One of my favorite art subjects in history is assuredly The Temptation of Saint Anthony. For nearly a thousand years, this theme inspired countless works of art, each providing a unique interpretation of a story that is both timeless and universal. Although Saint Anthony is mostly known in Orthodox and Catholic churches, his story is relatable to every single human on earth. And it revolves around one theme: Resisting temptation.
Saint Anthony the Great (not to be confused with other Saint Anthonys such as Anthony of Padua) was born in the year 251. He lived most of his life in Egypt until the venerable age of 105 years. While, in most paintings, Saint Anthony is surrounded by complete chaos and destruction, everything is more peaceful here. Demons are still tempting him with alcohol (left) and they’re still trying to attack and torment him. However, they’re reduced to small, nearly harmless goblins. Like in other paintings, we see creatures “invading” buildings in the background (representing demons wanting to destroy his legacy) but they aren’t causing any damage. In other words, Saint Anthony is winning … just by not giving in.