eCite Digital Repository

Incarnating Proteus in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana


Miles, GRI, Incarnating Proteus in Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Ancient Narrative, 13 pp. 139-157. ISSN 1568-3532 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 the Author

Official URL:


The appearance of Proteus to the mother of Apollonius of Tyana, and the subsequent references to this minor deity later in the text, carry a heavy load, almost an overload, of implications. Through Proteus the work announces its own stylistic complexity (poikilia), the versatility of its protagonist and the changeability of his metaphoric characterisation. The riskiness and uncertainty of this allusion, evoking both wisdom and slipperiness, changeability and lack of constancy, are a large part of its appeal for this deeply ambiguous text. Beyond this, Proteus provides a means of approaching two separate ideas about Apollonius' nature, as a god incarnate and as a 'normal' human soul undergoing a sequence of incarnations. It is also possible that the choice of Proteus is in part motivated by an allegorical understanding of this figure as representing the Platonic notion of processions of souls under the guidance of particular deities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Literary studies
Research Field:Latin and classical Greek literature
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Other culture and society
Objective Field:Other culture and society not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Miles, GRI (Dr Graeme Miles)
ID Code:104593
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:School of Humanities
Deposited On:2015-11-17
Last Modified:2017-12-06
Downloads:76 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page