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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

 
  [13] Whereupon Demetrius cried out: "I thought you had come hither because you were saved; but this is only the beginning of your dangers, for he will proscribe you, seize your person, and cut off all means of escape."

Apollonius, however, told Demetrius not to be afraid and encouraged him by saying; "I only wish that you were both no more easy for him to catch than I am. But I know exactly in what condition of mind the tyrant is at this moment; hitherto he has never heard anything except the utterances of flatterers, and now he had had to listen to the language of rebuke; such language breaks despotic natures down and enrages them. But I require some rest, for I have not bent the knee since I had this struggle."

And Damis said: "Demetrius, my own attitude towards our friend's affairs was such that I tried to dissuade him from taking the journey which he has taken, and I believe you too gave him the same advice, namely that he should not rush of his own accord into dangers and difficulties; but when he was thrown into fetters, as I saw with my own eyes, and I was perplexed and in despair of his case, he told me that it rested with himself to release himself and he freed his leg from the fetters and showed it to me.

Well, it was then for the first time that I understood our master to be a divine being, transcending all our poor wisdom and knowledge. Consequently, even if I were called upon to expose myself to still greater risks than these, I should not fear anything, as long as I was under his protection. But since the evening is at hand, let us go into the inn and minister to and take care of him."

And Apollonius said: "Sleep is all I want, and everything else is a matter of indifference to me, whether I get it or whether I do not."

And after that, having offered a prayer to Apollo and also to the Sun, he passed into the house in which Demetrius lived, and having washed his feet, and instructed Damis and his friend to take their supper, for he saw that they were fasting, he threw himself upon the bed, and having intoned some verses of Homer as a hymn to sleep, he took his repose, as if his circumstances gave him no just cause whatever for anxiety.

[14] About dawn Demetrius asked him where on earth he would turn his steps, for there resounded in his ears the clatter of imaginary horsemen who he thought were already in hot pursuit of Apollonius on account of the rage of the tyrant, but Apollonius merely replied: "Neither he nor anyone else is going to pursue me, but as for myself I shall take sail for Hellas."

"That is anyhow a dangerous voyage," said the other, "for the region is most exposed and open; and how are you going to be hid out in the open from one whom you cannot escape in the dark?"

"I do need need to lie hid," said Apollonius; "for if, as you imagine, the entire earth belongs to the tyrant, it is better to die out in the open than to live in the dark and in hiding."

And turning to Damis he said: "Do you know of a ship that is starting for Sicily?"

"I do," he replied, "for we are staying on the edge of the sea, and the crier is at our doors, and a ship is just being got ready to start, as I gather from the shouts of the crew, and from the exertions they are making over weighing anchor."

"Let us embark," said Apollonius, "upon this ship, O Damis, for we will now sail to Sicily, and thence on to the Peloponnese."

"I am agreeable," said the other; "so let is sail."

[15] They then said farewell to Demetrius, who was despondent about them, but they bade him hope for the best, as one brave man should for others as brave as himself, and then they sailed for Sicily with a favorable wind, and having passed Messina they reached Tauromenium on the third day. After that they arrived at Syracuse and put out for the Peloponnese about the beginning of the autumn; and having traversed the gulf they arrived after six days at the mouth of the Alpheus, where that river pours its waters, still sweet, into the Adriatic and Sicilian Sea.

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Model of Olympia. Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
Olympia (Allard Piersonmuseum, Amsterdam) 

Here then they disembarked, and thinking it well worth their while to go to Olympia, they went and stayed there in the temple of Zeus, though without ever going further away than Scillus. A rumor as sudden as insistent now ran through the Hellenic world that the sage was alive and had arrived at Olympia. At first the rumor seemed unreliable; for besides that they were humanly speaking unable to entertain any hope for him inasmuch as they heard that he was cast into prison, they had also heard such rumors as that he had been burnt alive, or dragged about alive with grapnels fixed in his neck, or cast into a deep pit, or into a well. But when the rumor of his arrival was confirmed, they all flocked to see him from the whole of Greece, and never did any such crowd flock to any Olympic festival as then, all full of enthusiasm and expectation.



People came straight from Elis and Sparta, and from Corinth away at the limits of the Isthmus; and the Athenians too, although they are outside the Peloponnese; nor were they behind the cities which are at the gates of Pisa, for it was especially the most celebrated of the Athenians that hurried to the temple, together with the young men who flocked to Athens from all over the earth. Moreover there were people from Megara just then staying at Olympia, as well as many from Boeotia, and from Argos, and all the leading people of Phocis and Thessaly.

Some of them had already made Apollonius' acquaintance anxious to pick up his wisdom afresh, for they were convinced that there remained much to learn, more striking than what they had so far heard; but those who were not acquainted with him thought it a shame that they should seem never to have heard so great a man discourse.

In answer to their questions then, of how he had escaped the clutches of the tyrant, he did not deem it right to say anything boastful; but he merely told them that he had made his defense and got away safely. However when several people arrived from Italy, who bruited abroad the episode of the lawcourt, the attitude of Hellas came near to that of actual worship; the main reason why they thought him divine was this, that he never made the least parade about the matter.

[16] Among the arrivals from Athens there was a youth who asserted that the goddess Athena was very well disposed to the Emperor, whereupon Apollonius said to him: "In Olympia please to stop your chatter of such things, for you will prejudice the goddess in the eyes of her father."

But as the youth increased their annoyance by declaring that the goddess was quite right, because the Emperor was Archon Eponym of the city of Athens, he said: "Would that he also presided the Panathenaic festival."

By the first of his answers he silenced him, for he showed that he held a poor opinion of the gods, if he considered them to be well disposed to tyrants: by his second he showed that the Athenians would stultify the decree which they passed in honor of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, if after seeing fit to honor these two citizens with statues in the market place for the deed they committed at the Panathenaic festival, they ended by conferring on tyrants the privilege of being elected to govern them.

[17] Damis approached him at this time to ask him about money, because they had so very little left to defray the expense of their journey. "Tomorrow," said Apollonius, "I will attend to this."

And on the next day he went into the temple and said to the priest: "Give me a thousand drachmas out of the treasury of Zeus, if you think he will not be too much annoyed."

And the priest answered: "Not at that; what will annoy him will be if you do not take more." 






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