Athanasius
LIFE of ANTONY
P
ART II:
 ch 8-15;49-50
 

Antony Struggles with the Demons,
The Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry. f. 194.


ENGLISH tr.: L. Dysinger, O.S.B. based on tr. by H. Ellershaw


 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 14

 

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

προῆλθεν ὁ Ἀντώνιος

as if from a shrine,

like one initiated in sacred mysteries

 and filled with the Spirit of God. 

ὥσπερ ἔκ τινος ἀδύτου

μεμυσταγωγημένος

καὶ θεοφορούμενος·

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 καὶ τότε πρῶτον ἀπὸ τῆς παρεμβολῆς ἐφάνη τοῖς ἐλθοῦσι πρὸς αὐτόν.Ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν, ὡς εἶδον, ἐθαύμαζον ὁρῶντες αὐτοῦ

his body had its habit[ual appearance],

neither fat from lack of exercise,

nor withered from fasting and fighting with demons:

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,

for he was as he had been before his withdrawal [into solitude].

οἶον καὶ πρὸ τῆς ἀναχωρήσεως ᾔδεισαν αὐτόν·

For again the state of his soul was pure:

τῆς δὲ ψυχῆς πάλιν καθαρὸν τὸ ἦθος·

for it was neither contracted as if by grief,
     nor relaxed by pleasure;
possessed by neither laughter
     nor dejection.

οὔτε γὰρ ὡς ὑπὸ ἀνίας
 συνεσταλμένον ἦν,

οὔτε ὑφ' ἡδονῆς διακεχυμένον,

οὔτε ὑπὸ γέλωτος
ἢ κατηφείας συνεχόμενον·

For he was not troubled when he saw the crowd,
nor ecstatic at being acclaimed by so many. 
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. 

Πολλοὺς γοῦν τῶν παρόντων τὰ σώματα πάσχοντας ἐθεράπευσεν ὁ Κύριος δι' αὐτοῦ·

καὶ ἄλλους ἀπὸ δαιμόνων ἐκαθάρισε.

And he gave Antony grace in speaking, so that

Χάριν τε ἐν τῷ λαλεῖν ἐδίδου τῷ Ἀντωνίῳ· καὶ οὕτω

he consoled many who were sorrowful,

and those who were fighting he made into friends;

and he exhorted all

πολλοὺς μὲν λυπουμένους παρεμυθεῖτο,

ἄλλους δὲ μαχομένους διήλλαττεν εἰς φιλίαν·

πᾶσιν ἐπιλέγων

to prefer nothing in the world to the love of Christ.

μηδὲν τῶν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ προκρίνειν τῆς εἰς Χριστὸν ἀγάπης.

[*cf. RB 72.11 (4.21). Cypr.Dom.Orat.15]

VP 14.21-23: omnibus dicens nihil debere praeponere ipsos horum quae sunt in mundo dilectionis Christi. (Bor.198)

 

VE 13: omnibus suadens nihil amori Christi anteponendum (PL 73.134c)

And by thus exhorting and advising them to remember

[3] Διαλεγόμενος δὲ καὶ παραινῶν μνημονεύειν

the good things to come

and God’s love of humankind, Who did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all (Rom 8:32).

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·

he persuaded many to embrace the solitary life. καὶ οὕτω λοιπὸν γέγονε καὶ ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι μοναστήρια,
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 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
INNER MOUNTAIN 

(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.

   

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