19. SIMPLEX, the SIMPLE (ὀ ἁπλοῦς
), so called on account of the child-like simplicity of his character.
He was a countryman, with a wife and family, who, at sixty years of age, embraced a life of religious solitude, in which he attained great eminence. His native country appears to have been Egypt. but the place of his residence is not described. His retirement into the desert was occasioned by his surprising his wife, who was exceedingly beautiful, and must have been much younger than himself, in the act of adultery with a paramour with whom she appears to have long carried on a criminal intercourse. Abandoning to the care of the adulterere. not only his guilty wife, but also his innocent children, according to Palladius and Socrates, he took his departure, after having, "with a placid smile" (ἠρέμα ἐπιγελάσαι
), or "a decorous smile" (γελάσας σεμνόν
), said to the adulterer, "Well. well; truly it matters not to me. By Jesus ! I will not take her again. Go you have ber and her children; for I am going away, and shall become a monk."
The incident affords a curious illustration of the apathy which was cherished as a prime monastic virtue; and offers an instance of what was probably in that day still rarer, monastic swearing.
A journey of eight days brought him to the cell of St. Antony [ANTONIUS, No. 4], then in the zenith of his reputation. "What do you want?" said the saint. "To be made a monk," was Paul's answer. "Monks are not made of old men of sixty," was the caustic rejoinder.
But the pertinacity of Paul overcame the opposition of Antony, and sustained him through the ordeal of the stern discipline by which Antony hoped to weary him.
The assiduity of Paul in the exercises of an ascetic life was rewarded, according to his credulous biographer Palladius, with miraculous gifts, and "he surpassed even his master in vexing the daemons, and putting them to flight" (Sozomen).
The date of Paul's retirement, and the time of his death, are not known; but an anecdote recorded in the Eccles. Graec. Monumenta
of Cotelerius (vol. i. p. 351) shows that he was living at the accession of the emperor Constantius II., A. D. 337. (Palladius, Hist. Lausiac.
100.28, in the Biblioth. Patrum,
fol. Paris, 1654, vol. xiii. p. 941; Sozomen, H. E.
1.13; Tillemont, Mémoires,
vol. vii. p. 144, &c.)