The <i>Life of Antony</i>: Text and Context

William, S.J. Harmless

in Desert Christians

Published in print July 2004 | ISBN: 9780195162233
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835645 | DOI:
 The Life of Antony: Text and Context

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Athanasius’ Life of Antony (Vita Antonii) became a classic almost overnight and helped create a new genre of Christian literature: the life of a saint. Closer in spirit to Beowulf or Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Life of Antony is a tale of high adventure, of pitched battles against nefarious supernatural forces, set within an exotic landscape. This chapter surveys the basic plot, including Antony’s call and his much-illustrated temptations, his flight from the world (anachoresis), his healings, visions, and prophecies. It also examines the work’s literary context, illustrating how Athanasius both draws on and plays against traditions of ancient biography.

Keywords: Athanasius; Life of Antony; Vita Antonii; temptations; anachoresis; biography, ancient

Chapter.  12418 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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