ABSTRACT

The traditions of the kind of holy man reviews followed in two directions: forward into the fourth century and great Christian monasticism; and forward towards holy men arising in other cultures and as a result of more recent developments, wherever similarities seen to occur. In both cases comparison is instructive. The burgeoning of holy men at the end of Antiquity a proliferation and consolidation of the kind of figures saw; and persistent similarities with more recent and less directly related type. The most obvious difficulty with both classes of comparative material is its sheer bulk; it forced increasingly eclectic. By the end of fourth century little has changed. The holy man still in command, or claimed, in an urban crisis. Furthermore, for fourth and fifth centuries has a wider spectrum of holy men at work: the Historia Monachorum in Aegypto affords a several facets of personal ascetic personalities, at a single time and place, something conspicuously lack for the centuries.