Reading about the little Italian isle of Capraia, I've seen a quote attributed to Claudio Rutilio Namaziano, from his De Reditu, that in Latin goes:

"Processu pelagi iam se Capraria tollit; squalet lucifugis insula plena viris."


"Going by sea the Capraia already stands out, a rugged island full of men fleeing the light "

What men fleeing the light was he referring to?

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    Link? Context? Time? What research have you done? Where have you looked? Novel question; wish I had an answer.
    – MCW
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 23:04

1 Answer 1


Rutilius was referring to monks, whom he strongly disapproved of because of their ascetic lifestyle. At the time (late antiquity), the abandonment of wealth and family for an ascetic lifestyle was strongly disapproved of by many Christians, especially among the wealthy elite. Rutilius was most likely a pagan but he shared the view of these Christians.

Rutilius Claudius Namatianus (Claudio Rutilio Namaziano) was a poet of the 5th century AD. In an increasingly Christian Roman world, the scholastic consensus is that Rutilius probably remained a pagan, but the poet's dislike of monks was more to do with

the total renunciation of public life advocated by the ascetics

than with Christianity. Rutilius held high positions under Christian emperors so he would be unlikely to write in a way that would offend those he depended on. In fact,

Many Christian members of the elite had reservations enough about sons and daughters giving away their money and adopting ascetic lifestyle in cities or on family estates....But the danger of desert islands (on top of their prison asociations) was something altogether different....many conservative Christians would have warmly endorsed such hostility to this alarming development.

Alan Cameron, 'The Last Pagans of Rome'

This English translation of de Reditu suo (A Voyage Home to Gaul) provides more context:

As we advance at sea, Capraria now rears itself — an ill-kept isle full of men who shun the light. Their own name for themselves is a Greek one, "monachoi" (monks), because they wish to dwell alone with none to see. They fear Fortune's boons, as they dread her outrages: would anyone, to escape misery, live of his own choice in misery? What silly fanaticism of a distorted brain is it to be unable to endure even blessings because of your terror of ills? Whether they are like prisoners who demand the appropriate penalties for their deeds, or whether their melancholy hearts are swollen with black bile, it was even so that Homer assigned the ailment of excessive bile as cause of Bellerophon's troubled soul; for it was after the wounds of a cruel sorrow that men say the stricken youth conceived his loathing for human kind.

A little further on in de Reditu suo, Rutilius also writes unfavourably about the ascetic lifestyle when passing the island of Gorgon (between Corsica and modern Livorno). He sees the this abandonment of wealth and family as "incomprehensible".

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    Awesome. Really appreciated. I was giving the same explanation after reading something else. So, no vampires!
    – yngabl
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 6:51
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    @yngabl ; well, we lack sources to prove that these monks weren't vampires.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 13:45
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    Brilliant answer! In fact, there are still Christians who disapprove of the monastic life. I once attended a church study day at a CofE convent, and one of my friends nearly fainted when greeted by a nun!
    – TheHonRose
    Commented Aug 13, 2019 at 0:24
  • @TheHonRose No, that was a a case of spheniscophobia, I'm sure.
    – Marakai
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 7:06

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