Apion (Greek: ; 30-20 BC - c. AD 45-48) was a Hellenized Egyptiangrammarian, sophist, and commentator on Homer. He was born at the Siwa Oasis and flourished in the first half of the 1st century AD. His name is sometimes incorrectly spelt Appion, and some sources, as in the Suda, call him a son of Pleistoneices, while others more correctly state that Pleistoneices was only a surname, and that he was the son of Poseidonius.
Apion studied at Alexandria under Apollonius the Sophist (the son of Archibius of Alexandria), and Didymus, from whom he inherited his love for the Homeric poems. He settled in Rome at an unknown date, and taught rhetoric as the successor of the grammarian Theon until the reign of Claudius.
Apion appears to have enjoyed an extraordinary reputation for his extensive knowledge and his versatility as an orator; but the ancients are unanimous in censuring his ostentatious vanity. He declared that every one whom he mentioned in his works would be immortalized; he placed himself by the side of the greatest philosophers of ancient Greece, and used to say, that Alexandria ought to be proud of having a man like himself among its citizens. It is not unlikely that the name cymbalum mundi, by which Tiberius was accustomed to call him, was meant to express both his loquacity and his boastful character. He is spoken of as the most active of grammarians, and the surname Mochthos () which he bore, according to the Suda, is usually explained as describing the zeal and labour with which he prosecuted his studies.
In the reign of Caligula, Apion travelled about in Greece, and was received everywhere with the highest honours as the great interpreter of Homer. About the same time, 38 AD, the inhabitants of Alexandria raised complaints against the Jews residing in their city and endeavored to curtail their rights and privileges. They sent an embassy to emperor Caligula, which was headed by Apion, for he was a skillful speaker and known to entertain a great hatred of the Jews. The latter also sent an embassy, which was headed by Philo. In this transaction Apion appears to have overstepped the limits of his commission, for he not only brought forward the complaints of his fellow-citizens but endeavored to excite the emperor's anger against the Jews by reminding him that they refused to erect statues to him and to swear by his sacred name. The results of this embassy, as well as the remaining part of Apion's life, are unknown; but if we may believe the account of his enemy Josephus, he died of a disease which he had brought upon himself by his dissolute mode of life.
Apion wrote several works, none of which has survived. The well-known story "Androclus and the Lion", which is preserved in Aulus Gellius is from his work: Aegyptiaca ("Wonders of Egypt"). The surviving fragments of his work are printed in the Etymologicum Gudianum, ed. Sturz, 1818.
In the Suda we find references to Apion as a writer of epigrams (s. vv. ?, , , and ), but whether he is the same as the grammarian is uncertain.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Leonhard Schmitz, Leonhard (1870). "Apion". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. p. 226.