Two philosophers who visited Antony
Two philosophers who had heard of Antony’s fame once came to visit him. After a discussion on several subjects they despised Antony as ignorant and illiterate and returned home. Not content with insulting him thus, they plotted to drive him from his cell by magic charms and demonic assistance. Driven by envy and spite, they set in motion an army of demons, such that every day many people began coming to Antony as to a servant of God. For some he traced the sign of the cross on their breast and forehead, for others he lay prostrate in prayer. Even the strongest demons were unable to come near, and they went back to those who had sent them, having achieved nothing. They sent some more powerful demons against him, who returned exhausted. They sent the most powerful and violent demons possible against the soldier of Christ, but they could not prevail against Antony’s strong resistance. None of their wiles succeeded, their magic arts and necromancy were all in vain, and the evidence forced them to concede that there was great power in the Christian profession, since their shadowy demons had not been able to do Antony any harm, nor been able to drive him from his dwelling.
Overawed and astonished, the philosophers came back forthwith to the holy Antony and after confessing to him how their spite and malice had been behind the great battle they had brought against him, they asked to become Christians. Antony asked them the date when they had begun their battle, and when they told him he said that he had been attacked by the most bitter and stinging thoughts on that day.
We know that this same blessed Antony frequently prayed at such length that he was often taken up into ecstasy. We have heard him saying at sunrise, “Why are you dragging me back, O rising sun, from the brilliance of the one true light!”
De Vitis Patrum, Book IV, Chapter 55 (Cassian, Conference 8, Chapter 18)