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Apollonius of Tyana, Letters 11


A collection of over 50 letters from various sources is associated with the name of Apollonius of Tyana. He was the celebrated Neopythagorean teacher of the late 1st century C.E. whom Philostratus portrayed colorfully as a pagan holy man and thaumaturge in his biography of the early 3rd century. This body of correspondence mixes fictitious and authentic documents on a range of topics. This document is a genuine letter from Apollonius to the councillors of Caesarea that praises their city, noting in particular its “Greek customs” (ἤθεσιν Ἑλληνικοῖς).


[Ἀπολλώνιος] Καισαρέων προβούλοις. Πρῶτον εἰς πάντα θεῶν ἄνθρωποι δέονται καὶ περὶ παντός, ἔπειτα πόλεων, τιμητέον γὰρ δεύτερον πόλεις μετὰ θεοὺς καὶ τὰ πόλεως προκριτέον παντὶ νοῦν ἔχοντι. εἰ δὲ μὴ πόλις μόνον εἴη, ἀλλὰ καὶ μεγίστη τῆς Παλαιστίνης, ἀρίστη τε τῶν αὐτόθι μεγέθει καὶ νόμοις καὶ ἐπιτηδεύμασι, καὶ προγόνων κατὰ πόλεμον ἀρεταῖς, ἔτι τε ἤθεσι κατ᾿ εἰρήνην, καθάπερ ἡ ὑμετέρα πόλις, μάλιστα πασῶν τῶν ἄλλων ἐμοί τε θαυμαστέα τιμητέα τε καὶ ἄλλῳ δὲ ὁμοίως παντὶ νοῦν ἔχοντι. τοῦτο μὲν οὖν ἐκ λόγου κοινοῦ τὸ προκριτικὸν ἂν εἴη, τὸ κατὰ σύγκρισιν τῶν πολλῶν. ὅταν δὲ καὶ ἄρχῃ πόλις ποτὲ τῆς πρὸς ἕνα τιμῆς ἄνδρα, ποιοῦσα τοῦτον ἑαυτῆς ξένον καὶ ἄποθεν, τί ἢ τούτου τοῦ ἀνδρὸς πρὸς ἀμοιβὴν ἢ ὑμῶν πρὸς τίσιν ἄξιον εἴη; τοῦτο μόνον ἴσως, εἰ θεοφιλής τις ὢν τύχοι διά τινα φύσεως ἐπιτηδειότητα, τὸ εὔχεσθαι τῇ πόλει τὰ ἀγαθὰ τυγχάνειν τε τῆς εὐχῆς, ὅπερ ἂν διατελέσαιμι κἀγὼ πράττων ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἐπείπερ ἥσθην ἤθεσιν Ἑλληνικοῖς φαίνουσι τὸ ἴδιον ἀγαθὸν καὶ διὰ γραμμάτων κοινῶν. Ἀπολλωνίδην δὲ τὸν Ἀφροδισίου, νεανίαν ἐρρωμενεστάτης φύσεως ἀξίας τε τοῦ ἡμετέρου ὀνόματος, πειράσομαι χρήσιμον ὑμῖν παρασκευάζειν εἰς ἕκαστα μετὰ καὶ τύχης τινὸς ἀγαθῆς. 1

Textual Note

Ed. Kayser 1870

Discussion Note

Minor corrections (punctuation)


Apollonius to the councilors of Caesarea: Above all humans need gods, for every purpose and above every thing, and secondly they need cities, for cities should be honored next after the gods, and every sensible person must give priority to the affairs of his city. But if it is not just a city, but the greatest one in Palestine, and the best of those there in respect of size, laws, and customs, and in its ancestors’ bravery in war and their morals in peacetime as well, as your city is, then I must both admire and honor it above all others, and so also must every other sensible person. This then by common consent is the ground for preferring it—the comparison of it with the majority. But whenever a city actually takes the first step to honor a man, making him its own guest even from a distance, what would be a worthy return from such a man or a worthy payment to you? Perhaps only this: if he happens to have the gods’ favor because of a certain fitness of character, that he should pray for blessings on the city and have his prayer granted. That I could constantly do for you, since I was delighted by your Greek customs, which reveal your particular excellence by means of your public letter. As for Apollonides the son of Aphrodisius, a young man possessing a very firm nature and one worthy to share my name, I shall try to make him serviceable to you in every respect, with the help of some good fortune. 2

Translation Note

Trans. Jones 2014

Works Cited

  • 1 section: 11. , section: 11.
  • 2 Apollonius of Tyana, Letters of Apollonius, in Philostratus: Apollonius of Tyana III: Letters of Apollonius, Ancient Testimonia, Eusebius’s Reply to Hierocles, trans. Christopher P Jones, Loeb Classical Library 458 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014), 10–82, section: 11.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record

Additional Bibliography

  • Apollonius of Tyana, The Letters of Apollonius of Tyana, ed. Robert J. Penella, Mnemosyne 56 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979), section: 11.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record


Copyright and License for Reuse

Except for materials quoted from other sources, this entry is copyright 2023 by the contributors (Eliana Yonan, et al.) and the Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project. It is licensed under the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Some texts quoted in this entry may be in the public domain in the United States. No copyright is asserted for these quotations.

Some texts quoted in this entry may have copyright restrictions and are reused under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (Title 17 of the United States Code) which permits “fair use” of copyrighted materials for purposes such as criticism, comment, scholarship, and research. These texts remain under copyright of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

How to Cite This Entry

Eliana Yonan et al., “Apollonius of Tyana, Letters 11,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published June 30, 2023,


Eliana Yonan et al., “Apollonius of Tyana, Letters 11.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife., edited by Joseph L. Rife. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2023. Entry published June 30, 2023.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Apollonius of Tyana, Letters 11

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, editor, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editors, “Apollonius of Tyana, Letters 11
  • Eliana Yonan and Joseph L. Rife, entry contributors, “Apollonius of Tyana, Letters 11

Additional Credit:

  • TEI encoding by William L. Potter
  • Electronic text added by Eliana Yonan
  • Testimonia identified by Joseph L. Rife
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