Neilos the Younger and Benedict
Book Title – Greek Monasticism in Southern Italy: The Life of Neilos in Context (edited by Barbara Crostini and Ines Angeli Murzaku)
Chapter Number & Title – Chapter 14 : Neilos the Younger and Benedict: the Greek Hymns Composed by Neilos in Campania (by Annick Peters-Custot)
This chapter presents the Greek hymns composed by Neilos the Younger during his sojourn near Montecassino, when he offered to the Latin monks (who generously welcomed him) the liturgical expression of his deep consideration towards the holy founder of Montecassino, Saint Benedict. These texts have been published and studied either for themselves, or as examples for Italo-Greek hymnography. The purpose here is to determine what could have been Neilos’s literary basis for these hymns, among the documentation on Benedict’s life that could have been potentially used by Neilos: either the Second book of Pope Gregory the Great’s Dialogues in its original Latin version; or the Greek translation of this hagiography, made by Pope Zacharias in the middle of the eighth century; and/or the poetry written in Latin at Montecassino to celebrate Benedict’s memory before the end of the tenth century. These hymns give a new vision of the liturgical and literary contacts between the Byzantine world and the Western one in Southern Italy. They also introduce us into a particular aspect of Neilos’s own self and experience, that he inserted into these texts written in honor of the master of Western monasticism.