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of the lower parts of Thebais, distributed his patrimony,* deserted his family and native home, and executed his monastic penance with original and intrepid fanaticism. After a long and painful noviciate among the tombs and in a ruined tower, he boldly advanced into the desert three days'journey to the eastward of the Nile; discovered a lonely spot, which possessed the advantages of shade and water, and fixed his last residence on mount Colzim near the Red Sea; where an
St. Anton. p. 452, and the assertion of his total ignorance has been received by many of the ancients and moderns. But Tillemont (Mem. Eecles. tom, vii, p. 666) shows, by some probable arguments, that Antony could read and write in the Coptic, his native tongue; and that he was only a stranger to the Greek letters. The philosopher Synesius (p. 51) acknowledges that the natural genius of Antony did not require the aid of learning. [Neander (vol. iii, p. 323) supplies a more correct account of Antony's first movements, and the origin of a regular monastic life. "In the fourth century, men were not agreed on the question as to who was to be considered the founder of monasticism, whether Paul or Antony. If by this was to be understood the , individual from whom the spread of this mode of life proceeded, the name was unquestionably due to the latter, for if Paul was the first -, Christian hermit, yet, without the influence of Antony, he must have remained unknown to the rest of the Christian world, and would have | found no followers. Before Antony, there may have been many who by inclination or by peculiar circumstances, were led to adopt this mode of life; but they remained at least unknown. The first, who is named by tradition—which in this case it must be confessed is entitled to little confidence and much distorted by fable—is the above-mentioned Paul. He is said to have been moved by the Decian persecution, to withdraw himsell, when a young man, to a grotto in a remote mountain. To this mode of life he became attached, and was supplied with food and raiment by a neighbouring palm tree. Antony having heard of him, visited him and made him known to others." After reciting this story, Neander questions its authenticity. Yet Athanasius, in his Life of Antony, states, that the excited youth "heard of a venerable old man, who was living as an ascetic, on the border of a neighbouring village. He sought him out and made him his pattern." Whether the old man's name was Paul or not, is quite unimportant; we see how Antony's early propensity lor solitude became more decided. Ha first breathed a spirit into the inert mass ot asceticism; and Athanasius, ever quick in discerning and improving advantages, accelerated, regulated, and directed the movement. The patriarch of Alexandria, if not the actual parent, was, by his patronage, the godfather and rearer of monasticism.—Ed.] * Arurce autem erant ei
trecentse uberes, et valde optimae. (Vit. Patr. 1. 1, p. 36.) If the Antra be a square measure of a hundred Egyptian cubits, (Rosweyde, Onomasticon ad Vit. Patrum, p. 1014, 1015) and the Egyptian cubit oi all ages be equal to twenty-two English inches (Greaves, vol. i, p. 233i the arura will consist of about three quarters of an English acre.
ancient monastery still preserves the name and memory of the saint.* The curious devotion of the Christians pursued him to the desert; and when he was obliged to appear at Alexandria, in the face of mankind, he supported his fame with discretion and dignity. He enjoyed the friendship of Athanasius, whose doctrine he approved; and the Egyptian peasant respectfully declined a respectful invitation from the emperor Constantino. The venerable patriarch (for Antony attained the age of one hundred and five years) beheld the numerous progeny which had been formed by his example and his lessons. The prolific colonies of monks multiplied with rapid increase on the sands of Libya, upon the rocks of Thebais, and in the cities of the Nile. To the south of Alexandria, the mountain and adjacent desert of Nitria, were peopled by five thousand anachorets ; and the traveller may still investigate the ruins of fifty monasteries, which were planted in that barren soil by the disciples of Antony, t In the Upper Thebais, the vacant island of TabenneJ was occupied by Pachomius,.and fourteen hundred of his brethren. That holy abbot successively founded nine
* The description of the monastery is given by Jerome (tom, i, p. 248, 249, in Vit. Hilarion.) and the P. Sicard (Missions du Levant, tom. v, p. 122—200.) Their accounts cannot always be reconciled : the father painted from his fancy, and the Jesuit from his experience.
+ Jerome, tom. i, p. 146, ad Eustochium. Hist. Lausiac. c. 7, in Vit. Patrum, p. 712. The P. Sicard (Missions du Levant, tom. ii, p. 29— 79) visited, and has described, this desert, which now contains four monasteries, and twenty or thirty monks. See D'Anville, Description de l'Egypte, p. 74. [M. Guizot, quoting Planck (Hist. Ecc. 1. 14. 3) says that, *' The persecutions of Diocletian contributed largely to fill the desert with Christian fugitives, who preferred safety as anchorites, to glory as martyrs." To which it may be added from Neander, that Antony was born in 251, and consequently more than fifty years of age when Diocletian's decrees were issued. It is, therefore, very probable that the example of his security attracted many at that time to seek such an asylum. In the year 311, his reputation for sanctity was so great, that having occasion to visit Alexandria during the persecution, renewed by Maximin, "while other monks who had come into the city concealed themselves, Antony appeared in public, yet no one dared to touch him."—Ed.]
J Tabenne is a small island in the Nile, in the diocese of Tentyra or Dendera, between the modern town of Girge and the ruins of ancient Thebes. (D'Anville, p. 194.) M. de Tillemont doubts whether it was an isle; but I may conclude, from his own facts, that the primitive name was afterwards transferred to the great monastery of Bau or Pabau. (Mdm. Eccle's. tom. vii, p. 678. 688.)
monasteries of men, and one of -women; and the festival of Easter sometimes collected fifty thousand religious persons, who followed his angelic rule of discipline.* The stately and populous city of Oxyrinchus, the seat of Christian orthodoxy, had devoted the temples, the public edifices, and even the ramparts, to pious and charitable uses; and the bishop, who might preach in twelve churches, computed ten thousand females, and twenty thousand males, of the monastic profession.f The Egyptians, who gloried in this marvellous revolution, were disposed to hope, and to believe, that the number of the monks was equal to the ., remainder of the people,^ and posterity might repeat the \ saying, which had formerly been applied to the sacred animals of the same country, that, in Egypt, it was less difficult .to find a god than a man.
Athanasius introduced into Rome the knowledge and practice of the monastic life; and a school of this new philosophy was opened by the disciples of Antony, who accompanied their primate to the holy threshold of the Vatican. The strange and savage appearance of these Egyptians excited at first horror and contempt, and at length applause and zealous imitation. The senators, and more especially the matrons, transformed their palaces and villas into religious houses; and the narrow institution of six vestals was eclipsed by the frequent monasteries which were seated on the ruins of ancient temples, and in the midst of the Roman Forum.§ Inflamed by the example of
* See, in the Codex Regularum (published by Lucas Holstenius, Bome, 1661), a preface of St. Jerome to his Latin version of the Rule of Paohomius, tom, i, p. 61. f Rufin. c . 5, in Vit. Patrum,
p. 459. He calls it, civitas ampla valde et populosa, and reckons twelve churches. Strabo (1. 17, p. 1166) and Ammiauus (22. 16) have made honourable mention of Oxyrinchus, whose inhabitants adored a small fish in a magnificent temple. J Quanti populi habentur
inurbibus, tantse paene habentur in desertis multitudines monachorum. Rufin. c. 7, in Vit. Patrum, p. 461. He congratulates the fortunate change. § The introduction of the monastic life into Rome >
and Italy is occasionally mentioned by Jerome (tom, i, p. 119, 120. 199). [Monastic institutions were largely indebted, during their early growth, to the vigorous intellect of Athanasius. His biography of Antony proves the interest which he took in them, and reveals his guiding hand. In the year 352, he ordered the patriarch of asceticism, then a hundred years old, to visit Alexandria, that he might assist in putting down Arianism, favoured and supported by tho emperor 112
BASIL IN rONTUS. [CH. XXXVII.
Antony, a Syrian youth whose name was Hilarion,* fixed his dreary abode on a sandy beach, between the sea and a morass, about seven miles from Gaza. The austere penance, in which he persisted forty-eight years, diffused a similar enthusiasm; and the holy man was followed by a train of two or three thousand anachorets, whenever he visited the innumerable monasteries of Palestine. The fame of Basil t is immortal in the monastic history of the east. With a mind that had tasted the learning and eloquence of Athens; with an ambition, scarcely to be satisfied by the archbishopric of Cassarea, Basil retired to a savage solitude in Pontus; and deigned for awhile to give
Constantius. The appearance of the archbishop's celebrated friend made so great a sensation, that even Pagans crowded to church that they might see "the man of God," and the diseased pressed round him to touch his garments, in the hope of being healed. In the few days of his residence, more were converted to Christianity and orthodoxy, than during a year at other times. (Neander, 3, p. 231.) The six years of his next exile (356—361) were passed by Athanasius in the deserts of Thebais. Antony was dead, but the primate of Egypt was welcomed and sheltered in the numerous monasteries that had risen there; nor can it be doubted that he employed himself in disciplining their inmates, and digesting for them the rules of Pachomius. The monks were, on all occasions, his faithful guardians, cunning emissaries, and discreet ministers. Xn the West, monachism was altogether introduced and recommended by him. It found at first little favour there, but his powerful intervention soon secured for it a warm reception. "Athanasius was the first who, during his residence at different times, when banished from the East, among the Western people, introduced among them a better knowledge of the Oriental monachism. His biographical account of the monk Antony, which was early translated into the Latin, had a great influence in this matter." (Neander, 3. 367.) He made the bishops sensible of the advantages to be derived from it, and the most eminent leaders of the Western church continued during the next eighty years, to aid its progress. Eusebius ol Vercelli, Ambrose of Milan, Martin of Tours, Jerome and Augustin, all "contributed still farther to awaken and diffuse this tendency of the Christian spirit in Italy, in Gaul, and in Africa."—Ed.] * See the life of Hilarion, by St. Jerorae
(tom. i, p. 241. 252.) The stories of Paul, Hilarion, and Malchus, by the same author, are admirably told; and the only defect of these pleasing compositions is the want of truth and common sense.
+ His original retreat was in a small village on the banks of the Iris, not far from Neo-Csosarea. The ten or twelve years of his monastic life were disturbed by long and frequent avocations. Some critics have disputed the authenticity of his ascetic rules; but the external evidence is weighty, and they can only prove that it is the work of a real or aflected enthusiast. See TiLlemont, Mem. Ecclda.
laws to the spiritual colonies which he profusely scattered along the coast of the Black sea. In the west, Martin of ^ Tours,* a soldier, a hermit, a bishop, and a saint, established the monasteries of Gaul: two thousand of his disciples followed him to the grave; and his eloquent historian challenges the deserts of Thebais to produce, in a more favourable climate, a champion of equal virtue. The progress of the monks was not less rapid or universal than that of Christianity itself. Every province, and, at last, every city of the empire was filled with their increasing multitudes; and the bleak and barren isles, from Lerins to Lipari, that arise out of the Tuscan sea, were chosen by the anachorets for the place of their voluntary exile. An easy and perpetual intercourse by sea and land connected the provinces of the Roman world; and the life of Hilarion displays the facility with which an indigent hermit of Palestine might traverse Egypt, embark for Sicily, escape to Epirus, and finally settle in the island of Cyprus. f The Latin Christians embraced the religious institutions of Rome. The pilgrims who visited Jerusalem eagerly copied, in the most distant climates of the earth, the faithful model of the monastic life. The disciples of Antony spread themselves beyond the tropic, over the Christian empire of ^Ethiopia.J The monastery of Banchor,§ in Flintshire, >, which contained above two thousand brethren, dispersed a ) numerous colony among the barbarians of Ireland,^ and Iona, one of Hebrides, which was planted by the Irish
tom. ix, p. 636—644. Helyot, Hist. des Ordres Monastiques, tom. i, p. 175—181. * See his Life, and the Three Dialogues by
Sulpiciua Severus, who asserts (Dialog. 1. 16) that the booksellers of Kome were delighted with the quick and ready sale of his popular work. + When Hilarion sailed from Parsetonium to Cape
Pachynus, he offered to pay his passage with a book of the Gospels. Posthumian, a Gallic monk, who had visited Egypt, found a merchantship bound from Alexandria to Marseilles, and performed the voyage in thirty days. (Sulp. Sever. Dialog. 1. 1.) Athanasius, who addressed his Life of St. Antony to the foreign monks, was obliged to hasten the composition, that it might be ready for the sailing of the fleets (tom. ii, p. 451). X See Jerome (tom, i, p. 126), Assemanni (Bibliot.
Orient. tom. iv, p. 92. p. 857—919), and Geddes (Church History of ./Ethiopia, p. 29—31.) The Abyssinian monks adhere very strictly to the primitive institution. § Camden's Britannia, vol. i,
p. 666, 667. H All that learning can extract from the rubbish
of the dark ages is copiously stated by archbishop Usher, ia his; Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates, cap. 16, p. 425—503. TOL. IV. I