THE BOGUS ORACLE
MY DEAR CELSUS, I dare say you thought you were giving me quite an easy job, when you asked me to write and tell you about Alexander of Abonoteichos, listing all his various swindles. But if I did it properly, it would be like writing a biography of Alexander the Great - for this Alexander was equally great in his way. Still, if you're prepared to make allowances, and fill in the gaps for yourself, I'll have a shot at it. I won't attempt to clean out the whole of the Augean Stable, but at least I'll do enough muck-raking to give you some idea what an incredible amount of filth those three thousand cows managed to produce over a large number of years.
Mind you, I think we both ought to be ashamed of ourselves - you for wanting such disgusting behaviour committed to writing, and I for taking great pains to compile a biography of a man that no decent person would want to read about - someone who's only fit to be shown as a low turn at the circus, being torn to pieces by apes or foxes. We can, of course, reply to any such criticism by quoting the example of Arrian, the disciple ofEpictetus, for there you have a distinguished Roman who devoted his whole life to culture, and yet thought fit to do something that may serve as an excuse for us - he wrote the life of a bandit called Tilloborus. But we're planning to immortalize a far more dangerous type of criminal, who operated in large towns, not merely in the woods or on the mountains, and instead of confining himself to Bithynia, Mount Ida, and the more deserted parts of Asia Minor, extended his activities over almost the whole of the Roman Empire.