Greek Mythology >> Bestiary >> Phasma >> Ephesian Eidolon (Eidolon Ephesios)


Greek Name

Ειδος Λοιμος Εφεσιος


Eidos Loimos Ephesios

Latin Spelling

Eidus Loemus Ephesius


Ephesus Plague-Demon

THE EIDOLON EPHESIOS was a plague-bringing evil-spirit (kakodaimon) or ghost (phasma) which infested the city of Ephesos. The creature was reputedly expelled by Apollonios of Tyana, a respected C1st A.D. pagan prophet.


Nowhere stated


Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 4. 10 ff (trans. Conybeare) (Greek biography C1st to C2nd A.D.) :
"When the plague began to rage in Ephesos (Ephesus), and no remedy sufficed to check it, they sent a deputation to Apollonios, asking him to become physician of their infirmity; and he thought that he ought not to postpone his journey, but said : ‘Let us go.’ And forthwith he was in Ephesos . . . He called together the Ephesians, and said: ‘Take courage, for I will today put a stop to the course of the disease.’ And with these words he led the population entire to the theatre, where the image of Apotropaios (the Averting God) [i.e. the god Herakles] has been set up. And there he saw an old mendicant artfully blinking his yes like a blind man, and he carried a wallet and a crust of bread in it; and he was clad in rags and was very squalid of countenance. Apollonios therefore ranged the Ephesians around him and said: ‘Pick up as many stones as you can and hurl them at this enemy of the gods.’ Now the Ephesians wondered what he meant, and were shocked at the idea of murdering a stranger so manifestly miserable; for he was begging and praying them to take mercy upon them. Nevertheless Apollonios insisted and egged on the Ephesians to launch themselves on him and not let him go. And as soon as some of them began to take shots and hit him with their stones, the beggar who had seemed to blink and be blind, gave them all a sudden glance and showed that his eyes were full of fire. Then the Ephesians recognised that he was a Daimon, and they stoned him so thoroughly that their stones were heaped into a great cairn around him. After a little pause Apollonios bade them remove the stones and acquaint themselves with the wild animal which they had slain. When therefore they had exposed the object which they thought they had thrown their missiles at, they found that he had disappeared and instead of him there was a hound who resembled in form and look a Molossian dog, but was in size the equal of the largest lion; there he lay before their eyes, pounded to a pulp by their stones and vomiting foam as mad dogs do. Accordingly the statue of Apotropaios (the Averting God), namely Herakles, ahs been set up over the spot where the Phasma (Ghost) was slain."

Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 8. 7 :
"[Consider] what took place in Ephesos (Ephesus) in connection with that plague. For the Eidos Loimos (Genius of the Pestilence),--and it took the form of a poor old man,--I both detected, and having detected took it captive: and I did not so much stay the disease as pluck it out. And who the god was to whom I had offered my prayers is shown in the statue which I set up in Ephesos to commemorate the event; and it is a temple of Herakles Apotropaios (Averter of Diseaser), for I chose him to help me, because he is the wise and courageous god, who once purged the plague of a city of Elis by washing away with the river-tide the foul exhalations which the land sent up under the tyranny of Augeas."

Eusebius, Treatise Against Hierocles 23 ff (trans. Jones) (Greek rhetorician C4th A.D.) :
"He [Apollonios of Tyana] pretends that the plague [of Ephesos] was seen in the form of an aged man, a beggar and dressed in rags; who, when Apollonios ordered the mob to stone him, began by shooting fire from his eyes, but afterwards, when he had been overwhelmed by the stones thrown at him, he appeared as a dog all crushed and vomiting foam, as mad dogs do. And he writes that Apollonios mentioned this episode also in the defence he addressed to the autocrat Domitian, as follows : ‘For the form of the plague--and it resembled an aged beggar--was both seen by me, and when I saw it I overcame it, not by staying the course of the disease, but by utterly destroying it.’
Who, I would ask, after reading this would not laugh heartily at the miracle-mongering of this thaumaturge (thaumatopoios)? For we learn that the nature of the plague was a living creature and as such exposed at once to the eyes of bystanders and to the showers of stones they hurled at it, and that it was crushed by men, and vomited foam, when all the time a plague is nothing in the world but a corruption and vitiation of the atmosphere, the circumambient of noxious and evil exhalations, as the medical theory teaches us. And on other grounds, too, this story of the Plague Phasma (Phantom) can be exploded; for the story tells us that it only afflicted the city of Ephesos, and did not visit the neighbouring populations."

Eusebius, Treatise of Eusebius Against Hierocles 31 :
"If we admit the author [Philostratos] to tell the truth in his stories of miracles, he yet clearly shows that they were severally performed by Apollonios with the co-operation of a Daimon (Demon). For his presentiment of the plague, though it might not seem to be magical and uncanny, if he owed it, as he himself said to the lightness and purity of his diet, yet might quite as well have been a premonition imparted to him in intercourse with a Daimon . . . You must then, as I said, regard the whole series of miracles wrought by him, as having been accomplished through a ministry of Daimones."




A complete bibliography of the translations quoted on this page.