ABSTRACT

A holy man's reputation did not need to end with his death. The subsequent reputation of Apollonius of Tyana affords a large but tantalisingly incomplete picture of the ramifications of holy man's reputation over a long period. Much of the case for and against Apollonius is made to rest on the accumulation of prestige already accruing to sage in comparison with Jesus Christ: for Hierocles it weighs heavily against the latter 'that an allegedly divine nature should shed its light on men, but end its career in obscurity so soon, rather than display its virtue for ever after'. In tracing the history of holy men in the first three centuries it is important to resist any over-schematic approach. It might be tempting to note A. D. Nock's detection of 'a clear rise in tension of piety' in the third century. In the Life of Antony the saint claims to have seen the soul of Amoun borne up to heaven.