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Abstract

Hermias of Alexandria (5th cent. A.D.) wrote down the lectures given on the Phaedrus by his teacher Syrianus, Head of the Neoplatonic School of Athens. In the preserved text the Platonic distinction of madness is presented in a Neoplatonic way. In the first section of the article we discuss Hermias’ treatment of possession. The philosopher examines four topics in his effort to present a Neoplatonic doctrine concerning possession. As he holds that divine possession is evident in all parts of the soul, he first argues that it is primarily applied to the one-in-the-soul. Secondly, he explains that possession is also applied to reason, opinion, imagination, thymos and desire, all the above being distinctive parts of the human soul, but not as important as the one-in-the-soul. The third issue he discusses is whether all causes of possession are identical to the divine. Then, Hermias examines the fact that possession is to be traced not only in the human soul but also in the statues.

In the second section of the article Hermias’ analysis of the four kinds of Platonic madness is presented. The philosopher first analyzes the interdependence between all four divine kinds of madness and then describes their function on two levels, inside and outside the soul. The function within the soul is richer and is realized in four fields: (a) the restoration of the soul after its fall, (b) the restoration of the human being as a whole, (c) the Pythagorean mathematical system and (d) the logic processes. The function outside the soul deals with the manifestations of the soul in human society. Under this perspective, Hermias clearly proposes an original classification of the kinds of madness, on the basis of which we encounter poetic madness. After that follow the madness of the seer, the telestic madness, and the madness of love. The whole analysis incorporates Platonic, Aristotelian, Pythagorean and theurgic elements that cover the fields of psychology, logic and metaphysics.

Open Access
In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
In: Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus
In: Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus
In: Brill’ s Companion to the Reception of Homer from the Hellenistic Age to Late Antiquity
Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Homer from the Hellenistic Age to Late Antiquity presents a comprehensive account of the afterlife of the Homeric corpus. Twenty chapters written by a range of experts in the field show how Homeric poems were transmitted, disseminated, adopted, analysed, admired or even criticized across diverse intellectual environments, from the late 4th century BCE to the 5th century CE. The volume explores the impact of Homer on Hellenistic prose and poetry, the Second Sophistic, the Stoics, some Christian writers and the major Neoplatonists, showing how the Greek paideia continued to flourish in new contexts.
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.
In: Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus
In: Studies in Hermias’ Commentary on Plato’s Phaedrus