Often wrongly considered to be one of the incarnations of Jesus Christ, the philosopher nevertheless lived in his time. Who was he and why do women who are passionate about Christian history take him for the messiah?
Apollonius was born around 15 A.D. in Tyana, more precisely in Cappadocia (Turkey). He is a philosopher and mathematician who was raised in the richest family in Tyana. It was at the age of fourteen that his father sent him to perfect his education through several trips to philosophers in several countries. He discovered the doctrine of Pythagoras which fascinated him through his mystical questions. (Image credit Barthélemy de Melo).
He is a man qualified as temperate, chaste and caring with a deep and inspiring wisdom for his neighbour, he is also an accomplished vegetarian showing his relatives the virtues of this diet. He is highly appreciated by his relatives and by the other philosophers he frequents, such as Euphrates or the wise people of the gymnosophists who have the particularity of living naked.
In order to learn the doctrine of Pythagoras through the different countries in which he would travel throughout his life (Syria, Babylon, India, Ethiopia, Italy, Greece etc.); he undertook for five years a virtue of silence in order to evolve on the spiritual level.
Apollonius also possesses speaking skills that he distributes with wisdom at the end of his abstinence from speaking. He wears rags, he accepts the alms he gives back to his neighbour and remains a virgin until the end of his life, he refuses sexuality and sees lust and materiality with a very negative eye. He advises on vegetarianism and sexual abstinence wherever he goes.
There is a lot of certified information against him, the only book referring to the life of Apollonius is “The Life of Apollonius of Tyana” by theologian Philostratus dating back almost two centuries after his death. There are some statues against him even if very few were certified as his. It is indeed common for the Roman people to make statues inspired by philosophers, thinkers or sages for those who want to read or reflect on philosophical trends often explained by speakers in public places. According to Philostratus, he also performed acts described as magic, in front of the emperor Nero he would have resurrected a teenage girl who had just died, then the emperor would have banished him from Rome. Another emperor, Domitian, reportedly tortured him and thrown in prison for giving his ideals, but there is no historical evidence to prove the truth of these acts.
It is the book of Philostratus that has shed considerable light on the life of Apollonius of Tyana even if the historical reality concerning him is very slight, indeed there are many other free thinkers or philosophers who have not inscribed their traces in eternity, knowing that most of the bodies were thrown into mass graves or burned to avoid infectious diseases. He would also have entered into a trance in front of witnesses where he would have witnessed the death of the emperor Domitian who was killed while being stabbed, he would then have shouted “Hit the tyrant, strike” thus making reference to the assassination. But once again this is historically not proven and the majority of murders of emperors, politicians or philosophers were stabbings.
This is why, through theories on the philosopher’s life, many have made the relationship with Christ, but we must also remember that after Christ’s death but also during his lifetime, many people also began to work miracles, sometimes even relating charlatanism, to make money on the backs of people in difficulty, which Christ condemned, but also Apollonius. It is therefore difficult to certify the information on this, just as Jesus died in Jerusalem in 30 years while the philosopher died in Pozzuoli around the year 100 at the age of 97.
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