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Desert ChristiansAn Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism$
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William, S.J. Harmless

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162233

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195162234.001.0001

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The Life of Antony: Text and Context

The Life of Antony: Text and Context

(p.57) 3 The Life of Antony: Text and Context
Desert Christians

William, S.J. Harmless (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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