Apollonius of Tyana
“Apollonius, a contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth, was, like him, an enthusiastic founder of a new spiritual school. Perhaps less metaphysical and more practical than Jesus, less tender and perfect in his nature, he nevertheless inculcated the same quintessence of spirituality, and the same high moral truths.” – Helena Blavatsky 1877.
Apollonius was born in Tyana, Cappadocia province (a Roman province in Asia Minor). He was educated in Tarsus where he dedicated himself to the teachings of Pythagoras. As a youth he became a teacher of religion at the temple of Asclepius at Aegae in Cilicia. He then spent some time travelling around the provinces of Cilicia and Pamphylia.
He travelled to India to learn from the Persian magi, Indian gymnosophists and Brahmins after having kept a five year vow of silence. Before he reached the Euphrates he visited Hierapolis in Syria where he met Damis who became his disciple and diarist. Apollonius was chaste, sober and devoutly religious man throughout his life. The notes created by Damis eventually fell into the hands of Empress Julia Domna, wife of Emperor Septimus Severus (192-211). The accounts of Damis where commissioned into a biography by Empress Julia who hired Philostratus to write it.
According to the work of Philostratus, Apollonius travelled far. His journey’s took him up the Nile as far as Ethiopia and back in Europe he reached Gades where modern day Cadiz can be found in Spain. Philostratus claimed that Apollonius either raised a Roman senator’s daughter from the dead or at least revived her from near death. Apollonius had a miraculous escape from accusations of treason from both Nero and Domitan before settling in Ephesus, Greece. There are many accounts of the end of Apollonius and Philostratus tried to keep his end mysterious. One account has him disappearing into a temple of Dictynna on Crete, never coming out.
In the late fourth century the Historia Augusta claims that when Emperor Aurelian besieged Tyana he supposedly had a dream or vision in which Apollonius came to him requesting that he spare the place of his birth. Being an admirer of Apollonius Aurelian did spare Tyana. As with the account by Philostratus, the Historica Augusta is probably full of fiction or at least historical inaccuracies.