The Life of Malchus
the captive monk


 The Meeting of Paul and Antony

Latin text Migne PL23





by Saint Jerome












I. Hieronymus historiam ecclesiasticam scribere volebat.

1. They who have to fight a naval battle prepare for it in harbours and calm waters by adjusting the helm, plying the oars, and making ready the hooks and grappling irons. They draw up the soldiers on the decks and accustom them to stand steady with poised foot and on slippery ground; so that they may not shrink from all this when the real encounter comes, because they have had experience of it in the sham fight. And so it is in my case. I have long held my peace, because silence was imposed on me by one to whom I give pain when I speak of him. But now, in preparing to write history on a wider scale I desire to practise myself by means of this little work and as it were to wipe the rust from my tongue. For I have purposed (if God grant me life, and if my censurers will at length cease to persecute me, now that I am a fugitive and shut up in a monastery) to write a history of the church of Christ from the advent of our Saviour up to our own age, that is from the apostles to the dregs of time in which we live, and to show by what means and through what agents it received its birth, and how, as it gained strength, it grew by persecution and was crowned with martyrdom; and then, after reaching the Christian Emperors, how it increased in influence and in wealth but decreased in Christian virtues. But of this elsewhere. Now to the matter in hand.

Qui navali praelio dimicaturi sunt, ante in portu et in tranquillo mari flectunt gubernacula, remos trahunt, ferreas manus, et uncos praeparant, dispositumque per tabulata militem, pendente gradu, et labente vestigio stare firmiter assuescunt, ut quod in simulacro pugnae didicerint, in vero certamine non pertimiscant. Ita et ego qui diu tacui (silere quippe me fecit, cui meus sermo supplicium est), prius exerceri cupio in parvo opere, et veluti quamdam rubiginem linguae abstergere, ut venire possim ad latiorem historiam. Scribere enim disposui (si tamen vitam Dominus dederit; et si vituperatores mei saltem fugientem me, et inclusum persequi desierint) ab adventu salvatoris usque ad nostram aetatem, id est, ab apostolis, usque ad nostri temporis faecem, quomodo et per quos Christi ecclesia nata sit, et adulta, persecutionibus creverit, et martyriis coronata sit; et postquam ad Christianos principes venerit, potentia quidem et divitiis maior, sed virtutibus minor facta sit. Verum haec alias. Nunc quod imminet explicemus.


II. Adolescentulus morabatur in Syria Hieronymus.

2. Maronia is a little hamlet some thirty miles to the east of Antioch in Syria. After having many owners or landlords, [at the time when I was staying as a young man in Syria [In the year 374. it came into the possession of my intimate friend, the Bishop Evagrius, [See Letters i. 15, iii. 3.] whose name I now give in order to show the source of my information. Well, there was at the place at that time an old man by name Malchus, which we might render “king,” a Syrian by race and speech, in fact a genuine son of the soil. His companion was an old woman very decrepit who seemed to be at death’s door, both of them so zealously pious and such constant frequenters of the Church, they might have been taken for Zacharias and Elizabeth in the Gospel but for the fact that there was no John to be seen. With some curiosity I asked the neighbours what was the link between them; was it marriage, or kindred, or the bond of the Spirit? All with one accord replied that they were holy people, well pleasing to God, and gave me a strange account of them. Longing to know more I began to question the man with much eagerness about the truth of what I heard, and learnt as follows.

Maronias triginta fere milibus ab Antiochia, urbe Syriae, haud grandis ad orientem distat viculus. Hic post multos vel dominos vel patronos, dum ego adulescentulus morarer in Syria, ad papae Euagrii necessarii mei possessionem devolutus est. Quem idcirco nunc nominavi, ut ostenderem, unde nossem, quod scripturus sum.  Erat illic quidam senex nomine Malchus, quem nos Latine « regem » possumus dicere, Syrus natione et lingua, ut revera eiusdem loci indigena. Anus quoque in eius contubernio, valde decrepita et iam morti proxima, videbatur. Tam studiose ambo religiosi et sic ecclesiae limen terentes, ut Zachariam et Elisabeth de evangelio crederes - nisi quod Ioannes in medio non erat. De his cum curiose ab accolis quaererem, quaenam esset eorum copula, matrimonii, sanguinis an spiritus, omnes voce consona sanctos et deo placitos et mira nescioquae respondebant. Qua cupiditate illectus adorsus sum hominem et curiosius sciscitans rerum fidem haec ab eo accepi.


III. Malchi historia.

3. My son, said he, I used to farm a bit of ground at Nisibis and was an only son. My parents regarding me as the heir and the only survivor of their race, wished to force me into marriage, but I said I would rather be a monk. How my father threatened and my mother coaxed me to betray my chastity requires no other proof than the fact that I fled from home and parents. I could not go to the East because Persia was close by and the frontiers were guarded by the soldiers of Rome; I therefore turned my steps to the West, taking with me some little provision for the journey, but barely sufficient to ward off destitution. To be brief, I came at last to the desert of Chalcis which is situate between Immæ and Beroa farther south. There, finding some monks, I placed myself under their direction, earning my livelihood by the labour of my hands, and curbing the wantonness of the flesh by fasting.

« Ego », inquit, « mi nate, Nisibeni agelli colonus, solus parentibus fui. Qui cum me quasi stirpem generis sui et heredem familiae ad nuptias cogerent, monachum potius me velle esse respondi. Quantis pater minis, quantis mater blanditiis persecuti sint, ut pudicitiam proderem, haec res sola indicio est, quod et domum et parentes fugi. Et quia ad orientem ire non poteram propter vicinam Persidem et Romanorum militum custodiam, ad occidentem verti pedes pauxillum nescioquid portans viatici, quod me ab inopia tantum defenderet. Quid multa? Perveni tandem ad eremum Calchidos, quae inter Immas et Beroeam magis ad austrum sita est. Ibi repertis monachis eorum me magisterio tradidi manuum labore victum quaeritans lasciviamque carnis refrenans ieiuniis.

After many years the desire came over me to return to my country, and stay with my mother and cheer her widowhood while she lived (for my father, as I had already heard, was dead), and then to sell the little property and give part to the poor, settle part on the monasteries and (I blush to confess my faithlessness) keep some to spend in comforts for myself. My abbot began to cry out that it was a temptation of the devil, and that under fair pretexts some snare of the old enemy lay hid. It was, he declared, a case of the dog returning to his vomit. Many monks, he said, had been deceived by such suggestions, for the devil never showed himself openly. He set before me many examples from the Scriptures, and told me that even Adam and Eve in the beginning had been overthrown by him through the hope of becoming gods. When he failed to convince me he fell upon his knees and besought me not to forsake him, nor ruin myself by looking back after putting my hand to the plough. Unhappily for myself I had the misfortune to conquer my adviser. I thought he was seeking not my salvation but his own comfort. So he followed me from the monastery as if he had been going to a funeral, and at last bade me farewell, saying, “I see that you bear the brand of a son of Satan. I do not ask your reasons nor take your excuses. The sheep which forsakes its fellows is at once exposed to the jaws of the wolf.”

Post multos annos incidit mihi cogitatio, ut ad patriam pergerem et, dum adhuc viveret mater (iam enim patrem mortuum audieram), solarer viduitatem eius et exinde venumdata possessiuncula partem erogarem pauperibus, partem monasterio constituerem - (quid erubesco confiteri infidelitatem meam?) partem in sumptuum meorum solacia reservarem. Ob hoc clamare coepit abbas meus diaboli esse temptationem et sub honestae rei occasione latere antiqui hostis astutias. Hoc esse canem reverti ad vomitum suum; sic multos monachorum deceptos; numquam diabolum aperta fronte se prodere. Proponebat mihi exempla de scripturis plurima, inter quae illud, quod initio Adam quoque et Evam spe divinitatis supplantaverit. Et cum persuadere non posset, provolutus genibus obsecrabat, ne se desererem, ne me perderem, ne aratrum tenens post tergum respicerem. Vae mihi misero: vici monitorem pessima victoria reputans illum non meam salutem, sed suum solacium quaerere. Prosecutus ergo me de monasterio, quasi funus efferret, et ad extremum valedicens « Video », ait, « te, fili, Satanae notatum cauterio. Non quaero causas; excusationes non recipio. Ovis, quae de ovili egreditur, lupi statim morsibus patet. »


IV. Captivus abducitur.

4. On the road from Beroa to Edessa adjoining the high-way is a waste over which the Saracens roam to and fro without having any fixed abode. Through fear of them travellers in those parts assemble in numbers, so that by mutual assistance they may escape impending danger. There were in my company men, women, old men, youths, children, altogether about seventy persons. All of a sudden the Ishmaelites on horses and camels made an assault upon us, with their flowing hair bound with fillets, their bodies half-naked, with their broad military boots, their cloaks streaming behind them, and their quivers slung upon the shoulders. They carried their bows unstrung and brandished their long spears; for they had come not to fight, but to plunder. We were seized, dispersed, and carried in different directions. I, meanwhile, repenting too late of the step I had taken, and far indeed from gaining possession of my inheritance, was assigned, along with another poor sufferer, a woman, to the service of one and the same owner. We were led, or rather carried, high upon the camel’s back through a desert waste, every moment expecting destruction, and suspended, I may say, rather than seated. Flesh half raw was our food, camel’s milk our drink.

De Beroea Edessam pergentibus vicina est publico itineri solitudo, per quam Saraceni incertis semper sedibus huc atque illuc vagantur. Quae suspicio frequentiam in illis locis viatorum congregat, ut imminens periculum auxilio mutuo declinetur. Erant in comitatu meo viri, feminae, senes, iuvenes, parvuli, numero circiter septuaginta. Et ecce: subito equorum camelorumque sessores Ismaelitae irruerunt crinitis vittatisque capitibus ac seminudo corpore, pallia et latas caligas trahentes. Pendebant ex umero pharetrae, et laxos arcus vibrantes hastilia longa portabant. Non enim ad pugnandum, sed ad praedandum venerant. Rapimur, dissipamur, in diversa distrahimur. Ego interim longo postliminio hereditarius possessor et sero mei consilii paenitens cum altera muliercula in unius heri servitutem sortitus venio. Ducimur, immo portamur sublimes in camelis et per vastam eremum semper ruinam timentes haeremus potius quam sedemus. Cibus semicrudae carnes, et lac camelorum potus erat.


V. Pascere oves iubetur.

5. At length, after crossing a great river we came to the interior of the desert, where, being commanded after the custom of the people to pay reverence to the mistress and her children, we bowed our heads. Here, as if I were a prisoner, I changed my dress, that is, learnt to go naked, the heat being so excessive as to allow of no clothing beyond a covering for the loins. Some sheep were given to me to tend, and, comparatively speaking, I found this occupation a comfort, for I seldom saw my masters or fellow slaves. My fate seemed to be like that of Jacob in sacred history, and reminded me also of Moses; both of whom were once shepherds in the desert. I fed on fresh cheese and milk, prayed continually, and sang psalms which I had learnt in the monastery. I was delighted with my captivity, and thanked God because I had found in the desert the monk’s estate which I was on the point of losing in my country.

Tandem grandi amne transmisso pervenimus ad interiorem solitudinem, ubi dominam liberosque ex more gentis adorare iussi cervices flectimus. Hic quasi clausus carcere mutato habitu, id est nudus ambulare disco; nam aeris intemperies praeter pudenda nihil aliud velari patiebatur. Traduntur mihi pascendae oves, et in malorum comparatione hoc fruor solacio, quod dominos meos et conservos rarius video. Videbar mihi aliquid habere sancti Iacob, recordabar Moysi, qui et ipsi in eremo pecorum quondam fuere pastores. Vescebar recenti caseo et lacte. Orabam iugiter canebamque psalmos, quos in monasterio didiceram. Delectabat me captivitas mea agebamque dei iudicio grates, quod monachum, quem in patria fueram perditurus, in eremo inveneram.


VI. Conservam in uxorem cogitur accipere.Virtus feminae captivae.

6. But no condition can ever shut out the Devil. How manifold past expression are his snares! Hid though I was, his malice found me out. My master seeing his flock increasing and finding no dishonesty in me (I knew that the Apostle has given command that masters should be as faithfully served as God Himself), and wishing to reward me in order to secure my greater fidelity, gave me the woman who was once my fellow servant in captivity. On my refusing and saying I was a Christian, and that it was not lawful for me to take a woman to wife so long as her husband was alive (her husband had been captured with us, but carried off by another master), my owner was relentless in his rage, drew his sword and began to make at me. If I had not without delay stretched out my hand and taken possession of the woman, he would have slain me on the spot.

O nihil umquam tutum apud diabolum! O multiplices et ineffabiles eius insidiae! Sic quoque me latentem invenit invidia. Dominus videns gregem suum crescere nihilque in me deprehendens fraudulentiae (sciebam enim apostolum praecepisse dominis sic quasi deo fideliter serviendum) et volens me remunerare, quo fidum sibi magis faceret, tradidit mihi illam conservam mecum aliquando captivam. Et cum ego refutarem diceremque me Christianum, nec mihi licere uxorem viventis accipere (siquidem captus nobiscum vir eius ab alio domino fuerat abductus), herus ille implacabilis in furorem versus evaginato me coepit appetere gladio. Et nisi festinus brachio tenere mulierem praeoccupassem, ilico fudisset sanguinem meum.

Well; by this time a darker night than usual had set in and, for me, all too soon. I led my bride into an old cave; sorrow was bride’s-maid; we shrank from each other but did not confess it. Then I really felt my captivity; I threw myself down on the ground, and began to lament the monastic state which I had lost, and said: “Wretched man that I am! have I been preserved for this? has my wickedness brought me to this, that in my gray hairs I must lose my virgin state and become a married man? What is the good of having despised parents, country, property, for the Lord’s sake, if I do the thing I wished to avoid doing when I despised them? And yet it may be perhaps the case that I am in this condition because I longed for home. What are we to do, my soul? are we to perish, or conquer? Are we to wait for the hand of the Lord, or pierce ourselves with our own sword? Turn your weapon against yourself; I must fear your death, my soul, more than the death of the body. Chastity preserved has its own martyrdom. Let the witness for Christ lie unburied in the desert; I will be at once the persecutor and the martyr.” Thus speaking I drew my sword which glittered even in the dark, and turning its point towards me said: “Farewell, unhappy woman: receive me as a martyr not as a husband.” She threw herself at my feet and exclaimed: “I pray you by Jesus Christ, and adjure you by this hour of trial, do not shed your blood and bring its guilt upon me. If you choose to die, first turn your sword against me. Let us rather be united upon these terms. Supposing my husband should return to me, I would preserve the chastity which I have learnt in captivity; I would even die rather than lose it. Why should you die to prevent a union with me? I would die if you desired it.

Iam venerat tenebrosior solito et mihi nimium matura nox. Duco in speluncam semirutam novam coniugem, et pronubante nobis tristitia uterque detestamur alterum, nec fatemur. Tunc vere sensi captivitatem meam prostratusque humi monachum coepi plangere, quem perdebam, dicens: « Huccine miser servatus sum? Ad hoc me mea scelera perduxerunt, ut incanescente iam capite virgo maritus fierem? Quid prodest parentes, patriam, rem familiarem contempsisse pro domino, si hoc facio, quod ne facerem, illa contempsi? - nisi quod forte propterea haec sustineo, quia patriam desideravi.  Quid agimus, anima? Perimus an vincimus? Exspectamus manum domini an proprio mucrone confodimur? Verte in te gladium! Tua magis mors timenda quam corporis est. Habet et pudicitia servata martyrium suum. Iaceat insepultus Christi testis in eremo. Ipse mihi ero et persecutor et martyr! » Fateor: obstipui, et admiratus virtutem feminae coniuge plus amavi. Numquam tamen illius nudum corpus intuitus sum, numquam eius carnem attigi timens in pace perdere, quod in proelio servaveram. Transeunt in tali matrimonio dies plurimi. Amabiliores nos dominis fecerant nuptiae. Nulla fugae suspicio; interdum et mense toto abibam fidus gregis pastor per solitudinem.

Take me then as the partner of your chastity; and love me more in this union of the spirit than you could in that of the body only. Let our master believe that you are my husband. Christ knows you are my brother. We shall easily convince them we are married when they see us so loving.” I confess, I was astonished and, much as I had before admired the virtue of the woman, I now loved her as a wife still more. Yet I never gazed upon her naked person; I never touched her flesh, for I was afraid of losing in peace what I had preserved in the conflict. In this strange wedlock many days passed away. Marriage had made us more pleasing to our masters, and there was no suspicion of our flight; sometimes I was absent for even a whole month like a trusty shepherd traversing the wilderness.

Sic fatus eduxi in tenebris micantem gladium et acumine contra me verso « Vale », inquam, « infelix mulier; habeto me martyrem potius quam maritum. » Tunc illa provoluta pedibus meis « Precor », inquit, « te per Iesum, per huius horae necessitatem rogo, ne effundas sanguinem tuum in crimen meum. Vel si mori placet, in me prius verte mucronem. Sic nobis potius coniungamur. Etiam si vir meus ad me rediret, servarem castitatem, quam me captivitas docuit, vel interirem, antequam perderem. Cur moreris, ne mihi iungaris? Ego morerer, si iungi velles. Habeto ergo me coniugem pudicitiae et magis animae copulam amato quam corporis. Sperent domini maritum; Christus noverit fratrem. Facile persuadebimus nuptias, cum nos viderint sic amare. »


VII. Formicarum exemplo excitatur.

7. After a long time as I sat one day by myself in the desert with nothing in sight save earth and sky, I began quickly to turn things over in my thoughts, and amongst others called to mind my friends the monks, and specially the look of the father who had instructed me, kept me, and lost me. While I was thus musing I saw a crowd of ants swarming over a narrow path. The loads they carried were clearly larger than their own bodies. Some with their forceps were dragging along the seeds of herbs: others were excavating the earth from pits and banking it up to keep out the water. One party, in view of approaching winter, and wishing to prevent their store from being converted into grass through the dampness of the ground, were cutting off the tips of the grains they had carried in; another with solemn lamentation were removing the dead. And, what is stranger still in such a host, those coming out did not hinder those going in; nay rather, if they saw one fall beneath his burden they would put their shoulders to the load and give him assistance. In short that day afforded me a delightful entertainment. So, remembering how Solomon sends us to the shrewdness of the ant and quickens our sluggish faculties by setting before us such an example, I began to tire of captivity, and to regret the monk’s cell, and long to imitate those ants and their doings, where toil is for the community, and, since nothing belongs to any one, all things belong to all.

Post grande intervallum, dum solus in eremo sedeo et praeter caelum terramque nihil video, coepi mecum tacitus volvere et inter multa monachorum quoque contubernii recordari maximeque vultus patris mei, qui me erudierat, tenuerat, perdiderat. Sicque cogitans aspicio formicarum gregem angusto calle fervere. Video onera maiora quam corpora. Aliae herbarum quaedam semina forcipe oris trahebant; aliae egerebant humum de foveis et aquarum meatus aggeribus excludebant. Illae venturae hiemis memores, ne madefacta humus in herbam horrea verteret, illata semina praecidebant; hae luctu celebri corpora defuncta portabant. Quodque magis mirum est in tanto agmine: egredientes non obstabant intrantibus; quin potius, si quam sub fasce vidissent et onere concidisse, suppositis umeris adiuvabant. Quid multa? Pulchrum mihi spectaculum dies illa praebuit. Unde recordatus Salomonis ad formicarum sollertiam nos mittentis et pigras mentes sub tali exemplo suscitantis coepi taedere captivitatis et monasterii cellulas quaerere ac formicarum illarum similitudinem desiderare, ubi laboratur in medium et, cum nihil cuiusquam proprium sit, omnibus omnia sunt.


VIII. Fugit.

8. When I returned to my chamber, my wife met me. My looks betrayed the sadness of my heart. She asked why I was so dispirited. I told her the reasons, and exhorted her to escape. She did not reject the idea. I begged her to be silent on the matter. She pledged her word. We constantly spoke to one another in whispers; and we floated in suspense betwixt hope and fear. I had in the flock two very fine he-goats: these I killed, made their skins into bottles, and from their flesh prepared food for the way. Then in the early evening when our masters thought we had retired to rest we began our journey, taking with us the bottles and part of the flesh. When we reached the river which was about ten miles off, having inflated the skins and got astride upon them, we intrusted ourselves to the water, slowly propelling ourselves with our feet, that we might be carried down by the stream to a point on the opposite bank much below that at which we embarked, and that thus the pursuers might lose the track. But meanwhile the flesh became sodden and partly lost, and we could not depend on it for more than three days’ sustenance. We drank till we could drink no more by way of preparing for the thirst we expected to endure, then hastened away, constantly looking behind us, and advanced more by night than day, on account both of the ambushes of the roaming Saracens, and of the excessive heat of the sun. I grow terrified even as I relate what happened; and, although my mind is perfectly at rest, yet my frame shudders from head to foot.

Regresso ad cubile occurrit mulier. Tristitiam animi vultu dissimulare non potui. Rogat, cur exanimatus sim. Audit causas. Hortor ad fugam; non aspernatur. Peto silentium; fidem tribuit, et iugi susurro inter spem et metum medii fluctuamus. Erant mihi in grege duo hirci mirae magnitudinis. Quibus occisis utres facio eorumque carnes viatico praeparo. Et primo vespere putantibus dominis nos secreto cubitare invadimus iter, utres et partem carnium portantes. Cumque pervenissemus ad fluvium (nam decem milibus aberat), inflatis ascensisque utribus aquis nos credimus paulatim pedibus subremigantes, ut deorsum nos flumine deferente et multo longius, quam conscenderamus, in alteram nos exponente ripam vestigium sequentes perderent. Sed inter haec madefactae carnes et ex parte lapsae vix tridui cibum pollicebantur. Bibimus usque ad satietatem futurae nos siti praeparantes. Currimus, post tergum semper aspicimus et magis noctibus promovemus quam diebus: vel propter insidias late vagantium Saracenorum vel propter ardorem solis nimium. Pavesco miser etiam referens, et si tota mente securus, toto tamen corpore perhorresco.


IX. Herus fugientem occupat.

9. Three days after we saw in the dim distance two men riding on camels approaching with all speed. At once foreboding ill I began to think my master purposed putting us to death, and our sun seemed to grow dark again. In the midst of our fear, and just as we realized that our footsteps on the sand had betrayed us, we found on our right hand a cave which extended far underground. Well, we entered the cave: but we were afraid of venomous beasts such as vipers, basilisks, scorpions, and other creatures of the kind, which often resort to such shady places so as to avoid the heat of the sun. We therefore barely went inside, and took shelter in a pit on the left, not venturing a step farther, lest in fleeing from death we should run into death. We thought thus within ourselves: If the Lord helps us in our misery we have found safety: if He rejects us for our sins, we have found our grave.

Post diem tertium dubio aspectu procul respicimus duos camelis insidentes venire concite. Statimque mens mali praesaga putare dominum, meditari mortem, solem cernere nigrescentem. Dumque timemus et vestigiis per arenas nos proditos intellegimus, offertur ad dexteram specus longe sub terram penetrans. Igitur timentes venenata animalia (solent quippe viperae, reguli et scorpiones ceteraque huiuscemodi fervorem solis declinantia umbras petere) intramus quidem speluncam. Sed statim in ipso introitu sinistrae nos foveae credimus nequaquam ultra progredientes, ne, dum mortem fugimus, incurramus in mortem, illudque nobiscum reputantes: si iuvat dominus miseros, habemus salutem; si despicit peccatores, habemus sepulcrum.

What do you suppose were our feelings? What was our terror, when in front of the cave, close by, there stood our master and fellow-servant, brought by the evidence of our footsteps to our hiding place? How much worse is death expected than death inflicted! Again my tongue stammers with distress and fear; it seems as if I heard my master’s voice, and I hardly dare mutter a word. He sent his servant to drag us from the cavern while he himself held the camels and, sword in hand, waited for us to come. Meanwhile the servant entered about three or four cubits, and we in our hiding place saw his back though he could not see us, for the nature of the eye is such that those who go into the shade out of the sunshine can see nothing. His voice echoed through the cave: “Come out, you felons; come out and die; why do you stay? Why do you delay? Come out, your master is calling and patiently waiting for you.” He was still speaking when lo! through the gloom we saw a lioness seize the man, strangle him, and drag him, covered with blood, farther in. Good Jesus! how great was our terror now, how intense our joy! We beheld, though our master knew not of it, our enemy perish. He, when he saw that he was long in returning, supposed that the fugitives being two to one were offering resistance. Impatient in his rage, and sword still in hand, he came to the cavern, and shouted like a madman as he chided the slowness of his slave, but was seized upon by the wild beast before he reached our hiding place. Who ever would believe that before our eyes a brute would fight for us?

Quid putas nobis fuisse animi, quid terroris, cum ante specum haud procul starent dominus et conservus et vestigio indice iam ad latebras pervenissent? O multo gravior exspectata quam illata mors! Rursus cum labore et timore lingua balbutit, et quasi clamante domino non audeo loqui. Mittit servum, ut nos de spelunca protrahat. Ipse camelos tenet et evaginato gladio nostrum exspectat adventum. Interea tribus ferme vel quattuor cubitis introgresso famulo, nobis ex occulto tergum eius videntibus (nam oculorum istiusmodi natura est, ut post solem umbras intrantibus caeca sint omnia) vox per antrum sonat: « Exite, furciferi, exite morituri! Quid statis, quid moramini? Exite! Dominus vos vocat. » Adhuc loquebatur - et ecce: per tenebras aspicimus leaenam invasisse hominem et gutture suffocato cruentum intro trahere. Iesu bone, quid tunc nobis terroris, quid gaudii fuit! Spectabamus hostem nostrum perire domino nesciente. Qui cum videret illum moras facere, suspicatus duos uni resistere, sed et iram differre non valens, sicut tenebat gladium, ad speluncam venit et clamore rabido servi increpans socordiam prius a fera tentus est, quam ad nostras latebras perveniret. Quis hoc umquam crederet, ut ante os nostrum pro nobis bestia dimicaret?

One cause of fear was removed, but there was the prospect of a similar death for ourselves, though the rage of the lion was not so bad to bear as the anger of the man. Our hearts failed for fear: without venturing to stir a step we awaited the issue, having no wall of defence in the midst of so great dangers save the consciousness of our chastity; when, early in the morning, the lioness, afraid of some snare and aware that she had been seen took up her cub in her teeth and carried it away, leaving us in possession of our retreat. Our confidence was not restored all at once. We did not rush out, but waited for a long time; for as often as we thought of coming out we pictured to ourselves the horror of falling in with her.

Sublato autem illo metu similis ante oculos nostros versabatur interitus, nisi quod tutius erat leonis rabiem quam iram hominum sustinere. Pavemus intrinsecus et ne movere quidem nos ausi praestolamur eventum rei inter tanta pericula, pudicitiae tantum conscientia pro muro saepti. Leaena insidias cavens et visam se esse sentiens apprehensum mordicus catulum matutina effert nobisque cedit hospitium. Neque tamen satis creduli statim erupimus, sed exspectamus diu et egredi cogitantes illius nobis semper figuramus occursum.


X. Periculo liberatus ad monachos redit.

10. At last we got rid of our fright; and when that day was spent, we sallied forth towards evening, and saw the camels, on account of their great speed called dromedaries, quietly chewing the cud. We mounted, and with the strength gained from the new supply of grain, after ten days travelling through the desert arrived at the Roman camp. After being presented to the tribune we told all, and from thence were sent to Sabianus, who commanded in Mesopotamia, where we sold our camels. My dear old abbot was now sleeping in the Lord; I betook myself therefore to this place, and returned to the monastic life, while I entrusted my companion here to the care of the virgins; for though I loved her as a sister, I did not commit myself to her as if she were my sister.

Sublato ergo terrore et illa transacta die eximus ad vesperam. Invenimusque camelos, quos ob nimiam velocitatem dromedarios vocant, praeteritos cibos in ore volvere et in alvum missos iterum retrahere. Quibus ascensis et nova sitarchia refocilati decima tandem die ad Romana per desertum castra pervenimus, oblatique tribuno rei ordinem pandimus. Inde transmissi ad Sabinianum, Mesopotamiae ducem, camelorum accepimus pretium. Et quia iam abbas ille meus dormierat in domino, ad haec delatus loca me monachis reddo. Hanc trado virginibus, diligens eam ut sororem, non tamen me ei credens ut sorori. »

Malchus was an old man, I a youth, when he told me these things. I who have related them to you am now old, and I have set them forth as a history of chastity for the chaste. Virgins, I exhort you, guard your chastity. Tell the story to them that come after, that they may realize that in the midst of swords, and wild beasts of the desert, virtue is never a captive, and that he who is devoted to the service of Christ may die, but cannot be conquered.

Haec mihi senex Malchus adulescentulo rettulit. Haec ego vobis narravi senex. Castis historiam castitatis expono. Virgines virginitatem custodire exhortor. Vos narrate posteris, ut sciant inter gladios, inter deserta et bestias pudicitiam numquam esse captivam et hominem Christo deditum posse mori, non posse superari.





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