Early Christian ascetic literature often featured competition and comparison as ways by which ascetics register self-awareness, increase self-knowledge, and finally, stimulate change. This paper examines three stories in Palladius’ Lausiac History to show how the author regarded competition and comparison as useful strategies to catalyze transformation. These stories highlight and subvert differences between solitude and community, men and women, and quantity and quality of ascetic practice. In focusing on exchanges which result in altered consciousness of self, the Lausiac History also implicitly – and sometimes explicitly – invites its reader to likewise examine its contents so as to be challenged by comparing oneself to and competing with the text’s figures in order that the reader’s spiritual growth might be effected.
Wheeler, Rachel. 2015. Competitive Asceticism: The Gendered Other as a Source of Self-Revelation in Palladius' Lausiac History. Obsculta 8, (1) : 149-170. https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/obsculta/vol8/iss1/15.