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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
Life of Antony. (Vita Antoni.): Sections 1, 2

Early Church Fathers  Index     

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 p. 196 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

195:985

At Coma in Upper Egypt, see Sozom. i. 13.

195:986

Cf. St. Aug. de Doctr. Christ. Prologue.

195:987

Gen. xxv. 27.

196:988

Matt. iv. 20.

196:989

Acts iv. 35.

196:990

Matt. xix. 21.

196:991

ρουραι. The arura was 100 Egyptian cubits square, see Herod. ii. 168.

196:992

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).


Next: Sections 3, 4

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