The fourth century ascetic Paphnuce, journeys from his remote desert hermitage to urban Alexandria determined to locate the stunningly beautiful and libertine actress, Thais. He earnestly desires that she convert to Christianity. Gaining an audience by deception, the hermit passionately speaks to the actress of eternity. Remarkably, Thais repents and retires to a convent for the rest of her days. The hermit however, cannot rid his mind of her charms, not even with the help of the most severe austerities. After years of anguish the monk learns of Thais' immanent demise and hastens to her side. There he confesses the unspeakable.
by Anatole France
Translated By Robert B. Douglas
PART I. THE LOTUS PART II. THE PAPYRUS THE BANQUET THE PAPYRUS (resumed) PART III. THE EUPHORBIA
PART THE FIRST THE LOTUS
In those days there were many hermits living in the desert. On both banks of the Nile numerous huts, built by these solitary dwellers, of branches held together by clay, were scattered at a little distance from each other, so that the inhabitants could live alone, and yet help one another in case of need. Churches, each surmounted by a cross, stood here and there amongst the huts, and the monks flocked to them at each festival to celebrate the services or to partake of the Communion. There were also, here and there on the banks of the river, monasteries, where the cenobites lived in separate cells, and only met together that they might the better enjoy their solitude.
Both hermits and cenobites led abstemious lives, taking no food till after sunset, and eating nothing but bread with a little salt and hyssop... Continue reading book >>
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