Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.09.62

Christopher P. Jones (ed.), Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana. The Loeb Classical Library, 16 and 17.   Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2005.  Pp. 432; 448.  ISBN 0-674-99613-5.  $21.50 (LCL16).  ISBN 0-674-99614-3.  $21.50 (LCL17).  

Reviewed by Gerard Boter and Jaap-Jan Flinterman, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( and
Word count: 5106 words

0. Introduction

Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana (Τὰ ἐς τὸν Τυανέα Ἀπολλώνιον) is a heavily fictionalized biography of a first-century Pythagorean philosopher and miracle worker from Cappadocia, written by an early third-century sophist from Athens. It has been and is frequently and intensively discussed by scholars with widely diverging interests. The work's popularity among birds of different feathers is largely due to the variety and richness of its narrative content. Scholars interested in social relations and civic life in the cities in the Greek provinces of the Roman empire, in Greek attitudes towards Roman rule, in post-classical Greek political theory, in developments in the fields of religion and philosophy in the early-imperial period, and -- last but not least -- in the development of Greek narrative art time and again discuss selected episodes from Philostratus' work. Not all of them have the linguistic competence needed to read the Life in the Greek original without the aid of a translation; all of them are likely to welcome with enthusiasm the publication of what is presented in the blurb as "a much improved Greek text and a stylish translation with full explanatory notes." Expectations have been running high, if only because the new Loeb -- the successor of Conybeare's 1912 Life of Apollonius -- has been edited and translated by C.P. Jones (J.), an internationally acknowledged expert in Greek imperial life and literature.1

It should be said beforehand that the Loeb format is not meant to cater for those who love a full critical apparatus and notes that amount to a minor commentary (Brunt's Arrian being the exception). It is, therefore, important, to judge J.'s Life of Apollonius with the standards that he has explicitly or implicitly set himself: an 'interim text' that improves upon Kayser's 1870 Teubner; a translation that combines the virtues of reliability and readability; and an introduction and explanatory notes that are helpful to the non-specialist reader without overburdening the volumes with learning. With these provisos in mind, we shall discuss J.'s introduction (1), text (2), translation (3), and notes (4). Consistency and correctness are of course criteria that any scholarly work has to meet. They are, moreover, all-important for the edition, translation, and annotation of a text and, therefore, deserve to be singled out for mention in the present case.2

1. J.'s introduction

In 21 pages, J. discusses Philostratus' life and works (mentioning as a possibility his own dating of the Lives of the Sophists in the reign of Gordian III);3 the genre of the Life of Apollonius ("in general form and structure ... a biography" with "a variety of other genres and influences" incorporated); the sources for Apollonius' vicissitudes mentioned by Philostratus (siding with the scholarly majority that considers the memoirs of Apollonius' alleged disciple Damis a Philostratean fiction); the relation between the protagonist of the Life and the little that can be surmised about the historical Apollonius; Apollonius' travels; and Apollonius' Nachleben. Although this is mostly very useful information for the intended readership, we cannot help but notice a serious omission: there is next to nothing in the introduction about Apollonius as a miracle worker, about the relation between his thaumaturgy and his Pythagoreanism, and about the -- not invariably successful -- attempts by Philostratus to defend his hero against the suspicion that he had been a magician. In this regard, the introduction is not very helpful for those among the prospective readers of the book -- probably a substantial part of the readership -- who are interested in precisely this aspect of the Life.

J. is not the first to argue that the Life's protagonist "is made to act very much like the public speakers whom Philostratus was later to describe in his Lives of the sophists" (I 9).4 The extent to which this is the case is open to dispute. J. points out that, "like Dio of Prusa, Apollonius lectures the Alexandrians on their addiction to horse racing" (I 9). But irrespective of the label we prefer to put on Dio Chrysostom (sophist, philosopher, or something in between), in his oration to the Alexandrians (or. 32) he carefully presents himself as a philosopher.5 By portraying Apollonius as an admonisher of cities and a counsellor of monarchs, Philostratus modelled his hero on an idealized image of the philosopher rather than on sophists. It seems to be J.'s view that Philostratus chose the sophistic model to compensate for his own lack of interest and expertise in philosophic doctrine (I 9,11). However, the doctrinal poverty of Philostratus' Apollonius has as its corollary a clear emphasis on a way of life as a philosopher's distinguishing characteristic. Lecturing citizens and rulers was part and parcel of this philosophic life.

Some quibbles. In the opening sentence of the introduction, J. mentions that the author of the Life is sometimes called 'the Younger' (I 1). The label is bound to create confusion and it is better to avoid it, if only because Friedrich Solmsen called the author of the Life of Apollonius and the Lives of the Sophists 'Philostratus the Elder.'6 'Our' Philostratus is almost certainly the oldest bearer of that name to whom part of the extant writings going under the name of Philostratus can be assigned. There are, however, two younger namesakes, each of whom can be held responsible for (at least) one of those writings. Traditionally, the designation 'Philostratus the Younger' is reserved for the author of the second set of Imagines. It was a wise decision of J. to avoid this thorny subject in the introduction to a Loeb.7 It would have been even wiser to avoid any epithet relating to it.

J. makes a good case against the common assumption that the preposition ἐς in the title implies an encomiastic slant (I 3 n. 1), pointing out that in 1.3.2 ἐς Ἀπολλώνιον "surely means no more than 'about Apollonius'." Unfortunately, this good point is to some extent spoiled by the fact that the complete Greek title of the work is mentioned neither in the introduction nor in the heading of the Greek text.8 This curious piece of negligence brings us to J.'s text.

2. The Greek text

J. discusses the transmission of the Greek text and the history of its editions on pp. 22-26 of the introduction. He rightly remarks that there is no real critical edition of the Vita Apollonii, Kayser's 1844 edition being "the nearest approach to a proper edition" (I 23).9 The starting point for J.'s edition is Kayser's 1870 edition. In discussing this edition, J. is not quite fair when he states (I 23-24) "Despite the many criticisms of his methods expressed by Cobet and others, Kayser appears to have done no further work on the Life after 1844 ..." In fact, Kayser 1870 does accept quite a number of the conjectures proposed by Cobet and Westermann, as appears from the Adnotatio critica to the 1870 edition, pp. XXVI-XXXVII. Moreover, the 1870 edition contains many conjectures by Kayser that were not yet present in either text or apparatus of the 1844 edition.10

With regard to the constitution of the Greek text J. declares that he has removed "Kayser's overly bold conjectures" and has taken account of conjectures rejected by or unknown to Kayser (I 25). J. may well be right in rejecting a number of Kayser's conjectures; but J. does not always acknowledge his debt to Kayser in his critical notes. A case in point is 1.20.3, where Kayser reads (...) τὰ διὰ τῶν βαρβάρων τούτων <πορευομένοις> σπουδασθέντα εἰπεῖν; J. prints this reading without any comment. Secondly, J. accepts many conjectures by scholars working before 1870, such as Reiske, Valckenaer, and Cobet; further, he includes conjectures by more recent scholars such as Jackson, Radermacher, Richards and (most recently) Lucarini. In many cases, these conjectures are convincing.11 In others, however, the text is not improved.12 J. adds some twenty conjectures made by himself, if we have counted correctly. Some of these are quite attractive,13 others are superfluous.14 A third respect in which J.'s edition differs from Kayser's is that he subdivides "Kayser's chapters into shorter sections, in which I have often followed Westermann" (I 25). In itself, this subdivision is very welcome, especially in the longer chapters such as 8.7. On the other hand, J.'s habit of making each new paragraph start on a fresh line leads to a typographical anomaly: often, a paragraph ends with a comma, while the first word of the following paragraph is printed with a capital; in the translation, however, the ending paragraph is closed with a period. See for instance 1.13.1-2; 7.18.1-2.

Occasionally, J. "slightly alter[s] the boundaries between chapters observed by previous editors" (I 25). This is not very helpful either, because it may cause problems with references in the secondary literature. Moreover, J.'s motives for altering the division of the text are not always clear. For instance, at 4.16.6 J. prints the phrase τοιαῦτα μὲν τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς νεώς (followed by a comma) as the final words of the chapter, starting 4.17 with Ἐς δὲ τὸν Πειραιᾶ ἐσπλεύσας κτἑ., thus interrupting the μέν-δέ structure of the sentence, which is observed in the other editions.

In formulating the ways in which his text differs from Kayser's (I 25), J. does not state that he also chooses between mss. readings. Yet this does happen from time to time. For instance, at 4.16.6 J. prints Πέμπτον ἠρόμην, without δ', which is found in Par. 1696 exclusively (and accepted by Kayser). We have noted only two cases where a ms. reading is explicitly mentioned in the critical notes: at 6.16.1 J. accepts the addition of μή from the Vratislaviensis, and at 7.2.2 the reading Αἰνίω is found in Par. 1696.

In some places, J.'s treatment of the Greek text and his critical annotation are very careless. An instance is supplied by 6.5.3: at the end of this chapter J. prints ἐκέλευσεν ἐς ἤθη ἀποστείχειν; his critical note runs: "ἀποστείχειν Cob.: στείχειν." According to J.'s method as explained by him at I 25-26, this means that Cobet conjectured ἀποστείχειν, while the mss. have στείχειν. In reality, the mss. have καταστείχειν, not στείχειν. What is more, the two words preceding ἀποστείχειν, ἐς ἤθη, were added conjecturally by Kayser in the 1870 edition, which is not reported by J. On top of this, the words ἐς ἤθη go untranslated by J.

Sometimes J.'s punctuation is patently wrong. For instance, at 1.2.1 J. divides the first four lines of the chapter into three independent clauses, each ending with a full stop. Now the author of the Life does not shrink from syntactical anomalies, but even in Philostratus it is clearly impossible to regard Ἀδελφὰ γὰρ τούτοις ἐπιτηδεύσαντα Ἀπολλώνιον as a self-contained sentence. In reality, of course, the accusatives all depend on the finite verb γιγνώσκουσιν. At 8.7.7 the inverted commas after Μοίρας and before τὸν Δία should be removed.

The Greek text contains a number of wrong accents. Most conspicuously, J. often prints a gravis on an oxytone word followed by a punctuation mark, a habit which is very frequent in the mss. and in nineteenth century editions, but which has been generally abandoned since the early twentieth century.15 For other wrong accents, see e.g. 4.36.3 ἐκτυφλῶσεσθαι (repeated in the critical note). Remarkably enough, J. makes a mistake in a conjecture of his own: at 8.7.6 ταὐτ' (in both text and critical note) should be accentuated ταὔτ'.

3. The translation

For the translation J. starts from his abridged Penguin translation (1970). For the present (Dutch) reviewers the translation runs very smoothly; it certainly makes for pleasant reading.16 Even so, the translation suffers from considerable defects. For reasons best known to himself, J. often alters his correct 1970 translation (henceforward 'J. 1970') in favour of a new but wrong translation. In the first place, there are cases where the translation simply does not correspond to the original Greek. The case of 6.5.3, where J. prints Kayser's ἐς ἤθη in his Greek text without either mentioning or translating it, has already been noted above. At 3.24.3 J. prints ὡς δὲ ὑπήκουσα ἐβούλοντο; ὑπήκουσα is his conjecture for the ms. reading ὑπούργησα, for which Kayser conjectured ὑπουργῆσα<ι ὑπεσχόμην>; yet J. translates the phrase as "So after promising to do the service they wished," which corresponds to Kayser's text, but cannot stand as a translation of J.'s Greek text.17 At 7.39.1 J. conjectures <τῆς τέχνης> ταύτης, instead of Kayser's αὐ<τῶν> τῆς <τέχνης>, which is accepted by Conybeare; J.'s conjecture seems to have been inspired by Conybeare's translation, "this art" (which is also in J. 1970); but J. himself translates "these people's profession," which corresponds to the Greek text of Kayser and Conybeare. Still worse, at 7.4.1 a whole part of the Greek text goes untranslated: for the Greek ἀλλὰ τὸν Βίνδικα ἐπιρρωννὺς καὶ τὸν Τιγελλῖνον ἐκπλήττων σαθροτέραν τὴν τυραννίδα ἐποίει the translation only has "but by encouragement," corresponding to ἀλλὰ ἐπιρρωννὺς alone, so that the whole sentence becomes unintelligible. J. 1970 translates the complete Greek text here.

J. has a marked tendency to translate in an interpretive way. This may occasionally be helpful to the non-Greek reader, but sometimes it is superfluous or misleading. The Greek ἀνήρ, when referring to Apollonius, is consistently rendered as "the Master"; the same word, applied to Nerva and his companions, is rendered as "heroes" (e.g. 7.33.1). At 7.3.2 even Philip of Macedonia, designated as ἀνήρ, is called a "hero" in J.'s translation, although nothing in the context suggests a positive appreciation on the part of Philostratus. On the contrary, in 7.37 the protagonist of the Life introduces Philip as a paradigmatic tyrant.18 At 6.31.2 the Greek has δυσχερῶς δὲ τοῦ Τίτου τὸν κύνα ἀκούσαντος; here J. translates τὸν κύνα as "the word 'Cynic'," adding the note: "Literally 'dog' (kuôn), a term often applied to the Cynics." It would have been better to leave the word 'dog' in the text, because Apollonius continues with the story about Telemachus, who needed two dogs, not two Cynics. At 7.3.1 and 3 the Γέται have been turned into Goths. Now it is true that the Goths, who make their appearance in Greco-Roman history in the third century CE, are sometimes called Γέται. But in the present case the ethnic designation refers to a story located in the fourth century BCE about the death of Cotys, king of the Odrysian Thracians. It seems, therefore, preferable to stick to the people known as Γέται in the classical period: a conglomerate of tribes on the Lower Danube who, incidentally, were subject to the Odrysian kingdom, at least in the fifth century BCE.19 At 2.36.1 J. (following Conybeare) translates the expression μελαμπύγου τυχεῖν as "catching a Tartar"; at 8.7.3 J. translates τὰς Ἰλιάδας ταύτας as "these catalogs of crime"; in such cases it would be preferable to render the Greek faithfully while adding an explanatory note. In other cases, J. adds one or more words without any counterpart in the Greek. 2.12.2: οὗτοί φασιν is translated as "these two say." 4.13.2: J. translates ἄνδρες Ἕλληνες as "Nobles of Greece," thus suggesting a link with the immediately following "let us show consideration for a noble man," which is not in the Greek. 7.32.3: "Majesty" is not in the Greek.

In many places words or phrases are translated inadequately. We will give some instances. At 1.27 J. translates the phrase ἄτιμον διειλῆφθαι as "[he] was thought dishonored"; in the first place, διειλῆφθαι means "to be arrested," not "to be thought" (see LSJ s.v. II 1), and further it is probable that ἄτιμον refers to "loss of (civil) rights" rather than "dishonor." J. 1970 rightly has "is arrested in disgrace." At 1.37.2 Apollonius advises to keep alive the adulterous eunuch who was caught in flagranti; after having explained that in this way the punishment for the eunuch will be much heavier than if he were put to death, Apollonius is praised as σοφόν τε καὶ ἥμερον; the last word is translated by J. as "merciful," but this is in flat contradiction with Apollonius' intentions; here ἥμερος serves as the antonym of ὀργίλος: it might be rendered as "calm," "well-considered." At 4.13.3 ναὶ Παλάμηδες is translated as "Yes, by Palamedes:" now ναί with the accusative can be used this way (see LSJ s.v. I 2), but here we have the vocative, so that the phrase means "Yes, Palamedes." The word σωφροσύνη has a wide range of applications; at 4.16.6 J. translates it as "chastity," at 7.42.2 as "modesty"; it should rather be the other way round, because in the latter passage Apollonius praises a young man for not giving in to Domitian's advances, while in the former Palamedes is praised in general terms, not specifically with regard to sexual self-restraint. In J. 1970 we do find "chastity" at 7.42.2; 4.16.6 is omitted in J. 1970. At 4.20.2 the screams of the spirit who is being exorcized are compared to the screams of καομένων τε καὶ στρεβλουμένων, which J. translates as "people being burned alive or tortured"; in fact both verbs refer to methods of torture, καομένων by means of fire (or hot iron), στρεβλουμένων by being put on the rack. At 4.35 the phrase εἰ μὴ σφόδρα ἔρρωτο is rendered as "if he had not been extremely resolute"; now the verb ἔρρωμαι can be used to refer to mental strength, but the context makes it unequivocally clear that here physical strength is meant. J. 1970 rightly has "if he had not had a very strong constitution." At 6.7 the future ἀφίξεσθαι is translated as "[he] had [come]," which corresponds to the aorist infinitive. J. 1970 rightly: "that the man from Tyana was coming too."

In other passages the syntax has been perverted, which results in wrong interpretations. At 4.25.4 J. renders the Greek ἐρῶσι δ' αὗται καὶ ἀφροδισίων μέν, σαρκῶν δὲ μάλιστα ἀνθρωπείων ἐρῶσι as "Vampires also feel love, but they love human intercourse and human flesh above all," which does not do justice to the μέν-δέ structure of the sentence; J. 1970 rightly has "Vampires also love sex, but above all they love human flesh." At 6.2.1 Philostratus speaks about the people who live on the border of Egypt and Ethiopia; with regard to the colour of their skin he says μελαίνονται γὰρ οἱ μὲν ἧττον Αἰθιόπων, οἱ δὲ μᾶλλον Αἰγυπτίων, which J. translates as "for the Egyptians are less black than the Ethiopians and the Ethiopians more so than the Egyptians"; but it is pointless to express the same thought twice, and the sentence is about the people living on the border, not about the Egyptians and the Ethiopians. Here οἱ μέν and οἱ δέ have the same referent,20 namely the people living on the border; J. 1970 rightly: "less black than the Ethiopians but more so than the Egyptians." There is an ineradicable conviction that the irrealis in Greek corresponds to Latin usage, in the sense that the imperfect always refers to the present, and the aorist always to the past. This is not true: the choice for the imperfect or the aorist is determined by aspect, not by tense.21 This is demonstrated well in 7.12.1, where the imperfect and aorist forms ἡγοῦ, ᾤχου ἀποδράς, ἀπέδρας and ἐκινδύνευες all refer to the present situation. J. does not recognize this, whereas Conybeare's translation brings out the state of affairs correctly. Finally, there are errors in the translation resulting from mere carelessness, such as 1.29 "son of Cyrus" where the Greek has τοῦ Ξέρξου; the same error occurs in J. 1970.

After these criticisms it should not go unmentioned that there are also passages where J. improves on his predecessors. A case in point is 3.41.1-2, where Philostratus speaks about Apollonius' books on divination by means of astrology; the phrase καὶ οὐδ' εἰ κέκτηταί τις οἶδα is translated by Conybeare as "but I do not even know if anyone has these gifts." J., however, translates the phrase as "and I do not know if anyone owns the work," where "the work" refers to Apollonius' four books on the subject; the context makes it clear that this is the correct interpretation. And at 1.15.2 J. plausibly renders ἄρχων as "the (chief) magistrate," where Conybeare translates "the governor."

4. The notes

Annotating a Loeb must be a daunting task. A very heterogeneous readership must be served within an extremely restricted format. The annotator is obliged to work out harsh criteria of what to explain and what to leave unsaid, only to discover that, given the limitations of space, even these criteria are too lax. In a way, he is bound to fail, and this is part of the background against which J.'s achievement should be judged.

As is the case with the Introduction, there is a lot of useful information in J.'s notes. Still, one wonders whether sufficient attention has been given to questions of inclusion and exclusion. Ixion is, for example, mentioned three times in the Life: 2.35.2, 6.40.2, and 7.12.2. The first case -- hardly more than a bare mention in the framework of a comparison -- is the one really in need of some explanation. Only the last case, however, is given a note which, unfortunately, does nothing more than referring the reader back to 6.40.2, a passage that adds nothing to the information contained in the section it is supposed to clarify. The result is a note that adds nothing to the information contained in the index. A similar criticism applies to J.'s treatment of Philostratus' references to Harmodius and Aristogeiton, also mentioned three times in the Life (5.34.3, 7.4.3, and 8.16). In none of these cases does Philostratus explicitly tell his readers that Harmodius and Aristogeiton lived on in the Greeks' memory as tyrannicides. Of course not: his intended readership knew. J. apparently thinks that his modern readers should as well: a note to 7.4.3 only refers back to 5.34.3 (duplicating information to be found in the index), and the mention in 8.16 is left without clarification. One may sympathize with the conviction that people should know what Harmodius and Aristogeiton did. One cannot help but wonder, however, whether they should also be expected to understand a fleeting reference to the anecdote of Plato's auction as a slave by Dionysius I of Syracuse (7.3.1) that J. leaves unexplained. A note on 1.3.1, on the other hand, duplicates information on Julia Domna for which the Introduction can be consulted, and is thus in its present form superfluous.

Similar inconsistencies are to be found in J.'s practice of pointing out literary allusions. One could argue that in an edition such as the one under review there is no need to draw the reader's attention to allusions -- unless the allusion substantially adds to the meaning of a passage. Phraotes' observation (2.29.2) that, while the Greeks have laws against counterfeiting money, they don't have a law against those who falsely claim or 'counterfeit' philosophy, is a case in point. It seems beyond reasonable doubt that Philostratus makes the Indian king allude to the famous slogan (παραχαράττειν τὸ νόμισμα) of Diogenes of Sinope, the founding father of Cynicism, thus drawing the reader's attention to the anti-Cynic slant of the king's diatribe. A note with a reference to D.L. 6.20 and 6.71 would, therefore, have furthered the reader's understanding. That a note indicating the allusion to Th. 1.5.2 in the same section is missing is, on the other hand, excusable, as this allusion does not seem to add substantially to the meaning of the passage. However, the same is true of the ornamental allusion to Euripides' Bacchae 918-919 in 2.36.1 which is indicated in a note. A clear policy is hard to detect in J.'s practice.

An even more serious case of overlooked intertextuality than the one noticed in the above paragraph can be found in a note to 1.34.2, where we are explicitly told that the expression 'pride of another kind' recurs at 6.11.19, but is "otherwise unknown." That is always a risky claim to make, especially when one apparently has not done a TLG search; several hits are relevant for the passages in the Life where the expression occurs, and this is particularly true of two anecdotes about Diogenes told by contemporaries of Philostratus (Ael., VH 9.34; D.L. 6.26). For a correct understanding of 6.11.19, where Apollonius uncovers the nudity of the Ethiopian Naked Ones as an example of "the proverbial 'different kind of pride'" ('ἑτέρῳ ... τύφῳ'), the second version of the anecdote told by Diogenes Laertius is especially relevant. It has the Cynic say, "Πατῶ τὸν Πλάτωνος τῦφον," to which Plato replies, "Ἑτέρῳ γε τύφῳ, Διόγενες." In other words, this is one of the intertextual signals employed by Philostratus to make the Naked Ones look like Cynics.22 In passing, we should note that Phraotes' observation in 2.29.2 and Apollonius' answer to Thespesion in 6.11.19 serve to underline the importance of lifestyle and attitude in the Life, both as distinguishing characteristics of and as subjects for debate among philosophers.

In several cases, J.'s explanatory notes are so concise as to omit important information, sometimes inadvertently leaving room for misunderstandings. A note to 1.19 may give rise to the impression that the cult-statue in 'Old Ninos' (Syrian Hierapolis) described by Philostratus in that chapter shows some resemblance to what is known of the iconography of the city's goddess, Atargatis -- a proposition that would be hard to substantiate.23 In a note to 4.38.4, J. points out that Philostratus' Apollonius is wrong in claiming that Nero murdered his mother by contriving a shipwreck: Agrippina survived the attempt on her life. For the reader without detailed knowledge of imperial history, it would have been helpful to add that she was executed immediately afterwards. In 7.10.1, Apollonius tells his disciples that he must make a secret journey, "which put them in mind of the ancient Abaris." In the accompanying footnote, Abaris is called a "legendary figure who was believed to ride though (sic) the air on an arrow." Here Abaris' connection with Pythagoras deserved mention.

Sometimes J.'s notes, informative though they are, are somewhat off the mark. In a note to 1.23.2 J. tells his readers that the "Eretrians (...) resisted the Persians in the campaign of Marathon (490), and Darius I (522-486) transplanted them to Cissia." This suggests that the Eretrians brought their misfortune on their own heads by offering resistance to Datis and Artaphrenes. In fact, their resistance against the Persians in 490 did not amount to much; they were singled out, together with the Athenians, as the objective of a punitive expedition because of their support for the Ionian rebellion.24 In 5.10.1, Philostratus relates how Apollonius had a conversation with the Roman governor of Baetica; the dramatic date is the final year of Nero's reign. In the accompanying note, J. points out that this governor is "unidentified." Correctly so: we do not know who the proconsul of Baetica was at the time. About this conversation Philostratus tells that the governor, when leaving, was urged by Apollonius to "remember Vindex" (5.10.1, at the end). This exhortation is explained in 5.10.2: Apollonius tried to unite "the neighboring governor" (perhaps rather 'a neighboring governor,' there is no article in the Greek) with Vindex, governor of one of the provinces in Gaul, probably Lugdunensis, and the first to take up arms against Nero. Obviously, the "neighboring governor" must be the unidentified governor of Baetica with whom Apollonius had the conversation referred to in 5.10.1 and explained here. Nevertheless, in a note to 5.10.2 we are told that the "neighboring governor" is "possibly Galba," legatus Augusti of Hispania Tarraconensis.25 Of course, we know that Galba was to revolt against Nero, while nothing is known of a revolt of the governor of Baetica. But that is insufficient reason to assume that Philostratus, in flat contradiction to what he actually says, refers to an event known to us rather than to an unknown or fictitious event.26 In a note to 7.22.1 the readers are informed that τὸ ἐλευθέριον δεσμωτήριον is "the part of the prison in which free persons were held." According to a recent monograph, however, we should rather think of a facility for the detention of members of the upper classes under relatively privileged circumstances.27 In 7.24 Apollonius comments on the alleged claim by the emperor Domitian that he was Athena's son by pointing out that the goddess "once gave birth to a snake for the Athenians." In the accompanying note we are informed that "Athena did not give birth to a snake, but she did set two snakes to guard the baby Erechtheus, one of the Athenian heroes." J. is undoubtedly correct that an allusion to Erichthonius/Erechtheus must be implied. In several versions of the myth, however, the Athenian hero himself is a (at least 50%) snake, and it is a distinct possibility that Philostratus makes Apollonius allude to the role played in his conception/birth by Athena who, in Burkert's words, "comes within an ace of being the mother of the ancestral king."28

Last but not least, there are a few cases where the information in the footnotes is simply wrong. A note to 1.24.3 dates the loss of a large part of the Persian fleet in the Hollows of Euboea to 479; this should be 480. From a note to 6.21.4 we learn that the Athenian leader Aristides was "exiled in 483/82 despite his reputation for justice and fair-dealing with the Athenians' allies." It is not clear how a reputation earned in the framework of the foundation of the Athenian alliance in 478/77 should have protected Aristides from ostracism in 483/82 (BCE). Darius III was not "captured by Alexander after the battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE)," as is maintained in a note to 2.21.1. The last of the Achaemenids was deposed, arrested and eventually (in July 330, more than nine months after Gaugamela) killed by Bessus, the satrap of Bactria -- who was afterwards executed as a regicide by Alexander.29

5. Conclusion

Both the critical notes to the Greek text and the explanatory notes to the translation in the new Loeb Life of Apollonius are marred by a considerable number of infelicities, inaccuracies, and mistakes. Many of them could have been avoided with a greater investment of time and attention. The translation itself makes for pleasant reading, but it is lacking in reliability. The introduction, informative though it is on a number of issues, also displays an important shortcoming in that it fails to deal adequately with Apollonius as a charismatic figure. Regrettably, we can only sum up by observing that the promises made in the blurb of this new Loeb have not been fulfilled to the extent one might have hoped for.


1.   Note that whereas Conybeare's two volumes Loeb contained Philostratus' Life of Apollonius, Apollonius' Letters and Eusebius' Contra Hieroclem, J. needs two volumes for the Life; the Apollonian Letters and Eusebius' treatise will be included in a third volume.
2.   We have read all of the Greek text of books 1 and 8. Apart from the wrong accents mentioned at the end of our section 2, we have noted only two typographical errors in the Greek of book 8: 8.7.33 read γράφειν for γρά- φειν; 8.7.38 read γαστρίζεσθαι for γαστρίζεθαι. At 1.27 read Ἀφικομένῳ for Ἁφικομένῳ. Typographical errors in the English text include the following. 1.24.3: Read "and they had to go hungry" instead of "and they had go hungry." 6.21.2: Read "since it is not prudence not to plan" instead of "since it is not prudence to plan." 7.8.2, note 13: Read "(ruled 96-98)" instead of "(ruled 98-98)." 7.10.1, note 15: Read "through" instead of "though." 8.7.22: Read "the motive that gave him the idea" instead of "the motive that give him the idea." 8.7.23: Read "their skittishness" instead of "ther skittishness." 8.7.30: Read "I am not a Scythian captive of yours" instead of "I am not a Scythian captive or yours."
3.   Cf. C.P. Jones, 'Philostratus and the Gordiani,' MediterrAnt 5 (2002) 759-767 (non vidimus).
4.   See e.g. E.L. Bowie, 'Apollonius of Tyana: tradition and reality,' in: ANRW 2.16.2 (1978) 1652-1699, at 1667-1670.
5.   See J. Hahn, Der Philosoph und die Gesellschaft. Selbstverständnis, öffentliches Auftreten und populäre Erwartungen in der hohen Kaiserzeit (Stuttgart 1989) 166f.
6.   F. Solmsen, 'Some Works of Philostratus the Elder,' TAPhA 71 (1940) 446-572.
7.   On the different Philostrati and their writings one should consult now L. de Lannoy, 'Le problème des Philostrate ,' in: ANRW 2.34.3 (1997) 2362-2449, superseding all previous treatments.
8.   In addition, J.'s quotation of 1.3.2 is inaccurate (es ton Apollonion instead of es Apollonion). Incidentally, the cover gives "Apollonius of Tyana" as a title, the title page has "The Life of Apollonius of Tyana."
9.   As a matter of fact, one of the present reviewers (GJB) is preparing a critical edition of the Vita.
10.   These later conjectures of Kayser's are marked with an asterisk in the Adnotatio critica; cf. Kayser's remark (p. XXIV): "quae novae (sc. coniecturae) meae ibi leguntur, stellula * distinxi."
11.   We will list some instances out of many. 1.3.2 διεσπασμένα] διεσπαρμένα Jackson; 1.25.1 χαλκὸν] χάλικα Jackson; 1.34.1 ὁρμῶντα] ὀργῶντα Bentley (in the critical note, J. inadvertently prints ὁργῶντα); 7.19 ἡγεῖσθαι] αἱρεῖσθαι Radermacher. Reiske's conjecture at 1.24.1 ἡμέρας <τεττάρας> is a real gem: if <τεττάρας> was written as δ', its omission is easily explained as the result of haplography, because the next word is δρομικῷ; yet, one might wonder whether "four days for a fast traveler" can count as "not far from Babylon."
12.   See for instance 7.33.3 "αἰσχρόν," ἔφη, "βασιλεῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἐκ τῶν νόμων δικάζειν ὑπὲρ ὧν <μὴ> πέπεισαι, πεπεῖσθαι ὑπὲρ ὧν μὴ ἐδίκασας," where J. accepts Reiske's addition of μή. The first part of Apollonius' statement serves to indicate that one should not judge a case when one already has a firm conviction about the matter at stake; the addition of μή destroys the sense, by stating the contrary.
13.   See for instance 2.30.1 ἐλθεῖν παρὰ τοὺς ἄνδρας, <ἐς> οὓς σὺ ὥρμηκας. At 4.44.3 J. very plausibly reads "Τοὺς <δὲ> δαίμονας," εἶπεν, "ὦ Ἀπολλώνιε κτἑ." At 5.33.3 J. brackets τυραννεῦσαι, probably regarding it as a gloss, which is quite possible.
14.   At 1.7.2 J. adds <εὖ> before διακείμενοι; but LSJ s.v. διάκειμαι mention this passage for the absolute use of διάκειμαι as "to be well-disposed," citing VS 2.10.1 as a convincing parallel. At 7.28.3 J. reads μηδ' for μήτε, undoubtedly because of μηδ' in the following line; but Denniston 513-514, when discussing irregular corresponsions of τε, states that in the collocation τε ... δέ "δέ is often unnecessarily emended by editors"; here J. has unnecessarily emended μήτε.
15.   Some instances: 1.25.1 λίθους γὰρ δὴ, 1.40 πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα εἰπὼν, 8.5.2 καὶ ἐς ἀγρὸν πορευθεὶς,.
16.   Occasionally, J. permits himself a colloquial or anachronistic translation. Some instances: 2.37. μέσας νύκτας "the small hours"; 4.3.1 τοῦ ἑρμαίου "bonanza"; 7.31.2 (τὸν λόγον) ἄσυλον "under copyright."
17.   The verb ὑπακούειν can mean "obey," but not "promise to obey."
18.   Incidentally, 7.37 is not listed in the index s.n. 'Philip, of Macedon,' and the name of the other character in the story Apollonius alludes to, Python of Byzantium, is not indexed at all.
19.   See Z.H. Archibald, in the second edition of CAH VI (1994) 447 (on the basis of Th. 2.96.1, about the campaign against Macedonia of Sitalces, one of Cotys' predecessors, in 429) and 472 (pointing out that it is unknown how the relations between the Getae and the Odrysian kingdom developed in the fourth century).
20.   For this use of μέν-δέ see Kühner-Gerth par. 469,2 (I 656-658).
21.   See Kühner-Gerth par. 393,6 (I 214), par. 574 a (II 470-471).
22.   On the Gymnoi as Cynics the main things have been said by R. Reitzenstein, Hellenistische Wundererzählungen (Leipzig 1906) 42-43 (quoting 6.11.19); see also F. Solmsen, 'Philostratos (9)-(12),' in: RE 20.1 (1941) 124-177, at 144f.
23.   On the iconography of Atargatis see H.J.W. Drijvers, 'Dea Syria,' in: LIMC III.1 (1986) 355-358; J.L. Lightfoot, Lucian: On the Syrian goddess. Edited with introduction, translation and commentary by J.L. Lightfoot (Oxford 2003) 16-35.
24.   Hdt. 5.99, 6.94, and esp. 6.119: "... Darius had nursed bitter resentment against the Eretrians, because they had injured him without provocation."[Translation: Aubrey de Sélincourt]
25.   That Philostratus was in fact referring to Galba was already hypothesized by S. Jackson, 'Apollonius and the emperors,' Hermathena 137 (1984) 25-32, at 26f., who assumed that Philostratus confused Baetica with Tarragona. J. fails to point out that that is a necessary assumption for identifying the 'neighboring governor' as Galba.
26.   On the fall of Nero and the following months in the Life see J.J. Flinterman, Power, Paideia & Pythagoreanism (Amsterdam 1995) 134-136.
27.   J.-U. Krause, Gefängnisse im römischen Reich (Stuttgart 1996) 186-188; cf. Cassius Dio 77.11.1a about a consular held in φυλακῇδέσμῳ.
28.   W. Burkert, Greek religion: archaic and classical (Oxford 1985) 143. Snake: Hyginus, Fabulae 166; Astronomica 2.13; 'son of Hephaestus and Athena'; Apollod. 3.14.6.
29.   Arr., An. 3.21 (the end of Darius); 4.7 (the execution of Bessus).

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