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Philostratros’ Life of Apollonios of Tyana and its Literary Context

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Nikoletta Kanavou

Chapter 3: Sōphrosynē and Erōs

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I. Introductory Notes

1In a famous quote from one of his Letters (66), Philostratos lashes out, in a surprising attack, at an author named Chariton:

Χαρὶτωνι. Μεμνήσεσθαι των σῶν λὸγων οει τοὑς ‘Ελλῃνα, ὲπειδἀν τελευτήσης· οὶ δὲ μηδὲν ὄντες, οπὸτε εὶσὶν, τὶνες ἂν εἳεν, οπὸτε οὑκ εὶσὶν;

To Chariton. You think that the Greeks will remember your writings when you are dead. But those who are nobodies when they are alive, what could they possibly be when they are not alive?

  • 1 See Tilg (2010, 79-81) in support of this possibility.
  • 2 A view apparently largely shared by ‘educated antiquity’, as noted e.g. by Reardon (2008, 12), who (...)
  • 3 The VA’s solemn character may also be felt in the numerous citations of ‘serious’ literature (works (...)
  • 4 The remaining eighteen are addressed to named individuals, including known historical persons, amon (...)

2Though there can be no certainty, it is tempting to think here of Chariton the romantic novelist.1 To call the author of Kallirhoe a ‘nobody’ should leave no doubt that Philostratos took a poor view of that novel, and, perhaps by extension, of the genre of romantic tales.2 The ‘serious and philosophical’ character of the VA, which is reflected in the analysis of the two previous chapters,3 is indeed quite different from the light, romantic atmosphere of all four extant novels, of which Philostratos could have had knowledge. On the other hand, most of the letters which are ascribed to Philostratos in name (73 in total) are clearly the products of literary fiction; 55 of these are love letters, have no named individual addressees and often explicitly thematise both erōs and sōphrosynē, just like the love novels.4

  • 5 E.g. Bowie (1978, 1663-1665; 1994, where he sees Philostratos as ‘a borrower from and even a contri (...)
  • 6 A notable example is the dinner scene at 6.15, which makes a joke of the young Egyptian Nilos’ grea (...)
  • 7 Note the analogy with the formula τἀ περὶ/κατἀ girl’s (or girl’s and boy’s name), which is typical (...)
  • 8 See further Kanavou (2015, 944-947); Kasprzyk (2009); De Temmerman (2014 passim); du Toit (1997, 28 (...)
  • 9 See Kasprzyk (2009, 99) for statistics of the use of the term in the novel; analytical tables are a (...)

3As has been noted before,5 the VA is no stranger to features typical of the novel. Among other features, the theme of travel, which is central within the life of Apollonios, is prominent in the romantic novels, with preference for near Eastern locations. Sophistic-style descriptions are also common in the VA, as well as in the works of Achilles Tatios and Heliodoros. The VA’s prevailing philosophical seriousness is occasionally interrupted by scenes of a lighter tone,6 and the work’s familiar title (Tἀ ὲς τὸν Τυανὲα ’Ἀπολλῶνων) and its division into eight books imply that it came to be perceived as a novel.7 In addition to these points of contact, we need to mention the central place of sōphrosynē in all its semantic breadth in the narrative of Apollonios’ life, which is apparently in keeping with the use of the term in the romantic novels – there, too, the prevailing sense ‘chastity’ occurs alongside more general meanings related to ‘prudence’ and ‘sound-mindedness’.8 But sōphrosynē and its cognates also occur more frequently in the VA than in any one of the novels: after the VA’s 57 examples, the largest number of examples is found in Heliodoros (33), followed by Xenophon Ephesios (22), Chariton (19), Achilles Tatios (17) and Longos (3).9 On the other hand, the absence of a central love theme from the VA is emphasised by scholars as a point of difference between the VA and the romantic novels. The study of Apollonios’ sōphrosynē in the first chapter highlighted the contrasted value of the monastic, controlled life exemplified in the VA on the one hand, and of the pursuit of erōs preached by the novels on the other.

4In one memorable Philostratean letter (64), the author pays his respects to hēdonē and questions the significance of self-control for human life:

Τήν σωφροσύνην ὲφ’ ή μὲγα δή φρονεὶς οὑκ οἳδα τὶ επω, πὸτερον ἀγριὸτητα ἀντίπαλον τῶν φὑσεως ὲπιταγμἀτων ἢ φιλοσοφὶαν ἀγροικὶα πεπυργωμὲνην ἥ αὺθἀδη πρὸς ήδονἀς δειλὶαν ἢ σεμνἡν ολιγωρὶαν τῶν τοῦ βὶου τερπνῶν. Ὅ τι δ’ αν ή καὶ δοκή τοἳς σοφιστα, δὸξη μὲν ὲστι καλὸν, ἔργω δὲ ἀπανθρωπὸτερον. Τὶ γἀρ δή μὲγα, πριν ἀπελθεἳν τοῦ βὶου, νεκρὸν εἶναι σώφρονα;...

The virtue of which you are so proud I know not what to call, whether savage opposition to the dictates of nature or philosophy fortified by boorishness or stubborn timidity towards pleasures or disdainful contempt of life’s delights. But whatever it is and whatever the professors may think it, yet, while in repute it is noble, in practice it is rather inhuman. Pray, what greatness is there in being, before you depart from life, a chaste corpse?...

  • 10 Hume (1983, Section IX, Part 1; 73-74). Note that the virtue of chastity is not consistently glorif (...)
  • 11 On the theme of desire in Philostratos’ letters, see now Schmitz’s study (2017).
  • 12 See Bowie (1978, 1664-1665), who cites the eunuch incident (see also below); cf. Anderson (1986, 23 (...)

5The VA of course comes nowhere near questioning the ‘monkish’ virtue in the manner of the above letter, and in the way Hume famously did.10 But this chapter will argue that the theme of desire, which is central to the romantic novels and to Philostratos’ letters,11 also bears significance in the VA. Although his primary concern is with the theme of virtue and with moralising, the narrator incidentally inserts the theme of erōs at several points12 and thematises the traditional relationship between erōs and sōphrosynē. Overshadowed by the emblematic virtue of the all-chaste ‘saint’, occurrences of erōs in the VA have received less than adequate attention. Indeed the following discussion is the first systematic treatment of erōs in the VA, and it strengthens the case for this work’s affinity with the romantic novels, which stand at the centre of this chapter’s contextual analysis. The role of sōphrosynē in the VA in comparison with the love novels is of special importance here: not only is sōphrosynē the paramount novelistic virtue, but its fight against erōs, alluded to in the VA, is also a feature of the love novel.

  • 13 Notwithstanding Judeo-Christian attitudes which dissuade marriage, as discussed above (ch. 2). See (...)

6As far as their ideology is concerned, the ideal love stories, which are told by the Greek romance authors, are a move away from classical conceptions of erotic love and closer to the Judeo-Christian ideal of marital devotion.13 The motif of the predominance of chastity over desire as an ideal form of behaviour for romantic protagonists is further reminiscent of early Christian narratives, especially the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (but also the non-apostolic martyrs’ lives, martyrologies, etc.), which idealised asceticism as a way of life (in the sense of perpetual virginity, as opposed to the novelistic heroes’ pre-marital chastity and marital fidelity). The theme of erōs furthermore features in extant works of pseudo-biography other than the VA, especially in Porphyry’s and lamblichos’ accounts of Pythagoras’ life, but also in the popular Lives of Alexander the Great and Aisop. These narratives must stand alongside the novels, Christian stories and wise-men lives in the examination of the literary affinities of the romanticised Apollonios’ approach to erōs. The discussion of erōs in the VA thus becomes part of the debate about the work’s generic relations.

II. First Introductions and Appearances

  • 14 Apollonios and the romantic heroes also share a provenance from wealthy and illustrious families (V (...)
  • 15 See also Trapp (2007b, 8).

7It is a novelistic topos to introduce romantic protagonists, both male and female, by means of an allusion to their physical beauty. Beauty is perceived as the root cause of the erōs, which each member of a couple in love mutually incites in the other and in numerous third parties. Similarly Apollonios’ introduction by the VA’s narrator contains a reference to his physical appearance.14 The sage’s looks may bear the marks of the austerity commonly associated with philosophers (VA 1.8),15 but he also possesses an exceptional beauty:

Ὀφθαλμοὶ τε πάντες ἐς αὑτὸν ἐφὲροντο, καὶ γὰρ περίβλεπτος ἦν τὴν ῶραν.

All eyes were turned to him, so conspicuous was his youthful bloom. (VA 1.7.1)

8Descriptions of male romantic protagonists immediately leap to mind. Chariton introduces Chaireas as follows:

Χαιρὲας γἀρ τις ἦν μειρἀκιον εὕμορφον, πἀντων ὑπερὲχον, οἶον Ἀχιλλὲα καὶ Νιρὲα καὶ ʽΙππόλυτον καὶ Ἀλκιβιἀδην πλἀσται τε καὶ γραφεὶς ἀποδεικνὑουσι. . .

There was a young man called Chaereas, surpassingly handsome, like Achilles and Nireus and Hippolytus and Alcibiades as sculptors and painters portray them. (Chariton 1.1)

  • 16 A fuller description of his striking looks, which are said to be reminiscent of the Homeric Achille (...)
  • 17 But Achilles Tatios’ often subversive plot later corrupts the notion of manly beauty by having Klei (...)
  • 18 In keeping with the theme of the protagonists’ progression to erotic maturity, the physical attract (...)

9Despite clear differences between novels in narrative style, they all refer to the heroes’ beauty early in the story. The elaborate narrative technique of the latest of the novelists, Heliodoros, who begins telling his story in medias res, does not preclude an allusion to the hero’s physique at the beginning of the novel; Theagenes is lying injured, but still radiating ‘manly beauty’ (1.2).16 Achilles Tatios’ hero is unique in not being introduced by a conventional third-person narrator, but still, the authorial ‘I’, who claims to meet Kleitophon at the beginning of the narrative, posits a direct link between beauty and erōs when he delivers the following line: ‘I can see by your looks that you are not far from being one of the god’s [i.e. Eros’] initiates.’ (1.2.2)17 Daphnis is still a baby when he is introduced in the story, but indeed a ‘big and beautiful’ one (Longos 1.2).18 It is, however, the introduction of Habrokomes in the novel of Xenophon Ephesios that comes the closest to Apollonios’ introduction. As mentioned already, the sage possessed both an alluring physique and intellectual abilities (‘He showed a retentive memory and a power of application’, 1.7.1). Habrokomes, too, is endowed both with great beauty and superior intellect:

Ἀβροκὸμης ἀεὶ μὲν καὶ καθ’ ήμὲραν ει κἀλλος ηὕξετο, συνήνθει δὲ αὐτῷ τοῖς τοῦ σῶματος καλοῖς καὶ τἀ τῆς ψυχῆς ἀγαθἀ· παιδεὶαν τε γἀρ πᾶσαν ὲμελὲτα...

This Habrokomes grew more handsome every day; and his mental qualities developed along with his physical ones. For he acquired culture of all kinds... (Xenophon Ephesios 1.1)

  • 19 On this term, cf. Hägg (2012, 315). See also Mejer (2007) on reporting philosophers’ views in Helle (...)
  • 20 See further Edwards (1993) and Hagg (2012, 352-368) on comparisons between lamblichos’ and Porphyry (...)

10The VA’s narrator, however, only makes explicit one model for the presentation of Apollonios in the VA: that of the wise philosopher, above all Pythagoras. The VA famously begins with a reference to Apollonios’ affinity with Pythagoras, which reveals the philosophical pedigree of Apollonios, before Philostratos goes on to praise his hero’s beauty in romantic fashion. Pythagoras too is praised for his beauty in the relevant biographical tradition. Notably lamblichos’ account of the young Pythagoras in his On the Pythagorean way of life is similar to the description of the young Apollonios by Philostratos: ‘He became the most handsome and godlike of those ever recorded in history’ (2.9-10; a Pythian oracle had predicted that he would be bom a child ‘surpassing in beauty and wisdom those who had ever yet existed’, 2.5). Pythagoras’ beauty (ὥρα) is mentioned again by lamblichos as his hero is about to take a trip to Egypt from Phoinike, and Egyptian sailors consider selling him for a profit (2.14-16); this never happens, as the sailors are won over by his holy posture and noble conduct during their voyage. As will be noted for the erōs-related episodes in the VA, this brief incident in the life of Pythagoras has the stamp of the love-adventure novel; there, too, the chastity of heroes and heroines functions as a protective shield against intruders. Whilst not a biography in the strict sense, but rather a description of the philosophical way of life initiated and taught by Pythagoras, lamblichos’ work offers a romanticised glimpse of the sage, which we do not find in other Pythagorean lives. The accounts of Pythagoras’ life by Porphyry and Diogenes Laertios include biodoxographical19 material but they there have a rather drier tone. Porphyry notably only comments on the impressive physical appearance of a mature Pythagoras, and links it with his political success in southern Italy.20

  • 21 Praise of looks occurs often in biographical texts (cf. e.g. the description of Xenophon as ‘extrem (...)
  • 22 Contrast Arrian’s description of Alexander’s physique: τὸ τε σῶµα Κἀλλιστος (An . 7.28.01); see als (...)
  • 23 On Paul’s appearance, see further Malherbe (1986, 170-175). He saw the absence of such descriptions (...)
  • 24 See Cameron (1989, 192-193).
  • 25 Cf. the case of Axiothea, who reportedly attended Plato’s lectures in men’s clothes (see D. L. 3.46 (...)

11Beauty thus appears to be a shared feature of both the heroes in romantic love stories and of the idealised philosopher. Ancient biography more generally tends to provide physical descriptions of its main characters, though the literary convention takes a variety of forms, not all of which may be termed as ‘romantic’.21 The description of Alexander the Great in the Alexander romance (1.13) suggests rather fearsome looks: ‘he had the mane of a lion and eyes of different colours… and teeth as sharp as a serpent’s.’22 Another object of popular biography, Aisop, was clearly perceived as wise but ugly. At the very start, his popular Life terms him as κακοπινἡς τὸ ὶδὲσθαι and offers a detailed description of his ugliness (but the hero later remarks that a poor physique is often combined with σῶφρων νοῦς, G 88). Early Christian narratives, with the exception of the New Testament, also refer to the physical appearance of central characters, but they do so in a way that lacks romantic appeal. In the Acts of Paul and Thekla (3), Paul is pictured as having a friendly expression and the face of an angel, while being a small man with a bald head,23 and Thekla intends to give up her feminine looks by cutting her hair (25); she later dresses as a man, in an expression of a denial of sexuality24 which is not entirely alien to pagan ‘philosophical’ women.25

  • 26 See ch. 1.
  • 27 1.1.2; 1.14.1; 2.2.6; 2.3.9; 2.4.10; 3.2.14; 3.2.17 etc.
  • 28 Note that Heliodoros’ style is distinctly more elaborate than that of the other novelists, and his (...)

12The narrator of the VA moreover extends his preoccupation with superior beauty to a number of further exceptional figures mentioned in its pages, such as the Trojan heroes Achilles and Palamedes,26 and also Poros, who fought Alexander the Great (he is termed the handsomest man in India and taller than all Trojan heroes, 2.21.2) and the king Ganges, the son of the homonymous river and ten cubits tall (3.20.2); both Poros and Ganges are also credited with extraordinary virtue. Heroes of striking physical appearance are often ascribed a ‘larger than human’ status. The near-divinity of Apollonios, which is made manifest already in the miraculous circumstances of his birth (VA 1.4-5), may be paralleled with the extraordinary features of some of the VA’s other characters, and is also reminiscent of the way some novelistic heroes are seen by their entourage. Habrokomes is treated ‘like a god, and some even prostrated themselves and prayed at the sight of him’, while Anthia is admired for her resemblance to Artemis; the arrival of the gorgeous couple amazes the Rhodians, and some offer them ‘worship and adoration’ (Xenophon Ephesios 1.1; 1.2.7; 1.12.1). Chariton’s Kallirhoe keeps being compared to (and even confused with) Aphrodite.27 Charikleia is so exquisitely, superhumanly beautiful (κἀλλος οὕτως ὑπερἀνθρωπον, 10.9.4), that she might have been taken for a goddess (Heliodoros 1.2.1), and indeed she appears ‘godlike’ to the Egyptian bandits and is identifiable with Artemis or Isis or at least a priestess possessed by a god (1.2.5-6), her eyes emitting a divine gaze (2.31.1).28 In the story of Amor and Psyche, from Apuleius’ Metamorphoses, Psyche’s beauty is so striking that she is worshipped as ‘the new Venus’ (4.28). But whilst it is typical for the novels to praise their heroes and heroines by means of divine comparison, these mostly stress the heroes’ unusual attractiveness. Apollonios’ biographer goes a step further in suggesting that his hero may possess not only godlike appearance, but – as we saw in the previous chapter – also divine substance.

  • 29 See Morales (2004, 12 and n. 54 on other novelists). Cf. Philostr. Ep. 52: ‘It is not loving but lo (...)

13A further element that appears in Apollonios’ first introduction verges on novelistic eroticism. This is the emphasis on the optical contemplation of beauty, expressed in the repeated use of vision-related vocabulary (ὸφθαλμοί ‘eyes’, περὶβλεπτος ‘conspicuous’; VA 1.7.1). Scholars have noted the erotic significance of visuality in the romantic novels, especially in the romance of Achilles Tatios.29 Achilles describes in a famous passage the birth of desire, which is caused by visual stimuli; this is Kleitophon’s vivid first-person account of the process of his falling in love with Leukippe:

Ὡς δὲ εἳδον, εὑθὑς ἀπωλῶλειν· κἀλλος γἀρ ὸξὑτερον τιτρῶσκει βὲλους καὶ διἀ τῶν οφθαλμών ει τήν ψυχήν καταρρε- οφθαλμός γἀρ οδὸς ἐρωτικῷ τραὑματι.

Directly I saw her, I was lost: for beauty wounds deeper than any arrow and strikes down through the eyes and into the soul; the eye is the passage for love’s wound. (1.4.4)

14The belief in some intimate connection between erōs and the eyes is also found in the VA, when Apollonios argues for the sexual ability of the eunuchs, noting that the capacity for desire ‘is absorbed through the eyes’:

‘Aῦριον,’ ὲφη ‘ὦ Δἀμι, μἀθοις ἀν, ὸτι καὶ εὑνοῦχοι ὲρῶσι καὶ τὸ ὲπιθυμητικὸν, ὄπερ ἐσὰγονται διἀ τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν, οὐκ ἀπομαραὶνεται σφῶν, ἀλλ’ ὲμμὲνει θερμὸν τε καὶ ζῶπυρον...’

‘You will find out tomorrow, Damis, that eunuchs too have sexual passion, and that their capacity for desire, absorbed through their eyes, does not wither away, but remains hot and glowing.’ (1.34.1)

15The link between eyes and desire is mentioned later in the VA by Thespesion, leader of the Gymnosophists, as a potential threat to the philosophical life, which the wise man needs to keep at bay:

Προσετὶθει δἐ κἀκεῖνα, ῶς ἀπὸχρη τῷ σοφῷ βρῶσεῶς τε καθαρῷ εἶναι, ὸπὸση ἔμπνους, ιμὲρου τε, ὄς φοιτἀ δι’ όμμάτων...

He [i.e. Thespesion] added that it was enough for a wise man to keep himself undefiled by the flesh of living things, by the desire that enters through the eyes... (6.10.3)

  • 30 On the practice of physiognomy, which was a popular theme in second sophistic discourse (our main s (...)
  • 31 The central text is Phaidros (esp. 251a-b). See, summarily, Bartsch (2005, 59-61) on the philosophi (...)

16The eyes, however, are not limited to their erotic powers. In the ultimate place for wisdom, India, the act of seeing is associated by the philosophy masters with reading and understanding human minds, indeed with physiognomy. Aspiring young philosophers are visually scrutinised before being selected as appropriate for this course of life (2.30.2).30 Apollonios’ own eyes combine more than one function: they are predominantly the philosopher’s windows to his surroundings, the organs through which he perceives reality and communicates with the world, rather than the gates of attraction and desire. But, remarkably, the eyes remain relevant to his appeal. Their importance is made especially manifest during the philosopher’s years of silence: ‘He was not however socially unattractive (acharis) during the time of silence, but when spoken to he replied with his eyes, his hands, or by motions of his head.’ (VA 1.14.2) It is highly significant that the function of his eyes bestows charts on the philosopher. Mutatis mutandis, readers might think of the importance of the gaze in Plato’s erotic metaphor for the movement towards wisdom:31 Apollonios’ appearance reflects divine beauty and attracts the knowledge-thirsty gaze of those around him. At the same time, the hero reminds us again for a moment of the type of the handsome youth, so familiar from the novels (cf. Xenophon Ephesios’ description of Polyidos as νεανὶσκον χαρὶεντα, 5.3.1). ἈροΠοπὶοε later remarks that his status as a philosopher means that he is under constant observation: arete has eyes; the philosopher is watched by far more people than he himself sees, and if he is caught surrendering to the passions, he might not be forgiven (VA 1.35.2).

  • 32 On physical descriptions of Charikleia giving emphasis to her chastity, rather than to an erotic ap (...)

17The novelistic beauty attributed to Apollonios at the beginning of the work ultimately gives way to the decorous charm of a philosopher’s appearance and behaviour, which however is also endowed with a special attractiveness. We encounter a similar perception of beauty in the novels. The charm of virtue is explicitly praised by Heliodoros, in the merging of hōra and sōphrosynē, when he refers to his heroine, Charikleia, as she comes towards the end of her adventures: τὸ ὥριον τῆς ἀκμῆς ἂθικτον ὲτήρει καὶ ἔχων ὲνεδεὶκνυτο σωφροσὑνη πλὲον ἥ τῇ ῶρα κοσμοὑμενον ‘for all her youthful charms, the greatest ornament to her beauty was chastity.’ (10.9.4)32

III. Unwanted Erōs

  • 33 As noted by Bowie (1994, 190-193). See also Billault (2000, 106-108).

18As already implied, the novels treat physical beauty as a major trigger of erōs. While the mutual attraction between two beautiful young people who decide to spend their lives together is deemed worthy of celebration, erōs has other, less positive manifestations. These are present in the novels, where they provide sub-plots (and positive erōs wins); but the limited presence of the erotic theme in the VA is dominated by negative, unwanted forms, which are often presented as evils that need to be fought against.33

  • 34 Apparently as a member of the temple personnel; see FGrH 1066, with bibliography on Aigai and the A (...)

19Both in the romantic novels and in the VA, erōs often occurs as the undesirable effect of the hero’s (or heroine’s) exceptional beauty. Soon after his shining first introduction, Apollonios attracts unwanted attention: at 1.12, we hear of the ruler of Kilikia who visited the Asklepieion of Aigai when Apollonios was resident there,34 after hearing rumours of the young sage’s beauty. The man, ὐβριστἡς ἂνθρωπος καὶ κακὸς τἀ ὲρωτικἀ (a bully and a lecher’), cunningly adjusts his erotic advances to Apollonios’ religious preoccupations, pretending that ‘one must pray that the beautiful share their beauty’. This offensive offer meets with Apollonios’ anger and is of course rejected; the sage does not show any fear before the Kilikian’s threat to cut off his head (1.12.2).

  • 35 On these women, see Haynes (2003, esp. 108-112); also Lefteratou (forthcoming). Note that not all ‘ (...)
  • 36 This almost certainly does not echo any real event; see Mumprecht (1983, 1029). Billault (2000, 107 (...)

20The above incident is strongly reminiscent of encounters between romantic heroines and heroes and unwanted prospective lovers (and in some cases violators). Male heroes are mostly groomed by promiscuous or unscrupulous women;35 but at least one hero, Habrokomes, is pursued by a member of the same sex, the pirate Korymbos, in the romance of Xenophon Ephesios (1.14-2.2). Moreover, the ruler’s plans in the VA to retaliate for being rejected generally fit the pattern of the attacks suffered by novelistic heroes from powerful individuals with unchaste intentions. In the end, fate punishes the hybristēs: soon after harassing Apollonios, the unnamed ruler is killed by public executors on the highway (VA 1.12.2).36 It is noteworthy that some of the evil men (mostly bandits) that attack novelistic women also meet tragic ends; for example Anchialos, who attempts to rape Anthia, is stabbed and killed by her in defence. The narrator comments: ‘Anchialos had paid the price for his wicked passion.’ (Xenophon Ephesios 4.5) In the same novel, Kyno, the woman who tries to seduce Habrokomes, suffers death by crucifixion (4.4).

  • 37 Note a hint of eroticism in the detailed representation of the youth’s beauty a little later (7.42. (...)
  • 38 See Romm (2008, 113) for further examples. The most prominent powerful woman in love with a hero in (...)
  • 39 Chariton 6.3.8, Artaxerxes in conversation with his eunuch Artaxates: ‘pf] σὑ γε’ ἔφη τοιοῦτο μηδὲν (...)
  • 40 Cf. the concept of ‘subversive virtue’ (see Francis 1995 and the previous chapter), which describes (...)
  • 41 Note for example his exhortations to Nerva, Orfitus and Rufus to rise against Domitian’s tyranny (7 (...)

21Variations of the theme of the Kilikian ruler’s attack on Apollonios’ chastity are found in the sixth and seventh books of the VA in the stories of two youths, who briefly appear as character doubles (Doppelgänger) of the sage. Book 7, which contains the account of the sage’s imprisonment and resilience in the face of arrest and torture, ends paradigmatically with a story told to Apollonios by a fellow prisoner, a virtuous and resilient youth from Arkadia. The unnamed youth, who was ‘conspicuously good-looking’ (περὶβλεπτον ὥρα, 7.42.1) and simultaneously sōphrōn, like a romantic hero,37 came to Rome to study law, and his beauty caught the eye of many potential suitors, including the emperor Domitian, who planned to dishonour him ‘the way lovers of women do’. This threat to his chastity is described by the youth as a fate worse than death; he was put in prison for defending it and is prepared to lose his life rather than give it up. He compares himself to Hippolytos, whose sōphrosynē destroyed him (7.42.2). The erotic desire of royal men (and women) for persons in their power is a familiar theme in the novels. We are reminded here in particular of the desire of the Persian king Artaxerxes for Kallirhoe in Chariton’s novel.38 Chariton’s king differs from the emperor Domitian, in that the former recognises self-restraint as a virtue (albeit a hard one to practice),39 while the latter gives no such hint (he does, however, spare the Arkadian’s youth life and sets him free, admiring his firmness, as Apollonios supposedly reveals in one of his letters, 7.42.6). An important common feature of these stories is the implication that sōphrosynē may lie outside the social norm and, on a symbolic level, may suggest a form of revolt against authority:40 the numerous suitors, whom the chaste heroes have to resist, include kings and emperors. In the VA, this moral resistance complements the struggle against bad emperors on the political level, which finds occasional expression in Apollonios’ direct encouragement of revolt.41

  • 42 Chariton 2.6.1; 5.2.8; 5.5.9. The novelist compares his hero’s beauty to that of various Greek myth (...)
  • 43 On the ‘Athenian novella’ and its narrative function in the Aithiopika, see now Grethlein (2016). T (...)

22The other story involving a chaste youth under threat features a woman as the perpetrator. It is the story of Timasion, the Egyptian youth who preserved his chastity despite the pressure exercised on him by his lustful stepmother. His description, like Apollonios’, seems to have sprung from a love novel: ‘He was just passing out of his teens and was still in the prime of youthful beauty.’ His sōphrosynē (σωφρονοῦντι in the Greek) stands in sharp contrast with the illegitimate passion (ἐρῶσα) of the stepmother; this recalls the contrast between the virtue of Apollonios and the lust of his Kilikian suitor. Although Timasion, who enters the plot as the guide of Apollonios and his group on their journey to the Gymnosophists, is introduced as an Egyptian, his story is endowed with a strong Greek colouring. Apart from a Greek-named protagonist, the story has an archetypal Greek tragic theme in the background, that of Phaidra and Hippolytos; similarly Chariton assumes an older Greek (in this case epic) background for his heroine, Kallirhoe, when he refers to Helen.42 Philostratos explicitly mentions Phaidra in the context of Timasion’s story (6.3.1), while Hippolytos was evoked by name in the story of the Arkadian youth. Notably a Phaidra-like figure also appears in Heliodoros, in the story of the Athenian Knemon (1.9.14-1.17.6), who tells of the unlawful passion of his stepmother Demainete for him, which unlocked a chain of events leading to his exile.43

  • 44 Note that there is also a third youth who momentarily serves as a foil to Apollonios, the Egyptian (...)
  • 45 It also seems to speak against the view of an ‘asexual’ Hippolytos, such as is adopted by Hubbard a (...)
  • 46 By offering bloodless sacrifices (see also above, ch. 1); presumably this is how Apollonios, who pr (...)
  • 47 See above, on Charikleia’s chastity and beauty; but compare conversely the satirical, subversive to (...)
  • 48 Note, however, that as the driving force of the moral education which is provided to a younger male (...)

23Apollonios and the youths are by no means, of course, identical characters. Apollonios’ quizzing of the first youth, and his foreknowledge of the chaste Timasion’s story, both underline their respective statuses as theios anēr and virtuous youths.44 But the narrative derives from the sage’s interaction with them two further paradigms of chastity. Notably Timasion poses a challenge to interpreters, as he allegedly combines erotic self-restraint with respect for Aphrodite (6.3.5). The narrator makes a remarkable final comment on the youth (end of 6.3.5): Apollonios, he says, called him Hippolytos ‘because of the way he had eyed his stepmother, and he also seemed to have cultivated his physique and increased his attractiveness by exercise’. This seems to undermine Timasion’s all-virtuous profile and add a degree of uncertainty to his characterisation.45 But since it is wise to honour all gods,46 Apollonios goes so far as to suggest that the youth is on his way to becoming a philosophos, one comparable to the Indian sages. Apollonios’ model of a philosophical life is one associated with perpetual chastity. Timasion’s philosophical inclination may imply that he is set to adopt this model; alternatively, his ‘respect’ for Aphrodite may be seen as a nod to the stereotypical novelistic conception of chastity, which is promoted by heroes who do not entirely shun erōs but place it in its right, virtuous context (Habrokomes’ punishment for his initial rejection of erōs and his subsequent change of heart leaps to mind here). It is further made clear in the novels that the pursuit of chastity adds a great deal to the heroines’ and heroes’ appeal (which does not rely solely on physical beauty),47 and chastity is the main ingredient of virtuous unions. Plato’s famous distiction between Good and Bad (‘heavenly’ and ‘pandemic’) Eros is relevant here. In Pausanias’ speech in the Symposion (180c-185c), it is argued that any love conceived of as corporeal desire that derives from external appearances alone is bad; good erōs is primarily attracted to virtue (or to the prospect of virtue).48 This could be a type of erōs, for which a chaste youth on course to become a philosopher would strive to attain.

IV. Erōs and the Eunuch

  • 49 Eunuchs are usually regarded as sexually neutral and as belonging to the female sex: Val. Max. 7.7. (...)

24One of the VA’s most memorable incidents concerns a love-stricken eunuch. While at the Persian court, Apollonios argues that the eunuchs are not deprived of erotic desire, in spite of common belief in the opposite (1.34),49 and he goes on to predict an incident due to happen the following day, which would prove him right. A eunuch is promptly found in bed with one of the kings’ wives, ‘doing everything that seducers do’ (1.37.1).

  • 50 Samuels (2016, n. 17) notes that there is no evidence for eunuch sex in the harem of the Achaimenid (...)
  • 51 See also ch. 1; cf. Ph. Jos. 153 for a metaphorical use of the notion of eunuch: πἀντες δὲ εὶσιν εὐ (...)

25What is the purpose of this story? The erotic encounter to which it alludes seems like a purposeful invention.50 In addition to providing another example of Apollonios’ clairvoyant wisdom, the story clearly offers the narrator the opportunity to thematise erōs once more. The case of the eunuch who falls victim to love and is unable to resist it also provides the narrator with an opportunity to emphasise once again the juxtaposition between erotic attraction and self-restraint. Chastity is an ethical choice that is dictated by the well-trained philosophical mind, which is able to tame the flesh. This is indeed what makes sōphrosynē an admirable virtue: lack of erōs would render sōphrosynē needless and redundant. Thus the value of sōphrosynē is confirmed by the power of erōs, which survives even in eunuchs.51

  • 52 Not to be confused with the later author of philosophical works; see e.g. N. Pauly s.v. lamblichos (...)
  • 53 See Scarcella (1996, 265).

26The term ‘eunuch’ is mentioned in three out of the five romantic novels (eunuchs as characters feature only in two); eunuchs also appear to have had star roles in the lost novel Babyloniaka by lamblichos.52 This all suggests a character type of considerable popularity. In the love novel, an amorous luck or success is far from the character’s stereotypical image, which, as implied already, is typically associated with an emasculated, asexual existence. The term is used in the novel of Achilles Tatios as a byword for such an existence, as for example in the expression of Melite’s disappointment at Kleitophon’s refusal to consummate their affair: ‘Every time I have left his bed as though it had been that of a eunuch’ (5.22.5), ‘Miserable eunuch, woman-man’ (5.25.8). Thersander expresses his surprise that Leukippe was untouched by the pirates in a similar way: ‘I suppose your pirates were eunuchs?’ (6.21.3) Eunuchs are commonly presented as helpers of sovereigns and as intermediaries, like the eunuch Artaxares of the Persian king Artaxerxes, who attempts to force Kallirhoe to accept his master’s favours (Chariton 5.4.10). As aids to the Persian sovereign, they are deemed trustworthy thanks to their single status (e.g. Bagoas in Heliodoros).53

  • 54 On him, see also above, ch. 2. Miles (2017, 210) compares the two eunuchs. Favorinos is mentioned i (...)
  • 55 Isaios and Dionysios (1.517; 2.599); see above, ch. 2.
  • 56 See Kuefler (2001, 97-98). On the sexuality of the eunuchs as not entirely controlled by hormones, (...)
  • 57 See further Samuels (2016) on the narrative exploitation of the image of the ‘eunuch-adulterer’ (wh (...)
  • 58 See Holford-Strevens (1997, 192); Samuels (2016, 89).
  • 59 On the Babyloniaka, see further Stephens and Winkler (1995, 179-245; fr. 96: ibid., 218).
  • 60 See also Kuefler (2001, 251); Nock (1925) on the religious functions of eunuchs. A pretended gallus(...)

27However, the VA’s erotic eunuch is not Philostratos’ only example of the phenomenon. A sophist/philosopher who is both castrated and lustful, Favorinos of Arelatai, features in the VS (1.489),54 a context in which the account of his erotic misconduct indirectly boosts the praise of the chaste sophists mentioned later in that work.55 Philostratos is in fact one of several authors to allude to the sexuality of eunuchised men. Incidentally, while there is evidence that eunuchs may retain their sexual ability,56 many such stories must be inspired not from literal eunuchs, but from individuals of effeminate or ambiguous sexuality and are exploited for their rhetorical and comic value;57 Favorinos may have been such an individual58 (but the VA’s eunuch is meant as a literal eunuch). Although the Greek romantic novelists do not bestow sexual feelings on their eunuchs, other representatives of the novelistic tradition do. Two royal eunuchs (Damas and Sakas) who chased the amorous couple through the Near East, were prominent in the eccentric plot of Babyloniaka, if Photios’ summary is anything to go by. One detail mentioned by the Suda attracts attention: ‘ [lamblichos] tells of Zobaras the eunuch, lover of the supremely beautiful Mesopotamia.’ This implies that at least one of lamblichos’ eunuchs engaged in erotic activity – but perhaps only after he ‘drunk deep from the wellspring of passion’, as we read in Photios (77b27; fr. 96, which is assignable to this section, mentions ‘a eunuch under the influence of passionate love’).59 Apuleius also presents oversexualised eunuchs, whose priestly status adds to the comic effect (Metamorphoses 8.24-9.10).60

28Philostratos’ eunuch, encountered by Apollonios at the Persian court – where the eunuchs of Chariton and Heliodoros are also to be found – shows his novelistic roots. But the VA’s narrator has enriched a popular novelistic character type, perhaps drawing on evidence about eunuch sexuality, to produce a ‘new’ character that contributes to a distinctive novel representation of the nature of chastity.

V. Further Instances of Bad Eras’

  • 61 The brief reference to the husband anxious to ‘cure’ his wife of miscarrying (3.39) rather shows co (...)
  • 62 Note, however, the brief mention of Sappho, alongside her (probably invented) companion Damophyle, (...)
  • 63 Achilles appears in person (to Apollonios, visiting his tomb) later in the narrative, and mentions (...)

29The abominable threats to the chastity of Apollonios and the chaste youths, and the heinous eunuch sexuality, all constitute negative manifestations of erōs. Apollonios furthermore refers explicitly to the notion of ‘inappropriate loves’, lamenting that such loves, despite their immorality, provide the subject of poems (VA 5.142; ἔρωτας ἀτὸπους; the ‘marriage between siblings’ is one example). This implies that the sage accepts the possibility of appropriate loves, although – as mentioned earlier – the VA shows no interest in thematising examples.61 In fact, just like the poets, whom Apollonios (in a Platonic vein) criticises,62 the VA’s narrator alludes to mythical tales of love without moral control: the famous stories of Helen of Troy, who caused a war (e.g. 8.7.14; she ‘probably did not mind being abducted’, 3.20.3) and of Achilles’ anger (mēnis) at losing a woman he desired (3.20.3), which forms the basis of the plot of the Homeric Iliad.63 In the Indian context of Book 3, such stories have the effect of shedding negative light on Greekness, or at least on Greek attitude to love, which is contrasted to the morally superior attitude of the Indians. But on the one hand, the depiction of the Indians reproduces Greek philosophical precepts, and on the other hand, their world is not immune to immoral desires; they only respond to them in a more sōphrōn manner than Helen or Achilles. larchas tells the story of the king Ganges, whose wife was taken from him by another ruler in an act of ‘lawlessness and lust’, a consequence of bad erōs (3.20.3; larchas claims to be the reincarnation of this Ganges, 3.21). But in contrast to Achilles and the Greeks of the Trojan war, and more in the manner of a Stoic or a Pythagorean, Ganges practiced control of his emotions and did not seek violent revenge (a further lesson is taught by the aftermath of the murder of Ganges by the Ethiopians, who were still an Indian tribe at the time, but were then forced to leave India and resign to an inferior existence, which is reflected also in the inferiority of their philosophers, the Gymnosophists, to the Indian Brahmans). Achilles ought to have behaved like an Indian king – or like a Greek philosopher: after all, Apollonios’ own description of a good philosophical attitude earlier in the VA includes resistance not just to erōs, but also to anger (1.35.2). Sophrosyne is prescribed not just as a preventive measure against the immoralities of love and its repercussions, but also as a model response to them.

  • 64 In a short narrative (a Taw case’) preserved in a papyrus codex of the 4th c., P. Philammon, a sold (...)

30The above suggest a kind of moral cadre, in which the other examples of bad erōs, discussed in previous sections of this chapter, can be seen. But the lack of erotic morals is also felt in other places, namely in a number of inappropriate couplings, which are harshly criticised by the sage. A striking example comes early in the VA and concerns the man who seeks help from Asklepios, only to be turned back by Apollonios who served at the god’s temple at the time (1.10). The man fell in love with his wife’s daughter from a previous marriage and slept with her (ὸ δὲ ἢρα τῆς κὸρης καὶ ἀκολἀστως εἶχε ξυνῆν τε οὑδ’ ῶς λαΘεῖν).64 This adulterous act had dramatic consequences. In revenge, the mother tore out both of the girl’s eyes and one of the man’s eyes with a thrust of her brooch. The story surely did not fail to elicit emotion in readers and to rouse moral feeling, intensified by the fact that the man was considered by Apollonios to be polluted (μιαρὸς) and not worthy of admittance to the sanctuary of Asklepios.

  • 65 See Jones (1992, 38-40). The story, which is also told by other authors (e.g. Plin. Ep. 4.11.6), se (...)
  • 66 Cf. also such narrative traditions as that reflected in the anonymous Story of Apollonius king of T (...)

31Apollonios does not hesitate to pass moral judgement on the emperor himself, who unjustly put to death three of the Vestal virgins for breaking their vows (7.6) and who allegedly married his niece Julia, the wife of one of his kinsmen, Sabinus, whom he murdered. This lattermost offence carries particular weight in the narrative. Domitian is presented as fearing the sage’s criticism of his incestuous marriage (τοὺς μἡ καθαροὺς γἀμους) even during the interrogation to which he subjects Apollonios at the latter’s trial (7.7; 8.5.2). However, it is possible to doubt the historical truth of the affair;65 its roots may lie in political invective.66 But in the moral universe of the VA, a sordid love affair has the power to turn an emperor or prosecutor into a weak defendant. The fear of Philostratos’ Domitian is of course only ‘real’ in a novelistic context: it is not real emperors, but novelistic heroes who are sometimes put on trial for their erotic misdemeanours (as for example in the case of Kleitophon and Melite in Achilles Tatios 7.7-16). The relevant contexts imply that erotic offences need to be concealed or hushed up, or else they incur condemnation.

  • 67 This is the text in translation: ‘With whores on top of him he copulates with married women, saying (...)
  • 68 This visit is reported by Suetonius (Ner. 22), who also refers to Nero’s sexual debaucheries (ibid.(...)

32Unsurprisingly, the accusation of sexual offences is extended to Domitian’s informers, who have falsely accused Apollonios (7.33.3; 8.5.1), and who are guilty of seducing both women and boys (8.7.4). Moreover, Domitian is not the only emperor in the VA to be criticised for such offences: his father, Vespasian, had condemned Vitellius’ erotic debauchery, which is conveyed in the narrative with an explicit and vivid imagery (5.29.3).67 The brevity of Vitellius’ stay in power – a direct consequence of his immorality – was foretold by Apollonios (5.11), who later advises Vespasian to stay away from venery (5.36.3). But the most prominent offender was of course Nero: reflecting on this emperor’s impending visit to Greece with the purpose of competing in the Olympic games as an actor and an artist,68 Apollonios laments ‘the terrible things that will happen to [the] women and children [of the Greeks], with Nero plucking his unspeakable pleasures from every home’ (5.7.3).

33The VA introduces yet further sub-narratives on the topic of eras to extract a moral lesson, namely that no inappropriate or unsuitable unions ought to be pursued. Apollonios makes this point as follows:

... ὲγῶ δὲ περὶ τοῦ ὲρἀν καὶ ὲρασθαι τὸδε γιγνῶσκω· θεοὶ θεῶν ἂνθρωποι ἀνθρῶπων θηρὶα θηρὶων καὶ καθἀπαξ ὄμοια ὸμοιων ὲρα ὲπὶ τῷ ὲτυμα καὶ ξυγγενῆ τὶκτειν, τὸ δὲ ὲτερογενὲς τῷ μή ὸμοὶω ξυνελθὸν οὑτε ζυγὸς οῦτε ὲρως.

... but I know this about giving and receiving love. Gods love gods, humans love humans, animals love animals, and in short like loves like for the purpose of producing genuine offspring of its own kind. But when something alien unites with something unlike itself, there is neither union nor love. (6.40.2)

  • 69 See above, ch. 1.
  • 70 The statue and its erotic appeal is described in Luc. Am. 13-16. The story of its most famous lover (...)
  • 71 The narrator seems not to take into account the case of such as a hero as Achilles, who is revered (...)
  • 72 The story of Ixion’s torture (on a turning wheel) goes back at least as far as Pindar: O. 2.21-48. (...)

34This statement, which echoes Pythagorean views about the purpose of marriage,69 summarises the sage’s reaction to the unnatural love of a man for the statue of Aphrodite of Knidos. The man made dedications and even hoped to wed the statue; worse still, the Knidians accepted this. This peculiar story was not exclusive to the VA. Praxiteles’ Aphrodite, famous for being exceptionally realistic, is said to have caused the desire of men in earlier literature.70 But the theme is exploited in the VA both for its literary effect and for its suitability to this work’s moral agenda. The moral questionability of this love’s ‘folly’ is reflected in Apollonios’ keenness to carry out purification of the sanctuary and to correct the ‘eyesight’ of the Knidians (the eyes, which, as we have seen, are often evoked for their contribution to the generation of erotic feelings, are in this case guilty of transmitting false signals). The sage particularly stresses the pointlessness of a marriage that cannot lead to procreation. The comparison he draws to the unions between humans and goddesses rests on the assumption that these have not produced ‘genuine offspring’.71 Apollonios’ moral teaching reaches its peak with the example of Ixion, whose passion for Hera led to his eternal damnation.72 Thanks to the wise intervention of the sage, the man who loved Aphrodite’s statue is acquires anew the virtue of sōphrosynē and renounces his inappropriate feelings.

  • 73 It is hard not to associate this letter with some form of magical practice, although the narrator d (...)

35A further extraordinary form of bad love is described in Book 3, during Apollonios’ stay with the Indian sages, when the latter receive people in need of healing. One mother comes to seek a cure for her handsome sixteen-year old son, who attracted the evil desire of a spirit and became possessed by it (τοῦ παιδὸς τοὑτου ... τήν δψιν εὑπρεπεστὲρου ὸντος ὸ δαὶμων ὲρα καὶ οὑ ξυγχωρεἳ αὑτω νοῦν ὲχειν, 3.38.1). The beauty of a boy attracting the wrong kind of attention is of course a topos in novelistic narratives, but the circumstances in which these situations arise are far from typical. The enamoured spirit had in this instance belonged to a man who died at war, being at the time still in love with a wife who was too quick to forget him and marry another. The dead man’s frustration had led to the replacement of a ‘good’ form of love with a ‘bad’ one, without leaving room for sōphrosynē, the basic ingredient of a moral and balanced life – presumably both in this world and the next. The mother complains that the spirit has taken control of the house and has no respect for moderation or truth: καὶ τὸν ἐμὸν οἶκον ἔχει μὸνος οὑδὲν μὲτριον ούδἐ ἀληθὲς φρονῶν, 3.38.3). The ‘cure’ came in the form of a letter, addressed to the spirit, with threats and a strong rebuke.73

  • 74 On the use of wine in this incident, cf. Cremonesi (2005, 97-98).
  • 75 Note the antithesis: τἡν μἐν γἀρ ἂλλην φιλοσοφὶαν ἔρρωτο, τῶν δἐ ὲρωτικῶν ἢττητο (4.25.3). The youn (...)
  • 76 Cf. the νηρηὶς mentioned in Arr. Ind. 31.6, who had intercourse with her prisoners, thus turning th (...)

36The destructive lust of the soldier’s spirit in India finds an analogy in the murderous acts of another spirit, this time in the form of a satyr, in Ethiopia (6.27), who hunted down women, killing the two he most desired. Apollonios stops the satyr by giving him wine,74 the drink whose damaging effect on the human mind he advocated earlier (2.7; 1.8.1), and which causes the beast to abandon its antiques and fall asleep, just as Midas had once intoxicated a satyr he wanted to catch (6.27.2). Notably the satyr’s ghost is not the only φἀσμα involved in a bad love-story in the VA: Menippos, a young philosopher with a weakness for love,75 fell for a ‘phantom’, a creature with the outer appearance of a beautiful woman, but in reality a lamia with a taste for handsome youths (as the sage reminisces in his apology, 8.7.29). Apollonios’ gift of discernment allowed him to expose the creature in Korinth, thus saving the young philosopher from a lethal marriage to a vampire (4.25). A similar combination of the erotic with the demonic could perhaps be assumed for another female creature, the sea-nymph who is seen by Apollonios and his companions towards the end of their Indian journey, and who had the habit of snatching sailors (3.56).76

  • 77 Apollonios and his group encountered another empousa earlier in the narrative, after they crossed t (...)
  • 78 This sequence of thoughts, voiced by the narrator right after the account of how Apollonios, breaki (...)

37The narrative’s depiction of demons and ‘ghosts’ of lustful mythical creatures presents itself as a rich combination of the VA’s thematic interests: mythical lore, the supernatural and erōs.77 Another theme associated with erōs with negative connotations is magic. In addition to empowering demonic spirits and murderous creatures, erōs makes gullible people susceptible to the deceptive forces of magic (‘This profession [i.e. that of the magician] especially attracts lovers’; magicians take their money and do not help them at all, 7.39). The narrator claims that Apollonios’ chastity, which is closely linked to his wisdom, shields him from associations with eros and magic.78

  • 79 See further Sidebottom (2009, 82-87) on the symbolic value of Apollonios’ appearance and behaviour. (...)

38The sage’s apology in Book 8 contains a final reproach to those indulging in immoral love, when he expresses contempt for the ‘blond, carefully groomed youths with their strings of lovers and mistresses’. In contrast, the sage’s austere appearance (including his long hair) marks his philosopher status,79 manifests his chastity and pays homage to the Spartan/Dorian spirit of untamed courage (8.7.17).

VI. Erōs and Apollonios

39References to eros in the VA not only give expression to a popular theme (and one which is too popular to be ignored, even in the context of the story of a perfectly chaste holy man, and even if it is just to be portrayed in marginal sub-narratives with no happy endings), but as the above discussion has shown, are also constructed in ways that serve the characterisation of Apollonios. One such story marks one of the versions given by the narrator about the end of Apollonios’ time on earth (8.30.1):

Τελευτῆσαι δ’ αὑτδν οὶ μἐν ὲν Ἐφἐσφ θεραπευὸμενον ὐπὸ δυοῖν δμωαῖν... ὲλευθερῶσαντα δἐ τήν ὲτὲραν αίτίαν πρὸς τῆς ὲτὲρας ἔχειν, ὲπεὶ μή τῶν αυτῶν ήξὶωτο, τδν δ’ Ἀπολλῶνιον ’καὶ δουλεῦσαι’ φἀναι ·προσήκει σὲ αὐτῇ, τουτὶ γἀρ σοι ἀγαθοῦ ἀρξει.’ Τελευτήσαντος οὖν ή μἐν δουλεὑειν ἐκείνη, ή δ’ ὲκ μικρᾶς αίτίας ἀποδὸσθαι αὺτἡν καπἡλῳ, παρ’ οὖ πρίασθαί τις οὑδ’ ευπρεπή οὖσαν, ἀλλ’ ἐρῶν οὖτος καὶ χρηματιστής ίκανὸς ὥν γυναῖκἀ τε ἀνειπεἳν καὶ παῖδας ὲξ αυτής ὲγγρἀψαι.

Some say he died in Ephesus in the care of two maid servants… When he set one of these women free, and he was reproached by the other for not doing the same favour to her, he said, ‘You should even be her slave, since that will bring you luck.’ So at his death the one became the other’s slave, until her mistress for some petty reason sold her to a trader, and someone bought her from him, though she was no beauty. Even so, this man fell in love with her, and being a smart businessman made her his wife and acknowledged his children by her.

  • 80 The story of how Apollonios helped a man in need of additional means to provide dowries for his fou (...)

40This makes for a rather unpredictable short narrative. The reader is first treated to an example of Apollonios’ philanthropy, as he gives one of his servants her freedom (this philanthropy, examples of which we have seen in previous chapters, balances the harshness which he shows in some of the contexts discussed in this chapter in relation to erōs). He then, surprisingly, appears to discriminate between the maid he frees and the other female servant, whom he orders to become a slave of the freed woman, on the grounds that this ‘will bring her something good’. The reader finds out the reason of this ‘discrimination’ and the explanation of the sage’s odd saying only at the end of the story that sees the slave woman find a husband in the man who bought her. The love-story thus bears testimony to the sage’s ability to foresee the future.80 A further oddity lies in the description of the woman who found love as ‘no object of beauty’ (οὑδ’ εὺπρεπἡ οὗσαν), which subverts the stereotypical connection between erōs and beauty. This makes the woman a less likely candidate for experiencing erōs, thus presumably stressing the sage’s ability of predicting the unlikely.

  • 81 Plutarch has his Alexander admit that sexual intercourse was one of two sure signs of his mortality (...)

41Unsurprisingly, however, the main element of Apollonios’ character to be addressed by the VA’s short erōs narratives is his chastity. These narratives give the impression of specially formed story elements, which routinely contrast Apollonios’ chastity and self-control with the proneness to powerful carnal desires, which characterises other individuals. After all, the restraint of desires lies at the centre of the philosophy chosen by Apollonios, who did not opt for a school that would allow him to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, but instead one that punishes carnal weakness, as he says in his philosophical apology to the Gymnosophist Thespesion (6.11.4-5). Extreme chastity, of the kind which is also observed by the New Testament’s Jesus, may be perceived as indicative of a higher-than-human nature.81 However, the sage and those who follow in his steps may expect to experience another special kind of erōs. The ending of the story of the possessed youth, whose behaviour is at first described as erratic and dissolute (μειρἀκιον… ἀσελγὲς), and who is cured by Apollonios by means of an exorcism, provides an excellent description of this alternative kind of erōs: ‘he [i.e. the youth] got rid of his capes, cloaks, and other fripperies, and fell in love with deprivation and the philosopher’s cloak’ (4.20.3) – this is the erōs for sophia.

42There is only one exception from this pattern of characterisation, which gives the narrative extra spice and reveals that perhaps not everyone perceived Apollonios in the way in which Philostratos qua narrator did. Early in the work, having just praised his hero’s chastity and his extraordinary erotic self-control from a young age, Philostratos claims that despite an evidently chaste lifestyle, Apollonios was falsely accused by ‘some people’ of an ‘illicit affair’:

Ἀλλ’ ὄμως συκοφαντοῦσί τινε ὲπὶ ἀφροδισὶοις αὐτόν, ῶς διαμαρτὶα ἐρωτικῇ χρησἀμενον καὶ διἀ τοῦτο ἀπενιαυτὶσαντα ὲς τδ Σκυθῶν ἔθνος, ὄς οὕτε ὲφοὶτησὲ ποτὲ ὲς Σκὑθας οῦτε ὲς ὲρωτικἀ πἀθη ἀπηνὲχθη· οὕκουν οὑδὲ Ευφρἀτης ποτὲ ὲσυκοφἀντησεν ὲπὶ ἀφροδισὶοις τδν ἂνδρα, καὶτοι ψευδῆ γρἀμματα κατ’ αὐτοῦ ξυνθεὶς.

Even so some people slander him on sexual grounds, claiming that he had an illicit affair and consequently went into banishment in the Scythian region, though he never once visited Scythia or fell prey to sexual passion. Even Euphrates does not slander the Master on sexual grounds in the mendacious attack that he wrote against him. (VA 1.13.3)

  • 82 See Miles (2017, 205) on erotic διαμαρτὶα which he takes to indicate a ‘sexual scandal’ or ‘unrequi (...)
  • 83 A point he makes in his apology in Book 8, there in the context of condemning barbaric types of rel (...)
  • 84 It is Apollonios who is presented to attack Euphrates on grounds of sexual misconduct (Ep. Apoll. 7 (...)

43The details of this ‘affair’82 are not made clear, and the accusation is refuted on two grounds: first, Apollonios never went to Scythia as a result of the alleged indiscretion, or indeed at all;83 and second, if there had been any truth in the allegation, then the sage’s biggest enemy, Euphrates, would certainly have used it in his libel against Apollonios.84 Ironically, it is Philostratos himself who once again reports an erotic misdemeanor allegedly committed by the sage, in his other major work, the VS – this time with more details:

Ἐρασθῆναι τῆς γυναικὸς ταὑτης καὶ ὲτὲρους μὲν, ὲπιδήλως δἐ Ἀπολλῶνιὸν φασι τδν Τυανὲα, καὶ τοὑς μὲν ἂλλους ἀπαξιῶσαι, τῷ δὲ Ἀπολλωνὶω ξυγγενὲσθαι δι’ ὲρωτα εὑπαιδὶας, ὲπειδή θειὸτερος ἀνθρῶπων. Τοῦτο μὲν δή ὸπὸσοις τρὸποις ἀπὶθανον, εἶρηται σαφῶς ὲν τοῖς ὲς Ἀπολλῶνιον.

They say that among others who fell in love with her was Apollonius of Tyana, and that he made no secret of it; that she rejected the others, but gave herself to Apollonius because of her desire for noble offspring, since he more than ordinary men had in him something divine. In my work on Apollonius I have stated clearly on how many grounds this story is incredible. (2.570)

  • 85 Eugenic principles had found a famous place in Greek philosophical writings in Plato’s R. and Lg. ( (...)

44In this case the γυνἡ αὕτη was the mother of a Kilikian sophist (Alexander Peloplaton), a very beautiful woman, with whom Apollonios was rumoured to be having an affair, and to make no secret of it. It is not clear whether this is the same affair, which the VA implies, or a different one, but the woman’s eugenic motivation85 in the VS is in tune with the description of the sage early in his biography as being both mentally and physically attractive. The narrator of the VS promptly rejects the story, encouraging his reader to look to the VA for proof.

  • 86 Cf. Schirren’s (a little exaggerated) thesis that much of the VA can be read ironically (2005, esp. (...)
  • 87 The unique incident, in which Apollonios takes ‘by the hand’ a bicoloured woman he and his companio (...)
  • 88 In comparison, we might also think of the faint ambivalence that surrounds Jesus’ relationship with (...)
  • 89 See Whitmarsh (2012, 244-245).

45Despite the narrator’s affirmation of the sage’s innocence in each case, these are intriguing references. On the one hand, the inevitability of false rumours and suspicions bears testimony to the difficulty (even incredulity) which is assigned by the average (non-holy) person to the task of keeping one’s virginity; the praise of Apollonios’ self-restraint thus appears greater. On the other hand, it is hard not to be left without some doubt that the real Apollonios was really always successful in controlling his sexual passion. Perhaps views of his moral character were in reality less than ideal, and the perfect chastity of Philostratos’ hero was rather a feature of an idealised portrait and did not necessarily belong to the historical sage. Do the VA and VS narrators treat the sage’s erotic behaviour with intended ambivalence – even irony?86 This possibility does not seem very likely. The short, isolated references to affairs, which are labeled as slander, do not manage to supplant the prevailing image of a chaste sage; regarding the VA, Apollonios’ chastity remains unblemished in the reality of the narrative, and the work’s dominant erotic ideology is not challenged.87 The mention of the sage’s rumoured affair forms part of this work’s broader interest in erōs as a theme that captivates the readers’ attention and adds to the narrative’s attractiveness.88 We might compare here the allusion to the story of Joseph’s affair with Potiphar’s wife in Joseph and Aseneth (4.10), which forms part of this narrative’s ambiguous and subtle interest in sexuality, but does not get in the way of its religious ideology or the positive moral characterisation of Joseph.89

VII. Love’s Forms and Contexts

  • 90 And of novelistic fragments of romantic theme; note the self-restraint of Ninos in expressing his d (...)
  • 91 Note also her other mentions in the work, especially at the beginning and the end of Book 3, where (...)

46All in all, Philostratos’ narrative shows, in its exploitation of the appeal and entertainment value of the love-theme, the influence of the romantic novel. Novelistic heroes absorb in their characterisation the philosophical ideal of self-restraint, which is embodied, to a more or less perfect degree, in all female and male protagonists of the extant romances.90 In particular, Xenophon Ephesios’ hero, Habrokomes, has in common with Apollonios the fact not only that he falls victim to a homoerotic approach, but more importantly, that he is at least temporarily averse to erōs (it is briefly implied that Heliodoros’ Theagenes held women, love and marriage in contempt before he set eyes on Charikleia, 3.17; but Xenophon’s narrative emphasises Habrokomes’ chaste resolution and its repercussions much more). Unlike Apollonios, Habrokomes fails to observe perpetual chastity, as his resolution is deemed offensive to Aphrodite. Such a risk does not seem to concern Apollonios, whose ‘holy-man’ status presumably means that he is subject to different rules. But the fear of offending the goddess of Love resurfaces in the VA, in the story of Timasion; in this the novelistic importance of Aphrodite (also a major concern for Chariton) has found its way in the VA.91

  • 92 Iamb. VP 2.10; 30.170.
  • 93 See also above, ch. 1.

47In the end, Apollonios differs from the heroes of the romantic novels in his definition of ascetic limitations. In the romance texts, these do not impose a total rejection of erōs. The expectations created by the physical attractiveness of Habrokomes and the other heroes and heroines will be fulfilled within what is perceived in the novels as a legitimate context, namely a culmination in a permanent union between romantic hero and heroine. But whereas Habrokomes is ‘punished’ for his contempt of erōs at the start of Xenophon’s plot (1.1), the VA’s narrative legitimises total abstinence and permanent chastity for Apollonios; the marital life prescribed by Pythagoras to others did not have to apply to him (1.13.3). According tot he biographical trdition, Pythagoras himself, who is characterised by lamblichos as σωφρονὲστατος, opted for married life.92 Apollonios’ ability to refrain from sexual activity (ta aphrodisia), implies that he surpassed Pythagoras in erotic sōphrosynē, as he also did in sophia (VA 1.2). Later in the first Book Apollonios provides a definition of the former:93 ‘Self-control means that someone in a state of desire and excitement is not overcome by the sexual urge, but instead uses restraint, and shows himself to be the master of this madness.’ In the life of Apollonios, sōphrosynē – which was given prominence earlier in the narrative, when she headed the company of the despoinai (metaphorically, the virtues) that the sage wished to export over the Zeugma in Mesopotamia (1.20.1) – clearly wins.

  • 94 Among the ‘big five’, Achilles Tatios is our richest source on the issue. The stories of homosexual (...)
  • 95 See ch. 1 and also Petzke (1970, 224); Francis (1995, 102).

48Apollonios denies love in all forms, but it is not clear whether he repudiates homosexual love more than heterosexual love, and if the homosexual advances to which he allegedly fell victim should be seen as more despicable than the heterosexual ones. Conversing with the Egyptian sages in Book 6, the sage reminisces of an old exchange with his teacher, who is said to mention the possibility that Apollonios could fall in love with a handsome youth when he reached the right age as a natural thing (6.11.9). This suggests a balanced view of homosexuality, similar to what is found in the romantic novels, which contain relevant sub-plots centered upon homosexual love.94 It seems fair to say that the opposition between erōs and chastity as a theme in both the VA and the novels is served by stories featuring both types of sexual orientation, even though on the one side the romantic protagonists are heterosexual couples (which must imply the higher popularity of this formula), and homosexual love in the novels only provides sub-plots. And on the other side, as mentioned earlier in this study, women are rarely (and only negatively) depicted in the VA (Apollonios’ all-chaste reputation is almost threatened by the rumour of an affair with a woman, and the chaste youth Timasion is pursued by one), and all instances of erōs are bad.95 We have already noted the male focus of the VA, where erōs appears as carnal desire and the property of corrupt men, eunuchs and lustful, evil women, while sōphrosynē is the virtue of exclusively male characters.

  • 96 The concept of symmetry was developed by Konstan (1994).
  • 97 On women in Pythagoreanism, see Pomeroy (2013); Rowett (2014). Biographies of Pythagoras show him t (...)
  • 98 See Levick (2002), who notes, however, that women, when involved with philosophy, were rather the s (...)
  • 99 See van Bremen’s seminal study (1996).
  • 100 Lk 8: 2-3 lists female followers of Jesus. Women have a strong presence in the Apocryphal Acts, whe (...)
  • 101 Hengel (1991, 111). A notable difference between Greek and Jewish novelistic narratives lies in the (...)
  • 102 West (1974); Humphrey (2000, 39-40); cf. Whitmarsh (2012). The date and text of J & A are disputed (...)
  • 103 See further Humphrey (2000, 89). Joseph’s chastity receives praise too: καὶ ὲστιν ’Ιωσήφ ἀνήρ θεοσε (...)
  • 104 See Wills (1995, 53-60).

49The VA’s male-dominated universe is contrasted with the ‘symmetrical’ treatment of the two sexes in the romantic novels:96 each plot features a male and a female protagonist, who both experience and express erōs, and who both equally strive to fulfill the demands of sōphrosynē. The VA’s exclusion of women goes against generic habits of the Greek romance, which celebrates women both as agents of erotic passion and of sōphrosynē. It also seems inconsistent with the significant role assigned to women in the Pythagorean tradition,97 their presence in the life of several philosophical schools,98 and their increased visibility in public life in the Greco-Roman period,99 not to mention their prominence in Christian narratives (although in none of these contexts, of course, are we to see any sort of real ‘equality’ of the sexes).100 The central role of women and the value of erotic self-restraint are also markers of the Jewish novel, whose earlier specimens predate the Greek novel101 and whose plots combine adventure and romantic elements with a religious interest and moralising; notably unlike in the Greek romantic novels, the love theme hardly comes to central focus. Heroines of Jewish narratives, such as Aseneth of Joseph and Aseneth (the narrative which – often dated to the time of Chariton – is thought of as the closest to the Greek romantic novels102) and Esther of Greek Esther are memorable examples of sexual self-negation and devotion to high causes: Esther debases her sexuality in her aim to protect the Jews of Persia from the evil Haman, while Aseneth, who is of exceptional beauty like a Greek novelistic heroine (μεγἀλη καὶ ῶραὶα καὶ καλή τω εδει σφὸδρα, 1.4), and who is reminiscent of Habrokomes in her initial shunning of the opposite sex (2.1), is united with Joseph after a period of religious conversion and askēsis.103 The persecution of the chaste Susanna in Greek Daniel,104 complete with a trial scene, may be paralleled with that of the heroines of the Greek novels, but also (mutatis mutandis) with that of the VA’s Arkadian youth and indeed in this aspect with Apollonios himself.

50It may be felt that romantic pairings, such as we find in Joseph and Aseneth and in the Greek romantic novels, find a distant echo in the VA’s pairing of the main hero, Apollonios, with another character (Damis). The close relationship between Damis and Apollonios is a stable feature of the plot, one that is also observed by internal voices, such as the philosopher Demetrios: he allows Damis to be present at his secret meeting with Apollonios, considering him to be the ‘Iolaos’ of the sage’s labours (7.10.2). Apollonios and Damis are of course not of equal importance to the plot, and Damis remains a secondary presence throughout the narrative, but neither are romantic heroes and heroines perfectly balanced in terms of their significance for the plots. For example, there is no doubt that Kallirhoe ‘shines’ much more in Chariton’s novel than Chaireas, and Leukippe is rather a secondary character compared to Achilles Tatios’ Kleitophon. The physical attraction between hero and heroine finds no parallel in the Apollonios-Damis pair, but on the other hand it is indeed a form of erōs that has brought Damis to Apollonios, when the latter visited the former’s native city, and the two became companions in sophia:

.., προσεφοὶτησε Δἀμις ὸ Νὶνιος, ὄν καταρχἀς ἔφην ξυναποδημῆσαί οὶ καὶ ξυνὲμπορον γενὲσθαι τῆς σοφὶας πἀσης καὶ πολλἀ τοῦ ὰνδρὸς διασῶσασθαι, ὄς ἀγασθεὶς αὐτὸν καὶ ζηλῶσας τῆς όδοῦ ‘ἴωμεν,’ ἔφη 1 Ἀπολλῶνιε, σὑ μὲν θεω ὲπὸμενος, ὲγῶ δὲ σοὶ, καὶ γἀρ με καὶ πολλοῦ ἂξιον εὓροις ἂν·’

... Damis of Ninos came to hear him. This is the man whom I mentioned at the beginning as Apollonius’ companion, who shared in all his wisdom and preserved many details about the Master. Struck with admiration and eager to share his journey, he said, ‘Let us go, Apollonius, you following God and I following you, for you might find me very valuable.’ (VA 1.19.1)

Τοιοῦδε μὲν ὲταὶρου καὶ ὲραστοῦ ἔτυχεν, ᾧ τὸ πολὑ τοὑ βὶου συνεπορεὑθη.

This man [i.e. Damis] was the kind of companion and admirer that Apollonius found as a traveling companion for most of his life. (VA 1.19.3)

  • 105 ἐρἂν and its cognates do not have to imply sexual teehngs, as Bowie notes (1994, 198 n. 18; cf. the (...)

51Damis is presented as an ‘admirer’ (erastēs) of Apollonios. The strong bond between the pupil and his master is confirmed later in the narrative, in Book 7, at a crucial point when Apollonios’ life seems threatened as he clashes with the emperor. At the above-mentioned meeting with the philosopher Demetrios, not far from Rome, Damis professes his devotion to Apollonios and his teachings in terms which are reminiscent of a lover’s attachment to his object of desire, and which can be paralleled with the earlier described erds for philosophy (4.20.3):105

Ἔπομαι μἐν γἀρ αὺτῷ θᾶττον ἢ ἐαυτῷ τι, εὶ δὲ ὲροιὸ με ... εἶχον ἂν πρἀς τοὑς ὲρωτῶντας λὲγειν, ῶς Ἀπολλῶνιος μὲν θανἀτου ἐρᾶ, ἐγὼ δ’ ὰντεραστἡς ξυμπλὲω...

I follow him (i.e. Apollonios) more closely than a man follows himself... I could tell those who asked me that Apollonius is in love with death, and that I accompany him as a jealous lover. (VA 7.13.1)

  • 106 See further Morgan (2007a).
  • 107 Morgan (2007a, 40).
  • 108 His momentary deceitfulness, which propels the novel’s plot, is perhaps allowed by Plato’s definiti (...)

52The chaste appeal and austerity of Apollonios as a philosopher-hero may be compared to appearances of philosophers in the romances. The romantic novels tend to include philosophers among their cast106 and involve them in the erotic plot. Clearly the closest parallel to Apollonios is presented by Heliodoros’ Kalasiris, who practices a form of asceticism that bears similarities to that of the Tyanean sage.107 Kalasiris, an Egyptian priest, is not termed as philosophos but he is characterised by his sophia. Like Apollonios, albeit not originally Greek, he is Greek-cultured and looks more like a Greek than an Egyptian philosopher (2.21); like Apollonios, he visits the Gymnosophists. Of course, unlike our sage, he has fathered children (two sons). We hear that he left Memphis to avoid witnessing the fight between his sons, and to get away from the temptations of a courtesan (named Rhodope; 2.25.4-6). He does not reject erōs in others and helps the union of the two lovers of the Aithiopika. In doing so, he uses trickery, implying a subversion of the notion of philosophy and philosophical identities,108 which lies outside the interests of Philostratos’ work.

  • 109 See further Morgan (2007a, 24-32); he reasonably suspects Demetrios the Cynic to be Chariton’s mode (...)
  • 110 See below, ch. 4. Indeed Achilles sometimes uses the term ‘philosophy’ to suggest the opposite of s (...)
  • 111 M & P (col. II 60-61): … ’Ἔρως [δ’ ὲστ] ιν κὶνημα διανοὶας ὑπρ [κ] ἀλλους γινὸμε [νον]...‘Love rath (...)
  • 112 On this passage and on eros as a cosmogonic force, see Praet (2009, 288- 291), who further argues t (...)

53Other philosopher figures also appear, even though briefly, in the Greek novels, and are directly or indirectly associated with erotic self-restraint. There is Demetrios (an Egyptian) in Chariton, whose depiction by the author is suggestive of a character who can be relied on to accompany women (presumably for being sōphrdrōn), and who is said to possess arete and paideia.109 Indeed this basic element of Apollonios’ characterisation, sexual continence, appears in the novels as a feature of a praiseworthy philosophical attitude: Chariton describes resistance to eros as a kind of philosophia (2.4.5), an allusion that recurs (albeit with hints of irony) in Achilles Tatios;110 the latter includes expositions (voiced by Kleitophon) and an engaging conversation on the topic of erotic desire (1.16-18; 2.33-38). Another relevant context is the debate regarding the nature of erōs in Metiochos and Parthenope, a partially preserved novel set in the early classical period and at least as early as Chariton. The remaining fragments suggest that the sixth-century BC Milesian philosopher Anaximenes proposed erōs as a discussion topic at a symposium taking place at the palace of Polykrates of Samos. It is unclear whether the philosopher took an active part in the debate, but the surviving speech of Metiochos at least affirms the link between beauty and desire.111 The VA too incorporates a learned discussion on erōs, but the context is natural philosophy based on Pythagorean concepts (the kosmos ‘universe’, which experiences erōs for itself, has intercourse with itself and gives life to everything) and not human desires (3.34).112

  • 113 See e.g. Zimmerman (2002).
  • 114 See e.g. Cameron (1991, 115-119).

54This chapter’s focus on the relationship between erōs and chastity invites another look at early Christian literature, where virginity occupies a very central place. As we saw in the previous chapters, the concept of sōphrosynē is found in Christian narratives (the New Testament, the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles), where it often signifies ‘chastity’ and ‘self-restraint’. While virginity in the romantic novels is a temporary state, and chastity is mainly about fidelity and protecting love’s purity, Apollonios and some early Christian authors are united in a complete renunciation of sexuality. It is no surprise that the life of Apollonios has been compared to the stories about Christian saints,113 who are often depicted as young, beautiful and chaste, and as resisting all forms of erōs (including marriage), even when pursued and threatened. Both contexts preach asceticism, which is idealised as a Christian way of life114 and is associated with the pagan sage’s moral and spiritual perfection.

  • 115 See Eyl (2012, 14).
  • 116 On Tatian and his ‘encratite’ attitude (of total sexual renunciation), see further Rhee (2005, 123- (...)
  • 117 A. Paul. et Thecl. 19. It is perhaps no coincidence that in the opening scene of the work, the hero (...)
  • 118 See e.g. Cooper’s discussion (1996, 46-49). The Acts of Thomas has a similar plot.
  • 119 The Scheintod of Achilles’ Leukippe attracts a peculiar erotic voyeurism (Goldhill 1995, 117). Sexu (...)
  • 120 Cf. Whitmarsh (2012, 239) on the potential of J & A to function ‘comme tableau blanc sur lequel les (...)
  • 121 See further Giraudet (2012).

55Comparisons between early Christian literature and the VA may suggest a further angle from which to view the treatment of both erōs and chastity in the latter work; this angle has to do with the divinisation of erotic love and with the erotic overtones of otherwise chaste narratives. For Apollonios, erōs is the enemy of philosophical perfection, but its patroness, the goddess Aphrodite, is revered; for Christian holy men (and women), submission to erōs disrespects religious doctrine, as it equals worship of another god.115 In the VA, respect for Aphrodite counts as a component of sōphrosynē. This provides a sharp contrast with such instances as the damnation of Aphrodite in Tatian’s Oratio ad Graecos (8.2);116to Tatian and his contemporaries, Aphrodite was a very real antagonist of the new faith. But although Christian novelistic narratives make a point of expelling erotic desire from the stories they tell, they bring on stage powerful emotions comparable and verbally similar to the force of Greek novelistic erōs. The Acts of Paul and Thekla and the Acts of Andrew provide good examples of this. Admittedly, unlike the romantic heroes and heroines, who are conquered by erōs as soon as they first see each other at the beginning of each novel, Paul and Thekla will be drawn together by a rather different force: στοργή (ʽaffection’).117 It is hard, however, to miss the lurking eroticism in Thekla’s admiration for Paul, as for example when she visits him in prison and kisses his bonds (18), or to ignore the implicit erotic dimension in the ‘rivalry’ between the Apostle Andrew and Aigeates, husband of Maximilia, who was converted to Christianity by the Apostle in the Acts of Andrew.118 Ambivalent imagery and erotically implicit rhetoric has often been observed in novelistic contexts (of both a romantic and a religious character) that appear to focus on the characters’ chastity.119 As we have seen, the VA’s tone, though comparatively drier, is not deprived of eroticised hints, which accentuate the interaction of the two themes (chastity and erōs) in the plot and in the readers’ experience of the work. Such an interplay between the aspiration for chastity as a high moral and religious ideal and the natural human sexual drive, which is deified in pagan religion, may seem like an effort to strike a hard balance between opposites, but it certainly appealed to readers, who presumably empathised with the psychological and moral conflict of novelistic heroes120 and felt respect towards the rare virtue of the sage. We find a similar interplay in another late antique author of pagan works, namely in Nonnos, whose treatment of the chastity theme suggests a compromise between acceptance of an extreme form of virginity and praise for (divine) Eros.121

  • 122 Olympias later receives the unwelcome attention of the Thessalonian Pausanias, who murders Philip a (...)
  • 123 This is not the traditional view of his marital status, as Jouanno notes (2002, 166). But in his De (...)
  • 124 See further Hägg (2012, 130); Karla (2009, 18-19). In a memorable tale, a foolish girl mistakes her (...)

56The study of the romantic and erotic allusions in the VA ultimately helps us to untangle the mix of literary traditions, which function in dialogue with each other in this unique work. We may assume that Philostratos’ work was part of a fruitful exchange among narrative traditions, both pagan and Christian. In particular, the VA’s treatment of the love-theme makes manifest its contact with the romantic novels; but the treatment of this very theme also invites interpretation in the contexts of Greek philosophical and biographical writings and of early Christian attitudes to chastity. The popular biographies of Aisop and Alexander also suggest themselves as objects of comparison; they seem inclined to unromantic or plainly negative depictions of the love theme. The Alexander romance stages the less-than-ideal romance of a hardly human character (Nektanebo) and Alexander’s mother, Olympias;122 Alexander is placed in a monogamous marriage to Roxane,123 but without an explicit reference to ‘love’ such as we find in Plutarch (Alexander 47.7-8; καὶ τἀ περὶ ʽPωξάνην ἔρωτι μἐν ὲπρἀχθη). The Life of Aisop entertains its readership with a vulgar eroticism.124 These narratives have neither the philosophical pedigree, which we find in the VA, nor the love-adventure focus of the Greek romance.

  • 125 See Brenk (2008) for a summary of the literary history of the exempla and for their function in Plu (...)

57In terms of narrative function, Philostratos’ references to erōs may be seen as suggestive of brief paradigmatic novellas that treat a popular novelistic theme while sketching ideal in opposition to less-than-ideal behaviour. They form quite distinct episodes or evoke such episodes (which are not narrated in detail), although they are perhaps too short to reflect entire novelistic plots or to be seen as bite-sized novels. Rather, they are reminiscent of moral stories used as deterrent examples, a variation of the type of the exempla, narratives that praise or blame moral behaviour, which enjoyed great popularity in the Greco-Roman period, notably in the works of Plutarch.125 The erōs-related stories of the VA, which thematise extramarital sex, homoerotic desire and erotic incontinence (a negation of sōphrosynē!) more generally, would be read in this sense as vivid depictions of characters and actions that pose as models for avoidance.

  • 126 Here only discussed in its sense as sexual desire; I do not consider metaphorical uses, such as the (...)
  • 127 Beneker (2012, 137-139; 105-113) on sōphrosynē as the foundation of Alexander’s success; see also a (...)
  • 128 Plu. Amat. 751d; see e.g. Tsouvala (2014). Cf. the root definition of philia by Aristotle in EN as (...)
  • 129 Iamb. VP 32.229-230; see Gemelli Marciano (2014, 146-147).
  • 130 An occurrence of the verb (φιλεῖν) refers to the love of elephants for their young (VA 2.14.1).
  • 131 This verb is also used for Apollonios’ relationship with Dio Chrysostom (5.37.2) and for the prefec (...)
  • 132 On this type of friendship, see Gemelli Marciano (2014, 146-147), who cites the early Pythagorean e (...)
  • 133 A point also made by Bowie (1994, 190). On the use of erastēs (literary and figurative) in Platonic (...)
  • 134 Cf. D. L. 7.130, and see Inwood (1997, 59).
  • 135 Cf. Apollonios’ depiction as a father figure to his fellow prisoners, to whom he gives wise instruc (...)
  • 136 Apollonios’ young follower, Menippos, expresses his joy over his prospective bride’s ‘love’ (χαρὶεν (...)

58Plutarch’s versatile depiction of the erotic theme, as well as his observations on the nature of erōs,126 may establish further comparisons with the VA. Both the VA and the Lives include instances of sexual frivolity. We have seen the VA’s damning attitude to such instances. Plutarch too exemplifies (e.g. in Alexander) the decadent behaviour and general career decline, which is linked to the relaxation of sōphrosynē in a previously moderate and disciplined man.127 Erōs in the VA, however, centers on manifestations of sexual desire (of an erastes for a potential erōmenos, the latter in a subordinate position to the former), and it hardly addresses the prospect of balanced relationships, which may emerge from this desire, and which are described by Plutarch (in his Dialogue on love) asphilia.128 This term, which also occurs in Pythagorean ethical discourse to denote the sense of friendship among men,129 could perhaps describe the relationship between Apollonios and Damis, but is in fact entirely absent from the VA130 (although Damis is termed towards the end of the work as ὸ ἐαυτῷ ἐπιτηδειὸτατος, Apollonios’ ‘best friend’, 8.10; and the verb ἀγαπᾶν is used to describe some of Apollonios’ other relationships, including that with his own teacher, Euxenos, 1.7.3).131 Apollonios’ and Damis’ teacher-pupil relationship does bear some of the marks of the harmonious friendship which is assumed between older master and younger pupil in Pythagoreanism.132 Damis respects and serves Apollonios, who instills philosophical truth in him (cf. the relevant precept in the Golden verses, 5-6); but with the exception of the figurative use of erastēs/anterastēs for Damis (commented on above), their bond does not exude the type of educational, chaste eroticism depicted in Plato’s Symposion and Phaidros,133 and which is associated with friendship in some Stoic contexts.134 The sage provides an insight into his ideal of a teacher-pupil relationship in his apology, when he claims that the emperor Nerva treated him like a father or teacher,135 always using respectful language, blushing (a sign of aidōs) and following the sage’s example of moderation (8.7.31). Needless to say, all of the sage’s pupils and friends are male.136

  • 137 See Beneker (2012, 31-57), presenting the examples of Brutus and Porcia, as well as Perikles and As (...)
  • 138 See Beneker (2012, 1-3) and previous note. Cf. Konstan (1997, 146) on friendship between the sexes. (...)
  • 139 Cf. Konstan (1994, 12-13).

59Plutarch’s biographies, on the other hand, feature some positive models of erōs, as well as a measure of symmetry in the treatment of women. Although the biographies’ subjects are always men, they are sometimes paired with worthy women; the pairs are shown as glued together by a positively functioning erōs.137 In Plutarch’s accounts, the erōs between some of the Lives’ protagonists and their women – and men – indeed results in lasting bonds that include mutual appreciation of character and sharing of important life experiences.138 In a similar manner, erōs functions as the basis of the relationships between the enamoured young men and women of the romantic novels, who are not only described as lovers or prospective lovers, but also as partners who support each other through a set of adventures that threaten their survival.139 Conversely, erōs in the VA is always perceived as morally wrong and as a threat to the good and sōphrōn life. Even if the possibility of a good form of erōs is implied in the Timasion episode, discussed above, it is never explicitly identified or praised; the VA’s erōs is only bad erōs.

  • 140 Note that the hero himself makes the point (in his apologia, 8.7.12) that he travelled with his cha (...)
  • 141 Treatise II 376.5.
  • 142 On this, see further Kanavou (2015, with bibliography). The narrative of the sexual encounter betwe (...)
  • 143 On this point, see further ch. 4.
  • 144 A frequent theme in philosophical and ethical writings of this period (e.g. Plutarch’s Morals, Marc (...)

60The above remarks in relation to the subject of erōs help us to diagnose a monotony in the VA’s narrative’s view of events, which is closely linked to Apollonios’ characterisation. Every act and every event in Apollonios’ long life, whether it involves himself and/or others, is heavily typified under the principles of ‘virtue’ and ‘vice’, and above all, under the premise of the hero’s unchanged sōphrosynē.140 Conversely, the novelistic heroes and heroines’ attitude to sōphrosynē changes form, as they move from pre-marital chastity to chaste marriage (what Menander Rhetor calls σῶφρονες γἀµοι),141 or (as in the case of Longos’ and Achilles Tatios’ male heroes) between pre-marital, physical infidelity, to (presumed) marital fidelity, not to mention Kallirhoe’s movement between husbands.142 The novelists further describe a set of emotions that guarantee each character a degree of complexity and indeed (despite the strongly type-cast presentation of some character traits)143 some individuality. Apollonios, on the other hand, appears two-dimensional. His basic features are present, as it were, from his birth and remain largely untouched in the course of the story. True, his journey (especially his stay in India) provides spiritual enhancement, as we shall see in the next chapter. But whereas we may assume that this experience makes his wise and sōphrōn character stronger, it is by no means equal to the type of philosophical journey that entails distinct moral progress and reform,144 and leads to no marked change. This point will be developed further in the next chapter.

Notes

1 See Tilg (2010, 79-81) in support of this possibility.

2 A view apparently largely shared by ‘educated antiquity’, as noted e.g. by Reardon (2008, 12), who also quotes Julian, Ep. 89b345-349.

3 The VA’s solemn character may also be felt in the numerous citations of ‘serious’ literature (works of philosophers, Homer, historians and tragedians); there are hardly any citations of comedy (or of the novel for that matter). See Bowie (2009b).

4 The remaining eighteen are addressed to named individuals, including known historical persons, among whom Julia Domna (Ep. 73). On the letters, which are considered genuine by most scholars, see further Goldhill (2009); Rosenmeyer (2001, 322-338). On their place in the debate over the Philostrati, see now Schmitz (2017, 262, with references).

5 E.g. Bowie (1978, 1663-1665; 1994, where he sees Philostratos as ‘a borrower from and even a contributor to the techniques of fiction’, who perhaps saw Chariton as a rival). See also Introduction.

6 A notable example is the dinner scene at 6.15, which makes a joke of the young Egyptian Nilos’ great appetite.

7 Note the analogy with the formula τἀ περὶ/κατἀ girl’s (or girl’s and boy’s name), which is typical of the novelistic genre, as Whitmarsh (2005) has shown. Boter (2015) has recently argued that the title commonly found in editions is not genuine, and proposed Εὶς τὸν Τυανὲα Ἀπολλῶνιον as the original form; ciq is used in the titles of works of hymnic or encomiastic character (Homeric hymns, speeches in praise of emperors; ibid., 5). Be that as it may, the perceived appropriateness of the familiar title has no doubt contributed to its prevalence.

8 See further Kanavou (2015, 944-947); Kasprzyk (2009); De Temmerman (2014 passim); du Toit (1997, 282). See further Jones (2012) on the place of chastity in the novel’s sexual ideology.

9 See Kasprzyk (2009, 99) for statistics of the use of the term in the novel; analytical tables are also found in the Appendix of Bird’s thesis (2016). Of course the novels are not all of equal length, and with the exception of the Aithiopika, they are all considerably shorter than the VA. Notably Xenophon makes relatively frequent use of the term given the shortness of the Ephesiaka. On the peculiarities of Longos’ treatment of the morality of love and sex, see Morgan (2004, 4); Kanavou (2015, n. 36); and now Bird’s relevant chapter (2016).

10 Hume (1983, Section IX, Part 1; 73-74). Note that the virtue of chastity is not consistently glorified by the ancient novelistic tradition: it becomes a victim of Achilles Tatios’ ironic take and Petronius’ deconstructive humour.

11 On the theme of desire in Philostratos’ letters, see now Schmitz’s study (2017).

12 See Bowie (1978, 1664-1665), who cites the eunuch incident (see also below); cf. Anderson (1986, 230).

13 Notwithstanding Judeo-Christian attitudes which dissuade marriage, as discussed above (ch. 2). See Goldhill (2008, 196, with bibliography).

14 Apollonios and the romantic heroes also share a provenance from wealthy and illustrious families (VA 1.4); note further the comparisons drawn by Billault (1991).

15 See also Trapp (2007b, 8).

16 A fuller description of his striking looks, which are said to be reminiscent of the Homeric Achilles, is given in the narrative voice of Kalasiris at 2.35.1, in the account of the sacrificial procession to Delphi, where Theagenes arrives as leader of the Thessalian Ainianias. Later in his narrative, Kalasiris emphasises the beauty of Charikleia, but notes that Theagenes ‘could be eclipsed only in such a measure as perfect female beauty is lovelier than the fairest of men’ (3.4.1).

17 But Achilles Tatios’ often subversive plot later corrupts the notion of manly beauty by having Kleitophon dress in women’s clothes and his mistress, Melite, exclaim that he has now become more ‘handsome’ (6.1.3).

18 In keeping with the theme of the protagonists’ progression to erotic maturity, the physical attractiveness of Daphnis and Chloe receives attention at the onset of adolescence (1.13; 1.17.3; 1.24). See also Montiglio (2013, 97-98).

19 On this term, cf. Hägg (2012, 315). See also Mejer (2007) on reporting philosophers’ views in Hellenistic biography (with a focus on Diogenes Laertios). Doxography holds a special place in Pythagorean biographies; indeed assumptions about the Pythagorean way of life have influenced accounts of Pythagoras’ life (Mejer ibid., 440) – and of Apollonios’ life.

20 See further Edwards (1993) and Hagg (2012, 352-368) on comparisons between lamblichos’ and Porphyry’s accounts of Pythagoras. Hägg assumed a novelistic source (Pythagoras’ life by ‘Apollonios’) for lamblichos’ narrative (see above, ch. 2, section II). Porphyry also praises the beauty of Pythagoras’ mother, Pythais (VP 2).

21 Praise of looks occurs often in biographical texts (cf. e.g. the description of Xenophon as ‘extremely handsome’ in D. L. 2.48; the Kilikian sophist Alexander ‘had a godlike appearance and was conspicuous for his beauty and charm’, Philostr. VS 2.570). Bodily features (handsome or ugly) are linked to moral character in Suetonius, who uses physiognomy (see Cox 1983, 13-16). Cf. the description of Domitian’s terrifying face in the VA (7.28.2), a reflection of his bad character.

22 Contrast Arrian’s description of Alexander’s physique: τὸ τε σῶµα Κἀλλιστος (An . 7.28.01); see also Jouanno (2002, 199-200 and n. 52). She notes that Alexander’s physical appearance in the Romance, with its beastly features, contributes to his mythical image.

23 On Paul’s appearance, see further Malherbe (1986, 170-175). He saw the absence of such descriptions from the New Testament as a ‘peculiarity’. But note the beauty assigned to the garments of Jesus and Paul in Mk 5: 21-24; Acts 19: 12.

24 See Cameron (1989, 192-193).

25 Cf. the case of Axiothea, who reportedly attended Plato’s lectures in men’s clothes (see D. L. 3.46 and further Levick 2002, 148-149).

26 See ch. 1.

27 1.1.2; 1.14.1; 2.2.6; 2.3.9; 2.4.10; 3.2.14; 3.2.17 etc.

28 Note that Heliodoros’ style is distinctly more elaborate than that of the other novelists, and his descriptions of hero and heroine are more fully narrativised. Descriptions of physical appearance sometimes occur in the narrative at the time of the participation of the hero and heroine in a public occasion, and their beauty arouses the attention of ‘many’ (see Futre Pinheiro 2014, 82). The latter is also true for Apollonios.

29 See Morales (2004, 12 and n. 54 on other novelists). Cf. Philostr. Ep. 52: ‘It is not loving but loving not that is a disease. For if loving (ἐρᾶν) is derived from seeing (όρᾶν), those that do not love are blind.’ See Miles (2017, 209) and further Walker (1992) on the connection between er os and seeing in Philostratos’ letters.

30 On the practice of physiognomy, which was a popular theme in second sophistic discourse (our main source is the work of the sophist Polemo), see further Swain (2007), who also notes a treatise of the Macedonian sophist Nikostratos (ibid., 153-154), which mentions the Indian Wise Men’s practice of inspecting the faces of prospective brides (Περὶ γἀμου, Stob. 4.226.102).

31 The central text is Phaidros (esp. 251a-b). See, summarily, Bartsch (2005, 59-61) on the philosophical properties of the theme of the gaze. The Philostratean context lacks the Platonic homoerotic component.

32 On physical descriptions of Charikleia giving emphasis to her chastity, rather than to an erotic appeal, especially in the trial scenes, see Andúlar (2012), who argues for a direct influence from the heroine of the Acts of Paul on Thekla on Heliodoros. But cf. also Plutarch (A mat. 767a-b) on female beauty (hōra) as a manifestation of virtue.

33 As noted by Bowie (1994, 190-193). See also Billault (2000, 106-108).

34 Apparently as a member of the temple personnel; see FGrH 1066, with bibliography on Aigai and the Asklepieion. See Mumprecht’s note (1983, 1028) on an earlier, rather unconvincing reading of the episode as an echo of the historically doubtful institution of temple prostitution.

35 On these women, see Haynes (2003, esp. 108-112); also Lefteratou (forthcoming). Note that not all ‘rival’ women (who compete with the heroine for the hero’s attention) are portrayed in a fully negative light (Achilles Tatios’ Melite is such an example), but their sexual availability implies a lower moral standard than what is assumed for the chaste heroine.

36 This almost certainly does not echo any real event; see Mumprecht (1983, 1029). Billault (2000, 107) rightly notes that although the reason for the man’s execution is not related to his attack on Apollonios’ chastity, the proximity of the two events creates an aura of connection.

37 Note a hint of eroticism in the detailed representation of the youth’s beauty a little later (7.42.3) – a hint which is not avoided (or is perhaps intentionally included) in Apollonios’ condemnation of vice.

38 See Romm (2008, 113) for further examples. The most prominent powerful woman in love with a hero in the romantic novels is Heliodoros’ Arsake who targets the chaste Theagenes.

39 Chariton 6.3.8, Artaxerxes in conversation with his eunuch Artaxates: ‘pf] σὑ γε’ ἔφη τοιοῦτο μηδὲν επῃ, "ἴνα γυναῖκα ἀλλοτρὶαν διαφθεὶρω... µηδεμὶαν μοῦ καταγνῷς ἀκρασὶαν. Οὑχ οὕτως ὲαλῶκαµεν., ’Never suggest such a thing as seducing another man’s wife.... Do not accuse me of lacking self-control.’

40 Cf. the concept of ‘subversive virtue’ (see Francis 1995 and the previous chapter), which describes good moral behaviour that defies social conventions.

41 Note for example his exhortations to Nerva, Orfitus and Rufus to rise against Domitian’s tyranny (7.8) and his earlier advice to the governor of the Spanish province Baetica to join the revolt of Vindex, governor of Gaul, against Nero (5.10).

42 Chariton 2.6.1; 5.2.8; 5.5.9. The novelist compares his hero’s beauty to that of various Greek mythical men, including Hippolytos (1.1); on the opinion that the Hippolytos theme is relevant to Chaireas’ behaviour in the novel, see Miles (2017, 202), who provides a useful overview of the theme’s presence in Greek imperial culture.

43 On the ‘Athenian novella’ and its narrative function in the Aithiopika, see now Grethlein (2016). The theme of a lustful woman who propositions a chaste youth occurs also in Ph. Jos. 40-42, where sōphrosynē too finds a mention. A story, which appears in Herodian, about an incestuous affair between Caracalla and his mother, Julia Domna, was probably not what the VA’s narrator had in mind here (one of the story’s sources, Hist. Aug., makes Julia a stepmother and Caracalla a would-be matricide; see Penella 1980 on this slander and its historical context, and cf. now Davenport 2017).

44 Note that there is also a third youth who momentarily serves as a foil to Apollonios, the Egyptian Nilos, who gave away his inheritance (like the sage did) and dedicated himself to Gymnosophism, which he now abandons for the philosophy of Apollonios (VA 6.16-17).

45 It also seems to speak against the view of an ‘asexual’ Hippolytos, such as is adopted by Hubbard and Doerfler (2014, 165; 170-173), which could also have implications for the way our Apollonios is perceived. It is hard to argue for ancient ‘asexuality’ in the modem sense. An utterance such as ὲν τῇ φὑσει / τὸ σωφρονεῖν (Ε. Hipp. 79-80; should mean an increased natural ability to exercise control of one’s urges at least for an amount of time, not lack of those urges (as the case of Habrokomes shows).

46 By offering bloodless sacrifices (see also above, ch. 1); presumably this is how Apollonios, who practiced sexual abstinence, showed respect for Aphrodite. Incidentally, Apollonios implies that abstinence from wine does not necessarily offend Dionysos (2.7.2).

47 See above, on Charikleia’s chastity and beauty; but compare conversely the satirical, subversive tone of such an author as Achilles Tatios in his treatment of the chastity of both Kleitophon and Leukippe.

48 Note, however, that as the driving force of the moral education which is provided to a younger male by his older lover, Pausanias’ good Erōs excludes women; but women are considered capable of philosophical virtue in other contexts (Platonic and Stoic; see Inwood 1997, 59).

49 Eunuchs are usually regarded as sexually neutral and as belonging to the female sex: Val. Max. 7.7.6; Cat. 63.63 (‘ego mulier’).

50 Samuels (2016, n. 17) notes that there is no evidence for eunuch sex in the harem of the Achaimenid court.

51 See also ch. 1; cf. Ph. Jos. 153 for a metaphorical use of the notion of eunuch: πἀντες δὲ εὶσιν εὐνοῦχοι, ὲπειδή ὸ φιλήδονος ἂγονός ὲστι τῶν ἀναγκαιοτἀτων, σωφροσὑνης, αίδοῦς, ἐγκρατείας, δικαιοσὑνης, ἀπἀσης αρετῆς· οὑδὲν γἀρ οὓτως ὲχθρὸν ἂλλο ἂλλω, ῶς ἀρετή ήδονή...‘All are eunuchs, since the lover of pleasure is barren of all the chief necessities, temperance, modesty, self-restraint, justice and every virtue; for no two things can be more hostile to each other than virtue is to pleasure...’

52 Not to be confused with the later author of philosophical works; see e.g. N. Pauly s.v. lamblichos (2) (L. Brisson) and (3) (M. Fusillo and L. Galli).

53 See Scarcella (1996, 265).

54 On him, see also above, ch. 2. Miles (2017, 210) compares the two eunuchs. Favorinos is mentioned in Luc. Demon. 12, where he is similarly not held in great esteem: Demonax criticises his poor philosophical skills, which are not unrelated to his lack of beard and orcheis. The eunuch Bagoas in Luc. Eun., a contestant for the chair of the Peripatetic school at Athens, is a thin-veiled satire of Favorinos. Eunuchs were clearly no enviable creatures, and a law by Domitian against castration is read by Apollonios as a form of ‘sparing’ men (VA 6.42).

55 Isaios and Dionysios (1.517; 2.599); see above, ch. 2.

56 See Kuefler (2001, 97-98). On the sexuality of the eunuchs as not entirely controlled by hormones, but also by psychological factors, see also Ratner (2012, 122-124).

57 See further Samuels (2016) on the narrative exploitation of the image of the ‘eunuch-adulterer’ (which goes back to Menander) in second sophistic literature, its comic value (cf. also Juv. 6.0.20-0.26, 366-378) and its possible importance for Favorinos’ fashioning of his own public persona.

58 See Holford-Strevens (1997, 192); Samuels (2016, 89).

59 On the Babyloniaka, see further Stephens and Winkler (1995, 179-245; fr. 96: ibid., 218).

60 See also Kuefler (2001, 251); Nock (1925) on the religious functions of eunuchs. A pretended gallus or religious castrato features in the fragmentary lolaos (Stephens and Winkler 1995, 358-362). Another gallus is falsely accused of adultery in Luc. Syr. D. 19-27 (the story of Stratonike and Kombabos); see Lightfoot (2003, 410), with bibliography.

61 The brief reference to the husband anxious to ‘cure’ his wife of miscarrying (3.39) rather shows concern for the woman’s reproductive ability than love for her person.

62 Note, however, the brief mention of Sappho, alongside her (probably invented) companion Damophyle, both of whom are shown as leaders of groups of girls and composers of love poems (1.30). There is no hint of reproach in the sage’s words, but the emphasis is rather on the hymns to Artemis, allegedly composed by Damophyle, and perhaps on Apollonios’ knowledgeability in melodies and songs. On ‘Damophyle’, see also Jones (2001, 197-198).

63 Achilles appears in person (to Apollonios, visiting his tomb) later in the narrative, and mentions another, hardly more positive love (which is associated with him by later tradition), Polyxena, daughter of Priam, who allegedly sacrificed herself on his tomb and thus ‘paid tribute to their mutual love’ (4.16.4). This story, a replacement of the more standard version, that Polyxena was sacrificed by the Achaians to appease his wrath (E. Hee. 37- 41; 107-115; Ov. Met. 13.441-448; Q. S. 14.234-245), is in tune with the respect for the Homeric hero, which defines Apollonios’ meeting with him (and is also seen in Achilles’ influence on the sage’s choice of pupils: he rejects the young Antisthenes on Achilles’ request, 4.11-12).

64 In a short narrative (a Taw case’) preserved in a papyrus codex of the 4th c., P. Philammon, a soldier is said to be sexually involved with both a mother and her daughter (see Poethke et al. 2012, 67-72). This may suggest a theme of enduring popularity.

65 See Jones (1992, 38-40). The story, which is also told by other authors (e.g. Plin. Ep. 4.11.6), seems to have circulated only after Domitian’s death.

66 Cf. also such narrative traditions as that reflected in the anonymous Story of Apollonius king of Tyre, which tells of the rape of a princess by her father. On incest in the novel, see Morales (2008, 52-53).

67 This is the text in translation: ‘With whores on top of him he copulates with married women, saying that danger makes love affairs more amusing.’ Cf. Suet. Vit. 3; 12, and see also Vout (2014, 450-454), who notes the interest of imperial biographers (especially Suetonius, known for heavily criticising some of his biographees) in the sex-life of their subjects. Another affair relevant the VA’s narrative, that of emperor Titus and Berenike (D. C. 66.15.3-4), is left out, perhaps so as not to cast negative light upon the otherwise praised emperor, as Bowie notes (1994, 192).

68 This visit is reported by Suetonius (Ner. 22), who also refers to Nero’s sexual debaucheries (ibid. 27-29).

69 See above, ch. 1.

70 The statue and its erotic appeal is described in Luc. Am. 13-16. The story of its most famous lover, Pygmalion, was already a Hellenistic theme (Clem. Al. Protr 57.3) and was retold by Ovid (Met. 10.243-297). See further Zwingmann (2012, 195-215). Aphrodite’s statue was not the only one to provoke such passion. Ailian recounts the love of an Athenian youth for the statue of Agathe Tyche (VH 9.39). A statue of Chariton’s heroine, Kallirhoe, is implicated in her pervasive comparison to Aphrodite and consoles Dionysios after her departure (8.5.15). Erōs for a statue seems to have been a popular sophistic theme (cf. Onomarchos’ speech in Philostr. VS 2.598- 599, which expresses the lover’s frustrated madness).

71 The narrator seems not to take into account the case of such as a hero as Achilles, who is revered by Apollonios.

72 The story of Ixion’s torture (on a turning wheel) goes back at least as far as Pindar: O. 2.21-48. It is evoked again at VA 7.12.2.

73 It is hard not to associate this letter with some form of magical practice, although the narrator does not. See further ch. 5 on Indian magic and on the power of the written word more generally.

74 On the use of wine in this incident, cf. Cremonesi (2005, 97-98).

75 Note the antithesis: τἡν μἐν γἀρ ἂλλην φιλοσοφὶαν ἔρρωτο, τῶν δἐ ὲρωτικῶν ἢττητο (4.25.3). The young lover is further described in romantic spirit as possessing a good physique (4.25.1).

76 Cf. the νηρηὶς mentioned in Arr. Ind. 31.6, who had intercourse with her prisoners, thus turning them into fish (see Mumprecht 1983, 1065 on the geography of her island).

77 Apollonios and his group encountered another empousa earlier in the narrative, after they crossed the Kaukasos (2.4). The Korinthian vampire story shares similarities with the tale of Philinnion from Phlegon’s Book of marvels. On animal lore and the lamia or empousa, see Anderson (2009, 220-221); on the Midas allusion, see Gyselinck and Demoen (2009, 118- 119; the story, which goes back to X. An. 1.2.13, was popular in literature: cf. Mumprechfs note, 1983, 1093). Note that the appearance of Achilles to Apollonios in Book 4 is that of an εἶδος ʽforme’ (4.16.1) not φάσμα

78 This sequence of thoughts, voiced by the narrator right after the account of how Apollonios, breaking the laws of nature, freed himself from jail, is part of the narrative’s armoury against earlier negative depictions of the sage as a magician. On the closeness between eros and magic, see e.g. Kotansky’s article on amulets (1991).

79 See further Sidebottom (2009, 82-87) on the symbolic value of Apollonios’ appearance and behaviour. In the sage’s apology (8.7.18), Empedokles’ long hair is mentioned in connection with his claim to divinity (on the contrary, sophists were well groomed, a tendency defended by the ‘philosophical sophist’ Max. Tyr., Or. 1.10; cf. the contrast in VS 1.536 between the bearded and long-haired Timokrates the philosopher and the sophist Skopelian, who resorted to hair removal. Dio Chrysostom had long hair, as we infer from his Or. 12.15; see Bowersock 2002, 166). The Indian sages grow their hair long and only wear plant-based fabrics (3.15.4), an indication of their philosophical affinity to Apollonios. Note that Timasion identifies Apollonios and his company as philosophers from their cloaks (τρὶβωνες, 6.3.2), and Damis takes off his Pythagorean dress in order to avoid arrest (7.15.3). The symbolic value of the philosopher’s mantle is thematised in Tertullian’s De pallio.

80 The story of how Apollonios helped a man in need of additional means to provide dowries for his four daughters (6.39) has a similar function: the sage advised the seemingly unpromising purchase of an olive grove, foreseeing that it would make the man rich and enable him to marry off his daughters.

81 Plutarch has his Alexander admit that sexual intercourse was one of two sure signs of his mortality (Alex. 22.6); the other one was sleep (Apollonios too sleeps, VA 2.35; 7.28.3).

82 See Miles (2017, 205) on erotic διαμαρτὶα which he takes to indicate a ‘sexual scandal’ or ‘unrequited love’ (failure in love); the latter possibility is discouraged if the VS passage (discussed below) refers to the same event. Miles (ibid.) also draws attention to the affair between a student of Apollonios and Alexander of Abonuteichos (Luc. Alex. 5), a rumour which surely reflected negatively on Apollonios.

83 A point he makes in his apology in Book 8, there in the context of condemning barbaric types of religious sacrifice (8.7.30).

84 It is Apollonios who is presented to attack Euphrates on grounds of sexual misconduct (Ep. Apoll. 74); it is implied that Euphrates bought the favours of a Korinthian named Bassos, perhaps his pupil and ally in the feud against Apollonios (see Penella 1979, 109; 128-129 and VA 4.26).

85 Eugenic principles had found a famous place in Greek philosophical writings in Plato’s R. and Lg. (see e.g. Gaca 2003, 48-57). Cf. Antisthenes’ view that wise men should marry ‘the handsomest women’ (εὺφυεστἀταις γυναιξὶ) for the begetting of children, a view which is reported by D. L. 6.11 (see Prince 2015, 237-239).

86 Cf. Schirren’s (a little exaggerated) thesis that much of the VA can be read ironically (2005, esp. 286-318), which is taken even further by Grossardt (2015, 103-106), who likened Apollonios to the Aristophanic Strepsiades and went so far as to doubt the hagiographical function of the work. Bäbler and Nesselrath (2016, 16) rightly draw attention to the fact that this ‘irony’ seems to have totally escaped the ancients, as proved by Apollonios’ inclusion in very serious Christian debates.

87 The unique incident, in which Apollonios takes ‘by the hand’ a bicoloured woman he and his companions see in India near the Hyphasis, after identifying her sacred status (3.3), has no erotic overtones (that woman’s unusual skin colour was perhaps inspired by descriptions of Indian bicoloured apes – with white bodies and black heads, or the opposite – which go back to Megasthenes; FGrH 715 fr. 21).

88 In comparison, we might also think of the faint ambivalence that surrounds Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene in the Gnostic Gospels. But Jesus is predominantly characterised by a lack of interest in sexuality (see Conway 2008, 146).

89 See Whitmarsh (2012, 244-245).

90 And of novelistic fragments of romantic theme; note the self-restraint of Ninos in expressing his desire for Semiramis in the Ninos romance (on which see Kanavou 2016a).

91 Note also her other mentions in the work, especially at the beginning and the end of Book 3, where Aphrodite gives her approval to Indian wedding ceremonies (3.1.1), and Apollonios and his companions visit her sanctuary at Paphos (3.58). See further Praet (2009, 286).

92 Iamb. VP 2.10; 30.170.

93 See also above, ch. 1.

94 Among the ‘big five’, Achilles Tatios is our richest source on the issue. The stories of homosexual love included in Achilles’ narrative come to a bad end (so does the love affair between Hippothoos and Hyperanthes in X. Eph. 3), but the famous debate on the relative value of women and boys as lovers (Ach. Tat. 2.33-38) remains inconclusive. This was perhaps a fashionable topic: a comparison between homosexual and heterosexual love is found in the roughly contemporary Erotes by Ps.-Lucian and in Plu. A mat.’, and Juvenal suggests that boyfriends are preferable to wives (6.33-37). See further Goldhill (1995, 46-111) on the ambivalent treatment of homosexuality in the literature of the imperial period.

95 See ch. 1 and also Petzke (1970, 224); Francis (1995, 102).

96 The concept of symmetry was developed by Konstan (1994).

97 On women in Pythagoreanism, see Pomeroy (2013); Rowett (2014). Biographies of Pythagoras show him to be sympathetic to the female point of view; note in particular the speeches of lamblichos’ Pythagoras to the citizens of Kroton in S. Italy (9.49; cf. Porph. VP 18-19).

98 See Levick (2002), who notes, however, that women, when involved with philosophy, were rather the students of conventional gender-specific morality than participants in philosophical debates. Cf. Trapp (2007a, 205- 207). Note that the Epicureans are singled out for social egalitarianism of this kind: women, children, slaves could apparently attend philosophical discussions and reside in the Garden, from the founder’s time onwards. The concept of equality is implied in the VA in Apollonios’ similar treatment of powerful and ordinary people (4.41).

99 See van Bremen’s seminal study (1996).

100 Lk 8: 2-3 lists female followers of Jesus. Women have a strong presence in the Apocryphal Acts, where female virginity is a recurrent theme (see summaries in Pervo 1996); see also Haynes (2003, 30-43) on the role of women in the Christian community. But the coercion of women into chastity in Christian discourse must be read – just as their exclusion from virtue in the VA – as a form of misogyny (see e.g. Cameron 1989), despite Paul’s declaration in Gal. 3: 28 (‘there is neither male nor female’); cf. 1 Tim. 2: 9- 15 on restrictions imposed on women.

101 Hengel (1991, 111). A notable difference between Greek and Jewish novelistic narratives lies in the latter’s promotion of extended family ties; see Wills (1995, 232; note his comparison between Charikleia and Aseneth).

102 West (1974); Humphrey (2000, 39-40); cf. Whitmarsh (2012). The date and text of J & A are disputed (references here follow Fink’s text, 2008).

103 See further Humphrey (2000, 89). Joseph’s chastity receives praise too: καὶ ὲστιν ’Ιωσήφ ἀνήρ θεοσεβής καὶ σῶφρων καὶ παρθὲνος… καὶ ἀνἡρ δυνατὸς ὲν σοφὶα καὶ ὲπιστήμη καὶ πνεὑμα θεοῦ ὲστιν ὲπ’ αὑτφ καὶ χἀρις κυρὶου μετ’ αὐτοῦ (J&A 4.7) – a description that would largely fit Philostratos’ Apollonios. The account of Joseph’s shining appearance (he is compared to the sun, 6.2), which causes an intense emotional reaction in Aseneth, combines religious and romantic overtones.

104 See Wills (1995, 53-60).

105 ἐρἂν and its cognates do not have to imply sexual teehngs, as Bowie notes (1994, 198 n. 18; cf. the use of ἐρᾶν as love for Herodes’ rhetorical style in the VS 2.586, with Rothe 1988, 99), but the context here creates romantic connotations. Both ὲραστής απὸ ἀντεραστής belong to the vocabulary of the romantic novels. ὲραστής is used in Platonic-Socratic contexts of ‘admirers’ of wise men; see Dover (2016, 157) and also below.

106 See further Morgan (2007a).

107 Morgan (2007a, 40).

108 His momentary deceitfulness, which propels the novel’s plot, is perhaps allowed by Plato’s definition of what he calls a ‘noble lie’ (R. 415b-c). On Kalasiris’ mendacity, a much-discussed feature of his character, see further Winkler (1982).

109 See further Morgan (2007a, 24-32); he reasonably suspects Demetrios the Cynic to be Chariton’s model, a 1st c. philosopher who is enlisted in the VA as a supporter of Apollonios.

110 See below, ch. 4. Indeed Achilles sometimes uses the term ‘philosophy’ to suggest the opposite of self-restraint (e.g. 5.16.7; Morgan 2007a, 26).

111 M & P (col. II 60-61): … ’Ἔρως [δ’ ὲστ] ιν κὶνημα διανοὶας ὑπρ [κ] ἀλλους γινὸμε [νον]...‘Love rather is a stirring of the mind aroused by beauty.’ On this novel see further Stephens and Winkler (1995, 72-94).

112 On this passage and on eros as a cosmogonic force, see Praet (2009, 288- 291), who further argues that Book 3 of the VA has been structured on the elements of Aphrodite and erōs (ibid., 285-291). On erōs’ divine appeal, cf. the role of Amor in Apu. Met. (the story of Amor and Psyche).

113 See e.g. Zimmerman (2002).

114 See e.g. Cameron (1991, 115-119).

115 See Eyl (2012, 14).

116 On Tatian and his ‘encratite’ attitude (of total sexual renunciation), see further Rhee (2005, 123-124); Gaca (2013, 221-246). He is claimed to have founded the Encratitic sect (Eus. HE 4.29). On encratite ideas, a controversial but persistent trend within Christian thought, see also Hunter (2007, 20-22 and passim).

117 A. Paul. et Thecl. 19. It is perhaps no coincidence that in the opening scene of the work, the heroine does not see Paul, but only hears his words. This prevents carnal desire from forming, while storge does not require visuality; the point has been well argued by Eyl (2012). See also Goldhill (2002) on Christian abhorrence for the erotic gaze, with reference to Clement’s Protreptikos and Tertullian’s De spectaculis. Note the occurrence of storge (and cognates: φιλοστοργὶα, ἂστοργος) also in the love-novel for affection (or the lack of it) in contexts unrelated to erotic desire (Chariton 4.1.3; X. Eph. 5.2.3; Ach. Tat. 1.14.3; 5.5.3; 6.16.3; 7.9.6; Hid. 9.24.8).

118 See e.g. Cooper’s discussion (1996, 46-49). The Acts of Thomas has a similar plot.

119 The Scheintod of Achilles’ Leukippe attracts a peculiar erotic voyeurism (Goldhill 1995, 117). Sexual overtones are present in Christian narratives, for example in descriptions of the female ascetic’s relationship with Christ (Cameron 1989, 200-201; Chew 2003, 217-218 on the use of marital vocabulary in martyr accounts; Rhee 2005, 130-133 on the Apocryphal Acts). See further Lipsett’s study (2011) of Joseph and Aseneth, Acts of Paul and Thekla and the Shepherd of Hernias (an important early Christian testimony of faith that makes use of novelistic eroticism).

120 Cf. Whitmarsh (2012, 239) on the potential of J & A to function ‘comme tableau blanc sur lequel les peuples multiples pouvaient projeter leurs souhaits et leurs anxiétés’.

121 See further Giraudet (2012).

122 Olympias later receives the unwelcome attention of the Thessalonian Pausanias, who murders Philip and is then killed by Alexander (1.24). See Jouanno (2002, 190 n. 452) on the transformation of the homosexual dynamics behind Philip’s murder in historical narratives into an episode of heterosexual love; cf. Nawotka (2017, 86-88).

123 This is not the traditional view of his marital status, as Jouanno notes (2002, 166). But in his De Al. magn. fort. (338d), Plutarch distinguishes between Alexander’s union with Stateira for political reasons, and his marriage of the heart to Roxane.

124 See further Hägg (2012, 130); Karla (2009, 18-19). In a memorable tale, a foolish girl mistakes her defloration for an act of inserting nous in her (G 131); the story goes against every notion of sōphrosynē.

125 See Brenk (2008) for a summary of the literary history of the exempla and for their function in Plutarch. Nikolaidis (2008, 220-222) refers to Plutarch’s concern with negative examples. See mainly Duff (1999, 53-65); also Opsomer (2016, 116-117; 121-122) and more extensively Alexiou (2007 passim).

126 Here only discussed in its sense as sexual desire; I do not consider metaphorical uses, such as the ‘desire for ruling’ (ἔρως ὰρχῆς, attributed to Caesar, Alexander and Cyrus; Ant. 6.3).

127 Beneker (2012, 137-139; 105-113) on sōphrosynē as the foundation of Alexander’s success; see also above, ch. 2.

128 Plu. Amat. 751d; see e.g. Tsouvala (2014). Cf. the root definition of philia by Aristotle in EN as the name of relationships (including the union between man and woman, 1162a) based on mutuality and virtue. A similar use of the term is found in the context of Antipater’s praise of marriage (SVF III 63). See also Trapp (2007a, 150-152).

129 Iamb. VP 32.229-230; see Gemelli Marciano (2014, 146-147).

130 An occurrence of the verb (φιλεῖν) refers to the love of elephants for their young (VA 2.14.1).

131 This verb is also used for Apollonios’ relationship with Dio Chrysostom (5.37.2) and for the prefect Aelianus’ appreciation of Apollonios (7.18.2).

132 On this type of friendship, see Gemelli Marciano (2014, 146-147), who cites the early Pythagorean example of Damon and Phintias (Iamb. VP 32.233- 236; Pythagorean friendships further seem to have had a sectarian character, see ibid. 31.194 and Konstan 1997, 114-115). On the relationship between Apollonios and Damis, see also below, ch. 4.

133 A point also made by Bowie (1994, 190). On the use of erastēs (literary and figurative) in Platonic-Socratic discourse, see Dover (2016, 156-157). See also Bartsch (2005) who refers to the positive role of eros in Plato, and notes the absence of this form of eros from Roman philosophical texts. See also above, ch. 1.

134 Cf. D. L. 7.130, and see Inwood (1997, 59).

135 Cf. Apollonios’ depiction as a father figure to his fellow prisoners, to whom he gives wise instruction (7.40), and note that the philosopher Demetrios’ function as adviser to Titus echoes the role of his father, Vespasian, as an example of virtue to his son (7.31).

136 Apollonios’ young follower, Menippos, expresses his joy over his prospective bride’s ‘love’ (χαρὶεν γἀρ ἂν εῃ τὸ ἀγαπῶσαν γῆμαι, 4.25.3) – but what a bride she proves to be!

137 See Beneker (2012, 31-57), presenting the examples of Brutus and Porcia, as well as Perikles and Aspasia. Cf. the erōs between Sokrates and Alkibiades in the Alkibiades. However, the story of Cato, Martia and Hortensius (Cat. Min.), reminds us of the prime importance of reproduction as a civic duty, which is placed above a couple’s devotion (see e.g. Gloyn 2017, 76-77).

138 See Beneker (2012, 1-3) and previous note. Cf. Konstan (1997, 146) on friendship between the sexes. See also Wiemer (2005, 427; 437).

139 Cf. Konstan (1994, 12-13).

140 Note that the hero himself makes the point (in his apologia, 8.7.12) that he travelled with his character unaffected: ὲπορευὸμην ἐμαυτῷ ὄμοιος – an element of meta-characterisation.

141 Treatise II 376.5.

142 On this, see further Kanavou (2015, with bibliography). The narrative of the sexual encounter between Longos’ hero, Daphnis, and Lykainion does not focus on moral aspects, but instead on the educational function of the experience that prepares the hero for adulthood; see Morgan (2004, 208- 210).

143 On this point, see further ch. 4.

144 A frequent theme in philosophical and ethical writings of this period (e.g. Plutarch’s Morals, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations’); see also Trapp (2007b, 6- 7).

© C.H.Beck, 2018

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