Apollonius of Tyana  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Apollonius of Tyana (40—ca. 120 AD) was a Greek Pythagorean philosopher and teacher. He hailed from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Asia Minor. His date of birth is a matter of conjecture as some say he was roughly a contemporary of Jesus, in fact Eells (Life and Times of Apollonius, 1923, p.3) states his date of birth three years before Jesus of Nazareth, whose date of birth is also debatable. However, Philostratus’ the Elder (c170-247 AD) in Life of Apollonius, places him staying in the court of King Vardanes I of Parthia for a while, who ruled between c.40-47 AD. Apollonius began a five year silence at about the age of 20, and after the completion of this silence travelled to Mesopotamia and Iran. The text also mentions the emperors Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian and Nerva at various points throughout Apollonius’ life. Given this information, a timeline of roughly the years 15- 98 AD can be established for his life. After his death his name remained famous among philosophers and occultists.

Modern era

In Europe, there has been great interest in Apollonius since the beginning of the 16th century, but the traditional ecclesiastical viewpoint still prevailed. Till the Age of Enlightenment the Tyanean was usually treated as a demonic magician and a great enemy of the Church who collaborated with the devil and tried to overthrow Christianity. On the other hand, several advocates of Enlightenment, deism and anti-Church positions saw him as an early forerunner of their own ethical and religious ideas, a proponent of a universal, non-denominational religion compatible with Reason. In 1680, Charles Blount, a radical English deist, published the first English translation of the first two books of Philostratus' Life with an anti-Church introduction. Voltaire praised Apollonius.

As in Late Antiquity, comparisons between Apollonius and Jesus became commonplace in the 17th and 18th centuries in the context of polemic about Christianity. In the Marquis de Sade's "Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man", the Dying Man compares Jesus to Apollonius as a false prophet. Some Theosophists, notably C.W. Leadbeater, Alice A. Bailey, and Benjamin Creme, have maintained that Apollonius of Tyana was the reincarnation of the being they call the Master Jesus. In the 20th century, Ezra Pound evoked Apollonius in his later Cantos as a figure associated with sun-worship and a messianic rival to Christ. Pound identifies him as Aryan within an anti-semitic mythology, and celebrates his solar worship and aversion to ancient Jewish animal sacrifice. In the Gerald Messadié's "The man who became god", Apollonius appears as a wandering philosopher and magician of about the same age as Jesus. The two of them supposedly met. French author Maurice Magre also wrote about Apollonius in his little known book Magicians, Seers, and Mystics.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Apollonius of Tyana" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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