To Reason and to Marvel: Images of the Reader in the Life of Apollonius

  • Jean-Philippe Guez


This paper addresses the problem of the fictional or referential status of Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius, by asking what kind of reading approach the book itself represents and values. In the narrative, two opposite cognitive attitudes stand out as possible models for the reader: a critical, rationalist approach on the one hand; a juvenile attitude of amazement, on the other. While valuing them both, the text also illustrates the dangers of each (excessive naivety, excessive suspiciousness), thus suggesting their complementary character. The specific challenge of this book lies in its asking for a skilled and sophisticated reader who can, at the same time, suspend his own judgement and give in to the performative strength of the text.

Jean-Philippe Guez is Maître de Conférences at the University of Poitiers. He has published several articles on the construction of the hero character and the manipulation of stereotypes in the ideal Greek novel (‘Les romans grecs et le romanesque’, Lalies 23, 2003 ; ‘Homme tyrannique, homme royal dans le roman de Chariton’, in B. Pouderon (ed.), Passions, vertus et vices dans le roman ancien, Lyon, 2009). His current research focuses on the relationship between magic, rhetoric and sophistic, as exemplified by Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius.