Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

them still worse than they otherwise would have been. If any others have since resembled them therein, they are far from deserving commendation.

[ocr errors][merged small]

6

I SHALL now, according to my promise at p. 503, transcribe the observations of Dr. S. Parkera upon the character of Apollonius Tyanæus, and the history of him written by Philostratus.

His observations, I believe, will be generally allowed to be right and pertinent. They are particularly remarkable upon two accounts : First, he considers Apollonius as a professed and conceited Pythagoræan pbilosopher, or, as his terms are, a mere fanatic and pedantic Pythagoræan. Secondly, he rejects the parallelisms of Huet, and shows their futility. Consequently he did not embrace the opinion of Dr. Cudworth, and divers other learned men, who have supposed, that. Philostratus intended to set up Apollonius

as a corrival with our Saviour. I thought I had been singular in the opinion which I received froin Mr. La Roche, but here is a learned man who wrote almost an hundred years ago, and thought in the same manner.

His words are these: “ But the man of wonders is Apollo' nius Tyanæus, of whom they boast and insult as the true • heathen Messias: in that he wrought not, as Vespasian

did, one or two chance miracles, but his whole life was all • prodigy, and equal to our Saviour's both for the number and the wonder of his works. But here, first, we have in part shown what undoubted records we have of the • life of Jesus: whereas all the credit of Apollonius his

bistory depends upon the authority of one single man, who, • beside that he lived an hundred years after him, ventured

nothing, as the apostles did, in confirmation of the truth, • but only composed it in his study : thereby, as appears • from his frequent digressions, to take occasion of commu

a A Demonstration of the Divine Authority of the Law of Nature, and of the Christian Religion, in two parts. By Samuel Parker, D. D. Archdeacon of Canterbury. 1681. Dr. Parker was afterwards bishop of Oxford. The passage to be quoted by me is taken from P. 2. sect. xxvii. p. 293--300. I leave his references as they are, made to the Paris edition of Philostratus in 1608. And in some places I add, at the bottom of the page, references to the edition of Olearius at Leipsic, in 1709.

[ocr errors]

6

6

6

6

6

nicating to the world all the learning which he had raked together. Nay, so far was he froin incurring any loss by

the work, that he was set upon it by a great empress, • whose religious zeal in the cause would be sure to see him * well rewarded. And though he inade use of the Commen• taries of Damis, the inseparable companion of Apollonius, * yet he confesses, that Damis himself never published his

own Commentaries, but that a friend of Dainis communi* cated them to the empress, which himself might probably • have forged (as is common in courts) to pick her pocket. · However, as for Damis himself, it is evident from Philos• tratus bis whole story, that he was a very simple man, and • that Apollonius only picked him up as a fit Sancho Pancha * to exercise his wit upon ; so that upon all occasions we ' find him not only baffling the esquire in disputes, but • breaking jests upon him, which he always takes with much * thankfulness, and more humility, still admiring his master's wisdom, but much more bis wit.'

· But after all, what the story of Damis was, or whether ' there were ever any such story, we have no account, unless * from Philostratus himself; and therefore we must resolve it all into his authority alone. And there it is evident, that

Apollonius was neither a god nor a divine man, as his • friends boasted, nor a magician or conjuror, as his enemies

imagined, but a mere fanatic and pedantic Pythagoræan : who for the honour of his sect travelled, as many others • have done, into all parts of the world : and when he re'turned home told his countrymen, that all men renowned • for wisdom all the world over were of the sect of the • Pythagoræans; and then for advancement of their authority • told strange and prodigious tales of their wonder-working . power. Though here either he, or his historian, has ac. quitted himself so awkwardly, as utterly to spoil the tale * and defeat the design. This Eusebius has shown at large • in his book against Hierocles, by taking to pieces all parts ' of the story, and discovering all its flaws and incohe• rences.'

• But I shall content myself with proving the vanity of the whole from the notorious falsehood of one particular “ narration, upon which depends all that extraordinary power · which he pretends to; and that is his conversation with the Indian Brachmans, from whom, if we may believe his account of himself, he learned all that he could do more * than the common pbilosophers of Greece. And if this

prove a romance, all the rest of his history must unavoida• bly follow its fortune. And for this little proof will serve,

[ocr errors]

6

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

d

• when most of the stories are so very mean and childisli, as ' to be more contemptible than those little tales wherewith nurses are wont to quiet their children.'

• For what could be contrived more unphilosophically, than the Brachmans keeping tubs of rain, wind, and thun• der by them, which they bestow upon their friends as their * necessities required ? ), iii. c. 3. . And the swelling of the * earth like the waves of the sea, only with the stroke of a · Brachinan's wand ? c. 5. Though the most pleasant scene • of the whole comedy was their feast, in which there was

no need of any attendants; but the chairs and the stools, 'the pots and the cups, the dishes and the plates, understood

every one their own offices : and so served in the enter• tainment then selves, and ran hither and thither as the guests commanded, or their attendance required.' c. 8.

• But of all lies the geographical lie is the most unhappy : • for the matter of them being perpetual, and not, as the 6 actions of men are, transient, they inay be confuted in any

age. And yet in this very thing he has outdone Sir John • Mandevil himself, for incredible monsters and fables, * describing men and beasts of strange shapes, that were

never seen by any man but bimself; as a sort of women • half black, half white, a nation of pigmies, living under • ground, c. 14; griffins, apes as big as men, beasts with the • faces of men, and bodies of lions, wool growing like grass ' out of the earth, and dragons f almost as common as sheep i in other countries, c. 2. All which being so vulgarly • known at this day to be mere fables, they cannot but over• throw the credit of the whole story. For either he wan• dered as far as the Indies, or not : if not, then his saying • that he did is one lie for all : if he did, then it is evident * from these particulars that he made no conscience of truth ' or falsehood, but designed only to amuse the world with

strange and prodigious reports of the power of Pytlagorism.' . And that is the most that I can make of the story; though I know that Huetius & is of opinion, that all the • substantial miracles are stolen out of the gospels and the · Acts of the Apostles, and that, for the most part, in the

words and phrases of St. Luke. And this he has endea• voured to make good by a great variety of parallel instances; and then thinks it a manifest discovery both of L. iii. cap. xiv. p. 104. Olear. edit.

c L. iii. cap. xxvii. p. 117, 118.

d L. iii. cap. 3. p. 96, 99, 100, 101. e L. iii. cap. 47. p. 133.

L. iii. cap. 6, 7, 8. B Demonstr. Evang. c. 147. sect. 4.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• the vanity of Philostratus, and the imposture of Apollonius, • w ben he is only adorned with borrowed feathers, but a * great accession to the credit of our Saviour, that when his • enemies would fraine the idea of a divine man, they were • forced to steal their best feathers from his picture. So that, he says, it was no wonder, that Hierocles should so confidently compare the miracles of Apollonius to those of Jesus, when those of Jesus were with so little disguise clapped upon Apollonius.'

• This were a pretty discovery if it stood upon good grounds: but, alas ! most of the parallelisms are so forced, or so slender, or so far fetched, that it were easy to make * as many, and as probable, between any other histories • whatever. And indeed, in such a design as this of Philo• stratus, viz, to make up a story as full of strange things as • he could contrive, it is scarce possible not to have hit upon some things like some of those miracles which are recorded in the gospels; so that in some few of them there may be some resemblance, as particularly there seems to • be in that of the Gadarene dæmoniac and the Corcyrean 'youth; yet it is very obvious to apprebend, that this might • happen not by design but by chance. Propos. i. sect. 5. . And whereas Huetius will needs have it, that Philostratus • has stolen not only the stories but the very words of St. * Luke, I find no instance of it but only in this one relation,

where they both, it seems, use the word Basaviselv; and “this they might easily do without theft or imitation, it be

ing the common Greek word that signifies to torment: so that they could no more avoid that in Greek, than we

could this in rendering it into English. Nay, setting aside * this one story, I find so little resemblance between the

history of Philostratus and that of the gospels, that I scarce • know any two histories more unlike: for it is obvious to • any man that reads Philostratus, that his whole design was

to follow the train of the old heathen mythology; and • that is the bottom of his folly, by his story to gain histo

rical credit to the fables of the poets. So that it is a very • true and just censure which Ludovicus Vives has given of

him, that as he had endeavoured to imitate Homer, so he • bad abundantly out-lied him. For there is scarce any

thing extraordinary reported in the whole history, in · which he does not apparently design either to verify or to rectify some of that blind ballad-singer's tales : but especially in conjuring Achilles out of his tomb, and discoursing with himn about the old stories that were told of the Trojan war.

6

6

6

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• And yet after all, few of Apollonius his miracles are suf* ficiently vouched, even in his own history: v. g. the last * that mentioned, of the apparition ha of Achilles : which • bad no other testimony but of Apollonius himself, who * stubbornly refused to have any companion or witness of • the fact : beside inany other absurdities in the story itself;

as his rising out of the tomb five foot long, and then swel. ·ling to twice the length; his being forced to vanish away • at cock-crowing, and the nymphs constantly visiting • hin.”

• And so again, he pretended to understand all languages * without learning any: and yet, when he came to the In• dian king, he was forced to converse with him by an i interpreter. And k whereas the story tells us of the devil's being cast out of a young man by a mandate from the Brachmans, yet it gives us no account of the event of it, only they pretended to do it: but whether it was effectually • done we do not find that either Apollonius or Damis ever * inquired.

• But the great faculty which he pretended to was the understanding of the languages of birds and beasts; which

he says he learned from the Arabians, and the citizens of • Paræa in India, who acquired it by eating dragons'l hearts.

Now all stories of dragons are hard of belief, but especially of his Indian dragons; which he says were as commonly m • hunted by the inhabitants as hares in other countries. . But granting that there were so great numbers of them in • his time, though since that they were never seen by any

man, it is very hard to believe, that the mere eating a piece of their hearts should inspire men with such an odd • and singular faculty.'

. But the great miracle of all was his vanishing away at « his trial before Domitian in the presence of all the great men of Rome. But then, though our historian be very desirous we should believe it, yet he falters afterwards, • like a guilty liar, in bis confidence. For whereas n at • first he positively affirms ηφανισθη το δικαστηριε, that he

quite vanished away; at last he only says, amnioe, that • he went away, I. viii. c. 4. And this, though he would seem to affirm that it was after a wonderful manner, and

6

[ocr errors]

h L. iv. cap. 15, 16. p. 151–154.
i L. ii. cap. 26. p. 77. et conf. 1. i. c. 27. et l. ii. cap. 23.
k L. iii. cap. 38. p. 128.
| L. iii. cap. 9. p. 101. Conf. 1. i. cap. 20. p. 25.
m See the references at note 8.

» L. viii. cap. 5. p. 326 • Ib. cap. 8. p. 353. f. et cap. 10. p. 354.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »