On returning to Greece, Apollonius traveled around from city to city,
visiting the temples, where he restored the ancient mysteries by
reeducating the priests. According to Mead, Apollonius's "one idea seems
to have been to spread abroad among the religious brotherhoods and
institutions of the Empire some portion of the Wisdom which he brought
back from India."
His work was to unify diverse creeds by revealing their common origin and
nature, and thus to promote the Brotherhood of Mankind. His first work was
to abolish the barbarous custom of animal sacrifices and to replace this
by offerings of frankincense and flowers. His object was to turn the minds
of priests and laymen from the EXTERNAL FORMS of religion, from rituals
and sacrifices, to the INNER MEANING, and to replace idolatry by MYSTIC
COMMUNION [meditation] with the God who dwells WITHIN.
For this purpose he went to all the holy places, in Syria, Egypt, Greece
and Spain; he even reached the rock of Gades, which later was to become
Cadiz, [near southern tip of Spain, near Gibraltar] which was, according
to Pliny, the last part of the continent that escaped the catastrophe of
ATLANTIS. His travels also brought him as far as Gaul. However his chief
work of religious reform was in Greece.
When Apollonius came to Ephesus, the citizens left their work and followed
him, paying homage and applause. The first discourse of Apollonius given
at Ephesus was from the porch of the temple of Diana, after the manner of
the Stoics, exhorting them to spend their time in study and philosophy
(spirituality) and to abandon their dissipations and cruel sports. He also
preached on "Community of Goods" (`communism') illustrating his discourse
with the parable of the sparrows.*
While delivering another lecture in Ephesus, Apollonius displayed his
unusual clairvoyant power by observing an event occurring far away. In the
midst of his discourse he beheld the murder of Domitian in Rome; and
suddenly stopping his discourse, he cried out, "Keep up your spirits, O
Ephesians, for this day the tyrant is killed. Then he told the astonished
people what he had seen, namely that Domitian had been attacked by
Stephanus and wounded; afterwards, as Philostratus tells us, "his
bodyguards, hearing the noise, and concluding that all is not well, rushed
into the closet and finding the tyrant fainting, put an end to his life."
*While discoursing one day in one of the covered walks of
Ephesus, on mutual aid and the advantages of `communism,' it
chanced that a number of sparrows were sitting on a tree nearby
in perfect silence. Suddenly another sparrow flew up and began
chirping, as though it wanted to tell the others something.
Whereupon the little fellows all set to chirping also, and flew
away from the newcomer. Apollonius's superstitious audience were
greatly struck by this conduct of the sparrows, and thought it
was an augury of some important matter. But the philosopher
continued his sermon, pointing out that the sparrow had invited
it's friends to a banquet. Thereupon a boy slipped down a lane
nearby and spilt some corn he was carrying in a bowl; then he
picked up most of it and went away. The little sparrow, chancing
on the scattered grains, immediately flew off to invite his
friends to the feast. Most of the crowd then went off at a run
to see if it were true; and when they came back shouting and all
excited with wonderment, Apollonius spoke as follows:
"Ye see what care the sparrows take of one another,
and how happy they are to share with all their goods.
And yet we men do not approve; nay, if we see a man
sharing his goods with other men, we call it
wastefulness, extravagance and such names, and dub the
men to whom he gives a share, fawners and parasites.
What then is left to us except to shut us up at home
like fattening birds, and gorge out bellies in the
dark until we burst with fat?"
Philostratus describes this incident as follows:
Turning to his astonished audience, he told them what he had seen. But
though they hoped it were true, they refused to believe it, and thought
that Apollonius had taken leave on his senses. But the philosopher gently
"At first he sank his voice as though in some apprehension; he
however, continued his exposition but haltingly, and with far
less force than usual, as a man who had some other subject in
his mind than that on which he is speaking; finally he ceased
speaking altogether as though he could not find his words. Then
staring fixedly on the ground, he started forward three or four
paces, crying out: `Strike the tyrant, strike!' And this, not
like a man who sees an image in a mirror, but as one with an
actual scene before his eyes, as though he were himself taking
part in it."*
[*It must be understood that Domitian, a degenerate
tyrant, was responsible for the most terrible
atrocities committed against spiritual/philosophical
personages, and was determined to stamp out by
persecution all of the higher spiritual knowledge,
which Apollonius wished to spread. It is in this
context of the greater spiritual good of the whole
human race that Apollonius was relieved at the news of
the tyrant's death. On an individual level he would
undoubtedly have the same compassion for him as a
soul, as to any other man.]
While at Ephesus, Apollonius predicted that the city would be afflicted
with a plague; and later, when visiting Smyrna, emissaries came to him
from Ephesus, begging him to rescue the people from this terrible scourge.
"When he heard this," writes Philostratus, he said, `I think the journey
is not to be delayed; and no sooner had he uttered the words, than he was
"You, on your part, are right to suspend your rejoicings till
the news is brought you in the usual fashion; as for me, I go to
return thanks to the Gods for what I have myself seen."
It was to this occurrence that Aelian referred as among the charges on
which Apollonius was to be arraigned at his trial before Domitian in Rome,
for when he appeared among the unhappy plague-stricken Ephesians, he
reassured them, promising that he would put a stop to the plague, which
promise he fulfilled. It is said that Apollonius stayed the plague in
Ephesus by destroying a `demon' in the guise of an old beggar-man.
As the result of his presence and labor in behalf of the people, the city
of Ephesus, which was so notorious for its frivolity, was brought back by
the teaching of Apollonius to the cultivation of philosophy and the
practice of virtue. On this subject, Lecky, in his "History of European
In visiting the temples, advising with the priests and lecturing to the
people, Apollonius spent his time in Ephesus. He also traveled to other
cities of Ionia, adjacent to Ephesus, where he addressed the people.
Everywhere he was received with demonstrations of joy and reverence. The
people flocked to hear him, and many were benefited by his preaching and
healing. The priests and oracles of Colphon and Didymus had already
declared in his favor, and all persons who stood in need of assistance
were commanded by the oracle to repair to Apollonius, such being the will
of Apollo and the Fates. Embassies were sent from all the principal cities
of Ionia offering him rights of hospitality. Smyrma sent ambassadors, who,
when questioned for a reason of the invitation, replied, "I will come; our
curiosity is mutual."
"Apollonius was admired at Ephesus; the `devils' themselves
contributed to his popularity by their oracles, which they gave
out in his favor. It is claimed that he reclaimed the city from
idleness, from a love of dancing, and from other fooleries to
which it was addicted and that he endeavored to bring the
inhabitants to be friendly to one another. He labored, in like
manner in the other cities of Ionia to reform the manners of the
people, and to establish unity amongst them."
Arriving in Smyrna, the Ionians who were engaged in their Panon festival
came out to meet him. He found the people given up to idle disputings, and
much divided in their opinions upon all subjects which tended for the
public welfare and the good government of the city. He exhorted them in
their disputes to rather vie with each other in giving the best advice or
in discharging most faithfully the duties of citizens, in beautifying
their city with works of art and graceful buildings.
Apollonius delivered many discourses at Smyrna, always confining himself
to such topics as were most useful to his hearers. He was the guest of
Theron the elder, a stoic and an astronomer.
Entering Athens, Apollonius was recognized and acknowledged by the people
as he approached and passed through the crowd, amid greetings and
acclamations of joy, regardless of the sacredness of the occasion. When he
entered the temple and applied for initiation into the mysteries,
Apollonius was refused by the hierophant on the ground that he was an
`enchanter.' In reply Apollonius named the successor to the office of the
hierophant who, he foresaw, would initiate him at some future date, which
prediction was subsequently fulfilled.
While delivering a lecture in Athens, Apollonius's discourse was
interrupted by a youth, who gave way to inane laughter, whom he found to
be under demoniacal possession. Apollonius stopped his talk and commanded
the demon [rebellious astral spirit - usually earthbound] to go out of the
youth, and to give a sign of his departure. This soon occurred to the
astonishment of the audience. The youth afterwards followed a
philosophical mode of life.
Hearing of the frivolities with which the Athenians were now accustomed to
celebrate the Dionysia, Apollonius rebuked them by reminding them of the
exploits of their ancestors and of their legendary connection with Boreas
the most masculine of the winds. [appealing to their higher spiritual
nature, in other words]. Another abuse which he arrested at Athens was the
introduction of the gladiatorial exhibitions.