Gregory Fewster

Forging the Philosopher?

Epistolarity and Pseudo-documentarism in Philostratus's Life of Apollonius

Section: Articles
Early Christianity (EC)

Volume 14 () / Issue 4, pp. 529-547 (19)
Published 04.01.2024

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Emerging from scholarship on ancient fiction, »pseudo-documentarism« describes the invocation of fabricated sources in a narrative work. This article places pseudodocumentarism intoaconstellation of attributive practices, of which pseudepigraphy is also a part, that work to shape the identity of a purported »author.« To do so, it analyzes an assemblage of letters attributed to the first-century wonderworker Apollonius of Tyana and their deployment in his only extant biography, composed by the third-century sophist Philostratus of Athens. Through a narratological reading of the Life of Apollonius, this article traces the subtle pseudo-documentarist strategies – the invocation of Apollonian letters – by which Philostratus characterizes his biographical subject as the supreme Pythagorean philosopher, as an alternative to the magician whom his detractors present.

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