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Listening with the Body, Seeing through the Ears: Contextualizing Philo’s Lecture Event in On the Contemplative Life

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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This article compares Philo’s portrayal of the lecture event among the Therapeutae with other reading and philosophical communities throughout the high Roman Empire. It shows how learning to listen properly plays an important role in constructing and defending one’s masculinity in certain elite communities of that time. Philo constructs a portrayal of the Therapeutae that places them well within the social codes of lecture listening and proper masculine virtues of the time, describing the Therapeutae, especially their ideal masculinity vis-à-vis their lecture event, with imperial mimicry and resistance. Situating Philo’s portrayal of the Therapeutae’s lecture event within its historical context enhances our understanding Philo within the Roman Empire as well as his portrayal of the ethos of the Therapeutae.

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