The Garden as Metaphor for Monastery

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It should not be surprising that the Byzantine monastery, whose irrigated gardens stood out in the dry Mediterranean landscape or in the crowded cityscape like a verdant oasis, was often described metaphorically in typika and saints' lives as a paradeisos, or garden. What could be more appropriate than that monks and nuns, who led an angelic life and were attempting to recreate the divine paradise,93 should be alluded to as plants and trees and their monastery as a garden?94 Some authors, extending the metaphor, referred to the

88 K. N. Sathas, MeaairoviKh piplioGhKh, vol. 4 (Paris, 1874), 415-16: tauta te Kai ooa pepiX tou vaou Gerophaaç efilotecvhoato, USatwv te pepovnmévaç ev aùtoîç agrogaç, Kai 1ei|irôvaç eùppepeîç futeuoamevoç; Janin, Églises 305.

89 Volk, Gesundheitswesen, 190.

901. M. Konidares and K. A. Manaphes, "Enitelewioç poulhaiç Kai SiSaoKalia tou oiKou|ieviKoû patpiapcou MatGaiou A' (1397-1410)," 'Ep.'Et.BuÇ.Zp. 45 (1981-82): 498.965-68.

91 Markham, Clavijo, 30-31, 39. Cf. also the vita of Irene of Chrysobalanton, which describes the "two lofty cypresses . . . standing on either side of the forecourt, reaching far up into the air" (V Irene Chrys. 76.17-19). One might also note that the nunnery of St. Matrona in Constantinople was founded on the site of a rose garden (AASS, Nov. 3:806d, chap. 36), but we do not know if any roses survived the construction of the monastic complex.

92 Cf. Markham, Clavijo, 46: "Though the city is so large, it is not at all well peopled, for in the middle of it there are many enclosures, where there are cornfields, and fruit gardens." There are similar descriptions by other travelers to Constantinople in the Palaiologan period; cf. J. P. A. van der Vin, Travellers to Greece and Constantinople (Leiden, 1980), 1:254; 2:564, 569, 684. It should be noted that even earlier in the history of the capital, during the transition from the late antique to the middle Byzantine period, significant depopulation and abandonment of certain regions of the city occurred; cf. C. Mango, Le développement urbain de Constantinople (IVe-VIIe siècles) (Paris, 1985), 51-62.

93 Cf. the Life of Mary of Egypt, chap. 5 (PG 87:3701c), where the monks of the Judean desert "were admirably re-creating the divine paradise." L. Rydén noted that the goal of the desert father was "to reconstruct the Garden of Eden and anticipate Paradise" ("New Forms of Hagiography: Heroes and Saints," The 17th International Byzantine Congress: Major Papers [New Rochelle, N.Y., 1986], 537); cf. also M. Angold, "Were Byzantine Monastic Typika Literature?" in The Making of Byzantine History: Studies Dedicated to Donald M. Nicol (Aldershot, 1993), 61.

94 Out of numerous examples, I note the following: vita of Nicholas of Stoudios (PG 105:877a and

Byzantine Monastery Gardens
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Byzantine Monastery Garden
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22 Constantinople, Pammakaristos monastery in 1578, woodcuts

(photo: after H. Hallensleben, "Untersuchungen zur Baugeschichte der ehemaligen Pammakaristoskirche, der heutigen Fethiye camii in Istanbul," Istanbuler Mitteilungen 13/14 [1963-64]: 132, figs. 2 and 3)

abbot or abbess as a gardener who nurtured his or her charges with the waters of spiritual instruction.95 One could cite the case of St. Matrona of Perge, whose convent in Constantinople was built appropriately on the site of a former rose garden and had herself worked for a while as a gardener while a monk in disguise; she is described by her hagiographer as a "spiritual husbandman who, receiving neglected and barren souls, tended them with careful and experienced ascetical attention; and when they had become fruitful through good works she offered them to Christ."96 The future patriarch Ignatios (847-858, 867-877) as a young monk "was planted in the house of the Lord like a sapling, and having flowered in the courts of monastic life," he soon bore fruit.97 The twelfth-century bishop Leo of Argos used the metaphor of transplantation of plants to describe his transfer of the nuns of Areia to a safer location at Bouze: "Just as one can see gardeners and farmers acting in accordance with their skill, and now setting the seedling of a plant in the earth and tending it for a while, and then removing it from there and transplanting it somewhere else, so that thereby the plant may proceed to firmer rooting and greater growth and earlier bearing of fruit, it so happened that I did this at this monastery."98 It should also be noted that, like the typical garden, the monastery was enclosed by a wall and had a gate.

Variations on this theme include comparisons of a nunnery with a vineyard, "having virgins and nuns within like flourishing and beautiful vine branches, teeming with numerous large and excellent bunches of grapes,"99 or monks described as a swarm of bees set in the midst of a garden blooming with evergreen plants and all sorts of flowers.100 The horticultural imagery was even extended to the monastic peninsula of Mount Athos, where numerous manmade gardens, vineyards, orchards, and olive groves complemented the naturally verdant landscape; the holy mountain was sometimes called "the garden of the Panagia [the Virgin Mary]."101

901d—904a, where the garden is more specifically called a rosebed); Ignatii diaconi vita Tarasii archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani, ed. I. A. Heikel (Helsingfors, 1891), 403.18—19; vita ofTheodore of Stoudios, PG 99:233b, 248a, 273b; H. Grégoire, "Saint Démétrianos, évêque de Chytri (île de Chypre)," BZ 16 (1907): 221.129—31; G. Rossi Taibbi, Vita di Sant'Elia il Giovane (Palermo, 1962), 44.595—46.597 and 120.1636—39 (where the monastic virtues are equated with the fruit of the garden and the profession of the faith constitutes evergreen leaves, which never fall from the trees); S. A. Paschalides, 'O pioç tflç 0aiO|iUpop1Uti8oç ©eoSrôpaç tflç èv ©eaaalovÍKh (Thessalonike, 1991), chap. 24, p. 114, where Theodora is compared with a fruit tree that brings forth fruit in season; Pantokrator typikon, ed. Gautier, "Pantocrator," 63.565—67.

95 Cf., for example, VLaz. Gal., AASS, Nov. 3:580a: èmautov 0UtOKÓ|iOv eivai logiÇomai Quteuovta Siáfopa futa Kai Kata 8Uva|iiv apSeUw te tauta Kai tqv loiphv pepi auta evSeikvumai epimeleiav. See also P. Karlin-Hayter, Vita Euthymii patriarchae CP (Brussels, 1970), 25, where Euthymios refuses to take over the leadership of an existing monastery, saying, "God forbid that ever I should water another's plantation," and that he did not want to divert the work of others into "the channels of my laws and rules."

96 Vita of Matrona of Perge, AASS, Nov. 3:811d, chap. 48.

97 Vita of Patriarch Ignatios, PG 105:493d.

98 G. A. Choras, 'H 'Agia Movh 'Apeiaç (Athens, 1975), 239; note a similar horticultural metaphor at pp. 243-44.

99 Typikon of Bebaia Elpis, ed. Delehaye, Deux typica byzantins, chap. 11, p. 26.5-9.

100 This image is found in a dream vision of St. Elias Spelaiotes; cf. AASS, Sept. 3:864d, chap. 40.

101 Cf. E. Amand de Mendieta, Mount Athos: The Garden of the Panaghia (Berlin, 1972).

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