199At an earlier Spring Symposium Paul Magdalino drew attention to several highly entertaining texts by John Tzetzes and Eustathios of Thessaloniki, which criticize extreme ascetics as frauds and demand that they be shut up in coenobitic monasteries in order to be disciplined. 1 Magdalino pointed out that such negative attitudes are in stark contrast to the views of earlier generations and then attempted to link their appearance to the social changes that Byzantium underwent in the course of the twelfth century. In this article I will show that negative evaluations of extreme asceticism appeared much earlier, in the middle of the tenth century, and that they became widespread in the eleventh century. Moreover, I will demonstrate that such evaluations did not originate in lay society but in monastic circles, which demanded absolute conformity from all members of coenobitic communities. The new discourse affected all forms of asceticism but I will limit the discussion to fasting practices because here the evidence is particularly good. I will, of course, make use of monastic rules but my focus will be on hagiographical texts because ‘lives’ are more numerous than typika and because they were produced more or less continuously from late antiquity onwards whereas typika only appeared in the tenth century. Moreover, hagiographical texts permit us to gauge the impact of the new discourse. Since they focus on outstanding figures they were long impervious to strict coenobitic ideology. Yet in the tenth and eleventh century several hagiographers felt the need to acknowledge, albeit sometimes grudgingly, the ideal of total conformity. 2