Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 4.6-10

Philostratus' Life of Apollonius: third-century biography of a charismatic teacher and miracle worker from the first century CE, who is often likened to Jesus of Nazareth.

In the Life of Apollonius, Athenian author Philostratus (a sophist who lived from c.170 to c.247) tells the story of Apollonius of Tyana, a charismatic teacher and miracle worker from the first century CE. (A summary of this work can be found here.) It is an apologetic vie romancée, in which Philostratus tries to prove that Apollonius was a man with divine powers, but not a magician.

The translation was made by F.C. Conybeare and was published in 1912 in the Loeb Classical Library.

[4.6] 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.

[4.7] 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.

[4.8] 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."

[4.9] 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."note

[4.10] 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.note 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.note