131 This was by no means universal among monks: Athan. argues to Dracontius (cc. 8, 9) against the monastic tendency to think little of the clergy. Here, he propounds the example of Antony for the imitation of the `peregrini fratres.'
140 Cf. Plat. Phoedr. 274 B: but the resemblances is not close and the relation of this passage to the Phaedrus is probably mediate. I cannot see that the doctrine referred to here is necessarily different from that of Plotinus (Enn. IV. iii. 15).
142 It is certainly startling to find Antony, ignorant of Greek and of letters, reasoning with philosophers upon the doctrines of Neoplatonism. His whole life, excepting two short visits to Alexandria, had been spent out of ear-shot of such discussions. Yet it is not easy to say exactly how much a man of strong mind and retentive memory may have picked up from the conversation of those who visited him upon subjects so widely discussed as these speculations were.
147 The above argument with the philosophers runs upon the general lines of that of Athanasius c. Gent. The point which we miss here is the Euhemerism upon which Athanasius so strongly insists. This latter view would be naturally less congenial to Antony's mind than the view that the gods were merely demons.
151 Cf. below, `what the Arians are now doing.' This incidental notice of time fixes the date of the present passage. Weingarten in vain attempts to extract some other sense from the Greek, which is plainness itself. It also fixes the date of Antony's death to within two years of the troubles in question. The Benedictines refer the troubles to the intrusion of Gregory `in 341' (really 339), and the apparently unprecedented character ascribed to the outrages by Antony is in favour of this, as well as the fact (Encyc. 3) that in 339 the heathen are said to have offered sacrifice in the churches. But the latter is only in superficial agreement with the Greek text of the present passage, which speaks of Arian sunaceij at which heathen were impressed to be present, apparently to make some show of a congregation. The Evagrian version, indeed, adds that the Gentiles on this occasion also carried on idolatrous rites in the Church and polluted the baptisteries; but Evagrius is in the habit of interpolating little details from his own knowledge or opinion (e.g. 16, `Ita exorsus,' &c., 26, `qui vinctas hominum linguas solvebat,' 58, `qui effosso pro Christo oculo sub Maximiano,' &c.), and in this case appears to borrow from Encycl. 3. Again, the writer of the Vita was not present (`the bystanders' supra; `they troubled him;' `they asked him;' ...and infr. `those with him') when the Vision took place: but when, two years later, it was interpreted by events, he was in the company of those who had been with Antony at the time (infr. `then we all understood'). This (on the assumption of Athanasian authorship) excludes the year 339, when Athenasius fled to Italy, and compels us to refer the Vision to the troubles of 356 (Apol. Fug. 6, 7. Hist. Ar. 55, 56, Ep. ad Lucif.), after which Athanasius fled to the desert and was in the company of the monks. This conclusion is in independent agreement with (1) the fact, decisive by itself, that Antony is still alive in 345, when Nestorius became Prefect of Egypt (§86, note 3), i.e. six years after the troubles of 339; (2) the evidence that Antony was still living about 353 a.d. (Epist. Ammon. de Pachom. et Theod. 20, 21, in Act. SS. Mai. tom. iii. Appendix 70 C E, Tillemont vii. 123), and (3) the statement of Jerome (Chron.) that Antony died in 356. Against it Weingarten urges the prophecy of restored peace to the Church (infr.) as pointing to a time after the overthrow of Arianism. This is of little weight, for the prophecy expresses only what must have been the hope and belief of all. The prologue, which Tillemont (viii. 227) thinks must have been written in a time of peace at Alexandria, is not sufficiently explicit on the point to weigh against the plain sense of the present passage.
163 The body of Antony was discovered `by a revelation' in 561, and translated to Alexandria. When the Saracens conquered Egypt it was transferred to Constantinople, and lastly in the tenth century was carried to Vienne by a French Seigneur. The first and last links of this history are naturally precarious. The trans. lation to Alexandria is vouched for by Victor of Tunis (Chron.) who was in the neighbourhood at the time.
164 Jerome, in his life of Paul of Thebes, relates that Antony received from Paul, and ever afterwards wore on festivals, his tunic of palm-leaves. If this `legacy more glorious than the purple of a king' (Vit. Paul. c. 13) had any existence, it would certainly not have been forgotten by Antony in disposing of his worldly goods. The silence of the Life of Antony throws discredit on Jerome's whole account of Paul.