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St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Printable Version

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St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers Being Histories of the Anchorites Recluses Monks Coenobites and Ascetic Fathers of the Deserts of Egypt 
Between A.D. CCL and A.D.CCCC Circiter
Compiled by Athanasius Archbishop of Alexandria Palladius Bishop of Helenopolis Saint Jerome and Others

Now Translated Out Of The Syriac With Notes & Introduction by Ernest A. Wallis Budge M.A:LITT.D : D.LIT Keeper of the Assyrian & Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum


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RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


DURING the winter of 1888 the Vicar of the Chaldean Patriarch at Môsul (Nineveh) was so kind as to shew me some of the Syriac manuscripts in his possession, and among them was a thick oblong quarto volume containing the Lives of the Holy Men by Palladius and St. Jerome. I was familiar with the Syriac MSS. of the Paradise of Palladius in the British Museum, but I had never before seen so lengthy a copy of the work. The manuscript was old, that is to say, it was written probably in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and as it was impossible to buy the volume, it being Church property, I asked permission to have a copy of it made. To this the Vicar assented, and a copy was made in due course and sent to England. On examination it was found to contain the Life of St. Anthony, by Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, the Book of Paradise, by Palladius, the Askêtikon, or History of the Monks of Tabenna, the Histories of the Solitaries of the Desert of Egypt, attributed to St. Jerome, the Sayings of the Fathers, and the Questions and Answers of the Holy Men. In fact the manuscript contained a collection of works which were of the highest importance for the history of the rise and growth of Christian monasticism in Egypt.

In 1893 I published a full description of the contents of the manuscript (see Thomas of Margâ, The Book of Governors, Vol. II, pp. 192–206), and several extracts from it, and it was generally recognized that it contained a copy of the famous Redaction of the Book of Paradise which was made by Ânân-Îshô when he was a monk in the monastery of Bêth Âbhê, probably early in the seventh century. In 1898 my friend Dom Cuthbert Butler published the Prolegomena of his edition of the Greek text of the Paradise of Palladius, and in this work he discussed at length the critical value of my manuscript copy of the Syriac version. Soon after this I made translations of the five works contained in the manuscript, and these appeared, together with the Syriac texts, in two volumes in 1904. The work was not available for the public, being printed for private circulation only.

The number of those who are interested in the history of the Christian monastic movement in Egypt has increased considerably in recent years, and in answer to many requests it was decided to publish a popular edition of the translation of Ânan-Îshô’s great work in a handy form, and at a price which would place it within the reach of every reader. I therefore revised my translation, which had appeared in 1904, by the light of recently acquired manuscripts, and was able to fill up several gaps in the text: the present work is the result. An entirely new introduction has been prepared for this edition, and in it an attempt has been made to indicate the great value and importance of Ânân-Îshô’s Syriac Recension for the study of Christian monasticism in Egypt. It is hoped that this edition may add to the deserved popularity of the Book of Paradise and increase the reputation of Palladius.


British Museum, June 5, 1907.

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


THE principal facts of the life of Palladius we owe to the famous biographer of the monks himself, and nearly all of them are to be found in the History of the Acts of the Holy Fathers, which he dedicated to his patron Lausus, and entitled Paradise. He was born, probably in Galatia (see Vol. I, p. 170), about A. D. 364, but of his family, and of his boyhood and early manhood nothing is known. He appears to have embraced the ascetic life, to a greater or lesser degree, when he was about twenty years of age.

Soon after Palladius became a monk, he went and lived with the “blessed priest Innocent” on the Mount of Olives for a period of three years (386–388). Innocent had formerly been a court official “in the kingdom of the Emperor Constantine,” and he had a son, but he “withdrew himself from marriage” (Vol. I, p. 184) and became a monk. Palladius describes Innocent as a man of most merciful disposition, and he tells us that he used to steal things from the brethren in order to give them to the poor and needy; all the same he considered him to be a man “lacking in sense.” Innocent possessed a small martyrium in which he kept a blessed [relic] of St. John the Baptist, and by means of this he cast out from a young woman a devil which vexed her exceedingly, and caused such writhing and contortions of her body that “when she spat the spittle fell on her side,” instead of away from her.

When Palladius was about twenty-three or twenty-four years of age he visited Alexandria for the first time; this event took place, as he himself tells us (Vol. I, p. 89), in the second Consulate of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, i.e., in 388. Here he met Isidore, the secretary of the hospital which was supported by the Church of Alexandria, who had lived as a monk in Nitria, and was at that time about seventy years of age. Isidore was a wealthy man, and gave large alms to the poor and needy (Vol. I, p. 90), but he fared hardly. He never wore a linen shirt, or put a covering on his head; he never ate meat, never partook of a full meal, seated comfortably at a table, and never washed, yet his body was strong, sound and healthy. With him Palladius lived for a short time, but finding that he required “not the Word only but also the labour of the body, and severe physical exercises, even like the young unbroken animal,” and that he had no great need of doctrine, but did need the power to subdue the passions of his early manhood, he besought Isidore to let him go and live by himself. Isidore granted his request, and then took him to a place about six miles from Alexandria, and placed him in the hands of Dorotheos the Anchorite, who had lived in a cave for sixty years, and had been a friend and associate of St. Anthony in the desert in the days of the Emperor Maximinus [II] (305–314) (Vol. I, p. 93).

Of the manner of the life which this Dorotheos led we obtain a good idea from Palladius (Vol. I, p. 91). He lived on a daily allowance of six ounces of bread, a little bundle of green herbs, and a limited quantity of water. He spent his days in collecting stones in the desert near the sea, and in building cells for the monks who could not build cells for themselves. He did not sleep by day, and he occupied himself during the nights in weaving palm-leaf baskets, from the sale of which he bought his daily bread and herbs. He never laid himself down to sleep on a bed of palm leaves, but slept in snatches as he sat at work, or whilst he was eating his scanty food (Vol. I, p. 92).

When Isidore left Palladius with Dorotheos, he told him to stay with that stern old man for three years so that he might slay his passions, and then to come back to him to receive the completion of his spiritual education. Palladius, however, was unable to complete his period of three years, for the want of sleep and food, and exposure to cold brought on a severe illness, and he was obliged to return to his friend Isidore, who cared for every one but himself. About this time Palladius became acquainted with Didymus of Alexandria, who was at that time eighty years old, and had been blind since the fourth year of his age. In spite of his blindness he was well versed in the Scriptures, and was thoroughly acquainted with the “belief of the truth,” and he “comprehended so deeply all heresies that his knowledge was more excellent than that of many who were before him in the Church” (Vol. I, p. 94). He was a friend of St. Anthony, who visited him three times in his cell. Thus, before he was twenty-five years old Palladius had made the acquaintance of two great monks who had known St. Anthony.

During the three years which followed his return to Isidore, Palladius passed his time in going about from monastery to monastery in the neighbourhood of Alexandria, and he says (Vol. I, p. 99) that he met about “two thousand of the great and strenuous men” who lived in them. After this he departed to Mount Nitria, that is to say, to the district commonly called “Wâdî an-Natrûn,” the “Nitre Valley,” or “Birkat an-Natrûn,” the “Nitre Lake,” which lies between 30° and 31° North Lat., about two days’ journey from the Rosetta arm of the Nile. A tradition which seems to rest on fact asserts that the oldest home of Christian asceticism in Egypt was in this place. Between Nitria and Alexandria lies Lake Mareotis, and having sailed across this in one-and-a-half days, Palladius came to the “Mountain of the Mazaki and Mauritanians.” Here he found a society which consisted of some six hundred monks, who lived either in communities or as solitary dwellers in the mountain, and he stayed in this place for a year. We may note in passing that several of the monks whom he met possessed purely Egyptian names, e.g., Arsisius = Heru-sa Ast, Busiris = Pa-Asar, Petâ-Bast, Serapion = Asar Hapi, etc., and it is probable that they were pure Egyptians. Having learned from these many facts about Ammon and “the first spiritual fathers” who had lived there, he departed to “the inner desert, wherein is Mount Nitria” (Vol. I, p. 99), probably in the year 391, when he was about twenty-five years of age, and he remained there for nine years.

In the inner desert of Nitria, I alladius heard of Hor, who never uttered a lie, or cursed, or swore an oath, and who never spoke except when it was absolutely necessary to do so, but did not see him. Pambo died on the day of the arrival of Palladius in Nitria (Vol. I, p. 103), but many of the sayings of this famous monk have come down to us. Whilst in Nitria Palladius became a a great friend of Macarius the Alexandrian, who was originally a merchant in dried fruits, and of Evagrius of Pontus. The former lived in that portion of the Nitrian Valley which was called “The Cells,” and for three years Palladius enjoyed close intercourse with him, and learned much concerning the true spirit of Egyptian asceticism from him. Macarius lived “a sad, stern life of self-denial,” (Vol. I, p. 117), and could not endure the thought that any monk surpassed him in the exercise of ascetic rigours. On one occasion he heard that the monks in the Monastery of Tabenna did not eat any food which had been cooked by fire during the Forty Days’ Fast of Lent, whereupon he determined that for seven years he would eat nothing which had been cooked by fire, and he carried out his intention to the letter. On hearing that a monk in a certain monastery only ate one pound of bread per day, he reduced his own allowance to four or five ounces of bread, and to water just sufficient to enable him to eat the bread. On another occasion he determined to vanquish sleep, and for twenty days and nights he never took shelter under a roof, but sat in the sun all day. Once he crushed a gnat in his hand and killed it because it had bitten him, therefore, because this act made him despise himself, he went to Scete and sat in the inner desert naked for six months, where the gnats were large and resembled wasps (Vol. I, p. 118). At the end of this time his skin was so bitten and swollen that it was like the hide of an elephant, and when he returned to his cell, the monks only recognized him by his voice.

Yet once again he heard of the great self-denial of the monks of Tabenna, who were under the direction of Pachomius, and having disguised himself as a farm-labourer, he walked in fifteen days to the monastery where, having proved that he could fast for a week at a time, he was admitted. Soon after the season of Lent drew nigh, and he fasted the whole of the forty days, weaving ropes of palm fibre as he did so; on Sundays he ate a few moist cabbage leaves, so that he might pretend that he was taking food. His success, however, betrayed him, for Pachomius knew that none but Macarius could have fasted with such strenuousness for so long a time (Vol. I, p. 121). Though such exercises must have interested Palladius very much, it is quite clear from some of his remarks that both physically and mentally he was unable to emulate them. In connexion with Macarius he tells us that the “chills of fever” came on him at times, and that at others, when weariness of the ascetic life laid hold upon him (Vol. I, p. 124), his thoughts would say to him, “Thou art doing nothing here, get thee gone.”

From the “inner desert” Palladius paid visits to several of the great ascetics, and the details which he gives of their lives are full of interest. On one occasion he went to Scete, a distance of forty miles, and saw and conversed with Pachomius who had lived there for forty years. On another he and Albinus travelled to Scete in company with Nero the Alexandrian, who only ate a meal once every three months (Vol. I, p. 134). Palladius also found his way to that portion of the Nitrian Valley, which was beyond Scete and was called “Klimax”; it was a wild and rugged place, and the nearest drinking water was twelve miles distant. Here dwelt Ptolemy, the Egyptian, who for fifteen years drank nothing but dew which he squeezed out of sponges (Vol. I, p. 136).

Having explored the Nitrian Valley Palladius turned his steps towards the south, and made himself acquainted with the lives of the ascetics who lived there. At Atrêpe, near Akhmîm, he visited the nunnery which had been built by Elijah, a wealthy landowner (Vol. I, p. 142). Elijah’s successor was Dorotheos, who lived in an upper chamber which had no staircase; from this place he kept watch over the nuns, but no woman ever went up to his chamber, and he could not go down to any. At Tabenna Palladius visited the monastery of Pachomius, whose rule he describes at some length (Vol. I, p. 144). At Antinoë he found twelve nunneries, in one of which he found the aged nun Talîdâ and her sixty virgins (Vol. I, p. 153). At Lycus he visited John, who had received the gift of prophecy, which he demonstrated on several important occasions. This famous recluse was an object of great interest to the followers of Origen, and especially to Evagrius, who was the most intimate friend of Palladius at this time. One day he heard Evagrius say that he desired greatly to find out what manner of man John was, but that it was impossible for him to go to visit him because he lived so far away. Palladius said nothing at the time, but after pondering the matter for two days, he committed himself to God, and set out for the Thebaïd. His journey occupied eighteen days, on some of which he walked, and on others he sailed in a boat. The season of the year was the beginning of the Egyptian summer, when the Nile was rising, and many folk were falling sick (Vol. I, p. 170), and Palladius himself suffered from illness. At length he arrived at Lycus, and at the proper time obtained speech with John, who convinced him that he could read his thoughts, and understand the things which were passing in his mind. John knew that Palladius was anxious to leave the desert, and also that he was afraid for various reasons to do so, and he told him to remain in the desert, and to quench his desire to return to his kinsfolk, for his father would live for another seven years (Vol. I, p. 171).

In reply to John’s question, “Wishest thou to become a bishop?” Palladius replied that he had already been made the “bishop of the public eating houses, and of the taverns, and of tables, and of wine pots. My visiting,” he continued, “is my episcopate, and it is the love of the belly and gluttony which hath made me the visitor of these.” To these jesting words John made answer, “Quit jesting, for a bishop thou needs must be, and thou wilt have to labour, and to be troubled greatly; now if thou wishest to flee from tribulations and trials go not forth from the desert, for in the desert no man will make thee a bishop.” This prophecy was uttered about 397. Of the period between this year and that wherein he left Nitria to go southwards he spent four years in Antinoë (Vol. I, p. 180), where he found a society of about twelve hundred monks. Here also he met the famous cave-dwellers, Solomon, Dorotheos the priest, Diocles the grammarian and philosopher, and Kapitôn.

How far to the south Palladius travelled is not quite certain, but it is clear that he visited all the chief settlements of the monks in Upper Egypt. Three years after his visit to John of Lycus, which probably took place in 394 (Butler, Lausiac History, p. 182), he was overtaken by a severe illness caused by his kidneys and stomach, and the brethren, fearing that he was becoming dropsical, sent him to Alexandria. Shortly before his return to this city he seems to have been present at the death of Evagrius of Pontus, who died in the year 400, aged fifty-four years (Vol. I, p. 222; Butler, Lausiac History, p. 181). The account of this monk’s career is one of the most interesting in the Book of Paradise, and it is easy to see that Palladius regarded him with great admiration and affection. The two men had passed several years together in the “inner desert,” at the place called “The Cells,” and Palladius tells us that his friend lived upon a daily allowance of one pound of bread, that a “box of oil” lasted him three months, that he lived by the labour of his hands, that he prayed one hundred prayers each day, and that he spent the rest of his time in writing books (Vol. I, p. 225).

When Palladius arrived in Alexandria the physicians advised him to leave the city and to go to Palestine, where the air was lighter and purer; and, in obedience to their counsel, he departed thither.

It seems that Palladius next made his way to Bethlehem, and lived there for a year with Possidonius the Theban, at a place beyond the Monastery of the Shepherds, which was near the town. Possidonius was a man of amiable disposition, and Palladius declares (Vol. I, p. 173) that he did not recollect ever meeting any other man in whom the qualities of patience, endurance and goodness were so highly developed. Possidonius, apparently, loved living alone, and on one occasion he said that he had not seen a man nor heard human speech for a whole year; his food was of the simplest, for he lived on the insides of palm leaves soaked in water, and wild honey whenever he could get it. For forty years he never ate bread, and he never allowed the sun to set upon his wrath. Whilst Palladius lived near Bethlehem he became acquainted with St. Jerome, whom he describes as a learned and eloquent man and one skilled in the Latin tongue; but he declares that his great abilities were obscured by the vices of “envy and evil-eyedness,” which he possessed to an extraordinary degree (Vol. I, p. 174). Because of his envy, none of the holy men would live in those districts.

From Bethlehem Palladius went to Jerusalem, where, no doubt, he found one of the numerous companies of ascetics from the monasteries, who were entertained by that famous woman Melania the Great, and by the Italian nobleman, Rufinus of Aquileia, her friend. The praise which Palladius bestows upon Melania and Rufinus is very great, and it is evident that he knew both of them well, and there is little doubt that the kindness and graciousness of these distinguished Christians and their kinsfolk had a considerable effect upon his character and disposition. We know from his own testimony that he travelled from Ælia to Egypt by way of Pelusium in company with Melania and “the gentle virgin Sylvania, the sister of Rufinus” (Vol. I, p. 159); and this being so, it follows, almost of necessity, that he was no ferocious, fanatical monk, to whom the companionship of women was an abominable thing. As Palladius had lived for a whole year with the gentle Possidonius, and he speaks of him with the warmth of a true friend, it seems justifiable to assume that he was himself a man of amiable and sympathetic nature, and one to whom the pathos of the ascetic life appealed more than its grim majesty.

A little later [400?] he passed over into Bithynia, where, as he says (Vol. I, p. 172), “for what reason I know not, whether by the care and solicitude of men, or whether by the Will of God, Who is exalted above all things, I was held to be worthy of the laying on of hands for the episcopacy, which was far above my deserts.” Thus we see that the prophecy of John of Lycus was fulfilled. Palladius tells us that when he returned to the desert from Lycus he related to the fathers what John had said, and that then he forgot all about it. Curiously enough, Palladius does not say who ordained him, neither does he give us the name of his see, but there is little doubt that it was St. John Chrysostom who ordained him, and that his see was Helenopolis, which was formerly called Drepanum.

In May of the year 400 Palladius was present at the Synod held at Constantinople, and very soon afterwards “he became an associate in the trial which rose up against the blessed John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople” (Vol. I, p. 172). In July, 403, Chrysostom appeared in the church of a suburb of Chalcedon to answer before a council of thirty-six bishops a series of charges which had been formulated against him by John the Archdeacon and Isaac the monk. The chief offence with which he was charged was that he had spoken words against the Empress Eudoxia, whom he was declared to have likened to Jezebel. After much unseemly wrangling Chrysostom was condemned by his enemies unanimously, and he was deposed, the Emperor confirming the decree of the council, and ordering him to be banished. Three days later Chrysostom surrendered to the Emperor’s soldiers, and he was carried to a vessel and sent to Hieron at the mouth of the Euxine. Within a few days, however, he was brought back in triumph to Constantinople, in response to letters from the Emperor Arcadius and the Empress Eudoxia, who had been frightened out of their wits by a severe shock of earthquake which was felt in the city on the night following his departure to Hieron. In September, 403, Chrysostom fell again under the displeasure of Eudoxia, and in June of the year following Arcadius decreed his banishment to Cucusus, a mountain on the border of Cilicia. It was most likely about this time that Palladius was “secluded for a period of about eleven months in a dark cell” (Vol. I, p. 172), wherein he probably hid himself to escape the fury of the triumphant enemies of his friend John Chrysostom.

Some authorities think that at this time he betook himself to a river valley near Jericho, where a large number of ascetics lived in the rock-hewn caves, the making of which tradition assigned to those who fled from before Joshua, the son of Nun. In one of these dwelt Elpidius the Cappadocian, who practised the habits of a strict asceticism, and was eventually ordained priest. This man only ate food on Saturdays and Sundays, and he was wont to rise up many times during the night to pray. With him, for a time, lived Palladius (see Vol. I, p. 185), and from the description which he gives of this wonderful man it is clear that he regarded him with affection and admiration. Palladius tells us that Elpidius possessed power over noxious reptiles, and that on one occasion, whilst he was reading the service for the night, a scorpion stung him; without shewing the least sign of pain, and without leaving his place, or making any break in his reading, Elpidius put forth his hand and crushed the scorpion. Such an incident could not fail to impress the imagination of Palladius, and he must have felt that the holy man possessed the power which would enable him to “put his hand on the cockatrice’s den,” and to draw it away unharmed.

In 405 we find that Palladius had succeeded in escaping with other fugitives to Rome at the time when Innocent, Bishop of Rome, was enquiring into the appeal which had been made to him by many friends on behalf of Chrysostom. As the result of this enquiry Innocent annulled the deposition of Chrysostom, and declared that the council of hostile bishops who had condemned him was irregular. Whilst in Rome Palladius and his companions were entertained by Pinianus, who received them “with the greatest good will, and supplied them with provisions for the way in great abundance, and they sent them on their way in joy and gladness” (Vol. I, p. 163). From Rome Palladius journeyed to Constantinople in company with the members of the mission sent by Honorius to Arcadius, asking that a general council should be convened to investigate the charges brought against Chrysostom. When Palladius arrived in Constantinople he and his companions were treated with great harshness; each of them was condemned to solitary confinement, and every effort was made to induce them to break their adherence to the views of Chrysostom. The friends of Chrysostom, however, stood firm, and finally, as the result of an imperial decree, all were banished. The place of banishment chosen for Palladius was Syene, and on his way thither his journey was made as unpleasant as possible by the petty spite and malice of the imperial servants; he was not allowed to have a servant, and his notes and writing tablets were taken away from him by force. How long he remained at Syene, or in its neighbourhood, cannot be said, but it is tolerably certain that between 406 and 412 he spent four years at Antinoë, and also some time in the monastery at Akhmîm and neighbouring towns. Some authorities think that he may have been allowed to end his exile in Egypt on the death of Theophilus, the bitter foe of Chrysostom, which took place in 412, and it is probable that he travelled about Galatia and visited Ancyra between 412 and 420, the year in which he wrote the Book Paradise. According to Socrates he was translated to the see of Aspuna, in Galatia Prima; this event happened probably in 417. How long he remained there cannot be stated, but he certainly died before 431, for the bishop of Aspuna in that year was called Eusebius.

As to the period of his life in which Palladius wrote the book Paradise there is, fortunately, no difficulty, for in his Counsels to Lausus (Vol. I, p. 82) he says that at the time of writing he had lived a life of rule and had been in a monastery of solitary brethren until the thirty-third year of his age, and that after that he served the office of Bishop for twenty years. He was therefore fifty-three years of age when he wrote the book Paradise, and as he was ordained Bishop in 400, he produced his work in 420.

Nowhere in Paradise does he tell us anything about his parents or family, though in his “further remarks” (Vol. I, p. 315), he speaks of “my beloved brother, who hath lived with me from my youth up until this day.” It is, however, a little uncertain whether he refers to an actual or to a monastic brother. In praising his manner of life he remarks that, “he never arrayed himself in fine and costly apparel,” and this seems to suggest that the brother was a man of some fortune. Moreover, as this brother, “in his coming in and going out, walked through one hundred and six cities (or provinces) several times, and in the greater number of them tarried for some time,” we must assume that he possessed means sufficient to allow him to travel wheresoever he pleased. On the whole, we may conclude that the parents of Palladius were people of some standing, and that they could afford to give him money enough to travel from place to place in comfort. That he was never a very robust man is proved by the fact that he was unable to serve his term of three years with Dorotheos of Thebes, and by the allusions to the sickness and fever which attacked him when travelling, and to the troubles caused by his kidneys and stomach, which eventually compelled him to forsake the desert and to go to Palestine. On the other hand, it must be confessed that few young men of gentle bringing up could emulate successfully Dorotheos, who lived on dry bread and wandered about in the sun all day on the seashore collecting stones for building, or could endure the hardship of walking for days at a time, to say nothing of the heat by day, the chills by night, rough lodgings, and rough food which could only be obtained at irregular intervals.

ii. The Book “Paradise”

THE book Paradise was composed by Palladius in the year 420 at the request of Lausus, a man who held high rank at Constantinople, and who is generally thought to have been a chamberlain of the Emperor Theodosius II, who ascended the throne in 408; for this reason the work was called the Lausiac History of Palladius. According to some authorities, Lausus, the friend of Palladius, is to be identified with “Lausus præpositus,” who received the lady Melania when she visited Constantinople about 435. Be this as it may, the friend of Palladius was, as we know from his testimony (Vol. I, p. 79), a man whose mind was “full of doctrine, whose habits were those of a lover of peace, who feared God in his heart and loved Christ in his mind,” and elsewhere (Vol. I, p. 80) he describes him as the “ornament of this believing and God-fearing kingdom,” and the “true friend and servant of God.” Nowhere does Palladius tell us what the bond was which united him in friendship with Lausus, or why the great court official entreated him to write down the histories of the lives of the Fathers of the Egyptian desert, and of other holy men. To guess at the origin of their friendship is useless, and whatever his motive may have been in urging Palladius to compile his histories, the thanks of every student of religion is due to Lausus as being the immediate cause of the production of a work which gives a true account of the origin and development of one of the most remarkable phases of Christianity which the world has ever seen.

In the brief account of the book Paradise which will be given in the following paragraphs, no attempt will be made to consider the difficulties which exist in connexion with the investigation of the original Greek text of the work, or to outline the chronological sequence of the versions which are based upon it. A general discussion of these matters will be found in Dom Cuthbert Butler’s Lausiac History (Cambridge, 1898), and in the learned notes which he has appended to his critical edition of the Greek text published at Cambridge in 1904. These works contain an honest description of the difficulties which have beset the paths of earlier editors and translators of Paradise, together with solutions of many of them. As the result of the scholarship, clear thought and well-balanced judgement which Dom Cuthbert Butler has bestowed upon Paradise, Palladius stands forth with an enhanced reputation, and the reader may once and for all rest assured that he is perusing the work of a man who described truthfully the things which he had seen and the men whom he had known.

The translations of Paradise and of the Sayings of the Fathers collected by Palladius, which are printed in the following pages, are made from the fullest Syriac versions of these works known to us, namely, those which we owe to Rabban Ânân-Îshô, a monk who flourished in Northern Mesopotamia in the latter half of the sixth and the first half of the seventh century. Of this man we possess a tolerably full account, written by Thomas, Bishop of Margâ, about A. D. 840 (see The Book of Governors, ed. Budge. 2 vols. London, 1893). Writing in this work (Book II, chap. xi), Thomas says:

It is not right that the glorious memory of the holy Abbâ Ânân-Îshô should drop from our mind, or that we should suppress the mention of his indefatigable zeal; on the contrary, let us place his noble acts among [those of] his companions, for happiness at the right hand of our Lord Christ is laid up for him with them. Now this blessed man, and his brother Îshô-Yahbh, came from the country of Adiabene. They were both trained in doctrine in the city of Nisibis, being children of the school and household of the blessed Mâr Îshô-Yahbh. They became disciples in the Great Monastery [of Mount Îzlâ, about ten miles from Nisibis], as the books which belonged to them [and are now] in the library of this monastery (i.e., Bêth Âbhê) testify, for they show that they were written by their hands there. Now Ânân-Îshô, having lived the life of an ascetic with all excellence, and having had his mind constantly fixed upon the works of the ascetic fathers, determined to go and worship in Jerusalem. And from there he went to the desert of Scete, where he learned concerning all the manner of the lives of the ascetic fathers, whose histories and questions are written in books, and concerning their dwellings and the places in which they lived. And when he turned to come back he made his journey by way of [the place of] holy Mâr John, the Bishop of the Scattered, of whom I have made mention a little way back, that he might be blessed by his holiness and enjoy his conversation. And after he had come to his own monastery (i.e., Mount Îzlâ) he took his brother, and they came to this monastery (i.e., Bêth Âbhê) by reason of the annoyance and contention which had taken place there, for certain slanderous men who had set themselves against holy men, had risen up there, and they drove out the holy Rabban Narsai, the disciple of Mâr Bâbhai, who finally became head of the monastery and was renowned for a life of excellence.

Now when they came to this monastery, and were living in silence, according to the rule of ascetics, Rabban Ânân-Îshô, the wise of understanding, laboured so hard in the study of books that he surpassed all who were before and after him in his knowledge. And when Mâr Îshô-yahbh was Metropolitan of Arbel and wished to draw up in order a book of the Canons that he might send copies of it to all the countries of his patriarchate, he made the wise Ânân-Îshô, the love of whom is very dear and sweet to me, to sit with him during the drawing up of the Canons, because he had composed Institutes and Rules, and because he found that he alone possessed, in a sufficient measure, a clear mind and a natural talent for the art of music and a knowledge of how to arrange words.

“And the noble Ânân-Îshô composed Definitions and Divisions of various things, which were written upon the walls of his cell. And when his brother Mâr Îshô-yahbh came to pray in this monastery (i.e., Bêth Âbhê), and saw the divisions of the science of philosophy of his brother, Ânân-Îshô, he begged him to write a commentary on them for him, and to send it to him, which Ânân-Îshô actually did. And he wrote to him a clear exposition in many lines, from which will be apparent, to every one who readeth therein, the greatness of his wisdom; now the title of the work is, ‘A Letter which a Brother wrote to his Brother.…’ He also wrote a work on the correct pronunciation of the words, and of the difficult words which are used with different significations in the writings of the Fathers; a copy of this work exists among the books in the library of this monastery, and it surpasses all other collations in its accuracy.”

The above extract is of great interest, for it proves that Ânân-Îshô, who edited the Syriac version of Paradise which is translated in these volumes, prepared himself for his great work by visiting the Scete desert, in order that he might see for himself the conditions under which the monks lived, and the dwellings and places wherein they abode. Knowledge, at first hand, and experience went side by side with great learning and literary skill, and the more his translation is studied, the greater its accuracy is found to be.

A little further on in his Book of Governors (Bk. II, chap. xv) Thomas, Bishop of Margâ, gives us some details of the “Compilation of the Book which was called Paradise.” From these we learn that Ânân-Îshô undertook this work as a result of an order which he received from the Patriarch Mâr George. Having asked for the “Prayers of Mâr Catholicus and of the holy old men of his congregation, he began and finished the command wherewith he had been commanded. And with an enlightened mind and a wise understanding—especially as the Spirit had manifested in him the efficacy of His gifts—he arranged and grouped together in smooth order (i.e., consecutively), 615 ‘Heads’ (or Chapters), in Canons and Sections, [with] each ‘Head’ a ‘Question’ giving information concerning the subject matter of the ‘Head’ which preceded it. So that if a brother was labouring in any [spiritual] warfare whatsoever, and he wished to pluck consolation or to take counsel on the matter which was troubling him, he might find it close at hand. And the Counsels were arranged and classified according to the subject matter, so that he might very quickly be consoled in his tribulation, and find relief, and might also lay a soothing plaster on the wound which was causing him pain.”

“And besides these [615 ‘Heads’] there were 430 others, which would give a man information in general upon all kinds of spiritual excellence, and there were many others which he did not arrange in numerical order, and which he did not group or classify. And he took from the ‘Commentary’ on the blessed Matthew, the Evangelist, the Discourse which was composed by Mâr John [Chrysostom] on the praises of the monks who were in Egypt, and the Questions of the blessed Mâr Abraham of Nephthar, and demonstrations and other histories which he himself had collected from the writings of the Fathers.”

“And he arranged the whole book [Paradise] in two Parts. In the First Part were the Histories of the Holy Fathers, which were composed by Palladius and Hieronymus (Jerome), and in the Second Part were the Questions and Narratives (or Matters) of the Fathers, which he had arranged and classified. And he called this Book Paradise and under this name hath it been handed down and accepted in all the monasteries of the East, and the Fathers in every place have praised his ability and applauded his work.”

It may be mentioned in passing that the word “Paradise” means “garden,” and there is no doubt that Palladius intended to suggest to his readers that his compilation resembled a spiritual garden, the flowers of which were the Histories of the famous monks which he had collected therein, just as the monks themselves were the flowers of the Garden of God.

Prefixed to the translations of Paradise and the Sayings of the Fathers printed in these volumes will be found a rendering of the Syriac version of a Life of St. Anthony, which is attributed to Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria. This work is of very great interest, and it is of considerable importance for the study of Christian monasticism in Egypt. The original was written in Greek, but the Greek text now extant is different from that used by the translator into Syriac (Butler, Lausiac History, p. 227; Schulthess, Probe einer syrischen Version der Vita S. Antonii, Leipzig, 1894). Many authorities have denied the authenticity of this Life of St. Anthony, but there is really no good reason why Athanasius should not have taken part in the preparation of some portions of the work, or in its revision, and until proof is brought forward that such a thing is impossible, we shall be justified in believing that the framework of the narrative is historical. The character of St. Anthony, as drawn by the author of the Life in the form wherein we now have it, is wholly lovable, and it is easy to understand how the words and deeds of the great monk drew all men to him. His manner of life was as simple and as strenuously ascetic as it could well be, and yet his manners towards all men were kind and gentle. He ate bread and salt, and drank water only, and on certain occasions passed three or four days, and sometimes whole weeks, without eating (Vol. I, p. 12). He passed most nights in vigil, and when he slept his bed was a palm-leaf mat. He never used oil and he never washed. He wore an untanned leather garment with the hair next his skin (Vol. I, pp 40, 73), and he slept, when an old man, with a skin covering over him. Before his death he gave his leather tunic to Athanasius, and his leather coat to Bishop Serapion. He remained healthy to the last, and his eyesight failed not, and not a tooth dropped from his head; he died aged 105 years. Before his death he ordered the brethren to bury him in a grave, and not to embalm him, for, said he, [“there shall I be] until the Resurrection of the Dead, when I shall receive this body without corruption” (Vol. I, p. 73). He spoke Egyptian, and knew neither Greek nor Latin, but his speech was dignified, austere, pungent and “seasoned with salt”; his mind was alert, and his shrewdness and sagacity won the admiration of the crowds of ascetics of all kinds who visited him. Though kind to all, and gracious even to those with whose opinions he disagreed, his quick intelligence enabled him to defeat the worldly-wise in argument, and to shew the superiority of his religion over that of the pagan philosophers who propounded problems to him. His disposition was happy, and his faith in God as firm as a rock; no devil, fiend, or phantom could undermine his trust in the goodness of God, and no wickedness of man made him to doubt it. We hear nothing of his torturing his body, as was the custom of later monks; nevertheless he was willing to suffer hardship, imprisonment, and even martyrdom, if by so doing he might help his fellow man. During the persecution of Maximinus he left the desert and went into Alexandria, and visited the prisons and ministered to the wants of the blessed confessors who were shut up there. He comforted those who were condemned to hard labour in the mines in the Sûdân, and those who were to be banished to the islands, and those on whom the sentence of death had been passed, and he went in and out among the prisoners fearlessly. At length the governor heard of him and his ministrations, and ordered that he should in future be kept out of the city. In spite of this prohibition he made his way into the judgement hall of the governor, intending, no doubt, to make a vigorous protest against his treatment of the confessors. His friends, however, saw him there, “and prevented him that day from appearing before the judge,” and thus he escaped certain condemnation.

We may now proceed to the consideration of the contents of the First Part of Ânân-Îshô’s Syriac recension of the book Paradise. After the Epistle to Lausus, the high official at whose request the original work was compiled, we have a description of the plan of Paradise and a series of “Counsels” to Lausus, and then comes the first history, namely, that of:

Book I

1. ISIDORE, who had been a monk in Nitria, and died fifteen years after Palladius met him, aged 85 years. With his sisters lived a company of about seventy nuns. His history is followed by those of:

2. DOROTHEOS, who lived in a cave for sixty years.

3. POTAMIAENA, the virgin, who was boiled to death at Alexandria in a cauldron of bitumen by the order of the prefect Basilides.

4. DIDYMUS. He was a friend of St. Anthony, who had visited him in his cell thrice, and he received through the Spirit the news of the death of Julian the Apostate on the very day on which he died. He was 80 years of age when Palladius met him.

5. ALEXANDRA of Alexandria, who shut herself up in a tomb and saw neither man nor woman for twelve years. Her history was told to Palladius by Melania.

6. The AVARICIOUS VIRGIN, who gave Macarius 500 dînârs to buy emeralds and jewels; he spent the money on the sick poor.

7. The MONKS OF NITRIA. Palladius mentions the monks Petâ-Bast, Arsisius, Chronius, and Serapion, and describes the life led by the monks there.

8. AMMÔN, one of the early monks of Nitria, who died aged 62 years.

9. HOR, a monk of Nitria, who died before Palladius came there.

10. PAMBO, who died on the day of the arrival of Palladius in Nitria, aged 70 years. Palladius received his history from Melania, Ammonius, and Origen, the priest and steward.

11. AMMONIUS, the Tall Brother, the disciple of Pambo. He cut off his left ear to prevent the brethren from making him a bishop; and he never ate any food which had been cooked by fire.

12. BENJAMIN, of Nitria, the physician, who died of dropsy; he was 80 years old when Palladius visited him.

13. APOLLONIUS the merchant, who lived in Nitria for twenty years, and purchased with the money he earned necessaries for the 5,000 brethren who dwelt in the mountain.

14. PAESIUS and ISAIAH, the sons of a merchant, who spent all their money in charity.

15. MACARIUS [the Younger], the “Child of his Cross,” who lived for three years in the open desert, and for twenty-five in a cell.

16. NATHANIEL, who died fifteen years before Palladius visited Nitria. He lived for thirty-seven years in his cell, and never passed outside its door.

17. MACARIUS the Egyptian, who lived in the desert for sixty years, and died aged 90; he is said to have raised a man from the dead.

18. MACARIUS the Alexandrian, who was famous for his fasting and vigils, and self-abnegation; some of his cells had no windows, and at one time he walked about in the desert carrying a basket with two or three bushels of sand in it on his shoulders. He performed many cures, and worked miracles.

19. PAUL THE SIMPLE, who became a disciple of St. Anthony when he was 80 years of age (Butler’s Greek text, chap. 22).

20. PACHOMIUS of Scete; he was 70 years of age when visited by Palladius (Greek text, chap. 23).

21. STEPHEN the Libyan, who dwelt in the desert for sixty years (Greek text, chap. 24).

22. VALENS the Palestinian, who went mad, and was put in fetters for a year by the fathers (Greek text, chap. 25).

23. HERO the Alexandrian, who became a drunkard and whoremonger, but returned to the desert, repented, and died (Greek text, chap. 26).

24. PTOLEMY the Egyptian, who dwelt in the portion of the Scete desert called “Klimax” for fifteen years, and went mad (Greek text, chap. 27).

25. ABRAHAM the Egyptian (Greek text, chap. 53).

26. A VIRGIN in Jerusalem, who fell (Greek text, chap. 28).

27. A VIRGIN in Caesarea, who fell. A fuller form of this history is given in chapter 29.

28. A certain VIRGIN, who fell (Greek text, chap. 69).

29. A VIRGIN in Caesarea, who fell (Greek text, chap. 70).

30. THAIS, or THAISIS, the harlot. According to the Syriac version of this chapter Thais, the harlot, was converted by Abbâ Bessarion. She burnt all her possessions, and was introduced by Bessarion into “a religious house of sisters” (Vol. I, p. 141), where she lived on one pound of dry bread daily and water for a period of three years. At the end of this time Bessarion went and asked St. Anthony whether God had forgiven her her sins or not, and Anthony told his monks to shut themselves up in their cells all night in order that the matter might be revealed concerning which Bessarion had applied to him. After a long time Paul, the disciple of Anthony, saw a vision in the heavens of a splendid couch with a crown of glory laid thereon, and three angels with three lamps standing by its side. Paul thought that the couch was prepared for Anthony, but a voice came to him from heaven, saying, “This couch is not for Anthony, thy father, but for Thais, the harlot.” When Bessarion heard the news of the vision from Paul, he returned to Thais and told her that God had forgiven her her sins. Fifteen days afterwards she died. In Book II, chap. 36 of the Syriac version (see Vol. I, p. 268) will be found the story of the conversion of a harlot by Abbâ Serapion, but it differs in many respects from the story of Bessarion and the harlot. Now according to the Greek versions of this history the monk who converted Thais was called Paphnutius, or Serapion (see F. Nau, Histoire de Thaïs, in Annales du Musée Guimet, Tome trentième, pt. iii, Paris, 1903), and some authorities identify this Serapion with “Serapion of the Girdle.” In 1899–1900 M. Gayet carried out a series of excavations on the site of Antinoë, and in the course of his work discovered the tomb of a woman which contained baskets made of plaited reeds, a chaplet made of wood and ivory, an object in the form of the ancient Egyptian symbol for “life” (ānkh, the crux ansata), palm branches, and a rose of Jericho. In the tomb, roughly traced in red ink, was the inscription:




which proved that it was the resting place of the “Blessed Thais.” In a neighbouring tomb was found a fragment of pottery, on which were inscribed the words:



which prove that the occupant was called “Serapion.” We knew that Thais, the harlot, was buried in Egypt, and there are fairly good reasons for believing that Serapion of the Girdle was buried there also. This being so, some have not hesitated to think that the Thais and Serapion whose tombs were excavated by M. Gayet, are to be identified with Thais, the harlot, and Serapion, who converted her. On the other hand, M. Gayet’s words (L’Exploration des Nécropoles Gréco-Byzantines d’Antinoë, in Annales du Musée Guimet, tome xxx, Part. II, Paris, 1902), are to be well considered: La question a été controversée; je me bornerai à redire ce que je n’ai cessé de répéter à ceux qui m’ont questionné à ce sujet: ‘Je n’ai “ ‘aucun document me permettant d’identifier Thaïs d’Antinoë ‘à la Thaïs historique; je n’en ai aucun, non plus, m’autorisant à nier la possibilité de cette identification.’ ” It seems, then, that the identification is not at present certain, but it is difficult not to wish that the bodies of the man and woman who now lie side by side in the Musée Guimet, may eventually prove to be those of the famous monk and the woman whom he converted.

31. ELIJAH of Atrêpe (Athribis) near Akhmîm, the builder of a nunnery (Greek text, chap. 29).

32. DOROTHEOS, who lived in an upper chamber.

33. PACHOMIUS the Great, of Tabenna, the Abbot of 1,300 monks, and the nuns (Greek text, chaps. 32–34).

34. The VIRGIN who hid Athanasius (Greek text, chap. 63).

35. PIAMON the Virgin (Greek text, chap. 31).

36. EMMÂ TALÎDÂ, the old woman of Antinoë (Greek text, chap. 59).

37. TAOR the Virgin (Greek text, chap. 59).

38. COLLUTHUS the Virgin (Greek text, chap. 60).

39. The VIRGIN and the MAGISTRIANUS, who was thrown to the beasts in her stead (Greek text, chap. 65).

40. MELANIA THE ELDER. She lived in exile for thirty-seven years (Greek text, chaps. 46 and 54).

41. MELANIA THE YOUNGER (Greek text, chap. 61). PAMMACHIUS (Greek text, chap. 62).

42. OLYMPIAS, daughter of Seleucus (Greek text, chap. 56).

43. CANDIDA, who lived on dry bread dipped in vinegar (Greek text, chap. 57).

44. GELASIA (Greek text, chap. 57).

45. JULIANA, who received Origen (Greek text, chap. 64).

46. HERONION and his wife BOSPHORIA (Greek text, chap. 66).

47. MAGNA (Greek text, chap. 67).

48. MISERICORS the monk (Greek text, chap. 68).

49. JOHN OF LYCUS, who foretold that Palladius would be made a bishop (Greek text, chap. 35).

50. POSSIDONIUS the Theban, who possessed the gift of prophecy (Greek text, chap. 36).

51. CHRONIUS of Tomârtâ, the priest, who lived in the desert for sixty years (Greek text, chap. 47).

52. JAMES THE LAME and PAPHNUTIUS KEPHALA (Greek text, chap. 47).

53. SOLOMON of Antinoë (Greek text, chap. 58).

54. DOROTHEOS of Antinoë (Greek text, chap. 58).

55. DIOCLES of Antinoë (Greek text, chap. 58).

56. KAPITON of Antinoë (Greek text, chap. 58).

57. The MONK who fell.

58. EPHRAIM of Edessa, who made an open-air hospital (Greek text, chap. 40).

59. INNOCENT of the Mount of Olives (Greek text, chap. 44).

60. ELPIDIUS of Jericho (Greek text, chap. 48).

ÆNESIUS (Greek text, chap. 48).

61. EUSTATHIUS (Greek text, chap. 48).

62. SISINNIUS (Greek text, chap. 49).

63. GADDAI (Gaddanus) (Greek text, chap. 50).

64. ELIJAH (Greek text, chap. 51).

65. SABAS of Jericho (Greek text, chap. 52).

66. SERAPION of the Girdle (Greek text, chap. 37).

67. EULOGIUS and the Crippled Arian (Greek text, chap. 21).

Book II

1. MARK the mourner.

2. PAUL, the prince of monks, who died at the age of 113 years, when St. Anthony was 90 years old.


4. History of AN OLD MAN IN SCETE.


6. History of THE DISCIPLE of a certain old man.

7. History of PETER, a disciple.

8. History of A DISCIPLE.

9. ADOLIUS of Tarsus (Greek text, chap. 43).

10. MOSES the Indian (Greek text, chap. 19).

11. PÎÔR (Greek text, chap. 39).

12. MOSES the Libyan.


14. EVAGRIUS (Greek text, chap. 31).

15. MALCHUS of Mârônîa.

16. TWO FATHERS who went naked.

16a. An OLD MAN who went naked.

17. An OLD MAN who fed with the beasts.

18. An OLD MAN who lived forty-nine years in the desert.

19. A MONK who fed on grass by the Jordan.


21. The YOUNG MEN who were with Macarius.

22. BESSARION, who went naked during the frost.

23. BESSARION’S acts.

24. The HOLY MAN with nine virtues.

25. MARIA, who assumed a monk’s attire.


27. TWO BRETHREN in a Persian Monastery.


29. STEPHÂNÂ of Scete.

30. EUCARPUS, who went mad and reviled Evagrius.


32. A BISHOP who fell into fornication and repented.

33. The neighbour of POEMEN.


35. An OLD MAN in Scete.

36. SERAPION and the Harlot (see Vol. I, p. 140).

37. The HARLOT whom a subdeacon drove out of the Church.

38. APOLLO of Scete.

39. COSMAS of Mount Sinai.

40. MACARIUS, who was accused of committing fornication.

41. The OLD MAN who thought that Melchisedek was the Son of God.

42. MACARIUS, the disciple of Mâr Anthony.

43. MARK the Less.

44. PAULE the Simple, the disciple of St. Anthony.

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


IN approaching the consideration of Christian monasticism in Egypt, it will be well to remember that the more the ancient religions of the world are studied, the plainer it is that in all ages, both in Asia and Africa, certain kinds of men have, for various reasons, devoted themselves to a life of asceticism which was more or less severe. It is foreign to our purpose to adduce detailed proofs of this statement here, and it is unnecessary, for anyone who will take the trouble to read the history of the leaders of the great religious movements which have taken place in China, and India, and Western Asia, and also the literature of ancient Egypt, cannot fail to be convinced of this fact. Men who were tired of the world, or who had experienced great disappointments, or who wished to impress their views and ideas concerning spiritual matters on their fellow men, forsook the habitations of men and retired into mountains and deserts, where they fasted, prayed, kept vigils, and meditated, and sometimes devoted their lives to ministering to the wants, both material and spiritual, of the poor and needy. They preserved their bodies chaste, and despised the possessions of this world. At the same time it must be borne in mind that the asceticism practised by the monks of Egypt differed in many particulars from that of men of other countries, and also that its essential characteristics were founded on views which were quite distinct from those which made the devout priests of the pre-Christian religions of Egypt pass their time in solitude, silence, reflection and study, and caused them to adopt lives of poverty and austere self-abnegation.

The Christian monks of Egypt, like investigators of our own time, often discussed the question, “Who were the first monks?” Some held the view that the first who led lives of virginity and holiness in the desert were the Prophet Elijah and John the Baptist, and seemed to have assumed that the lives of the monks of Egypt were the counterparts of these great desert teachers. Some were firmly convinced that Christian monasticism began with St. Anthony, who was born about 250, and died about 355, whilst others again asserted boldly that the first Christian monk who dwelt in the desert was Paul the Anchorite, “who ended [his career] in the days of Decius and Valerianus” (A. D. 249–253, 253–270) (Vol. I, p. 197). Now we find from the life of Paul, attributed to Palladius in the Syriac version, that this man was the son of wealthy parents who died when he was sixteen years of age; he was educated in the learning of both the Greeks and the Egyptians, and he loved God with his whole heart. His sister’s husband was always lying in wait to deliver him over to those who were persecuting the Christians, and at length he found it necessary to flee to the mountains, where he found a rock-cave wherein he lived for many years. When he was 113 years old, he was visited by St. Anthony, who travelled across the desert, and held converse first with a hippo-centaur, and next with a satyr. Now, according to the story, Anthony was at this time 90 years old, but this is impossible, for it is said in the same story that Paul “ended” in the days of Decius and Valerianus, in other words, that Anthony was a youth when Paul was a very old man. Assuming, however, that Anthony was 90 years old when he visited Paul, and that Paul was 113 years old at the time, it is tolerably certain that Paul had lived the life of an anchorite some twenty-three years longer than Anthony. If, on the other hand, we accept the statement that Paul died between 249 and 270 aged 113 years, it would follow that he was born about 150, and that he lived the life of a Christian monk before the close of the second century. It is impossible to think from any point of view that Paul was the only Christian who retired to the desert, whether he was born in the second or in the third century, but the history of his life is valuable as showing that a tradition, which was extant when the writer compiled his life, asserted that he was the first of the Christian monks who lived in the desert. What we are probably intended to understand by the writer of the life of Paul is that Paul was an anchorite in the desert to the east of the Nile, between the river and the Red Sea, before St. Anthony, and that when he first settled there Christian monks in general had not chosen that desert as a place of abode.

When we consider the trials and tribulations in the midst of which the Christians of Egypt lived during the second century, it is difficult not to think that large numbers of them forsook the towns and villages and fled to the mountains and deserts, the men to avoid military service, and the women to escape dishonour and persecution. A tradition states that during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138–161) an abbot called Frontonius, hating the world and longing for solitude, collected seventy brethren and led them into the Nitrian Desert, where they cultivated the ground, and lived exceedingly austere lives (Acta Sanctorum, April 14). For one systematically arranged “flight from the world” such as this, there must have been hundreds of which no record now exists. Taking all the probabilities of the case into consideration, we are justified in stating that by the year 300 there were in all the mountains and deserts of Egypt a large number of Christian monks and solitary ascetics. It is doubtful if brotherhoods existed at this time; indeed, the histories of the ascetics which come first in the book Paradise indicate that they did not, for from these we learn that each recluse did what seemed right in his own eyes. Each man was entirely devoted to the saving of his own soul, and apparently cared for nothing and no one else. Each tried to lead a more austere life than that of his neighbour, believing that through the multitude of his fastings, vigils, and prayers he could make himself acceptable to God. Some, no doubt, repented of their evil deeds and thoughts with absolute sincerity, and their repentance lasted for years at a time, but repentance had never been a characteristic of the Egyptian, as we may see from the older literature of Egypt.

Up to about B. C. 2400 the Egyptian based all his hopes of reaching heaven upon the performance of ceremonies and the recital of formulæ, which would enable him to learn the great and secret name of the God of the other world. His moral code was of the highest character, and he often boasts in his inscriptions that he was good and dutiful to his father and mother, and affectionate to his brothers and sisters, and that he never did harm to any man because he feared an unfavourable judgement in the Hall of Osiris. In no inscription, however, known to me is there any mention of sorrow or regret for the commission of any sin or offence.

In the religious texts written about B. C. 1500, when, probably under Asiatic influence, a more spiritual conception of religion existed among the priests, we find clear indications that the doctrine of retribution was accepted by them. Good deeds and pious acts performed on earth secured for the doer when in the other world a regular and unfailing supply of offerings, and a favourable hearing when his soul was weighed in the Balance in the Hall of Osiris, and, in the Fields of the Blessed, a grant of land, the extent of which was in proportion to his good deeds upon earth. The funerary inscriptions which describe the lives of those whom they commemorate are full of protestations put into the mouths of deceased persons as to the righteousness and integrity of their lives, and in the Books of the Dead they deny the commission of forty-two sins and offences. Nowhere, however, do we find that the deceased persons express regret or contrition for such offences against the law as they must certainly have committed. Indeed, it seems as if the Egyptian regarded sin merely as a breach of an obligation to the moral law from which he could free himself by his own subsequent good works, or by the payment of offerings. There is no word in the hieroglyphic texts for “repentance,” and in making the Coptic version of the New Testament the translators were obliged to borrow the Greek word μετάνοια when they needed to express the idea of repentance. The fundamental ideas which underlie the words “repentance,” “conscience,” and “faith,” as understood by modern Christian peoples, seem to have been unknown to the ancient Egyptian, and it seems to me that they were only partially understood by the earliest of the Christian monks. The Christian and Egyptian monks trusted very largely to the efficacy of their own works for salvation. Hence their prolonged fasts, their multitudinous prayers, their constant vigils, their excessive manual labour, and their ceaseless battle against the cravings and desires of the body. The greatest monk was he who could fast the longest, rest and sleep the least, pray the greatest number of prayers, keep vigil the longest, work the hardest, endure best the blazing heat of the day and the bitter cold of the night, and who could reduce his body to the most complete state of impassibility. When hunger, thirst, cold, silence, watching and praying had reduced the body, the spiritual nature and faculties sprang into active operation, and the monks saw visions and received revelations of a supernatural character.

Whether we regard Abbâ Paul or St. Anthony as the first monk who dwelt in the desert, it is quite certain that the systematic establishment of monasticism in Egypt is due to the latter. During the first half of his life St. Anthony was surrounded by a large number of monks who emulated his mode of life, and who were more or less under his spiritual direction and guidance. Very early in the fourth century, perhaps, before 310, he gathered together a considerable number of monks, and they came and lived with him in a monastery not far from the Red Sea. Up to that time he had lived in Pispir, the “outer mountain,” which appears to have been situated about sixty-five miles to the south of Cairo, eight miles to the north of the modern town of Beni Suwêf, and several miles inland from the west bank of the Nile. The monastery to which he betook himself with his community of monks was about twenty-five miles from the Red Sea, and the most direct route to it from the Nile is by the old desert road which runs almost due east from the village of Bayâd, about eighty miles to the south of Cairo. It stood on the “inner mountain,” as the place is called in the history of St. Anthony. The Monastery of Paul (not Paul the Simple) lay some twenty miles to the south-east of that of St. Anthony.

The next great event in the history of Christian monasticism in Egypt was the founding, about 320, of the famous Monastery of Tabenna, near the modern town of Denderah, in Upper Egypt, by Pachomius, who was born a few years before the close of the third century. When he had finished his discipleship, an Angel appeared to him and told him to go and collect the wandering monks, to live with them, and to lay down such laws as he should tell him for their guidance. The Angel then gave him a book (or tablet), wherein were written six laws. According to these a monk might eat and drink, or fast, as he pleased; no pressure was to be put upon him to do either. The strong were to labour hard, and the weak according to their strength, and each was to be encouraged to do his utmost. Monks were to live three by three in cells, and were to eat together in one house. They were not to sleep lying down, but seats were to be provided, so that when sitting down they might “support their heads.” They were to sleep in sleeveless garments, wear skull caps with crosses worked in purple upon the fronts of them, and partake of the Eucharist on Saturdays and Sundays. The monks were to be divided into twenty-four grades, each of which was to bear the name of a letter of the alphabet.

In addition to these rules the Angel ordered that no man should be received into that monastery until he had toiled three years; the same period, we may note in passing, which Isidore ordered Palladius to serve. Though the monks ate together, they were to cover their faces with their cowls, and were not to converse with each other or look about. The rule of Pachomius seems to have been attractive to many, for the company of monks in the house in which he lived numbered 1,300, and there were several other houses near, each containing from one to three hundred monks. Each monk worked at a trade, and we learn (Vol. I, p. 146) that there were in the community gardeners, blacksmiths, bakers, carpenters, fullers, makers of baskets, mats, nets, and sandals, and one scribe. As each man worked he repeated the Psalms and selected passages from the Scriptures. Of the articles made by the monks a certain number were sold to the people of the neighbouring villages, but from the story told in Vol. I, p. 300, we see clearly that Pachomius did not allow an excessive profit to be made by the dealer who disposed of the surplus goods. From the Askètikon (Vol. I, pp. 283ff) we may conclude that Pachomius was an able and just administrator, and one who detested excess of any kind among his followers. He urged every man to do his best, but he was most severe in his dealings with the vainglorious, and with those who undertook tasks beyond their power to fulfil. In illustration may be quoted the story (Vol. I, p. 291) of the cook who neglected his duly appointed work of cooking vegetables for the brethren for two months, and devoted his time to the plaiting of mats. He excused himself by saying that the brethren used not to eat all that he cooked, and that much food was therefore wasted, to say nothing of the forty flasks of oil which were mixed daily with the peas and vegetables, but Pachomius refused to accept his excuse, and having ordered the five hundred mats which the cook had made to be brought to him, he threw them into the fire.

Another monk sighed for martyrdom, and begged Pachomius to pray that he might become a martyr, but there was little chance of this happening, for there was peace in the world, and Constantine was reigning. Pachomius told him to lead the life of a monk blamelessly, and to make his life pleasing to Christ, and then he should enjoy the companionship of the martyrs in heaven. This, however, did not satisfy the monk, and in spite of the warnings of his abbot, he continued to crave for martyrdom. Two years later Pachomius despatched a number of monks to an island in the river to the south to cut reeds for the mat-makers, and he sent the monk who wished to become a martyr to them with some money for their expenses, which he took an ass to carry. When he came to the place on the river bank opposite to the island, a company of the Blemmyes came down to draw water, and finding the monk there, they made him dismount, and having seized the ass and his money, they carried him off to the mountains. Then they made a feast and poured out libations to their gods, and urged the monk to join them in their worship. He refused at first to do so, but when they came against him with drawn swords in their hands and threatened to kill him, he took wine and poured out a libation to their gods, and denied God. When he returned to his monastery and confessed what he had done, Pachomius condemned him to solitary confinement, to one meal a day of bread and salt, to perpetual vigil and tears, and to plait two palm-leaf mats each day. After ten years of this penance he died (Vol. I, p. 304).

On the other side of the river near the monastery of Pachomius there were several nunneries, some of which were maintained by the work of the monks. Of the nuns who dwelt in these Palladius tells two stories (Vol. I, p. 147). A sister was seen by another talking to a man who asked her for work, and some time later, during a dispute between these two nuns, she who had seen the other talking with the man accused her of committing an act of infamy. This accusation distressed the innocent sister greatly, and at length she went and drowned herself secretly; her accuser, terrified at the result of her calumny, also drowned herself secretly. The second story is that of a sister who had been possessed of a devil, and who permitted her companions to treat her with contempt; she waited upon them in the refectory, and performed so many menial duties that Palladius says she became the “broom of the whole nunnery.” It was, however, revealed to Abbâ Piterius, who lived in the Porphyrites, that a nun of Tabenna was more excellent than he, and he asked his superior to give him permission to go and see her. When he arrived there, all the nuns came in to be blessed by him except the sister who made herself the servant of them all, and when he asked for her, she had to be dragged into his presence. As soon as she appeared, Piterius bowed down before her, and in answer to the remonstrances of the other sisters, declared that she was their “mother and his,” and that he entreated God to grant him a portion with her in the Day of Judgement. On this the sisters who had been in the habit of buffeting her, and throwing the “rinsings of vessels” over her, and insulting her, expressed contrition and asked her pardon. These stories are told in such detail that Palladius must have heard them himself at Tabenna, where he cannot have failed to stay during his travels in Egypt.

Now whilst Anthony was directing a community of monks on the “Inner Mountain,” and Pachomius was Abbot of Tabenna, numbers of other monks were leading lives of austerity in the Desert of Nitria, or the Natron Valley (Wâdî-an-Natrûn), as it is generally called, and in the Desert of Scete. To reach Nitria Palladius was obliged to cross Lake Mareotis, which occupied him a day and a half. The main portion of the valley lies a little to the north-west of Cairo, and can be reached in two days by camel. When he arrived there he found a company of about 5,000 monks, who lived in twos and threes, or in groups; besides these there were 600 anchorites who lived, each by himself, in the neighbouring desert. The making of bread for these occupied seven bakers. Each monk lived as he pleased, either by himself or with others. Here in a courtyard stood a large church, which was served by eight priests, and the monks attended divine service on Saturday and Sunday. In the courtyard were three palm trees, with a whip hanging on each; one whip was used for beating the monks who committed acts of folly, another was used for chastising thieves, and the third for beating strangers who misbehaved. Close to the church was a guest-house, in which the visitor might stay as long as he pleased, provided he was willing to work in the bakery or refectory. At Nitria there were physicians and confectioners and wine merchants, but no man was needy, for every one had to work at the weaving of flax. At night-fall the monks began to sing psalms and to pray, and the visitor who heard the singing of the monks rising up round about him, might, “his mind being exalted,” imagine that he was in the “Paradise of Eden,” i.e., heaven.

In Nitria Palladius heard of Ammon, Nathaniel, Paul the Simple, Hor, and Pambo, and he saw Ammonius, Benjamin the Physician, Macarius, and many others, and from the facts which he relates it is clear that Nitria had been inhabited by monks for more than one hundred years before he arrived there. One portion of the Nitrian Valley, because of the steep, precipitous rocks in it, was called “Klimax,” i.e., “the Ladder,” and as no water was to be had nearer than twelve miles, it was usually considered to be uninhabitable. Here, notwithstanding, for fifteen years lived Ptolemy the Egyptian (Vol. I, p. 136), who collected in sponges the dew which fell in the months of December and January, and having squeezed these out into jars he obtained a supply of water for the whole year. It is sad to learn that he went mad, and scoffed at the Eucharist, and that he finally departed to Egypt, where he gave himself over to prodigal and riotous living.

Another interesting portion of the Nitrian Valley was called “The Cells,” because here were situated the abodes of the monks who were hermits in the strictest sense of the word. Each man lived by himself in a cell at some distance from any neighbour, and only mixed with his fellows when he went to the Church of Nitria, which was some miles distant, on Saturday and Sunday.

Now we know from other sources that during the second half of the fourth century a large and important society of monks lived near the modern town of Sûhâk, about 320 miles south of Cairo. Their rallying point was the famous “White Monastery,” which stood on the skirt of the desert on the west bank of the Nile, and was dedicated to the great ascetic Abbâ Shenuti by the Empress Helena. Shenuti was born about 333, and died at midday on July 2, 451, aged 118 years! He became a monk when a boy, and for years was under the direction of his uncle Bgûl, and for nearly 100 years he possessed very great influence. It is difficult to understand why Palladius makes no mention of him, and why he does not describe the rule of his monks, which was a very severe one. Shenuti was a man of violent temper and a strenuous opponent of Nestorius and his followers, and we can only surmise that Palladius omitted all reference to him because he disapproved of his personal characteristics. It would be wrong to think that he had no knowledge of the great communities of monks which flourished in the neighbourhood of Sûhâk and Akhmîm (Panopolis).

Another great host of monks lived at Oxyrrhynchus, about 125 miles south of Cairo, where, we learn from The History of the Monks, there were thirteen churches (Vol. I, p. 337). “The city was so full of the habitations of the brethren that the walls thereof are wellnigh thrust out with them, so many were the brethren.” Five thousand monks lived inside the city, and five thousand outside, and the praises of God rose up to heaven every hour of the day and night. Besides these the Bishop had under his charge twenty thousand nuns. Strangers were cordially welcomed at Oxyrrhynchus; and the writer of The History of the Monks says that his cloak and other garments were wellnigh torn off his back by the eager hands of those who contended with each other for the pleasure of receiving him into their houses.

At Lycus, near the modern city of Asyût, was another famous community of monks, the most famous of these being John the Carpenter. He was born about 304, became a monk about 330, and five years later he took up his abode on the top of the mountain of Lycus, where he lived until his death, which took place about 394. He possessed the gift of prophecy and worked miracles, and his counsel was sought by all, from Theodosius the Emperor to the humblest monk. During the earlier years of his life as a monk he ate nothing cooked by fire, not even bread, and towards the close of his life his food consisted of dried herbs only. He founded no community of monks, but large numbers of ascetics must have regarded him as their spiritual father (See Vol. I, pp. 169ff. and 320ff.)

During the period of his banishment to Egypt, Palladius wandered about the country and paid visits to many monasteries and solitaries. He found Antinoë so interesting that he spent four years there. The town lay on the east bank of the river, and its site is marked to-day by the village of Shêkh Abâdah. At Antinoë there were twelve nunneries, and Palladius met there Emmâ Talîdâ, the head of sixty virgins, and the virgin Taor. Close to the town lived some twelve hundred men “who worked with their hands and lived the life of spiritual excellence” (Vol. I, p. 180). In the desert of Antinoë lived Elijah the hermit, who was 110 years old when the writer of The History of the Monks became acquainted with him, and who had lived there for seventy years. His daily food consisted of three ounces of bread and three olives, which he ate in the evening; in his earlier years he partook of food only once a week (Vol. I, p. 340).

From what has been said above it is clear that during the fourth century Egypt was filled with monks of all kinds, and that the monastic life was general there. During the two preceding centuries the followers of the ascetic life were content to lead solitary lives in isolated places on the borders of the towns and villages, and in the mountains and deserts, but after the persecutions of Decius and Diocletian, they found that their personal safety depended upon their living together in organized communities. The formation of societies, or brotherhoods, was quickly followed by the building of substantial monasteries, which were provided with courts enclosed by strong outer walls and gates, and the resistance which could be offered to intruders by some hundred of monks armed with the stout stick or cudgel of the Egyptian peasant was not small. Palladius, unfortunately, gives no description of the monasteries which he saw, but it is tolerably certain that their main features resembled those of the great buildings, half monastery half fortress, of which a fine example remains in the ruined monastery of St. Simeon near Aswân. If the numbers of the monks in Nitria, Antinoë, Oxyrrhynchus, Panopolis, and other places, given by Palladius and the author of the History of the Monks, be correct, it is clear that the whole body of the ascetics of Egypt must have formed a veritable army which was sufficiently strong to resist any unpopular measure of the Government. This fact, no doubt, explains why the heads of great religious houses were often consulted by the authorities on matters of State, and why their advice was so often followed by the leaders of military expeditions against the barbarians to the south of Egypt.

iv. The Supernatural Element in the Book “Paradise”

IN perusing the lives of the holy men given in the Book Paradise and in The History of the Monks the reader will find described a series of incidents and events in which the supernatural element plays a prominent part, and some critics have asserted that they constitute a proof that these works are not genuine. Palladius was, no doubt, credulous in respect of miracles and supernatural occurrences in general, but, in my opinion, the evidence that he was so is a proof that he lived at a time when the Christian world believed in the things which he describes, and the details given by him convince me that his knowledge of the particular events which he records was acquired at first hand. Those who are familiar with the magic of the Dynastic Egyptians find few miraculous occurences in the histories of the monks of which parallels do not exist in the pagan literature of Egypt. The monks certainly rejected the old gods of the country, but the folk-lore survived, and with it the beliefs and superstitions which belonged to the mythology of a remote past and which were never wholly eradicated. To the Cross were transferred the powers and attributes of the old Egyptian amulet ānkh, and the histories of the monks supply many instances of its use as an amulet. Thus when Anthony made over himself the Sign of the Cross the devil “was straightway terrified” (Vol. I, p. 10); and on another occasion the devil, seeing the Sign, “passed away quickly in the form of a flame of fire” (p. 16). Anthony protected himself against a being half-man half-ass by the Sign of the Cross (p. 44). One day the devil appeared to Macarius the Egyptian and explained his system of wiles and fraud; the “chosen athlete” made the Sign over himself and the devil disappeared (p. 278). John of Lycus made the Sign over some oil which he sent to a woman who had cataract in her eyes; she smeared her eyes therewith three times, and after three days she saw (p. 322). Poemen made the Sign over a youth whose face “had been turned backwards by the Evil One,” and the youth was healed (Vol. II, p. 144). A certain father was about to drink from a vessel, and when a holy woman made the Sign over it, the devil fell from the vessel in the form of a flash of fire (Vol. II, p. 269). The brethren said, “The demons fear and tremble, not only by reason of the Crucifixion of Christ, but even at the Sign of the Cross, whether it be depicted upon a garment or made in the air” (Vol. II, p. 299). The “name of the Cross” even was a “word of power,” wherewith Anthony put to flight the fiery phantoms which attacked him by night (Vol. I, p. 43).

The monks, like the Apostles (St. Matthew 7:22) used the Name of Christ as a word of power. A haughty and insolent devil “once appeared to Anthony, and said, ‘I am the power of God,’ ” whereupon the old man blew a puff of wind at him, and rebuked him in the Name of Christ, and the devil and all his host disappeared (Vol. I, p. 33). On another occasion Anthony held converse with Satan, but when Satan heard him mention the “Name of Christ his form vanished and his words came to an end” (Vol. I, p. 35). One night when Satan had brought a troop of devils in the form of beasts against Anthony, at the mention of the Name of Christ Satan was driven away “like a sparrow before a hawk” (Vol. I, p. 44). By the Name of Christ Anthony drove out a devil from a maiden (Vol. I, p. 59), and it was well known that he performed all his healings by means of prayer and the mention of the Name of Christ (Vol. I, p. 68). Now Anthony was an Egyptian, and he did in such matters as a pagan Egyptian priest would have done, only his prayer took the place of the old magical formula, and the Name of Christ was used instead of the name of an old Egyptian god. Abbâ Benus adjured a hippopotamus which devoured the crops in a certain village in the Name of Jesus Christ, and the beast departed forthwith, and did no further harm (Vol. I, p. 337); and the fathers went so far as to say that laymen might drive away devils by the Name of Christ and the Sign of the Cross (Vol. II, p. 300).

When we remember that Anthony was, notwithstanding his natural shrewdness and virtues, an uneducated Egyptian, we need feel no surprise at the stories of his conflicts with devils and phantoms. His wandering among the tombs must have made him familiar with the painted reliefs in them and with the figures of gods and mythological beings in whom his ancestors believed, and the vivid imagination which he inherited from his ancestors endued them with life and movement. He was unacquainted with the literature of ancient Egypt, for he could neither read nor write, and therefore he could not know that the paintings only represented the attempts made by funerary artists to give form to the weird conceptions of the supposed denizens of the other world, both good and evil, which his forefathers had evolved out of their own minds.

It is noteworthy that many of the stories which relate the appearances of the Devil are told in connexion with men of Egyptian origin. Thus Palladius tells us (Vol. I, p. 115) that a certain Egyptian who wished to gain the love of another man’s wife hired a magician to employ his sorceries in order to make the woman love him or to make her husband hate her and cast her out; the magician failed to make the woman unfaithful, but he succeeded in transforming her into a mare. After three days the husband of the woman took the mare to Macarius the Egyptian, to whom God had revealed the matter, and when the brethren announced her arrival to the holy man, Macarius told them that the appearance of the woman to them in the form of a mare was due to an “error of sight” (hypnotic suggestion?) on the part of those who saw her. He then threw water which he had blessed over her, and she straightway appeared in the form of a woman to every man there; after eating some sacramental bread she was healed. To Macarius also they brought a man possessed of a fiery devil (Vol. I, p. 117), who, when he had eaten three baskets of bread and drunk three bottles of water, vomited them in the form of “smoky vapour.” Under the treatment of Macarius the man became content with three pounds of food per day, and was healed. Nathaniel, another Egyptian recluse, was sorely tempted to leave his cell to help a young man whose laden ass was said to have fallen in the bed of the river. He refrained, however, and the young man, who was the Devil, and his ass disappeared in a whirlwind (Vol. I, p. 113). When Macarius the Alexandrian went to the garden of Jannes and Jambres “seventy devils” came forth against him in the form of ravens; these devils were, no doubt, mere birds, but the imagination of the saint turned them into devils (Vol. I, p. 119). On one occasion, when Macarius was one hundred years old, Palladius heard him “striving with his soul and with Satan,” and saying to the Evil One, “Thou canst do nothing unto me, get thee gone” (Vol. I, p. 124). One day a man possessed of a devil was brought to Paul the Simple and Anthony, and when the ordinary means failed to drive him out, Paul appealed to Christ, and swore that he would neither eat nor drink until the devil had come out of the man. Thereupon the devil cried out that he was being ill-treated, and when he asked Paul where he should go, the holy man said, “To the uttermost depths of the abyss.” On this the devil came out, and transformed himself into “a mighty dragon seventy cubits long,” which wriggled its way down to the Red Sea (Vol. I, p. 128). The serpent is a well-known representative of the Evil One in Egyptian mythology, and the length of the monster here given suggests that the holy man regarded the creature before him as akin to Āpep, the arch-enemy of Horus and Rā. Pachomius, the Abbot of Tabenna, was also vexed by devils, and we are told (Vol. I, p. 290) that one day, whilst he was journeying in the desert of Ammon, “certain legions of devils rose up against him and “thronged him, both on his right hand and on his left,” and they clung to him until he reached the monastery. On another occasion, when he and Theodore were walking through the monastery by night, a woman appeared to them whose beauty was so great as to be indescribable, and even Theodore, who looked at the phantom, was exceedingly perturbed, and his face changed colour (Vol. I, p. 304). In answer to his questions she told Pachomius that she was the daughter of the Calumniator, and that she had received power to fight against him.

Another survival of the old Egyptian belief in the power of men, under certain circumstances, to cast spells is recorded in the history of Apollo (Vol. I, p. 351). The ten villages which were round about his place of abode, near Hermopolis, i.e., the city of the god Thoth, were filled with men who worshipped a wooden idol, and they carried him in procession from village to village, whilst the priests and people danced before him. One day Apollo saw them carrying on their “devilish sports,” and he knelt down and prayed, and immediately all the people became spell-bound where they stood, and being unable to move they were obliged to remain there the whole day long in the fierce heat of the sun, and each was parched with thirst. Then certain of the inhabitants sent oxen to drag away the idol, but they also became spell-bound, and could move neither the idol nor themselves. At length it was recognized that the sports had been stopped by Apollo, and the people sent and begged for his help. He went quickly and prayed over the men who were spell-bound, and removed the spell, and they at once believed in Christ, and burned their idol, and were baptized.

The supernatural powers of Apollo were exercised in many other ways. During a dispute in a village about certain boundaries, the leader of the barbarians declared that there could never “be peace until death.” To this Apollo replied, “It shall be as thou sayest, but none except thyself shall die; and the earth shall not be thy grave, but the bellies of wild beasts.” That night the man died, and on the following morning his remains were found horribly mangled by vultures and hyenas. The faith that was in the holy man enabled him to kill snakes, asps, vipers, and all kinds of reptiles, and in a time of famine he fed the hungry folk from baskets of bread which always remained full through his miraculous powers.

In connexion with Apollo mention is made of another Egyptian called Ammon, who slew a mighty serpent (Vol. I, p. 352). The monster was wont to slay sheep and cattle, and when the people begged the saint to free them from him, he went and knelt down at the place where the serpent usually passed, and prayed. Whilst he was praying, the serpent came and tried to strike him, but as soon as Ammon had called upon Christ to destroy him, the reptile burst asunder.

The instances quoted above are sufficient to illustrate the miraculous powers attributed to the ascetics of Egypt, and it is clear that the monks believed that they were able to cast out devils from the human body, and to destroy their evil works. The author of The History of the Monks boldly states that, at the time when he was writing, they raised the dead, and like Peter, walked on the water, and performed everything which the Redeemer and His Apostles performed.

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


FROM the Histories related by Palladius and by the author of The History of the Monks we can gain a very clear idea of the manner of the lives of the solitary dwellers in the desert and of those who dwelt in monasteries. The first thing to be done by the man who determined to become an ascetic was to flee from the world, that is to say, to forsake the habitation of men, and to avoid all intercourse with men, and especially with women. At first the strong-willed man left his town or village, and seeking out a lonely spot in the desert or mountains took up his abode there. Later, when men like Anthony, and Paul, and Ammon lived in the desert, the man who would be a monk joined their followers, and learned from them the fundamental principles of the ascetic life. Those who, for various reasons, felt themselves unequal to the labours of the solitary life, remained in the company of their fellow-monks, and usually lived blameless lives until they died. The solitary dweller, having chosen his place of abode, at once began to eat sparingly with the view of reducing the strength of the passions of his body, and he drank nothing but water. Those who lived in the mountains and near the river had little difficulty in obtaining water, but many of them lived at considerable distances from a stream or well, and deliberately made the task of obtaining a supply of water as difficult as possible. The chief article of food of the solitaries was bread made in the form of thin cakes; many of them ate these dry, but some soaked them, or dipped them in water first. When one father asked another if he would not dip his bread-cake in water, his companion replied, “When a possession increaseth set not thy heart upon it” (Vol. II, p. 18). Abbâ Isaac, the priest of the Cells, ate the ashes of the censer which was before the altar with his bread (Vol. II, p. 18), and another father used to make the Sign of the Cross over his food instead of mixing oil with it (Vol. II, p. 23). A monk usually ate bread and salt once a day, in the evening, but some only ate every second day, others every third or fourth day, and men of might often fasted for a week at a time. Moderate men thought it best for a man to eat a very little bread each day. A limited number of monks never ate bread at all, for they agreed with Theodotus, who said, “Abstinence from bread quieteth the body of a monk” (Vol. II, p. 21). And Poemen said, “The soul can be humbled by nothing except thou make it feeble by eating bread” (Vol. II, p. 22). Some monks never ate bread at all, others ate nothing else, and the former lived upon vegetables and fruit, and, when they could find it, wild honey. The greater number of the monks “cooked with fire,” that is, boiled their vegetables, and the rest ate them dried. One stern monk advised a brother who consulted him about monastic comforts, to “Eat grass, wear grass, and sleep on grass,” adding, “then thy heart will become like iron” (Vol. II, p. 17). A counsel of this kind could be followed but by few, but there are recorded some cases in which monks actually lived on grass. Thus a certain monk went a journey of three days into the desert, and looking down from a rock he saw an old man “grazing like the beasts”; he went down and gave chase to him, and when he came up with him he asked him to “speak a word.” The old man replied, “Flee from the children of men, keep silence, and thou shalt live” (Vol. I, p. 236). Elsewhere we read of another monk who fed on grass by the Jordan (Vol. I, p. 239).

The rule of Pachomius permitted monks to eat when they pleased, and to a limited degree what they pleased, but the solitaries were very strict in the matter of food. Isidore never took a full meal seated comfortably at a table, and flesh he never ate; Dorotheos lived on dry bread; Macarius the Alexandrian for seven years ate no boiled food, and lived on herbs and vegetables which had been soaked in water, and for a long period his daily allowance of bread was four or five ounces, and of water he only drank enough to enable him to eat his bread. During the Lenten fast his only food was a few cabbage leaves which he ate each Sunday. For fifteen years Ptolemy of the “Klimax” in Nitria drank nothing but the dew which he collected in sponges during the months of December and January each year. The solitaries who passed their nights in prayer and contemplation, and their days in plaiting palm-leaf mats, needed less food than the monks who lived in monasteries and performed hard manual labour. Sometimes they were so much occupied in repeating the Psalms that they forgot their food altogether; at other times they fought against their inclination to eat, and their hunger left them (Vol. II, p. 17).

As to the use of wine various views were held. Macarius the Egyptian liked wine, but if he drank one cup he would not drink water for a whole day afterwards. Paphnutius drank a cup of wine to escape death at the hand of a robber chief. Sisoes would drink two cups, but always refused the third, saying, “The third cupful is of Satan.” One old man handed back his cup of wine to the brethren, saying, “Take away this death from me”; and Poemen said, “The nature of wine is not such as to make it useful to the dwellers in monasteries.” Abbâ Abraham only thought three cups of wine too much to drink because Satan existed. Solitaries and coenobites alike agreed that, “As the body groweth the soul becometh weak; the more the body becometh emaciated, the more the soul groweth” (Vol. II, p. 22).

Of the clothing worn by the solitaries little is said in the Book Paradise, but we are justified in assuming that it was small in quantity. Some, like Anthony, wore leather tunics, and others rough, untanned skins of goats, with the hair next their skin. Large numbers of them possessed no clothing except loin-clothes, and many went naked. Macarius says (Vol. I, p. 234) that he saw two naked monks, one an Egyptian and the other a Libyan, who had lived with the beasts for forty years; they told him that they were not burnt up in the summer and that in the winter they did not freeze. Another naked old man was seen grazing like the beasts, and he had lived so long in the desert that he could not endure the smell of man (Vol. I, p. 235). Another old man had lived naked near the Red Sea for thirty years, and his hair had grown so long during this period that it covered him (Vol. I, p. 237). The dwellers in monasteries were better clad, and from the Rule of Pachomius we know that they wore skull-caps, and slept in a kind of shirt which was without sleeves. The solitaries and some other kinds of monks wore cloths over their heads, which served the double purpose of preventing them from seeing the faces of their fellows, and of keeping off the keen winds from their faces. In places where the monks worked at the weaving of flax, they, no doubt, wore garments made of linen. The coverings of their beds were pieces of coarse linen, or, as in the case of Anthony, the skin of a sheep or goat. Some monks possessed cloaks.

The beds of the monks who lay down to sleep were mats made of plaited palm leaves.

It is laid down over and over again in The Sayings of the Fathers that a man is kept from sin by three things: flight from men, silence, and contemplation. Arsenius said that the sound of the twittering of a sparrow would prevent a monk from acquiring repose of heart, and the rustling of the wind in the reeds made it absolutely impossible (Vol. II, p. 4). Poemen told a brother that he did not learn to shut a door of wood, but the door of the tongue (Vol. I, p. 7), and when a brother asked Macarius how it was possible for them to flee further than the desert they were in, he laid his hand upon his mouth, and said, “Flee in this manner” (Vol. II, p. 11). “Lay hold on silence,” “Keep silence,” were sayings that were always in the mouths of the old men; and Poemen said, “A monk’s victory is only assured when he holdeth his peace” (Vol. II, p. 13). Agathon only learned to keep silent by holding a stone in his mouth for three years (Vol. II, p. 16).

Almost as important for the monk as keeping silent was dwelling in the cell. “Eat, drink, sleep, and toil not, but on no account go out of thy cell,” was the advice of Arsenius to a brother (Vol. II, p. 5); and Sarmâtâ said to a brother, “Sit thou in thy cell, and whatsoever thou canst do, that do, and trouble not thyself.” Anthony said, “As a fish dieth when it is taken out from the water, so doth the monk who tarrieth outside his cell” (Vol. II, p. 8). He also said, “The cell of a monk is the furnace of Babylon wherein the Three Children found the Son of God, and it is also the pillar of cloud wherefrom God spake with Moses” (Vol. II, p. 14).

The monk who sat in his cell and kept silent was enabled to pass his waking hours in the contemplation of spiritual matters, and this occupation was held to be of the highest importance. By meditating upon the dealings of God with man as exhibited in the histories of the saints given in the Old and New Testaments, the monk was enabled to apply their spiritual lessons to his own needs and circumstances, and to correct his thoughts and to make his deeds harmonize with those of the prophets. The time not spent in contemplation was devoted to the reading and learning of the Scriptures, and to prayer. If the monk ceased his contemplation the devils at once entered his cell, and one old man actually saw a devil standing outside the door of a brother’s cell, and waiting until he ceased his contemplation; when he did so the devil was able to enter (Vol. II, p. 24). When a monk read the Divine Books the devils were afraid (Vol. II, p. 24). The principal work of the prudent monk was “constant prayer”; he was taught to pray “in his heart, or in a carefully prepared service, or in that service which he performed with his will and understanding” (Vol. II, p. 27). He was to speak to God in a quiet voice and say, “Lord, Thou knowest full well that I am a beast, and that I know nothing. O Lord, by Thy Will vivify Thou me” (Vol. II, p. 27). A certain monk prayed always, and each evening he found bread in his cell for his evening meal; when he joined in manual labour with another monk no bread appeared in his cell. To him a voice said, “Whilst thou occupiedst thyself in converse with Me, I fed thee; but now thou hast begun to work thou must demand thy food from the labour of thy hands” (Vol. II, p. 30). The prayers of the brethren formed a “glorious pillar of brilliant light which reached from the place where the brethren were congregated to the heavens” (Vol. II, p. 30).

The strenuous monk slept little, and Arsenius used to say that one hour’s sleep was sufficient for him. Arsenius prayed from sunset on Saturday to sunrise on Sunday, and Pachomius tried to do without sleep altogether. For fifteen years he and Abbâ John snatched a little sleep after their all-night vigils, as they sat in the middle of their cell, without leaning against a wall (Vol. II, p. 25). Abbâ Sisoes, to drive away sleep, used to stand all night on the precipitous peak of a mountain, to fall from which in a moment of unconsciousness meant certain death. The angel of the Lord, however, removed him from the peak, and forbade him to stand there again (Vol. II, p. 26).

The accompaniments of true prayer were mourning and weeping, mourning for the crucifixion of our Lord, and weeping for sins committed and general unworthiness. Muthues said, “Weep and mourn, for the time hath come,” and Ammon said, “Laugh not, O brother, for if thou dost, thou wilt drive the fear of God from thy soul.” Paul sank in the mire up to his neck, and he wept before God, and said, “Have mercy on me.” Isidore sat in his cell and wept always, and Poemen said, “He who weepeth not for himself in this world must weep for ever in the next,” and “There is no other path except that of tears.” And Macarius thought that the words “Flee from men” meant, “Sit in thy cell and weep for thy sins” (Vol. II, pp. 31–34).

The poverty of the monk was absolute. Serapion saw a hollow in a wall in a monk’s cell filled with books, and he said, “That which belongeth to the orphans and widows thou hast laid up in a hole in the wall.” Theodore of Parmê had three books, and he sold them and gave the proceeds to the poor. An old man took off his garment, and standing up, said, “A monk must be as destitute of this world’s goods as I am of clothing.” When Arsenius lived in Scete his apparel was inferior to that of everyone else, and a monk’s apparel ought to be so worthless that if it were cast outside his cell for three days no man would consider it worth taking away. A monk once came to the church of the Cells wearing a head-cloth, and Abbâ Isaac said, “Monks dwell here, but thou art a man in the world, and canst not live here.” Nastîr was ready to give away all his apparel, for he was certain that God would give him something wherewith to cover his body (Vol. II, pp. 35–40).

The virtue most cultivated, and, perhaps, the most admired by the monks themselves, was patient endurance. Agathon bore quietly every accusation except that of being a heretic. When thieves came to plunder the cell of Macarius he helped them in their work, so little did he love possessions; and when thieves were robbing the cell of another brother, he said, “Haste, be quick, before the brethren come” (Vol. II, p. 43). Another brother, when attacked in his cell by evil-doers, brought a basin and entreated them to wash their feet; the thieves were ashamed and repented. Abbâ John nursed Ammon for twelve years, and abated nothing of his own great labours (Vol. II, p. 44). Twelve brethren were led out of their road for a whole night by a brother who had lost the way, but none of them thought it right to tell him. Arsenius changed the water in which he soaked the palm leaves only twice each year, and endured its foul smell in return for the scents and oils which he had enjoyed when he was in the world (Vol. II, p. 46). Through the agency of Satan a monk went blind; he did not pray that his sight might be restored, but only that he might be able to bear his trial patiently (Vol. II, p. 48). “What shall I do?” cried a brother to an old man, and the answer he received was, “Go and learn to love putting restraint upon thyself in everything” (Vol. II, p. 51). “Bear everything, endure everything from every man, except any attempt to separate thee from God,” said Poemen.

Obedience was another virtue which the monks cultivated. Abbâ Paule told his disciple Abbâ John to go into a tomb wherein was a savage panther, and bring out some things, and when John asked what he was to do with the panther, Paule said, “Tie him up, and bring him here.” Though horribly afraid John did as he was told, and brought out the panther (Vol. II, p. 52). Mark the Scribe, on hearing his master’s call, left his copying with the letter “O” unfinished. A life of obedience is better than a life of voluntary poverty, and once when a monk famed for obedience stood up in the river among many crocodiles the creatures “worshipped him” (Vol. II, p. 54). Sisoes told a man who wanted to become a monk to throw his only son into the river, and the man went and was about to do so, when a messenger from the holy man told him not to do so; the man obeyed and, through his obedience, “became a chosen monk.” “Obedience begetteth obedience,” said the Abbâ of Îlîû, and “If a man obeyeth God, God will obey him” (Vol. II, p. 55).

Above all things a monk was ordered to watch his thoughts, words, and deeds, and especially his thoughts. The desert shut a man from the sights and sounds of the world, and from speech with men, but it could not save him from his thoughts. “I have died to the world,” said one brother, and his friend replied, “Though thou sayest, I have died to the world, Satan is not dead” (Vol. II, p. 59). Any thought which filled the heart with pride or vainglory was to be regarded as fornication (Vol. II, p. 77). Paphnutius said, “A monk is bound to keep not only his body pure, but his soul free from unclean thoughts” (Vol. II, p. 86).

To each other and to all men the monks were bound to show love and charity, and to entertain strangers was one of their first duties. On one occasion two brethren visited an old man, and he gave them his daily portion of food and fasted himself (Vol. II, p. 90). A certain brother had a woman in his cell, and the monks wished to bring the matter home to him. Bishop Ammon knew of this, and going into the cell he made the woman get under a large earthenware jar, and then took his seat upon it. At his order the monks searched the cell and did not find the woman, and when they had all gone out Ammon said to the erring brother, “Take heed to thy soul” (Vol. II, p. 92). Macarius once visited a sick monk, and when he asked him if he wanted anything to eat, the brother replied, “Yes, I want some honey-cakes.” Thereupon Macarius set out for Alexandria, which was sixty miles distant, and brought back the sweetmeats and gave them to the monk (Vol. II, p. 92). Theodore was wont to make his own bread, and one day finding at the bakery a brother who did not know how to make bread, made bread for that brother and for two others, and last of all for himself (Vol. II, p. 93). Another holy man entreated God to let the devil which vexed his companion come to him; his prayer was answered, and the evil spirit departed after a few days (Vol. II, p. 95). When Agathon went into the city to sell his work one day, he found a stranger lying sick in the market with none to care for him. He hired a room and lived in the city for four months, and spent what he earned in nursing the sick man, and when he was healed he returned to his cell (Vol. II, p. 98). A brother once admired a small knife which Agathon had, and the holy man did not let him depart until he had taken it. “If I see a brother asleep in church I place his head on my knees, and I give him a place to rest upon,” said Poemen. A brother said, “And what dost thou say unto God?” Poemen replied, “I say: Thou Thyself hast said, First of all pluck the beam out of thine own eye, and thou wilt be able to see to take out the mote which is in the eye of thy brother” (Vol. II, p. 103).

With the cultivation of patient endurance grew humility, and this virtue was esteemed very highly by the monks, for the devils told Anthony that humility made a man to escape from the snares of the Evil One, because they could not attain to it, pride being their chief characteristic. A monk when praised should always think upon his sins and say, “I am unworthy of the things which are said about me” (Vol. II, p. 108). “The greatness of a man consisteth of humility,” said a holy man; and Abbâ John used to say, “We relinquish a light burden when we condemn ourselves.” A monk once fasted for seventy weeks, and his labour did not reach God, but because he humbled himself afterwards the Lord came and gave him rest (Vol. II, p. 110). “Be humble in word and in “deed,” said another old man.” Abbâ Longinus described himself to an old woman whom he healed of cancer, but who did not know him by sight, as a “lying hypocrite,” and, praying that our Lord would heal her, told her that Longinus, who was a liar, could do her no good whatsoever (Vol. II, p. 111). Abbâ John said that humility was the most excellent of the virtues (Vol. II, p. 113), and another old man said, “Humility is salted with salt” (Vol. II, p. 113). Abbâ John, through his humility, “held all Scete suspended on his finger” (Vol. II, p. 116). “The perfection of a monk is humility,” said one old man, and another said, “I would rather have defeat with humility than conquest with boasting” (Vol. II, p. 117). And Poemen said, “He who abaseth himself shall never fall” (Vol. II, p. 119). Zechariah took his cloak and laid it beneath his feet, saying, “Except a man let himself be trodden upon thus he cannot be a monk” (Vol. II, p. 123).

The above selection from The Sayings of the Fathers is sufficient to show the high aims and lofty ideals of the Christian monks of Egypt, and we know from the book Paradise that many devout women led a life of asceticism as strenuous as that of the Fathers. We see from the lives of the holy men and women printed in these volumes that the labours which they performed and their fastings and prayers made most of them kind and considerate to their fellow men, slow to anger, unwilling to judge others, and patient to bear silence, solitude, hunger, heat and cold, nakedness and poverty and the scorn and contempt of the world. One of their characteristics, which shows itself every here and there in their histories, is the kindliness with which the great solitaries regarded animals. One day a female hyena came and knocked with her head at the door of the court in which Macarius was sitting, and came and dropped a whelp at his feet. He took up the whelp, saw that it was blind, and when he had prayed and spit in its eyes, the little creature was able to see. Its mother suckled it, and then took it up and carried it off. On the following day the hyena reappeared carrying the skin of a sheep which it had no doubt killed and eaten, and left it for the old man (Vol. I, p. 124), who accepted the gift and subsequently handed it on to the lady Melania. In the account of the burial of Mâr Paule we also have a pretty story of the two lions which came and dug his grave. As they stood before Anthony near the body of Paule, they wagged their tails, and rubbed their teeth together, and purred, and then they dug a hole in the ground with their paws; this done they drooped their heads and tails, and licked Anthony’s hands and feet. Having prayed over them he told them to depart, laying his hands on them as he did so (Vol. I, p. 203). When they had gone Anthony buried his friend. Whatever the facts of the case may be in this instance, it is clear that Anthony was accustomed to be with lions, and that kindly hermits in all countries have lived on friendly terms with beasts of all kinds is so well known as scarcely to deserve mention. Theon the monk was fond of animals, and loved the sight of buffaloes, goats and gazelle, and gave them water to drink (Vol. I, p. 339).

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


ABOUT a generation ago several scholars of eminence devoted much time and labour to the study of the Paradise of Palladius, and some of them arrived at the conclusion that it was neither more nor less than a work of fiction, in fact, a “pious fraud,” perpetrated by a writer who was not called Palladius, who had never been to Egypt or seen the people whom he described, and whose knowledge of the “true history” of the period was incomplete and inaccurate. Others took the view that Palladius had never existed, and even supposing that he had, that he had never been made a bishop. There is no need to discuss here in detail the statements of these writers, for Dom Cuthbert Butler, in his work on the Lausiac History, has shown that there are very good reasons for believing that Palladius did exist, that his book Paradise rests on a historical framework, and that a great portion of his work has come down to us substantially in the form in which he wrote it. Moreover, the evidence on the subject which is to be derived from a study of the great mass of literature written in Coptic, Syriac, Arabic and Ethiopic, which has been published during the last twenty years, supports or confirms his statements on many points, and justifies us in accepting what he says about matters for which proofs cannot be given from extraneous sources. On behalf of those who denied the existence of Palladius, and the genuineness of his work, it must be pointed out that they had never read the documents which excavators have unearthed since 1885, and knew nothing of the investigations which travellers have made in Egypt and Mesopotamia in recent years. They had, moreover, no practical knowledge of the regions of Egypt wherein Christian monasticism took root and flourished, and even the conditions under which the monks and ascetics live in that country in our own times were unknown to them.

From the Paradise we learn that Palladius visited Egypt for the first time in 387, and that he lived there for twelve years; from other sources we know that he passed another six years in the country, i.e., from 406 to 412. During these two periods he travelled all over Egypt, from Alexandria to Syene, and his work contains abundant evidence that he saw every phase of the ascetic life of Christian recluses and coenobites. Many were the cities and villages through which he passed, and every cave and hole in the earth, and every tabernacle in the desert which sheltered a monk, for a distance as far as a monk could walk, did he visit. With several hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of monks he talked face to face, and the truth of this assertion appears, in my opinion in every page of his work. When he writes about the “athletes” who were dead, he takes care to give the source of his information, and in nearly every case we find that his informant was some one who had known personally the man whose life he describes. The amount of the material which he collected must have been enormous, and we may well believe that his work only contains “very few of the very many exceedingly great triumphs” of the holy men whom he knew and heard of. The toil and labour involved in the desert journeys which he undertook were very great, and they must, at times, have been accompanied by much physical pain. Most of his journeys he performed on foot, for there was no fodder to be obtained for asses or camels in the arid wastes where the monks lived. Whenever possible he, no doubt, obtained a passage on some cargo boat sailing up or down the Nile, but all who have travelled on such know how uncomfortable they are for those who are not in the most robust health. The cold of the night, the chills of the dawn, and the blazing heat of the early afternoon, must often have given Palladius sleepless nights and fever, especially after his health broke down. In spite, however, of sickness and fatigue, he clung to his work, and he succeeded in producing a book which has been the guide in all fundamental matters for those who have followed the ascetic life for hundreds of years.

A perusal of the book Paradise shews that Palladius does not describe one side only of the life of the monks, and that he sets before his readers a story which illustrates both their strength and their weakness. The histories of those who have tripped and fallen are given by him as warnings to monks that spiritual excellence may itself become the occasion of stumbling. Thus he tells plainly how Valens the Palestinian, who had been educated in Corinth, became so proud and arrogant that he thought scorn of the Body and Blood of Christ, and at length fell down and worshipped a phantom in the form of anti-Christ. The pious and learned Hero, who only partook of a meal once every three months, was tormented by lust, and then he went to Alexandria and fell into a life of debauchery and drunkenness. His sin, however, brought its own punishment, for he was smitten with a loathsome disease, and he returned to Scete a broken man. Ptolemy, the Egyptian, after living a life of the sternest self-denial for fifteen years, gave himself up to prodigal and riotous living, and “never more spake a word of excellence unto any man.” The failings of the nuns are described as impartially as are those of the monks, and Palladius makes it quite clear that spiritual pride was the chief cause of them all. The great merit of Paradise is that the Histories make the reader feel when reading them that he has not before him narratives of the lives of a set of beings of a supernatural character, but stories of men who were trying to lead superhuman lives, and Palladius shews clearly how far they succeeded, and in what they failed. He was no mere panegyrist of the monks, but a patient, sober, and impartial critic of their lives, words, and deeds. One by one he makes to pass before us the various types of men with which all are familiar, and his character-sketches enable us to see in our imagination every kind of monk and recluse, from the kindly Anthony to the stern, self-tormenting Macarius. As Palladius composed Paradise about thirty-three years after his first visit to the monks in Egypt, it is possible that his remembrance of some of them may be a little blurred, and that some of his statements contain mistakes from a chronological point of view. On the other hand, we must remember that his judgement was more matured, and that he was, so far as knowledge and experience are concerned, betterable to write impartial histories of the holy men in 420 than he would have been when he left Egypt for Palestine in 399 or 400. His wide grasp of the subject enabled him to consider the Christian monasticism of Egypt as a whole, and to present to his patron Lausus an account of it, in which the truth was set forth without exaggeration of detail or extravagant praise. Throughout the work Palladius says but little about himself, and although there is never room for doubt as to the side to which his sympathies leaned, his narrative is singularly free from denunciation of his religious opponents. Those who will take the trouble to read the biographies of holy men, written by their disciples and admirers in later centuries, will appreciate the calm and almost judicial manner in which Palladius arranges and states his facts, and keeps himself and his opinions in the background.

Another important fact made clear by Palladius is the toleration shown by the early monks in respect of nuns, and holy women, whether married or single, and he shews clearly the important part which devout women played in the Christian world of the fourth century. Of the sixty-eight histories which are given in the first book of Paradise, according to the Syriac version, nineteen are devoted to the lives of women. From these we see that women lived stern, strenuous lives, like the monks, and that some died for their religion. Thus Potamiaena suffered martyrdom by being plunged up to the neck into a cauldron of boiling pitch. A nameless virgin of Alexandria lived secluded in a tomb, and saw neither man nor woman for twelve years. Piamon, the virgin, worked at the weaving of linen by day, kept vigil by night, and ate once a day in the evening; she possessed the gift of prophecy, and had the power of casting spells on men at a distance, which rendered them helpless. Emmâ (i.e., “Mother”) Talîdâ was the head of a house of sixty virgins, and very old when Palladius saw her; he relates that when he sat down by her, “in the boldness and freedom which she had acquired in Christ,” she stretched out her hands and laid them on his shoulders. Taor, another virgin of Antinoë, wore neither veil nor sandals, dressed in rags, and worked always. Colluthus had lived for sixty years in her nunnery and had never gone down to the market.

Next we have a group of devout women headed by Melania the Elder, who had visited many recluses in their abodes. She was of Spanish origin, and was the daughter of a man who had held consular rank, and was left a widow at the age of twenty-two. She left her native land, having realized much of her property, and came to Alexandria, whence she went into the desert and lived in Nitria for six months. Here she met Pambo, Arsenius, Serapion, Paphnutius, Isidore, Dioscurus, and many others. She next went to Jerusalem, where she dwelt for twenty-seven years, and there she spent large sums in supporting the faithful and in receiving strangers. She studied and read the works of the Fathers with great diligence, and was a wise and understanding woman; her generosity was boundless, and she gave everything she could to help her religion. Melania the Younger withdrew from the world at the age of twenty, and she gave 35,000 darics to the churches in Egypt, Palestine, and Antioch; Palladius estimates that in other ways she must have given away four times this amount of money. And she set free eight thousand of her slaves. Olympias also, another patrician lady, set free her slaves, gave all her silk apparel to cover the altars in the churches, and spent her wealth lavishly on the brethren. Her garments were the worst to be seen, and she ate the food which her own servants rejected. Palladius knew this woman well, and was, “as it were, a member of her household,” and on his advice “she made gifts unto many.” Candida, another patrician lady, gave all her possessions to the poor, and night after night she left her bed, ground the corn, made the bread for the Offering, and heated the oven and baked it. She ate no meat, and her food on ordinary days consisted of dry bread dipped in vinegar; on festival days she ate fish, vegetables, and oil. Juliana of Caesarea hid Origen in her house for two years, and kept him at her own expense.

Another woman of exceeding merit was Emmâ Sârâ, who lived in a cell above the Nile, and led a most strenuous life. She is one of the few women whose “sayings” were included in the books of The Sayings of the Fathers. Though she lived by the Nile all her life she never looked at the river (Vol. II, p. 46), and whensoever she was about to put her foot on the ladder to go to her roof, she set her death before her eyes (ibid., p. 61). She rebuked Paphnutius (ibid., p. 63), approved of the giving of alms (ibid., p. 99), and is said to have contended against the devil of fornication for seven years on her roof (ibid., p. 127). Her character and disposition are well illustrated by one of her Sayings to her brethren which runs: “It is I who am a man, and ye who are women” (ibid., p. 257). In his Histories of Virgins Palladius follows the same plan as when dealing with those of monks, and he records instances of women who, like men, tripped and fell into fornication. He shews also that some nuns were puffed up with spiritual pride, and what steps were taken by the Fathers to abate it. Thus we have the story of the Roman virgin who had lived in the strictest seclusion for twenty-five years, who had never seen a man, and who thought herself perfect. Serapion went to her house, and after waiting two days he was permitted to see her, and in the course of her talk with him she told him that she believed, by God, she was dead. “Then,” said Serapion, “come down, and get thee out of thine house”; and she did so, and followed him to a church. There Serapion told her that he would believe that she was dead if she would do one thing, and she said, “Tell me what it is meet for me to do, and I will do it.” Serapion said, “Take off thy garments, put them on thy head, and walk through the city, and I will do likewise, and will go in front of thee in the same guise.” The woman replied, “If I do this I shall offend many, and people would say, ‘This woman hath gone mad, and hath a devil.’ ” To this Serapion answered, “Since thou art a dead woman, why shouldst thou consider what people say?” The virgin would not, however, do as Serapion had said, and having shewn her that she had not died to the world, and was not as perfect in the spiritual life as he himself was, he left her (Vol. I, p. 192).

One other instance must be quoted to shew that women existed who were as well able to live the stern life of the solitary as any man. As some of the great sages of Scete were travelling through the desert one day they heard a sound like a groan of a sick person, and having searched they found a cave and a holy virgin lying in it. The cave was absolutely bare, and when the sages asked the woman why she was there, she told them that the place had been her home for thirty-eight years, and that during that period she had lived upon grass. She added, “I have never seen a man before to-day, and God hath sent you to me this day that you may bury my body”; having said these words she died (Vol. I, p. 240).

The histories related by Palladius excite curiosity on many points concerning which he gives us no information. Thus we know nothing of the reasons which caused him to dedicate his work to Lausus, and very little about the strong friendship which seems to have existed between the exalted court official and the friend and lover of the monks. It is possible that Lausus, in common with other highly-placed officials and nobles, wished sincerely to know what there was in the teaching of the desert Fathers which induced wealthy virgins and matrons, and nobles like Arsenius, to cast aside the world and to retire to the desert, in order to lead a life of fasting, prayer, and self-denial. That he should have chosen a man of such knowledge and sober judgement as Palladius says much for his sagacity, and we are justified in believing that, when he had received his friend’s report and read it, he felt he had before him the evidence of an experienced and truthful witness. Although Christianity had become the official religion of the Empire, many members of the governing class must have been alarmed at the number of wealthy and noble men and women who left their country and joined the armies of monks and nuns in Egypt.

It has already been said that the book Paradise has a historical framework, and it must now be stated that in the histories which may be safely attributed to Palladius there is evidence throughout that he was well acquainted with Egypt, and that the manners and customs of the people were known to him. His descriptions of the desert and mountains, and his reproductions of the beliefs, superstitions and traditions of the Egyptians, are full of local colour, and every one who has wandered about Egypt must feel that Palladius himself had travelled much in the country, and at all seasons of the year. Indeed, it is wonderful how well he succeeded in depicting so accurately a phase of life which to most men would have been difficult to appreciate and hard to understand. To those who have visited the hills and mountains of Upper Egypt it is easy to find caves and holes in the rocks similar to those described as the dwelling-places of the solitaries by Palladius, and in the neighbourhood of the Oases there are small isolated hills near the tops of which are still remains of small chambers which must have been inhabited at one time or another by monks. A visit to the “White Monastery” near Sûhâk at once makes known the character and plan of the buildings in which the coenobites of the fourth century lived, and the so-called Monastery of St. Simeon, on the left bank of the Nile, near Aswân, shews that the chief characteristics of such habitations of monks were preserved in the monasteries of later centuries. It is pretty certain that many monks lived in Nubia during the third and fourth centuries, and it is much to be regretted that neither Palladius nor the author of The Histories of the Monks visited that country to inspect their abodes and describe the manner of their lives.

On many points of a general character concerning which the modern student wishes for information Palladius is curiously silent. We know that many solitaries earned enough to keep themselves by weaving ropes of palm leaves, and by plaiting mats and baskets of palm leaves, but only the most strenuous workers could do this, and there must have been many who were obliged to live on alms. We wonder how the alms of pious women like Melania (Vol. I, p. 103) and well-to-do men in the towns were distributed among the scattered dwellers in the desert, and what proportion of the recluses needed assistance. In the case of the coenobites the matter was easy enough, for many of them worked at trades, and many of them possessed private means, and the wants of the rest were supplied by the stewards of the monasteries, who received the gifts of friends of the brotherhood, and managed all financial arrangements.

Of the average duration of life among the ascetics also we know nothing. The men who lived on small rations, and who were exposed to the cold of the night and of the early morning, must have suffered from fever, even as men do now, and diseases of the eyes must have been common, especially among those who did not possess head-cloths. Of cuts, bruises, and chafing of the hands caused by excessive work at weaving palm leaves, the monks seem to have taken no notice, and one brother was rebuked by Palladius because he oiled his hands, which were so much cut by the palm leaves that the blood which ran out from them soaked the mat he was weaving (Vol. I, p. 314).The strenuous monk committed his hurts to God, believing that He would heal them, but, notwithstanding, there were in “Mount Nitria physicians for the use of the sick” (Vol. I, p. 100). Many recluses must have died, even as Pambo died, “whilst he was sewing palm leaves for mats, without fever and without sickness”; and Chaeremon died sitting on a chair and holding his work in his hand (Vol. I, p. 175). At Nitria lived the merchant Apollonius, who devoted his time and his money to providing eggs, raisins, and dried cakes for the sick folk among the five thousand monks who lived there (Vol. I, p. 107), but whether his ministrations extended to the dwellers in the desert is not said. The solitaries did not disdain the aid of the surgeon in certain cases, for we read that Ammonius and Evagrius, when they visited Stephen the Libyan, found him being operated upon by the physician. He was suffering from a cancerous sore, and whilst portions of his body were being cut off he quietly plaited palm leaves and conversed with his visitors (Vol. I, p. 131). According to one story, a certain old man who went naked and lived with the beasts was miraculously cured of a liver complaint which prevented him from standing upright, and he was therefore obliged to pray lying on the ground. One day a man appeared to him, and said, “What is thy pain?” and he said, “My liver troubleth me and causeth me pain.” And when the old man had pointed out the place where he felt pain, his visitor slit his body, as with a sword, and took out his liver and shewed him the sore on it, and having removed the [cause of] the pain he healed the wound in his body forthwith (Vol. I, p. 237).

Throughout Egypt the monks believed, like their pagan ancestors, that pains, and sicknesses, and diseases were caused by devils, but they knew that death would come to all of them, and that nothing could prevent it. Though men like Bessarion cured paralytics with a word, and, like Christ, walked on the water, and, like Joshua, made the sun to stand still, and, like Elisha, made bitter waters sweet, and added years of life to dying men (Vol. I, p. 368), and passed through fire unharmed (Vol. I, p. 370), and collected water from the air in their garments (Vol. I, pp. 244, 367), they died as all other men died. Some, however, reached a good old age in spite of their privations and self-denial, for we read that Pambo lived to the age of seventy, Didymus, Macarius of Alexandria, Dorotheos, Paul the Simple, and others to eighty, Isidore to eighty-five, Arsenius to ninety, Theodore of Parme and James the Less to nearly 100, Anthony to the age of 105, Elijah of Antinoë to 110, and Mâr Paule to the age of 113 years.

The bodies of many of the solitaries who lived in remote places and who died alone must have remained unburied, and have been eaten by the hyenas and jackals. Those who were fortunate enough to have friends near were buried by them in a simple manner, and without apparently service or ceremony. Each community of monks possessed a cemetery, and the excavations made in such burying-grounds during recent years shew that the shrouds of ordinary monks were made of coarse linen, and that it was customary to place at the head of each grave a stone recording the name of its occupant.

Sufficient has now been said to illustrate the main facts connected with the rise and growth of Christian asceticism in Egypt, and to shew that in many particulars the beliefs of its leaders resembled those of the early pagan inhabitants of the country. Moreover, it must always be remembered that the rise and progress of Christianity in that country were partly due to the fact that many of the doctrines of the old religion closely resembled those preached by Christ and the twelve Apostles, and by St. Paul. The system of morality made known to us by the Precepts of Ptah-Hetep, who flourished before B. C. 3000, is of a remarkably high character, and is in many respects equal to that formulated by the writers of the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus. The monks held converse with their souls on spiritual matters, and so did the writer of the Dialogue between a man and his soul which we find in a papyrus at Berlin. The doctrine of rewards and punishments for deeds done in the body was well known to the Egyptians under the Eighteenth Dynasty (B. C. 1700–1400), and the belief that a god could put on human flesh and dwell in the form of a man on the earth also existed at this period. The belief in the judgement and in the resurrection of Osiris is as old as the dynastic history at least, and there are many proofs in the old literature of Egypt that one school of thought believed in the resurrection of a material body, and in the existence of a material heaven which was full of material delights, and that another proclaimed the resurrection of an immaterial or spiritual body, and the existence of a heaven in which the blessed lived with a god whose attribute was light. The denizens of this material heaven lived upon incorruptible food which proceeded from their god, and those of the immaterial heaven fed upon the light which emanated from their god. In each case the blessed succeeded to immortality, that is to say, to an existence which lasted for “hundreds of thousands of hundreds of thousands of years” (Book of the Dead, chapter clxxv, line 16). The heaven of the Christians was filled with saints and martyrs, who awaited the arrival of the blessed from the earth and welcomed them with gladness and songs of joy; and, similarly, the kingdom of Osiris in the Other World was filled with his loyal followers, and with those who had served and worshipped him upon earth. Both the pagan and Christian Egyptians believed in an individual existence in heaven, and each class thought that the blessed would be able to recognize each other and to enjoy each other’s society.

From the Book of Opening the Mouth we learn that at the time when the pyramids were built the Egyptians believed that, through the performance of certain ceremonies and the utterance of certain formulæ by properly qualified priests standing in places which had been made ceremonially pure, bread and meat and wine could be transformed into spiritual things which were of the nature of the disembodied spirit and of the divine being who was believed to be present at the final funeral ceremony. When the ancient Egyptians ate on this solemn occasion, they believed that they were partaking of food which had been transformed into the substance of their god, and that communion of themselves and their dead with the god was complete. The belief in transubstantiation was, in fact, a fundamental element of their belief in the efficacy of this ceremony. Now in the matter of the Eucharist we find that the monks held two opinions; some thought that the sacramental bread was only a “similitude” of the Body of Christ, and others thought that it was the actual Body. Among those who held the former view was “a man of Scete” (Vol. II, p. 159), and when two brethren heard of his opinion they went and reasoned with him, and tried to convince him that he was wrong. They told him that as man who was taken from the dust of the earth is fashioned in the image of God, so also, since He said of the bread, “This is My Body,” the sacramental bread is God. The old man, however, was not convinced, and at length they agreed to pray to God for a week that the difficulty might be made plain to him. At the end of the week the three men went to the church, and when the bread was placed on the table a Child appeared there at the same time. As the priest stretched out his hand to the bread, the Angel of the Lord came down and slew the Child, and pressed out His Blood into the cup, and when the old man from Scete drew near to partake, “a piece of living flesh smeared and dripping with blood was given to him. Then the old man cried out, ‘I believe, O Lord, that the bread is Thy Body, and that the cup is Thy Blood,’ and straightway the flesh which was in his hand became bread like unto that of the mystery.” In the pagan ceremony the flesh of the bull, the bread-cakes and the wine or beer, represented the material forms of Osiris, and the god was in all three; but in the Christian ceremony the two monks believed that the Body was turned into bread and the Blood into wine, because “God knew the nature of men, and it is unable to eat living flesh.” It is clear that the two monks who converted the old man of Scete believed that the Eucharist was “not to be regarded as a merely commemorative thing,” and that, like their pagan ancestors, “they could eat their God.”

The Christian monks of Egypt, however, lived and preached a religion which possessed characteristics unknown to that of the ancient Egyptians, and among these must stand first Faith, Hope, and Charity. The Egyptian never succeeded in freeing his mind from the idea that the resurrection of his body, whether material or spiritual, depended as much upon the efficacy of amulets, magical and religious formulæ, and the making of offerings, as upon his belief in Osiris, but the sublime Faith of the Christian monk, Anthony, made him declare that mummification was unnecessary, and that Christ would give him back his body, pure and undefiled, at the Resurrection. The pure Hope of the solitary of the mountain or desert was a far loftier conception than that of the pagan Egyptian, for it made him reject every worldly thing and live in and by his faith. Similarly his Charity, as exhibited in the Histories and Sayings of the Fathers, reached to lengths undreamed of by any except the most spiritually-minded of the ancient Egyptians. In all the known literature of pagan Egypt, no parallel to the following passage can be found: “Fasting is the subjugation of the body, prayer is converse with God, vigil is a war against Satan, abstinence is the being weaned from meats, humility is the state of the great man, kneeling is the inclining of the body before the Judge, tears are the remembrance of sins, nakedness is our captivity which is caused by the transgression of the command, and service is constant supplication to and praise of God” (Vol. II, p. 263). To Palladius we owe the oldest and best history of the lives, and words, and deeds of the solitaries and coenobites of Egypt, and every student of the history of religious thought should be grateful to him for a work which describes truly and impartially a great Christian movement, the effects of which exist even in our own days.

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


LET us begin now, by the help of our Lord, and write first of all the history of the Life and Acts of the Saint and the mighty one of God, the blessed Mar Anthony, which was composed by Saint Athanasius, the Archbishop of Alexandria. May our Lord help and strengthen the writer to write, and [the reader] to read & to perform everything which is commanded [herein]. Amen. O Lord, help me, and bring me to the end [of the work]! Amen.

MARVELLOUS care and the loving urging of your understanding for the monkish brethren who are in Egypt have moved me with solicitude [to hope] that by constant meditation on the following stories your mind may be drawn to perfection, so that you may not be repeating with your mouth[s] only the following triumphs, and others which are like unto them, but that also in your persons you may be preachers of the example of these lives and deeds. Now, your careful solicitude is seemly and is most acceptable, and in this respect you have become ministers of the Sublime Will, for it is right that this appearance should not depart from the mirror of your career, and that ye should know at once the craftiness of the Enemy, that is to say, what form exactly it taketh, and what it actually is, and by what means it bringeth [a monk] to naught. And this thing hath been wrought at this time by God, for behold! monasteries which flourish like the flowers and sweet scents of the springtime have been scattered throughout the whole earth, and the sign of the solitary ascetics ruleth from one end thereof unto the other. It is then a beautiful thing for us to embrace and to lay hold upon this power of discernment which your mind hath conceived, and to be the ministers of the fervour of your love with joy and solicitude. For who could be negligent of this service and be blameless, inasmuch as those who have invited me [to write] the history of the triumphs of a righteous man are themselves righteous? And may the Giver of gifts (blessed be His honour!) Himself open the door of our entreaty, and may we draw into our net each one of the stories which we have been deputed by your love to write down, not for our own sake only, but for the sake of your most excellent entreaty, and for the sake of the courageous [thoughts] which are in you, so that we may fulfil your labour, and for the sake of the work of him who triumphed by these acts and deeds, in order that his triumphs may never die among his sons in our Lord; and finally for his name’s sake, that in this history we may also magnify the glory of God [and show forth] how great is the might which He giveth unto those who fear Him.

Now we have been deputed through your affection to write down the triumphs of the blessed man Anthony, and to send by an envoy a history of them to you in writing [which will shew] how it was that he began his discipleship, and what manner of life he led before this took place, and how he was living when he brought his days to a close, and whether all the words which have been spoken concerning him and have come to our hearing are true; and straightway with joy I have devoted myself to the fulfilment of your command. Now by merely writing a commemorative history of the blessed Anthony I also shall gain great benefit, for I am convinced, O my beloved, that by narrating these histories two things will be effected: we shall increase the renown of the man of God in honour and wonder, and we shall begin to instruct your minds step by step; for the acts of the blessed Anthony form a perfect example for the solitary ascetics. Now, O my beloved, as concerning the things which ye have heard about him aforetime, from those who [lived] with him, or [from those] who heard [them] from those who were with him continually, or from those also unto whom accounts of him were handed down by tradition, ye shall have no doubt whatsoever. Ye have, however, only heard a little out of a great quantity, and only just as much as the mind (or memory) is able to narrate; now, mine own mind convinceth me that such is the case, and in compiling the present history I have learned that indeed this is so. For when I thought that I had collected and enumerated a large number of stories, suddenly a great many others, which were far more numerous than those which had already been collected by me, sprang up, and made my mind to be confused; but as many as I was able to remember and to collect my mind hath, with joy, committed to writing. And as for you, cease ye not to ask questions and to inquire [concerning the blessed Anthony], especially of those who come by river from the Thebaïd, that is to say from Inner Egypt (i.e., Upper Egypt), for it may happen that from those from whom ye expect to hear nothing ye may increase your knowledge greatly. For when a man belongeth unto those who have knowledge, he repeateth the story which he knoweth, and though we may think and be convinced that we have collected too many already, [we find, on examination, that our] narrative is immeasurably short. Now many of those who openly received [the accounts] of the wonderful things which were wrought by his hands have departed from this world; and of those who are still living, how many are there who have not revealed unto us concerning the conversations which they had with him, or the things done in his presence! And what man would wish to narrate unto his companions only a few stories out of many?

And when I had received [your] letter, and had read and seen the force thereof, and what it demanded, I was wishful to send and bring certain solitary ascetics who were always with him, so that, peradventure, between them and me I might be able to fulfil your desire. But because the time in which ships could travel from Egypt to the Thebaïd, and from the Thebaïd hither, was unfavourable, and because the letter-carrier was in haste, and because I knew that I had been with Saint Anthony continually, I made it to be a care unto me to write myself unto your loving persons, and tell you what I was able to learn about him, and all that happened between us for a long time, and [how] I poured water upon his hands; and I have regarded a carefully the word of the truth, lest a man should hear what was superfluous and should be in doubt, or should despise and belittle that which he heard.

Now, by race the blessed Anthony was an Egyptian, and he was descended from a noble family, and was, indeed, an owner of slaves. His forefathers were believers, and from his earliest childhood he was brought up in the fear of our Lord; and when he was a child and was being reared among his own kinsfolk, he knew nothing of his father or of what went on among his own people. He was so silent in disposition, and his mind was so humble, that he did not even trouble his parents by asking them questions. He was exceedingly modest (or shy), and he was honest beyond measure. He was unable to read or to write because he could not bear the rough behaviour of the boys [in the school]; his whole desire was to be even according to what is written about Jacob, “He was a simple man, and a dweller in tents” (Genesis 25:27). He clung closely to his parents, and when they came to church he would [run] before them in the flow of his affection; and he was not like an ordinary child, the course of whose customary attendance is broken by the amusements of childhood. He never neglected [the observance of] any of the seasons of the Church, and he neither neglected them in his childhood, nor held them lightly in his early manhood. And from the time when he was a child and knew how to distinguish between good and evil, his going to church was not a mere matter of custom, but was [the result of] discerning understanding. And, moreover, he did not wait for the members of his family (or parents) to be admonishers unto him, because by his life and acts he became a teacher unto them. For they learned by the experience [of] his childhood that he did not live among them like an ordinary simple child, and they accepted the proof of the rectitude of his early manhood; he paid them honour after the manner of a full-grown man, and they regarded him as the master of the house (i.e., steward).

Now when the time arrived and they brought their days to an end, and they departed from this world when he was about eighteen or twenty years old, he and one little sister were left behind, and it happened from sheer necessity that he had to rule the house and take care of his sister. And when as yet not six months had passed since the death of his parents, and when, according to his wont, he was continually in the church, it came to pass one day, when he was in the church, that a righteous idea entered his mind, and that he began to meditate within himself how the blessed Apostles forsook everything and followed after our Redeemer; and how the others who succeeded them and walked in their footsteps sold everything which they had possessed and laid [the money which they received] at the feet of the Apostles, that it might be spent upon the poor; and how great was the blessing of those who had in this wise obeyed the voice of our Redeemer. Now whilst he was meditating these and such-like things, the Lesson was being read, and when the Scriptures were ended, the Gospel was read, and he heard the words of our Lord, Who said unto the rich man, “If thou wishest to be perfect, go and sell everything which thou hast, and give to the poor, and take thy cross, and come after Me, and there shall be unto thee treasure in heaven” (St. Matthew 19:21). And the blessed Anthony received the word of the Gospel as a sign to himself, and he reflected that this reading had not taken place as a matter of chance, but in order that the righteous idea which had taken up its abode in him might be confirmed. And straight-way he went out from the church, and departed and set in order his house and the possessions which he had inherited from his parents. Now he had three hundred fields, a great estate [which produced] abundant crops, and these he handed over to the people of his village, so that they might trouble neither himself nor his sister; but the remainder of his other possessions which were in the house he sold, and gathered in money not a little, which he distributed among the poor, but he laid by a little which was sufficient for his sister’s wants.

And when, on another First Day of the week, he had again entered the church at the time of [the reading of] the Gospel, he inclined his ear carefully to see what word would come forth for him; and as he was inclining his ear, the a word of our Lord to His disciples was immediately read out, saying, “Take no thought for the morrow” (St. Matthew, 6:25, 31, 34; St. Mark 13:11; St, Luke 12:11, 22). And straight-way he received the commandment readily, and he went out and distributed that which remained to him for his sister’s use among the poor. Now unto his sister he spake words of love, and of truth, and of the fear of God, and he made her mind to be like his own; and he delivered her over to certain chaste nuns who were living there at that time. And when he had made an end of these things, he forthwith became a solitary monk, and he took no care for anything whatsoever except his soul, and he began to train himself in the habits of the strictest abstinence and self-denial. Now he dwelt alone in a house which was by the side of the village, for as yet there were no monasteries for ascetics in Egypt, and among the monks there was no man who had any knowledge of the inner desert; and every one who wished to have a care for his soul used to seek out an habitation of this kind. Saint Anthony did not betake himself to the mountain at a great distance from the village, but only at a sufficient distance therefrom, so that he might be somewhat apart from the habitation of men.

And at that time there was in another village on their borders a certain blessed old man, who from his youth up had lived a life of solitary asceticism, and this man the blessed Anthony saw, and was wishful to emulate his fair deeds. First of all he also began to live by the side of the village, in places which were free from the feet [of men], and whilst living in this abode his mind was rent with doubt about the fair works [of the ascetic life], and he gave his soul no rest, for he was constant in meditation about the truth. And he used to ponder within himself [and say], “How did the righteous men of old live? With what manner of triumphs did they please God? And who can make me worthy of even a sight of these?” And as a result of this meditation which arose from love of the righteous men, he began to ask and inquire, “What was the condition of the righteous men? And who shall inform me concerning them?” And whilst asking questions that he might learn something about any of the righteous men who were in [that] place, in the fervour of his love he used to go forth strenuously to seek him (i.e., the old man); and he did not at first return to his own place, without first of all paying homage to the man of God. And he was like unto the wise bee which hovereth and resteth over plants of every kind which are filled with honey that it may fill its habitation with the goodness of the earth. In this manner he himself also received from the sight of each of the righteous men provision for the marvellous way; and this was his manner at the beginning of his ascetic career. And his thoughts were exceedingly well disciplined by him at the beginning of his [life of] righteousness, so that he might not in any wise be anxious about his family, or be fettered by the love of kinsfolk, or be held fast by the affairs of this temporary life; from all [these] he purged himself that he might be a pure offering unto God. Now he used also to labour with his hands, because he had heard [the words], “If a man doth not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10); with a very little [of the wages] of the work of his hands he used to provide himself with food, and the rest he spent upon the poor. And he prayed continually, for he had heard [the words], “Pray, and let it not be tedious unto you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17); and he was wont to listen to the reading of the Scriptures in such wise that not one word might fall to the ground, and henceforth he kept in his mind the remembrance of the commandments which he heard, and they became unto him even as the Scriptures.

Now by these acts and deeds the blessed Anthony was shewing love to his soul, and, even as it is written, “He found favour with God and with man” (St. Luke 2:52). For when it happened that he went [to visit] the righteous men, he hearkened unto them and was subject unto them wholly and in everything, and the love with which they loved him was such that, if it happened that he tarried in paying his visit to them, they were wont to send after him with anxious care. They observed how greatly he was the object of [God’s] mercy, and how great a measure of the love of the things which were spiritual were found with him, and they saw how easy it was for him to gain a reward by trafficking in the riches of heaven. Therefore each one of them, according to the measure of his power, took him by his hand. And they looked and saw that he was to be perfected as a chosen vessel, and they observed when as yet he himself saw it not that he had adopted for himself a glorious rule of life among the righteous men. For what joy is there unto which graciousness is not found to be yoked? Or what humility is there wherewith those who possess it are adorned in which it doth not dwell? Or what love is there, which is the foundation of all the commandments, which it doth not rule? And what man is there who, when he imagineth himself to be merciful, is not carried away thereby [i.e., by this imagination], and who doth not become a prince of wrath, and jealousy, and calumny?

Now Saint Anthony was the storehouse of fasting, and of prayer, and of ascetic labours, and of patient endurance, and of love, and of righteousness, which is the mother of [them] all, but towards those who were young monks like himself he was not envious, except in one matter only, that is to say, he would not be second to any of them in fair works. And he contrived in every possible manner not to give offence to the wicked man; on the contrary, [he wished] that those who were yoked together with him might be drawn to his opinion (or mind) by his solicitude [for them], and by his graciousness, and that they might make progress in their career. And he toiled in his labours in such a manner that they were not only not envious of him, but they rejoiced in him and gave thanksgiving for him. Now by reason of these triumphs every man used to call him “Theophilus,” which is, being interpreted, “God-loving,” and all the righteous gave him this name; and some of them loved him like a brother, and some of them like a son.

And when the Enemy, the hater of the virtues and the lover of evil things, saw all this great perfection in the young man, he could not endure it, and he surrounded himself with his slaves, even as he is wont to do, and began [to work] on Anthony. At the beginning of his temptings of the saint he approached him with flattery, and cast into him anxiety as to his possessions, and solicitude and love for his sister, and for his family, and for his kinsfolk, and the love of money and lusts of various kinds, and the [thought of the] rest [of the things] of the life of [this] world, and finally of the hard and laborious life which he lived, and of the weakness of body [which would come upon him] with the lapse of time; and, in short, he stirred up in him the power of the thoughts so that by means of one [or other] of them he might be flattered, and might be made to possess shortcomings and be caught in the net through his instigation.

Now when the Enemy saw that his craftiness in this matter was without profit, and that the more he brought temptation unto Saint Anthony, the more strenuous the saint was in protecting himself against him with the armour of righteousness, he attacked him by means of the vigour of early manhood which is bound up in the nature of our humanity. With the goadings of passion he used to trouble him by night, and in the daytime also he would vex him and pain him with the same to such an extent that even those who saw him knew from his appearance that he was waging war against the Adversary. But the more the Evil One brought unto him filthy and maddening thoughts, the more Saint Anthony took refuge in prayer and in abundant supplication, and amid them [all] he remained wholly chaste. And the Evil One was working [upon him] every shameful deed according to his wont, and at length he even appeared unto Saint Anthony in the form of a woman; and other things which resembled this he performed with ease for such things are a subject for boasting to him.

But the blessed Anthony knelt down upon his knees on the ground, and prayed before Him Who said, “Before thou criest unto Me, I will answer thee” (Isaiah 65:24), and said, “O my Lord, this I entreat Thee: let not Thy love be blotted out from my mind, and behold, I am, by Thy grace, innocent before Thee.” And again the Enemy multiplied in him the thoughts of lust, until Saint Anthony became as one who was being burned up, not through the Evil One, but through his own lusts; but he girded himself about with the threat of the thought of the Judgement, and of the torture of Gehenna, and of the worm which dieth not. And whilst meditating on the thoughts which could be directed against the Evil One, he prayed for thoughts which would be hostile to him. Thus, to the reproach and shame of the Enemy, these things could not be performed; for he who imagined that he could be God was made a mock of by a young man, and he who boasted over flesh and blood was vanquished by a man who was clothed with flesh.

Now in all these things our Lord, Who put on a [human] body for our sakes, was his helper, and He strengthened him to become a shield against the Evil One, so that by means of this act of grace which was wrought on our behalf, before any of the blessed men lived, by the merit of His agony He taught us in what it is meet that we should boast. For when one repeated too often those triumphs which were wrought for him, Saint Anthony answered and said, “It was not I who worked, but His grace which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

And when the Enemy saw that he was vanquished in this fight, and that his craftiness was driven away and brought to naught by the thought (or mind) of the righteous man, he gnashed his teeth, and cried out that he would shew the righteous man his [evil] inner nature (or thoughts) in an external [material] form, that, peradventure, by means of fear and terror he might find an opportunity to perform his will. And he appeared unto Saint Anthony in the form of an Indian boy, and he began to say unto him, “Whom seest thou? I have come, and behold I will stand up, and I will overcome thee, and I will bring thee low, even as I do many.” And whilst he was saying these words, the blessed Anthony made over himself the Sign of the Cross, and ceased to tremble, and the Enemy saw the Sign of the Cross, and straightway was terrified. And when the blessed Anthony saw that he was terrified, he began to ask him a question, saying, “Who art thou, by whose voice such words as these are heard by me?” Then the Enemy began [to say] unto him after the manner of a man who blustereth, “I, even I, am the lover of error and of fornication, and it is I who cast the goadings of these [thoughts] and flatteries [into the mind of man]. It is I who have taken upon myself to lead many astray, and I fight against every man, and I am against righteousness, and I am, even as the Prophet called me, the ‘spirit of fornication’ (Hosea 4:12), for through me have gone astray all those who have stumbled. It is I who have injured thee on several occasions, and thou hast been held in contempt by me in everything.”

And the blessed Anthony gave thanks unto the Lord, and gained great encouragement, and said, “What power thinkest thou that thou hast in thee, O Enemy, to resist the might of the Cross? Thou hast done well to appear in the form of an Indian, for thou art black in thy nature, and thou art as pitiably weak as a boy who hath been brought low by punishment. Thou art esteemed as naught by me, and I tremble not at thy wiles; for the Lord helpeth me, and I shall look [in triumph] upon mine enemies.” Now when that black being heard these words, straightway his appearance vanished from Anthony’s sight. This is the first strife which Saint Anthony [waged] against his Enemy, or rather, this is the first act of assistance which came to help Anthony from our Redeemer, Who vanquished sin in His own body, that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, and that we might not walk after the flesh but after the spirit (Romans 8:4).

But although the blessed Anthony saw the Enemy made powerless and brought low, he neither neglected his prayers nor ceased from his [wonted] course [of life], for he knew well that his contest was against a crafty being, who, although he had been vanquished for the time, would not cease [to trouble], and who, whenever he could find an opportunity through some small negligence on his part, would suddenly rise up and vanquish him that had on several occasions gained the victory over him. For Saint Anthony knew that there was no cessation to his wrongdoing, and that he wandered about like a roaring lion seeking whom he might break (1 St. Peter 5:8). And he had learned from the Scriptures that the snares of the Adversary were many, and he was certain from his own knowledge that he strove in this manner; and he therefore contended strenuously in the fear of God, keeping his object before him.

And he pondered in his mind that although the Enemy had not been able to draw him into his net with lusts of divers kinds, he had still other means whereby he was wont to make our humanity to sin; for the nature thereof yearneth to sin always. Now it is especially right for us in the time of our victory, when we have our understanding under our will, to oppress and bring our body into subjection to the will of freedom and of righteousness, lest, while we are imagining that we are victors over one class of sins, we find that we are vanquished by others which are their opposite. And Saint Anthony kept this in mind, and [he was thinking] these thoughts always, and day by day he was adding toil unto his former works of asceticism; and many were wondering at the greatness of the patient endurance which he possessed, and how long-suffering he was in his afflictions. For behold, the freedom of his spirit (or soul), and the thoughts of his mind, by reason of the great length [of time] which they were practised by him, as it were renewed him, and changed him from one kind of being to another; and he used to employ as a foundation some small matter from the example of others, and then he would take it and polish it in his own person, and with him it became so beautiful that the spectators thereof imagined that it was to be found with him alone. For he was a perfect handicraftsman in matters which related to the fear of God, and wheresoever he saw that one of the heavenly works of uprightness was being practised by a man who was not honouring it for its own value, he would take it, and polish it in his own person, and would make manifest how great its beauty was.

And Saint Anthony kept vigil to the utmost, and to such an extent that the greater number of his days dawned on him without his having had any sleep. He was wont to eat at even-tide daily, but on occasions he passed three days, or four days, or even whole weeks at a time [without eating]. His food was bread and salt, and his drink was water, and in the matter of wine, and flesh, and other dainty meats he declared [them] to be so superfluous, that they ought not to be used even by ordinary monks. What he slept upon was a mat made of palm leaves only, but for a very long time he used to make the bare ground his bed. He was, moreover, exceedingly careful not to anoint himself with oil, for he used to say that oil rendered the body soft and made the members thereof effeminate, and for this reason [he] required young men to distil upon themselves from their inward minds the oil of strenuousness. He was also mindful of the word of the Apostle which he spake, saying, “When I am weak (or sick), then am I strong” (1 Corinthians 12:10). And he possessed a wonderful mind, for he never pondered and thought how far he had advanced in discipleship, but each day he kept in mind that he had only just begun at the beginning thereof; for he remembered the word of the Apostle which he spake, “That which is behind me I forget, and I stretch forward unto the things which are before me” (Philippians 3:13), and also the words of the Prophet Elijah which he spake, “As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand this day” (1 Kings 17:1). Thus he prepared himself to be worthy to stand always before the Majesty, even as the man [Elijah] who stood on that day before the Lord; and he used to say to himself, “It is right that a monk should know that in his manner of life (or habitation) and in his acts and deeds he must be an alien unto the world, and an associate (or son of the yoke) of the Angelic Watchers.”

And after these things he passed into another frame of mind, and, having decided within himself that he would go forth from the village, he departed and took up his abode in a tomb in the cemetery, which was situated in a mountain which lay close by the village; and he commanded one of his acquaintances to bring him a morsel of bread from time [to time]. And having done these things and entered into the tomb and shut the door upon himself, straightway the Adversary, together with a multitude of devils who were his associates, burst in upon him there, for he was afraid to let Saint Anthony go from the village altogether, and he began to say unto him, “How great is that which thou endurest! And to what limit wilt thou drive thyself? Thou hast come and hast entered into the place of our abode. What man is there who hath ever done the like? And when was it ever heard that men ought to live among the tombs? We have been driven out of the village, and we shall also be driven out from among the tombs. Now therefore will we take vengeance upon, thee, for it is thou who hast made fools of us.” Then they began to smite him with blows, and they smote him so severely that at length he fell [on the ground], and nothing but his breath was left in him; and Saint Anthony used to relate that the blows with which the devils smote him were more severe than those of the children of men. But God brought help unto him, and would not deliver him over to death, for He put it into the mind of him that used to visit him to come quickly, and to open [the door of] the tomb according to his wont, and he saw the blessed Anthony, who was like unto a dead man by reason of the blows; and straightway he lifted him up and brought him to the church in the village. And there collected about him no small number of people, and they gathered together and sat by his side as if he had been a dead man. Now by the sweet rest of sleep the blessed Anthony was refreshed, [and he was relieved] from his affliction, and he came to himself, and he turned round and saw that all the people were asleep, and that only his friend who was sitting watching by his pillow was awake; and he made a sign to him, and he drew nigh unto him, and Saint Anthony said unto him quietly, “Come, do [an act of] righteousness (or charity), lest the heart of the people should think and mankind should imagine that there is still power left in the Evil One, and should be afraid to lift up the heel against him.”

And the man hearkened unto him, and whilst the people were quiet and asleep, he lifted him up and carried him to the tomb, and shut the door as usual. Then Saint Anthony prayed as he was lying down, for he had no power in him to stand up, and when he had multiplied [his] prayers, he said with a loud voice, “Where are ye, O children of Gehenna? Here am I, even I, Anthony, and I will not depart from this place until ye are destroyed in this place: for although ye multiply tortures, I shall not be remote from the love of Christ.” And next he said with a loud voice, “Though a whole legion [of devils] encamp against me, my heart shall not fear”: such were the words which this man, this athlete, proclaimed in his striving. Then the heart of the Enemy of righteousness melted within him, and he cried unto the dogs his kinsfolk, and spake, emitting smoke from himself as he did so, saying unto them, “Did ye not say unto me, What shall we do unto this man, this insolent fellow, who hath treated us wholly with contempt and disdain? His heart is not afraid of the quaking terror, his hearing is not perturbed by words (or voices), his eye is not terrified by visions, and his body hath no fear of blows. Who among you can give [me] counsel as to what shall be done [with him]?” And thereupon they contrived the following plan.

Now it is very easy for the Enemy to create apparitions and appearances of such a character want they shall be deemed real and actual objects, and [straightway] phantasms of this kind caused a phantom earthquake, and they rent asunder the four corners of the house, and entered therein in a body from all sides. One had the form of a lion, and another had the appearance of a wolf, and another was like unto a panther, and all the others were in the forms and similitudes of serpents, and of vipers, and of scorpions. The lion was roaring as a lion roareth when he is about to slay; the bull was ready to gore [him] with his horns; the panther was prepared to spring [upon him]; and the snakes and the vipers were hissing, and they appeared to be in the act of hurling themselves upon him; and the sounds which they made and the forms in which they showed themselves were terrible. Now the blessed man Anthony was not disturbed (or frightened) by their commotion, and his mind remained wholly undisturbed. And as he was lying down he laughed at these phantoms, and said, “Thus there is no power in you. Ye have taken unto yourselves the forms of wild beasts, and if there had been any power whatsoever to do harm in you, for one of you only to come [against me] would have been sufficient; but because our Lord hath cut off the things which incited you to attack me, and the goad of your wickedness hath no strength therein, ye lay plots and contrive snares, thinking that, peradventure, ye will be able to make men quake by fear only. And, moreover, whosoever hath had experience of your feebleness [knoweth] that ye have obtained as your helpers the mere forms and appearances of wild beasts.”

And Anthony also spake unto them in very great boldness of heart, saying, “If ye have indeed received power over me, or if it be in your power to do me harm, hesitate ye not to do it, only draw nigh speedily and do ye whatsoever ye lust to do; but if ye be unable to do anything, wherefore do ye weary yourselves in vain? For our faith in our Lord is a seal and a wall unto us.” Now our Lord was not unmindful of the athlete Anthony, and He appeared unto him after his victory. And the blessed Anthony lifted up his eyes, and he saw a roof-curtain drawn aside, and a ray of light descended therefrom upon him; and straightway the devils dispersed in terror, and the sufferings of his body were relieved, and the blessed man felt the help of our Lord [nigh unto him], and understood.

Then having waited for a space, and having recovered somewhat from his tribulations, and having enjoyed rest from the graciousness of the revelation of our Lord, he lifted up his voice, and said, “O my Lord, I adore Thine help: where wast Thou before these sufferings and tribulations came upon me?” And straightway a voice came to him, saying, “Here was I by thy side, O Anthony, and I have never left thee, for I remained that I might look upon thy strife; but inasmuch as thou hast triumphed completely, and hast not been broken down with sadness in thy tribulations, I will be unto thee a Guide and a Comforter, and I will make thee to be renowned as a faithful servant throughout all the earth.” And when these words had been heard by him, straightway [peace] came upon his body, and he had rest from his afflictions. Then he rose up and bowed the knee, and prayed, and gave thanks unto God Who had visited him; and from that time onwards he perceived that he had very much greater strength in him than formerly. Now at that time Anthony was about five-and-thirty years of age.

And it came to pass that on the following morning he departed from the tomb and went forth to that solitary old monk who used to dwell by the side of the village, and he tried to persuade him to go with him to the desert, but the old man excused himself from this, for one thing because of his old age, and for another because he had not been in the habit of living in the desert, and indeed at that time none of the monks lived there. And straightway Anthony rose up and prayed with the old man, and he besought him to join his prayers unto his that God might make his way prosperous before him; and [afterwards] he went forth [alone] into the desert.

And once again the Enemy went forth after him, and when Anthony was exhausted by reason of the distance [of the way], he began to contend with him. Now when the blessed man Anthony had journeyed along the road [and had arrived] at the skirt of the desert, he perceived that the Enemy had cast down before him a large silver tablet (or plate); but the blessed man knew that these things were of the wiles of the Evil One, and he made him to know that this example of his handicraft which had been fashioned by him could not cause him to err. And looking at the tablet he answered and said, “Assuredly the Evil One [wisheth to do me evil] by means of this tablet. How can it have come in the desert? This is no frequented road, and there is no inhabited land near, and thieves do not dwell in this country; it is the handiwork of the Evil One. Thou shalt not, O [Enemy], pervert my mind by this thing; may thou and it go to perdition.” And having made an end of his words the silver tablet was consumed and disappeared in the form of smoke before the fire of the words of the blessed man Anthony.

But again the Evil One showed him some gold, and it was real gold, and Anthony fell into anxious thought and pondered [saying], “What is this thing? It is either a piece of the handiwork of the Evil One, or it is a temptation from God, and a trial from Him (may His Honour be blessed!) Who hath restrained me from the blandishments of the Evil One [who saith], Behold, I will show him real gold”; but the blessed man was not overthrown thereby, and he esteemed the gold as filth. [And Anthony said unto the Evil One], “Choose thou some other kind of handiwork and snare, for out of this one have I delivered myself.” Now whence that gold came or how it got there Anthony telleth us not, and we, even after most careful thought, are unable to afford any information on the matter; but [what Anthony saw] was gold, and gold in large quantities, for the blessed man marvelled at the great abundance thereof.

Now when the Evil One saw that he had protected himself by the Sign of the Cross and was praying, and that he did not remove himself from his place, he stepped aside and passed away quickly in the form of a flame of fire, and he neither turned nor looked at him. And Anthony was particularly well armed for this species of warfare and [he fought] valiantly, and he set out again on the road whereon he had been travelling. And having arrived at the desert, he went up into a mountain wherein there were serpents; but inasmuch as the snakes found there were very numerous, he departed from that place and came to the bank of the river, and took up his abode there. And the snakes, which were there when the righteous man set his foot upon that spot, speedily gave place unto him, and each one of them made the greatest possible haste to escape from him; now his smell caused them to flee, and they knew that this man was not [one] of the people of that country.

Now therefore the blessed man Anthony took up his abode there by himself, and he shut himself in; and he laid in a supply of bread once every six months (for the Egyptians were in the habit of making at one time bread sufficient even for a whole year), and as for water he found that there. And he went and dwelt there in a place which was like unto a cleft in the rocks, with the intention of seeing no man and of being seen by none, and he had his abode there for very many years; in the roof of his house there was a small opening, and through this he used to receive [bread] thrice yearly, for the mountain wherein he dwelt was [remote] from inhabited land. Such people as came to him, whom he could not be induced to admit into his presence remained outside, perhaps for one or two days, and when they strained their ears that they might hear something, they would hear a noise like that of a mighty multitude of people, and confused sounds, and some of the sounds were like unto the voices of men shouting loudly, and some were like unto great cries of lamentation, and some were those of men of war and of a mighty tumult. And among all these was a voice which said, “Depart from us! Why hast thou come to our country to [cause] our death? Hast thou never heard that which thy Lord spake concerning us, saying, Evil spirits dwell in the desert, and in desolate places, and in the lands wherein there is no water? Behold, henceforward thou shalt know that this is our habitation; depart thou, and give place unto us once more.”

And when these words were heard, those who were outside [Anthony’s dwelling] thought that men had entered therein through the roof of [his] house and that they were quarrelling with him; but when they had gone round about the house they found a small opening in the wall, and having looked through it they saw the blessed man alone. Then they understood that those voices were those of the devils who used to wage war against him, and mighty dread came upon them, and they began to cry out to the blessed man Anthony. Now the just man was more ready to hearken unto their words than unto the tumult of the devils, and to hold converse with them, and he would draw nigh to the side of the door, and say unto them, “Come ye nigh unto me, and be not afraid”; and having conversed with them graciously, and filled their hearts, he would dismiss them in peace, and admonish them, saying, Be ye afraid neither of sounds (or voices) nor of phantoms of this kind, for in this wise the devils are wont to act towards those who are timid; but seal ye yourselves with the Seal of the Cross, and return ye unto your homes in confidence, and forgive those who would make of you laughing-stocks.” Thus they were dismissed in peace. And as for Anthony himself he had dwelt in strife with the devils for a long time past, and was very courageous, and the strength which was in him was added to in proportion as he saw that his enemies were vanquished.

Now when the report of the kind of strife in which he lived reached his friends and acquaintances, they set out to go to him, for they thought that they would certainly find him dead; and having arrived at the place where they wished to be, they came to the side of his house and inclined their ears at the door that peradventure they might hear any sound or breathing inside. And they heard a sound like the voice of one who played a harp and said, “Let God arise, and let all His enemies be scattered, and let all those who hate Him flee before Him; let them be destroyed, even as smoke is made to disappear, and as wax melteth before the fire, let the wicked perish before God” (Psalm 68:1, 2). And again, “All the nations compassed me round about, and in the Name of the Lord I destroyed them.” (Psam 118:10). And the blessed Anthony lived in this habitation about twenty years.

And it came to pass that in the process of time his fame reached all the monks who were in Egypt, and all the other folk therein who did not lead the life of the ascetic and recluse, and men of distinction, and monks in Egypt began to come unto him in large numbers. The Egyptian monks came that they might copy the manner of his life and deeds, and the laity came that he might pray over them, and might heal certain of them of their sicknesses. One day, when a multitude of people had come there in a body [to see him] and they had besought him repeatedly [to speak to them], and he had answered them never a word, they lifted the door out of its socket, and threw themselves down on their faces before him, and made supplication unto him and pacified him, and then each man among them stood up, and made known his request unto him. And having gone forth [to them] even like a man who goeth forth from the depths of the earth, they saw that his appearance was like unto that of an angel of light, and they marvelled why it was that his body had not been weakened by all his confinement, and why it was that his understanding had not become feeble, and why, on the contrary, his appearance, and his bodily stature, and his countenance were then as they had known them always to have been in the times which were past.

Now when he saw a large concourse of people he was not disturbed, and when they brought their petitions unto him, he was not moved to impatient anger, but he remained in a placid and thoughtful state, for the Living Word was unto him a guide. Among those who came unto him, there were many who were indeed very sorely afflicted, and our Lord healed them by the hand of the blessed man; and, moreover, God gave him such a measure of grace in his speech that every man was wholly gratified thereat, for those who were in affliction and distress were encouraged to endure thereby, those who were occupied with contention were quieted thereby, those who were afflicted sorely became long-suffering, the haughty were made humble thereby, and the arrogant were brought low thereby, in order that every man might learn the doctrine of righteousness. For he used to say, “That we should possess anything besides Christ is unnecessary, and we should not esteem anything of value besides the love of Christ, neither possessions nor kinsfolk, not even our soul itself. For if God did not spare His Son, but delivered Him up on account of our sins, how much the more is it right for us, having tasted and known Divine grace, to give our souls not on His behalf, for such a thing is not required from us, but on behalf of our own lives!” By these words he used to persuade many to withdraw themselves from this world, and from the tribulation thereof, and to take refuge in a habitation of monks.

And he began to increase from that time with Christ in simple-mindedness, and in love towards strangers, and in long-suffering; now these things not only go with us, but they also go before us, and they make ready for us a place in the country of the humble and meek, and no man should lack them, especially when he knoweth the will of his Lord, and that he is bound to prepare himself according to His will. Would any servant dare to stand before his master’s face and say unto him, “Yesterday I toiled, but to-day I have done nothing at all”? Or have we not heard what our Lord said in the Gospel, “When a servant hath toiled nobly and hath laboured in the work which is outside, as soon as he hath gone inside he shall weave a place for his hands and shall minister unto his Lord, and then happiness shall be his”? Now, since we have heard these things from the Divine Books, what reason can we have for being without the fear of God? Was it not for this that Ezekiel the Prophet was made a watchman? (Ezekiel 3:17.) Did not Judas, because of the one night wherein he wrought wickedness, lose the labour of all his days? (St. Matthew 26:47, 49; 27:5.)

Let us continue to be strenuous then, O children of our profession, and let it not become wearisome unto us, for our Lord hath been made a guide unto us and unto every man who hath a desire for the virtues. And that it may not be tedious unto us, the blessed Paul became an example unto us aforetime, and said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). Now, if we were to think each day that we had to die that day, we should never sin at all, and this is the explanation of the word which was spoken. If when it is morning we were to imagine that we should never arrive at the evening, and if also when it is evening we thought that we should never arrive at the morning [we should never sin]; by this thought also the nature of our life would teach us that it is not a matter for confidence. If therefore we were to prepare our mind in this manner, and if we were to live with this thought within us, we should never be overcome by sin, and the lust which is fleeting would not reign over us, and we should not keep anger against a fellow-creature in the flesh, and we should not love the possessions which pass away, and we should forgive every man who offended us. And the lust for women would die in the heart, for how could it be ministered unto? For at all times everything which is greater than its fellow overcometh its fellow, and the fear of God exalteth itself above everything.

Now therefore, O my beloved, let us be zealous in carrying out the work whereunto we have once bound ourselves, and let us travel to the end on the road whereon we have begun to journey, and let no man among us look behind him, lest we be like unto the wife of Lot (Genesis 19:26). It is not easy for him that shall turn behind him, after he hath received the doctrine of righteousness, to enter into the kingdom of heaven; he that turneth back, whatsoever be the way in which he turn, will repent of what he hath done, and he will turn to the elements of this world, even as a dog to his vomit (Proverbs 26:2; 2 St. Peter 2:22). Be ye therefore not afraid as if ye were carrying a heavy burden, for the burden of our Lord is easy and light (St. Matthew 11:30) unto those who desire it; if therefore we have the desire, everything is easy unto us. The children of this world travel over the seas and make journeys across difficult countries in order that they may learn profane wisdom, in the doctrine of which the means of righteousness is not employed, and in the praise of which there is no profit of life; but we are not wanted either to set out on a journey or to travel on the sea for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, for our Lord declared aforetime, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is within you” (St. Luke 17:21). So therefore, O my beloved, life is in our own hands to gain, for it is within us, and it is ministered unto by us. For the soul by its nature possesseth the perception of the understanding, and therefore our soul hath knowledge of what our life is; it is prepared by the nature of its creation, and is ready for everything which it wisheth. Therefore also Joshua, the son of Nun, commanded the people, saying, “Prepare your hearts before the God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23), and John also said, “Prepare your ways” (St. Luke 3:4). Now when the Book decreeth the preparation of the soul, it wisheth that the rectitude of the nature of its first creation shall be in it, but when it goeth forth outside its limit it is condemned by the Book like the Evil One. Therefore, the matter is not a difficult one unto us. For, if we remain in that wherein we were created from the beginning, life is in us and with us; and our mind also condemneth us, when it thinketh evil and hath envy of the thoughts, and bringeth forth a deed of injury in an unseemly manner. Everything, therefore, is given into our own power to do, and there is no master set over us to command us what we shall do; moreover, there is no man who can restrain us either from thinking or doing fair things; whether we live or whether we die belongeth unto ourselves. For if we desire to withdraw ourselves from thoughts of the wicked and from usurers and pledges, let us take heed diligently and guard for our Lord the liberty, which hath been given unto us without blemish, as something which we have received from the beginning, and let us be faithful children unto the Lord. Therefore, take ye heed, O my beloved sons, that ye keep not silence like those who have been brought low through sin, or by wrath or by lust; for it is written that the anger of a man perfecteth not the righteousness of God, and besides, lust conceiveth and bringeth forth sin, and when sin hath been performed completely, it bringeth forth death (St. James 1:15; Psalm 7:14; Isaiah 59:4).

In this wise, O my beloved, let us lead the life of watchfulness and strenuousness, even as it is written, “Keep thine heart with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23), for we have cunning and crafty enemies, and it is against these that our strife must be, even as the Apostle said, “Our contending is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against those who are masters of the world of darkness, which is beneath the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12). Their contending against us is very frequent, and there is no respite to their attacks upon us. Now, even between the devils there is a distinction, but concerning their nature and concerning [this] difference it would be a labour to narrate; we will, however, here reveal and describe very briefly those things which are necessary to be learnt concerning their contending against us, and their temptings, and their blandishments (or, flatteries), and, in short, the whole system of their cunning.

Before this, however, it is proper for us to learn that the beings which are called devils were not created that they might be devils, for there is nothing evil in the works of God, and even they were created beautiful beings; but when they turned aside from the mind of righteousness, or from the heavenly understanding, they were removed to a distance from the place wherein they lived. And seeing that they were cast away by the exalted Will, they drew nigh and mingled themselves among the created beings of this world, and they made the heathen to go astray wholly according to their desire; and against us, because they have envy of us, they multiply their contendings that, peradventure, they may be able to turn us out of the way of the truth of the kingdom of heaven, and that we may not attain unto the country wherefrom they were swept out and fell. Therefore the labour of prayer and of abundant supplication is necessary for us, that through the Divine Providence, and through the gift which we have received from the Holy Spirit, we may be able to know what distinction existeth between the evil spirits, and what each one of them hath been commanded to [seek] after, and by what manner of means the destruction of every one of them is to be brought about. For their cunning is very great, and they spread abroad the mesh of their net in everything. Therefore the blessed Apostle and the rest of the righteous men, who like him had experience of and had tried the Tempter in everything, and it is for this very reason that they have declared it, said, “The artifices of the Evil One shall not overcome us.” And I will now narrate something of what I have endured from them, and a little of the vast knowledge which I have of them, and, like the beloved Prophets, I will tell what I understand about them.

The whole race of devils is beyond measure an envious one, and it is altogether jealous of all mankind, and particularly of the monks, for they cannot bear to see heavenly deeds wrought and heavenly lives led upon the earth, and they, therefore, make hidden pits and snares for us, as it is written, “They have laid their nets over my paths” (Psalm 57:7): now [the words] “their nets” mean thoughts of iniquity. Let us, however, be not afraid of their stirrings, and let us not be made lax by reason of their blandishments (or flatteries); but let us be constant in fasting and in prayer, and straightway they shall be vanquished and disappear. Now when they depart, let us not be confident and say, “Behold, they are put to shame, and we are freed from them,” for this race of beings can never be put to shame, and they know not how to blush; for even whilst their temptations are being brought to naught on this side, they make an attack upon us on the other; and when they have examined and tried by what means our understanding may be flattered or terrified, they plan numberless schemes [to deceive us]. Now the devils are in the habit of leading men astray by declaring something such as the following: “Behold, we will inform you concerning the things which are about to take place,” and then they show them mighty phantoms which reach up to the ceilings, so that by means of these similitudes they may lead astray those whom they are not able to injure in their minds.

It is quite unnecessary that we who are believers should be terrified either by the motions of the various species of devils, or by the various forms [which they take], and we should not be afraid of their voices, which are angry and threatening at one time, and which are flattering at another. For the Evil One is a liar, and there is no truth either in his words or his deeds. But although mankind once gave him power, and sin lifted up its horn, our Lord hath now broken the goad (or, sting) thereof, and hath humbled it and brought it down beneath our feet; and it hath been made a thing for the Gentiles to trample upon, and a laughing-stock to the nations. And this is the proof that the matter is thus, and righteousness testifieth that it hath been performed in creation, for behold, he who, in his error, hath exalted himself in his heart, and who boasteth that he can dry up the sea, and can parcel out the dry land, hath not the power to destroy the heavenly mind which is in the monks, and he is unable to turn so small and unimportant a creature as myself from speaking about him. Now the devils are cunning, but they can only lead astray those upon whom they find an opportunity for exercising their wiles; they appear in all kinds of forms and similitudes, and it happeneth that the Evil One even demandeth for himself the form of righteousness, as it is written, “Satan even taketh upon himself the form of an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

There is a time when we see no man and yet the sound of the working of the devils is heard by us, and it is like the singing of a song in a loud voice; and there are time[s] when the word[s] of the Scriptures are heard by us, just as if a living man were repeating them, and they are exactly like the words which we should hear if a man were reading the Book. And it also happeneth that they rouse us up to the night prayer, and incite us to stand on our feet; and they make us to see also the similitudes of monks and the forms of those who mourn (i.e., the anchorites); and they draw nigh unto us as if they had come from a long journey, that they may make lax the understanding of those who are feeble of soul, and they begin to utter words like unto these, “Are we condemned throughout all creation to love places of desolation?” Or, “Were we not able, when we came to our houses, to fear God and to do fair deeds?” And when they are unable to work their will by means of a scheme of this kind, they cease from this kind of deceit and turn unto another [and say], “How now is it possible for thee to live? For thou hast sinned and committed iniquity in many things. Thinkest thou that the spirit hath not revealed unto me what hath been done by thee, or that I know not that thou hast done such and such a thing?” If, therefore, a simple brother hear these things, and feel within himself that he hath done evil as the Evil One [hath said], and he be not acquainted with his craftiness, his mind will be troubled straightway, and he shall fall into despair and turn backwards.

It is then, O my beloved, unnecessary for us to be terrified at these things, and we have need to fear only when the devils multiply the speaking of the things which are true, and then we must rebuke them severely. For even in the days of our Redeemer, when they spake [unto Him] the things which were true, He rebuked them and made them to hold their peace and to speak not, lest they should mingle their wickedness with the truth that was in the words which they were speaking. We must then not even appear to incline our hearing to their words, even though they be words of truth which they utter; for it would be a disgrace unto us that those who have rebelled against God should become [our] teachers. And let us, O my brethren, arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness, and let us put on the helmet of redemption, and in the time of contending let us shoot out from a believing mind spiritual arrows as from a bow which is stretched (compare Ephesians 6:10–17). For they are nothing at all, and even if they were, their strength hath in it nothing which would enable it to resist the might of the Cross. Whatsoever they do they do like thieves and robbers, and not after the manner of soldiers (or,trained men of war), for they have not the strength to stand up and to contend for any length of time. They shout, and wrangle, and make tumultuous noises and commotions, that, peradventure, by means of the sheer fright which they themselves inspire, they may be able to lead away captive weak minds and to make them do their will. If they had the power to perform anything, or to do any harm whatsoever, so much tumult and outcry and trouble would be unnecessary, and if one of them only were to come, he could perform [by himself] that which he had been deputed to do. For when the angel of truth was sent by the Lord of creation against the camp of the Assyrians he had no need of many companions, and he came not with tumult and terror, but with quietness and firmness he made use of the power which had been given to him, and destroyed one hundred and fourscore and five thousand of the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:26); but the assembly of the evil ones, because it possesseth not the power of performing its own will, maketh use of means which are full of terror.

Now if any man shall say, “Supposing now the devils to have no power in them, by what agency did they bring upon Job all the calamities which are written in the Book?” let him understand that he must think in this wise, that is to say, he must believe that the Evil One hath no power to do harm, and that God only gave power to tempt him into his hands. For if this were not so, He would not have stripped him of everything, and He would have had compassion upon his soul, but mercy is not found with the Evil One. In this wise must a man think. Moreover, the Evil One appeareth to have been particularly feeble, inasmuch as the just man vanquished him in the contest which he waged with a man; yet this is not a matter for wonder, my beloved, for Job the just was not given over wholly into the hands of the Evil One. And know ye that unless God had so wished, he would neither have had power over Job himself, nor over his herds and his flocks, nor over the miserable wealth of those who were spectators of him—if a man may speak thus. And that the matter is thus be ye persuaded from the blessed Gospel, for when our Lord restrained and pursued the devils in one place, they besought Him to permit them to enter into a herd of swine which was nigh unto them (St. Matthew 8:30; St. Mark 5:2–13; St. Luke 8:32, 33). If now the devils had not power over the swine, how much [less] can they have power over man, who was made in the image of God? So therefore in proportion as it is necessary for us to increase our fear of God, it is meet for us to add to the contempt which we should have for the congregation of the evil ones. Now in what way can we increase our fear of God? Or in what way are we able to add to our contempt for the evil ones? The means by which both these things are to be performed are similar in each case. Whensoever we make our life and deeds better than they were before, we increase the pleasure which we give to God, and we also multiply the contempt which we have for the evil ones. For the devils are far more afraid of the fasting of the monks, and of their prayers, and of their chastity, and of their abstinence, and of their meekness, and of their gentleness, than they are of their triumphs, and they are afraid most of all of their righteousness, which is in Christ. And all these [virtues] pierce them on every side after the manner of arrows, and for this reason they do all they can, and they become mad and foam at the mouth, that, if they can help it, they may not arrive at this condition of disgrace.

Therefore do not ye give unto them an opportunity in any matter whatsoever, neither when they come against us in the guise of enemies in wars, nor when under the form of friends they attempt to flatter us; for they are wont to draw nigh unto us in the guise of friends and to pretend to reveal matters unto us. At one time they will come unto us and inform us beforehand concerning the coming of the brethren, and at another we hear [from them] also rumours and reports [of things which are] remote; when, therefore, it happeneth that they tell us of something which is going to happen, and it cometh to pass, let us not be surprised. For it is not a great thing, seeing that they themselves are spirits in their persons, that they should see and perceive the brethren who are coming to us, and should tell us beforehand of their coming, and should [make known] a matter which hath happened in a certain place, and that they should be as it were those who revealed it unto us. Now these things a runner who is swift in his course could do, and also a horseman who rideth rapidly. Therefore, let us not be led away after their deeds through such things, and let us neither marvel at them nor think that they are matters of importance, for that they are not things which have not been done already hath been made known aforetime; but to reveal secret things and to make known aforetime what is to be performed are matters which are in the hands of God only.

Know ye, however, O my beloved, that they have made known to many who were afar off the fortune of this our present congregation, and all matters which were in dispute; and of what I have said the following [words] hidden and an explanation. It hath happened by chance that a man hath set out from India, or from some remote country, to come unto us, and when as yet we did not see him, or know anything about him, straightway we have had sight of him as have heard where he was prepared to go, for immediately [the devils] seized upon the news quickly and brought it unto us saying, “Behold, such and such a man from such and such a place is coming unto you.” It hath happened, moreover, that the man who was coming was a king, or that some obstacle hath prevented him from coming, whosoever he was, or that having travelled a certain distance, which was not little, he returned to his own country, but nevertheless the shameful and reprehensible craftiness of the devils had found it out.

And thus it is also in the case of the waters of the river Gîhôn (Nile) which is in our country, for they inform us beforehand whensoever they are going to rise. And whensoever they see the clouds and the abundant rain which [falleth] in India (now this river Nile cometh from that country), they know and see that by reason of the storm that hath taken place in India, the river will be full from one bank to the other, and when the final rise of the waters of the Nile will come they declare beforehand, and thus they lead astray the souls of various people who lack understanding. Now the inhabitants of India also if they had the power to travel, as the devils have, would come and announce the rise of the waters of the Nile to the people who are in Egypt.

And the matter is like that of the watchman when he goeth up to some high place in the sight of the whole camp and is able to see him that is coming before he arriveth; but he who cometh is also able to afford exact information concerning what is coming and what are the contents of his dispatch, and what is the condition of the nation from whom he cometh. In like manner do the devils see or hear and give information concerning what they see and hear beforehand. Now if God meditateth anything concerning the waters of the river, for He hath power over it, the cunning of the devils is rebuked in the opinion of the wise, but to those who lack understanding of heart their error is sweet. By such means of error as these hath paganism made its way throughout creation, but the Lord of created things came and rebuked him that did these things, and humbled his spirit; and behold, the earth is tilled by the law of righteousness, and by the sword of the Spirit; and behold, the thorns, and the briars, and all the weeds of the seed of the Evil One have been rooted out therefrom. Such are the means which are made use of by the error of the devils, and with such forms as these do they lead astray creation. And supposing there be among you, O my children, any man who shall say, “Behold, do not the devils declare many things which they have not [before] heard, and do not they describe many things which they have not before seen?” Now, even if this be so, O my beloved, let not your minds be disturbed thereby; but enter ye into the counsel of your mind, and get understanding concerning the things of [this] world, and from these ye will obtain the power of [preserving your minds] free from storm[s].

And before all things know that the physicians, by means of the experience which they have gotten of their handicraft are able to know of a certainty before a man falleth sick where there he will live or die, and how long the sickness will last and when it will be at an end. And it happeneth that when a man himself hath no idea that he is about to pass It under afflictions, the physicians from their constant practice and from the experience which they have acquired, are able to inform [him] concerning the sicknesses which are about to come upon him, even when the first symptoms thereof have not declared themselves. Now the power of foretelling thing even greater with those who steer ships than with the physicians, for they have experience of the heavens (or sky) and of the wind which is therein, and they are able to declare to several days beforehand on what day the heavens (or sky will change, and at what periods the wind will become strong and these things they can do by their knowledge and by their experience. And know ye also that the ability of the devils is not superior to that of helmsmen and physicians, for they also by their experience of matters are able to declare what they have never before heard, and to describe what they have never before seen. Unto you then these devils and the supplication which is made to them are superfluities; let those who are without them seek these things, but seek ye not freedom therefrom, and let it be unto you an object to finish your work.

For who [hath commanded us] that we should be strenuous in this matter, and should know it? Who among the men of olden time received praise because they had knowledge of events before they happened? And who [among them] was ever blamed because he had no knowledge of events which were afar off, or were about to take place [immediately]? Each one of us will, however, be judged if he performeth not the work of righteousness and not because he knoweth or doth not know the things of the future. Therefore let us excuse ourselves from this supplication, and let us pray, not that we may know secret things, but that we may please the Divine Majesty, and that power may be given unto us to stand against the darts of the Evil One. And if we also desire to know hidden things, this too is in our own hands, and we must purify our heart as a habitation for the Holy Spirit, and behold, He will abide and rest in us, and by the rays of light which proceed from Him our eye will be able to see hidden things from remote distances. Did not Elisha, who was a man like unto ourselves, through the purity of his heart see that which his eyes had never seen? (2 Kings 2:9–12.)

Ye must then make a distinction between the things of the Holy Spirit, and the things of the congregation of the Evil One. And perhaps ye will say, “How are we to make the distinction?” First of all, pray and make supplication unto the Revealer of secret things that He will make you to possess [the power] of distinguishing between these matters; and for rest I myself am bound to impart unto you gladly, as my as, whatsoever I have learned from a long experience. The visions and revelations of the Holy Spirit are not of a terrify or tumultuous character, for they take place under conditions of rest and tranquillity, and in like manner also with gentle pleasure and quiet satisfaction doth the soul feel the rise of the Holy Ghost therein, for it is not wont to put terror people or to produce trembling where it maketh itself to seen. Look ye now into the Scriptures and they will inform you in what manner the revelation of the Spirit taketh place, they will shew you that it taketh place in restfulness, and gladness, and peace (Galatians 5:22, 23): these are the similitudes which are in the revelation of the Spirit, and whensoever as brought about, it is done in this manner. And if, after the manner of men, a man may be straightway terrified or greatly through the love of the thing itself, or through the duty of the revelation, and through the quietness and please which are caused thereby, in due season the fear or terror come to an end, and comfort and gladness will come to in its place, even as Gabriel wrought for Zachariah (St. Luke 1:19), and according to what the other angels did for blessed women at the grave of our Lord (St. Matthew, 28:5), and the angel who appeared unto the shepherds and claimed to them the good news of the birth of our Remember (St. Luke 2:10). And ye will find many other instances which are like unto these in the Scriptures if ye seek for them. if the soul be terrified or be afraid by reason of those visions, it doth not follow that such fright is caused by the Evil One, for it may, peradventure, arise in it because the soul Maketh itself unworthy of the heavenly revelation which hath been vouchsafed unto it. This then is the manner of the revelation of the knowledge of the truth.

Now fright of the Evil One cometh about in this wise. First of all the soul is disturbed and terrified, and it heareth the sounds of a great tumult, and of the playing of musical instruments, and of singing, which are like unto those made a feast of drunken men and in the caves of robbers; and, because of these sounds which it heareth, the timid soul is greatly moved; and for this reason it becometh afraid. And other souls, which are brave are terrified because they have heard strange sounds, for all their affairs in every possible way belong to tribulation and misery. And there is a time when they seek after the similitudes of the persons of the children of men in very truth, and although [they do] thus, it is well known that it is merely a phantom and the form of a man only [which they obtain]. For however much an Indian were to rub himself, he could never make himself resemble a Greek, and similarly with Satan, however many forms of the children of men he might steal for himself in order to enable him to declare unto those who beheld him that the truth was with him, and to lead into error the children of the truth, and however much the phantom might resemble the reality, that it could be compared with it is impossible. There is therefore no room for the devils to lead us into error by any one of these things, and whatsoever they do, they do to their own disgrace.

Understand ye also the following matter, and learn briefly concerning it, that is to say, in the revelation of the Spirit, and in the tumult caused by devils [in the soul] fear is vouchsafed. In respect of the devils, however, they can certainly stir up in us a tumult, and put terror therein, but they cannot turn them away and make an end of them. Now whilst the Holy Spirit is revealing itself to a man, the soul is greatly moved by the majesty thereof, but the terror which it hath of Him cometh to an end speedily, and perfect happiness maketh its abode in him. Thus are the wiles and crafts of the Evil One, but, even according to the things which I have already said, let us not be moved by the fear which he causeth, and let us not be terrified at him, visions, and let us not turn unto him and make ourselves subject to him so that he may say unto us, “Fall ye down and “worship me” (compare St. Matthew 4:5). By his wiles and crafts he hath led the heathen into error, and they imagine that he is God, but the fearers of our Lord have prevented us, and they have gathered us into His habitation, and [thus] there is not given unto him an opportunity of leading us into captivity. For the Evil One is exceedingly bold, and he is without shame, and he even dared to approach our Lord in his madness and depravity, that is to say, the body which He had put on; and our Lord looked upon him and scorned him, and rebuked him, and said, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (St. Matthew 4:10; St. Luke 4:8). Through the consolation of these things especially the Evil One should be held in contempt in our sight; for the word which was spoken by our Lord to Satan was spoken on our behalf and on account of that in the same manner we ourselves might also rebuke the devils, and that as the Evil One was destroyed before the word of our Lord, so he might also perish and come to an end fore our words, for in this he cannot multiply boasting.

Now when our word hath power over the devils, and the fiends [run] terrified from before us, let no man marvel when rebuketh the demons and they become subject unto him, and let him not hold in contempt another man by whose hands a similar thing cannot be wrought, but let him examine first of all and understand the lives and works of various men, and from this scrutiny let him know with whom abideth Divine Grace, and where the righteousness of God resteth. For they will be unto us a very much better mirror than those who cast out devils, aud in them the wicked will be able to see their blemishes and [so] become rebuked, and in them good men will be able to look carefully at their career and become strengthened. Whether a man becometh a prosperous toiler or an abject coward belongeth unto himself, but for a man to stretch out his hand against devils and for them to yield place belongeth not unto him unto heavenly Grace. For when the Disciples returned with joy unto their Lord from [preaching the] Gospel which they had in sent out to preach, they rejoiced in that even the devils the obedient unto their words. Now therefore let him that hath discernment look and hearken unto this answer which given unto them: “Rejoice ye not because the devils also have been made subject unto you, but rejoice because your names have been written down in heaven” (St. Luke 10:20). for names to be written down in the Book of Life is a testimony to conduct which is pleasing [to God], and it showeth those who are worthy of this thing have an upright mind; but power over devils is, manifestly, [a mark of] the grace of Redeemer. And that ye may know that this is so, observe what Christ answered those who took refuge in this thing when the spirits were going forth before Him, and they said unto Him, “In Thy Name we have cast out devils, and have performed many signs and wonders.” And He said unto them, “Verily, tidy, I say unto you I know you not” (St. Matthew 7:22, 23). Therefore let us pray, as I have already said, that there may be given unto us the grace to seek after the [power to] distinguish between spirits, according to the word of the Book which saith, “Be not ye led astray by the spirits which err” (compare 1 Timothy 4).

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


NOW I merit praise in that whilst repeating the triumphs, of the blessed Anthony I desire to keep silence concerning many things, being at the same time very careful, not to speak anything on mine own authority only; it sufficient for me to record the things which actually took place. Let not any man imagine that we declare these things as a pastime, but let him be sure that we narrate them as things which took place in very truth, and that we do so knowing from actual experience that they are true, and that we are only placing on record the wonderful acts of the blessed man that they may form a small memorial of him. Let the wise man know the purity of our intention and that we do not narrate the things which have been said by us in this history without a good object; and we shall be made strong by the measure of your love. For I am convinced that it would be neither useful nor beneficial if matters of this kind were spoken of in a boastful manner, because our Adversary is very crafty, and it might happen that he could cause us to stumble even in a thing which concerneth the truth; therefore, whilst recording the narrative of the histories of the wiles and arts of the Evil One, it is meet that we should make you to be watchful against his subtlety.

The blessed and holy man Anthony [saith]:

HOW often then did they ascribe blessings in a loud voice, and whilst the voice of blessing was reaching my ears, the words of cursing were sent forth by them! For how many times did they inform me before hand concerning the flood of the Nile, that is to say, of river Gîhôn, and how many times did I say unto them, “And as for you what have ye?” And I used to say unto them. “I have no need to learn these things from you,” but they would come again to me after this in the guise of thieves, and they would surround me, and would stand up and utter threats against me, having at the same time their weapons upon them. And again, on another occasion they were suddenly found filling my house with serpents of various kinds, and with reptiles in large numbers, and with these there were also horses which neighed; then straightway I made myself ready and I stood up and I lifted up my voice in Psalms, and said, “Some [put their rust in] chariots, and some in horses, but we will be strong in the Name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7), and immediately they came to an end and disappeared from before me. On another occasion they came to me by night, and they were holding torches of fire and were saying, “We have come now to burn thee [alive], O Anthony,” and as they were saying these things unto me, I closed my eyes so that I might show them that I had placed their light in the portion of darkness; straightway I put on the armour of prayer against them, and whilst I was praying the light of the sinful ones was extinguished, and it was no more.

And again, after a few months they came in the guise of singers of the Psalms, and they began to speak to me [the words] from the Scriptures; but I, like a deaf man, did not hearken unto them. On another occasion they shook down upon the habitation wherein I was living, but I laughed at them reason of my confidence which [was placed] in our Lord, my mind was in no way whatsoever disturbed by them. And after this they came unto me with whistlings, and they were beating their hands together and dancing with joy; but when they saw that notwithstanding all their clamour I did not cease to pray, and that I held not my peace from the singing of Psalms, like unto men who have been defeated and overcome they turned their songs of joy into lamentations, and they began to wail and to beat their breasts in grief, and at the same time I gave thanks unto my good Lord for all these things, and because He had broken, and destroyed, and brought low, and humbled, their audacious arrogance and mad folly.

And again, on another occasion, there appeared [unto me] evil of an exceedingly haughty and insolent appearance, and he stood up before me with the tumultuous noise of many people, and he dared to say unto me, “I, even I, am the power of God,” and “I, even I, am the Lord of the worlds.” And he said unto me, “What dost thou wish me to give thee? Ask and thou shalt receive.” Then I blew a puff of wind at him, and I rebuked him in the Name of Christ, and I made ready to smite him, and when, as I thought, I did smite him, at that very moment all his strength, and all his host [of fiends], at the [mention of] the Name of Christ, came to an end.

And on another occasion, when I was fasting, the crafty one appeared unto me in the form of a brother monk carrying bread, and he began to speak unto me words of counsel, saying, “Rise up, and stay thy heart with bread and water, and rest a little from thine excessive labours, for thou art a man, and howsoever greatly thou mayest be exalted thou art clothed with a mortal body, and [thou shouldst] fear sicknesses and tribulations.” Then I regarded his words, and I held my peace and refrained from giving [him] an answer. And I bowed myself down in quietness and I began to make supplication in prayer, and I said, “O Lord, make Thou an end of him even as Thou hast been wont to do him away at all times”; alike as I concluded my words he came to an end and vanished like dust, and went forth from the door like smoke.

And again, how very many times in the desert hath he shown before me things like phantoms which resembled gold in order that I might bow myself down before him and him even with my finger! I, however, never ceased from singing the songs of the Holy Spirit. And how very many times when I was receiving enjoyment in the Holy Spirit did he disturb me in anger, and he even dared so far as to strike me! Not that I myself am of any account whatsoever, but that it may be seen that the power of our Lord is mighty, and that it cannot be vanquished even in the feeble ones who believe in Him. And Satan laid upon me hard stripes (or cruel blows), and in proportion as he multiplied them I kept crying out with a loud voice, saying, “There is nothing which shall separate me from the love of God” (Romans 8:35); and after these words [had been said] Satan and the members of his host fell one upon the other, and each of them vented his wrath upon his fellow. Now it was God, Who aforetime reduced Satan to subjection, and God alone, Who performed all these things which I have related; and [the Book] saith, “I saw Satan lightning fall from heaven” (St. Luke 10:18). And I, O my sons, remember the word[s] of the Apostle, who said, “I have spoken these things for your behalf, both for myself and for Apollos, that ye may learn of us” (compare 1 Corinthians 1–3); in this wise ye also must learn of me these things which ye have heard, and ye shall not be wearied [in running] your course, and ye shall not fear the appearances (or visions) of Satan and of all his hosts. And even though I, like a simple man, have made use of these histories, it is for you to hold them to be true; for it is meet that we should bring forward in this place whatsoever we remember, lest under one pretext or another, or by some means or other, [Satan] draw nigh unto you, and that ye may find yourselves ready [to fight] against all his schemes.

Now on one occasion Satan approached the house one night and knocked at the door, and I went out to see who was knocking, and I lifted up mine eyes and saw the form of an exceedingly tall and strong man; and having asked him, “Who art thou?” he answered and said unto me, “I am Satan.” And after this I said unto him, “What seekest thou?” and he answered and said unto me, “Why do the monks, and the anchorites, and the other Christians revile me, and why do they at all times heap curses upon me?” And having clasped my head firmly [in wonder] at his mad folly, I said unto him, “Wherefore dost thou give them trouble?” Then he answered and said unto me, “It is not I who trouble them, but it is they who trouble themselves. For there happened unto me on a certain occasion that which did happen to me, and had I not cried out to them that I was the Enemy, his slaughters would have come to an end for ever. I have, therefore, no place [to dwell in], and not one glittering sword, and not even people who are really subject unto me, for those who are in service to me hold me wholly in contempt; and moreover, I have to keep them in fetters, for they do not cleave to me because they esteem it right to do so, and they are ever ready to escape from me in every place. The Christians have filled the whole world, and behold, even the desert is filled full with their monasteries and habitations. Let them then take good heed to themselves when they heap abuse upon me.”

Then, wondering at the grace of our Lord, I said unto him, “How doth it happen that whilst thou hast been a liar on every other occasion, at this present the truth is spoken by thee? And how is it that thou speakest the truth now when thou art wont to utter lies? It is indeed true that when Christ came into [this] world thou wast brought down to the lowest depths, and that the root of thine error was plucked up from the earth.” And when Satan heard the Name of Christ, his form vanished and his words came to an end. Since, therefore, Satan himself confessed that there was nothing in his power, we are compelled wholly to despise him and his host. Such then are the crafts and wiles which are found with the Enemy and with the greedy dogs which form his host. And having learned the feebleness and helplessness thereof, it is meet that we should make ourselves ready to [march] against them as over a road which our Lord hath trodden for us.

Let then these phantoms be a help unto us so that our minds may not be frightened by his cunning, and fear may not abide in us by reason of his impudence; and let not anxious thought be wrought in us, lest the Evil One gain greater strength, and let us not be afraid when he hurleth his darts at us lest this thing be an occasion unto him for boasting. And let us not be like stricken men, but let us be prepared at all times [to act] as men who have vanquished the enemy; and let this thought be with us at all times, namely, that God, Who hath revealed and exposed the “powers and dominion,” is with us at all times. For [otherwise] when the evil ones draw nigh unto us, having made ready to come against us in the hope that they may gain some advantage over us, or may discover some thoughts of fear in us, for they prepare phantoms [which appear] unto us in the event that they may find that we are terrified and afraid, straightway, like thieves who have discovered a place which is without guardians, they will enter into us and will lead us captives of their will, and our miserable souls will be found to be in an agitated state, not by reason of the punishment of the Adversary, but through our own sluggishness. If, however, the evil ones find us in the love of Christ, and meditating continually on the hope [of that] which is to come, and thinking thoughts concerning the commandments of our Lord, and [believing] that the kingdom and dominion are His, and that the Evil One hath neither opportunity nor power to resist the might of the Cross, if, I say, the Evil One shall find any believing man in this state of mind when he draweth nigh unto him, at that very moment he will remove himself from him to a distance.

It was in such a frame of mind that he found Job who was prepared [to resist him], and the Evil One feared, and was ashamed, and he departed from him as from a man of war; on the other hand, he led captive to his will wholly Judah whom he found to be entirely destitute of such matters. Let us learn then fully from such examples and from such narratives, that if we wish to do so it is very easy for us to hold in contempt the Evil One. Let us meditate at all times on our Lord, and let our souls rejoice in His hope, and behold, we shall find that the Evil One will vanish from before us like the darkness, and we shall also discover that those who come to persecute us will turn [their backs] upon us like men who are chased out of the battle, for, as I have already told you, they are cowards. For the decree of doom (or judgement) is at all times before them, and they are ever expecting the punishment which is prepared for them, and the fear of the Cross is cast upon them in proportion to their impudent audacity. Let then these and all the other things [which I have said] be unto you the means of understanding the insolent cunning of the Evil One, and of recognizing the similitudes of the forms of his appearances. If it happen therefore unto any of you that the appearance of one of these forms presenteth itself, be ye not forthwith terrified, but look upon it with great courage as it really is, and ask it, “Who art thou? And whence comest thou?” And if it be a true revelation of the Holy Spirit, straightway the mind will feel that it is so, and will have confidence, and courage (or consolation) will grow in you and fear will diminish; but if it be an appearance of the error of the Evil One, the thing will be confounded, and there will be no opportunity for it to be bold, and the form of the appearance will not tarry, and the question [which ye ask] will make manifest the courage of the confidence of refuge in our Lord.

On one occasion a manifestation revealed itself unto Joshua, the son of Nun, and he asked that which had appeared unto him who he was, and took his stand upon the question; and similarly Daniel also saw one of the Watchers and rejoiced at the sight, and was afraid at the measure of the honour of him that had come, but he was wholly comforted by the grace of the confidence which he had in his truth. And in like manner a revelation (or manifestation) of the truth came to each and every one of the [saints of] olden time, and none of the stratagems of the phantoms of the Wicked One ever led them astray.

AND as the blessed man Anthony was saying these things, and every man was hearkening unto him with gladness, unto every man who listened unto him was given help of one kind or another according to his need; the man who was strong found his strenuousness to be increased, and the man who was weak found that he received encouragement, and the proud man found that his arrogance was overthrown and swept away, and every man was persuaded to reach forward confidently towards the hope which is to come. And all the people with one accord ascribed blessing unto the righteous man Anthony because such a degree of strength had been given unto him, and because such great wisdom had made its abode in him, and because that in the fierce strife and warfare which he waged against devils he was able to distinguish and discern the difference between good and evil appearances, and the manifestations (or revelations) of our Lord from those which appertained unto devils.

And in the days of the blessed man the habitations of the monks were accepted as tabernacles of praises, and Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs were heard therein; and love and righteousness rejoiced therein, and therein was found the rest of prayer coupled with fasting. And the monks toiled in the labour of their hands that they might not be a burden upon any man, and of [the proceeds of] the sweat of their faces the poor and the needy were relieved. And the monastery [of Anthony] became at that time a wonder unto the inhabitants of the country, for behold, the silver, and the gold, and the riches of this world which were so highly esteemed in their sight were despised and accounted as dross by such men as the monks thereof; and those at whose wastefulness, and drunkenness, and lasciviousness the monks marvelled, returned [to their homes] in wonder as [if they had seen] an angel and not a human being. No sounds of dissension or contention were heard there, and no voice of the violent man (?) or of his gaoler sounded therein; well might a man describe that monastery in the words of the parable which was uttered in olden time, and say, “How fair are thy habitations, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” (Numbers 24:5), for the country was as if the desert had been roofed over, and it was like a paradise which was by the rivers, and tabernacles which the Lord had stablished, and like cedars by the side of the stream.

Now therefore the blessed man, according to his wont, withdrew himself and departed to his habitation (or cell) and to the place which was convenient for him to dwell in, and there like a mighty man he triumphed in the apparel of war; at all seasons he was mindful of the mansions which were in the heavens, and groaned, for his mind abode between two [worlds]. He despised the world and held it in contempt, and his mind longed greatly for the kingdom of God, for already, even according to the word of the Apostle, he wished to be with his Lord (Philippians 1:23). And moreover, he was greatly troubled when the time drew nigh in which it was proper for him to eat and drink with the sons of his habitation, for he was shamefaced, and he would fain depart from their midst, and he did not like any man to see him eating or drinking; nevertheless, although he felt thus at the appointed season, he would eat [with them]. Now on the greater number of days the love which he bore towards the brethren would in this way draw him to their company, for he did not desire to grieve them in any way whatsoever, and he was as careful for them as if they had been himself; for he was mindful of the word of the Book which saith, “Ye are members, each of the other, and if one member be glorified, the whole body is glorified” (Romans 12:5).

And this he used to say and teach unto them: It is right that we should at all times follow after the food of the soul, for the soul worketh together with our spirit in the striving which is against the adversary; but it is meet for the body to be in subjection and tribulation, for it very speedily becometh unduly exalted by the persuasion and flattery of the Evil One. And it is therefore right that the soul should be more prepared and more exalted than the body, that the body may not prevail (or be strong) over it, and bring it low by the lusts [thereof]. And our Lord also gave this indication to the blessed Apostles, and commanded them, saying, “Be not careful as to what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, for such things do the peoples of the earth seek after, and your Father knoweth whatsoever things ye have need of; but seek ye the kingdom of God and His glory, and the things which are superior unto these shall be added unto you” (St. Matthew 6:31 sq.)

Now some short time after these things a storm and a persecution arose in the Church, during the years [of the reign] of Maximinus, the wicked Emperor, and [the soldiers] began to seize and to take into Alexandria a great company of the blessed confessors; and the report of these things reached the blessed Anthony. And straightway he left his habitation and place of abode, and he made haste at the sound of the strife, and he said to himself, “I will go and draw nigh [thereto], so that if Divine Grace call me, it shall find me prepared, and if it thinketh otherwise concerning my unworthy self, I shall at all events be a spectator of the strife.” Now he desired exceedingly to enter [the race], and to be accounted worthy of the athlete’s crown. So he travelled on his way and drew nigh and arrived at the city, and he went in through the gate, and inquired where the athletes had been made to assemble, and where they had been gathered together, and asked concerning the report of the strife. And when he had heard and had learned where the place was, and in what manner of restraint they were fettered, he made his way thither; and as soon as he saw those who had been called by Divine Grace [unto death] at this time, he planned with all diligence and by every means in his power to be a companion unto every one of them in the contest wherein they were to stand. And he prepared and made himself ready to be with every man, and he became a prisoner in the prison with those who were shut up therein, and he ministered unto them and relieved their wants; and he passed his time continually in close companionship with the rest of the prisoners who were to be exiled, and those who were to be sent out from the country to the mines, and to the islands, and he ministered unto them with great pains and care. And he was found to be ready to accompany all such as were brought and were going in to their doom, both in their going in and coming out; as they went in he gave them encouragement and admonition, and as they came out he ascribed blessings unto them and sang hymns of praise. And it was his custom [to do this] day by day, and his acts were so well known and so famous in all the city that at length [the report thereof] came to the ears of the governor. Now when the wicked governor learned concerning him, and the people had informed him concerning Anthony’s disposition and work, he marvelled at [the bravery of] his mind, and because he was neither moved by the tortures and tribulations which were falling upon his companions, nor was afraid; and he commanded that he should no longer be found in the city, and that the other monks who were with him should not come therein, because they also were doing the same work.

And on another day certain athletes were summoned to the contest, and when the blessed Anthony knew of the command and threat (or prohibition) of the judge, he washed and made white the apparel with which he was clothed (now his tunic was without shoulder coverings and was like the tunics with which the Egyptians cover themselves), and having arrayed himself in his clothing, he went and stood up inside the hall of judgement, opposite to the wicked judge. And when the men who had heard the commands of the king concerning Anthony and his companions lifted up their eyes and saw him, they prevented him that day from appearing before the judge, for they marvelled at him and at his boldness concerning himself, and his courage in the face of death. Now all this threatening was very sad to him, and [in spite of] his contempt for the Enemy, the door which would enable him to testify was not opened; but God preserved him for the strengthening of those who testified, and for the benefit of those who were about to do so, and for the increase of the monasteries of the monks, and for the praise of the whole Church. And he continued to do this work until God was pleased to put an end to this persecution of the Church (now in those days the blessed Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, bore his testimony) (i.e., was martyred); and after these things the blessed Anthony departed to his monastery and habitation, and he bore testimony continually, and, as it is written, he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31), and after the persecution he was always adding a little more to the toil of his daily life.

Now he wore his apparel with the hair inside, and the skin outside, and to the day of his death he never touched his body with water, for he wished to keep it meagre, and he never dipped his feet in water without the sternest necessity; and no man ever saw him naked or exposed, except when he died, and his body was carried in honour by his disciples. He once decided that for a short time he would remain in silent contemplation, and that he would neither go outside his dwelling nor be seen by any man, and it came to pass that during the days wherein [he was thus occupied] a certain Roman nobleman whose name was Martinianus came to visit him, and he drew nigh and besought him to come forth and to pray with him, and to lay his hand upon his daughter, who was torn by a devil. And when the nobleman had waited a very long time, and had besought the blessed man incessantly to open his door, though he would not be persuaded to do so, Anthony looked [out of the window] and saw him, and said unto him: O man, why dost thou weary me? I am a man like unto thyself, but if thou dost believe in the Christ Whom I serve, depart in peace, and according as thou believest pray, and it shall be [unto thee] even as thou wishest.” Then straightway that man had full and complete confidence in the word which he had heard, and went by the way he had come, taking his daughter with him, and she was delivered from the power of the subjugation of the Evil One. And God, Who did say, “Ask ye and receive” (St. Matthew 7:7; St. Luke 11:9), performed very many things like unto this by the hands of Anthony; now many people who were smitten with diseases of several kinds thronged to him, and came and sat down by the side of his cell, and each of them obtained relief from his afflictions.

Now when he saw that much people were gathered together to him, and that the trouble which men and women caused him increased, he became afraid either lest he should be unduly exalted in his mind by reason of the things which God had wrought by his hand, or lest others should esteem him beyond what was right and more than he deserved, and he determined to go away from that place and to enter the Thebaïd. Then he took a little bread and went and sat down by the side of the river, and waited until he should see a boat going to that district to which he was ready to go. And as he was pondering these things in his mind, suddenly a voice from heaven was heard by him, and it called him and said unto him, “Anthony, whither goest thou? Why art thou departing from this place?” Now he was not afraid of the voice which came to him, but like a man who was accustomed to do so he spake with it, and answered and said, “Because, O my Lord, the people will not permit me [to enjoy] a little silent contemplation; it is for this reason that I am wishing to go up to the Thebaid, and especially do I desire it because the people are seeking at my hands that which is wholly beyond my powers.”

Then again the voice came to him, saying, “If thou goest up it will not be to the Thebaid only, and even if thou goest into the Thebaïd as thou art thinking [of doing], thou wilt have to endure toil greater than that which thou [performest] here; if, however, thou wishest to enjoy silent contemplation and to be at rest, get thee gone into the innermost desert.” And Anthony the blessed answered and said, “O my Lord, who will shew me [the way to] that difficult place? For neither do I myself know it, nor am I acquainted with or have knowledge of men who do.” Now whilst he was standing up, there passed by certain Arabs who had made ready and set out on their way to go to that region, and the blessed man drew nigh unto them, and entreated them to let him go with them, and they received him gladly because it was manifest that it was the commandment of God which was to be performed in this matter. And having travelled with them for three days and three nights, he arrived at a certain high mountain, and he found in the lower parts thereof water which was clear, and cool, and sweet, and a few palm-trees, for the land which was by the side of the mountain was a flat plain; and the place was pleasing to the blessed Anthony, and he loved it well, and he loved it especially because God had been his Governor and had led him to that spot. Therefore Anthony encamped there and dwelt in that place, and he was exalted there like a king in the courts [of his palace]. Now when those Arabs who had brought him to that place saw [this], they wondered and marvelled, and they left with him a little bread which was found with them; and from that time forward whenever they were journeying into Egypt and returning therefrom, those Arabs, by reason of the wonderful things which they saw in the man, always passed by the place where he was, and also brought him bread. Now there were found in that region a few small birds [which came] from the palm-trees.

And it came to pass that after a time it was heard by the brethren where he was, and like beloved sons they remembered their righteous father, and they made inquiries and found out where the place was, and they laboured strenuously and sent to him everything that could be of use to him. Now when the blessed Anthony saw that the brethren had begun to take trouble for him, he besought those who had begun to go to him to bring him a little wheat and a hoe; and when they had brought them to him, he went about the land at the foot of the mountain, and found a little place which was suitable for cultivating and watering; thus he was able to provide himself with as much bread as he needed, and he rejoiced greatly because he had found the means which would prevent him from troubling any man, and because he would be a burden to himself only. And having seen that the brethren were thronging to him, and that they would not be prevented from coming to him, he tilled a portion of that ground and made it into a vegetable garden for the benefit of those who came to him. Now when he first began to sow wheat in that place, the wild animals used to come there in large numbers for the sake of the water, and they damaged the crop, but one day when they were among the corn according to their custom, he went quietly and seized one of them, and he said unto them all with a laugh, “Why do ye do harm to me, seeing that I do no harm to you? Get ye gone therefore in the Name of the Lord, and come ye never again nigh unto this place”; and from that hour this was a command from heaven to them, and they never again did harm to that place.

And the blessed Anthony was alone in that desert, for the place wherein he had his habitation was waste and desolate; and his mind therefore dwelt the more upon exalted things, and it was content therewith. Now the brethren who used to go to visit him besought and entreated him to allow them to bring him there month by month a few garden herbs and olives and oil; and although he contended with them about it they overcame him with their entreaty, and compelled him [to receive them], and they began to pay him visits, one at a time, according to their entreaty to him. And the blessed man was exceedingly old, and he was far advanced in years. And in that desert also he endured strife, not with flesh and blood, but with devils and with impure spirits, and we have learned this also from those who were going to visit him continually. They used to hear also there the sound of tumult and of outcry, and to see flashing spears, and at night time they would see the whole mountain filled with fiery phantoms, and those men were greatly terrified; but the blessed Anthony was trained in stratagems (?) of war like a man of war, and he was prepared, and he stood up and rebuked the Evil One, who straightway ceased according to [his] wont; and he encouraged the brethren who were with him not to be terrified or to tremble at [the sight of] such visions as these. For, said he to them, “They are only empty phantoms which perish as if they had never existed at the Name of the Cross”; and wonder and admiration laid hold upon every man at the greatness and at the manner of the righteousness which was found in the blessed man.

He was not terrified at the devils, he was not wearied by the desert, and his soul had no fear of the wild beasts which were therein; but Satan suffered torture from all these things. And one day he came to the blessed man who was singing the Psalms of David, and he gnashed his teeth upon him loudly; but the blessed Anthony ceased not [to sing], and he was comforted and helped by the grace of our Lord. One night whilst he was standing up and was watching in prayer, Satan gathered together all the wild beasts of the desert, and brought them against him, and they were so many in number that he can hardly have left one beast in its den; and as they compassed him about on every side, and with threatening looks were ready [to leap upon him], he looked at them boldly and said unto them, “If ye have received power over me [from the Lord], draw nigh, and delay not, for I am ready for you; but if ye have made ready and come at [the command of] Satan, get ye back to your places and tarry not, for I am a servant of Jesus the Conqueror.” And when the blessed man had spoken these words, Satan was straightway driven away by the mention of the Name of Christ like a sparrow before a hawk.

And on another day, when he was weaving palm leaves—for such was his occupation, and he used to toil thereat so that he might not be a burden upon any man, and that he might [make baskets] to give as gifts to the people who were continually coming to visit him—suddenly he put up his hand over the door, and took hold of a rope of palm leaves to bring outside, and he leaped and stood up to look out. And as he looked out from the door, he saw an animal which had [the following] form: from its head to its side it was like a man, and its legs and feet were those of an ass. When the blessed Anthony saw it he only made the sign of the Cross over himself, and said, “How can anyone imagine that the Evil One is crafty? And how can anyone be agitated [by him] more than once or twice? Is it not within the scope of his cunning to know that these things are accounted by me merely empty phantasms? And now, if there be anything whatsoever in the power of him that sent thee, come hither and perform that which thou wast sent to do; but if Christ, Who shall make an end of thee, and in Whom I have my hope, liveth, and if He be true, let the destruction of thyself and of him that sent thee take place immediately.” Thereupon, at the word Christ, there fell upon the creature quaking and trembling, and he took to flight, and [as] he was going forth in haste and was running along terrified, he fell down and burst asunder at no great distance from [Anthony’s] abode. Now the devils did all these things in order that they might drive the blessed man from the desert.

And it came to pass after a time that the brethren [who were] monks appeared before him and besought him to come down and visit them in their monastery for a long period, and having multiplied their entreaties he granted their request; and he rose up and travelled with them in the desert to the borders of Egypt. Now there was with them a camel which was laden with bread and water [and] provisions for the way, for no water whatsoever was to be found in the whole of that desert. And having travelled for one or two days, the water was finished and came to an end, for the men with him were not a few, and in those days the heat was very fierce, and the people were overcome by thirst; and they were troubled the more because they had wandered about the whole of that district that they might find water, and they threw themselves down on the ground, being in trouble and in great danger, and because they were in despair about themselves they turned the camel adrift to wander about in the desert. Now when the blessed old man saw the people in such great distress, he sighed heavily, and having departed from them a short distance, he bowed his knees upon the ground and spreading out his hands towards heaven, he cried out to God, and said, “Consider, O Lord, at this time also the prayer of Thy servant”; and before the words of his prayer were ended, water sprang up from that place whereon he had prayed, and he brought all the people and made them to come [there], and they prayed and gave thanks unto God, and they drank and were relieved from their tribulations, and they also filled the water-skins with the water. Then they went forth in quest of the camel, and they brought him back [to their camp]; now they found him quite near, because it happened that, through the Providence (or Dispensation) of God, whilst the animal was wandering about his cord was caught by a root and he was unable to move, and he stood still until they went and brought him [back]. And they gave the camel water to drink, and they loaded up his load upon him, and they set out on their road.

Now when they had come to a district which was inhabited and had entered the villages, many people rushed forth from the whole of that neighbourhood and came to the place where the blessed man was, for every man was waiting and longing for him, and the love of him was hot in their minds, and they drew nigh and made obeisance unto him as unto a righteous father. And the blessed man spread abroad the things which he had provided and was carrying [with him] when he came from the desert, and he made them happy with the enjoyments of the Spirit; and at that time there was twofold joy in the monasteries of the monks, and they rejoiced in the triumphs of the blessed old man whom they saw renewing his youth like the eagle. Now the chief of all the commandments which he used to give unto all the monks was that they should freely confess, before everything, the true faith of Christ, and should love it with all their strength; that they should preserve themselves from evil thoughts, and from the lusts of the body; that they should flee from vain boasting; that they should pray continually, and should be prepared and ready [to sing] Psalms and [to recite] the Office before they went to sleep; that after sleep they should read and remember the words of the Scriptures, wherein was their life; that they should meditate upon the acts and lives of the Apostles, and should consider what they were before they approached Christ, and also what they were after they had drawn nigh to Him, and how in their former state they were despised and held in contempt by the world, and how in the latter state they suddenly waxed great, and were held in high honour, both in this world and in the kingdom of God; and that it was not their own strength which had made for them this exalted estate and honour, but their perfect righteousness towards God. With these and suchlike [admonitions] did he make zealous and strengthen their minds.

And, moreover, he spake the following words: “Since we, who are monks, are not held fast by anger in anything whatsoever, Satan filcheth us away through this very thing that we may rage one against the other; and it is therefore meet that we should at all times remember the word of our Lord which saith, ‘If thou bringest to the altar thine offering, and there rememberest that thou art held by anger against thy brother, go thou and be reconciled with thy brother, and then offer up thine offering’ (St. Matthew 5:23, 24). We should remember also the word of the Apostle, ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath’ (Ephesians 4:26). Now this command, ‘Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,’ was not written merely [to tell us] that we were never to be angry, but [to warn us] against offences of every kind, and against keeping wrath one against the other; for it is very right and seemly that the sun should not go down by day and leave us in sin, and that the moon should not overtake us in the same by night, and should not find us in the service of the Wicked One, or thinking of him. Since therefore it is well for us [to be] thus, it is right that we should consider and examine into the word of the Apostle which admonished us, saying, ‘Try ye one another, examine ye one another’ (2 Corinthians 13:5). Let us then each and every day meditate in such a way that every man among us may receive from his soul the computation of all his works and thoughts, both by day and by night; and let every man be an honest investigator of his own thoughts for himself, before shall come the righteous Avenger Who shall reward righteously (compare St. Matthew 16:27), and shall punish even according as the Holy Gospel hath admonished us; for the wages of the mind are always the same. Those who have fought against sins He will encourage, and him that standeth in the truth He will admonish and urge to new exertions, lest he be filched away by boasting, and be despoiled by means of over-confidence, and lest he despise one man and love another, and justify his own soul. [Let us then do these things], even as the Apostle Paul said, ‘until our Lord cometh’ (1 Timothy 6:14), Who shall judge the things which are hidden.

“For it may happen that we ourselves do not know our own manner of life and works, but though we have lost this knowledge it is manifest before God, Who knoweth the things which are hidden. Let us therefore appoint Him to be the Judge. Let us, at all times, take each the burden of the other, and let us suffer for each other even as our Lord suffered for us; but let us examine our souls unceasingly, and let us provide and fill our houses in this world with whatsoever things we lack with the greatest care. And let this thing also be an admonition to us against sin, and let each man of us write down both his actions and his thoughts upon the tablets of his heart, as if he were obliged to read and lay them out in due order under the eye of every man. For when he pondereth and considereth [he will find] that it would be a shame and a disgrace that these things should come to light, and when he meditateth further [he will see] that, inasmuch as the mere hearing of the same would cause him great ignominy, it is manifest that the doing of the same [would work] great destruction. And since it is difficult for sin to come to the light, it is certain that falsehood clingeth and cleaveth thereto; for as when the natural eye seeth [what is happening] no act of shame is to be expected, so also if we were men who were obliged to tell each other our manner of life (or conversation) and thoughts, no sin would ever be committed by us because of the shame which would result therefrom. Let then the writings wherein are inscribed our shortcomings be things of which to be ashamed, for they take the place of the eyes of the spectators, and since we are as much ashamed of the writings as if they had been spectators, let us, like men of understanding, cease from the doing of and from meditating upon the works which bring in their train reproach. Now therefore by such means as these, if our souls are a care unto us, let us bring our bodies into subjection, so that by our works we shall please God, and treat with contempt the Enemy by means of our strenuousness.”

Now it was with such matters as these that the blessed man Anthony used to rejoice the monks who went to visit him, and the others, that is to say, those who were smitten with sickness, and those who were evilly entreated by evil spirits he would comfort by his words, and would aid by his prayers. And our Lord at all times made him to be happy in his prayers, for when they were heard he was not unduly lifted up in his heart, and when they were not hearkened to he murmured not, but in all of them he gave thanks to God. And, moreover, he encouraged those who were smitten with sickness not to be disheartened by reason of their tribulations, and he told them that they must know that neither he nor any other man had power to grant relief to them, and that it was God alone Who could do so, and that He would do so for whomsoever He pleased whensoever He pleased. And these and such-like words became a relief and an aid for those who were smitten with sicknesses, and he gladly lightened the weight of their trials by more than the words which were offered unto them; but those who were made whole were told before everything else that they must not return their thanks and gratitude to the blessed Anthony, but that they must ascribe praise wholly unto God [for their healings].

Now there once went to the blessed Anthony in the inner desert a certain nobleman who was an officer in the palace, whose name was Parnîtôn, and he had an evil spirit; he was always gnawing his tongue, and the light of his eyes was wellnigh destroyed. And this man went to the blessed Anthony and entreated him to pray over him, and having done so he answered and said to that man, “Depart, and thou shalt be healed,” but Parnîtôn entreated him that he might remain with him for some days. And the blessed man was saying unto him continually, “Thou canst not be healed here. Go away from this place, and when thou arrivest in Egypt thou wilt see suddenly the wonderful sign which God hath wrought upon thee.” And having confidence in [these words] the man went forth, and before he saw Egypt, there came unto him deliverance straightway, and he became healed, according to the word of the blessed man which was revealed unto him in the Spirit by our Redeemer.

And there was a certain virgin of Busiris who suffered from a severe and terrible disease, for the water (or tears) which flowed from the pupil of her eyes, and the matter which fell from her nostrils, before it fell upon the ground became worms, and her whole body was in a state of putrefaction; and because of the progress of the disease her eyes had lost the power of natural sight and were useless. Now when the kinsfolk of this young woman heard that certain brethren [who were] monks were preparing to go to the blessed Anthony, because they believed wholly in the man who had healed a woman of a flow of blood [which had lasted] twelve years, they entreated them to allow them to go with them also and to follow in their company; and as the brethren received their petition and permitted them to go in their company, they arrived [in due course] at the place [where the blessed man was]. And the kinsfolk of the maiden remained with their daughter a short distance on this side of the mountain, at the place where dwelt the man of God, Paphnutius the confessor and anchorite. And when the brethren had gone in and had greeted the blessed Anthony, and whilst they were meditating about relating to him concerning the maiden and her kinsfolk, he began to speak before they did about her sickness and afflictions, and said how it happened that she came to be in their company. Then making the conversation of the blessed man the pretext for their words they besought and entreated him to allow the maiden to come into his presence, but he would not be persuaded to do so, and he said unto them, “Get ye back to the place where the maiden is, and if she be not already dead, ye will find that she hath been wholly healed; now this hath not happened either through me or through the gift which my poor and contemptible person possesseth, but it is a gift from our Redeemer, Who performeth grace and mercy in every place for those who cry unto Him in affliction. Get ye out then quickly, for the merciful God hath hearkened unto the prayer of the maiden, and hath regarded the toil and labour of her kinsfolk; and behold, His lovingkindness hath made known and revealed unto me in this hour that relief from her affliction hath come unto the maiden. Thus this wonderful thing hath taken place.” And the brethren went forth and found the kinsfolk of the maiden rejoicing, and their daughter was freed from and was completely healed from her affliction.

And at the same time there went forth from Egypt two brethren to visit the blessed Anthony, and when they were near to arrive at the place where he was, it fell out that the water failed, and they were so completely brought low for want thereof that, by reason of his great tribulation, one of them departed from this world, and his companion was wellnigh departing likewise. Then the blessed man called suddenly unto two of those brethren who happened to be with him, and said to them, “Take ye a little water in a vessel and get ye down quickly on the road to Egypt, for two brethren set out together to come to us, but when they had left behind them the greater part of the mountain road, they lacked water; one of them hath already fainted and died, and the other is nigh unto death, [and will die], if ye do not speedily overtake him. For thus hath it appeared to me when I was praying.” And the brethren having made haste arrived at the place and found [a dead man] according to what had been said to them, and they took up the body of him that was dead and carried it away, and they fed him, in whom the spirit was still found to be, with bread and water, and took him and brought him with care to the old man. Now the blessed man was distant from them a journey of two days. And if any man ask why and wherefore the vision did not appear unto the blessed Anthony before the man died, he will ask that which is unseemly, for it belonged not to him to know what God was meditating concerning every man; this thing belongeth unto God only Who, whensoever He pleaseth, maketh a revelation unto him that feareth Him.

And the blessed Anthony possessed this wonderful attribute. When he was dwelling in the mountain, his mind was alert and watchful to observe and to see, by the operation of the Holy Spirit which dwelt in him, that which was afar off as if it were near. For, on another occasion when he was in the mountain, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and suddenly saw a man being taken up therein; and wonderment having fallen upon him he magnified [God] and ascribed blessings unto him that had been accounted worthy of this [honour], and he besought the Lord that he might know who the man was who had attained unto such exalted greatness. And suddenly a voice from heaven was heard, saying, “This is the soul of the blessed man Ammon who used to dwell in the country of Nitria.” Now Ammon was a mighty man and a valiant fighter [in the ascetic life], and he had been a monk from his early manhood even unto his old age, and the end of his life was greater than the beginning thereof; and the distance of the country of Nitria from the mountain wherein dwelt the blessed man Anthony was a journey of thirteen days. And when those who were found with the old man Anthony saw him marvelling in this manner concerning the blessed Ammon, they entreated him that they might learn when his departure from the world took place, and he informed them that it had happened when the revelation appeared unto him.

And there was also another famous man with whom many were acquainted, for he used to come very frequently to the blessed Anthony, and many glorious deeds and signs and wonders were wrought by his hands unto our Lord. Now on a certain occasion one reason or another made it necessary for the blessed Ammon to cross the river, the name of which was Dâbhâ (i.e., the Wolf River), and he had with him the righteous man, [who was called] Theodore; and this blessed man also was mighty in the ascetic life. And when they had come nigh unto the river, and were standing on the bank, they agreed that each should go away a short distance from the other so that they might not see each other’s nakedness as they were crossing the river. Now when the righteous man Theodore had removed himself from him, the blessed man Ammon began to have shame even of himself, and whilst he he was in this state of mind suddenly Divine Grace seized him, and set him up upon the [other] side of the river. And when the righteous man Theodore had crossed the river, he drew nigh unto the blessed Ammon, and examined him attentively, [and found] that his feet had not been dipped in the water, and that not a drop of water had touched either his body or his garments. Then Theodore began to entreat Ammon to inform him how his passage over the river had been effected, and when he saw that he was making many excuses about it and was debating the matter, he became certain in his mind that it was Divine Grace which had taken him across the river. And he persisted strongly in questioning Ammon, and took hold of his feet, and said unto him, “Yes, or no? I will not leave thee until thou hast shown me” [this thing]. Now when the old man Ammon saw the persistence of the righteous man Theodore, and [remembered] especially the word which had gone forth to him, he entreated him to make the matter known to no man until his departure from this world had been effected, and then he revealed to him that he had indeed been carried across the river [by the Spirit], and that he had never walked upon the water thereof at all. And this thing our Lord Himself did by His own power, and He made the great Apostle Peter to do so (St. Matthew 14:29), and it was done [by Ammon] also by the command of our Lord; and [it was only] after the old man Ammon was dead that this matter was spoken of by the righteous man Theodore, according to the agreement which he had made with Ammon.

Now the brethren, who had heard from the blessed Anthony the story of the departure of the old man Ammon from the world, bore in mind the day and the hour wherein it took place, and three days later, when certain brethren came from the country of Nitria, they inquired of them concerning the death of the blessed Ammon, and they learned that the days of the old man had come to an end at the very moment and at the very hour when the blessed Anthony had spoken to them, and when he himself saw Ammon being taken up into heaven. Then the brethren did indeed marvel among themselves concerning the purity of the soul of the blessed Anthony, and how he had seen performed clearly and openly before him that which had taken place at a distance of a journey of thirteen days, that is to say, the ascension of the soul of the blessed Ammon into heaven.

And moreover there came unto him a certain Count called Archelaus, and he found him in the outer mountain praying by himself, and he made entreaty unto him on behalf of the nun Polycratia, who was from the city of Laodicea, and was faithful and devoted to the ascetic life. Now she was much afflicted by pains in her stomach and in her right side, and, in short, her whole body was in a state of suffering. And when the blessed man had prayed for her, Archelaus wrote down the day and the hour in which the prayer had been made, and after this the blessed man dismissed him, and he returned to his own country; and when he had gone to the province of Laodicea he found Polycratia the nun in perfect health. Then he asked at what time she had found deliverance from her sufferings, and by what means it had been brought about, and they related to him that the mercy of God had been poured out upon her at a certain time suddenly, and that she had felt relief and found herself made whole and free from the violent pains of her disease. And immediately that the words of their narrative concerning her illness had come to an end, Archelaus brought forth the paper whereon were written the day and hour wherein the prayer had been made on behalf of the believing woman (Polycratia), and the words of their narrative agreed with those which were written on his paper as if they had been written down [at the same time] with a pen. Then wonder laid hold upon every man, and they all admitted openly that the time at which the prayer was made by the blessed man was precisely that at which relief had come to her.

And multitudes of things similar to those which have already been described were performed by his hands; and also when the brethren used to set out to come from Egypt to him, he knew it beforehand and was able to declare it to those who happened to be with him, and it was revealed unto him sometimes even months and days beforehand that they were coming to him, and the reason for their journey. For some used to come to him merely to see him, and others [came] that they might be with him for a few days, and others came to him because of their diseases and afflictions of various kinds; and no man found that long road exhausting or fell into despair thereon, because the relief which each man obtained from the blessed Anthony was greater than the toil which he had endured thereon. And when a man saw these triumphs, and felt anxious to narrate them, the blessed man used to entreat him not to marvel at these deeds, but to wonder at the Divine Grace of God which considered unworthy and feeble men worthy of such great [care].

And on one occasion the brethren entreated him to visit their monasteries, and when they had come to a certain place they besought him to embark in a boat and to cross over the river; and when he had gone up into the boat a foul and fetid smell smote him suddenly. And when the brethren heard of this, they answered and said unto him, “Master, this smell ariseth from the fish and the salted meat with which the boat is loaded,” but he would not be persuaded that it was so, and he said, “This smell ariseth not from these things.” Now whilst he was ending his words, a young man, in whom was an evil spirit, was found in the boat, and as soon as he saw the blessed man, he shrank away from him straightway; but when the devil abused him, he cried out and uttered threats against the blessed man from among the people. Then the blessed Anthony turned himself round, and rebuked him, and silenced him, and immediately the young man felt the deliverance from him; and every man was persuaded that the smell was that of the devil whereat they had wondered.

And again there came to him a certain well-known man who was very sorely tried by an unclean spirit, and he was so distressed through him that his mind was carried away, and he was unable to understand any question which was asked of him; and in his whole body there was not a spot which was not lacerated by his bites, and those who had brought him took him to the blessed man Anthony and besought him to pray for him. Then the old man Anthony looked upon him, and his mercy having revealed itself, he took him by the hand, and made him stand up, and he knelt down on his knees before him, and he watched with him the whole night. And at the time of dawn the young man approached the blessed Anthony from behind his back, and smote him, and those who had brought him began to rebuke him; but the blessed man answered and said unto them, “Let no man be wroth against him; this act is not of him, but of the Evil One who is in him, for he hath been commanded to depart from that which God hath created, and to return to his place, and he is, in consequence, incensed with him, and hath done this thing. Glorify ye then God, because of this thing which hath taken place, for it hath given unto you a sign whereby ye may be sure that God hath wrought for him deliverance.” And when the blessed Anthony had said these things, straightway the young man was made whole, and he came to himself, and remembered where he was, and through whom deliverance had come unto him, and then he began to salute the blessed man, and to confess God with many loud protestations. Now believing men have related very many [wonderful] things like unto this, but in comparison to the other deeds which were wrought by the blessed man these are not very important.

On one occasion he stood up to pray at the ninth hour, and he perceived that his mind was exalted, and, what was still more wonderful, that whilst he was on the earth his mind was transformed, and he did not feel that he was upon the earth. For he saw that his soul was not being lifted up by the power of his mind, but was being governed by the angels; and when he himself was raised up, he saw other beings who came and stood opposite to him, and they prevented him from passing on. And they said, “Let us see of what kind are his deeds, and if we cannot by any means make him to be taken (or held) by us.” Then those who were guiding him turned round and rebuked them, and said unto them, “Our Lord by His grace blotted out his shortcomings and his sins before he became a disciple, but ye are embodied in his triumphs and in his works and deeds [which took place] after he had become a disciple”; and thereupon his soul was immediately exalted to the place unto which it attained. And after this his mind took up its abode in him, and he felt and perceived that which had happened to him; and he magnified and gave thanks to (or confessed) God by reason of everything which had taken place, and [he remained] in prayer the whole night which followed that day, and he tasted no food of any kind whatsoever therein.

And a man must also marvel at the severity of our contest, and at the great labour by which he passeth to this air; and he must remember and say, “This is the word of the Apostle, who spake, saying, ‘Your contending is against the ruler who holdeth the power of this world’ ” (Ephesians 6:12). For this reason the Apostle himself commanded, saying, “Put on the armour of God in order that ye may be able to stand against him in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13), so that the Enemy may have no occasion in any way to say about us that we have been sorely put to shame. And, my beloved, in connexion with the history of the blessed man, let us remember the matter of the Apostle who said, “Whether in the body or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth” (2 Corinthians, 12:2). Now, the blessed Paul was snatched up into the third heaven, and heard words which may not be uttered, and came down [again]; but the blessed Anthony was lifted up into the place to which he was lifted up, and he received a pledge of the confidence of his labour, and he returned and took up his abode with himself. And the [sign of] grace was also found with him. Whensoever he had in his mind any matter the truth of which he could not comprehend with his thoughts, he would make supplication in his prayer, and it would be revealed unto him, and in all these things he was taught by God even as it is written (St. John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13).

And after these things he had a disputation with certain men who came to him about the ordering and disposition of the soul, and the place to which it went after its departure [from the body]. Then, on another day, he heard a voice from heaven, which said, “Anthony, get thee forth, and thou shalt see.” And, moreover, this thing had also been wrought for him: he was able to distinguish between heavenly voices and the voices of enemies. And he lifted up his eyes and saw the form of a man which was immeasurably abominable; his head reached up into the heavens, and round about him on all sides were numbers of beings, some of which were flying about with their wings, and were soaring up above him; and he put forth his hands that he might lay hold of some [of them], but he was not able to do so. Now those winged beings who were flying about were those who had preserved (or guarded) their faith and their works; but the others he could lay hold of because they were those who had not received the faith, and who were remote from works. Then the blessed Anthony saw that the form of the man was gnashing his teeth with bitterness at those who were being lifted up into life, for [that] son of perdition would have been content that every man should perish with him. And straightway a voice came unto the blessed Anthony, and said: “Know thou that which hath been made”; and then he understood that this was the passage (or bridge) of souls, and that he who was standing in the midst was Satan, the enemy of righteousness. Such was the vision which came unto him, and it roused him up and incited him exceedingly to triumph in his old age.

Now these things were not related by his will, but the brethren who saw him when he was sighing during his prayer to God perceived that something had been seen by him, and they clung to him and pressed him with entreaties to inform them what had happened. And having examined his mind, and seen that it was free from boasting, he decided within himself that the report of such things as these would certainly admonish the youthful monks to stand up like mighty warriors in the war which the Enemy maketh against us, and not to be caught by him in any way, so that he might not be able to lift up his heel against us; and having thus decided he revealed and made known unto them the whole matter even as it appeared unto them. For he was exceedingly long-suffering in respect of the things which were fitting, and he was thoroughly meek in spirit, and in all these things he preserved scrupulously the Canons of the Church, and made answer unto every man according to his grade and rank. Unto Bishops and Elders he paid honour like a man who was in duty bound so to do, and he was not ashamed to bow his head before them at the time of the blessing; but deacons he received with joy and with affection, and although like a father he made them to hear words of righteousness and admonition, during the time of prayer he would set them in front by reason of the authority which had once been given unto them by God. He meditated continually upon righteousness, and he did not seek only to make another hear the Word, but he himself rejoiced to hear it, and he was never ashamed to do so, even though he was an old man and a famous one; for on several occasions he asked questions of those who were with him at all times, and entreated that he might hear that which was suitable to his life and deeds, and he would confess that he had been benefited whensoever a subject of this kind was debated among them.

And the countenance of the blessed man was clothed with the splendour of praise, and wonder thereat laid hold upon every man. Whensoever it happened that he was with many people, and it fell out that a man came there who had never seen the blessed Anthony, his eyes would glance quickly over all the people, and he would gaze intently upon them all, and would at once distinguish the newcomer, who, by reason of the splendour of grace which dwelt in the blessed man, would, as if drawn by cords, leave the other people and boldly make his way direct to him. Now this did not arise because the stature of the blessed Anthony was greater than that of any other man, or because his external appearance was more beautiful than that of any other man, but by reason of those spiritual triumphs which were within [him], even as it is written, “A happy heart maketh beautiful the body; and an evil heart maketh gloomy the countenance” (Proverbs 17:22). And, moreover, Jacob discerned by the appearance of the countenance of Laban that he was meditating fraud concerning him, for he said unto his wives, “I see that the face of your father is not towards me as it was yesterday and formerly” (Genesis 31:5). And in the same manner Samuel recognized David, for his eyes were beautiful (1 Samuel 16:12) and his features were joyous. And thus was it also in the case of the blessed Anthony, and by such indications he was known by those who saw him; when he was troubled [they saw that] his visage was disturbed, and when he was angry that his thoughts were ruffled.

And, moreover, he was immeasurably firm in the faith, and he held fast thereunto with honour and discretion (or discernment); he did not conduct himself in the matter of faith like a man who made himself a stranger unto the children of men, or like one who dwelt in the desert, either in common with other monks, or by himself; and he would not receive the people who used to go to him without question and also enquiry. For he never joined himself to the Meletian heretics who were in Egypt, for from the very beginning he was well acquainted with their dissensions (or schisms), and their restlessness, and he never took count at all of the other heresies, and he even exhorted every man to withdraw himself from them, for he used to say, “Neither in the discussion of them nor in their result is there any advantage.” Similarly the Arian heretics were so detestable and contemptible in his sight that he withdrew himself altogether from having any dealings with them, and he also exhorted other people to keep themselves far from their words and their doctrines. And it happened on one occasion that some of these Arians went to him, but when he had enquired at their hands, and had asked them questions and learned that they belonged to the dough of the leaven of Arius, the unbeliever, he drove them forth from his presence like the other wild beasts and vipers. And he said unto them, “Ye are more bitter and more evil than the beasts of prey and deadly serpents.” Now on one occasion the Arians spread a report and made a scandal which they cast upon the world, and they went about, saying, “Anthony hath agreed to our faith and hath accepted it,” and when this report came to his ears, astonishment laid hold upon him, and he marvelled greatly at the falsehood of the Arians, and how easily error came to them through the impudence of their minds.

Now when the bishops and the other brethren saw that the wickedness of the Arians was prevailing, and that they had spread this report through the whole city, they entreated the blessed man to exert himself a little in order that those liars might be put to great shame; and he was persuaded by them to go down to the city of Alexandria, and to proclaim openly there that the Arians were blasphemers, so that their iniquity might come back upon their own heads. And having gone down [to Alexandria] a vast multitude of people thronged there at the report [of the coming of] the blessed man, and when all the people were gathered together [to him] he admonished and exhorted them in a loud voice to beware of the error of the Arians, and he said, “This [i.e., Arianism] is the essence of all heresies, and it is the work of the Christs of falsehood; get ye away then from them afar off that ye become not corrupted by them. God forbid that the Son of God should be proclaimed to be a thing which hath been made, or that He should be named as something which came from nothing. For He is of the substance of the Father, and He is His Child, and it is therefore great wickedness for a man to say that there was ever a time when He was not; for the Word existed at all times with God. Therefore flee ye from association with them, lest ye have a portion in their blasphemy, for light hath no connexion with darkness, and ye must have no connexion whatsoever with them, and ye must have no likeness to or association with them, for ye are in the righteousness of your faith believing Christians, and those who say that the Son of the Living God is a created thing are in no wise different from the heathen. Believe me, O my beloved, the very creatures are far more to be desired than those who worship the creatures in preference to their Creator, and who confound and compare the creatures with the Lord and Creator of the universe.”

Thereupon all the people held the Arians to be like other heretics, and they were esteemed in their sight wholly as blasphemers and unbelievers, and all men were confirmed in the correct view concerning the faith. Then [the people of] the city, both the Christians and the Armâyê (i.e., the heathen of Alexandria), and also those who were called “priests,” ran into the church to see the “man of God,” for by this name and title was he called; and in that city also our Lord wrought by the hand of the blessed man many signs and wonders, and so many of those whose minds had been injured through error obtained through him the means of healing that more people became Christians on that day than in the whole year [previously]. And large numbers of the heathen entreated to be allowed to see the blessed man, and to draw nigh unto the cloak of the righteous man; to this wonderful pass did the measure of the power of the blessed man come. Now when the brethren saw that a great uproar had arisen, and that the people were troubling him by thronging about him, they made a way through them and surrounded him, for they thought that he would be choked by the throng; but the blessed man answered and said unto them quietly, and with a smile, “Let the people perform their desire. For what think ye? Is it not as easy for me to bear with this crowd of believers as with the throng of devils which are in the desert?”

And when he had made an end of all these things in Alexandria, he went forth to depart into the wilderness, and the whole city clave unto him; and when he had come to the side of the gate of the city, a certain woman came running with all her strength after the crowd, and cried out, “Wait a little for me, O man of God. My daughter is grievously vexed by a devil and tormented, and I beseech thee to wait, and let healing be to my daughter; and moreover, let not my soul be carried out of [my body] through running overmuch.” And when the voice was heard by the ears of the old man, he paused and stood still until the woman drew nigh unto him and cast her daughter down by his feet. Then the blessed man looked up to heaven and cried out the Name of Christ over the devil, and straightway the damsel stood up, and turned towards her mother, being freed from the subjection of the Evil One; and every man gave thanks unto God, and the mother of the damsel also glorified him that had wrought deliverance for her. And immediately after the blessed man had performed this work he turned [again] to his journey, for he rejoiced exceedingly at his going to the desert, and he was even like unto the man who rejoiceth at going [again], after a long absence, to his own house, and the house of his kinsfolk. Now the blessed Anthony was a wise man, and he was one who was full of understanding, and it was a very great wonder in the sight of men how such knowledge and understanding could dwell in a man who had not learned to read or to write.

On one occasion there came unto him two philosophers to try him (now he was living on the outer mountain), and so soon as he perceived them afar off he knew and discerned what they were by their garb. And having gone forth to meet them, he said unto them by means of his interpreters, “Why have ye given yourselves all this trouble to come and see a man of low estate?” and they answered him [in these] word[s], “Thou art not a man of low estate, but a wise man.” Then, after he had understood (or tasted) their words, he began to say unto them, “If ye had come to a man of low estate, ye would have given yourselves all this trouble in vain, but if your words are true, and if ye believe indeed that I am a wise man, become ye even as I am, for it is meet that we should at all times be zealous to obtain the things which are fair. Had it happened that I had come unto you, I should have been impelled to become like unto you; and now that ye have come unto me, become ye Christians like myself.” And when these philosophers heard these words, and saw in what a state of subjection the devils stood before him, they marvelled exceedingly and turned away on their heels in silence.

After these there also came unto him others who were like unto them to the outer mountain; now they came prepared to make a mock of him as if he had been a fool, for they had heard that he possessed no learning. And when they had pressed their talk upon him after this manner, the old man said unto them, “I will ask you a question, and ye shall return me an answer. Which is the older, learning or the mind? And which is the source (or cause) of the other? Is learning the source of the mind, or the mind of learning?” Then the philosophers said unto him, “The mind is the prince of learning, for it hath discovered learning.” And he said unto them, “Doth not then the man whose mind is enlightened and bright surpass greatly [him that hath only] learning? For by the first word [which he uttereth] do men test a man, and they understand whether he possesseth a wise and understanding mind [or not];” then they also marvelled at what they had seen and heard, and they likewise went back to their own country.

For he was a man whose intelligence was profound, and he was wise and exceedingly understanding, and he was not in any way like unto a man who had been brought up in the desert from his youth. And when he became old and waxed aged he was simple in his speech, and austere and stern (?) in his mind, but still he was perfect and complete in everything, and every [good] quality was found in him in the state which was most fitting. Now his speech, even as we have already said, was so exceedingly savoury and so well seasoned with heavenly salt, that none of his hearers could be angry at his words, and no man could be envious of the acts of his daily life, for he was ready and prepared to hear and answer every kind of opinion.

Now on another occasion it happened that certain men, who were wise according to the world and who were received gladly among the Greeks, went to him, and began to ask him questions concerning the faith which is in our Lord Jesus Christ, wishing to confound him in a discussion concerning the matter of the Cross and of the preaching of our Lord, and having seen that they were ready to scoff and to mock, he bore with them a little, and then, having observed them, he roared greatly in his heart concerning the error which dwelt in them. Then he spake unto them by means of an interpreter, who was exceedingly skilled in translating words from the Egyptian into the Greek language, and he said unto them first of all, “Which is the easier? For a man to confess the Cross, or to believe that adultery, and fornication, and impure acts with men are committed by those who are called ‘gods.’ For the [doctrine] which is spoken and believed by us is a mark and a likeness of the men by whom death is held in contempt, and the world is considered to be of no account, but the religion which ye preach is a service of impurity, and the desire of foul lusts. Which thing then is more beneficial for us to believe? That [Christ] is the Son of God, and that that which He was in His Godhead was in no way changed, although through His care for the redemption of the children of men He took upon Himself the body of our human nature, and with His Godhead was mingled therewith, so that by means of His union with our human nature He might mingle it with His Godhead, or that we should liken God unto beasts and cattle, and that in consequence thereof man should make himself like unto the similitudes of beasts and of the creeping things of the earth and should worship them? Now, our belief proclaimeth that the coming of Christ took place for the redemption of the children of men, and that it should not be unto us a cause for fornication, and falsehood, and injustice (or avarice), and gluttony, and drunkenness, and lasciviousness, and the rest of the luxurious practices which exist in the world. And we exhort and admonish [men to avoid] all these things, for a penalty hath been decreed for every man who shall dare to transgress in respect of one of these things. Now ye, through the fable of error, labour in the work of abomination, but we, because we have trust in the power and lovingkindness (or mercy) of God, believe that the preaching of the Cross is easiest for us [to follow]. And ye, without any discernment, ascribe all kinds of hateful practices to your gods, so that ye without any further thought may do everything [ye please].

And moreover, as concerning the soul ye say that it is an image of the mind (or understanding), and when ye have meditated well upon this subject ye go back and say that it will be dissolved; and therefore, because of this opinion which cometh from [your] study, ye lay it down that the mind itself will be divided (or broken up) and changed. For, of necessity, the image must in its form and similitude be exactly like that of which it is the copy; and ye should know that when ye think in this manner about the mind ye also blaspheme the Father thereof.

And in respect of the Cross, which is it better for us to say? That it endureth patiently the anger of the attack of the madness of our human nature, and that it neither departeth by death, nor doth the terrible death which striketh fear into the mighty man come unto it, or [shall we ascribe to it] the error, and the allegories, and the cunning plans, and the vain stories, and the incitements [to sin], and the flight, and the mockery, and the shame, which are written down in your fables, wherein your gods took refuge, when strife and death came upon each one of them? For such things are the wisdom of your wisdom. And wherefore do ye make a mockery of the Cross only and hold not in wonder the Resurrection? For those who have written [the account of] Christ’s crucifixion have also proclaimed His Resurrection. And why, when ye make mention of the Cross, do ye not also recount the miracles, and the Resurrection from the dead, and all the other things also, that is to say [the restoration of] the sight of the blind, and the cleansing of the lepers, and the healing of the paralytics, and the walking upon the waters? For from these ye would be able to have understanding of Christ, and ye would learn that he was not only a man but God also. Indeed, ye appear to me to act wholly unjustly. For ye do not judge matters rightly, and the Scriptures are not read in a proper manner by you; and since certain things are accepted and believed in by you, whilst others, which are akin to them, are not, where is your fair dealing in this matter?

“Narrate ye now unto us your scriptures, and explain ye unto us what is therein. What are the animals which are worshipped, and what are the reptiles unto which are given the names of gods, except subjects for mockery and contempt? But if a man void of understanding cometh to you, ye liken each one of them [unto gods] in the speech of rational beings, and ye expound the unlikely things [which are declared concerning them], so that the foolish may think that they are true. Ye give names to the earth, and to the heavens, and the sun, and the moon, and the air, and the sea, and the fire, and the waters, and to other created things, and call them gods, that ye may lead man astray thereby from the One God Who is the Creator of the universe. The quest of the God of truth is not among you, and ye are found worshipping the things which have been created rather than Him Who created them. For, if ye gave the names of gods to such similitudes because created things were so exceedingly beautiful, it would have been sufficient for you to be able to admire them, without holding them in such absolute and singular honour in your minds. And because of this opinion of error which dwelleth in your mind, it is not difficult for you either to divert to the house which He hath fashioned and adorned the honour which is due to the Master-handicraftsman, or to hold lightly the King, and to ascribe the glory which is His due to His household which ministereth unto Him. What then have ye to urge against these [words], O wise men? [Speak,] so that we may know if there be in the Cross anything which meriteth mockery.” And when the blessed man had spoken unto them in this fashion the things which they could not endure to hear from him, they began to look to the right hand and to the left.

Now when the blessed man knew that they were silently seeking to make objections to his words, he spake unto them again through an interpreter, saying, “The work (i.e., proof) of these my words is also their testimony; but because ye yourselves take refuge in words of guile and falsehood, and because ye employ them with the greatest skill, ye desire that we, like yourselves, shall also journey on without the truth of investigation. Show ye me now briefly the work [or proof] of [your] words. First of all, How can the knowledge of God be truly comprehended? Which is the older: the faith which is in works, or the quest of words?” They answered and said unto him, “The faith which is indeed faith; and this is the true knowledge.” The old man saith unto them, “Ye have well said, for faith is the sign of the love which is made perfect in the soul. For discussion cometh from words which are strung together, and therefore the faith which is in works, and which is closely united to them, is not sought after, because the quest of words is superfluous; for the matters which we comprehend by faith ye try by every means to represent by comparisons and similitudes, and howsoever much ye weary yourselves ye will never be able to narrate the things the truth of which we have comprehended. It is, therefore, well known and evident that our faith which is in works is far more excellent than your wisdom [which consisteth of] a discussion of words, and that your wisdom cannot by any means be [rightly] compared therewith.”

For we Christians have not acquired the mystery of life through the wisdom of strange words, but by the power of faith which hath been given unto us by God, the Lord of all; and that the[se] word[s] are true accept the proof from the following. Behold, we are not learned in books, yet we believe in God, and we possess understanding concerning His creation, and concerning the mercy of the Providence of His grace, and we have confidence through the faith of Jesus Christ that our faith is sure, [whilst] ye have only words which are full of contentions; in your case the phantom of the adornment of your idols gradually cometh to an end, but in ours our faith increaseth and becometh more abundant day by day everywhere. In your case, in spite of the abundance of your discussions and wisdom, ye have no power to turn even one Christian to paganism, but in ours, by the faith of Christ which we preach, we despise your doctrine, and there is in your well-ordered, carefully arranged and polished words no power which can do away the teaching of Christ. And, moreover, we by means of the Cross which ye hold in contempt chase away and put to flight those devils which ye worship as gods, and wheresoever the name of the Cross is mentioned all the crafts and wiles of error come to an end. If it be divination it is destroyed, and if it be sorcery it is made an end of; and that such hath been done in very truth ye must admit when ye are asked by us, ‘Where is divination? Where are the magicians who were in Egypt? Where are the phantoms of the errors of the sorcerers? When were these things which appertain unto you destroyed except when the Cross of Christ was mentioned?’ Is then this Cross worthy to be despised? Judge ye this matter in your souls, and consider it also and marvel thereat. It is a matter of wonder that your doctrine hath never before been a subject for persecution, and that it hath only become so at this time when Christian kings [live] in honour and majesty in every place.

“In proportion as persecution cometh your doctrine hideth itself, but ours, against which storms innumerable have arrayed themselves, becometh stronger and stronger. Your doctrine, notwithstanding that it is praised and magnified, becometh despised and rejected, whilst ours, although held in contempt, is great in its acts and glorious in its operation, and being harassed [spreadeth] from one end of the earth even unto the other without men taking care about it. For when did the knowledge of God come down into the world, and chastity flourish, and virginity shed its light abroad, and death become held in contempt, if it be not after the Cross of victory came and triumphed throughout all the earth? And of this fact no man can have any doubt, when he considereth the blessed martyrs by whom death was despised because of the victory of the Cross. And behold, do we not see that the Church rejoiceth in innumerable congregations of virgins, both men and women, who preserve their bodies in all holiness? These are the true likenesses which make known and shew forth the faith of Christ, which is a living confidence and a knowledge in faith unto those who put their trust therein. Now if ye have been in doubt [concerning these things] up to this present, it is because your mind (or opinion) hath been fettered with words of binding and loosing, the end of which ye will never be able to find; for we do not, like you, go astray through the blandishment of the words of alien wisdom, but, according to what our Teacher spake, we give a proof of our faith, and we readily make manifest in the clearest possible manner the truth of our opinion unto every one who wisheth [to see it].”

And behold, there were in that place certain men who were suffering from injuries to their bodies, and the blessed man commanded them, and they came forth and stood in the midst; then he answered and said unto those wise men, “Draw nigh now and, by whatsoever means ye wish and will, whether by the wisdom of your renowned idols, or by your sorceries and enchantments, give the word, and let these afflicted souls have relief from their sufferings. But if ye are not able to do so, stand aside and cease your hostile attacks upon us, and ye shall straightway see the power of the Cross of Christ.” Then he made the sign of the Cross over them three times, and the people were healed immediately and stood up; and when those philosophers saw [this], they praised him greatly, and they marvelled in very deed at the understanding of the man, and at the visible sign which had been wrought by his hand. And the blessed man said unto them, “Why marvel ye at this thing? It is not we who have done this, but Christ Who is wont to do suchlike things by the hands of those who fear Him. Therefore do you also believe even as do we, and become like us, and see that we possess none of the handicraft of devils, but only the faith which is made perfect by means of the love of Christ, our Lord Jesus. If ye possess this also, ye have no need of the quest of much discussion, for the deed itself will convince you that it is not by words, but by manifest works, that our doctrine increaseth and giveth the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Such were the words which the blessed man spake unto those philosophers, who tarried to hear [them], and who put to the test and then received the proof of all the [mental] adornment of the old man; and thus having received his grace, they applauded his words and his acts, and having saluted him with great honour they returned to their own country.

Now the fame of the blessed man reached even unto the king and the princes, and the Emperor Constantine and his sons Constantius and Constans heard concerning his works and triumphs, and they began to write epistles unto him as unto a father and to entreat him to pray for them, and they longed greatly to become the recipients of letters from him. Now he did not write letters quickly, and he did not consider too highly or boast about those which he received, but he continued to preserve the humility and sweetness of disposition which he possessed before he received the imperial epistles, and after he had received them he remained unchanged. Whensoever he received the imperial letters, he would call and gather together the monks who happened to be with him, and say unto them, “Ye marvel, perhaps, that the kings and the princes should write epistles unto us, but what [need] is there for wonder, seeing that it is only one man writing letters to another? but what ye should wonder at is how God wrote the Law for the children of men, and how He hath spoken unto us through His only Son.” He preferred, however, not to receive epistles which were sent unto him by the king and the princes, for he said, “It is not in my power to write epistles like theirs”; but inasmuch as the king and the princes were Christians, he did not consider it seemly that their epistles should be held lightly, lest they might become offended and be displeased, and he permitted them to be read before every one who happened to be with him.

Now the manner in which he wrote his epistles [in answer] was as follows: In the first place he magnified [those to whom they were addressed], and returned thanks because they were worshippers of Christ, and he gave them advice and united thereto the counsels which were suitable, and which would benefit them both in this world and in that which is to come. And he told them that the wearisome labours which were visible should not be accounted overmuch by them, and exhorted them to remember the judgement which is to come, and that it is Christ Who is the true and everlasting King. And he advised them to let lovingkindness be found in them, and to be careful for that which is right, and to have considerate regard for the poor. Kings used to receive him and rejoice in him greatly, and he was greatly esteemed by every man, and regarded as a righteous father.

Whensoever certain matters had to be done, and certain things had to be talked about, he was in the habit of going back to the inner mountain, and as something which was gratifying unto him he would work his triumphs there. On many occasions when he was sitting with those who went to him, or was walking about, he would hold his peace for a long time, and would keep wholly to himself, according to that which is written in [the book of] Daniel (Daniel 7:28); and after a season he would utter in its order the word which would bind him to the brethren. Now those who saw him [act] in this manner used to know that some vision had appeared unto him, and indeed on several occasions when he was in the mountain he saw things which were being wrought in Egypt; and Serapion, the Bishop, related that during the whole of the time which he remained with him he had seen the blessed man for several days at a time labouring seriously with visions in this manner.

One day whilst he was sitting down at work on the palm leaves he fell into a state of profound stupefaction, and remained for an exceedingly long time therein seeing a vision of revelation, and he groaned frequently, and after a season he turned round to those who happened to be with him, and groaned again; and he trembled greatly, and began to pray, and he bent his knees and [then] stood up with his eyes full of tears. Now those who saw the old man thus troubled were beginners in the monastic life, and they were greatly moved and were afraid with a great fear; and after a season they began to entreat them to tell him what was the vision which he had seen, and which had troubled him in this fashion. Then when they had pressed him, he sighed the more, and said unto them, “It would be much better for me to die than for that which hath appeared unto me to happen.” And being urged by their entreaty, he spake sadly and excitedly, saying, “Great wrath is coming upon the Church, which is about to be delivered over to men who are in no wise different from the wild beasts. I have seen an altar surrounded by mules which without mercy kicked all the people, both great and small, for they were as excited as a drove of horses which had been turned loose without bridles. When I sighed concerning these things, even ye heard the sound of my sighs, and I heard a voice which said, ‘My altar shall be defiled.’ ” Such were the things which the old man saw. Two years Iater (about A.D. 343) the trouble with the Arians took place, and the spoliation of the churches by the hands of the pagans in the sight of all the people of the city who were gathered together, and they caused the performance of the holy service to be set aside and abrogated. Now these pagans went forth into the streets of the city, and they thronged them and brought forth people from their shops, and compelled them to assemble with them, and before their eyes they performed the service of the Church and [administered] the Holy Mysteries. It was then that we understood [what] the kickings of the mules [meant], that is to say [the vision] which had appeared unto the blessed man, and the whole work which was wrought with such iniquity and wickedness by the hands of the Arians in the Church.

Now when the blessed man saw this vision, and perceived that it was very grievous to the brethren, he consoled them, and said, “My beloved sons, be not afflicted, for as God is angry now even so will He become pacified again, and after no [great] interval between these trials and injuries rest and peace shall come upon the Church of God. And ye shall see those who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake return to their places, and the Evil One, together with those who work his will, shall turn on his heels, and the horn of the righteous men who hold the true faith shall be exalted, and they shall openly proclaim the truth in the ears of a persecuted but believing nation. Hearken ye then unto these things from me, and take heed that ye keep yourselves from fornication in respect of the faith, and from intercourse with people who are polluted therewith; for the time of these things shall be short, and there shall be redemption for the people of God, and the righteous man shall live by faith.

Such were the things which were spoken by the blessed man, and it is not a great matter that such things were uttered and seen by the man who was crucified unto the world, and to whom the world was crucified. For our Lord made the promise unto believers, saying, “If ye have in you faith like a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, ‘Depart’; and it shall depart, and there is nothing which shall be too hard for you” (St. Matthew 17:20); and again He said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask of My Father in My Name shall be given unto you.” And He commanded His disciples, saying, “Go ye forth, and preach, and heal the sick, and cast out devils; freely ye have received (St. Matthew 10:8), freely give.” Now the blessed man did not perform healings by his own power after the manner of a master, but only with prayer and the mention of the Name of Christ, so that it might be manifest unto every man that it was not he who was the doer of these things, but that God wrought them by his hands. Thus the old man was triumphant in all such matters, for his strength was renewed from day to day even as is the youth of the eagle, by the fervour of his mind, and he had pleasure in the constant works which our Lord Jesus wrought for him.

Now he was afflicted and suffered much by reason of the people who were continually coming to him, and he enjoyed no respite from them, and he was therefore compelled to withdraw to the outer mountain; and moreover the judges and the governors of the country entreated him to come back to a place of habitation, because it was difficult for them to come near him on account of the numerous people who clung to him, and because of the fatigue of the journey which [they had to endure] in going to him. And this matter was exceedingly hard to the blessed man, and he excused himself from suchlike things. Now when the judges and the governors saw that he refused to do what they wanted, they dealt craftily with him in this matter, for they sent to him the Greeks and the other people who had been arrested for evil dealing and wickednesses of various kinds, and they entreated and besought him with much supplication to come back to the habitations of men so that he might work deliverance from prison for them; and by such means and excuses the judges were able to see him continually, and the toil which he suffered on such journeys was not in vain, for his coming was beneficial to every one. Now the judges heard from him that which helped them to rule [righteously], and they learned to know that they themselves were men, and were even as those who were subject unto them, and that they must not behave towards them angrily, but judge them righteously, for, “With what judgement ye judge [ye shall be judged]” (St. Matthew 7:2). But although the blessed man rejoiced in the works of the fear of God which he wrought, he was more pleased with his habitation in the desert than with any other thing. And after he had been led by force by those men who had made supplication unto him, and had entreated him to come to the outer mountain, so soon as he had performed for them his kind offices and had spoken unto the governor words which were suitable to his majesty and dominion, he would hasten back to his place. And when the governor did homage to him, and begged him to remain with him for a day or two, the old man entreated him courteously [to be allowed to de part], saying, “This thing is impossible, for as fish die if a man lift them out of the water, so, if we monks prolong our stay with men, do our minds become perverted and troubled; therefore it is meet that as fish [pass] their lives beneath the waters we also should let our lives and works be buried in the wilderness.” Now when the governor heard these and other things like unto them, he marvelled and said, “Verily [this is] a true servant of God. He speaketh not that which cometh from himself, but that which is given unto him from heaven. How could this simple man possess such rich knowledge unless he was beloved by God?”

Now a certain duke whose name was Bâlak (Balacius) persecuted the Church sorely at the instigation of the Arians, and his wickedness increased to such an extent that he would beat the nuns, and strip the monks naked and flog them. And when the blessed old man heard of the wickedness of this man, he wrote a letter and sent it to him, and in it was thus written, “Behold, I see that wrath is coming upon thee; desist therefore, and accept rebuke, and persecute not the believers, that peradventure the angel of wrath may be restrained, for behold, he hath set out to come.” When Balacius received the letter, he looked thereat and laughed, and he spat thereon, and took it up and threw it away; and in his hatred he cursed the bringer of the letter, and said unto him, “Get thee back and tell these things to him that sent thee.” And he said unto him, “Inasmuch as thou hast exceedingly great regard for the churches and for those who are persecuted, behold I will speedily execute judgement upon thee also”; but after these words he went no further than five days before wrath overtook him. For he set out to journey to the first stopping-place [on the road from] Alexandria which is called Chaereus, and as the duke Balacius and Nestor, the prefect of Alexandria, were riding together—now they were riding two of Balacius’s horses which were the gentlest of all his horses—before they arrived at the place [of destination], the horses began to play together according to their wont, and suddenly the gentler of the two horses, that is to say the animal whereon Nestor the prefect rode, seized the thigh of Balacius with his mouth and dragged him from his horse and fell upon him and rent him like a dog. And they took Balacius and brought him into Alexandria, and after three days he died; and thus the word of the blessed man actually came to pass, and wonder laid hold upon every man.

And these were the things which he was wont to say to the judges of [this] world, and he would give them counsel in a loving manner, that they should not be puffed up in their minds, and that they should not magnify themselves over the people, for there was no governor at that time who would not gladly hearken unto him, and they repented of their [evil] deeds, and ascribed blessing unto those who despised the world and became aliens thereto. And moreover, he had such great care for those who were treated unjustly, and were plundered of their possessions, that he himself would bear all their [troubles]; and his words were so grateful and pleasant unto all those who drew nigh unto him that many of the dwellers in villages and in towns, and pagans (or rustics) and men who served in the army would forsake their riches and their occupations and would go and enrol themselves in the order of the monks. Now he was unto Egypt like a good physician who had been given unto the people thereof from God. For who ever came unto him being afflicted that did not go away rejoicing? Or who ever came unto him in sorrow because of the sufferings which had come upon him that did not come back wholly encouraged? And who ever came unto him full of rage and wrath that was not enriched with graciousness and long-suffering? And what poor man ever came unto him broken by poverty who did not [afterwards] by reason of his words and the sight of him despise all riches? And what monk ever came to him sorrowful in mind who did not depart full of strength like a mighty man of war? And what young man ever came unto him with lusts burning in him, and saw that the old man had conquered in the strife, who did not go away with his lusts quenched and dead within him? And what youth who was afraid of the war which had come upon him ever came unto him, and seeing his triumphant old age did not [henceforward] contend in the forefront of the battle? And what man ever came unto him troubled in mind who did not go away with it composed and in a state of reason?

And there was found in him the gracious gift of being able to distinguish and understand the wiliness of the devils, and the various ways whereby each one of them caused injury [to man]; and he comprehended not only those things which were wrought by the Evil One, but also the various causes whereby men were troubled and perturbed, and he could inform them concerning the craft and cunning of the deceitful one. And every man hearkened unto these things and learned them, and he went away bearing armour and a shield against the profound wiles of the Evil One. And, moreover, how many were the virgins who saw the blessed man afar off and left the men to whom they were betrothed, and betrothed themselves to Christ! And many people used to come to him from outside Egypt, and unto all the questions he would return suitable answers; and he was so great, and was so much beloved by every man, that after he had departed from this world, and had left all men orphans, the memory of him never died among the people, and every man gave himself courage by the repetition of his triumphs and of his words.

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


IT is meet that we should call to remembrance his death, and should relate how it took place, and in what manner he finished his life, for I know that ye will be exceedingly pleased therewith. Now he was accustomed to go out and visit the memorial stones of the brethren in the outer mountain. Now the matter of his death also was not hidden from him, and he went forth [to visit them] even when he knew that his departure was nigh. And after he had spoken to the brethren according to his wont, he said unto them, “This act which ye have just performed is the end of all acts; and I marvel at this world. Let each look [for himself] alone; for it is time for me to die.” Now he was then about one hundred and five years old.

And when the brethren heard [these things], they wept bitter tears, and each of them began to embrace and to kiss him, and the old man, like unto a man from a strange country who is about to depart thereto, with great gladness besought them to be quiet, and exhorted them, saying, “Be not ye in despair by reason of your tribulations, and be not lax in your lives and works, but even as men who are dying daily prepare ye for life, and, as I have already said, be watchful ever. Keep ye your souls from thoughts of iniquity, and strive ye for good gifts, and guard ye yourselves against associating yourselves with the Meletians (see page 57), who are heretics, for ye know the cause of their schisms, and how cunning and bitter they are. And flee ye with all your might also from the doctrine of the Arians, for their wickedness is clearly manifest, and take good heed to avoid them, and be not like unto them for ever, neither if they be mighty in their help, nor if they be many in bearing burdens, for however often error raiseth up her nest (?) it shall never be able to contend against the truth. Be ye, therefore, free from all intercourse with them, and thus shall ye be able to take good heed to the true doctrine of our fathers, and to the preaching of the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, which ye have received from the Scriptures.”

Now when the brethren heard concerning the matter of his departure, they entreated him that he would remain with them in order that his course might be ended there, but he would not accede to their request for many reasons which he had made known in his silence, but for the following reason especially. The Egyptians were in the habit of taking the dead bodies of righteous men, and especially those of the blessed martyrs, and of embalming them and placing them not in graves, but on biers in their houses, for they thought that by so doing they were doing them honour. And the blessed old man had on very many occasions besought the Bishops to preach to the people and to command them to cease from this habit. And he himself used to entreat and exhort the multitudes who came to him, saying, “This work is neither seemly nor right. Moreover, the burial places of the early Fathers, and of the Prophets, and of the Apostles are known unto this day, and even the grave of our Lord Who rose on the third day.” And by these words he showed forth that it was a transgression of a command for a man not to hide [in the ground] the bodies of those who were dead, even though they were righteous men. Therefore many hearkened and were persuaded not to do so, and they laid their dead in the ground, and buried them therein, and they thanked God because they had accepted [his] entreaty, which was seemly. And it was through fear of this thing that he would not grant the entreaty of the brethren and remain with them, but departed to his own place.

And after a few months he became sick, and he cried out to the brethren who were with him (now these were only two in number, and they had been with him from the time when his old age [began], which was nearly fifteen years before, and they ministered unto him with the greatest care), and said unto them, even as it is written, “Behold, I go the way of my fathers, for I have felt within myself for some days [past] that I have been called by my Lord. Observe ye now how carefully ye can maintain this contest, and take good heed that ye lose not the long-suffering which ye have acquired, and that, like men who are just beginning [the strife], ye increase it more and more and add to it day by day. Ye are well acquainted with the baneful devils and their craftiness, and ye know well this fact, that if ye please they shall be accounted as nothing by you. Be ye therefore not terrified by them, but always take refuge in Christ. And remember ye everything which ye have heard from me during all this time [which ye have been with me], that ye have no intercourse whatsoever with the Arians, the heretics, for ye know how filthy they are in my sight because of their blasphemy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take ye also heed then diligently at all times that ye cleave to the Spirit of Christ and agree therewith, and be ye, moreover, friends and associates of just men that they may receive you into their everlasting habitations as friends and men of whom they have good knowledge. Therefore meditate ye upon these things and keep them in your minds. And if your minds are [set] upon me, and ye remember me as a father, permit no man to take my body and carry it into Egypt, lest, according to the custom which they have, they embalm me and lay me up in their houses, for it was [to avoid] this that I came into this desert. And ye know that I have continually made exhortation concerning this thing and begged that it should not be done, and ye well know how much I have blamed those who observed this custom. Dig a grave then, and bury me therein, and hide my body under the earth, and let these my words be observed carefully by you, and tell ye no man where ye lay me; [and there I shall be] until the Resurrection of the dead, when I shall receive [again] this body without corruption.

“And divide ye my garments [into lots], and give one leather tunic to Bishop Athanasius, and the covering of this my bed which he gave unto me when it was new; but now it hath become old. And to Bishop Serapion do ye give the other leather coat; and this covering of my bed which is made of hair ye yourselves shall keep; now therefore, my children, abide in peace, for, behold, Anthony bringeth his journey to an end, and he goeth whither Divine Grace shall bring him.”

And when he had spoken these words, he straightway stretched out his legs, whereupon the brethren began to cry out [to him], and to kiss him; now his face was full of joy unspeakable at the meeting of those who had come for him, and it resembled that of a man when he seeth a friend whom it rejoiceth him to meet. So the blessed man held his peace and died, and was gathered to his fathers.

Then the brethren, according to the command which they had received from him, wrapped him round in the garment which he wore, and they carried him out, and dug a hole in the ground and buried his body in the earth, and no man knoweth where they buried him except those two brethren who laid him in the earth. Now whosoever received any one of the clothes of the blessed Anthony regarded it as a most valuable possession, for whensoever a man looked thereat he imagined that he was looking at the blessed man in it, and whensoever any man put on one of his garments he felt as if he were arrayed in the commandments and promises of the blessed Anthony.

Here end the history of the life of the blessed old man in the body, and the previous narrative thereto which [dealt with] the beginning of his deeds and labours; and if these appear to be too small in comparison with [the number of] the triumphs of the blessed man, still from these ye will be able to imagine how great was this man of God, who, from his earliest youth to his old age, never desisted from his career in the fear of God. Old age did not reduce his vigour and compel him to gratify the body, and he was not urged by the sickness of his body even to touch water with his feet; and whilst he was thus keeping his body in restraint God preserved him unharmed. For, in spite of his great old age, his eye waxed not dim, and not one of his teeth dropped out, and both his feet and his hands were in a sound and healthy state; and notwithstanding that he kept his body low [in respect of food], his appearance was more glorious than that of all those who fed themselves luxuriously on dainty meats, and who wore fine clothes, and who made use of baths. And moreover he possessed strength which was out of all proportion to his aged body.

Now inasmuch as the fame of the blessed Anthony hath gone into every place, and every man holdeth him in wonder, and worshippeth him, it is a sure and certain sign of the truth of his acts and deeds and of his perfect love towards God. For he did not become known unto all the world by means of [his] discourse, or by the wisdom of words, or by means of crafty plans and schemes, but by radiant righteousness towards God, for it was God Who performed this work, and he who hath a doubtful mind about this shall be held in contempt. Otherwise how is it possible that a man who lived in seclusion and who dwelt alone in the desert should become known and proclaimed abroad in Spain, and in Âlânîâ, and in Rome, and in Africa and other countries unless God, Whom Anthony confessed from the earliest times, had revealed him [to them]? For although these men of God live in secret places and do not desire to be seen and known, yet our Lord [maketh them] to shine like lamps upon all men. Thus also let those who hear [me], and who are mighty men before God, and who love His commandments, be persuaded to keep [their] steps, not that they may be praised but that they may be justified. Let all the brethren then who are monks read these things so that they may know how it is meet for them to live their lives, and let this little book be unto every man like the testament of a righteous father who had divided his riches and possessions among his beloved sons in our Lord; for when we gather together and reveal unto the believers those means whereby he gained possession of and collected all his wealth, we deliver up riches and give them unto prosperous and beloved sons, even as doth the man who gathered up wealth [for his family].

Let every man know then and have confidence that our Lord Jesus Christ our Redeemer honoureth those who honour Him, and who serve Him unto the end, and that He doth not only invite them to the kingdom of heaven and lead them into it, but in this world also, even though they live in seclusion and hide themselves, He revealeth them, and proclaimeth abroad [their names] for their own glory, and for the benefit of our humanity. And if it be seemly, do not excuse yourselves from reading these things even in the sight of (or before) the heathen, for peradventure even by hearing the same they may become convinced that our Lord Jesus Christ is not only God and the Son of God, but also that for those who serve Him in purity of heart, and who believe in Him in truth, those devils who are imagined to be gods take to flight at the name of Christ. Now that they are not gods the matter itself maketh known, for behold, they are held in contempt, and they are trodden down like the furrows of a field, and they are expelled as thieves and destroyers by the believers everywhere.

Here endeth, by the help of our Lord, the History of the Triumphs of the blessed Anthony, the athlete and perfect man, who triumphed in the contest and received the crown of victory. By his prosperous trafficking be made double his merchadise through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who helped him and made him to triumph, the Lord [of righteous men] and the Conqueror.

RE: St. Athanasius: The Paradise of the Holy Fathers - Stone - 11-29-2021


The Epistle of Palladius, the Bishop of the city of Thelenopolis, which be made (or wrote) to Lausus the prefect who asked him to write for him an account of the lives and deeds of the Fathers who were monks; and be wrote thus:

PALLADIUS the Bishop to LAUSUS the prefect: greeting (or peace).

I ascribe blessing to thy beautiful desire, for we may begin [this] epistle with blessing, because whilst many men are devoted unto vain things, and build buildings of stone wherein there is no profit, thou hast shown thyself strenuous to learn concerning the building of the words of the narratives of holy men. For there is One alone Who hath no deed of doctrine (or learning) that is to say, God, Who is over everything, for He existeth of Himself, and there is no other being who existed before Him. Now all rational beings are learners, because they are beings who have been made and created. The ranks of the celestial hosts who existed first of all, and the orders of beings who are the most exalted of all possess teachers in the Trinity, Who is exalted above everything. The orders of beings of the second group learn from the beings of the first group, and those which belong to the third group learn from those of the second group, which is above them, and in this manner each of the later groups learneth from that which is above it, even down to the lowest group of all; for those among them who are superior in respect of knowledge and excellence teach knowledge unto those who are inferior to them. Therefore those who imagine that they have no need of teachers, and who will not be convinced by those who teach them things of good, are sick with the want of the knowledge which is the mother and the producer of pride. Now those who are princes and the foremost ones among these in respect of destruction are those who intentionally (or wilfully) fell from sojourning in heaven, and from the service thereof, and these are the devils who fly in the air because they forsook the heavenly Teacher and rebelled.

For polished words and sentences, or words strung together in admirable order, are not doctrine, for these things are for the most part found with evil-doers and sinners; but this is doctrine, which is the correction of the natural habits and disposition, and the leading of a life of spiritual excellence according to rule, by which I mean the possession of the faculty which shall make a man superior to affliction and to emotion, and to timidity, and to wrath; and which shall make him to possess freedom of speech before every man, and which shall, through the fervour of Divine Love, produce works that shall be like unto coals of fire. For if doctrine be not this, the Great Teacher would not have said unto His disciples, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart” (St. Matthew 11:29), for He did not instruct (or order) His Apostles merely in the beauty of speech, without at the same time making manifest a proof (or work) in His own Person. And He caused grief unto no man except those who spurned doctrine, and those who hated their teachers. It is meet that the soul which leadeth its life in God should either learn in faith that which it knoweth not, or should learn wisely that of which it hath knowledge; but if it will do neither of these things it is, if it be possible, sick through madness.

The beginning of instruction (or discipline) is the fullness which is of doctrine, and density of speech is a helper of the fear of God, and for these things the soul of him that loveth God hungereth continually. Be strong then, and play the man. Farewell. And may God grant thee the gift of pursuing at all times the knowledge of Christ.

The Plan of the Book [of Paradise]

IN this book are written the excellent deeds and the marvellous lives of the holy and blessed Fathers, who took upon themselves the yoke of the solitary life, and who made themselves to be remote from the world, and who lived in the desert, and who wished to live wholly the heavenly life, and to travel on the road which leadeth unto the kingdom of heaven. Let us emulate their example and endeavour to do with all our might what they did! And together with these we commemorate also the marvellous women who led their lives in the Divine Spirit, and who waxed exceedingly old, and who with a brave mind brought to an end the strife of the labours of spiritual excellence, according to the Divine manifestation and ove, for they wished to lay hold upon their souls, and to bind [upon their heads] the crown of holiness and impassibility.

And as for myself, (because of the sweet manners of the man by whom I have been commanded [to write], whose mind is full of doctrine (or learning), whose habits are those of a lover of peace, who feareth God in his heart, who loveth Christ in his mind, who in the things which are needful is an associate, and who, because of all these qualities, hath been chosen from among many, and hath been honoured with the highest rank of all), being protected by the might of the Holy Spirit—especially if it be right to speak the truth—I would rouse up our heavy minds to the contemplation of the things which are spiritually excellent, so that we may strive to imitate the most excellent lives and deeds of the pious men, and of the immortal and spiritual fathers, whose lives in the flesh were passed in laborious and stern service and in pleasing God. Of the virtues of such athletes of the fear of God it is my desire to set down some account in writing and to send it to thee, and I would make clear in my discourse the manifest spiritual excellences of each one of these great men. And he who loveth a divine and spiritual desire like unto this is thyself, Lausus, who art triumphant among men, and who, in accordance with the Divine nod, hast been established as the guardian of this kingdom which loveth Christ.

But inasmuch as I have not been trained in language (or speech), and as I possess spiritual knowledge only in the very smallest degree, and am unequal to the task [of describing] the company of the holy Fathers and [their] spiritual lives and works, I am afraid of the greatness of [thy] command which surpasseth my capacity. I have, therefore, up to this present, been urging myself to escape (?) from this work, because I am in great need both of the wisdom which is [essential] externally and of spiritual understanding. But being put to shame first of all by the strenuousness of the excellence of him that stirred me up to [do] this work, and considering also the benefit which shall accrue to those who shall come across these histories, and being, moreover, afraid of the danger of the penalty of disobedience, which is right, I will first of all commit the weight of the matter unto the Providence of God, and I will, with all diligence, make use of the prayers of the holy Fathers, so that I may be able to mount up as upon wings to the place where their contests were waged, and may tell the story briefly of those athletes, who though young became great and divine men who did valiantly and who triumphed in the works and deeds of spiritual excellence. And I will also relate the histories of those blessed women who were adorned with the fair garb [of the monastic life], and who attained to pre-eminence in divine labours. Now some of these divine persons of whom I am about to tell the story I was held to be worthy to see face to face; and concerning the heavenly lives of the others who died in the contest of the fear of God I have learned from the athletes of Christ, who were arrayed in God.

Therefore, through very many cities, and villages, and in caves and holes in the earth, and in the tabernacles which the monks had in the desert for a distance as far as a man could walk have I gone round about for the sake of the labour of the fear of God, and I have set down in writing with exactness the things which I have seen. And I have also made known unto thee in this book the things which I have heard from the holy Fathers concerning the triumphs of great men, and concerning the women who for the sake of the hope which is in Christ performed mighty works which were above nature, and I have sent it to thy hearing which loveth divine words. O thou Lausus who art triumphant among men, and who art fair among the friends of God, and who art the ornament of this believing and God-fearing kingdom, and art the true friend and servant of God, I have written down for thee as far as my feebleness is able, the [history of] the strife of each of the athletes of Christ, both male and female, a name which is honourable and which meriteth praise. And I have narrated unto thee only very few of the very many exceedingly great triumphs which belong to each one of these athletes, and of many of them I have added [the names of] their families and cities, and also the places where they lived.

And we have also commemorated the men and women who, indeed, attained to the highest excellence in the labours of the spiritual life, and who, because of the pride (or arrogance), which is the mother of that [quality] which is called vainglory, were brought down to the lowest depths of Sheol, and so wasted the great work in the spiritual qualities which they had only acquired after a very long time, and the triumphs in the ascetic virtues which they had won, through [their] pride and boasting in one brief moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Nevertheless, by the Divine Grace of our Redeemer, and by the carefulness of the holy Fathers, and by the cherishing influence of the mercy of the Spirit, they were plucked [finally] out of the net of the Calumniator.