Reading and Acedia: Pre-modern Boredom

by Christian Parreno

The eye of the person afflicted with acedia stares at the doors continuously, and his intellect imagines people coming to visit. The door creaks and he jumps up; he hears a sound, and he leans out of the window and does not leave it until he gets stiff from sitting there. When he reads, the one afflicted with acedia yawns a lot and readily drifts off to sleep; he rubs his eyes and stretched his arms; turning his eyes away from the book, he stares at the wall and again goes back to reading for awhile; leafing through the pages, he looks curiously for the end of texts, he counts the folios and calculates the number of gatherings. Later he closes the book and puts it under his head and falls asleep, but not a very deep sleep, for hunger then rouses his soul and has him show concern for his needs.

Evagrius of Pontus (345-399) Eight Thoughts 6. 14-5.