Saint Anthony was among the first Christian ascetics to adopt strict, life threatening monasticism: apparently wandering deep into the Egyptian desert with little but his faith. He is legendary for the countless trials and temptations he is said to have faced, ranging from the basics like starvation, boredom and visions of women, to much more potent hallucinogenic traps set for him by the devil. Among other things he was believed to have come face to face with a centaur and satyr, was tempted multiple times by mirages of gold and silver, and while staying in a cave (or tomb) the most sensational of all: he was tormented by a legion of devils and demons! These nightmare agents of Hell wreaked such havoc on Anthony the great that he died! Only to rise again after being pulled free from the cave by peasants. Upon resurrection the Saint marched straight back into the cave with God on his side and the army of devils vanished as if in smoke or light. In his spiritual pursuits Saint Anthony was so consistenly thwarted and deceived that it led him to cry out "O good Lord, who may escape from these snares?" to which a voice replied "Humility shall escape them without more." Historians of course love to emphasize how much of these tales were passed on "telephone" style by peasants and villagers who had merely vague associations with the man himself. Indeed that is to be expected with any tales of religious magick coming from anywhere. But regardless! The torments of Saint Anthony have if nothing else become a lofty template for a great many artists ever since the 10th century. The demonic attack in particular has become one of the best excuses that artists through the centuries have ever had to conjur up visualizations of lurid, horrifying monsters. The faces of ascetic hell. And this interests me.