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.

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.

History of Apollonius of Tyre, Chapters 8-9

Our hero one poor man offends,

but later makes a thousand friends.


Then the king ordered that fleets of ships be prepared for pursuing Apollonius. But while the men who were preparing the fleets were delaying, Apollonius came to the city of Tharsia. While he was walking down along the shore, he was spotted by a certain man named Helenicus, one of his citizens, who had come upon him that very hour. Hellincus approached him and said, “Greetings, king Apollonius!” He, upon being greeted, did as powerful men are wont to do: he ignored the low-born man. Then, the old man Hellenicus wexed wondrous wroth and again greeted him, saying “Greetings, Apollonius! Salute me in turn, and do not look back upon my poverty, which is adorned with noble habits. For, if you know how things stand, you need be careful, but if you do not know, then you are in need of advice! Listen, then, to what you perhaps do not know: you have been proscribed.” Apollonius said to him, “And who could proscribe me, the prince of my own country?” Hellenicus said, “King Antiochus.” Apollonius asked, “For what reason?” Hellenicus said, “Because you wished to be what he, the father, already is.” Apollonius said, “And what is the bounty on my head?” Hellenicus responded, “Whoever brings you in alive will receive a hundred talents of gold; but whoever makes off with your head will receive two hundred. Therefore, I advise you to commission a guard for your flight.” After Hellenicus had said these things, he departed. Then Apollonius ordered that Hellenicus be brought back to him and said, “You have done a most noble thing by informing me,” and ordered that a hundred talents of gold be brought forward, saying, “You, though the poorest of men, have furnished a most pleasing example; therefore, accept what you have earned, and pretend that you had chopped off my head and brought joy to the king. But here! You have the prize of a hundred talents AND hands unstained by blood.” Hellenicus responded to him, “Banish from your mind the notion that I could accept a payment for this service; for among good people, friendship does not spring from a purse.” Then, bidding the king farewell, he departed.


After all of this, when Apollonius was walking down along the same area before the shore, another man, this one named Stranguillio, encountered him. Apollonius said to him, “Greetings, my dear Stranguillio.” And Stranguillio responded, “Greetings, my lord Apollonius. Why are you turning about in this area with a troubled mind?” Apollonius said, “Because you’re looking at a man with a price on his head.”

“And who proscribed you?”

“King Antiochus.”

“For what reason?”

“Because I sought the hand of his daughter – or, to speak more truly, of his wife. But, if it is possible, I would like to hide out here in your city” said Apollonius.

Stranguillio said, “Lord Apollonius, our city is poor and unable to sustain the weight of your dignity; moreover, we are suffering from an oppressive famine and a harsh sterility of the grain crop, nor is there any hope of health for our citizens – rather, the cruelest sort of death is turned about before our very eyes.”

Apollonius, however, said to Stranguillio, “Therefore, give thanks to the god for making me a refugee in your land. For, I shall give your city a hundred thousand measures of grain, if you keep me hidden secretly here.”

When he heard this, Stranguillio laid himself at the feet of Apollonius, saying, “Oh my lord, king Apollonius, if you aid our city in its need, the citizens will not only hide you, but if the necessity should arise, they will also fight on your behalf.”

8 Tunc iussit rex classes navium praeparari ad persequendum iuvenem. Sed moras facientibus his, qui classes navium praeparabant, devenit Apollonius civitatem Tharsiam.

Et deambulans iuxta litus visus est a quodam nomine Hellenico, cive suo, qui supervenerat ipsa hora. Et accedens ad eum Hellenicus ait: “Ave, rex Apolloni!” At ille salutatus fecit, quod potentes facere consueverunt: sprevit hominem plebeium. Tunc senex indignatus iterato salutavit eum et ait: “Ave, inquam, Apolloni, resaluta et noli despicere paupertatem nostram honestis moribus decoratam. Si enim scis, cavendum tibi est, si autem nescis, admonendus es. Audi, forsitan quod nescis, quia proscriptus es.” Cui Apollonius ait: “Et quis patriae meae principem potuit proscribere?” Hellenicus ait: “Rex Antiochus.” Apollonius ait: “Qua ex causa?” Hellenicus ait: “Quia quod pater est, tu esse voluisti.” Apollonius ait: “Et quanti me proscripsit?” Hellenicus respondit: “Ut quicumque te vivum exhibuerit, centum auri talenta accipiat; qui vero caput tuum absciderit, accipiet ducenta. Ideoque moneo te: fugae praesidium manda.”

Haec cum dixisset Hellenicus, discessit. Tunc iussit Apollonius revocari ad se senem et ait ad eum: “Rem fecisti optimam, ut me instrueres.” Et iussit ei proferri centum talenta auri et ait: “Accipe, gratissimi exempli pauperrime, quia mereris; et puta te mihi caput a cervicibus amputasse et gaudium regi pertulisse. Et ecce habes pretium centum talenta auri, et puras manus a sanguine innocentis.” Cui Hellenicus ait: “Absit, domine, ut huius rei causa praemium accipiam. Apud bonos enim homines amicitia praemio non conparatur.” Et vale dicens discessit.

9 Post haec Apollonius dum deambularet in eodem loco supra litore, occurrit ei alius homo nomine Stranguillio. Cui ait Apollonius: “Ave, mi carissime Stranguillio.” Et ille dixit: “Ave, domine Apolloni. Quid itaque in his locis turbata mente versaris?” Apollonius ait: “Proscriptum vides.” Et Stranguillio ait: “Et quis te proscripsit?” Apollonius ait: “Rex Antiochus.” Stranguillio ait: “Qua ex causa?” Apollonius ait: “Quia filiam eius, sed ut verius dicam, coniugem in matrimonium petivi. Sed, si fieri potest, in civitate vestra volo latere.”

Stranguillio ait: “Domine Apolloni, civitas nostra pauper est et nobilitatem tuam ferre non potest: praeterea duram famem saevamque sterilitatem patimur annonae, nec est ulla spes salutis civibus nostris, sed crudelissima mors potius ante oculos nostros versatur.”

Apollonius autem ad Stranguillionem ait: “Age ergo deo gratias, quod me profugum finibus vestris applicuit. Dabo itaque civitati vestrae centum milia frumenti modiorum, si fugam meam celaveritis.”

Stranguillio ut audivit, prostravit se pedibus Apollonii dicens: “Domine rex Apolloni, si civitati esurienti subveneris, non solum fugam tuam celabunt, sed etiam, si necesse fuerit, pro salute tua dimicabunt.”