Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life of Antony. (Vita Antoni.): Sections 3, 4
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 anothers freedom from anger and anothers 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.
Matt. vi. 34.196:994
Παρθενών: 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. 2021b (the reference to Tertullian is not relevant), Eichhorn, pp. 4, sqq., 28–30.196:995
ἄσκησ*ς (so throughout the Vita).196:996
Probably the word has in this place the sense of a monks cell (D.C.A. 1220), as below, §39.196:997
2 Thess. iii. 10.196:998
Matt. vi. 7; 1 Thess. v. 17.
Next: Sections 5, 6
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