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In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Author: Harold Tarrant

This paper takes issue with the thesis of Rashed and Auffret that the Critias that has come down to us is not a genuine dialogue of Plato. Authors do not consider the style of the Critias, which should be a factor in any complete study of authorship. It observes the widespread consensus that the style of the Timaeus and Critias are virtually inseparable. It surveys a wide range of stylistic studies that have tended to confirm this, before answering a possible objection that cites the similarity of style between the genuine Laws and Philip of Opus’ Epinomis. Since the main argument used by Rashed and Auffret relies on an inconsistency between Timaeus and Critias consideration is given to the types of inconsistency found within Platonic dialogues and sequences of dialogues, particularly the hiatus-avoiding dialogues including Timaeus itself and Laws. Finally, alternative explanations of the alleged inconsistency are offered.

In: Méthexis
In: Mnemosyne
In: Phronesis
In: Phronesis
Author: Harold Tarrant

Abstract

This paper is about an aspect of philosophic life, showing, in the case of one Platonic dialogue in particular, that the texts that later Platonists employed in a quasi-scriptural capacity could influence their lives in important ways. The Cratylus was seen as addressing the question of how names could be regarded as 'correct', raising the role of the name-giver to the level of the law-giver. It begins with the question of how a personal name could be correct. The ancient text that offers us most evidence of the philosophic manipulation of proper names is Porphyry's Life of Plotinus, which makes it quite clear that the revision of individuals' names, and in particular the giving of a Greek name to those of non-Greek origins, had become a regular practice. The name, it seems, was intended to capture something of the actual nature of the individual in question. There is evidence that the practice goes back to the age of Lucian, and specifically to the circle of Numenius, whose own name is also that of a bird. His religious dialogue Hoopoe suggests that there was something special in bird-names; Lucian's Gallus reincarnates Pythagoras as a bird, while his Death of Peregrinus has the eponymous sham philosopher ultimately adopting a bird-name too. Curiously, the final name that Porphyry bears also closely recalls the name of a bird. This may be explained as the apt naming of one who rose to the highest philosophic vision in accordance with the 'flight of the mind' passage in Plato's Phaedrus.

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
Author: Harold Tarrant

Abstract

This paper examines the late Neoplatonic evidence for the text at the crucial point of the Alcibiades I, 133c, finding that Olympiodorus' important evidence is not in the lexis, which strangely has nothing to say. Perhaps it was dangerous in Christian Alexandria to record one's views here too precisely. Rather, they are found primarily in the prologue and secondarily in the relevant theoria. Olympiodorus believes that he is quoting from the work or paraphrasing closely, but offers nothing that can be paralleled in either the manuscripts or the Eusebian (or Stobaean) versions. Since both the manuscript text and the Eusebian text fail to satisfy, the evidence deserves consideration. Even if he were not in possession of a text that was wholly correct, Olympiodorus does at least offer an overall interpretation of the passage which neatly unites the daemonic and erotic aspects of Socrates' activities, and offers a real reason for Alcibiades to return Socrates' love. He is encouraged to reflect upon the nature of the divine being (not just a daemo but a theos in this work) controlling Socrates, so that he may behold the likeness of his own, woefully obscured, inner self, and so acquire the self-knowledge necessary for true political success.The anonymous Prolegomena (unsurprisingly) are compatible with Olympiodorus, while Proclus' prologue again largely agrees with Olympiodorus' interpretation. For Proclus, Alcibiades must become an observer of Socrates knowledge and indeed of Socrates' whole life. 'For to desire to know the reason for Socrates' actions is to become the lover of the knowledge which is pre-established within him.' So the path towards a total understanding of his own inner intellective self lies via the contemplation of that being that is rooted within Socrates.I also examine earlier Platonist evidence for the text and find little that is not in harmony with late Neoplatonism.

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition