Writings of Athanasius. Introduction to the de Sententia Dionysii

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Edited by Archibald Robertson
Principal of Bishop Hatfield's Hall, Durham, Late Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford

Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London

Published in 1892 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

Introduction to the de Sententia Dionysii.

The following tract, like the last, is a letter to a person engaged in discussion with Arians, who were openly finding fault with the Definition of Nicæa, and especially with the word Co-essential (§19). Montfaucon suggests that both epistles were addressed to the same person, the de Decretis (§25) having as it were challenged the Arians to cite passages from Dionysius on behalf of their own doctrine, whereupon their opponent came back to Athanasius with a request for further help. But the language of the first sentence of our present tract seems to imply that Athanasius had not previously heard of the discussions in question. However, slender as such grounds are, the tract furnishes no more decisive indication of date. (On certain expressions which might seem to carry the date back to the lifetime of Arius, see Prolegg. ch. ii. §7.)

Dionysius `the Great,' Bishop of Alexandria 233-265, was a pupil of Origen (Eus. H. E. vi. 29), and equally distinguished as a ruler of the Church and as a theologian. In all the controversies of his age (the lapsed, rebaptism, Easter, Paul of Samosata, Sabellianism, the authorship of the Apocalypse) his influence made itself felt, and his writings were very numerous (Westcott in D. C. B. i. p. 851 sq.; a good account of Dionysius in vol. I. of this series, p. 281 note). The most celebrated controversy in which he was involved was that which, a century later, gave rise to the tract before us.

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About the period when personal attacks on the Nicene leaders began to be exchanged for overt objections to the Nicene Definitions, the claim was freely made that `the fathers' had been condemned by the latter: in other words, that they had held with the Arians (see below §1, aei men prophaseis...nun de kai diaballein tous pateras tetolmekasi). Accordingly we find Athanasius at about the same date, viz. early in the sole reign of Constantius, vindicating on the one hand the work of the Council, on the other the orthodox reputation of Dionysius. The Arians found material for their appeal to the latter in a letter addressed by him to certain bishops in Pentapolis, called Ammon and Euphranor. Whether or no Sabellius had been a native of that province, at any rate his doctrine was at that time so popular there `that the Son of God was scarcely any longer preached in the Churches.' Exercising the right of supervision over those districts which had already become vested by prescription in the Alexandrian See, Dionysius wrote to Ammon, Bishop of Berenice, (Euseb. H. E. vii. 26, who enumerates three several letters to Ammon, Telesphorus, and Euphranor, and a fourth to Ammon and Euporus: he also refers to his letters to Dionysius of Rome: Montfaucon is therefore scarcely fair in charging Eusebius with suppressing the episode `ne verbum quidem de hac historia fecerit!') insisting on the distinctness of the Son from the Father. In doing so he used strong expressions akin to the language of Origen on the subordination of the Son. These expressions were at once objected to by certain orthodox churchmen (§13, it is not clear whether they belonged to Pentapolis or Alexandria), who without consulting Dionysius went to Rome (about 260), and spoke against him in the presence of his namesake, the Roman Bishop. The latter, true to the traditions of his See since the time of Callistus (see Hipp. Philos IX. vii. ditheoi este), while steering clear of Sabellianism, was especially jealous of error in the opposite direction. Accordingly he assembled a synod (de Synod. 44), and drew up a letter to Alexandria, in which he rebuked firstly the Sabellians, but secondly and more fully those who separate the Godhead or speak of the Son as a work, including under this category certain unnamed catechists and teachers of Alexandria (De Decr. 26). At the same time he wrote personally to Dionysius, informing him that he was accused of maintaining the opinions in question. In answer to this letter, Dionysius of Alexandria drew up a treatise in four books, entitled `Refutation and Defence,' and addressed to his namesake of Rome, in which he explained his language, and stated his belief in a manner which put an end to the controversy. He had been charged with maintaining that the Son was made, that He was not eternal (ouk aei en ho theos pater, ouk aei en ho huios,...ouk en prin gennethe, all' en pote hote ouk en k.t.l. §14), that he denied the co-essentiality (homoousion) of the Son, and separated Him from the Father (§16, 18, cf. § 4, xenon kat' ousian k.t.l). In his Refutation and Defence, Dionysius admits the use of these expressions, withdraws the first (§15, line 1) and admits the propriety of the homoousion, although he himself prefers Scriptural language (§ 18. The section shews the unfixed use of the word. Dionysius had formerly used ousia in the sense of prote ousia, nearly as equivalent to hupostasis: but now he clearly takes it as deutera ousia, indicative not of Person but of Nature). That the Son was made, he explains as an inadequate formula, the word being applicable (in one of its many senses) to the relation of son to father (§20. The defence of Athanasius, that Dionysius referred to the Human Nature of Christ, is scarcely tenable. It is not supported by what Dionysius himself says, rather the contrary: and if his language did not refer to the Trinity, where would be its relevancy against Sabellianism?). The words en hote ouk en, and ouk en prin gennethe, he does not explain, but professes his belief in the eternal union of the Word with the Father (§§24, 25). Lastly, he repudiates the charge of dividing the Holy Trinity, or of mentioning Father and Son as though separate Beings: When I mention the Father, I have already mentioned the Son, before I pronounce His Name (§17, the closing words of the section are a complete formula of agreement with all that his Roman namesake could possibly require of him).

That Dionysius in his `Refutation and Defence' merely restated, and did not (kat' oikonomian) alter, his theological position is open to no doubt. Athanasius, not the Arians, had the right to claim him as his own. He is clearly speaking optima fide when he deprecates the pressing of statements in which he had given expression to one side only, and that the less essential side, of his convictions. At the same time we cannot but see that the Arians had good prima facie ground for their appeal. Here were their special formulæ, those anathematised at Nicæa, en pote hote ouk en and the rest, adopted, and the homoousion implicitly rejected, by the most renowned bishop Alexandria had yet had. (Newman, in de Decr. 26, note 7, fails to appreciate the reference to the language of Dion. Alex.) Moreover it is only fair to admit that not only in language, but in thought also, Athanasius had advanced upon his predecessors of the Alexandrian School. The rude shock of Arianism had shewn him and the other Nicene leaders the necessity of greater consistency than had characterised the theology of Origen and his school, a consistency to be gained only by breaking with one side of it altogether. While on the one hand Origen held fast to the Godhead of the Logos (kat' ousian esti theos), and to His co-eternity with the Father (aei gennatai ho soter hupo tou patros, and see de Decr. §27); he had yet, using ousia in its `first' sense, spoken of Him as heteros kat' ousian tou patros (de Orat. 15), and placed him, after the manner of Philo, as an intermediary between God and the Universe. He had spoken of the unity of the Father and the Son as moral (Cels. viii. 12, te homonoi& 139; kai te sumphoni& 139;), insisted upon the huperoche of the Father (i.e. `subordination' of the Son), and spoken (De Orat) as though the highest worship of all were to be reserved for the Father (Jerome ascribes still stronger language to him). Yet there is no real doubt that, as regards the core of the question, Athanasius and not his opponents is the true successor of Origen. The essential difference between Athanasius and the `Conservatives' of the period following the great council consisted in the fact that the former saw clearly what the latter failed to realise, namely the insufficiency of the formulæ of the third century to meet the problem of the fourth. We may then, without disparagement to Dionysius, admit that he was not absolutely consistent in his language; that he failed to distinguish the ambiguities which beset the words ousia, hupostasis, and even poiein and genesthai, and that he used language (ouk en prin gennethe and the like) which we, with our minds cleared by the Arian controversy, cannot reconcile with the more deliberate and guarded statements of the `Refutation and Defence [965] .'

The controversy of the two Dionysii has another interesting side, as bearing upon the means then employed for dealing with questions affecting the Church as a whole,--and in particular upon the position of the Roman Church as the natural referee in such questions. (Cf. Prolegg. ch. iv. §4.) This is not the place for a general discussion of the question, or for an attempt to trace its history previous to the case before us. But it should be noted, firstly, that when the Pentapolite (?) opponents of Dionysius desire a lever against him, their first resource is not a council of local bishops, but the Roman Church: secondly, that the Roman bishop takes up the case, and writes to his Alexandrian namesake for an explanation: thirdly, that the explanation asked for is promptly given. Unfortunately the fragment of the Roman letter preserved to us by Athanasius tells us nothing of the form of the intervention, whether it was the request of one co-trustee to another for an explanation of the latter's action in a matter concerning their common trust, or whether it was coupled with any assumption of jurisdiction at all like that involved in the letter of the Bishop of Alexandria to those of Libya. At any rate, the latter alternative has no positive evidence in our documents; and the fragments of the Refutation and Defence `shew the most complete and resolute independence. There is nothing in the narrative of Athanasius which implies that the Alexandrine Bishop recognised or that the Roman Bishop claimed any dogmatic authority as belonging to the Imperial See.' The letter of Dionysius of Rome is certainly highly characteristic of the indifference to theological reasoning and the close adherence to the rule of faith as the authoritative solution of all questions of doctrine which marks the genius of Rome as contrasted with that of Alexandria (see Gore, The Church and the Ministry, ch. i. sub fin., and Harnack, Dg. i. 686, who observes upon the striking family likeness between this letter and that of Leo to Flavian, and of Agatho to the Sixth Ecumenical Council). Lastly, the Roman Church, which never troubled about a precedent adverse to her imperial instinct, never forgot one which favoured it. The intervention of Dionysius was treasured up in her memory, and, when the time came, fully exploited (supr. p. 113, note 3, where the note distinguishes somewhat too carefully between the `Pope' of Rome and the `Bishop,' papas, of Alexandria).

The tract of Athanasius, with his extracts in de Decr. and de Syn., tell us all that we know of the history of this important controversy. Dionysius had previously (Eus. H. E. vii. 6) had some correspondence with Xystus, the previous Bishop of Rome, on the subject of the Sabellian teaching current in the Pentapolis. He was in fact during his episcopate in constant communication with Rome and with the other important churches of the Christian World. His letters are much used in the sixth and seventh books of the History of Eusebius, to whom we are indebted for most of our knowledge of his writings.

The general arrangement of the tract is as follows:--

§1-4 are prefatory, the fourth section broadly indicates the line of the defence. §§5-12 deal with the incriminated passages: Athan. gives the history of them, and lays stress on their incomplete presentation of the belief of Dionysius, as having been written for a special purpose,--as may also be said of much of the language of the Apostles. But even in themselves the expressions of Dionysius are orthodox, referring (as Athanasius claims) to Christ as man. In §§13-23 he turns to the Refutation and Defence, from which he makes copious extracts, bringing out the diametrical opposition between Dionysius and the Arians. In §§24, 25 the anti-Arian doctrine of Dionysius is summed up, and §26 recapitulates the main points of §§5-12. He concludes (§27) by claiming a verdict upon the evidence, and urging upon the Arians the alternative of abandoning their error, or of being left with the devil as their only partisan.


Footnotes

[965] It may be added that the letter to Paul of Samosata quoted by Bull, Def. III. iv. 3, Petavius, Trin. I. iv. is not genuine. Posterity, which enveloped the name of Origen with storms of controversy, did not entirely spare his pupil: Basil (Ep. 41) taxes him with sowing the first seeds of the Anomoean heresy, Gennadius (Eccl. Dogm. iv.) calls him `Fons Arii.'

.

On the Opinion of Dionysius.

Letter of Athanasius concerning Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, shewing that he too was against the Arian heresy, like the Synod of Nicæa, and that the Arians in vain libel him in claiming him as on their side.

1. The Arian appeal to Dionysius a slander against him.

You have been tardy in informing me of the present argument between yourself and the enemies of Christ; for even before your courtesy wrote to me, I had made diligent enquiry, and learnt about the matter, of which I heard with pleasure. I approved of the right opinion entertained by your piety concerning our blessed fathers, while on the present occasion I once more recognise the unreasonableness of the Arian madmen. For whereas their heresy has no ground in reason, nor express proof from holy writ, they were always resorting to shameless subterfuges and plausible fallacies. But they have now also ventured to slander the fathers: and this is not inconsistent, but fully of a piece with their perversity. For what marvel is it if men who have presumed to `take counsel against the Lord and against His Christ,' are also vilifying the blessed Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, as a partisan and accomplice of their own? For if they are pleased to extol a man, for the support of their own heresy, even if they call him blessed, they cast upon him no slight affront, but a great one indeed; just like robbers or men of evil life who, when branded for their own practices, claim sober persons as being of their number, and thus defame their sober character.

2. The Arian position inconsistent with Holy Scripture.

If then they have confidence in their opinions and statements, let them broach their heresy nakedly, and shew from it if they think they have any religious argument whether from Scripture, or from human reason, in their defence. But if they have nothing of the kind, let them hold their peace. For they will find nothing from any quarter except the greater condemnation of themselves. Firstly from the Scriptures, in that John says, `In the beginning was the Word;' whereas they say, `he was not before he was begotten:' while David sings, in the character of the Father, `my heart uttered a good Word' (Ps. xlv. 1, LXX), whom they allege to be in thought only, and originated from nothing. Further, whereas John once more says in the Gospel (i. 3), `all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made,' while Paul writes, `there is one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things' (1 Cor. viii. 6), and elsewhere, `all things were created in Him' (Col. i. 16), how will they have the boldness (or rather how will they escape disgrace) to oppose the sayings of the saints, by saying that the artificer of all things is a creature, and that He is a created thing in whom all things created have come into being and subsist? Nor, secondly, is any religious argument from human reason left them in their defence. For what man, Greek or barbarian, presumes to call one, whom he confesses to be God, a created thing, or to say that he was not before he was made? or what man, when he has heard Him whom he believes to be God alone say, `This is My beloved Son' (Mat. iii. 17), and `my heart uttered a good Word,' will venture even to say that the Word out of the heart of God has come to being out of nothing? or that the Son is a created thing and not the very offspring of Him that speaks? or again, who that hears Him whom he believes to be Lord and Saviour say, `I am in the Father and the Father in Me,' and `I and the Father are one' (John xiv 10; x. 30), will presume to put asunder what He has made one and maintained indivisible?

3. The Arians appeal to Dionysius as the Jews did to Abraham: but with equally little reason.

Seeing this themselves, accordingly, and having no confidence in their own position, they utter falsehoods against religious men. But it would be better for them, when isolated, and perceiving that under examination they were at a loss and put to silence on all sides, rather to have turned back from the way of error and not to claim men whom they do not know, lest being confuted by them also they should carry off all the more disgrace. But perhaps they do not wish ever to depart from this wickedness of theirs; for they emulate this characteristic of Caiaphas and his party, just as they have learned from them to deny Christ. For they too, when the Lord had done so so many works, by which He shewed Himself to be the Christ the Son of the Living God, and being convicted by him, from thenceforth in all things thinking and speaking against the Scripture, and unable for a moment to face the proofs against themselves, betook themselves to the patriarch with the words, `We have Abraham to our father' (Matt. iii. 9), thus thinking to cloke their own unreasonableness. But neither did they gain anything by these words, nor will these men, by speaking of Dionysius, be able to escape the guilt of the others. For the Lord convicted the latter of their wicked deeds by the words, `This did not Abraham' (John viii. 40), while the same truth again shall convict these men of their impiety and falsehood. For the Bishop Dionysius did not hold with Arius, nor was he ignorant of the truth. On the contrary, both the Jews of that day, and the new Jews of the present day inherited their mad enmity against Christ from their father the devil. Well then, a strong proof that here once more these men are saying what is not true, but are maligning the man, is the fact that neither was he condemned and expelled from the church for impiety by other bishops, as these men have been from the clergy, nor did he of his own accord leave the church as the partisan of a heresy, but died honourably within it, and his memory is retained and registered along with the fathers to the present day. For if he had held with these men, or not vindicated what he had written, without doubt he too would have been treated as these men have been.

4. The Arian appeal to Dionysius based upon an isolated fragment of his teaching to the neglect of the rest.

And indeed this would suffice for the entire refutation of the new Jews, who both deny the Lord and slander the fathers and attempt to deceive all Christians. But since they think they have, in certain parts of the bishop's letter, pretexts for their slander of him, come let us look at these also, so that even from them the futility of the reasoning may be exposed, and they may at length cease from their blasphemy against the Lord, and at any rate with the soldiers (Mat. xxvii. 54), when they see creation witnessing, confess that truly He is the Son of God, and not one of created things. They say then that in a letter the blessed Dionysius has said, `that the Son of God is a creature and made, and not His own by nature, but in essence alien from the Father, just as the husbandman is from the vine, or the ship-builder from the boat, for that being a creature He was not before He came to be.' Yes, he wrote it, and we too admit that his letter runs thus. But just as he wrote this, he also wrote very many other letters, and they ought to consult those also; in order that the faith of the man may be made clear from them all, and not from this alone. For the art of a ship-builder who has constructed many triremes is judged of not from one, but from all. If therefore he simply wrote this letter of which they speak as an exposition of his faith, or if this was his only letter, let them accuse him to their hearts' content,--for this suggestion really amounts to an accusation,--but if he was led to write as he did by the occasion and the person [966] concerned, while he also wrote other letters, defending himself where he had been suspected, in that case they ought not to have neglected the reasons, and hastily cast a slur upon the man, lest they should appear to be hunting merely stray expressions, while passing over the truth to be found in his other letters. For a husbandman also treats trees of the same sort now in one way now in another, according to the character of the soil he has to do with: nor would any one blame him because he cuts one, grafts another, plants another, and another again takes up. On the contrary, upon learning the reason, he all the more admires the versatility of his skill. Well then, unless they have consulted the writing superficially let them state the main subject of the letter; for so the malignity and unscrupulous character of their design will come out. But since they do not know, or are ashamed to state it, we must state it ourselves.

5. The occasion of Dionysius' writing against the Sabellians.

At that date certain of the Bishops in Pentapolis, Upper Libya, held with Sabellius. And they were so successful with their opinions that the Son of God was scarcely any longer preached in the churches. Dionysius having heard of this, as he had the charge [967] of those churches, sends men to counsel the guilty ones to cease from their error, but as they did not cease, but waxed more shameless in their impiety, he was compelled to meet their shameless conduct by writing the said letter, and to expound from the Gospels the human nature of the Saviour, in order that since those men waxed bolder in denying the Son, and in ascribing His human actions to the Father, he accordingly by demonstrating that it was the Son and not the Father that was made man for us, might persuade the ignorant persons that the Father is not a Son, and so by degrees lead them up to the true Godhead of the Son and the knowledge of the Father. This is the main subject of the letter, and this is the reason why he wrote it, by reason of those who so shamelessly had chosen to alter the true faith.

6. Dionysius did not express his full opinion in the passages alleged.

Well then, what is there in common between the heresy of Arius and the opinion of Dionysius: or why is Dionysius to be called like Arius, when they differ widely? For the one is a teacher of the Catholic Church, while the other has been the inventor of a new heresy. And while Arius to expound his own error wrote a Thaleia in an effeminate and ridiculous style like Sotades the Egyptian, Dionysius not only wrote other letters also, but composed a defence of himself upon the suspicious points, and came out clearly as of right opinions. If then his writings are inconsistent, let them not draw him to their side, for on this assumption he is not worthy of credit. But if, when he had written his letter to Ammonius, and fallen under suspicion, he made his defence so as to better [968] what he had previously said, but did so without changing, it must be evident that he wrote the suspected passages in a qualified sense [969] . But what is written or done in such a sense men have no business to construe maliciously, or wrest each one to a meaning of his own. For even a physician frequently in accordance with his knowledge applies to the wounds he has to deal with, remedies which to some seem unsuitable with a view to nothing but health. In like manner it is the practice of a wise teacher to arrange and deliver his lessons with reference to the characters of his pupils, until he has brought them over to the way of perfection.

7. The language of the Apostles needs similar caution in particular passages.

But if they accuse the blessed man (for the arguments of the Arians about him are in fact accusations against him) simply for writing thus, what will they do when they hear even the great and blessed Apostles in the Acts, firstly Peter saying (Acts ii. 22), `Ye men of Israel hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto us by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know: Him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay;' and again (ib. iv. 10), `In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom ye crucified, Whom God raised from the dead, even in Him doth this man stand here before you whole;' and Paul, relating (ib. xiii. 22) in Antioch of Pisidia how God, `when He had removed Saul, raised up David to be king; to whom also He bare witness and said, I have found David the Son of Jesse, a man after my heart, who shall do My will. Of this man's seed hath God according to promise brought unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus;' and again at Athens (ib. xvii. 30), `The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now He commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by means of the man whom He hath ordained, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead;' or Stephen, the great martyr, when he says, `Behold I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.' Why, it is high time for them to brazen it out (for there is nothing too daring for them) and claim that the very apostles held with Arius: for they declare Christ to have been a man from Nazareth, and passible.

8. The Apostles spoke of Christ as man, but also as God.

Well then, such being the imaginations of these men, did the Apostles, since they used the above language, regard Christ as only a man and nothing more? God forbid. The very idea is out of the question. But here too they have acted as wise master-builders and stewards of the mysteries of God. And they have good reason for it. For inasmuch as the Jews of that day, in error themselves and misleading the Gentiles, thought that the Christ was coming as a mere man of the seed of David, after the likeness of the rest of the children of David's descent, and would neither believe that He was God nor that the Word was made flesh; for this reason it was with much wisdom that the blessed Apostles began by proclaiming to the Jews the human characteristics of the Saviour, in order that by fully persuading them from visible facts, and from miracles which were done, that the Christ was come, they might go on to lead them up to faith in His Godhead, by shewing that the works He had done were not those of a man but of God. Why, Peter, who calls Christ a man capable of suffering, at once went on (Acts iii. 15) to add, `He is Prince of Life,' while in the Gospel he confesses, `Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' But in his Epistle he calls Him Bishop of souls and Lord both of himself and of angels and Powers. Paul, again, who calls Christ a man of the seed of David, wrote thus to the Hebrews (i. 3), `Who being the brightness of His glory and the very image of His subsistence,' and to the Philippians (ii. 6), `Who being in the form of God counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God.' But what can it mean to call him Prince of Life, Son of God, brightness, express image, on an equality with God, Lord, and Bishop of souls, if not that in the body He was Word of God, by whom all things were made and is as indivisible from the Father as is the brightness from the light?

9. Dionysius must be interpreted like the Apostles.

And Dionysius accordingly acted as he learned from the Apostles. For as the heresy of Sabellius was creeping on, he was compelled, as I said before, to write the aforesaid letter, and to hurl at them what is said of the Saviour in reference to His manhood and His humiliation, so as to bar them by reason of His human attributes from saying that the Father was a son, and so render easier for them the teaching concerning the Godhead of the Son, when in his other letters he calls Him from the Scriptures the word, wisdom, power, breath (Wisd. vii. 25), and brightness of the Father. For example, in the letters written in his defence, speaking as I have described, he waxes bold in the faith, and in piety towards Christ. As then the Apostles are not to be accused by reason of their human language about the Lord,--because the Lord has been made man,--but are all the more worthy of admiration for their wise reserve and seasonable teaching, so Dionysius is no Arian on account of his letter to Euphranor and Ammonius against Sabellius. For even if he did use humble phrases and examples, yet they too are from the Gospels, and his justification for them is the Saviour's coming in the flesh, on account of which not only these things, but others like them are written. For just as He is Word of God, so afterwards `the Word was made flesh;' and while `in the beginning was the Word; the Virgin at the consummation of the ages conceived, and the Lord has become man. And He who is indicated by both statements is one Person, for `the Word was made flesh.' But the expressions used about His Godhead, and His becoming man, are to be interpreted with discrimination and suitably to the particular context. And he that writes of the human attributes of the Word knows also what concerns His Godhead: and he who expounds concerning His Godhead is not ignorant of what belongs to His coming in the flesh: but discerning each as a skilled and `approved money-changer [970] ,' he will walk in the straight way of piety; when therefore he speaks of His weeping, he knows that the Lord, having become man, while he exhibits his human character in weeping, as God raises up Lazarus; and He knows that He used to hunger and thirst physically, while divinely He fed five thousand persons from five loaves; and knows that while a human body lay in the tomb, it was raised as God's body by the Word Himself.

10. The expressions of Dionysius claimed by the Arians refer to Christ as Man.

Dionysius, teaching exactly thus, in his letter to Euphranor and Ammonius wrote in view of Sabellius concerning the human predicates of the Saviour. For to the latter class belong the sayings, `I am the Vine and My Father the Husbandman' (Joh. xv. 1), and `faithful to Him that made Him' (Heb. iii. 2), and `He created me' (Prov. viii. 22), and `made so much better than the angels' (Heb. i. 4). But He was not ignorant of the passages, `I am in the Father and the Father in Me' (Joh. xiv. 10), and `He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.' For we know that he mentioned them in his other Epistles. For while mentioning them there, he made mention also of the human attributes of the Lord. For just as `being in the form of God He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave' (Phil. ii. 6), and `though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor,' so while there are high and rich descriptions of His Deity, there are also those which relate to His coming in the flesh, humble expressions and poor. But that these are used of the Saviour as man is apparent on the following grounds. The husbandman is different in essence from the vine, while the branches are of one essence and akin to it, and are in fact undivided from the vine, it and they having one and the same origin. But, as the Lord said, He is the vine, we are the branches. If then the Son is of one essence with ourselves, and has the same origin as we, let us grant that in this respect the Son is diverse in essence from the Father, like as the vine is from the husbandman. But if the Son is different from what we are, and He is the Word of the Father while we are made of earth, and are descendants of Adam, then the above expression ought not to be referred to the deity of the Word, but to His human coming. Since thus also has the Saviour said: `I am the vine, ye are the branches, My Father is the husbandman.' For we are akin to the Lord according to the body, and for that reason he said (Heb. ii. 12, Ps. xxii. 22), `I will declare thy name unto my brethren.' And just as the branches are of one essence with the vine, and are from it, so we also having our bodies homogeneous with the Lord's body, receive of His fulness (Joh. i. 16), and have that body as our root [971] for our resurrection and our salvation. But the Father is called the husbandman, for He it was who by His Word cultivated the Vine, namely the manhood of the Saviour, and who by His own Word prepared for us a way to a kingdom; and none cometh to the Lord except the Father draw him to Him (Joh. vi. 44).

11. The same is true of the analogous language of the Apostles.

This then being the sense of the expression, it follows that it is of the vine, so understood, that it is written: `Who was faithful to Him that had created Him' (Heb. iii. 2), and `made so much better than the angels' (ib. i. 4), and `He created me' (Prov. viii. 22). For when He had taken that which He had to offer on our behalf, namely His body of the Virgin Mary, then it is written of Him that He had been created, and formed, and made: for such phrases are applicable to men. Moreover not after (His taking) the body has He been made better than the angels, lest He should appear to have been previously less than or equal to them. But writing to Jews, and comparing the human ministry of the Lord to Moses, he said, `having been made so much better than the angels,' for by means of angels the law was spoken, because `the law was given by Moses, but grace came by Jesus Christ' (Joh. i. 17), and the gift of the Spirit. And whereas in those days the law was preached from Dan to Beersheba, now `their sound is gone out into all lands' (Rom. x. 18; Ps. xix. 3), and the Gentiles worship Christ, and through Him know the Father. The above things then are written of the Saviour as man, and not otherwise.

12. The passages alleged from Dionysius are, when rightly understood, strictly orthodox.

Well then, did Dionysius, as the adversaries of Christ reiterate, when writing of the human characteristics of the Son, and so calling Him a creature, mean that he was one man among others? Or when he said that the Word was not proper to the essence of the Father, did he hold that He was of one essence with us men? Certainly he did not write thus in his other epistles. but in them not only manifests a correct opinion, but as good as cries out by them against these people, saying as it were: I am not of the same opinion as you, you adversaries of God, nor did my writings furnish Arius with a pretext for impiety. But writing to Ammon and Euphranor on account of the Sabellianisers, I made mention of the vine and the husbandman and used other like expressions, in order that, by pointing out the human characteristics of the Lord, I might persuade those men not to say that it is the Father who was made man. For like as the husbandman is not the vine, so He that came in the body was not the Father but the Word; and the Word having come to be in the Vine was called the Vine, because of His bodily kinship with the branches, namely ourselves. In this sense, then, I wrote as I did to Euphranor and Ammonius, but your shamelessness I confront with the other letters written by me, so that men of sound mind may know the defence they contain, and my right mind in the faith of Christ. The Arians then ought, if their intelligence were sound, thus to have thought and held concerning the Bishop: `for all things are manifest to them that understand, and right to them that find knowledge' (Prov. viii. 9). But since, not having understood the faith of the Catholic Church, they have fallen into impiety, and consequently, maimed in their intelligence, think that even straight things are crooked and call light darkness, while they think that darkness is light, it is necessary to quote also from the other letters of Dionysius, and state why they were written, to the greater condemnation of the heretic. For it was from them that we ourselves have learned to think and write as we are doing about the man.

13. But other writings of Dionysius have to be considered also. Their history.

The following is the occasion of his writing the other letters. The Bishop Dionysius having heard of the affairs in Pentapolis and having written, in zeal for religion, as I said above, his letter to Euphranor and Ammonius against the heresy of Sabellius, some of the brethren belonging to the Church, of right opinions, but without asking him, so as to learn from himself how he had written, went up to Rome; and they spoke against him in the presence of his namesake Dionysius the Bishop of Rome. And he, upon hearing it, wrote simultaneously against the partisans of Sabellius and against those who held the very opinions for uttering which Arius was cast out of the Church; calling it an equal and opposite impiety to hold with Sabellius, or with those who say that the Word of God is a thing made and formed and originated. And he wrote also to Dionysius to inform him of what they had said about him. And the latter straightway wrote back, and inscribed his books `a Refutation and a Defence.' Here mark the detestable gang of the adversaries of Christ, and how they themselves have stirred up their disgrace against themselves. For Dionysius, Bishop of Rome, having written also against those who said that the Son of God was a creature and a created thing, it is manifest that not now for the first time but from of old the heresy of the Arian adversaries of Christ has been anathematised by all. And Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, making his defence concerning the letter he had written, appears in his turn as neither thinking as they allege, nor having held the Arian error at all.

14. Object and general method of Dionysius in his `Refutation and Defence.'

And the mere fact of Dionysius having made his defence about the matters on which these people harp suffices completely to condemn the Arians, and to demonstrate their malignity. For he wrote, not in angry controversy, but to defend himself on the points where he was under suspicion. But in defending himself against charges, what does he do if not, while disposing of every charge of which he was suspected, by this very fact convict the Arian madmen of malignity? But, to complete their confusions by means of what he wrote in his defence, come, let me set before you his actual words. For from them you will learn firstly that the Arians are malicious, secondly that Dionysius has nothing to do with their error. To begin with, then, he wrote his letter as in Refutation and in Defence. But this means, surely, that he aims at refuting false statements, and defends himself for what he has written; shewing that he wrote not as Arius supposed, but that in mentioning what is said concerning the Lord in His human aspect, he was not ignorant that He was the Word and Wisdom undivided from the Father. Then he blames those who spoke against him for not quoting his language as a whole, but garbling it, and speaking not in good faith but disingenously and arbitrarily. And he compares them to those who used to impeach the letters of the blessed Apostle. But this complaint of his entirely clears him from sinister suspicion. For if he considers the detractors of Paul to be like his own, he shews precisely this, that he wrote as he did in Paul's sense. At any rate, in meeting severally the charges of his opponents, he explains all the passages cited by them: and, whereas in these latter he upsets Sabellius, in his subsequent letters he shews how sound and pious is his own faith. Accordingly whereas they would have it that Dionysius held that `God was not always a Father, the Son did not always exist, but God existed apart from the Word, while the Son Himself was not before He was begotten: on the contrary, there was a time when He was not, for He is not eternal but has come later into being,'--see how he replies! Most of what he said, whether in the form of investigations, or collective inferences, or interrogatory refutations, or charges against his accusers, I omit because of the length of his discourses, inserting only what is strictly relevant to the charges against him. In answer to these, he writes after certain prefatory matter, in the first book inscribed `Refutation and Defence' in the following terms.

15. Extracts from the `Refutation and Defence.'

`For never was there a time when God was not a father.' And this he acknowledges in what follows, `that Christ is for ever, being Word and Wisdom and Power. For it is not to be supposed that God, having at first no such issue, afterwards begat a Son, but that the Son has His being not of Himself but of the Father.' And a little way on he adds on the same subject, `But being the brightness of light eternal, certainly He is Himself eternal; for as the light exists always, it is evident that the brightness must exist always as well. For it is by the fact of its shining that the existence of light is perceived, and there cannot be light that does not give light. For let us come back to our examples. If there is sun, there is sunlight, there is day. If there is none of these things, it is quite impossible for there to be sun. If then the sun were eternal, the day also would be unceasing. But in fact, as that is not so, the day begins and ceases with the sun. But God is light eternal, never beginning nor ceasing. The brightness then lies before Him eternally, and is with Him without beginning and ever-begotten, shining in His Presence, being that Wisdom which said, "I was that wherein he rejoiced, and daily I was glad in his presence at all times" (Prov. viii. 30).' And again after a little he resumes the same subject with the words, `The Father then being eternal, the Son is eternal, being Light of Light: for if there is a parent there is also a child. But if there were not a child, how and of whom can there be a parent? But there are both, and that eternally.' Then again he adds, `God then being light, Christ is brightness; and being Spirit, for "God is a Spirit" (John iv. 24),--in like manner Christ is called the breath, for He is the "breath of the power of God" (Wisd. vii. 25).' And again, to quote the second book, he says, `But only the Son, who always is with the Father and is filled of Him that IS, Himself also IS from the Father.'

16. Contrast of the language of Dionysius with that of Arius.

Now if the sense of the above statements were doubtful, there would be need of an interpreter. But since he wrote plainly and repeatedly on the same subject, let Arius gnash his teeth when he sees his own heresy subverted by Dionysius, and hears him say what he does not wish to hear: `God was always Father, and the Son is not absolutely eternal, but His eternity flows from the eternity of the Father, and He coexists with Him as brightness with the light.' But let these, who have so much as imagined that Dionysius held with Arius, lay aside such a slander against him. For what have they in common, when Arius says, `The Son was not before He was begotten, but there was once a time when He was not,' whereas Dionysius teaches, `Now God is Light eternal, neither beginning, nor ever to end: accordingly the brightness lies before Him eternally, and coexists with Him, shining before Him without beginning and ever-begotten.' For in fact to meet the suspicion of others who allege that Dionysius in speaking of the Father does not name the Son, and again in speaking of the Son does not name the Father, but divides, removes, and separates the Son from the Father, he replies and puts them to shame in the second book, as follows.

17. Dionysius did not separate the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

`Each of the names I have mentioned is inseparable and indivisible [972] from that next to it. I spoke of the Father, and before referring to the Son I designated Him too in the Father. I referred to the Son,--and even if I did not also expressly mention the Father, certainly He was to be understood beforehand in the Son. I added the Holy Spirit, but at the same time I further added both whence and through whom He proceeded. But they are ignorant that neither is the Father, qua Father, separated from the Son,--for the name carries that relationship with it,--nor is the Son expatriated from the Father. For the title Father denotes the common bond. But in their hands is the Spirit, who cannot be parted either from Him that sent or from Him that conveyed Him: How then can I, who use these names, imagine that they are sundered and utterly [973] separated from one another?' And after a little he goes on, `Thus then we extend the Monad [974] indivisibly into the Triad, and conversely gather together the Triad without diminution into the Monad.'

18. Dionysius did not hold that the Son was not of one essence with the Father.

Next he confutes them upon their charge that he called the Son one of the things originated, and not of one essence with the Father (once more in the first book) as follows: `Only in saying that certain things were perceived to be originated and created, I gave them as examples cursorily, as being less adequate, saying that neither was the plant [of one essence] with the husbandman, nor the boat with its builder. Then I dwelt more upon more apposite and suitable comparisons, and went at greater length into those nearer the truth, making out various proofs, which I wrote to you [975] in another letter, by means of which proofs I shewed also that the charge they allege against me is untrue, namely, that I denied Christ to be of one essence with God. For even if I argue that I have not found this word (homoousion) nor read it anywhere in the Holy Scriptures, yet my subsequent reasonings, which they have suppressed, do not discord with its meaning. For I gave the example of human birth evidently as being homogeneous, and saying that certainly the parents only differed from their children in not being themselves the children, else it would follow that there was no such thing as parents or children. And the letter, as I said before, I am prevented by circumstances from producing, else I would have sent you the exact words I then used, or rather a copy of all the letter: which I will do if I have an opportunity. But I know, and recollect, that I added several similitudes from kindred relations. For I said that a plant, sprung from a seed or root, was different from that whence it sprung, and at the same time entirely of one nature with it: and that a stream flowing from a well receives another form and name,--for the well is not called a river, nor the river a well,--and that both existed, and that the well was as it were a father, while the river was water from the well. But they pretend not to see these and the like written statements, but to be as it were blind, while they try to pelt me with two unconnected expressions like stones, from a distance, not knowing that in matters beyond our knowledge, and which require training to apprehend, frequently not only foreign, but even contrary examples serve to illustrate the problem in hand.' And in the third book he says, `Life was begotten of Life, and flowed as a river from a well, and from Light unquenchable bright Light was kindled.'

19. Inconsistency of the Arian appeal to Dionysius.

Who that hears this will not set down as mad those who suspect Dionysius of holding with Arius? For lo! in these words, by arguments based on truth, he tramples upon his entire heresy. For by the simile of the Brightness he destroys the statements that `He was not before He was begotten,' and `There was a time when He was not,' as also by saying that His Father was never without issue. But their allegation that He was made `of nothing' he destroys by saying that the Word was like a river from a well, and a shoot from a stock, and a child from a parent, and Light from Light, and Life from Life. And their barring off and separating the Word from God, he overthrows by saying that the Triad is without division and without diminution gathered together into the Monad. While their statement that the Son has no part in the Father's essence, he unequivocally tramples down by saying that the Son is of one essence with the Father. Wherein one must wonder at the impudence of the irreligious persons. How can they, when Dionysius whom they claim as their partisan says that the Son is of one essence [976] , themselves go about buzzing like gnats with the complaint that the Synod was wrong in writing `of one essence?' For if Dionysius is a friend of theirs, let them not deny what their partisan holds. But if they think that the expression was wrongly used, how can they reiterate that Dionysius, who used it, held with them? the more so as he does not appear to have written these things merely by the way, but having previously written other letters [977] , he convicts of falsehood those who had charged him with not saying that the Son was of one Essence with the Father, while he refutes those who thought that he said that the Word was originated, shewing that he did not hold what they supposed, but even if he had used the expressions, he had done so merely in order to shew that it was the Son, not the Father, who had put on the originated, formed, created body; for which reason the Son also is said to have been originated, created, and formed.

20. Dionysius must be fairly interpreted, and allowed the benefit of his own explanatory statements.

Clearly since he had previously used such expressions, while bidding a long farewell to the Arians, he demands a good conscience from his hearers,--being entitled to plead the difficulty, or perhaps one may say the incomprehensibleness of the problems concerned,--namely that they may judge not of the words but of the meaning of the writer, and the more so as there is very much to shew his intention. For instance he says himself: `I used the examples of such relations cursorily, as being less adequate, the plant and the husbandman for instance; while I dwelt upon the more pertinent examples, and went at greater length into those nearer the truth.' But a man who says this shews that it is nearer the truth to say that the Son is eternal and of the Father, than to say that He is originated. For by the latter the bodily nature of the Lord is denoted, but by the former, the eternity of His Godhead. In the following words, for instance, he maintains, and not only so, but deliberately and with genuine demonstrative force, that they are refuted who charged him with not saying that the Son is of one essence with the Father: `even if I did not find this expression in the Scriptures, yet collecting from the actual Scriptures their general sense, I knew that, being Son and Word, He could not be outside the Essence of the Father.' For that he does not hold the Son to be a thing created or formed,--for on this point also they have quoted him repeatedly--he says in the second book as follows: `But if any one of my traducers, because I called God the Creator the maker of all things, thinks that I mean that He is Maker of Christ also, let him mark that I previously called Him Father, in which term the Son also is implied. For after I said that the Father is Maker, I added neither is He Father of the things He created, if He that begat is to be called Father in the strict sense. For the wider sense of the term Father we will work out in what follows. Neither is the Father a maker, if by maker is meant simply the artificer. For among the Greeks, philosophers are called "makers" of their own discourses. And the Apostle speaks of a "doer" (poietes) "of the law" (Rom. ii. 13), for men are called "doers" of inward qualities, such as virtue and vice; as God said, "I looked for one to do justice, but he did wickedness "' (Isa. v. 7, LXX).

21. In what sense Dionysius said that the Son was `made.'

Of a truth one that hears this is reminded of the divine oracle which says, `whithersoever the impious turns, he is destroyed' (Prov. xii. 7, LXX). For lo! turning subtly in each direction these impious men are destroyed, having even here no excuse as touching Dionysius. For he teaches openly that the Son is not a thing made or created, while he taxes and corrects those who accuse him of having said that God was the creator (of Christ), in that they failed to notice that he had previously spoken of God as Father, in which expression the Son also is implied. But in saying thus, he shews that the Son is not one of the creatures, and that God is not the maker but the Father of His own Word. And since certain had ignorantly objected to him that he called God the maker of Christ, he defends himself in various ways, shewing that not even here is what he said open to blame. For he had said that God was the maker of Christ in regard to His flesh, which the Word took, and which was in itself created. But if any one were to suspect that this referred to the Word, here too they were bound to give him a fair hearing. `For as I do not hold that the Word is a creature, and call God not His maker but His Father, even if I in passing, while referring to the Son, call God a creator, yet even here I am able to defend myself. For the Greek philosophers call themselves makers (poietai) of their own discourses (logoi), although they are their fathers; while the Divine Scripture describes us as makers (doers) even of the motions of our hearts, speaking of "doers" of the law and of judgment and justice.' So that on all sides he demonstrates not only that the Son is not a thing made or created, but also that he himself has nothing to do with Arian error.

22. The relation of the Son to the Father is essential, according to Dionysius.

For let not any Arian suppose that he says even anything of the following kind: The Son coexists with the Father, so that while the names are correlated, the things are widely removed; and whereas the Son did not always coexist with the Father, since the Son came into being, God received from that fact the additional name of Father, and His coexistence with Him dates from that time as happens in the case of men. On the contrary, let him observe and bear in mind what we have said before, and he will see that the faith of Dionysius is correct. For in saying, `For there was no time when God was not Father,' and again, `God at any rate is light eternal without beginning nor ever to end, accordingly the brightness is eternally before Him and coexists with Him, without beginning and ever-begotten, shining in His presence,' he should make it impossible for any one to entertain any such suspicion against him. Moreover the examples of the well and the river, and the root and the branch, and the breath and the vapour, put to shame the adversaries of Christ when they reiterate the contrary against him.

23. Dionysius did not hold that there are two Words.

But since in addition to all his own iniquities Arius has raked up this expression also as if from a dunghill, adding that, `The Word is not the Father's own, but the Word that is in God is different, while this one, the Lord, is outside of and has nothing to do with the Essence of the Father, and is only called "Word" conceptually [978] , and is not by nature and of a truth Son of God, but is called Son, He too, by adoption, as a creature;'--and since saying thus he boasts among the ignorant as though here too he has Dionysius as his partisan;--look at the faith of Dionysius on these points also, how he contradicts these perversities of Arius. For in the first book he writes as follows: `Now I have said that God is the well of all that is good: while the Son has been described as the river which proceeds from Him. For word is an efflux of intelligence, and, to borrow language applicable to men, the intelligence that issues by the tongue is derived from the heart through the mouth, coming out different from the word in the heart. For the latter remains, after sending forth the other, as it was. But the other is sent forth and flies forth, and is borne in every direction. And so each is in the other, and each distinct from the other: and they are one and at the same time two. Likewise the Father and the Son were said to be one, and the One in the other.' And in the fourth book he says: `For as our intelligence utters the word from itself, as the prophet says, My heart uttered a good word (Ps. xlv. 1), and, while either is distinct from the other, occupying a place of its own distinct from the other, the one dwelling and stirring in the heart, the other upon the tongue,--yet they are not separated, not for a moment lost to one another, nor is the intelligence without utterance (alogos), nor the word without intelligence, but the intelligence creates the Word being manifested in it, and the Word shews forth the intelligence having originated in it, and the intelligence is as it were an internal word, and the word an issuing intelligence; the intelligence passing over into the word, while the word circulates the intelligence among the hearers: and so the intelligence through the word gains a lodgment in the souls of the hearers, entering in along with the word; and the intelligence is as it were the father of the word, existing in itself, while the word is as it were the son of the intelligence, having its origin, not of course before the latter, nor yet concurrently with it from some external source, but by springing out of it;--so the mighty Father and universal Intelligence has the Son before all things as His Word, Interpreter and Messenger.'

24. If the Arians agree with Dionysius let them use his language.

These things Arius either never heard, or heard and in his ignorance did not understand. For otherwise, had he understood, he would not have so grossly libelled the Bishop, but certainly would revile him also, as he did ourselves, because of his hatred of the truth. For being an adversary of Christ, he will not hesitate to persecute also those who hold the doctrine of Christ, as the Lord Himself has said beforehand: `If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you' (Joh. xv. 20). Or, if the leaders of impiety think Dionysius was a partisan of theirs, let them write and confess what he did. Let them write about the vine and the husbandman, the boat and the shipbuilder; and let them at the same time confess, as he did in his defence, the Unity of Essence, and that the Son is of the Father's Substance, and eternal; and the relation of intelligence and word, and the well and the river, and the rest; in order that they may see from the very contrast that he used the former class of language for a special purpose, but the latter as expressing the full meaning of the Christian Faith. And consequently let them, by adopting this language, revoke what they have held inconsistently with it. For in what way does the faith of Dionysius even approximate to the mischief of Arius? Does not Arius restrict the term Word to a conceptual sense, while Dionysius calls Him the true Word of God by nature? and while the one banishes the Word from the Father, the other teaches that He is the Father's own, and inseparable from His Essence, as the word is to the intelligence and the river to the well. If then any one is able to separate and banish the word from the intelligence, or to put asunder the river and the well, and wall them off, or to say that the river is of another essence than the well, and to shew that the water is from elsewhere, or ventures to divide the brightness from the light and to say that the brightness is from another essence, then let him join Arius in his madness. For such an one will cease to have the semblance even of human intelligence. But if Nature knows that these are indivisible, and that the offspring of those objects is their very own, then let no one any longer hold with Arius or slander Dionysius, but rather on these grounds admire the plainness of his language and the correctness of his faith.

25. The teaching of Dionysius on the Word (continued).

For with reference to the madness of Arius when he says that the Word which is in God is distinct from that one of which John said, `In the beginning was the Word' (Joh. i. 1), and that God's own wisdom within Himself is not the same as that to which the Apostle refers as `Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God' (1 Cor. i. 24), Dionysius resists and denounces any such error, as you may see in the second book where he writes on the subject as follows: `"In the beginning was the Word;" but it was not Word that sent forth the Word, for "the Word was with God." The Lord has been made wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. i. 30): He then that sent out Wisdom was not Wisdom, for "I was she," saith Wisdom, "in whom He delighted." Christ is truth: but "Blessed," saith He, "be the God of truth"' (1 Esdr. iv. 40). There He overthrows both Sabellius and Arius, and shews both heresies to be equal in impiety. For neither is the Father of the Word Himself Word, nor is the offspring of the Father a creature, but the Own-begotten of His essence. And again the Word that proceeded forth is not Father, nor again is He one word out of many; but He alone is the Father's Son, the true and genuine Son by nature, Who both now is in Him, and is eternally and indivisibly from within Him. Thus the Lord is both Wisdom and Truth, and is not in the second place after another wisdom; but He alone it is through whom the Father made all things, and in Him He made the manifold essences of created things, and through Him He is made known to whom He will, and in Him He carries on and effects His universal providence. For Him alone does Dionysius recognise as Word of God. This is the faith of Dionysius: for I have collected and copied a few statements from his letters, enough to induce you to add to their number, but to put the Arians to utter shame on account of their libel upon the Bishop. For in all, even the details, of what he wrote, he exposed their error and branded their heresy.

26. How Dionysius dealt with the Sabellians.

Hence too it is manifest that even the letter to Euphranor and Ammonius was written by him in a different sense and for a special purpose. For this his defence makes plain. And in truth this is an effective form of argument for the subversion of the madness of Sabellius, for him that wishes for a short way with those heretics, not to start from expressions applicable to the deity of the Word, such as that the Son is God's Word and Wisdom and Power, and that `I and the Father are one' (John x. 30), lest they, perverting what is well said should use such expressions as a pretext for their unblushing contentiousness, when they hear the texts, `I and the Father are one,' and `he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.' (John x. 30; xiv. 9); but to emphasize what is said of the Saviour as Man, as He Himself has done, such as His hungering and thirsting, and being weary, and how He is the Vine, and how He prayed and has suffered. For in so far as these are lowly expressions, it becomes all the clearer that it was not the Father that was made man. For it follows, when the Lord is called the Vine, that there must also be a husbandman: and when He prayed, that there was one to hear, and when He asked, that there was one to give. Now such things shew far more readily the madness of the Sabellians, because He that prayed was one, He that heard another, one the Vine and another the Husbandman. For whatever expressions are cited to distinguish between the Son and the Father are used of Him by reason of the flesh which He bore for our sake. For created things are distinct in nature from God. Accordingly since, the flesh being a created thing, `the Word,' as John says, `was made flesh' (John i. 14), although He is by nature the Father's own and inseparable from Him, yet by reason of the flesh the Father is widely distinguished from Him. For He Himself permits that what is appropriate to the flesh should be said of him, that it may be made plain that the body was His own and not that of any other. But this being the sense of these sayings, Sabellius will be the more quickly confuted, it being proved that it was not the Father that was made flesh, but His Word, who also redeemed the flesh and offered it to the Father. But thus having confuted and persuaded him, he will next be able more readily to teach him concerning the deity of the Word, how that He is the Word and Wisdom, Son and Power, Brightness and Express Image. For it is here again a necessary inference that as the Word exists, there must also exist the Father of the Word, and as Wisdom exists, there exists also its Parent, and as Brightness exists so also does the Light; and that in this manner the Son and the Father are one.

27. Conclusion.

Dionysius knew this when he wrote. And by his first letters he silenced Sabellius, and in his others he overcame the heresy of Arius. For just as the human attributes of the Saviour overthrew Sabellius, so against the Arian madmen one must use proofs drawn not from the human attributes but from what betokens the deity of the Word, lest they pervert what is said of the Lord by reason of His Body, and think that the Word is of like nature with us men, and so abide still in their madness. But if they also are taught about His deity they will condemn their own error; and when they understand that the Word was made flesh, they too will the more easily distinguish in future the human characteristics from those which fit His deity. But this being so, and the Bishop Dionysius having been shewn by his writings to be pious, what will the Arian madmen do next? Convicted on this evidence, whom will they again venture to malign? For they needs must, since they have fallen from the foundation of the Apostles and have no settled mind of their own, seek some support, and if they can find none, then malign the fathers. But no one will believe them any more even if they make efforts to libel them, for the heresy is condemned on all hands. Unless perchance they will henceforth speak of the devil, for he is their only partisan, or rather he it is who suggested their heresy to them. Who then can any longer call men `Christians' whose leader is the devil, and not rather `Diabolici,' so that they may bear the name not merely of adversaries of Christ, but of partisans of the devil? Unless indeed they change round, and, rejecting the impiety they have contrived, come to know the truth. For this will at once be for their own good, and it is thus that it beseems us to pray for all those that are in error.


Footnotes

[966] prosopou: but see also Newman's note 2 on de Decr. §14. [967] See Epiphanius, Hær. lxviii. 1. The arrangement is recognised as one of old standing in the sixth canon of Nicæa, `Let the old customs which exist in Egypt, Libya, and Pentapolis remain in force, namely that the Bishop of Alexandria should have authority over all these regions; since this is also customary for the Bishop of Rome. Likewise also at Antioch and in the other prefectures (it is decreed) that their prerogatives should be maintained to those churches.' The canon points to the natural explanation of the arrangement: the bishops of the capitals began from a very early date to exercise a loosely defined but gradually strengthening supervision over those of the rest of the province. In particular, they came to exercise a veto (and latterly more than a veto) upon the appointments to the provincial sees (ei tis choris gnomes, ib.). The bishops of Alexandria as well as Rome had even at this date acquired something of the rank of secular potentates (dunasteia, Socr. vii. 11, ede palai), but not to the extent to which it went later on (ib. 7. and supr. Apol. Ar. §9). [968] therapeuein. For the word, cf. Hatch, Hibb. Lect. p. 80 note. [969] kat' oikonomian, as below §24. Cf. de Decr. §25, note 5. The word oikonomia has two main senses in Athanasius, both derived from the classical sense of management or dispensation, the adapting of means toward an end. (1) As in the present passage (cf. Origen in Migne XI. p. 77 b, oikonomikos): a use which is the lineal ancestor of the ill-sounding word `economy' as a term in casuistry; (2) as applied to the Incarnation of our Lord, regarded as the Dispensation, the Divine Method for the salvation of mankind. This use is very frequent in St. Athanasius (compare Ep. Æg. 2. and Orat. ii. 11), and in earlier Fathers from Ignatius (Eph. 18 ekuophorethe hupo Marias kat' oikonomian, where Lightfoot refers to a more detailed history of the word in his unpublished note on Eph. i. 10) downwards (references in Soph. Lex. s.v.). [970] See Westcott, Introduction to the Gospels, Appendix C, 5. [971] Cf. Orat. i. 48, note 7, and ii. 56, note 5. [972] This passage is somewhat differently rendered by Dr. Pusey in his letter on the Filioque (1876), p. 112. [973] The pantelos somewhat qualifies the repudiation. Dionysius expressly maintained three Hypostases in the Holy Trinity, in contrast to the language of Rome (de Decr. 26 note 7a) and the later use of Athanasius himself. But see the Tom. ad Antioch. of 362, below, and supra p. 90, note 2. Dionysius of Rome repudiates treis memerismenas hupostaseis, while Dionysius of Alexandria (in Bas. de Sp. S.) maintains that unless three Hypostases be recognised, the divine Triad is denied. [974] As pointed out by Newman on De Decr. 25, note 9, Trias and Monas are concrete, Trinitas and Unitas abstract terms; so that while Trinitas (and Monas) lend themselves to a Sabellian, Trias and Unitas may be pressed into an Arian sense: but each pair of terms (Greek and Latin) holds the balance evenly between the opposite misinterpretations. [975] `To you' is omitted in the extract de Decr. 25. [976] It should be noted that Dionysius while assenting to this word, does not use it as his own. [977] Possibly to other bishops who had questioned his teaching (Routh, Rell. iii. p. 380). [978] See Orat. ii. 37. note 7.

.

Introduction to Vita S. Antoni.

(Written between 356 and 362)

The Life of St. Antony is included in the present collection partly on account of the important influence it has exercised upon the development of the ascetic life in the Church, partly and more especially on the ground of its strong claim to rank as a work of Athanasius. If that claim were undisputed, no apology would be needed for its presence in this volume. If on the other hand its spurious and unhistorical character had been finally demonstrated, its insertion would be open to just objections. As it is, the question being still in dispute, although the balance of qualified opinion is on the side of the Athanasian authorship, it is well that the reader should have the work before him and judge for himself. To assist his judgment, it will be attempted in the following paragraphs to state the main reasons on either side. In doing so, I can honestly disclaim any bias for or against the Vita, or monasticism. Monasticism, with all its good and evil, is a great outgrowth of human life and instinct, a great fact in the history of the Christian religion; and whether its origin is to be put fifty years earlier or later (for that is the net value of the question at issue) is a somewhat small point relatively to the great problems which it offers to the theologian, the historian, and the moralist. But the point is at any rate worthy of careful and dispassionate examination. In attempting this, while holding no brief for either side, I may as well at once state my opinion on the evidence, namely that, genuine as are many of the difficulties which surround the question, the external evidence for the Vita is too strong to allow us to set it aside as spurious, and that in view of that evidence the attempts to give a positive account of the book as a spurious composition have failed.

1. Bibliography. a. Sources. The only reference to Antony in other writings of Athanasius is in Hist. Ar. 14. See also Fest. Index x. Vita Pachomii in Act. SS. Mai., Tom. iii. Appx. (written late in the fourth century, but by a person who had known Pachomius). Coptic fragments and documents (for early history of Egyptian monasticism with occasional details about Antony) in Zoega, Catalogus codd. Copticorum, (Rome, 1810), Mingarelli, Codd. copticorum reliquiæ, (Bologna, 1785), Revillout, Rapport sur une mission, etc. (in Archives des Missions scientifiques et littéraires, 3^me, série, 1879, vol. 4), Amélineau, Hist. de S. Pakhôme, &c. (Annales du Musée Guimet, vol. xvii. Paris, 1889).

b. Modern discussions. Since the Reformation the general tendency of protestant writers has been to discredit, of Roman Catholics to maintain the authority of the Vita. To the former class belong the Magdeburg Centuriators, Rivet, Basnage, Casimir Oudin; to the latter, Bellarmin, Noel Alexandre, and above all Montfaucon in the Benedictine edition of Athanasius (especially in the Vita Athanasii, Animadversio II. in Vitam et Scripta S.A., and the Monitum in Antonii Vitam, which latter may still claim the first rank in critical discussions of the problem). We may add, as more or less unbiassed defenders of the Vita, Cave (Hist. Lit. i. 193), and Tillemont (Mem. vol. vii.). All the above belong to the period before 1750. In more recent times the attack has been led by Weingarten (Ursprung des Mönchtums in nachkonst. zeitalter, reprinted in 1877 from Zeitschrift für K.G. 1876, and in Herzog, vol. x. pp. 758 sqq.), followed by Gass (in Ztsch. K.G. II. 274), and Gwatkin (Studies, &c. pp. 98-103). Israel, in Zeitsch. Wiss. Theol. 1880, p. 130, &c., characterises Weingarten's attack on the Vita as `too bold.' Keim (Aus dem Urchr. 207 sqq.) and Hilgenfeld (in Zeitsch. f. Wiss. Theol. 1878) put the book in the lifetime of Ath. without absolutely pronouncing for him as the author, while Hase (J. Prot. Th. 1880), Harnack (especially in Th. Ltz. xi. 391, see also `Das Mönchtum' u.s.w., Giessen, 1886), Möller, Lehrb. der K.G. i. 372, and Eichhorn (`Athanasii de vita ascetica testimonia,' Halle, 1886, the most convincing discussion of recent date, and indispensable) decide without hesitation in its favour. The discussion of Bornemann (In investigando monachatus origine, quibus de causis ratio habenda sit Origenis, Leipzig, 1885) may also be mentioned as bearing on the general subject; also the articles `Monastery,' `Coenobium,' and `Hermits' in D. C. A. The article `Antony' in D. C. B. passes over the question without discussion, excepting the trite, but untenable, statement that the Vita `is probably interpolated.' Farrar (Lives of the Fathers, and Contemp. Review, Nov. 1887) follows Gwatkin. Picturesque representations of Antony (from the Vita) in Kingsley's Hermits and Newman's Historical Sketches, vol. 2.

2. External evidence as to authorship and date. This is given by Montfaucon in the Monitum and reproduced by Eichhorn, pp. 36 sqq.

i. The Version of Evagrius. Evagrius, presbyter (Eustathian) and subsequently (388) Bishop at Antioch (in Italy 364-373), translated the Vita Antonii into Latin. He prefaced with a short apology (see below, Vit. Ant. §1, note 1) for the freedom of his rendering, addressed `Innocentio carissimo filio.' Now this Innocent, the friend of Jerome and Evagrius, died in the summer of 374, almost exactly a year after the death of Athanasius (D. C. B. iii. 31, 251). Of this identification there is no reason to doubt; still less ground is there for the hesitation (Hist. Lit. I. 283, `non una est dubitandi ratio') of Cave and others as to the identity of the version, printed by Montfaucon and transmitted by very numerous mss. (`quæ ingenti numero vidi,' Migne xxv. p. clviii.) with that actually made by Evagrius. Therefore, even if we make the two very improbable assumptions that the Dedication to Innocentius falls within a few weeks or days of his death (i.e. during the journey from Italy to Syria!), and that the Vita was translated by Evagrius almost immediately upon its composition, the composition of the Vita falls within a few months of the death of Athanasius. Its antiquity then `is fully conceded' even by Mr. Gwatkin (Studies, p. 103, who yet, p. 98, puts it down to `the generation after Athanasius!'). The translation of Evagrius also preserves what looks like the original heading. It should be added that the Evagrian version (read in the light of its preface), entirely excludes the hypothesis that the Greek text of the Vita is interpolated. Evagrius avowedly abridges at times, while in some cases he embellishes (see §82, note 16).

ii. Jerome wrote his Vita Pauli in the Syrian desert, between 374 and 379. He mentions both the Vita and its Latin Version in the prologue: if he had seen the latter he can scarcely have been ignorant of its heading. The non-mention of Athanasius as the author is an argumentum ex silentio of the most precarious kind. Some fifteen years later (de Script Eccles. 87, 88, 125) he repeatedly mentions Athanasius as the author, and specifies Evagrius as the translator.

iii. Ephrem the Syrian (Opp. ed. 1732-43, I. p. 249) quotes `Saint' Athanasius by name as the biographer of Antony. Ephrem died in 373. But little stress can be laid upon this testimony, in view of the lack of a critical sifting of the works which bear the name of this saint (so Tillemont viii. 229, and vii. 138). More important is

iv. Gregory Naz. Or. 21, `Athanasius compiled the biography of the divine Antony tou monadikou biou nomothesian en plasmati diegeseos' (cf. Vita, Prologue). This oration was delivered in 380, seven years after the death of Athanasius. Gregory, it is true, is not a good judge on a point of criticism. But he expresses the opinion of his time, and confirms and is confirmed by the evidence of Evagrius and Jerome.

v. Rufinus, Hist. Eccl. I. viii. He would give an account of Antony, but `ille libellus exclusit qui ab Athanasio scriptus etiam Latino Sermone editus est.' This was written 400 a.d.: if in a later work (Hist. Mon. 30, and see also 29) he happens to allude to the Vita without mentioning its author, we are not entitled to say that to Rufinus `the work is anonymous' (Gwatkin, p. 103).

vi. The Life of Pachomius, which (as above mentioned) has details of Antony's life independent of the Vita, also mentions the latter (c. 1) as the work of Athanasius. Though written perhaps as late as 390, this document is of great weight as evidence in the case (see Krüger in Theol. Ltzg. 1890, p. 620).

vii. Paulinus in his prologue to the Life of Ambrose (after 400) refers to the Vita as written by Athanasius.

viii. Fifth-century historians, Palladius, Hist. Laus. 8, Socrates (H. E., i. 21) Sozomenus (i. 13) attest the established tradition of their day that Athanasius was the author of the Life.

ix. Augustine (Conf. viii. 14, 15, 19, 29) and Chrysostom (Hom. 8 on S. Matthew) mention the Vita without giving the name of the author. But we are not entitled to cite them as witnesses to its (alleged) anonymity, which they neither affirm nor imply.

The above witnesses, all of whom excepting No. viii. come within 50 years of the death of Athanasius, are a formidable array. No other work of Athanasius can boast of such external evidence in its favour. And in the face of such evidence it is impossible to place the composition later than the lifetime of the great Bishop. We have therefore to ask whether the contents of the Vita are in irreconcileable conflict with the result of the external evidence: whether they point, not indeed to a later age, for the external evidence excludes this, but to an author who during the lifetime of Athanasius (i.e. not later than the year of his death) ventured to publish a hagiographic romance in his name (`Evagrian' heading, and §§71, 82).

3. Internal Evidence. It may be remarked in limine that for the existence of Antony there is not only the evidence of the Vita itself, but also that of many other fourth-century documents (see above 1.a. under `sources'). Weingarten quite admits this (R. E., X. 774, but he implies the contrary in his Zeit-tafeln, ed. 3, p. 228); and Mr. Gwatkin is certainly far ahead of his evidence when he pronounces (Arian Controversy, p. 48) that Antony `never existed.'

a. Origin and early history of Monasticism. According to the Vita, the desert was unknown to monachoi (solitary ascetics) at the time (about 275? Vit. §3) when Antony first adopted the ascetic life. About the year 285 he began his twenty years' sojourn in the ruined fort. To the end of this sojourn belongs the first great wave of Monastic settlement in the desert. During the later part of the great persecution `monasteries' and monks begin to abound (§44, 46). The remainder of his long life (311-356) is passed mainly in his `inner mountain,' where he forms the head and centre of Egyptian monasticism. Now it is contended by Weingarten and his followers that the Vita is contradicted in this important particular by all the real evidence as to the origin of monasticism, which cannot be proved to have originated before the death of Constantine. But Eichhorn has I think conclusively shewn the hastiness of this assumption. Passing over the disputable evidence of the De Vita Contemplativa ascribed to Philo, (which Weingarten endeavours, against Lucius and others, to put back to a date much earlier than the third century and out of relation to Christian asceticism [979] ), the writings of Athanasius himself are the sufficient refutation of the late date assigned to the rise of monachism.

In the writings of the supposed date (356-362) of the Vita, references to monks are very frequent (e.g. Apol. Fug. 4, Apol. Const. 29): but previous to this (339) we find them mentioned in Encyl. §3, and yet earlier, Apol. Ar. 67 (see below). In the letter to Dracontius (Letter 49 in this vol.), corporate monasticism is implied to be no novel institution. Dracontius himself (about 354) is president of a monastery, and many other similar communities are referred to. (Gwatkin deals with this letter in an unsatisfactory fashion, p. 102, see the letter itself, §§7, 9, and notes.) The letter to Amun, probably earlier than that just mentioned, is clearly (sub. fin.) addressed to the head of a monastic society. Again, the bishops Muis and Paulus of Letter 49, §7, who were monks before their consecration, had been in the monastery of Tabennæ before the death of Pachomius, which occurred almost certainly in 346 (Eichhorn 12, 13. The whole history of Pachomius, who was only a year or two older than Athanasius, although personally but little known to him, his monastery being at Tabennæ, an island near Philæ, is in conflict with Weingarten's theory). Lastly [980] one of the most characteristic and life-like of the documents relating to the case of Arsenius and the Council of Tyre, namely the letter of Pinnes to John Arcaph (Apol. Ar. 67) carries back the evidence earlier still. Pinnes is `presbyter of a monastery' (mone): that mone here means a society of monks, and not a posting station (Weing. in R. E., X. p. 775) is clear from the mention of `Helias the monk,' and `I, Paphnutius, monk of the same monastery.' This letter proves that there were not only Catholic but Meletian monks, and these not hermits but in societies: and thus the origin of the solitary type of monasticism goes back as far as the Meletian schism. (The existence of Meletian monks is attested independently of this letter, see Eich. p. 347.) Weingarten is quite unable to deal with this obstacle to his theory. His argument is simply this: either the letter has nothing to do with monks and monasteries (he overlooks Paphnutius), or it must be rejected as spurious! What reductio ad absurdum could be more complete? In an equally desperate way he deals with the clear evidence of Aphraates, Hom. vi., as to the existence of (at any rate) solitary monasticism in Eastern Syria as early as 336. See Texte und Untersuchungen iii. 3, pp. xvi. 89, &c. (Leipzig, 1888.)

b. Historical misstatements. i. It is better to include under this head rather than under the last the title ad peregrinos fratres. Who were the `foreign monks' (tous en te xene monachous)? The introduction of monasticism into the West seems to belong to the time of S. Ambrose (Aug. Conf. viii. 6, cf. Sozom. III. 14, `the European nations [before 361] had no experience of monastic societies') or rather Martin of Tours (D.C.B. iii. p. 840). The statement (Encycl. Brit. `Monachism') that Athanasius carried the Vita Atonii to Rome in 340 is based on a misunderstanding of Jerome (Ep. 127), who really says no more than that the existence of monachism in Egypt first became known at Rome from the visits of Athanasius and of his successor Peter. If then the `peregrini fratres' are to be looked for in the West, we have a serious difficulty, and must choose between the Vita and Sozomen. But the foreign monks may have belonged to the East. (I cannot see that §93 `assumes,' as Mr. Gwatkin maintains, `the existence of numerous monks in the West.' What is said is simply that Antony had been heard of--ekousthe--in Spain, Gaul, and Africa.) However, the point must be left uncertain, and so far allowed to weigh against the Vita.

ii. Early intercourse of Athanasius with Antony (Prologue, and note 2). If the Benedictine text is correct, the reference must be to the period before Athanasius became deacon to Bishop Alexander, in fact to a period previous to 318 a.d. Tillemont (viii. 652), who maintains the other reading, mainly relies upon the impossibility of finding room for the intercourse in question in the early life of Athanasius. But his only source of knowledge of that period is Rufinus, a very poor authority, and Montfaucon replies with some force (Animadv. 11) that we have no sufficient information as to how Athanasius passed the years previous to his ordination by Alexander. He also suggests that Athanasius may have been one of those who followed Antony's example (§46, cf. Apol. c. Ar. 6) after his first visit to Alexandria. I may add that the notes to the Vita will call attention to several points of contact between the teaching of Antony and the earliest treatises of Athanasius. Yet the impression left on the mind is here again one of uncertainty (cf. Prolegg. ch. ii. §1 fin.).

iii. The narrative about Duke Balacius (§86: see note there) is another genuine difficulty, only to be got over if we suppose either that Athanasius in one place tells the story inaccurately, and corrects himself in the other, or that the Hist. Arian. was partly written for Athanasius by a secretary.

iv. Supposed learning of Antony. His ignorance of letters and of the Greek language does not prevent his forcibly employing the most effective arguments against Arianism (69), vindicating the Incarnation (74) much in the manner of Athanasius, and above all showing a fair acquaintance (72-74) with Platonic philosophy (see notes there). But everything in the biography points to a man of robust mind, retentive memory (3) and frequent intercourse with visitors. If he were so, he can scarcely have been ignorant of the theological controversies of his day, or of the current philosophical ideas. Nor can I see that the philosophy of his argument against the Greeks goes beyond what that would imply. His allusion to Plato does not look like a first-hand citation. And even an Athanasius would not so entirely rise out of the biographical habits of his day as to mingle nothing of his own with the speeches of his hero (`Equidem quid Antonio quid Athanasio tribuendum sit uix diiudicari posse concedo,' Eich. p. 52).

c. Inconsistencies with Athanasius. It is the most serious objection to the Athanasian authorship of the Vita that Athanasius (with the exception of the `antilegomenon' Hist. Ar. 14) nowhere else mentions Antony by name. Especially in the letter to Dracontius, who at first refused the Episcopate in the supposed interests of his soul, we might, it is argued, have expected a reference to the deep reverence of Antony (§67) for even the lowest clergy (the persons enumerated, Letter 49, §7, are bishops who had previously been monks, and have nothing to do with this question). That is true. We might have expected it. But as a matter of fact Athanasius uses another argument instead (see Letter 49, §3, note 8^a). It does not follow that he did not know of the Antony of the Vita. But although the letter in question has been pressed unduly, the general objection, as an argumentum ex silentio on a rather large scale, remains [981] . Some more detailed points must now be considered.

a. Demons and Miracles. The writings of Athanasius are singularly free from the tendency to indulge in the marvellous. The death of Arius he regards as a judgment, and relates it with a certain awe-struck sobriety. The pheme of Julian's death in the Narrat. ad Ammon. comes less under the head of ecclesiastical miracle than under that of ta theia ton pregmaton (Herod. ix. 100, cf. Grote v. 260 sq.); whereas the Vita swarms with miraculous and demoniacal stories, some (passed over in silence by Newman and other apologists for the Life) indescribably silly (e.g. §§53, 63). Hence even Cave allows that the Vita contains things `tanto viro indigna.' But it must be observed (1) that Antony disclaims, and his biographer disclaims for him, inherent miraculous power. His miracles are wrought by Christ in answer to prayer, and he prefers that those who desire his help should obtain what they want by praying for themselves (cf. also §49). (2) That again and again (esp. §§16-43) he insists on the absolute subjection of all evil powers to God, and their powerlessness to injure believers in Christ. (3) That Athanasius recognises semeia (in the sense of miracles, see Letter 49, §9, note 9) as a known phenomenon in the case both of bishops and of monks. (4) That his language about demons and the power of the sign of the Cross in dispersing them is quite of a piece with what is related in the Vita (see notes passim). (5) On the clairvoyance of Antony, and one or two kindred matters which offer points of contact with phenomena that have been recently the subject of careful research, notes will be found below giving modern references. On the whole, one could wish that Athanasius, who is in so many ways surprisingly in touch with the modern mind (supra, introd. to de Incar and Prolegg. ch. iv. §2 d and §3), had not written a biography revealing such large credulity. But we must measure this credulity of his not by the evidential methods of our own day, but by those of his own. If we compare the Vita, not with our modern biographies but with those, say, of Paul and Hilarion by Jerome, its superiority is striking (this is pointed out by W. Israël in Zeitschr für Wiss. Theol. 1878, pp. 130, 137, 145, 153). For myself I should certainly prefer to believe that Athanasius had not written many things in the Vita: but I would far rather he had written them all than the one passage Hist. Ar. §38 fin.

b. Theology. That there should be certain characteristic differences from the theology of Athanasius is what one would expect in an account of Antony that bore any relation to the historical person. Such is the anthropomorphic tendency, shewn especially in the corporeal nature ascribed to demons. Such perhaps is a tinge of naive semi-pelagianism about the Hermit's language (§20 and elsewhere); we cannot forget the connection of Cassian's Collations with Egyptian monasticism. Once again, `Antony's shame of the body is not in the spirit of the writer ad Amunem' (Gwatkin, Studies, p. 102). Lastly, in Antony's account of the heathen gods (§76) we miss the characteristic Euhemerism of Athanasius (see supra, pp. 10, 62, &c.). Throughout, in fact, the ruder monastic instinct crops up from under the Athanasian style and thought of the biographer. But the latter is also unmistakable (see the notes passim), and the differences have been certainly made too much of. I will give one example from Mr. Gwatkin, who says (ubi supra), `Athanasius does not speak of pronoia like the Vita (c. 49, 66, 74), for de Fuga 25 specially refers to his providential escape from Syrianus, and c. Gent. 47, pronoia ton panton is very incidental.' Now certainly the constant introduction of pronoia, which Mr. Gwatkin has understated, is a marked feature of the Vita. But I am not prepared to say that Athanasius could not speak in this way. The word is common, and even characteristic, in his writings. A few examples will support this statement; more will be referred to in the index to this volume.

De Incarn. 2.1. ten ton holon pronoian kath' heauton ouk einai mothologousin.

14. 6. tou dia tes idias pronoias...didaskontos peri tou patros.

Epist. Æg. 15. blepontes...panta taxei kai pronoi& 139; kinoumena.

Apol. Fug. 17. emele gar autois...mete ten horismenen para tes Pronoias krisin prolambanein (and so in §§9, 16, 22, 25 of this short tract).

Orat. iii. 37. ;;O Pater en to ;;Uio ton panton ten pronoian poieitai.

If each one of these and numberless other references to Providence is `very incidental,' those in the Vita may surely claim the benefit (whatever that may be) of the same formula.

The above are the principal materials for a decision as to the genuineness of the Vita: and I do not see how they can justify any opinion but that stated at the outset. Against the Vita we have certain historical difficulties (intercourse with Athanasius, peregrini fratres, Balacius), and arguments ex silentio, a kind of evidence seldom conclusive. For it, we have a quite unusual array of external evidence, including an almost contemporary version, the absence of any room for its date at a safe distance from its traditional author, and the many points of contact, as well as the characteristic differences between the Vita and the writings of Athanasius. Moreover on the kindred question of the origin of monasticism, Weingarten's theory breaks down, and leads him to suicidal steps in more than one direction. Although, therefore, it is permissible to keep an open mind on the subject, we must recognise that the enterprise of the recent assailants of the Vita is at present at a dead halt, that overwhelming probability is against them.

But if Athanasius wrote the Vita, it does not follow that all its less edifying details are true, nor that its portraiture is free from subjectivity [982] . At the same time, to the present writer at least, the lineaments of a genuine man, homoiopathous hemin, stand out from the story. Doubtless there is idealisation, panegyric, an absence of sinfulness (Gwatkin, Studies, p. 100). But the moderate value set on miracles (38, 56), the absence of the element of fear from his religion (42, &c.), his serene courtesy (73) and uniform cheerfulness (67, 70), the caution against being tempted to excess in ascetic exercises (25), the ready half-humorous good sense (73, 85) of the man, are human touches which belong to flesh and blood, not to hagiographic imagination. But here the question is one of individual taste. At any rate the Vita embodies the best spirit of early monasticism. It was the pure desire to serve God and fulfil the spirit of the Gospel that led Antony to part with all that might make the world precious to him, and to betake himself to his long voluntary martyrdom of solitude, privation, and prayer. We see nothing but tenderness and love of men in his character, nothing of the fierce bloodthirsty fanaticism which in persons like Senuti made fifth-century monasticism a reproach to the Christian name. Had Antony lived in our time, he might have felt that the solitary life was a renunciation of the highest vocation of which man is capable, the ministry to the material and spiritual needs of others. But it is not given to man to see all aspects of truth at once and to our bustling, comfort-loving age, even the life of Antony has its lesson.

The Vita has undoubtedly exercised a powerful and wide-spread influence. Upon it Jerome modelled his highly idealised tales of Paul and Hilarion; at Rome and all over the West it kindled the flame of monastic aspirations; it awoke in Augustine (Conf. viii. ubi supra) the resolution to renounce the world and give himself wholly to God. The ingens numerus of Latin manuscripts, and the imitation of its details in countless monastic biographies, testify to its popularity in the middle ages. Like monasticism itself, its good influence was not without alloy; but on the whole we may claim for it that it tended to stimulate the nobler of the impulses which underlie the monastic life.

A few words may be added on the evidence of the Vita as to the form and motive of early monachism. In the Life of Antony, the stages are (1) ascetics living in the towns and villages, not withdrawn from society (§§3, 4); (2) solitary monasticism in the desert, away from human society; and, as the fame of Antony increases, (3) the formation (§44) of clusters of cells centering round some natural leader, the germ of the laura (such as the community of Tabennæ under Pachomius). Of organised monastic communities the Vita tells us nothing. With regard to the motive of the earliest monasticism, this has been variously sought in (1) the development of the ascetic element present in Christianity from the very first; (2) in the influence of the Alexandrian School, especially Origen, who again is influenced by the spirit of revolt against the body and detachment from the world which characterised neo-Platonism (see Bornemann's work mentioned above); (3) in the persecutions, which drove Christians to the desert (Eus. H. E. vi. 42), which some adopted as their home; (4) to the (not necessarily conscious) imitation of analogous heathen institutions, especially the societies of hagneuontes which were gathered round or in the temples of Serapis (Weingarten, R. E., X. 779-785. Revillout, p. 480 n, refers to Zoega, p. 542, for the fact that Pachomius himself was a monk of Serapis before his forced baptism by his Christian neighbours; and that after it he continued his ascetic life with no external difference. (5) To the desire to avoid civil obligations, already marked in the Rescript of Valens (Cod. Th. xii. 1. 63, quidam ignauiæ sectatores desertis civitatum muneribus, &c.). Of the above motives the Vita gives no support to any but the first, which it directly confirms, and perhaps indirectly to the second. The date of the Vita depends mainly on the view to be taken of §82, where see note 16.


Footnotes

[979] See the note in Vol. I. of this Series, p. 117, D.C.B. iv. 368, Theod. Ltzg. xiii. 493-499. [980] The silence of Ep. Fest. X. (338) is made much of by Weingarten, but there is nothing there to lead up to a reference to desert monasticism. [981] It is fortified by the `silence of Eusebius' (1) as to monks in general (but yet see H. E. II. 17, vol. i., p. 116, note in this series); (2) as to the part played by Antony at Alexandria during the persecution (H. E. VII. 32, VIII. 13, IX. 6); (3) as to Constantine's letter to Antony (§81). [982] The life of Senuti (or `Schnoudi'), by his disciple Visa, may be consulted in illustration of this point. See edition by Amélineau in vol. 4 of the Memoires de la Mission archéologique Française au Caire, 1888.

Life of Antony.

Table of Contents.

Prologue.

§§1, 2. Birth and beginnings of Antony.

§§3, 4. His early ascetic life.

§§5, 6. Early conflicts with the devil.

§7. Details of his life at this time (271-285?)

§§8-10. His life in the tombs, and combats with demons there.

§11. He goes to the desert and overcomes temptations on the way.

§§12, 13. How Antony took up his abode in a ruined fort across the Nile, and how he defeated the demons. His twenty years' sojourn there.

§§14, 15. How he left the fort, and how monasticism began to flourish in Egypt. Antony its leader.

§§16-43. His address to monks, rendered from Coptic, exhorting them to perseverance, and encouraging them against the wiles of Satan.

§44. The growth of the monastic life at this time (about A.D. 305).

§45. How Antony renewed his ascetic endeavours at this time.

§46. How he sought martyrdom at Alexandria during the Persecution (311).

§47. How he lived at this time.

§48. How he delivered a woman from an evil spirit.

§§49, 50. How at this time he betook himself to his `inner mountain.'

§§51-53. How he there combated the demons.

§54. Of the miraculous spring, and how he edified the monks of the `outer' mountain, and of Antony's sister.

§§55, 56. How humanely he counselled those who resorted to him.

§57. Of the case of Fronto, healed by faith and prayer.

§58. Of a certain virgin, and of Paphnutius the confessor.

§59. Of the two brethren, and how one perished of thirst.

§60. Of the death of Amun, and Antony's vision thereof.

§61, 62. Of Count Archelaus and the virgin Polycration.

§§63, 64. Strange tales of the casting out of demons.

§65. Of Antony's vision concerning the forgiveness of his sins.

§66. Of the passage of souls, and how some were hindered of Satan.

§67. How Antony reverenced all ordained persons.

§68. How he rejected the schism of Meletius and the heresies of Manes and Arius.

§69. How he confuted the Arians.

§§70, 71. How he visited Alexandria, and healed and converted many, and how Athanasius escorted him from the city.

§§72-79. How he reasoned with divers Greeks and philosophers at the `outer' mountain.

§80. How he confuted the philosophers by healing certain vexed with demons.

§81. How the Emperors wrote to Antony, and of his answer.

§82. How he saw in a vision the present doings of the Arians.

§§83, 84. That his healings were done by Christ alone, through prayer.

§85. How wisely he answered a certain duke.

§86. Of the Duke Balacius, and how, warned by Antony, he met with a miserable end.

§87. How he bore the infirmities of the weak, and of his great benefits to all Egypt.

§88. Of his discernment, and how he was a counsellor to all.

§§89, 90. How, when now 105 years old, he counselled the monks, and gave advice concerning burial.

§91. Of his sickness and his last will.

§92. Of Antony's death.

§93. How Antony remained hale until his death, and how the fame of him filled all the world.

§94. The end.

[Antony's answers to a philosopher, and to Didymus, are given by Socrates IV. 23, 25: the following is from Hanmer's translation of Socr. I. 21: "The same time lived Antony the monk in the deserts of Ægypt. But inasmuch as Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, hath lately set forth in a several volume, intituled of his life, his manners and converasiton, how openly he buckled with divils, how he over-reached their slights and subtle combats, and wrought many marvellous and strange miracles, I think it superfluous on my part to intreat thereof.']

For the translation of the text I am indebted to my friend and colleague the Rev. H. Ellershaw, jun.

Life of Antony.

The life and conversation of our holy Father, Antony: written and sent to the monks in foreign parts by our Father among the Saints, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.

Athanasius [983] the bishop to the brethren in foreign parts.

You have entered upon a noble rivalry with the monks of Egypt by your determination either to equal or surpass them in your training in the way of virtue. For by this time there are monasteries among you, and the name of monk receives public recognition. With reason, therefore, all men will approve this determination, and in answer to your prayers God will give its fulfilment. Now since you asked me to give you an account of the blessed Antony's way of life, and are wishful to learn how he began the discipline, who and what manner 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 behest, for to me also the bare recollection of Antony is a great accession of help. And I know that you, when you have heard, apart from your admiration of the man, will be wishful to emulate his determination; seeing that for monks the life of Antony is a sufficient pattern of discipline. Wherefore do not refuse credence to what you have heard from those who brought tidings of him; but think rather that they have told you only a few things, for at all events they scarcely can have given circumstances of so great import in any detail. And because I at your request have called to mind a few circumstances about him, and shall send as much as I can tell in a letter, do not neglect to question those who sail from here: for possibly when all have told their tale, the account will hardly be in proportion to his merits. On account of this I was desirous, when I received your letter, to send for certain of the monks, those especially who were wont to be more frequently with him, that if I could learn any fresh details I might send them to you. But since the season for sailing was coming to an end and the letter-carrier urgent, I hastened to write to your piety what I myself know, having seen him many times, and what I was able to learn from him, for I was his attendant for a long time, and poured water on his hands [984] ; in all points being mindful of the truth, that no one should disbelieve through hearing too much, nor on the other hand by hearing too little should despise the man.


Footnotes

[983] This heading, preserved in the Evagrian version, is probably the original one. Compare the statement to the same effect in Vit. Pachom. 63. The preface to the Evagrian version is important as bearing on the question of interpolation. It runs as follows: `Evagrius, presbyter, to his dearest son Innocent, greeting in the Lord. A word-for-word translation from one language to another obscures the sense and as it were chokes the corn with luxuriant grass. For in slavishly following cases and constructions, the language scarcely explains by lengthy periphrasis what it might state by concise expression. To avoid this, I have at your request rendered the Life of the blessed Antony in such a way as to give the full sense, but cut short somewhat of the words. Let others try to catch syllables and letters; do you seek the meaning.' [984] Cf. 2 Kings iii. 11: the expression merely refers to personal attendance (contrast §§47, 93). The text is uncertain, as some mss., both Greek and Latin read, `was able to learn from him who was his attendant,' &c. The question of textual evidence requires further sifting. In support of the statement in the text we may cite Ap. c. Ar. 6, where Ath. is called `one of the ascetics,' which may, but need not, refer to something of the kind.

1. Antony you must know was by descent an Egyptian: his parents were of good family and possessed considerable wealth [985] , and as they were Christians he also was reared in the same Faith. In infancy he was brought up with his parents, knowing nought else but them and his home. But when he was grown and arrived at boyhood, and was advancing in years, he could not endure to learn [986] letters, not caring to associate with other boys; but all his desire was, as it is written of Jacob, to live a plain man at home [987] . With his parents he used to attend the Lord's House, and neither as a child was he idle nor when older did he despise them; but was both obedient to his father and mother and attentive to what was read, 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 fare, nor was this a source of pleasure to him; but was content simply with what he found nor sought anything further.

2. After the death of his father and mother he was left alone with one little sister: his age was about eighteen or twenty, and on him the care both of home and sister rested. Now it was not six months after the death of his parents, and going according to custom into the Lord's House, he communed with himself and reflected as he walked how the Apostles [988] left all and followed the Saviour; and how they in the Acts [989] sold their possessions and brought and laid them at the Apostles' feet for distribution to the needy, and what and how great a hope was laid up for them in heaven. Pondering over these things he entered the church, and it happened the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord saying to the rich man [990] , `If thou wouldest be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor; and come follow Me and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.' Antony, as though God had put him in mind of the Saints, and the passage had been read on his account, went out immediately from the church, and gave the possessions of his forefathers to the villagers--they were three hundred acres [991] , productive and very fair--that they should be no more a clog upon himself and his sister [992] . And all the rest that was movable he sold, and having got together much money he gave it to the poor, reserving a little however for his sister's sake.


Footnotes

[985] At Coma in Upper Egypt, see Sozom. i. 13. [986] Cf. St. Aug. de Doctr. Christ. Prologue. [987] Gen. xxv. 27. [988] Matt. iv. 20. [989] Acts iv. 35. [990] Matt. xix. 21. [991] arourai. The arura was 100 Egyptian cubits square, see Herod. ii. 168. [992] Or, perhaps, `in order that they (the villagers) might have no occasion to trouble himself and his sister,' i.e. on condition of future immunity from taxes, &c. (so Neander).

3. And again as he went into the church, hearing the Lord say in the Gospel [993] , `be not anxious for the morrow,' he could stay no longer, but went out and gave those things also to the poor. Having committed his sister to known and faithful virgins, and put her into a convent [994] to be brought up, he henceforth devoted himself outside his house to discipline [995] , taking heed to himself and training himself with patience. For there were not yet so many monasteries [996] in Egypt, and no monk at all knew of the distant desert; but all who wished to give heed to themselves practised the discipline in solitude near their own village. Now there was then in the next village an old man who had lived the life of a hermit from his youth up. 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 good man anywhere, like the prudent bee, he went forth and sought him, nor turned back to his own palace until he had seen him; and he returned, having got from the good man as it were supplies for his journey in the way of virtue. So dwelling there at first, he confirmed his purpose not to return to the abode of his fathers nor to the remembrance of his kinsfolk; but to keep all his desire and energy for perfecting his discipline. He worked, however, with his hands, having heard, `he who is idle let him not eat [997] ,' and part 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 unceasingly [998] . For he had given such heed to what was read that none of the things that were written fell from him to the ground, but he remembered all, and afterwards his memory served him for books.

4. Thus conducting himself, Antony was beloved by all. He subjected himself in sincerity to the good men whom he visited, and learned thoroughly where each surpassed him in zeal and discipline. He observed the graciousness of one; the unceasing prayer of another; he took knowledge of another's freedom from anger and another's loving-kindness; he gave heed to one as he watched, to another as he studied; one he admired for his endurance, another for his fasting and sleeping on the ground; the meekness of one and the long-suffering of another he watched with care, while he took note of the piety towards Christ and the mutual love which animated all. Thus filled, he returned to his own place of discipline, and henceforth would strive to unite the qualities of each, and was eager to show in himself the virtues of all. With others of the same age he had no rivalry; save this only, that he should not be second to them in higher things. And this he did so as to hurt the feelings of nobody, but made them rejoice over him. So all they of that village and the good men in whose intimacy he was, when they saw that he was a man of this sort, used to call him God-beloved. And some welcomed him as a son, others as a brother.


Footnotes

[993] Matt. vi. 34. [994] Parthenon: the earliest use of the word in this sense. Perhaps a house occupied by Virgins is implied in Apol. c. Ar. 15. But at this time virgins generally lived with their families. See D.C.A. 2021^b (the reference to Tertullian is not relevant), Eichhorn, pp. 4, sqq., 28-30. [995] askes*s (so throughout the Vita). [996] Probably the word has in this place the sense of a monk's cell (D.C.A. 1220), as below, §39. [997] 2 Thess. iii. 10. [998] Matt. vi. 7; 1 Thess. v. 17.

5. But the devil, who hates and envies what is good, could not endure to see such a resolution in a youth, but endeavoured to carry out against him what he had been wont to effect against others. First of all he tried to lead him away from the discipline, whispering to him the remembrance of his wealth, care for his sister, claims of kindred, love of money, love of glory, the various 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 debar him from his settled purpose. But when the enemy saw himself to be too weak for Antony's determination, and that he rather was conquered by the other's firmness, overthrown by his great faith and falling through his constant prayers, then at length putting his trust in the weapons which are [999] `in the navel of his belly' and boasting in them--for they are his first snare for the young--he attacked 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. The one would suggest foul thoughts and the other counter them with prayers: the one fire him with lust, the other, as one who seemed to blush, fortify his body with faith, prayers, and fasting. And the devil, unhappy wight, one night even took upon him the shape of a woman and imitated all her acts simply to beguile Antony. But he, his mind filled with Christ and the nobility inspired by Him, and considering the spirituality of the soul, quenched the coal of the other's deceit. Again the enemy suggested the ease of pleasure. But he like a man filled with rage and grief turned his thoughts to the threatened fire and the gnawing worm, and setting these in array against his adversary, passed through the temptation unscathed. All this was a source of shame to his foe. For he, deeming himself like God, was now mocked by a young man; and he who boasted himself against flesh and blood was being put to flight by a man in the flesh. For the Lord was working with Antony--the Lord who for our sake took flesh [1000] and gave the body victory over the devil, so that all who truly fight can say [1001] , `not I but the grace of God which was with me.'

6. At last when the dragon could not even thus overthrow Antony, but saw himself thrust out of his heart, gnashing his teeth as it is written, and as it were beside himself, he appeared to Antony like a black boy, taking a visible shape [1002] in accordance with the colour of his mind. And cringing to him, as it were, he plied him with thoughts no longer, for guileful as he was, he had been worsted, but at last spoke in human voice and said, `Many I deceived, many I cast down; but now attacking thee and thy labours as I had many others, I proved weak.' When Antony asked, Who art thou who speakest thus with me? he answered with a lamentable voice, `I am the friend of whoredom, and have taken upon me incitements which lead to it against the young. I am called the spirit of lust. How many have I deceived who wished to live soberly, how many are the chaste whom by my incitements I have over-persuaded! I am he on account of whom also the prophet reproves those who have fallen, saying [1003] , "Ye have been caused to err by the spirit of whoredom." For by me they have been tripped up. I am he who have so often troubled thee and have so often been overthrown by thee.' But Antony having given thanks to the Lord, with good courage said to him, `Thou art very despicable then, for thou art black-hearted and weak as a child. Henceforth I shall have no trouble from thee [1004] , "for the Lord is my helper, and I shall look down on mine enemies."' Having heard this, the black one straightway fled, shuddering at the words and dreading any longer even to come near the man.


Footnotes

[999] Job xl. 16 (v. 11, LXX): the descriptions of behemoth and leviathan are allegorically referred to Satan, cf. Orat. i. 1, note 5. and below, §24, Ep. Æg. 3. [1000] Cf. de Incar. 8. 2; 10. 5. [1001] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [1002] For visible appearances of devils, see `Phantasms of the Living,' vol. 2, p. 266, &c. (Trübner, 1886). [1003] Hosea iv. 12. [1004] Ps. cxviii. 7.

7. This was Antony's first struggle against the devil, or rather this victory was the Saviour's work in Antony [1005] , `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.' 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 round as a lion seeking some occasion against him. But Antony having learned from the Scriptures that the devices [1006] of the devil are many, zealously continued the discipline, 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. Wherefore more and more he repressed the body and kept it in subjection [1007] , lest haply having conquered on one side, he should be dragged down on the other. He therefore planned to accustom himself to a severer mode of life. And many marvelled, but he himself used to bear the labour easily; for the eagerness of soul, through the length of time it had abode in him, had wrought a good habit in him, so that taking but little initiation from others he shewed great zeal in this matter. He kept vigil to such an extent that he often continued the whole night without sleep; and this not once but often, to the marvel of others. He ate once a day, after sunset, sometimes once in two days, and often even in four. His food was bread and salt, his drink, water only. Of flesh and wine it is superfluous even to speak, since no such thing was found with the other earnest men. A rush mat served him to sleep upon, but for the most part he lay upon the bare ground. He would not anoint himself with oil, saying it behoved young men to be earnest in training and not to seek what would enervate the body; but they must accustom it to labour, mindful of the Apostle's words [1008] , `when I am weak, then am I strong.' `For,' said he, `the fibre of the soul is then sound when the pleasures of the body are diminished.' And he had come to this truly wonderful conclusion, `that progress in virtue, and retirement from the world for the sake of it, ought not to be measured by time, but by desire and fixity of purpose.' He at least gave no thought to the past, but day by day, as if he were at the beginning of his discipline, applied greater pains for advancement, often repeating to himself the saying of Paul [1009] : `Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before.' He was also mindful of the words spoken by the prophet Elias [1010] , `the Lord liveth before whose presence I stand to-day.' For he observed that in saying `to-day' the prophet did not compute the time that had gone by: but daily as though ever commencing he eagerly endeavoured to make himself fit to appear before God, being pure in heart and ever ready to submit to His counsel, and to Him alone. And he used to say to himself that from the life of the great Elias the hermit ought to see his own as in a mirror.


Footnotes

[1005] Rom. viii. 3 and 4. [1006] Eph. vi. 11. [1007] 1 Cor. ix. 27; Ath. (with many fathers and uncials) appears to have read hupopiazo, the reading which is followed by the Authorised Version. [1008] 2 Cor. xii. 10. [1009] Phil. iii. 14. [1010] 1 Kings xviii. 15.

8. Thus tightening his hold upon himself, Antony departed to the tombs, which happened to be at a distance from the village; and having bid one of his acquaintances to bring him bread at intervals of many days, he entered one of the tombs, and the other having shut the door on him, he remained within alone. And when the enemy could not endure it, but was even fearful that in a short time Antony would fill the desert with the discipline, coming one night with a multitude of demons, he so cut him with stripes that he lay on the ground speechless from the excessive pain. For he affirmed that the torture had been so excessive that no blows inflicted by man could ever have caused him such torment. But by the Providence of God--for the Lord never overlooks them that hope in Him--the next day his acquaintance came bringing him the loaves. And having opened the door and seeing him lying on the ground as though dead, he lifted him up and carried him to the church in the village, and laid him upon the ground. And many of his kinsfolk and the villagers sat around Antony as round a corpse. But about midnight he came to himself and arose, and when he saw them all asleep and his comrade alone watching, he motioned with his head for him to approach, and asked him to carry him again to the tombs without waking anybody.

9. He was carried therefore by the man, and as he was wont, when the door was shut he was within alone. And he could not stand up on account of the blows, but he prayed as he lay. And after he had prayed, he said with a shout, Here am I, Antony; I flee not from your stripes, for even if you inflict more nothing shall separate me [1011] from the love of Christ. And then he sang, `though a camp be set against me, my heart shall not be afraid [1012] .' These were the thoughts and words of this ascetic. But the enemy, who hates good, marvelling that after the blows he dared to return, called together his hounds and burst forth, `Ye see,' said he, `that neither by the spirit of lust nor by blows did we stay the man, but that he braves us, let us attack him in another fashion.' But changes of form for evil are easy for the devil, so in the night they made such a din that the whole of that place seemed to be shaken by an earthquake, and the demons as if breaking the four walls of the dwelling seemed to enter through them, coming in the likeness of beasts and creeping things. And the place was on a sudden filled with the forms of lions, bears, leopards, bulls, serpents, asps, scorpions, and wolves, and each of them was moving according to his nature. The lion was roaring, wishing to attack, the bull seeming to toss with its horns, the serpent writhing but unable to approach, and the wolf as it rushed on was restrained; altogether the noises of the apparitions, with their angry ragings, were dreadful. But Antony, stricken and goaded by them, felt bodily pains severer still. He lay watching, however, with unshaken soul, groaning from bodily anguish; but his mind was clear, and as in mockery he said, `If there had been any power in you, it would have sufficed had one of you come, but since the Lord hath made you weak, you attempt to terrify me by numbers: and a proof of your weakness is that you take the shapes of brute beasts.' And again with boldness he said, `If you are able, and have received power against me, delay not to attack; but if you are unable, why trouble me 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 upon him, because they were mocking themselves rather than him.

10. Nor was the Lord then forgetful of Antony's wrestling, but was at hand to help him. So looking up he saw the roof as it were opened, and a ray of light descending to him. The demons suddenly vanished, the pain of his body straightway ceased, and the building was again whole. But Antony feeling the help, and getting his breath again, and being freed from pain, besought the vision which had appeared to him, saying, `Where wert thou? Why didst thou not appear at the beginning to make my pains to cease?' And a voice came to him, `Antony, I was here, but I waited to see thy fight; wherefore since thou hast endured, and hast not been worsted, I will ever be a succour to thee, and will make thy name known everywhere.' Having heard this, Antony arose and prayed, and received such strength that he perceived that he had more power in his body than formerly. And he was then about thirty-five years old.


Footnotes

[1011] Rom. viii. 35. [1012] Ps. xxvii. 3.

11. And on the day following he went forth still more eagerly bent on the service of God and having fallen in with the old man he had met previously, he asked him to dwell with him in the desert. But when the other declined on account of his great age, and because as yet there was no such custom, Antony himself set off forthwith to the mountain. And yet again the enemy seeing his zeal and wishing to hinder it, cast in his way what seemed to be a great silver dish. But Antony, seeing the guile of the Evil One, stood, and having looked on the dish, he put the devil in it to shame, saying, `Whence comes a dish in the desert? This road is not well-worn, nor is there here a trace of any wayfarer; it could not have fallen without being missed on account of its size; and he who had lost it having turned back, to seek it, would have found it, for it is a desert place. This is some wile of the devil. O thou Evil One, not with this shalt thou hinder my purpose; let it go with thee to destruction. [1013] ' And when Antony had said this it vanished like smoke from the face of fire.


Footnotes

[1013] Cf. Acts viii. 20.

12. Then again as he went on he saw what was this time not visionary, but real gold scattered in the way. But whether the devil showed it, or some better power to try the athlete and show the Evil One that Antony truly cared nought for money, neither he told nor do we know. But it is certain that that which appeared was gold. And Antony marvelled at the quantity, but passed it by as though he were going over fire; so he did not even turn, but hurried on at a run to lose sight of the place. More and more confirmed in his purpose, he hurried to the mountain, and having found a fort, so long deserted that it was full of creeping things, on the other side of the river; he crossed over to it and dwelt there. The reptiles, as though some one were chasing them, immediately left the place. But he built up the entrance completely, having stored up loaves for six months--this is a custom of the Thebans, and the loaves often remain fresh a whole year--and as he found water within, he descended as into a shrine, and abode within by himself, never going forth nor looking at any one who came. Thus he employed a long time training himself, and received loaves, let down from above, twice in the year.

13. But those of his acquaintances who came, since he did not permit them to enter, often used to spend days and nights outside, and heard as it were crowds within clamouring, dinning, sending forth piteous voices and crying, `Go from what is ours. What dost thou even in the desert? Thou canst not abide our attack.' So at first those outside thought there were some men fighting with him, and that they had entered by ladders; but when stooping down they saw through a hole there was nobody, they were afraid, accounting them to be demons, and they called on Antony. Them he quickly heard, though he had not given a thought to the demons, and coming to the door he besought them to depart and not to be afraid, `for thus,' said he, `the demons make their seeming onslaughts against those who are cowardly. Sign yourselves therefore with the cross [1014] , and depart boldly, and let these make sport for themselves.' So they departed fortified with the sign of the Cross. But he remained in no wise harmed by the evil spirits, nor was he wearied with the contest, for there came to his aid visions from above, and the weakness of the foe relieved him of much trouble and armed him with greater zeal. For his acquaintances used often to come expecting to find him dead, and would hear him singing [1015] , `Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, let them also that hate Him flee before His face. As smoke vanisheth, let them vanish; as wax melteth before the face of fire, so let the sinners perish from the face of God;' and again, `All nations compassed me about, and in the name of the Lord I requited them [1016]

.'


Footnotes

[1014] Cf. de Incarn. xlvii. 2. [1015] Ps. lxviii. 1. [1016] Ps. cxviii. 10. Evagr. renders by `vindicavi in eis.'

14. And so for nearly twenty years he continued training himself in solitude, never going forth, and but seldom seen by any. After this, when many were eager and wishful to imitate his discipline, and his acquaintances came and began to cast down and wrench off the door by force, Antony, as from a shrine, came forth initiated in the mysteries and filled with the Spirit of God. Then for the first time he was seen outside the fort by those who came to see him. And they, when they saw him, wondered at the sight, for he had the same habit of body as before, and was neither fat, like a man without exercise, nor lean from fasting and striving with the demons, but he was just the same as they had known him before his retirement. And again his soul was free from blemish, for it was neither contracted as if by grief, nor relaxed by pleasure, nor possessed by laughter or dejection, for he was not troubled when he beheld the crowd, nor overjoyed at being saluted by so many. But he was altogether even as being guided by reason, and abiding in a natural state. Through him the Lord healed the bodily ailments of many present, and cleansed others from evil spirits. And He gave grace to Antony in speaking, so that he consoled many that were sorrowful, and set those at variance at one, exhorting all to prefer the love of Christ before all that is in the world. And while he exhorted and advised them to remember the good things to come, and the loving-kindness of God towards us, `Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all [1017] ,' he persuaded many to embrace the solitary life. And thus it happened in the end that cells arose even in the mountains, and the desert was colonised by monks, who came forth from their own people, and enrolled themselves for the citizenship in the heavens.

15. But when he was obliged to cross the Arsenoitic Canal [1018] --and the occasion of it was the visitation of the brethren--the canal was full of crocodiles. And by simply praying, he entered it, and all they with him, and passed over in safety. And having returned to his cell, he applied himself to the same noble and valiant exercises; and by frequent conversation he increased the eagerness of those already monks, stirred up in most of the rest the love of the discipline, and speedily by the attraction of his words cells multiplied, and he directed them all as a father.


Footnotes

[1017] Rom. viii. 32. [1018] Between the Nile and the Fayûm.

16. One day when he had gone forth because all the monks had assembled to him and asked to hear words from him, he spoke to them in the Egyptian tongue as follows: `The Scriptures are enough for instruction [1019] , but it is a good thing to encourage one another in the faith, and to stir up with words. Wherefore you, as children, carry that which you know to your father; and I as the elder share my knowledge and what experience has taught me with you. Let this especially be the common aim of all, neither to give way having once begun, nor to faint in trouble, nor to say: We have lived in the discipline a long time: but rather as though making a beginning daily let us increase our earnestness. For the whole life of man is very short, measured by the ages to come, wherefore all our time is nothing compared with eternal life. And in the world everything is sold at its price, and a man exchanges one equivalent for another; but the promise of eternal life is bought for a trifle. For it is written, "The days of our life in them are threescore years and ten, but if they are in strength, fourscore years, and what is more than these is labour and sorrow [1020] ." Whenever, therefore, we live full fourscore years, or even a hundred in the discipline, not for a hundred years only shall we reign, but instead of a hundred we shall reign for ever and ever. And though we fought on earth, we shall not receive our inheritance on earth, but we have the promises in heaven; and having put off the body which is corrupt, we shall receive it incorrupt.

17. `Wherefore, children, let us not faint nor deem that the time is long, or that we are doing something great, "for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward [1021] ." Nor let us think, as we look at the world, that we have renounced anything of much consequence, for the whole earth is very small compared with all the heaven. Wherefore if it even chanced that we were lords of all the earth and gave it all up, it would be nought worthy of comparison with the kingdom of heaven. For as if a man should despise a copper drachma to gain a hundred drachmas of gold; so if a man were lord of all the earth and were to renounce it, that which he gives up is little, and he receives a hundredfold. But if not even the whole earth is equal in value to the heavens, then he who has given up a few acres leaves as it were nothing; and even if he have given up a house or much gold he ought not to boast nor be low-spirited. Further, we should consider that even if we do not relinquish them for virtue's sake, still afterwards when we die we shall leave them behind--very often, as the Preacher saith [1022] , to those to whom we do not wish. Why then should we not give them up for virtue's sake, that we may inherit even a kingdom? Therefore let the desire of possession take hold of no one, for what gain is it to acquire these things which we cannot take with us? Why not rather get those things which we can take away with us--to wit, prudence, justice, temperance, courage, understanding, love, kindness to the poor, faith in Christ, freedom from wrath, hospitality? If we possess these, we shall find them of themselves preparing for us a welcome there in the land of the meek-hearted.

18. `And so from such things let a man persuade himself not to make light of it, especially if he considers that he himself is the servant of the Lord, and ought to serve his Master. Wherefore as a servant would not dare to say, because I worked yesterday, I will not work today; and considering the past will do no work in the future; but, as it is written in the Gospel, daily shows the same readiness to please his master, and to avoid risk: so let us daily abide firm in our discipline, knowing that if we are careless for a single day the Lord will not pardon us, for the sake of the past, but will be wrath against us for our neglect. As also we have heard in Ezekiel [1023] ; and as Judas because of one night destroyed his previous labour.

19. `Wherefore, children, let us hold fast our discipline, and let us not be careless. For in it the Lord is our fellow-worker, as it is written, "to all that choose the good, God worketh with them for good [1024] ." But to avoid being heedless, it is good to consider the word of the Apostle, "I die daily [1025] ." For if we too live as though dying daily, we shall not sin. And the meaning of that saying is, that as we rise day by day we should think that we shall not abide till evening; and again, when about to lie down to sleep, we should think that we shall not rise up. For our life is naturally uncertain, and Providence allots it to us daily. But thus ordering our daily life, we shall neither fall into sin, nor have a lust for anything, nor cherish wrath against any, nor shall we heap up treasure upon earth. But, as though under the daily expectation of death, we shall be without wealth, and shall forgive all things to all men, nor shall we retain at all the desire of women or of any other foul pleasure. But we shall turn from it as past and gone, ever striving and looking forward to the day of Judgment. For the greater dread and danger of torment ever destroys the ease of pleasure, and sets up the soul if it is like to fall.

20. `Wherefore having already begun and set out in the way of virtue, let us strive the more that we may attain those things that are before. And let no one turn to the things behind, like Lot's wife, all the more so that the Lord hath said, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and turning back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven [1026] ." And this turning back is nought else but to feel regret, and to be once more worldly-minded. But fear not to hear of virtue, nor be astonished at the name. For it is not far from us, nor is it without ourselves, but it is within us, and is easy if only we are willing. That they may get knowledge, the Greeks live abroad and cross the sea, but we have no need to depart from home for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, nor to cross the sea for the sake of virtue. For the Lord aforetime hath said, "The kingdom of heaven is within you [1027] ." Wherefore virtue hath need at our hands of willingness alone, since it is in us and is formed from us. For when the soul hath its spiritual faculty in a natural state virtue is formed. And it is in a natural state when it remains as it came into existence. And when it came into existence it was fair and exceeding honest. For this cause Joshua, the son of Nun, in his exhortation said to the people, "Make straight your heart unto the Lord God of Israel [1028] ," and John, "Make your paths straight [1029] ." For rectitude of soul consists in its having its spiritual part in its natural state as created. But on the other hand, when it swerves and turns away from its natural state, that is called vice of the soul. Thus the matter is not difficult. If we abide as we have been made, we are in a state of virtue, but if we think of ignoble things we shall be accounted evil. If, therefore, this thing had to be acquired from without, it would be difficult in reality; but if it is in us, let us keep ourselves from foul thoughts. And as we have received the soul as a deposit, let us preserve it for the Lord, that He may recognise His work as being the same as He made it.

21. `And let us strive that wrath rule us not nor lust overcome us, for it is written, "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. And lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin, and the sin when it is full grown bringeth forth death [1030] ." Thus living, let us keep guard carefully, and as it is written, "keep our hearts with all watchfulness [1031] ." For we have terrible and crafty foes--the evil spirits--and against them we wrestle, as the Apostle said, "Not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [1032] ." Great is their number in the air around us [1033] , and they are not far from us. Now there are great distinctions among them; and concerning their nature and distinctions much could be said, but such a description is for others of greater powers than we possess. But at this time it is pressing and necessary for us only to know their wiles against ourselves.

22. `First, therefore, we must know this: that the demons have not been created like what we mean when we call them by that name; for God made nothing evil, but even they have been made good. Having fallen, however, from the heavenly wisdom, since then they have been grovelling on earth. On the one hand they deceived the Greeks with their displays, while out of envy of us Christians they move all things in their desire to hinder us from entry into the heavens; in order that we should not ascend up thither from whence they fell. Thus there is need of much prayer and of discipline, that when a man has received through the Spirit the gift of discerning spirits, he may have power to recognise their characteristics: which of them are less and which more evil; of what nature is the special pursuit of each, and how each of them is overthrown and cast out. For their villainies and the changes in their plots are many. The blessed Apostle and his followers knew such things when they said, "for we are not ignorant of his devices [1034] ;" and we, from the temptations we have suffered at their hands, ought to correct one another under them. Wherefore I, having had proof of them, speak as to children.

23. `The demons, therefore, if they see all Christians, and monks especially, labouring cheerfully and advancing, first make an attack by temptation and place hindrances to hamper our way, to wit, evil thoughts. But we need not fear their suggestions, for by prayer, fasting, and faith in the Lord their attack immediately fails. But even when it does they cease not, but knavishly by subtlety come on again. For when they cannot deceive the heart openly with foul pleasures they approach in different guise, and thenceforth shaping displays they attempt to strike fear, changing their shapes, taking the forms of women, wild beasts, creeping things, gigantic bodies, and troops of soldiers. But not even then need ye fear their deceitful displays. For they are nothing and quickly disappear, especially if a man fortify himself beforehand with faith and the sign of the cross [1035] . Yet are they bold and very shameless, for if thus they are worsted they make an onslaught in another manner, and pretend to prophesy and foretell the future, and to shew themselves of a height reaching to the roof and of great breadth; that they may stealthily catch by such displays those who could not be deceived by their arguments. If here also they find the soul strengthened by faith and a hopeful mind, then they bring their leader to their aid.

24. `And he said they often appeared as the Lord revealed the devil to Job, saying, "His eyes are as the morning star. From his mouth proceed burning lamps and hearths of fire are cast forth. The smoke of a furnace blazing with the fire of coals proceeds from his nostrils. His breath is coals and from his mouth issues flame [1036] ." When the prince of the demons appears in this wise, the crafty one, as I said before, strikes terror by speaking great things, as again the Lord convicted him saying to Job, for "he counteth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood, yea he counteth the sea as a pot of ointment, and the depth of the abyss as a captive, and the abyss as a covered walk [1037] ." And by the prophet, "the enemy said, I will pursue and overtake [1038] ," and again by another, "I will grasp the whole world in my hand as a nest, and take it up as eggs that have been left [1039] ." Such, in a word, are their boasts and professions that they may deceive the godly. But not even then ought we, the faithful, to fear his appearance or give heed to his words. For he is a liar and speaketh of truth never a word. And though speaking words so many and so great in his boldness, without doubt, like a dragon he was drawn with a hook by the Saviour [1040] , and as a beast of burden he received the halter round his nostrils, and as a runaway his nostrils were bound with a ring, and his lips bored with an armlet [1041] . And he was bound by the Lord as a sparrow, that we should mock him. And with him are placed the demons his fellows, like serpents and scorpions to be trodden underfoot by us Christians. And the proof of this is that we now live opposed to him. For he who threatened to dry the sea and seize upon the world, behold now cannot stay our discipline, nor even me speaking against him. Let us then heed not his words, for he is a liar: and let us not fear his visions, seeing that they themselves are deceptive. For that which appears in them is no true light, but they are rather the preludes and likenesses of the fire prepared for the demons who attempt to terrify men with those flames in which they themselves will be burned. Doubtless they appear; but in a moment disappear again, hurting none of the faithful, but bringing with them the likeness of that fire which is about to receive themselves. Wherefore it is unfitting that we should fear them on account of these things; for through the grace of Christ all their practices are in vain.

25. `Again they are treacherous, and are ready to change themselves into all forms and assume all appearances. Very often also without appearing they imitate the music of harp and voice, and recall the words of Scripture. Sometimes, too, while we are reading they immediately repeat many times, like an echo, what is read. They arouse us from our sleep to prayers; and this constantly, hardly allowing us to sleep at all. At another time they assume the appearance of monks and feign the speech of holy men, that by their similarity they may deceive and thus drag their victims where they will. But no heed must be paid them even if they arouse to prayer, even if they counsel us not to eat at all, even though they seem to accuse and cast shame upon us for those things which once they allowed. For they do this not for the sake of piety or truth, but that they may carry off the simple to despair; and that they may say the discipline is useless, and make men loathe the solitary life as a trouble and burden, and hinder those who in spite of them walk in it. 26. `Wherefore the prophet sent by the Lord declared them to be wretched, saying: "Wo is he who giveth his neighbours to drink muddy destruction [1042] ." For such practices and devices are subversive of the way which leads to virtue. And the Lord Himself, even if the demons spoke the truth,--for they said truly "Thou art the Son of God [1043] "--still bridled their mouths and suffered them not to speak; lest haply they should sow their evil along with the truth, and that He might accustom us never to give heed to them even though they appear to speak what is true. For it is unseemly that we, having the holy Scriptures and freedom from the Saviour, should be taught by the devil who hath not kept his own order but hath gone from one mind to another [1044] . Wherefore even when he uses the language of Scripture He forbids him, saying: "But to the sinner said God, Wherefore dost thou declare My ordinances and takest My covenant in thy mouth [1045] ?" For the demons do all things--they prate, they confuse, they dissemble, they confound--to deceive the simple. They din, laugh madly, and whistle; but if no heed is paid to them forthwith they weep and lament as though vanquished.'

27. `The Lord therefore, as God, stayed the mouths of the demons: and it is fitting that we, taught by the saints, should do like them and imitate their courage. For they when they saw these things used to say: "When the sinner rose against me, I was dumb and humble, and kept silence from good words [1046] ." And again: "But I was as a deaf man and heard not, and as a dumb man who openeth not his mouth, and I became as a man who heareth not [1047] ." So let us neither hear them as being strangers to us, nor give heed to them even though they arouse us to prayer and speak concerning fasting. But let us rather apply ourselves to our resolve of discipline, and let us not be deceived by them who do all things in deceit, even though they threaten death. For they are weak and can do nought but threaten.

28. `Already in passing I have spoken on these things, and now I must not shrink from speaking on them at greater length, for to put you in remembrance will be a source of safety. Since the Lord visited earth [1048] , the enemy is fallen and his powers weakened. Wherefore although he could do nothing, still like a tyrant, he did not bear his fall quietly, but threatened, though his threats were words only. And let each one of you consider this, and he will be able to despise the demons. Now if they were hampered with such bodies as we are, it would be possible for them to say, "Men when they are hidden we cannot find, but whenever we do find them we do them hurt." And we also by lying in concealment could escape them, shutting the doors against them. But if they are not of such a nature as this, but are able to enter in, though the doors be shut, and haunt all the air, both they and their leader the devil, and are wishful for evil and ready to injure; and, as the Saviour said, "From the beginning the devil is a manslayer and a father of vice [1049] ;" while we, though this is so, are alive, and spend our lives all the more in opposing him; it is plain they are powerless. For place is no hindrance to their plots, nor do they look on us as friends that they should spare us; nor are they lovers of good that they should amend. But on the contrary they are evil, and nothing is so much sought after by them as wounding them that love virtue and fear God. But since they have no power to effect anything, they do nought but threaten. But if they could, they would not hesitate, but forthwith work evil (for all their desire is set on this), and especially against us. Behold now we are gathered together and speak against them, and they know when we advance they grow weak. If therefore they had power they would permit none of us Christians to live, for godliness is an abomination to a sinner [1050] . But since they can do nothing they inflict the greater wounds on themselves; for they can fulfil none of their threats. Next this ought to be considered, that we may be in no fear of them: that if they had the power they would not come in crowds, nor fashion displays, nor with change of form would they frame deceits. But it would suffice that one only should come and accomplish that which he was both able and willing to do: especially as every one who has the power neither slays with display nor strikes fear with tumult, but forthwith makes full use of his authority as he wishes. But the demons as they have no power are like actors on the stage changing their shape and frightening children with tumultuous apparition and various forms: from which they ought rather to be despised as shewing their weakness. At least the true angel of the Lord sent against the Assyrian had no need for tumults nor displays from without, nor noises nor rattlings, but in quiet he used his power and forthwith destroyed a hundred and eighty-five thousand. But demons like these, who have no power, try to terrify at least by their displays [1051] .

29. `But if any one having in mind the history of Job [1052] should say, Why then hath the devil gone forth and accomplished all things against him; and stripped him of all his possessions, and slew his children, and smote him with evil ulcers? let such a one, on the other hand, recognise that the devil was not the strong man, but God who delivered Job to him to be tried. Certainly he had no power to do anything, but he asked, and having received it, he hath wrought what he did. So also from this the enemy is the more to be condemned, for although willing he could not prevail against one just man. For if he could have, he would not have asked permission. But having asked not once but also a second time, he shows his weakness and want of power. And it is no wonder if he could do nothing against Job, when destruction would not have come even on his cattle had not God allowed it. And he has not the power over swine, for as it is written in the Gospel, they besought the Lord, saying, "Let us enter the swine [1053] ." But if they had power not even against swine, much less have they any over men formed [1054] in the image of God.

30. `So then we ought to fear God only, and despise the demons, and be in no fear of them. But the more they do these things the more let us intensify our discipline against them, for a good life and faith in God is a great weapon. At any rate they fear the fasting, the sleeplessness, the prayers, the meekness, the quietness, the contempt of money and vainglory, the humility, the love of the poor, the alms, the freedom from anger of the ascetics, and, chief of all, their piety towards Christ. Wherefore they do all things that they may not have any that trample on them, knowing the grace given to the faithful against them by the Saviour, when He says, "Behold I have given to you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy [1055] ."

31. `Wherefore if they pretend to foretell the future, let no one give heed, for often they announce beforehand that the brethren are coming days after. And they do come. The demons, however, do this not from any care for the hearers, but to gain their trust, and that then at length, having got them in their power, they may destroy them. Whence we must give no heed to them, but ought rather to confute them when speaking, since we do not need them. For what wonder is it, if with more subtle bodies than men have [1056] , when they have seen them start on their journey, they surpass them in speed, and announce their coming? Just as a horseman getting a start of a man on foot announces the arrival of the latter beforehand, so in this there is no need for us to wonder at them. For they know none of those things which are not yet in existence; but God only is He who knoweth all things before their birth [1057] . But these, like thieves, running off first with what they see, proclaim it: to how many already have they announced our business--that we are assembled together, and discuss measures against them, before any one of us could go and tell these things. This in good truth a fleet-footed boy could do, getting far ahead of one less swift. But what I mean is this. If any one begins to walk from the Thebaid, or from any other district, before he begins to walk, they do not know whether he will walk. But when they have seen him walking they run on, and before he comes up report his approach. And so it falls out that after a few days the travellers arrive. But often the walkers turn back, and the demons prove false.'

32. `So, too, with respect to the water of the river, they sometimes make foolish statements. For having seen that there has been much rain in the regions of Ethiopia, and knowing that they are the cause of the flood of the river before the water has come to Egypt they run on and announce it. And this men could have told, if they had as great power of running as the demons. And as David's spy [1058] going up to a lofty place saw the man approaching better than one who stayed down below, and the forerunner himself announced, before the others came up, not those things which had not taken place, but those things which were already on the way and were being accomplished, so these also prefer to labour, and declare what is happening to others simply for the sake of deceiving them. If, however, Providence meantime plans anything different for the waters or wayfarers--for Providence can do this--the demons are deceived, and those who gave heed to them cheated.'

33. `Thus in days gone by arose the oracles of the Greeks, and thus they were led astray by the demons. But thus also thenceforth their deception was brought to an end by the coming of the Lord [1059] , who brought to nought the demons and their devices. For they know nothing of themselves, but, like thieves, what they get to know from others they pass on, and guess at rather than foretell things. Therefore if sometimes they speak the truth, let no one marvel at them for this. For experienced physicians also, since they see the same malady in different people, often foretell what it is, making it out by their acquaintance with it. Pilots, too, and farmers, from their familiarity with the weather, tell at a glance the state of the atmosphere, and forecast whether it will be stormy or fine. And no one would say that they do this by inspiration, but from experience and practice. So if the demons sometimes do the same by guesswork, let no one wonder at it or heed them. For what use to the hearers is it to know from them what is going to happen before the time? Or what concern have we to know such things, even if the knowledge be true? For it is not productive of virtue, nor is it any token of goodness. For none of us is judged for what he knows not, and no one is called blessed because he hath learning and knowledge. But each one will be called to judgment in these points--whether he have kept the faith and truly observed the commandments.'

34. `Wherefore there is no need to set much value on these things, nor for the sake of them to practise a life of discipline and labour; but that living well we may please God. And we neither ought to pray to know the future, nor to ask for it as the reward of our discipline; but our prayer should be that the Lord may be our fellow-helper for victory over the devil. And if even once we have a desire to know the future, let us be pure in mind, for I believe that if a soul is perfectly pure and in its natural state, it is able [1060] , being clear-sighted, to see more and further than the demons--for it has the Lord who reveals to it--like the soul of Elisha, which saw what was done [1061] by Gehazi, and beheld the hosts [1062] standing on its side.'

35. `When, therefore, they come by night to you and wish to tell the future, or say, "we are the angels," give no heed, for they lie. Yea even if they praise your discipline and call you blessed, hear them not, and have no dealings with them; but rather sign yourselves and your houses, and pray, and you shall see them vanish. For they are cowards, and greatly fear the sign of the Lord's Cross, since of a truth in it the Saviour stripped them, and made an example of them [1063] . But if they shamelessly stand their ground, capering and changing their forms of appearance, fear them not, nor shrink, nor heed them as though they were good spirits. For the presence either of the good or evil by the help of God can easily be distinguished. The vision of the holy ones is not fraught with distraction: "For they will not strive, nor cry, nor shall any one hear their voice [1064] ." But it comes so quietly and gently that immediately joy, gladness and courage arise in the soul. For the Lord who is our joy is with them, and the power of God the Father. And the thoughts of the soul remain unruffled and undisturbed, so that it, enlightened as it were with rays, beholds by itself those who appear. For the love of what is divine and of the things to come possesses it, and willingly it would be wholly joined with them if it could depart along with them. But if, being men, some fear the vision of the good, those who appear immediately take fear away; as Gabriel [1065] did in the case of Zacharias, and as the angel [1066] did who appeared to the women at the holy sepulchre, and as He did who said to the shepherds in the Gospel, "Fear not." For their fear arose not from timidity, but from the recognition of the presence of superior beings. Such then is the nature of the visions of the holy ones.'

36. `But the inroad and the display of the evil spirits is fraught with confusion, with din, with sounds and cryings such as the disturbance of boorish youths or robbers would occasion. From which arise fear in the heart, tumult and confusion of thought, dejection, hatred towards them who live a life of discipline, indifference, grief, remembrance of kinsfolk and fear of death, and finally desire of evil things, disregard of virtue and unsettled habits. Whenever, therefore, ye have seen ought and are afraid, if your fear is immediately taken away and in place of it comes joy unspeakable, cheerfulness, courage, renewed strength, calmness of thought and all those I named before, boldness and love toward God,--take courage and pray. For joy and a settled state of soul show the holiness of him who is present. Thus Abraham beholding the Lord rejoiced [1067] ; so also John [1068] at the voice of Mary, the God-bearer [1069] , leaped for gladness. But if at the appearance of any there is confusion, knocking without, worldly display, threats of death and the other things which I have already mentioned, know ye that it is an onslaught of evil spirits.'

37. `And let this also be a token for you: whenever the soul remains fearful there is a presence of the enemies. For the demons do not take away the fear of their presence as the great archangel Gabriel did for Mary and Zacharias, and as he did who appeared to the women at the tomb; but rather whenever they see men afraid they increase their delusions that men may be terrified the more; and at last attacking they mock them, saying, "fall down and worship." Thus they deceived the Greeks, and thus by them they were considered gods, falsely so called. But the Lord did not suffer us to be deceived by the devil, for He rebuked him whenever he framed such delusions against Him, saying: "Get behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve [1070] ." More and more, therefore, let the deceiver be despised by us; for what the Lord hath said, this for our sakes He hath done: that the demons hearing like words from us may be put to flight through the Lord who rebuked them in those words.'

38. `And it is not fitting to boast at the casting forth of the demons, nor to be uplifted by the healing of diseases: nor is it fitting that he who casts out devils should alone be highly esteemed, while he who casts them not out should be considered nought. But let a man learn the discipline of each one and either imitate, rival, or correct it. For the working of signs is not ours but the Saviour's work: and so He said to His disciples: "Rejoice not that the demons are subject to you, but that your names are written in the heavens [1071] ." For the fact that our names are written in heaven is a proof of our virtuous life, but to cast out demons is a favour of the Saviour who granted it. Wherefore to those who boasted in signs but not in virtue, and said: "Lord, in Thy name did we not cast out demons, and in Thy name did many mighty works [1072] ?" He answered, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not;" for the Lord knoweth not the ways of the wicked. But we ought always to pray, as I said above, that we may receive the gift of discerning spirits; that, as it is written [1073] , we may not believe every spirit.'

39. `I should have liked to speak no further and to say nothing from my own promptings, satisfied with what I have said: but lest you should think that I speak at random and believe that I detail these things without experience or truth; for this cause even though I should become as a fool, yet the Lord who heareth knoweth the clearness of my conscience, and that it is not for my own sake, but on account of your affection towards me and at your petition that I again tell what I saw of the practices of evil spirits. How often have they called me blessed and I have cursed them in the name of the Lord! How often have they predicted the rising of the river, and I answered them, "What have you to do with it?" Once they came threatening and surrounded me like soldiers in full armour. At another time they filled the house with horses, wild beasts and creeping things, and I sang: "Some in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God [1074] ;" and at the prayers they were turned to flight by the Lord. Once they came in darkness, bearing the appearance of a light, and said, "We are come to give thee a light, Antony." But I closed my eyes and prayed, and immediately the light of the wicked ones was quenched. And a few months after they came as though singing psalms and babbling the words of Scripture, "But I like a deaf man, heard not [1075] ." Once they shook the cell [1076] with an earthquake, but I continued praying with unshaken heart. And after this they came again making noises, whistling and dancing. But as I prayed and lay singing psalms to myself they forthwith began to lament and weep, as if their strength had failed them. But I gave glory to the Lord who had brought down and made an example of their daring and madness.'

40. `Once a demon exceeding high appeared with pomp, and dared to say, "I am the power of God and I am Providence, what dost thou wish that I shall give thee?" But I then so much the more breathed upon him [1077] , and spoke the name of Christ, and set about to smite him. And I seemed to have smitten him, and forthwith he, big as he was, together with all his demons, disappeared at the name of Christ. At another time, while I was fasting, he came full of craft, under the semblance of a monk, with what seemed to be loaves, and gave me counsel, saying, "Eat and cease from thy many labours. Thou also art a man and art like to fall sick." But I, perceiving his device, rose up to pray; and he endured it not, for he departed, and through the door there seemed to go out as it were smoke. How often in the desert has he displayed what resembled gold, that I should only touch it and look on it. But I sang psalms against him, and he vanished away. Often they would beat me with stripes, and I repeated again and again, "Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ [1078] ," and at this they rather fell to beating one another. Nor was it I that stayed them and destroyed their power, but it was the Lord, who said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from Heaven; [1079] " but I, children, mindful of the Apostle's words, transferred [1080] this to myself, that you might learn not to faint in discipline, nor to fear the devil nor the delusions of the demons.'

41. `And since I have become a fool in detailing these things, receive this also as an aid to your safety and fearlessness; and believe me for I do not lie. Once some one knocked at the door of my cell, and going forth I saw one who seemed of great size and tall. Then when I enquired, "Who art thou?" he said, "I am Satan." Then when I said, "Why art thou here?" he answered, "Why do the monks and all other Christians blame me undeservedly? Why do they curse me hourly?" Then I answered, "Wherefore dost thou trouble them?" He said, "I am not he who troubles them, but they trouble themselves, for I am become weak. Have they not read [1081] ," "The swords of the enemy have come to an end, and thou hast destroyed the cities?" "I have no longer a place, a weapon, a city. The Christians are spread everywhere, and at length even the desert is filled with monks. Let them take heed to themselves, and let them not curse me undeservedly." Then I marvelled at the grace of the Lord, and said to him: "Thou who art ever a liar and never speakest the truth, this at length, even against thy will, thou hast truly spoken. For the coming of Christ hath made thee weak, and He hath cast thee down and stripped thee." But he having heard the Saviour's name, and not being able to bear the burning from it, vanished.'

42. `If, therefore, the devil himself confesses that his power is gone, we ought utterly to despise both him and his demons; and since the enemy with his hounds has but devices of this sort, we, having got to know their weakness, are able to despise them. Wherefore let us not despond after this fashion, nor let us have a thought of cowardice in our heart, nor frame fears for ourselves, saying, I am afraid lest a demon should come and overthrow me; lest he should lift me up and cast me down; or lest rising against me on a sudden he confound me. Such thoughts let us not have in mind at all, nor let us be sorrowful as though we were perishing; but rather let us be courageous and rejoice always, believing that we are safe. Let us consider in our soul that the Lord is with us, who put the evil spirits to flight and broke their power. Let us consider and lay to heart that while the Lord is with us, our foes can do us no hurt. For when they come they approach us in a form corresponding to the state in which they discover us [1082] , and adapt their delusions to the condition of mind in which they find us. If, therefore, they find us timid and confused, they forthwith beset the place, like robbers, having found it unguarded; and what we of ourselves are thinking, they do, and more also. For if they find us faint-hearted and cowardly, they mightily increase our terror, by their delusions and threats; and with these the unhappy soul is thenceforth tormented. But if they see us rejoicing in the Lord, contemplating the bliss of the future, mindful of the Lord, deeming all things in His hand, and that no evil spirit has any strength against the Christian, nor any power at all over any one--when they behold the soul fortified with these thoughts--they are discomfited and turned backwards. Thus the enemy, seeing Job fenced round with them, withdrew from him; but finding Judas unguarded, him he took captive. Thus if we are wishful to despise the enemy, let us ever ponder over the things of the Lord, and let the soul ever rejoice in hope. And we shall see the snares of the demon are like smoke, and the evil ones themselves flee rather than pursue. For they are, as I said before, exceeding fearful, ever looking forward to the fire prepared for them.'

43. `And for your fearlessness against them hold this sure sign--whenever there is any apparition, be not prostrate with fear, but whatsoever it be, first boldly ask, Who art thou? And from whence comest thou? And if it should be a vision of holy ones they will assure you, and change your fear into joy. But if the vision should be from the devil, immediately it becomes feeble, beholding your firm purpose of mind. For merely to ask, Who art thou [1083] ? and whence comest thou? is a proof of coolness. By thus asking, the son of Nun learned who his helper was; nor did the enemy escape the questioning of Daniel [1084] .'


Footnotes

[1019] Compare c. Gent. 1, de Synod. 6. [1020] Ps. xc. 10. LXX. [1021] Rom. viii. 18. [1022] Eccl. iv. 8, vi. 2. [1023] Ezek. xviii. 26. [1024] Rom. viii. 28, R.V. Marg. [1025] 1 Cor. xv. 31. [1026] Phil. iii. 13; Gen. xix. 26; Luke ix. 62 [1027] Luke xvii. 21 (from memory). [1028] Josh. xxiv. 23. [1029] Matt. iii. 3. [1030] James i. 20 and 15. [1031] Prov. iv. 23. [1032] Eph. vi. 12. [1033] This is not quite the view of Athanasius himself, who regards the air as cleared of evil spirits by the Death of Christ, de Incar. xxv. 5: but Athan. does not mean that their power over the wicked is done away; nor does Antony ascribe to them any power over the Christian, see §§24, 28, 41. [1034] 2 Cor. ii. 11. [1035] See above, §13. [1036] Job xli. 18, 19, 20 (vv. 9-11, LXX.), see above §5, note 15. [1037] Job xli. 27 sq. [1038] Exod. xv. 9. [1039] Isai. x. 14, cf. Ep Æg. 2. [1040] Job xli. 1. [1041] Ibid. 2. Cf. Job xl. 19-24 [1042] Habak. ii. 15. LXX. [1043] Luke iv. 41. [1044] hetera anth' heteron, as in de Incar. 11. 4. [1045] Ps. l. 16, Ep Æg. 3. [1046] Ps. xxxix. 2. [1047] Ps. xxxviii. 14. [1048] Cf. de Incar. 47, 48. [1049] John viii. 44. [1050] Ecclesiasticus i. 25. [1051] 2 Kings xix. 35. [1052] Job i. and ii. [1053] Matt. viii. 31. [1054] Cf. de Incar. 3. 3, and passim. [1055] Luke x. 19. [1056] This materialistic view of demons may be paralleled from Origen and other fathers (D.C.B. i. 809), but is not Athanasian. But it would be congenial to the Coptic mind; compare the story told by Cassian of the Monk Serapion, who, on being convinced that `God is a Spirit,' cried out, `You have taken my God from me' (and see D.C.B. 1. p. 120). [1057] Susann. 42. [1058] 2 Sam. xviii. 24. [1059] De Incar. 47. [1060] Compare below, §§59, 62, for examples. This quite goes beyond any teaching of Athanasius himself; at the same time it finds a point of contact in what he says about dreams in c. Gent. 30 (manteuomenos kai progignoskon), and about the soul's capacity for objective thought, ib. 33, de Incar. 17. 3. [1061] 2 Kings v. 26. [1062] 2 Kings vi. 17. [1063] Col. ii. 15. [1064] Matt. xii. 19, cf. Isai. xlii. 2. [1065] Luke i. 13. [1066] Matt. xxviii. 5. [1067] John viii. 56. [1068] Luke i. 41. [1069] theotokos, as in Orat. iii. 14 (where see note 3). [1070] Matt. iv. 10. [1071] Luke x. 20. [1072] Matt. vii. 22. [1073] 1 John iv. 1. [1074] Ps. xx. 7. [1075] Ps. xxxviii. 14. [1076] monasterion [1077] See D.C.A. p. 652. [1078] Rom. viii. 35. [1079] Luke x. 18. [1080] 1 Cor. iv. 6. [1081] Ps. ix. 6. [1082] `An important psychological observation.' (Schaff. Ch. Hist.) [1083] Josh. v. 13. [1084] Susann. 51-59

44. While Antony was thus speaking all rejoiced; in some the love of virtue increased, in others carelessness was thrown aside, the self-conceit of others was stopped; and all were persuaded to despise the assaults of the Evil One, and marvelled at the grace given to Antony from the Lord for the discerning of spirits. So their cells were in the mountains, like filled with holy bands of men who sang psalms, loved reading, fasted, prayed, rejoiced in the hope of things to come, laboured in alms-giving, and preserved love and harmony one with another. And truly it was possible, as it were, to behold a land set by itself, filled with piety and justice. For then there was neither the evil-doer, nor the injured, nor the reproaches of the tax-gatherer: but instead a multitude of ascetics; and the one purpose of them all was to aim at virtue. So that any one beholding the cells again, and seeing such good order among the monks, would lift up his voice and say, `How goodly are thy dwellings, O Jacob, and thy tents, O Israel; as shady glens and as a garden [1085] by a river; as tents which the Lord hath pitched, and like cedars near waters [1086] .'


Footnotes

[1085] LXX. `gardens.' [1086] Num. xxiv. 5, 6.

45. Antony, however, according to his custom, returned alone to his own cell, increased his discipline, and sighed daily as he thought of the mansions in Heaven, having his desire fixed on them, and pondering over the shortness of man's life. And he used to eat and sleep, and go about all other bodily necessities with shame when he thought of the spiritual faculties of the soul. So often, when about to eat with any other hermits, recollecting the spiritual food, he begged to be excused, and departed far off from them, deeming it a matter for shame if he should be seen eating by others. He used, however, when by himself, to eat through bodily necessity, but often also with the brethren; covered with shame on these occasions, yet speaking boldly words of help. And he used to say that it behoved a man to give all his time to his soul rather than his body, yet to grant a short space to the body through its necessities; but all the more earnestly to give up the whole remainder to the soul and seek its profit, that it might not be dragged down by the pleasures of the body, but, on the contrary, the body might be in subjection to the soul. For this is that which was spoken by the Saviour: `Be not anxious for your life what ye shall eat, nor for your body what ye shall put on. And do ye seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, and be not of a doubtful mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after. But your Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Howbeit seek ye first His Kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you [1087] .'


Footnotes

[1087] Matt. vi. 31; Luke xii. 29.

46. After this the Church was seized by the persecution which then [1088] took place under Maximinus, and when the holy martyrs were led to Alexandria, Antony also followed, leaving his cell, and saying, Let us go too, that if called, we may contend or behold them that are contending. And he longed to suffer martyrdom, but not being willing to give himself up, he ministered to the confessors in the mines and in the prisons. And he was very zealous in the judgment hall to stir up to readiness those who were summoned when in their contest, while those who were being martyred he received and brought on their way until they were perfected. The judge, therefore, beholding the fearlessness of Antony and his companions, and their zeal in this matter, commanded that no monk should appear in the judgment hall, nor remain at all in the city. So all the rest thought it good to hide themselves that day, but Antony gave so little heed to the command that he washed his garment, and stood all next day on a raised place before them, and appeared in his best before the governor. Therefore when all the rest wondered at this, and the governor saw and passed by with his array, he stood fearlessly, shewing the readiness of us Christians. For, as I said before, he prayed himself to be a martyr, wherefore he seemed as one grieved that he had not borne his witness. But the Lord was keeping him for our profit and that of others, that he should become a teacher to many of the discipline which he had learned from the Scriptures. For many only beholding his manner of life were eager to be imitators of his ways. So he again ministered as usual to the confessors, and as though he were their fellow captive he laboured in his ministry.


Footnotes

[1088] a.d. 303-311.

47. And when at last the persecution ceased, and the blessed Bishop Peter [1089] had borne his testimony, Antony departed, and again withdrew to his cell, and was there daily a martyr to his conscience, and contending in the conflicts of faith. And his discipline was much severer, for he was ever fasting, and he had a garment of hair on the inside, while the outside was skin, which he kept until his end. And he neither bathed his body with water to free himself from filth, nor did he ever wash his feet, nor even endure so much as to put them into water, unless compelled by necessity. Nor did any one even see him unclothed, nor his body naked at all, except after his death, when he was buried.


Footnotes

[1089] Martyred on Nov. 25, 311, cf. Eus. H. E. vii. 32.

48. When therefore he had retired and determined to fix a time, after which neither to go forth himself nor admit anybody, Martinian, a military officer, came and disturbed Antony. For he had a daughter afflicted with an evil spirit. But when he continued for a long while knocking at the door, and asking him to come out and pray to God for his child, Antony, not bearing to open, looked out from above and said, `Man, why dost thou call on me? I also am a man even as you. But if you believe on Christ whom I serve, go, and according as you believe, pray to God, and it shall come to pass.' Straightway, therefore, he departed, believing and calling upon Christ, and he received his daughter cleansed from the devil. Many other things also through Antony the Lord did, who saith, `Seek and it shall be given unto you [1090] .' For many of the sufferers, when he would not open his door, slept outside his cell, and by their faith and sincere prayers were healed.


Footnotes

[1090] Luke xi. 9.

49. But when he saw himself beset by many, and not suffered to withdraw himself according to his intent as he wished, fearing because of the signs which the Lord wrought by him, that either he should be puffed up, or that some other should think of him above what he ought to think, he considered 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, looking whether a boat would go by, that, having embarked thereon, he might go up the river with them. While he was considering these things, a voice came to him from above, `Antony, whither goest thou and wherefore?' But he no way disturbed, but as he had been accustomed to be called [1091] often thus, giving ear to it, answered, saying, `Since the multitude permit me not to be still, I wish to go into the upper Thebaid on account of the many hindrances that come upon me here, and especially because they demand of me things beyond my power.' But the voice said unto him, `Even though you should go into the Thebaid, or even though, as you have in mind, you should go down to the Bucolia [1092] , you will have to endure more, aye, double the amount of toil. But if you wish really to be in quiet, depart now into the inner desert.' And when Antony said, `Who will show me the way for I know it not?' immediately the voice pointed out to him Saracens about to go that way. So Antony approached, and drew near them, and asked that he might go with them into the desert. And they, as though they had been commanded by Providence, received him willingly. And having journeyed with them three days and three nights, he came to a very lofty mountain, and at the foot of the mountain ran a clear spring, whose waters were sweet and very cold; outside there was a plain and a few uncared-for palm trees.

50. Antony then, as it were, moved by God, loved the place [1093] , for this was the spot which he who had spoken with him by the banks of the river had pointed out. So having first received loaves from his fellow travellers, he abode in the mountain alone, no one else being with him. And recognising it as his own home, he remained in that place for the future. But the Saracens, having seen the earnestness of Antony, purposely used to journey that way, and joyfully brought him loaves, while now and then the palm trees also afforded him a poor and frugal relish. But after this, the brethren learning of the place, like children mindful of their father, took care to send to him. But when Antony saw that the bread was the cause of trouble and hardships to some of them, to spare the monks this, he resolved to ask some of those who came to bring him a spade, an axe, and a little corn. And when these were brought, he went over the land round the mountain, and having found a small plot of suitable ground, tilled it; and having a plentiful supply of water for watering, he sowed. This doing year by year, he got his bread from thence, rejoicing that thus he would be troublesome to no one, and because he kept himself from being a burden to anybody. But after this, seeing again that people came, he cultivated a few pot-herbs, that he who came to him might have some slight solace after the labour of that hard journey. At first, however, the wild beasts in the desert, coming because of the water, often injured his seeds and husbandry. 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 come not nigh this spot.' And from that time forward, as though fearful of his command, they no more came near the place.


Footnotes

[1091] See on this subject `Phantasms of the Living,' vol. 1, p. 480 sq. (Trübner, 1886). [1092] In Lower Egypt. [1093] Mount Colzim, seven hours distant from the Red Sea, where an old cloister still preserves his name and memory (Schaff, Ch. Hist. Nic, p. 183).

51. So he was alone in the inner mountain, spending his time in prayer and discipline. And the brethren who served him asked that they might come every month and bring him olives, pulse and oil, for by now he was an old man. There then he passed his life, and endured such great wrestlings, `Not against flesh and blood [1094] ,' as it is written, but against opposing demons, as we learned from those who visited him. For there they heard tumults, many voices, and, as it were, the clash of arms. At night they saw the mountain become full of wild beasts, and him also fighting as though against visible beings, and praying against them. And those who came to him he encouraged, while kneeling he contended and prayed to the Lord. Surely it was a marvellous thing that a man, alone in such a desert, feared neither the demons who rose up against him, nor the fierceness of the four-footed beasts and creeping things, for all they were so many. But in truth, as it is written, `He trusted in the Lord as Mount Sion [1095] ,' with a mind unshaken and undisturbed; so that the demons rather fled from him, and the wild beasts, as it is written [1096] , `kept peace with him.'

52. The devil, therefore, as David says in the Psalms [1097] , observed Antony and gnashed his teeth against him. But Antony was consoled by the Saviour and continued unhurt by his wiles and varied devices. As he was watching in the night the devil sent wild beasts against him. And almost all the hyenas in that desert came forth from their dens and surrounded him; and he was in the midst, while each one threatened to bite. Seeing that it was a trick of the enemy he said to them all: `If ye have received power against me I am ready to be devoured by you; but if ye were sent against me by demons, stay not, but depart, for I am a servant of Christ.' When Antony said this they fled, driven by that word as with a whip.

53. A few days after, as he was working (for he was careful to work hard), some one stood at the door and pulled the plait which he was working, for he used to weave baskets, which he gave to those who came in return for what they brought him. And rising up he saw a beast like a man to the thighs but having legs and feet like those of an ass. And Antony only signed himself and said, `I am a servant of Christ. If thou art sent against me, behold I am here.' But the beast together with his evil spirits fled, so that, through his speed, he fell and died. And the death of the beast was the fall of the demons. For they strove in all manner of ways to lead Antony from the desert and were not able.


Footnotes

[1094] Eph. vi. 12. [1095] Ps. cxxv. 1. [1096] Job v. 23. [1097] Ps. xxxv. 16.

54. And once being asked by the monks to come down and visit them and their abodes after a time, he journeyed with those who came to him. And a camel carried the loaves and the water for them. For all that desert is dry, and there is no water at all that is fit to drink, save in that mountain from whence they drew the water, and in which Antony's cell was. So when the water failed them on their way, and the heat was very great, they all were in danger. For having gone round the neighbourhood and finding no water, they could walk no further, but lay on the ground and despairing of themselves, let the camel go. But the old man seeing that they were all in jeopardy, groaning in deep grief, departed a little way from them, and kneeling down he stretched forth his hands and prayed. And immediately the Lord made water to well forth where he had stood praying, and so all drank and were revived. And having filled their bottles they sought the camel and found her, for the rope happened to have caught in a stone and so was held fast. Having led it and watered it they placed the bottles on its back and finished their journey in safety. And when he came to the outer cells all saluted him, looking on him as a father. And he too, as though bringing supplies from the mountain, entertained them with his words and gave them a share of help. And again there was joy in the mountains, zeal for improvement and consolation through their mutual faith. Antony also rejoiced when he beheld the earnestness of the monks, and his sister grown old in virginity, and that she herself also was the leader of other virgins.

55. So after certain days he went in again to the mountain. And henceforth many resorted to him, and others who were suffering ventured to go in. To all the monks therefore who came to him, he continually gave this precept: `Believe on the Lord and love Him; keep yourselves from filthy thoughts and fleshly pleasures, and as it is written in the Proverbs, be not deceived "by the fulness of the belly [1098] ." Pray continually; avoid vainglory; sing psalms before sleep and on awaking; hold in your heart the commandments of Scripture; be mindful of the works of the saints that your souls being put in remembrance of the commandments may be brought into harmony with the zeal of the saints.' And especially he counselled them to meditate continually on the apostle's word, `Let not the sun go down upon your wrath [1099] .' And he considered this was spoken of all commandments in common, and that not on wrath alone, but not on any other sin of ours, ought the sun to go down. For it was good and needful that neither the sun should condemn us for an evil by day nor the moon for a sin by night, or even for an evil thought. That this state may be preserved in us it is good to hear the apostle and keep his words, for he says, `Try your own selves and prove your own selves [1100] .' Daily, therefore, let each one take from himself the tale of his actions both by day and night; and if he have sinned, let him cease from it; while if he have not, let him not be boastful. But let him abide in that which is good, without being negligent, nor condemning his neighbours, nor justifying himself, `until the Lord come who searcheth out hidden things [1101] ,' as saith the blessed apostle Paul. For often unawares we do things that we know not of; but the Lord seeth all things. Wherefore committing the judgment to Him, let us have sympathy one with another. Let us bear each other's burdens [1102] : but let us examine our own selves and hasten to fill up that in which we are lacking. And as a safeguard against sin let the following be observed. Let us each one note and write down our actions and the impulses of our soul as though we were going to relate them to each other. And be assured that if we should be utterly ashamed to have them known, we shall abstain from sin and harbour no base thoughts in our mind. For who wishes to be seen while sinning? or who will not rather lie after the commission of a sin, through the wish to escape notice? As then while we are looking at one another, we would not commit carnal sin, so if we record our thoughts as though about to tell them to one another, we shall the more easily keep ourselves free from vile thoughts through shame lest they should be known. Wherefore let that which is written be to us in place of the eyes of our fellow hermits, that blushing as much to write as if we had been caught, we may never think of what is unseemly. Thus fashioning ourselves we shall be able to keep the body in subjection, to please the Lord, and to trample on the devices of the enemy.

56. This was the advice he gave to those who came to him. And with those who suffered he sympathised and prayed. And oft-times the Lord heard him on behalf of many: yet he boasted not because he was heard, nor did he murmur if he were not. But always he gave the Lord thanks and besought the sufferer to be patient, and to know that healing belonged neither to him nor to man at all, but only to the Lord, who doeth good when and to whom He will. The sufferers therefore used to receive the words of the old man as though they were a cure, learning not to be downhearted but rather to be long-suffering. And those who were healed were taught not to give thanks to Antony but to God alone.


Footnotes

[1098] Prov. xxiv. 15, LXX. [1099] Eph. iv. 26. [1100] 2 Cor. xiii. 5. [1101] 1 Cor. iv. 5; Rom. ii. 16. [1102] Gal. vi. 6.

57. Wherefore a man, Fronto by name, who was an officer of the Court and had a terrible disease, for he used to bite his own tongue and was in danger of injury to his eyes, having come to the mountain, asked Antony to pray for him. But Antony said to him, `Depart and thou shalt be healed.' But when he was violent and remained within some days, Antony waited and said, `If thou stayest here, thou canst not be healed. Go, and having come into Egypt thou shalt see the sign wrought in thee.' And he believed and went. And as soon as he set eyes on Egypt his sufferings ceased, and the man became whole according to the word of Antony, which the Saviour had revealed to him in prayer.

58. There was also a maiden from Busiris Tripolitana, who had a terrible and very hideous disorder. For the runnings of her eyes, nose, and ears fell to the ground and immediately became worms. She was paralysed also and squinted. Her parents having heard of monks going to Antony, and believing on the Lord who healed [1103] the woman with the issue of blood, asked to be allowed, together with their daughter, to journey with them. And when they suffered them, the parents together with the girl, remained outside the mountain with Paphnutius, the confessor and monk; but the monks went in to Antony. And when they only wished to tell about the damsel, he anticipated them, and detailed both the sufferings of the child and how she journeyed with them. Then when they asked that she should be admitted, Antony did not allow it, but said, `Go, and if she be not dead, you will find her healed: for the accomplishment of this is not mine, that she should come to me, wretched man that I am, but her healing is the work of the Saviour, who in every place sheweth His pity to them that call upon Him. Wherefore the Lord hath inclined to her as she prayed, and His loving-kindness hath declared to me that He will heal the child where she now is.' So the wonder took place; and going out they found the parents rejoicing and the girl whole.


Footnotes

[1103] Matt. ix. 20.

59. But when two brethren were coming to him, the water failed on the way, and one died and the other was at the point of death, for he had no strength to go on, but lay upon the ground expecting to die. But Antony sitting in the mountain called two monks, who chanced to be there, and urged them saying, `Take a pitcher of water and run on the road towards Egypt. For of two men who were coming, one is already dead and the other will die unless you hasten. For this has been revealed to me as I was praying.' The monks therefore went, and found one lying dead, whom they buried, and the other they restored with water and led him to the old man. For it was a day's journey [1104] . But if any one asks, why he did not speak before the other died, the question ought not to be asked. For the punishment of death was not Antony's but God's, who also judged the one and revealed the condition of the other. But the marvel here was only in the case of Antony: that he sitting in the mountain had his heart watchful, and had the Lord to show him things afar off.


Footnotes

[1104] For similar cases, cf. `Phantasms of the Living,' vol. 2, p. 368, &c.

60. And this is so, for once again he was sitting on the mountain, and looking up saw in the air some one being borne upwards, and there was much joy among those who met him. Then wondering and deeming a company of that kind to be blessed, he prayed to learn what this might be. And immediately a voice came to him: `This is the soul of Amun, the monk at Nitria.' Now Amun had persevered in the discipline up to old age; and the distance from Nitria to the mountain where Antony was, was thirteen days' journey. The companions of Antony therefore, seeing the old man amazed, asked to learn, and heard that Amun was just dead [1105] . And he was well known, for he had stayed there very often, and many signs had been wrought by his means. And this is one of them. Once when he had need to cross the river called Lycus (now it was the season of the flood), he asked his comrade Theodorus to remain at a distance, that they should not see one another naked as they swam the water. Then when Theodorus was departed he again felt ashamed even to see himself naked. While, therefore, he was pondering filled with shame, on a sudden he was borne over to the other side. Theodorus, therefore, himself being a good man, approached, and seeing Amun across first without a drop of water falling from him, enquired how he had got over. And when he saw that Amun was unwilling to tell him, he held him by the feet and declared that he would not let him go before he had learned it from him. So Amun seeing the determination of Theodorus especially from what he had said, and having asked him to tell no man before his death, told him that he had been carried and placed on the further side. And that he had not even set foot on the water, nor was that possible for man, but for the Lord alone and those whom He permits, as He did for the great apostle Peter [1106] . Theodorus therefore told this after the death of Amun. And the monks to whom Antony spoke concerning Amun's death marked the day; and when the brethren came up from Nitria thirty days after, they enquired of them and learned that Amun had fallen asleep at that day and hour in which the old man had seen his soul borne upwards. And both these and the others marvelled at the purity of Antony's soul, how he had immediately learned that which was taking place at a distance of thirteen days' journey, and had seen the soul as it was taken up.


Footnotes

[1105] The same story is told (by Bede in his Life) of St. Cuthbert, who saw the soul of St. Aidan being carried to heaven. Amun was probably the recipient of the letter, No. 48 in this volume. [1106] Matt. xiv. 28.

61. And Archelaus too, the Count, on a time having found him in the outer mountain, asked him merely to pray for Polycratia of Laodicea, an excellent and Christian [1107] maiden, for she suffered terribly in the stomach and side through over much discipline, and was altogether weakly of body. Antony prayed therefore, and the Count noted the day in which the prayer was made, and having departed to Laodicea he found the maiden whole. And having enquired when and on what day she was relieved of her infirmity, he produced the paper on which he had written the time of the prayer, and having read it he immediately shewed the writing on the paper. And all wondered when they knew that the Lord had relieved her of pain at the time when Antony was praying and invoking the goodness of the Saviour on her behalf.

62. And concerning those who came to him, he often foretold some days or sometimes a month beforehand what was the cause of their coming. For some came only for the sake of seeing him, others through sickness, and others suffering from evil spirits. And all thought the labour of the journey neither trouble nor loss. For each one returned aware that he had received benefit. But though saying such things and beholding such sights, he used to ask that no one should wonder at him for this; but should rather marvel at the Lord for having granted to us men to know Him as far as our powers extended.


Footnotes

[1107] Christophoros, lit. Christ-bearing.

63. Afterwards, on another occasion, having descended to the outer cells, he was asked to enter a vessel and pray with the monks, and he alone perceived an exceedingly unpleasant smell. But those on board said that the stench arose from the fish and salt meat in the ship. He replied however, the smell was different from that; and while he was speaking, a youth with an evil spirit, who had come and hidden himself in the ship, cried out. But the demon being rebuked in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ departed from him, and the man became whole. And all knew that the evil smell arose from the demon.

64. And another, a person of rank, came to him, possessed by a demon; and the demon was so terrible that the man possessed did not know that he was coming to Antony. But he even ate the excreta from his body. So those who brought him besought Antony to pray for him. And Antony pitying the young man prayed and kept watch with him all the night. And about dawn the young man suddenly attacked Antony and gave him a push. But when those who came with him were angry, Antony said, `Be not angry with the young man, for it is not he, but the demon which is in him. And being rebuked and commanded to go into dry places, the demon became raging mad, and he has done this. Wherefore give thanks to the Lord, for his attack on me thus is a sign of the departure of the evil spirit.' When Antony had said this, straightway the young man had become whole, and having come at last to his right mind, knew where he was, and saluted the old man and gave thanks to God.

65. And many monks have related with the greatest agreement and unanimity that many other such like things were done by him. But still these do not seem as marvellous as certain other things appear to be. For once, when about to eat, having risen up to pray about the ninth hour, he perceived that he was caught up in the spirit, and, wonderful to tell, he stood and saw himself, as it were, from outside himself, and that he was led in the air by certain ones. Next certain bitter and terrible beings stood in the air and wished to hinder him from passing through. But when his conductors opposed them, they demanded whether he was not accountable to them. And when they wished to sum up the account from his birth, Antony's conductors stopped them, saying, `The Lord hath wiped out the sins from his birth, but from the time he became a monk, and devoted himself to God, it is permitted you to make a reckoning.' Then when they accused him and could not convict him, his way was free and unhindered. And immediately he saw himself, as it were, coming and standing by himself, and again he was Antony as before. Then forgetful of eating, he remained the rest of the day and through the whole of the night groaning and praying. For he was astonished when he saw against what mighty opponents our wrestling is, and by what labours we have to pass through the air. And he remembered that this is what the Apostle said, `according to the prince of the power of the air [1108] .' For in it the enemy hath power to fight and to attempt to hinder those who pass through. Wherefore most earnestly he exhorted, `Take up the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day [1109] ,' that the enemy, `having no evil thing to say against us, may be ashamed [1110] .' And we who have learned this, let us be mindful of the Apostle when he says, `whether in the body I know not, or whether out of the body I know not; God knoweth [1111] .' But Paul was caught up unto the third heaven, and having heard things unspeakable he came down; while Antony saw that he had come to the air, and contended until he was free.


Footnotes

[1108] Eph. ii. 2. [1109] Eph. vi. 13. [1110] Tit. ii. 8. [1111] 2 Cor. xii. 2.

66. And he had also this favour granted him. For as he was sitting alone on the mountain, if ever he was in perplexity in his meditations, this was revealed to him by Providence in prayer. And the happy man, as it is written, was taught of God [1112] . After this, when he once had a discussion with certain men who had come to him concerning the state of the soul and of what nature its place will be after this life, the following night one from above called him, saying, `Antony, rise, go out and look.' Having gone out therefore (for he knew whom he ought to obey) looking up, he beheld one standing and reaching to the clouds, tall, hideous, and fearful, and others ascending as though they were winged. And the figure stretched forth his hands, and some of those who were ascending were stayed by him, while others flew above, and having escaped heaven-ward, were borne aloft free from care. At such, therefore, the giant gnashed his teeth, but rejoiced over those who fell back. And forthwith a voice came to Antony, `Understandest thou what thou seest?' And his understanding was opened, and he understood that it was the passing of souls, and that the tall being who stood was the enemy who envies the faithful. And those whom he caught and stopped from passing through are accountable to him, while those whom he was unable to hold as they passed upwards had not been subservient to him. So having seen this, and as it were being reminded, he struggled the more daily to advance towards those things which were before. And these visions he was unwilling to tell, but as he spent much time in prayer, and was amazed, when those who were with him pressed him with questions and forced him, he was compelled to speak, as a father who cannot withhold ought from his children. And he thought that as his conscience was clear, the account would be beneficial for them, that they might learn that discipline bore good fruit, and that visions were oftentimes the solace of their labours.


Footnotes

[1112] Isai. liv. 13; John vi. 45.

67. Added to this he was tolerant in disposition and humble in spirit. For though he was such a man, he observed the rule of the Church most rigidly, and was willing that all the clergy should be honoured above himself [1113] . For he was not ashamed to bow his head to bishops and presbyters, and if ever a deacon came to him for help he discoursed with him on what was profitable, but gave place to him in prayer, not being ashamed to learn himself. For often he would ask questions, and desired to listen to those who were present, and if any one said anything that was useful he confessed that he was profited. And besides, his countenance had a great and wonderful grace. This gift also he had from the Saviour. For if he were present in a great company of monks, and any one who did not know him previously, wished to see him, immediately coming forward he passed by the rest, and hurried to Antony, as though attracted by his appearance. Yet neither in height nor breadth was he conspicuous above others, but in the serenity of his manner and the purity of his soul. For as his soul was free from disturbances, his outward appearance was calm; so from the joy of his soul he possessed a cheerful countenance, and from his bodily movements could be perceived the condition of his soul, as it is written, `When the heart is merry the countenance is cheerful, but when it is sorrowful it is cast down [1114] .' Thus Jacob recognised the counsel Laban had in his heart, and said to his wives, `The countenance of your father is not as it was yesterday and the day before [1115] .' Thus Samuel recognised David, for he had mirthful eyes, and teeth white as milk. Thus Antony was recognised, for he was never disturbed, for his soul was at peace; he was never downcast, for his mind was joyous.


Footnotes

[1113] This was by no means universal among monks: Athan. argues to Dracontius (cc. 8, 9) against the monastic tendency to think little of the clergy. Here, he propounds the example of Antony for the imitation of the `peregrini fratres.' [1114] Prov. xv. 13. [1115] Gen. xxxi. 5; 1 Sam. xvi. 12, xvii. 32

68. And he was altogether wonderful in faith and religious, for he never held communion with the Meletian schismatics, knowing their wickedness and apostacy from the beginning; nor had he friendly dealings with the Manichæans or any other heretics; or, if he had, only as far as advice that they should change to piety. For he thought and asserted that intercourse with these was harmful and destructive to the soul. In the same manner also he loathed the heresy of the Arians, and exhorted all neither to approach them nor to hold their erroneous belief. And once when certain Arian madmen came to him, when he had questioned them and learned their impiety, he drove them from the mountain, saying that their words were worse than the poison of serpents.

69. And once also the Arians having lyingly asserted that Antony's opinions were the same as theirs, he was displeased and wroth against them. Then being summoned by the bishops and all the brethren, he descended from the mountain, and having entered Alexandria [1116] , he denounced the Arians, saying that their heresy was the last of all and a forerunner of Antichrist. And he taught the people that the Son of God was not a created being, neither had He come into being from non-existence, but that He was the Eternal Word and Wisdom of the Essence of the Father. And therefore it was impious to say, `there was a time when He was not,' for the Word was always co-existent with the Father. Wherefore have no fellowship with the most impious Arians. For there is no communion between light and darkness [1117] . For you are good Christians, but they, when they say that the Son of the Father, the Word of God, is a created being, differ in nought from the heathen, since they worship that which is created, rather than God the creator [1118] . But believe ye that the Creation itself is angry with them because they number the Creator, the Lord of all, by whom all things came into being, with those things which were originated.


Footnotes

[1116] July 25-27, 338, Fest. Ind. x. [1117] 2 Cor. vi. 14. [1118] Orat. ii. 23, &c. This was an argument much used against Arianism. Antony's arguments may be compared with those of Ath. in Ep. Æg. 13.

70. All the people, therefore, rejoiced when they heard the anti-Christian heresy anathematised by such a man. And all the people in the city ran together to see Antony; and the Greeks and those who are called their Priests, came into the church, saying, `We ask to see the man of God,' for so they all called him. For in that place also the Lord cleansed many of demons, and healed those who were mad. And many Greeks asked that they might even but touch the old man, believing that they should be profited. Assuredly as many became Christians in those few days as one would have seen made in a year. Then when some thought that he was troubled by the crowds, and on this account turned them all away from him, he said, undisturbedly, that there were not more of them than of the demons with whom he wrestled in the mountain.

71. But when he was departing, and we were setting him forth on his way, as we [1119] arrived at the gate a woman from behind cried out, `Stay, thou man of God, my daughter is grievously vexed by a devil. Stay, I beseech thee, lest I too harm myself with running.' And the old man when he heard her, and was asked by us, willingly stayed. And when the woman drew near, the child was cast on the ground. But when Antony had prayed and called upon the name of Christ, the child was raised whole, for the unclean spirit was gone forth. And the mother blessed God, and all gave thanks. And Antony himself also rejoiced, departing to the mountain as though it were to his own home.


Footnotes

[1119] This seems to imply Athanasius as the (real or ostensible) narrator.

72. And Antony also was exceeding prudent, and the wonder was that although he had not learned letters, he was a ready-witted and sagacious man. At all events two Greek philosophers once came, thinking they could try their skill on Antony; and he was in the outer mountain, and having recognised who they were from their appearance, he came to them and said to them by means of an interpreter, `Why, philosophers, did ye trouble yourselves so much to come to a foolish man?' And when they said that he was not a foolish man, but exceedingly prudent, he said to them, `If you came to a foolish man, your labour is superfluous; but if you think me prudent become as I am, for we ought to imitate what is good. And if I had come to you I should have imitated you; but if you to me, become as I am, for I am a Christian.' But they departed with wonder, for they saw that even demons feared Antony.

73. And again others such as these met him in the outer mountain and thought to mock [1120] him because he had not learned letters. And Antony said to them, `What say ye? which is first, mind or letters? And which is the cause of which--mind of letters or letters of mind?' And when they answered mind is first and the inventor of letters, Antony said, `Whoever, therefore, hath a sound mind hath not need of letters.' This answer amazed both the bystanders and the philosophers, and they departed marvelling that they had seen so much understanding in an ignorant man. For his manners were not rough as though he had been reared in the mountain and there grown old, but graceful and polite, and his speech was seasoned with the divine salt, so that no one was envious, but rather all rejoiced over him who visited him.

74. After this again certain others came; and these were men who were deemed wise among the Greeks, and they asked him a reason for our faith in Christ. But when they attempted to dispute concerning the preaching of the divine Cross and meant to mock, Antony stopped for a little, and first pitying their ignorance, said, through an interpreter, who could skilfully interpret his words, `Which is more beautiful, to confess the Cross or to attribute to those whom you call gods adultery and the seduction of boys? For that which is chosen by us is a sign of courage and a sure token of the contempt of death, while yours are the passions of licentiousness. Next, which is better, to say that the Word of God was not changed, but, being the same, He took a human body for the salvation and well-being of man, that having shared in human birth He might make man partake in the divine and spiritual nature [1121] ; or to liken the divine to senseless animals and consequently to worship four-footed beasts, creeping things and the likenesses of men? For these things, are the objects of reverence of you wise men. But how do you dare to mock us, who say that Christ has appeared as man, seeing that you, bringing the soul from heaven, assert that it has strayed and fallen from the vault of the sky into body [1122] ? And would that you had said that it had fallen into human body alone, and not asserted that it passes and changes into four-footed beasts and creeping things. For our faith declares that the coming of Christ was for the salvation of men. But you err because you speak of soul as not generated. And we, considering the power and loving-kindness of Providence, think that the coming of Christ in the flesh was not impossible with God. But you, although calling the soul the likeness of Mind [1123] , connect it with falls and feign in your myths that it is changeable, and consequently introduce the idea that Mind itself is changeable by reason of the soul. For whatever is the nature of a likeness, such necessarily is the nature of that of which it is a likeness. But whenever you think such a thought concerning Mind, remember that you blaspheme even the Father of Mind Himself [1124] .

75. But concerning the Cross, which would you say to be the better, to bear it, when a plot is brought about by wicked men, nor to be in fear of death brought about under any form whatever [1125] ; or to prate about the wanderings of Osiris and Isis, the plots of Typhon, the flight of Cronos, his eating his children and the slaughter of his father. For this is your wisdom. But how, if you mock the Cross, do you not marvel at the resurrection? For the same men who told us of the latter wrote the former. Or why when you make mention of the Cross are you silent about the dead who were raised, the blind who received their sight, the paralytics who were healed, the lepers who were cleansed, the walking upon the sea, and the rest of the signs and wonders, which shew that Christ is no longer a man but God? To me you seem to do yourselves much injustice and not to have carefully read our Scriptures. But read and see that the deeds of Christ prove Him to be God come upon earth for the salvation of men.

76. But do you tell us your religious beliefs. What can you say of senseless creatures except senselessness and ferocity? But if, as I hear, you wish to say that these things are spoken of by you as legends, and you allegorize the rape of the maiden Persephone of the earth; the lameness of Hephæstus of fire; and allegorize the air as Hera, the sun as Apollo, the moon as Artemis, and the sea as Poseidon; none the less, you do not worship God Himself, but serve the creature rather than God who created all things. For if because creation is beautiful you composed such legends, still it was fitting that you should stop short at admiration and not make gods of the things created; so that you should not give the honour of the Creator to that which is created. Since, if you do, it is time for you to divert the honour of the master builder to the house built by him; and of the general to the soldier. What then can you reply to these things, that we may know whether the Cross hath anything worthy of mockery?'

77. But when they were at a loss, turning hither and thither, Antony smiled and said--again through an interpreter--`Sight itself carries the conviction of these things. But as you prefer to lean upon demonstrative arguments, and as you, having this art, wish us also not to worship God, until after such proof, do you tell first how things in general and specially the recognition of God are accurately known. Is it through demonstrative argument or the working of faith? And which is better, faith which comes through the inworking (of God) or demonstration by arguments?' And when they answered that faith which comes through the inworking was better and was accurate knowledge, Antony said, `You have answered well, for faith arises from disposition of soul, but dialectic from the skill of its inventors. Wherefore to those who have the inworking through faith, demonstrative argument is needless, or even superfluous. For what we know through faith this you attempt to prove through words, and often you are not even able to express what we understand. So the inworking through faith is better and stronger than your professional arguments.'

78. `We Christians therefore hold the mystery not in the wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith richly supplied to us by God through Jesus Christ. And to show that this statement is true, behold now, without having learned letters, we believe in God, knowing through His works His providence over all things. And to show that our faith is effective, so now we are supported by faith in Christ, but you by professional logomachies. The portents of the idols among you are being done away, but our faith is extending everywhere. You by your arguments and quibbles have converted none from Christianity to Paganism. We, teaching the faith on Christ, expose your superstition, since all recognise that Christ is God and the Son of God. You by your eloquence do not hinder the teaching of Christ. But we by the mention of Christ crucified put all demons to flight, whom you fear as if they were gods. Where the sign of the Cross is [1126] , magic is weak and witchcraft has no strength.

79. `Tell us therefore where your oracles are now? Where are the charms of the Egyptians? Where the delusions of the magicians? When did all these things cease and grow weak except when the Cross of Christ arose? Is It then a fit subject for mockery, and not rather the things brought to nought by it, and convicted of weakness? For this is a marvellous thing, that your religion was never persecuted, but even was honoured by men in every city, while the followers of Christ are persecuted, and still our side flourishes and multiplies over yours. What is yours, though praised and honoured, perishes, while the faith and teaching of Christ, though mocked by you and often persecuted by kings, has filled the world. For when has the knowledge of God so shone forth? or when has self-control and the excellence of virginity appeared as now? or when has death been so despised except when the Cross of Christ has appeared? And this no one doubts when he sees [1127] the martyr despising death for the sake of Christ, when he sees for Christ's sake the virgins of the Church keeping themselves pure and undefiled.


Footnotes

[1120] Cf. c. Gent. 1, de Incar. 1, 41, 48. 7. [1121] Cf. de Incar. 54. 3; 2 Pet. i. 4. [1122] Cf. Plat. Phædr. 274 B: but the resemblances is not close and the relation of this passage to the Phædrus is probably mediate. I cannot see that the doctrine referred to here is necessarily different from that of Plotinus (Enn. IV. iii. 15). [1123] Plotinus (Enn. V. i. 3) taught that the soul was, as it were, an image of Mind, as the uttered word is of the word in the soul (cf. Philo. Vit. Mos. iii. 13). [1124] It is certainly startling to find Antony, ignorant of Greek and of letters, reasoning with philosophers upon the doctrines of Neoplatonism. His whole life, excepting two short visits to Alexandria, had been spent out of ear-shot of such discussions. Yet it is not easy to say exactly how much a man of strong mind and retentive memory may have picked up from the conversation of those who visited him upon subjects so widely discussed as these speculations were. [1125] De Incar. 24. 3. [1126] De Incar. 47. 4. [1127] Compare de Incar. 48. 2.

80. `And these signs are sufficient to prove that the faith of Christ alone is the true religion. But see! you still do not believe and are seeking for arguments. We however make our proof "not in the persuasive words of Greek wisdom [1128] " as our teacher has it, but we persuade by the faith which manifestly precedes argumentative proof. Behold there are here some vexed with demons;'--now there were certain who had come to him very disquieted by demons, and bringing them into the midst he said,--`Do you cleanse them either by arguments and by whatever art or magic you choose, calling upon your idols, or if you are unable, put away your strife with us and you shall see the power of the Cross of Christ.' And having said this he called upon Christ, and signed the sufferers two or three times with the sign of the Cross. And immediately the men stood up whole, and in their right mind, and forthwith gave thanks unto the Lord. And the philosophers, as they are called, wondered, and were astonished exceedingly at the understanding of the man and at the sign which had been wrought. But Antony said, `Why marvel ye at this? We are not the doers of these things, but it is Christ who worketh them by means of those who believe on Him. Believe, therefore, also yourselves, and you shall see that with us there is no trick of words, but faith through love which is wrought in us towards Christ; which if you yourselves should obtain you will no longer seek demonstrative arguments, but will consider faith in Christ sufficient.' These are the words of Antony. And they marvelling at this also, saluted him and departed, confessing the benefit they had received from him [1129] .


Footnotes

[1128] 1 Cor. ii. 4. [1129] The above argument with the philosophers runs upon the general lines of that of Athanasius c. Gent. The point which we miss here is the Euhemerism upon which Athanasius so strongly insists. This latter view would be naturally less congenial to Antony's mind than the view that the gods were merely demons.

81. And the fame of Antony came even unto kings. For Constantine Augustus, and his sons Constantius and Constans the Augusti wrote letters to him, as to a father, and begged an answer from him. But he made nothing very much of the letters, nor did he rejoice at the messages, but was the same as he had been before the Emperors wrote to him. But when they brought him the letters he called the monks and said, `Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man; but rather wonder that God wrote the Law for men and has spoken to us [1130] through His own Son.' And so he was unwilling to receive the letters, saying that he did not know how to write an answer to such things. But being urged by the monks because the emperors were Christians, and lest they should take offence on the ground that they had been spurned, he consented that they should be read, and wrote an answer approving them because they worshipped Christ, and giving them counsel on things pertaining to salvation: `not to think much of the present, but rather to remember the judgment that is coming, and to know that Christ alone was the true and Eternal King.' He begged them to be merciful and to give heed to justice and the poor. And they having received the answer rejoiced. Thus he was dear to all, and all desired to consider him as a father.


Footnotes

[1130] Heb. i. 2.

82. Being known to be so great a man, therefore, and having thus given answers to those who visited him, he returned again to the inner mountain, and maintained his wonted discipline. And often when people came to him, as he was sitting or walking, as it is written in Daniel [1131] , he became dumb, and after a season he resumed the thread of what he had been saying before to the brethren who were with him. And his companions perceived that he was seeing a vision. For often when he was on the mountains he saw what was happening in Egypt, and told it to Serapion the bishop [1132] , who was indoors with him, and who saw that Antony was wrapped in a vision. Once as he was sitting and working, he fell, as it were, into a trance, and groaned much at what he saw. Then after a time, having turned to the bystanders with groans and trembling, he prayed, and falling on his knees remained so a long time. And having arisen the old man wept. His companions, therefore, trembling and terrified, desired to learn from him what it was. And they troubled him much, until he was forced to speak. And with many groans he spake as follows: `O, my children, it were better to die before what has appeared in the vision come to pass.' And when again they asked him, having burst into tears, he said, `Wrath is about to seize the Church, and it is on the point of being given up to men who are like senseless beasts. For I saw the table of the Lord's House, and mules standing around it on all sides in a ring, and kicking the things therein, just like a herd kicks when it leaps in confusion. And you saw,' said he, `how I groaned, for I heard a voice saying, "My altar shall be defiled."' These things the old man saw, and after two years the present [1133] inroad of the Arians and the plunder of the churches took place, when they violently carried off the vessels, and made the heathen carry them; and when they forced the heathen from the prisons to join in their services, and in their presence did upon the Table as they would. Then we all understood that these kicks of the mules signified to Antony what the Arians, senselessly like beasts, are now doing. But when he saw this vision, he comforted those with him, saying, `Be not downcast, my children; for as the Lord has been angry, so again will He heal us, and the Church shall soon again receive her own order, and shall shine forth as she is wont. And you shall behold the persecuted restored, and wickedness again withdrawn to its own hiding-place, and pious faith speaking boldly in every place with all freedom. Only defile [1134] not yourselves with the Arians, for their teaching is not that of the Apostles, but that of demons and their father the devil; yea, rather, it is barren and senseless, and without light understanding, like the senselessness of these mules.'


Footnotes

[1131] Dan. iv. 19 (v. 16 (LXX). [1132] Of Thmuis, the friend and correspondent of Athanasius: see below, §91. [1133] Cf. below, `what the Arians are now doing.' This incidental notice of time fixes the date of the present passage. Weingarten in vain attempts to extract some other sense from the Greek, which is plainness itself. It also fixes the date of Antony's death to within two years of the troubles in question. The Benedictines refer the troubles to the intrusion of Gregory `in 341' (really 339), and the apparently unprecedented character ascribed to the outrages by Antony is in favour of this, as well as the fact (Encyc. 3) that in 339 the heathen are said to have offered sacrifice in the churches. But the latter is only in superficial agreement with the Greek text of the present passage, which speaks of Arian sunaxeis at which heathen were impressed to be present, apparently to make some show of a congregation. The Evagrian version, indeed, adds that the Gentiles on this occasion also carried on idolatrous rites in the Church and polluted the baptisteries; but Evagrius is in the habit of interpolating little details from his own knowledge or opinion (e.g. 16, `Ita exorsus,' &c., 26, `qui vinctas hominum linguas solvebat,' 58, `qui effosso pro Christo oculo sub Maximiano,' &c.), and in this case appears to borrow from Encycl. 3. Again, the writer of the Vita was not present (`the bystanders' supra; `they troubled him;' `they asked him;'...and infr. `those with him') when the Vision took place: but when, two years later, it was interpreted by events, he was in the company of those who had been with Antony at the time (infr. `then we all understood'). This (on the assumption of Athanasian authorship) excludes the year 339, when Athanasius fled to Italy, and compels us to refer the Vision to the troubles of 356 (Apol. Fug. 6, 7. Hist. Ar. 55, 56, Ep. ad Lucif.), after which Athanasius fled to the desert and was in the company of the monks. This conclusion is in independent agreement with (1) the fact, decisive by itself, that Antony is still alive in 345, when Nestorius became Prefect of Egypt (§86, note 3), i.e. six years after the troubles of 339; (2) the evidence that Antony was still living about 353 a.d. (Epist. Ammon. de Pachom. et Theod. 20, 21, in Act. SS. Mai. tom. iii. Appendix 70 C E, Tillemont vii. 123), and (3) the statement of Jerome (Chron.) that Antony died in 356. Against it Weingarten urges the prophecy of restored peace to the Church (infr.) as pointing to a time after the overthrow of Arianism. This is of little weight, for the prophecy expresses only what must have been the hope and belief of all. The prologue, which Tillemont (viii. 227) thinks must have been written in a time of peace at Alexandria, is not sufficiently explicit on the point to weigh against the plain sense of the present passage. [1134] Cf. the Second Letter to monks (Letter 53).

83. Such are the words of Antony, and we ought not to doubt whether such marvels were wrought by the hand of a man. For it is the promise of the Saviour, when He saith, `If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, remove hence and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you [1135] .' And again, `Verily, verily, I say unto you, if ye shall ask the father in My name He will give it you. Ask and ye shall receive [1136] .' And He himself it is who saith to His disciples and to all who believe on Him, `Heal the sick, cast out demons; freely ye have received, freely give [1137] .'

84. Antony, at any rate, healed not by commanding, but by prayer and speaking the name of Christ. So that it was clear to all that it was not he himself who worked, but the Lord who showed mercy by his means and healed the sufferers. But Antony's part was only prayer and discipline, for the sake of which he stayed in the mountain, rejoicing in the contemplation of divine things, but grieving when troubled by much people, and dragged to the outer mountain. For all judges used to ask him to come down, because it was impossible for them to enter on account of their following of litigants. But nevertheless they asked him to come that they might but see him. When therefore he avoided it and refused to go to them, they remained firm, and sent to him all the more the prisoners under charge of soldiers, that on account of these he might come down. Being forced by necessity, and seeing them lamenting, he came into the outer mountain, and again his labour was not unprofitable. For his coming was advantageous and serviceable to many; and he was of profit to the judges, counselling them to prefer justice to all things; to fear God, and to know, `that with what judgment they judged, they should be judged [1138] .' But he loved more than all things his sojourn in the mountain.


Footnotes

[1135] Matt. xvii. 20. [1136] John xvi. 23. [1137] Matt. x. 8. [1138] Matt. vii. 2.

85. At another time, suffering the same compulsion at the hands of them who had need, and after many entreaties from the commander of the soldiers, he came down, and when he was come he spoke to them shortly of the things which make for salvation, and concerning those who wanted him, and was hastening away. But when the duke, as he is called, entreated him to stay, he replied that he could not linger among them, and persuaded him by a pretty simile, saying, `Fishes, if they remain long on dry land, die. And so monks lose their strength if they loiter among you and spend their time with you. Wherefore as fish must hurry to the sea, so must we hasten to the mountain. Lest haply if we delay we forget the things within us.' And the general having heard this and many other things from him, was amazed and said, `Of a truth this man is the servant of God. For, unless he were beloved of God, whence could an ignorant man have such great understanding?'

86. And a certain general, Balacius by name, persecuted us Christians bitterly on account of his regard for the Arians--that name of ill-omen. And as his ruthlessness was so great that he beat virgins, and stripped and scourged monks, Antony at this time wrote a letter as follows, and sent it to him. `I see wrath coming upon thee, wherefore cease to persecute the Christians, lest haply wrath catch hold of thee, for even now it is on the point of coming upon thee [1139] .' But Balacius laughed and threw the letter on the ground, and spit on it, and insulted the bearers, bidding them tell this to Antony: `Since thou takest thought for the monks, soon I will come after thee also.' And five days had not passed before wrath came upon him. For Balacius and Nestorius, the Prefect of Egypt [1140] , went forth to the first halting-place from Alexandria, which is called Chæreu, and both were on horseback, and the horses belonged to Balacius, and were the quietest of all his stable. But they had not gone far towards the place when the horses began to frisk with one another as they are wont to do; and suddenly the quieter, on which Nestorius sat [1141] , with a bite dismounted Balacius, and attacked him, and tore his thigh so badly with its teeth that he was borne straight back to the city, and in three days died. And all wondered because what Antony had foretold had been so speedily fulfilled.


Footnotes

[1139] In Hist. Ar. 14 the letter is sent not to Balacius but to Gregory, who died on June 26, 345 (Gwatkin, p. 105). [1140] Nestorius was prefect `345-352' (Index to Fest. Letters, where the year `345' is from August 344 to August 345). [1141] In the Hist. Ar. it is simply stated that Balacius was bitten by his own horse. The present passage looks like a more careful restatement.

87. Thus, therefore, he warned the cruel. But the rest who came to him he so instructed that they straightway forgot their lawsuits, and felicitated those who were in retirement from the world. And he championed those who were wronged in such a way that you would imagine that he, and not the others, was the sufferer. Further, he was able to be of such use to all, that many soldiers and men who had great possessions laid aside the burdens of life, and became monks for the rest of their days. And it was as if a physician had been given by God to Egypt. For who in grief met Antony and did not return rejoicing? Who came mourning for his dead and did not forthwith put off his sorrow? Who came in anger and was not converted to friendship? What poor and low-spirited man met him who, hearing him and looking upon him, did not despise wealth and console himself in his poverty? What monk, having being neglectful, came to him and became not all the stronger? What young man having come to the mountain and seen Antony, did not forthwith deny himself pleasure and love temperance? Who when tempted by a demon, came to him and did not find rest? And who came troubled with doubts and did not get quietness of mind?

88. For this was the wonderful thing in Antony's discipline, that, as I said before, having the gift of discerning spirits, he recognised their movements, and was not ignorant whither any one of them turned his energy and made his attack. And not only was he not deceived by them himself, but cheering those who were troubled with doubts, he taught them how to defeat their plans, telling them of the weakness and craft of those who possessed them. Thus each one, as though prepared by him for battle, came down from the mountain, braving the designs of the devil and his demons. How many maidens who had suitors, having but seen Antony from afar, remained maidens for Christ's sake. And people came also from foreign parts to him, and like all others, having got some benefit, returned, as though set forward by a father. And certainly when he died, all as having been bereft of a father, consoled themselves solely by their remembrances of him, preserving at the same time his counsel and advice.

89. It is worth while that I should relate, and that you, as you wish it, should hear what his death was like. For this end of his is worthy of imitation. According to his custom he visited the monks in the outer mountain, and having learned from Providence that his own end was at hand, he said to the brethren, `This is my last visit to you which I shall make. And I shall be surprised if we see each other again in this life. At length the time of my departure is at hand, for I am near a hundred and five years old.' And when they heard it they wept, and embraced, and kissed the old man. But he, as though sailing from a foreign city to his own, spoke joyously, and exhorted them `Not to grow idle in their labours, nor to become faint in their training, but to live as though dying daily. And as he had said before, zealously to guard the soul from foul thoughts, eagerly to imitate the Saints, and to have nought to do with the Meletian schismatics, for you know their wicked and profane character. Nor have any fellowship with the Arians, for their impiety is clear to all. Nor be disturbed if you see the judges protect them, for it shall cease, and their pomp is mortal and of short duration. Wherefore keep yourselves all the more untainted by them, and observe the traditions of the fathers, and chiefly the holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have learned from the Scripture, and of which you have often been put in mind by me.'

90. But when the brethren were urging him to abide with them and there to die, he suffered it not for many other reasons, as he showed by keeping silence, and especially for this:--The Egyptians are wont to honour with funeral rites, and to wrap in linen cloths at death the bodies of good men, and especially of the holy martyrs; and not to bury them underground, but to place them on couches, and to keep them in their houses, thinking in this to honour the departed. And Antony often urged the bishops to give commandment to the people on this matter. In like manner he taught the laity and reproved the women, saying, `that this thing was neither lawful nor holy at all. For the bodies of the patriarchs and prophets are until now preserved in tombs, and the very body of the Lord was laid in a tomb, and a stone was laid upon it, and hid it until He rose on the third day [1142] .' And thus saying, he showed that he who did not bury the bodies of the dead after death transgressed the law, even though they were sacred. For what is greater or more sacred than the body of the Lord? Many therefore having heard, henceforth buried the dead underground, and gave thanks to the Lord that they had been taught rightly.


Footnotes

[1142] Cf. John xix. 41; Matt. xxvii. 60.

91. But he, knowing the custom, and fearing that his body would be treated this way, hastened, and having bidden farewell to the monks in the outer mountain entered the inner mountain, where he was accustomed to abide. And after a few months he fell sick. Having summoned those who were there--they were two in number who had remained in the mountain fifteen years, practising the discipline and attending on Antony on account of his age--he said to them, `I, as it is written [1143] , go the way of the fathers, for I perceive that I am called by the Lord. And do you be watchful and destroy not your long discipline, but as though now making a beginning, zealously preserve your determination. For ye know the treachery of the demons, how fierce they are, but how little power they have. Wherefore fear them not, but rather ever breathe Christ, and trust Him. Live as though dying daily. Give heed to yourselves, and remember the admonition you have heard from me. Have no fellowship with the schismatics, nor any dealings at all with the heretical Arians. For you know how I shunned them on account of their hostility to Christ, and the strange doctrines of their heresy. Therefore be the more earnest always to be followers first of God and then of the Saints; that after death they also may receive you as well-known friends into the eternal habitations. Ponder over these things and think of them, and if you have any care for me and are mindful of me as of a father, suffer no one to take my body into Egypt, lest haply they place me in the houses [1144] , for to avoid this I entered into the mountain and came here. Moreover you know how I always put to rebuke those who had this custom, and exhorted them to cease from it. Bury my body, therefore, and hide it underground yourselves, and let my words be observed by you that no one may know the place [1145] but you alone. For at the resurrection of the dead I shall receive it incorruptible from the Saviour. And divide my garments. To Athanasius the bishop give one sheepskin and the garment whereon I am laid, which he himself gave me new, but which with me has grown old. To Serapion the bishop give the other sheepskin, and keep the hair garment yourselves [1146] . For the rest fare ye well, my children, for Antony is departing, and is with you no more.'


Footnotes

[1143] Josh. xxiii. 14. [1144] Cf. St. Aug. Serm. 361. 12, D.C.A. p. 251. [1145] The body of Antony was discovered `by a revelation' in 561, and translated to Alexandria. When the Saracens conquered Egypt it was transferred to Constantinople, and lastly in the tenth century was carried to Vienne by a French Seigneur. The first and last links of this history are naturally precarious. The translation to Alexandria is vouched for by Victor of Tunis (Chron.) who was in the neighbourhood at the time. [1146] Jerome, in his life of Paul of Thebes, relates that Antony received from Paul, and ever afterwards wore on festivals, his tunic of palm-leaves. If this `legacy more glorious than the purple of a king' (Vit. Paul. c. 13) had any existence, it would certainly not have been forgotten by Antony in disposing of his worldly goods. The silence of the Life of Antony throws discredit on Jerome's whole account of Paul.

92. Having said this, when they had kissed him, he lifted up his feet, and as though he saw friends coming to him and was glad because of them--for as he lay his countenance appeared joyful--he died and was gathered to the fathers. And they afterward, according to his commandment, wrapped him up and buried him, hiding his body underground. And no one knows to this day where it was buried, save those two only. But each of those who received the sheepskin of the blessed Antony and the garment worn by him guards it as a precious treasure. For even to look on them is as it were to behold Antony; and he who is clothed in them seems with joy to bear his admonitions.

93. This is the end of Antony's life in the body and the above was the beginning of the discipline. Even if this account is small compared with his merit, still from this reflect how great Antony, the man of God, was. Who from his youth to so great an age preserved a uniform zeal for the discipline, and neither through old age was subdued by the desire of costly food, nor through the infirmity of his body changed the fashion of his clothing, nor washed even his feet with water, and yet remained entirely free from harm. For his eyes were undimmed and quite sound and he saw clearly; of his teeth he had not lost one, but they had become worn to the gums through the great age of the old man. He remained strong both in hands and feet; and while all men were using various foods, and washings and divers garments, he appeared more cheerful and of greater strength. And the fact that his fame has been blazoned everywhere; that all regard him with wonder, and that those who have never seen him long for him, is clear proof of his virtue and God's love of his soul. For not from writings, nor from worldly wisdom, nor through any art, was Antony renowned, but solely from his piety towards God. That this was the gift of God no one will deny. For from whence into Spain and into Gaul, how into Rome and Africa, was the man heard of who abode hidden in a mountain, unless it was God who maketh His own known everywhere, who also promised this to Antony at the beginning? For even if they work secretly, even if they wish to remain in obscurity, yet the Lord shows them as lamps to lighten all, that those who hear may thus know that the precepts of God are able to make men prosper and thus be zealous in the path of virtue.

94. Read these words, therefore, to the rest of the brethren that they may learn what the life of monks ought to be; and may believe that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ glorifies those who glorify Him: and leads those who serve Him unto the end, not only to the kingdom of heaven, but here also--even though they hide themselves and are desirous of withdrawing from the world--makes them illustrious and well known everywhere on account of their virtue and the help they render others. And if need be, read this among the heathen, that even in this way they may learn that our Lord Jesus Christ is not only God and the Son of God, but also that the Christians who truly serve Him and religiously believe on Him, prove, not only that the demons, whom the Greeks themselves think to be gods, are no gods, but also tread them under foot and put them to flight, as deceivers and corrupters of mankind, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


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