The Treatise of Eusebius Against the Life of Apollonius by Philostratus, by Eusebius, tr. F.C. Conybeare, , at sacred-texts.com
CHAP. XXXI Apollonius miracles due to the co-operations of evil demonsThese then are the achievements which preceded his accusation, and it behoves us to notice throughout the treatise that, even if we admit the author to tell the truth in his stories of miracles, he yet clearly shows that they were severally performed by Apollonius with the co-operation of a demon. For his
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presentiment of the plague, though it might not seem to be magical and uncanny, if he owed it, as he himself said, to the lightness and purity of his diet, yet might quite as well have been a premonition imparted to him in intercourse with a demon. For though the other stories of his having grasped and foretold the future by virtue of his prescience can be refuted by a thousand arguments which Philostratus own text supplies, nevertheless, if we allow this particular story to be true, I should certainly say that his apprehension of futurity was anyhow in some cases, though it was not so in all, due to some uncanny contrivance of a demon that was his familiar. This is clearly proved by the fact that he did not retain his gift of foreknowledge uniformly and in all cases; but was at fault in most cases, and had through ignorance to make enquiries, as he would not have needed to do, if he had been endowed with divine power and virtue. And the very cessation of the plague, according to the particular turn which was given to the drama, has already been shown to have been a delusion and nothing more. Moreover, the soul of Achilles should not have been lingering about his own monument, quitting the Islands of the Blest and the places of repose, as people would probably say. In this case too it was surely a demon that appeared to Apollonius and in whose presence he found himself? Then again the licentious youth was clearly the victim of an indwelling demon; and both it and the Empusa and the Lamia which is said to have played off its mad pranks on Menippus, were probably driven out by him with the help of a more important demon; the same is
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true also of the youth who had been driven out of his mind by the mad dog; and the frenzied dog itself was restored to its senses by the same method. You must then, as I said, regard the whole series of miracles wrought by him, as having been accomplished through a ministry of demons; for the resuscitation of the girl must be divested of any miraculous character, if she was really alive all the time and still bore in herself a vital spark, as the author says, and if a vapour rose over her face.Ch. 29 For it is impossible, as I said before, that such a miracle should have been passed over in silence in Rome itself, if it happened when the sovereign was close by.
CHAP. XXXIIThere are a thousand other examples then which we may select from the same books, where the narrative refutes itself by its very incongruities, so enabling us to detect its mythical and miracle-mongering character. At the same time we need not devote too much attention and study to the gentleman's career, seeing that those of our contemporaries among whom his memory survives at all, are so far from classing him among divine and extraordinary and wonderful beings, that they do not even rank him among philosophers. This being so, let us be content with the remarks we have made, and proceed to consider the seventh book of his history.
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CHAP. XXXIIIHere then we find him categorically accused of being a wizard. Next we find Demetrius the philosopher trying to dissuade him from going on to Rome, and Apollonius rejects his advice in words which are full of vulgar effrontery and fulsome praise of himself. They are as follows: "But I know most human affairs, seeing that I know everything; at the same time I reserve my knowledge partly for good men, partly for the wise, partly for myself, partly for the gods." And yet the man who in these words brags about his omniscience, before he goes much further is accused by the text itself of an ignorance in certain matters. Next Apollonius disguises Damis, for the latter conceals the fact of his being a philosopher because he is afraid of death. Listen then to the words in which our author apologises for him: "This was the reason then of Damis putting off his Pythagorean dress. For he says that it was not cowardice that led him to make the change, nor regret at having worn it; but he did it because the device recommended itself as suggested by the expedience of the moment."
CHAP. XXXIVAfter this Philostratus sets forth four counts of the indictment which he imagines it will be easy for his hero to defend himself from, and he admits that he has collected these out of a great many others. Of these the first was: What induced him
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to wear a different robe from everybody else? and the second: Why was it that men esteemed him to be a god? the third, How had he managed to predict the plague to the Ephesians? and last of all: In whose behoof had he gone to a certain field and cut up the Arcadian boy? To meet these then he alleges Apollonius to have written an apology. But first of all he relates how he was cast into prison, and the miracle which he wrought there. For we hear that Damis was extremely downcast at the misfortunes which he imagined had befallen his teacher; whereupon Apollonius showed him his leg released without effort from the chain. Then having thus alleviated his follower's grief, he put his foot back again into its former condition and habit. After that he was brought to trial before the Emperor Domitian, and we read that he was acquitted on the charges, and that after being so acquitted he, with curious inopportuneness, as it seems to me, cried out in the court exactly as follows: "Accord me too, if you will, an opportunity to speak; but if not, then send someone to take my body, for my soul you cannot take. Nay you cannot even take my body, 'for thou shalt not slay me, since I tell thee I am not mortal.'" And then after this famous utterance, we are told that he vanished from the court, and this is the conclusion of the whole drama.
CHAP. XXXVNow in regard to the miracle in the prison, which it seems was an illusion, imposed on the eyes of Damis by the familiar demon, our author adds the
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following remark; "Damis says that it was then for the first time that he truly understood the nature of Apollonius, to wit that it was divine and superhuman; for without offering any sacrifice,and how indeed in prison could he have offered one?and without a single prayer, without even a word, he quietly laughed at the fetters, and then inserting his leg in them afresh, he comported himself like any other prisoner." I should be the last to accuse his pupil of being a dull-witted man, because, after being with him all his life, and witnessing him work miracles by means of certain uncanny agencies, he failed to regard him as in any way superior to the rest of mortal men; but now after such a display of thaumaturgic energy as the above, he is still ignorant of his true character; and taking him to be a mere man he is full of anxiety (as in that case he might well be), and full of apprehension in his behalf, lest any affliction should come upon him against his own wish and will. But if indeed it was now for the first time, after having passed so long a time with him, that he realised that he was indeed divine, and superior to the rest of the human race, then it behoves us to scrutinize the reason which our author alleges for his doing so, in these words: "For without any sacrifice, and without a single prayer, and without uttering a single mysterious word" he saw that he had wrought this miracle. It follows that the fellow's earlier feats were accomplished by the help of some uncanny trick, and that is why, as he says, Damis was not astounded at these things, nor filled with wonder by them. Naturally, then he now for the first time experienced these feelings, because he felt that his master had accomplished
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something which was quite unusual and contrary to his habitual performances. In reference however to the phantom chains shown to Damis and to his departure from the law-courts, I will quote the words which Apollonius himself addresses to Domitian. For when the monarch ordered him to be thrown into chains, Apollonius, with perfect consistency, argued as follows: "If you think me a wizard, how will, you bind me? And if you bind me, how can you say that I am a wizard?" Surely one may invert this argument and use it against him somewhat as follows, keeping to his own premisses: If you are not a wizard, then how was your leg liberated from the chains? and if it was liberated, then how are you not a wizard? And if, because he submits to the chains, he is not a wizard, then if he does not submit to them, he is a wizard by his own admission. And again if, because he submitted to be brought to trial, he was not a wizard, he was yet clearly revealed as such when he ran off and eluded the court and retinue of the Emperor, I mean of course the bodyguard that stood round him. Now I believe that our author is aware of this, and endeavours to gloze over the fact, when he pretends that this miracle was exhibited without sacrifice or any sort of incantation by some ineffable and superhuman power.
CHAP. XXXVIMoreover we have not got to go far, before a fresh test of his character is supplied to us; for presently a messenger presents himself and says: "O Apollonius, the Emperor releases you from these chains, and permits you to reside in the jail where
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prisoners are not bound"; whereupon Apollonius, who is superior to mankind and has foreknowledge of what is coming, and according to the poet
is so overjoyed, as well he might be, at the news, that he suddenly drops out of his gift of foreknowledge, and asks outright: "Who then will get me out of this place?" and the messenger replied: "I myself, so follow me."
CHAP. XXXVIINext this most divine of men composes in the most careful of manners an harangue in defence of himself, quite unaware that after all his composition would prove a mere waste of effort. For he imagines that the Emperor will listen to his defence of his case, and on that assumption he arranges his apology along extremely plausible lines; but the latter by refusing to wait, renders all his trouble useless and unnecessary. I would ask you then to listen to the following, for what he says is a refutation of himself: "But inasmuch as he had composed an oration which he meant to deliver in defence of himself by the clock, only the tyrant confined him to the questions which I have enumerated, I have determined to publish this oration also." Note then how utterly at fault this entirely divinest of beings was about the future, if he took so much trouble and care to proportion the length of his apology to the time allowed him by the water-clock.
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CHAP. XXXVIIIBut we must not omit to pass in review the defence which he so vainly composed, for it contains among many examples of the arrogance with which he addressed Domitian, the following utterance, to wit, when he says "as Vespasian made you Emperor, so I made him." Heavens, what braggadocio! No ordinary person anyhow, nor any real philosopher either, transcending the rest of mankind, could indulge in such high-faluting bombast without exposing himself in the eyes of sensible men to a charge of being mad. Next in trying to rid himself of the suspicion which weighed upon him, he holds the following language concerning magicians and wizards; "But I call wizards men of false wisdom, for with them the unreal is made real, and the real becomes incredible." One may learn then from the whole treatise and from the particular episodes set forth therein, whether we ought to rank him among divine and philosophic men or among wizards. We have only to observe what he himself has said about wizards and falsely wise men together with what is published in his own history. For when oak trees and elms talk in articulate and feminine tones, and tripods move of their own accord, and waiters of copper serve at table, and jars are filled with showers and with winds, and water of sandarac and all the other things of the kind are introduced among those whom he accounted gods and also did not hesitate to entitle his teachers, of whom else are all these things characteristic, except of people who can exhibit "the unreal as real and the real as
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incredible"? In himself calling the latter wizards, he shows that they are people whose wisdom is false. Is it then on the strength of these things that this divine man, endowed with all virtue and the darling of the gods, is to bind on his brow the prize of wisdom, and to be accounted truly more divine than Pythagoras and his successors, and to be considered far more blessed than he; is he not rather to be found guilty of false wisdom and carry off the first prize for wretches?
CHAP. XXXIX The discourse about the Fates in IoniaIn the same book we are told that he had reasoned in Ionia about the power of the Fates, and had taught that the threads they spin are so immutable that, if they decree a kingdom to another which already belongs to some one, then, even if that other were slain by the possessor for fear lest he should ever have it taken away by him, the latter would yet be raised from the dead and live again in fulfilment of the decrees of the Fates; and he continues in these very words: "He who is destined to become a carpenter, will become one, even though his hands have been cut off; and he who has been predestined to carry off the prize for running in the Olympic games, will never fail to win, even though he break his leg; and the man to whom the Fates have decreed that he shall be an eminent archer, will not miss the mark, even though he lose his eyesight." And then by way of flattering the sovereign he adds the following: "And in drawing
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my examples from royalty, I had reference, I admit, to the Acrisii and to the house of Laïus, and to Astyages, the Mede, and to many other monarchs who thought that they were making good provision in such cases and supposed, some that they had slain their own children and others their descendants, yet were deprived by them of their thrones, when they grew up and issued forth against them out of obscurity in accordance with destiny. Well, if I were inclined to flattery I should have said that I had your own history in my mind, when you were blockaded by Vitellius, and the temple of Jupiter was burnt on the brow of the hill overlooking the city. And Vitellius declared that his own fortune was assured, so long as you did not escape him, although you were at the time quite a stripling, and not the man you are now. And yet because the Fates had decreed otherwise, he perished with all his counsels, while you are now in possession of his throne. However, since I abhor the forced concords of flattery, for it seems to me that they are everything that is out of time and out of tune, let me at once cut this string out of my lyre, and request you to consider that on that occasion I had not your fortunes in my mind." In this passage, a treatise written ostensibly in the interest of truth draws a picture of a man who was at once a flatterer and a liar, and anything rather than a philosopher; for after inveighing so bitterly on the earlier occasion against Domitian, he now flatters him, generous fellow that he is, and pretends that the doctrines he mooted in Ionia about the Fates and Necessity, so far from being directed against him rather told in his favour.
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Take then your history, my author, and regaining your sobriety after your fit of drunkenness, read out loud and in a truth-loving tone the passages you wrote on a former occasion, without concealing anything; read how when he was staying in Ephesus he did his best "to alienate his friends from Domitian, and encouraged them to espouse the cause of the safety of all, and as it occurred to him that intercourse with them by letter was dangerous to them, he would take now one and now another of the most discreet of his own companions aside and say to them: 'I have a most important secret business to entrust to yourselves, so you must betake yourself to Rome to such and such persons, and converse with them!'" And of how "he delivered a discourse on the subject of the Fates and Necessity, and argued that not even tyrants can overpower the decrees of the Fates." And how "directing the attention of his audience to a brazen statue of Domitian which stood close by that of the Meles, he said: 'Thou fool, how much art thou mistaken in thy views of Necessity and of the Fates. For even if thou shouldst slay the man who is fated to be despot after thyself, he shall come to life again.'" The man then who, after holding such language as this, proceeds to flatter the tyrant, and cynically pretends that none of this language was directed against him, how can we judge him other than capable of all villainy and meanness; unless indeed you assume that the authors who have handed down to us these details of him were lying fellows who meant to accuse their hero and not true historians? But in that case what becomes, to use the language of the Lover of Truth, of those who "were historians
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at once most highly educated and respectful of the truth, namely Damis the philosopher who even lived with the man in question and Philostratus the Athenian?" For these are the authors who lay these facts before us, and they are clearly convicted by the light of truth, since they thus contradict themselves, of being vapouring braggarts and nothing else, convicted by their inconsistencies of being downright liars, men devoid of education and charlatans.
CHAP. XL Apollonius refused at LebadeaThe story proceeds to tell us that after all this, Apollonius, liberated from the court, made up his mind to descend into the cave of Trophonius in Lebadea; but the people there would not allow him to do so, because they too regarded him as a wizard. Surely it is legitimate in us to be puzzled, when one compares what one reads at the beginning of the book of Philostratus, I mean the passage where he owns that he is puzzled at people having regarded his hero as a wizard, and expresses his surprise at the circumstance, remarking withal, that "although Empedocles and Pythagoras and Democritus had consorted with the same Magi without ever stooping to the magic art, and Plato had derived much from the priests and prophets in Egypt, and had mingled their ideas with his own discourses, without ever being held by anyone to be a magician, yet men so far had failed to recognise his hero as one inspired by the purest wisdom, but had long since accounted him a magician and still did so, because he had
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consorted with the Magi of Babylon and the Brahmans of India, and the Naked sages of Egypt." What answer then can we make to him, except this?My good fellow, what was your hero up to in this line, for him alone to have been regarded both long ago and now as a wizard in contrast with these great men; who though, as you admit, they had made trial of the same teachers as he, yet were eminent both in the age in which they flourished, and also bequeathed to posterity in their philosophy a gift of such excellence that its praises are still sung. is such a contrast possible, unless he was caught by men of good sense meddling with things that were unlawful? There are still among our contemporaries those who say that they have found superstitious devices dedicated in the name of this man; though I admit I have no wish to pay attention to them. Death of ApolloniusHowever as regards his death, although Philostratus follows in his book the accounts of earlier writers, he declares that he knows nothing of the truth; for he says that people in Ephesus related that Apollonius died there, while others said that he died in Lindus after entering the temple of Athene, and others in Crete; and after shedding so much doubt on the manner of his end, he yet inclines to believe that he went to heaven body and all. For he says that after he had run into the temple, the gates were closed and a strange hymn of maidens was heard to issue from the building, and the words of their song were: "Come, come, to heaven, come." But he says that he had never come across any sepulchre or cenotaph of his hero, although he had visited the greater part of the whole earth; but what he would like us to believe is that his hero never encountered
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death at all, for on a former occasion when he is canvassing the manner in which he died, he adds the proviso: "If he did die." But in a later passage he declares in so many words that he went to heaven. This is why he avows, no less in the exordium of his book than throughout it, that it was by reason of his being such as he was that he wooed philosophy in a diviner manner than Pythagoras and Empedocles.