Apollonius of Tyana
(circa 217 A.D.
1. It is now time to notice the river Hyphasis, and to ask what is its size as it traverses India, and, what remarkable features it possesses. The springs of this river well forth out of the plain, and close to its source its streams are navigable, but as they advance they soon become impossible for boats, because spits of rock alternating with one another, rise up just below the surface; round these the current winds of necessity, so rendering the river unnavigable. And in breadth it approaches to the river Ister [the Danube], and this is allowed to be the greatest of all the rivers which flow through Europe.
Now the woods along the bank closely resemble those of the river in question, and a balm also is distilled from the trees, out of which the Indians make a nuptial ointment; and unless the people attending the wedding have besprinkled the young couple with this balm, the union is not considered complete nor compatible with Aphrodite bestowing her grace upon it. Now they say that the grove in the neighborhood of the river is dedicated to this goddess, as also the fishes called peacock fish which are bred in this river alone, and which have been given the same name as the bird, because their fins are blue, and their scales spotty, and their tails golden, and because they can fold and spread the latter at will.
There is also a creature in this river which resembles a white worm. By melting down they make an oil, and from this oil, it appears, there is given off a flame such that nothing but glass can contain it. And this creature may be caught by the king alone, who utilizes it for the capture of cities; for as soon as the fat in question touches the battlements, a fire is kindled which defies all the ordinary means devised by men against combustibles.
2. And they say that wild asses [rhinoceros] are also to be captured in these marshes, and these creatures have a horn upon the forehead, with which they butt like a bull and make a noble fight of it; the Indians make this horn into a cup, for they declare that no one can ever fall sick on the day on which he has drunk out of it, nor will any one who has done so be the worse for being wounded, and he will be able to pass through fire unscathed, and he is even immune from poisonous draughts which others would drink to their harm. Accordingly, this goblet is reserved for kings, and the king alone may indulge in the chase of this creature.
And Apollonius says that he saw this animal, and admired its natural features; but when Damis asked him if he believed the story about the goblet, he answered: "I will believe it, if I find the king of the Indians hereabouts to be immortal; for surely a man who can offer me or anyone else a draught potent against disease and so wholesome, will he not be much more likely to imbibe it himself, and take a drink out of this horn every day even at the risk of intoxication? For no one, I conceive, would blame him for exceeding in such cups."
3. At this place they say that they also fell in with a woman who was black from her head to her bosom, but was altogether white from her bosom down to her feet; and the rest of the party fled from her believing her to be a monster, but Apollonius clasped the woman by the hand and understood what she was; for in fact such a woman in India is consecrated to Aphrodite, and a woman is born piebald in honor of this goddess, just as is Apis among the Egyptians.
4. They say that from this point they crossed the part of the Caucasus which stretches down to the Red Sea; and this range is thickly overgrown with aromatic shrubs. The spurs then of the mountain bear the cinnamon tree, which resembles the young tendrils of the vine, and the goat gives sure indication of this aromatic shrub; for if you hold out a bit of cinnamon to a goat, she will whine and whimper after your hand like a dog, and will follow you when you go away, pressing her nose against it; and if the goat herd drags her away, she will moan as if she were being torn away from the lotus. But on the steeps of this mountain there grow very lofty frankincense trees, as well as many other species, for example the pepper trees which are cultivated by the apes.
Nor did they neglect to record the look and appearance of this tree, and I will repeat exactly their account of it. The pepper tree resembles in general the willow of the Greeks, and particularly in regard to the berry of the fruit; and it grows in steep ravines where it cannot be got at by men, and where a community of apes is said to live in the recesses of the mountain and in any of its glens; and these apes are held in great esteem by the Indians, because they harvest the pepper for them, and they drive the lions off them with dogs and weapons. For the lion, when he is sick, attacks the ape in order to get a remedy, for the flesh of the ape stays the course of his disease; and he attacks it when he is grown old to get a meal, for the lions when they are past hunting stags and wild boars gobble up the apes, and husband for their pursuit whatever strength they have left. The inhabitants of the country, however, are not disposed to allow this, because they regard these animals as their benefactors, and so make war against the lions in behalf of them. For this is the way they go to work in collecting the pepper; the Indians go up to the lower trees and pluck off the fruit, and they make little round shallow pits around the trees, into which they collect the pepper, carelessly tossing it in, as if it had no value and was of no serious use to mankind. Then the monkeys mark their actions from above out of their fastnesses, and when the night comes on they imitate the action of the Indians, and twisting off the twigs of the trees, they bring and throw them into the pits in question; then the Indians at daybreak carry away the heaps of the spice which they have thus got without any trouble, and indeed during the repose of slumber.
5. After crossing the top of the mountain, they say they saw a smooth plain seamed with cuts and ditches full of water, some of which were carried crosswise, whilst others were straight; these are derived from the river Ganges, and serve both for boundaries and also are distributed over the plain, when the soil is dry. But they say that this soil is the best in India, and constitutes the greatest of the territorial divisions of that country, extending in length towards the Ganges a journey of fifteen days and of eighteen from the sea to the mountain of the apes along which it skirts
The whole soil of the plain is a dead level, black and fertile of everything; for you can see on it standing grain as high as reeds and you can also see beans three times as large as the Egyptian kind, as well as sesame and millet of enormous size. And they say that nuts also grow there, of which many are treasured up in our temples here as objects of curiosity. But the vines which grow there are small, like those of the Lydians and Maeones; their vintage however is not only drinkable, but has a fine bouquet from the first. They also say that they came upon a tree there resembling the laurel, upon which there grew a cup or husk resembling a very large pomegranate; and inside the cup there was a kernel as blue as the cups of the hyacinth, but sweeter to the taste than any of the fruits the seasons bring.
6. Now as they descended the mountain, they say they came in for a dragon hunt, which I must needs describe. For it is utterly absurd for those who are amateurs of hare-hunting to spin yarns about the hare as to how it is caught or ought to be caught, and yet that we should omit to describe a chase as bold as it is wonderful, and in which the sage, of whom I have written this account, was careful to set on record:
The whole of India is girt with dragons of enormous size; for not only the marshes are full of them, but the mountains as well, and there is not a single ridge without one. Now the marsh kind are sluggish in their habits and are thirty cubits long, and they have no crest standing up on their heads, but in this respect resemble the she-dragons. Their backs however are very black, with fewer scales on them than the other kinds; and Homer has described them with deeper insight than have most poets, for he says that the dragon that lived hard by the spring in Aulis had a tawny back [Homer, Iliad 2.308]; but other poets declare that the congener of this one in the grove of Nemea also had a crest, a feature which we could not verify in regard to the marsh dragons.
7. And the dragons along the foothills and the mountain crests make their way into the plains after their quarry, and get the better all round of those in the marshes; for indeed they reach a greater length, and move faster than the swiftest rivers, so that nothing escapes them. These actually have a crest, of moderate extent and height when they are young; but as they reach their full size, it grows with them and extends to a considerable height, at which time also they turn red and get serrated backs. This kind also have beards, and lift their necks on high, while their scales glitter like silver; and the pupils of their eyes consist of a fiery stone, and they say that this has an uncanny power for many secret purposes. The plain specimen falls the prize of the hunters whenever it draws into its folds an elephant; for the destruction of both creatures is the result, and those who capture the dragons are rewarded by getting the eyes and skin and teeth. In most respects the tusks resemble the largest swine's, but they are slighter in build and twisted, and have a point as unabraded as sharks' teeth.
8. Now the dragons of the mountains have scales of a golden color, and in length excel those of the plain, and they have bushy beards, which also are of a golden hue; and their eyebrows are more prominent than those of the plain, and their eye is sunk deep under the eyebrow, and emits a terrible and ruthless glance. And they give off a noise like the clashing of brass whenever they are burrowing under the earth, and from their crests, which are all fiery red, there flashes a fire brighter than a torch.
They also can catch the elephants, though they are themselves caught by the Indians in the following manner. They embroider golden runes on a scarlet cloak, which they lay in front of the animal's burrow after charming them with the runes to cause sleep; for this is the only way to overcome the eyes of the dragon, which are otherwise inflexible, and much mysterious lore is sung by them to overcome him. These runes induce the dragon to stretch his neck out of his burrow and fall asleep over them: then the Indians fall upon him as he lies there, and dispatch him with blows of their axes, and having cut off the head they despoil it of its gems.
And they say that in the heads of the mountain dragons there are stored away stones of flowery color, which flash out all kinds of hues, and possess a mystical power as resided in the ring, which they say belonged to Gyges. But often the Indian, in spite of his axe and his cunning, is caught by the dragon, who carries him off into his burrow, and almost shakes the mountains as he disappears. These are also said to inhabit the mountains in the neighborhood of the Red Sea, and they say that they heard them hissing terribly and that they saw them go down to the shore and swim far out into the sea. It was impossible however to ascertain the number of years that this creature lives, nor would my statements be believed. This is all I know about dragons.
9. They tell us that the city under the mountain is of great size and is called Paraca, and that in the center of it are enshrined a great many heads of dragons, for the Indians who inhabit it are trained from their boyhood in this form of sport. And they are also said to acquire an understanding of the language and ideas of animals by feeding either on the heart or the liver of the dragon.
And as they advanced they thought they heard the pipe of some shepherd marshaling his flock, but it turned out to be a man looking after a herd of white hinds, for the Indians use these for milking, and find their milk very nutritious.
10. From this point their road led for four days across a rich and well cultivated country, till they approached the castle of the sages, when their guide bade his camel crouch down, and leapt off it in such an agony of fear that he was bathed in perspiration. Apollonius however quite understood where he was come to, and smiling at the panic of the Indian, said: "It seems to me that this fellow, were he a mariner who had reached harbor after a long sea voyage, would worry at being on land and tremble at being in dock."
And as he said this he ordered his camel to kneel down, for indeed he was by now well accustomed to do so. And it seems that what scared the guide so much was that he was now close to the sages; for the Indians fear these people more than they do their own king, because the very king to whom the land is subject consults them about everything that he has to say or do, just as people who send to an oracle of a god; and the sages indicate to him what it is expedient for him to do, and what is inexpedient, and dissuade and warn him off with signs.
11. And they were about to halt in the neighboring village, which is hardly distant a single stade from the eminence occupied by the sages, when they saw a youth run up to them, the blackest Indian they ever saw; and between his eyebrows was a crescent shaped spot which shone brightly. But I learn that at a later time the same feature was remarked in the case of Menon the pupil of Herod the Sophist, who was an Ethiop; it showed while he was a youth, but as he grew up to man's estate its splendor waned and finally disappeared with his youth. But the Indian also wore, they say, a golden anchor, which is affected by Indians as a herald's badge, because it holds all things fast.
12. Then he ran up to Apollonius and addressed him in the Greek tongue; and so far this did not seem so remarkable, because all the inhabitants of the village spoke the Greek tongue. But when he addressed him by name and said "Hail so and so," the rest of the party were filled with astonishment, though our sage only felt the more confidence in his mission: for he looked to Damis and said: "We have reached men who are unfeignedly wise, for they seem to have the gift of foreknowledge."
And he at once asked the Indian what he must do, because he was already eager for an interview: and the Indian replied: "Your party must halt here, but you must come on just as you are, for the Masters themselves issue this command."
13. The word Masters at once had a Pythagorean ring for the ears of Apollonius and he gladly followed the messenger.
Now the hill the summit of which is inhabited by the sages is, according to the account of our travelers, of about the same height as the Acropolis of Athens; and it rises straight up from the plain, though its natural position equally secures it from attack, for the rock surrounds it on all sides. On many parts of this rock you see traces of cloven feet and outlines of beards and of faces, and here and there impressions of backs as of persons who had slipped and rolled down. For they say that Dionysus, when he was trying to storm the place together with Heracles, ordered the Pans to attack it, thinking that they would be strong enough to stand the shock; but they were thunderstruck by the sages and fell one, one way, and another, another; and the rocks as it were took the print of the various postures in which they fell and failed.
And they say that they saw a cloud floating round the eminence on which the Indians live and render themselves visible or invisible at will. Whether there were any other gates to the eminence they say they did not know; for the cloud around it did not anywhere allow them to be seen, whether there was an opening in the rampart, or whether on the other hand it was a close-shut fortress.
14. Apollonius says that he himself ascended mostly on the south side of the ridge, following the Indian, and that the first thing he saw was a well four fathoms deep, above the mouth of which there rose a sheen of deep blue light; and at midday when the sun was stationary about it, the sheen of light was always drawn up on high by the rays, and in its ascent assumed the look of a glowing rainbow. But he learnt afterwards that the soil underneath the well was composed of realgar, but that they regarded the water as holy and mysterious, and no one either drank it or drew it up, but it was regarded by the whole land of India all around as binding in oaths.
And near this there was a crater, he says, of fire, which sent up a lead-colored flame, though it emitted no smoke or any smell, nor did this crater ever overflow, but emitted just matter enough not to bubble over the edges of the pit. It is here that the Indians purify themselves of involuntary sins, wherefore the sages call the well, the well of testing, and the fire, the fire of pardon.
And they say that they saw there two jars of black stone, of the rains and of the winds respectively. The jar of the rains, they say, is opened in case the land of India is suffering from drought, and sends up clouds to moisten the whole country; but if the rains should be in excess they are stopped by the jar being shut up. But the jar of the winds plays, I imagine, the same role as the bag of Aeolus: for when they open this jar ever so little, they let out one of the winds, which creates a seasonable breeze by which the country is refreshed.
And they say that they came upon statues of Gods, and they were not nearly so much astonished at finding Indian or Egyptian Gods as they were by finding the most ancient of the Greek Gods, a statue of Athena Polias and of Apollo of Delos and of Dionysus of Limnae and another of him of Amyclae, and others of similar age. These were set up by these Indians and worshipped with Greek rites.
And they say that they are inhabiting the heart of India, as they regard the mound as the navel of this hill, and on it they worship fire with mysterious rites, deriving the fire, according to their own account, from the rays of the sun; and to the Sun they sing a hymn every day at midday.
15. Apollonius himself describes the character of these sages and of their settlement upon the hill; for in one of his addresses to the Egyptians he says, "l saw Indian Brahmans living upon the earth and yet not on it, and fortified without fortifications, and possessing nothing, yet having the riches of all men."
He may indeed be thought to have here written with too much subtlety; but we have anyhow the account of Damis to effect that they made a practice of sleeping on the ground, and that they strewed the ground with such grass as they might themselves prefer; and, what is more, he says that he saw them levitating themselves two cubits high from the ground, not for the sake of miraculous display, for they disdain any such ambition; but they regard any rites they perform, in thus quitting earth and walking with the Sun, as acts of homage acceptable to the God.
Moreover, they neither burn upon an altar nor keep in stoves the fire which they extract from the sun's rays, although it is a material fire; but like the rays of sunlight when they are refracted in water, so this fire is seen raised aloft in the air and dancing in the ether. And further they pray to the Sun who governs the seasons by his might, that the latter may succeed duly in the land, so that India may prosper; but of a night they intreat the ray of light not to take the night amiss, but to stay with them just as they have brought it down. Such then was the meaning of the phrase of Apollonius, that "the Brahmans are upon earth and yet not upon earth."
And his phrase "fortified without fortifications or walls," refers to the air or vapor under which they bivouac, for though they seem to live in the open air, yet they raise up a shadow and veil themselves in it, so that they are not made wet when it rains and they enjoy the sunlight whenever they choose.
And the phrase "without possessing anything they had the riches of all men," is thus explained by Damis: All the springs which the Bacchanals see leaping up from the ground under their feet, whenever Dionysus stirs them and earth in a common convulsion, spring up in plenty for these Indians also when they are entertaining or being entertained. Apollonius therefore was right in saying that people provided as they are with all they want offhand and without having prepared anything, possess what they do not possess.
And on principle they grow their hair long, as the Lacedaemonians did of old and the people of Thurium and Tarentum, as well as the Melians and all who set store by the fashions of Sparta; and they bind a white turban on their heads, and their feet are naked for walking and they cut their garments to resemble the exomis. But the material of which they make their raiment is a wool that springs wild from the ground, white like that of the Pamphylians, though it is of softer growth, and a grease like olive oil distills from off it. This is what they make their sacred vesture of, and if anyone else except these Indians tries to pluck it up, the earth refuses to surrender its wool. And they all carry both a ring and a staff of which the peculiar virtues can effect all things, and the one and the other, so we learn, are prized as secrets.
16. When Apollonius approached, the rest of the sages welcomed him and shook hands; but Iarchas sat down on a high stool -- and this was of black copper and chased with golden figures, while the seats of the others were of copper, but plain and not so high, for they sat lower down than Iarchas -- and when he saw Apollonius, Iarchas greeted him in the Greek tongue and asked for the Indian's letter. And as Apollonius showed astonishment at his gift of prescience, he took pains to add that a single letter was missing in the epistle, namely a delta, which had escaped the writer; and this was found to be the case. Then having read the epistle, he said "What do you think of us, O Apollonius?"
"Why," replied the latter, "how can you ask, when it is sufficiently shown by the fact that I have taken a journey to see you which was never till now accomplished by any of the inhabitants of my country."
"And what do you think we know more than yourself?"
"I," replied the other, "consider that your lore is profounder and much more divine than our own; and if I add nothing to my present stock of knowledge while I am with you, I shall at least have learned that I have nothing more to learn."
Thereupon the Indian replied and said: "Other people ask those who arrive among them, who they are that come, and why, but the first display we make of our wisdom consists in showing that we are not ignorant who it is that comes. And you may test this point to begin with."
And to suit his word he forthwith recounted the whole story of Apollonius' family both on his father's and his mother's side, and he related all his life in Aegae, and how Damis had joined him, and any conversations that they had had on the road, and anything they had found out through the conversation of others with them. All this, just as if he had shared their voyage with them, the Indian recounted straight off, quite clearly and without pausing for breath. And when Apollonius was astounded and asked him how he came to know it all, he replied: "And you too are come to share in this wisdom, but you are not yet an adept."
"Will you teach me, then," said the other, "all this wisdom?"
"Aye, and gladly, for that is a wiser course than grudging and hiding matters of interest; and moreover, O Apollonius, I perceive that you are well endowed with memory, a goddess whom we love more than any other of the divine beings."
"Well," said the other, "you have certainly discerned by your penetration my exact disposition."
"We," said the other, "O Apollonius, can see all spiritual traits, for we trace and detect them by a thousand signs. But as it is nearly midday, and we must get ready our offerings for the Gods, let us now employ ourselves with that, and afterwards let us converse as much as you like; but you must take part in all our religious rites."
"By Zeus," said Apollonius, "I should be wronging the Caucasus and the Indus, both of which I have crossed in order to reach you, if I did not feast myself on your rites to the full."
"Do so," said the other, "and let us depart."
17. Accordingly they betook themselves to a spring of water, which Damis, who saw it subsequently, says resembles that of Dirce in Boeotia; and first they stripped, and then they anointed their heads with an amber-like drug, which imparted such a warmth to these Indians, that their bodies steamed and the sweat ran off them as profusely as if they were washing themselves with fire; next they threw themselves into the water and, having so taken their bath, they betook themselves to the temple with wreaths upon their heads and full of sacred song. And they stood round in the form of a chorus, and having chosen Iarchas as conductor they struck the earth, uplifting their rods, and the earth arched itself like a billow of the sea and raised them up two cubits high into the air. But they sang a song resembling the paean of Sophocles which they sing at Athens in honor of Asclepius.
But when they had alighted upon the ground, Iarchas called the stripling who carried the anchor and said: "Do you look after the companions of Apollonius."
And he went off swifter than the quickest of the birds, and coming back again said: "I have looked after them."
Having fulfilled then the most of their religious rites, they sat down to rest upon their seats, but Iarchas said to the stripling: "Bring out the throne of Phraotes for the wise Apollonius that he may sit upon it to converse with us."
18. And when he had taken his seat, he said: "Ask whatever you like, for you find yourself among people who know everything."
Apollonius then asked him whether they knew themselves also, thinking that he, like the Greeks, would regard self-knowledge as a difficult matter. But the other, contrary to Apollonius' expectations, corrected him and said: "We know everything, just because we begin by knowing ourselves; for no one of us would be admitted to this philosophy unless he first knew himself."
And Apollonius remembered what he had heard Phraotes say, and how he who would become a philosopher must examine himself before he undertakes the task; and he therefore acquiesced in this answer, for he was convinced of its truth in his own case also. He accordingly asked a fresh question, namely, who they considered themselves to be; and the other answered "We consider ourselves to be Gods."
Apollonius asked afresh: "Why?"
"Because," said the other, "we are good men."
This reply struck Apollonius as so instinct with trained good sense that he subsequently mentioned it to Domitian in his defense of himself.
19. He therefore resumed his questions and said: "And what view do you take of the soul?"
"That," replied the other, "which Pythagoras imparted to you, and which we imparted to the Egyptians."
"Would you then say," said Apollonius, "that as Pythagoras declared himself to be Euphorbus, so you yourself, before you entered your present body, were one of the Trojans or Achaeans or someone else?"
And the Indian replied: "Those Achaean sailors were the ruin of Troy, and your talking so much about it is the ruin of you Greeks. For you imagine that the campaigners against Troy were the only heroes that ever were, and you forget other heroes both more numerous and more divine, whom your own country and that of the Egyptians and that of the Indians have produced. Since then you have asked me about my earlier incarnation, tell me, whom you regard as the most remarkable of the assailants or defenders of Troy."
"I," replied Apollonius, "regard Achilles, the son of Peleus and Thetis, as such, for he and no other is celebrated by Homer as excelling all the Achaeans in personal beauty and size, and he knows of mighty deeds of his. And he also rates very highly such men as Ajax and Nireus, who were only second to him in beauty and courage, and are celebrated as such in his poems."
"With him," said the other, "O Apollonius, I would have you compare my own ancestor, or rather my ancestral body, for that was the light in which Pythagoras regarded Euphorbus.
20. "There was then," he said, "a time when the Ethiopians, an Indian race, dwelt in this country, and when Ethiopia as yet was not; but Egypt stretched its borders beyond Meroe and the cataracts, and on the one side included in itself the fountains of the Nile, and on the other was only bounded by the mouths of the river.
Well, at that time of which I speak, the Ethiopians lived here, and were subject to King Ganges, and the land was sufficient for their sustenance, and the gods watched over them; but when they slew this king, neither did the rest of the Indians regard them as pure, nor did the land permit them to remain upon it; for it spoiled the seed which they sowed in it before it came into ear, and it inflicted miscarriages on their women, and it gave a miserable feed to their flocks; and wherever they tried to found a city, it would give way and sink down under their feet. Nay more, the ghost of Ganges drove them forward on their path, a haunting terror to their multitude, and it did not quit them until they atoned to earth by sacrificing the murderers who had shed the king's blood with their hands.
Now this Ganges it seems, was ten cubits high, and in personal beauty excelled any man the world had yet seen, and he was the son of the river Ganges; and when his own father inundated India, he himself turned the flood into the Red Sea, and effected a reconciliation between his father and the land, with the result that the latter brought forth fruits in abundance for him when living, and also avenged him after death.
And since Homer brings Achilles to Troy in Helen's behalf, and relates how he took twelve cities by sea and eleven on land, and how he was carried away by wrath because he had been robbed of a woman by the king, on which occasion, in my opinion, he showed himself merciless and cruel, let us contrast the Indian in similar circumstances. He on the contrary set himself to found sixty cities, which are the most considerable of those hereabouts — and I would like to know who would regard the destruction of cities as a better title to fame than the rebuilding of them — and he also repulsed the Scythians who once invaded this land across the Caucasus. Surely it is better to prove yourself a good man by liberating your country than to bring slavery upon a city, and that too on behalf of a woman who probably was never really carried off against her will.
And he had formed an alliance with the king of the country, over which Phraotes now rules, although that other had violated every law and principle of morality by carrying off his wife, he yet did not break his oath, and so stable, he said, was his pledged word, that, in spite of the injury he had suffered, he would not do anything to harm that other.
21. "And I could enumerate many more merits of this great man, if I did not shrink from pronouncing a panegyric upon myself; for I may tell you I am the person in question, as I clearly proved when I was four years old. For this Ganges on one occasion fixed seven swords made of adamant in the earth, to prevent any monster approaching our country; now the gods ordered us to sacrifice if we came where he had implanted these weapons, though without indicating the spot where he had fixed them. I was a mere child, and yet I led the interpreters of their will to a trench, and told them to dig there, for it was there I said that they had been laid.
22. "And you must not be surprised at my transformation from one Indian to another; for here is one," and he pointed to a stripling of about twenty years of age, "who in natural aptitude for philosophy excels everyone, and he enjoys good health as you see, and is furnished with an excellent constitution; moreover he can endure fire and all sorts of cutting and wounding, yet in spite of all these advantages he detests philosophy."
"What then," said Apollonius, "O Iarchas, is the matter with the youth? For it is a terrible thing you tell me, if one so well adapted by nature to the pursuit refuses to embrace philosophy, and has no love for learning, and that although he lives with you."
"He does not live with us," replied the other, "but he has been caught like a lion against his will, and confined here, but he looks askance, at us when we try to domesticate him and caress him. The truth is this stripling was once Palamedes of Troy, and he found his bitterest enemies in Odysseus and Homer; for the one laid an ambush against him of people by whom he was stoned to death, while the other denied him any place in his Epic [the Iliad]; and because neither the wisdom with which he was endowed was of any use to him, nor did he meet with any praise from Homer, to whom nevertheless many people of no great importance owe their renown, and because he was outwitted by Odysseus in spite of his innocence, he has conceived an aversion to philosophy, and deplores his ill-luck. And he is Palamedes, for indeed he can write without having learned his letters."
23. While they were thus conversing, a messenger approached Iarchas and said: "The King will come early in the afternoon to consult you about his own business."
And Iarchas replied: "Let him come, for he too will go away all the better for making acquaintance of a man from Hellas."
And after this, he went on with his former discourse. He accordingly asked Apollonius the question: "Will you tell us," he said, "about your earlier incarnation, and who you were before the present life?"
And he replied: "Since it was an ignoble episode, I do not remember much of it."
Iarchas therefore took him up and said: "Then you think it ignoble to have been the pilot of an Egyptian vessel, for I perceive that this is what you were?"
"What you say," said Apollonius, "is true, Iarchas; for that is really what I was; but I consider this profession not only inglorious but also detestable, and though of as much value to humanity as that of a prince or the leader of an army, nevertheless it bears an evil repute by the reason of those who follow the sea; at any rate the most noble of the deeds which I performed no one at the time saw fit to praise."
"Well, and what would you claim for yourself in the way of noble achievement? Is it your having doubled the capes of Malea and Sunium, by checking your ship when it was drifting out of its course, and your having discerned so accurately the quarters from which the winds would blow both fore and aft, or you getting your boat past the reefs in the Hollows of Euboea, where any number of ships' ornamental signs show sticking up?"
24. But Apollonius replied: "Since you tempt me to talk about pilotage, I would have you hear what I consider to have been my soundest exploit at that time. Pirates at one time infested the Phoenician Sea, and were hanging about the cities to pick up information about the cargoes which different people had. The agents of the pirates spied out accordingly a rich cargo which I had on board my ship, and having taken me aside in conversation, asked me what was my share in the freight; and I told them that it was a thousand drachmas, for there were four people in command of the ship. "And," said they, "have you a house?"
"A wretched hut," I replied, "on the Island of Pharos, where once upon a time Proteus used to live."
"Would you like then," they went on, "to acquire a landed estate instead of the sea, and a decent house instead of your hut, and ten times as much for the cargo as you are going to get now? And to get rid of a thousand misfortunes which beset pilots owing to the roughness of the sea?"
I replied that I would gladly do so, but that I did not aspire to become a pirate just at a time when I had made myself more expert than I ever had been, and had won crowns for my skill in my profession. However they persevered and promised to give me a purse of ten thousand drachmas, if I would be their man and do what they wanted. Accordingly I egged them on to talk by promising not to fail them, but to assist them in every way.
Then they admitted that they were agents of the pirates, and besought me not to deprive them of a chance of capturing the ship, and instead of sailing away to the city whenever I weighed anchor thence, they arranged that I should cast anchor under the promontory, under the lee of which the pirate ships were riding; and they were willing to swear that they would not only not kill myself, but spare the life of any for whom I interceded. I for my part did not consider it safe to reprehend them, for I was afraid that if they were driven to despair, they would attack my ship on the high seas and then we would all be lost somewhere at sea; accordingly I promised to assist their enterprise, but I insisted upon their taking oath to keep their promise truly. They accordingly made oath, for our interview took place in a temple, and then I said: "You betake yourselves to the ships of the pirates at once, for we will sail away by night."
And they found me all the more plausible from the way I bargained about the money, for I stipulated that it must all be paid me in current cash, though not before they had captured the ship. They therefore went off, but I put straight out to sea after doubling the promontory."
"This then," said Iarchas, "O Apollonius, you consider the behavior of a just man?"
"Why yes," said Apollonius, "and of a humane one too! for I consider it was a rare combination of virtues for one who was a mere sailor to refuse to sacrifice men's lives, or to betray the interests of merchants, so rising superior to all bribes of money."
25. Thereupon the Indian smiled and said: "You seem to think that mere abstention from injustice constitutes justice, and I am of opinion that all Greeks do the same. For as I once learned from the Egyptians that come hither, governors from Rome are in the habit of visiting your country, brandishing their axes naked over your heads, before they know they have bad men to rule or not; but you acknowledge them to be just if they merely do not sell justice.
And I have heard that the slave merchants yonder do exactly the same; for when they come to you with convoys of Carian slaves and are anxious to recommend their characters to you, they make it a great merit of the slaves that they do not steal. In the same way do you recommend on such grounds the rulers whose sway you acknowledge, and after decorating them with such praises as you lavish upon slaves, you send them away, objects, as you imagine, of universal admiration.
Nay more, your cleverest poets will not give you leave to be just and good, even if you want to. For here was [king of Crete] Minos, a man who exceeded all men in cruelty, and who enslaved with his navies the inhabitants of continent and islands alike, and yet they honor him by placing in his hand a scepter of justice and give him a throne in Hades to be umpire of spirits; while at the same time they deny food and drink to Tantalus, merely because he was a good man and inclined to share with his friends the immortality bestowed upon them by the Gods. And some of them hang stones over him, and rain insults of a terrible kind upon this divine and good man; and I would much rather that they had represented him as swimming in a lake of nectar, for he regaled men with that drink humanely and ungrudgingly."
And as he spoke he pointed out a statue which stood upon his left hand, on which was inscribed the name "Tantalus". Now this statue was four cubits high, and represented a man of fifty years who was clad in the fashion of Argolis, though he differed in his cloak, that being like a Thessalian's, and he held a cup sufficient at least for one thirsty man and drank your health therefrom, and in the goblet was a liquor, an unmixed draught which frothed and foamed, though without bubbling over the edge of the cup.
Now I will presently explain what they consider this cup to be, and for what reason they drink from it. In any case, however, we must suppose that Tantalus was assailed by the poets for not giving rein to his tongue, but because he shared the nectar with mankind; but we must not suppose that he was really the victim of the gods' dislike, for, had he been hateful to them, he would never have been judged by the Indians to be a good man, for they are most religious people and never transgress any divine command.
26. While they were still discussing this topic, a hubbub down below in the village struck their ears, for it seems the king had arrived equipped in the height of Median fashion and full of pomp. Iarchas then, not too well pleased, remarked: "If it were Phraotes who was halting here, you would find a dead silence prevailing everywhere as if you were attending a mystery."
From this remark Apollonius realized that the king in question was not only inferior to Phraotes in a few details, but in the whole of philosophy; and as he saw that the sages did not bestir themselves to make any preparations or provide for the king's wants, though he was come at midday, he said: "Where is the king going to stay?"
"Here," they replied, "for we shall discuss by night the objects for which he is come, since that is the best time for taking counsel."
"And will a table be laid for him when he comes," said Apollonius.
"Why, of course," they answered, "a rich table too, furnished with everything which this place provides".
"Then," said he, "you live richly?"
"We," they answered, "live in a slender manner, for although we might eat as much as we like, we are contented with little; but the king requires a great deal, for that is his pleasure. But he will not eat any living creature, for it is wrong to do here, but only dried fruits and roots and the seasonable produce of the Indian land at this time of year, and whatever else the new year's seasons will provide."
27. "But see," said he, "here he is."
And just then the king advanced together with his brother and his son, ablaze with gold and jewels. And Apollonius was about to rise and retire, when Iarchas checked him from leaving his throne, and explained to him that it was not their custom for him to do so.
Damis himself says that he was not present on this occasion, because on that day he was staying in the village, but he heard from Apollonius what happened and wrote it in his book. He says then that when they had sat down, the king extended his hand as if in prayer to the sages and they nodded their assent as if they were conceding his request; and he was transported with joy at the promise, just as if he had come to the oracle of a God. But the brother of the king and his son, who was a very pretty boy, were not more considered than if they had been the slaves of the others, that were mere retainers. After that the Indian rose from his place, and in a formal speech bade the king take food, and he accepted the invitation and that most cordially. Thereupon four tripods stepped forth like those of the Pythian Temple, but of their own accord, like those which advanced in Homer's poem [Homer Iliad 18.375], and upon them were cup-bearers of black brass resembling the figures of Ganymede and of Pelops among the Greeks.
And the earth strewed beneath them grass softer than any mattress. And dried fruits and bread and vegetables and the dessert of the season all came in, served in order, and set before them more agreeably that if cooks and waiters had provided it; now two of the tripods flowed with wine, but the other two supplied, the one of them a jet of warm water and the other of cold. Now the precious stones imported from India are employed in Greece for necklaces and rings because they are so small, but among the Indians they are turned into decanters and wine coolers, because they are so large, and into goblets of such size that from a single one of them four persons can slake their thirst at midsummer. But the cup-bearers of bronze drew a mixture, he says, of wine and water made in due proportions; and they pushed cups round, just as they do in drinking bouts. The sages, however, reclined as we do in a common banquet, not that any special honor was paid to the king, although great importance would be attached to him among Greeks and Romans, but each took the first place that he chanced to reach.
28. And when the wine had circulated, Iarchas said: "I pledge you to drink the health, O king, of a Hellene," and he pointed to Apollonius, who was reclining just below him, and he made a gesture with his hand to indicate that he was a noble man and divine. But the king said: "I have heard that he and the persons who are halting in the village belong to Phraotes".
"Quite, right," he answered, "and true is what you heard: for it is Phraotes who entertains him here also."
"What," asked the king, "is his mode of life and pursuit?"
"Why, what else," replied Iarchas, "except that of that king himself?"
"It is no great compliment you have paid him," answered the king, "by saying that he has embraced a mode of life which has denied even to Phraotes the chance of being a noble man."
Thereupon Iarchas remarked: "You must judge more reasonably, O king, both about philosophy and about Phraotes: for as long as you were a stripling, your youth excused in you such extravagances. But now that you have already reached man's estate, let us avoid foolish and facile utterances."
But Apollonius, who found an interpreter in Iarchas said: "And what have you gained, O king, by refusing to be a philosopher?"
"What have I gained? Why, the whole of virtue and the identification of myself with the Sun."
Then the other, by way of checking his pride and muzzling him, said: "If you were a philosopher, you would not entertain such fancies."
"And you," replied the king, "since you are a philosopher, what is your fancy about yourself, my fine fellow?"
"That I may pass," replied Apollonius, "for being a good man, if only I can be a philosopher."
Thereupon the king stretched out his hand to heaven and exclaimed: "By the Sun, you come here full of Phraotes."
But the other hailed this remark as a godsend, and catching him up said: "I have not taken this long journey in vain, if I am become full of Phraotes. But if you should meet him presently, you will certainly say that he is full of me; and he wished to write to you in my behalf, but since he declared that you were a good man, I begged him not to take the trouble of writing, seeing that in his case no one sent a letter commending me."
29. This put a stop to the incipient folly of the king for having heard that he himself was praised by Phraotes, he not only dropped his suspicions, but lowering his tone he said: "Welcome, goodly stranger."
But Apollonius answered: "And my welcome to you also, O king, for you appear to have only just arrived."
"And who," asked the other, "attracted you to us?"
"These gentlemen here, who are both Gods and wise men."
"And about myself, O stranger"; said the king, "what is said among Hellenes?"
"Why, as much," said Apollonius, "as is said about the Hellenes here."
"As for myself, I find nothing in the Hellenes," said the other, "that is worth speaking of."
"I will tell them that," said Apollonius, "and they will crown you at Olympia."
30. And stooping towards Iarchas he said: "Let him go on like a drunkard, but do you tell me why do you not invite to the same table as yourself, nor hold worthy of other recognition those who accompany this man, though they are his brother and son, as you tell me?"
"Because," said Iarchas, "they reckon to be kings one day themselves, and by being made themselves to suffer disdain they must be taught not to disdain others."
And remarking that the sages were eighteen in number, he again asked Iarchas, what was the meaning of their being just so many and no more. "For," he said, "the number eighteen is not a square number, nor is it one of the numbers held in esteem and honor, as are the numbers ten and twelve and sixteen and so forth."
Thereupon the Indian took him up and said: "Neither are we beholden to number nor number to us, but we owe our superior honor to wisdom and virtue; and sometimes we are more in number than we now are, and sometimes fewer. And indeed I have heard that when my grandfather was enrolled among these wise men, the youngest of them all, they were seventy in number but when he reached his 130th year, he was left here all alone, because not one of them survived him at that time, nor was there to be found anywhere in India a nature that was either philosophic or noble. The Egyptians accordingly wrote and congratulated him warmly on being left alone for four years in his tenure of this throne, but he begged them to cease reproaching the Indians for the paucity of their sages.
Now we, O Apollonius, have heard from the Egyptians of the custom of the Eleans, and that the Hellanodicae, who preside over the Olympic games, are ten in number; but we do not approve of the rule imposed in the case of these men; for they leave the choice of them to the lot, and the lot has no discernment, for a worse man might be as easily chosen by lot as a better one. On the other hand would they not make a mistake, if they had made merit the qualification and chosen them by vote? Yes, a parallel one, for if you are on no account to exceed the number ten, there may be more than ten just men, and you will deprive some of the rank which their merits entitle them to, while if on the other hand there are not so many as ten, then none will be thought to be really qualified. Wherefore the Eleans would be much wiser-minded if they allowed the number to fluctuate, merely preserving the same standard of justice."
31. While they were thus conversing, the king kept trying to interrupt them, constantly breaking off their every sentence by his silly and ignorant remarks. He accordingly again asked them what they were conversing about, and Apollonius replied: "We are discussing matters important and held in great repute among the Hellenes; though you would think of them but slightly, for you say that you detest everything Hellenic."
"I do certainly detest them," he said, "but nevertheless I want to hear; for I imagine you are talking about those Athenians the slaves of Xerxes."
But Apollonius replied: "Nay we are discussing other things; but since you have alluded to the Athenians in a manner both absurd and false, answer me this question: Have you, O King, any slaves?"
"Twenty thousand," said the other, "and not a single one of them did I buy myself, but they were all born in my household."
Thereupon Apollonius, using Iarchas as his interpreter, asked him afresh whether he was in the habit of running away from his slaves or his slaves from him. And the king by way of insult answered him: "Your very question is worthy of a slave, nevertheless I will answer it: a man who runs away is not only a slave but a bad one to boot, and his master would never run away from him, when he can if he likes both torture and card him."
"In that case," said Apollonius, "O king, Xerxes has been proved out of your mouth to have been a slave of the Athenians, and like a bad slave to have run away from them; for when he was defeated by them in the naval action in the Straits, he was so anxious about his bridge of boats over the Hellespont that he fled in a single ship."
"Yes, but he anyhow burned Athens with his own hands," said the king.
And Apollonius answered: "And for that act of audacity, O king, he was punished as never yet was any other man. For he had to run away from those whom he imagined he had destroyed; and when I contemplate the ambitions with which Xerxes set out on his campaign I can conceive that some were justified in exalting him and saying that he was Zeus; but when I contemplate his flight, I arrive at the conviction that he was the most ill-starred of men. For if he had fallen at the hands of the Hellenes, no one would have earned a brighter fame than he. For to whom would the Hellenes have raised and dedicated a loftier tomb? What jousts of armed men, what contests of musicians would not have been instituted in honor of him? For, if men like Melicertes and Palaemon and Pelops the Lydian immigrant, the former of whom died in childhood at the breast, while Pelops enslaved Arcadia and Argolis and the land within the Isthmus, -- if these were commemorated by the Greeks as Gods, what would not have been done for Xerxes by men who are by nature more enthusiastic admirers of the virtues, and who consider that they praise themselves in praising those whom they have defeated?"
32. These words of Apollonius caused the king to burst into tears, and he said: "Dearest friend, in what an heroic light do you represent these Hellenes to me."
"Why then, O king, were you so hard upon them?"
"The visitors who come hither from Egypt, O guest," replied the king, "malign the race of Hellenes, and while declaring that they themselves are holy men and wise, and the true law-givers who fixed all the sacrifices and rites of initiation which are in vogue among the Greeks, they deny to the latter any and every sort of good quality, declaring them to be ruffians, and a mixed herd addicted to every sort of anarchy, and lovers of legend and miracle mongers, and though indeed poor, yet making their poverty not a title of dignity, but a mere excuse for stealing. But now that I have heard this from you and understand how fond of honor and how worthy the Hellenes are, I am reconciled for the future to them and I engage both that they shall have my praise and that I will pray all I can for them, and will never set trust in another Egyptian."
But Iarchas remarked: "I too, O king, was aware that your mind had been poisoned by these Egyptians; but I would not take the part of the Hellenes until you met some such counselor as this. But since you have been put right by a wise man, let us now proceed to quaff the good cheer provided by Tantalus, and let us sleep over the serious issues which we have to discuss tonight. But at another time I will fill you full with Hellenic arguments, and no other race is so rich in them; and you will delight in them whenever you come hither."
And forthwith he set an example to this fellow guests, by stooping the first of them all to the goblet which indeed furnished an ample draught for all; for the stream refilled itself plenteously, as if with spring waters welling up from the ground; and Apollonius also drank, for this cup is instituted by the Indians as a cup of friendship; and they feign that Tantalus is the wine-bearer who supplies it, because he is considered to have been the most friendly of men.
33. And when they had drunk, the earth received them on the couches which she had spread for them; but when it was midnight they rose up and first they sang a hymn to the ray of light, suspended aloft in the air as they had been at midday; and then they attended the king, as much as he desired.
Damis, however, says that Apollonius was not present at the king's conversation with them, because he thought that the interview had to do with secrets of state. Having then at daybreak offered his sacrifice, the king approached Apollonius and offered him the hospitality of his palace, declaring that he would send him back to Greece an object of envy to all. But he commended him for his kindness, nevertheless he excused himself from inflicting himself upon one with whom he was on no sort of equality; moreover, he said that he had been longer abroad than he liked, and that he scrupled to give his friends at home cause to think they were being neglected.
The king thereupon said that he entreated him, and assumed such an undignified attitude in urging his request, that Apollonius said: "A king who insists upon his request in such terms at the expense of his dignity, is laying a trap."
Thereupon Iarchas intervened and said: "You wrong, O king, this sacred abode by trying to drag away from it a man against his will; and moreover, being one of those who can read the future, he is aware that his staying with you would not conduce to his own good, and would probably not be in any way profitable to yourself."
34. The king accordingly went down into the village, for the law of the sages did not allow a king to be with them more than one day; but Iarchas said to the messenger: "We admit Damis also hither to our mysteries; so let him come, but do you look after the rest of them in the village."
And when Damis arrived, they sat down together, as they were wont to do, and they allowed Apollonius to ask questions; and he asked them of what they thought the cosmos was composed; but they replied: "Of elements."
"Are there then four?" he asked.
"Not four," said Iarchas, "but five."
"And how can there be a fifth," said Apollonius, "alongside of water and air and earth and fire?"
"There is the ether," replied the other, "which we must regard as the stuff of which gods are made; for just as all mortal creatures inhale the air, so do immortal and divine natures inhale the ether."
Apollonius again asked which of the elements came first into being, and Iarchas answered: "All are simultaneous, for a living creature is not born bit by bit."
"Am I," said Apollonius, "to regard the universe as a living creature?"
"Yes," said the other, "if you have a sound knowledge of it, for it engenders all living things."
"Shall I then," said Apollonius, "call the universe female, or of both the male and the opposite gender?"
"Of both genders," said the other, "for by commerce with itself it fulfills the role both of mother and father in bringing forth living creatures; and it is possessed by a love for itself more intense than any separate being has for its fellow, a passion which knits it together into harmony. And it is not illogical to suppose that it cleaves unto itself; for as the movement of an animal dictates the function of its hands and feet, in co-operation with a soul in it by which it is set in motion, so we must regard the parts of the universe also as adapting themselves through its inherent soul to all creatures which are brought forth or conceived.
For example, the sufferings so often caused by drought are visited on us in accordance with the soul of the universe, whenever justice has fallen into disrepute and is disowned by men; and this animal shepherds itself not with a single hand only, but with many mysterious ones, which it has at its disposal; and though from its immense size it is controlled by no other, yet it moves obediently to the rein and is easily guided.
35. "And the subject is so vast and so far transcends our mental powers, that I do not know any example adequate to illustrate it; but we will take that of a ship, such as the Egyptians construct for our seas and launch for the exchange of Egyptian goods against Indian wares. For there is an ancient law in regard to the Red Sea, which the king Erythras laid down, when he held sway over that sea, to the effect that the Egyptians should not enter it with a vessel of war, and indeed should employ only a single merchant ship.
This regulation obliged the Egyptians to contrive a ship equivalent to several at once of those which other races have; and they ribbed the sides of this ship with bolts such as hold a ship together, and they raised its bulwarks and its mast to a great height, and they constructed several compartments, such as are built upon the timber balks which run athwart a ship, and they set several pilots in this boat and subordinated them to the oldest and wisest of their number, to conduct the voyage; and there were several officers on the prow and excellent and handy sailors to man the sails; and in the crew of this ship there was a detachment of armed men, for it is necessary to equip the ship and protect it against the savages of the Gulf that live on the right hand as you enter it, in case they should ever attack and plunder it on the high seas.
Let us apply this imagery to the universe, and regard it in the light of a naval construction; for then you must apportion the first and supreme position to God the begetter of this animal, and subordinate posts to the gods who govern its parts; and we may well assent to the statements of the poets, when they say that there are many gods in heaven and many in the sea, and many in the fountains and streams, and many round about the earth, and that there are some even under the earth. But we shall do well to separate from the universe the region under the earth, if there is one, because the poets represent it as an abode of terror and corruption."
36. As the Indian concluded this discourse, Damis says that he was transported with admiration and applauded loudly; for he could never have thought that a native of India could show such mastery of the Greek tongue, nor even that, supposing he understood that language, he could have used it with so much ease and elegance. And he praises the look and smile of Iarchas, and the inspired air with which he expressed his ideas, admitting that Apollonius, although he had a delivery as graceful as it was free from bombast, nevertheless gained a great deal by contact with this Indian, and he says that whenever he sat down to discuss a theme, as he very often did, he resembled Iarchas.
37. As the rest of the company praised, no less, the contents of Iarchas' speech than the tone in which he spoke, Apollonius resumed by asking him which they considered the bigger, the sea or the land; and Iarchas replied: "If the land be compared with the sea it will be found to be bigger, for it includes the sea in itself; but if it be considered in relation to the entire mass of water, we can show that the earth is the lesser of the two, for it is upheld by the water."
38. This discussion was interrupted by the appearance among the sages of the messenger bringing in certain Indians who were in want of succor. And he brought forward a poor woman who interceded in behalf of her child, who was, she said, a boy of sixteen years of age, but had been for two years possessed by a devil.
Now the character of the devil was that of a mocker and a liar. Here one of the sages asked, why she said this, and she replied: "This child of mine is extremely good-looking, and therefore the devil is amorous of him and will not allow him to retain his reason, nor will he permit him to go to school, or to learn archery, nor even to remain at home, but drives him out into desert places. And the boy does not even retain his own voice, but speaks in a deep hollow tone, as men do; and he looks at you with other eyes rather than with his own. As for myself I weep over all this and I tear my cheeks, and I rebuke my son so far as I well may; but he does not know me.
And I made my mind to repair hither, indeed I planned to do so a year ago; only the demon discovered himself using my child as a mask, and what he told me was this, that he was the ghost of a man, who fell long ago in battle, but that at death he was passionately attached to his wife. Now he had been dead for only three days when his wife insulted their union by marrying another man, and the consequence was that he had come to detest the love of women, and had transferred himself wholly into this boy. But he promised, if I would only not denounce him to yourselves, to endow the child with many noble blessings. As for myself, I was influenced by these promises; but he has put me off and off for such a long time now, that he has got sole control of my household, yet has no honest or true intentions."
Here the sage asked afresh, if the boy was at hand; and she said not, for, although she had done all she could to get him to come with her, the demon had threatened her with steep places and precipices and declared that he would kill her son, "in case," she added, "I haled him hither for trial."
"Take courage," said the sage, "for he will not slay him when he has read this." And so saying he drew a letter out of his bosom and gave it to the woman; and the letter, it appears, was addressed to the ghost and contained threats of an alarming kind.
39. There also arrived a man who was lame. He already was thirty years old and was a keen hunter of lions; but a lion had sprung upon him and dislocated his hip so that he limped with one leg. However when they massaged with their hands his hip, the youth immediately recovered his upright gait.
And another man had had his eyes put out, and he went away having recovered the sight of both of them. Yet another man had his hand paralyzed; but left their presence in full possession of the limb. And a certain woman had suffered in labor already seven times, but was healed in the following way through the intercession of her husband. He bade the man, whenever his wife should be about to bring forth her next child, to enter her chamber carrying in his bosom a live hare; then he was to walk once round her and at the same moment to release the hare; for that the womb would be extruded together with the fetus, unless the hare was at once driven out.
40. And again a certain man who was a father said that he had had several sons, but that they had died the moment they began to drink wine. Iarchas took him up and said: "Yes, and it is just as well they did die; for they would inevitably have gone mad, having inherited, as it appears, from their parents too warm a temperament. Your children," he added, "must therefore abstain from wine, but in order that they may be never led even to desire wine, supposing you should have another boy, and I perceive you had one only six days ago, you must carefully watch the hen owl and find where it builds its nest; then you must snatch its eggs and give them to the child to chew after boiling them properly; for if it is fed upon these, before it tastes wine, a distaste for wine will be bred in it, and it will keep sober by your excluding from its temperament any but natural warmth."
With such lore as this then they surfeited themselves, and they were astonished at the many-sided wisdom of the company, and day after day they asked all sorts of questions, and were themselves asked many in turn.
41. Apollonius and Damis then took part in the interviews devoted to abstract discussions; not so with the conversations devoted to occult themes, in which they pondered the nature of astronomy or divination, and considered the problem of foreknowledge, and handled the problems of sacrifice and of the invocations in which the gods take pleasure.
In these Damis says that Apollonius alone partook of the philosophic discussion together with Iarchas, and that Apollonius embodied the results in four books concerning the divination by the stars, a work which Moeragenes has mentioned. And Damis says that he composed a work on the way to offer sacrifice to the several gods in a manner pleasing to them.
Not only then do I regard the work on the science of the stars and the whole subject of such divination as transcending human nature, but I do not even know if anyone has these gifts; but I found the treatise On sacrifice in several cities, and in the houses of several learned men; moreover, if anyone should translate it, he would find it to be a grave and dignified composition, and one that rings of the author's personality.
And Damis says that Iarchas gave seven rings to Apollonius named after the seven stars [planets], and that Apollonius wore each of these in turn on the day of the week which bore its name.
42. As to the subject of foreknowledge, they presently had a talk about it, for Apollonius was devoted to this kind of lore, and turned most of their conversations on to it. For this Iarchas praised him and said: "My good friend Apollonius, those who take pleasure in divination, are rendered divine thereby and contribute to the salvation of mankind. For here we have discoveries which we must go to a divine oracle in order to make; yet these, my good friend, we foresee of our unaided selves and foretell to others things which they know not yet. This I regard as the gift of one thoroughly blessed and endowed with the same mysterious power as the Delphic Apollo.
Now the ritual insists that those who visit a shrine with a view to obtaining a response, must purify themselves first, otherwise they will be told to "depart from the temple." Consequently I consider that one who would foresee events must be healthy in himself, and must not have his soul stained with any sort of defilement nor his character scarred with the wounds of any sins; so he will pronounce his predictions with purity, because he will understand himself and the sacred tripod in his breast, and with ever louder and clearer tone and truer import will he utter his oracles. Therefore you need not be surprised, if you comprehend the science, seeing that you carry in your soul so much ether."
43. And with these words he turned to Damis and said playfully: "And you, O Assyrian, have you no foreknowledge of anything, especially as you associate with such a man as this?"
"Yes, by Zeus," answered Damis, "at any rate of the things that are necessary for myself; for when I first met with Apollonius here, he at once struck me as full of wisdom and cleverness and sobriety and of true endurance; but when I saw that he also had a good memory, and that he was very learned and entirely devoted to the love of learning, he became to me something superhuman; and I came to the conclusion that if I stuck to him I should be held a wise man instead of an ignoramus and a dullard, and an educated man instead of a savage; and I saw that, if I followed him and shared his pursuits, I should visit the Indians and visit you, and that I should be turned into a Hellene by him and be able to mix with the Hellenes. Now of course you set your oracles, as they concern important issues, on a level with those of Delphi and Dodona and of any other shrine you like; as for my own premonitions, since Damis is the person who has them, and since his foreknowledge concerns himself alone, we will suppose that they resemble the guesses of an old beggar wife foretelling what will happen to sheep and such like."
44. All the sages laughed of course at this sally, and when their laughter had subsided, Iarchas led back the argument to the subject of divination, and among the many blessings which that art had conferred upon mankind, he declared the gift of healing to be the most important. "For," said he, "the wise sons of Asclepius would have never attained to this branch of science, if Asclepius had not been the son of Apollo; and as such had not in accordance with the latter's responses and oracles concocted and adapted different drugs to different diseases; these he not only handed on to his own sons, but he taught his companions what herbs must be applied to running wounds, and what to parched and dry wounds, and in what doses to administer liquid drugs for drinking, by means of which dropsical patients are drained and bleeding is checked, and diseases of decay and the cavities due to their ravages are put an end to. And who," he said, "can deprive the art of divination of the credit of discovering simples which heal the bites of venomous creatures, and in particular of using the virus itself as a cure for many diseases? For I do not think that men without the forecasts of a prophetic wisdom would ever have ventured to mingle with medicines that save life these most deadly of poisons."
45. And inasmuch as the following conversation also has been recorded by Damis as having been held upon this occasion with regard to the mythological animals and fountains and men met with in India, I must not leave it out, for there is much to be gained by neither believing nor yet disbelieving everything. Accordingly Apollonius asked the question, whether there was there an animal called the man-eater (martichoras); and Iarchas replied: "And what have you heard about the make of this animal? For it is probable that there is some account given of its shape."
"There are," replied Apollonius, "tall stories current which I cannot believe; for they say that the creature has four feet, and that his head resembles that of a man, but that in size it is comparable to a lion; while the tail of this animal puts out hairs a cubit long and sharp as thorns, which it shoots like arrows at those who hunt it."
And he further asked about the golden water which they say bubbles up from a spring, and about the stone which behaves like a magnet, and about the men who live underground and the pygmies also and the shadow-footed men; and Iarchas answered his questions thus: "What have I to tell you about animals or plants or fountains which you have seen yourself on coming here? For by this time you are as competent to describe these to other people as I am; but I never yet heard in this country of an animal that shoots arrows or of springs of golden water."
46. However about the stone which attracts and binds to itself other stones you must not be skeptical; for you can see the stone yourself if you like, and admire its properties. For the greatest specimen is exactly of the size of this finger nail," and here he pointed to his own thumb, "and it is conceived in a hollow in the earth at a depth of four fathoms; but it is so highly endowed with spirit, that the earth swells and breaks open in many places when the stone is conceived in it. But no one can get hold of it, for it runs away, unless it is scientifically attracted; but we alone can secure, partly by performance of certain rites and partly by certain forms of words, this pantarbe, for such is the name given to it.
Now in the night-time it glows like the day just as fire might, for it is red and gives out rays; and if you look at it in the daytime it smites your eyes with a thousand glints and gleams. And the light within it is a spirit of mysterious power, for it absorbs to itself everything in its neighborhood. And why do I say in its neighborhood? Why you can sink anywhere in river or in sea as many stones as you like, and these not even near to one another, but here there; and everywhere; and then if you let down this stone among them by a string it gathers them all together by the diffusion of its spirit, and the stones yield to its influence and cling to it in bunch, like a swarm of bees."
47. And having said this he showed the stone itself and all that it was capable of effecting.
And as to the pygmies, he said that they lived underground, and that they lay on the other side of the Ganges and lived in the manner which is related by all. As to men that are shadow-footed or have long heads, and as to the other poetical fancies which the treatise of Scylax recounts about them, he said that they didn't live anywhere on the earth, and least of all in India.
48. As to the gold which the griffins dig up, there are rocks which are spotted with drops of gold as with sparks, which this creature can quarry because of the strength of its beak. "For these animals do exist in India," he said, "and are held in veneration as being sacred to the Sun; and the Indian artists, when they represent the Sun, yoke four of them abreast to draw the imaged car; and in size and strength they resemble lions but having this advantage over them that they have wings, they will attack them, and they get the better of elephants and of dragons. But they have no great power of flying, not more than have birds of short flight; for they are not winged as is proper with birds, but the palms of their feet are webbed with red membranes, such that they are able to revolve them, and make a flight and fight in the air; and the tiger alone is beyond their powers of attack, because in swiftness it rivals the winds."
49. "And the phoenix," he said, "is the bird which visits Egypt every five hundred years, but the rest of that time it flies about in India; and it is unique in that it gives out rays of sunlight and shines with gold, in size and appearance like an eagle; and it sits upon the nest; which is made by it at the springs of the Nile out of spices. The story of the Egyptians about it, that it comes to Egypt, is testified to by the Indians also, but the latter add this touch to the story, that the phoenix which is being consumed in its nest sings funeral strains for itself. And this is also done by the swans according to the account of those who have the wit to hear them."
50. In such conversations with the sages Apollonius spent the four months which he passed there, and he acquired all sorts of lore both profane and mysterious. But when he was minded to go on his way they persuaded him to send back to Phraotes with a letter his guide and the camels; and they themselves gave him another guide and camels, and sent him forth on his way, congratulating both themselves and him. And having embraced Apollonius and declared that he would be esteemed a god by the many, not merely after his death, but while he was still alive, they turned back to their place of meditation, though ever and anon they turned towards him, and showed by their action that they parted from him against their will.
And Apollonius keeping the Ganges on his right hand, but the Hyphasis on his left, went down towards the sea a journey of ten days from the sacred ridge. And as they went down they saw a great many ostriches, and many wild bulls, and many asses and lions and pards and tigers, and another kind of apes than those which inhabit the pepper trees, for these were black and bushy-haired and were dog-like in features and as big as small men.
And in the usual discussion of what they saw they reached the sea, where small factories had been built, and passenger ships rode in them resembling those of the Tyrrhenes. And they say that the sea called Erythra or "red" is of a deep blue color, but that it was so named from a king Erythras, who gave his own name to the sea in question.
51. Having reached this point, Apollonius sent back the camels to Iarchas together with the following letter:
"Apollonius to Iarchas and the other sages greeting. I came to you on foot, and yet you presented me with the sea; but by sharing with me the wisdom which is yours, you have made it mine even to travel through the heavens. All this I shall mention to the Hellenes; and I shall communicate my words to you as if you were present, unless I have in vain drunk the draught of Tantalus. Farewell, ye goodly philosophers."
52. He then embarked upon the ship and was borne away by a smooth and favorable breeze, and he was struck at the formidable manner in which the Hyphasis discharges itself into the sea at its mouth; for in its later course, as I said before, it falls into rocky and narrow places and over precipices, and breaking its way through these to the sea by a single mouth, presents a formidable danger to those who hug the land too closely.
53. They say, moreover, that they saw the mouth of the Indus, and that there was situated on it the city of Patala, round which the Indus flows. It was to this city that the fleet of Alexander came, under the command of Nearchus, a highly trained naval captain. But as for the stories of Orthagoras about the sea called Erythra, to the effect that the constellation of the bear is not to be seen in it, and that the mariners cast no reckoning at midday, and that the visible stars there vary from their usual positions, this account is endorsed by Damis; and we must consider it to be sound and based on local observations of the heavens.
They also mention a small island, of the name of Biblus, in which there is the large cockle, and where there are mussels and oysters and such like organisms, clinging to the rocks and ten times as big as those which we find in Greece. And there is also taken in this region a stone, the pearl in a white shell, wherein it occupies the place of the heart of the oyster.
54. And they say they also touched at Pegadae in the country of the Oreitae. As for these people, they have rocks of bronze and sand of bronze, and the dust which the rivers bring down is of bronze. But they regard their land as full of gold because the bronze is of such high quality.
55. And they say that they came across the people called the Fish-Eaters, whose city is Stobera; and they clothe themselves in the skins of very large fishes, and the cattle there look like fish and eat extraordinary things; for the shepherds feed them upon fish, just as in Caria the flocks are fed on figs. But the Indians of Carman are a gentle race, who live on the edge of a sea so well stocked with fish, that they neither lay them in by stores, not salt them as is done in Pontus, but they just sell a few of them and throw back most they catch panting into the sea.
56. They say that they also touched at Balara, which is an emporium full of myrtles and date palms; and they also saw laurels, and the place was well watered by springs. And there were kitchen gardens there, as well as flower gardens, all growing luxuriantly, and the harbors therein were entirely calm.
But off there lies a sacred island, which was called Selera, and the passage to it from the mainland was a hundred stades long. Now in this island there lived a Nereid, a dreadful female demon, which would snatch away many mariners and would not even allow ships to fasten a cable to the island.
57. It is just as well not to omit the story of the other kind of pearl: since even Apollonius did not regard it as puerile, and it is anyhow a pretty invention, and there is nothing in the annals of sea fishing so remarkable. For on the side of the island which is turned towards the open sea, the bottom is of great depth, and produces an oyster in a white sheath full of fat, for it does not produce any jewel. The inhabitants watch for a calm day, or they themselves render the sea smooth, and this they do by flooding it with oil; and then a man plunges in in order to hunt the oyster in question, and he is in other aspects equipped like those who cut off the sponges from the rocks, but he carries in addition an oblong iron block and an alabaster case of myrrh.
The Indian then halts alongside of the oyster and holds out the myrrh before him as a bait; whereupon the oyster opens and drinks itself drunk upon the myrrh. Then its pierced with a long pin and discharges a peculiar liquid called ichor, which the man catches in the iron block which is hollowed out in regular holes. The liquid so obtained petrifies in regular shapes, just like the natural pearl, and it is a white blood furnished by the Red Sea.
And they say that the Arabs also who live on the opposite coast devote themselves to catching these creatures.
From this point on they found the entire sea full of sharks, and whales gathered there in schools; and the ships, they say, in order to keep off these animals, carry bells at the bow and at the stern, the sound of which frightens away these creatures and prevents them from approaching the ships.
58. And when they sailed as far as the mouth of the Euphrates, they say they sailed up by it to Babylon to see Vardanes, whom they found just as they had found him before. They then came afresh to Nineveh, and as the people of Antioch displayed their customary insolence and took no interest in any affairs of the Hellenes, they went down to the sea at Seleucia, and finding a ship, they sailed to Cyprus and landed at Paphos, where there is the statue of Aphrodite. Apollonius marveled at the symbolic construction of the same, and gave the priests instruction with regard to the ritual of the temple. He then sailed to Ionia, where he excited much admiration and no little esteem among all lovers of wisdom.
1. And when they saw our sage in Ionia and he had arrived in Ephesus, even the mechanics would not remain at their handicrafts, but followed him, one admiring his wisdom, another his beauty, another his way of life, another his bearing, some of them everything alike about him.
Reports also were current about him which originated from various oracles; thus from the oracle at Colophon it was announced that he shared its peculiar wisdom and was absolutely wise, and so forth; from that of Didyma similar rumors emanated, as also from the shrine of Pergamon; for the God [Asclepius] urged not a few of these who were in need of health to betake themselves to Apollonius, for this was what "he himself approved and was pleasing to the Fates."
Deputations also waited upon him from various cities offering him their hospitality, and asking his advice about life in general as well as about the dedication of altars and images; and he regulated their several affairs in some case by letter, but in others he said would visit them.
And the city of Smyrna also sent a deputation, but they would not say what they wanted, though they besought him to visit them; so he asked the legate what they wanted of him, but he merely said, "to see him and to be seen." So Apollonius said: "I will come, but, O ye Muses, grant that we may also like one another."
2. The first discourse then which he delivered was to the Ephesians from the platform of their temple, and its tone was not that of the Socratic school; for he dissuaded and discouraged them from other pursuits, and urged them to fill Ephesus with real study rather than with idleness and revelry such as he found around him there; for they were devoted to dancers and taken up with pantomimes, and the whole city was full of pipers, and full of effeminate rascals, and full of noise. So, though the Ephesians had come over to him, he determined not to wink at such things, but cleared them out and made them odious to most of them.
3. His other discourses he delivered under the trees which grow hard by the cloisters; and in these he dealt with the question of communism, and taught that they ought to support and be supported by one another. While he was doing so on one occasion, sparrows were sitting quite silent upon the trees, but one of them suddenly set to chirping as it flew up, just as if he had some exhortations to give to his fellows; and the latter, on hearing it, themselves set up a chirping and rose and flew up under the guidance of the one.
Now Apollonius went on with his argument, for he knew what it was that made the sparrows take wing, but he did not explain the matter to the multitude who were listening to him; but when they all looked at the birds and some of them in their silliness thought it a miraculous occurrence, Apollonius interrupted his argument and said: "A boy has slipped who was carrying some barley in a bowl, and after carelessly gathering together what was fallen, he has gone off, leaving much of if scattered about it in yonder alley, and this sparrow, witnessing the occurrence has come here to acquaint his fellows with the good luck, and to invite them to come and eat it with him."
Most of his audience accordingly ran off to the spot, but Apollonius continued to those who remained with him the discourse he had proposed to himself on the topic of communism; and when they returned talking loudly and full of wonder, he continued thus: "You see how the sparrows care for one another and delight in communism, but we are far from approving of it, nay, should we happen to see anyone sharing his own in common with others, we set him down as a spendthrift and talk about his extravagance and so forth, while as for those who are supported by him, we call them parasites and flatterers. What then is left for us to do, except to shut ourselves up like birds that are being fed up and fattened, and gorge ourselves in the dark until we literally burst with fat?"
4. A pestilence was creeping over Ephesus; but the disease had not yet reached its full violence, before Apollonius understood that it was approaching, and impressed with the danger he foretold it, and interspersed his discourses with such exclamations as "O earth, remain true to thyself!" and he added in a tone of menace such appeals as these: "Do thou preserve these men here," and "Thou shalt not pass hither."
But his hearers did not attend to these warnings and thought them mere rodomontade, all the more because they saw him constantly visiting all the temples in order to avert and deprecate the calamity. And since they conducted themselves so foolishly in respect of the scourge, he thought that it was not necessary to do anything more for them, but began a tour of the rest of Ionia, regulating their several affairs, and from time to time recommending in his discourses what was salutary for his audiences.
5. But when he came to Smyrna the Ionians went out to meet him, for they were just celebrating the pan-Ionian sacrifices. And he there read a decree of the Ionians, in which they besought him to take part in their solemn meeting; and in it he met with a name which had not at all an Ionian ring, for a certain Lucullus had signed the resolution. He accordingly sent a letter to their council expressing his astonishment at such an instance of barbarism; for he had, it seems, also found the name Fabricius and other such names in the decrees. The letter on this subject shows how sternly he reprimanded them.
6. And on another day he presented himself before the meeting of the Ionians, and asked: "What is this cup?"
And they answered: "It is the pan-Ionian cup."
Whereupon he took a draught from it and poured a libation, saying: "O ye Gods, who are patrons of the Ionians, may ye grant to this fair colony to enjoy safety at sea, and that no disaster may wreak itself on them by land therefrom, and that Aegaeon, the author of earthquakes, may never shake down their cities."
These words he uttered under divine impulse, because he foresaw, as I believe, the disasters which afterwards betook Smyrna and Miletus and Chios and Samos and several of the Iades.
7. And remarking the zeal with which the people of Smyrna devoted themselves to all sorts of compositions, he encouraged them and increased their zeal, and urged them to take pride rather in themselves than in the beauty of their city; for although they had the most beautiful of cities under the sun, and although they had a friendly sea at their doors, which held the springs of the zephyr, nevertheless, it was more pleasing for the city to be crowned with men than with porticos and pictures, or even with gold in excess of of what they needed. "For," he said, "public edifices remain where they are, and are nowhere seen except in that particular part of the earth where they exist, but good men are conspicuous everywhere, and everywhere they utter their thoughts; and so they can magnify the city more to which they belong, in proportion to the numbers in which they are able to visit any part of the earth."
And he said that cities which are beautiful in the same way as Smyrna was, resemble the statue of Zeus wrought in Olympia by Phidias; for there Zeus sits, just as it pleased the artist that he should, whereas men who visit all regions of the earth may be well compared with the Homeric Zeus, who is represented by Homer under many shapes, and is a more wonderful creation than the image made of ivory; for the latter is only to be seen upon earth, but the former is an ideal presence imagined everywhere in heaven.
8. And in his discussions, moreover, with the people of Smyrna he wisely taught them also how best to guarantee the security of those who live in the cities, for he saw that they were at issue with one another and did not agree in their ideals. He accordingly told them that for a city to be rightly conducted by its inhabitants, you need a mixture of concord with party spirit; and as this utterance seemed inadmissible and hardly logical, Apollonius realizing that most of them did not follow his argument, added: "White and black can never be one and the same, nor can bitter be wholesomely blended with sweet; but concord can be blended with party spirit to secure the safety of the cities.
"And let us consider my meaning to be somewhat as follows: Far be from your city the factiousness which leads men to draw swords and to stone one another; for in a city we need our children to be brought up properly, and we need laws, and we need inhabitants equally versed in discussion and in deeds. But mutual rivalry between men in behalf of the common weal, and with the object that one should give better advice than another, and that one should discharge better than another the duties of magistrate, and that one should discharge the office of an ambassador or of an aedile more brilliantly than his fellows -- here," he said, "I think you have a worthy rivalry and a real contention among yourselves in behalf of the common weal.
But that one person should practice one thing and another another with a view to benefiting the city seemed of old a foolish thing to the Lacedaemonians, because they only cultivated the arts of war, and because they all strengthened themselves for this end and interested themselves in nothing else; but to me it seems best that each man should do what he understands best and what he best can do. For that city will recline in peace, nay, will rather stand up erect, where one man is admired for his popular influence, and another for his wisdom, and another for his liberal expenditure on public objects, and another for his kindliness, and another for his severity and unbending sternness towards malefactors, and another because his hands are pure beyond suspicion."
9. And as he was thus discoursing, he saw a ship with three masts leaving the harbor, of which the sailors were each discharging their particular duties in working it out to sea. Accordingly, calling the attention of his audience he said: "Now look at that ship's crew, how some of them being rowers have embarked in the tug-boats, while others are winding up and making fast the anchors, and others again are spreading the sails to the wind, and others are keeping an outlook at bow and stern. Now if a single member of this community abandoned any one of his particular tasks or went about his naval duties in an inexperienced manner, they would have a bad voyage and would themselves impersonate the storm; but if they vie with one another and are rivals only with the object of one showing himself as good a man as the other, then their ship will make the best of all havens, and all their voyage be one of fair weather and fair sailing, and the precaution they exercise about themselves will prove to be as valuable as if Poseidon our Lord of safety were watching over them."
10. With such harangues as these he knit together the people of Smyrna; but when the plague began to rage in Ephesus, and no remedy sufficed to check it, they sent a deputation to Apollonius, asking him to become physician of their infirmity; and he thought that he ought not to postpone his journey, but said: "Let us go."
And forthwith he was in Ephesus, performing the same feat, I believe, as Pythagoras, who was in Thurii and Metapontum at one and the same moment. He therefore called together the Ephesians, and said: "Take courage, for I will today put a stop to the course of the disease."
And with these words he led the population entire to the the theater, where the image of the Averting god has been set up. [Heracles] And there he saw what seemed an old mendicant artfully blinking his eyes as if blind, as he carried a wallet and a crust of bread in it; and he was clad in rags and was very squalid of countenance. Apollonius therefore ranged the Ephesians around him and said: "Pick up as many stones as you can and hurl them at this enemy of the gods."
Now the Ephesians wondered what he meant, and were shocked at the idea of murdering a stranger so manifestly miserable; for he was begging and praying them to take mercy upon him. Nevertheless Apollonius insisted and egged on the Ephesians to launch themselves on him and not let him go. And as soon as some of them began to take shots and hit him with their stones, the beggar who had seemed to blink and be blind, gave them all a sudden glance and his eyes were full of fire. Then the Ephesians recognized that he was a demon, and they stoned him so thoroughly that their stones were heaped into a great cairn around him.
After a little pause Apollonius bade them remove the stones and acquaint themselves with the wild animal they had slain. When therefore they had exposed the object which they thought they had thrown their missiles at, they found that he had disappeared and instead of him there was a hound who resembled in form and look a Molossian dog, but was in size the equal of the largest lion; there he lay before their eyes, pounded to a pulp by their stones and vomiting foam as mad dogs do. Accordingly the statue of the Averting god, Heracles, has been set up over the spot where the ghost was slain.
11. Having purged the Ephesians of the plague, and having had enough of the people of Ionia, he started for Hellas. Having made his way then to Pergamon, and being pleased with the temple of Asclepius, he gave hints to the supplicants of the god, what to do in order to obtain favorable dreams; and having healed many of them he came to the land of Ilium [Troy]. And when his mind was glutted with all the traditions of their past, he went to visit the tombs of the Achaeans, and he delivered himself of many speeches over them, and he offered many sacrifices of a bloodless and pure kind; and then he bade his companions go on board ship, for he himself, he said, must spend a night on the mound of Achilles.
Now his companions tried to deter him -- for in fact the sons of Dioscorus and the Phaedimi, and a whole company of such already followed in the train of Apollonius -- alleging that Achilles was still dreadful as a phantom; for such was the conviction about him of the inhabitants of Ilium. "Nevertheless," said Apollonius, "I know Achilles well and that he thoroughly delights in company; for he heartily welcomed Nestor when he came from Pylos, because he always had something useful to tell him; and he used to honor Phoenix with the title of foster-father and companion and so forth, because Phoenix entertained him with his talk; and he looked most mildly upon Priam also, although he was his bitterest enemy, so soon as he heard him talk; and when in the course of a quarrel he had an interview with Odysseus, he made himself so gracious that Odysseus thought him more handsome than terrible.
"For, I think that his shield and his plumes that wave so terribly, as they say, are a menace to the Trojans, because he can never forget what he suffered at their hands, when they played him false over the marriage. But I have nothing in common with Ilium, and I shall talk to him more pleasantly than his former companions; and if he slays me, as you say he will, why then I shall repose with Memnon and Cycnus, and perhaps Troy will bury me 'in a hollow sepulcher' as they did Hector."
Such were his words to his companions, half playful and half serious, as he went up alone to the barrow; but they went on board ship, for it was already evening.
12. But Apollonius came about dawn to them and said: "Where is Antisthenes of Paros"?
And this person had joined their society seven days before in Ilium. And when Antisthenes answered that he was there, he said: "Have you, O young man, any Trojan blood in your veins?"
"Certainly I have," he said, "for I am a Trojan by ancestry."
"And a descendant of Priam as well?" asked Apollonius.
"Why yes, by Zeus," answered the other, "and that is why I consider myself a good man and of good stock."
"That explains then," said the sage, "why Achilles forbids me to associate with you; for after he bade me go as his deputy to the Thessalians in the matter of a complaint which he has against them, and I asked him whether there was anything else which I could do to please him, 'yes', he said, 'you must take care not to initiate the young man from Paros in your wisdom, for he is too much of a descendant of Priam, and the praise of Hector is never out of his mouth.'"
13. Accordingly, Antisthenes went off though against his will; and when the day broke and the wind off shore increased in strength, and the ship was ready to put to sea, it was invaded in spite of its small dimensions by a number of other people who were anxious to share the voyage with Apollonius; for it was already autumn and the sea was not much to be trusted. They all then regarded Apollonius as one who was master of the tempest and of fire and of perils of all sorts, and so wished to go on board with him.
But as the company was many times too great for the ship, spying a larger ship -- for there were many in the neighborhood of the tomb of Ajax -- he said: "Let us go on board this, for it is a good thing to get home safely with as many as may be."
He accordingly doubled the promontory of Troy, and then commanded the pilot to shape his course towards the country of the Aeolians, which lies over against Lesbos, and then to turn as close as he could to Methymna, and there to cast anchor. For there it was, he said, that Achilles declared Palamedes lay, where also they would find his image a cubit high, representing however a man older than was ever Palamedes. And at the moment of disembarking from the ship, he said: "Let us show our respect, O ye Greeks, for so good a man to whom we owe all wisdom. For we shall anyhow prove ourselves better men than the Achaeans, if we pay tribute to the excellence of one whom they so unjustly slew."
They then had hardly leapt of the ship, when he hit upon the tomb and found the statue buried beside it. And there were inscribed on the base of the statue the words: "To the divine Palamedes."
He accordingly set it up again in its place, as I myself saw; and he raised a shrine around it of the size which the worshippers of the goddess of the crossways, called Enodia, use; for it was large enough for ten persons at once to sit and drink and keep good cheer in; and having done so he offered up the following prayer: "O Palamedes, do thou forget the wrath, wherewith thou wast wroth against the Achaeans, and grant that men may multiply in numbers and wisdom. Yea, O Palamedes, author of all eloquence, author the Muses, author of myself."
14. He also visited in passing the shrine of Orpheus when he had put in at Lesbos. And they tell that it was here that Orpheus once on a time loved to prophesy, before Apollo had turned his attention to him. For when the latter found that men no longer flocked to Gryneium for the sake of oracles nor to Clarus nor [to Delphi] where is the tripod of Apollo, and that Orpheus was the only oracle, his head having come from Thrace, he presented himself before the giver of oracles and said: "Cease to meddle with my affairs, for I have already put up long enough with your vaticinations."
15. After this they continued their voyage along the sea of Euboea, which Homer considered to be one of the most dangerous and difficult to traverse. However the sea was smooth and was much better than you expected in that season; and their conversation turned upon the many and famous islands they were visiting, and upon shipbuilding and pilotage and other topics suitable to a voyage.
But as Damis found fault with some of the things they said, and cut short many of their remarks, and would not allow some of their questions to be put, Apollonius realized that he was anxious to discuss some other topic and said: "What ails you, Damis, that you break in on the course of our questions in this way? For I am sure that it is not because you are seasick or in any way inconvenienced by the voyage, that you object to our conversation; for you see how smoothly our ship is wafted over her bosom by the submissive sea. Why then are you so uneasy?"
"Because," replied the other, "when a great topic suggests itself, which we surely ought rather to be asking about, we are asking questions about these threadbare and antiquated subjects."
"And what," said Apollonius, "may be this topic which makes you regard all others as superfluous?"
"You have," he answered, "had an interview with Achilles, O Apollonius, and probably you have heard him speak at length of many things so far unknown to ourselves; and yet you tell us nothing about these, nor do you describe to us the figure of Achilles, but you fill you conversation with talk of the islands we are sailing round and of ship-building."
"If you will not accuse me of bragging," said Apollonius, "you shall hear everything."
16. The rest of the company also besought him to tell them all about it, and as they were in a mood to listen to him, he said: "Well, it was not by digging a ditch like Odysseus, nor by tempting souls with the blood of sheep, that I obtained a conversation with Achilles; but I offered up the prayer which the Indians say they use in approaching their heroes. 'O Achilles,' I said, 'most of mankind declare that you are dead, but I cannot agree with them, nor can Pythagoras, my spiritual ancestor. If then we hold the truth, show to us your own form; for you would profit not a little by showing yourself to my eyes, if you should be able to use them to attest your existence.'
Thereupon a slight earthquake shook the neighborhood of the barrow, and a youth issued forth five cubits high, wearing a cloak of Thessalian fashion; but in appearance he was by no means the braggart figure which some imagine Achilles to have been. Though he was stern to look upon, he had never lost his bright look; and it seems to me that his beauty has never received its meed of praise, even though Homer dwelt at length upon it; for it was really beyond the power of words, and it is easier for the singer to ruin his fame in this respect than to praise him as he deserved.
At first sight he was of the size which I have mentioned, but he grew bigger, till he was twice as large and even more than that; at any rate he appeared to me to be twelve cubits high just at that moment when he reached his complete stature, and his beauty grew apace with his length. He told me then that he had never at any time shorn off his hair, but preserved it to inviolate for the river Spercheus, for this was the river of his first intimacy; but on his cheeks you saw the first down.
And he addressed me and said: 'I am pleased to have met you, since I have long wanted a man like yourself. For the Thessalians for a long time past have failed to present their offerings to my tomb, and I do not yet wish to show my wrath against them; for if I did so, they would perish more thoroughly than ever the Hellenes did on this spot; accordingly I resort to gentle advice, and would warn them not to violate ancient custom, nor to prove themselves worse men than the Trojans here, who though they were robbed of so many of their heroes by myself, yet sacrifice publicly to me, and also give me the tithes of their fruits of season, and olive branch in hand ask for a truce from my hostility. But this I will not grant, for the perjuries which they committed against me will not suffer Ilium ever to resume its pristine beauty, nor to regain the prosperity which yet has favored many a city that was destroyed of old; nay, if they rebuild it, things shall go as hard with them as if their city had been captured only yesterday. In order then to save me from bringing the Thessalian polity then to the same condition, you must go as my envoy to their council in behalf of the object I have mentioned.'
'I will be your envoy,' I replied, 'for the object of my embassy were to save them from ruin. But, O Achilles, I would ask something of you.'
'I understand,' said he, 'for it is plain you are going to ask about the Trojan war. So ask me five questions about whatever you like, and that the Fates approve of.'
I accordingly asked him firstly, if he had obtained burial in accordance with the story of the poets. 'I lie here,' he answered, 'as was most delightful to myself and Patroclus; for you know we met in mere youth, and a single golden jar holds the remains of both of us, as if we were one. But as for the dirges of the Muses and Nereids, which they say are sung over me, the Muses, I may tell you, never once came here at all, though the Nereids still resort to the spot.'
Next I asked him, if Polyxena was really slaughtered over his tomb; and he replied that this was true, but that she was not slain by the Achaeans, but that she came of her own free will to the sepulcher, and that so high was the value she set on her passion for him and she for her, that she threw herself upon an upright sword.
The third questions was this: 'Did Helen, O Achilles, really come to Troy or was it Homer that was pleased to make up the story?'
'For a long time,' he replied, 'we were deceived and tricked into sending envoys to the Trojans and fighting battles in her behalf, in the belief that she was in Ilium, whereas she really was living in Egypt and in the house of Proteus, whither she had been snatched away by Paris. But when we became convinced thereof, we continued to fight to win Troy itself, so as not to disgrace ourselves by retreat.'
The fourth question which I ventured upon was this: 'I wonder,' I said, 'that Greece ever produced at any one time so many and such distinguished heroes as Homer says were gathered against Troy.'
But Achilles answered: 'Why even the barbarians did not fall far short of us, so abundantly then did excellence flourish all over the earth.'
And my fifth question was this: 'Why was it that Homer knew nothing about Palamedes, or if he knew him, then kept him out of your story?'
'If Palamedes,' he answered, 'never came to Troy, then Troy never existed either. But since this wisest and most warlike hero fell in obedience to Odysseus' whim, Homer does not introduce him into his poems, lest he should have to record the shame of Odysseus in his song.'
And withal Achilles raised a wail over him as over one who was the greatest and most beautiful of men, the youngest and also the most warlike, one who in sobriety surpassed all others, and had often foregathered with the Muses. 'But you,' he added, 'O Apollonius, since sages have a tender regard for one another, you must care for his tomb and restore the image of Palamedes that has been so comtemptuously cast aside; and it lies in Aeolis close to Methymna in Lesbos.'
With these words and with the closing remarks concerning the youth from Paros, Achilles vanished with a flash of summer lightning, for indeed the cocks were already beginning their chant."
17. So much for the conversation on board; but having sailed into the Piraeus at the season of the mysteries, when the Athenians keep the most crowded of Hellenic festivals, he went post haste up from the ship into the city; but as he went forward, he fell in with quite a number of students of philosophy on their way down to Phaleron. Some of them were stripped and enjoying the heat, for in autumn the sun is hot upon the Athenians; and others were studying books, and some were rehearsing their speeches, and others were disputing. But no one passed him by, for they all guessed that it was Apollonius, and they turned and thronged around him and welcomed him warmly; and ten youths in a body met him and holding up their hands to the Acropolis, they cried: "By Athena yonder, we were on the point of going down to the Piraeus there to take ship to Ionia in order to visit you." And he welcomed them and said how much he congratulated them on their study of philosophy.
18. It was then the day of the Epidaurian festival, at which it is still customary for the Athenians to hold the initiation at a second sacrifice after both proclamation and victims have been offered; and this custom was instituted in honor of Asclepius, because they still initiated him when on one occasion he arrived from Epidaurus too late for the mysteries. Now most people neglected the initiation and hung around Apollonius, and thought more of doing that than of being perfected in their religion before they went home; but Apollonius said that he would join them later on, and urged them to attend at once to the rites of the religion, for that he himself would be initiated.
But the hierophant was not disposed to admit him to the rites, for he said that he would never initiate a wizard and charlatan, nor open the Eleusinian rite to a man who dabbled in impure rites. Thereupon Apollonius, fully equal to the occasion, said: "You have not yet mentioned the chief of my offense, which is that knowing, as I do, more about the initiatory rite than you do yourself, I have nevertheless come for initiation to you, as if you were wiser than I am."
The bystanders applauded these words, and deemed that he had answered with vigor and like himself; and thereupon the hierophant, since he saw that his exclusion of Apollonius was not by any means popular with the crowd, changed his tone and said: "Be thou initiated, for thou seemest to be some wise man who has come here."
But Apollonius replied: "I will be initiated at another time, and it is so and so," mentioning a name, "who will initiate me." Herein he showed his gift of prevision, for he glanced at the hierophant who succeeded the one he addressed, and presided over the temple four years later.
19. Many were the discourses which according to Damis the sage delivered at Athens; though he did not write down all of them, but only the more indispensable ones in which he handled great subjects. He took for the topic of his first discourse the matter of rite and ceremonies, and this because he saw that the Athenians were much addicted to sacrifices; and in it he explained how a religious man could best adapt his sacrifice, his libations, or prayers to any particular divinity, and at what hours of day and night he ought to offer them. And it is possible to obtain a book of Apollonius, in which he gives instructions in his own words.
But at Athens he discussed these topics with a view to improving his own wisdom and that of others in the first place, and in the second of convincing the hierophant of blasphemy and ignorance in the remarks he had made; for who could continue to regard as one impure in his religion a man who taught philosophically how the worship of the gods is to be conducted?
20. Now while he was discussing the question of libations, there chanced to be present in his audience a young dandy who bore so evil a reputation for licentiousness that his conduct had long been the subject of coarse street-corner songs. His home was Corcyra, and he traced his pedigree to Alcinous the Phaeacian who entertained Odysseus.
Apollonius then was talking about libations, and was urging them not to drink out of a particular cup, but to reserve it for the gods, without ever touching it or drinking out of it. But when he also urged them to have handles on the cup, and to pour the libation over the handle, because that is the part at which men are least likely to drink, the youth burst out into loud and coarse laughter, and quite drowned his voice. Then Apollonius looked up and said: "It is not yourself that perpetrates this insult, but the demon, who drives you without your knowing it."
And in fact the youth was, without knowing it, possessed by a devil; for he would laugh at things that no one else laughed at, and then would fall to weeping for no reason at all, and he would talk and sing to himself. Now most people thought that it was boisterous humor of youth which led him into excesses; but he was really the mouthpiece of a devil, though it only seemed a drunken frolic in which on that occasion he was indulging.
Now, when Apollonius gazed on him, the ghost in him began to utter cries of fear and rage, such as one hears from people who are being branded or racked; and the ghost swore that he would leave the young man alone and never take possession of any man again. But Apollonius addressed him with anger, as a master might a shifty, rascally, and shameless slave and so on, and he ordered him to quit the young man and show by a visible sign that he had done so. "I will throw down yonder statue," said the devil, and pointed to one of the images which were there in the king's portico, for there it was that the scene took place.
But when the statue began by moving gently, and then fell down, it would defy anyone to describe the hubbub which arose thereat and the way they clapped their hand with wonder. But the young man rubbed his eyes as if he had just woke up, and he looked towards the rays of the sun, and assumed a modest aspect, as all had their attention concentrated on him; for he no longer showed himself licentious, nor did he stare madly about, but he had returned to his own self, as thoroughly as if he had been treated with drugs; and he gave up his dainty dress and summery garments and the rest of his sybaritic way of life, and he fell in love with the austerity of philosophers, and donned their cloak, and stripping off his old self modeled his life and future upon that of Apollonius.
21. And he is said to have rebuked the Athenians for their conduct of the festival of Dionysus, which they hold at the season of the month Anthesterion [February-March]. For when he saw them flocking to the theater he imagined that the were going to listen to solos and compositions in the way of processional and rhythmic hymns, such as are sung in comedies and tragedies; but when he heard them dancing lascivious jigs to the rondos of a pipe, and in the midst of the sacred epic of Orpheus striking attitudes as the Hours, or as nymphs, or as bacchants, he set himself to rebuke their proceedings and said: "Stop dancing away the reputations of the victors of Salamis as well as of many other good men departed this life. For if indeed this were a Lacedaemonian form of dance, I would say, 'Bravo, soldiers; for you are training yourselves for war, and I will join in your dance;' but as it is a soft dance and one of effeminate tendency, what am I to say of your national trophies? Not as monuments of shame to the Medians or Persians, but to your own shame they will have been raised, should you degenerate so much from those who set them up.
And what do you mean by your saffron robes and your purple and scarlet raiment? For surely the Acharnians never dressed themselves up in this way, nor ever the knights of Colonus rode in such garb. A woman commanded a ship from Caria and sailed against you with Xerxes, and about her there was nothing womanly, but she wore the garb and armor of a man; but you are softer than the women of Xerxes' day, and you are dressing yourselves up to your own despite, old and young and striplings alike, all those who of old flocked to the temple of Agraulus in order to swear to die in battle on behalf of the fatherland.
And now it seems that the same people are ready to swear to become bacchants and don the thyrsus in behalf of their country; and no one bears a helmet, but "disguised as female harlequins", to use the phrase of Euripides [Euripides, Bacchants 980.], they shine in shame alone. Nay more, I hear that you turn yourselves into winds, and wave your skirts, and pretend that you are ships bellying their sails aloft. But surely you might at least have some respect for the winds that were your allies and once blew mightily to protect you, instead of turning [the northern wind] Boreas who was your patron, and who of all the winds is the most masculine, into a woman; for Boreas would never have become the lover of Oreithya, if he had seen her executing, like you, a skirt dance."
22. He also corrected the following abuse at Athens. The Athenians ran in crowds to the theater beneath the Acropolis to witness human slaughter, and the passion for such [gladiatorial] sports was stronger there than it is in Corinth today; for they would buy for large sums adulterers and fornicators and burglars and cut-purses and kidnappers and such-like rabble, and then they took them and armed them and set them to fight with one another. Apollonius then attacked these practices, and when the Athenians invited him to attend their assembly, he refused to enter a place so impure and reeking with gore.
And this he said in an epistle to them; he said that he was surprised
"that the goddess [Athena] had not already quitted the Acropolis, when you shed such blood under her eyes. For I suspect that presently, when you are conducting the pan-Athenaic procession, you will no longer be content with bull, but will be sacrificing hecatombs of men to the goddess. And thou, O Dionysus, dost thou after such bloodshed frequent their theater? And do the wise among the Athenians pour libations to thee there? Nay do thou depart, O Dionysus. Holier and purer is thy Cithaeron."
Such were the more serious of the subjects which I have found he treated of at that time in Athens in his philosophical discourses.
23. And he also went as envoy to the Thessalians in behalf of Achilles at the time of the conferences held in Pylaea, at which the Thessalians transact the Amphictyonic business. And they were so frightened that they passed a resolution for the resumption of the ceremonies at the tomb.
As for the monument of Leonidas the Spartan, he almost clasped it in his arms, so great was his admiration for the hero; and as he was coming to the mound where the Lacedaemonians are said to have been overwhelmed by the bolts which the enemy rained upon them, he heard his companions discussing with one another which was the loftiest hill in Hellas, this topic being suggested it seems by the sight of Oeta which rose before their eyes; so ascending the mound, he said: "I consider this the loftiest spot of all, for those who fell here in defense of freedom raised it to a level with Oeta [where Heracles fell] and carried it to a height surpassing many mountains like Olympus. It is these men that I admire, and beyond any of them Megistias the Acarnanian; for he knew the death that they were about to die, and deliberately made up his mind to share in it with these heroes, fearing not so much death, as the prospect that he should miss death in such company."
24. And he also visited all the Greek shrines, namely that of Dodona, and the Pythian temple [at Delphi], and the one at Abae, and he betook himself to those of Amphiaraus and of Trophonius, and he went up to the shrine of the Muses on Mount Helicon. And when he visited these temples and corrected the rites, the priests went in his company, and the votaries followed in his steps, and goblets were set up flowing with rational discourse and the thirsty quaffed their wine.
And as the Olympic Games were coming on, and the people of Elis invited him to take part in the contest, he answered: "You seem to me to tarnish the glory of the Olympic Games, if you need to send special invitations to those who intend to visit you at their own promptings."
And as he was at the Isthmus, when the sea was roaring around Lechaeum and hearing it, he said: "This neck of land shall be cut through, or rather it shall not be cut."
And herein he uttered a prediction of the cutting of the Isthmus which was attempted soon afterwards, when Nero after seven years projected it. For the latter left his imperial palace and came to Hellas, with the intention of submitting himself to the heralds' commands, in the Olympic and Pythian festivals; and he also won the prize at the Isthmus, his victories being won in the contest of singing to the harp and in that of the heralds. And he also won the prize for the tragedians at Olympia. It is said that he then formed the novel project of cutting through the Isthmus, in order to make a canal of it for ships to sail through and not right round, uniting the Aegean with the Adriatic Sea. So instead of every ship having to round Cape Malea [at the southern end of the Peloponnese], most by passing through the canal so cut could abridge an otherwise circuitous voyage.
But mark the upshot of the oracle of Apollonius. They began to dig the canal at Lechaeum, but they had not advanced more than about four stadia of continuous excavation, when Nero stopped the work of cutting it. Some say because Egyptian men of science explained him the nature of the seas, and declared that the sea above Lechaeum [in the west] would flood and obliterate the island of Aegina [in the east], and others because he apprehended a revolution in the empire. Such then was the meaning of Apollonius' prediction that the Isthmus would be cut through and would not be cut through.
25. Now there was in Corinth at that time a man named Demetrius, who studied philosophy and had embraced in his system all the masculine vigor of the Cynics. Of him Favorinus in several of his works subsequently made the most generous mention, and his attitude towards Apollonius was exactly that which they say Antisthenes took up towards the system of Socrates: for he followed him and was anxious to be his disciple, and was devoted to his doctrines, and converted to the side of Apollonius the more esteemed of his own pupils.
Among the latter was Menippus a Lycian of twenty-five years of age, well endowed with good judgment, and of a physique so beautifully proportioned that in mien he resembled a fine and gentlemanly athlete. Now this Menippus was supposed by most people to be loved by a foreign woman, who was good-looking and extremely dainty, and said that she was rich; although she was really, as it turned out, not one of these things, but was only so in semblance.
For as he was walking all alone along the road towards Cenchraea, he met with an apparition, and it was a woman who clasped his hand and declared that she had been long in love with him, and that she was a Phoenician woman and lived in a suburb of Corinth, and she mentioned the name of the particular suburb, and said: "When you reach the place this evening, you will hear my voice as I sing to you, and you shall have wine such as you never before drank, and there will be no rival to disturb you; and we two beautiful beings will live together."
The youth consented to this, for although he was in general a strenuous philosopher, he was nevertheless susceptible to the tender passion; and he visited her in the evening, and for the future constantly sought her company as his darling, for he did not yet realize that she was a mere apparition.
Then Apollonius looked over Menippus as a sculptor might do, and he sketched an outline of the youth and examined him, and having observed his foibles, he said: "You are a fine youth and are hunted by fine women, but in this case you are cherishing a serpent, and a serpent cherishes you."
And when Menippus expressed his surprise, he added: "For this lady is of a kind you cannot marry. Why should you? Do you think that she loves you?"
"Indeed I do," said the youth, "since she behaves to me as if she loves me."
"And would you then marry her?" said Apollonius.
"Why, yes, for it would be delightful to marry a woman who loves you."
Thereupon Apollonius asked when the wedding was to be. "Perhaps tomorrow," said the other, "for it brooks no delay."
Apollonius therefore waited for the occasion of the wedding breakfast, and then, presenting himself before the guests who had just arrived, he said: "Where is the dainty lady at whose instance ye are come?"
"Here she is," replied Menippus, and at the same moment he rose slightly from his seat, blushing.
"And to which of you belong the silver and gold and all the rest of the decorations of the banqueting hall?"
"To the lady," replied the youth, "for this is all I have of my own," pointing to the philosopher's cloak which he wore.
And Apollonius said: "Have you heard of the gardens of Tantalus, how they exist and yet do not exist?"
"Yes," they answered, "in the poems of Homer, for we certainly never went down to Hades."
"As such," replied Apollonius, "you must regard this adornment, for it is not reality but the semblance of reality. And that you may realize the truth of what I say, this fine bride is one of the vampires, that is to say of those beings whom the many regard as lamias and hobgoblins. These beings fall in love, and they are devoted to the delights of Aphrodite, but especially to the flesh of human beings, and they decoy with such delights those whom they mean to devour in their feasts."
And the lady said: "Cease your ill-omened talk and begone;" and she pretended to be disgusted at what she heard, and in fact she was inclined to rail at philosophers and say that they always talked nonsense. When, however, the goblets of gold and the show of silver were proved as light as air and all fluttered away out of their sight, while the wine-bearers and the cooks and all the retinue of servants vanished before the rebukes of Apollonius, the phantom pretended to weep, and prayed him not to torture her nor to compel her to confess what she really was.
But Apollonius insisted and would not let her off, and then she admitted that she was a vampire, and was fattening up Menippus with pleasures before devouring his body, for it was her habit to feed upon young and beautiful bodies, because their blood is pure and strong.
I have related at length, because it was necessary to do so, this the best-known story of Apollonius; for many people are aware of it and know that the incident occurred in the center of Hellas; but they have only heard in a general and vague manner that he once caught and overcame a lamia in Corinth, but they have never learned what she was about, nor that he did it to save Menippus, but I owe my own account to Damis and to the work which he wrote.
26. It was at this time also that he had a difference with Bassus of Corinth; for the latter was regarded as a parricide and believed to be such. But he feigned a wisdom of his own, and no bridle could be set upon his tongue. However, Apollonius put a stop to his reviling himself, both by the letters which he sent him, and the harangues which he delivered against him. For everything which he said about his being a parricide was held to be true; for it was felt that such a man would never have consented to mere personal abuse, not to have said what was not true.
27. The career of our sage in Olympia was as follows: when Apollonius was on his way up to Olympia, some envoys of the Lacedaemonians met him and asked him to visit their city; there seemed, however, to be no appearance of Sparta about them, for they conducted themselves in a very effeminate manner and reeked of luxury. And seeing them to have smooth legs, and sleek hair, and that they did not even wear beards, nay were even dressed in soft raiment, he sent such a letter to the Ephors [magistrates] that the latter issued a public proclamation and forbade the use of pitch plasters in the baths, and drove out of the city the men who professed to rejuvenate dandies [i.e., hair-pluckers], and they restored the ancient régime in every respect.
The consequence was that the wrestling grounds were filled once more with the youth, and the jousts and the common meals were restored, and Lacedaemon became once more like herself. And when he learned that they had set their house in order, he sent them an epistle from Olympia, briefer than any cipher dispatch of ancient Sparta; and it ran as follows:
Apollonius to the Ephors sends salutation.
It is the duty of men not to fall into sin, but of
noble men, to recognize that they are doing so.
28. And looking at the statue [of Zeus by Phidias] set up at Olympia, he said: "Hail, O thou good Zeus, for thou art so good that thou dost impart thine own nature unto mankind."
And he also gave them an account of the brazen statue of Milo and explained the attitude of this figure. For this Milo is seen standing on a disk with his two feet close together, and in his left hand he grasps a pomegranate, while of his right hand the fingers are extended and pressed together as if to pass through a chink.
Now among the people of Olympia and Arcadia the story told about this athlete is, that he was so inflexible that he could never be induced to leave the spot on which he stood; and they infer the grip of the clenched fingers from the way he grasps the pomegranate, and that they could never be separated from another, however much you struggled with any one of them, because the intervals between the extended fingers are very close; and they say that the fillet with which his head is bound is a symbol of temperance and sobriety.
Apollonius while admitting that this account was wisely conceived, said that the truth was still wiser. "In order that you may know," said he, "the meaning of the statue of Milo, the people of Croton made this athlete a priest of Hera. As to the meaning then of this mitre, I need not explain it further than by reminding you that the hero was a priest. But the pomegranate is the only fruit which is grown in honor of Hera; and the disk beneath his feet means that the priest is standing on a small shield to offer his prayer to Hera; and this is also indicated by his right hand. As for the artist's rendering the fingers and feet, between which he has left no interval, that you may ascribe to the antique style of the sculpture."
29. He was present at the rites, and he commended the solicitude with which the people of Elis administered them, and the good order with which they conducted them, as if they considered themselves to be as much on trial as the athletes who were contending for the prizes, anxious neither willing nor unwillingly to commit any error. And when his companions asked him what he thought of the Eleans in respect of their management of the Olympic games, he replied: "Whether they are wise, I do not know, but of their cleverness I am quite sure."
30. How great a dislike he entertained of people who imagine they can write, and how senseless he considered those to be who essay a literary task beyond their powers, we can learn from the following incident: A young man who thought he had talent met him in the precincts of the temple and said: "Pray honor me with your presence tomorrow, for I am going to recite something."
When Apollonius asked him what he was going to recite, he replied: "I have composed a treatise upon Zeus."
And as he said these words he showed, with no little pride at its stoutness, a book which he was carrying under his garments. "And," said Apollonius, "what are you going to praise about Zeus? Is it the Zeus of this fane, and are you going to say that there is nothing like him on the whole earth?"
"Why that, of course," said the other, "and a great deal more that comes before that and also follows it. For I shall say how the seasons and how everything on earth and above the earth, and how the winds and all the stars belong to Zeus."
And Apollonius said: "It seems to me that you are a past-master of encomium."
"Yes," said the other, "and that is why I have composed an encomium of gout and of blindness and deafness."
"And why not of dropsy too," said Apollonius; "for surely you won't rule out influenza from the sphere of your cleverness, since you are minded to praise such things? And while you are about it, you do as well to attend funerals and detail the praises of the various diseases of which the people died; for so you will somewhat soothe the regrets of the fathers and children and the near relations of the deceased."
And as he saw that the effect of his words was to put a bridle on the young man's tongue, he added: "My dear author, which is the author of a panegyric likely best to praise, things which he knows or things which he does not?"
"Things which he knows," said the youth. "For how can a man praise things which he does not know?"
"I conclude then that you have already written a panegyric of your own father?"
"I wanted to," said the other, "but as he appears to me rather a big man and a noble one, and the fairest of men I know, and a very clever housekeeper, and a paragon of wisdom all round, I gave up the attempt to compose a panegyric upon him, lest I should disgrace my father by a discourse which would not do him justice."
Thereupon Apollonius was incensed, as he often was against trivial and vulgar people. "Then," said he, "you wretch, you are not sure that you can ever sufficiently praise your own father whom you know as well as you do yourself, and yet you set out in this light-hearted fashion to write an encomium of the father of men and of gods and of the creator of everything around us and above us; and you have no reverence for him whom you praise, nor have you the least idea that you are embarking on a subject which transcends the power of man."
31. The conversations which Apollonius held in Olympia turned upon the most profitable topics, such as wisdom and courage and temperance, and in a word upon all the virtues. He discussed these from the platform of the temple, and he astonished everyone not only by the insight he showed but by his forms of expression.
And the Lacedaemonians flocked round him and invited him to share their hospitality at their shrine of Zeus, and made him father of their youths at home, and legislator of their lives and the honor of their old men. Now there was a Corinthian who felt piqued at all this, and asked whether they were also going to celebrate a theophany for him. "Yes," said the other, "by Castor and Pollux, everything is ready anyhow." But Apollonius did not encourage them to pay him such honors, for he feared they would arouse envy.
And when having crossed the mountain Taygetus, he saw a Lacedaemon hard at work before him and all the institutions of Lycurgus in full swing, he felt that it would be a real pleasure to converse with the authorities of the Lacedaemonians about things which they might ask his opinion upon; so they asked him when he arrived how the gods are to be revered, and he answered: "As your lords and masters."
Secondly, they asked him: "And how the heroes?"
"As fathers," he replied.
And their third question was: "How are men to be revered?"
And he answered: "Your question is not one which any Spartan should put."
They asked him also what he thought of their laws, and he replied that they were most excellent teachers, adding that teachers will gain fame in proportion as their disciples are industrious. And when they asked him what advice he had to give them about courage, he answered: "Why what else, but that you should display it?"
32. And about this time it happened that a certain youth of Lacedaemon was charged by his fellow citizens with violating the customs of his country. For though he was descended from Callicratidas who led the navy at the battle of Arginusae, yet he was devoted to seafaring and paid not attention to public affairs; but, instead of doing so, would sail off to Carthage or Sicily in the ships which he had had built.
Apollonius then hearing that he was arraigned for this conduct, thought it a pity to desert the youth who had just fallen under the hand of justice, and said to him: "My excellent fellow, why do you go about so full of anxiety and with such a gloomy air?"
"A public prosecution," said the other, "has been instituted against me, because I go in for seafaring and take no part in public affairs."
"And was your father or your grandfather a mariner?"
"Of course not," said the other; "they were all of them chiefs of the gymnasium and Ephors and public guardians; Callicratidas, however, my ancestor, was a real admiral of the fleet."
"I suppose," said Apollonius, "you hardly mean him of Arginusae fame?"
"Yes, that fell in the naval action leading his fleet."
"Then," said Apollonius, "your ancestor's mode of death has not given you any prejudice against a seafaring life?"
"No, by Zeus," said the other, "for it is not with a view to conducting battles by sea that I set sail."
"Well, and can you mention any rabble of people more wretched and ill-starred than merchants and skippers? In the first place they roam from sea to sea, looking for some market that is badly stocked; and then they sell and are sold, associating with factors and brokers, and they subject their own heads to the most unholy rate of interest in their hurry to get back to the principal; and if they do well, their ship has a lucky voyage, and they tell you a long story of how they never wrecked it either willingly or unwillingly; but if their gains do not balance their debts, they jump into their long boats and dash their ships on to the rocks, and make no bones as sailors of robbing others of their substance, pretending in the most blasphemous manner that it is an act of God.
And even if the seafaring crowd who go on voyages be not so bad as I make them out to be; yet is there any shame worse than this, for a man who is a citizen of Sparta and the child of forbears who of old lived in the heart of Sparta, to secrete himself in the hold of a ship, oblivious of Lycurgus and Iphitus, thinking of nought but of cargoes and petty bills of lading? For if he thinks of nothing else, he might at least bear in mind that Sparta herself, so long as she stuck to the land, enjoyed a fame reaching to heaven; but when she began to covet the sea, she sank down and down, and was blotted out at last, not only on the sea but on the land as well."
The young man was so overcome by these arguments, that he bowed his head to the earth and wept, because he heard he was so degenerate from his fathers; and he sold the ships by which he lived. And when Apollonius saw that he was restored to his senses and inclined to embrace a career on land, he led him before the Ephors and obtained his acquittal.
33. Here is another incident that happened in Lacedaemon. A letter came from the Emperor [Nero] heaping reproaches upon the public assembly of the Lacedaemonians, and declaring that in their license they abused liberty, and this letter had been addressed to them at the instance of the governor of Greece, who had maligned them. The Lacedaemonians then were at a loss what to do, and Sparta was divided against herself over the issue, whether in their reply to the letter they should try to appease the Emperor's wrath or take a lofty tone towards him.
Under the circumstances they sought the counsel of Apollonius and asked him how to pitch the tone of their letter. And he, when he saw them to be divided on the point, came forward in their public assembly and delivered himself of the following short and concise speech: "Palamedes discovered writing not only in order that people might write, but also in order that they might know what they must not write." In this way accordingly he dissuaded the Lacedaemonians from showing themselves to be either too bold or cowardly.
34. He stayed in Sparta for some time after the Olympic Festival, until the winter was over; and at the beginning of the spring proceeded to Malea with the intention of setting out for Rome. But while he was still pondering this project, he had the following dream: It seemed as if a woman both very tall and venerable in years embraced him, and asked him to visit her before he set sail for Italy; and she said that she was the nurse of Zeus, and she wore a wreath that held everything that is on the earth or in the seas.
He proceeded to ponder the meaning of the vision, and came to the conclusion that he ought first to sail to Crete, which we regard as the nurse of Zeus, because in that island Zeus was born; although the wreath might perhaps indicate some other island.
Now there were several ships at Malea, making ready to set sail to Crete, so he embarked upon one sufficient for his association, which is the title he gave to his companions, and also his companions' servants, for he did not think it right to pass over the latter. And he bent his course for Cydonia, and sailed past that place to Knossus, where a labyrinth is shown, which, I believe, once on a time, contained the Minotaur. As his companions were anxious to see this he allowed them to do so, but refused himself to be a spectator of the injustice of Minos, and continued his course to Gortyna because he longed to visit [Mount] Ida. He accordingly climbed up, and after visiting the sacred sites he passed on to the shrine of Lebena.
And this is a shrine of Asclepius, and just as the whole of Asia flocks to Pergamon, so the whole of Crete flocked to this shrine; and many Libyans also cross the sea to visit it, for it faces towards the Libyan sea close to Phaestus, where the little rock keeps out a mighty sea. And they say that this shrine is named that of Lebena, because a promontory juts out from it which resembles a lion, for here, as often, a chance arrangement of the rocks suggests an animal form; and they tell a story about this promontory, how it was once one of the lion which were yoked in the chariot of Rhea [Cybele].
Here Apollonius was haranguing on one occasion about midday, and was addressing quite a number of people who were worshipping at the shrine, when an earthquake shook the whole of Crete at once, and a roar of thunder was heard to issue not from the clouds but from the earth, and the sea receded about seven stadia. And most of them were afraid that the sea by receding in this way would drag the temple after it, so that they would be carried away. But Apollonius said: "Be of good courage, for the sea has given birth and brought forth land."
And they thought that he was alluding to the harmony of the elements, and was urging that the sea would never wreak any violence upon the land; but after a few days some travelers arrived from Cydoniatis and announced that on the very day on which this portent occurred and just at the same hour of midday, an island rose out of the sea in the firth between Thera and Crete. However, I must give up all prolixity and hurry on to relate the conversations which he held in Rome, subsequently to his stay in Crete.
35. Nero was opposed to philosophy, because he suspected its devotees to be addicted to magic, and of being diviners in disguise; and at last the philosopher's mantle brought its wearers before the law courts, as if it were a mere cloak of the divining art.
I will not mention other names, but Musonius of Babylon, a man only second to Apollonius, was thrown into prison for the crime of being a sage, and there lay in danger of death; and he would have died for all his jailer cared, of it had not been for the strength of his constitution.
36. Such was the condition in which philosophy stood when Apollonius was approaching Rome; and at a distance of one hundred and twenty stadia from its walls he met Philolaus of Cittium in the neighborhood of the Grove of Aricia.
Now Philolaus was a polished speaker, but too soft to bear any hardships. He had quitted Rome, and was virtually a fugitive, and any philosopher he met with he urged to take the same course. He accordingly addressed himself to Apollonius, and urged him to give way to circumstances, and not to proceed to Rome, where philosophy was in such bad odor; and he related to him what had taken place there, and as he did so he kept turning his head round, lest anybody should be listening behind him to what he said. "And you," he said, "after attaching this band of philosophers to yourself, a thing which will bring you into suspicion and odium, are on your way thither, knowing nothing of the officers set over the gates by Nero, who will arrest you and them before ever you enter or get inside."
"And what," said Apollonius, "O Philolaus, are the occupations of the autocrat said to be?"
"He drives a chariot," said the other, "in public; and he comes forward on the boards of the Roman theaters and sings songs, and he lives with gladiators, and he himself fights as one and slays his man."
Apollonius therefore replied and said: "Then, my dear fellow, do you think that there can be any better spectacle for men of education than to see an emperor thus demeaning himself? For if in Plato's opinion man is the sport of the gods, what a theme we have here provided for philosophers by an emperor who makes himself the sport of man and sets himself to delight the common herd with the spectacle of his own shame?"
"Yes, by Zeus," said Philolaus, "if you could do it with impunity; but if you are going to be taken up and lose your life, and if Nero is going to devour you alive before you see anything of what he does, your interview with him will cost you dear, much dearer than it ever cost Ulysses to visit the Cyclops in his home; though he lost many of his comrades in his anxiety to see him, and because he yielded to the temptation of beholding so cruel a monster."
But Apollonius said: "So you think that this ruler is less blinded than the Cyclops if he commits such crimes?"
And Philolaus answered: "Let him do what he likes, but do you at least save these your companions."
37. And these words he uttered in a loud voice and with an air of weeping; whereupon Damis conceived a fear lest the younger men of his party should be unmanned by the craven terrors of Philolaus. So he took aside Apollonius and said: "This hare, with all his panicky fears, will ruin these young men, and fill them with discouragement."
But Apollonius said: "Well, of all the blessings which have been vouchsafed to me by the gods, often without my praying for them at all, this present one, I may say, is the greatest that I have ever enjoyed; for chance has thrown in my way a touchstone to test these young men, of a kind to prove most thoroughly which of them are philosophers, and which of them prefer some other line of conduct than that of philosopher."
And in fact the knock-kneed among them were detected in no time, for under the influence of what Philolaus said, some of them declared that they were ill, others that they had no provisions for the journey, others that they were homesick, others that they had been deterred by dreams; and in the result thirty-four companions of Apollonius were willing to accompany him to Rome were reduced to eight. And all the rest ran away from Nero and philosophy, both at once, and took to their heels.
38. He therefore assembled those who were left, among whom were Menippus, who had foregathered with the hobgoblin, and Dioscorides the Egyptian, and Damis, and said to them: "I shall not scold those who have abandoned us, but I shall rather praise you for being men like myself: nor shall I think a man a coward because he has disappeared out of dread of Nero, but anyone who rises superior to such fear I will hail as a philosopher, and I will teach him all I know.
I think then that we ought first of all to pray to the gods who have suggested these different courses to you and to them; and then we ought to solicit their direction and guidance, for we have not any succor to rely upon apart from the gods. We must then march forward to the city which is the mistress of so much of the inhabited world; but how can anybody go forward thither, unless the gods are leading him? The more so, because a tyranny has been established in this city so harsh and cruel, that it does not suffer men to be wise.
And let not anyone think it foolish so to venture along a path which many philosophers are fleeing from; for in the first place I do not esteem any human agency so formidable that a wise man can ever be terrified by it; and in the second place, I would not urge upon you the pursuit of bravery, unless it were attended with danger.
Moreover, in traversing more of the earth than any man yet has visited, I have seen hosts of Arabian and Indian wild beasts; but as to this wild beast, which many call a tyrant, I know not either how many heads he has, nor whether he has crooked talons and jagged teeth. In any case, though this monster is said to be a social beast and to inhabit the heart of cities, yet he is also much wilder and fiercer in his disposition than animals of the mountain and forest, that whereas you can sometimes tame and alter the character of lions and leopards by flattering them, this one is only roused to greater cruelty than before by those who stroke him, so that he rends and devours all alike.
And again there is no animal anyhow of which you can say that it ever devours its own mother, but Nero is gorged with such quarry. It is true, perhaps, that the same crime was committed in the case of Orestes and Alcmaeon, but they had some excuse for their deeds, in that the father of the one was murdered by his own wife, while the other's had been sold for a necklace; this man, however, has murdered the very mother [Agrippina] to whom he owes his adoption by the aged emperor [Claudius] and his inheritance of the empire; for he shipwrecked and so slew her close to land in a vessel built for the express purpose of doing her to death.
If, however, anyone is disposed to dread Nero for these reasons, and is led abruptly to forsake philosophy, conceiving that it is not safe for him to thwart his evil temper, let him know that the quality of inspiring fear really belongs to those who are devoted to temperance and wisdom, because they are sure of divine succor. But let him snap his fingers at the threats of the proud and insolent, as he would at those of drunken men; for we regard the latter surely as daft and silly, but not as formidable.
Let us then go forward to Rome, if we are good men and true; for to Nero's proclamations in which he banishes philosophy, we may well oppose the verse of Sophocles:
For in no wise was it Zeus who made this
proclamation unto me [Antigone 450],
nor the Muses either, nor Apollo the god of eloquence. But it may well be that Nero himself knows this iambic line, for he is, they say, addicted to tragedy."
This occasion reminds one of the saying of Homer, that when warriors are knit together with reason, they become as it were a single plume and helmet, and a single shield [Homer Iliad 13.130]; and it seems to me that this very sentiment found its application in regard to these heroes; for they were welded together and encouraged by the words of Apollonius to die in behalf of their philosophy, and strengthened to show themselves superior to those who had run away.
39. They accordingly approached the gates of Rome, and the sentries asked them no questions, although they scanned their dress with some curiosity; for the fashion of it was that of religious ascetics, and did not in the least resemble that of beggars.
And they put up at an inn close to the gate, and were taking their supper, for it was already eventide, when a drunken fellow with a far from harsh voice turned up as it were for a revel; and he was one it seems who was in the habit of going round about Rome singing Nero's songs and hired for the purpose, and anyone who neglected to listen to him or refused to pay him for his music, he had the right to arrest for violating Nero's majesty. And he carried a harp and all the outfit proper for a harpist, and he also had put away in a casket a second-hand string which others had fastened on their instruments and tuned up before him, and this he said he had purchased off Nero's own lyre for two minas, and that he would sell it to no one who was not a first-rate harpist and fit to contend for the prize at [the Pythian Games at] Delphi.
He then struck up a prelude, according to his custom, and after performing a short hymn composed by Nero, he added various lays, some out of the story of Orestes, and some from the Antigone, and others from one or another of the tragedies composed by Nero, and he proceeded to drawl out the rondos which Nero was in the habit of murdering by his miserable writhings and modulations.
As they listened with some indifference, he proceeded to accuse them of violating Nero's majesty and of being enemies of his divine voice; but they paid no attention to him. Then Menippus asked Apollonius how he appreciated these remarks, whereupon he said: "How do I appreciate them? Why, just as I did his songs. Let us, however, O Menippus, not take too much offence at his remarks, but let us give him something for his performance and dismiss him to sacrifice to the Muses of Nero."
40. So ended the episode of this poor drunken fool. But at daybreak Telesinus, one of the consuls, called Apollonius to him, and said: "What is this dress which you wear?"
And he answered: "A pure garment made from no dead matter."
"And what is your wisdom?"
"An inspiration," answered Apollonius, "which teaches men how to pray and sacrifice to the gods."
"And is there anyone, my philosopher, who does not know that already?"
"Many," said the sage, "and if there is here and there a man who understands these matters aright, he will be very much improved by hearing from a man who is wiser than himself that, what he knows, he knows for a certainty."
When Telesinus heard this, for he was a man fairly disposed to worship and religion, he recognized the sage from the rumors which he had long before heard about him; and though he did not think he need openly ask him his name, in case he wished to conceal his identity from anyone, he nevertheless led him on to talk afresh about religion, for he was himself an apt reasoner, and feeling that he was addressing a sage, he asked: "What do you pray for when you approach the altars?"
"I," said Apollonius, "for my part pray that justice may prevail, that the laws may not be broken, that the wise may continue to be poor, but that others may be rich, as long as they are so without fraud."
"Then," said the other, "when you ask for so much, do you think you will get it?"
"Yes, by Zeus," said Apollonius, "for I string together all my petitions in a single prayer, and when I reach the altars this is how I pray: 'O ye gods, bestow on me whatever is due.' If therefore I am of the number of worthy men, I shall obtain more than I have said; but if the gods rank me among the wicked, then they will send to me the opposite of what I ask; and I shall not blame the gods, because for my demerit I am judged worthy of evil."
Telesinus then was greatly struck by these words, and wishing to show him a favor, he said: "You may visit all the temples, and written instructions shall be sent by me to the priests who minister in them to admit you and adopt your reforms."
"And supposing you did not write," said Apollonius, "would they not admit me?"
"No, by Zeus," said he, "for that is my own office and prerogative."
"I am glad," said Apollonius, "that so generous a man as yourself holds such a high office, but I would like you to know this much too about me: I like to live in such temples as are not too closely shut up, and none of the gods object to my presence, for they invite me to share their habitation. So let this liberty too be accorded to me, inasmuch as even the barbarians always permitted it."
And Telesinus said: "The barbarians have more to be proud of in this matter than the Romans, for I would that as much could be said of ourselves."
Apollonius accordingly lived in the temples, though he changed them and passed from one to another; and when he was blamed for doing so, he said: "Neither do the gods live all their time in heaven, but they take journeys to Ethiopia, as also to Olympus and to Athos, and I think it is a pity that the gods should go roaming around all the nations of men, and yet that men should not be allowed to visit all the gods alike. What is more, though masters would incur no reproach for neglecting slaves, for whom they probably may feel a contempt because they are not good, yet the slaves who did not devote themselves wholly to their masters, would be destroyed by them as cursed wretches and chattels hateful to the gods."
41. The result of his discourses about religion was that the gods were worshipped with more zeal, and that men flocked to the temples where he was, in the belief that by doing so they would obtain an increase of divine blessings. And our sage's conversations were so far not objected to, because he held them in public and addressed himself to all men alike; for he did not hover about rich men's doors, nor hang about the mighty, though he welcomed them if they resorted to him, and he talked with them just as much as he did to the common people.
42. Now Demetrius being attracted to Apollonius, as I have said above in my account of the events at Corinth, betook himself subsequently to Rome, and proceeded to court Apollonius, at the same time that he launched out against Nero. In consequence our sage's profession was looked at askance, and he was thought to have set Demetrius on to proceed thus, and the suspicion was increased on the occasion of Nero's completion of the most magnificent gymnasium in Rome: for the auspicious day was being celebrated therein by Nero himself and the great Senate and all the knights of Rome, when Demetrius made his way into the gymnasium itself and delivered himself of a philippic against people who bathed, declaring that they enfeebled and polluted themselves; and he showed that such institutions were a useless expense.
He was only saved from immediate death as the penalty of such language by the fact that Nero was in extra good voice when he sang on that day, and he sang in the tavern which adjoined the gymnasium, naked except for a girdle round his waste, like any low tapster.
Demetrius, however, did not wholly escape the risk which he had courted by his language; for [the praetorian prefect] Tigellinus, to whom Nero had committed the power of life and death, proceeded to banish him from Rome, on the plea that he had ruined and overthrown the bath by the words he used; and he began to dog the steps of Apollonius secretly, in the hope that he would catch him out too in some compromising utterance.
43. The latter, however, showed no disposition to ridicule the government, nor on the other hand did he display any of the anxiety usually felt by those who are on their guard against some danger. He merely continued to discuss in simple and adequate terms the topics laid before him; and Telesinus and others continued to study philosophy in his company, for although philosophy was just then in a perilous condition, they did not dream that they would imperil themselves with his studies.
Yet he was suspected as I have said, and the suspicion was intensified by words he uttered in connection to a prodigy. For presently when there was an eclipse of the sun and a clap of thunder was heard, a thing that very rarely occurs at the moment of an eclipse, he glanced up to heaven and said: "There shall be some great event and there shall not be."
Now at the time those who heard these words were unable to comprehend their meaning; but on the third day after the eclipse, everyone understood what was meant: for while Nero sat at meat a thunderbolt fell on the table, and clove asunder the cup that was in his hand and was close to his lips. And the fact that he so narrowly escaped being struck was intended by the words that a great event would happen and yet should not happen.
Tigellinus when he heard this story began to dread Apollonius as one who was wise in supernatural matters; and though he felt that he had better not prefer any open charges against him, lest he should incur at his hands some mysterious disaster, nevertheless he used all the eyes with which the government sees, to watch Apollonius, whether he was talking or holding his tongue, or sitting down or walking about, and to mark what he ate, and in whose houses, and whether he offered sacrifice or not.
44. Just then a distemper broke out in Rome, called by the physicians influenza; and it was attended, it seems, by coughings, and the voice of speakers was affected by it. Now the temples were full of people supplicating the gods, because Nero had a swollen throat, and his voice was hoarse. But Apollonius vehemently denounced the folly of the crowd, though without rebuking anyone in particular; nay, he even restrained Menippus, who was irritated by such goings on, and persuaded him to moderate his indignation, urging him to pardon the gods if they did show pleasure in the mimes of buffoons.
This utterance was reported to Tigellinus, who immediately sent police to take him to prison, and summoned him to defend himself from the charge of impiety against Nero. And an accuser was retained against him who had already undone a great many people, and won a number of such Olympic victories. This accuser too held in his hands a scroll of paper on which the charge was written out, and he brandished it like a sword against the sage, and declared that it was so sharp that it would slay and ruin him.
But when Tigellinus unrolled the scroll, and did not find upon it the trace of a single word or letter, and his eyes fell on a perfectly blank book, he came to the conclusion that he had to do with a demon; and this is said also subsequently to have been the feeling which Domitian afterwards entertained towards Apollonius.
Tigellinus then took his victim apart into a secret tribunal, in which this class of magistrate tries in private the most important charges; and having ordered all to leave the court he plied him with questions, asking who he was. Apollonius gave his father's name and that of his country, and explained his motive in practicing wisdom, declaring that the sole use he had made of it was to gain knowledge of the gods and an understanding of human affairs, for that the difficulty of knowing another man exceeded that of knowing oneself.
"And about the demons," said Tigellinus, "and the apparitions of specters, how, O Apollonius, do you exorcise them?"
"In the same way," he answered, "as I should murderers and impious men." This was a sarcastic allusion to Tigellinus himself, for he taught and encouraged in Nero every excess of cruelty and wanton violence.
"And," said the other, "could you prophesy, if I asked you to?"
"How," said Apollonius, "can I, being no prophet?"
"And yet," replied the other, "they say that it is you who predicted that some great event would come to pass and yet not come to pass."
"Quite true," said Apollonius, "is what you heard; but you must not put this down to any prophetic gift, but rather to the wisdom which God reveals to wise men."
"And," said the other, "why are you not afraid of Nero?"
"Because," said Apollonius, "the same God who allows him to seem formidable, has also granted to me to feel no fear."
"And what do you think," said the other, "about Nero?"
And Apollonius answered: "Much better than you do; for you think it dignified for him to sing, but I think it dignified for him to keep silent."
Tigellinus was astonished and said: "You may go, but you must give sureties for your person."
And Apollonius answered: "And who can go surety for a body that no one can bind?"
This answer struck Tigellinus as inspired and above the wit of man; and as he was careful not to fight with a god, he said: "You may go wherever you choose, for you are too powerful to be controlled by me."
45. Here too is a miracle which Apollonius worked: A girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bridegroom was following her bier lamenting as was natural his marriage left unfulfilled, and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius then witnessing their grief, said: "Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are shedding for this maiden."
And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought that he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death; and the girl spoke out loud, and returned to her father's house, just as Alcestis did when she was brought back to life by Heracles. And the relations of the maiden wanted to present him with the sum of 150,000 sesterces, but he said that he would freely present the money to the young lady by way of dowry.
Now whether he detected some spark of life in her, which those who were nursing her had not noticed -- for it is said that although it was raining at the time, a vapor went up from her face -- or whether her life was really extinct, and he restored it by the warmth of his touch, is a mysterious problem which neither I myself nor those who were present could decide.
46. About this time Musonius lay confined in the dungeons of Nero, a man who they say was unsurpassed in philosophic ability by anyone. Now they did not openly converse with one another, because Musonius declined to do so, in order that both their lives might not be endangered; but they carried on a correspondence through Menippus and Damis, who went to and fro the prison. Such of their letters as did not handle greater themes I will take no notice of, and only set before my reader the indispensable ones in which we get glimpses of lofty topics:
Apollonius to Musonius the philosopher, greeting.
I would fain came unto you, to share your conversation and lodgings, in the hope of being some use to you; unless indeed you are disinclined to believe that Heracles once relased Theseus from hell; write what you would like me to do. Farewell.
Musonius to Apollonius the philosopher, greeting.
For your solicitude on my behalf, I shall never do anything but commend you: but he who has strength of mind to defend himself, and has proved that he has done no wrong, is a true man. Farewell.
Apollonius to Musonius the philosopher sends greeting.
Socrates of Athens, because he refused to be released by his own friends, went before the tribunal and was put to death. Farewell.
Musonius to Apollonius the philosopher sends greeting.
Socrates was put to death, because he would not take the trouble to defend himself; but I shall defend myself. Farewell.
47. When Nero took his departure for Greece, after issuing a proclamation that no one should teach philosophy in public at Rome, Apollonius turned his steps to the Western regions of the earth, which they say are bounded by the Pillars, because he wished to visit and behold the ebb and flow of the ocean, and the city of Gadeira [Cadiz]. For he had heard something of the love of wisdom entertained by the inhabitants of that country, and of how great an advance they had made in religion; and he was accompanied by all his pupils, who approved no less of the expedition than they did of the sage.