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Statue of a sophist from the reign of Septimius Severus. Archaeological museum of Izmir (Turkey).

Flavius Philostratus:

The Life of Apollonius

Translated by F.C. Conybeare

 
  [26] As our company were discussing these animals and talking learnedly about the food which nature supplies in their different cases, they heard a sound as of thunder; not a crashing sound, but of thunder as it is when it is still hollow and concealed in the cloud. And Timasion said: "A cataract is at hand, gentlemen, the last for those who are descending the river, but the first to meet you on your way up."[1]

And after they had advanced about ten stades, he says that they saw a river discharging itself from the hill-side as big as the Marsyas and the Meander at their first confluence; and he says that after they had put up a prayer to the Nile, they went on till they no longer saw any animals at all; for the latter are naturally afraid of noise, and therefore live by calm waters rather than by those which rush headlong with a noise.

And after fifteen stades they heard another cataract which this time was horrible and unbearable to the senses, for it was twice as loud as the first one and it fell  from much higher mountains. And Damis relates that his own ears and those of one of his companions were so stunned by the noise, that he himself turned back and besought Apollonius not to go further; however he [Apollonius], along with Timasion and Nilus, boldly pressed on to the third cataract, of which he made the following report on their return.

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Abusir rock, near the second cataract.
Abusir rock

Peaks overhang the Nile, at the most eight stades in height; but the eminence faces the mountains, namely a beetling brow of rocks mysteriously cut away, as if in a quarry, and the fountains of the Nile cling to the edge of the mountain, till they overbalance and fall on to the rocky eminence, from which they pour into the Nile as an expanse of whitening billows. But the effect produced upon the senses by this cataract, which is many times greater than the earlier ones, and the echo which leaps up therefrom against the mountains render it impossible to hear what your companion tells you about the river.



But the further road which leads up to the first springs of the river was impracticable, they tell us, and impossible to think of; for they tell many stories of the demons which haunt it, stories similar to those which Pindar in his wisdom puts into verse about the demon whom he sets over these springs to preserve the due proportions of the Nile.

[27] After passing the cataracts they halted in a village of the Ethiopians of no great size, and they were dining, towards the evening, mingling in their conversation the grave with the gay, when all on a sudden they heard the women of the village screaming and calling to one another to join in the pursuit and catch the thing; and they also summoned their husbands to help them in the matter. And the latter caught up sticks and stones and anything which came handy, and called upon one another to avenge the insult to their wives.

And it appears that for ten months the ghost of a satyr had been haunting the village, who was mad after the women and was said to have killed two of them to whom he was supposed to be specially attached. The companions, then, of Apollonius were frightened out of their wits till Apollonius said: "You need not be afraid, for it's only a satyr that is running amuck here."

"Yes, by Zeus,"  said Nilus, "it's the one that we naked sages have found insulting us for a long time past and we could never stop his jumps and leaps."

"But," said Apollonius, "I have a remedy against these hell-hounds, which Midas is said once to have employed; for Midas himself had some of the blood of satyrs in his veins, as was clear from the shape of his ears; and a satyr once, trespassing on his kinship with Midas, made merry at the expense of his ears, not only singing about them, but piping about them. Well, Midas, I understand, had heard from his mother that when a satyr is overcome by wine he falls asleep, and at such times comes to his senses and will make friends with you; so he mixed wine which he had in his palace in a fountain and let the satyr get at it, and the latter drank it up and was overcome.[2] And to show that the story is true, let us go to the head man of the village, and if the villagers have any wine, we will mix it with water for the satyr and he will share the fate of Midas' satyr."

They thought it  a good plan, so he poured four Egyptian jars of wine into the trough out of which the village cattle drank, and then called the satyr by means of some secret rebuke or threat; and though as yet the latter was not visible, the wine sensibly diminished as if it was being drunk up. And when it was quite finished, Apollonius said: "Let us make peace with the satyr, for he is fast asleep."

And with these words he led the villagers to the cave of the nymphs, which was not quite a furlong away from the village; and he showed them a satyr lying fast asleep in it, but he told them not to hit him or abuse him, "For," he said, "his nonsense is stopped for ever."

Such was this exploit of Apollonius, and, by heavens, we may call it not an incidental work in passing, but a masterwork of his passing by; and if you read the sage's epistle, in which he wrote to an insolent young man that he had sobered even a satyr demon in Ethiopia,  you will perforce call to mind the above story.

But we must not disbelieve that satyrs both exist and are susceptible to the passion of love; for I knew a youth of my own age in Lemnos whose mother was said to be visited by a satyr, as he well might to judge by this story; for he was represented as wearing in his back a fawn-skin that exactly fitted him, the front paws of which were drawn around his neck and fastened over his chest. But I must not go further into this subject; but, anyhow, credit is due as much to experience of facts as it is to myself.

[28] When he had come down from Ethiopia the breach with Euphrates grew wider and wider, especially on account of the daily disputes and discussions; though he left them to Menippus and Nilus to conduct, and seldom himself attacked Euphrates, being much too busy with the training of Nilus.


Bust of Titus. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Titus (Louvre, Paris)

[29] After [Vespasian's son] Titus had taken Jerusalem, and when the country all round was filled with corpses, the neighboring races offered him a crown; but he disclaimed any such honor to himself, saying that it was not himself that had accomplished this exploit, but that he had merely lent his arms to God, who had so manifested his wrath; and Apollonius praised his action, for therein he displayed a great deal of judgment and understanding of things human and divine, and it showed great moderation on his part that he refused to be crowned because he had shed blood. Accordingly Apollonius indited to him a letter which he sent by the hands of Damis and of which the text was as follows:
Apollonius sends greetings to Titus the Roman general.
     Whereas you have refused to be proclaimed for success in war and for shedding the blood of your enemies, I myself assign to you the crown of temperance and moderation, because you thoroughly understand what deeds really merit a crown. Farewell.
Now Titus was overjoyed with this epistle, and replied:
In my own behalf I thank you, no less then  in behalf of my father, and I will not forget your kindness; for although I have captured Jerusalem, you have captured me.
[30] And after Titus had been proclaimed autocrat in Rome and rewarded with the meed of his valor, he went away to become the colleague in empire of his father; but he did not forget Apollonius, and thinking that even a short interview with him would be precious to himself, he besought him to come to Tarsus; and when he arrived he embraced him, saying: "My father has told me by letter everything in respect of which he consulted you; and lo, here is his letter, in which you are described as his benefactor and the being to whom we owe all that we are. Now though I am only just thirty years of age, I am held worthy of the same privileges which my father only attained at the age of sixty. I am called to the throne and to rule, perhaps before I have learned myself to obey, and I therefore dread lest I am undertaking a task beyond my powers." 

Thereupon Apollonius, after stroking his neck, said (for had as stout a neck as any athlete in training): "And who will force so sturdy a bull-neck as yours under the yoke?"

"He that from my youth up reared me as calf," answered Titus, meaning his own father, and implying that he could only be controlled by the latter, who had accustomed him from childhood to obey himself.

"I am delighted then," said Apollonius, "in the first place to see you prepared to subordinate yourself to your father, whom without being his natural children so many are delighted to obey, and next to see you rendering to his court a homage in which others will associate yourself. When youth and age are paired in authority, is there any lyre or any flute that will produce so sweet a harmony and so nicely blended? For the qualities of old age will be associated with those of youth, with the result that old age will gain in strength and youth in discipline."






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Note 1:
This is slightly confusing. The first cataract after leaving the naked sages is meant, not the famous first cataract at Syene. The triple cascade looks suspiciously like the barrage that is now known as the second cataract.

Note 2:
The original story (Aristotle, Eudemus, fr.6 [Ross]), is not about the capture of a satyr, but of Silenus.





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