Apollonius (3)

Apollonius of Tyana, an impostor and professed magician, born three or four years before the vulgar era, at Tyana, a town in Cappadocia. His life by Philostratus (Α᾿πολλωνίου τοῦ Τυανέως βίος, best ed. — by Olearius, Lips. 1709, fol.) abounds with fabulous stories, apparently in imitation of the account of Christ's life in the Gospels. [Dupin wrote "The History of Apollonius of Tyana convicted of falsehood and imposture" (Paris, 1705). The life by Philostratus was translated into English by Charles Blount, who added some impious notes (1680). A French translation has recently been published by A. Chassang (Apollonius de Tyana, sa vie, ses voyages, ses prodiges, par Philostrate, Paris, 1864).] It is from this source that our chief knowledge of Apollonius is derived. The following sketch is taken from Farrar (Critical Hist. of Free Thought, lecture 2): Apollonius was a Pythagorean philosopher, born in Cappadocia about four years before the Christian era. After being early educated in the circle of philosophy, and in the practice of the ascetic discipline of his predecessor Pythagoras, he imitated that philosopher in spending the next portion of his life in travel. Attracted by his mysticism to the farthest East as the source of knowledge, he set out for Persia and India, and in Nineveh, on his route, met Damis, the future chronicler of his actions. Returning from the East instructed in Brahminic lore, he traveled over the Roman world. The remainder of his days was spent in Asia Minor. Statues and temples were erected to his honor. He obtained vast influence, and died with the reputation of sanctity late in the century. Such is the outline of his life, if we omit the numerous legends and prodigies which attach themselves to his name. He was partly a philosopher, partly a magician — half mystic, half impostor. At the distance of a century and a quarter from his death, in the reign of Septimius Severus, at the request of the wife of that emperor, Julia Domna (A.D. 210), the second of the three Philostrati dressed up Damis's narrative of his life in the work named above, and paved the way for the general reception of the story among the cultivated classes of Rome and Greece. It has been thought that Philostratus had a polemical aim against the Christian faith, as the memoir of Apollonius is in so many points a parody on the life of Christ. The annunciation of his birth to his mother, the chorus of swans which sang for joy on occasion of it, the casting out devils, the raising the dead, the healing the sick, the sudden disappearance and reappearance of Apollonius, the sacred voice which called him at his death, and his claim to be a teacher with authority to reform the world, form some of the points of similarity. If such was the intention of Philostratus, he was really a controversialist under the form of a writer of romance, employed by those who at that time were laboring to introduce an eclecticism largely borrowed from the East into the region both of philosophy and religion. Without settling this question, it is at least certain that about the beginning of the next century the heathen writers adopted this line of argument, and sought to exhibit a rival ideal. One instance is the life of Pythagoras by Iamblichus; another, the attack on Christianity by Hierocles (λόγοι φιλαλήθεις πρὸς τοὺς Χριστιανούς), in part of which he used Philostratus's untrustworthy memoir for the purpose of instituting a comparison between Apollonius and Christ. The sceptic who referred religious phenomena to fanaticism would hence avail himself of the comparison as a satisfactory account of the origin of Christianity; while others would adopt the same view as Hierocles, and deprive the Christian miracles of the force of evidence — a line of argument which was reproduced by the English Deist Blount (see above). The work of Hierocles is lost, but an outline of its argument, with extracts, remains in a reply which Eusebius wrote to a portion of it (cont. Hieroclem, ed. Olearius, Lips. 1709). Eusebius states (bk. 1) that he refutes only that portion of the work which related to Apollonius of Tyana, referring to Origen's answer to Celsus for a reply to the remainder of it, and discusses only the parallel of Apollonius and Jesus Christ. In bk. 1 he gives an outline of the argument of his opponent with quotations, and states his own opinion about Apollonius, throwing discredit on the veracity of the sources of the memoirs, and proceeds to criticise the prodigies attributed to him, arguing that the statements are incredible, or borrowed, or materially contradictory. Discussing each book in succession, he replies in bk. 1 to the statements respecting the early part of Apollonius's life; in bk. 2, to that which concerned the journey into India; in bk. 3, to that which related to his intercourse with the Brahmins; in bk. 4, to his journey in Greece; in bk. 5, to his introduction to Vespasian in Egypt; in bks. 6 and 7, to his miracles; and in bk. 8 to his pretense to fore-knowledge. He adds remarks on his death, and on the necessity of faith, and repeats his opinion re. specting the character of Apollonius. Lardner and Ritter think that Philostratus did not write with a polemical reference to Christianity. Dean Trench has made a few remarks in reference to this question (Notes to Miracles, p. 62). Baur maintains that Apollonius, as represented in the work of Philostratus, is meant to be the pagan counterpart of Christ. Baur finds in this parallel an opposition to Christianity which sought to claim for paganism what was offered by Christianity. Dr. Rieckher, on the other hand (in Studien der Wirtemb. Geistlichkeit, 1847), tries to prove that the picture drawn by Philostratus is not a guileless invention of a pagan personality to match the historical character of the founders of Christianity, but that it was the product of a well-meditated plan, concocted by a circle of educated men, whom the Empress Julia Domna had assembled around herself, and that it was intended not for the usual class of readers of a sophist, but for the mass of the people.

A good biography of Apollonius, with a pretty full literature of the subject, by J. H. Newman, is given at the end of Hind's History of the Early Church, in the Encyclop. Metrop. (and separately, London, 1850, 12mo). See also Mosheim, De existimatione Apolfonii Tyan.; Schroder, De Apoll. Tyan. (Wittenb. 1723); Zimmermann, De miraculis Apoll. Tyan. (Edinb. 1755); Herzog, Philos. pract. Apoll. Tyan. (Lipz. 1719); Baur, Apollonius und Christus (Tub. 1832); Mosheim, Church Hist. 1, 81; Neander, Church Hist. 1, 26, 30; Lardner, Works, 7, 486 sq.; Smith, Dict. of Biog. s.v. (by Jowett); Ritter, Gesch. der philosophie, t. 4; A. Reville, Le Christ Paten et la Cour des Suevres (Revue des deux Mondes, Oct. 1,18G5); Bayle, Dict. s.v.; Herzog, Real Encyklopadie, 1, 424; Journal of Sacred Literature, Oct. 1862, 2.; Lond. Quar. Rev. Jan. 1867.

Bible concordance for APOLLONIA.

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