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Damis was a student and lifelong companion of Apollonius of Tyana, the famous Neopythagorean philosopher and teacher who lived in the early first up to the early second centuries CE.

All that we know about Damis comes from Apollonius' biographer Philostratus who wrote his Life of Apollonius of Tyana between 217 and 238. Philostratus is known for his lack of reliability;[citation needed] many of his stories are pure fiction. As for historical truth, some scholars believe the notebooks of Damis are an invention of Philostratus, others think it was a real book forged by someone else and used by Philostratus. And some scholars think that Damis never existed at all. F.C. Conybeare, however, points out the extreme and uncessarily sceptism of this theory[1]. It is possible that Philostratus did use a biography of Apollonius by Damis, who was however, not trustworthy (that is, he was like the so-called aretalogi, sought to embellish the life of his master[2].

According to Philostratus, Apollonius met Damis in a city which Philostratus calls "Old Ninos", which from its location cannot be Nineveh, but is in fact the "holy city" of Hierapolis Bambyce (Manbij) in Syria.[3] Damis admired Apollonius so much that he became his disciple, and kept a record of Apollonius' actions and sayings, the so-called Memoirs (or Diary) of Damis. These notes came into the possession of the empress Julia Domna, and it was she who commissioned Philostratus to write a biography of Apollonius, the extant Life of Apollonius of Tyana. That's what Philostratus asserts.

Damis is also the name of the son of Orgon in Molière's Tartuffe, along with the keeper of the Shadow Diamond in the popular mmorpg Runescape.

Notes

  1. ^ F.C. Conybeare, Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the Epistles of Apollonius and the Treatise of Eusebius (1912), introduction, page vii
  2. ^ F.C. Conybeare, Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the Epistles of Apollonius and the Treatise of Eusebius (1912), introduction, page vii-viii)
  3. ^ Christopher P. Jones: Apollonius of Tyana's Passage to India, in: Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 42 (2001) p. 185-199, especially p. 187-190.
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