press

This chapter reflects on the significance and the lessons of Cassian's work. It provides the answer to the question of why Cassian put such an effort into his strategies to win a hearing for his works. What Cassian wrote would prove far too difficult for much of his target audience. His programme of renunciation aimed to strip the monk of self-centred attachments and identities, to destroy all conceptions of secular rank and hierarchies. Anything that could be pointed to with pride, anything that divided, was to be torn away. Cassian aimed his work at an audience drawn from the elite stratum of Gallic society. These were men of rank and prestige, the best men of a vanishing Roman order. Where other writers had offered models that attempted to integrate the old order with a new ascetic lifestyle, Cassian challenged societal norms that had existed for centuries.

Keywords:   Cassian, monk, Gallic society, ascetism, renunciation

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