AGATHON THE STYLITE, SAINT
Our only source of information about Agathon is the SYNAXARION, which gives a summary of his life at 14 Tut, the probable day of his death.
He was born at Tinnis, as E. Amélineau correctly saw (1893, pp. 507-508), and not at Tanis, as the name is translated by R. Basset (PO 1, pt. 3, p. 265) and J. Forget (CSCO 78, p. 15); at this period Tanis, the ancient pharaonic town, was no more than a village called Sa al-Hajar (Ramzi, 1954-1968, Vol. 1, pt. 2, p. 116, and Amélineau, 1893, pp. 413-14).
Agathon’s parents were Christians, and he remained with them to the age of forty. He then left for Mareotis, and from there went to Scetis, where he was led by an angel in the form of a monk to the monastery of Saint Macarius. He became the disciple of ABRAHAM AND GEORGE OF SCETIS and remained with them for three years. Abraham and George spent three days in prayer over the skhema (monastic garment) that Agathon received from the hands of the hegumenos Anba Yu‘annis.
Agathon led a life of great austerity, engaged in prayer and in reading the Life of Saint Symeon the Stylite. Greatly influenced by this Life, he resolved after ten years at Scetis to imitate it. He asked the permission of the elders, who approved, then left Scetis and established himself near Sakha in the Delta, where the faithful raised a column for him. It is said that he accomplished many miracles there.
He died at the age of one hundred, having lived forty years in the world, ten in the desert, and fifty as a stylite (Evelyn-White, 1932, p. 281).
According to the Life of John Kame (ed. Davis, 1920, pp. 24- 25), Agathon introduced into Scetis the use of the canonical hours. The ancient custom was to recite together only Vespers and the night office.
- Amélineau, E. La Géographie de l’Egypte à l’éepoque copte. Paris, 1893.
- Davis, M. H. The Life of Abba John Khamé. PO 14, pt. 2. Paris, 1920.
- Evelyn-White, H. G. The History of the Monasteries of Nitria and of Scetis. The Monasteries of the Wadi ‘N Natrun, pt. 2. New York, 1932.
- Muhammad Ramzi. al-Qamus al-Jughrafi. Cairo, 1954-1968.