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Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus is a collection of twelve essays that consider aspects of Hermias’ philosophy, including his notions of the soul, logic, and method of exegesis. The essays also consider Hermias’ work in the tradition of Neoplatonism, particularly in relation to the thought of Iamblichus and Proclus. The collection grapples with the question of the originality of Hermias’ commentary—the only extant work of Hermias—which is a series of lectures notes of his teacher, Syrianus.

Abstract

The range of research on irreligious vocabulary in Greek literature is of rapidly increasing interest from a historical and philological point of view, where the intrinsic, inductive study of the relevant terms contributes to an overall understanding of the “religiosity / irreligiosity” antithesis in Greek Antiquity. In this context, the analysis of a controversial and polysemic term like ἀλιτήριος (initially ‘evil spirit’, ‘impious subject’), with a prolonged literary tradition, allows for the verification of the evolution of an irreligious term which takes on certain semantic variations. Also, the examples of this word in Plutarch are of interpretative relevance.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to highlight the way in which Plutarch develops Antonius’ biography linking his two salient features—warlike spirit and erotic-theatrical character—with the two hero-gods that somehow symbolize them, namely, Heracles and Dionysus. The belief that the family of Antonius went back to the hero’s son Anton and, on the other hand, the fact that in Egypt he was called “the new Dionysus” from the way he behaved, justify this linking.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

In his Theseus, Plutarch attempts to confer historical verisimilitude on the facts that the legends attribute to the hero. Such legends are found in the works of poets, especially the tragic ones, and Plutarch, according to his religious and philosophical ideas, cannot accept them in their literal sense. That is why, at the beginning of the Life, he declares his intention to purge them by reason so that they take on the aspect of history and uses different resources for this purpose. He gives more credit to sources that rationalize myths and replace fantastic elements with usual ones and also seeks the confluence of legend and history in etiology: toponymy, rites, customs and political institutions of Athens whose foundation is attributed to the hero. Plutarch uses other more personal procedures to confirm the historicity of some episodes, such as his claim of having visited places and vestiges related to the events narrated. In this way Theseus is made into one more of the historical figures of the Parallel Lives.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic
In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

The present contribution argues firstly that Plutarch’s emphasis on civic homonoia, and his accent on marriage, harmony and mutual affection within the family, depended greatly on the proper valorization of the wife’s role in the family and her affective relationship with her husband. Secondly, and more importantly, Plutarch’s novelty in the construction of his own conjugal model consists mainly in the added value of a single eros, which alone, he claims, is capable of accounting for the love of women and the love of boys. By making both women and men active agents, joined in their souls and fused together through the (Stoic) notion of “total blending,” he erases the traditional (Platonic) boundaries between “lover” and “beloved”, between “to love” and “to be loved”. In this new conception of erotics, he conceptualizes the feminine on the basis of an expansive frame of feminine types portrayed in the Erotikos.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic
In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

The heresiological interpretation of Valentinian anthropology continues to be held as the Gnostic position regarding human origins, condition, and destiny. Church Fathers not only managed to distil and fabricate a coherent whole they could easily attack, but were also persuasive enough to perpetuate their interpretation for centuries to come. Given the lack of consensus in the analysis of Early Christian sources, this article intends to advance the discussion by placing Valentinian anthropology in the wider religious and philosophical context to which it belongs. In order to do so, I will compare Valentinian views with Plutarch’s conception of the human being as presented in his eschatological myths. Especially, the analysis of his De facie will show that Plutarch provides the best precedent for Valentinian anthropology, and that in both cases myths intend to convey a philosophical, holistic view of human life in which cosmology, theology, anthropology, and ethics are intrinsically connected.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

The Chaldaean Oracles belong to the “Underworld of Platonism”. They reflect some important philosophical elements in Imperial-age Platonism, while setting them within a framework dominated by a religious and ritual approach, and marked by soteriological concerns. The universe of the CO presents a tripartite structure (with three kosmoi: the “empyrean” and intelligible cosmos, the “ethereal” cosmos of the stars, and the “material” one in which the sublunary world is located). The soul, which has a divine and intelligible origin, has descended into the earthly realm through the sphere of the stars. Many oracles urge the soul to flee the corporeal and material dimension, and to return to the divine sphere from which it has originated. From a metaphysical perspective, the Chaldaean system presents itself as an ontogonic monism, whereby a Supreme Being generates the whole of reality through a series of intermediate realities. Moreover, the CO share Numenius’ and Alcinous’ distinction between a supreme intellect and a cosmic one, entrusted with ordering the sensible world.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic

Abstract

The present article is a new proposal to explain the origin of Plutarch’s conception of a separable intellect in human beings. Plutarch, who shows various signs of knowing a certain amount of Zoroastrianism, may have derived from his sources some notion of the Zoroastrian concept of the fravashi, which is the pre-existing external higher soul or essence of a person (according to some sources, also of gods and angels), designated by Ahura Mazdā to preside over humans as a sort of guardian daemon. There are certain features of the fravashi that are not reflected in Plutarch’s separable intellect, but I suggest that we may allow for a certain degree of creative adaptation on his part.

In: A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic