I’ve been reading through Athanasius of Alexandria’s famous “Life of St. Antony.” This work is widely recognized as the piece of writing that launched a whole genre of Christian literature: hagiography. From ἅγιος (agios) and γραφή (graphe), Hagiography is the genre usually used by Christian writers to describe the lives of saints.
Antony was an enormous figure in early monasticism. Having been born into a well-to-do family, he sold his possessions around the age of 18 and devoted himself to the ascetic life. After the devil tried many things to trip up Antony, Athanasius reaches a mini-climax describing Antony’s victory. I rather like the conclusion: (PG 26.819
All of these things became points of shame for the Enemy. For the one who thought himself like God was being scolded by a child, and the one who boasted over flesh and blood was being rebuked by a man who bore flesh. The Lord, who took on flesh for our sakes, and who by his body won victory over the devil, was working with Antony. Thus those who struggle now against the Devil may each say, “not I, but the grace of God within me!” (1 Cor 15:10)
Athanasius’s greek is not too difficult here. He’s writing ostensibly to monks, and so doesn’t use a grand rhetorical style. He does, however, add nice touches, which probably don’t come through adequately in the translation. It is a fun work though, and I’d encourage anyone to look at it!