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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 207

The Rule of Saint Benedict, likely written around 530 in Monte Casino, was the first and most influential monastic regulation in the Christian West. Not being a literary work, it does not have characters as such; however, the rule mentions different kinds of monks, who practice different kinds of monasticism. He specifically mentions 1) Cenobites, or those who live in a monastic community under the rule of an abbot; 2) Anchorites, or hermits; 3) the Sarabaites, whom he calls the most detestable because they live according to their pleasures and conform to the rules to their own will; and finally, 4) Vagabonds, or migrant monks who walk the land.

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Benedict's rule was written for Cenobites, whom he calls the most steadfast of the four kinds, but particularly for those monks inhabiting the monasteries he had founded. Given that the code was intended for the administration of monasteries, it names the main positions that monks might hold within a monastery, with corresponding responsibilities and obligations. Positions include an abbot, deans, cellarer, artificer, priest, provost, and porter. He provides a detailed account of the abbot's responsibilities and brief descriptions of the roles of the others. Most of the rule is concerned with the community of monks and, in particular, their conduct and prayer life.

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