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Headword: Ἀπολλώνιος
Adler number: alpha,3420
Translated headword: Apollonios, Apollonius
Vetting Status: high
Of Tyana, philosopher, son of Apollonios and a mother from that town, members of the gentry. With him in her womb, his mother saw a genius standing near saying that he himself was the child she was carrying, and that he was Proteus, the Egyptian;[1] therefore, he was thought to be Proteus' son. He flourished during the rule of Claudius, Gaius [Caligula], and Nero until Nerva's reign, during which he did indeed pass away.[2] Following Pythagoras' example he kept absolute silence all through five years.[3] He set out for Egypt, then went to Babylon to meet the Magi, and then met the Arabs. He collected from all of them the numberless conjurations widely ascribed to him. So many works he composed: the Initiations or On Sacrifices, the Testament, the Oracles, the Epistles, the Life of Pythagoras. Philostratos of Lemnos wrote a biography[4] that pays respect to this man as a true philosopher. According to Philostratos, Apollonios of Tyana had more self-restraint than Sophocles, who used to say that only after reaching old age did he escape a raging and savage beast of a master.[5] Apollonios, on the contrary, with his virtue and temperance was not overcome by these urges, even in his youth. According to Philostratos, he approached wisdom in a more godlike way[6] than Pythagoras because Apollonios bested tyrannies, and his was an era not so long ago.[8] Men do not yet grant him recognition for the truth of his philosophy, which he practised both wisely and soundly. But some praise one aspect of the man, others another. Yet others, given that he consulted with the magi of Babylon, the Brahmins of India and the naked ascetics[9] of Egypt, regard him as a magus and unfairly claim that he was not a true philosopher, misapprehending him. For Empedocles[10] and Pythagoras[11] himself and Democritus[12] too, though they associated with magicians and spoke many marvellous and divine things, were never drawn to magic.[13] Though Plato was in Egypt[14] and, just like a painter adding color to a sketch, blended in his dialogues many teachings of the prophets and priests of that country, he was never regarded as a magus and yet was the most envied of men for his wisdom. Nor should we slur Apollonios' intuition and prescience in the things he predicted with this kind of wisdom any more than Socrates[15] might be accused for his predictions and so Anaxagoras,[16] who at Olympia, when there was not the slightest sign of rain, went out into the stadium under a fleece, so suggesting that it would rain.[17] Though many attribute such to Anaxagoras, they turn right around to deny Apollonios the prescience that was intrinsic to his wisdom. So I think one should not heed the nonsense of the many, but should investigate what Apollonios said and did according to the times and the special character of the skill through which he succeeded in being thought supernatural and divine. I have collected information from the cities devoted to him; other information comes from sanctuaries whose lapsed rites he restored, and from what others wrote to him and he to others. He corresponded with kings, sophists, philosophers, Eleans, Delphians, Indians and Egyptians on gods, customs, and laws. We can know in more detail what he was doing among them through Damis, his student and witness.[18]
This Apollonius of Tyana[19] had an excellent memory, if anyone did. He truly kept his vow of silence but gathered much information, and when a hundred years old he had a sharper memory than Simonides.[20] He composed and used to sing a hymn to Memory, in which he says that Time causes everything to waste away but Time itself through Memory is both ageless and immortal. With regard to Apollonius, look for other predictions of his under "Timasion".[21]
[Philostratos also reports][22] that this Apollonius said the following about Anaxagoras: he was from Clazomenae and he said his teachings were meant for cattle and camels, and that he would rather philosophize with beasts than men [23]. The Theban Crates threw his property into the sea, so ensuring that it was of no use either to beasts or men [24].
Greek Original:
Ἀπολλώνιος, Τυανεὺς, φιλόσοφος, υἱὸς Ἀπολλωνίου καὶ μητρὸς πολίτιδος τῶν ἐπιφανῶν, ὃν κύουσα ἡ μήτηρ ἐπιστάντα δαίμονα ἐθεάσατο λέγοντα, ὡς αὐτὸς εἴη ὃν κύει, εἶναι δὲ Πρωτέα τὸν Αἰγύπτιον: ὅθεν ὑπειλῆφθαι αὐτὸν Πρωτέως εἶναι υἱόν. καὶ ἤκμαζε μὲν ἐπὶ Κλαυδίου καὶ Γαί̈ου καὶ Νέρωνος καὶ μέχρι Νέρβα, ἐφ' οὗ καὶ μετήλλαξεν. ἐσιώπησε δὲ κατὰ Πυθαγόραν ε# ἔτη. εἶτα ἀπῆρεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, ἔπειτα εἰς Βαβυλῶνα πρὸς τοὺς μάγους, κἀκεῖθεν ἐπὶ τοὺς Ἄραβας, καὶ συνῆξεν ἐκ πάντων τὰ μυρία καὶ περὶ αὐτοῦ θρυλούμενα μαγγανεύματα. συνέταξε δὲ τοσαῦτα: Τελετὰς ἢ περὶ θυσιῶν, Διαθήκην, Χρησμοὺς, Ἐπιστολὰς, Πυθαγόρου βίον. εἰς τοῦτον ἔγραψε Φιλόστρατος ὁ Λήμνιος τὸν φιλοσόφῳ πρέποντα βίον. ὅτι Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Τυανεὺς ἐς σωφροσύνην ὑπερεβάλλετο τοῦ Σοφοκλέους. ὁ μὲν γὰρ λυττῶντα ἔφη καὶ ἄγριον δεσπότην ἀποφυγεῖν, ἐλθόντα ἐς γῆρας, ὁ δὲ Ἀπολλώνιος ὑπ' ἀρετῆς καὶ σωφροσύνης οὐδὲ ἐν μειρακίῳ ἡττήθη τούτων. ὅτι Φιλόστρατος λέγει περὶ Ἀπολλωνίου, θειότερον ἢ ὁ Πυθαγόρας τῇ σοφίᾳ προσελθεῖν τυραννίδων τε ὑπεράραντα καὶ γενόμενον κατὰ χρόνους οὔτ' ἀρχαίους οὔτ' αὖ νέους. ὃν οὔπω οἱ ἄνθρωποι γινώσκουσιν ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθινῆς φιλοσοφίας, ἣν φιλοσόφως τε καὶ ὑγιῶς ἐπήσκησεν. ἀλλ' ὁ μὲν τὸ, ὁ δὲ τὸ ἐπαινεῖ τἀνδρός: οἱ δὲ, ἐπειδὴ μάγοις Βαβυλωνίων καὶ Ἰνδῶν Βραχμᾶσι καὶ τοῖς ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ Γυμνοῖς συνεγένετο, μάγον ἡγοῦνται αὐτὸν καὶ διαβάλλουσιν ὡς μὴ σοφὸν, κακῶς γινώσκοντες. Ἐμπεδοκλῆς τε γὰρ καὶ Πυθαγόρας αὐτὸς καὶ Δημόκριτος ὁμιλήσαντες μάγοις καὶ πολλὰ δαιμόνια εἰπόντες οὔπω ὑπήχθησαν τῇ τέχνῃ. Πλάτων δὲ βαδίσας ἐς Αἴγυπτον καὶ πολλὰ τῶν ἐκεῖ προφητῶν τε καὶ ἱερέων ἐγκαταμίξας τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ λόγοις καὶ καθάπερ ζωγράφος ἐσκιαγραφημένοις ἐπιβαλὼν χρώματα οὔπω μαγεύειν ἔδοξε, καίτοι πλεῖστα ἀνθρώπων φθονηθεὶς ἐπὶ σοφίᾳ. οὐδὲ γὰρ τὸ αἰσθέσθαι πολλὰ καὶ προγνῶναι διαβάλλοι ἂν τὸν Ἀπολλώνιον, ἐφ' οἷς προὔλεγεν, ἐς τὴν σοφίαν ταύτην, ὡς διαβεβλήσεται καὶ Σωκράτης ἐφ' οἷς προὔλεγε, καὶ Ἀναξαγόρας, ὃς Ὀλυμπίασιν, ὁπότε ἥκιστα ὕοι, προελθὼν ὑπὸ κωδίῳ ἐς τὸ στάδιον ἐπὶ προρρήσει ὄμβρου. καὶ ἄλλα τινὰ ὑπὲρ Ἀναξαγόρου προτιθέντες ἀφαιροῦνται τὸν Ἀπολλώνιον τὸ κατὰ σοφίαν προγινώσκειν. δοκεῖ οὖν μοι μὴ περιϊδεῖν τὴν τῶν πολλῶν ἄνοιαν, ἀλλ' ἐξακριβῶσαι τὸν ἄνδρα τοῖς τε χρόνοις, καθ' οὓς εἶπέ τι ἢ ἔπραξε, τοῖς τε τῆς σοφίας τρόποις, ὑφ' ὧν ἔψαυσε τοῦ δαιμόνιός τε καὶ θεῖος νομισθῆναι. ξυνείλεκται δέ μοι τὰ μὲν ἐκ πόλεων, ὁπόσαι αὐτοῦ ἤρων, τὰ δὲ ἐξ ἱερῶν, ὁπόσα ὑπ' αὐτοῦ ἐπανήχθη παραλελυμένα τοὺς θεσμοὺς ἤδη, τὰ δὲ ἐξ ὧν ἕτεροι πρὸς αὐτὸν ἢ αὐτὸς πρὸς ἄλλους ἔγραφεν. ἐπέστελλε δὲ βασιλεῦσι, σοφισταῖς, φιλοσόφοις, Ἠλείοις, Δελφοῖς, Ἰνδοῖς, Αἰγυπτίοις, ὑπὲρ θεῶν, ὑπὲρ ἠθῶν, ὑπὲρ νόμων, παρ' οἷς ὅ τι ἂν πράττοι: τὰ δὲ ἀκριβέστερα παρὰ Δάμιδος ἀκηκοώς. οὗτος Ἀπολλώνιος ὁ Τυανεὺς διαμνημονικός τις ἦν εἴπερ τις ἄλλος, ὃς τὴν μὲν φωνὴν σιωπῇ κατεῖχε, πλεῖστα δὲ ἀνελέγετο, καὶ τὸ μνημονικὸν ἑκατοντούτης γενόμενος ἔρρωτο ὑπὲρ τὸν Σιμωνίδην. καὶ ὕμνος αὐτῷ τίς ἐστιν εἰς μνημοσύνην, ὃν ᾖδεν, ἐν ᾧ πάντα μὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ χρόνου μαραίνεσθαί φησιν, αὐτόν γε μὴν τὸν χρόνον ἀγήρω τε καὶ ἀθάνατον ὑπὸ τῆς μνημοσύνης εἶναι. ζήτει περὶ Ἀπολλωνίου καὶ ἕτερα προγνωστικὰ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Τιμασίων. ὅτι Ἀπολλώνιος οὗτος τάδε περὶ Ἀναξαγόρα ἔφη: καὶ γὰρ Κλαζομένιον ὄντα καὶ ἀγέλαις καὶ καμήλοις τὰ ἑαυτοῦ ἀναθέντα εἰπεῖν, προβάτοις μᾶλλον ἢ ἀνθρώποις φιλοσοφῆσαι. ὁ δὲ Θηβαῖος Κράτης κατεπόντωσε τὴν οὐσίαν, οὔτε προβάτοις ποιήσας ἐπιτήδειον, οὔτε ἀνθρώποις.
C1-2 AD. See generally OCD(4) p.124, under 'Apollonius(12)'. The present entry draws on the problematic "biography" of him by Philostratos, for whom see phi 421-423 (and OCD(4) p.1137, under 'Philostrati').
[1] Philostratos (1.4) follows the Homeric portrait of Proteus (Odyssey 4.349ff) as residing on the island of Pharos near the mouth of the Nile, contrasting with Vergil (Georgics 4.387), who places Proteus on the island of Carpathus, between Crete and Rhodes.
[2] The sense of μετήλλαχεν ranges from "he vanished" (in the sense of "transmuted") to "he died." Philostratos does not use the term, but at 8.29ff records various accounts of Apollonios' death and reappearance prefaced with the sober comment "if indeed he died" (εἴγε ἐτελεύτα ).
[3] Diogenes Laertius 8.10 (Pythagoras).
[4] Literally, "a biography befitting a philosopher." The formal title The Memoirs of Apollonios of Tyana is given as τὰ ἐς τὸν Τυανέα Ἀπολλώνιον (see OCD) and, distilled from Philostratos at 8.29, as τὰ ἐς Ἀπολλώνιον τὸν Τυανέα .
[5] Philostratos 1.13. Plato, Republic 329C in reference to Sophocles' "natural force" in "service of Aphrodite."
[6] Or "more superbly."
[7] In contrast to Pythagoras fleeing the political tribulations of Samos and Croton, Apollonios confronted Tigellinus in the time of Nero (Philostratos 4), and returned to Rome despite foreknowledge that Domitian intended his arrest (Philostratos 7).
[8] Literally, "(he was) born not in the distant past nor recently."
[9] Or "Gymnosophists."
[10] Diogenes Laertius 8.59-62 (Empedocles).
[11] Diogenes Laertius 8.2-3, 20-21 (Pythagoras).
[12] Diogenes Laertius 9.34 (Democritus).
[13] Philostratos distinguishes between τέχνη (or ὡς μάγῳ τέχνῃ at 1.2) as black magic and σοφία as sage wisdom.
[14] Diogenes Laertius 3.6 (Plato).
[15] Diogenes Laertius 2.32, 40 (Socrates).
[16] Diogenes Laertius 2.10, 12-13 (Anaxagoras).
[17] cf. Philostratos 1.2. In the Suda's slightly modified version, ἐς is the instrumental ("by means of": Danker, 291.5), while referential ("for": Danker, 291.5) in Philostratos. The conjunctive in Philostratos reads "otherwise" (LSJ); the Suda's conjunctive ὡς reads "as" (LSJ) with the sense "as [were this accusation accepted; so English "as" for "in the same way that it would be if"] Socrates should have been accused for..." The critical apparatus for Philostratos, with Suda variants marked, is: "Nor, then, as to (his) foreseeing and foreknowing many things, should one slur Apollonios for this kind of wisdom (Suda: for the things he predicted by means of this kind of wisdom); otherwise (Suda: as) then, Socrates should have been accused for the things he predicted with his miraculous foresight and Anaxagoras..." See Philostratos 8 (particularly 8.7.9ff.) in which the author has Apollonios extensively develop this argument via his undelivered (owing to prior acquittal) trial defense speech.
[18] Philostratos 1.3, 19. The verb ἀκούω here carries a dual sense. For the use of ἀκούω as "to be a student," see LSJ and Diogenes Laertius 9.21 (Parmenides). Philostratos does not use the term.
[19] Quoted from either alpha 2245 or sigma 439.
[20] Philostratos 1.14. Simonides was renowned for his excellent memory even into old age, reportedly dying at ago 90 or older. The Syracusans erected a monument to his mental faculty.
[21] tau 598. For Timasion, Apollonios' young Egyptian follower, see Philostratos 6.3, 9, 22ff.
[22] Quoted from alpha 1981.
[23] Ibid. 1.13.
[24] Ibid. See Plutarch, Moralia 4E for Crates' notion of poverty.
Primary Sources
Hamilton, E. and Cairnes, H. Plato: The Collected Dialogues, Including the Letters (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)
Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press (Loeb Classical Library), 1995)
Penella, Robert J. The Letters of Apollonius of Tyana: A Critical Text (Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1979)
Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the Epistles of Apollonius, and the Treatise of Eusebius (Cambridge: Harvard University (Loeb Classical Library), 2000)
Plutarch, Moralia, Volume VI (Cambridge: Harvard University (Loeb Classical Library), 2000)
Secondary Sources
Blackburn, B. "Miracle Working THEOI ANDRES in Hellenism (and Hellenistic Judaism" in The Miracles of Jesus (Gospel Perspectives 6; Sheffield, JSOT, 1986) 185-218
Bowie, E. Ll. "Apollonius of Tyana: Tradition and Reality" ANRW 2.16.2 (1987) 1652-99
Danker, F.W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000)
Evans, Craig A. "Excursus Two: Jesus and Apollonius of Tyana" in Jesus and his Contemporaries: Comparative Studies (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995) 245-50 B.
Francis, James A. Subversive Virtue: Asceticism and Authority in the Second-Century Pagan World (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995)
Francis, James A. "Truthful Fiction: New Questions to Old Answers on Philostratus' Life of Apollonius", AJPh 119 (1998) 419-441
Harris, F. "Apollonius of Tyana: Fact or Fiction?" JRH 5 (1969)189-99
Petzke, G. Die Traditionen ueber Apollonius von Tyana und das Neue Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1970)
Votaw, Clyde Weber. The Gospels and Contemporary Biographies in the Greco-Roman World (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1915; reprinted 1970)
Keywords: biography; Christianity; chronology; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; meter and music; mythology; philosophy; poetry; religion; women
Translated by: Massimo Forconi on 2 December 2001@18:27:19.
Vetted by:
Craig Miller (Under editorial review as of this date.) on 29 June 2002@08:46:10.
Craig Miller (Translation modified; notes, keywords added. Bibliography adds, status, and cosmetics pending by editor.) on 21 July 2002@10:37:00.
Craig Miller on 21 July 2002@19:15:17.
Craig Miller (Bibliography standardized and augmented; status changed; cosmetics.) on 27 July 2002@08:06:51.
Craig Miller (Cosmetics.) on 27 July 2002@08:38:48.
Craig Miller on 27 July 2002@09:51:46.
David Whitehead (modified translation; added initial note; augmented other notes, and keywords; cosmetics) on 21 August 2002@06:56:35.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 3 April 2012@07:57:38.
David Whitehead (updated OCD refs) on 30 July 2014@08:14:38.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 10 December 2014@00:52:40.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 10 December 2014@00:57:51.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 21 January 2015@23:52:24.
Catharine Roth (typo) on 17 March 2015@09:40:58.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note 2) on 18 March 2015@22:53:11.


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