John Moles, Historian of Ancient Philosophy

in Méthexis
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This article reconstructs the work of John Moles, eminent classicist with a wide range of interests, as a historian of ancient philosophy. The article focuses on Moles’ studies of Dio Chrysostom, Cynicism, and Aristotle’s Poetics. In particular, the article presents Moles’ ever original interpretations, based on an exceptional knowledge of the ancient sources and modern scholarship. The article highlights the fundamental characteristics of Moles’ approach to the history of ancient philosophy, which is grounded in a firm historical basis and in detailed, acute, and always rigorously demonstrative analyses of texts. Moles’ contribution to the history of ancient philosophy is marked by strong ethical motivations and a commitment to trace in classical texts not just mere data, but rather values and ideas to be preserved and reflected upon.

John Moles, Historian of Ancient Philosophy

in Méthexis


BrancacciA. (1986). Rhetorike philosophousa . Dione Crisostomo nlla cultura antica e bizantina (“Elenchos” 11)BibliopolisNapoli.

BrancacciA. (1993). Struttura compositiva e fonti della iii Orazione Sulla Regalità di Dione Crisostomo: Dione e l’Archelao di Antistene in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt hrsg. von W. Haase und I. Temporini vol. 36 5 de Gruyter Berlin-New York pp. 32263266.

BrancacciA. (2000a). Dio, Socrates and Cynicism in ChrysostomDio. Politics Letters and Philosophy edited by S. SwainOxford University Press pp. 240260.

BrancacciA. (2000b). Libertà e fato in Enomao di Gadara in La filosofia in età imperiale. Le scuole e le tradizioni filosofiche a cura di A. Brancacci (“Elenchos” 31) Bibliopolis Napoli pp. 3767.

BrancacciA. (2002). La polemica antifatalistica di Enomao di Gadara in Antichi e Moderni nella filosofia di età imperiale a cura di A. Brancacci (“Elenchos” 34) Bibliopolis Napoli pp. 4078.

BrancacciA. (2005). Antisthène. Le discours propre (“Tradition de la pensée classique”)VrinParis.

DesideriP. (1978). Dione di Prusa: Un intellettuale greco nell’impero romano (“Biblioteca di cultura contemporanea” 135)D’AnnaMessina-Firenze.

DuffT.E. (2010) «The Classical Review» 60 pp. 8082

Goulet-CazéM.-O. (1982). Un syllogisme stoïcien sur la loi dans la doxographie de Diogène le cynique. A propos de Diogène Laërce VI 72Rheinisches Museum125 pp. 214245.

Goulet-CazéM.-O. and GouletR.. (1993). Le Cynisme ancien et ses prolongements Actes du Colloque international du CNRS (Paris 1991)PUFParis.

HeathJ. (2015). Professor John Moles: In Memoriam Durham Dept of Theology & Religion October 16 2015.

HussonS. (2011). La République de Diogène. Une cité en quête de la natureVrinParis.

JonesC.P. (1978). The Roman World of Dio Chrysostom (“Loeb classical monographs”)Harvard University PressCambridge-MA and London.

LambertonR.D. (1983) Philanthropia and the Evolution of Dramatic TastePhoenix37 pp. 95103.

MolesJ. (1978). The Career and Conversion of Dio Chrysostom «Journal of Hellenic Studies» 98 pp. 79100.

MolesJ. (1979). Notes on Aristotle, Poetics 13 and 14Classical Quarterly29 pp. 7792

MolesJ. (1983a). The date and Purpose of the Fourth Kingship Oration of Dio Chrysostom «Classical Antiquity» 2 pp. 251278.

MolesJ. (1983b). Dio Chrysostom: exile Tarsus Nero and Domitian «Liverpoool Classical Monthly» 8.9 November pp. 130134.

MolesJ. (1983c). Honestius quam ambitiosius’? An Exploration of the Cynic’s Attitude to Moral Corruption in His Fellow Men «Journal of Hellenic Studies» 103 pp. 103123.

MolesJ. (1984a). Aristotle and Dido’s ‘Hamartia’Greece & Rome31 pp. 4854.

MolesJ. (1984b). Philanthropia in the PoeticsPhoenix38 pp. 325335.

MolesJ. (1986). Cynicism in Horace Epistles 1 in Papers of the Liverpoool Latin Seminar Fifth Volume 1985 (ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts Papers and Monographs 19) edited by F. Cairns F. Cairns Publications Ltd Liverpool pp. 3360.

MolesJ. (1990) The Kingship Orations of Dio Chrysostom in Papers of the Leeds International Latin Seminary Sixth Volume published by F. Cairns & M. Heath F. Cairns Ltd Publications Leeds pp. 297375.

MolesJ. (1993a). Le cosmopolitisme cynique in M.-O. Goulet Cazé & R. Goulet (eds) pp. 259280.

MolesJ. (1993b). «The Classical Review» 43 pp. 256–258.

MolesJ. (1995a). The Cynics and politics in A. Laks & M. Schofield (eds) Justice and Generosity. Studies in Hellenistic Social and Political Philosophy Proceedings of the Sixth Symposium Hellenisticum CUPCambridge pp. 129158.

MolesJ. (1995b). Dio Chrysostom Greece and Rome in Classical Essays for Donald Russell on His Seventy-Fifyh Birthday editeb by D. Innes H. Hine & C Pelling Clarendon PressOxford pp. 177192.

MolesJ. (2000a). The Cynics in The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought edited by C. Rowe and M. Schofield in association with S. Harrison and M. Lane Cambridge University Press (2005 2010) pp. 415434.

MolesJ. (2000b). The Dionian Charidemus in Swain (ed.) pp. 187–210.

MolesJ. (2005) The Thirteen Oration of Dio Chrysostom: Complexity and Simplicity Rhetoric and Moralism Literature and Life «The Journal of Hellenic Studies» 125 pp. 112–138.

MolesJ. (2006a). Cynic influence upon first-century Judaism and early Christianity? in McGingJ. & MossmanJ. (eds) The Limits of Ancient BiographyClassical Press of WalesSwansea.

MolesJ. (2006b). Jesus and Dionysos in the Acts of Apostles and Early Chrystianity «Hermathena» 180 pp. 65–104.

MolesJ. (2007). Philosophy and Ethics in The Cambridge Companion to Horace edited by S. HarrisonCUP, Cambridge pp. 165180.

MolesJ. (2011a). Jesus the Healer in the Gospels the Acts of Apostles and Early Chrystianity «Histos» 5 pp. 117–182.

MolesJ. (2011b). Luke’s Preface: The Greek Decreee Classical Historiography and Christian Redefinitions «NTS» 57 pp. 1–22.

MolesJ. (2014). Time and Space Travel in Luke-Acts in DupertuisR. R. and PennerT. (eds) Engaging Early Christian History: Reading Acts in the Second CenturyRoutledgeLondon & New York pp. 101122.

MolesJ. (2017 – to be confirmed). Antisthenes Dio and Virgil on the Education of the Strong in Word and context in Latin poetry edited by J. Wisse & A.J. Woodman (“Cambridge Classical Journal Suppl.” Vol. 40) CUP Cambridge.

MolesJ. (forthcoming): Defacing the currency: Cynicism in Dio Chrysostom read in Liverpool June 30th 2001.

MolesJ. (forthcoming): Dio and Cynicism .

RussellD.A. (ed.) (1992). Dio Chrysostom Orations IIVII XXXVI (“Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics” Imperial Library”) CUPCambridge.

SchofieldM. (1991). The Stoic Idea of the City CUP Cambridge (repr. Chicago 1999).

StintonT.C.W. (1975). Hamartia in Aristotle and Greek TragedyClassical Quarterly25 pp. 221254.

SwainS. (1996). Hellenism and Empire. Language Classicism and Powerin the Greek World ad 50–250Clarendon PressOxford.

SwainS. (ed.) (2000). Dio Chrysostom. Politics Letters and PhilosophyOUPOxford.

TrappM. (2000). Plato in Dio in Swain S. (ed.) pp. 213–239.

von ArnimH. (1898). Leben und Werke des Dio von Prusa . Mit einer Einleitung: Sophistik Rhetorik Philosophie in ihrem Kampf um die JugendbildungWeidmann, Berlin reprint Hildesheim 2004.

WilhelmF. (1918). Zu Dio Chrys. Or. 30 (Charidemus)Philologus75 pp. 364383.

WoodmanA.J. (2015). Professor John Moles «Histos» 9 pp. 312318.


Woodman (2015). I wish to thank Federico Santangelo (University of Newcastle) for kindly providing many bibliographical materials to which I did not have immediate access; Clemence Schultze and George Boys-Stones (University of Durham) for their invaluable collaboration; Damien Patrick Nelis (Université de Genève) for the information he kindly gave to me; Nicolò Benzi (University College London) for translating this article into English; and finally Ruth Moles for making available to me John Moles’ unpublished articles and for her exquisite kindness.


Heath (2015).


 Cf. Desideri (1978). See also my review of Desideri’s monograph in «Elenchos» i (1980) pp. 390–396.


 Cf. Jones (1978).


Moles (1978).


 Cf. von Arnim (1898).


 Cf. Moles (1983a) and Moles (1990).


 Cf. Moles (1984) in which he demonstrates that the traditional dating of the speech to Trajan’s age is correct and that the thesis expounded in Desideri (1978) p. 279 also criticized in Jones (1978) p. 119 and by many others is wrong. It clashes on the one hand with the testimony of Orationxlv 2 (which clearly shows that Dio never met Nerva after the latter became emperor) and on the other hand with a series of indications in Orationiii which contain ideas incompatible with a performance of the text before Nerva but which on the contrary are very favourable to the thesis of its performance before Trajan.


 Cf. Moles (1990) pp. 361–363.


Moles (1990) pp. 268–269.


 Cf. Brancacci (1993).


 Cf. Höistad (1948).


 Cf. Moles (1990) p. 364.


Moles (1995).


Russell (1992). See also Moles’ review of the book in Moles (1993b).


 Cf. Moles (2000).


 Cf. Wilhelm (1918).


Moles (2005) p. 130.


Most recently Trapp (2000).


Most recently Brancacci (1993); Brancacci (2000a); Brancacci (2005).


Moles (1983c).


Moles (1993a).


Moles (2005).


 On these works see Brancacci (1986) pp. 247–253 and 260–263.


 Cf. Brancacci (2000b) and Brancacci (2002).


 On this work see Husson (2011).


Moles (2000).


 Cf. Schofield (1991) pp. 133–134.


 Cf. Goulet-Cazé (1982).


Moles (1986).


Moles (2007).


We must first mention Moles (2006) and Moles (2011a). In addition see Moles (2011b); Moles (2014).


Duff (2010) p. 81.


Moles (1979) p. 92.


Lamberton (1983).


Moles (1984b) p. 334.


Stinton (1975).


Moles (1984a) p. 50.

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