Apollonius of Tyana
The Philosopher Explorer
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia
The Writings of Apollonius
a. The Mystic Rites or Concerning Sacrifices. [The full title is given by Eudocia, Ionia; ed. Villoison (Venet 1781) p 57] This treatise is mentioned by Philostratus (iii 41; iv 19), who tells us that it set down the proper method of sacrifice to every God, the proper hours of prayer and offering. It was in wide circulation, and Philostratus had come across copies of it in many temples and cities, and in the libraries of philosophers. Several fragments of it have been preserved, [See Zeller, Phil d Griech, v 127] the most important of which is to be found in Eusebius, [Præparat. Evangel., iv 12-13; ed Dindorf (Leipzig 1867), i 176, 177] and is to this effect: “ ‘Tis best to make no sacrifice to God at all, no lighting of a fire, no calling Him by any name that men employ for things to sense. For God is over all, the first; and only after Him do come the other Gods. For He doth stand in need of naught e’en from the Gods, much less from us small men - naught that the earth brings forth, nor any life she nurseth, or even any thing the stainless air contains. The only fitting sacrifice to God is man’s best reason, and not the word [A play on the meanings of ?s???, which signifies both reason and word.] that comes from out his mouth.
“We men should ask the best of beings through the best thing in us, for what is good - mean by means of mind, for mind needs no material things to make its prayer. So then, to God, the mighty One, who’s over all, no sacrifice should ever be lit up.”
Noack [Psyche, I ii.5.] tells us that scholarship is convinced of the genuineness of this fragment. This book, as we have seen, was widely circulated and held in the highest respect, and it said that its rules were engraved on brazen pillars at Byzantium. [Noack, ibid.]
b. The Oracles or Concerning Divination, 4 books. Philostratus (iii 41) seems to think that the full title was Divination of the Stars, and says that it was based on what Apollonius had learned in India; but the kind of divination Apollonius wrote about was not the ordinary astrology, but something which Philostratus considers superior to ordinary human art in such matters. He had, however, never heard of anyone possessing a copy of this rare work.
c. The Life of Pythagoras. Porphyry refers to this work, 8 [See Noack, Porphr. Vit. Pythag., p 15] and Iamblichus quotes a long passage from it. [Ed. Amstelod., 1707, cc 254-264]
d. The Will of Apollonius, to which reference has already been made, in treating of the sources of Philostratus (i 3). This was written in the Ionic dialect, and contained a summary of his doctrines.
A Hymn to Memory is also ascribed to him, and Eudocia speaks of many other( ?a? a??ap???a) works.
We have now indicated for the reader all the information which exists concerning our philosopher. Was Apollonius, then, a rogue, a trickster, a charlatan, a fanatic, a misguided enthusiast, or a philosopher, a reformer, a conscious worker, a true initiate, one of the earth’s great ones? This each must decide for himself, according to his knowledge or his ignorance.
I for my part bless his memory, and would gladly learn from him, as now he is.