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The Monasteries of Mount Athos

  • D. Talbot Rice
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The peninsula of Athos, home of monks, resort of pilgrims and the sole surviving example of the life of the Middle Ages which exists in Europe, is the only spot in these days of hooting motor cars, roaring machinery and rushing, busy people, in which it is possible to lead a completely altered life. There only in Europe can one meet an entirely original mental outlook. Even in the remotest European village everyday life is of this age and it is only by exercising the imagination that one can transfer oneself to the past. But on arrival on Athos this earth is left behind and one begins to experience the life of a pilgrim of the Middle Ages. One sees from actual experience what that life really was, and one continues to live it until the discomforts of the thirteenth century finally persuade one that the evils of this age are amply repaid by its merits and that the romance of the Middle Ages is even excelled by the adventurous spirit of today. The medieval life is something that one likes to remember as a curiosity, something to be experienced occasionally only. But the claims of its art are more lasting and in these days of ease and luxury we can appreciate them the more fully.

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1 The monasteries of Athos are now divided into two classes, the cenobitic and the idiorrhythmic. The former are ruled over by an abbot; the latter, less strict, are governed by a committee. It is only in the monasteries of the former type that the refectory is used.

* Byron, Robert, The Station: Athos, treasures and men. Dackworth, 1928.

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Antiquity
  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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