It was about this period that Ammon, the Egyptian, embraced philosophy. It is said that he was compelled to marry by his family, but that his wife never knew him carnally; for on the day of their marriage, when they were alone, and when he as the bridegroom was leading her as the bride to his bed, he said to her, |Oh, woman! our marriage has indeed taken place, but it is not consummated|; and then he showed her from the Holy Scriptures that it was her chief good to remain a virgin, and entreated that they might live apart. She was convinced by his arguments concerning virginity, but was much distressed by the thought of being separated from him; and therefore, though occupying a separate bed, he lived with her for eighteen years, during which time he did not neglect the monastic exercises. At the end of this period, the woman whose emulation had been strongly excited by the virtue of her husband, became convinced that it was not just that such a man should, on her account, live in the domestic sphere; and she considered that it was necessary that each should, for the sake of philosophy, live apart from the other; and she entreated this of her husband. He therefore took his departure, after having thanked God for the counsel of his wife, and said to her, |Do thou retain this house, and I will make another for myself.| He retired to a desert place, south of the Mareotic lake between Scitis and the mountain called Nitria; and here, during two and twenty years, he devoted himself to philosophy and visited his wife twice every year. This divine man was the founder of the monasteries there, and gathered round him many disciples of note, as the registers of succession show. Many extraordinary events happened to him, which have been accurately fixed by the Egyptian monks, who did very much to commemorate carefully the virtues of the more ancient ascetics, preserved in a succession of unwritten tradition. I will relate such of them as have come to our knowledge.
Ammon and his disciple Theodore, had once occasion to take a journey somewhere, and on the road found it requisite to cross a canal called Lycus. Ammon ordered Theodore to pass over backwards, lest they should witness each other's nudity, and as he was likewise ashamed to see himself naked, he was suddenly, and by a Divine impulse, seized and carried over, and landed on the opposite bank. When Theodore had crossed the water, he perceived that the clothes and feet of the elder were not wet, and inquired the reason; not receiving a reply, he expostulated strongly on the subject, and at length Ammon, after stipulating that it should not be mentioned during his lifetime, confessed the fact.
Here follows another miracle of the same nature. Some wicked fathers, having brought to him a son, who had been bitten by a mad dog, and was nigh unto death, besought him in their lamentations to heal him. He said to them, |Your son does not require my healing, but if you are willing to restore to your masters the ox you have stolen, he will be healed immediately.| And the result was even as had been predicted; for the ox was restored and the malady of the child removed. It is said that, when Ammon died, Antony saw his spirit ascending into heaven, since the heavenly powers conducted him with the singing of psalms, and on being questioned by his companions as to the cause of his evident astonishment, he did not conceal the matter from them; for he was seen to survey the sky intently, because of his amazement at the sight of the marvelous spectacle. A short time after, certain persons came from Scitis, and, announcing the hour of Ammon's death, the truth of Antony's prediction was manifested. Thus, as is testified by all good men, each of these holy persons was blessed in a special manner; the one, by being released from this life; the other, by being accounted worthy of witnessing so miraculous a spectacle as that which God showed him; for Antony and Ammon lived at a distance of many days' journey from each other, and the above incident is corroborated by those who were personally acquainted with them both.
I am convinced that it was likewise during this reign that Eutychianus embraced philosophy. He fixed his residence in Bithynia, near Olympus. He belonged to the sect of the Novatians, and was a partaker of Divine grace; he healed diseases and wrought miracles, and the fame of his virtuous life induced Constantine to keep his intimacy and friendship. It so happened, that about this period, one of the royal body-guard, who was suspected of plotting against the sovereign, fled, and after search, was apprehended near Olympus. Eutychianus was besought by relatives of the man to intercede on his behalf with the emperor, and in the meantime, to direct that the prisoner's chains might be loosened, lest he should perish beneath their weight. It is related that Eutychianus accordingly sent to the officers who held the man in custody, desiring them to loosen the chains; and that, on their refusal, he went himself to the prison, when the doors, though fastened, opened of their own accord, and the bonds of the prisoner fell off. Eutychianus afterwards repaired to the emperor who was then residing at Byzantium, and easily obtained a pardon, for Constantine was not wont to refuse his requests, because he held the man in very great honor.
I have now given in few words the history of the most illustrious professors of the monastic philosophy. If any one desires more exact information about these men he will find it in the biographies which have been written of very many of them.