History of Apollonius of Tyre, Chapters 10-11

Our hero gives the Tarsians

much grain, without a fee.

Then setting forth upon his ship

is worked quite ill at sea.


After he had said these things, they went their way to the city, and Apollonius, mounting the platform in the forum said to the citizens, “Citizens of Tarsus, you who are vexed and oppressed by the scantiness of bread, I, Apollonius of Tyre, will relieve you. For, I believe that you, remembering this kindness, will conceal my refuge here. Know that I am a fugitive from the laws of the king Antiochus; but I have been brought thus far to you by your own good fortune. And so I will give to you a hundred thousand measures of grain at that price which I purchased them in my own homeland – that is, ‘one measure for eight copper coins’.”

The Tarsian citizens, who were buying ‘one measure for one gold coin,’ were overjoyed and were giving thanks with their acclamations as they eagerly strove to accept the grain. But Apollonius, lest he should set aside his regal dignity and take up the title of merchant, rather than philanthropist, invested the money which he had taken for the grain for the benefit of the very same city. The citizens then decided, because these benefits were so great, to erect a bronze statue to Apollonius in the forum, standing on a chariot, holding produce in his right hand, and treading a measure of grain underfoot; on the base of the statue were written these words: THE CITY OF TARSIA GAVE APOLLONIUS THIS GIFT BECAUSE HE RELIEVED IT OF STERILITY AND FAMINE.


After an interval of months (or perhaps just a few days), Apollonius was prevailed upon by Stranguillio and his wife Dionysias, as well as the pressing exigencies of fortune, to sail to the Five-Citied Lands of Cyrene, so that he could lie in hiding there. Apollonius was therefore led with great ceremony to the ship and, saying farewell to the people there, boarded the ship. While he was navigating, the loyalty of the sea was changed within two hours.

The crimson clouds lit up the Earth

Firm things yielded to unfixed,

Aeolus took up the storm-turned fields,

The hulls were rent by Notus, dressed in mist.

Boreas swirled ‘round and ‘round

nor could the sea ‘gainst Eurus stand,

While troubled waves put on a shroud

Made of the storm-tossed sand.

Then the sea was summoned back,

And everything was mixed;

The sea did smite the stars and sky,

And the chilling cold grew thick.

In equal measure lingered on

The clouds and snow, the rain and hail;

Flame flew upon the winds and then

The sea let out a wail.

From here came Notus, here Boreas,

There Africus did stand.

Triton blew on his awful horn,

And Neptune tossed about the sand.


10 Cumque haec dixisset, perrexerunt in civitatem, et ascendens Apollonius tribunal in foro cunctis civibus et maioribus eiusdem civitatis dixit: “Cives Tharsis, quos annonae penuria turbat et opprimit, ego Tyrius Apollonius relevabo. Credo enim vos huius beneficii memores fugam meam celaturos. Scitote enim me legibus Antiochi regis esse fugatum; sed vestra felicitate faciente hucusque ad vos sum delatus. Dabo itaque vobis centum milia modiorum frumenti eo pretio, quo sum in patria mea eos mercatus, id est octo aereis singulos modios.”

Cives vero Tharsis, qui singulos modios singulos aureos mercabantur, exhilarati facti adclamationibus gratias agebant certatim accipientes frumentum. Apollonius autem, ne deposita regia dignitate mercatoris videretur adsumere nomen magis quam donatoris, pretium, quod acceperat, utilitati eiusdem civitatis redonavit.

Cives vero his tantis beneficiis cumulati optant ei statuam statuere ex aere et eam conlocaverunt in foro, in biga stantem, in dextra manu fruges tenentem, sinistro pede modium calcantem et in base haec scripserunt: TARSIA CIVITAS APOLLONIO TYRIO DONVM DEDIT EO QVOD STERILITATEM SVAM ET FAMEM SEDAVIT.

11 Et interpositis mensibus sive diebus paucis hortante Stranguillione et Dionysiade, coniuge eius, et premente fortuna ad Pentapolitanas Cyrenaeorum terras adfirmabatur navigare, ut ibi latere posset. Deducitur itaque Apollonius cum ingenti honore ad navem et valedicens hominibus ascendit ratem. Qui dum navigaret, intra duas horas diei mutata est pelagi fides.

Certa non certis cecidere

Concita tempestas rutilans inluminat orbem.

Aeolus imbrifero flatu turbata procellis

Corripit arna. Notus picea caligine tectus

Scinditque omne latus pelagique volumina versat.

Volvitur hinc Boreas, nec iam mare sufficit Euro,

Et freta disturbata sibi involvit harena.

et cum revocato a cardine ponto

Omnia miscentur. Pulsat mare sidera, caelum.

In sese glomeratur hiems; pariterque morantur

Nubila, grando, nives, zephyri, freta, fulgida, nimbi.

Flamma volat vento, mugit mare conturbatum.

Hinc Notus, hinc Boreas, hinc Africus horridus instat.

Ipse tridente suo Neptunus spargit harenas.

Triton terribili cornu cantabat in undis.

3 thoughts on “History of Apollonius of Tyre, Chapters 10-11

  1. I am enjoying this story ridiculous though it is and I like the verse part.

    This is not the first time a non-citizen has tried to get favour with a city by distributing grain at a lower price. In Demosthenes’ speech “Against Phormio”, Chryssipus, a resident alien at Athens, and his partner claim to have done this for Athens.

    ὅτε δ᾽ ὁ σῖτος ἐπετιμήθη τὸ πρότερον καὶ ἐγένετο ἑκκαίδεκα δραχμῶν, εἰσαγαγόντες πλείους ἢ μυρίους μεδίμνους πυρῶν διεμετρήσαμεν ὑμῖν τῆς καθεστηκυίας τιμῆς, πέντε δραχμῶν τὸν μέδιμνον, καὶ ταῦτα πάντες ἴστε ἐν τῷ πομπείῳ διαμετρούμενοι.

    When grain increased in price before and reached sixteen drachmas, we imported more than ten thousand medimni of wheat and measured it out to you at the usual price of five drachmas per medimnus and you all know this as you had it measured out to you in the Pompeium.

    Demosthenes 34 39

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