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Philostratros’ Life of Apollonios of Tyana and its Literary Context

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Nikoletta Kanavou

Introduction

Texte intégral

‘It may be that the study of ancient literature has more to learn from histories of imitation and influence than from a simple physiognomy of genres.’ (Edwards 2006, 54)

I. Background and Purpose of the Study

  • 1 Lucius Flavius Philostratos, the author also of the Lives of the sophists (VS), which is considered (...)
  • 2 See Flinterman (1995, 54-59) for a useful summary of the work’s contents.
  • 3 Ἔχὲτω δὲ ὸ λὸγος τὸῷ) τε ἀνδρ·ι τιμήν, ὲς ὄν ξυγγὲγραπται, τοῖς τε φὶλοµαθεστὲροις ῶὲλεὶαν· ἦ γἀρ ἂ (...)
  • 4 Thus Swain (1999, 158). The essence of the ancient term φιλοσοφὶο oscillated between (striving for) (...)

1There are many reasons why Philostratos’1 Life of Apollonios of Tyana (henceforth VA) is a source of enduring fascination and still a worthwhile read, both for scholars and a more general readership alike. The VA tells the extraordinary tale of a man who allegedly attained perfect virtue and came intriguingly close to the divine (a theios anēr); the story provides entertainment by following this man on a number of exotic adventures in faraway places; and it all comes to a mysterious, indeed a supernatural ending.2 At the same time as being a rich and engaging narrative, the VA includes philosophical dialogues that enhance the reading experience of Apollonios’ main life events. The narrator states explicitly his encomiastic and edifying purposes: the work is equally meant to ‘bring honour to the Master who is its subject’, and to benefit ‘those with an inclination to learning’ (VA 1.3.2).3 Much has been said about the inadequacies of Philostratos’ philosophical skills, but these do not prevent the VA, which depicts a life of perfect virtue guided by philosophy, from qualifying as ‘a lengthy technical apologia for philosophy as a spiritual system of personal living’4 – in the end as a diatribe about the perennial questions of how we as humans should live, and what constitutes a worthy life, what is indeed a sōphrōn life.

  • 5 Just. Mart. 1 Apol. 2.1-2; Dial. 8.1; Clem. Al. Strom. 6.8.67. See Karamanolis (2013, 3); Alexander (...)
  • 6 See e.g. Swain (2009, 36-37).
  • 7 Although his biographer does not mention Jesus, Apollonios interests many scholars non tantnm propt (...)
  • 8 See e.g. Petzke (1970); Koskenniemi (1994) on the use of Apollonios in New Testament exegesis. See (...)
  • 9 Thorndike (1923) dedicated a chapter to Apollonios. The relevant episodes of the VA (i.e. Apollonio (...)
  • 10 See Speyer (1974) for a brief survey. On the mixed reception of Apollonios in the Middle Ages and t (...)
  • 11 Gibbon (1994, Vol. 1, ch. 11; 315).

2But there is more that adds to the VA’s persistent appeal: Philostratos’ narrative is centered on a real person (Apollonios is known to have lived, taught and travelled widely in the first century of our era, about 150 years before the composition of the VA) and purports to tell a real-life story; to describe events as they came to pass and to preserve accurate and true expressions of the hero’s virtue and his wisdom. To the scholar, Apollonios’ era is one of the most challenging periods of human intellectual history, largely due to the rise of Christianity and the interplay between pagan and Christian philosophy (already second-century writings present Christianity as philosophia and its adherents as philosophers).5 While Apollonios presumably gained prominence in his own right (though perhaps less than Philostratos would like us to believe),6 he clearly received a disproportionate amount of attention by posterity due to his implied status as a contemporary of one of the most famous figures in human history, Jesus Christ, and above all for being comparable to him.7 Readers of the VA, whether scholarly or not, are struck by the similarities between Philostratos’ Apollonios and Jesus as he is depicted in the Gospels; it is only natural that New Testament studies should take an interest in Apollonios.8 Readers are equally struck by the oscillation of some of Apollonios’ features between the philosophical/spiritual and the occult.9 Admittedly, there are more questions regarding the ‘truth’ of Apollonios’ life and its philosophical and religious meaning than a reading of the VA can possibly answer. Indeed a persistent feature of the apparently continuous influence of and interest in Apollonios throughout history is contradiction:10 in the words of Gibbon, which still ring true despite a long tradition of scholarly research on the sage’s life, ‘Apollonius of Tyana was bom about the same time as Jesus Christ. His life (that of the former) is related in so fabulous a manner by his disciples, that we are at a loss to discover whether he was a sage, an impostor or a fanatic.’11

  • 12 As rightly argued by Whitmarsh (2004, 424-430).
  • 13 D. C. 78.18.4; Luc. Alex. 5 (Lucian’s satire also attacks respected philosophers, but Dio Cassius, (...)
  • 14 Letter to L. Gellius 1-3: ὸσα δὲ ήκουον αὑτοῦ λὲγοντος, ταῦτα αὑτἀ ὲπειρἀθην αὑτοῖς ὸνὸμασιν ῶς οἶό (...)
  • 15 On the debate surrounding the nature of Philostratos’ sources, especially Damis, see most recently (...)
  • 16 On Antonios’ description of his novel (which – if we believe Photios’ summary – laid explicit claim (...)
  • 17 See Merkle (1996).
  • 18 See further Rohrbacher (2016, 69-72); Swain (1997, 22-37) more broadly on the influence of the biog (...)
  • 19 Rohrbacher (2016, 70).
  • 20 On these and other Neopythagoreans of mixed fame, see Flinterman (2014) and below, ch. 2.

3As implied by the above quotation, the roots of the confusion regarding Apollonios’ true nature partly lie in the work of Philostratos itself, specifically in the very portrait of Apollonios in the VA and, we may add, in the manner in which the narrator corroborates this portrait. The narrator’s mythification of Apollonios, for whom he claims Pythagorean and divine genealogy, combined with his alleged intention to treat his hero as a historical subject, using historical methodology, arouses the readers’ curiosity and expectations for the story to follow. But it is clear that the narrator constructs his sources purposefully,12 and the material he provides is by no means foolproof. There is only limited historical evidence for Apollonios’ life, other than Philostratos’ work, and this evidence is generally deprecating for the hero of the VA: the earliest surviving mentions of the sage are found in Lucian and Dio Cassius,13 both of whom see Apollonios as a kind of magos and express disdain towards him. Philostratos names three biographical sources, here in order of ascending importance (VA 1.3): firstly, the work of Moiragenes, whose title is mentioned by Origen in Against Kelsos (6.41, on Apollonios the ‘magician’ and ‘philosopher’), and which is branded as unworthy of attention; secondly, the book of Maximos of Aigai (which is lost to us, if it ever existed) about Apollonios’ time there; and thirdly, his most important source throughout the work, the memoir of Damis, the disciple of Apollonios who allegedly accompanied him during his travels and kept notes detailing his master’s doings and sayings. Damis’ function, which is described early in the VA (1.3), echoes Arrian’s statement of purpose in a prefatory letter about his writing down of Epiktetos’ Diatribes (notably both Philostratos and Arrian use the term ὑπο μνή ματα ‘memoirs’): ‘But whatever I heard him say I used to write down, word for word, as best I could, endeavouring to preserve it as a memorial, for my own future use, of his way of thinking and the frankness of his speech.’14 Unlike Arrian’s, Damis’ voice is heard only indirectly; he is not mentioned elsewhere and is very likely a fictitious person.15 In fact, Damis’ role evokes a traditional practice of literary fictitious narratives. Similarly Antonios Diogenes, perhaps half a century before Philostratos, presented his Incredible things beyond Thoule as largely based on the eyewitness account of Deinias, as recorded on cypress tablets, which were supposedly found by Alexander the Great after his sack of Tyre.16 More examples exist: rationalistic accounts of the Trojan war, written in Latin, circulated in the imperial period and were presented as the eyewitness testimonies of ‘Dictys’ and ‘Dares’, supposedly after having been discovered by chance and translated into Latin.17 Even more significantly, the author of the Historia Augusta (possibly a work of the fourth century) plays with an invented biographer called Cordus – like Damis, a source marred with imperfection.18 And in his introduction to his Lives of the philosophers and the sophists, Eunapios claims to have read ‘precise and detailed commentaries’ (the term used is again hypomnemata), on which he is ready to put the blame for any errors in his account. The mention of such ‘sources’ is a recognised technique of authenticating narratives and an author’s tool both for ‘crossing the boundaries of biography, history and fiction’,19 and for asserting his own unique contribution to his topic. Moreover, Apollonios is not the only Neopythagorean whose literary image is of questionable historical accuracy: the literary portraits of other figures associated with Pythagorean views and ethics, such as Nigidius Figulus, a contemporary of Cicero (who is mentioned as a magician and astrologer), and Alexander of Abonuteichos (Lucian’s ‘false prophet’) also contain fiction and are clouded in uncertainty.20 The presumed connection of Pythagoreanism with magic and the occult clearly had a part to play in this; Pythagoras himself was seemingly accused of sorcery (Iamblichos, On the Pythagorean way of life 32.216).

  • 21 The fact that there is no dedication to Julia Domna may imply that she was already dead when the wo (...)
  • 22 See D. C. 78.18.4 (about a heroon erected by Caracalla in honour of Apollonios; see also IK Tycma 2 (...)
  • 23 D. C. 76.15.7 (but there is no mention of Apollonios); Philostr. VS 2.622 (ἡ φιλὸσοφος). See Dziels (...)
  • 24 Christian papyri (containing New Testament texts) survive from as early as the 2nd c. (Hurtado 2006 (...)
  • 25 Eus. HE 6.1.1; 6.2.1-6.5.7; edict: Hist. Aug. (Spartianus), Sept. Sev. 17.1. See Levick (2007, 121- (...)
  • 26 As Whitmarsh notes (2007a, 35), there is no clear suggestion of imperial influence in the VA. There (...)
  • 27 See Kemezis (2014, 158) for a summary of the possibilities.
  • 28 Kemezis (2014, 226).
  • 29 See Brown (2008, xxxviii-xxxvix), who mentions Origen’s Against Kelsos and lamblichos’ On the myste (...)

4On the other hand, it may be true that Philostratos was assigned the task of composing a biography of Apollonios by the empress Julia Domna (as the narrator claims at 1.3.1),21 which would indicate that the work had a concrete historical motivation and was intended to please the Severan court. This seems credible in view of other, non-Philostratean evidence, which confirms that Apollonios was revered by the Severans (a manifestation of their syncretistic religious policy).22 Additionally, Julia Domna, who came from a family of priests and is said to have studied philosophy and to have kept company with sophists, may have taken a personal interest in Apollonios.23 Her Eastern origin may have played a contributory part in this. The Severan dynasty was the first dynasty of Roman emperors who did not possess an exclusively Italian background: Julia Domna, alleged commissioner of the VA, wife of Septimius Severus and mother of the emperors Geta and Caracalla, was Syrian by birth. The Severan entourage, including Philostratos, was certainly also aware of the events surrounding the life and death of Jesus (even if there weren’t many Christians in the Roman world yet at this point), and of early literature about him – it would be odd to think otherwise.24 While the Severan period is generally characterised by religious tolerance, Septimius Severus appears as a persecutor of Christians in some sources25 (a source even mentions that he issued an edict to ban conversion to Christianity), but the picture is not altogether clear. The religious politics behind Severan interest in Apollonios (religious propaganda? reaction against the rise of Christianity?) elude us, as does the exact politics involved in the composition of the VA,26 although it is fair to assume that the entertainment factor was combined with some sort of a Severan agenda.27 Reinterpretations of the Greek past, such as we find in the VA, and their coexistence with multiple other cultural strata is a characteristic ‘Severan’ aspect of the work.28 As an ‘apology’ for the life and the philosophy of a pagan saint, the VA is furthermore very much part of the intellectual climate of the third century, which is marked by a tendency for religious self-explanation.29

  • 30 On the imperial library (whose collections were seemingly in a poor state in the 2nd c.), see Houst (...)
  • 31 Dial. 1. See N. Pauly s.v. Philostratos (7) (E. L. Bowie).
  • 32 The letters have a complicated transmission history (sources include, apart from Philostratos, medi (...)
  • 33 We see here a manifestation of Apollonios’ ascetic ideal for public life, which is also expressed i (...)

5The VA’s narrator also quotes from a number of letters supposedly written by Apollonios, of which the narrator purports to have collected a substantial number (7.35); he further claims that some had fallen in the possession of the emperor Hadrian at his residence at Antium (8.20).30 A collection of Apollonios’ letters, which are of varied length, themes and addressees, has come down to us; there is some overlap between this collection and the VA, and letters in each that are unique to each text. Their authenticity is dubious, especially of those letters in the collection that appear to draw on Philostratean material (e.g. 77b and 77c, on Apollonios and the Brahmans). Although Apollonios is praised as a letter writer by Philostratos of Lemnos,31 the letters in the collection are likely to be the work of several authors, and quite possibly some predate the VA while others may have been written later.32 Even so, they are important for the way the sage was (or came to be) perceived: for example, the letters that express his complete disregard for baths (8 and 43) reflect a more austere virtue than we see in the VA, where Apollonios rejects hot city baths33 but is happy to ‘take a cold dip’ (1.16.4), and later bathes both with the Indian king Phraotes (2.27.2, in cold water) and – rather lavishly – with larchas, leader of the Wise Men (3.17.1). Perhaps we see in these epistles a later attempt to make the sage appear even more ascetic than the Philostratean version (and thus a more credible rival for Jesus?).

  • 34 See further below, ch. 2.
  • 35 The title is given by the Souda s.v. Σωτήριχος See also FGrH 1080.

6Aside from the letters (which, to some extent, add to Philostratos’ picture of a virtuous sage and teacher of philosophy), whatever other textual sources were available to Philostratos’ readers probably did not portray Apollonios in a positive light, perhaps echoing negative views of contemporaries (such as the philosopher Euphrates, who appears in both the VA and the letters). This is implied by the pronounced purpose of the VA’s narrator to redeem Apollonios’ until then prevailing reputation as a magician or charlatan (VA 1.2.2-3; cf. 5.12). Ironically, by assigning to its hero supernatural abilities and by implicating him in situations of mixed (magical and philosophical) colouring,34 the VA contributed to the perpetuation of Apollonios’ notoriety as a magician and thus to his mixed and confused reception in later times. One later work about the sage’s life, which may have shared the hagiographical tone of Philostratos’ book, was a poem entitled Βὶος Ἀπολλωνὶου τοῦ Τ υανὲως by the pagan poet Soterichos of Oasis (late third century). The poem, which presumably belonged to anti-Christian polemic, is unfortunately lost.35 In any case, it does not appear to have been any more successful in imposing a uniformly positive view of Apollonios than Philostratos’ book was.

  • 36 A welcome transformation of this standpoint is Koskenniemi’s redaction criticism (1991, 27-30; 2009 (...)
  • 37 References to earlier and later antiquity will occasionally be included to give a sense of chronolo (...)
  • 38 On the different types of ‘intertexts’, see Hinds (1998, xi-xii). On changed modem attitudes toward (...)
  • 39 On the long-noticed resemblance between the Acts and the Greek novel, see e.g. Andúlar (2012, 139-1 (...)
  • 40 The earliest martyr acts date from the 2nd and 3rd c.; by way of introduction, see Rhee (2005, 39-4 (...)
  • 41 The tenn ‘novel’ includes the so-called ‘love novel’ or ‘romance’ but is not limited to it. On term (...)
  • 42 Thus Anderson (1996, 615); Rhee (2005, 3-4). The Greek novels do not mention Christianity, but shar (...)

7The Christian apologetic standpoint36 and historical investigation in the content of the VA have their limits and do not exhaust the interpreter’s task. The VA invites our attention primarily as a work of literature. There is no doubt that the narrator has placed at our disposal a neat piece of narrative artistry, beset with a wealth of sophistic ornaments (geographical descriptions, accounts of the wonders seen by the hero during his travels – including digressions on animals – and a fair amount of polemical dialogue). A now thirty-six-year-old dissertation (Knoles 1981) has analysed such aspects as narrative technique, characterisation, the use of time and of selected themes in the VA; all of these aspects have received subsequent treatment, as the bibliography of the present study proves. Knoles was aware that the VA’s literary qualities, especially with respect to the treatment of such themes as the holy nature of its hero, need to be studied in conjunction with other narratives, and noted the relevance of other wise-men lives, mainly belonging to the Pythagorean tradition. These and other contexts stand at the centre of the present book, which envisages a literary study with a broader field of contextual enquiry than considered by Knoles. By ‘contextual enquiry’, I mean comparisons between the VA and literary texts that belong roughly to the same chronological period (the High Empire)37 and genre (a ‘loaded’ term, to be discussed below). This enquiry does not regard the VA or the other narratives as either ‘source’ or ‘target’ texts (as intertextual readings usually do), but mainly focuses on resemblances and common features of form and content, which are shared by texts that intersect with common literary and cultural traditions and are in dialogue with each other. I look only sporadically at the often inconspicuous allusions by one author to a previous author, or at the intentionality of such allusions, which is even harder to identify.38 As scholars point out, the ancient as well as the modem reader’s experience of the VA is bound to be affected by an awareness of a very complex narrative tradition, which includes stories not only about Apollonios, but also about other holy-men figures (such as Pythagoras) in their various forms, Christian narratives (including gospel stories, mainly the Apocryphal Acts,39 and martyr accounts40), and the novel, an elastic genre to which scholars nowadays assign a number of ‘canonical’ and ‘fringe’ texts, including stories of (pseudo-) biographical interest; the focus here will above all lie with the extant Greek romances.41 It is fair to assume that these disparate narratives, which chronologically overlap with Philostratos’ writings to a significant extent, and which draw on a common Greco-Roman literary background, were mutually influential; similarities between them suggest ‘a world of converging cultural tastes’.42

  • 43 Fusillo (1997, 212-213), in relation to the use of paratextual devices by novelists, especially Cha (...)
  • 44 A point made by Hodkinson (2010, 27-30), who terms the VA a ‘pseudo-historical fictional bios’; Cox (...)
  • 45 Thoukydides’ history, however, may have influenced the VA’s treatment of chronology; see Whitmarsh (...)
  • 46 As noted by Kemezis (2014, 150).
  • 47 The narrative does not allow a precise dating of the life of Apollonios, despite Dzielska (1986, 30 (...)
  • 48 Cremonesi (2005, 2).
  • 49 Swain (1999, 179).

8Of course, Philostratos’ story has a stronger historical basis than the purely fictitious plots which dominate the ancient novels. His Apollonios is based on a real, historical individual, while protagonists of the latter need to appear realistic, but most were invented characters. The relevance of the fictitious narrative tradition to the interpretation of the VA, however, is made evident in the way in which Philostratos presents his ‘sources’, and in his apparent loose handling of the notion of historicity. The latter is seen not only in the frequent presence of supernatural elements in the narrative, but also in the strongly hagiographical focus of the portrait of a man whose real character is at least controversial. True, the author’s explicit allusion to himself and to the authorial praxis is meant to lend the narrative ‘a sense of (historiographic) authenticity’.43 Moreover, the evocation of Damis as his source and the avoidance of authorial ‘psychic omniscience’, imply Philostratos’ historical aspirations; authorial omniscience is a recognised feature of fictitious narrative and is avoided in ancient historiography.44 But it has been sufficiently shown that the ‘historical’ cadre built by Philostratos simply does not match that of ancient historiographical works such as the political and military histories of Thoukydides45 and Dio Cassius.46 The inclusion of fantastic elements (e.g. in the narratives of Apollonios’ miracles), which serves the work’s idealising and hagiographical purpose, undermines the narrative atmosphere created by the use of strategies familiar from historical narratives and by the ‘self-conscious masking’ of the work’s fictionality. On the other hand, it is precisely the un-historical, indeed fictional, dimension, as is also reflected in the muddled chronology of narrated events,47 which allows a versatile plot involving various peoples, countries, languages and cultures to come together. In the words of one scholar,48 ‘Filostrato parli il linguaggio dell’ indeterminatezza, di una realtà che si fa trompe-l’oeil, continuamente rimovibile e scomponibile, in cui Nerone si confonde con Serse, l’India con l’Egitto, il demone con l’uomo o con il dio.’ As has been noted before, ‘There is no need to suppose that everything in the VA was believed by Philostratos or intended to be believed’;49 Philostratos qua narrator balances novelistic and historiographical tropes to defend the ‘larger truth’ of his hero’s extraordinary character and life.

  • 50 Such as is suggested by Bowie’s elaborate discussion of the literary milieu of the novelistic genre (...)
  • 51 He expresses the ‘coincidence between sophist and sage’, as noted by Anderson (1993, 141), who comm (...)
  • 52 These connections are hard to determine on the basis of our evidence; see e.g. Koskenniemi (2006, 8 (...)
  • 53 Mumprecht (1983, 1024). See Swain (1999) for a reading of the VA as a piece of pagan apologetic lit (...)
  • 54 The classic classification is that of Leo (1901, 261-262 on the VA); a different method is pursued (...)
  • 55 See Kemezis (2014, 158) for an eloquent summary of possible generic descriptions of the VA. Elsner (...)
  • 56 See Goldhill (2008, 187) on genres as ‘ways of organizing emotional expectations’.

9While retaining awareness of the VA’s play with a real and historical level, this book takes as its assumption that our reading of the work needs mostly to rely on a fictitious literary context.50 The Apollonios of the VA invites attention not only as a ‘philosopher’ and a ‘sophist’,51 but also as a ‘magician’ and a ‘novelistic hero’. The present book uses the terms ‘hero’, ‘sage’ and ‘holy man’ conventionally and almost interchangeably, with reference to, but without debating at length the exact connections of the historical Apollonios with the divine or with magic.52 Historical uncertainties notwithstanding, the problem of Apollonios’ status in the VA is interconnected with the difficulty of defining the genre of Philostratos’ work. A heavily rhetoricised narrative, with links to epideictic oratory, which flourished in the Roman period, and to the tradition of the encomium, the VA has been termed a ‘novel’, a ‘novelistic biography’, a ‘gospel’, and even an ‘apology’ (since the apologetic tone, familiar from narratives about ‘holy men’ who need to be defended from negative perceptions of their extraordinariness, is strongly present in the VA).53 The typology of all these ‘genres’ is debated, although there is no lack of studies of the formal and content features of fictitious prose narratives of novelistic and biographical interest, both pagan and Christian, and of the similarities between the VA and the Gospels as works of literature.54 It is fair to say that each facet of this broader tradition has its idiosyncrasies, and that Apollonios is a different hero from the protagonists both of the romantic novels and of sophistic biographies and of the Christian narratives respectively.55 Each of these categories of texts is associated with different reader expectations and responses.56 They also presuppose different political and religious agendas. It is not among the purposes of this book to debate generic classification, but to formulate a number of contextual readings and comparisons that do not either presume or impose a single strict classificatory understanding of the VA.

  • 57 On this term, see Karla (ed. 2009).
  • 58 Anderson (1996, 618).
  • 59 Note e.g. his chastising of the youth who claimed to have written an encomium of Zeus, a topic well (...)
  • 60 See e.g. Anderson (2000) on storytelling in selected works of Dio Chrysostom (especially the Euboik (...)
  • 61 See Bowersock (1994); Kim (2010).
  • 62 Bowie (1978, 1664-1665; 2006a, 143); Mumprecht (1983, 992-993).
  • 63 The VA was probably composed in the early 3rd c.; see e.g. recently Elsner (2009a, 4). The novels’ (...)

10Despite their differences, the VA and other imperial narratives with fictitious elements, which are also variously associated with one or another narrative genre or sub-genre, often reflect common social values and employ similar narrative forms; this is the premise on which this work relies. ‘Imperial narratives’ is admittedly a very broad category, and a thorough consideration of every piece of work that is deemed as ‘novelistic’ or ‘fringe’57 within the scope of a single study would be a rather unrealistic enterprise. After all, given also the VA’s great size, there is indeed ‘room for demonstrable resemblance to almost all known branches of Graeco-Roman fictional activity at some point or other’.58 Oratory has an all-pervasive presence in this activity – a presence felt in the VA’s epideictic and encomiastic narrative style, in the narrative’s penchant for sophistic descriptions (ekphraseis), as well as in Apollonios’ critique of current rhetorical practice.59 But the works of sophistic rhetoric as such crop up only ocasionally in my discussion; while acknowledging that such works may contain strong narrative elements60 and express the self-conscious interest of imperial literature in fictionality,61 the present book takes as its focus selected fictional narratives on the basis of both narrative form, ideology and content, and considers primarily other biographical literature about ‘wise men’ (mainly of Pythagoras, but also of others), the Greek novel (broadly conceived) and early Christian narratives. In particular, building on older scholarship,62 my discussion adds to and elaborates on observations regarding the strong affinities between the VA and the Greek romantic novels, especially of the so-called ‘sophistic’ kind.63 Obviously the basic plots are very different, but arguably a number of themes employed by Philostratos in his narrative (which are discussed in chapters 3, 4 and 5), as well as the work’s formal and stylistic features (its division in eight books, its use of the dialogue form and ekphrasis) suggest strong links between the VA and the romances. In a similar spirit, I explore ‘resemblances’ between the VA and selected biographical narratives and fringe novels (pagan, Jewish and Christian). This contextual study has implications not only for the way in which the VA is read as an adventure story, but also for the appreciation of Apollonios as a paradigmatic character who dictates an ideal way of life.

  • 64 See Kemezis (2014, 164-168) on probable differences between the historical – on whom see further Jo (...)
  • 65 Cf. Whitmarsh (2004, 424). A narratological distinction between author and narrating voice, resulti (...)
  • 66 The problem of separating the voices of Philostratos and Damis will not concern us here, but see Wh (...)
  • 67 Note also the very self-conscious digressions about the geography, the animals and the people of Et (...)

11The fact that Philostratos’ Apollonios is clearly a literary construct further affects our perception of the authorial presence in the VA. In the following chapters, Philostratos the man, who was presumably aware of the distance between his hero and the real Apollonios,64 is differentiated from Philostratos qua author and primary narrator65 (a distinction which indeed also holds true in respect to his other major work, the VS, which presents highly idealised lives of real sophists). A further narrative voice, that of Damis, is embedded in the primary narrative (Δἀμις φῃσι). The story is thus told from both an internal and an external perspective; the latter appears to draw largely but not exclusively on the former.66 The primary narrator reveals a self-consciousness in commenting not only on the sources and purpose of his work (1.2.3, 1.3.2), but also on aspects of his narrative which we recognise as sophistic: he justifies the inclusion of mythical tales as being more than simply ‘tales’ (1.16.2) and declares his appreciation of extraordinary accounts (3.6.1).67 At one instance, he explicitly states that he is not to be merged with ‘Damis’, as he is about to report a conversation between Apollonios and larchas on the wonders of India: ‘Damis also wrote up the following conversation... I should not therefore leave it out, since one might do well neither to believe nor to disbelieve all the details.’ (VA 3.45) The varied focalisation of the narrative attests to the VA’s literary elaboration.

12The exploration of the VA’s ties with other wise-men tales, pagan and Christian, and with the love novel opens up – as has been admitted earlier – a wide research area, which is however held together by a focus on three main themes. These three themes are the following: firstly, sōphrosynē (σωφροσὑνη) as a character trait of Apollonios, of other wise-men figures and of romantic heroes, and its relation to its perennial antitheton, erōs; secondly, travel and its function in the narratives in question; and thirdly, the VA’s use of the written word (mainly its references to inscribed texts) as a literary and metaliterary device. All three thematic areas provide opportunities for comment on another issue that pervades this study, namely the VA’s relation to fictionality. Notably the theme of sōphrosynē permeates all areas: it determines the ethical content of the sage’s travel experiences and, although its role is less pronounced in chapter 5, my discussion shows that it affects the hero’s relationship with writing. Thus sōphrosynē emerges as the primary focus of my study. Moreover, far from ignoring the long scholarly enquiry into the philosophical and religious aspects of the VA, this study exploits the gains of that enquiry and makes some contribution to it in the course of the survey of the VA’s literary affinities. In each one of the fields suggested above, we identify new, until now unnoticed points of contact between the story of Apollonios and related narratives, which also broaden the philosophical understanding of the texts considered. The awareness of this sort of multi-context is necessary in order to do full justice to the VA as a reading experience. Philostratos’ narrative clearly attracted ancient readers in all of its capacities: as an exemplary and inspiring bios, as an expression of a multi-faceted cultural capital (Eastern and Hellenic), as an entertaining novelistic tale and as a repository of ethical and philosophical thought. While these capacities were simultaneously at play, different readers may well have seen different things in the VA.

II. Contextual Readings: An Outline

  • 68 Cremonesi’s interpretation of the wisdom of the VA’s Apollonios (2005) is based on this notion. But (...)
  • 69 See Whitmarsh (2004, 430-431) for examples of relevant use of language.
  • 70 North (1966) and more recently Rademaker (2005).

13This study introduces sōphrosynē and its relationship with eros as an interpretive tool for the understanding of Apollonios’ character in relation to other ancient holy-men biographies and the romantic novel; it further suggests this virtue as a meeting point between literary and philosophical interpretation. As demonstrated by its central role in the first four chapters and its presence in the last one, sōphrosynē is linked with the narrative’s treatment of various aspects and themes that are important to the story (philosophical identity and divinity, erōs, travel, literacy and orality). Philosophy is presented in the VA predominantly as an art of living,68 not as a systematic body of doctrine, but as the first three chapters show, the emphasis on good moral behaviour draws from a broader context of contemporary virtue ethics. Virtue is a recurrent topic in the VA, not only as an aspect of individual human fulfillment, but also as the basis of the behaviour which is desired in a community – this is what one might expect from the narrative of a ‘wise life’, whose hero is presented as an example of a virtuous and humane sage, and whose narrator assumes a largely pedagogical role towards his readers.69Sōphrosynē is one of the story’s timeless properties, part of the broader philosophical and religious kosmos, which the KT’s narrator prioritises over the narratives of individual events. This is not the place for a thorough discussion of the term (the broad spectrum of sōphrosynē is reflected in its lengthy and varied treatment in two monographs),70 but a short introduction is in order.

  • 71 Also τὸ σῶφρον, τὸ σωφρονεῖν.
  • 72 Ethical terms are often hard to translate from one language to another; see Berman (1985) on partic (...)
  • 73 Paian 1 = D1 Rutherford.
  • 74 See e.g. Rademaker (2005, 202, with references).
  • 75 See below, ch. 3.
  • 76 See Kanavou (2016b), especially concerning its relationship with dikaiosyne ‘justice’.
  • 77 Rademaker (2005, 1-7) provides an overview of the semantic range of Platonic uses. See also below, (...)

14The uses of sōphrosynē (including cognate terms, such as the adjective σῶφρων and adverb σωφρὸνως)71 are spread throughout the body of Greek literature and encompass all genres, from the earliest poetic texts (Homer) to classical as well as later philosophical prose – that is, from the seventh century BC up to late antiquity. Its sense covers a broad range of qualities that may fall under the general definition of ‘just and moral behaviour’ or ‘sensibility’.72 For example, Homer’s Telemachos displays sōphrosynē (‘responsibility’ and ‘prudence’) in keeping his father’s plans hidden (Odyssey 23.30); the sōphrosynē of the seer Amphiaraos in Aischylos’ Seven against Thebes (568; 610) is associated with religious piety and restraint in the exercise of violence; and in Pindar,73 σαὸφρων εὐνομία implies a political virtue, by means of which the city is protected from injustice and strife. Particular views of sōphrosynē seem to have been favoured by particular authors or within the context of individual genres: Thoukydides connected it with conservative Spartan politics;74 and novelistic authors used it almost as a byword for ‘chastity’.75 Even the comic theatre of Aristophanes does credit to the primacy of sōphrosynē in Greek life and thought.76 But the philosophical mindset of much of Philostratos’ book dictates special attention here to the uses of the term in the writings of philosophers. Sōphrosynē is one of Plato’s cardinal virtues; he attributes to it a central role in his political and ethical thinking, both as an intellectual and as an ethical quality. In the early dialogues (Protagoras, Charmides), its meaning is close to that of sophia as ‘common sense’, while the philosopher becomes increasingly interested in it, especially in the later dialogues, as the means of controlling the irrational in a man.77 A good example of this latter use is found already in Gorgias (491d):

ΚΑΛ. Πῶς ἐαυτοῦ ἂρχοντα λὲγεις;
ΣΩ. Οὑδὲν ποικὶλον ἀλλ’ ὥσπερ οὶ πολλοὶ,
σώφρονα ὄντα καὶ ἐγκρατῆ αὑτὸν ὲαυτοῦ, των ηδονῶν καὶ ὲπιθυμιῶν ἀρχοντα τῶν ὲν ὲαυτφ.

Cal. What do you mean by his ‘ruling over himself’?
Soc. A simple thing enough; just what is commonly said, that a man should be temperate and master of himself, and ruler of his own pleasures and passions.

  • 78 On him, see e.g. Francis (1995, 21-52). This is not to ignore the presence of Epicureanism, but Sto (...)
  • 79 North (1966, 213-231); Karamanolis (2013, passim)–, see also below, chs 1 and 2.
  • 80 Treatise I 361; 363; II passim. Cf. Russell and Wilson (1981, xiv-xv) on the praise of virtues in e (...)
  • 81 See, summarily, Seddon (2005, 240-241); Hirsch-Luipold et al. (2005, 209- 211). The Tablet (easily (...)

15After Plato, Hellenistic philosophy, especially Stoicism, sketched an exemplary character composed by egkrateia and wisdom. Stoicism was arguably the most powerful philosophical ideology of the Roman empire (the emperor Marcus Aurelius and his Greek Meditations, which repeatedly allude to sōphrosynē, express this ideology),78 and it strongly influenced Christian thought.79 The Platonic scheme of virtues was of enduring importance, and it was certainly still current in the period of the second sophistic, as shown for example in the rhetorical treatises of Menander Rhetor, which repeatedly stress the praiseworthy nature of sōphrosynē.80 In the same period, Dio Chrysostom pairs sōphrosynē with paideia (another notion of importance to every discussion of the VA, as we shall see in the following chapters); similarly the Tablet of Kebes, a moralising allegory of the first/second century, presents the road to sōphrosynē and other virtues as passing from paideia.81 Dio juxtaposed sōphrosynē and paideia with hybris and tryphē (τρυφή) (Orations 33.22 33.41).

  • 82 See Kanavou (2015, 947, with references); North (1977) for a short diachronic discussion of female (...)
  • 83 A recent thesis on sōphrosynē in the extant romantic novels (Bird 2016) focuses on the virtue as mo (...)
  • 84 This early expression of the cultural blend between Greece and Rome finds an elaborate manifestatio (...)

16It is important to note that uses of the term seem to have evolved over time: indeed while retaining the meaning ‘moral behaviour’ in a broad sense, sōphrosynē slowly moved during the Hellenistic and imperial periods towards an emphasis on the more specific meaning ‘sexual self-restraint’, ‘chastity’, as dictated by ethical and religious convictions. This new semantic emphasis is ubiquitous in the Greek love novel, a genre that flourished between the first and fourth centuries. Five extant Greek novels survive, each of which tells the story of a young loving couple who goes through numerous adventures, which often include abductions, wars and travel, before being reunited in a happy and harmonious ending. Sōphrosynē emerges as a stereotypical feature of novelistic heroes and heroines and as a central concept in these stories, in which it functions as the counterpart to ‘love’ (erōs), the main force that governs the plots. While its most frequent meaning is erotic self-restraint, mainly applied to the two lovers in question, and mostly to the young girl (mirroring perhaps the routine praise of sōphrosynē as a predominantly female virtue in real life),82 it is occasionally also used in the more general sense of self-control and as a designation of good moral character and sensibility.83 In the VA and other philosophical biographical contexts, as chapters 1 and 2 show, uses of sōphrosynē oscillate between its more general sense (as ‘prudence’, ‘temperance’) and its role as the counterpart of eros (in the case of Apollonios, as radical celibacy, a male virtue, which is associated with sages and ‘holy men’). In his Tusculanae Disputationes (3.16-17), in which he discusses Greek philosophy, Cicero is particularly instructive as to the different nuances that the term was felt to have in the Greco-Roman period:84

Veri etiam simile illud est, qui sit temperans, – quem Graeci σώφρονα appellant eamque virtutem σωφροσύνην vocant, quam soleo equidem tum temperantiam, tum moderationem appellare, non numquam etiam modestiam, sed haud scio an recte ea virtus frugalitas appellari possit, quod angustius apud Graecos valet, qui frugi homines χρησὶμους appellant, id est, tantum modo utiles; at illud est latius; omnis enim abstinentia, omnis innocentia – quae apud Graecos usitatum nomen nullum habet; sed habere potest ἀβλἀβειαν: nam est innocentia adfectio talis animi, quae noceat nemini – reliquas etiam virtutes frugalitas continent...

It is also probable that the temperate man – the Greeks call him σῶφρων, and they apply the term σωφροσὑνη to the virtue which I usually call, sometimes temperance, sometimes self-control, and occasionally also discretion; but, it may be, the virtue could rightly be called ‘frugality,’ the term corresponding to which has a narrower meaning with the Greeks, who call ‘frugal’ men χρήσιμοι, that is to say simply useful; but our term has a wider meaning, for it connotes all abstinence and inoffensiveness (and this with the Greeks has no customary term, but it is possible to use ἀβλἀβεια, harmlessness; for inoffensiveness is a disposition of the soul to injure no one) – well, ‘frugality’ embraces all the other virtues as well...

  • 85 North (1966, 252-253). Note the first line of an epigram which is said to have been inscribed on Pl (...)
  • 86 For the term, see Konstan and Walsh (2016, 29). See also Hägg (2012, 41- 54; 65), on Agesilaos as a (...)
  • 87 Konstan and Walsh (2016, 31-32); historiography, on the other hand, is more concerned with objectiv (...)
  • 88 I argue in Kanavou (2015) that the ending of Chariton’s novel makes better sense if viewed as the p (...)

17Apart from being a central topic in philosophical and rhetorical discourse, sōphrosynē remained a social value of cardinal importance, as is suggested by its use on numerous funerary inscriptions as praise for the dead.85 Fictitious literature clearly interacts with this philosophical and socio-cultural background. The study of sōphrosynē in the VA is important not only for our understanding of this background, but also for our appreciation of the generic literary affinities of the VA. The praise of this ‘cardinal’ virtue notably features in Xenophon’s encomiastic account of the Spartan king Agesilaos, a ‘proto-biography’;86 in Agesilaos, the hero is praised for his moderation, his self-control and for placing virtuous acts above the pleasures of the flesh (5.7; 11.10). Indeed the emphasis on good moral character, as well as on intellectual qualities, is a distinguishing feature of biographical writings.87 But as mentioned already, sōphrosynē also establishes a link with the romantic novels. In both the VA and the novels,88 sōphrosynē is relevant to the construction of plots and characters. The awareness of the uses of sōphrosynē in the ancient novel helps us to see the novelistic affinities of Apollonios’ character, while the philosophical treatment and broader cultural significance of the term in the Greco-Roman period is relevant to our understanding of Apollonios as a ‘philosopher’ and a ‘holy man’.

  • 89 I will only refer to Roman political biography in passing, but this is not to discount the place of (...)
  • 90 Judaism and Christianity of course relied on Scripture, but their authors’ engagement with ethical (...)

18In view of the above, the first chapter provides a survey of the role of sōphrosynē in the VA, a topic that has never been studied in detail. The term and its cognates are discussed in their narrative context, which reveals their varied nuances of meaning. An examination of the place of this virtue in the work’s broader ideological framework follows, touching on such concepts as sophia, andreia, dikaiosynē (the rest of the ‘cardinal virtues’), paideia and Greekness, all of which form part of the narrative’s interests and are relevant to Apollonios’ characterisation, in particular the way in which he interacts with other characters (such as the oriental wise men he meets during his travels and the Roman emperors, whom he advises and by whom he is persecuted). The second chapter considers the place of sōphrosynē in other wise-men narratives of the imperial period, including the collective biographies by Philostratos and Diogenes Laertios, the account of the Pythagorean way of life by lamblichos, Plutarchan biography and selected biographical writings by the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria.89 Early Christian narratives about Jesus and his disciples are also discussed here, especially in relation to the themes of sōphrosynē, paideia and philanthropia-, special attention is given to the role of sōphrosynē in the narrative’s construction of its hero as a ‘holy man’, whose virtue guarantees his moral and religious authority and his special relationship with the divine. Moreover, focusing on biographical narratives, this chapter highlights similarities and differences in the literary treatment of ethical themes across pagan and Judeo-Christian literary traditions.90 The third chapter makes further contributions to this topic, by uncovering forms of the sōphrosynē-erōs relationship in the VA and comparing them to instances of this relationship in the love novel and in selected biographical narratives, which show the influence of various forms of pagan and Christian ethical thinking. This chapter’s analysis benefits from a glance at the Jewish novel (Joseph and Aseneth is a well-known example) and comments on the low view of women in the VA, in comparison to their rich (er) and more generally positive roles in other biographical and novelistic narratives (pagan, Jewish and Christian). The survey of the instances of the love theme in the VA shows the prevalence of the negative view of erōs, which is a marked feature of the work’s ideology, and sets it in contrast with the romantic treatment of this theme in the novels. Erōs in the VA is mostly associated with degenerate men and women who lust after the story’s chaste characters (including our sage), and with beastly creatures. This portrayal of erōs seems rather akin to the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles and to narratives about Christian saints, which thematise perfect chastity – a feature of the holy man (sometimes also in Greco-Roman philosophy) and not of the romantic hero; but Apollonios’ relationship with erōs is not free from shadows and complexities.

  • 91 See further Zwingmann (2012, 18-19); her survey of ancient ‘tourist’ sights includes several of Apo (...)
  • 92 See Morgan (2004, 186).
  • 93 Stephens and Winkler (1995) and López Martínez (1998) are the main reference works for the novelist (...)
  • 94 Is the modem term Bildungsroman an additional possible generic marker? The term has been used for L (...)

19Another area of resemblance between the VA and the novel, which is explored in the book (chapter 4), is travel. Apollonios’ journeys cover the largest part of the VA, up to the end of Book 6, while the Indian journey occupies most of this space. These journeys reflect, to an extent, the traditional mobility of sophists, philosophers and ‘holy men’, which allowed them to increase their experience, influence and (often) their professional success.91 Travel, however, in particular to exotic Eastern destinations, is also a recurring feature of the romantic novel. Four of the five extant novels boast plots that maintain a varied and dynamic geographical focus within a very broad region. Thus Chariton’s heroes set off from Sicily but find themselves as far afield as Persia; Xenophon’s Anthia and Habrokomes meet and marry in Ephesos but are then chased away to such places as Tyre, Syria and Kilikia before being allowed to return to settled married life at home. Achilles Tatios’ couple not only travel constantly as the story unfolds, but also do not seem ever to settle (at least Kleitophon, who is inexplicably away from his home city as he narrates the adventures that form the novel’s main plot); and Heliodoros’ heroes tour around the Mediterranean (Ethiopia-Egypt-Delphi) before making their home in Ethiopia. Longos’ pastoral setting does not exploit the theme of travel, although the boat trip of the rich youths from Methymna in Book 2 has some significance for the plot;92 and fragmentary novels also preserve traces of the theme.93 It is clear that this is a narrative topos too popular to resist. Philostratos’ travellers are of course no enamoured pair, although Apollonios is paired with a companion (Damis). The novels do not always have their heroes travel together; indeed most of the journeys are undertaken by a hero or heroine on his or her own and are unplanned or unwanted as the result of forceful separation. Apollonios’ journey, on the other hand, is the result of his own free choice and careful planning. Still, the travels of both the romantic heroes and Apollonios share more than the component of entertainment value. Travelling also has a philosophical dimension and a symbolic significance, a sense of the plot and characters growing in knowledge, wisdom, and indeed in sōphrosynē by means of leaving familiar safety and responding to the challenges of the unknown.94 The philosophical exploitation of travel is perhaps more explicit in the VA, and in fictionalised biographical writings about Pythagoras and about the Christian Apostles, where the hero’s journey is the result of Wanderlust or of a conscious mission and not of hard necessity; but the romantic novels – some more than others – also contain a number of hints that their authors were not unaware of or indifferent to the philosophical significance, which undoubtedly lurks in travel narratives from the time of Homer’s Odyssey. Thus travel, not just as a source of narrative material, but also as a symbolic topos, emerges as a further strong pointer to the relationship between the VA, other wise-men tales and the romantic novel.

  • 95 Sironen (2003); Slater (2009).
  • 96 See Zadorojnyi (2013).

20The book’s final chapter studies the manifestations and role of the written word in the VA in relation to other novelistic narratives (mainly the romantic novels and the Alexander romance, which is known to make substantial use of this trope). On the use of letters in the VA there is already a substantial bibliography; but whereas surveys of epigraphic texts in other Greco-Roman novelistic literature exist,95 there are only rare mentions and no systematic study of the role of inscribed communications in the VA, or of other forms of writing used (e.g. writing tablets, papyrus documents). This is arguably, however, a piece of work whose ideology relies immensely on the evocation of written evidence for the realisation of its plot and its verisimilitude. This is made clear from the start, with the mention of Damis’ deltoi – the written record prepared by Apollonios’ (imaginary?) disciple, on which Philostratos’ account of the sage’s life and days is supposedly based. The value attributed by Philostratos to citing written evidence is further confirmed both by the ample mention of epistles written by or mailed to the sage, and by the numerous scattered mentions of inscribed texts, which are incorporated in the plot – a practice reminiscent of classical Greek historians, especially Herodotos, who quote a number of inscriptional texts in the ‘original’. Examples include the text of Apollonios’ reproach to the corn merchants (full text on writing tablet, 1.15.3); the memorable verse inscription on a grave, which sets the scene of Apollonios’ visit to the Eretrians of Cissia at Susa (1.24); and the illegible inscription at the sanctuary of Herakles at Gadeira, which only Apollonios was able to read (5.5.2).96 My discussion considers the importance of these references and quotations for both the narrative flow of the work and its realism; it researches their function as a rhetorical device that guarantees the narrative’s stylistic versatility and as a strategy that serves the authentication of narrated events and enriches the hero’s characterisation, particularly in respect to his central virtue, sōphrosynē. This chapter further engages with the issue of the response of readers and internal (‘intradiegetic’) audiences to inscribed texts, as well as with the self-referential aspects of the VA’s literacy. It shows that the contextualisation of these texts in the VA suggests an ideological framework marked by a tension between the sociocultural expectations on which the use of inscribed literature draws, and the meta-narrative potential of written sources implied in certain passages (as in the suggested conflict between the written and the unwritten at 4.33).

21As noted already, the above strands of enquiry share – to a greater or lesser extent – the explicit or implicit effect of sōphrosynē, which is expressed either as a feature of Apollonios and other characters in the fictitious narratives discussed, or as an ideological force that lurks in the background of narrative plots. Thus the present work functions simultaneously as a contribution to the study and appreciation of sōphrosynē in Greco-Roman times by considering some of its uses in narrative texts that are not treated in the earlier-mentioned thematic monographs (Philostratos receives only a fleeting mention in North’s study, and lies beyond the chronological scope of Rademaker’s monograph, which does not go further than Plato). My discussion takes into account relevant Greco-Roman thought as expressed in contemporary treatises, but the focus of the study is literary, and it is ultimately interested in the function of sōphrosynē in imperial fictitious narratives as the marker of a meeting between the various strands of the novelistic/biographical tradition – in other words, as the marker of the VA’s ‘literary context’.

Notes

1 Lucius Flavius Philostratos, the author also of the Lives of the sophists (VS), which is considered in ch. 2, and of a number of other works. We shall not go here into the problem of the Philostrati, which is nowadays mainly discussed in relation to the attribution of the two collections entitled Eikones, but see Anderson (1986, 291-296); Billault (2000, 5-7; 28-31); N. Pauly s.v. Philostratos (5) (E. L. Bowie); the bibliography in Whitmarsh (2007a, 31 n. 11), and Oxford Bibliographies Online s.v. Lucius Flavius Philostratus (O. Hodkinson).

2 See Flinterman (1995, 54-59) for a useful summary of the work’s contents.

3 Ἔχὲτω δὲ ὸ λὸγος τὸῷ) τε ἀνδρ·ι τιμήν, ὲς ὄν ξυγγὲγραπται, τοῖς τε φὶλοµαθεστὲροις ῶὲλεὶαν· ἦ γἀρ ἂν μἀθόιεν, ἂ µήπῶ γήνῶσκουσιν

4 Thus Swain (1999, 158). The essence of the ancient term φιλοσοφὶο oscillated between (striving for) ‘knowledge’ and a ‘way of living’. On ancient philosophy as a way of life, see Hadot (1995); on the connection between virtue and the good life (a steady concern of both ancient and modem ethics), see Annas (1993).

5 Just. Mart. 1 Apol. 2.1-2; Dial. 8.1; Clem. Al. Strom. 6.8.67. See Karamanolis (2013, 3); Alexander (2002). Jewish authors, like Joseph and Philo, had already established links between Judaism and Greco-Roman philosophical engagements (Alexander ibid.).

6 See e.g. Swain (2009, 36-37).

7 Although his biographer does not mention Jesus, Apollonios interests many scholars non tantnm propter Apollonium, sedpropter lesum, as noted by Van Uytfanghe (2009, 335). The sage’s increased influence in late antiquity – which is also suggested by the appearance of his image on a 4th c. Roman medallion, on which see Hägg (1991, 116); Dzielska (1986, 172); Dall’Asta (2008, 40 and n. 65) – may have been connected with an attempt to oppose Christianity with an akin pagan messiah (Dall’Asta ibid., 40-42), but cf. Jones’ doubt (2006, 56). Comparisons between Jesus and Apollonios are already found in the 3rd c.; see e.g. Porphyry Chr. fr. 63 Hamack, with Becker (2016, 389-392). The relevant famous exchange between Hierokles and Eusebios of Kaisareia dates to the early 4th c. (a Latin rendition of the VA, by Nicomachus Flavianus, appeared late in that century). For an overview of Apollonios’ place in the pagan-Christian debate, see Jones (2006, with bibliography, n. 1).

8 See e.g. Petzke (1970); Koskenniemi (1994) on the use of Apollonios in New Testament exegesis. See Kemezis (2014, 160-161) for the current state of the question, and Van Uytfanghe (2009, 336-346) for a recent summary of investigations of parallels between the New Testament and the VA.

9 Thorndike (1923) dedicated a chapter to Apollonios. The relevant episodes of the VA (i.e. Apollonios’ miracles, which include exorcisms, dealing with vampires and an apparent resurrection) may be read as elements of folklore; see Anderson (2009). Theosophy also took an interest in Apollonios; see Dall’Asta (2008, 16-20).

10 See Speyer (1974) for a brief survey. On the mixed reception of Apollonios in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, see further Dall’Asta (2008). Note the particularly harsh verdict of Photios. Note also that the VA became associated with Hermetic literature, but Hermes Trismegistos had a wider following than Apollonios (Dall’Asta ibid., 6); see also Kingsley (1995, 321) on the similarities between Hermetic and Pythagorean literature. On the afterlife of Apollonios’ story, see further Hagg’s relevant studies, collected in Hägg (2004, 379-433). For a modernist appreciation of Apollonios as a pagan ‘saint’ in comparison to Christian sainthood, see Elsner (2009b); cf. Cremonesi (2005, 105-113) on Eusebios’ Christian viewpoint on Apollonios.

11 Gibbon (1994, Vol. 1, ch. 11; 315).

12 As rightly argued by Whitmarsh (2004, 424-430).

13 D. C. 78.18.4; Luc. Alex. 5 (Lucian’s satire also attacks respected philosophers, but Dio Cassius, too, saw our sage as a γὸης and μἀγος. On the negative connotations of mageia, cf. Luc. Alex. 5, and see ch. 2). It is unclear whether Luc. Demon. 31 refers to the Tyanean or to another Apollonios, e.g. the Rhodian poet or the Stoic philosopher; see Jones (1986, 95), who takes the latter view. Ancient testimonies on Apollonios are usefully listed in FGrH 1064. See also Dzielska (1986, 89-92; 189). It is noteworthy that Plutarch does not mention our sage.

14 Letter to L. Gellius 1-3: ὸσα δὲ ήκουον αὑτοῦ λὲγοντος, ταῦτα αὑτἀ ὲπειρἀθην αὑτοῖς ὸνὸμασιν ῶς οἶόν τε ἥν γραψἀμενος ὑπομνήματα ει ὓστερον ἐμαυτῷ διαφυλἀξαι τῆς ὲκεὶνου διανοὶας καὶ παρρησίας. See Robiano (1996) on Arrian’s possible influence on Philostratos. Note that the Christian Gospels are called ἀπομνημονεύματα in Just. Mart. 1 Apol. 66.3.

15 On the debate surrounding the nature of Philostratos’ sources, especially Damis, see most recently Bäbler and Nesselrath (2016, 15, with references). For an extensive treatment of the problem of Damis, see Dzielska (1986, 19- 50), who follows Bowie in assuming that he is an invention of Philostratos. Cf. Flinterman (1995, 79-88) on the view that Philostratos truly used a source ascribed to a disciple of Apollonios. It is possible that ‘Damis’ was a name chosen to honour the sophist Flavius Damianos of Ephesos (VS 2.605); see also Swain (1999, 175). Anderson’s attempt to identify Damis as an Epicurean (1986, 241-257), with links to the homonymous character in Luc. JTr., has been refuted by Edwards (1991). On Philostratos’ sources, see further ch. 5.

16 On Antonios’ description of his novel (which – if we believe Photios’ summary – laid explicit claim not only on historicity, like Philostratos’ narrative, but also on fictionality), see further Stephens and Winkler (1995, 102-104; on the novel’s date, ibid., 118-119).

17 See Merkle (1996).

18 See further Rohrbacher (2016, 69-72); Swain (1997, 22-37) more broadly on the influence of the biographical approach on pagan historiography. See also below.

19 Rohrbacher (2016, 70).

20 On these and other Neopythagoreans of mixed fame, see Flinterman (2014) and below, ch. 2.

21 The fact that there is no dedication to Julia Domna may imply that she was already dead when the work was finished; see e.g. Koskenniemi (1991, 43). The commission itself has been doubted by some scholars – see Elsner (2009a, 4 n. 6); Hägg (2012, 325 and n. 123) – largely on the basis of the negative view of women in the VA, but this is hardly a conclusive argument. Cf. also Whitmarsh’s caution (2007a, 33-34) about the nature of Julia’s ‘circle’ and Philostratos’ closeness to the empress.

22 See D. C. 78.18.4 (about a heroon erected by Caracalla in honour of Apollonios; see also IK Tycma 2, 368). Cf. Hist. Aug. (Lampridius), Alex. Sev. 29.2 (on Severus Alexander). See also Grossardt (2006, 39-40).

23 D. C. 76.15.7 (but there is no mention of Apollonios); Philostr. VS 2.622 (ἡ φιλὸσοφος). See Dzielska (1986, 188-192) and Levick (2007, 119; 122- 123).

24 Christian papyri (containing New Testament texts) survive from as early as the 2nd c. (Hurtado 2006, 3-41). Already Paul referred to saints in the house of the emperor (doTiacovTai upac Ttavreg oi ayroi, pakiora 3c oi etc Tfjq Kaioapoc okiac, Phil. 4: 22). See Konstan and Ramelli (2014, 180-181; cf. Ramelli 2001, 165-173), who accept that Jesus’ story was current in Rome already in the 30s, and that it influenced the early novels, while later Greek novelists most likely knew the Christian narratives. See also Koskenniemi (1991, 77), pace Petzke (1970, 65-66), who doubted Christian influence. Marcus Aurelius refers to the Christians (Meditations 11.3), as does Lucian (Peregr. 11-13; 16). Note that the cremation of the pseudo-holy Peregrinos is satirically said by Lucian to have been accompanied by an earthquake – an echo of narratives about Jesus’ crucifixion? (Peregr 39, with bibliography in Hägg 2012, 292 n. 19).

25 Eus. HE 6.1.1; 6.2.1-6.5.7; edict: Hist. Aug. (Spartianus), Sept. Sev. 17.1. See Levick (2007, 121-122; 125; 163). The historicity of the edict is doubted (Birley 1988, 135; he also notes some evidence [Tert. Scap. 4.5] that Septimius protected Christians, ibid., 154). Alexander Severus’ mother, Julia Mammaea, took an interest in Origen’s teaching. See further Ramelli (2001, 107-112) on the Severans’ attitude to Christianity.

26 As Whitmarsh notes (2007a, 35), there is no clear suggestion of imperial influence in the VA. There is further no direct evidence of a parallelism between Apollonios and Jesus before Hierokles.

27 See Kemezis (2014, 158) for a summary of the possibilities.

28 Kemezis (2014, 226).

29 See Brown (2008, xxxviii-xxxvix), who mentions Origen’s Against Kelsos and lamblichos’ On the mysteries.

30 On the imperial library (whose collections were seemingly in a poor state in the 2nd c.), see Houston (2014, 248) and passim.

31 Dial. 1. See N. Pauly s.v. Philostratos (7) (E. L. Bowie).

32 The letters have a complicated transmission history (sources include, apart from Philostratos, medieval manuscripts and Stobaios); see, summarily, Hodkinson (2017, 513). They were edited (with commentary) by Penella (1979). On their historical relevance, see also Dzielska (1986, 75-76; 177); Flinterman (1995, 70-74; 155). Note, recently, Kasprzyk’s caution (2013, 263-264): it is impossible to know whether Philostratos fabricated the existence of any of the letters, although there can be no doubt that he manipulated their form, content, place and role in his narrative.

33 We see here a manifestation of Apollonios’ ascetic ideal for public life, which is also expressed in his criticism of theatrical performances, games and dances at Athens and Ephesos (4.21; 4.2). Note further the philosopher Demetrios’ denunciation of bathing at the inauguration of Nero’s new gymnasium (4.42). Cf. Artem. 1.64 for a different (positive) view of baths, and Iamb. VP 21.98 on bathing as part of the Pythagorean life.

34 See further below, ch. 2.

35 The title is given by the Souda s.v. Σωτήριχος See also FGrH 1080.

36 A welcome transformation of this standpoint is Koskenniemi’s redaction criticism (1991, 27-30; 2009, 321-322), which has aimed to place the VA in its Philostratean and other literary milieux, as well as in the rest of the Apollonian traditions, in order to understand the work’s ‘final redaction’. Characteristically, recent editors – e.g. Mumprecht (1983), the new Loeb edition by Jones (2005-2006) – do not print Eusebios’ treatise against Hierokles alongside the VA, as older editors did (e.g. the old Loeb edition by F. C. Conybeare, 1912). The text of Eusebios’ treatise and a list of ancient testimonia on Apollonios are now easily accessible in a separate Loeb volume, which contains Apollonios’ letters.

37 References to earlier and later antiquity will occasionally be included to give a sense of chronological surroundings and of the diachrony of some literary features.

38 On the different types of ‘intertexts’, see Hinds (1998, xi-xii). On changed modem attitudes towards ‘intertextuality’, see Fowler (1997). See also Konstan and Ramelli (2014, 181) on the various kinds of interaction between texts.

39 On the long-noticed resemblance between the Acts and the Greek novel, see e.g. Andúlar (2012, 139-140, with bibliography); and between the Acts and philosophical lives, Van Uytfanghe (2009, 348).

40 The earliest martyr acts date from the 2nd and 3rd c.; by way of introduction, see Rhee (2005, 39-47). The passion of Perpetua of Carthage dates to the reign of Septimius Severus.

41 The tenn ‘novel’ includes the so-called ‘love novel’ or ‘romance’ but is not limited to it. On terminological issues, see Goldhill (2008, 192-193). See also De Temermann (2014, 15-18) for the varied significant load of ‘novel’ and ‘romance’ in scholarship. The present study refers only occasionally to the Roman novel (Petronius and Apuleius, whose style relies on parody); it refers more often to Jewish narratives written in Greek. On the relationship between the Greek and the Jewish novel, see, for a brief introduction, Pervo (1996, 687-689) and further Wills (1995, 16-28).

42 Thus Anderson (1996, 615); Rhee (2005, 3-4). The Greek novels do not mention Christianity, but share themes and ideas with early Christian literature; see Ramelli’s study (2001).

43 Fusillo (1997, 212-213), in relation to the use of paratextual devices by novelists, especially Chariton and Heliodoros.

44 A point made by Hodkinson (2010, 27-30), who terms the VA a ‘pseudo-historical fictional bios’; Cox (1983, xii) used the term ‘imaginal history’ for the area between fact and fiction. Francis (1998) drew attention to the literary function of the work as ‘truthful fiction’. The often vague distinction between history and fiction in biographical narrative is the topic of a recent volume: De Temmerman and Demoen (eds 2016); see in particular De Temmerman (2016), especially his reservations regarding the value of a distinction between ‘true’ and ‘false’ biographies (ibid., 25), and De Pourcq and Roskam (2016, 163).

45 Thoukydides’ history, however, may have influenced the VA’s treatment of chronology; see Whitmarsh (2007b, 413-414).

46 As noted by Kemezis (2014, 150).

47 The narrative does not allow a precise dating of the life of Apollonios, despite Dzielska (1986, 30-38), who placed it between the years 40 and 120. On the VA’s historical unreliability, see Whitmarsh (2007b, 415), Dall’Asta (2008, 33-34), with a useful bibliographical note (n. 43), and Billault (2000, 91-92). Cf. Cox (1983, 56-57) on ‘freedom from chronology’ as a feature of holy-men biographies (this is not to deny altogether the VA’s value as a source of information on history, religion and culture).

48 Cremonesi (2005, 2).

49 Swain (1999, 179).

50 Such as is suggested by Bowie’s elaborate discussion of the literary milieu of the novelistic genre (2008).

51 He expresses the ‘coincidence between sophist and sage’, as noted by Anderson (1993, 141), who commented on the use of sophistic perspectives in contexts praising Apollonios as a wise man (see ibid., 231-232 on VA 7.10.2-7.11.2). On the philosopher-sophist divide, see below, ch. 1.

52 These connections are hard to determine on the basis of our evidence; see e.g. Koskenniemi (2006, 83). On Apollonios’ status in the VA, see e.g. Hahn (2003).

53 Mumprecht (1983, 1024). See Swain (1999) for a reading of the VA as a piece of pagan apologetic literature; he points out the loose character of this category and also terms the VA as a ‘historical biography’ (ibid., 158). Xenophon’s Kyropaideia has been posited as a possible model for Philostratos’ book; see Bowie (1978, 1665), Anderson (1986, 231-232), and cf. Schom (2016, 176-177). See Schom (ibid.) on the work’s connections with the ‘mirror for princes’ genre.

54 The classic classification is that of Leo (1901, 261-262 on the VA); a different method is pursued in Talbert (1978). See also Cox (1983) on holy-men biographies (which, as she admits, do not follow a stable literary pattern). See Hägg (2012, 2-3) on the difficulty of defining ‘biography’ as a genre and further Smith (2015) for a useful overview of typologies of ancient Greek and Roman biot with a focus on their relationship to the Gospels. The case for the adherence of the Christian Gospels to the genre of Greco-Roman biography has been argued extensively by Burridge (2004). See also Dillon’s tentative treatment of lamblichos’ VP as an Evangelium in von Albrecht et al. (2002, 295-301), and now Konstan and Walsh (2016, 26- 29) on the boundaries of generic classification and for bibliography on the problematic relationship between ‘gospel’ and ‘biography’.

55 See Kemezis (2014, 158) for an eloquent summary of possible generic descriptions of the VA. Elsner (2009a, 5; 7) defines it as ‘virtually a prose epic or a hagiographic novel’ and draws attention to the generic versatility of the Philostratean corpus. On the hagiographical dimension, see Van Uytfanghe (2009, 347-374; Christian biography is of course mostly later than the VA). The VA clearly has aretalogical features too: see Koskenniemi (1994, 106-108), Hengel (1991, 111-112, on the Jewish literary roots of aretalogy), and cf. Cox (1983, 46-51) on the limits of using ‘aretalogy’ (which refers to the praise of a god’s aretai) as a literary form to describe the lives of divine men (which further resist easy conformity to set patterns).

56 See Goldhill (2008, 187) on genres as ‘ways of organizing emotional expectations’.

57 On this term, see Karla (ed. 2009).

58 Anderson (1996, 618).

59 Note e.g. his chastising of the youth who claimed to have written an encomium of Zeus, a topic well beyond his powers (4.30); nor does the résumé of the youth’s production, which includes such absurd titles as a Praise of gout and a Praise of being blind or deaf (reminiscent of titles of mock-encomia by Lucian), earn him praise. See also Billault (1993); Anderson (1993, 169-170).

60 See e.g. Anderson (2000) on storytelling in selected works of Dio Chrysostom (especially the Euboikos).

61 See Bowersock (1994); Kim (2010).

62 Bowie (1978, 1664-1665; 2006a, 143); Mumprecht (1983, 992-993).

63 The VA was probably composed in the early 3rd c.; see e.g. recently Elsner (2009a, 4). The novels’ exact dates are uncertain, but it seems that Philostratos could have known at least four of the five extant works (Chariton, Xenophon, Achilles Tatios and Longos; Heliodoros is generally seen as later). See Whitmarsh’s Appendix (2011), and cf. Morgan (2009, 280, with references).

64 See Kemezis (2014, 164-168) on probable differences between the historical – on whom see further Jones (2009) – and the literary Apollonios. Dzielska’s search for the ‘real’ Apollonios led her to a provincial Anatolian sage, little known in the West, with more prominence as a magician than as sophist or rhetor (1986, 52-53).

65 Cf. Whitmarsh (2004, 424). A narratological distinction between author and narrating voice, resulting in a kind of metafictionality, is made by Gyselinck and Demoen (2009). The VA’s narrative perspective includes one ‘metaleptic’ invitation to ‘narratees’ to join the scene of Apollonios’ trial at the very beginning of Book 8: ‘Let us go into the court to hear the Master defending himself against the charge...’ See de Jong (2009, 115); cf. Anderson (1993, 143-144) on the sophistic-ecphrastic value of this passage.

66 The problem of separating the voices of Philostratos and Damis will not concern us here, but see Whitmarsh (2004, 428); on the two of them as narrators, see already Knoles (1981, 25-65). On Philostratos’ adoption of narrative personae, a feature of his sophistic art, see also Billault (2000, 39- 50).

67 Note also the very self-conscious digressions about the geography, the animals and the people of Ethiopia at the beginning of Book 6 and about magic at 7.39 (for the latter digression he uses the explicit term ἐκτροπἡ τοῦ λὸγου).

68 Cremonesi’s interpretation of the wisdom of the VA’s Apollonios (2005) is based on this notion. But the VA also alludes to a background of theory and doctrine, which we cannot exclude from our reading of the work. As Trapp notes (2007b, 15), philosophical themes hold an important place in imperial literature, both in reading and in oral performance, envisaging ‘an interested but not necessarily deeply committed audience’.

69 See Whitmarsh (2004, 430-431) for examples of relevant use of language.

70 North (1966) and more recently Rademaker (2005).

71 Also τὸ σῶφρον, τὸ σωφρονεῖν.

72 Ethical terms are often hard to translate from one language to another; see Berman (1985) on particular difficulties concerning the translation of sōphrosynē into other languages, ancient and modem.

73 Paian 1 = D1 Rutherford.

74 See e.g. Rademaker (2005, 202, with references).

75 See below, ch. 3.

76 See Kanavou (2016b), especially concerning its relationship with dikaiosyne ‘justice’.

77 Rademaker (2005, 1-7) provides an overview of the semantic range of Platonic uses. See also below, chs 1 and 2.

78 On him, see e.g. Francis (1995, 21-52). This is not to ignore the presence of Epicureanism, but Stoicism was favoured under the Principate. See e.g. Erler (2009) and note also the (albeit satirical) comparison between the different schools in Luc. Herm. 16: the Epicureans were ‘sweet-tempered and hedonistic’, the Stoics ‘manly and omniscient’.

79 North (1966, 213-231); Karamanolis (2013, passim)–, see also below, chs 1 and 2.

80 Treatise I 361; 363; II passim. Cf. Russell and Wilson (1981, xiv-xv) on the praise of virtues in epideictic rhetoric, especially in the glorification of great men.

81 See, summarily, Seddon (2005, 240-241); Hirsch-Luipold et al. (2005, 209- 211). The Tablet (easily accessible in the recent English translation by Seddon 2005) is a dialogue around an allegorical picture, which, significantly, is said to have been explained by a wise man who led the Pythagorean life (2.2). See further Squire and Grethlein (2014) on the work’s aesthetic interests.

82 See Kanavou (2015, 947, with references); North (1977) for a short diachronic discussion of female sōphrosynē from archaic Greek literature up to Stoic ethical writings. Note the praise of this virtue on Greco-Roman honorific decrees and on funerary inscriptions that honour women for fulfilling female duties and respecting social rules in private and civic life; see van Bremen (1996, 165-167); Verilhac (1985, 85-112) and further ch. 2.

83 A recent thesis on sōphrosynē in the extant romantic novels (Bird 2016) focuses on the virtue as moderation of erotic behaviour, from the perspectives of gender, characterisation and also from a metaliterary angle.

84 This early expression of the cultural blend between Greece and Rome finds an elaborate manifestation about 150 years later in the biographical work of Plutarch (which is also concerned with sōphrosynē, see below, ch. 2). Greek philosophy (including ascetic ideas) was a great influence on Latin authors, but see Cancik (1977) on Roman particularities.

85 North (1966, 252-253). Note the first line of an epigram which is said to have been inscribed on Plato’s tomb: σωφροσύνη προφὲρων θνητῶν ἢθει τε δικαὶω ‘for temperance eminent among men and for his just character’ (D. L. 3.43.6 = AP 7.60). For some examples of funerary inscriptions from the 2nd c. that praise male sōphrosynē in connection with other virtues (including eloquence, ΤΑΜ II 288), see Schmitz (1997, 137-138; 140); one example possibly concerns a sophist (IEph 825).

86 For the term, see Konstan and Walsh (2016, 29). See also Hägg (2012, 41- 54; 65), on Agesilaos as an encomium.

87 Konstan and Walsh (2016, 31-32); historiography, on the other hand, is more concerned with objective actions and events.

88 I argue in Kanavou (2015) that the ending of Chariton’s novel makes better sense if viewed as the product of the influence of sōphrosynē.

89 I will only refer to Roman political biography in passing, but this is not to discount the place of an author like Suetonius among Philostratos’ literary influences, especially with respect to the VS (see Elsner 2009a, 7-8). Like Plutarch, Suetonius shows interest in moral character.

90 Judaism and Christianity of course relied on Scripture, but their authors’ engagement with ethical topics went far beyond that, and employed philosophical discourse similar to what is found in pagan writings (as Karamanolis concludes with respect to Christian authors; 2013, 237-238).

91 See further Zwingmann (2012, 18-19); her survey of ancient ‘tourist’ sights includes several of Apollonios’ destinations (Troy, Rhodes, Pergamon, Ephesos, Knidos).

92 See Morgan (2004, 186).

93 Stephens and Winkler (1995) and López Martínez (1998) are the main reference works for the novelistic fragments; the importance of travel in many titles and fragmentary plots is self-evident.

94 Is the modem term Bildungsroman an additional possible generic marker? The term has been used for Longos (who self-consciously substitutes internal psychological development for the standard travel-based development of central characters while hinting at the travel episodes; see e.g. De Temmerman 2014, 20; 206); see also Tagliabue (2012), who uses it for Xenophon’s Ephesiaka. But it does not fit the VA and its hero, who is philosophically mature throughout the narrative (see further ch. 4).

95 Sironen (2003); Slater (2009).

96 See Zadorojnyi (2013).

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