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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] IT is not right to be silent about the story of the illustrious deacon Evagrius, a man who lived in apostolic wise; rather one ought to put it into writing for the edification of readers and the glory of the goodness of our Saviour. I have thought it worth while to relate (the story) from the beginning, how he came to his ideal, and how having pursued asceticism worthily he died in the desert at the age of fifty-four, according to the words of Scripture: “In a little time he fulfilled many years.”

[2] He came of a Pontic family and belonged to the city of Ibora, the son of a country-bishop. He was ordained reader by the holy Basil, the bishop of the church of Cæsarea. After the death of the holy Basil, Gregory Nazianzen the bishop, that very wise and most impassive and highly cultured man, ordained him deacon. Then at the great synod of Constantinople he left him to the blessed Nectarius the bishop, since he was skilled in argument against all heresies. And he flourished in the great city, speaking with youthful zeal against every heresy. [3] Now it happened that this man, who was held in high honour by the whole city, was congealed by an image of the desire of a woman, as he himself told us at a later time, when his soul was freed from such thoughts. The woman loved him in return; now she belonged to the highest rank. So Evagrius, fearing God and respecting his own conscience, and putting before his eyes the greatness of the shame and the malicious joy of the heresies, prayed to God in supplication that he would put some obstacle in the way. Now the woman was pressing and madly excited, while he, though desiring to withdraw, had no power to, being constrained by the chains of this servitude. [4] After no long time, when his prayer had succeeded but he had not experienced the benefit of it, there appeared to him an angel vision in the shape of soldiers of the governor, and they seized him and took him apparently to the tribunal and threw him into the so-called custody, the men who had come to him, as it seemed, without giving a reason having first fastened his neck and hands with iron collars and chains. But he knew in his conscience that for the sake of the above fault he was suffering these things, and imagined that her husband had intervened. [5] So now he was extremely anxious. Another trial was going on and others were being put to torture for some accusation, so he continued to be much perturbed. And the angel who brought the vision transformed himself to represent the coming of a genuine friend and said to him, tied up as he was among forty prisoners chained together: “Why are you retained here, my lord deacon?” He said to him: “In truth I do not know, but I have a suspicion that so-and-so the ex-governor has laid a charge against me, impelled by an absurd jealousy. And I fear that the judge corrupted by bribes may inflict punishment on me.” [6] He said to him: “If you will listen to your friend, it is not expedient for you to stay in this city.” Evagrius said to him: “If God will release me from this misfortune and you see me in Constantinople (any more), know that I shall suffer this punishment justly.” He said to him: “Let me bring the gospel, and swear to me by it that you will leave this city and care for your soul, and I will free you from this durance.” [7] So he brought the gospel and he swore to him by the gospel: “Except for one day, to give me time to put my clothes on board, I certainly will not remain.” So when the oath had been produced, he came back out of the trance which had come on him in the night; and he arose and argued with himself: “Even if the oath was in a trance, nevertheless I did take it.” So having put all his belongings into the ship he went to Jerusalem.

[8] And there he was received by the blessed Melania, the Roman lady. But once again the devil hardened his heart, as he did Pharaoh’s, and since he was young and vigorous doubts beset him, and he hesitated, saying nothing to any one, and changing his clothes and his habit of speech back to his old ways, vain-glory stupefying him. But God Who wards off destruction from us all involved him in a bout of fever, and after that in a long illness lasting six months, drying up his flesh, the source of his trouble. [9] But when the physicians were at a loss and could find no way of cure, the blessed Melania said to him: “Son, your long illness does not please me. Tell me therefore what are your thoughts. For this illness of yours is not without God.” Then he confessed to her the whole matter. But she said to him: “Give me your word before the Lord that you will keep to the mark of the monastic life; and, sinner though I am, I will pray that you may be granted a furlough of life.” And he consented. So within a few days he got well, and he arose and received a change of clothes at the hands of the lady herself and went away and exiled himself in the mount of Nitria which is in Egypt.

[10] Having lived there two years, in the third year he entered the desert. So he lived fourteen years in the place they call Cellia, and he used to eat a pound of bread, and in three months a pint of oil, though he was a man who had come from a luxurious and refined and voluptuous life. And he made 100 prayers; and he wrote during the year only the value of what he ate—for he wrote the Oxyrhyncus characters excellently. So in the course of fifteen years having purified his mind to the utmost he was counted worthy of the gift of knowledge and wisdom and the discerning of spirits. So he composed three holy books for monks, called Antirrhetica, in which he taught the arts to be used against demons. [14] The demon of fornication troubled him grievously, as indeed he told us himself. And all night long he stood naked in the well, though it was winter, so that his flesh was frozen. On another occasion again the spirit of blasphemy troubled him. And for forty days he did not enter under a roof, as he told us himself, so that his body threw out ticks, like the bodies of irrational animals. Three demons attacked him by day disguised as clerics, questioning him on the faith. And one said he was an Arian, the other an Eunomian, the third an Apollinarian; and he vanquished these in his wisdom by means of a few words. [12] Again one day, the key of the church having been lost, having made the sign over the front of the lock and pushed with his hand, he opened it, after first calling upon Christ. So many castigations did he receive from demons and so great trial of them did he have that there is no counting the occasions. And to one of his disciples he told the things that would happen to him after eighteen years, having prophesied all to him in a vision (of the future). And he said: “From the time that I took to the desert, I have not touched lettuce nor any other green vegetable, nor any fruit, nor grapes, nor meat, nor a bath. [13] And later, in the sixteenth year of his life without cooked food, his flesh felt a need, owing to the weakness of the stomach, to partake of (something that had been) on the fire; he did not however take bread even now, but having fed on herbs or gruel or pulse for two years, in this regime he died, after communicating in church at Epiphany. Shortly before his death he told us: “For three years I have not been troubled by fleshly desire—after so long a life and toil and labour and ceaseless prayer.” He was told of the death of his father, and said to his informant: “Cease blaspheming, for my father is immortal.”








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