Saint Anthony’s cell
Saint Anthony’s cell. Hermitage in which Anthony lives. It is set on a crescent-shaped platform high on a mountainside in the Thebaid desert, above the Nile. It is constructed from mud and reeds, with a flat roof and no door. Its only furniture, apart from mats on the floor, is a wooden frame supporting a book. A single palm tree grows on the edge of the platform, whose only other embellishment is a wooden cross. The Libyan mountains are visible on the desert horizon.
Anthony has previously dwelt in a pharaoh’s tomb and a ruined citadel and has traveled a great deal. Here, his final refuge, is where he makes baskets, mats, and shepherds’ crooks, bartering his products to nomads in exchange for bread. This crude stage becomes the arena in which the Devil launches his most powerful temptations as the saint’s spirits fall into weary despair. Although Anthony never leaves this place, he is transported in his imagination to several different locations.
*Thebaid. Domain of Thebes in Upper Egypt. The site of Thebes is now occupied by Luxor, but the desert remains as desolate as it was in Anthony’s day.
*Alexandria. Egypt’s great seaport built by Alexander the Great after his capture of Egypt in 332 b.c.e. Anthony is transported to the Panium, an artificial mound in the city center overlooking Lake Mareotis. When the monks of...
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