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In recent decades certain historians have intimated that Byzantine society - and monastics in particular - suffered from a lack of sleep (whether described in negative terms as sleep deprivation or sleep abstinence). Sleep-abstinence surely permeated Byzantine society: it is encountered in every age, sex and class, together with its institutions, beliefs, practices, rituals, morals and mythologies. However, sleep is a biological phenomenon as well. One cannot possibly appreciate the Byzantines' stance towards it, nor assess the veracity, aims and effectiveness of their ideas and attitudes in relation to sleep-abstinence, unless one is ready to tackle the biological aspect. Moreover, without the biological aspect, the claim that the Byzantines were sleep-deprived is impossible to substantiate. This book approaches this subject by using a bio-cultural method, which combines sleep medicine with theology, history, and critical research, in order to analyse the practice of sleep-abstinence and the attitudes towards sleep in Byzantium. Focusing on Greek documentary sources, this book investigates whether Byzantines did indeed practice sleep abstinence or sleep deprivation, and their rationales for curtailing their sleep. Chapters cover the mechanics of sleep in the modern world and in the ancient world, the place of monastic vigil, and the vigil of the laity.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0237-8
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jul 22,2016
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 349
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0237-8
$99.00
$59.40

In recent decades certain historians have intimated that Byzantine society - and monastics in particular - suffered from a lack of sleep (whether described in negative terms as sleep deprivation or sleep abstinence). Sleep-abstinence surely permeated Byzantine society: it is encountered in every age, sex and class, together with its institutions, beliefs, practices, rituals, morals and mythologies. However, sleep is a biological phenomenon as well. One cannot possibly appreciate the Byzantines' stance towards it, nor assess the veracity, aims and effectiveness of their ideas and attitudes in relation to sleep-abstinence, unless one is ready to tackle the biological aspect. Moreover, without the biological aspect, the claim that the Byzantines were sleep-deprived is impossible to substantiate. This book approaches this subject by using a bio-cultural method, which combines sleep medicine with theology, history, and critical research, in order to analyse the practice of sleep-abstinence and the attitudes towards sleep in Byzantium. Focusing on Greek documentary sources, this book investigates whether Byzantines did indeed practice sleep abstinence or sleep deprivation, and their rationales for curtailing their sleep. Chapters cover the mechanics of sleep in the modern world and in the ancient world, the place of monastic vigil, and the vigil of the laity.

Nik Barkas studied Theology at Athens and Durham Universities and Byzantine History at Queen’s University Belfast under Professor Margaret Mullett. His research interests include classical and Christian attitudes to sleep, the uncorrupt bodies of sinners, early Church History and Byzantine Theology.

In recent decades certain historians have intimated that Byzantine society - and monastics in particular - suffered from a lack of sleep (whether described in negative terms as sleep deprivation or sleep abstinence). Sleep-abstinence surely permeated Byzantine society: it is encountered in every age, sex and class, together with its institutions, beliefs, practices, rituals, morals and mythologies. However, sleep is a biological phenomenon as well. One cannot possibly appreciate the Byzantines' stance towards it, nor assess the veracity, aims and effectiveness of their ideas and attitudes in relation to sleep-abstinence, unless one is ready to tackle the biological aspect. Moreover, without the biological aspect, the claim that the Byzantines were sleep-deprived is impossible to substantiate. This book approaches this subject by using a bio-cultural method, which combines sleep medicine with theology, history, and critical research, in order to analyse the practice of sleep-abstinence and the attitudes towards sleep in Byzantium. Focusing on Greek documentary sources, this book investigates whether Byzantines did indeed practice sleep abstinence or sleep deprivation, and their rationales for curtailing their sleep. Chapters cover the mechanics of sleep in the modern world and in the ancient world, the place of monastic vigil, and the vigil of the laity.

Nik Barkas studied Theology at Athens and Durham Universities and Byzantine History at Queen’s University Belfast under Professor Margaret Mullett. His research interests include classical and Christian attitudes to sleep, the uncorrupt bodies of sinners, early Church History and Byzantine Theology.

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Contributor Biography

Nikolaos Barkas

Nikolaos V. Barkas served as an Orthodox priest in Greece and the UK for ten years prior to his resignation. He holds an MA in Theology from Durham University, an a MA in Byzantine Studies from Queen's University Belfast, and a PhD from the same University. His ministry in the church has given him first-hand experience in the practice of sleep-abstinence.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Acknowledgments (page 9)
  • Abbreviations (page 11)
  • 1. Introduction (page 15)
  • 2. The mechanics of sleep and sleeplessness (page 35)
  • 3. Sleep-abstinence in the Bible and Hellenic world: An overview (page 57)
  • 4. On Sleep and other demons (page 121)
  • 5. The vigil of monks (page 163)
  • 6. The sleep of laity (page 205)
  • 7. The vigil of the laity (page 239)
  • 8. Conclusions (page 285)
  • Bibliography (page 297)
  • Index (page 343)
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