Koevos, common, and (Los, life), one who shares this life of withdrawal with others in a community (see Asceticism and Monasticism).
The idea of priestly asceticism expressed in the celibacy of the clergy belongs also to certain types of heathen and especially Semitic priesthood, to those above all in which the priestly service is held to have a magical or theurgic quality.
This position, we see, can be reached by various paths: the priest may become indispensable through the growth of ritual observances and precautions too complicated for a layman to master, or he may lay claim to special nearness to the gods on the ground, it may be, of his race, or, it may be, of habitual practices of purity and asceticism which cannot be combined with the duties of ordinary life, as, for example, celibacy was required of priestesses of Vesta at Rome.
Then again asceticism sometimes changes into wild libertinism.
A highly sensitive and imaginative child, she very early began to practise asceticism and see visions, and at the age of seven solemnly dedicated her virginity to Christ.
Through the influence of Samuel Wilberforce, he was offered the post of sub-almoner to Queen Victoria, always recognized as a stepping-stone to the episcopal bench, and his refusal of it was honourably consonant with all else in his career as an Anglican dignitary, in which he united pastoral diligence with an asceticism that was then quite exceptional.
St Benedict (c. 500) effected his purpose by a twofold break with the past: he eliminated from the idea of the monastic life the element of Oriental asceticism and extreme bodily austerity; and he put down the tendency, so marked in Egypt and the East, for the monks to vie with one another in ascetical practices, commanding all to live according to the rule.
His parricidal rebellion lay heavy on his conscience; he practised asceticism at intervals, and dreamed of eastern pilgrimages.
That the ascetic life is intrinsically higher, that not every one is called to it, that the call is imperious when it comes, and that asceticism must be developed under Church control - all this may be common to East and West.
In Tannhauser and Lohengrin Wagner's intellectual power develops far more rapidly in the drama than in the music. The Sangerkrieg, with its disastrous conflict between the sincere but unnatural asceticism of the orthodox Minnesingers and the irrepressible human passion of Tannhauser, is a conception the vitality of which would reduce Tannhauser's repentance to the level of Robert le Diable, were it not that the music of the Sangerkrieg has no structural power, and little distinction beyond a certain poetic value in the tones of violas which had long ago been fully exploited by Mozart and Mehul, while the music of Tannhauser's pilgrimage ranks with the Vorspiel to Lohengrin as a wonderful foreshadowing of Wagner's mature style.