Reading Ancient Texts. Volume I: Presocratics and Plato

Essays in Honour of Denis O'Brien


What is the history of philosophy? Is it history or is it philosophy or is it by some strange alchemy a confluence of the two? The contributors to the present volume of essays have tackled this seemingly simple, but in reality difficult and controversial, question, by drawing on their specialised knowledge of the surviving texts of leading ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Augustine, through Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. These contributions, which reflect the range of methods and approaches currently used in the study of ancient texts, are offered as a tribute to the scholarship of Denis O’Brien, one of the most original and penetrating students of the thousand-year period of intense philosophical activity that constitutes ancient philosophy.

Contributors include: T. Ebert, F. Fronterrota, C.J. Gill, C. Huffman, N. Notomi, J.-C. Picot, J.-F. Pradeau, M. Rashed, K. Sayre, R.K. Sprague, and J.G.C. Strachan.

Publications by Denis O’Brien:
Theories of Weight in the Ancient World: Four Essays on Democritus, Plato and Aristotle - A Study in the Development of Ideas. 1. Democritus: Weight and Size. An Exercise in the Reconstruction of Early Greek Philosophy, ISBN: 978 90 04 06134 7 (Out of print)
Pour interpréter Empédocle, ISBN: 978 90 04 06249 8 (Out of print)
Theories of Weight in the Ancient World: Four Essays on Democritus, Plato and Aristotle - A Study in the Development of Ideas. 2. Plato: Weight and Sensation. The Two Theories of the 'Timaeus', ISBN: 978 90 04 06934 3
Théodicée plotinienne, théodicée gnostique, ISBN: 978 90 04 09618 9
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Biographical Note

Suzanne Stern-Gillet, M.Phil. (Greek and Latin), D.Phil. (Philosophy) is Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Bolton. She has published extensively on ancient philosophy (concepts of selfhood and theories of art), including Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship (New York, 1995).

Kevin Corrigan is Professor of the Liberal Arts at Emory University. His most recent books are Reading Plotinus: a practical guide to Neoplatonism (2004), Plato's Dialectic at Play: Structure, Argument and Myth in the Symposium (2004) (with Elena Glazov-Corrigan), and Platonisms: Ancient, Modern, and Postmodern (2007) (with John Turner).

Table of contents

Notes on Contributors

1. Some Remarks on noein in Parmenides, F. Fronterotta
2. The Structure of the Eye and its Cosmological Function in Empedocles. Reconstruction of Fragment 84, M. Rashed
3. Empedocles, Fragment 115.3: Can One of the Blessed Pollute his Limbs with Blood?, J.-C. Picot
4. Philolaus and the Central Fire, C. Huffman

5. Self-Knowledge in Plato’s Alcibiades, C. Gill
6. Socrates on the Definition of Figure in the Meno, T. Ebert
7. Plato's Phaedo as Protreptic, R.K. Sprague
8. An Absurd Question: Plato, Symposium 199 d, J.C.G. Strachan
9. Tumescence and Spiritual Seed in the Phaedrus, J.-F. Pradeau
10. Plato against Parmenides: Sophist 236D – 242B, N. Notomi
11. Dialectic by Negation in Three Late Dialogues, K. Sayre

A Detailed Bibliography of Denis O’Brien’s Works

Index locorum
General Index


All those interested in Classics and Philosophy, especially ancient philosophy and its history.


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