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This is Apollonius of Tyana on a coin. Apollonius was born into a respected and wealthy Greek family. A wandering philosopher, probably representing Apollonius of Tyana, who lived a part of his life in Crete and died there. Philostratus’s account shaped the image of Apollonius for posterity and still dominates discussions about him in our times. There also survives, separately from the life by Philostratus, a collection of letters of Apollonius, but at least some of these seem to be spurious.
How much of this can be accepted as historical truth depends largely on the extent to which modern scholars trust Philostratus, and in particular on whether they believe in the reality of Damis. Even before he was born, it was known that he would be someone special. A supernatural being informed his mother the child she was to conceive would not be a mere mortal but would be divine. He was born miraculously, and he became an unusually precocious young man.
As an adult he left home and went on an itinerant preaching ministry, urging his listeners to live, not for the material things of this world, but for what is spiritual. He gathered a number of disciples around him, who became convinced that his teachings were divinely inspired, in no small part because he himself was divine. He proved it to them by doing many miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. But at the end of his life he roused opposition, and his enemies delivered him over to the Roman authorities for judgment. Still, after he left this world, he returned to meet his followers in order to convince them that he was not really dead but lived on in the heavenly realm. Later some of his followers wrote books about him.
Apollonius disappeared because the proper conditions for its development did not exist. Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam thrived however, because the existing conditions were favorable. Christ stand in stark opposition to the stories about Apollonius which he felt were very likely spurious. Pythagorean tradition, opposed animal sacrifice, and lived on a frugal, strictly vegetarian diet.
18 September 96 AD, Apollonius was said to have witnessed the event in Ephesus “about midday” on the day it happened in Rome, and told those present “Take heart, gentlemen, for the tyrant has been slain this day “. Damis, a native of that city who became his lifelong companion. Hence such a feat made Apollonius look like a good Pythagorean who spared no pains in his efforts to discover the sources of oriental piety and wisdom. As some details in Philostratus’ account of the Indian adventure seem incompatible with known facts, modern scholars are inclined to dismiss the whole story as a fanciful fabrication, but not all of them rule out the possibility that the Tyanean actually did visit India. What seemed to be independent evidence showing that Apollonius was known in India has now been proved to be forged. Only in 1995 were the passages in the Sanskrit texts proven to be interpolations by a late 19th century forger. Some of them are cited in full, others only partially.
There is also an independently transmitted collection of letters preserved in medieval manuscripts. It is difficult to determine what is authentic and what not. Some of the letters may have been forgeries or literary exercises assembled in collections which were already circulated in the 2nd century AD. From this we can infer that Apollonius really had students and that his school survived at least until Lucian’s time. One of Philostratus’ foremost aims was to oppose this view.