Eidōlon

Possession

Μεταξὺ δὲ τῶν λόγων τούτων ἐφίσταται τοῖς σοφοῖς ὁ ἄγγελος Ἰνδοὺς ἄγων σωτηρίας δεομένους. καὶ παρῆγε γύναιον ἱκετεῦον ὑπὲρ παιδός, ὃν ἔφασκε μὲν ἑκκαίδεκα ἔτη γεγονέναι, δαιμονᾶν δὲ δύο ἔτη, τὸ δὲ ἦθος τοῦ  δαίμονος εἴρωνα εἶναι καὶ ψεύστην. ἐρομένου δέ τινος τῶν σοφῶν, ὁπόθεν λέγοι ταῦτα, “τοῦ παιδὸς τούτου,” ἔφη, “τὴν ὄψιν εὐπρεπεστέρου ὄντος, ὁ δαίμων ἐρᾷ, καὶ οὐ ξυγχωρεῖ αὐτῷ νοῦν ἔχειν, οὐδὲ ἐς διδασκάλου βαδίσαι ἐᾷ ἢ τοξότου, οὐδὲ οἴκοι εἶναι, ἀλλ’ ἐς τὰ ἔρημα τῶν χωρίων ἐκτρέπει, καὶ οὐδὲ τὴν φωνὴν ὁ παῖς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἔχει, ἀλλὰ βαρὺ φθέγγεται καὶ κοῖλον, ὥσπερ οἱ ἄνδρες, βλέπει δὲ ἑτέροις ὀφθαλμοῖς μᾶλλον ἢ τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ. κἀγὼ μὲν ἐπὶ τούτοις κλάω τε καὶ ἐμαυτὴν δρύπτω καὶ νουθετῶ τὸν υἱόν, ὁπόσα εἰκός, ὁ δὲ οὐκ οἶδέ με. διανοουμένης δέ μου τὴν ἐνταῦθα ὁδόν, τουτὶ δὲ πέρυσι διενοήθην, ἐξηγόρευσεν ὁ  δαίμων ἑαυτὸν ὑποκριτῇ χρώμενος τῷ παιδὶ, καὶ δῆτα ἔλεγεν εἶναι μὲν εἴδωλον ἀνδρός, ὃς πολέμῳ ποτὲ ἀπέθανεν, ἀποθανεῖν δὲ ἐρῶν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ γυναικός, ἐπεὶ δὲ ἡ δὲ γυνὴ περὶ τὴν εὐνὴν ὕβρισε τριταίου κειμένου γαμηθεῖσα ἑτέρῳ, μισῆσαι μὲν ἐκ τούτου τὸ γυναικῶν ἐρᾶν, μεταρρυῆναι δὲ ἐς τὸν παῖδα τοῦτον. ὑπισχνεῖτο δέ, εἰ μὴ διαβάλλοιμι αὐτὸν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, δώσειν τῷ παιδὶ πολλὰ ἐσθλὰ καὶ ἀγαθά. ἐγὼ μὲν δὴ ἔπαθόν τι πρὸς ταῦτα, ὁ δὲ διάγει με πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον καὶ τὸν ἐμὸν οῖκον ἔχει μόνος, οὐδὲν μέτριον οὐδὲ ἀληθὲς φρονῶν.” ἤρετο οὖν ὁ σοφὸς πάλιν, εἰ πλησίον εἴη ὁ παῖς, ἡ δὲ οὐκ ἔφη, πολλὰ μὲν γὰρ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἀφικέσθαι αὐτὸν πρᾶξαι, ὁ δὲ ἀπειλεῖ κρημνοὺς καὶ βάραθρα καὶ ἀποκτενεῖν μοι τὸν υἱόν, εἰ δικαζοίμην αὐτῷ δεῦρο.”—”θάρσει,” ἔφη ὁ σοφὸς, “οὐ γὰρ ἀποκτενεῖ αὐτὸν ἀναγνοῦς ταῦτα,” καί τινα ἐπιστολὴν ἀνασπάσας τοῦ κόλπου ἔδωκε τῇ γυναικί, ἐπέσταλτο δὲ ἄρα ἡ ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς τὸ εἴδωλον ξὺν ἀπειλῇ καὶ ἐκπλήξει.
(Philostratus, Apoll. 3.38)

This discussion was interrupted by the appearance among the sages of the messenger bringing in certain Indians who were in want of succour. And he brought forward a poor woman who interceded in behalf of her child, who was, she said, a boy of sixteen years of age, but had been for two years possessed by a devil. Now the character of the devil was that of a mocker and a liar. Here one of the sages asked, why she said this, and she replied: “This child of mine is extremely good-looking, and therefore the devil is amorous of him and will not allow him to retain his reason, nor will he permit him to go to school, or to learn archery, nor even to remain at home, but drives him out into desert places and the boy does not even retain his own voice, but speaks in a deep hollow tone, as men do; and he looks at you with other eyes rather than with his own. As for myself I weep over all this and I tear my cheeks, and I rebuke my son so far as I well may; but he does not know me. And I made my mind to repair hither, indeed I planned to, do so a year ago; only the demon discovered himself using my child as a mask, and what he told me was this, that he was the ghost of man, who fell long ago in battle, but that at death he was passionately attached to his wife. Now he had been dead for only three days when his wife insulted their union by marrying another man, and the consequence was that he had come to detest the love of women, and had transferred himself wholly into this boy. But he promised, if I would only not denounce him to yourselves, to endow the child with many noble blessings. As for myself, I was influenced by these promises; but he has put me off and off for such a long time now, that he has got sole control of my household, yet has no honest or true intentions.” Here the sage asked afresh, if the boy was at hand; and she said not, for, although she had done all she could to get him to come with her, the demon had threatened her with steep places and precipices and declared that he would kill her son, “in case”, she added, “I haled him hither for trial.” “Take courage,” said the sage, “for he will not slay him when he has read this.” And so saying he drew a letter out of his bosom and gave it to the woman; and the letter, it appears, was addressed to the ghost and contained threats of an alarming kind. (tr. Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare)

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