St. Antony, 18th c. Coptic icon

Antony's Egypt, from Space

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.





(Chapters 1-7: Antony the young ascetic)











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: 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·

ut et uos audientes, excitati zelo ipsius,

  Indeed, FOR MONKS THE LIFE OF ANTONY IS A FITTING [sufficient] PATTERN OF THE ASCETICAL LIFE.   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.  Ἠν τοίνυν ἐν τῇ πλησίον κώμῃ τότε γέρων, ἐκ νεότητος τὸν μονήρη βίον ἀσκήσας· τοῦτον ἰδὼν Ἀντώνιος, ἐζήλωσεν ἐν καλῷ·

Hunc uidens Antonius zelabat in bono  -  UT SAPIENS APIS


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 [Lat.VP3.19.1 ut sapiens illa apis; cf. Cas.Inst.5.4.2], 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.

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; Cas.Inst.5.4.1) 

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.  [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



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