An anchorite (fourth-fifth century). In the APOPHTHEGMATA PATRUM some fifty items mention Sisoes or Tithoes, which is another form of the same word. But it is proper to distinguish at least two if not three persons with this name. The earliest and most renowned lived with Or and MACARIUS at Scetis; he left there shortly after the death of Saint ANTONY (c. 356) to settle at the hermitage of this saint with his own disciple Abraham. Later he withdrew to Clysma.
It is not impossible that this Sisoes is identical with the person called Sisoes the Theban in several apothegms, but there is also a Sisoes of Petra who is definitely different from the Theban one, since there is an account of a brother asking Sisoes of Petra about something that Sisoes the Theban had said to him.
Despite some possible confusions, the majority of these apothegms certainly refer to the Sisoes from Scetis and Clysma, and a good number relate to the long period spent “in Abba Antony’s mountain”—more than seventy-two years if the figure given in the apothegm Sisoes 28 is correct. In all these texts Sisoes appears as a great lover of solitude and silence, and as a paragon of simplicity and humility, but also as intimate with God and often sunk in contemplation to the point of forgetting bodily needs (Sisoes 4.27; Tithoes 1). He brought a dead child back to life (Sisoes 18). His prayer for his disciple was of astonishing boldness (Sisoes 12).
He had unlimited confidence in the divine mercy, though this did not prevent him, on his deathbed, from asking the angels who came for him to grant him time “to be penitent for a little.” His face then shone like the sun, and apostles and prophets came to meet him, and the Lord said of him, “Bring me the chosen vessel of the desert.”
It is understandable that Sisoes should have left an indelible memory in the minds of all who knew him. He was valued “like pure gold in a balance” (Tithoes 2). When old men began talking about Sisoes, POEMEN would say: “Leave aside Abba Sisoes’ affairs, for they range far beyond what we could speak of” (Poemen 187).
- Cotelier, J. B., ed. Apophthegmata patrum. PG 65, pp. 392-408; 428f. Paris, 1864.