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Earnest play: religion, rhetoric and intertextuality in the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus

Danny Praet (UGent)
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Abstract
The Books on Apollonius are a product of the Second Sophistic: the “Vita Apollonii” combines literary playfulness with a profound religious and even political message. It is almost impossible to know which ontological status Flavius Philostratus attributed to his subject. There are three birth stories and three stories about the way Apollonius left his earthly existence behind: one suggests he was a mere mortal, the other presents him as a demi-god and the third as the incarnation of the god Proteus. Flavius Philostratus refuses to make a clear choice between these three options, but an analysis of the literary and philosophical structure referring to the planetary deities, and the intertextual references comparing the conflict between Apollonius and Domitian with the one between Dionysus and Pentheus would suggest that the emperor was a “theomachos” and this of course has implications for the way Philostratus saw the Pythagorean sage. But the refusal to make a clear, explicit choice between three ontological identities, the willingness and the ability to live with a religious “epochè” could perhaps be seen as the product of an elitist cultural system but also of an inclusive and tolerant religious politics, and this only a few decades before the start of the persecution under Decius.
Keywords
philostratus, apollonius, second sophistic

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Chicago
Praet, Danny. 2012. “Earnest Play: Religion, Rhetoric and Intertextuality in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus.” In Acta Societatis Morgensternianae Iv-v, ed. Ivo Volt and Janika Päll, 4-5:109–126. Tartu, Germany: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus.
APA
Praet, D. (2012). Earnest play: religion, rhetoric and intertextuality in the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus. In I. Volt & J. Päll (Eds.), ACTA SOCIETATIS MORGENSTERNIANAE IV-V (Vol. 4–5, pp. 109–126). Presented at the Quattuor Lustra: papers celebrating the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of classical studies at the University of Tartu, Tartu, Germany: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus.
Vancouver
1.
Praet D. Earnest play: religion, rhetoric and intertextuality in the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus. In: Volt I, Päll J, editors. ACTA SOCIETATIS MORGENSTERNIANAE IV-V. Tartu, Germany: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus; 2012. p. 109–26.
MLA
Praet, Danny. “Earnest Play: Religion, Rhetoric and Intertextuality in the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus.” Acta Societatis Morgensternianae Iv-v. Ed. Ivo Volt & Janika Päll. Vol. 4–5. Tartu, Germany: Tartu Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2012. 109–126. Print.
@inproceedings{3116589,
  abstract     = {The Books on Apollonius are a product of the Second Sophistic: the {\textquotedblleft}Vita Apollonii{\textquotedblright} combines literary playfulness with a profound religious and even political message. It is almost impossible to know which ontological status Flavius Philostratus attributed to his subject. There are three birth stories and three stories about the way Apollonius left his earthly existence behind: one suggests he was a mere mortal, the other presents him as a demi-god and the third as the incarnation of the god Proteus. Flavius Philostratus refuses to make a clear choice between these three options, but an analysis of the literary and philosophical structure referring to the planetary deities, and the intertextual references comparing the conflict between Apollonius and Domitian with the one between Dionysus and Pentheus would suggest that the emperor was a {\textquotedblleft}theomachos{\textquotedblright} and this of course has implications for the way Philostratus saw the Pythagorean sage. But the refusal to make a clear, explicit choice between three ontological identities, the willingness and the ability to live with a religious {\textquotedblleft}epoch{\`e}{\textquotedblright} could perhaps be seen as the product of an elitist cultural system but also of an inclusive and tolerant religious politics, and this only a few decades before the start of the persecution under Decius.},
  author       = {Praet, Danny},
  booktitle    = {ACTA SOCIETATIS MORGENSTERNIANAE IV-V},
  editor       = {Volt, Ivo  and P{\"a}ll, Janika },
  isbn         = {9789949320677},
  issn         = {1736-1230},
  keyword      = {philostratus,apollonius,second sophistic},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Tartu, Germany},
  pages        = {109--126},
  publisher    = {Tartu {\"U}likooli Kirjastus},
  title        = {Earnest play: religion, rhetoric and intertextuality in the life of Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus},
  volume       = {4-5},
  year         = {2012},
}