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The Philokalia is a collection of writings, mostly centering on practicing the virtues and spiritual living in a monastery. In recent decades it has become an important resource for Orthodox Christians, laity and clergy alike, in personal living and has achieved a second place status to Scripture along with John Climacus' The Ladder of Divine Ascent

History of the Compilation

The Philokalia - Greek for "love of the beautiful" - was first assembled at Mount Athos by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and Makarios of Corinth. The first edition was published at Venice in 1782; a second was done at Athens in 1893, which included a prayer by Patriarch Kallistos; and a third at Athens between 1957 and 1963 by the Astir Publishing Company. All the original writings in the Philokalia were written in Greek with the exception of two, which were originally in Latin but then translated in Greek during the time of the Byzantine Empire.

Soon the Philokalia was translated into different languages. In 1793, a Slavonic translation done by Paisii Velichkovskii (1722-1794) was published at Moscow under the title Dobrotolubiye and later reprinted in 1822. This would be the version carried by the unnamed central character in The Way of a Pilgrim and would be responsible for a spiritual revival in 19th century Russia.

Contents of the Philokalia

This listing of texts is based on the English translation, started by Bishop Kallistos Ware, G.E.H. Palmer and Philip Sherrard and published by Faber and Faber Ltd. The fifth volume has yet to be published. While there is no definite date set, it is predicted by the publisher to be made available sometime late in 2005.

Volume 1

  • Isaiah the Solitary
  1. On Guarding the Intellect: 27 Texts
  • Evagrios the Solitary
  1. Outline Teaching on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life
  2. Texts on Discrimination in respect of Passions and Thoughts
  3. Extracts from the Texts on Watchfulness
  4. On Prayer: 153 Texts
  • John Cassian
  1. On the Eight Vices
  2. On the Holy Fathers of Sketis and on Discrimination
  • Mark the Ascetic
  1. On the Spiritual Law: 200 Texts
  2. On Those who Think that They are Made Righteous by Works: 226 Texts
  3. Letter to Nicolas the Solitary
  • Hesychios the Priest
  1. On Watchfulness and Holiness
  • Neilos the Ascetic
  1. Ascetic Discourse
  • Diadochos of Photiki
  1. On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination: 100 Texts
  • John of Karpathos
  1. For the Encouragement of the Monks in India who had Written to Him: 100 Texts
  2. Ascetic Discourse Sent at the Request of the Same Monks in India

There is also an appendix entitled "On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: 170 Texts." Nicodemus attributes it to the model monastic Antony of Egypt; however the language and the general idea is not explicitly Christian. It was included perhaps because it had resonances of Christianity and Nicodemus thought that another work - from Peter of Damascus - quotes from this work and attributes it to Antony. However no such connection can be found.

Volume 2

  • Theodoros the Great Ascetic
  1. A Century of Spiritual Texts
  2. Theoretikon
  • Maximos the Confessor
  1. Four Hundred Texts on Love, with a foreword to Elpidios the Presbyter
  2. Two Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God (written for Thalassios)
  3. Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice
  4. On the Lord's Prayer
  • Thalassios the Libyan
  1. On Love, Self Control, and Life in accordance with the Intellect (written for Paul the Presbyter)
  • John of Damascus
  1. On the Virtues and the Vices
  • A Discourse on Abba Philemon
  • Theognostos
  1. On the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplation and the Priesthood

Volume 3

Volume 4

Information can be found in the English translation of the Philokalia.