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Apollonius of Tyana
APOLLONIUS OF TYANA: Neo-Pythagorean philosopher, elevated by non-Christians to a place by the side of Christ; b. at Tyana in Cappadocia, the modern Kiz-Hissar (80 m. n.w. of Tarsus); d. at Ephesus, probably, 98 A.D. He was educated at Ephesus and at Tarsus, but, disgusted by the immorality of the latter city, he went to Ægææ (the modern Ayas, on the Gulf of Iskanderun, 50 m. s.e. of Adana). In its temple of Æsculapius he studied medicine and philosophy, and became an ardent and lifelong adherent of Pythagoras. He observed the five years of absolute silence enjoined by the Pythagoreans, and then started on his memorable and extensive travels, which took him into all parts of the known world, made him acquainted with many prominent persons, and gave him a great reputation for wisdom. He seems to have exerted a virtuous example and to have been a religious reformer. Falling under the suspicion of Domitian, he went to Rome for his trial and was acquitted after he had endured a brief imprisonment (94 A.D.). The last ten years of his life were passed in Greece, where he had many disciples.
The importance of Apollonius as a religious reformer was more and more magnified, and shortly after his death statues and even temples were erected in his honor by emperors, and he was worshiped as a god. Among his prominent admirers was the talented and learned Julia Domna, wife of the emperor Severus, who requested one of her literary men, Flavius Philostratus, to write 232 for her a biography of Apollonius and for this purpose supplied him with data, including the travel-journal of his companion, the Assyrian Damis, and a collection of his letters. On the basis of these, with large additions of legendary matter and notices of every description, the book was prepared; but it was not published till after the death of the empress (217). It bears every evidence of being a historical novel, and its miraculous details are not deserving of analysis; but non-Christians ever since have pretended to find in Apollonius a pagan Christ, and in the stories told about him, counterparts of those related of Christ and his apostles.
The earliest person named who made this use of Philostratus’s novel is Hierocles, governor of Bithynia during the Diocletian persecution (303), who wrote a work against the Christians in which he instituted a comparison between Apollonius and Christ. This stirred up the church historian Eusebius, to write a refutation, in which he shows how unreliable as a source the romance of Philostratus is. The deist Charles Blount (see Deism) and Voltaire revived this use of Philostratus in the interest of their paganism, while in the nineteenth century Ferdinand Christian Baur called attention afresh to Philostratus’s work and elaborated the thesis that Philostratus had purposely modeled his narrative on that of the Gospels. Edward Zeller followed him in this advocacy, the Frenchman Albert Reville also. But there is no evidence that Philostratus had any knowledge of the Gospels and the Acts, and the life of the Apostle Paul is a much closer parallel to Apollonius than that of Christ, who was no peripatetic philosopher.
Bibliography: Sources: C. L. Kayser’s ed. of Fl. Philostrati Opera, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1871, contains also Apollonii Epistolœ and Eusebius adv. Hieroclem; the latter is also in MPG, iv.; Eng. transl. of first two books of Philostratus, by C. Blount, London, 1680, and of all by E. Berwick, 1809; French transl. by J. F. Salvemini de Castillon, Paris, 1774, and by A. Chassang, 1862, with transl. of the letters of Apollonius; Germ. transl. by E. Baltzer. Consult also: E. Müller, War Apollonius . . . ein Weiser, . . . Betrüger, . . . Schwärmer und Fanatiker, Breslau, 1861; A. Réville, Apollonius of Tyana, London, 1866; J. H. Newman, in Historical Sketches, ii., London, 1872 (noteworthy); O. de B. Priaulx, Indian Travels of Apollonius, ib. 1873; F. C. Baur, Apollonius von Tyana und Christus, in Drei Abhandlungen, Leipsic, 1876; C. Mönckeberg, Apollonius von Tyana, Hamburg, 1877; C. H. Pettersch, Apollonius von Tyana, Reichenberg, 1879; C. L. Nielsen, Apollonius fra Tyana, Copenhagen, 1879; J. Jessen, Apollonius . . . und sein Biograph, Hamburg, 1885; D. M. Tredwell, Sketch of the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, New York, 1886; K. S. Guthrie, The Gospel of Apollonius of Tyana, Medford, 1900; G. R. S. Mead, Apollonius of Tyana, London, 1901; T. Whittaker, in The Monist, xiii. (1903) 161-217.
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