Aridæus of Soli
Category: Ordinary person
The story of Aridæus of Soli is purported to be an account by Plutarch of the 'vision and out of body experience' Aridæus had.
Aridaeus was shocked out of his body by a severe fall. He was regarded as dead, but, just as they were about to bury him, three days after his accident, he re-entered his body, recovered physical consciousness and told Protogenes and his other friends of his out-of-the-body experience.
The story of Aridaeus is dated to around A.D.79. It was given in Plutarch's On the Delay of Divine Justice. And an account, based on that of Bernardakis, published in the Bibliotheca Teuberiana Series (Leipzig, 1891) was given by G.R. S. Mead.
Plutarch held a high office at Delphi in the service of Apollo and there are indications he was aware of the Dionysian rites. Mead pointed out that Plutarch, having received this narrative from Protogenes, gave the key to its significance in this way:
"When a man dies he goes through the same experience as those who have their consciousness increased in the Mysteries. The terms 'to die' and 'to be initiated' correspond exactly. First, there are weary journeyings, followed by terrors, tremblings, sweats and stupors. Eventually a marvellous light shines out and fair fields are entered and he who is perfected can Pass anywhere he wishes, gazing down at the numerous un-initiated who are still in the body ..."
Now, this is not an out of body experience or a vision - this is a rebirth experience.
In effect, Plutarch considered this to be a rebirth experience, and as such we have classified it this way.
ECHOES FROM THE GNOSIS - VOL. III. BY G. R. S. MEAD ; THE VISION OF ARIDÆUS - Plutarch
The Story of Aridæus is the most detailed and graphic Vision of Hades preserved to us from classical antiquity, and exceeds in interest even Plato’s Story of Er and Cicero’s Dream of Scipio, not to speak of the less known Visions of Krates and of Zosimus.
It brings to a striking conclusion the instructive treatise of Plutarch, the Greek title of which may be rendered, On the Delay of the Deity in Punishing the Wicked or On the Delay of Divine Justice.
The Vision of Aridæus is of interest in many ways, and doubtless that interest would be increased for us if we could be persuaded with Count Joseph de Maistre, that "it is permissible to believe that Dante took the general idea of his Inferno" from the description of the punishments in our Vision, as de Maistre writes in his translation of the treatise (Paris; 1856). …..
The treatise is in the form of a Platonic dialogue. The persons of the dialogue are: Plutarch himself, who is the chief speaker; Patrocleas, his son-in-law; Timon, his brother; and Olympichus, an intimate friend. The scene is the Portico of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. The tract is addressed to a certain Quintus, who must have been a Roman, but of whom nothing further is known.
"I could tell you a true story (logos) which I lately heard," he says, "but I’m afraid you would think it a tale (mythos); I therefore confine myself to probability only."
Plutarch here evidently intends it to be understood that for him the story is logos and not mythos; and by logos he means as evidently that it is based on "fact" and not "probability."
This is plain from his own words, and is further strengthened by the general use at that date of the word logos for a serious narrative, especially a "sacred discourse," or a story of initiation.
Plutarch tells us that the hero of his story was a certain Aridæus of Soli, a town on the sea-coast of Asia Minor; he was an intimate friend of Protogenes of Tarsus (Plut., On Love, ii.) who stayed with Plutarch for some time at Delphi. Aridæus related his experiences to Protogenes and other intimate friends; and so we may suppose that Plutarch first heard the story from Protogenes, …..This Aridæus had lived a notorious life of great profligacy and villainy; he was a sort of millionaire scoundrel of the period. Report had it that on his sending to ask the Oracle of Amphilochus, at Mallus in Cilicia, whether there was any chance of his living a better life for the rest of his days, he received the reply that he would do better when he was dead.
Shortly after, Aridæus had a severe fall, and though he broke no bones, the shock did for him. Three days later, just as they were about to bury him, he recovered consciousness. After this unpleasant experience, Aridæus became an entirely reformed character, of quite exemplary virtue. Such a startling change could not pass unnoticed; but it was only to a few of his greatest friends that he told what had happened to him during the "three days." The story runs as follows:
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