Chapter XXX.—Monks of Scetis: Origen, Didymus, Cronion, Orsisius, Putubatus, Arsion, Serapion, Ammon, Eusebius, and Dioscorus, the Brethren who are called Long, and Evagrius the Philosopher.
At this period, Origen, one of the disciples of Antony the Great, was still living at a great age, in the monasteries of Scetis. 1492 Also, Didymus, and Cronion, who was about one hundred and ten years of age, Arsisius the Great, Putubatus, Arsion, and Serapion, all of whom had been contemporary with Antony the Great. They had grown old in the exercise of philosophy, and were at this period presiding over the monasteries. There were some holy men among them who were young and middle aged, but who were celebrated for their excellent and good qualities. Among these were Ammonius, Eusebius, and Dioscorus. They were brothers, but on account of their height of stature were called the “Long Brothers.” 1493 It is said that Ammon attained the summit of philosophy, and consequently overcame the love of ease and pleasure. He was very studious, and had read the works of Origen, of Didymus, and of other ecclesiastical writers. From his youth to the day of his death he never tasted anything, with the exception of bread, that had been prepared by means of fire. He was once chosen to be ordained bishop; and after urging every argument that could be devised in rejection of the honor, but in vain, he cut off one of his ears, and said to those who had come for him, “Go away. Henceforward the priestly law forbids my ordination, for the person of a priest should be perfect.” Those who had been sent for him accordingly departed; but, on ascertaining that the Church does not observe the Jewish law in requiring a priest to be perfect in all his members, but merely requires him to be irreprehensible in point of morals, they returned to Ammon, and endeavored to take him by force. He protested to them that, if they attempted any violence against him, he would cut out his tongue; and, terrified at this menace, they immediately took their departure. Ammon was ever after surnamed Parotes. Some time afterwards, during the ensuing reign, the wise Evagrius formed an intimacy with him. Evagrius 1494 was a wise man, powerful in thought and in word, and skillful in discerning the arguments which led to virtue and to vice, and capable in urging others to imitate the one, and to eschew the other. His eloquence is fully attested by the works he has left behind him. 1495 With respect to his moral character, it is said that he was totally free from all pride or superciliousness, so that he was not elated when just commendations were awarded him, nor displeased when unjust reproaches were brought against him. He was a citizen of Iberia, near the Euxine. He had philosophized and studied the Sacred Scriptures under Gregory, bishop of Nazianzen, and had filled the office of archdeacon when Gregory administered the church in Constantinople. He was handsome in person, and careful in his mode of attire; and hence an acquaintanceship he had formed with a certain lady excited the jealousy of her husband, who plotted his death. While the plot was about being carried forward into deed, God sent him while sleeping, a fearful and saving vision in a dream. It appeared to him that he had been arrested in the act of committing some crime, and that he was bound hand and foot in irons. As he was being led before the magistrates to receive the sentence of condemnation, a man who held in his hand the book of the Holy Gospels addressed him, and promised to deliver him from his bonds, and confirmed this p. 369 with an oath, provided he would quit the city. Evagrius touched the book, and made oath that he would do so. Immediately his chains appeared to fall off, and he awoke. He was convinced by this divine dream, and fled the danger. He resolved upon devoting himself to a life of asceticism, and proceeded from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Some time after he went to visit the philosophers of Scetis, and gladly determined to live there.
This chapter may have its basis in the collection of Timothy. Cf. Palladius, H. L., for some of the biographies.368:1493
Cf. viii. 12 sqq.368:1494
Cf. also Soc. iv. 23.368:1495