Abstract Grossardt (39/2015)

Apollonius of Tyana, a wandering sage during the times from Nero to Domitian and Nerva, in his Vita by Flavius Philostratus is constantly presented as a model of a Pythagorean. This even seems to be strengthened by his association with the Indian Brahmans, who are themselves followers of a Pythagorean philosophy, and by his continuous comparison with Odysseus, who is seen through Pythagorean lenses, too, and therefore functions as yet another philosophical model for Apollonius. However, the present article shows that in the Vita the alleged Pythagoreanism of Apollonius’ friends and models is undermined time and again. The Brahmans reenact indeed the atmosphere of Socrates’ ludicrous school as presented by Aristophanes in his Clouds, and Odysseus, during the course of the Vita, shifts more and more from a proto-Pythagorean sage to a clever teller of fanciful stories, such as the one he presents in his disguise as a Cretan beggar to the swineherd Eumaius. Apollonius thus, towards the end of his life, gets ever closer to the fictional persona of Dictys Cretensis, who himself is none other than yet another incorporation of Odysseus and his Cretan alter ego. Apollonius’ alleged Pythagoreanism that was probably inherited by Philostratus from the earlier tradition therefore seems to have been made fun of by the Severan writer as much as possible. What started as hagiography thus, at the end, turns out to be a multi-faceted display of sophistic ingenuity and literary irony indeed worthy of an Apollonius.