The Pivotal Theios Aner: (Re)invented Conservatism in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana

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Title: The Pivotal Theios Aner: (Re)invented Conservatism in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana
Author: Lopatin, Alexander J.
Advisor: Edmonds, Radcliffe; Germany, Robert
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Classics
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: The eponymous hero of Philostratus’ first work, the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, uses his status as a unique representative of perfected and divinely ordained Hellenic philosophy on earth—that is, as the quintessential theios aner—to articulate and implement Philostratus’ own ideal world order. This order was in some ways deeply conservative in its vision of political, economic, social, and religious systems--a reflection of Philostratus’ status as an establishment elite figure, but equally radical in others--a reflection of the counter-cultural philosophical tradition that Philostratus and his “Second Sophistic” milieu were channeling. Philostratus successfully uses Apollonius as a pivot, or link, between the heavenly and mortal realms. This enables the author to defend the infusion of ethical philosophy from the former realm into the latter one as a fundamentally tradition-upholding move. The changes that Apollonius effects are not new; rather, they represent a return to a long-forgotten era of Hellenic philosophical purity. The effect of this “orthodox” infusion is that ethical philosophy legitimizes and defends the established world order--political, socioeconomic, and religious--insofar as the latter adjusts to meet the demands of the former. When tensions between the two systems arise, Philostratus cleverly takes advantage of the oscillating “active” and “marginal” nature of his theios aner to prevent a collision. The Life of Apollonius of Tyana is a well-crafted, contingency-anticipating synthesis of Hellenic “culture” and “counter-culture” that makes a valiant attempt to inject new life and new direction into the author’s civilization.
Subject: Philostratus, the Athenian, 2nd/3rd cent. Life of Apollonius of Tyana
Subject: Philostratus, the Athenian, 2nd/3rd cent. -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Apotheosis in literature
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Lopatin, Alexander J.. "The Pivotal Theios Aner: (Re)invented Conservatism in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana". 2011. Available electronically from

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