Monasticism and Gallic Gluttony

Sulpicius Severus, Dialogues 1.8:

“’Jerome was, in addition to the merit of his faith and the gift of his virtues, educated not just in Latin and Greek, but even in Hebraic literature, to such an extent that no one would dare to compare themselves to him in any field of knowledge. I would be surprised if he is not known to you through the many works which he has written, since he is read all around the world.’

The Gaul responded to me, ‘Oh, he is all too well known to us. About five years ago I read a certain little book of his, in which the whole nation of our monks is hassled and reproved by him. And a Belgian friend of mine often gets angry because Jerome said that we are accustomed to feed until we vomit. I would give him a pass on it, however, and I think that he was talking more about eastern monks than those in the west, since a fondness for eating is considered gluttony among the Greeks, but among us Gauls it is just nature.’”


uir enim praeter fidei meritum dotemque uirtutum non solum Latinis atque Graecis, sed et Hebraeis litteris ita institutus est, ut se illi in omni scientia nemo audeat conparare. Miror autem, si non et uobis per multa quae scripsit opera conpertus est, cum per totum orbem legatur.

Nobis uero, Gallus inquit,nimium nimiumque conpertus est. nam ante hoc quinquennium quendam illius libellum legi, in quo tota nostrorum natio monachorum ab eo uehementissime uexatur et carpitur. unde interdum  Belgicus noster ualde irasci solet, quod dixerit, nos usque ad uomitum solere satiari. ego autem illi uiro ignosco, adque ita sentio, de orientalibus illum potius monachis quam de occidentalibus disputasse. nam edacitas in Graecis gula est, in Gallis natura.

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