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CRRS Friday Workshop: Gregoire Holtz (French) “A tricky classic: The Life Appollonius of Tyana between history, philosophy and magic”

November 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

appoloniusThe 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, 16th Centuries 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 (3rd 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 15th 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.


November 7, 2014
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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