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Hippolytus, the Lamia, and the Eunuch: Celibacy and narrative strategy in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius

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Miles, G ORCID: 0000-0003-3149-3963 2017 , 'Hippolytus, the Lamia, and the Eunuch: Celibacy and narrative strategy in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius' , Classical Philology, vol. 112, no. 2 , pp. 200-218 , doi: 10.1086/691538.

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Abstract

Philostatus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the novelistic biography of a celibate ascetic, holy man, and Pythagorean philosopher, is a work full of echoes of classical Greek literature. This deeply learned, and often deeply puzzling, text has received renewed attention and appreciation over the last few decades. Once regarded as a historical work of dubious value, it has become increasingly clear that it knowingly and inextricably blends history and fiction, and expects astute readers, willing to tease out its interweaving of allusions and actively to create its meaning. The protagonist of the VA provides Philostratus with a number of rhetorical and narrative challenges, not the least of them being his very character as a Pythagorean. This Pythagoreanism, it should be added, is a very specific selection out of the available “Pythagorean” traditions: the text’s depiction of Apollonius’ philosophy does not refer to mathematical or musical theory, but makes much of the school’s teachings on vegetarianism, sexual restraint, and reincarnation. For all that celibacy was well-established in Pythagoreanism, it was still far from a mainstream value. So Philostratus’ problem, in this instance, lay in presenting this in acceptable and even praiseworthy terms, in rendering his celibate ascetic heroic.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Miles, G
Keywords: Life of Apollonius, Greek literature
Journal or Publication Title: Classical Philology
Publisher: University Chicago Press
ISSN: 0009-837X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1086/691538
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© 2017 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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