Why Did the Demon Come at Noontide? Understanding Acedia in Medieval Monastic Life

Eunju Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Just as most confined communities or institutions, medieval monasteries were problematic places where basic physical and psychological needs were limited. In this research, I designate acedia as a dominant emotion in medieval monastic life. Acedia was often misunderstood as equivalent to modern-day boredom, however, it was a religious sin rather than a temporary emotional state. My focus in this research is not limited to defining what acedia was. Instead, I take notice of several less asked questions on this particular medieval emotion. Why was acedia a deadly sin? Why was it felt at noontide? Why was the meaning of acedia transformed from apathy in solitude to sloth or idleness? To answer these questions, I will demonstrate that acedia was neither sloth nor boredom, but it was an active craving for physical comfort. To comprehend the true nature of acedia, I compare acedia to taedium, melancholy, ennui and boredom. Furthermore, by closely looking at medieval monks’ daily schedule, I attempted to clarify why acedia was felt around noontide. Analysing the monks’ daily life and symptoms of acedia, I carefully suggest that acedia might be connected to anxiety caused by hunger. Throughout my research, new aspects of acedia will be discussed, which will offer a better understanding of the emotion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages9
JournalKodikas/Code An International Journal of Semiotics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • medieval monasteries
  • acedia
  • boredom
  • ennui
  • melancholy
  • taedium
  • daemon meridianus
  • noontide demon
  • deadly sins
  • None

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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