[ca 170-245 CE]
Athenian member of the philosophical
circle of Syrian-born Roman empress Julia Domna, who after her death
moved to Tyre. Author of biographies of sophists & philosophers
Life of Apollonius
of Tyana -- biography of legendary 1st c. Pythagorean sage
& healer, allegedly based on no longer extant notes of his
disciple, Damis of Nineveh. The historical Apollonius was a near
contemporary of Paul. A wealthy native of a small town in central
Asia Minor, Apollonius studied at Tarsus before attaching himself to
the shrine of the healing god, Asclepius, at Aegae. At age 20 he
renounced his inheritance & adopted the simple lifestyle of an itinerant
(vegetarian) beggar-sage, traveling through Syria &
Mesopotamia to India & back (ca. 41-54 CE). He was in Rome
during the reign of Nero (54-68 CE).
He reportedly survived the
reign of Domitian (d. ca. 98 CE).
Apollonius' popular reputation
for personal confidence, sharp wit, & success as a healer &
exorcist led to his veneration in the eastern Mediterranean as a
divine man [theios anér]. This 3rd c. biography
commissioned by Julia Domna popularized the cult of Apollonius in
aristocratic Roman circles at a time when Christianity was becoming
popular. Later Christian writers frequently characterized this
biography as a fiction, deliberately designed to parody the gospels.
[Edition used: Philostratus. Life of
Apollonius of Tyana (in Loeb Classical Library). Ed. F. C.
Conybeare. New York: Macmillan, 1912.]
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