Simeon Stylites, or Simeon the Stylite, lived from 390 to 459 AD. He was an Arab who became very interested in Christianity after hearing a lecture on the Beatitudes at the age of 13. By the time he was 16, he had joined a monastery. He was particularly dedicated to an ascetic lifestyle, and would often fast for long periods of time; sometimes to his own detriment.
He had several different ventures where he would try and cut himself off from the world, but because of his unconventional life, he was constantly beraded by people seeking his prayers and advice.
The first of these ventures was that he shut himself in a hut for three years. Later, he began standing continually upright for as long as his limbs would hold him up. Eventually, he went to live on the rocky Sheik Barakat Mountain, where he imprisoned himself to live in a space that was less than 20 meters in diameter. But people kept seeking him out, so that he wasn't able to find time for his own meditation and devotions.
It was obvious that he wasn't going to be able to escape the world horizonally, so he decided to do so vertically. Amongst some ruins, he discovered a pillar that was about 13 feet high. He built a platform on top of it, then began to live there. Some of the other monks were concerned he was doing it for attention rather than devotion, and they decided to test him to see if he would be obedient to their requests to come down. When he demonstrated that he was willing to comply with whatever they demanded, instead they decided to let him stay on the pillar.
Some of his admirers eventually built him taller pillars. The last one which he lived on was about 40 feet high, and it had a platform that was about 12 square feet. He lived atop this pillar for a total of 37 years until he died. (Pictured are the remains of the pillar, marked with a boulder on top of it) And again, the more unusual he was in seeking solitude, the more people continued to seek him out. He became quite famous, and inspired many imitators called stylites, in reference to him.
I don't know how frequently Simeon the Stylite is used as an allusion in modern times. It might be a good reference for someone who is terribly anti-social. I personally think the best use of Simeon the Stylite would be in reference to David Blaine's recent "Dive of Death." Blaine hung upside down for 60 hours, though occasionally he took water breaks and potty breaks. Yawn. Compared to Simeon, David Blaine is a total wimp.