Eibon Saith: The Apophthegmata of Eibon by Robert M. Price

Wisdom is just common sense.

1. When asked why he preferred the company of demons to that of men, Eibon replied, "Because demons are not hypocrites."

2. Once when Morghi the Inquisitor accosted Eibon the mage in the marketplace, saying, "O Eibon, how long wilt thou worship false gods?", he is said to have replied, "Until someone showeth me a true one to worship."

3. One of his disciples asked him why a wizard must never take a wife. Eibon said to him, "For a wizard must needs silence the demons, and a wife can no man silence."

4. A certain rich man said unto Eibon, "O mage, what profiteth thee thy learning, when thou hast no possessions from it?" Eibon answered, saying, "He who knows the world owns the world."

5. A devil mocked the sorcerer Eibon, saying, "O mortal, pitiful is thy lot! For thy knowledge can never make thee aught but mortal!" But Eibon answered him, "I am not the vapour that strains to fill the sky and is lost; rather, I am the empty jar that seeketh but to be filled."

6. A youth came and said to him, "Eibon of Mhu Thulan, men say thou art very evil." The magus smiled upon him and answered, "It is that they lack the word for a greater good."

7. One day Eibon sat teaching his disciples of the ways of magic, saying, "Suppose I say unto you, the sum of two and two is three. Would any of you believe it? Rightly not." He then took in his hand a ball of iron. "Now if I tell you the sum of two and two is three and I make the ball to vanish --" and here, before all their eyes, the ball did vanish "-- what have I thus proven?"
And one ventured, "My lord, thou hast proven that the sum of two and two is indeed three!"
"Nay," said Eibon, "I have but proven that I am able to make the ball to vanish, and nothing more."

8. Eibon of Mhu Thulan was said to be expert in the arts of necromancy. They say how once he held converse with a mummy many centuries dead. The mummy said to him, "I envy thee, for that thou still knowest thy joys." But Eibon answered, "And I envy thee, for that thy sorrows are all behind thee."

9. In elder times the land did suffer much on account of the ill-will between the wizards who little trusted one another, and each did begrudge his fellow his own secrets. When asked why he stood aloof from such feudings, Eibon answered, "My quarrel is with ignorance, not with the ignorant."

10. A fearful man besought the mage Eibon to give him some talisman to protect him against demon possession. But Eibon said, "O man, are devils greater fools than men, that they should seek to possess that which hath no value?"

11. One day as the sorcerer Eibon made his way through the countryside, a swine did speak to him with the voice of a man, saying, "Have mercy, gentle Eibon! I am in truth Beliarnoth the merchant, and a witch hath imprisoned me in the body of a swine!" Whereupon Eibon did answer, "Rather, O pig, I should say the crone did but restore thy true form, freeing thee from the false seeming of a man."

12. Of all the disciples of Eibon, one found it harder than the rest to comprehend the magical precepts, so that oft had the mage to repeat himself. One day, in that disciple's absence, the others gathered round their master and asked him, "Lord Eibon, wherefore bearest thou with such obtuseness?" And he did rebuke them, saying, "For in another life, I am he."

13. A drought wasted the land, and many died, both of men and beasts. And most of the villagers looked unto Eibon's tower and said it was even his doing. Reporting these things to him, his servant asked why his master sought not to vindicate himself. He answered, "For it is better that men should blame than that they should despair."

14. Eibon saith, "If the Lord of the world offer thee the world with the right hand and knowledge with the left, choose knowledge; for the world not known is vain.
"If he offer thee everlasting life with the right hand and knowledge with the left, choose knowledge; for better is it to know oneself dying than to live forever heedless."

15. A comely succubus appeared unto Eibon and sought to tempt him, wooing him with honeyed tones: "Come and take me, O Eibon, for am I not delightsome?" Eibon looked up from his scrolls, saying, "Nay, but I should say thou art the most exceedingly wretched among creatures, for that, being but the semblance of flesh, thou hast nonetheless a carnal mind, forfeiting the blessings both of flesh, which thou art not, and of spirit, which thou art."

16. Some approached Eibon, having been warned by the Sybil that all Hyperborea should one day fall prey to the creeping ice. "Whither shall we flee, O Eibon?" He answered them, "What, think ye there is some country wherein the Grim Reaper shall not find a man at last?"

17. When asked what advantage he found in serving Zhothaqquah the sleeping god, Eibon replied, "Rather would I believe in a god that sleepeth than that the travails of the world should be the will of a waking providence!"

18. Once Eibon sat in the drinking-house when one began to calumniate the Voormis and to urge war be made against them. Whereupon quoth Eibon, "Wherefore? What evil have they done thee, O man?"
The man smote the table and answered, "They are little more than beasts, with their shambling gait and shaggy pelts!"
And Eibon laughed, saying, "Just yesterday I sat among the Voormis, and much sport did they make of you men, piebald and leprous as you seem to them."

19. Eibon saith, "Better to die from ignorance than to kill from ignorance."

20. When asked why he kept no slaves, he replied, "For the spirit within man is a wild beast, and if one spend all his time taming a beast, he hath no time left to ride the beast."

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© 1997 Edward P. Berglund
"Eibon Saith: The Apophthegmata of Eibon": © 1997 Robert M. Price. All rights reserved.
Graphics © 1997 Old Arkham Graphics Design. All rights reserved. Email to: Corey T. Whitworth.

Created: September 18, 1997; Updated: August 9, 2004