Page images

to invite calamity, and to exclaim, Let fortune do her worst, I am prepared; give me some great occasion for the exercise of my patience, and the display of my virtue. Sextius hath this excellence, that he shews you the value of a happy life, and forbids you to despair of attaining it. You see the prize placed on high, but not inaccessible to him who ardently pursues it: virtue presents itself in person before you, at once to excite your admiration, and inspire you with hope." Writings, upon which such an encomium could with any degree of propriety be passed, must have been a valuable treasure. But we have to regret, that we cannot form a judgment of their merit; for it is very uncertain, whether the piece published under the title of Sententiæ Sexti Pythagorei, "Sentences of Sextus the Pythagorean,” be the genuine work of this moralist.34

Under the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius flourished Sotion Alexandrinus, the preceptor of Seneca, who says of him, that he inspired him with a great respect for the institutions of Pythagoras, and especially for the custom of abstaining from animal food. Hence it seems not unreasonable to class Sotion among the Pythagoreans, although his moral doctrine, as represented by Seneca,36 is tinctured with Stoicism. This may be the more easily admitted, as Zeno himself had raised à great part of his system upon Pythagoric principles. Passages said to have been written by Sotion are preserved in Stobæus," and in Antoninus and Maximus; 38 but their authenticity is doubtful.

Moderatus, who lived in the time of Nero, must also be ranked among the followers of Pythagoras.39 He deserves mention, chiefly because he collected, from various ancient records, the remains of the Pythagoric doctrine, and illustrated it in several distinct treatises, particularly in eleven books "On the tenets of the Pythagorean Sect." His works were much read and admired by Origen, Jamblichus, Porphyry, and others of the Alexandrian school.

Apollonius Tyanaus was another follower of the Pythagoric doctrine and discipline. The principal circumstances

*Fabr. Bib. Lat. t. i. p. 732. Calei Opuscula, p. 645. ed Amst. Sextii Enchir. a Sibero. Lips. 1725. 4to. 35 Euseb. Chron.

36 Ep. 108. Lips in Ep. 49. Fabr. Bib. Gr. v. ii. p. 412.
37 Serm. 98.
38 Serm. 69.
Plut. Symp. 1. viii. qu. 7. Porph. Vit. Pyth. n. 48.

of his life, as far as credit can be given to his fabulous biographer, Philostratus, are as follows:40

Apollonius, of an ancient and wealthy family in Tyana, a city of Cappadocia, was born about the commencement of the Christian era. At fourteen years of age, his father took him to Tarsus, to be instructed by Euthydemus, a rhetorician; but he soon became dissatisfied with the luxury and indolence of the citizens, and obtained permission from his father to remove, with his preceptor, to Ægas, a neighbouring town, where was a temple of Esculapius. Here he conversed with Platonists, Stoics, Peripatetics, and Epicureans, and became acquainted with their doctrines. But, finding the Pythagorean tenets and discipline more consonant to his own views and temper, than those of any other sect, he made choice of Euxenus for his preceptor in philosophy; a man who indeed lodged his master's precepts in his memory, but paid little regard to them in practice. Apollonius, however, was not to be diverted from the strictness of the Pythagorean discipline even by the example of his preceptor. He refrained from animal food, and lived entirely upon fruits and herbs. He wore no article of clothing made of the skins of animals. He went bare-footed, and suffered his hair to grow to its full length. He spent his time chiefly in the temple of Esculapius, among the priests, by whom he was greatly admired.

After having acquired reputation at Egas, Apollonius determined to qualify himself for the office of a preceptor in philosophy by passing through the Pythagorean discipline of silence. Accordingly, he remained five years without once exercising the faculty of speech. During this time he chiefly resided in Pamphylia and Cicilia, When his term of silence was expired, he visited Antioch, Ephesus, and other cities, declining the society of the rude and illiterate, and conversing chiefly with the priests. At sun-rising he performed certain religious rites, which he disclosed only to those who had passed through the discipline of silence. He spent the morning in instructing his disciples, whom he encouraged to ask whatever questions they pleased. At noon he held a public assembly for popular discourse. His style was neither turgid nor ab

40 Vid. Philostrat. Vit. Apoll. passim. Prideaux's Life of Apollonius.

struse, but truly Attic. Avoiding all prolixity, and every ironical mode of speech, he issued forth his dogmas with oracular authority, saying, on every occasion, This I know, or, Such is my judgment; herein imitating the manner of Pythagoras. Being asked, why, instead of dogmatically asserting his tenets, he did not still continue to inquire; his answer was: "I have sought for truth, when I was young: it becomes me now no longer to seek, but to teach what I have found." Apollonius, that he might still more perfectly resemble Pythagoras, determined to travel through distant nations. He proposed his design to his disciples, who were seven in number, but they refused to accompany him. He therefore entered upon his expedition, attended only by two servants. At Ninus, he took, as his associate, Damis, an inhabitant of that city, to whom he boasted, that he was skilled in all languages, though he had never learned them, and that he even understood the language of beasts and birds. The ignorant Assyrian worshipped him as a god; and, resigning himself implicitly to his direction, accompanied him wherever he went.


At Babylon, Apolloniùs conversed with the magi, receiving from them much instruction, and communicating to them many things in return; but to these conferences Damis was not admitted. In his visit to India, he was admitted to an interview with the king, Phraotes, and was introduced by him to Iarchus, the eldest of the Indian gymnosophists. Returning to Babylon, he passed from that city into Ionia, where he visited Ephesus, and several other places, teaching the doctrine, and recommending the discipline, of Pythagoras. On his way to Greece, he conversed with the priests of Orpheus at his temple in Lesbos. Arriving at Athens at the time when the sacred mysteries were performing, Apollonius offered himself for initiation; but the priest refused him, saying, that it was not lawful to initiate an enchanter. He discoursed with the Athenians concerning sacrifices, and exhorted them to adopt a more frugal manner of living.

[ocr errors]

After passing through some other Grecian cities, and the island of Crete, Apollonius went into Italy, with the design of visiting Rome. Just before this time, Nero, probably either because he had been deceived by the pre




tensions of the magicians, or was apprehensive of some danger from their arts, gave orders, that all those who practised magic should be banished from the city. The friends of Apollonius apprized him of the hazard which was likely, at this juncture, to attend his purposed visit to Rome; and the alarm was so great, that, out of thirty-four persons, who were his stated companions, only eight chose to accompany him thither. He, nevertheless, persevered in his resolution, and, under the protection of the sacred habit, obtained admission into the city. The next day he was conducted to the Consul Telesinus, who was inclined to favour philosophers of every class, and obtained from him permission to visit the temples, and converse with the priests.

From Rome Apollonius travelled westward to Spain. Here he made an unsuccessful attempt to incite the procurator of the province of Botica to a conspiracy against Nero. After the death of that tyrant, he returned into Italy, on his way to Greece; whence he proceeded to Egypt, where Vespasian was making use of every expedient to establish his power. That prince easily perceived that nothing would give him greater credit with the Egyptian populace, than to have his cause espoused by one who was esteemed a favoured minister of the gods; and therefore did not fail to shew him every kind of attention and respect. The philosopher, in return, adapted his measures to the views of the new emperor, and used all his influence among the people in support of Vespasian's authority.42


Upon the accession of Domitian, Apollonius was no sooner informed of the tyrannical proceedings of that emperor, and particularly of his proscription of philosophers, than he assisted in raising a sedition against him, and in favour of Nerva, among the Egyptians; so that Domitian thought it necessary to issue an order that he should be seized, and brought to Rome. Apollonius, being informed of the order, set out immediately, of his own accord, for that city. Upon his arrival he was brought to trial; but his judge, the prætor Ælian, who had formerly

"The credit of this fact rests wholly upon the authority of Philostratus. 42 Conf. Tacit. Hist. 1. ii. c. 82.

43 Sueton. in Domit. c. 10. A. Gell. I. xv. c. 11. Euseb. Chron. n. 2104. Plin. Paneg. c. 47.

known him in Egypt, was desirous to favour him, and so conducted the process, that it terminated in his acquittal.

Apollonius now passed over into Greece, and visited the temple of Jupiter at Olympia, the cave of Trophonius in Arcadia, and other celebrated seats of religion. Wherever he went he gained new followers. At length he settled at Ephesus, and there formed a school in some degree similar to the ancient Pythagorean college; but with this material difference, that in the school of Apollonius the door of wisdom was open to all, and every one was permitted to speak and inquire freely.

Concerning the fate of Apollonius, after he settled at Ephesus, nothing certain is related. The time, the place, and the manner of his death are unknown. It is probable, that he lived to an extreme old age, and died in the reign of Nerva. Damis, who attached himself to this philosopher at Babylon, accompanied him in his subsequent travels, and after his death became his memorialist. Philostratus has loaded his account of this extraordinary man with so many marvellous tales, that it is exceedingly difficult to determine what degree of credit is due to his narrative. He relates, for example, that while the mother of Apollonius was pregnant, the Egyptian divinity, Proteus, appeared to her, and told her, that the child she should bring forth was a god; that his birth was attended with a celestial light; that, in the Esculapian temple at Ægas, he predicted future events; that, at the tomb of Achilles, he had a conference with the ghost of that hero; and that, whilst he was publicly discoursing at Ephesus, he suddenly paused, as if struck with a panic, and then cried out, Slay the tyrant, at the very instant that Domitian was cut off at Rome. If to these tales we add the accounts which Philostratus gives, of the efficacy of the mere presence of Apollonius, without the utterance of a single word, in quelling popular tumults; of the chains of Prometheus, which Apollonius saw upon Mount Caucasus; of speaking trees, of pigmies, phenixes, satyrs, and dragons, which he met with in his eastern tour; and of other things equally wonderful; it will be impossible to hesitate in ascribing

44 Conf. Suet. Domit. c. 23. Dio. 67.

« PreviousContinue »