Brill's Companion to the Reception of Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance


A wide range of specialists provide a comprehensive overview of the reception of Pythagorean ideas in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, shedding new light especially on the understudied ‘Medieval Pythagoras’ of the Latin West. They also explore the survival of Pythagoreanism in the Arabic, Jewish, and Persian cultures, thus adopting a multicultural perspective. Their common concern is to detect the sources of this reception, and to follow their circulation in diverse linguistic areas. The reader can thus have a panoramic view of the major themes belonging to the Pythagorean heritage – number philosophy and the sciences of the quadrivium; ethics and way of life; theology, metaphysics and the soul – until the Early Modern times.

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Irene Caiazzo, Ph.D. (1999), Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris), is Senior Research Fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). She specializes in the history of medieval philosophy and science, and is editor-in-chief of the annual journal Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Age. Her major publications include Lectures médiévales de Macrobe: Les Glosae Colonienses super Macrobium (Paris, 2002) and Thierry of Chartres: The Commentary on the De arithmetica of Boethius (Toronto, 2015).
Constantinos Macris, Ph.D. (2004), Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris), is Research Fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) specialising in ancient Greek philosophy and religion, with a focus on Pythagoreanism and its Neoplatonic reception. He is the author of a book-length entry on Pythagoras, the Pythagoreans, and their Nachleben (Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques, vol. VII, Paris 2018), and editor of Pythagoras redivivus. Studies on the Texts Attributed to Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans (Baden Baden, 2021).
Aurélien Robert, Ph.D. (2005), is Senior Research Fellow at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). His works focus on the reception of Ancient Greek philosophy in the Middle Ages, and more particularly atomism, philosophical medicine and Aristotelian metaphysics, physics and ethics. He is the author of Epicure aux enfers. Hérésie, athéisme et hédonisme au Moyen Âge (Paris, 2021) and Atomism in Late Medieval Philosophy and Theology (Leiden-Boston, 2009).

Contributors are: Constantinos Macris, Cecilia Panti, Andrew Hicks, Sonja Brentjes, Gad Freudenthal, Tzvi Langermann, Anna Izdebska, Aurélien Robert, Daniel De Smet, Carmela Baffioni, Irene Caiazzo, Marta Borgo, Iacopo Costa, David Albertson, Denis Robichaud, Jean-Pierre Brach.
"This is a very erudite, coherent, and carefully edited volume. I noticed no typographical mistakes. Moreover, what I found particularly successful was the organization of the content in thematic divisions corresponding to the focal aspects of Pythagorean philosophy. These divisions enabled the contributions focusing on different traditions (Christian Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic) to supplement each other, and thus to demonstrate as fully as possible the historical and philosophical interactions between East and West, which were also vital for the reception of Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism during the Middle Ages. It is only unfortunate that, given the volume’s title, the Byzantine component has been left out (a decision the editors explain in the introduction, p. 3). That said, the companion under review, with its broad scope and wealth of detail, definitely constitutes a welcome contribution to the field and an indispensable reference source for all students of the transmission of ancient Pythagoreanism (and to some extent also of Platonism), as well as of Presocratic philosophy."
Theofanis Tsiampokalos in BMCR 2022.09.14
List of Figures
Notes on the Contributors

Introduction: Pythagoras, from Late Antiquity to Early Modernity
 A Multicultural Approach
Irene Caiazzo, Constantinos Macris and Aurélien Robert

part 1: Pythagorean Number Theory and the Quadrivium

1 Pythagoras and the Quadrivium from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages
Cecilia Panti

2 Music and the Pythagorean Tradition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages
Andrew Hicks

3 Nicomachean Number Theory in Arabic and Persian Scholarly Literature
Sonja Brentjes

4 The Tribulations of the Introduction to Arithmetic from Greek to Hebrew Via Syriac and Arabic
 Nicomachus of Gerasa, Ḥabib Ibn Bahrīz, al-Kindī, and Qalonymos ben Qalonymos
Gad Freudenthal

5 Medieval Jewish Pythagoreanism
 Remarks on Maimonides and on Sefer Melakhim
Tzvi Langermann

part 2: Pythagorean Way(s) of Life, East and West

6 Popular Pythagoreanism in the Arabic Tradition
 Between Biography and Gnomology
Anna Izdebska

7 Pythagoras’ Ethics and the Pythagorean Way of Life in the Middle Ages
Aurélien Robert

Part 3: Theology, Metaphysics and the Soul

8 Pythagoras’ Philosophy of Unity as a Precursor of Islamic Monotheism
 Pseudo-Ammonius and Related Sources
Daniel De Smet

9 The “Brethren of Purity” and the Pythagorean Tradition
Carmela Baffioni

10 “Pythagoras’ Mistake”
 The Transmigration of Souls in the Latin Middle Ages and Beyond
Irene Caiazzo

11 Pythagoras Latinus
 Aquinas’ Interpretation of Pythagoreanism in His Aristotelian Commentaries
Marta Borgo and Iacopo Costa

12 Latin Christian Neopythagorean Theology
 A Speculative Summa
David Albertson

Part 4: New Trends in Early Modern Pythagoreanism

13 Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism in the Renaissance
 Philosophical and Religious Itineraries from Pico to Brucker
Denis J.-J. Robichaud

14 Pythagorean Number Mysticism in the Renaissance
 An Overview
Jean-Pierre Brach

This book is intended for anyone interested in ancient, medieval and Renaissance thought, from graduate students to more experienced scholars. It provides detailed accounts of Pythagorean thought in the fields of metaphysics and ethics, as well as of its interpretation and appropriation in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A special focus is put on numbers, their function in mathematics and philosophy, but also their symbolism.
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