He was excelled by none in watchfulness and self-restraint. He surpassed all in long-suffering, meekness, tenderness, lowliness, perseverance, and continual study of the Holy Scriptures. He had such a loathing of the company and conversation of heretics and schismatics, especially Arians, that he used to say that a faithful Christian ought as far as possible never to come near any such. He took the sleep which was needful for the body lying on the ground. Such was his devotion to fasting, that he took nothing with his bread but salt, and drank only water; he never ate or drank before sunset; he often abstained from food altogether for two days at a time; and very often passed whole nights in prayer. Being so valiant a soldier of God, Anthony was attacked by the devil with divers temptations, but he overcame them all by prayer and fasting. Nevertheless, these frequent triumphs over Satan did not lull Anthony into security, for he was well aware of the numberless arts of assault possessed by the evil one.
Then he betook himself into the vast deserts of Africa that lie near Egypt. Day by day he advanced on the path to perfection. Day by day the attacks of the fiends became more violent, but day by day his strength grew greater to strive against them. At length he came to mock at the powerlessness of the devils, against whom he stirred up his disciples to fight, teaching them with what arms to combat. Believe me, my brethren, he used to say, Satan is afraid of good men's watchings, and prayers, and fasts, and voluntary poverty, and mercifulness, and lowliness, but above all, of their warm love for Christ our Lord, the mere sign of whose most holy Cross is enough to undo him and put him to flight. He became such an object of dread to the devils, that many persons throughout Egypt who were tormented by them, were delivered by calling on his name: moreover the fame of his holiness was so spread abroad, that Constantine the Great and his sons wrote to him to commend themselves to his prayers. In the hundred and fifth year of his age, and the fulness of his reputation for piety and miracles, having roused up great numbers to follow his example, he gathered his monks around him, and when he had exhorted them to strive after Christian perfection, he passed to heaven on the 17th day of January.