The life and miracles of a pagan holy man.
This biography of a first-century AD holy man has become one of the most widely discussed literary works of later antiquity. In a grandly baroque style style Philostratus portrays a charismatic teacher and religious reformer from Tyana in Cappadocia (modern central Turkey) who travels the length of the known world, from the Atlantic to the river Ganges. His miracles, which include extraordinary cures and mysterious disappearances, together with his apparent triumph over death, caused pagans to make Apollonius a rival to Jesus of Nazareth.
In his three-volume Loeb edition of this third-century work, Christopher Jones gives a much improved Greek text and an elegant translation with full explanatory notes. The Life of Apollonius is formally a biography (by far the longest that survives from antiquity), but in reality a combination of travel narrative, rhetorical showpiece, and much else. In the introduction, Jones addresses the question of how far the Life is history and how far fiction. He also discusses the survival and reception of the work through Late Antiquity and up to modern times, and the role that it continues to play in controversies about Christianity.
Jones has produced a superlative edition. Loebs are hard to get right. A good Loeb should (if we are honest) be easily usable as a clandestine crib for the (lazy, hurried, or linguistically challenged) reader who wants to translate the Greek with an eye on the English; at the same time, it should meet exacting standards of scholarship. Jones's is accessible and erudite. His discussion of how he has established his text is fuller and clearer than most, and allows the non-specialist to take some pleasure in the detective work involved in the process; in tracing, for example, Richard Bentley's marginalia preserved in his copy of a previous edition. The text is judicious and the translation stylishly capture's the sophist's rhetorical range. It is based on, but betters, Christopher Jones's abridged translation for Penguin Classics, published in 1970. It is a good read in its own right: no mean feat. Excellent introductory material and maps help chart Apollonius's imaginary journey. He may no longer be worshipped (except in the wackier corners of cyberspace), but nonetheless we can rightly say: Apollonius Lives!
- 448 pages
- 1 x 4-1/4 x 6-3/8 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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