Greek rhetorician and anti-Jewish writer; flourishedin the first century B.C. He is usually, but not always, designated by the name of his father, Molon. He was called by his patronymic mainly to distinguish him from his somewhat older contemporary Apollonius Malachos. Apollonius Molon was still praised as a distinguished master of the art of speech about the year 75 B.C. Josephus, however, concerns himself with him simply as one of the most prominent and most pernicious anti-Jewish writers.
Born at Alabanda, in Caria, Apollonius afterward emigrated to Rhodes, wherefore Cicero styles him "Molon Rhodius" ("Brutus," ch. lxxxix.). He soon eclipsed his contemporaries both as a master of oratory and as a practical advocate, and had as pupils both Cicero and Julius Cæsar.Follower of Posidonius.
It was at Rhodes, no doubt, that Apollonius appropriated the Judæophobic ideas of the Syrian stoic Posidonius (135-51 B.C.), who lived in that city, and thence circulated throughout the Greek and Roman world several wild calumnies concerning the Jews, such as the charges that they worshiped an ass in their temple, that they sacrificed annually on their altar a specially fattened Greek, and that they were filled with hatred toward every other nationality, particularly the Greeks. These and similar malevolent fictions regarding the Jews were adopted by Apollonius, who, induced by the fact that the Jews in Rhodes and in Caria were very numerous (compare I Macc. xv. 16-24), composed an anti-Jewish treatise, in which all these accusations found embodiment. While Posidonius had confined himself to incidental allusions to the Jews in the course of his history of the Seleucidæ (compare C. Müller, "Frag. Hist. Græc." iii. 245 et seq.), Apollonius outdid his master by undertaking a separate book on the subject. Such appears to have been the character of his treatise, which, according to Alexander Polyhistor, was a συσκευή (Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," ix. 19), a polemic treatise—as Schürer renders the phrase —against the Jews. The polemic passages, however, must have been interwoven with a general presentation of a Jewish theme—probably a history of the origin of the Jewish people. For it is the complaint of Josephus that Apollonius, unlike Apion, far from massing all his anti-Jewish charges in one passage, had preferred to insult the Jews in various manners and in numerous places throughout his work (l.c. ii. 14). The assumption that Apollonius' book was of a historic character is confirmed by the fragment in Alexander Polyhistor, which gives the genealogy of the Jews from the Deluge to Moses, and by an allusion of Josephus which indicates that the exodus from Egypt was also dealt with therein (l.c. ii. 2). In connection with the exodus, Apollonius gave circulation to the malicious fable that the Jews had been expelled from Egypt owing to a shameful malady from which they suffered, while he took occasion to blacken the character of Moses also and to belittle his law, characterizing the lawgiver of the Jews as a sorcerer and his work as devoid of all moral worth. Besides, he heaped many unjust charges upon the Jews, reproaching them for not worshiping the same gods as the other peoples (l.c. ii. 7) and for disinclination to associate with the followers of other faiths (ii. 36). He thus represented them as atheists and misanthropes, and depicted them withal as men who were either cowards or fanatics, the most untalented among all barbarians, who had done nothing in furtherance of the common welfare of the human race (ii. 14). No wonder these groundless charges excited the anger of Josephus, who believed that they corrupted and misled the judgment of Apion (l.c. ii. 7, 15 et seq.), and who therefore zealously devoted the entire second part of his treatise against Apion to a refutation of Apollonius. The latter was thus paid back in his own coin. Josephus does not hesitate to accuse him of crass stupidity, vaingloriousness, and an immoral life (l.c. ii. 36, 37). See Apion.
Bibliography:G. H. G. E.
- C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Grœcorum, iii. 208 et seq.;
- J. G. Müller, Des Flavius Josephus Schriftgegn den Apion, p. 230, Basel, 1877;
- Pauly-Wissowa, RealEncyc. ii s.v.;
- Grätz, Gesch. der Juden, 3d ed., iii. 347 et seq.;
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., iii. 400-403;
- Vogelstein and Rieger, Gesch. der Juden in Rom, i. 85;
- Th. Reinach, Textes d'Auteurs Grecs et Romains Relatifs au Judaïsme, pp. 60et seq.