Wednesday 20 April 2016

Life. 1.1-2 Pythagoras. Apollonius is no wizard. Sources.

Image   Musa reading a volumen (scroll)

"Life of Apollonius of Tyana" by Philostratus

Book 1

1.1  This is an introduction to Pythagoras.

Apollonius in his younger years, from age 16 to 28 or thereabouts, did his training as a philosopher at the school in Aegae. It is said that Apollonius had a natural interest in and affinity for, the Pythagorean teaching.

Pythagoras' religious predelictions:
  • Pythagoras did not wear apparel made from dead animal products
  • He abstained from all flesh and from offering animals in sacrifice.
  • He would offer honey-cake and frankincense and the hymn of praise - these were the offerings made to the Gods by this man.

It was said that Pythagoras had a direct communication with the Gods, and from that source he learned about things in the natural world, eg: of a physics nature, or mathematics, of sound, pattern, shape and measurement.

"Pythagoras said that Apollo had come to him acknowledging that he was the god in person."

The followers of Pythagoras accepted as law any decisions communicated by him... As part of their training, followers would impose a ritual silence on themselves.

1.2  Philostratus explains that Apollonius is not a wizard.

"For quite akin to theirs was the ideal which Apollonius pursued, and more divinely than Pythagoras he wooed wisdom and soared above tyrants."

"He practiced true wisdom as a sage, and sanely."

"He had interviews with the wizards of Babylon and with the Brahmans of India, and with the nude ascetics of Egypt."

Because of this, some called Apollonius a "wizard" and have maligned his good name.

Philostratus points out that previous philosophers had visited the wizards in Babylon, "and uttered many supernatural truths, yet never stooped to the black art", and even Plato "mingled with his own discourses much of what he heard from the prophets and priests there; and though, like a painter, he laid his own colors on to their rough sketches, yet he never passed for a wizard, although envied above all mankind for his wisdom."

And the same is true to Apollonius, says Philostratus 

Apollonius in fact, did forsee and knew many things before they happened.

Even Anaxagoras protests Philostratus, predicted "that day would be turned into night, and stones would be discharged from heaven round Aegospotami," but were attributed to Anaxagoras' wisdom.

Apollonius made predictions correctly also, but some say "that he achieved these results by art of wizardry."

Philostratus then writes:  "It seems to me then that I ought not to condone or acquiesce in the general ignorance, but write a true account of the man, detailing the exact times at which he said or did this or that, as also the habits and temper of wisdom, by means of which he succeeded in being considered a supernatural and divine being."

[That's interesting! So people at the time thought Apollonius was a God incarnate ??]

Philostratus says: "And I have gathered my information partly from the many cities where he was loved, and partly from the temples whose long-neglected and decayed rites he restored, and partly from the accounts left of him by others and partly from his own letters. For he addressed these to kings, sophists, philosophers, to men of Elis, of Delphi, to Indians, and Ethiopians; and in his letters he dealt with the subjects of the gods, of customs, of moral principles, of laws, and in all these departments he corrected the errors into which men had fallen. But the more precise details which I have collected are as follows."

Original source on Livius:

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