Home

Politiek, Paideia & PythagorismeJaap-Jan Flinterman

Politiek, Paideia & Pythagorisme.




Griekse identiteit, voorstellingen rond  de

verhouding tussen filosofen en alleenheersers

en politieke ideeën in de Vita Apollonii van Philostratus.

Doctoral dissertation University of Nijmegen

(Groningen 1993).



Table of Contents & Summary



The Dutch language version of  Power, Paideia & Pythagoreanism (Amsterdam, Gieben: 1995) was published in 1993 by Styx Publications in Groningen; it was my doctoral dissertation, supervised by Lukas de Blois, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Nijmegen. In the Netherlands, dissertations written in Dutch have to contain a summary in a language accessible to an international readership. Since at the time I did not know whether I would receive a translation grant, I wrote a fifteen-page summary in English (pp. 307-321). The publication, in 1995, of the translation by Peter Mason made the summary redundant as a device to bring my dissertation to the attention of an international readership. However, it may still come in handy for those who think a 240-page monograph on the Life of Apollonius a bit too much of a good thing; and it may also be helpful to people who want to complement a partial reading of the book by perusal of a synopsis. Therefore, I have decided to put it online, even though I must ask the reader for his or her clemency, because it was my first extended exercise in English prose composition. Superfluous to say that things such as references and bibliography are almost completely missing. For those see the book. The summary of the Dutch-language version is preceded by the table of contents of the English version.

Probably the most controversial part of my findings was (and still is) the conclusion that 'Damis' - the disciple of Apollonius whose memoirs Philostratus claims to have had access to - was not a Philostratean invention, but a second- or early third-century pseudepigraphon. This position is in contradiction with an almost complete scholarly consensus that 'Damis' is a literary fiction, a view powerfully argued by Ewen Bowie [in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II 16.2 (Berlin/New York 1978), 1652-1699]. The main arguments I have adduced for my position are listed in the final paragraph of the summary. To the best of my knowledge, only the first of these has been taken notice of, among others by Harry Sidebottom [Classical Review 49 (1999), 34, disagreeing with my conclusion] and by Carlo M. Lucarini [Studi Ellenistici 16 (2005), 333 n. 70]. I would like to suggest that especially the last argument mentioned in the summary deserves more attention than it has received so far. In fact, more than anything else it were the observations underlying this argument which made me question the correctness of the idea that the information for which Philostratus refers to 'Damis' is the product of his own imagination: (i) the Indian episode of the Life of Apollonius displays a conception of the relation between king and sage that is absent from Greek literature (Greek literature on India included) until the early third century CE, the sage being the object of religious worship by his king; (ii) in the early third century this conception emerges almost simultaneously in the Life of Apollonius and in Bardaiṣan's Indica; (iii) Philostratus refers to 'Damis' for the scene exemplifying this conception (III 27); (iv) Bardaiṣan referred for his information on India to an Indian embassy which was on its way to the emperor Elagabalus; (v) later in the third century the conception makes an appearance in Porphyry's Homeric Questions. For people interested in the history of ideas this is an interesting plot, and  it seems to me that the proponents of the Meyer-Bowie-hypothesis should try to offer some kind of solution to it. After all, in the debate on the sources of the Life arguments based on the history of ideas do not necessarily have to yield to arguments based on hypothetical reconstructions of literary technique.

Presenting an up-to-date bibliography on the Life of Apollonius would be quite time-consuming. Suffice it to mention that two volumes of papers, on the Life of Apollonius and on Philostratus respectively, were published in 2009: Kristoffel Demoen, Danny Praet (eds), ΘΕΙΟΣ ΣΟΦΙΣΤΗΣ. Essays on Flavius Philostratus' Vita Apollonii (Leiden: Brill 2009); Ewen Bowie, Jas Elsner (eds), Philostratus (Cambridge: Cambrid­ge University Press 2009). My contribution to the former volume can be found here. One of the editors of ΘΕΙΟΣ ΣΟΦΙΣΤΗΣ, Kristoffel Demoen, also supervised a fascinating dissertation on the Life of Apollonius: Wannes Gyselinck, Talis oratio, qualis vita. Een tekstpragmatisch onderzoek naar de poëtica van Flavius Philostratus' Vita Apollonii, Universiteit Gent 2008. You can find it here (full text). In order to read it, you'll have to learn Dutch, but I guarantee you that it's worth the effort! A lot of good information on Apollonius of Tyana can be found on the internet, thanks to Jona Lendering, who has put online Conybeare's 1912 Loeb translation of Philostratus' Life of Apollonius as well as articles on both the author and the main character.

Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION [1]

CHAPTER 1. THE WRITER [5]

The Philostrati and their literary production [5]
The problems [5]; The corpus [5]; Philostratus I [6]; Philostratus of Lem­nos (III) [10]; Philostratus IV [11]; W. Schmid's hypothesis [11]; K. Mün­scher's hypothesis [11]; The views of F. Solmsen and G. Anderson [12]; The letters [12]; Con­clusions [13]
 
Biographical information [15]
Youth and education [15]; Hoplite general in Athens [16]; The Roman years [19]; Julia Domna [22]; Travelling with the Severan court [24]; The date of the VA [25]; Philo­stratus after Julia Domna's death [26]; The date of the VS [26]; Summary [27]
 
Paideia and political power: the mentality of a sophist [29]
Philostratus' cultural ideal [29]; The beginning of the Second Sophistic in Philostratus' view [32]; Sophists in public functions [34]; Philostratus' mentality: sophistic, social status and political activities [35]; Philostratus' mentality: sophists and emperors [38]; Culture and politics: transgressing the dividing line [45]; The Classical themes of historical meletai: the self-awareness of the Greek elites and their attitude towards Rome [48]; Greek identity between politics and culture [50]

CHAPTER 2. THE MAIN CHARACTER [52]
 
Introduction: Apollonius as Proteus [52]

The Vita Apollonii: a survey of the contents [54]
 
Philostratus' Apollonius [60]
The apologetic programme of the VA [60]; The ontological status of the main character [62]; Philostratus' attitude towards magic [64]; Philostratus' attitude towards his hero [65]
 
The sources of the Vita Apollonii [67]
Local traditions [67]; Maximus of Aegae [68]; Moeragenes [69]; Apolloni­us' letters [70]; The contacts of the main character with Musonius Rufus, Demetrius and Scopelian [74]; Other writings by Apollonius [76]; The hypothetical biography of Pythagoras by Apollo­nius [77] ; 'Damis' [79]; Conclusions [88]
 
CHAPTER 3. GREEK SELF-AWARENESS IN THE VITA APOLLONII [89]
 
Introduction [89]
 
Greek identity [90]
The contents of Greek identity [90]; Admonitions to maintain Greek identity [92]; Wisdom and the love of freedom [98]; References to the Classical past [99]
 
The omnipresence of Greek civilisation [101]
The Hellenizing view of India [101]; Criticisms of Greek culture by non-Greeks [103]
 
Problems of civic life [107]
The stasis typology of the author of the VA [107]; Objections to public entertainment [107]; Objections to unwarranted pride in urban appearances [108]; Intervening in situations of acute conflict: baths and bread [109]; Disquisitions on civic life [112]
 
Greek self-awareness and Roman rule [117]
The VA on Roman rule [117]; Acceptance and appreciation of Roman rule, no identifica­tion with Rome [118]; Criticisms of the exercise of Roman rule at the provincial level [120]; The selection of governors [122]; Nero's 'liberation of Greece' [124]
 
CHAPTER 4. PHILOSOPHERS AND RULERS IN THE  VITA APOLLO­NII [128]
 
Introduction [128]
 
Roman emperors in the Vita Apollonii [130]
Nero [130]; The end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the year of the three emperors [134]; The establishment of the Flavian dynasty: Vespasian in Alexan­dria [136]; Titus in Tarsus [145]; The Domitian episode [147]; Conclu­sions [157]
 
Philosopher and ruler: two complementary roles [162]
Philosopher and ruler in the VA [162]; The conception of the philosopher as an opponent of the tyrant: a historical sketch [165]; The conception of the philosopher as an opponent of the tyrant in the Apollonius tradition and in the VA [169]; The conception of the philosopher as a counsellor of the good monarch: a historical sketch [171]; The origin of the conception of the religious veneration of the sage by the king [176]; Porphyry on Pythagorean views of the relation between the sage and the king [181]; The ontological status of the king in Greek political thought of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods [182]; The main character of the VA as a prophet of changes on the throne and as a 'kingmaker' -- is there a connection with the religious veneration of the sage by the king? [189]; The conception of the philosopher as a counsellor of the good monarch in the Apollonius tradition and in the VA [190]; Conclusions [193]
 
Apollonius' recommendations [194]
The constitutional debate before Vespasian (VA V 33-35) [194]; The practical value of a philosopher's advice for a monarch [205]; Apollonius' speech on the exercise of monarchic power (VA V 36) [208]
 
The topicality of Apollonius' recommendations [217]
J. Göttsching's interpretation: advice to Severus Alexander [217]; A. Calderi­ni: an alternative dating [218]; F.W. Lenz: a 'Fürstenspiegel' [219]; Topical allusions in the VA [220]; E.M. Schtajerman's interpretation: Die Krise der Sklaven­halter­ord­nung [221]; L. de Blois: The third-century crisis and the Greek elite in the Roman empire [224]; Conclusion: Philo­stratus' selective perception of contempor­ary phenomena in connection with his mentality -- the hero of the VA and the Greek self-awareness of the author [227]

CONCLUSIONS [231]

ABBREVIATIONS [241]

EDITIONS OF ANCIENT AUTHORS [242]

BIBLIOGRAPHY [244]

INDEX OF SOURCES [255]

INDEX OF PERSONS [270]


Summary

The subject of this study, as presented in the Introduction, is the early-third-century author Philostratus' portrayal, in his Life of Apollonius, of the first-century miracle worker and Pythagorean sage from Tyana as a 'philosopher involved in politics', who intervened in civic conflicts in the cities of the eastern half of the Roman empire, advising their citizens how to live together, and established contacts with emperors and kings. My aim has been to analyze the elements which comprised this aspect of Philostratus' image of the Tyanean sage, and the main question I have asked is to what extent these elements were actually present in pre-Philostratean traditions on Apollonius. To prevent any misunderstanding at this point, I should stress that I am not interested in the historical credibility of Philostratus' account of Apollonius' vicissitudes. The reliability of the references of the author to a wide range of sources on the first-century Pythagorean is, in contrast, an issue one can hardly evade. Moreover, it is an issue which a thorough investigation of Philostratus' account of Apollonius' contacts with cities, and especially monarchs, could still serve to clarify further, despite decades of scholarly debate and the loss of the greater part of the pre-Philostratean traditions on Apollonius. I have tried to make a reasonable case for the reliability of Philostratus' claims concerning the sources he used, and to demonstrate how he may have elaborated elements taken from these sources in his portrayal of Apollonius as an adviser of cities, a counsellor of good monarchs, and an opponent of tyrants. In order to do so, it was necessary to gain an understanding of the author's outlook as well as of the character and development of second-century traditions on Apollonius. The insights I was able to acquire on these subjects are discussed in the first two chapters, The writer and The main character. The third and fourth chapters, Greek Self-awareness and Philosophers and Rulers, focus on the conduct of Philostratus' hero towards his fellow Greeks and his contacts with monarchs.

The first section of the first chapter, The Philostrati and their literary production, reviews the problems around the genealogical relations between different authors of the same name and the distribution of the surviving Philostratean corpus among them. G.W. Bowersock's arguments for the credibility of the Suda's information on the sophistic status and the literary output of the father of the author who wrote the Life of Apollonius and the Lives of the Sophists are questionable. So far, W. Schmid has offered the most viable solution to the problem of the genealogical relations between the author of the Life of Apollonius and the Lives of the Sophists (referred to as Philostratus II in this paragraph), the Lemnian Philostratus mentioned in the Lives of the Sophists, and the author of the second Imagines. According to Schmid, the Lemnian Philostratus was the son of a cousin of Philostratus II, whereas the author of the second Imagines was born from the marriage between the Lemnian and a daughter of Philostratus II. A corollary to this solution was Schmid's belief that from the surviving Philostratean corpus only the letter on epistolary style (Dial. 1) and the second Imagines were not by Philostratus II. The German scholar tried to prove his case by an exhaustive demonstration of the linguistic and stylistic uniformity of the works he ascribed to Philostratus II. F. Solmsen, though sceptical of the value of Schmid's argumentation, reached the same conclusion on the authorship of the different parts of the corpus. Much like G. Anderson, I prefer Schmid and Solmsen's solution to K. Münscher's opinion as a hypothesis. Especially as far as the Nero and the Gymnasticus are concerned, there seems to be little room for doubt about the authorship of Philostratus II.

The second section of the first chapter, Biographical Information, explores the literary and epigraphic evidence in order to draw a sketch of the life of Philostratus II (referred to simply as Philostratus in the remainder of this summary). An Athenian and Roman citizen born around 170, presumably on Lemnos, Flavius Philostratus received rhetorical instruction from several sophists. The only one he explicitly calls his teacher is Proclus of Naucratis; other sophists mentioned as his teachers in scholarly literature are insufficiently documented. A period of training was followed by several years of sophistic activity in Athens. Probably he and the Lucius Flavius Philostratus who served as a member of the boulē and hoplite general in the first decade of the third century are one and the same; the tenure of these functions can tentatively be dated to the years 200/201-205/6. During the following decades, several members of the family held high civic offices in Athens, Erythrae, and on Lemnos. In the next generation the family produced members of the senatorial order. Around 205, Philostratus moved to Rome, where he was introduced into the Severan court and became a member of Julia Domna's circle. A common opinion about the composition of this circle, which goes back to Münscher, is ill-founded: instead of interpreting the geōmetrai mentioned in VS 622 as astrologers, we should understand Philostratus' characterization of Julia's circle as referring to sophists and to philosophers of Platonic or Pythagorean beliefs. In the period preceding Julia's death in 217 Philostratus presumably stayed at the court, following the imperial family in its wanderings. In the years following, he disappears, but turns up again in the 320's or 330's, when he lived in Athens and moved in prominent cultural and political circles. During these years he must have been working on the Lives of the sophists. As has been convincingly demonstrated by I. Avotins, the Lives were dedicated to Gordian senior during his proconsulate of Africa in 237/8. The Life of Apollonius, commissioned by Julia Domna, was completed after the empress' death, while the reference in VS 570 gives 238 as a terminus ante quem.

The third section of the first chapter, Paideia and Political Power: The Mentality of a sophist, deals with Philostratus' cultural ideal and offers a survey of statements in the Lives of the Sophists on the relationship between sophistic achievement, social status, and political careers. The identification of the author with the virtuosos orators whose accomplishments he describes, and, therefore, the central importance of the Lives of the Sophists as a source for Philostratus' outlook, have to be upheld against A. Brancacci’s contention that Philostratus did not want to be confused with these declaimers and preferred the 'philosopher-sophist' as a cultural model.
            We can identify two possibly significant reasons to explain why Philostratus, even though tracing back the origins of the Second Sophistic to the fourth century BCE, actually pinpointed the start of this movement to Nicetes of Smyrna in the second half of the first century CE. In the first place, Nicetes taught Scopelian, whose pupil Herodes Atticus is a pivotal figure in the Lives, as was duly stressed by Anderson. In the second place, Nicetes may have been one of the first sophists whose combination of sophistic achievements and high social status served to distinguish him to Philostratus as both recognizable as well as exemplary. The emergence of the title 'sophist' in honorary and funeral inscriptions in the second half of the first century CE probably indicates, as was suggested by K. Goudriaan, that from this period the practice of sophistic declamation became a much more prestigious activity among members of the Greek elite than it had been before.
            The discussion by E.L. Bowie of the connection (or the lack of connection) between the professional merits of sophists and their political careers forms the starting point for an analysis of the statements in the Lives of the Sophists on the extent to which status depends on political participation, and on the relationship between sophistic and other forms of oratory. The impression the Lives give us is that, in the author's view, a lack of involvement in local politics does not detract from a sophist's reputation. Public and private benefactions, on the other hand, were essential requirements according to Philostratus' standards. His attitude towards charging pupils illustrates this view. Although he defends the practice of demanding pay for rhetorical instruction as a method of helping pupils show they have the right priorities, he felt that teachers should take account of their pupils' financial means. The same standards apply to the practice of demanding pay for forensic oratory. This branch of oratory is distinctly distinguished from sophistic oratory: as a cultural phenomenon sophistic declamation has an autonomous significance, independent of the use of oratory in political or judicial contexts. These findings are corroborated by an analysis of the anecdotes in the Lives on the contacts between sophists and emperors. As long as a sophist is not declaiming, his position vis-à-vis an emperor does not differ from that of other subjects. The repeated warnings against provoking tyrants are notable: in Philostratus' opinion, philosophical frankness is not a sophist's virtue. Roles and expectations change, however, as soon as a sophist starts declaiming: the audience-room becomes an auditorium, the ruler an admiring listener, showing his respect for the sophist as a representative of Greek culture. Philostratus expects emperors to translate their appreciation into tangible favours and honours. Of these honours and favours, appointments to the posts of advocatus fisci and ab epistulis graecis are, in Philostratus' opinion, based on imperial recognition of oratorical and literary merit. He does, however, clearly distinguish the qualities needed for these posts from the talent for declaiming which is the main qualification of a sophist. As far as appointments of sophists to other equestrian and to senatorial posts are concerned, Philostratus does not suggest any connection between these appointments and the sophistic status of the appointees. Occasionally, he even draws attention to disparaging comments of his heroes on the value of holding equestrian and senatorial posts as compared to sophistic achievements. Imperial rewards of these achievements, e.g. material gifts, purely ceremonial honours and appointments to oratorical chairs, on the other hand, are looked upon as essential to a sophist's prestige. The bestowal of such rewards, however, is in his opinion not a manifestation of imperial recognition of the possible usefulness of a sophist's abilities but of artistic merit.
                Although in Philostratus' view sophistic oratory as an art form has an autonomous position vis-à-vis political power, in reality the borderline between political power and literary culture was vague. Firstly, the struggle for prestige connected with artistic achievements could interfere with political conflicts. Nevertheless, the standard in such cases seems to have been that imperial rewards were an acknowledgment of artistic merit. Secondly, border traffic between sophistic and deliberative oratory could result in politically undesirable utterances, given that the glorification of Hellenic greatness in the past was characteristic of sophistic declamation. Plutarch's recommended caution in using historical examples is adopted by Dio Chrysostom and Aelius Aristides in their political orations as well as by Philostratus himself when drawing lessons from the past. This points to the existence of at least some tension between the constant evocation of past Hellenic greatness and the acceptance of contemporary reality. It would be a mistake, however, to interpret the classical themes of sophistic oratory as a manifestation of dissatisfaction with Roman rule. The attempt by Bowie to connect the archaizing tendencies in Greek imperial culture to the political insignificance of Greek urban aristocracies is only tenable in so far as it leaves room for the recognition of the fact that it was the constant evocation of the glories of the past more than anything else which allowed members of these aristocracies to accept and cooperate with Roman rule, and still preserve their identity and self-respect. Philostratus' usage of the ethnic label Hellēnes for the great sophists and their pupils illustrates the importance of sophistic oratory as a method of expressing Greek identity. Literary culture and especially sophistic oratory gave members of Greek aristocracies an opportunity to attain prestige of equal value to the prestige attached to a political career, in a field which was more or less autonomous vis-à-vis political reality.

The first and second sections of the second chapter give a short introduction to the subject-matter covered and a survey of the contents of the Life of Apollonius. [Jona Lendering has put online this section in the translation by Peter Mason]. The third section, Philostratus' Apollonius, deals with the backgrounds to the apologetic portrayal of the Tyanean sage in the Life. The rejection of the opinion that Apollonius was a magician, and the suggestion that the Tyanean sage had some extraordinary connection with divinity c.q. a divine nature, fall in line with the common defence against accusations of magic that miracle workers were 'divine men'. Although Apollonius' divinity is strongly suggested in the Life, the author avoids unequivocal statements on this issue. Probably the same ambiguity was characteristic of pre-Philostratean traditions on the Tyanean sage, just as it was of traditions on the superhuman status of Pythagoras. The Pythagorean doctrine of a third ontological category, between human and divine, was a useful as a device for legitimizing the activities of charismatic sages and miracle workers in the first centuries CE. Philostratus himself, however, shows little affinity with these apologetics. The Lives of the Sophists (523 and 590) as well as the personal views expressed in the Life of Apollonius (VII 39) display a combination of his contempt and aversion for everything reeking of magic. He even goes as far as to avow a total disbelief in the effectiveness of magical practices. This attitude fits in poorly with the standard apologetics of miracle workers as 'divine men' and lends credibility to the notion that the Tyanean sage fascinated him as an object of literary treatment rather than as a figure-head for Pythagorean propaganda.

The fourth section of the second chapter, The sources, reviews the scholarly controversy on the reliability of Philostratus' claims concerning the sources he used, as well as stating my own position on some of the issues involved. Local traditions, the writings of Maximus of Aegae and Moeragenes, letters and other writings ascribed to Apollonius, and the notorious memoirs of Damis are dealt with successively. There is no disagreement on the plausibility of Philostratus using local traditions about Apollonius. Neither is the existence of Maximus' work on Apollonius’ stay in Aegae doubted in recent publications. Opinions differ, however, on the character of Moeragenes' work, which is disqualified as a source by Philostratus and mentioned by Origen (Cels. VI 41). While Bowie and D.H. Raynor explain Philostratus' dislike of Moeragenes from the latter's view of Apollonius as someone who combined the roles of magos and philosopher, and deny Moeragenes' alleged hostility towards the Pythagorean, Anderson adheres to the widely held opinion that Philostratus' predecessor was a hostile source. However, Anderson's reading of Cels. VI 41 will not do. According to Origen, Moeragenes did not claim that philosophers eventually rejected Apollonius, as Anderson contends, but that they ended up acknowledging the reality of his magical powers. Moreover, the view of Apollonius as a philosopher and a magos corresponds to the self-consciousness of the writer of Epp. Apoll. 16 and 17. Bowie and Raynor's interpretation would, therefore, seem preferable.            
                       Epp. Apoll. 16 and 17 belong to those independently transmitted letters ascribed to Apollonius which are not quoted by Philostratus. Based on the assumption that this category of the letters is, by and large, representative of a pre-Philostratean tradition (unlike the independently transmitted letters fully quoted by Philostratus, which were, as has been pointed out by R.J. Penella, extracted from the Life), Philostratus' portrayal of the Tyanean as a Pythagorean philosopher, seen by his contemporaries as a superhuman being, is compared with the image emerging from these letters. Clearly, the epistolographer considers himself a Pythagorean philosopher, and alludes to human as well as divine recognition of his divine nature. The qualified acceptance of the title magos by the author of Epp. Apoll. 16 and 17, on the other hand, differs from the attitude of Philostratus' hero. It corresponds, however, not only to the most plausible view of the character of Moeragenes' work, but also to the positive interpretation of the title magos in magical papyri, and to the classification of magic with philosophy as divine gifts in the Corpus Hermeticum. Apparently, simple rejection of the title magos in combination with a claim to superhuman status was not the only way of reacting to an accusation of magic.
                   The representation in the Life of Apollonius' contacts with Euphrates of Tyrus and Dio of Prusa may differ somewhat from pre-Philostratean tradition on the Tyanean. Independently transmitted letters which are not quoted but only referred to in the Life indicate, however, that such contacts were part of this tradition. Probably the same is true of contacts with Musonius Rufus and Scopelian. The presence of contacts with the Cynic philosopher Demetrius in pre-Philostratean tradition on Apollonius, on the other hand, can not be established by independently transmitted letters which are not quoted in the Life.
                 Of the other writings ascribed to Apollonius, and possibly used as a source by Philostratus, the 'Life of Pythagoras' mentioned in the Suda is the most problematic case. The inference that Philostratus embellished his portrait of Apollonius with elements taken from the latter's 'Life of Pythagoras', based on similarities between the Life of Apollonius and Iamblichus' On the Pythagorean Life (e.g. VA VIII 5 and 6 and VP 217), though common procedure, is bad method. It neglects the more plausible possibility that the Tyanean sage had already in pre-Philostratean tradition acquired some features of his illustrious predecessor.
                The controversy on the credibility of Philostratus' contention that he had the memoirs of a disciple of Apollonius, Damis, at his disposal is the pièce de résistance of scholarly debate on the sources of the Life. Although the case against Philostratus having used authentic memoirs of a companion of the Tyanean seems strong, the possibility that he drew on a pseudepigraphic source is less easy to rule out. The existence of this source, however, can not be established by external evidence, pace Anderson. Neither can Anderson's distinction between references to 'Damis' and to material introduced by such expressions as 'they say' stand the test of criticism: Philostratus equates both sources by introducing material previously ascribed to 'Damis' with the formula 'they say' (VA II 17 and III 6). References to Damis are concentrated in the travel stories and in the episode of the confrontation between Apollonius and Domitian. The material introduced by these references reasonably corresponds to Philostratus' description of the contents of Apollonius' disciple's memoirs (VA I 3). Even if the author of the Life drew on Damis, however, he combined the material taken from this source with data from other sources and with information from other traditions on Apollonius. Moreover, he probably allowed himself a wide licence to blow up meagre information into complete episodes. Nevertheless, the arguments adduced by J. Miller, Ed. Meyer, and Bowie are hardly decisive against Philostratus having used a text passed of as the memoirs of a companion to Apollonius. Implausibility of information is, as was argued by J. Mesk, not an argument against the existence of a pseudepigraphic source, and elaboration should not be mistaken for outright fiction. Bowie's suggestion that the introduction of Damis' memoirs is a 'novelistic topos' does not prove his case, and Meyer's contention that Philostratus' invented 'Damis' to substantiate his own view of Apollonius founders on the fact that the author refers to 'Damis' for information he feels uncomfortable about. Meyer's argument can be inverted: if the author's attitude towards magic can be characterized as a combination of contempt and aversion, it is hardly conceivable that he would have ascribed to an invented source information which causes such uneasiness as to compel him to dissociate himself from his own invention (VA III 41; VII 39). Assuming that Philostratus drew on a pseudepigraphic source, can we reconstruct something of its view of Apollonius? An attractive suggestion was made by Reitzenstein: the hypothetical 'Damis' emphasized the superiority of Pythagorean wisdom vis-à-vis Cynicism. This tendency is found in the travel stories as well as in the Domitian episode, and its is from 'Damis' that Demetrius may have found his way into the Life of Apollonius. The antithesis of Pythagoreanism and Cynicism fits into the probable rivalry between representatives of both schools in the second century CE, while the denial of the magical character of Apollonius' miracles may also have been present in 'Damis' (VA VII 38). The conclusion is that Philostratus' claim should be taken seriously: he may very well have had a pseudepigraphic text of Pythagorean character at his disposal, which had been passed off as the memoirs of a disciple of Apollonius and combined apologetics with legends on the Tyanean sage. While this conclusion does not alter the appropriateness of the characterization of the Life as a vie romancée, it does draw our attention to the possibility that the information in the Life on the hero's contacts with cities, and especially monarchs, had some basis in pre-Philostratean tradition on the Tyanean sage.

The first section of the third chapter is a short introduction of the subject-matter covered. The second section, Greek Identity, gives a survey and analysis of the passages of the Life concerning this topic. Although pure Greek descent is valued by Philostratus, Greek identity in the Life is not defined by racial purity, but by acquirable qualities such as wisdom, paideia, and the love of freedom. A similar non-racial interpretation of Greek identity can be found in letters ascribed to Apollonius that are not fully quoted in the Life, especially Epp. Apoll. 71. While this view makes it possible for foreigners to acquire a Greek identity, it can be used at the same time to reject claims to this identity on the part of persons who fall short of certain moral and/or cultural standards, despite Greek extraction. This second possibility is actualized in the exhortations of Philostratus’ hero towards Greek cities as well as in letters ascribed to Apollonius. Although some of the admonitions made by Philostratus' hero may have been borrowed by the author from other philosophers, the possibility that such admonitions, e.g. criticism of gladiatorial games held in the Dionysus theatre in Athens, were ascribed to Apollonius in pre-Philostratean tradition cannot be ruled out. Obvious these were philosophers' topoi, which circulated under the name of several philosophers. In such cases, Philostratus may have restricted himself to amplification and literary embellishment.
                Nevertheless, there is a subtle, but significant difference between the Apollonius of the Letters and Philostratus' hero: the ultimate consequence of falling short of certain standards, i.e. loss of Greek identity, is less pronounced in the Life than it is in the Letters. This is at least partly due to the fact that Philostratus' own view of Greek identity was different from the one found in the letters ascribed to Apollonius. While for Philostratus paideia, familiarity with the Greek literary tradition, seems to have been the main criterion for Greek identity, the epistolographer emphasizes moral standards and a Greek way of life. Philostratus' way of dealing with the epistolographer's exhortations for preservation of Greek identity betrays the limitations of his own view. His interpretation of the attack in Epp. Apoll. 71 on Ionian Greeks adopting Roman names as criticism of an offence against linguistic purity is characteristic: the paraphrase in the Life is a striking misrepresentation of the letter's intent, which is that adopting a Roman name is tantamount to giving up Greek identity. The author's concerns can also be seen in an anecdote (obviously his own invention) about a young Arcadian whose father has sent him to Rome to study law instead of giving him a decent Greek education (VII 42).
                The carefree identification in the Life of wisdom and love of freedom with Greek identity also betrays the author's attitude. The same is true of the numerous allusions to the Classical past. The proclamation of attachment to personal and political freedom as a typically Greek virtue can hardly be reconciled with the philosophical concept of freedom as expressed in Epp. Apoll. 28.

The third section of the third chapter, The Omnipresence of Greek civilization, deals with the Hellenizing image of India as well as with foreign criticism of Greek idiosyncrasies in the Life. The Hellenizing image of India operates as a means to neutralize the tension between two tendencies in the Life: idealization of Indian wisdom and Greek self-respect. 'Damis' is frequently referred to in connection with this Hellenizing image, which presumably had a similar function in Philostratus' pseudepigraphic source as it has in the Life. Otherwise, some details in the description of India in the Life speak for autopsy, as was observed by the excavator of  Taxila, J. Marshall. Behind 'Damis', there may be eyewitness reports on India in the first century CE. Indian and Ethiopian criticisms of Greek peculiarities, on the other hand, without exception fit in with Philostratus' own sphere of interest.

The fourth section of the third chapter, Problems in Civic Life, discusses the interventions of Philostratus' hero in conflicts in cities in the eastern half of the Roman empire and his advice to their citizens how to live together. The author offers a stasis typology by making a distinction between disorder resulting from public entertainment on the one hand, and disturbances caused by famine on the other (VA I 15). Conflicts between members of the cities' elite are implicitly stated to be another source of trouble (VA IV 8), and a lack of enthusiasm for shouldering the burdens of civic life is also hinted at (VA IV 32). Philostratus' picture of his hero's interventions and advice fits in with what we know about the problems facing the Greek world of the first centuries CE. A striking case in point is the pattern in riots, as described in the Life (I 15f.), which fully corresponds to the priorities expressed by the inhabitants of a village in the Hermus valley (TAM V 611): bread and baths. We must leave room for the possibility that the diatribes of Philostratus' Apollonius against public entertainment and unwarranted civic pride in outward appearances were ascribed to Apollonius in pre-Philostratean tradition, despite the similarities with utterances ascribed to other early imperial philosophers. Again, such exhortations may have circulated under the name of several philosophers. Although some scenes may have been invented by Philostratus, the picture of Apollonius as fighting stasis and bringing about homonoia is not a product of Philostratus' imagination, as is demonstrated by the letters to the Sardians. There is no indication that, in portraying Apollonius as a civic conciliator, he stressed specifically contemporary problems in city life: the problems as described in the Life are characteristic of the early imperial period in general. One can, however, detect in these descriptions, the author's awareness of the existence of such problems as well as well as his awareness of the importance of the proper functioning of local government to Roman rule.

The fifth section of the third chapter, Greek Self-awareness and Roman rule, discusses the relationship between these two elements in the Life. While criticism of the exercise of Roman rule by governors is frequent, Roman rule in itself is spoken of with appreciation as a stronghold of peace, law and order. No doubt these favourable comments reflect the author's opinion. At the same time, it must be said that his appreciation of Roman rule is rather limited and does not result in complete identification with Rome. Admittedly, Philostratus has his characters refer to the inhabitants of the Empire as 'us', but only when they are confronted with hostile barbarians or rebellious Jews; Romans as such are invariably 'the others'. The combination of acceptance and appreciation of Roman rule with occasional criticism of governors is characteristic of Greek authors of the early imperial period, e.g. Plutarch and Dio of Prusa, and there is no reason why we should expect a different attitude from the author of the Life. Appreciation of Roman rule can also be found in the letters ascribed to Apollonius. The epistolographer should, in spite of his criticisms of Roman officials, not be considered an 'enemy of the Roman order'. In this respect, Philostratus' representation of his hero's attitude corresponds to the epistolographic tradition to which, however, he does not refer in this context. In some cases he may have used local traditions, e.g. for the incident described in VA VI 38, where the governor of Syria is held responsible for an outbreak of stasis in Antiochia.
                    Philostratus has Apollonius advise Vespasian to send speakers of Greek as proconsuls to Greek provinces, and speakers of Latin to provinces with Latin-speaking populations (VA V 36). Although the term 'speakers of Greek' (hellēnizontes) in itself does not exclude most senators from the western half of the empire, the contrast with 'speakers of Latin' indicates that we should interpret the hellēnizontes as native speakers. This piece of advice, for which Philostratus himself is undoubtedly responsible, may very well reflect some discontent among members of the Greek aristocracies with proconsular appointments under the Severan emperors. As has been pointed out by P.M.M. Leunissen, appointments in the years 180-235 show, as compared to the preceding period, a diminished tendency to take into account the geographic extraction of the appointees.
            The author of the Life combines a very negative presentation of Nero with a positive assessment of the emperor’s 'liberation of Hellas'. Probably, the letters condemning Vespasian's annulment of Greek freedom (VA V 41 = Epp. Apoll. 42f-h) are Philostratean inventions, as is indicated by their characteristically sophistic evocation of the Classical past, i.e. the Persian wars, and by their non-philosophical conception of freedom. Philostratus shares his enthusiasm for Nero's gift with Plutarch and Pausanias. These authors, who fully accepted Roman rule, interpreted the 'liberation of Hellas’ as a recognition of the special position of the Greeks among Rome’s subjects.

The first section of the fourth chapter gives a short introduction to the subject-matter covered. The second section, Roman emperors, systematically compares the characterization of first-century emperors and the information on their reigns in the Life with historiographical and biographical writings on the emperors in question. In addition, the chapter examines the extent to which Philostratus claims to derive his information on Apollonius' contacts with these emperors from sources on the Tyanean sage.
                    Nero's portrayal in the Life as well as in the Nero (probably by the same author) is dominated by three elements: the emperor's attempt to dig a canal through the Corinthian Isthmus, his performance as an artist, and the murder of Agrippina. The image of the emperor as a citharoedus and a matricide closely fits in with the negative portrayal in the historiographical and biographical literature and with the judgment given by such authors as Plutarch and Dio of Prusa. The attempt to cut the Isthmus, on the other hand, seems to have struck the right cord with Philostratus, who also shows approval for Nero in the Lives of the Sophists (VS 512). Probably, the sophist was not totally indifferent to the emperor’s philhellenism. Philostratus' account of Apollonius' vicissitudes during Nero's reign lacks chronological coherence. The most natural explanation for this lack of coherence is that the author used information from various sources. References to traditions on Apollonius in this context are restricted to the correspondence with Musonius (VA IV 46) and to 'Damis' in connection with a conversation about Nero's Greek tour (VA V 7). The scarcity of such references gives rise to the suspicion that it was a lack of evidence on Apollonius' adventures during Nero's reign which compelled Philostratus to use information from other sources, e.g. legends on Musonius and Demetrius. Undoubtedly, he also drew on historiographical and biographical literature about Nero. The same is true of the account of Apollonius' vicissitudes during Nero's fall and the following months. He refers to 'Damis', however, for his hero's alleged involvement in the preparations of Vindex' revolt (VA V 10) and for his predictions on the fate of Galba, Otho and Vitellius (VA V 11-13).
                        In spite of a minor chronological problem and a few slips, the narrative of Apollonius' alleged meeting with Vespasian and two fellow philosophers in Alexandria in December 69 has an authentic flavour, due to numerous correspondences to the historiographical and biographical literature on the establishment of the Flavian dynasty. Again, however, references to sources on Apollonius are scarce. The only 'evidence' for the meeting with Euphrates and Dio is Philostratus' reference to letters ascribed to Apollonius, none of which mention any such meeting (VA V 38f.), and there is a complete lack of any references in connection with the meeting with the emperor. Probably the whole episode was made up on the basis of letters attesting the Tyanean's contacts with Euphrates and Dio and, possibly, a mention by 'Damis' of a visit to Alexandria (VA V 26). Lavish utilization of historiography and imperial biography must be taken for granted.
                       The meeting between Philostratus' hero and Titus at Tarsus after the fall of Jerusalem is dominated by a central theme of Flavian propaganda, which also influenced historiographical and biographical literature on the establishment of the dynasty, i.e. the harmonious relationship between Vespasian and Titus. Again, utilization of imperial biography and historiography by Philostratus seems plausible. The author refers to 'Damis' to support the interpretation of a prediction by Apollonius of the way the emperor’s son will die (VA VI 32). He also quotes several letters, which may be his own inventions, however. Possibly, the whole episode, including the indirect participation of the Cynic Demetrius, was made up on the basis of a mention in 'Damis' of Apollonius' prophecy.
                       The dramatic climax of the Life is the protagonist's confrontation with Domitian. The emperor's portrayal and the description of events during his reign in the Life have much in common with the biographical and historiographical literature on the last Flavian ruler and with the writings of Pliny and Tacitus. The account of Apollonius' attempt to instigate a senatorial conspiracy against the tyrant, on the other hand, is hard to reconcile with what we know about the political position and vicissitudes of his alleged fellow conspirator Nerva during Domitian's last years. Nevertheless, there are strong indications that in pre-Philostratean traditions on Apollonius the Tyanean was indeed associated with Domitian. Apollonius' vision, in Ephesus in the year 96, of the emperor's death (VA VIII 26) is also mentioned by Cassius Dio; probably the historiographer independently used the same local tradition as the author of the Life. Moreover, Apollonius refers to a letter falsely ascribed to Apollonius which gave an unflattering impression of the philosopher’s conduct vis-à-vis the tyrant (VA VII 35). In addition to these indications which imply a connection between the emperor and Apollonius in pre-Philostratean tradition, the collection of letters ascribed to Apollonius contains two letters to Domitian which can hardly be reconciled with Philostratus' presentation of the relationship between both men (Epp. Apoll. 20f.). 'Damis' is referred to by the author of the Life in connection with his account of Apollonius' captivity and trial. The possible reliability of these references does not alter the probability that Philostratus used historiography and imperial biography when elaborating material taken from 'Damis'.
                        Conclusions on the credibility of Philostratus' claims concerning the sources available to him on the Tyanean, should not be based on the extent to which information in the Life resembles data from historiography and imperial biography. After all, most scholars agree on the plausibility of Philostratus having used such sources for his account of Apollonius' contacts with emperors. The question is whether, in using historiography and imperial biography, he invented contacts between the Tyanean and emperors which were not somehow hinted at in the sources available to him on Apollonius, or whether he amplified material taking from existing traditions on his hero (possibly very meagre) into complete episodes. It is at this point that the problems concerning 'Damis' reappear. Explicit references to 'Damis' in episodes concerning Apollonius' contacts with and comments on emperors are rare: they only relate to a conversation on Nero's Greek tour, a prophecy of the short duration of the reigns of Galba, Otho and Vitellius, the interpretation of a prediction of Titus' death, Apollonius' captivity and trial during the reign of Domitian, and the delivery of a letter to Nerva. While this leaves plenty of room for Philostratean invention, one can hardly maintain that a text passed off as the memoirs of a disciple of Apollonius cannot have attributed to him utterances on Nero, predictions of imperial successions, and a martyrdom under Domitian. On the other hand, neither does the factual information in the Life ascribed to 'Damis' provide any positive evidence to support the existence of such a pseudepigraphic text. Confronted with this deadlock, we turn to the conceptions of the relationship between philosopher and ruler behind Philostratus' romanticized biography.

The third section of the fourth chapter, Philosopher and Monarch: Two Complementary Roles, disentangles these conceptions and places them in an ideological-historical setting. The account of Apollonius' contacts with monarchs in the Life is dominated by the conceptions of the philosopher as a fearless opponent of tyrants and as a councillor to good rulers. Tyrants are enemies of philosophy, while good monarchs show themselves willing to listen to the advice of philosophers, an attitude which even turns into religious worship of the sage. Claims by rulers to superhuman status and demands to be treated accordingly by their subjects, on the other hand, are consistently rejected.
            The portrayal of Apollonius as a fearless opponent of tyrants can be shown to correspond to an ideal which goes back to the Classical period. There are no indications other than references to 'Damis' to support Apollonius' hostility towards Nero. There are indications, however, which confirm the existence before Philostratus of traditions about Apollonius' contacts with Domitian. These were modelled probably as early as the pre-Philostratean tradition on the conception of the philosopher as an opponent of tyranny, which had also influenced legends about Pythagoras. It seems plausible that a source like 'Damis' projected elements from the Pythagoras legend, i.e. from the stories of the confrontation between the Crotonian sage and Phalaris, on the Tyanean.
            The portrayal of Apollonius as an advisor to good rulers corresponds to a conception with an equally long history. The hierarchic character of the relationship between philosopher and ruler is especially prominent in the Indian episode of the Life. This fits in with a tradition of idealizing Indian sages which goes back to the early Hellenistic period. Nevertheless, the conception of the sage as an object of religious worship by the king is absent in Greek literature on India until the early third century CE. Then it emerges almost simultaneously in Bardesanes (FGrHist 719F2) and the Life of Apollonius (VA III 10 and, with a reference to 'Damis', III 27). Later in the same century it can be found in a relic of Porphyry’s Homeric Questions (ad Il. I 340). Moreover, in Neoplatonic literature philosophers are frequently represented as receiving religious worship from their adherents, including rulers. The presence of such a conception in the Life requires an explanation: it is absent in the works of the historians of Alexander and in Megasthenes, whose descriptions of India served as a model for Greek authors in the Imperial period. The provenance of the conception from 'Damis' offers such an explanation: it may very well have gained currency among Neopythagoreans in the second century CE. The relic of Porphyry's Homeric Questions should be understood as a reflection of an attempt to lump together elements from different sources and contexts by subsuming them under the ancient Pythagorean doctrine of a third ontological category, between human and divine. The elements include the concept of the superhuman nature of the king found in such Neopythagorean writings as pseudo-Ecphantus' On Kingship, and the conception of the sage as an object of religious worship by the king, probably derived from traditions on such charismatic sages and miracle workers as Apollonius.
            When Philostratus refers to 'Damis' in accounts of Apollonius' contacts with and statements about monarchs, the Tyanean's role as a soothsayer is a recurrent element (VA V 11 and VI 32). It is an attractive guess that 'Damis' combined the conception of the sage as an object of religious worship by rulers with the role of the sage as a soothsayer and a kingmaker. If Philostratus derived these related concepts from 'Damis', however, he also introduced them in episodes for which 'Damis' probably offered no support, e.g. the meeting with Vespasian in Alexandria. Moreover, Philostratus does not refer to 'Damis' for Apollonius' role as an advisor to monarchs, and although some independently transmitted letters not quoted in the Life present the epistolographer as an advisor to emperors (especially Epp. Apoll. 20), the author does not even mention these letters. The conclusion is that, although Philostratus may very well have found indications of Apollonius' role as an opponent of tyranny and a predictor of imperial successions in 'Damis', the portrayal of the Tyanean as a councillor to kings and emperors should probably be considered a Philostratean invention. This certainly applies to the elaboration of Apollonius' symbouleutic role in dialogues and speeches.

The fourth section of the fourth chapter, Apollonius' Recommendations, deals with this elaboration. The debate on the best constitution between Euphrates, Dio of Prusa and Apollonius before Vespasian is a striking illustration of the tendency among authors educated in the intellectual climate of the Second Sophistic to imitate historiographical forms from the Classical period when their subject-matter allowed such a procedure. The opinion expressed by Euphrates is an important element of Philostratus' characterization of the historical background of the Alexandrian episode: the position of the Stoic philosopher shows remarkable similarities to the conduct of Helvidius Priscus, as interpreted in the early third century. Dio's position and some of the arguments adduced by Apollonius probably show influence from deliberative declamations on the theme of the abdication of a tyrant. The most interesting argument of Philostratus' Apollonius, the equalization of monarchy to 'democracy', was, at least since the Antonine period, part of the legitimization of imperial rule.
            Philostratus' Apollonius repeatedly questions the advisability of philosophical conduct for monarchs as well as the relevance of a philosopher's advice to rulers. While the debate on the desirability and possibility of combining power and wisdom has a long history in Greek political thought, these reservations about the usefulness of philosophy to a ruler may well reflect the opinion of the author, who shows little affinity with idealized conceptions of the relationship between philosopher and ruler in the Lives of the Sophists.
            The debate on the best constitution is followed by a symbouleutic speech of Apollonius on the exercise of supreme power. This speech consists primarily of commonplaces from the tradition of Greek political thought, although some of the advice probably reflects demands concerning imperial conduct formulated in the first century CE. The only advice directly relevant to the early third-century situation is the exhortation to appoint hellēnizontes as governors of Greek provinces, a theme dealt with in the fifth section of the third chapter.
 
The fifth section of the fourth chapter, The Topicality of Apollonius’ Recommendations, discusses several attempts to interpret the Life as reflective of the author's political views, or even as possessing a marked political tendency, and points out some of the problems involved. [See for the argument in this section also my paper Is the sage the sophist's mouthpiece, which can be found here.] The interpretation of the characterizations of first-century emperors in the Life as alluding to Severan emperors often results in neglect of the lavish utilization by Philostratus of historiography and imperial biography on the first century. Moreover, the supposition that Philostratus' Apollonius is a mouthpiece of the author of the Life seems very problematic: the 'political' activities of the hero of the Life are modelled on conceptions of the philosopher's role, and there is no need to assume that Philostratus entirely shared these conceptions. On the contrary, the warnings against provoking monarchs in the Lives of the Sophists indicate that he did not, at any rate, share all of them. On the other hand, there are some passages in the Life which Philostratus' contemporaries must have understood as allusions to recent political events, e.g. the murder of Geta by Caracalla (VA I 28; VI 32) and the conduct of Elagabalus (III 28). The author's opinions and concerns can be heard especially in the allusions to possible threats to Greek identity and Greek self-respect, such as the trend among young Greeks to study Roman law (VA VII 42) and Roman emperors' consistent appointment of rhōmaïzontes as governors of Greek provinces. Such allusions do not, however, warrant the conclusion that the Life has a marked political tendency. Rather, they betray the author's limited sphere of interest.

I will not summarize my Conclusions as that would involve repeating much of what has been said so far. I would like, however, to recapitulate the information which, in my opinion, indicates that Philostratus had indeed access to a pseudepigraphic source of Pythagorean character, i.e. 'Damis'. Firstly, Philostratus refers to 'Damis' to support information which is hard to reconcile with his own attitude towards magic, and which gives him reason to state emphatically his own feelings. Secondly, the information ascribed to 'Damis' presupposes a conflict with Cynicism. This probably reflects the rivalry between Pythagoreans and Cynics for the favours of the same audience in the second century CE. Thirdly, a pseudepigraphic source of Pythagorean character may very well have projected elements from the Pythagoras legend on Apollonius, similar to those found in the account of the Tyanean's confrontation with Domitian in the Life. And last but not least, the Indian episode of the Life shows a conception of the relationship between sages and kings of which there is no evidence in Greek literature on India before the third century CE. A pseudepigraphic text of Pythagorean character, passed off as the memoirs of a companion of Apollonius, is, at the very least, an extremely viable explanation for the inclusion of such a conception in a work by an author such as Philostratus. Scholars who maintain that 'Damis' is a Philostratean invention, should, in my opinion, offer alternative explanations on these four points.
Home