Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life of Antony. (Vita Antoni.): Sections 49, 50.
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 p. 210 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.
See on this subject Phantasms of the Living, vol. 1, p. 480 sq. (Trübner, 1886).209:1092
In Lower Egypt.209:1093
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).
Next: Sections 51-53
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