The classification of Byzantine hagiography according to the periods and places in which it was produced is inextricably linked with the identity of its authors and audiences. And the identity of these audiences, a relatively unproblematic issue when dealing with other literary genres, is harder to pin down in the case of hagiography. The division of Byzantine literature according to levels of style is wholly applicable to hagiography. The contrasting realities of the city and the desert, which dominated the cultural and spiritual landscape of Christian late antiquity, found a corresponding analogy in the formation of two distinctive literary domains and publics: the ‘urban’ and the ‘monastic’. The former gave a warm welcome to the rise of Christian preaching and homiletics in late Roman cities while the latter provided the fertile ground for the development of the so-called literature of the desert.