Apollonius of Tyana 

Scape-goating Transmigration of Souls
Proteus Incarnate Post Hoc
Suttee Just Deserts
Respect of Persons Pollution


One of the ugliest things of which human beings are capable is what is popularly known as 'scape-goating.' This is not precisely like what the Mosaic law does in appointing a scape-goat to be sent into the wilderness, because there it is clearly understood that the scape-goat is a substitute; the guilty parties are the people, who lay their sins upon this blameless animal. In what is popularly known as 'scape-goating,' however, an innocent person or group, often socially marginalized, is made to blame for some phenomenon over which they have no control, fingered as the actual guilty party, on the basis of slim or no evidence. A horrifying example of this tendency is found in Philostratus' biography of Apollonius of Tyana. See this helpless homeless man get pummelled into an unrecognizable mass by a mob convinced by the wily magician that he is the cause of all their troubles, in this case, an epidemic disease:

  • “With such harangues as these he knit together the people of Smyrna; but when the plague began to rage in Ephesus, and no remedy sufficed to check it, they sent a deputation to Apollonius, asking him to become physician of their infirmity; and he thought that he ought not to postpone his journey, but said: 'Let us go.'
  • "And forthwith he was in Ephesus, performing the same feat, I believe, as Pythagoras, who was in Thurii and Metapontum at one and the same moment. He therefore called together the Ephesians, and said: 'Take courage, for I will today put a stop to the course of the disease.'
  • "And with these words he led the population entire to the the theater, where the image of the Averting god has been set up. [Heracles] And there he saw what seemed an old mendicant artfully blinking his eyes as if blind, as he carried a wallet and a crust of bread in it; and he was clad in rags and was very squalid of countenance. Apollonius therefore ranged the Ephesians around him and said: 'Pick up as many stones as you can and hurl them at this enemy of the gods.'
  • "Now the Ephesians wondered what he meant, and were shocked at the idea of murdering a stranger so manifestly miserable; for he was begging and praying them to take mercy upon him. Nevertheless Apollonius insisted and egged on the Ephesians to launch themselves on him and not let him go. And as soon as some of them began to take shots and hit him with their stones, the beggar who had seemed to blink and be blind, gave them all a sudden glance and his eyes were full of fire. Then the Ephesians recognized that he was a demon, and they stoned him so thoroughly that their stones were heaped into a great cairn around him.
  • "After a little pause Apollonius bade them remove the stones and acquaint themselves with the wild animal they had slain. When therefore they had exposed the object which they thought they had thrown their missiles at, they found that he had disappeared and instead of him there was a hound who resembled in form and look a Molossian dog, but was in size the equal of the largest lion; there he lay before their eyes, pounded to a pulp by their stones and vomiting foam as mad dogs do. Accordingly the statue of the Averting god, Heracles, has been set up over the spot where the ghost was slain.”
  • (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book Four, Chapter 10.)

LogoCertainly all of those harmless old European women ever executed as a witch,— because the crops had failed, and somebody must be found to pin the blame upon,— knows what this poor, innocent old man went through in the closing moments of his life. What a contrast this wicked mountebank presents to Jesus of Nazareth, who welcomed the isolated outcast to His table. This horrible scene of frantic mob violence is unique in literature.

Those executed by stoning may leave as remains little that's recognizably human: “But when at length it was disclosed that what they meant was to dissuade the infliction of torture, upon one of those present shouting out 'Throw!' they promptly stoned to death all who had come forward to speak; and their relations buried their bodies, which were crushed into shapeless masses as though by the feet of elephants.” (Polybius. Delphi Complete Works of Polybius, Book I, Chapter 80, (Delphi Ancient Classics) (Kindle Locations 2267-2269)). Nominating scape-goats has always been one of the functions performed by bad religion. Are people dying, left and right, from the black death? Who is to blame? For some people, 'no one' doesn't work. An enthusiast pops up, fulfilling the 'Apollonius' role, and explains that it's the Jews, who poisoned the wells. Peter the Hermit is another in the 'Apollonius' tradition. This woman, the wicked queen of the Franks, who murdered Bishop Praetextatus, lost her children in the aftermath of Justinian's plague,— a terrible tragedy, one must feel for her; but she will not be satisfied until the guilty parties are found and punished:

"In 580 the plague swept all over Gaul, and two sons of Fredegundis’ were carried off by it. She accused their step-brother of having caused their death by witchcraft, and got her husband to permit her to execute him. But when her last child died, two years later, the wretched woman’s rage and grief led her into the wildest outbursts of cruelty. She accused numbers of persons about the court of magic arts practised against her boy, and burnt them alive, or broke them on the wheel."
(Oman, Charles. The Dark Ages 476-918 A.D. (p. 135). Augustine Books. Kindle Edition.)

There is a defect in the human heart, where if people cannot quite get exactly to the culprit who harmed them, if indeed there was one, they will settle for whoever is at hand. One would like to think this kind of evil was possible only in the ancient world, but there were two major regimes of the twentieth century who leaders must rank with our ambitious and shameless mountebank,— Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and Josef Stalin's Soviet Union,— based on a very similar strategy of pinning the guilt for misfortunes and lack of success on scape-goat groups: the Nazis explained that Germany's Jewish minority was responsible for Germany's failure in World War I, and Stalin's show trials revealed that 'wreckers' and saboteurs were responsible for the failure of the Soviet economy to achieve its goals. It seems that the potential is always there to unleash mob violence against the outsider, given an abandoned demagogue like Apollonius or Hitler willing to light the spark:


LogoTransmigration of Souls

The teaching, promoted in the Western classical world by Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Plato, that human souls are recycled from one generation to the next, was taught also by Apollonius of Tyana:

  • “The votaries of Pythagoras of Samos have this story to tell of him, that he was not an Ionian at all, but that, once on a time in Troy, he had been Euphorbus, and that he had come to life after death, but had died as the songs of Homer relate. . .
  • “Moreover they declare that Empedocles of Acragas had trodden this way of wisdom when he wrote the line
  • "Rejoice ye, for I am unto you an immortal God, and no more mortal."
  • “And this also:
  • 'For erewhile, I already became both girl and boy.'”
  • (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book I, Chapter I).

Plato Control Mechanism
The Bible Population Explosion
Memories The Christian Alternative
Father of Spirits Revival

Logo Apollonius is aware of the story, and as a Pythagorean, believed it: "Would you then say," said Apollonius, "that as Pythagoras declared himself to be Euphorbus, so you yourself, before you entered your present body, were one of the Trojans or Achaeans or someone else?" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 3, Chapter 19). He himself claimed to have lived previously as the captain of an Egyptian vessel: "Iarchas therefore took him up and said: 'Then you think it ignoble to have been the pilot of an Egyptian vessel, for I perceive that this is what you were?' 'What you say,' said Apollonius, 'is true, Iarchas; for that is really what I was; but I consider this profession not only inglorious but also detestable.  . .'" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, Book 3, Chapter 23). Apollonius' first loyalty was to Pythagoras, for whom this error is foundational; here he confesses himself a disciple of the Samian sage: "'O divine Pythagoras, do thou defend me upon these counts; for we are put upon our trial for a rule of life of which thou wast the discoverer, and of which I am the humble partisan.'" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, Book 8, Section 7iv).

One Teacher who, given the opportunity to sign onto this paradigm, signally refused to do so, is Jesus, who answered the question about the man born blind this way,

“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'” (John 9:1-5).

Notice what Jesus refrains from saying: that the man was born blind in punishment for sins committed during a prior lifetime. This grossly unfair accusation is flung every day in the East in the faces of those children unfortunate enough to be born with a deformity or disability. No doubt this 'blame the victim' mentality adds to the weight of the burden these children must bear in their struggles.

Plato is the most widely-read of the ancient authors who endorsed the Eastern concept of reincarnation. The story is, he got it from the Pythagoreans, some of whose literature he purchased:

"It is related that Plato the philosopher had a very small paternal inheritance, notwithstanding which, he bought three books of Philolaus, the Pythagorean, at the price of ten thousand denarii; which sum some affirm to have been given him by his friend Dio, of Syracuse." (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, Volume I, Book III, Chapter XVII, pp. 225-226).

This was a secretive cult whose devotees were sworn to maintain silence for years upon joining, and there is no evidence Plato ever did that. The books would have been expensive because devotees were not supposed to share their esoteric knowledge. Presumably Pythagoras himself got it direct from the source, from Hindu or Buddhist teachers; this is the normal belief in the East, it is not the native Greek or Roman belief. This at any rate was Apollonius' theory: ". . .and of the sages of India, from whom these principles of wisdom were derived by Pythagoras and his school." (Philostratus, Apollonius of Tyana, Book 8, Chapter 7.xii.).

The popularity of Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana is likely due to the 'New Age' feel of the material, which is a popular theme nowadays. Apollonius was a Pythagorean and believed in reincarnation. He was also a vegetarian: "And having said this he declined to live upon a flesh diet, on the ground that it was unclean, and also that it made the mind gross; so he partook only of dried fruits and vegetables, for he said that all the fruits of the earth are clean." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 1, Chapter 8). One motivation to vegetarianism to those of this persuasion may be summarized as, 'Don't eat Grandma!' He supplemented and deepened Pythagoras' system by going back to the source.

Plato Home

LogoThe Christian alternative to reincarnation is resurrection, a non-cyclical, non-repeating occurrence. Those who prefer reincarnation often object to the concept of eternal life in the flesh, even a renovated flesh; those attracted to transmigration, like the gnostics, often devalue life in the flesh and look forward to a consummation of re-absorption into deity or some other form of personal extinguishment like the Buddhist Nirvana:


LogoProteus Incarnate

The suggestion is made in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana that Apollonius is Proteus incarnate. Proteus is a distinctly minor deity, a shape-shifting old man residing on the isle of Pharos, off Alexandria, Egypt. . .or so his mother dreamed prior to his birth:

  • “To his mother, just before he was born, there came an apparition of Proteus, who changes his form so much in Homer, in the guise of an Egyptian demon. She was in no way frightened, but asked him what sort of child she would bear. And he answered: "Myself."
  • “'And who are you?' she asked.
  • “'Proteus,' answered he, 'the god of Egypt.'
  • “Well, I need hardly explain to readers of the poets the quality of Proteus and his reputation as regards wisdom; how versatile he was, and for ever changing his form, and defying capture, and how he had a reputation of knowing both past and future.”

  • (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book I, Chapter 4).

LogoProteus is distinctly a minor-league god, not one of the twelve Olympians; this is rather a modest god-claim which Apollonius, or rather his mother, is advancing. Of course, only in paganism can a god-claim be classified either as modest or major; the options narrow down in monotheism.

As in the trial of Jesus, this was one of the counts against Apollonius before the emperor:

"Now on this occasion a tribune who knew Apollonius perfectly well, addressed him and asked him in an insolent manner, what had brought him to such a pass. Apollonius replied that he did not know.

"Well," said the other, "I can tell you: for it is allowing yourself to be worshipped by your fellow-men that has led you to be accused of setting yourself on a level with the gods.'" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 7, Chapter 21).

Was he after all claiming to be only a 'little god?' When convenient:

"The emperor next asked the question: 'Why is it that men call you a god?'
"'Because,' answered Apollonius, 'every man that is thought to be good, is honored by the title of god.'" (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 8, Chapter 5).

He often seems to be making a bigger, more meaningful god-claim, though. The people who put Apollonius forward were, it would seem, playing 'keep-up-with-the-Joneses' with Christianity; this 'Life' is an anti-gospel, burlesque as compared with tragedy, death as opposed to life.

Apollonius was a devotee of Pythagoras' system, which was a veritable factory of wannabe-gods and gods-in-the-making. Pythagoras introduced worthwhile innovations, such as his famous geometrical theorem and his conviction that mathematics lay at the heart of reality, which indeed it does. However he enclosed these insights within a great deal of humbug, and unfortunately among his followers are found some with no insight to offer but only humbug. According to Philostratus' 'Life,' Apollonius travelled to India to uncover the root of Pythagoreanism, which is understandable given that reincarnation is almost the universal belief of the East. When Pythagoras introduced this belief-system into the West, it was not breaking news in the East, and so it does seem likely he would have borrowed it from those who first invented it:


Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

They say, by way of caution,

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

. . ."after this, therefore because of this." One should not be so hasty as to so assume, even if the fore-runner event: say, the rooster's crow at first light,— fires the starter's pistol for the succeeding event, say, the solar disk's clearance of the horizon,— not once, but millions of times. But who has ever heard the saying, "Ante hoc, ergo propter hoc?" If the second event actually comes before the first, some explanation is required as to how it might be caused by the event it precedes. Leave it to the atheists! You'll hear on the internet from the atheists that the four Christian gospels are modelled after Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana. This does not seem very likely, given that Apollonius life continues later than the gospels can possibly have been written, and Philostratus' biography is written centuries later. How can the gospel writers have copied a work not yet written?

Is it likely, on the other hand, that Philostratus' 'Life' is modelled after the four gospels? Such modeling is at least within the realm of the possible; were the pagans keeping up with the Joneses by imitating the popular Christian gospels? Certainly pagan apologists like Hierocles used this 'Life.' These works are, in a general sense, of somewhat similar genre, though not in detail; I would encourage readers to go back to that horrifying scene in which Apollonius incites a mob to murder a defenseless, innocent man, and maybe they will see why the Christian antagonists of these pagan apologists called him names like 'mountebank, sorcerer,' etc. He is not a nice guy. Incidentally, the 'sorcerers' and 'magicians' of that day were not people who wasted their time on futile gestures; they knew how to get results, using poison and other down-to-earth, secular methodology. Here the pagans are showing us the best they have, the best they can conceive. At times it is not so bad, at times it is a horror:


Life of
of Tyana

LogoPeople used to make fun of those old-fashioned TV commercials wherein the actor would drink,— what? say, a mixture of turpentine, paint thinner, and saw-dust?— and swear he could not tell the difference between this concoction and some more familiar and appealing food or drink. People used to laugh at these commercials, because the old-fashioned instant coffee really did not resemble actual coffee all that much, and anyone who was awake should have been able to tell the difference. In a similar vein, some people claim they really cannot tell the difference between the Christian gospels, and not only a work like the 'Life of Apollonius of Tyana,' but even a work like Euripides' 'Bacchae,' which recounts how the 'god' Dionysus tricked his loyal votary Agave into ripping her own son Pentheus limb from limb. It's funny, but somehow I can tell the difference. As a rule of thumb, may I suggest, if it's ghastly, horrible and nightmarish, it's not the gospel? One wonders how this woman is supposed to live with herself after this incident; she tore her own son to pieces, with her bare hands. Some kind of 'god' Dionysus is if this is how he rewards faithful and devoted service. What harm had Agave ever done him? Call me a sentimentalist, but I just don't see gentle Jesus, meek and mild, reflected in a sadistic monster like Dionysus. Even when the Lord comes in judgment, He will not punish the unoffending. Read it for yourself:

The Bacchae

  • “'Maidens, I bring the man who tried to mock you and me and my mystic rites; take vengeance on him.' And as he spoke he raised betwixt heaven and earth a dazzling column of awful flame. Hushed grew the sky, and still hung each leaf throughout the grassy glen, nor could you have heard one creature cry. But they, not sure of the voice they heard, sprang up and peered all round; then once again his bidding came; and when the daughters of Cadmus knew it was the Bacchic god in very truth that called, swift as doves they darted off in eager haste, his mother Agave and her sisters dear and all the Bacchanals; through torrent glen, over boulders huge they bounded on, inspired with madness by the god.
  • “Soon as they saw my master perched upon the fir, they set to hurling stones at him with all their might, mounting a commanding eminence, and with pine-branches he was pelted as with darts; and others shot their wands through the air at Pentheus, their hapless target, but all to no purpose. For there he sat beyond the reach of their hot endeavors, a helpless, hopeless victim. At last they rent off limbs from oaks and were for prising up the roots with levers not of iron. But when they still could make no end to all their toil, Agave cried: "Come stand around, and grip the sapling trunk, my Bacchanals! that we may catch the beast that sits thereon, lest he divulge the secrets of our god's religion."
  • “Then were a thousand hands laid on the fir, and from the ground they tore it up, while he from his seat aloft came tumbling to the ground with lamentations long and loud, even Pentheus; for well he knew his hour was come. His mother first, a priestess for the nonce, began the bloody deed and fell upon him; whereon he tore the snood from off his hair, that hapless Agave might recognize and spare him, crying as he touched her cheek, "O mother! it is I, your own son Pentheus, the child you did bear in Echion's halls; have pity on me, mother dear! oh! do not for any sin of mine slay your own son."
  • “But she, the while, with foaming mouth and wildly rolling eyes, bereft of reason as she was, heeded him not; for the god possessed her. And she caught his left hand in her grip, and planting her foot upon her victim's trunk she tore the shoulder from its socket, not of her own strength, but the god made it an easy task to her hands; and Ino set to work upon the other side, rending the flesh with Autonoe and all the eager host of Bacchanals; and one united cry arose, the victim's groans while yet he breathed, and their triumphant shouts. One would make an arm her prey, another a foot with the sandal on it; and his ribs were stripped of flesh by their rending nails; and each one with blood-dabbled hands was tossing Pentheus' limbs about.”
  • (Euripides, Bacchae).

Greek Red Figure Vase, Pentheus torn by his Mother Agave

LogoThis moral rot goes all the way to the top. Zeus, the king of the pagan hill, was a serial rapist. The naming convention for the moons of Jupiter is that they should be named after the illicit loves of Jupiter. This means in practice rape victims, including a little boy, Ganymede. By way of contrast, may I offer a God who does not plot His adherents' ruin?:

LogoMay I suggest, as a rule of thumb, if people are being cruelly murdered in a grotesque way for no earthly reason, that it's not the gospel? Just a suggestion. These two competing thought systems have dwelt next door for millenia: "What then was the sage's device? All though his life, he is said often to have exclaimed: 'Live unobserved, and if that cannot be, slip unobserved from life." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 8, Chapter 28); compare with "Jesus said, 'Be passersby.'" (Gospel of Thomas 43). . .and the gospel. The same people, for the same reasons, would like to substitute one for another.

LogoDoes Apollonius of Tyana have any modern followers? He's a sensitive, New Age guy, and Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky speaks well of him. He belonged to her occult guild; he was a medium; here he is calling up the deceased Achilles:

"The rest of the company also besought him to tell them all about it, and as they were in a mood to listen to him, he said: "Well, it was not by digging a ditch like Odysseus, nor by tempting souls with the blood of sheep, that I obtained a conversation with Achilles; but I offered up the prayer which the Indians say they use in approaching their heroes. 'O Achilles,' I said, 'most of mankind declare that you are dead, but I cannot agree with them, nor can Pythagoras, my spiritual ancestor. If then we hold the truth, show to us your own form; for you would profit not a little by showing yourself to my eyes, if you should be able to use them to attest your existence.'
"Thereupon a slight earthquake shook the neighborhood of the barrow, and a youth issued forth five cubits high, wearing a cloak of Thessalian fashion; but in appearance he was by no means the braggart figure which some imagine Achilles to have been." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 4, Chapter 16).

The two share a belief in reincarnation: "The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations." (Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Kindle location 23011).

Though Madame Blavatsky advertises her product as the 'ancient wisdom,' it has novel elements, not to mention incomprehensible elements. As Mary Baker Eddy complained, she is a materialist: "For clearer understanding on the part of the general reader, it must be stated that Occult Science recognizes Seven Cosmical Elements — four entirely physical, and the fifth (Ether) semi-material, as it will become visible in the air towards the end of our Fourth Round, to reign supreme over the others during the whole of the Fifth. The remaining two are as yet absolutely beyond the range of human perception." (Madame Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Kindle location 22846). For my way of thinking, the two altogether imperceptible ones might just as well have been omitted in the interests of economy:


Theosophy Modern Science
Table-Rapping Annie Besant
The Christian Alternative Astral Body
All Paths Converge Cosmic Mote
Sparks Ascending Bad Voodoo
Knowledge, Falsely So-Called Satan the Prince


What was the religion of the Brahmins which Apollonius so greatly admired? This ancient pagan religion incorporated both soul-felt aspirations after God, but also horrors. Let's examine one practice, 'suttee' or 'sati,' which is ancient; it was recorded by companions of Alexander the Great. The British colonial administration suppressed this practice in when they governed India. This was the once common custom in that land of the widow mounting her deceased's husband's funeral pyre, to be consumed alive by the same flames devouring his dead body. Apollonius' biography suggests one possible motive for this practice: fear of the deceased husband's vengeance: ".. .the demon discovered himself using my child as a mask, and what he told me was this, that he was the ghost of a man, who fell long ago in battle, but that at death he was passionately attached to his wife. Now he had been dead for only three days when his wife insulted their union by marrying another man, and the consequence was that he had come to detest the love of women, and had transferred himself wholly into this boy." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 3, Chapter 38).

Praise for 'suttee' is no exception to the rule in the Hindu religion. In general the life-negating Eastern religions take a positive view of suicide, whereas Christianity takes a negative view:

"As far as I can see, it is only the followers of monotheistic, that is of Jewish, religions that regard suicide as a crime. . .Further, it is well known that the Hindoos often look upon suicide as a religious act, as, for instance, the self-sacrifice of widows, throwing oneself under the wheels of the chariot of the god at Juggernaut, or giving oneself to the crocodiles in the Ganges or casting oneself in the holy tanks in the temples, and so on." (Arthur Schopenhauer, the Complete Essays, 'On Suicide,' Kindle location 2966-2998).

After Alaric the Goth had sacked Rome, Augustine gave his attention, in the 'City of God,' to the case of the women who had thrown themselves into the river to avoid rape by the barbarians. While he felt compassion for these women, he also believed they had done wrong, inasmuch the law says, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and they had killed an innocent person,— their own self,— to avoid a crime of which they would have been the innocent victim, not the guilty perpetrator. At best, suttee is voluntary suicide; at worst, it is not quite voluntary. Paganism is not in the past for these people; occasionally, the newspapers report, it still happens.

Having taken over the Indian subcontinent, the colonial British were astonished to find themselves attneding these funerals, accompanied by a crowd far from moved by the appalling spectacle of self-immolation: "'Such were the confusion, the levity, the bursts of brutal laughter, while the poor woman was burning alive before their eyes,' the witness wrote,'that it seemed as if every spark of humanity was extinguished by this accursed superstititon.'" (quoted in Karen Swallow Prior, Fierce Convictions, p. 241). It was the British who outlawed the practice.

Eastern religion tends to view human life as discreditable, dishonorable, and devoid of value— a bad thing, not a good thing,— and applauds anyone making a quick exit, whatever the reason, simply on principle. The ancient Stoics had regarded suicide as an honorable way out, at times. In gnosticism, there is a similar ingratitude and disdain; but not in Christianity. The Christian British were astonished that no one ever tried to restrain these widows from doing away with themselves. Far from restraining them, their society put pressure on them to check out. From such 'wisdom,' may God preserve us.


Baal Worship The Thugs
The Idol Juggernaut Crocodile Gods
Apollonius of Tyana Mary Baker Eddy
Aztec Religion False Messiahs
Wall of Separation Polygamy
I am God The Kabbalah
Dionysus Madame H. P. Blavatsky
Jim Jones of Jonestown Church of the Creator
Cargo Cults Liberalism
Atheism Children of God
Pied Piper Southern Baptists
Solar Temple Heaven's Gate
Astrology The Circumcelliones
Nation of Islam Bishop Talbert Swan

LogoJust Deserts

What is your prayer to God: 'O Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,' or 'Give me what I deserve'? Apollonius' was the latter, and no doubt, God will oblige:


  • “'All your answers,' said Apollonius, 'are excellent, O Priest, and very true. Since then, they know everything, it appears to me that a person who comes to the house of God and has a good conscience, should put up the following prayer:
    'O ye gods, grant unto me that which I deserve.'

  • “'For,' he went on, 'the holy, O Priest, surely deserve to receive blessings, and the wicked the contrary. Therefore the gods, as they are beneficent, if they find anyone who is healthy and whole and unscarred by vice, will send him on his way, surely, after crowning him, not with golden crowns, but with all sorts of blessings; but if they find a man branded with sin and utterly corrupt, they will hand him over and leave him to justice, after inflicting their wrath upon him all the more, because he dared to invade their Temple without being pure.'”

  • (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book I, Chapter 11).

LogoRespect of Persons

How should a property dispute be settled? By the law? No, by the character of the disputants, according to Apollonius:

"'It seems then to me, O king, right to weight these men in the balance, as it were, and to examine their respective lives; for I cannot believe that the gods would deprive the one even of his land, unless he was a bad man, or that they would, on the other hand, bestow on the other even what was under the land, unless he was better than the man who sold it.'
"The two claimants came back the next day, and the seller was convicted of being a ruffian who had neglected the sacrifices, which it was his bounden duty to sacrifice to the gods on that land; but the other was found to be a decent man and a most devout worshipper of the gods. Accordingly, the opinion of Apollonius prevailed, and the better of the two men quitted the court as one on whom the gods had bestowed this boon." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 2, Chapter 39).

Fortunately this man is more 'comic relief' than the Lawgiver under whose odd notions we live, as overturning the rule of law in favor of the idea that the better litigant, or better-liked litigant, should prevail is not a good plan. A sensitive, New Age guy, Apollonius was a vegetarian, no doubt partly based upon the Pythagorean assumption that that roast pig might be Grandma:

"Now my own system of wisdom is that of Pythagoras, a man of Samos, who taught me to worship the gods in the way you see, and to be aware of them whether they are seen or not seen. . .And the very fashion of letting my hair grow long, I have learnt from Pythagoras as part of his discipline, and also it is a result of his wisdom that I keep myself pure from animal food." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 1, Chapter 32).

 On Abstinence from 
Animal Food


Some comments he made touching on the emperor Vespasian place Apollonius within the circle of anti-semitic pagan sages, along with Apion, Porphyry, and Celsus. Monotheistic religions do not play nicely with others, and these worthies, professional pagan 'wise men,' resented it:

"For the Jews have long been in revolt not only against the Romans, but against humanity; and a race that has made its own a life apart and irreconcilable, that cannot share with the rest of mankind in the pleasures of the table nor join in their libations or prayers or sacrifices, are separated from ourselves by a greater gulf than divides us from Susa or Bactra or the more distant Indies." (Phliostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book V, Chapter 33).

Instead of sorrowing for the countless victims of the Jewish War, Apollonius turns away from them as "polluted." No doubt, monotheism was bad for business:


  • “This is how the story grew up, that it was during his conduct of the siege of Jerusalem that the idea of making himself emperor suggested itself to him; and that he sent for Apollonius to ask his advice on the point; but that the latter declined to enter a country which its inhabitants polluted both by what they did and by what they suffered, which was the reason why Vespasian came in person to Egypt, as well because he now had possession of the throne, as in order to hold with our sage the conversations which I shall relate.”

  • (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book 5, Chapter 27).


Apollonius, an earnest student of everything useless, believes in astrology:

"Apollonius and Damis then took part in the interviews devoted to abstract discussions; not so with the conversations devoted to occult themes, in which they pondered the nature of astronomy or divination, and considered the problem of foreknowledge, and handled the problems of sacrifice and of the invocations in which the gods take pleasure.

"In these Damis says that Apollonius alone partook of the philosophic discussion together with Iarchas, and that Apollonius embodied the results in four books concerning the divination by the stars, a work which Moeragenes has mentioned. And Damis says that he composed a work on the way to offer sacrifice to the several gods in a manner pleasing to them." (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book III, Chapter 41).

Are these ancient studies helpful?:


Powerful Rulers Bible
Sympathy Root Cause
Apologetics Augustine's Objection
Creature and Creator New Age
The Magi