Apollonius of Tyana, origins of engraving unknown
If you happen to click on My Stories above, you will see a snippet from one of my personal favourites, The Bride of Corinth.
This also gives me the chance to tell you about a truly smashing bloke from antiquity. So smashing in fact, and too good to be true that our History teachers and Classics lecturers failed to mention him.
His name was Apollonius and he really did exist. He was born in Asia Minor in a place called Tyana around the 1st century CE. He was a philosopher, teacher and great follower of the teachings of Pythagoras. I will not bore you with historical erudition- if you Google “Apollonius of Tyana” you will find plenty of juicy goss on this controversial man.
But what made him so controversial? This is where it gets exciting. You see, our friend was said to possess magical powers; he performed miracles, cured people, got rid of plagues, nothing too hectic. But Apollonius was so gifted that 3rd century writers compared him and often mistook him for one Jesus of Nazareth.
Then there is the most famous legend of all (clearly not famous enough as I only read about this two years ago, and that too was by chance), where he made a whole room full of people disappear and then proceeded to beat the crap out of a particularly nasty vampire all at the same time. I mean, how cool is this guy? He makes Bruce Wayne look like a little schoolboy on steroids.
I first read this legend in an old book about ‘famous wizard types’, purveyors of Hermetic knowledge which included the likes of Hermes Trismegistus himself and Dr John Dee. As a fan of the vampire myth I was fascinated by this story as I never heard of Apollonius before, even when I studied Classics. Off course now I feel like a complete dunce as every vampire encyclopedia I come across now makes some reference to him. By the way I am also entirely convinced that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were aware of this legend, if not influenced by it, when they created the South Park episode ‘Succubus’ as the plot is almost identical to Apollonius’ tale.
Now my initial plan was to create a story based on this idea and you will probably wonder why I used the exact same legend, same characters and same settings instead of changing these to create my own unique tale. Well, it is because I found the original legend too good to undergo a mutation. It is a tale worth preserving and Apollonius is an historical figure worth acknowledging.
Another writer might consider me lazy and unimaginative for this but when I think of writers like Sir Thomas Malory (who romanticized the actual events surrounding the life of one King Arthur), post-Victorians (who shamelessly used Jack The Ripper as a basis for their fictional stories) and more recently, the latest Gary Oldman offering currently out on movie circuits (who uses a very well-known fairy-tale, Red Riding Hood as a platform for the script), I suddenly don’t feel so guilty.
This is MY take on a cool legend and let me add that it wasn’t that easy to write. Sure, the plot was already there as were the characters but if you had to look up the story of Apollonius and the Vampire you will notice the consistent lack of detail. So my work meant creating the atmosphere and a linear storyline plus an ample amount of research. The amount of research I had to do was probably more than any of my other stories. My research took me from the works of Pythagoras to Ancient Greek weddings down to the geography of Ancient Greece itself.
AND my research is still continuing as I realized in horror when I re-read the Bride of Corinth (I was deciding which extract to use for my blog), that as Apollonius lived during a time when Greece formed part of the Roman Empire, in my story I still use the Greek equivalent when making references to their Gods. I could have changed it there and then to their Roman counterparts but I preferred using the Greek versions as I thought it sounded better and made more sense to use. I risk however being accused of historical inaccuracy. The Romans had assimilated Greek mythology but changed the names of the deities to Roman ones. In my defense, which might be stretching it, I assume the Greeks would not have been too happy about this and I wonder if in some parts of Greece they still referred to their original Gods. I mean some of the original Temples and buildings still existed so just maybe… Well, more research into this has yielded no results for me so my work continues. I have left the story as is, referring to Zeus and Hera rather than Jupiter and Juno but if there are any professional Classicists or even amateur mythologists out there, any help in this regard will be greatly appreciated.
For now I consider The Bride Of Corinth done and dusted. May the legend of Apollonius live on!