1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Apollonius of Tyre

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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.

The Latin tale is preserved in about 100 MSS., and was printed by M. Velser (Augsburg, 1595), by J. Lapaume in Script. Erot. (Didot, Paris, 1856), and by A. Riese in the Bibl. Teubneriana (1871, new ed. 1893). The most widespread versions in the middle ages were those of Godfrey of Viterbo in his Pantheon (1185), where it is related as authentic history, and in the Gesta Romanorum (cap. 153), which formed the basis of the German folk-tale by H. Steinhöwel (Augsburg, 1471), the Dutch version (Delft, 1493), the French in Le Violier des histoires romaines (Paris, 1521), the English, by Laurence Twine (London, 1576, new ed. 1607), also of the Scandinavian, Czech, and Hungarian tales. In England a translation was made as early as the 11th century (ed. B. Thorpe, 1834, and J. Zupitza in Archiv für neuere Sprachen, 1896); there is a Middle English metrical version (J. O. Halliwell, A New Boke about Shakespeare, 1850), by a poet who says he was vicar of Wimborne; John Gower uses the tale as an example of the seventh deadly sin in the eighth book of his Confessio Amantis; Robert Copland translated a prose romance of Kynge Apollyne of Thyre (Wynkyn de Worde, 1510) from the French; Pericles was entered at Stationers’ Hall in 1607, and was followed in the next year by George Wilkins’s novel, The Painfull Adventures of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre (ed. Tycho Mommsen, Oldenburg, 1857), and George Lillo drew his play Marina (1738) from the piece associated with Shakespeare; Orendel, by a Middle High German minnesinger, contains some of the episodes of Apollonius; Heinrich von Neustadt wrote a poem of 20,000 lines on Apollonius von Tyrland (c. 1400); the story was well known in Spanish, Libre de Apolonio (verse, c. 1200), and in J. de Timoneda’s Patrañuelo (1576); in French much of it was embodied in Jourdain de Blaives (13th cent.), and it also appears in Italian and medieval Greek. See A. H. Smyth, Shakespeare’s Pericles and Apollonius of Tyre (Philadelphia, 1898); Elimar Klebs, Die Erzählung von A. aus Tyrus (Berlin, 1899); S. Singer, Apollonius von Tyrus (Halle, 1895).