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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 145

St. Anthony is a hermit who, after spending thirty years in isolation, begins to feel as though his life has been meaningless. He is tempted by all the deadly sins that attempt to make him stray from his belief that isolation is true piety. He is even dragged into the cosmos by Satan himself to face the horror and meaninglessness of infinity. Even this, he overcomes.

Ammonaria is a friend of Anthony's sister, and draws Anthony into a battle against his own lust.

Hilarion, also known as Lucifer, was once Anthony's pupil. He attempts to lure Anthony away from his isolation by tempting him with intellect and science.

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Lust and Death appear as two women, one young and one elderly. They try to tempt Anthony to give into his desires and end his own life.

The Queen of Sheba tempts Anthony with riches, representing lust.

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 255

Saint Anthony

Saint Anthony, a hermit for thirty years but now despondent because he feels that his life has been a failure. He is tempted by gluttony, avarice, and lust, but he overcomes them all. His disciple, Hilarion, appears to accuse him of ignorance and to tempt him intellectually by exposing him to all the confusing heresies of the early church and to the false gods of history, each of whom contained some element of truth. He is even carried into space by Satan, to be shown that the universe is limitless and meaningless and to be urged to curse God and acknowledge the Devil. Even this temptation Anthony overcomes, as well as the urgings of Death and Lust that he escape through them the ugliness of the world. When, the next day, Anthony sees the face of Christ in the sun, he knows that he has emerged victorious from his trials.

The Devil

The Devil, who subjects Anthony to the horror of infinity.


Hilarion, Anthony’s former disciple, who exposes him to the sins of the intellect.

The Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba, who represents lust.


Tertullian, who drives away the heresiarchs.


Apollonius, who almost conquers Anthony by the offer of the power of having visions and of curing the sick.


Marcellina, a woman who tells Anthony that with the aid of a silver image she can cause Christ to appear.


Montanus, who, according to a strange woman Anthony meets, is the incarnation of the Holy Ghost.

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