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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter VII. Of the Sheepskin and the Goatskin.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.

Of the Sheepskin and the Goatskin. 657

The last article of their dress is the goat-skin, which is called melotes, or pera658 and a staff, which they carry in imitation of those who foreshadowed the lines of the monastic life in the Old Testament, of whom the Apostle says: “They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted; of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.” 659 And this garment of goatskin signifies that having destroyed all wantonness of carnal passions they ought to continue in the utmost sobriety of virtue, and that nothing of the wantonness or heat of youth, or of their old lightmindedness, should remain in their bodies.



The melotes (μηλωτής), a sheepskin garment hanging down on one side, was the usual dress of monks. S. Anthony bequeathed his, at his death, to S. Athanasius. Ath. Vita Anton, 91.


Pera can hardly be used here in its ordinary sense of scrip or wallet πήρα. Gazæus suggests that it may be a transcriber’s error for pœnula, while Ducange would read, “quæ melotes appellatur, vel pera, et baculus.” Mr. Sinker, in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities (Vol. II. p. 1619), suggests that possibly the word may be Egyptian.


Heb. 11:37, 38.

Next: Chapter VIII. Of the Staff of the Egyptians.

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