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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] THERE dwelt in Scete a man named Pachon, who had reached his sixtieth year or thereabouts. Now I happened to be dejected, having been tormented by the love of women, both in my (waking) thoughts and my nocturnal visions. And I was nearly leaving the desert, passion driving me, yet I did not refer the matter to my neighbours, nor to my teacher Evagrius. But I journeyed secretly into the great desert and spent fifteen days in meeting the fathers who had grown old in the desert at Scete. [2] Among others I met Pachon. Well, finding him more guileless and better versed in asceticism than the rest, I was bold to refer to him the state of my mind. And he said to me: “Let not the affair disconcert you, for you are not suffering this from negligence. For the place is a witness in your favour, both because of the lack of necessaries and the absence of facilities for meeting women. But rather it comes from your zeal. For the war against impurity is triple. At one time the flesh attacks us because it is vigorous; at another the passions attack us through our thoughts; at another the demon himself in malice. I have found this after much observation. [3] Look how you see me, an old man now. I have spent forty years in this cell caring for my own salvation, and growing to be as old as this I have been tempted all the while.” And he said this, confirming it with an oath: “For twelve years after my fiftieth year the demon gave me no respite in his attacks by night and day. Supposing therefore that God had left me and on this account I was under his power, I preferred to die in an irrational manner rather than act improperly through bodily passion. And having gone out and explored the desert I found a hyæna’s cave. In which cave I laid myself down naked in the daytime, in order that the beasts when they came out might eat me. [4] So, when evening came, as it is written: ‘Thou madest darkness and night came: in it all the beasts of the forest will roam’—the beasts came out, male and female, and smelt me, licking me from head to foot. And when I was expecting to be eaten up, they left me. So having lain down all night, I was not eaten. But reckoning that God had spared me, I returned again to the cell. Well, the demon, having restrained himself a few days, then attacked me again more vehemently than at first, so that I very nearly blasphemed. [5] He changed himself into an Ethiopian maiden, whom I had once seen in my youth in the summer-time picking reeds, and sat on my knee. So in a fury I gave her a blow and she disappeared. Well, for two years I could not bear the evil smell of my hand! So I went out into the great desert, wandering up and down discouraged and in despair. And having found a little asp, I picked it up and applied it to my flesh, in order that I might die, even though it were by a bite of this kind. And I rubbed the beast’s head on my flesh, as the cause of my temptation, but I was not bitten. [6] Then I heard a voice saying in my thoughts: ‘Go, Pachon, struggle on. For this is why I have left you to be tyrannized over, that you should not be proud, as if you had any strength, but recognizing your weakness should not trust in your manner of life, but run for the help of God.’ Thus convinced I returned and dwelt in confidence, and no longer troubling about the war I was in peace the rest of my days. But he, knowing how I despised him, no longer came near me.”








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