Maria Gerolemou, Recognizing Miracles in Antiquity and Beyond
The importance of Alexander’s divine blessing as a key element in Callisthenes’ image of the king is well known,60 and he is also reputed to have been involved in scientific inquiry,61 which makes him a suitable option to identify the origin of the observed mixture of religion and science. The possibility that contents from Callisthenes could be present in the other historians of Alexander and, through them, in Arrian’s work, has deeply attracted the attention of scholars. The idea of a close dependence on Callisthenes by the other companions of the Macedonian king, and the belief in an “immanence” of Callisthenes in all the preserved historiography on Alexander have been justly criticised, and the autonomy and originality of the other Alexander historians have been upheld. But still, it is widely accepted that his work was a reference point for the writers dealing with Alexander’s deeds after him, and that it exercised a clear influence upon them.62 Therefore, perhaps, the hand of Callisthenes might explain the presence of the scientific echoes in the miracles narrated regarding the campaign of Alexander, or at least, in some of them. However, a famous reference by Eustathius of Thessalonica attributes an account of Alexander’s crossing the passage of Phaselis to Callisthenes, where no trace of scientific intention is visible; in contrast, the miracle appears in its fullness and occupies the whole space:63 ὅπου γε Καλλισθένης τὸ Παμφύλιον πέλαγος Ἀλεξάνδρου παριόντος εἰ καὶ μὴ γηθόσυνον διαστῆναι, ὡς ἐν ὁδοποιίαι, ἀλλ’ ἐξυπαναστῆναι λέγει αἰσθόμενον οἷον τῆς ἐκείνου πορείας καὶ οὐδ’ αὐτὸ ἀγνοῆσαι τὸν ἄνακτα, ἵνα ἐν τῶι ὑποκυρτοῦσθαί πως δοκῆι προσκυνεῖν. So Callisthenes on the Pamphylian Sea: when Alexander approached, even if the sea was not willing to recede, as going to give way but it grew rough, he says that it noticed how Alexander’s march was and did not ignore his king, so that, curving down, the sea seemed to prostrate.
The sea parted for Alexander c.330 BC. Which parting came first, then?