Monday, 6 August 2018

The Miracles (?) of Apollonius of Tyana

     Who the heck was Apollonius of Tyana? I first met him in a novel called My First 2,000 Years (about the Wandering Jew) by G. S. Viereck and P. Eldridge (1928), where he appears as a philosopher who raises a dead woman to life, and informs the narrator that he and Jesus had been disciples of the same master in Tibet. (The latter statement, of course, expresses the common Western trope of Tibet as a centre of profound, occult, and mystical philosophy. While Tibetan Buddhism could well be described in such terms, it did not arrive in the country until the seventh century.)
     Naturally, I assumed that Apollonius was a fictional character. Afterwards, however, I kept seeing references to him as a wonder worker, and always juxtaposed, usually favourably, with Jesus. I was later to discover that he had been cited in anti-Christian writers of the late second and early third centuries, and later by anti-Christian writers of the Enlightenment, up to the present day. But who the heck was he? When I finally managed to read his biography, it turned out to be a damp squib.