AMMONIUS OF TUNAH
A fourth-century hermit. The name of Ammonius of Tunah (Thone in Coptic) is mentioned in the Coptic inscriptions of al-Jabrawi (see DAYR AL-JABRAWI), on the right bank south of ASYUT, in tombs used by the hermits, along with the names of Apollo, Anoup, Phib, and Pshoi of Jeremiah (Crum, 1902, pp. 45-46 and pl. 29, no. 3). He is represented on a fresco from Bawit (Clédat, 1904-1916, p. 91) and also at FARAS (Kubinska, 1974, no. 90 and fig. 80). A summary of his life is given by the Copto-Arabic SYNAXARION (PO 16, pp. 399-401; CSCO 67, pp. 130-31[text]; 90, pp. 129-31 [trans.]). A papyrus leaf preserves part of the Coptic life (Crum, 1913, pp. 162-64). Mount Tunah is situated on the left bank of the Nile, to the west of al-ASHMUNAYN (Shmun or Hermopolis Magna) in central Egypt, about 12 miles (20 km) north of BAWIT.
After experiencing a vision in which Saint ANTONY invited him to become a monk, Ammonius went to Saint Isidorus (perhaps ISIDORUS OF SCETIS) (Evelyn-White, 1932, pp. 101-02), who clothed him in the monastic habit. After his initiation, he withdrew to Mount Tunah. One day, the devil tempted him by persuading a woman to seduce him, but Ammonius converted her and she remained near him as an ascetic. The devil then took the semblance of a monk and made a circuit of the monasteries, crying out, “Anba Ammonius, the hermit, has married a wife who lives in his cave, and thus he dishonours the monks and does shame to the holy habit.” Apollo, “the fellow of the angels,” no doubt APOLLO OF BAWIT, accompanied by Anba Yusab (Joseph) and Anba Papohe (perhaps author of the life of Phib), went to Mount Tunah to investigate. There they found the woman, called al-Sadij by the Synaxarion. An angel revealed to Apollo that they had been brought to Ammonius to be present at the death of al-Sadij, which then took place; she had spent eighteen years with Ammonius without ever looking upon him and living only on bread and salt. Ammonius himself died soon after.
Perhaps we have here a distant witness to the agapetae (beloved) who lived with ascetics (Guillaumont, 1969). If it is indeed Apollo of Bawit, this Ammonius lived toward the end of the fourth century.
A. Torp (1965, pp. 167-68) thinks that this Ammonius of Tunah is the Amoun mentioned in Chapter 9 of the HISTORIA MONACHORUM IN AEGYPTO (Festugière, 1971, pp. 71-75).
- Clédat, J. Le Monastère et la nécropole de Bawit. Mémoires publiés par les membres de l’Institut français d’Archéologie orientale 12. Cairo, 1904-1916.
- Crum, W. E. The Rock Tombs of Deir el-Gebrawi, Vol. 2, ed. N. de 1902. Davies. London, 1902.
- . Theological Texts from Coptic Papyri. Oxford, 1913. Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi’n Natrun, Pt. 2,
- The History of the Monasteries of Nitria and Scetis. New York, 1932.
- Festugière, A. J., ed. Historia monachorum in Aegypto. Subsidia Hagiographica 53. Brussels, 1971. Two parts in 1 vol., Greek text and Latin trans.
- Guillaumont, A. “Le Nom des “Agapètes.'” Vigiliae Christianae 63 (1969):30-37.
- Kubinska, J. Inscriptions grecques chrétiennes (Faras IV). Warsaw, 1974.
- Torp, A. “La date de la fondation du monasterè d’Apa Apallo de Baouît et son abandon.” Mélanges d’archéologie et d’histoire 77 (1965):153-177.