(d. 183)

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(d. 183),

Roman martyr. He was mentioned by Jerome and Eusebius; his name is in early liturgical books; more light has been shed on him by the discovery of Acts in Greek and Armenian. This Roman senator was denounced as a Christian to the authorities by his own slave; he made an impressive verbal and written apologia to the senate. This comprised a criticism of paganism as futile because its idols are human artefacts without life, autonomy, reason, or virtue: hence they should be rejected. Christianity is superior by its concepts of death and life: death is a natural necessity which has nothing frightening about it, while the true life is the life of the soul. Above all, Christianity surpasses paganism through the work of Christ, the revealing Word of God and teacher of moral life, who became man to destroy sin by his death. This last, predicted both by Scripture and by Plato, can be compared to the death of the prophets and of Socrates. In short, Christianity is the ‘best bet’ for his time, and if anyone is martyred, he then becomes the seed of new Christians.

Harnack and others agree that this was one of the best of early Christian apologists, but the near-contemporary sources disagree on the details of the legal process. It seems certain that Apollonius was beheaded on 21 April: his feast was kept in the Martyrology of Jerome on 18 April, but at Constantinople on 23 July.

Eusebius, H.E., v. 21, 1–5;H. Delehaye, Les passions des martyres et les genres littéraires (1966), pp. 92–9;H.S.S.C., ii. 71–3.

Subjects: Christianity.

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