1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Apollonius of Tyre
APOLLONIUS OF TYRE, a medieval tale supposed to be derived from a lost Greek original. The earliest mention of the story is in the Carmina (Bk. vi. 8, II. 5-6) of Venantius Fortunatus, in the second half of the 6th century, and the romance may well date from three centuries earlier. It bears a marked resemblance to the Antheia and Habrokomes of Xenophon of Ephesus. The story relates that King Antiochus, maintaining incestuous relations with his daughter, kept off her suitors by asking them a riddle, which they must solve on pain of losing their heads. Apollonius of Tyre solved the riddle, which had to do with Antiochus’s secret. He returned to Tyre, and, to escape the king’s vengeance, set sail in search of a place of refuge. In Cyrene he married the daughter of King Archistrates, and presently, on receiving news of the death of Antiochus, departed to take possession of the kingdom of Antioch, of which he was, for no clear reason, the heir. On the voyage his wife died, or rather seemed to die, in giving birth to a daughter, and the sailors demanded that she should be thrown overboard. Apollonius left his daughter, named Tarsia, at Tarsus in the care of guardians who proved false to their trust. Father, mother, and daughter were only reunited after fourteen years’ separation and many vicissitudes. The earliest Latin MS. of this tale, preserved at Florence, dates from the 9th or 10th century. The pagan features of the supposed original are by no means all destroyed. The ceremonies observed by Tarsia at her nurse’s grave, and the preparations for the burning of the body of Apollonius’s wife, are purely pagan. The riddles which Tarsia propounds to her father are obviously interpolated. They are taken from the Enigmata of Caelius Firmianus Symposius. The many inconsistencies of the story seem to be best explained by the supposition (E. Rohde, Der griechische Roman, 2nd ed., 1900, pp. 435 et seq.) that the Antiochus story was originally entirely separate from the story of Apollonius’s wanderings, and was clumsily tacked on by the Latin author. The romance kept its form through a vast number of medieval re-arrangements, and there is little change in its outlines as set forth in the Shakespearian play of Pericles.