Thursday, May 7, 2009
Search: saint anthony temptation
Why: In Breakfast of Champions, Rabo Karabekian has a painting called The Temptation of Saint Anthony. On p. 209, Beatrice Keedsler says, "This is a dreadful confession, but I don't even know who Saint Anthony was. Who was he, and why should anybody have wanted to tempt him?"
"I don't know, and I would hate to find out," said Karabekian.
Answer: Anthony decided to follow the words of Jesus: "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21). He sold his estate, donated the money to the poor, and went to live as a hermit. According to his biography by Athanasius, the devil fought St. Anthony by afflicting him with boredom, laziness, silver and gold, and the phantoms of women, which he overcame by the power of prayer. The devil beat him up until friends took him to a church.
He returned to the desert and lived in an abandoned Roman fort for 20 years. The devil found him and sent him phantoms of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes, and scorpions. Anthony only laughed and said, "If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me." God declared him the victor over the devil, TKO.
The More You Know: The theme is oft repeated in art, with famous paintings by Heironymous Bosch and Salvador Dali. A book on the subject - written in the form of a play script - is what Gustave Flaubert considered his masterpiece (not Madame Bovary).