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History of Science Roman - Pantheon

History of Science Online

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LibraryThing: Science in Ancient Mesopotamia Week 6: Roman Science

Benedict, Rule (6th century B.C.)

| Source page | Hero | Cicero | Lucretius | Pliny the Elder | Ptolemy | Galen | Capella | Basil and Philoponos | Augustine | Boethius | Isidore of Seville | Benedict |

Source
Benedict, Rule, Chapter 48.
Translation
Leonard J. Doyle.
Web Source
The Order of St. Benedict (OSB).
Word count
377

Background

Not many institutions have as their motto, "Excellence in teaching for 1500 years." Imagine how impressed I was when this claim appeared on a letter I once received from a professor at the Benedictine St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. But it's true. The Benedictine order was founded according to Benedict's Rule, a small little book written before 560 AD that explained their aims and how they were to live. Below is one chapter of Benedict's Rule, the one that established reading as an essential spiritual obligation of monastic life.

Study Questions

  1. Why does this rule require that every monk must be able to read? Why does this rule imply that every monastery must...
  2. The books the monks were to "receive from the library" were not always devotional works or even by Christian authors (for example, Lucretius' On the Nature of Things was preserved in this way). How would the history of science be different were it not for monastic acceptance of the rule given below?

Text

Chapter 48. Of the Daily Work (excerpts)

Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading. Hence, we believe that the time for each will be properly ordered by the following arrangement; namely, that from Easter till the calends of October, they go out in the morning from the first till about the fourth hour, to do the necessary work, but that from the fourth till about the sixth hour they devote to reading. After the sixth hour, however, when they have risen from table, let them rest in their beds in complete silence; or if, perhaps, anyone desireth to read for himself, let him so read that he doth not disturb others...

From the calends of October till the beginning of Lent, let them apply themselves to reading until the second hour complete. At the second hour let Tierce be said, and then let all be employed in the work which hath been assigned to them till the ninth hour. When, however, the first signal for the hour of None hath been given, let each one leave off from work and be ready when the second signal shall strike. But after their repast let them devote themselves to reading or the psalms.

During the Lenten season let them be employed in reading from morning until the third hour, and till the tenth hour let them do the work which is imposed on them. During these days of Lent let all receive books from the library, and let them read them through in order. These books are to be given out at the beginning of the Lenten season....

On Sunday also let all devote themselves to reading, except those who are appointed to the various functions. But if anyone should be so careless and slothful that he will not or cannot meditate or read, let some work be given him to do, that he may not be idle.
Let such work or charge be given to the weak and the sickly brethren, that they are neither idle, nor so wearied with the strain of work that they are driven away. Their weakness must be taken into account by the Abbot.

 

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HSCI 3013. History of Science to 17th centuryCreative Commons license
Kerry Magruder, Instructor, 2004
-14
Brent Purkaple, TA

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Many thanks to the pedagogical model developed in Mythology and Folklore and other online courses by Laura Gibbs, which have been an inspiration for this course.

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This course is currently undergoing major reconstruction to bring it into alignment with the new version of the course at Janux