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Melania the YoungerFrom Rome to Jerusalem$
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Elizabeth A. Clark

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190888220

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190888220.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 April 2021

Ascetic Renunciation

Ascetic Renunciation

Chapter:
(p.76) 5 Ascetic Renunciation
Source:
Melania the Younger
Author(s):

Elizabeth A. Clark

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190888220.003.0005

Chapter 5 surveys the development of ascetic renunciation as a favored mode of Christian existence from the religion’s origins to late antiquity. It details what ascetic Christians “renounced” (e.g., money, food, property, sleep), what their goals were, and what models of ascetic living became popular. Pagan writers as well as some Christian writers criticized the movement, which could jolt members of the upper classes when their members broke rank and divested themselves of possessions. In Rome, shortly before Melania’s time, aristocratic women had, at various stages in their lives, given up markers of their status (including civic philanthropy) and adopted ascetic practices, sometimes within their own palaces. Transmission of property and inheritance came into question, as women refused to marry (or to remarry). Melania’s Life dramatically illustrates how difficult it was to rid oneself of all property and possessions, especially the thousands of slaves that she and Pinian owned. Modern scholars have been less kind than their predecessors in their assessments of the social and economic consequences of Christian calls to renunciation.

Keywords:   asceticism, divestment, economics, slaves, women

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