The Second Sophistic: A Cultural Phenomenon in the Roman Empire

By Graham Anderson | Go to book overview

12

Conclusion: values and valuations

We can take our leave of the Second Sophistic with a scene which neatly embodies a glimpse of most of the perspectives employed so far. In Philostratus' enormous work on Apollonius of Tyana, the sage is in due course presented as sailing for Dicaearchia, with the risk of exposing himself to persecution by Domitian:

He met Demetrius, who seemed to be boldest among the philosophers, because he lived not far from Rome; but Apollonius knew that Demetrius was in fact staying out of the tyrant's way, nevertheless he teased him: 'I have caught you, ' he said, 'living in luxury, staying in the most blessed part of happy Italy, if happy is the right word, where Odysseus is said to have spent his time with Calypso, and to have forgotten the smoke of his home in Ithaca.' Demetrius embraced him, and after other expressions of acclaim exclaimed 'Ye gods, what will happen to philosophy if she risks the loss of a man like this?' 'And what risks does philosophy run?', Apollonius asked. 'Those you already knew about when you came here;' Demetrius answered, 'if I do not know what you are thinking, then I do not know my own thoughts either. But let us not talk here, but go where we can talk alone, with only Damis with us, a man, I swear by Heracles, who is the Iolaus of your labours.'

And with that Demetrius took them to the house near the city where Cicero lived in olden times. As they sat under a plane tree the grasshoppers were chirruping to the whispering of the breeze, when Demetrius looked at them, and exclaimed: 'Blessed creatures and artlessly wise,

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