The Eremitic Citizen as An-chora-ite in St Athanasius' Life of Antony

Andrew Mellas, PhD Candidate, University of Sydney

Abstract: Exploring the potential interplay between desert, demons and chora, this paper approaches St Athanasius’ Life of St Antony through the prism of the chora within. Plato’s Timaeus and Derrida’s On the Name serve as points of departure in analysing Athanasian demonology and how St Antony exemplified an emerging desire in late antiquity to champion an ever-expanding interiority through absolute introspection. In taming the unmasterable elements of the inner self, Athanasius’ protagonist elucidated and externalised a hitherto obscured interiority. His asceticism was not only a phenomenology of interiority; it caused the desert to bloom. St Antony’s own transformation also transfigured the desert, perpetuating creation and rendering the chora within as the space of personal revelation.