As a young man, Basil began living as a hermit near Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey. Courtiers of the Byzantine emperor, alarmed at his appearance and fearful of his influence, had him arrested and questioned as a spy. Basil would say only that he was a pilgrim and stranger on earth, but he denounced their immoral lifestyles. According to his hagiography, he survived their cruel tortures and being thrown to a lion unharmed, and was saved from an official drowning by two dolphins. These miracles won him freedom. Thereafter, many of the faithful came to his hermitage for healing, prophecies and instruction. Basil reportedly lived to the age of 110.