History of Apollonius of Tyre, Chapters 12-13

A fisherman unto our hero

a goodly kindness does.

Our hero then does pay it forward

to a king in a bathing tub.


Then, each one seized upon a plank, and death was announced. In the very gloom of the storm all perished. But Apollonius, with the aid of a singular plank, was thrust to the shores of Pentapolita. While Apollonius was standing naked on the shore and gazing at the now peaceful sea, he said, “O Neptune, ruler of the sea, beguiler of harmless men, have you saved me as an indigent beggar for this, that that cruelest king, Antiochus, may hunt me all the more easily? Where then shall I go? What land shall I seek? Who would give aid to an unknown man?”

While he was thus complaining to himself, he suddenly turned around and saw a certain man of advanced age who was girded about with a shabby mantle. He prostrated himself at this man’s feet and said, “Take pity on me, whoever you are! Aid a man both shipwrecked and poor, who was not born of lowly parents! So that you may know whom you pity, I tell you that I am Apollonius of Tyre, the prince of my land. Now hear the tragedy of my ruin, I who just now outstretched before your knees beg for aid. Grant to me that I may live!”

Then the fisherman, as soon as he saw the youth, was moved by pity and lifted him up. Then, holding his hand, he led him within the walls of his own home, and laid out whatever food he could. So that he could satisfy his sense of pity, he took off his small cloak and cut it into equal halves, one of which he gave to Apollonius, saying, “Take this and go to the city; you will perhaps find there someone who will pity you. But if you find no one, come back here, and we can labor and fish together: our poverty, such as it is, will suffice for us! I ask only this, that if god ever favors you and you return home, consider the trials of my poverty.” Apollonius said to him, “If I ever forget you, may I suffer shipwreck again and never find someone like you!”


Apollonius, upon saying this, proceeded to take up the journey by the way pointed out to him, and entered at the city gate. While he was thinking to himself about where he should seek aid to save his life, he saw a boy running through the street who was anointed with oil, wrapped up with a towel, and bearing a game belonging to the gymnasium; the young boy was yelling in the loudest voice, “Mark well, citizens and strangers, nobly-born and slaves: the gymnasium is open!”

When Apollonius had heard this, he undressed himself and went into the baths, where he made use of the Palladian water. While he watched individuals exercising, he saw no one who was his equal. Then Archistrates, king of the self-same city, entered the gymnasium suddenly with a huge entourage of servants. While he was playing at his game with them, (with the god directing the action) Apollonius brought himself close in the crowd of the king’s men and while the king was playing, he took up a ball, and with the most dexterous swiftness let it fly, and after it had been let go […] he did not allow it to fall. Then the king Archistrates, who had noted to himself the swiftness of the youth, and yet did not know who this man who had no equal in ball tossing, looked to his servants and said, “Stand by, slaves! For I think that this young man ought to be brought near to me.”

When the servants had stepped back, Apollonius, with that dexterous swiftness, let the ball fly, so that it seemed a marvel to the king and everyone, or at least to the boys standing by. When Apollonius saw that he was praised by the citizens, he approached the king. Then, with a skillful hand, he wiped the king with an ointment, employing such gentleness, that he turned the old king young again. Then, he warmed him up most pleasingly in a fresh tub, and he most attentively offered his hand to the king when he wanted to get out; after all this, he left.

12 Tunc unusquisque sibi rapuit tabulas, morsque nuntiatur. In illa vero caligine tempestatis omnes perierunt. Apollonius vero unius tabulae beneficio in Pentapolitarum est litore pulsus. Interim stans Apollonius in litore nudus intuens tranquillum mare ait: “O Neptune, rector pelagi, hominum deceptor innocentium, propter hoc me reservasti egenum et pauperem, quo facilius rex crudelissimus Antiochus persequatur! Quo itaque ibo? Quam partem petam? Vel quis ignoto vitae dabit auxilium?”

Et cum sibimet ipsi increparet, subito animadvertens vidit quendam grandaevum sago sordido circumdatum. Et prosternens se illius ad pedes effusis lacrimis ait: “Miserere mei, quicumque es, succurre naufrago et egeno non humilibus natalibus genito! Et ut scias, cui miserearis, ego sum Tyrius Apollonius, patriae meae princeps. Audi nunc tragoediam calamitatis meae, qui modo genibus tuis provolutus vitae auxilium precor. Praesta mihi ut vivam.”

Itaque piscator, ut vidit primam speciem iuvenis, misericordia motus erigit eum et tenens manum eius duxit eum intra tecta parietum domus suae et posuit epulas, quas potuit. Et ut plenius misericordiae suae satisfaceret, exuens se tribunarium suum scindit eum in duas partes aequaliter et dedit unam iuveni dicens: “Tolle hoc, quod habeo, et vade in civitatem: forsitan invenies, qui tibi misereatur. Et si non inveneris, huc revertere et mecum laborabis et piscaberis: paupertas quaecumque est, sufficiet nobis. Illud tamen admoneo te, ut si quando deo adnuente redditus fueris natalibus tuis, et tu respicias tribulationem paupertatis meae.” Cui Apollonius ait: “Nisi meminero tui, iterum naufragium patiar nec tui similem inveniam!”

13 Et haec dicens per demonstratam sibi viam iter carpens ingreditur portam civitatis. Et dum secum cogitaret, unde auxilium vitae peteret, vidit puerum per plateam currentem oleo unctum, sabano praecinctum, ferentem iuvenilem lusum ad gymnasium pertinentem, maxima voce clamantem et dicentem: “Audite cives, peregrini, ingenui et servi: gymnasium patet.”

Hoc audito Apollonius exuens se tribunarium ingreditur lavacrum, utitur liquore Palladio. Et dum singulos exercentes videret, quaerit sibi parem nec invenit. Tunc rex Archistrates eiusdem civitatis subito cum magna turba famulorum ingressus est gymnasium. Qui dum cum suis ad ludum luderet, deo favente approximavit se Apollonius in regis turba et ludente rege sustulit pilam et subtili velocitate remisit remissamque rursum velocius repercussit nec cadere passus est.

Tunc rex Archistrates, cum sibi notasset iuvenis velocitatem et, quis esset, nesciret et ad pilae lusum nullum haberet parem, intuens famulos suos ait: “Recedite, famuli; hic enim iuvenis, ut suspicor, mihi comparandus est.” Et cum recessissent famuli, Apollonius subtili velocitate manu docta remisit pilam, ut et regi et omnibus vel pueris, qui aderant, miraculum magnum videretur.

Videns autem Apollonius se a civibus laudari constanter appropinquavit ad regem. Deinde docta manu ceroma fricavit regem tanta lenitate, ut de sene iuvenem redderet. Iterato in solio gratissime fovit, exeunti officiose manum dedit. Post haec discessit.

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