Page:Essays and Addresses.djvu/178

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


gave him an Olympian air in the eyes of the multitude; and his voice was singularly melodious. In youth he apprenticed himself to a magician who had himself been a disciple of that renowned impostor, Apollonius of Tyana; and from this man he acquired a smattering of medicine which he afterwards turned to good account. His master having died, Alexander entered into partnership with an unsuccessful writer of comedy at Byzantium, and the worthy pair went about the neighbouring regions, fleecing the ignorant country people. At Pella, in Macedonia, they happened to notice a species of large serpents, tame and harmless, which were domestic pets with the inhabitants; and they bought a fine specimen of this creature for a few pence. An idea had occurred to them. The old oracles of Delphi and other places were decaying, or already dumb; they would set up a new oracle. Where was it to be? The Byzantine suggested Chalcedon; but Alexander insisted that no seat for the oracle could be so suitable as his own birth-place, an obscure little town on the coast of Paphlagonia, called Abonoteichos, where the population was grossly superstitious. They laid their plans accordingly. In a half- ruined temple of Apollo at Chalcedon they buried a pair of brass tablets, with this inscription: "Aesculapius and his father Apollo will presently pass into Pontus, and fix his abode at Abonoteichos." Alexander took care that these tablets should soon be dug up; and the fame of the discovery spread quickly through northern Asia Minor. At Abonoteichos itself—the