PHILOSTRATUS (Blount, Charles, Tr.) The Two First Books, of Philostratus, Concerning the Life of Apollonius Tyaneus…

London, Printed for Nathaniel Thompson, 1680.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (viii) 243 (i), A-2G4 2H6. Roman and Italic letter. Title-page in black and red. Full-page woodcut chart on p. 145. Bound in contemporary mottled calf with morocco panels, blind-tooled and rebacked; covers, edges and corners restored. Inner hinges reinforced with woven tape. Some waterstaining throughout, a little light browning. A good copy.

Philostratus “the Athenian” was a Greek sophist of the Roman Imperial period. He is remembered for two works in particular: Lives of the Sophists and Life of Apollonius of Tyana. The latter was written between 217 and 238 AD, and tells the story of Apollonius of Tyana (c. 40 – c. 120 AD), a Pythagorean philosopher and teacher. Philostratus wrote the book for Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus and mother of Caracalla. The translator Charles Blount (1653-1693) was one of the leading deists of his time. He published the first of his major works, Anima Mundi, in 1679. It is an essay on pagan doctrines about the nature of the human soul and its destiny in the afterlife, drawing heavily on Montaigne. His Philostratus consists largely of his own notes to Philostratus, with roughly four pages of Blount to one of Philostratus. His commentary draws attention to analogies between Christ and Apollonius of Tyana, the miracle working mystic (or sham magician) Greek philosopher born just before Christ. John Leland in his View of the Principal Deistical Writers (1754) notes that Blount’s work was “manifestly intended to strike at revealed religion.” Justin A.I. Champion in The Dictionary of Seventeenth-Century British Philosophers notes: “The classical texts with its parallel between the life of the magus Apollonius and Christ was problematic enough; the inclusion of a digest of skeptical materialist, and irreligious material unencumbered with warnings of heterodoxy was to provide a provocative and dangerous resource to the literature public. There were consequently moves to have the work suppressed and even burnt.”

ESTC R4123; Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), P2132