On the Incarnation

The Life of Antony

Transfiguration, St. Katharines', Sinai,
6th century mosaic

St. Athanasius. St. Katharines', Sinai,

GREEK: Migne Patrologia Graeca 26,835-976:  Vita Antonii   G.J.M. Bartelink, Sources Chrétiennes N° 400, (Paris: Cerf, 1994):pp. 124-377. ENGLISH tr.: L. Dysinger, O.S.B. based on: H. Ellershaw Athanasius, Select Works, ser.: The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Second Series, v. 4  pp. 188-221.

On the Incarnation of the Word of God (De incarnatione verbi) NPNF2 4, pp. 65-66. Greek text C Kannengiesser, Sur l'incarnation du verbe, Sources Chrétiennes (Paris: Cerf, 1973) TLG 2035.002: 54.1.1-54.5.5 













   [54.] 1. As, then, if a man should wish to see God, Who is invisible by nature and not seen at all, he may know and apprehend Him from His works:  54.1 Ὥσπερ οὖν εἴ τις ἀόρατον ὄντα τῇ φύσει τὸν  Θεὸν καὶ μηδόλως ὁρώμενον εἰ θέλοι ὁρᾶν, ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτὸν καταλαμβάνει καὶ γινώσκει,̈

so let the one who fails to see Christ with his understanding, at least apprehend Him by the works of his body, and test whether they be human works or God’s works.

οὕτως ὁ μὴ ὁρῶν τῇ διανοίᾳ τὸν Χριστόν, κἂν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων τοῦ σώματος  καταμανθανέτω τοῦτον, καὶ δοκιμαζέτω εἰ ἀνθρώπινά ἐστιν ἢ Θεοῦ.
     [54.] 2. And if they are human, let him scoff; but if they are not human, but of God, let him recognize it, and not laugh at what is no matter for scoffing; but rather let him marvel that[:] 54.2  Καὶ ἐὰν μὲν ἀνθρώπινα ᾖ, χλευαζέτω· εἰ δὲ μὴ ἀνθρώπινά ἐστιν ἀλλὰ Θεοῦ γινώσκεται, μὴ γελάτω τὰ ἀχλεύαστα, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θαυμαζέτω,

by so ordinary a means things divine have been manifested to us, 

ὅτι διὰ τοιούτου πράγματος εὐτελοῦς τὰ θεῖα ἡμῖν πεφανέρωται,

and that by death immortality has reached to all, 

καὶ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου ἡ ἀθανασία εἰς πάντας ἔφθασε,̈

and that by the Word becoming man, the universal providence has been known,

καὶ διὰ τῆς ἐνανθρωπήσεως τοῦ Λόγου ἡ τῶν πάντων ἐγνώσθη πρόνοια,

and its giver and creator the very Word of God.

καὶ ὁ ταύτης χορηγὸς καὶ Δημιουργὸς



54.3 Αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐνηνθρώπησεν͵ ἵνα ἡμεῖς θεοποιηθῶμεν·

and He manifested Himself by a body
that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father;

καὶ αὐτὸς ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτὸν διὰ σώματος͵
 ἵνα ἡμεῖς τοῦ ἀοράτου Πατρὸς ἔννοιαν λάβωμεν·

and He endured the insolence of men
that we might inherit immortality.

καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπέμεινε τὴν παρ΄ ἀνθρώπων ὕβριν͵
ἵνα ἡμεῖς ἀφθαρσίαν κληρονομήσωμεν.

   For while He Himself was in no way injured, being impassible [apathēs] and incorruptible and very Word and God, men who were suffering, and for whose sakes He endured all this, He maintained and preserved in His own impassibility [apatheia] .

Ἐβλάπτετο μὲν γὰρ αὐτὸς οὐδέν, ἀπαθὴς καὶ ἄφθαρτος καὶ Αὐτολόγος ὢν καὶ  Θεός· τοὺς δὲ πάσχοντας ἀνθρώπους, δι' οὓς καὶ ταῦτα ὑπέμεινεν, ἐν τῇ ἑαυτοῦ ἀπαθείᾳ ἐτήρει καὶ διέσῳζε.

  [54.] 4. And, in a word, the achievements of the Savior, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves. For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in.

54.4 Καὶ ὅλως τὰ κατορθώματα τοῦ Σωτῆρος τὰ διὰ τῆς ἐνανθρωπήσεως αὐτοῦ γενόμενα, τοιαῦτα καὶ τοσαῦτά ἐστιν, ἃ εἰ διηγήσασθαί τις ἐθελήσειεν, ἔοικε τοῖς ἀφορῶσιν εἰς τὸ πέλαγος τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ θέλουσιν ἀριθμεῖν τὰ κύματα ταύτης. Ὡς γὰρ οὐ δύναται τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς περιλαβεῖν τὰ ὅλα κύματα, τῶν ἐπερχομένων παριόντων τὴν αἴσθησιν τοῦ πειράζοντος, οὕτως καὶ τῷ βουλομένῳ πάντα τὰ ἐν σώματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ κατορθώματα περιλαβεῖν ἀδύνατον  τὰ ὅλα κἂν τῷ λογισμῷ δέξασθαι, πλειόνων ὄντων τῶν παριόντων αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐνθύμησιν, ὧν αὐτὸς νομίζει περιειληφέναι.

  [54.] 5. Better is it, then, not to aim at speaking of the whole, where one cannot do justice even to a part, but, after mentioning one more, to leave the whole for you to marvel at. For all alike are marvellous, and wherever someone turns their glance, they may behold on that side the divinity of the Word, and be struck with exceeding great awe.

      54.5̈ Κάλλιον οὖν μὴ πρὸς τὰ ὅλα ἀφορῶντα λέγειν, ὧν οὐδὲ μέρος ἐξειπεῖν τις δύναται, ἀλλ' ἔτι ἑνὸς μνημονεῦσαι, καὶ σοὶ καταλιπεῖν τὰ ὅλα θαυμάζειν. Πάντα γὰρ ἐπίσης ἔχει τὸ θαῦμα, καὶ ὅποι δ' ἄν τις ἀποβλέψῃ, ἐκεῖθεν τοῦ  Λόγου τὴν θειότητα βλέπων ὑπερεκπλήττεται.

















YOU have entered upon a noble rivalry with the monks of Egypt by your determination either to equal or surpass them in your ascetical practice of virtue.  For now there are monasteries among you, and the name of” monks” receives public recognition.  Your determination is justly to be praised; and may God bring it to perfection through your prayers.

¹Ἀγαθὴν ἅμιλλαν ἐνεστήσασθε πρὸς τοὺς ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ μοναχοὺς, ἤτοι παρισωθῆναι, ἢ καὶ ὑπερβάλλεσθαι τούτους προελόμενοι τῇ κατ' ἀρετὴν ὑμῶν ἀσκήσει.  Καὶ γὰρ καὶ παρ' ὑμῖν λοιπὸν μοναστήρια, καὶ τὸ τῶν μοναχῶν ὄνομα πολιτεύεται. Ταύτην μὲν οὖν τὴν πρόθεσιν δικαίως ἄν τις ἐπαινέσειε, καὶ εὐχομένων ὑμῶν, ὁ Θεὸς τελειώσειεν·

    Now since you asked me to give you an account of the blessed Antony’s way of life, and you wish to learn how he began to practice asceticism, what [kind of man] he was previous to this, how he closed his life, and whether the things told of him are true, that you also may bring yourselves to imitate him, I very readily accepted your request. 

ἐπειδὴ δὲ ἀπῃτήσατε καὶ παρ' ἐμοῦ περὶ τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ μακαρίου Ἀντωνίου, μαθεῖν θέλοντες ὅπως τε ἤρξατο τῆς ἀσκήσεως, καὶ τίς ἦν πρὸ ταύτης, καὶ ὁποῖον ἔσχε τοῦ βίου τὸ τέλος, καὶ εἰ ἀληθῆ τὰ περὶ αὐτοῦ λεγόμενά ἐστιν, ἵνα καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἐκείνου ζῆλον ἑαυτοὺς ἀγάγητε· μετὰ πολλῆς προθυμίας ἐδεξάμην τὸ παρ' ὑμῶν ἐπίταγμα.̈
For to me also the simple recollection of Antony is a source of great.  And I know that you, when you have heard [this] will not only admire the man, but will desire to emulate his zeal:  Indeed, FOR MONKS THE LIFE OF ANTONY IS A FITTING [sufficient] PATTERN OF THE ASCETICAL LIFE.  Κἀμοὶ γὰρ μέγα κέρδος ὠφελείας ἐστὶ καὶ τὸ μόνονἈντωνίου μνημονεύειν. Οἶδα δὲ, ὅτι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες, μετὰ τοῦ θαυμάσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον, θελήσετε καὶ ζηλῶσαι τὴν ἐκείνου πρόθεσιν· ἔστι γὰρ μοναχοῖς ἱκανὸς χαρακτὴρ πρὸς ἄσκησιν ὁ Ἀντωνίου βίος.





Youth and




   1. Antony was of the Egyptian race: his parents were of good family and wealthy; and since they were Christians he was also brought up as a Christian.  As a child he was raised by his parents, knowing nothing but them and his home. But as he grew, attaining boyhood and advancing in years, he could not abide learning letters, nor did he wish to associate with other boys; rather, his whole desire was (as it is written of Jacob) to live a simple life at home (Gen 25:27) 

1.Ἀντώνιος γένος μὲν ἦν Αἰγύπτιος, εὐγενῶν δὲ γονέων καὶ περιουσίαν αὐτάρκη κεκτημένων, καῒ Χριστιανῶν αὐτῶν ὄντων, Χριστιανικῶς ἀνήγετο καὶ αὐτός. Καὶ παιδίον μὲν ὢν, ἐτρέφετο παρὰ τοῖς γονεῦσι, πλέον αὐτῶν καὶ τοῦ οἴκου μηδὲν ἕτερον γινώσκων· ἐπειδὴ δὲ καὶ αὐξήσας ἐγένετο παῖς, καὶ προέκοπτε τῇ ἡλικίᾳ, γράμματα μὲν μαθεῖν οὐκ ἠνέσχετο, βουλόμενος ἐκτὸς εἶναι καὶ τῆς πρὸς τοὺς παῖδας συνηθείας· τὴν δὲ ἐπιθυμίαν πᾶσαν εἶχε, κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον περὶ τοῦἸακὼβ, ὡς ἄπλαστος οἰκεῖν ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ αὐτοῦ.


of a youth (2nd cent.)

   With his parents he used to attend church, and he neither showed a child’s lack of interest; nor when older did he despise such things. Rather, he was obedient to his father and mother and attentive to what was read, [carefully] keeping in his heart what was profitable in what he heard.  And though as a child brought up in moderate affluence, he did not trouble his parents for varied or luxurious food, nor was this a source of pleasure to him. Instead, he was content simply with what he found [before him] and sought nothing further.

Συνήγετο μέντοι μετὰ τῶν γονέων ἐν τῷ Κυριακῷ· καὶ οὔτε ὡς παῖς ἐῤῥᾳθύμει, οὔτε ὡς τῇ ἡλικίᾳ προκόπτων κατεφρόνει· ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῖς γονεῦσιν ὑπετάσσετο, καὶ τοῖς ἀναγνώσμασι προσέχων, τὴν ἐξ αὐτῶν ὠφέλειαν ἐν ἑαυτῷ διετήρει.  Οὔτε δὲ πάλιν ὡς παῖς ἐν μετρίᾳ περιουσίᾳ τυγχάνων ἠνώχλει τοῖς γονεῦσι ποικίλης καὶ πολυτελοῦς ἕνεκα τροφῆς, οὔτε τὰς ἐκ ταύτης ἡδονὰς ἐζήτει· μόνοις δὲ οἷς ηὕρισκεν ἠρκεῖτο, καὶ πλέον οὐδὲν ἐζήτει.



Call to Asceticism through aural 

Lectio Divina



   2.  After the death of his parents he was left alone with his only little sister: his age was about eighteen or twenty, and he was now responsible for the care of both his home and his sister.  less than six months after the death of his parents he  went to church, as he was accustomed to do.  He gathered his thoughts and reflected as he walked: (1)  how the Apostles left all and followed the Saviour (Mt. 4:20); and (2)  how in the Acts they sold their possessions and brought and laid them at the Apostles’ feet for distribution to the needy (Acts 4:35); and (3) what a great hope was laid up for them in heaven. 

2.  Μετὰ δὲ τὸν θάνατον τῶν γονέων, αὐτὸς μόνος κατελείφθη μετὰ μιᾶς βραχυτάτης ἀδελφῆς· καὶ ἦν ἐτῶν ἐγγὺς δέκα καὶ ὀκτὼ, ἢ καὶ εἴκοσι γεγονὼς, αὐτός τε τῆς οἰκίας καὶ τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἐφρόντιζεν. Οὔπω δὲ μῆνες ἓξ παρῆλθον τοῦ θανάτου τῶν γονέων αὐτοῦ, καὶ κατὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς προερχόμενος εἰς τὸ  Κυριακὸν, καὶ συνάγων ἑαυτοῦ τὴν διάνοιαν, ἐλογίζετο περιπατῶν, πῶς οἱ μὲν ἀπόστολοι πάντα καταλιπόντες ἠκολούθησαν τῷ Σωτῆρι· οἱ δὲ ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσι πωλοῦντες τὰ ἑαυτῶν ἔφερον καὶ ἐτίθουν παρὰ τοὺς πόδας τῶν ἀποστόλων, εἰς διάδοσιν τῶν χρείαν ἐχόντων, τίς τε καὶ πόση τούτοις ἐλπὶς ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἀπόκειται.

     Pondering these things he entered the church, and it happened that the Gospel was just being read; and he heard the Lord saying to the rich man, Ταῦτα δὴ ἐνθυμούμενος, εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, καὶ συνέβη τότε τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον ἀναγινώσκεσθαι, καὶ ἤκουσε τοῦ Κυρίου λέγοντος τῷ πλουσίῳ·

IF YOU would be perfect, go and sell all you have and give it to the poor; and come follow me, and you shall have treasure in heaven. (Mt. 19:21)

Εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι, ὕπαγε, πώλησον πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντά σοι, καὶ δὸς πτωχοῖς, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανοῖς.

Farm, The Fayum

 Christ in Glory,
Monastery of St. Antony

     Antony, as though God had put him in mind of the Saints, and the passage had been read on his account, immediately went out of the church, gave the possessions of his forefathers to the villagers (they were three hundred aurorae , fertile and very beautiful)  so that that they would not be any kind of encumbrance to him or his sister.  Ὁ δὲἈντώνιος, ὥσπερ θεόθεν ἐσχηκὼς τὴν τῶν ἁγίων μνήμην, καὶ ὡς δι' αὐτὸν γενομένου [26.844] τοῦ ἀναγνώσματος, ἐξελθὼν εὐθὺς ἐκ τοῦ Κυριακοῦ, τὰς μὲν κτήσεις ἃς εἶχεν ἐκ προγόνων (ἄρουραι δὲ ἦσαν τριακόσιαι εὔφοροι καὶ πάνυ καλαι]̀ταύτας ἐχαρίσατο τοῖς ἀπὸ τῆς κώμης, ἵνα εἰς μηδ' ὁτιοῦν ὀχλήσωσιν αὐτῷ τε καὶ τῇ ἀδελφῇ.

     And all the rest of their movable holdings he sold, and having received a large amount of money for them, he gave it to the poor, reserving only a little for his sister.

  Τὰ δὲ ἄλλα ὅσα ἦν αὐτοῖς κινητὰ, πάντα πωλήσας, καὶ συναγαγὼν ἀργύριον ἱκανὸν, δέδωκε τοῖς πτωχοῖς, τηρήσας ὀλίγα διὰ τὴν ἀδελφήν.

Canal, The Fayum

 Young Girl, 2nd c.
Fayum Mummy Portrait,





  3.  But entering the church once more, upon hearing the Lord say in the Gospel, ‘do not be anxious about  tomorrow,’ (Mt. 6:34) he could not wait any longer; but he went out and gave those things,too, to the poor.  He entrusted his sister to known and faithful virgins, placing her in a convent to be raised by the virgins.   3. Ὡς δὲ, πάλιν εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ Κυριακὸν, ἤκουσεν ἐν τῷ Εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Κυρίου λέγοντος, Μὴ μεριμνήσητε περὶ τῆς αὔριον, οὐκ ἀνασχόμενος ἔτι μένειν, ἐξελθὼν διέδωκε κἀκεῖνα τοῖς μετρίοις. Τὴν δὲ ἀδελφὴν παραθέμενος γνωρίμοις καὶ πισταῖς παρθένοις, δούς τε αὐτὴν εἰς Παρθενῶνα ἀνατρέφεσθαι,



Private Asceticism 




     Then he devoted himself to the ascetic life near his home, taking heed to himself and training himself with patience.  For there were not yet many monasteries in Egypt, and no monk knew anything of the distant desert; but all who wished to give heed to themselves practised asceticism in solitude near their own village. 

αὐτὸς πρὸ τῆς οἰκίας ἐσχόλαζε λοιπὸν τῇ ἀσκήσει, προσέχων ἑαυτῷ καὶ καρτερικῶς ἑαυτὸν ἄγων.  Οὔπω γὰρ ἦν οὕτως ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ συνεχῆ μοναστήρια, οὐδ' ὅλως ᾔδει μοναχὸς τὴν μακρὰν ἔρημον, ἕκαστος δὲ τῶν βουλομένων ἑαυτῷ προσέχειν οὐ μακρὰν τῆς ἰδίας κώμης καταμόνας ἠσκεῖτο.



Apprenticeship in




   Now there was at that time in the next village an old man who had lived the life of a hermit from his youth onwards.  Antony, after he had seen this man, imitated him in piety.  And at first he began to abide in places outside the village. Then if he heard of a zealous person anywhere, like a wise bee, he went out to seek them, not returning to his own place until he had seen them.  And he returned, having received from them, as it were, supplies for his journey in the path of virtue.

Ἠν τοίνυν ἐν τῇ πλησίον κώμῃ τότε γέρων, ἐκ νεότητος τὸν μονήρη βίον ἀσκήσας· τοῦτον ἰδὼνἈντώνιος, ἐζήλωσεν ἐν καλῷ· καὶ πρῶτον μὲν ἤρξατο καὶ αὐτὸς μένειν ἐν τοῖς πρὸ τῆς κώμης τόποις. Κἀκεῖθεν εἴ που τινὰ σπουδαῖον ἤκουεν, προερχόμενος ἐζήτει τοῦτον ὡς ἡ σοφὴ μέλισσα· καὶ οὐ πρότερον εἰς τὸν ἴδιον τόπον ἀνέκαμπτεν, εἰ μὴ τοῦτον ἑωράκει, καὶ ὥσπερ ἐφόδιόν τι τῆς εἰς ἀρετὴν ὁδοῦ παρ' αὐτοῦ λαβὼν, ἐπανῄει.

   So dwelling there at first, he confirmed his purpose not to return to his ancestral home, nor to the recollection of his relatives; but to keep all his desire and energy for perfecting his asceticism.  But he worked with his hands, having heard, that he who is idle should not eat. (2Th 3:10)   Part of his earnings he spent on bread and part he gave to the needy. And he was constant in prayer, knowing that a man ought to pray in secret (Mt 6:7) unceasingly (1Th 5:17)

¹̓Ἐκεῖ τοίνυν τὰς ἀρχὰς διατρίβων, τὴν διάνοιαν ἐστάθμιζεν, ὅπως πρὸς μὲν τὰ τῶν γονέων μὴ ἐπιστρέφηται, μηδὲ τῶν συγγενῶν μνημονεύῃ· ὅλον δὲ τὸν πόθον καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν σπουδὴν ἔχῃ περὶ τὸν τόνον τῆς ἀσκήσεως. Εἰργάζετο γοῦν ταῖς χερσὶν, ἀκούσας·Ὁ δὲ ἀργὸς μηδὲ ἐσθιέτω· καὶ τὸ μὲν [26.845] εἰς τὸν ἄρτον, τὸ δὲ εἰς τοὺς δεομένους ἀνήλισκε.  Προσηύχετο δὲ συνεχῶς, μαθὼν, ὅτι δεῖ κατ' ἰδίαν προσεύχεσθαι ἀδιαλείπτως. .



Aural Lectio Divina : the Source

of Antony's Wisdom 



And he gave such heed to what was read that nothing in the [sacred] scriptures escaped him [lit: “fell to the ground”]: he retained everything; and afterwards his memory took the place of books. Καὶ γὰρ προσεῖχεν οὕτως τῇ ἀναγνώσει, ὡς μηδὲν τῶν γεγραμμένων ἀπ' αὐτοῦ πίπτειν χαμαὶ, πάντα δὲ κατέχειν, καὶ λοιπὸν αὐτῷ τὴν μνήμην ἀντὶ βιβλίων γίνεσθαι



The Parish Community: Source of

Models of Holiness 







   4.  And comporting himself in this way, Antony was loved by all.  He subjected himself in sincerity to the pious men he visited, and learned thoroughly where each surpassed him in zeal and discipline.  He observed: 

4.  Οὕτω μὲν οὖν ἑαυτὸν ἄγων, ἠγαπᾶτο παρὰ πάντων ὁἈντώνιος· αὐτὸς δὲ τοῖς σπουδαίοις, πρὸς οὓς ἀπήρχετο, γνησίως ὑπετάσσετο, καὶ καθ' ἑαυτὸν ἑκάστου τὸ πλεονέκτημα τῆς σπουδῆς καὶ τῆς ἀσκήσεως κατεμάνθανε·

(1) the graciousness of one;

(2)  the intense prayer of another;

(3) he studied one person’s freedom from anger

(4) and another’s love of humankind;

(5) he gave heed to one as he kept vigil,

(6) to another’s love of study;

(7) one he admired for his endurance,

(8) another for his fasting and sleeping on the ground;

(9) he carefully watched the gentleness of one

(10) and the patient endurance of another;

(11) while in all he took note of their piety towards Christ

(12) and their love for one another. (Rom 13:8) 

καὶ τοῦ μὲν τὸ χαρίεν,

τοῦ δὲ τὸ πρὸς τὰς εὐχὰς σύντονον ἐθεώρει·

καὶ ἄλλου μὲν τὸ ἀόργητον,

ἄλλου δὲ τὸ φιλάνθρωπον κατενόει·

καὶ τῷ μὲν ἀγρυπνοῦντι,

τῷ δὲ φιλολογοῦντι προσεῖχε·

καὶ τὸν μὲν ἐν καρτερίᾳ,

τὸν δὲ ἐν νηστείαις καὶ χαμευνίαις ἐθαύμαζε·

καὶ τοῦ μὲν τὴν πραότητα,

τοῦ δὲ τὴν μακροθυμίαν παρετηρεῖτο·

πάντων δὲ ὁμοῦ τὴν εἰς τὸν Χριστὸν εὐσέβειαν,

καὶ τὴν πρὸς ἀλλήλους ἀγάπην ἐσημειοῦτο·̈

     Thus filled, he would return to his own place of asceticism and thereafter strive to unite in himself the qualities of each one, eager to show in himself the virtues of all.  He was not at all competitive with others of his own age, except only  in this: that he would not be second to them in higher things.  And he did this in such a way that no one’s feelings were hurt, and instead, they rejoiced over him.  So everyone of that village and the honor-loving men whose intimacy he enjoyed, when they saw the kind of man he was, used to call him “Friend of God”.  And some welcomed him as a son, others as a brother. καὶ οὕτω πεπληρωμένος, ὑπέστρεφεν εἰς τὸν ἴδιον τοῦ ἀσκητηρίου τόπον· λοιπὸν αὐτὸς τὰ παρ' ἑκάστου συνάγων εἰς ἑαυτὸν, καὶ σπουδάζων ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὰ πάντων δεικνύναι· καὶ γὰρ πρὸς τοὺς καθ' ἡλικίαν ἴσους οὐκ ἦν φιλόνεικος, ἢ μόνον ἵνα μὴ δεύτερος ἐκείνων ἐν τοῖς βελτίοσι φαίνηται· καὶ τοῦτο ἔπραττεν ὥστε μηδένα λυπεῖν, ἀλλὰ κἀκείνους ἐπ' αὐτῷ χαίρειν. Πάντες μὲν οὖν οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς κώμης καὶ οἱ φιλόκαλοι, πρὸς οὓς εἶχε τὴν συνήθειαν, οὕτως αὐτὸν ὁρῶντες, ἐκάλουν θεοφιλῆ· καὶ οἱ μὲν ὡς υἱὸν, οἱ δὲ ὡς ἀδελφὸν ἠσπάζοντο





   5.  But the devil, who hates and envies what is good, could not endure to see such a resolution in a youth, but endeavored to carry out against him what he was accustomed effect against others.  First of all he tried to lead him away from the asceticism, whispering to him the remembrance of  his wealth, care for his sister, claims of kindred, love of money, love of glory, the different pleasures of the table and the other relaxations of life, and at last the difficulty of virtue and the labour of it. He suggested also the infirmity of the body and the length of the time.  In a word he raised in his mind a great dust of debate, wishing to keep him from his set purpose.

5. Ὁ δὲ μισόκαλος καὶ φθονερὸς διάβολος οὐκ ἤνεγκεν ὁρῶν ἐν νεωτέρῳ τοιαύτην πρόθεσιν.Ἀλλ' οἷα μεμελέτηκε ποιεῖν, ἐπιχειρεῖ καὶ κατὰ τούτου πράττειν· [26.848] καὶ τὸ μὲν πρῶτον ἐπείραζεν αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῆς ἀσκήσεως καταγαγεῖν, ὑποβάλλων μνήμην τῶν κτημάτων, τῆς ἀδελφῆς τὴν κηδεμονίαν, τοῦ γένους τὴν οἰκειότητα, φιλαργυρίαν, φιλοδοξίαν, τροφῆς τὴν ποικίλην ἡδονὴν, καὶ τὰς ἄλλας ἀνέσεις τοῦ βίου, καὶ τέλος τὸ τραχὺ τῆς ἀρετῆς, καὶ ὡς πολὺς αὐτῆς ἐστιν ὁ πόνος· τοῦ τε σώματος τὴν ἀσθένειαν ὑπετίθετο, καὶ τοῦ χρόνου τὸ μῆκος. Καὶ ὅλως πολὺν ἤγειρεν αὐτῷ κονιορτὸν λογισμῶν ἐν τῇ διανοίᾳ, θέλων αὐτὸν ἀποσχοινίσαι τῆς ὀρθῆς προαιρέσεως

But when the enemy saw himself too weak for Antony’s determination, and that it was rather he who was conquered by the other’s firmness, overthrown by [Antony’s] great faith and falling through his constant prayers -, then he put his trust in the weapons which are ‘in the navel of his belly’(Job 11:16) and boasted them (for they are his first snare for the young). He advanced against the young man, disturbing him by night and harassing him by day, so that even the onlookers saw the struggle which was going on between them.  Ὡς δὲ εἶδεν ἑαυτὸν ὁ ἐχθρὸς ἀσθενοῦντα πρὸς τὴν τοῦἈντωνίου πρόθεσιν, καὶ μᾶλλον ἑαυτὸν καταπαλαιόμενον ὑπὸ τῆς ἐκείνου στεῤῥότητος, καὶ ἀνατρεπόμενον τῇ πολλῇ πίστει, καὶ πίπτοντα ταῖς συνεχέσινἈντωνίου προσευχαῖς· τότε δὴ τοῖς ἐπ' ὀμφαλοῦ γαστρὸς ὅπλοις ἑαυτοῦ θαῤῥῶν, καὶ καυχώμενος ἐπὶ τούτοις ταῦτα γάρ ἐστιν αὐτοῦ τὰ πρῶτα κατὰ τῶν νεωτέρων ἔνεδρα],προσέρχεται κατὰ τοῦ νεωτέρου, νυκτὸς μὲν αὐτὸν θορυβῶν, μεθ' ἡμέραν δὲ οὕτως ἐνοχλῶν, ὡς καὶ τοὺς ὁρῶντας αἰσθέσθαι τὴν γινομένην ἀμφοτέρων πάλην.

   The one would suggest foul thoughts and the other would counter them with prayers. The one would fire him with lust, while the other, with a sense of shame, would  fortify his body with faith, prayers, and fasting.  And one night the wretched devil even took on the shape of a woman and imitated all her acts simply to lead Antony astray.  But he, his mind filled with Christ and the nobility that comes from, considered the spiritual state of the soul, and thus quenched the glowing coal of the other’s deceit.  And now the enemy suggested the ease of pleasure.  But [Antony] was quite reasonably angered and grieved; and he turned his thoughts to the threatened fire and the gnawing worm (cf. Mk 9:48)  .  And setting these in array against his adversary, passed through unscathed

.Ὁ μὲν γὰρ ὑπέβαλλε λογισμοὺς ῥυπαροὺς, ὁ δὲ ταῖς εὐχαῖς ἀνέτρεπε τούτους· καὶ ὁ μὲν ἐγαργάλιζεν, ὁ δὲ, ὡς ἐρυθριᾷν δοκῶν, τῇ πίστει καὶ ταῖς εὐχαῖς καὶ νηστείαις ἐτείχιζε τὸ σῶμα· καὶ ὁ μὲν διάβολος ὑπέμενεν ὁ ἄθλιος καὶ ὡς γυνὴ σχηματίζεσθαι νυκτὸς, καὶ πάντα τρόπον μιμεῖσθαι, μόνον ἵνα τὸνἈντώνιον ἀπατήσῃ· ὁ δὲ τὸν Χριστὸν ἐνθυμούμενος, καὶ τὴν δι' αὐτὸν εὐγένειαν, καὶ τὸ νοερὸν τῆς ψυχῆς λογιζόμενος, ἀπεσβέννυε τὸν ἄνθρακα τῆς ἐκείνου πλάνης. Πάλιν τε ὁ μὲν ἐχθρὸς ὑπέβαλλε τὸ λεῖον τῆς ἡδονῆς· ὁ δὲ, ὀργιζομένῳ καὶ λυπουμένῳ ἐοικὼς, τὴν ἀπειλὴν τοῦ πυρὸς καὶ τοῦ σκώληκος τὸν πόνον ἐνεθυμεῖτο· καὶ ἀντιτιθεὶς ταῦτα, διέβαινε τούτων ἀβλαβής.

    All this was a source of shame to his enemy.  For he who had regarded himself like God was now mocked by a young man; and he who arrogantly disdained flesh and blood was being put to flight by a man of flesh.  For the Lord was working with Antony-the Lord who for our sake took flesh and gave the body victory over the devil, so that all who truly fight can say, Not I but the grace of God with me. (I Cor 15:10) [...]

åἨν δὲ ταῦτα πάντα πρὸς αἰσχύνην γινόμενα τοῦ [26.849] ἐχθροῦ.Ὁ γὰρ νομίσας ὅμοιος γενέσθαι Θεῷ ὑπὸ νεανίσκου νῦν ἐπαίζετο· καὶ ὁ σαρκὸς καὶ αἵματος κατακαυχώμενος ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπου σάρκα φοροῦντος ἀνετρέπετο. Συνήργει γὰρ ὁ Κύριος αὐτῷ, ὁ σάρκα δι' ἡμᾶς φορέσας, καὶ τῷ σώματι δοὺς τὴν κατὰ τοῦ διαβόλου νίκην· ὥστε τῶν ὄντως ἀγωνιζομένων ἕκαστον λέγειν·  Οὐκ ἐγὼ δὲ, ἀλλ' ἡ χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡ σὺν ἐμοί.





   6.  [In Chapter 6 Antony Conquers the Demon of Lust]






   7.  This was Antony’s first struggle against the devil, or rather this victory was the Savior’s work in Antony, Who condemned sin in the flesh that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. (Rom 8:3- 4)    But neither did Antony, although the evil one had fallen, henceforth relax his care and despise him; nor did the enemy as though conquered cease to lay snares for him. For again he went around as a lion seeking some occasion against him (cf. I Pet 5:8). 7.  Τοῦτο πρῶτον ἆθλονἈντωνίου γέγονε κατὰ τοῦ διαβόλου· μᾶλλον δὲ τοῦ Σωτῆρος καὶ τοῦτο γέγονεν ἐν τῷἈντωνίῳ τὸ κατόρθωμα, τοῦ τὴν ἁμαρτίαν κατακρίναντος ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ, ἵνα τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ νόμου πληρωθῇ ἐν ἡμῖν, τοῖς μὴ κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦσιν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ πνεῦμα. Ἀλλ' οὔτεἈντώνιος, ὡς ὑποπεσόντος τοῦ δαίμονος, ἠμέλει λοιπὸν καὶ κατεφρόνει ἑαυτοῦ· οὔτε ὁ ἐχθρὸς, ὡς ἡττηθεὶς, ἐπαύετο τοῦ ἐνεδρεύειν.̈
     But Antony having learned from the Scriptures that the devices of the devil are many (Eph 6:11), zealously continued the asceticism, reckoning that though the devil had not been able to deceive his heart by bodily pleasure, he would endeavour to ensnare him by other means.  For the demon loves sin.  Thus more and more he repressed the body and kept it in subjection (I Cor 9:27), lest having once conquered he should then be dragged down.  He therefore planned to accustom himself to a severer way of life.

Περιήρχετο γὰρ πάλιν ὡς λέων, ζητῶν τινα πρόφασιν κατ' αὐτοῦ.Ὁ δὲἈντώνιος, μαθὼν ἐκ τῶν Γραφῶν πολλὰς εἶναι τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ ἐχθροῦ, συντόνως ἐκέχρητο τῇ ἀσκήσει, λογιζόμενος, ὅτι, εἰ καὶ μὴ ἴσχυσε τὴν καρδίαν ἐν ἡδονῇ σώματος ἀπατῆσαι, πειράσει πάντως δι' ἑτέρας ἐνεδρεῦσαι μεθόδου· ἔστι γὰρ φιλαμαρτήμων ὁ δαίμων. Μᾶλλον οὖν καὶ μᾶλλον ὑπεπίαζε τὸ σῶμα καὶ ἐδουλαγώγει, μήπως, ἐν ἄλλοις νικήσας, ἐν ἄλλοις ὑποσυρῇ. Βουλεύεται τοίνυν σκληροτέραις ἀγωγαῖς ἑαυτὸν ἐθίζειν.



The Specifics of Antony's




     And many were amazed, but he used to bear the effort easily. For the eagerness of soul that abided within him for such a long time had stimulated within him in him a good habit[ual state] , so that even slight encouragement from others effected in him great devotion [to asceticism].  Καὶ πολλοὶ μὲν ἐθαύμαζον, αὐτὸς δὲ ῥᾷον τὸν πόνον ἔφερεν· ἡ γὰρ προθυμία τῆς ψυχῆς, πολὺν χρόνον ἐμμείνασα, ἕξιν ἀγαθὴν ἐνειργάζετο ἐν αὐτῷ· ὥστε καὶ μικρὰν πρόφασιν λαμβάνοντα παρ' ἑτέρων, πολλὴν εἰς τοῦτο τὴν σπουδὴν ἐνδείκνυσθαι·

(1) His vigils were such that he often continued throughout the night without sleep; and this not once but often, to the amazement of others.

 ἠγρύπνει γὰρ τοσοῦτον, ὡς πολλάκις καὶ ὅλην τὴν νύκτα διατελεῖν αὐτὸν ἄϋπνον· καὶ τοῦτο δὲ οὐχ ἅπαξ, ἀλλὰ καὶ πλειστάκις ποιῶν ἐθαυμάζετο.

(2) He ate once a day after sunset, and sometimes [only] once in two days, and often he partook [of food only] once in four days.

Ἤσθιέ τε ἅπαξ τῆς ἡμέρας μετὰ δύσιν ἡλίου· ἦν δ' ὅτε καὶ διὰ δύο, πολλάκις δὲ καὶ διὰ τεσσάρων μετελάμβανε.

(3) His food was bread and salt, his drink, water only.

Καὶ [26.853] ἦν αὐτῷ ἡ τροφὴ ἄρτος καὶ ἅλας· καὶ τὸ ποτὸν ὕδωρ μόνον. 

(4) There is no need to even mention meat and wine, since no such thing could be found among the other devotees.

Περὶ γὰρ κρεῶν καὶ οἴνου περιττόν ἐστι καὶ λέγειν· ὅπου γε οὐδὲ παρὰ τοῖς ἄλλοις σπουδαίοις ηὑρίσκετό τι τοιοῦτον.̈

(5) A rush mat served him for sleeping, but for the most part he lay upon the bare ground. 

Εἰς δὲ τὸν ὕπνον ἠρκεῖτο ψιαθίῳ· τὸ δὲ πλεῖστον καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς μόνης κατέκειτο.

(6) He would not anoint himself with oil, saying that young men ought to take asceticism seriously, and not seek what enervates the body;

 Ἀλείφεσθαι δὲ ἐλαίῳ παρῃτεῖτο, λέγων μᾶλλον πρέπειν τοὺς νεωτέρους ἐκ προθυμίας ἔχειν τὴν ἄσκησιν, καὶ μὴ ζητεῖν τὰ χαυνοῦντα τὸ σῶμα·
instead they must accustom it to labour, reflecting on the Apostle’s words, when I am weak, then am I strong. (2Cor 12:10)    For he said that the soul’s vigor flourishes when bodily delights are weakest. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐθίζειν αὐτὸ τοῖς πόνοις, λογιζομένους τὸ τοῦἈποστόλου ῥητόν·Ὅταν ἀσθενῶ, τότε δυνατός εἰμι.  Τότε γὰρ ἔλεγεν ἰσχύειν τῆς ψυχῆς τὸν τόνον, ὅταν αἱ τοῦ σώματος ἀσθενῶσιν ἡδοναί.
   And he held to this incredible principle: that progress in virtue, and withdrawal from the world for the sake of [virtue], ought not be measured by time, but by yearning and fixity of purpose.  He gave no thought to the passage of time; Καὶ ἦν αὐτῷ παράδοξος ὄντως καὶ οὗτος ὁ λογισμός· οὐ γὰρ ἠξίου χρόνῳ μετρεῖν τὴν τῆς ἀρετῆς ὁδὸν, οὐδὲ τὴν δι' αὐτὴν ἀναχώρησιν, ἀλλὰ πόθῳ καὶ τῇ προαιρέσει.  Αὐτὸς γοῦν οὐκ ἐμνημόνευε τοῦ παρελθόντος χρόνου·
but day by day, as if he were at the beginning of his asceticism, made even greater efforts to advance, often repeating to himself the saying of Paul, ἀλλὰ καθ' ἡμέραν, ὡς ἀρχὴν ἔχων τῆς ἀσκήσεως, μείζω τὸν πόνον εἶχεν εἰς προκοπὴν, ἐπιλέγων ἑαυτῷ τὸ τοῦ Παύλου ῥητὸν συνεχῶς·

... forgetting the things that are behind and straining forward to the things that are ahead. (Phil 3:14)

Τῶν ὄπισθεν ἐπιλανθανόμενος, τοῖς δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος·

    He recalled, too, the voice of the prophet Elijah, the Lord lives in whose presence I stand today. (1Ki 18:15) 

μνημονεύων τε καὶ τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ προφήτου Ἠλίου λέγοντος· Ζῇ Κύριος, ᾧ παρέστην ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ σήμερον.

For he observed that in saying ‘to-day’ the prophet did not count the time that had passed: Παρετηρεῖτο γὰρ, ὅτι, σήμερον λέγων, οὐκ ἐμέτρει τὸν παρελθόντα χρόνον·
but daily, as though always starting over, he eagerly strove to make himself fit to appear before God, ἀλλ' ὡς ἀρχὴν ἀεὶ καταβαλλόμενος, καθ' ἡμέραν ἐσπούδαζεν ἑαυτὸν παριστάνειν τοιοῦτον, οἷον χρὴ φαίνεσθαι τῷ Θεῷ,
being pure in heart and ever ready to submit to His counsel, and to Him alone. καθαρὸν τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ ἕτοιμον ὑπακούειν τῷ βουλήματι αὐτοῦ, καὶ μηδενὶ ἄλλῳ.
And he used to say to himself that in the great Elijah’s way of life the ascetic ought to see his own life, as in a mirror. Ἔλεγε δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ, δεῖν τὸν ἀσκητὴν ἐκ τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ μεγάλου Ἠλίου καταμανθάνειν, ὡς ἐν ἐσόπτρῳ τὸν ἑαυτοῦ βίον ἀεί.

NB: Benedict in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great is constantly depicted as a new Elijah






Struggles with Demons

in the Tombs



8. THUS tightening his grip on [ie mastering] himself, Antony left for the tombs that happened to be some distance from the village. And having asked one of his acquaintances to bring him bread at intervals of many days, he entered one of the tombs.  [This friend] locked the door on him, and [Antony] remained alone inside.  8.  Οὕτω δὴ οὖν συσφίγξας ἑαυτὸν ὁ Ἀντώνιος, ἀπήρχετο εἰς τὰ μακρὰν τῆς κώμης τυγχάνοντα μνήματα, καὶ παραγγείλας ἑνὶ τῶν γνωρίμων δι' ἡμερῶν πολλῶν αὐτῷ κομίζειν τὸν ἄρτον, αὐτὸς εἰσελθὼν εἰς ἓν τῶν μνημάτων, καὶ κλείσαντος ἐκείνου [26.856] κατ' αὐτοῦ τὴν θύραν, ἔμενε μόνος ἔνδον. .
     The enemy could not endure this, for he was afraid that in a short time Antony would fill the desert with the ascetic discipline.  So, coming one night with a great number of demons, he so lashed him with whips that he lay on the ground senseless from the terrible pain.  Ενθα δὴ μὴ φέρων ὁ ἐχθρὸς, ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ φοβούμενος, μὴ κατ' ὀλίγον καὶ τὴν ἔρημον ἐμπλήσῃ τῆς ἀσκήσεως· προσελθὼν ἐν μιᾷ νυκτὶ μετὰ πλήθους δαιμόνων, τοσοῦτον αὐτὸν ἔκοψε πληγαῖς, ὡς καὶ ἄφωνον αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν βασάνων κεῖσθαι χαμαί·
For he maintained that the pain had been so extreme that no blows inflicted by human beings could ever have cause such torture. διεβεβαιοῦτο γὰρ οὕτω σφοδροὺς γεγενῆσθαι τοὺς πόνους, ὡς λέγειν μὴ δύνασθαι τὰς παρὰ ἀνθρώπων πληγὰς τοιαύτην ποτὲ βάσανον ἐμποιῆσαι.
     But through God’s Providence (for the Lord never overlooks those who hope in Him) the next day his acquaintance came bringing the bread for him. And having opened the door and seeing him lying on the ground as if dead, he lifted [Antony] up and carried him to the parish church, where he laid him on the ground. Θεοῦ δὲ προνοίᾳ̈ οὐ γὰρ παρορᾷ Κύριος τοὺς ἐλπίζοντας ἐπ' αὐτὸν, τῇ ἑξῆς παραγίνεται  ὁ γνώριμος, κομίζων τοὺς ἄρτους αὐτῷ· ἀνοίξας τε τὴν θύραν, καὶ τοῦτον ἰδὼν χαμαὶ κείμενον ὡς νεκρὸν, βαστάσας ἔφερεν εἰς τὸ τῆς κώμης Κυριακὸν, καὶ τίθησιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.

Many of his kinsfolk and the villagers sat around Antony as around a corpse.  But about midnight he came to himself and awoke.  And when be saw that they were all asleep and that only his acquaintance was keeping watch, he motioned for him to approach, and asked him to carry him again to the tombs without awakening anyone.

Πολλοί τε τῶν συγγενῶν, καὶ οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς κώμης, παρεκαθέζοντο ὡς ἐπὶ νεκρῷ τῷἈντωνίῳ.  Περὶ δὲ τὸ μεσονύκτιον εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἐλθὼν ὁἈντώνιος, καὶ διεγερθεὶς, ὡς εἶδε πάντας κοιμωμένους, καὶ μόνον τὸν γνώριμον γρηγοροῦντα, νεύσας ἥκειν αὐτὸν πρὸς αὐτὸν, ἠξίου πάλιν αὐτὸν βαστάσαι καὶ ἀποφέρειν εἰς τὰ μνήματα, μηδένα ἐξυπνίσαντα.





   9.  He was thus carried back by the man, and as was [now] his custom, when the door was shut he was again alone inside.  And he was to weak to stand because of the beatings, so he prayed as he lay.  And after he had prayed, he said with a shout, Here I am - Antony: I am not intimidated by your beatings, for even if you inflict more nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ (cf Rom 8:35). And then he sang, even if a camp is set against me, my heart will not fear (Ps 26:3).’ These were the thoughts and words of this ascetic.  But the enemy, the hater of good, marvelling that after the beatings [Antony] dared to return, called his dogs together and bursting with anger said, “You see that neither by the spirit of sexual immorality nor by blows did we halt him; indeed, he challenges us, so let us go after him in a different way. 

9. Ἀπηνέχθη οὖν παρὰ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς, καὶ συνήθως τῆς θύρας κεκλεισμένης, ἔνδον ἦν πάλιν μόνος. Καὶ στήκειν μὲν οὐκ ἴσχυε διὰ τὰς πληγάς· ἀνακείμενος δὲ ηὔχετο. Καὶ μετὰ τὴν εὐχὴν ἔλεγε μετὰ κραυγῆς·Ὧδέ εἰμι ἐγὼἈντώνιος· οὐ φεύγω τὰς παρ' ὑμῶν πληγάς. Κἂν γὰρ πλείονας ποιήσητε, οὐδέν με χωρίσει ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Εἶτα καὶ ἔψαλλεν·Ἐὰν παρατάξηται ἐπ' ἐμὲ παρεμβολὴ, οὐ φοβηθήσεται ἡ καρδία μου.Ὁ μὲν οὖν ἀσκητὴς ἐφρόνει καὶ ἔλεγε ταῦτα· ὁ δὲ μισόκαλος. ἐχθρὸς, θαυμάσας, ὅτι καὶ μετὰ τὰς πληγὰς ἐθάῤῥησεν ἐλθεῖν, συγκαλέσας αὐτοῦ τοὺς κύνας, καὶ διαῤῥηγνύμενος, ἔφη·Ὁρᾶτε ὅτι οὐ πνεύματι πορνείας, οὐ πληγαῖς ἐπαύσαμεν τοῦτον· ἀλλὰ καὶ θρασύνεται καθ' ἡμῶν· προσέλθωμεν ἄλλως αὐτῷ.

   But [different] forms of evil are easy for the devil.  So during the night they made such an uproar that it was as if the whole place were shaken by an earthquake, and the demons seemed to be breaking the four walls of the dwelling, entering through through them, transformed into beasts and reptiles.  And the place was suddenly filled with the phantasms of lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, cobras, scorpions, and wolves.  And and each of them moved according to its own form.  The lion was roared, wishing to attack, the bull appeared to threaten to charge with its horns, the serpent writhed but unable to approach; and the wolf rushed straight towards him. The simultaneous noises of all the the apparitions were terrifying and their raging was furious. 

Εὔκολον [26.857] δὲ τῷ διαβόλῳ τὰ εἰς κακίαν σχήματα. Τότε δὴ οὖν ἐν τῇ νυκτὶ κτύπον μὲν τοιοῦτον ποιοῦσιν, ὡς δοκεῖν πάντα τὸν τόπον ἐκεῖνον σείεσθαι· τοὺς δὲ τοῦ οἰκίσκου τέσσαρας τοίχους ὥσπερ ῥήξαντες οἱ δαίμονες, ἔδοξαν δι' αὐτῶν ἐπεισέρχεσθαι, μετασχηματισθέντες εἰς θηρίων καὶ ἑρπετῶν φαντασίαν· καὶ ἦν ὁ τόπος εὐθὺς πεπληρωμένος φαντασίας λεόντων, ἄρκτων, λεοπάρδων, ταύρων, καὶ ὄφεων, ἀσπίδων, καὶ σκορπίων, καὶ λύκων. Καὶ ἕκαστον μὲν τούτων ἐκίνει κατὰ τὸ ἴδιον σχῆμα.Ὁ λέων ἔβρυχε, θέλων ἐπελθεῖν, ὁ ταῦρος ἐδόκει κερατίζειν, ὁ ὄφις ἕρπων οὐκ ἔφθανε, καὶ ὁ λύκος ὁρμῶν ἐπείχετο· καὶ ὅλως πάντων ὁμοῦ ἦσαν τῶν φαινομένων οἱ ψόφοι δεινοὶ, καὶ οἱ θυμοὶ χαλεποί.

   But Antony, injured and stabbed by them, felt even worse bodily pains. Yet he lay unshaken, ever more vigilant in soul, although groaning from bodily pain; but his mind was sober, and as in mockery he said, “If there had been any power in you, it would have been enough for one of you come, but since the Lord has made you weak you try to terrify me by [your] numbers.  And a proof of your weakness is that you imitate the forms of brute beasts.”  

Ο δὲἈντώνιος, μαστιζόμενος καὶ κεντούμενος παρ' αὐτῶν, ᾔσθετο μὲν δεινοτέρου πόνου σωματικοῦ.Ἀτρέμας καὶ μᾶλλον τῇ ψυχῇ γρηγορῶν ἀνέκειτο· καὶ ἔστενε μὲν διὰ τὸν τοῦ σώματος πόνον· νήφων δὲ τῇ διανοίᾳ καὶ ὥσπερ χλευάζων, ἔλεγεν· Εἰ δύναμίς τις ἦν ἐν ὑμῖν, ἤρκει καὶ μόνον ἕνα ἐξ ὑμῶν ἐλθεῖν· ἐπειδὴ δὲ ἐξενεύρωσεν ὑμᾶς ὁ Κύριος, διὰ τοῦτο κἂν τῷ πλήθει πειράζετέ πως ἐκφοβεῖν· γνώρισμα τῆς ἀσθενείας ὑμῶν τὸ τὰς ἀλόγων ὑμᾶς μιμεῖσθαι μορφάς.

 And boldly he again said, “If you are able, and have been given power against me, do not wait to attack; but if you are unable, why do you make such trouble in vain ? For faith in our Lord is a seal and a wall of safety to us.” So after many attempts they gnashed their teeth against him, because they were mocking themselves rather than him.

̓Θαρῥῶν γοῦν πάλιν ἔλεγεν· Εἰ δύνασθε καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἐλάβετε κατ' ἐμοῦ, μὴ μέλλετε, ἀλλ' ἐπίβητε· εἰ δὲ μὴ δύνασθε, τί μάτην ταράσσεσθε; Σφραγὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν καὶ τεῖχος εἰς ἀσφάλειαν ἡ εἰς τὸν  Κύριον ἡμῶν πίστις. Πολλὰ τοίνυν ἐπιχειρήσαντες, ἔτριζον κατ' αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀδόντας, ὅτι μᾶλλον ἔπαιζον ἑαυτοὺς, καὶ οὐκ ἐκεῖνον.̈

   10. And in all this the Lord was not forgetful of Antony’s wrestling, but was at hand to assist him.  For looking up he saw, as it were, the roof opening and a ray of light descending to him.  The demons suddenly vanished, his bodily pain immediately ceased, and the building was again made whole. But Antony, sensing the assistance, getting his breath again and freed from pain, inquired of the vision that appeared to him, saying, “Where were you? Why did you not appear at the beginning to make my pains cease?” 

[[26.860] 10. Ὁ δὲ Κύριος οὐδὲ ἐν τούτῳ ἐπελάθετο τῆς ἀθλήσεωςἈντωνίου, ἀλλ' εἰς ἀντίληψιν αὐτοῦ παραγέγονεν.Ἀναβλέψας γοῦν, εἶδε τὴν στέγην ὥσπερ διανοιγομένην, καὶ ἀκτῖνά τινα φωτὸς κατερχομένην πρὸς αὐτόν. Καὶ οἱ μὲν δαίμονες ἐξαίφνης ἄφαντοι γεγόνασιν· ὁ δὲ πόνος τοῦ σώματος εὐθὺς ἐπέπαυτο, καὶ ὁ οἶκος πάλιν ἦν ὁλόκληρος.Ὁ δὲ Ἀντώνιος, αἰσθόμενος τῆς ἀντιλήψεως, καὶ πλέον ἀναπνεύσας, κουφισθείς τε τῶν πόνων, ἐδέετο τῆς φανείσης ὀπτασίας, λέγων· Ποῦ ἦς; διὰ τί μὴ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἐφάνης, ἵνα μου τὰς ὀδύνας παύσῃς;

   And a voice came to him, “Antony, I was here, but I waited to see you fight your best.  And since you have patiently endured and not surrendered, I will always be your helper and will make your name known everywhere.” 

Καὶ φωνὴ γέγονε πρὸς αὐτόν·Ἀντώνιε, ὧδε ἤμην, ἀλλὰ περιέμενον ἰδεῖν τὸ σὸν ἀγώνισμα.Ἐπεὶ οὖν ὑπέμεινας, καὶ οὐχ ἡττήθης, ἔσομαί σοι ἀεὶ βοηθὸς, καὶ ποιήσω σε ὀνομαστὸν πανταχοῦ γενέσθαι.

   Having heard this, Antony arose and prayed, and received such strength that he sensed he had more power in his body than before. And he was then about thirty-five years old.

Ταῦτα ἀκούσας, ἀναστὰς ηὔχετο· καὶ τοσοῦτον ἴσχυσεν, ὡς αἰσθέσθαι αὐτὸν, ὅτι πλείονα δύναμιν ἔσχεν ἐν τῷ σώματι μᾶλλον, ἧς εἶχε τὸ πρότερον. Ἦν δὲ τότε λοιπὸν ἐγγὺς τριάκοντα καὶ πέντε ἐτῶν.





He crosses the Nile to live for twenty years in an abandoned fort -

Antony's "outer mountain" at Pispir



    11.  On the following day he went out even more eager for the service of God. And meeting the previously-mentioned old man, he pleaded with him to dwell in the desert with him.  But when the other declined on account of his great age and because there was as yet no such custom, [Antony] himself  immediately set off for the mountain. [he is tempted by images of silver and gold]

11.   Τῇ δὲ ἑξῆς προελθὼν, ἔτι μᾶλλον προθυμότερος ἦν εἰς τὴν θεοσέβειαν, καὶ γενόμενος πρὸς τὸν γέροντα τὸν παλαιὸν ἐκεῖνον, ἠξίου τὴν ἔρημον οἰκῆσαι σὺν αὐτῷ. Τοῦ δὲ παραιτησαμένου διά τε τὴν ἡλικίαν, καὶ διὰ τὸ μηδέπω εἶναι τοιαύτην συνήθειαν, εὐθὺς αὐτὸς ὥρμησεν εἰς τὸ ὄρος.





   12. […] And so, more and more strengthened in his purpose, he hurried to the mountain and, having found a fort on the other side of the [Nile] river so long deserted that it was full of reptiles, he crossed over to it and made it his home.  The reptiles immediately withdrew from the place as though some one were chasing them.  But he built up the entrance completely, having stored up [enough] bread for six months: this is a custom of the Thebans; and the loaves often remain fresh for a whole year. And finding water within, he descended as into a shrine; and in solidude [monon] he abode within, never going forth nor looking at any one who came.  Thus he undertook a long period of ascetic[al training], receiving loaves only twice a the year, let down from a house above.

Μᾶλλον οὖν καὶ μᾶλλον ἐπιτείνας τὴν πρόθεσιν, ὥρμησεν εἰς τὸ ὄρος.  Καὶ παρεμβολὴν ἔρημον, καὶ διὰ τὸν χρόνον μεστὴν ἑρπετῶν εὑρὼν εἰς τὸ πέραν τοῦ ποταμοῦ, ἐκεῖ  μετέθηκεν ἑαυτὸν, καὶ ᾤκησεν ἐν αὐτῇ. Τὰ μὲν οὖν ἑρπετὰ, ὥσπερ τινὸς διώκοντος, εὐθὺς ἀνεχώρησαν· αὐτὸς δὲ, τὴν εἴσοδον ἀναφράξας, καὶ ἄρτους εἰς μῆνας ἒξ ἀποθέμενος (ποιοῦσι δὲ τοῦτο Θηβαῖοι, καὶ πολλάκις μένουσι καὶ ὅλον ἐνιαυτὸν ἀβλαβεῖς), ἔχων ἔνδον ὕδωρ, ὥσπερ ἐν ἀδύτοις ἐγκαταδυόμενος μόνος ἔμενεν ἔνδον, μήτε αὐτὸς προϊὼν, μήτε τινὰ τῶν ἐρχομένων βλέπων. Αὐτὸς μὲν οὖν πολὺν χρόνον οὕτω συνῆψεν ἀσκούμενος· κατ' ἐνιαυτὸν μόνον ἄνωθεν ἀπὸ τοῦ δώματος δεύτερον δεχόμενος τοὺς ἄρτους





   13.  But his acquaintances came to him: and since he did not permit them to enter,  they often used to spend days and nights outside, where they hear what sounded like rioting noisy crowds inside, crying in wailing, piteous voices, ‘Go away from what belongs to us!  What do you have to do with the desert? You cannot withstand our attack.’  So at first those outside thought there were men fighting with him and that they had entered by ladders; but when they bent down and saw through a hole that there was no one, they presumed them to be demons, they were afraid, and they called to Antony.  But upon hearing them he was more concerned for their [sakes] that he was to give any thought to the demons.  And so,  coming to the door he advised them to withdraw and not be afraid: “For the demons,” he said  “summon fantasies only against the fearful.  Sign yourselves therefore with the cross and depart boldly; and let these make themselves foolish.” 

13.  Οἱ δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐρχόμενοι τῶν γνωρίμων, ἐπεὶ μὴ συνεχώρει τούτους εἰσελθεῖν, ἔξω πολλάκις ἡμέρας καὶ νύκτας ποιοῦντες, ἤκουον ὡς ὄχλων ἔνδον θορυβούντων, κτυπούντων, φωνὰς ἀφιέντων οἰκτρὰς, καὶ κραζόντων·Ἀπόστα τῶν ἡμετέρων· τί σοὶ καὶ τῇ ἐρήμῳ; οὐ φέρεις ἡμῶν τὴν ἐπιβουλήν. Τὴν μὲν οὖν ἀρχὴν εἶναί τινας σὺν αὐτῷ μαχομένους ἀνθρώπους, καὶ τούτους διὰ κλιμάκων εἰσεληλυθέναι πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐνόμιζον οἱ ἔξωθεν· ὡς δὲ διά τινος τρυμαλιᾶς παρακύψαντες, οὐδένα ἔβλεπον, τότε [26.864] δὴ λογισάμενοι δαίμονας εἶναι τούτους, καὶ φοβηθέντες αὐτοὶ, τὸνἈντώνιον ἐκάλουν.Ὁ δὲ μᾶλλον τούτων ἤκουεν, ἢ ἐκείνων ἐφρόντιζε. Καὶ προσελθὼν ἐγγὺς τῆς θύρας, παρεκάλει τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀναχωρεῖν καὶ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι· οὕτω γὰρ ἔλεγε τοὺς δαίμονας φαντασίας ποιεῖν κατὰ τῶν δειλιώντων. Ὑμεῖς οὖν σφραγίσατε ἑαυτοὺς, καὶ ἄπιτε θαῤῥοῦντες· καὶ τούτους ἄφετε παίζειν ἑαυτοῖς

   So they departed, fortified with the sign of the Cross. But he remained, not harmed in any way by the evil spirits, nor wearied by the contest: for there came to his aid contemplative visions from above; and the weakness of the enemies relieved him of many pains and armed him with greater enthusiasm.  For his acquaintances would often come, expecting to find him dead, and would hear him singing;

Οἱ μὲν οὖν ἀπήρχοντο τετειχισμένοι τῷ σημείῳ τοῦ σταυροῦ. Ὁ δὲ ἔμενε, καὶ οὐδὲν ἐβλάπτετο παρ' αὐτῶν· ἀλλ' οὐδὲ ἔκαμνεν ἀγωνιζόμενος· ἡ γὰρ προσθήκη τῶν γινομένων αὐτῷ τῶν ἄνω θεωρημάτων, καὶ ἡ τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἀσθένεια, πολλὴν αὐτῷ τῶν πόνων ἀνάπαυλαν παρείχετο, καὶ εἰς πλείονα προθυμίαν παρεσκεύαζε. Καὶ γὰρ συνεχῶς παρέβαλλον οἱ γνώριμοι, νομίζοντες εὑρίσκειν αὐτὸν νεκρὸν, καὶ ἤκουον αὐτοῦ ψάλλοντος·Ἀναστήτω,

Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered, let those who hate him flee before his face.  As smoke vanishes, let them vanish; as wax melts before the face of fire, so let the sinners perish from the face of God ; (Ps 67:2 f.)

ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ διασκορπισθήτωσαν οἱ ἐχθροὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ φυγέτωσαν ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ οἱ μισοῦντες αὐτόν. Ὡς ἐκλείπει καπνὸς, ἐκλειπέτωσαν· ὡς τήκεται κηρὸς ἀπὸ προσώπου πυρὸς, οὕτως ἀπόλοιντο οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ Θεοῦ·

and again, All nations compassed me about, and in the name of the Lord I repelled them (Ps 117:10). καὶ πάλιν· Πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐκύκλωσάν με, καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι  Κυρίου ἠμυνάμην αὐτούς.





He Emerges from

the Fort



      14.  And so for nearly twenty years he continued to practice asceticism in solitude, never going out,  and rarely seen by others.  After this when there were many who were eager and zealously wished to imitate his asceticism, his acquaintances came and began to break down the door and to wrench it open by force.

14.  Εἴκοσι τοίνυν ἐγγὺς ἔτη διετέλεσεν, οὕτω καθ' ἑαυτὸν ἀσκούμενος, οὔτε προϊὼν, οὔτε παρά τινων συνεχῶς βλεπόμενος. Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα, πολλῶν ποθούντων καὶ θελόντων αὐτοῦ τὴν ἄσκησιν ζηλῶσαι, ἄλλων τε γνωρίμων ἐλθόντων, καὶ βίᾳ τὴν θύραν καταβαλόντων καὶ ἐξεωσάντων·


Antony,Athos, Dionys. 17th c. 

   Antony came forth as if from a shrine, like one initiated in sacred mysteries and filled with the Spirit of God.  And this was the first time he was seen outside the fort by those who came to see him.  And when they saw him, they were amazed at the sight: for his body had its habit[ual appearance], neither fat from lack of exercise, nor withered from fasting and fighting with demons: for he was as he had been before his withdrawal [into solitude]. προῆλθεν ὁἈντώνιος ὥσπερ ἔκ τινος ἀδύτου μεμυσταγωγημένος καὶ θεοφορούμενος· καὶ τότε πρῶτον ἀπὸ τῆς παρεμβολῆς ἐφάνη τοῖς ἐλθοῦσι πρὸς αὐτόν.Ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν, ὡς εἶδον, ἐθαύμαζον ὁρῶντες αὐτοῦ τό τε σῶμα τὴν αὐτὴν ἕξιν ἔχον, καὶ μήτε πιανθὲν, ὡς ἀγύμναστον, μήτε ἰσχνωθὲν ὡς ἀπὸ νηστειῶν καὶ μάχης [26.865] δαιμόνων· τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἦν, οἶον καὶ πρὸ τῆς ἀναχωρήσεως ᾔδεισαν αὐτόν· τῆς δὲ ψυχῆς πάλιν καθαρὸν τὸ ἦθος·
     For again the state of his soul was pure: for it was neither contracted as if by grief, nor relaxed by pleasure; possessed by neither laughter nor dejection. For he was not troubled when he saw the crowd, nor ecstatic at being acclaimed by so many.  οὔτε γὰρ ὡς ὑπὸ ἀνίας συνεσταλμένον ἦν, οὔτε ὑφ' ἡδονῆς διακεχυμένον, οὔτε ὑπὸ γέλωτος ἢ κατηφείας συνεχόμενον· οὔτε γὰρ ἑωρακὼς τὸν ὄχλον ἐταράχθη, οὔτε ὡς ὑπὸ τοσούτων κατασπαζόμενος ἐγεγήθει·
Instead he was wholly balanced, as if  governed by reason, and established in accordance with nature ἀλλ' ὅλος ἦν ἴσος, ὡς ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου κυβερνώμενος, καὶ ἐν τῷ κατὰ φύσιν ἑστώς.
       Through him the Lord healed the bodily ailments of many present and cleansed others from demons.  And he gave Antony grace in speaking, so that he consoled many who were sorrowful, and those who were fighting he made into friends; and  he exhorted all to prefer nothing in the world to the love of Christ. And by thus exhorting and advising them to remember the good things to come and God’s love of humankind  offered towards, Who did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all (Rom 8:32), he persuaded many to embrace the solitary life.  Πολλοὺς γοῦν τῶν παρόντων τὰ σώματα πάσχοντας ἐθεράπευσεν ὁ Κύριος δι' αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἄλλους ἀπὸ δαιμόνων ἐκαθάρισε. Χάριν τε ἐν τῷ λαλεῖν ἐδίδου τῷ Ἀντωνίῳ· καὶ οὕτω πολλοὺς μὲν λυπουμένους παρεμυθεῖτο, ἄλλους δὲ μαχομένους διήλλαττεν εἰς φιλίαν· πᾶσιν ἐπιλέγων μηδὲν τῶν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ προκρίνειν τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν ἀγάπης.[3] Διαλεγόμενος δὲ καὶ παραινῶν μνημονεύειν περὶ τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν καὶ τῆς εἰς ἡμᾶς γενομένης τοῦ Θεοῦ φιλανθρωπίας, ὃς οὐκ ἐφείσατο τοῦ ἰδίου Υἱοῦ, ἀλλ' ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν πάντων παρέδωκεν αὐτόν· ἔπεισε πολλοὺς αἱρήσασθαι τὸν μονήρη βίον·
And so it came to pass that monasteries arose even in the mountains, and the desert was made a city by monks, who left their own people, and enrolled themselves for citizenship in the Heavens. (cf Heb 3:20, 12:23) καὶ οὕτω λοιπὸν γέγονε καὶ ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι μοναστήρια, καὶ ἡ ἔρημος ἐπολίσθη ὑπὸ μοναχῶν, ἐξελθόντων ἀπὸ τῶν ἰδίων, καὶ ἀπογραψαμένων τὴν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς πολιτείαν.







It is at this point that the pioneer begins to break new ground, his old ascetic master refusing to go with him into the desert ‘for as yet there was no such custom’. Antony is now about thirty-five­ which brings us to the beginning of the reign of Diocletian and Maximian. Alone he crosses the Nile, and shuts himself in for twenty years of solitude in a deserted fort on the confines of the desert, where bread is brought to him twice a year. He enters this dark fort as an ἀδύτον [aduton - ὥσπερ ἐν ἀδύτοις   : as into a shrine]. And when after twenty years his friends break down the gate and he comes forth, he does so ‘as from some inmost shrine, initiate into the mysteries and God-borne’ ὥσπερ ἔκ τινος ἀδύτου μεμυσταγωγημένος καὶ θεοφορούμενος· [hosper ek tinos adutou memystagogemenos kai theophoroumenos.

Of course Athanasius in writing this has his eye on the pagan world. Here is the true initiate of the mysteries, who in achieving his Gospel vocation to become – te/leoij  ‘perfect’  is achieving an ideal which the pagan can understand  he very word is common to Calvary and Eleusis. And while, primarily, Antony looked back to Elijah for his prototype, his way of life had also its praeparatio in Greek and Egyptian philosophy and religion  NeoPlatonist, Pythagorean, Stoic, Cynic, etc. But Athanasius at once draws a distinctively Christian picture in this respectAntony’s body con­dition is not deteriorated but improved by his strange training. His friends marvel to see his body neither grown fat from lack of exercise, nor dried up from fasting and fighting with the demons. Physically and in disposition of soul he is ‘all balanced, as one governed by reason and standing in his natural condition’  ' ὅλος ἦν ἴσος, ὡς ὑπὸ τοῦ λόγου κυβερνώμενος, καὶ ἐν τῷ κατὰ φύσιν ἑστώς. [holos en isos hupo tou logou kubernomenos, kai en to kata phusin estos].

    We are reminded how Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus starts off in the first sentence by describing Plotinus as like a man ashamed of being in a body. [Porphyry, Vita Plotini, c. 1.] The contrast is quite clear. Against all types of dualism, pagan or para-Christian, Antony’s perfection is shown reflected in his bodily condition, retained right up to his death fifty years later, when he was still sound in all his senses and vigorous in his limbs, with even his teeth complete in number[...]

Derwas Chitty, The Desert A City ,Chapter 1 - The Call,
(Oxford: 1966; St. Vlad. Sem. 1977) ISBN: 0-913836-45-1, pp. 3-4.


At this point, before continuing the narrative, it is appropriate to note what Derwas Chitty writes about this episode in The Desert A City







   15.  When [on one occasion] it was necessary for him  to cross the Canal of Arsinoë,  the occasion being a visitation of the brethren,  the canal was full of crocodiles. And simply by praying he entered it, together with all those with him, and passed through it unharmed.  And returning to his monastery, he applied himself to the same pious and vigorous efforts. Through continuous conversations [ conferences] he increased the eagerness of those who were already monks, and kindled in most of the rest love of asceticism. And rapidly, through the attractive power of his word, monasteries multiplied; and he directed them all as a father.[…] 15.  Χρείας δὲ γενομένης διελθεῖν αὐτὸν τὴν τοῦ Ἀρσενοΐτου διώρυγα (χρεία δὲ ἦν ἡ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐπίσκεψις), πλήρης ἦν ἡ διώρυξ κροκοδείλων. Καὶ μόνον εὐξάμενος, ἐνέβη αὐτός τε καὶ πάντες οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ, καὶ διῆλθον ἀβλαβεῖς.Ὑποστρέψας δὲ εἰς τὸ μοναστήριον, τῶν αὐτῶν εἴχετο σεμνῶν καὶ νεανικῶν πόνων. Διαλεγόμενός τε συνεχῶς, τῶν μὲν ἤδη μοναχῶν τὴν προθυμίαν ηὔξανε, τῶν δὲ ἄλλων τοὺς πλείστους εἰς ἔρωτα τῆς ἀσκήσεως ἐκίνει, καὶ ταχέως, ἕλκοντος τοῦ λόγου, πλεῖστα γέγονε μοναστήρια, καὶ πάντων αὐτῶν ὡς πατὴρ καθηγεῖτο.





He leaves the fort and crosses the desert
to the

(the site of the modern-day Monastery of St. Antony on the Red Sea)



   49.  But when he saw himself beset by many, and not allowed to withdraw [into solitude] according to his intention as he wished, concerned [too,] that because of what the Lord was doing through him (cf 2Cor 12:4)  either he would become arrogant, or another might think more of him than he ought, he looked about and set off to go into the upper Thebaid, among those to whom he was unknown.  And having received loaves from the brethren, he sat down by the bank of the river to see whether a boat would go by; so that having embarked he might go up [the river] with them.  While he was considering these things, a voice came to him from above, “Antony, where are you going, and why?” 

49. Ὡς δὲ εἶδεν ἑαυτὸν ὀχλούμενον ὑπὸ πολλῶν καὶ μὴ ἀφιέμενον κατὰ γνώμην ἀναχωρεῖν, ὡς βούλεται· εὐλαβηθεὶς μὴ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Κύριος ποιεῖ δι' αὐτοῦ, ἢ αὐτὸς ἐπαρθῇ, ἢ ἄλλος τις ὑπὲρ ὅ ἐστι λογίσηται περὶ αὐτοῦ, ἐσκέψατο καὶ ὥρμησεν ἀνελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ἄνω Θηβαΐδα πρὸς τοὺς ἀγνοοῦντας αὐτόν. Καὶ δὴ παρὰ τῶν ἀδελφῶν δεξάμενος ἄρτους, ἐκάθητο παρὰ τὰς ὄχθας τοῦ ποταμοῦ, σκοπῶν εἰ ἄρα παρέλθοι πλοῖον, ἵνα ἐμβὰς ἀνέλθῃ μετ' αὐτῶν. Ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ σκεπτομένου, φωνή τις ἄνωθεν γέγονε πρὸς αὐτόν·Ἀντώνιε, ποῦ πορεύῃ, καὶ διὰ τί;

   But he was not disturbed, for he had become accustomed to often being called this way; and having listened  he answered, saying: “Since the crowds do not allow me any tranquility, I wish to go into the upper Thebaid on account of the many annoyances that come upon me here; and especially because they demand of me things beyond my power.”  But the voice said unto him, “Even if you were to go into the Thebaid, or as you have it in mind to do, to go down to Bucolia [the pastures], you will have to endure more; even, twice the trouble [you now have].  But if you truly wish tranquility, depart now up into the inner desert.” 

¸Ο δὲ μὴ ταραχθεὶς, ἀλλ' ὡς εἰωθὼς καλεῖσθαι πολλάκις οὕτως, ἐπακούσας, ἀπεκρίνατο, λέγων·Ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπουσί μοι ἠρεμεῖν οἱ ὄχλοι, διὰ τοῦτο βούλομαι ἀνελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ἄνω Θηβαΐδα, διὰ τὰς πολλὰς τῶν ὧδέ μοι γινομένας ἐνοχλήσεις, καὶ μάλιστα διὰ τὸ ἀπαιτεῖσθαί με παρ' αὐτῶν τὰ ὑπὲρ τὴν ἐμὴν δύναμιν.Ἡ δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἔφη· Κἂν εἰς τὴν Θηβαΐδα ἀνέλθῃς, κἂν, ὡς ἐνθυμῇ, κατέλθῃς εἰς τὰ βουκόλια, πλείω καὶ διπλασίονα τὸν κάματον ἔχεις ὑπομένειν.  Εἰ δὲ θέλεις ὄντως ἠρεμεῖν, ἄνελθε νῦν εἰς τὴν ἐνδο [26.916] τέραν ἔρημον. Τοῦ δὲἈντωνίου λέγοντος·

   And when Antony said, “Who will show me the way for I do not know it?”  [the voice] immediately indicated to him Saracens about to go that way.  So [Antony] approached, and drew near them, and asked to go with them into the desert.  And they received him gladly, as if commanded by providence to do so. And having journeyed three days and three nights with them, he came to a very high mountain; and at the base of the mountain ran a clear spring, whose waters were sweet and very cold. Extending out there was a plain and a few uncared-for palm trees.

Καὶ τίς δείξει μοι τὴν ὁδόν; ἄπειρος γάρ εἰμι ταύτης· εὐθὺς ἔδειξεν αὐτῷ Σαρακηνοὺς μέλλοντας ὁδεύειν τὴν ὁδὸν ἐκείνην. Προσελθὼν τοίνυν, καὶ ἐγγίσας αὐτοῖς ὁἈντώνιος, ἠξίου σὺν αὐτοῖς εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ἀπελθεῖν. Οἱ δὲ, ὥσπερ ἐξ ἐπιτάγματος τῆς Προνοίας, προθύμως αὐτὸν ἐδέξαντο· καὶ ὁδεύσας τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ τρεῖς νύκτας μετ' αὐτῶν, ἦλθεν εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν· καὶ ὕδωρ μὲν ἦν ὑπὸ τὸ ὄρος διειδέστατον, γλυκὺ, καὶ μάλα ψυχρόν. Πεδιὰς δὲ ἔξωθεν, καὶ φοίνικες ἀμεληθέντες ὀλίγοι.

 The Monastery of St. Antony on the Red Sea,
the site of Antony's Inner Mountain

 The fort at Pispir and the Inner Mountain on the Red Sea





   50.  Antony then, as if moved by God, fell in love with the place, for this was what he who had spoken with him by the banks of the river had meant.  So having first received bread from his fellow travellers, he abode in the mountain in solitude [monos], no one else being with him. And he remained in that place for the future, regarding it as his own home. […]

50. Ὁ οὖνἈντώνιος, ὥσπερ θεόθεν κινούμενος, ἠγάπησε τὸν τόπον· οὗτος γὰρ ἦν ὃν ἐσήμανεν ὁ λαλήσας αὐτῷ παρὰ τὰς ὄχθας τοῦ ποταμοῦ. Τὴν μὲν οὖν ἀρχὴν δεξάμενος παρὰ τῶν συνοδευσάντων ἄρτους, ἔμενεν ἐν τῷ ὄρει μόνος, οὐδενὸς ἑτέρου συνόντος αὐτῷ· ὡς γὰρ ἴδιον οἶκον ἐπιγνοὺς, εἶχε λοιπὸν τὸν τόπον ἐκεῖνον.

   [He undertakes gardening] At first, however, wild beasts in the desert, coming because of the water, often injured his sprouts and his gardening.  But he, gently laying hold of one of them, said to them all, “Why do you hurt me, when I hurt none of you?  Depart, and in the name of the Lord do not approach here.”  And from that time forward, as though afraid of his command, they did not approach the place.

Τὴν μὲν οὖν ἀρχὴν τὰ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ θηρία, [26.917] προφάσει τοῦ ὕδατος ἐρχόμενα, πολλάκις ἔβλαπτον αὐτοῦ τὸν σπόρον καὶ τὴν γεωργίαν· αὐτὸς δὲ χαριέντως κρατήσας ἓν τῶν θηρίων, ἔλεγε τοῖς πᾶσι· Διὰ τί με βλάπτετε, μηδὲν ἐμοῦ βλάπτοντος ὑμᾶς; Ἀπέλθετε, καὶ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ Κυρίου μηκέτι ἐγγίσητε τοῖς ὧδε. Καὶ ἐξ ἐκείνου λοιπὸν, ὥσπερ φοβηθέντα τὴν παραγγελίαν, οὐκ ἔτι τῷ τόπῳ ἤγγισαν.




This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990....x....  .