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Chapter I.

How we came to Diolcos and were received by Abbot Piamun.20712071    Piamun, who has been already spoken of in XVII. xxiv., is also mentioned by Rufinus (History of the Monks, c. xxxii.), Palladius (the Lausiac History, clxxii.), and Sozomen (H. E. VI. xxix.), all of whom tell, with slight variations, the same story, how that one day while he was officiating at the altar, he saw an angel writing down the names of some of the brethren, and passing by the names of others, all of whom Piamun on subsequent inquiry found to have been guilty of some grievous sin.

After visiting and conversing with those three Elders, whose Conferences we have at the instance of our brother Eucherius tried to describe, as we were still more ardently desirous to seek out the further parts of Egypt, in which a larger and more perfect company of saints dwelt, we came—urged not so much by the necessities of our journey as by the desire of visiting the saints who were dwelling there—to a village named Diolcos,20722072    On Diolcos see on the Institutes V. xxxvi. lying on one of the seven mouths of the river Nile. For when we heard of very many and very celebrated monasteries founded by the ancient fathers, like most eager merchants, at once we undertook the journey on an uncertain quest, urged on by the hope of greater gain. And when we wandered about there for some long time and fixed our curious eyes on those mountains of virtue conspicuous for their lofty height, the gaze of those around first singled out Abbot Piamun, the senior of all the anchorites living there and their presbyter, as if he were some tall lighthouse. For he was set on the top of a high mountain like that city in the gospel,20732073    Cf. S. Matt. v. 14. and at once shed his light on our faces, whose virtues and miracles, which were wrought by him under our very eyes, Divine Grace thus bearing witness to his excellence, if we are not to exceed the plan and limits of this volume, we feel we must pass over in silence. For we promised to commit to memory what we could recollect, not of the miracles of God, but of the institutes and pursuits of the saints, so as to supply our readers merely with necessary instruction for the perfect life, and not with matter for idle and useless admiration without any correction of their faults. And so when Abbot Piamun had received us with welcome, and had refreshed us with becoming kindness, as he understood that we were not of the same country, he first asked us anxiously whence or why we had visited Egypt, and when he discovered that we had come thither from a monastery in Syria out of desire for perfection he began as follows:—

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