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A Tricky Classic: The Life of Appollonius of Tyana between History, Philosophy, and Magic

A Tricky Classic: The Life of Appollonius of Tyana between History, Philosophy, and Magic
73 Queen's Park, Northrop Frye Hall room 113
Time: Nov 7th, 3:30 pm End: Nov 7th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), History (FAS), Historical Studies (UTM), Historical and Cultural Studies (UTSC), French (FAS), Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS), Classics (FAS), Book History/Print Culture, 1500-1800, 1200-1500
Lecture by Grégoire Holtz, University of Toronto Department of French

The Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies is pleased to present

Grégoire Holtz, Department of French

A Tricky Classic: the Life of Appollonius of Tyana -- between History, Philosophy & Magic

The reception of Philostrate’s Life of Appollonius of Tyana reveals a central paradox in the Early Modern “commerce with the classics.” From his first Aldus edition (1501) on, sixteenth-century scholars seem to read this strange Greek book in a very awkward way. On one hand, the fascination for the Golden Age and specifically Pythagoreanism, is incredibly strong, but on the other hand the dark side of the book cannot be repressed. The Life of Appollonius of Tyana would indeed appear to be an antichristian request from the Empress Julia Domna (third century) in order to block Christians’ progress. Ever since its strong condemnation by Eusebius of Caesarea and patristic literature, one cannot ignore that Philostrate’s book is full of prodigies and magic adventures which can be read as a parody of Christ’s miracles. This talk will discuss the rediscovery of the text in the late fifteenth century and its first French translations, the first integral one by Thomas Sébillet (1556) and then the second one by Blaise de Vigenère (1599). How did printers, commentators, and translators manage to find their way through this tricky classic? Which strategies did they use to save the prisca theologia and the “natural philosophy” of the mage Apollonius, while their own Christian framework recommended rejecting him as an imposter and a wizard?

Grégoire Holtz
is Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator at the French Department in the University of Toronto. A specialist of early modern literature, he is the author of L’Ombre de l’auteur, Pierre Bergeron et l’écriture du voyage à la fin de la Renaissance (Droz, 2011), unveiling the collective writing process and ghost-writing technique behind early travel accounts. He has published several essays on travel accounts to India, Nouvelle France, and North Africa and an annotated edition of Voyage de Belon du Mans en Egypte (1547) (Klincksieck, 2004). Professor Holtz has also written on satire, demonology, book history, early anthropology and colonialism. Most recently, he published Nouveaux aspects de la culture de l’imprimé (XVe-XVIIe siècles) (Droz, 2014). His current work is on the reception of controversial classics in the sixteenth century.

This event is free and open to all. For further information, please contact the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at (416) 585-4468.

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