In Constantine P. Cavafy's 1917 poem, “Simeon,” a young cultured aesthete (probably from Antioch), writes his friend Mebis about a recent chance encounter with the famous stylite that left him “shattered, unnerved, and aghast,” and entirely unfit to resume his sophistic career in belles lettres:
Ah, don—t smile; for thirty-five years, think of it—
winter, summer, daytime, night, for thirty-five
years he's been living, martyring himself, atop a pillar.
Before we were born—I—m twenty-nine years old,
you are, I think, younger than I am—
before we were born, imagine it,
Simeon climbed up that pillar.
And since that time he has stayed there facing God.1