The island Lemnos was the ancestral home of the Philostrati, a family in which the profession of sophist was hereditary in the second and third Christian centuries. Of the works that make up the Philo-stratean corpus the greater part belong to the author of these Lives. But he almost certainly did not write the Nero, a dialogue attributed by Suidas the lexicographer to an earlier Philostratus; the first series of the Imagines and the Heroicus are generally assigned to a younger Philostratus1 whose premature death is implied by our author who survived him and was probably his father-in-law; and the second series of the Imagines was by a Philostratus who flourished in the third century, the last of this literary family.

There are extant, by our Philostratus, the Gymnasticus, the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, the Lives of the Sophists, the Erotic Epistles, and a brief discourse (διάλεξις) On Nature and Law, a favourite commonplace of sophistic. In the Lives he quotes the Life of Apollonius as his own work, so that his authorship of the two most important works in the corpus is undisputed.

Flavius Philostratus was born about 170, perhaps