Apollonius' ascension

Jaap-Jan Flinterman

from: K. Demoen, D. Praet (eds), ΘΕΙΟΣ ΣΟΦΙΣΤΗΣ. Essays on Flavius Philostratus' Vita Apollonii (Leiden/Boston 2009), 225-248.

This is the full text of the original publication. The page numbers of the original are indicated between square brackets.

This article originated as a contribution to a 2006 conference at the Royal Academy in Brussels about 'Flavius Philostratus' Vita Apollonii - Text and Contexts', organized by Kristoffel Demoen, Danny Praet, Marc Van Uytfanghe and Luc Van der Stockt. It offers a discussion of the stories in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius (8.29-31) about the end of the earthly existence of the first-century miracle-worker and Pythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana. The author presents his readers with three diverging reports of Apollonius' death - if he died, he adds. Two of these stories suggest or describe an assumption into heaven, either from the temple of Athena at Lindus or from the sanctuary of the Cretan goddess Dictynna. The article discusses the purport of these stories, comparing Apollonius' ascension with Heracles' apotheosis and Empedocles' farewell to mortality. It also tries to answer the question why the stories about Apollonius’ miraculous departure from life are situated in sanctuaries of the goddesses Athena and Dictynna on Rhodes and Crete respectively.

The photo of the Menies bay on the Rhodopou peninsula from the website www.west-crete.com has been reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. The helpfulness of Jean Bienvenu, webmaster of west-crete.com, is gratefully acknowledged.

As for recent bibliography, Apollonius' ascension from the sanctuary of Dictynna is preceded by a miraculous self-liberation; see for the Dionysian overtones of the stories about Apollonius' self-liberations now K. Demoen, D. Praet and W. Gyselinck, 'Domitian and Pentheus, Apollonius and Dionysus. Echoes of Homer and Euripides' Bacchae in Philostratus' Vita Apollonii'', Latomus  70, 2011, 1058-1067. On (Athena's role in) the apotheosis of Heracles see e.g. S. Deacy, Athena, London/New York 2008, 65-67; and E. Stafford, Herakles, London/New York 2012, 47, 164 and 172-174; Stafford also discusses Rhodian mythology and ritual (p. 185-187).

In June 2017, the blog Following Hadrian has posted an instructive and handsomely illustrated webpage on the sanctuary of Dictynna. You can find it here.


Aphanismos and epiphany

The escort of Heracles

The kourotrophos of Zeus




The final chapters of the Life of Apollonius (VIII 29-31) deal with the end of the protagonist's earthly existence. In chapter 28 Apollonius, wishing to leave life unobserved, has sent Damis to Rome, carrying with him a letter for the emperor Nerva. With that piece of information, we are told in chapter 29, Damis' memoirs ended. The dedicated disciple is no longer there, neither to witness his master's departure from life nor to inform Philostratus and his readers about the practicalities of Apollonius' passing away. The author claims that, in providing his account with "its proper ending" (tr. Jones), he is at the mercy of conflicting sources. Of course, we might just as well say that he is released from the limitations imposed by an allegedly reliable record of the hero's vicissitudes.[1] He is free to confront his readers with diverging reports of Apollonius' death – "if he died," he adds, thus paving the way for the story which in his view apparently deserves most attention: Apollonius' ascension from the temple of Dictynna on Crete.

The Cretan tale is preceded by two other versions of Apollonius' demise; all three of them are related in chapter 30. The first is that he died in Ephesus, tended by two female slaves. One of these he manumitted before he passed away; the other one he left at his death as the freedwoman's slave. As Apollonius had told her beforehand, this decision turned out to be to her advantage: in the end, she was bought by a businessman who fell in love with her, made her his lawful wife, and acknowledged his children with her. The second version locates Apollonius' departure from life on the island of Rhodes. Here the sage disappears after having entered the temple of the goddess Athena at Lindus. The report of Apollonius' Rhodian exit is immediately followed by the final and most elaborate version of the end of his life as a mortal. While living on Crete, Apollonius came, at an untimely hour, [226] to the temple of Dictynna. The fierce dogs guarding the sanctuary and its riches left him unharmed, but the guardians of the temple were not so kind and put him in chains as a wizard and a robber.[2] About midnight Apollonius threw off his chains, ran to the doors of the temple which miraculously opened as if to receive him, and entered. In the meantime, he had managed to call his jailors so as not to remain unnoticed: a piece of information that cannot but surprise the reader who remembers that, according to chapter 28, it was his intention to leave life unobserved. The doors closed behind him, as inexplicably as they had opened, and from inside, a maidens' choir was heard, urging Apollonius to ascend to heaven. In chapter 31, the scenery changes: in his native city, the sage appears posthumously to a young man in order to confirm the immortality of the soul as well as to discourage idle curiosity about afterlife.

The bibliography on the final chapters of the Life is meagre. Several scholars have pointed out that the version located on Crete amounts to "a full-scale assumption into heaven."[3] Discussions exceeding one paragraph are scarce, however,[4] and although a number of important observations can be found in scholarly literature on Himmelfahrt, a further exploration of  the episode may repay the effort, if only in directing scholarly attention to issues which until now have not been given their due. There are two topics relating to the end of the earthly existence of the protagonist of the Life that I propose to discuss in this paper. The first of these is the claim of bodily ascension itself, explicit in the Cretan version of the sage's demise but already implied in the Lindian version. A comparison with other accounts of assumptions into heaven may serve to bring out the meaning of Apollonius' departure from life as related by Philostratus as well as the significance of a number of details of the stories contained in the final chapters of the Life. The most promising cases for comparison are Heracles and Empedocles.[5] Heracles is the god who assists Apollonius in his endea[227]vours. In the speech allegedly prepared for the trial before Domitian, he is given at least part of the credit for two of Apollonius' most notable feats, the liquidation of a demon responsible for a plague in Ephesus and the exposure of a female vampire in Corinth; Apollonius claims that he chose the god as his ξυνεργός.[6] Empedocles is presented as an exemplary follower of Pythagoras in the first chapter of the Life, where his claim to divinity is explicitly mentioned as evidence for his affinity to Pythagoras and, by implication, to Apollonius.[7] In addition, some material for comparison will be taken from stories about the heavenly ascent of Romulus, which provided a mythic model for the deification of Roman emperors at their death.[8] After all, in the final sentence of the Life (VIII 31.3) Philostratus explicitly compares the sanctuary built for Apollonius at imperial expense with the honours received by emperors themselves.

The second topic I will discuss is the question why the stories about Apollonius' miraculous departure from life are situated in sanctuaries of the goddesses Athena and Dictynna on Rhodes and Crete respectively. Why these goddesses and why these locations? To the best of my knowledge, this question has hardly been touched upon in scholarly literature on the Life. Perhaps understandably so, because an acceptable answer is hard to find, and I will not pretend that I am fully satisfied with the suggestions that I shall come up with myself. However, the [228] question simply forces itself upon the reader, and I cannot but raise the problem hoping that, in the future, others may suggest more satisfactory solutions.

Ephesus would not make an unlikely candidate or claimant for the location of Apollonius' farewell to life - photo: https://turkisharchaeonews.net/object/curetes-street-ephesus (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

The set of questions outlined in this introduction implies that I will not go into the problem of the extent to which Philostratus drew on pre-existing traditions relating to the end of Apollonius' life – let alone into the question of the historical Apollonius' death. The story located in Ephesus is, of course, the one most likely to succeed in persuading the reader to suspend disbelief, if alone because it is easier to credit Apollonius with employing his clairvoyance for matchmaking[9] than to believe in his assumption into heaven. Moreover, Ephesus is one of the cities for which a good case can be made that they were actually visited by Apollonius,[10] and it would not make an unlikely candidate or claimant for the location of his farewell to life.[11] The focus of this paper will be on the stories of Apollonius' ascension as told by Philostratus, however, and an attempt to understand their meaning is already enough of a challenge without drawing in the pre-Philostratean Apollonius. References to 'Apollonius' should, therefore, be understood as relating to the protagonist of the Life.[12]

Aphanismos and epiphany

It is, of course, indisputable that the Cretan version of Apollonius' departure from life amounts to an assumption into heaven. Moreover, as far as miraculous detail is concerned, it is by far the most rewarding account of the Tyanean's demise,[13] and in discussing what is supposed to have happened in Dictynna's sanctuary, it will turn out to be [229] necessary to pay ample attention to the extraordinary events preceding and accompanying the ascension itself. Nonetheless, the story about his disappearance in the temple of Athena at Lindus also suggests an assumption into heaven. 'To disappear', ἀφανίζεσθαι, is the crucial word here. According to the thorough study of Gerhard Lohfink, Die Himmelfahrt Jesu, it was the classical term for assumption into heaven, and the absence of mortal remains is a standard ingredient of ascension stories.[14] The cases of Heracles and Empedocles offer instructive material for comparison. According to Diodorus of Sicily, the companions of Heracles came to the conclusion that the hero had joined the gods when, in the ashes of his pyre, no bones could be found.[15] Empedocles disappeared during the night after a sacrificial feast, at least according to a dialogue by Heraclides of Pontus as paraphrased by Diogenes Laertius: "At daybreak all got up, and Empedocles was the only one missing." After initial confusion, Empedocles' pupil Pausanias, one of the characters in Heraclides' dialogue, concluded that "things beyond expectation had happened to him, and [that] it was their duty to sacrifice to him since he was now a god."[16] What the stories about Heracles and Empedocles illustrate is the notion that disappearing from the face of the earth indicates that the missing person has left to join the gods: disappearance amounts to apotheosis.[17] Philostratus' claim, in the final sentence of the Life (VIII 31.3), that during his travels he has never found a tomb or even a cenotaph of Apollonius, thus reproduces a standard ingredient of assumption stories. It must have been understood by his readers as [230] a cautious confirmation of the credibility of Apollonius' bodily ascension. As such, it is singled out for quotation by the author of the Reply to Hierocles, in his scathing comments on Philostratus' account of the end of Apollonius' life.[18] The Rhodian and Cretan versions of the sage's demise both imply that he has joined the illustrious company of those who at the end of their mortal existence have been admitted among the immortals.

The absence of mortal remains is not the only feature which Apollonius' departure has in common with other stories about assumptions into heaven. The maidens' choir urging Apollonius to ascend to heaven in the Cretan version finds a parallel in the mighty voice calling Empedocles – a voice that, according to Heraclides, was heard by a witness, who also saw a heavenly light.[19]  While in Diogenes Laertius the content of the message for Empedocles is only suggested, however, the girls calling or sending off Apollonius are given a text: "Proceed from earth! Proceed to heaven! Proceed!"[20] As far as the identity of the choir is concerned, the reader is left in the dark.[21] Richard Holland has argued that a heavenly choir calling Apollonius from above rather than a farewell performance is implied, but this suggestion, which would result in an even closer resemblance to the story of Empedocles' disappearance, finds no support in the text. It is, moreover, at odds with the parallels for the use of the verb στείχειν, in farewell scenes from tragedy, adduced by Holland himself.[22] In discussing the myth and cult of Dictynna we shall return to the maidens' choir. For the moment, it is more opportune to notice a further similarity between  the Cretan version of Apollonius' assumption into heaven and Empedocles' departure from life as told by Heraclides: the presence of one or even more eyewitnesses. As ascension [231] stories are consistently told from an earthly perspective, even a modest amount of elaboration requires the presence of bystanders, and narrative logic goes some way to explain why Philostratus has Apollonius abandon his intention of leaving life unobserved.[23]

Apollonius' ascension from Dictynna's temple is preceded by no less than three miracles. At his arrival the fierce watch dogs of the sanctuary which, according to the Cretans, are a match for bears and other wild beastsMolossian dog, Roman copy of 2nd century BC Hellenistic original - British Museum - photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (CC BY 2.5) <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Molossian_hound_BM_GR2001.10-10.1_n02.jpg>, do not even bark, but greet him wagging their tails. Around midnight Apollonius, put in chains by the officials of the sanctuary, throws off his fetters. Then, without human intervention, the temple doors open before and close behind him. The first miracle does not need to hold our attention for too long. Mastery over animals is one of the gifts shared by Apollonius with Pythagoras who, according to one of the biographical traditions, even succeeded in converting a she-bear to vegetarianism.[24] It is a gift that has been demonstrated by Apollonius before,[25] and it surely comes in handy in the present context. We shall return to the dogs when discussing the myth and cult of Dictynna.

The second miracle is also a manifestation of an ability displayed by Apollonius on a previous occasion. The act of self-liberation recalls the episode in Domitian's prison, where Apollonius demonstrated his freedom by taking his leg out of its shackle. The latter feat was the occasion of an explicit recognition by Damis of his master's divine nature,[26] and it does not seem too adventurous a reading of the present passage that Apollonius, by throwing off his fetters in the sanctuary of Dictynna, again manifests his superhuman status.Dionysus, black-figure kylix, ca. 530 BC - Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich - photo: Bibi Saint-Pol, Wikimedia Commons <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Exekias_Dionysos_Staatliche_Antikensammlungen_2044_n2.jpg> But the episode in Domitian's dungeon offers more cues for the reading of the scene described in the penultimate chapter of the Life. Apollonius' demonstration in front of Damis is preceded by a personal confrontation with the emperor (VII 32-34), who has the sage's beard and hair shorn off before having him chained and thrown into a dungeon on an accusation of sorcery. Domitian is clearly cast in the role of Pentheus, in the Bacchants, imprisoning Dionysus as a sorcerer and an enchanter and cutting off [232] his hair.[27] In Euripides, Dionysus' subsequent self-liberation is the culmination of a series of divine epiphanies.[28] Thus, the interpretation of Apollonius' demonstration of his miraculous powers in Domitian's prison as a manifestation of the sage's divine nature, made explicit by Damis, is simultaneously suggested by the Dionysian overtones of the story which, by a percipient reader, can again be heard in the account of his imprisonment as a sorcerer by the guardians of Dictynna's temple and his subsequent escape. [29]

In his confrontation with Domitian, Apollonius anticipated his act of self-liberation by pointing out the inconsistency in the emperor's behaviour: it is just as impossible to fetter a sorcerer as it is absurd to accuse of sorcery someone whom one is having fettered. Domitian retorted that he would set free his detainee only when he would turn into water, an animal or a tree (VII 34): an unmistakable allusion to the problems experienced by Menelaus and his companions in catching Proteus,[30] and at the same time a reference to a story told in one of the opening chapters of the Life: during her pregnancy, Apollonius' mother had a vision of an Egyptian god, who revealed himself as Proteus and declared that he was the child to which she would give birth. Commenting on this story, Philostratus had pointed out how versatile Proteus was, forever changing form and defying capture, and he had urged his readers to keep Proteus in mind, especially when his account would show Apollonius capable of extracting himself from hopeless situations.[31] It is, therefore, with good reason that Apollonius' Protean [233] quality is alluded to in the Domitian episode: the allusion anticipates the hero's self-liberation in prison.

As has been observed by several scholars, however, the presentation of Apollonius as an incarnation of Proteus considerably undermines the credibility of the professed apologetic intention of the Life as set out in the second chapter of Book I: clearing Apollonius from the charge of sorcery. After all, Proteus was the archetypal sorcerer.[32] The allusion to Proteus put into Domitian's mouth therefore alerts the reader to the possible interpretation of the sage's miraculous liberation as an act of sorcery, and the same effect is brought about by the fact that Apollonius takes his leg out off its shackle after having explained to Domitian that sorcerers cannot be fettered.[33] The dismissal of this interpretation as characteristic of simple-minded people such as athletes, merchants, and lovers, in an extended authorial comment following the account of the miracle,[34] does not eliminate the seed of suspicion sown in the conversation with the Flavian emperor and budding since the preceding chapter. The story of how Apollonius threw off his fetters in Dictynna's sanctuary is another manifestation of his Protean elusiveness, and it is likely to have raised similar suspicions. To make matters even worse, the breaking of bonds was a rather popular activity among practicing magicians, witness the magical papyri. Especially worthy of note in this connection is a recipe for acquiring an assistant demon who, at the magicians command, "frees from bonds a person chained in prison." Interestingly, the assistant demon also "opens doors," and he "puts dogs to sleep and renders them voiceless" as well.[35] On top of that, the timing of Apollonius' self-liberation is rather unhelpful from an apologetic point of view. Sorcerers were believed to have a strong preference for the nocturnal hours, as Apollonius himself admitted in the speech for his defence allegedly prepared for the trial before Domitian.[36]

[234] While Apollonius' breaking of his bonds may raise doubts about Philostratus' seriousness (or competence) as an apologist, the third miracle lends itself less easily to a hostile interpretation. The opening and closing of the temple doors should be understood as an act of the goddess, indicating her willingness to admit the sage and her displeasure at the treatment meted out to him by her servants. Rather than a part of Apollonius' self-liberation it is a demonstration by the goddess that Apollonius' presence in her sanctuary is pleasing to her,[37] and it constitutes a parallel with the behaviour of a deity in a shrine visited by Apollonius on a previous occasion: the oracle of Trophonius at Lebadea. Here, the priests did not allow Apollonius to consult the oracle, and the sage was compelled to trespass in order to question Trophonius about his philosophical preferences. The god appeared to his priests in a dream and rebuked them for their treatment of Apollonius. In addition, the consultation was extended to an unprecedented length of seven days.[38] The opening and closing of the doors of Dictynna's temple are on a par with Trophonius' rebuke to his priests and his preferential treatment of Apollonius. In sum, the miracles preceding Apollonius' ascension from the temple of Dictynna reaffirm the Tyanean's similarity to Pythagoras, his divine nature, and the esteem he is held in by the gods. Together, they serve to convey the suggestion that he is worthy to receive the final honour of assumption into heaven.

"The opening and closing of the temple doors ..." - Cult statue of Apollo behind opened temple doors, fragment of red-figure krater, ca. 400-390 BC, APM 02579 -  photo: Dick Osseman, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Allard_Pierson_Museum_Cult_statue_in_temple_amphora_7731.jpg (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In the final chapter of the Life (VIII 31), a young student of philosophy at Tyana, who denies the immortality of the soul and of Apollonius, is healed from his errors by a posthumous appearance of the sage.[39] An epiphany of the missing person can also be found in several versions of Romulus' assumption into heaven. In both Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Plutarch, Romulus appears to a respected citizen in order to declare that he has ascended to heaven.[40] In Lucian's On the Death of Peregrinus (40), the self-cremation of the protagonist is followed by an epiphany as [235] well, reported by an old man who goes on to demonstrate his reliability by swearing that he has also seen with his own eyes how a vulture flew up from the pyre – a figment of Lucian's own malicious imagination spread, he claims, by himself a short while before for the benefit of the dimwits! Lucian's parody shows that such epiphanies were, if not a standard ingredient, at least an element one could expect in stories about heavenly ascension.

In comparison with Romulus' epiphany as described by Dionysius and Plutarch, however, Apollonius' posthumous manifestation is rather modest; in fact, it boils down to an oracular dream. The content of Apollonius' posthumous message is, moreover, nothing more than a corroboration of the immortality of the soul combined with a stern advice not to be too inquisitive about things that are beyond a mortal's understanding; the deceased does not claim that he has ascended to heaven, let alone that he has become a god. Here, Philostratus may have tried to cater for readers sharing the sentiments of Plutarch and Cicero, who found the whole idea of bodily ascension a bit too crude and who preferred a spiritualized interpretation of the traditional stories. Plutarch vociferously protests against the notion that perishable bodies could have a share in immortality. The immortal souls of virtuous men, on the other hand, may aspire to divine status and ascend to the gods.[41] Apollonius' posthumous appearance and the content of his message fall short of the expectations raised by the stories about his assumption into heaven. Philostratus may have intended to present his readers with a more palatable alternative as sketched by Plutarch: the ascension of the sage's immortal soul.[42]

Nevertheless, the Life concludes with what certainly is again a standard ingredient of ascension stories: the assertion that the deceased has become the object of cultic veneration.[43] The exhortation by Empedocles' pupil Pausanias after his master's disappearance "to sacrifice to him since he was now a god"[44] exemplifies the phenomenon. In Diodorus' Library, Heracles' assumption into heaven is immediately followed by an account of the emergence and evolution of his cult.[45] It is, therefore, no [236] surprise that the final sentence of the Life refers to the temple at Tyana built for Apollonius by Caracalla, a temple whose existence was already mentioned in one of the opening chapters of the first book, dealing with the birth of the hero (I 5; cf. Cassius Dio 77.18.4). Philostratus adds that even "emperors have not denied Apollonius the honours of which they themselves were held worthy" (VIII 31.3; tr. Conybeare).  Where the highest authorities have spoken, who is the author and who are his readers to demur?

The sanctuary at Tyana links the ending of the Life to its opening chapters. As we have noticed before, it is not the only element of the stories surrounding the ascension doing so: the Protean nature of the protagonist, presented in the chapter dealing with the vision received by Apollonius' mother when she was pregnant (I 4), is revealed, not for the first time, in the penultimate chapter, when Apollonius releases himself from his fetters (VIII 30.3). Philostratus' treatment of the accounts of the end of Apollonius' earthly existence can indeed be profitably compared with his presentation of the stories preceding and surrounding Apollonius' birth.[46] These suggested that the sage was an incarnation of Proteus (I 4), that he was akin to Apollo,[47] and, according to his co-citizens, even a son of the local Zeus Asbamaios himself.[48] Both at the beginning and at the end of the account of Apollonius'  life as a mortal, Philostratus is prepared to introduce notions from traditional religion and the language of mythology in order to convey the unique nature of his hero. But it should also be pointed out that both at the beginning and at the end of the Life, he seems unwilling fully to commit himself to such conceptions or to impose them on his readers. The story about Proteus is given an allegorical interpretation by the author – apart from the fact that, as we observed, it left ample room for ambiguity. The story about Apollonius being the son of Zeus is seemingly contradicted by the protagonist. As for the assumption into heaven, the reader is tactfully offered the possibility of a spiritualized interpretation of Apollonius' ascension.

[237] Still, one of the signs accompanying Apollonius' birth seems to be directly reflected in the stories about his assumption into heaven: a thunderbolt appeared in the sky, but instead of striking it disappeared upwards (I 5). The author interprets the sign as a divine indication of Apollonius' "elevation above all worldly things and his nearness to the gods." It does not seem too far-fetched to understand the thunderbolt's disappearance into heaven as a prefiguration of Apollonius' ascension. In spite of his unwillingness to take full responsibility for the conceptions involved and in spite of the ambiguity of his apologetics, Philostratus can be said to have paved the way for the view of Apollonius to be found in fourth-century sources: a being of divine origin who, at the end of his "visit to mankind," returns to his heavenly abode.[49]

The escort of Heracles

What clearly distinguishes the accounts of Apollonius' assumption into heaven from the stories about Heracles, Empedocles, and Romulus, is that they are situated in temples: the temple of Athena at Lindus, on the island of Rhodes, and the sanctuary of Dictynna on Crete. There is, of course, a famous precedent for disappearance in a temple: the early fifth-century athlete Cleomedes of Astypalaea who, after having caused the death of sixty children, took refuge in the temple of Athena, hid in a chest, and vanished without leaving a trace. The stupefied Astypalaeans consulted Delphi; the god called Cleomedes "last of the heroes" and ordered his co-citizens to worship the athlete as being no longer a mortal.[50] But for obvious reasons Cleomedes does not seem to be a very attractive model, and we should probably be not too surprised that the Philostratean Apollonius who, after all, made a habit of living in sanctuaries,[51] is also told to have left life from a temple.

This leaves us, however, with a tantalizing question: why these temples of these goddesses? Part of the answer is perhaps not too hard to find in the case of Athena. The choice of the goddess may have drawn inspiration from the myth of Heracles, according to which the hero had been escorted to the Olympus by Athena: a scene frequently represented in art from the Archaic and Classical periods, witness for example Pausanias' description of the throne and altar of Apollo at Amyclae.[52] Heracles' apotheosis, Attic red-figure pelike, ca. 410 BC - Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich - photo: Bibi Saint-Pol, Wikimedia Commons <http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Herakles_apotheosis_Staatliche_Antikensammlungen_2360.jpg>Thus the choice for a sanctuary of Athena may point in the direction of influence of the apotheosis of Heracles as a model. Obviously, the imitation of Heracles could not be carried too far: having the Tyanean climb a pyre on Mount Oeta would not do. Locating Apollonius' ascension in a well-known sanctuary of Athena such as Lindus had the advantage of suggesting the precedent without overdoing things.[53]

In addition, Lindus was the scene of an interesting aetiological myth about Heracles that Philostratus knew quite well. In the version as told in pseudo-Apollodorus' Library (II 5.11), the hero disembarks in Thermydrae, the harbour of Lindus. When meeting a bullock-team driver, he looses one of the bullocks from the cart, sacrifices it and wolfs it down, while the unfortunate team driver curses the hero from a safe distance. The myth served to explain the Lindian custom of sacrificing a bull to Heracles while cursing him.[54] A similar myth locates the story in the country of the Dryopians, near Mount Oeta, and gives the name of the owner of the bullocks as Theiodamas.[55] In the Lindian myth the owner is mostly anonymous. Philostratus' Imagines (II 24 = LIMC Herakles 2808), however, contains a description of the Lindian myth, in which Heracles' victim (here a ploughman) is called Theiodamas. In the Life (V 23) Apollonius' censure, during a previous visit to Rhodes, of a young glutton who imagines himself the equal of Heracles, may well allude to the same myth. It is also noteworthy that a famous painting of Heracles by Parrhasius, for which the hero himself was told to have posed by appearing to the artist in his dreams, was under the Early Empire on display at Lindus:[56] a piece of information that may well have appealed to the author of the Imagines.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Doric_Temple_Athena_Lindos.jpg (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Conspicuously absent in the information about the Rhodian mythology and cult of Heracles reviewed so far is a link between the hero and the goddess Athena. That changes, however, when we turn to the entries of the so-called Lindian chronicle detailing dedications presented to the sanctuary.[57] Of the two wicker shields allegedly dedicated by Heracles, one was captured from Eurypylus, king of the Meropes, the inhabitants of Cos (B23-26 Higbie). According to the entry under discussion, Heracles' dedications were amply attested in literary sources about the history of Rhodes such as local chronicles and encomia (B29-36 Higbie). The inscription does not mention the reason for the dedication of Eurypylus' shield. According to a Coan epos, however, the Meropis, Heracles had experienced considerable difficulties in overcoming the Meropes, and only succeeded when Athena had killed the giant Asterus.[58] As has been pointed out by the most recent editor of the Lindian Chronicle, it is a very attractive hypothesis that the legendary dedication was occasioned by the help received by Heracles from his divine patroness.[59]

The place of Heracles in Rhodian mythology is not confined to a single visit.[60] Heracles' son Tlepolemus settled on the island and became its king.[61] Moreover, the temple of Athena, according to tradition built by Danaus, was rebuilt in the sixth century by the Lindian tyrant Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages, who traced his descent back to Heracles.[62] Of course, Rhodes was not unique in claiming several links with myths surrounding the greatest of the Greek heroes. Still, Lindus was the location of a remarkable cult of Heracles, accounted for in an aetiological myth that constitutes a clear parallel to a myth located in the region of Mount Oeta. In addition, the mythology of the Dodecanese did include [240] a story about Athena saving the hero from dire straits. Heracles' presence in Rhodian mythology and cult must have sufficed to sustain the suggestion of the Heraclean precedent of Apollonius' farewell to life implied in the choice of a temple of Athena. Of course, the fact that the Lindian sanctuary was "outstanding in antiquity and venerability" (A2-3 Higbie) did not detract from its attractiveness.

The kourotrophos of Zeus

Dictynna is not in the same league as Athena, and although her temple near the Cretan city of Cydonia was not a negligible quantity in the Greek world under the Early Empire, its selection as the scene of Apollonius most elaborate farewell to life poses an enigma of quite intimidating proportions. Perhaps that is why there is a tendency among those who have written on the Life, starting with the author of the Reply to Hierocles (44.3), to keep silent about the identity of the Cretan goddess from whose temple Apollonius allegedly ascended to heaven.[63] An exploration of the myth and the cult of Dictynna may help us better to understand a couple of details of the story and even offer part of a solution to the riddle.

Our most important sources for the myth of Dictynna are Callimachus’ Hymn to Artemis (189-205 Pfeiffer) and a chapter from Antoninus Liberalis’ Metamorphoses (40). Callimachus tells the story of a Cretan nymph, Britomartis, a sharp-eyed huntress, favourite of Artemis. Minos desired her and pursued her for nine months. When he had almost caught her, she leapt into the sea from a promontory. She was saved in the nets (δίκτυα) of fishermen, and was henceforth called Dictynna and worshipped as a goddess. Callimachus adds a few details about her cult; he also tells that the Cretans call Artemis after her. According to Antoninus Liberalis, Britomartis was a daughter of Zeus and Carme. Her peregrinations brought her from Phoenicia to Argos and from Argos to Cephallenia, where she received divine honours under the name of Laphria. After that she came to Crete, where she was pursued by Minos and found a refuge in the nets of fishermen; henceforth, she [241] was worshipped as Dictynna among the Cretans. After having escaped Minos, she went to Aegina, where she withstood the unwelcome attentions of her ferryman, Andromedes, and disappeared – became ἀφανής; hence, on Aegina she was revered as Aphaia. The version of the myth told by Callimachus is criticized by Diodorus Siculus (V 76.3-4), who refuses to believe the unedifying tale about the pursuit by Minos and who thinks that Britomartis took her second name from the fact that she invented hunting nets. The historiographer adds that some men think her identical with Artemis. Pausanias, in his description of Aegina (II 30.3), holds that Britomartis/Dictynna is the same as Aphaia; the identification that we have also seen in Antoninus Liberalis.

A number of features common to the literary tradition deserve to be emphasized. In the first place, Britomartis and Dictynna are generally held to be one and the same person. Secondly, she is explicitly called a daughter of Zeus by Diodorus, Pausanias, and Antoninus Liberalis. In the third place, according to the literary evidence she is revered as a goddess among the Cretans. In the fourth place, endangered virginity, escape by a leap into the sea, and fishermen’s nets as a rescue or a refuge are recurrent themes in the myth of Dictynna. Finally, the goddess is identified with other local divinities – Laphria on Cephallenia, Aphaia on Aegina – and with a Panhellenic goddess, Artemis.

In spite of such identifications, there is a modest amount of evidence showing that Dictynna succeeded in maintaining a separate cultic identity even in some places outside Crete:[64] a votive inscription from Laconia, dated by the editor to the end of the fourth or beginning of the third century BCE;[65] a votive inscription from Astypalaea, dated to the Hellenistic period;[66] two decrees of the citizens of Carian Amyzon, attesting the existence in their city of a priesthood of Zeus Cretagenetas and Dictynna at the end of the third century BCE;[67] and a sanctuary in Sparta mentioned by Pausanias (III 12.8). Nevertheless, it seems [242] that outside Crete there was a trend in the direction of identification of Dictynna with Artemis and of the development of her name into an epiclesis of the Olympian huntress.[68] On Crete itself, however, Artemis and Dictynna maintained separate identities in cultic contexts up to and including the imperial era.[69] The same is true for Dictynna and Britomartis, who in the literary tradition tend to be identified: while Britomartis was revered in the eastern and central part of the island, evidence for the cult of Dictynna is limited to western Crete, where it relates to cities such as Aptera, Cydonia, and Polyrrhenia in the north, and to Lisos on the southern coast.[70]

When, as in the penultimate chapter of the Life of Apollonius, the sanctuary of Dictynna is mentioned, the term may be taken to refer to the temple of the goddess on the peninsula that is nowadays known as Rhodopou and that was called Mount Tityros in Antiquity.[71] The peninsula juts out about 15 kilometres from the northern coast of western Crete. On its eastern side, on a promontory above a bay a few kilometres from its northernmost tip (Google Earth link), stood a sanctuary whose history reached back into the Archaic age. The site was excavated in 1942 by a team of German archaeologists; their findings were the point of departure of the recent attempt to reconstruct the cult in the Dictynnaion by Katja Sporn.[72]

Menies bay on the Rhodopou peninsula - The temple of Dictynna was situated on the hill to the right (south) of the beach - photo: http://www.west-crete.com/dailypics/crete-2007/1-28-07.shtm, reproduced with permission of the copyright owner

The oldest finding on the site pointing in the direction of a temple dates from the late seventh or sixth century BCE. In the Late Hellenistic period or in the first century CE, a rebuilding of the complex was started. To that end, the promontory was levelled, but the planned temple was never completed. It was only in the second century CE, probably during [243] the reign of Hadrian, that a new temple arose.[73] The dating is based on the fact that a Roman road, which started at the sanctuary and which, for the first time in history, opened up the peninsula, was built during Hadrian’s reign, witness a milestone found in the village of Rhodopou. It seems a reasonable assumption that the new temple was built in the same period as this road, that was financed from the pecunia sacra of the goddess.[74] During the Antonine era, the imperial authorities also channelled the apparently rather abundant financial means of the sanctuary to public projects on other parts of the island.[75] This attests to the wealth of the Dictynnaion, that is explicitly mentioned by Philostratus. From an early first-century inscription regarding the receipts and expenditure of the sanctuary, it can be inferred that it was at least partly based on the exploitation of herds of cattle and sheep.[76]

As for the cultic functions of the sanctuary, Sporn has put forward the attractive suggestion that Dictynna was not just a patroness of hunters and fishermen,[77] but also of marriageable girls: together with Pan she probably presided over rites de passage.[78] Of course, the maiden’s choir urging Apollonius to ascend to heaven fits in very well with this reconstruction. In addition, Dictynna may have been a healing goddess, especially assisting women at childbirth.[79] Sporn conjectures that the [244] Dictynnaion was also the scene of an orgiastic cult.[80] Whatever one may think of this part of her reconstruction, adducing Apollonius’ assumption into heaven as an extra argument fails to carry conviction.[81]

Distinguishing Dictynna’s cultic functions from those of Artemis is not an easy task, to put it mildly, and Sporn’s skilful reconstruction has not made it any easier. Similar problems apply to the icono­graphy of the goddess. The identification of a representation is guaranteed only where textual evidence or the location of a find offer confirmation.[82] The latter is the case with the relief crowning an inscription with the text of a treaty between Phalasarna and Polyrrhenia, dating to the early third century BCE and found on the site of the Dictynnaion.[83] Dictynna here symbolizes the city of Polyrrhenia. She is dressed in a short tunic and has a bow and a quiver across her shoulders. The only element that in this relief distinguishes her from Artemis is that she accompanied by a wild goat  – a species that is to this very day emblematic of western Crete – rather than by a stag.[84] Worth noting are, in addition, the two dogs above the pediment of the relief: they symbolize, of course, Dictynna’s function as a goddess of hunting, but they may also indicate that the presence of dogs in her sanctuary was more than just a security device. We shall return to the dogs presently.

Relief crowning a treaty between Phalasarna and Polyrrhenia, Dictynna (r) symbolizing Polyrrhenia - photo: Inscriptiones Creticae II.xi.1 (p. 132)

Textual evidence for the identification of representations of the goddess is available in the case of a couple of coins, for example a coin of the provincial koinon from the reign of Domitian, showing on the reverse a huntress accompanied by a dog; the legend reads ΔΙΚΤΥΝΝΑ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗ.[85] On a provincial coin from the reign of Trajan the goddess is represented with a small child on her left arm, flanked by two shield-bearing warriors; the legend reads ΔΙΚΤΥΝΝΑ – ΚΡΗΤ(ΩΝ).[86] This is Crete, and it is generally accepted that the warriors are Couretes and [245] that, consequently, the child must be Zeus. In other words, this coin attests a myth for which there is only iconographical evidence from Western Crete: Dictynna’s role as kourotrophos of Zeus. Although the coin is unique in claiming this position for the goddess, the juxtaposition of Dictynna and Crete-born Zeus is also epigraphically attested, both on Crete itself and in Caria.[87]

www.britishmuseum.org/collection/image/691610001 (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

© The Trustees of the British Museum.

For the larger part of its existence, the Dictynnaion came under the city of Cydonia.[88] In the coinage of Cydonia, a curious reverse type is frequently represented, from the second century BCE up to and including the reign of Trajan. It displays a child suckled by a dog; the legend reads ΚΥΔΩΝ or ΚΥΔΩΝΙΑΤΑΝ/ ΚΥΔΩΝΙΑΤΩΝ.[89] The dog is a specimen of the breed called kynosouris, which is also on view on the relief and on the Domitianic coin, both mentioned above.[90] There are basically two diverging interpretations of this reverse type. The first is that the child is Kydon, the eponymous founder of Kydonia. The second interpretation takes the infant to be Zeus, and the scene as a pointer to a local myth from western Crete in which Zeus was brought up by a bitch.[91] There is another interesting piece of evidence, pointing in the same direction: a tradition according to which a nymph called Kynosoura ('Dog's Tail') was one of the nurses of Zeus and was afterwards placed among the stars as the constellation Arktos Mikra, 'Lesser Bear'.[92] Although the sources for this story put Kynosoura among the Idaean [246] nymphs, Hesychius connects her name to Cydonia.[93] Sporn has taken this line of reasoning one step further and has argued that Dictynna herself may originally have been a theriomorphic nymph.[94] Whatever one may think of this hypothesis, there seems to be sufficient evidence to suggest that the dogs kept in the sanctuary on Mount Tityros had a significance which exceeded their practical value as watch dogs. It is, moreover, tempting to surmise that the comparison of these dogs with bears, ascribed by Philostratus to the Cretans,[95] is a reflection – admittedly a pale one – of a story about a canine kourotrophos of Zeus who was raised to the stars to become the Lesser Bear.

Our reconnaissance of Dictynna’s myth and cult has revealed that Philostratus’ account of Apollonius’ ascension from the Dictynnaion contains a fair amount of local colour. The story refers to the considerable wealth of the sanctuary for which there is ample evidence from the early-imperial period. The presence of dogs is apparently a credible detail, and the comparison of these animals with bears may be more than coincidental. In addition, the fact that Apollonius is given a send-off by a maiden’s choir fits in very well with a plausible reconstruction of one of the sanctuary’s cultic functions.

However, we have not yet found an answer to the question why the most elaborate version of Apollonius demise is situated in the Dictynnaion. As I have pointed out in the introduction, I don’t have an answer to that question that I myself find fully satisfactory. Still, there is a couple of elements in Dictynna’s myth which make the choice of Philostratus’ Apollonius less curious than, at first sight, it seems. In the first place, a link with Zeus is a recurrent element in Dictynna’s myth and cult. According to part of the literary evidence, she is a daughter of Zeus; numismatic evidence makes her a kourotrophos of Zeus. Both on Crete and in Caria, cults of Dictynna and Crete-born Zeus are attested. Apollonius himself was, according to a Tyanean story reported by Philostratus (VA 1.6), considered a son of Zeus Asbamaios, whose cult was central to the identity of his native city.[96] Thus, a link with Zeus joins Apollonius to Dictynna, and one might argue that the sanctuary [247] of a maiden goddess who could combine the roles of daughter and foster mother of Zeus, was not the most unlikely place for Apollonius to return to his divine father.[97] In the second place, Dictynna is a goddess who has started her career on a lower ontological echelon and who has experienced an apotheosis. This is emphasized by Pausanias (VIII 2.4), who puts Britomartis/Dictynna in the same category as, for example, Heracles. Thus, the goddess is a predecessor of Apollonius, and to a certain extent this makes her temple an appropriate location for the admittance of a man among the immortals. It should be admitted that Philostratus does not explicitly refer to the myth of Britomartis/Dictynna. However, readers asking themselves why her temple was chosen as the location for Apollonius’ ascension may have remembered her connection with Zeus and her apotheosis.[98]

Finally, the story of the posthumous epiphany of Apollonius may contain a significant allusion to the pursuit of Britomartis/Dictynna by Minos. According to Callimachus (Dian. 193-194), Minos chased the nymph for nine months until at last, when he had almost caught her, she escaped by leaping into the sea. In the final chapter of the Life (VIII 31.1), the student of philosophy visiting Tyana pressurizes Apollonius [248] with his prayers for nine months, and only then he is favoured with a personal communication discouraging idle curiosity. Forced to acknowledge that he has chased a being that is beyond his grasp, the young man finds himself in the same position as Minos. And so, perhaps, does the inquisitive reader of Philostratus’ Cretan tale. The final epiphany of Apollonius once again reveals his Protean nature: even in manifesting himself he defies capture.[99]

The foundations of the sacrificial altar of the Dictynnaion -  photo: Carole Raddato, https://followinghadrian.com/2017/06/11/the-hadrianic-temple-of-diktynna-in-crete/ (CC BY-SA 3.0)



 [1] Cf. Whitmarsh 2004: 427: "… the source limitations are turned to an advantage."

 [2] This is not the first time that Apollonius is treated like a γόης by temple personnel; see VA IV 18 and VIII 19, and cf. Petzke 1970: 140n3; Flinterman 1995: 61n16; Dickie 2001: 159-161.

[3] The phrase is Jaś Elsner's (1997: 28); cf. Schirren 2005: 308: "Apollonios stirbt nicht, sondern wird in seiner ganzen Leiblichkeit entrückt."

[4] Holland 1925: 207-209; Lévy 1927: 73f.; Weinreich 1929: 295-298; Petzke 1970: 183-187; Schirren 2005: 306-312.

[5] And not Pythagoras, about whom ascension stories are lacking, as is correctly pointed out by Schirren 2005: 308. Lévy 1926: 130-137, esp. 137, and 1927: 61-78, esp. 72-75, has argued that the Life of Apollonius is a pastiche of the Life of Pythagoras by the Apollonius – in his view Apollonius of Tyana – frequently referred to by Porphyry and Iamblichus in their respective lives of Pythagoras. According to Lévy, this Apollonian Life of Pythagoras contained a story located in Metapontum about an assumption into heaven of Pythagoras which, in Lévy's view, can be reconstructed on the basis of the story about Apollonius' ascension from the Dictynna temple on Crete. His arguments are subtle rather than convincing, and it is hard to believe that the hypothetical story about the ascension of Pythagoras would have left no noticeable trace in the literary tradition. For recent discussions of the Apollonian Life of Pythagoras see Staab 2002: 228-237; and Radicke's introduction to FGH 1064, 150f.; on the traditions concerning the death of Pythagoras see Bollansée's commentary on FGH 1026 F 25, esp. 276f.

[6] Philostratus VA VIII 7.28f.; the stories can be found in IV 10 and 25 respectively, where the protagonist himself earns full credit for his achievements. According to Lactantius Inst. V 3, Apollonius received cultic veneration in Ephesus under the name of Heracles Alexikakos; Bowie 1978: 1687 with n. 138 convincingly argues that Lactantius did not draw on Philostratus for this piece of information.

[7] Philostratus VA I 1.3, quoting Empedocles DK 31 B 112 = Heraclides of Pontus fr. 77 Wehr­li = Diogenes Laertius VIII 62: χαίρετ’, ἐγὼ δ’ ὔμμιν θεὸς ἄμβροτος, οὐκέτι θνητός; cf. the paraphrase of this line in VA VIII 7.18 (= DK 31 A 18). Note the observation by Rohde 1925 II: 377-378n3 on Apollonius' ascension: "Die Nachahmung der Erzählung vom Verschwinden des Empedokles liegt auf der Hand."

[8] See Bickermann 1929: 26-28; Price 1987: 73f.

[9] Not for the first time, if we are to believe Philostratus: cf. the story told in VA 6.39.

[10] Bowie 1978: 1687; Dzielska 1986: 78f.

[11] Cf. Lévy 1927: 73n1: "[La version] reproduit suivant toute apparence, au moins en ce qui concerne le lieu, l’histoire réelle."

[12] The explicit introduction of the story of Apollonius' heavenly ascension from Dictynna's temple as a Cretan tale (οἱ δ’ ἐν Κρήτῃ φασὶ θαυμασιώτερον ἢ οἱ ἐν Λίνδῳ) is, as Ewen Bowie pointed out during the discussion following my paper at the Brussels conference, a fairly outright way of saying that this is not a true story. What I have tried to demonstrate is that the story, in spite of the admission of its fictional nature, deserves to be understood as an attempt to reaffirm several aspects of the image of Apollonius constructed in the Life.

[13] Cf. Weinreich 1929: 297: "Dieser letzte Bericht ist am stärksten aretalogisch aufgeputzt."

[14] Lohfink 1971: 38 and 41; see also Bickermann 1929: 13f.

[15] Diodorus of Sicily IV 38.5; cf. Lohfink 1971: 39f.

[16] Heraclides of Pontus fr. 83 Wehrli = Diogenes Laertius VIII 68 (tr. Hicks). On the dialogue, Περὶ τῆς ἄπνου, 'The case of the woman whose breathing had stopped,' see Gottschalk 1980: 13-36. Heraclides had Pausanias contradict  the slanderous story that Empedocles had leapt into the crater of the Etna in order to create, by his very disappearance, the illusion that he had become an immortal; see Heraclides fr. 85 Wehrli = Hippobotus fr. 16 Gigante = Diogenes Laertius VIII 69. Kingsley 1995: 233-316, esp. 253-256 has convincingly argued that the scurrilous rumour about Empedocles' attempt to vanish from the earth was a hostile distortion of an older story according to which Empedocles had quite literally immortalized himself by leaping into the Etna, and that the version presented by Heraclides is the result of his 'reworking and bowdlerizing' (Kingsley 1995: 235) this older story; cf. Bollansée's comments on FGH 1026 F 62.

[17] The same notion lies behind stories told about Alexander the Great (Arrian An. VII 27.3) and Julian the Apostate (Gregorius of Nazianzus Or. V 14). Both were credited by their detractors with a plan to throw themselves into a river when they felt their end approaching, in the hope that their bodily disappearance would be taken to mean that they had departed to the gods; cf. Rohde 1925 II: 375n1.

[18] Eusebius Reply to Hierocles 44.3. On the significance of Philostratus' claim see also Petzke 1970: 186f.

[19] Heraclides of Pontus fr. 83 Wehrli = Diogenes Laertius VIII 68. A further parallel can be found in the divine voice calling Oedipus at the end of his earthly existence: Sophocles OC 1623-1629; cf. Lohfink 1971: 45, and see also W. Speyer, "Himmelsstimme," RAC 15: 286-303, at 288-290.

[20] VIII 30.3: στεῖχε γᾶς, στεῖχε ἐς οὐρανόν, στεῖχε (tr. Jones). Holland 1925: 208 has pointed out that reading στεῖχε γᾶς, στεῖχε <δ'> εἰς οὐρανόν, στεῖχε results in a catalectic cretic tetrameter, a metre perfectly fitting the geographical setting.

[21] Lévy 1927: 74f. conjectures that in Apollonius' hypothetical account of the ascension of Pythagoras, in his view the model of the story in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius (above, n. 5), the maidens were the Muses.

[22] Holland 1925: 208.

[23] Lohfink 1971: 38. Schirren 2005: 308n282 is right, however, in pointing out that Philostratus makes the inconsistency between the sentiment voiced by Apollonius in VIII 28 and his behaviour in VIII 30.3 more explicit than is required by the narrative.

[24] Porphyry VP 23; Iamblichus VP 60; cf. Burkert 1972: 142n124.

[25] VA VI 43; cf. Petzke 1970: 140n2.

[26] VA VII 38.2.

[27] See VA VII 34, with Euripides Ba. 234 (γόης ἐπῳδός) and 493. My awareness of the extent of the parallel between the treatment of Apollonius by Domitian and of Dionysus by Pentheus has profited from a discussion with Kristoffel Demoen.

[28] Euripides Ba. 575-659. On the 'liberating epiphany' of Dionysus see most recently Weaver 2004: 44-49; and cf. Weinreich 1929: 282-290; Versnel 1990, 165-167.

[29] See Weinreich 1929: 295-298. Weaver 2004, esp. 281-283 has argued that in cases such as these we should, rather than assuming direct literary influence, reckon with the effect of a more widespread narrative pattern, which he labels the 'Dionysian resistance myth'. In the Life of Apollonius, he detects the most outspoken analogy with this myth in the account in Book IV of Apollonius' stay in Rome during the reign of Nero, see Weaver 2004: 61n114. For the present purpose, it is not necessary to discuss whether what we are dealing with in the Books VII and VIII amounts to conscious imitation of a scene from Euripides or results from familiarity with a widely known plotline evidenced by a broader set of texts, the more so since Weaver does not question what I have called the Dionysian overtones of liberation scenes such as these; see esp. Weaver 2004: 49: "… to conceptualize a miraculous prison-escape in the Greco-Roman world was to invoke its appertaining myth-story concerning Dionysus and his cult."

[30] Od. iv 456-458; cf. Weinreich 1929: 296n16; Schirren 2005: 236.

[31] VA I 4; see on this chapter most recently Schirren 2005: 47-49.

[32] See Weinreich 1929: 296n16; R. Herter, ‘Proteus (1)’, RE XXIII: 940-975, at 967; cf. Flinterman 1995: 52; Schirren 2005: 48.

[33] VA VII 34 and 38.2; cf. Koskeniemi 1991: 13n51; Whitmarsh 2001: 228. Eusebius Reply to Hierocles 39.2-3 seizes the opportunity with both hands.

[34] VA VII 39; cf. on this passage Flinterman 1995: 64f.

[35] PGM I 101 and 116f. (tr. O’Neil). I owe this reference to Annelies Cazemier; cf. Graf 1997: 108. Weinreich 1929: 343-348 discusses miraculous liberation in the magical papyri.

[36] VA VIII 7.7; cf. Apuleius Ap. 47.3, with the evidence collected by Abt 1908: 268-270.

[37] Weinreich 1929: 297 maintained that both in Dionysian liberation miracles and in the Life the opening of the doors is directly linked to the breaking of the bonds. He was overlooking the fact that while in e.g. Ba. 447-448 the spontaneous opening of the doors of the prison is part and parcel of the miraculous liberation, in VA VIII 30.3 the liberation has been completed before the opening of the doors of the temple.

[38] VA VIII 19.2; cf. on this episode Betz 1983: 579-580.

[39] For discussion of this chapter and especially of Apollonius' oracular pronouncement see Schirren 2005: 309-312.

[40] Dionysius of Halicarnassus AR II 63.3-4; Plutarch Rom. 28.1-3; see also Livy I 16.5-8; cf. Lohfink 1971: 45. On the apotheosis of Romulus see P. Habermehl, "Jenseitsreise I (Himmelfahrt) B III: Griechenland/Rom," RAC 17: 415-432, at 421-424.

[41] Plutarch Rom. 28.7-10; Cicero Rep. III (100,30-101,4 Ziegler) = Augustine CD XXII 4.

[42] Cf. Lohfink 1971: 49 with n. 136.

[43] See Lohfink 1971: 46-49.

[44] Diogenes Laertius VIII 68 = Heraclides fr. 83 Wehrli (tr. Hicks).

[45] Diodorus IV 39.1.

[46] Cf. Hanus 1998: 215: "Ce dernier coup d'éclat est en réalité l'aboutissement logique du premier ensemble consacré à la venue au monde d'un être divin."

[47] VA I 5. The story of the swans surrounding Apollonius' mother and provoking delivery by their call implies an Apollonian birth; see Callimachus Del. 249-254; cf. Billault 2000, 113.

[48] Reading in VA I 6 παῖδα <τούτου> τοῦ Διὸς τὸν Ἀπολλώνιον γεγονέναι. See Gerard Boter's contribution in this volume, pp. 55-56.

[49] Eunapius VS 454; cf. the well-known Apollonius epigram: IdC 88 = FGH 1064 T 6, now conveniently reprinted as testimonium 41 in volume III of C.P. Jones' Loeb Life of Apollonius.

[50] Plutarchus, Rom. 28.5-6; Pausanias 6.9.6-8; Oenomaus of Gadara fr. 2 Hammerstaedt = Eusebius PE 5.34.

[51] The passages on Apollonius' visits to sanctuaries have been assembled by Bowie 1978: 1688n143. A somewhat longer stay seems to be implied in VA I 8.2 (... ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἔζη); IV 40.4 (ᾤκει μὲν δὴ ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς); V 20.1 (Χειμάσας δ’ ὁ Ἀπολλώνιος ἐν τοῖς Ἑλληνικοῖς ἱεροῖς πᾶσιν ...); VIII 15.1 (διῃτῶντο ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τοῦ Διός). In the case last mentioned Apollonius' appeal to the god's hospitality even involves a request for financial assistance from the sacred funds (VIII 17)!

[52] Pausanias 3.18.11 and 3.19.5 = LIMC Herakles 2863.

[53] Note that Strabo XIV 2.11 (655 C) calls the temple at Lindus ἐπιφανές.

[54] The full evidence for the Lindian version of the myth is collected and discussed by Croon 1953: 283-288, esp. 284n2.

[55] See e.g. "Apollodorus" II 7.7; cf. Croon 1953: 288n1.

[56] Athenaeus XII 543f-544a ; Pliny the Elder XXXV 71; cf. Van Straten 1976: 15.

[57] I have consulted the Lindian Chronicle in the edition, with translation, commentary, and interpretative essays by Higbie 2003.

[58] Koenen and Merkelbach 1976 is a publication of papyrus Köln Inv. 5604, according to the editors a fragment from Περὶ θεῶν by Apollodorus of Athens, dealing with epithets of Athena. The author paraphrases and quotes passages from the Meropis dealing with Athena's assistance to Heracles against the Meropes, see esp. lines 17-38 and 55-75; on the Meropis see the editors' comments on p. 22-26.

[59] Higbie 2003: 77, at B25-26. Note that another entry in the Chronicle describes a dedication to Athena and Heracles by the Lindians who participated in the foundation of Cyrene: "Pallas and a lion being strangled by Heracles, made from lotus wood" (B109-117 Higbie).

[60] For a survey of the evidence see Higbie 2003: 247f.

[61] See for the evidence (i.a. Diodorus V 59.5-6) Higbie 2003: 80, at B37-41.

[62] Diogenes Laertius I 89; cf. Higbie 2003: 103, at C1-5.

[63] In some cases, there is confusion rather than silence. Petzke 1970: 198 lists VA VIII 30 as one of the chapters in the Life mentioning Artemis; Talbert 1978: 1635 has Apollonius enter "the temple of Athene [my italics], whereupon a chorus of maidens was heard singing from within: (…)."

[64] On evidence for cults of Dictynna outside Crete see Guarducci 1935: 198 and 200-202; Willets 1962: 184; Chr. Boulotis, "Diktynna," LIMC III 1: 391-394, at 392; Steinhauer 1993: 78n6. The epigraphic evidence for a cult of Dictynna in Massilia mentioned by these scholars is not above all suspicion, see SEG XXXV 1065; XXXIX 1082; L 1076.

[65] Steinhauer 1993: 76f. = SEG XLIV 343.

[66] IG XII 3.189; on the date see most recently Steinhauer 1993: 78n6.

[67] Amyzon no. 14, line 3; no. 15, line 3; cf. SEG XXXIII 851. See also SEG XLIII 707, a decree of the citizens of Carian Euromos, where in line 18f. the same priesthood has been plausibly restored.

[68] Identification can already be found in Euripides, IT 126f. For 'Dictynna' as an epiclesis of Artemis see e.g. IG II2 4688 (votive inscription for Artemis Dictynna from Athens); Pausanias III 24.9 (a temple of Artemis Dictynna near Laconian Las); IG IX 1.5 (a priestess of Artemis Dictynna in Phocian Anticyra; cf. Pausanias X 36.5); SEG XXVI 1623, line 6f. (dedication of a temenos to Apollo epêkoos and Artemis Dictynna by Antiochus I of Commagene); Plutarch, Mor. 984a; Apuleius, Met. XI 5.

[69] Pace Callimachus, Dian. 204f. Pfeiffer: … καὶ δέ σε κείνης/Κρηταέες καλέουσιν ἐπωνυμίην ἀπὸ νύμφης. See Guarducci 1935: 200; Sporn 2001: 225; Sporn 2002: 325.

[70] See i.a. I.Cret. II iii 1 (Aptera); Herodotus III 59; Strabo X 4.12 (Cydonia); I.Cret. II xi 1, with LIMC Diktynna 1 (Polyrrhenia); I.Cret. II xvii 1 (Lisos); cf. Guarducci 1935: 189f.; Willetts 1962: 184; Steinhauer 1993: 79n8; Sporn 2002: 263f., 277-280, 285f., 311f., 324f. and 384.

[71] Strabo X 4.12.

[72] Excavation report: Welter/Jantzen 1951; Sporn 2001; full bibliography in Sporn 2002: 277n2072.

[73] On the building history of the site see Welter/Jantzen 1951: 116f.; Gondicas 1988: 288-290; Sporn 2001: 226-228; Sporn 2002: 277f.; Prent 2005: 311f.

[74] I.Cret. II xi 6; cf. Welter/Jantzen 1951: 117; Sporn 2001: 228.

[75]  I.Cret. IV 333 and 334; cf. Guarducci’s commentary on I.Cret. II xi 6; Sporn 2002: 279f.

[76] I Cret. II xi 3; cf. Sanders 1982: 39.

[77] Sporn 2001: 228.

[78] For Dictynna's cultic association with Pan see Guarducci's introduction to the inscriptions from the Dictynnaion, I.Cret. II: 130f.; Sporn 2001: 230f. The evidence consists of a representation of Pan on the fragmentary base of a column of the cella of the Hadrianic temple in combination with Anthologia Graeca XVI (= Appendix Planudea) 258. The hypothesis about rites de passage for marriageable girls is based on the analogous case of the association of Pan with Artemis in the cave of Pan at Eleusis in Attica, where there is evidence for marriage rites, see Sporn 2001: 232.

[79] Sporn 2001: 233, referring to Apollodorus, FGH 244 F 128 (= Scholia in Euripidem, Hipp. 73 [15,3-7 Schwartz]), who mentions that on Crete the wreaths of Artemis are made of mastic and (Cretan) dittany (δίκταμ[ν]ον), adding that dittany is used to ease childbirth; see on the medicinal use of Cretan dittany also the evidence collected by M.C.P. Schmidt, "Diktamnon 2," RE V: 582f. As the mastic is mentioned by Callimachus in connection with Dictynna's cult (Dian. 201), it seems reasonable to assume, as Sporn does, that Apollodorus "der allgegenwärtigen Verwechslung der Diktynna mit Artemis erlegen war."

[80] Sporn 2001: 231f. observes that representations of grapes can be seen on architectural fragments at the site of the Dictynnaion, and she identifies the Bacchic nymph crowned with vines and/or grapes on coins from Cydonia (see e.g. Svoronos 1890: 100 no. 3 and 104 no. 36) as Dictynna.

[81] Contra Sporn 2001: 232: "Einen orgiastischen Kult am Diktynnaion legt übrigens auch die Nachricht nahe, daß Apollonius von Tyana bei einem Besuch im Diktynnaion im 1. Jh. v. Chr. (sic) entrückt sei."

[82] Boulotis, "Diktynna," LIMC III 1: 393: "Ikonographisch ist D. mit Artemis identisch (…); selbst die Kretenser besaßen anscheinend keine eigene D.ikonographie."

[83] LIMC Diktynna 1.

[84] Boulotis, "Diktynna," LIMC III 1: 393.

[85] LIMC Diktynna 3 = Svoronos 1890: 343 no. 55.

[86] LIMC Diktynna 4 = Svoronos 1890: 123-124 no. 4.

[87] See Guarducci 1935: 193f.; Willets 1962: 191f.; Sporn 2001: 229. Epigraphical evidence: I.Cret. II xvii 1 (Lisos); Amyzon no. 14, line 3; no. 15, line 3; cf. n. 67, above. An interesting parallel can be found in Carian Lagina, where on the frieze of her temple Hecate is represented as kourotrophos of Zeus, see Simon 1993: 279f.; I owe this reference to my student Monica Werk. This is a myth for which there is no textual evidence either: in Hesiod Th. 450-452, Hecate is made kourotrophos by Zeus, which is not easily reconcilable with a role as foster mother of Zeus. Note that Hecate is one of the goddesses with whom Dictynna was sometimes identified, see Scholia in Euripidem, Hipp. 146 (24,11-16 Schwartz).

[88] For discussion of the intricate political history of the sanctuary see Sporn 2002: 278-280.

[89] Svoronos 1890: 104 no. 36-42; 107 no. 61; 111-113 no. 92 and 94-107; 114 no. 119; 115f. no. 131-136; 118 no. 148-149; 119 no. 153; cf. Stefanakis 2000: 79 and 81 with n. 15; Sporn 2001: 229.

[90] Stefanakis 2000: 81f.

[91] The second interpretation was originally proposed by Svoronos and has been recently championed by Sporn 2001: 229f. Stefanakis 2000: 83f. emphasizes that is impossible to prove one of the proposed identifications. Although he prefers the first, he does admit that Svoronos' interpretation "may point towards the reconstruction of a lost myth of Zeus Cretagenes."

[92] Aglaosthenes FGH 499 F 1 = Eratosthenes, Cat. 2; see also Aratus 30-37; Hyginus Astr. II 2; cf. Sporn 2001: 230 with n. 23; Stefanakis 2000: 84.

[93] Hesychius s.v. Κυνόσουρα. Cf. Sporn 2001: 230 with n. 24.

[94] Sporn 2001: 230.

[95] VA 8.30.2: ... καὶ ἀξιοῦσιν αὐτοὺς οἱ Κρῆτες μήτε τῶν ἄρκτων μήτε τῶν ὧδε ἀγρίων λείπεσθαι.

 [96] On the cult of Zeus Asbamaios see Berges and Nollé 2000: 317-319.

[97] For a former visit of Apollonius to Crete, "which we consider the nurse of Zeus" (tr. Jones), and to the sacred sites on Mount Ida in particular see VA IV 34.

[98] As we have seen, in Callimachus' Hymn to Artemis (195-200) the transition of Britomartis/Dictynna to divine status coincides with a leap into the sea. On the concept of divinization by a leap into the sea see A. Hermann, "Ertrinken," RAC 6: 370-409, at 393f. Carcopino 1926 has tried to demonstrate that the representation of Sappho's leap from the Leucadian rock, in the apse of the subterranean basilica near the Porta Maggiore in Rome, is informed by Pythagorean concepts; see for a lengthy restatement of this thesis Carcopino 1956: 9-81. However, the main literary evidence adduced by Carcopino (1926: 382f.; 1956: 14-23) for the Pythagorean character of the hypogaeum and for a Pythagorean appropriation of Sappho's 'Meeressprung' (Pliny the Elder XXII 20) does not suffice to carry the weight of his conclusions, as has been demonstrated by Hubaux 1928; cf. Hubaux 1930: 187-194; André 1958; Bastet 1958: 73 with n. 3. According to Carcopino, it was Pliny's contention that magicians and Pythagoreans speculated about Sappho's love for Phaon (resulting in her leap into the sea). However, the passage under discussion may just as well, if not better, be understood as implying nothing more than that these gentlemen were fascinated by the aphrodisiacal properties of the root of the white variant of the erynge. The attempt by Sauron (1994: 604-630) to resuscitate Carcopino's hypothesis fails to answer Hubaux' well-founded objections to Carcopino's interpretation of the information supplied by Pliny; see especially Sauron 1994: 606 and 609, where XXII 20 should be read for XXXII 20. To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence for the assumption that apotheosis by a leap into the sea was a notion especially dear to Pythagoreans, and I don't think it advisable to look for an explanation for the choice of the Dictynnaion in this direction.

[99] I am much indebted to Gerard Boter for his incisive comments on the penultimate version of this paper. Of course, he is not responsible for the views expressed in it or for any remaining errors. I also would like to express my gratitude to the colleagues of the Universiteit Gent who organized the conference at Brussels, for a memorable occasion, as pleasurable as it was instructive.


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