A Hellenistic Twilight Zone episode (and a Jewish parallel story)

Further to my earlier post on Greco-Roman paradoxography, there is another that I thought may be of interest. (See the earlier post two entries below). I talked about the second century author Phlegon. Another was Apollonios, who may have written in the second century BCE. One of his “marvels” (drawing on an author named Theopompos) comes across like a Twilight Zone episode:

It is said that Epimenides of Crete was sent by his father and uncles to their farm to bring a sheep back to town. When night overtook him he left the path and slept for fifty-seven years. . . In the meantime the members of Epimenides’s household died, and when he awoke from his sleep he looked for the sheep he had been sent to bring. . . he assumed that he had awoken on the same day on which he had fallen asleep–but he found that the farm was sold and the equipment was changed(Hansen, p. 6).

Now that’s a good long nap.

UPDATE: Ken Penner (McMaster U.) comments that there is an interesting parallel story in the OT Pseudepigrapha in 4 Baruch, chapter 5. There Abimelech, a contemporary of Jeremiah, gets tired while carrying figs, lies down for a nap, and doesn’t wake up for 66 years. He similarly is confused by all the changes when he returns to Jerusalem. In this case, God sent this “stupor” upon Abimelech so that he would not have to witness the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem and the exile of its people. After the 66 year nap, Abimelech wakes up and (with humorous effect) says, “I would like to nap a little longer, because my head is weighed down, but I’m afraid I might fall fast asleep and be late waking up” (trans. by S.E. Robinson in James H. Charlesworth, ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1983-85). The Greek text is available at the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha (OCP) site.

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  1. Pingback: Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean » “The head . . . proclaimed these verses”: Another (ancient) ghoulish story for halloween

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