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Eastern Christianity and Late Antique Philosophy
 9789004411883

Table of contents :
‎Contents
‎Preface
‎Abbreviations
‎Notes on Contributors
‎Introduction
‎Part 1. Identity and Terminology
‎Chapter 1. Eastern Christianity and Late Ancient Philosophy: A Conspectus (Parry)
‎Chapter 2. Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity: Some Reflections on Concepts and Terminologies (Zachhuber)
‎Part 2. Greek Christian Thought
‎Chapter 3. Drunk on New Wine (Acts 2:13): Drinking Wine from Plato to the Eucharist Tradition of Early Christian Thinkers (Anagnostou-Laoutides)
‎Chapter 4. Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Iulianum: Imperial Politics, and Alexandrian Philosophy (c. 416–428) (Crawford)
‎Chapter 5. Philosophy as Transformation in Early Christian Thought (Champion)
‎Chapter 6. Theology and Philosophy in the Late Patristic Discourse: Pure Existence, Qualified Existence, and the Arbor Porphyriana (Krausmüller)
‎Chapter 7. Translating Crisis into Logic: John Damascene’s Iconic Conceptualization of History vis-à-vis Late Neoplatonic Symbolism (Adrahtas)
‎Part 3. Proclus the Neoplatonist
‎Chapter 8. Civic Virtues and the Goal of Likeness to God in Proclus’ Republic Commentary (Baltzly)
‎Chapter 9. Summarising Platonic Education in Proclus’ Reading of Plato’s Cave and Divided Line (Miles)
‎Part 4. Pagans and Christians in Byzantium
‎Chapter 10. Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists: Was He Constructing “Pagan Saints” in the Age of Christianity? (Baltussen)
‎Chapter 11. A Pagan Philosopher at the Imperial Court: The Case of Pamprepius (McEvoy)
‎Chapter 12. Pagan and Christian Dream Theory in Maximus the Confessor (Neil)
‎Part 5. Syriac and Arabic Christian Thought
‎Chapter 13. The Greek Jargon of Logic and East Syrian Intra-elite Conflicts in the Early Islamic Empire (Kavvadas)
‎Chapter 14. Pyrrho and Sextus Refuting Philosophy and the Value of Definition: On the Arabic Reception of the Late Antique Prolegomena to Philosophy (Wakelnig)
‎Index

Citation preview

Eastern Christianity and Late Antique Philosophy

Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity Chief Editor Ken Parry (Macquarie University)

Editorial Board Alessandro Bausi (University of Hamburg) – Monica Blanchard (Catholic University of America) – Malcolm Choat (Macquarie University) Peter Galadza (Saint Paul University) – Victor Ghica (MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society) – Emma Loosley (University of Exeter) Basil Lourié (St Petersburg) – John McGuckin (Columbia University) – Stephen Rapp (Sam Houston State University) Dietmar W. Winkler (University of Salzburg)

volume 18

Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity is intended to advance the field of Eastern Christian Studies by publishing translations of ancient texts, individual monographs, thematic collections, and translations into English of significant volumes in modern languages. It will cover the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions from the early through to the contemporary period. The series will make a valuable contribution to the study of Eastern Christianity by publishing research by scholars from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. The different traditions that make up the world of Eastern Christianity have not always received the attention they deserve, so this series will provide a platform for deepening our knowledge of them as well as bringing them to a wider audience. The need for such a series has been felt for sometime by the scholarly community in view of the increasing interest in the Christian East.

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/tsec

Eastern Christianity and Late Antique Philosophy Edited by

Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides Ken Parry

LEIDEN | BOSTON

The logo for the TSEC series is based on a 14th century tombstone of the Church of the East from Quanzhou, South China, courtesy of the Quanzhou Museum of Overseas Communications History. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Anagnostou-Laoutides, Evangelia, editor. | Parry, Ken, 1945- editor. Title: Eastern Christianity and late antique philosophy / edited by Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides, Ken Parry. Description: Leiden ; Boston : Brill, 2020. | Series: Text and studies in eastern Christianity, 2213-0039 ; volume 18 | Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020012727 (print) | LCCN 2020012728 (ebook) | ISBN 9789004411883 (hardback) | ISBN 9789004429567 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Neoplatonism. | Orthodox Eastern Church–Doctrines. Classification: LCC B645 .E26 2020 (print) | LCC B645 (ebook) | DDC 230/.19–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020012727 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020012728

Typeface for the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic scripts: “Brill”. See and download: brill.com/brill‑typeface. ISSN 2213-0039 ISBN 978-90-04-41188-3 (hardback) ISBN 978-90-04-42956-7 (e-book) Copyright 2020 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Brill Hes & De Graaf, Brill Nijhoff, Brill Rodopi, Brill Sense, Hotei Publishing, mentis Verlag, Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh and Wilhelm Fink Verlag. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Requests for re-use and/or translations must be addressed to Koninklijke Brill NV via brill.com or copyright.com. This book is printed on acid-free paper and produced in a sustainable manner.

The editors would like to dedicate this volume to their respective partners, Deirdre and Costas, in recognition of their unfailing support for all things philosophical and Byzantine



Contents Preface xi Abbreviations xii Notes on Contributors Introduction

xiii

1

Part 1 Identity and Terminology 1

Eastern Christianity and Late Ancient Philosophy: A Conspectus Ken Parry

2

Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity: Some Reflections on Concepts and Terminologies 52 Johannes Zachhuber

13

Part 2 Greek Christian Thought 3

Drunk on New Wine (Acts 2:13): Drinking Wine from Plato to the Eucharist Tradition of Early Christian Thinkers 81 Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides

4

Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Iulianum: Imperial Politics, and Alexandrian Philosophy (c. 416–428) 110 Matthew R. Crawford

5

Philosophy as Transformation in Early Christian Thought Michael Champion

6

Theology and Philosophy in the Late Patristic Discourse: Pure Existence, Qualified Existence, and the Arbor Porphyriana 150 Dirk Krausmüller

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Translating Crisis into Logic: John Damascene’s Iconic Conceptualization of History vis-à-vis Late Neoplatonic Symbolism 174 Vassilis Adrahtas

Part 3 Proclus the Neoplatonist 8

Civic Virtues and the Goal of Likeness to God in Proclus’ Republic Commentary 197 Dirk Baltzly

9

Summarising Platonic Education in Proclus’ Reading of Plato’s Cave and Divided Line 218 Graeme Miles

Part 4 Pagans and Christians in Byzantium 10

Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists: Was He Constructing “Pagan Saints” in the Age of Christianity? 239 Han Baltussen

11

A Pagan Philosopher at the Imperial Court: The Case of Pamprepius 261 Meaghan McEvoy

12

Pagan and Christian Dream Theory in Maximus the Confessor Bronwen Neil

280

Part 5 Syriac and Arabic Christian Thought 13

The Greek Jargon of Logic and East Syrian Intra-elite Conflicts in the Early Islamic Empire 297 Nestor Kavvadas

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Pyrrho and Sextus Refuting Philosophy and the Value of Definition: On the Arabic Reception of the Late Antique Prolegomena to Philosophy 311 Elvira Wakelnig Index

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Preface This volume of papers has its roots in a conference on “Eastern Christianity and Late Antique Philosophy” held at Macquarie University, Sydney, April 6–7, 2017. Funding for the conference was provided by the Department of Ancient History, the Ancient Cultures Research Centre, and the Society for the Study of Early Christianity. The editors would like to thank all three sponsors for providing funds for the conference, with special thanks to the Head of the Department of Ancient History at the time, Dr Ian Plant, who supported the initiative. It is rare nowadays to find a university department in the arts and humanities prepared to give funds to bring scholars together so that the public might benefit from their latest research free of change. Macquarie University is a public university funded by taxpayers, and it undoubtedly lived up on this occasion to its motto “and gladly teche”, from Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. We are grateful too for the further funding granted by the panel of the Faculty of Arts’ Publication Subsidy Scheme and to Dr Kosta Simić for his sub-editing assistance. Finally, we would like to thank all those who participated in the conference, whether interested members of the public or invited speakers, as well as the additional contributors who accepted our invitation to publish with us. It has been a privilege to prepare this volume for publication in co-operation with our contributors and publisher. Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides Ken Parry Macquarie University, Sydney

Abbreviations ACA ANF BCNH.T ByzAus CAG CC CMG CSCO CSEL DN EH GCS GNO JECS JÖB LCL LSJ MGH OCA OCD OLA PLRE PG PO PTS SC SVF TSEC TTH VDan.

Ancient Commentators on Aristotle Ante-Nicene Fathers Bibliothèque Copte de Nag Hammadi: Section “Textes” Byzantina Australiensia Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca (Berlin, 1882–1909) Corpus Christianorum Corpus Medicorum Graecorum Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum De divinis nominibus De ecclesiastica hierarchia Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte Gregorii Nysseni Opera Journal of Early Christian Studies Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik Loeb Classical Library Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon Monumenta Germaniae Historica Orientalia Christiana Analecta Oxford Classical Dictionary Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, 3 vols., eds. A.H.M. Jones, J.R. Martindale and J. Morris (Cambridge, 1971–1992). Patrologiae Cursus Completus. Series Graeca, ed. J.-P. Migne (Patrologia Graeca) Patrologia Orientalis Patristiche Texte und Studien Sources Chrétiennes Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity Translated Texts for Historians Vita Danielis Stylitae

Notes on Contributors Vassilis Adrahtas lectures in Islamic Studies at the University of Western Sydney. His specialises in the areas of Early Christianity, Patristics, Byzantine Philosophy and Indigenous Australian Religions. He has taught at a several universities in Australia and Greece and is the author of five books. He is currently co-editing a volume entitled Modern Thinking in Islam (Palgrave, forthcoming). Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides is Associate Professor in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney, and Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2017–2021). Her research focuses on the use of mythic and religious traditions in the Hellenistic and Augustan periods, as well as the reception of Greek philosophy in Christianity. She is the author of Eros and Ritual (Piscataway, 2005; 2013) and Models of Kingship (London, 2017). She is currently completing The History of Inebriation from Plato to Landino and Sexuality in Greek Epigrams and Later European Literature. Han Baltussen is Walter W. Hughes Professor of Classics at the University of Adelaide and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities. He has held fellowships at the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington DC, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He has published books on Theophrastus (2000), Simplicius (2008), the Peripatetics (2016), and edited or co-edited volumes on ancient commentaries (2004), ancient consolations (2012) and self-censorship (2013). Current projects include a monograph on consolation strategies in antiquity and a new translation of Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists (Loeb vol. 134). Dirk Baltzly is Professor in the Philosophy and Gender Studies program at the University of Tasmania and Adjunct Research Professor at Monash University. His current projects include Proclus’ Republic Commentary (Cambridge, 3 vols.) and Hermias’ Phaedrus Commentary (Bloomsbury, 3 vols.). He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and has held visiting fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and at the Institute of Classical Studies in London.

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Michael Champion directs the Australian Catholic University’s Node of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions. His research investigates interactions between ancient philosophy and early Christian thought, late-antique education and monasticism, ancient ethics, the history of violence, as well as the history of emotions. He is author of Explaining the Cosmos: Creation and Cultural Interaction in Late Antique Gaza (Oxford, 2014) and has written widely on Hellenistic to Byzantine cultural and intellectual history. Matthew R. Crawford is Associate Professor and Director of the Program in Biblical and Early Christian Studies in the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University. He currently holds a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council, in which he is investigating the interaction between paganism and Christianity in late antique Alexandria. He is the author of Cyril of Alexandria’s Trinitarian Theology of Scripture (Oxford, 2014), and The Eusebian Canon Tables: Ordering Textual Knowledge in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2019). Nestor Kavvadas earned his doctorate at the University of Tübingen (2007) and is Research Fellow at the University of Siegen. He has published monographs, translations and articles on Late Antiquity and Byzantium, including Die Natur des Schlechten bei Proklos (Berlin, 2009); Joseph Hazzaya, On Providence (Leiden, 2016) and Ephraem der Syrer und Basilios der Große, Justinian und Edessa (Leiden, 2018). Dirk Krausmüller studied Classical Philology and Byzantine History and earned his doctorate in 2001. He has published articles on the Middle Byzantine monastic reform movement and the Late Patristic and Byzantine theological and anthropological discourses. Between 2001 and 2017 he was Lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast, Cardiff University, and Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey. Currently he is a team member of the ERC research project 9SALT at the University of Vienna. Meaghan McEvoy is Lecturer in Byzantine Studies in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK). She specialises in late Roman and early Byzantine political history. She has published on the late Roman imperial court, particularly on child-emperors,

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imperial women and military men. Her publications include Child Emperor Rule in the Late Roman West, AD 367–455 (Oxford, 2013), as well as recent articles in Journal of Late Antiquity (2016) and Antiquité Tardive (2017). Graeme Miles is a Senior Lecturer in Classics at the University of Tasmania. His research focuses on Greek literature (especially of the Roman Era) and the Platonic tradition (especially in Late Antiquity). His publications include Philostratus: Interpreters and Interpretation (London, 2018). Together with Dirk Baltzly and John Finamore he is currently translating Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic (Cambridge, 2018–), and with Han Baltussen a new Loeb translation of Philostratus’ Lives of the Sophists and Eunapius’ Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists. Bronwen Neil is Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney, and director of the Centre for Ancient Cultural Heritage and Environment. She has published on hagiography, letter-writing and spiritual authority in Late Antiquity and early Byzantine texts. Her latest book, co-authored with Doru Costache and Keven Wagner, is Dreams, Virtue and Divine Knowledge in Early Christian Egypt (Cambridge, 2019). Ken Parry is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney. He researches and publishes in the fields of Late Antiquity, Byzantines Studies, and Eastern Christianity. He is the author of Depicting the Word: Byzantine Iconophile Thought of the Eighth and Ninth Centuries (Leiden, 1996), and founding editor of the Brill series Texts and Studies in Eastern Christianity. He has edited The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (1999), The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity (2007), and The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics (2015). He recently contributed to The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (2017) and Brill’s Companion to Byzantine Iconoclasm (forthcoming). Elvira Wakelnig is Assistant Professor of Arabic Philosophy in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Vienna. She works on the transmission of Greek philosophy and sciences into Arabic and on the intellectual history of the Islamicate World. She is the author of Feder, Tafel, Mensch: Al-ʿĀmirī’s Kitāb al-Fuṣūl fī l-Maʿālim al-ilāhiya und die arabische Proklos-Rezeption im 10. Jh. (Leiden,

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2006), and A Philosophy Reader from the Circle of Miskawayh (Cambridge, 2014), as well as various research articles. Johannes Zachhuber is Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford. He has published widely on late ancient Christian thought and its philosophical background. He also works on the history of theology in the nineteenth century and its transformation of the earlier tradition. He has published Human Nature in Gregory of Nyssa: Theological Background and Theological Significance (Leiden, 1999); (ed. with A. Torrance), Individuality in Late Antiquity (London, 2014); and The Rise of Christian Theology and the End of Ancient Metaphysics (Oxford, 2020).

Introduction The theme of the fourteen papers in this volume brings into focus the importance of Greek philosophy in late antiquity, both for pagan practice and emerging forms of Eastern Christianity. The story of Neoplatonism and its impact on Western Christianity has often been told, but this is not the case for the Christian East, be it in the Byzantine, Syrian, Armenian, Georgian or Arab traditions.1 In fact, until recently many were left with the impression that after the death of Proclus the Diadochos in 485, and the closing of the Academy in Athens by the emperor Justinian in 529, the pagan philosophical tradition was eclipsed until the Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad during the ʿAbbāsid caliphate. While the schools themselves did not continue beyond the late sixth century, the influence they exerted on Eastern Christian authors is testified through to the ninth century and beyond. The papers presented here discuss not only the intellectual contribution of individual authors but attempt to place these individuals and their writings in the broader context of late antiquity, be they pagans or Christians. In fact, it is necessary to study the works of pagans, Christians, and others alongside each other, if we are to do justice to the rich and varied intellectual milieu that was late antiquity and the lasting heritage it bequeathed across several linguistic and religious boundaries. The intention of this volume is that it should contribute to the on-going discussion about Neoplatonic philosophy in late antiquity and its reception in the Byzantine and Eastern Christian worlds. We have been particularly fortunate in Australia in recent years to have a group of scholars dedicated to translating and commenting on late antique philosophical texts, notably those by Proclus, Simplicius and Olympiodorus.2 The Macquarie conference in 2017 was intended to build upon that expertise and to fill out the picture with discussion of the impact of Neoplatonism on Eastern Christianity. The textual communities of late antiquity, be they pagan or Christian, made the study and interpretation of texts a focal point of their 1 The chapter by Dimitrov 2014 does not venture beyond the early fifth century. Although the two Brill Companions to the reception of Plato (https://brill.com/view/title/25321) and Aristotle (https://brill.com/view/title/25082) in antiquity are of great value and significance, neither volume includes chapters on the Eastern Christian reception. However, there is a chapter on early Byzantine philosophy by Ierodiakonou and Zografidis 2010. 2 Harold Tarrant (Olympiodorus, Proclus), University of Newcastle; Han Baltussen (Simplicius), University of Adelaide; Dirk Baltzly (Proclus, Hermias/Syrianus), University of Tasmania; Graham Miles (Proclus), University of Tasmania; David Runia (Proclus), Australian Catholic University.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_002

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introduction

respective cultures. Platonists showed as much respect for their texts as Christians and Jews did for their scriptures. In fact, they considered it essential to study Plato according to a prescribed curriculum and to read Aristotle as being in harmony with Plato. Added to this there has been a neglect of what we might call “Christian philosophy” or “patristic philosophy”, due in no small measure to the modern separation of philosophy from theology and the study of them as distinct disciplines. It is true that early Christians viewed philosophy with suspicion and saw it as a source of heresy, but this was not so in every case as witnessed for example by Clement and Origen of Alexandria. In the Byzantine empire Christian theologians remained generally ambivalent towards Greek philosophy, but this did not stop them from employing it for exegetical clarification and doctrinal accuracy.3 There is a notable change from the sixth century among those opposed to Chalcedon, with the formation of independent Christian traditions in Syria and Armenia, which saw the translation of Greek philosophical texts into indigenous languages.4 The story of the continued study of Greek philosophy in the Christian East has yet to receive the attention it deserves from historians and philosophers. The contributions to this volume go some way towards amending this situation.

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Part 1

This part entitled Identity and Terminology, has papers by Ken Parry, Eastern Christianity and Late Ancient Philosophy: a Conspectus, and Johannes Zachhuber, Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity: Some Reflections on Concepts and Terminologies, both offering surveys of the role of philosophy and philosophical thinking for the history of late antique Christianity. The paper by Ken Parry gives an overview of the translation of Greek philosophical texts into Syriac, Armenian, and other Eastern Christian languages, as well as the on-going inter3 Several chapters deal with philosophical topics in Kaldellis and Siniossoglou 2017. See in addition the European Research Council’s project: 9SALT: Reassessing Ninth Century Philosophy. A Synthetic Approach to the Logical Traditions (ERC-Grant ID 648298, 2015–2020). Interim report by Erismann 2018, 162–169. In 2019 Katerina Ierodiakonou was granted funds for three years by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (ΕΛΙΔΕΚ) for a sourcebook of Byzantine philosophy. 4 The Syriac contribution is included in the comprehensive volume by Riedweg, Horn, and Wyrwa 2018. See also the European Research Council’s project: HUNAYNNET: Transmission of Classical Scientific and Philosophical Literature from Greek into Syriac and Arabic (ERCGrant ID 679083, 2016–2021).

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est in philosophy in the Greek Christian world of Byzantium and the Near East. He suggests that the period from the sixth to the ninth centuries marks a change in attitude towards Greek philosophy, especially with works dealing with Aristotelian logic and definitions of technical terms, that has only recently started to be recognised. This interest can be seen in many respects as a precursor to the better known Graeco-Arabic translation movement under the ʿAbbāsids, for it was Eastern Christians who were primarily active in that movement, and who could draw upon the work of earlier translators of philosophical texts by members of their communities. Johannes Zachhuber’s paper examines the meaning of the two terms “theology” and “philosophy” in forging early Christian thought and argues that the modern distinction between theology and philosophy is not applicable to late antiquity. The emergence of so-called “patristic philosophy”, gave a distinctive shape to philosophical concepts that contradicts the common opinion that the fathers were anti-philosophical. The patristic tradition became itself a form of philosophy through its association with Christianity as the “true philosophy”. Galen in the second century had noted the lifestyle and asceticism of Christians in relation to categorising them as a school of philosophy. Zachhuber advocates a broader definition of philosophy than we use today, one that is related to the idea of a textual community (see Champion and Baltzly below). Both pagan philosophers and Christian theologians expounded the texts of their traditions and adopted the idea of succession to maintain their authority. However, this led to the positioning of Christian theology as a school with distinct dogmas, such as bodily resurrection, that were quite unlike those of the pagan schools.

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Part 2

This part called Greek Christian Thought, begins with Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides’ Drunk on New Wine (Acts 2:13): Drinking Wine from Plato to the Eucharist Tradition of Early Christian Thinkers, in which she examines the consumption of wine in the Greek philosophical tradition and its relation to the Christian eucharist. In the Symposium Socrates drinks well but does not become intoxicated, echoing Plato’s concern with the effects of heavy drinking, a concern shared by Clement of Alexandria who explains why water is mixed with wine in the eucharist. Metaphors in the New Testament associate Jesus with viticulture and wine drinking, culminating with his injunction to eat his body and drink his blood. The ecstasy of being united with God through the eucharist in Pseudo-Dionysius stands comparison with Proclus’ interpretation of the god Dionysus in his commentary on the Cratylus. Anagnostou-Laoutides brings out

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the importance of allegory to explain the common language of wine drinking for Platonists and Christians who shared a heritage that took wine seriously as a symbol of transformation. Matthew Crawford in his paper Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Iulianum: Imperial Politics and Alexandrian Philosophy (c. 416–428) draws attention to the importance of the Contra Iulianum in understanding Cyril’s thought, although half the text is lost. This work, dedicated to the emperor Theodosius II, has not been at the forefront of Cyrillian studies, due in part to the difficulties of the text which have prevented scholars appreciating its importance. Written in the aftermath of Hypatia’s murder in 415, it is something of riposte to the pagan schools of Alexandria. It reflects Cyril’s role in the power struggle between the ecclesiastical and imperial authorities. Although long since dead, the continuing effect of Julian’s writings to inspire pagan intellectuals made him a suitable choice for Cyril’s critique. Crawford ends with an appendix containing his forthcoming English translation of the preface and first book of the Contra Iulianum, a work that will be of great interest to Cyrillian scholars. Michael Champion’s paper Philosophy as Transformation in Early Christian Thought explores how the idea of the goal of philosophy as godlikeness shaped elements of early Christian asceticism. He argues that the ultimate purpose of philosophy as transformation found in contemporary Neoplatonism contributed to monastic reading and exegetical methods (see Baltzly below). He traces previous influential debates in Platonism and Stoicism before focusing on the thought of Dorotheus of Gaza in the sixth century. If the Platonic virtues were thought to bring Neoplatonists closer to the divine, then for Dorotheus it was the virtue of humility, which was not prized as much by pagan authors. The early Christian lectio divina was a form of performative meditation that developed into a prominent discipline within the history of Christian monasticism. Champion’s paper contributes to the broader project of including studies of early Christian thought in histories of ancient philosophy which this volume endorses. Dirk Krausmüller in his Theology and Philosophy in the Late Patristic Discourse: Pure Existence, Qualified Existence, and the Arbor Porphyriana, examines the sixth-century writings of Leontius of Byzantium, particularly his discussion of certain terms closely associated with post-Chalcedonian christology. Krausmuller notes that Leontius gives his readers the impression that they are guided by reason alone when they arrive at the conclusion that only the Chalcedonian position is orthodox. That he expected this strategy to be successful casts a revealing light on contemporary patristic debates in which a degree of philosophical sophistication was expected. The introduction of the Tree of Porphyry into these debates led to a modification of the Cappadocian application

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of it, but not necessarily with success. Krausmüller goes on to demonstrate that the engagement with Porphyry was not confined to Leontius but was taken up by others in the late sixth century, such as Pamphilus Theologus, Anastasius of Antioch, and Theodore of Raithou, and then later by John of Damascus in the eighth century. Mention of the Damascene brings us to Vassilis Adrahtas’ Translating Crisis into Logic: John Damascene’s Iconic Conceptualization of History vis-à-vis Late Neoplatonic Symbolism, in which he looks at the contribution of two importance figures, the Neoplatonist Proclus and the Melkite John of Damascus, and their respective engagement with symbols and icons. He presents the social and political crises facing each thinker; the encroaching Christianisation that obliged Proclus to leave Athens for a year, and the increasing Islamization in Syria-Palestine that impacted on John of Damascus. These two clearly inhabited different intellectual worlds, a circular and closed system of symbols for Proclus, and a linear and open system of icons for John. Much has been said about John’s supposed Neoplatonism, but Adrahtas points to a more complex relationship mediated through a succession of Christian thinkers. Ultimately John was focused on the life-changing Eschaton and salvation, both personally and collectively, which raises the question of what constitutes salvation for Neoplatonists, especially for Proclus and the theurgic practices he promoted.

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Part 3

This part entitled Proclus the Neoplatonist begins with Dirk Baltzly’s Civic Virtues and the Goal of Likeness to God in Proclus’ Republic Commentary, in which he discusses the telos of Neoplatonic ethics in relation to the Platonic ideal of attaining likeness to God. His paper focuses less on the arguments in Proclus’ commentary and more on the function that the teaching found in this text served. The aim of studying Plato for the Neoplatonists was not simply to dissect him, but rather to return to God through shared reading and commentary on his works. In this community of like-minded exegetes, the mystical and theurgic dimension of Neoplatonic philosophy became central, a dimension most notable in Proclus’ writings. Baltzly suggests that this function best explains some puzzling features of Proclus’ treatment of the virtues in the Republic. It should be said that the Platonic ideal of assimilation to God has not always been taken seriously by scholars, just as deification has not been by Christian theologians, but these teachings were highly esteemed by both traditions in late antiquity.

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Graeme Miles follows with a paper on Summarising Platonic Education in Proclus’ Reading of Plato’s Cave and Divided Line, wherein he examines Proclus’ comments on these two well-known analogies from the Republic. He sees his comments in Essay Twelve directed to the educational path that aspiring Neoplatonists needed to follow to progress from the sensible to the intelligible. In doing so Proclus gives shadows and appearances a status not assigned to them by Plato suggesting that he is aiming at those at a preliminary stage. The melding of philosophy and religion in late antique Neoplatonism is witnessed by the place Proclus affords hymns and theurgy over mathematics in the philosopher’s ascent to the highest level of being. In this essay he is concerned with mapping the arduous path the neophyte must take to receive the ultimate transformative experience that is the vision of the Good. This does not mean however that Proclus’ philosophy was without a social and political dimension, although as a pagan he was restricted by a Christian society.

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Part 4

The fourth part on Pagans and Christians in Byzantium begins with Han Baltussen’s Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists: Was He Constructing “Pagan Saints” in the Age of Christianity? in which the author investigates the polemical intent of this late fourth-century historian. Eunapius brings together the “way of life” of twenty-five thinkers from the time of Plotinus through to his contemporary Chrysanthius. Baltussen questions whether the genre of biography is appropriate to this work, which includes sophists and physicians as well as philosophers. He suggests that his agenda was to promote the role of pagan intellectuals to rival Christian saints whose virtues were being popularised. Eunapius presents the intellectual culture of the pagan world through the lives of exceptional individuals who embodied their philosophical beliefs. Baltussen notes the parallels with the miracle-working deeds of Christian holy men with their access to supernatural powers. In view of the emperor Julian’s attempt to stem the tide of Christianity the lives of pagan thinkers were placed on a par with those of Christian exemplars. Thus Eunapius’ work may be viewed as a promotional ploy to salvage the pagan intellectual tradition. The following paper by Meaghan McEvoy entitled A Pagan Philosopher at the Imperial Court: the Case of Pamprepius examines the remarkable rise and fall of the grammarian, poet and philosopher Pamprepius, at the imperial court at Constantinople in the late fifth century. It explores the trajectory of Pamprepius’ career from his native Panopolis in Egypt via Athens to Constantino-

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ple, and his attainment of high-office and political prominence under the patronage of the Christian general Illus. Pamprepius’ fall came along with his patron in the ill-fated rebellion by the usurper Leontinus against the emperor Zeno in 484. In highlighting the case of Pamprepius, McEvoy shows the heights to which a pagan advisor could still climb at the Christian court with the backing of a powerful politician, as well as the dangers inherent in such patronage. It was the Neoplatonist Damascius in the sixth century who referred to Pamprepius by the name of the great monster Typhon, a term he used to refer to Christians and others whom he felt demeaned Hellenism. Bronwen Neil in her paper Pagan and Christian Dream Theory in Maximus the Confessor focuses attention on the Confessor’s theory of dreams and its relation to his understanding of the gnomic will, an idea that became fundamental to his defence of the two wills in Christ against the Monothelites. Maximus considered dreams to be involuntary and he defended himself with this argument at his trial for treason at Constantinople in 655. The charge against him was based on an allegation that he had had a subversive dream predicting the triumph of the exarch Gregory, a usurper for the imperial throne. Maximus’ defence of dreams as involuntary can be related to a distinction found in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, between “things that are up to us” and “things that are not up to us”. Neil suggests that while Maximus did not exclude the possibility of mantic dreaming, he confined it to “things that are not up to us”, thus placing it outside the realm of human control and into that of divine providence.

5

Part 5

The final part devoted to Syriac and Arabic Christian Thought takes us out of the Greek-speaking world of pagan and Christian thinkers into the Syriacand Arabic-speaking Christian communities of the Near East. It starts with Nestor Kavvadas’ The Greek Jargon of Logic and East Syrian Intra-Elite Conflicts in the Early Islamic Empire, in which he looks at the use of logic terminology by East Syrian (Church of the East) churchmen in the politics of the early ʿAbbāsid caliphate. The fascinating use of syllogistic terms in the correspondence of the Catholicos Timothy I, provides a remarkable example of the rhetorical behaviour of East Syrian hierarchs who clearly flaunted their educational attainments to bamboozle their correspondents. The exalted status given to Aristotle by Syriac-speaking Christians is discussed by Parry in his paper and is here illustrated by Kavvadas through the genre of letter-writing. The volume concludes with Elvira Wakelnig’s Pyrrho and Sextus Refuting Philosophy and the Value of Definition: on the Arabic Reception of the Late Antique

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Prolegomena to Philosophy. She examines the intriguing use of the refutations of the definitions and divisions of philosophy by certain Christian authors writing in Arabic. A notable aspect is the use of Plato’s refutation of those who deny the very existence of philosophy and the arguments against the notion of definition itself attributed to Pyrrho and Sextus. She focuses attention on the Book on the Definitions of Logic by ʿAbd Īšūʿ ibn Bahrīz, the East Syrian metropolitan of Mosul in the early ninth century. It is apparent from this work that objections to the existence of philosophy played a more central role in the Christian Arabic tradition than they did in the Greek tradition. Wakelnig demonstrates the continuing interest in this genre of philosophical investigation that clearly had importance for Christians authors writing in the early Islamic period.

6

Conclusion

We might say by way of conclusion that several recent voices in the field of early Christianity and late antique philosophy, such as Mark Edwards,5 Ilaria Ramelli,6 George Karamanolis,7 and Daniel King8 (to name a few), have seen the need to reassess our appreciation and understanding of the Christian philosophical engagement. This overdue reassessment should begin with how we approach the distinction between philosophy and theology, which is often characterized as that between paganism and Christianity, or what John Marenbon has called in the Western tradition “the problem of paganism”.9 Anthony Kaldellis has undertaken a similar investigation of the Eastern tradition with his study of the reception of Hellenism in Byzantium.10 While it is clear that the similarities of Christianity to philosophy in the early period sparked tensions amid Christian communities that at times felt they had to disassociate themselves from it, there is no denying their ongoing and formal engagement with the philosophical traditions and their leading figures. This was governed by cultural and educational concerns as much as by theological ones; in fact, to think of it solely in theological terms is to miss the wider impact Greek thought had on them.

5 6 7 8 9 10

Edwards 2019. Ramelli 2009, 217–263. Karamanolis 2014. King 2015, 1–33. Marenbon 2015. Kaldellis 2007.

introduction

9

When it comes to philosophy, it is evident few late antique Christian thinkers referred to themselves as “philosophers” in the pagan sense, although they continued to underpin their intellectual endeavours with many philosophical ideas and terms. Furthermore, it is unfair to refer to the use of philosophical ideas and terms by these thinkers as “mere tools”, even if they themselves thought of philosophy as a “handmaid”, because this notion implies a superficial engagement with philosophy which clearly was not the case. Beyond drawing on common rhetorical, literary, and educational traditions, Christian thinkers were convinced that pagan philosophers approximated divine truth but never fully grasped it. Their criticisms allowed for important debates to take place, such as those on free will, divine grace, and providence,11 to mention just a few. But criticism necessarily entails deep appreciation of what is being criticized in the search for spiritual (rather than simply intellectual) advancement. Thus, one could say that Christianity focused on debating the limits of philosophy which by no means refutes its importance—rather it categorizes philosophy as a first stage of spiritual awakening and development. We intend to follow up this volume with another which will allow for the broader scope of philosophy in the pagan, Eastern Christian, Western Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions. The recently published Medieval Philosophy: A Multicultural Reader12 has taken a step in the right direction in bringing the Byzantine material into the picture, but still not that of the other Eastern Christian traditions. For those of us brought up on Hyman and Walsh’s Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, the Islamic and Jewish Traditions,13 there has not been a more inclusive volume to turn to. We note that the Multicultural Reader categorises ancient philosophy as a “spiritual tradition”, and this confirms the position taken by many in the wake of Pierre Hadot’s agenda to reinstate philosophy as a way of life, and not just an analytical exercise divorced from moral decision-making.14 There is every reason to use the term “spiritual” in the broad sense of experiencing insight and enlightenment that does not presuppose a particular philosophical or religious position, but encompasses a deep level of personal engagement we may all recognise.

11 12 13 14

On this topic see Parry 2017, 341–361. Foltz 2019. Hyman and Walsh 1967. Hadot 1981.

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introduction

Bibliography Dimitrov, D. (2014) ‘Neoplatonism and Christianity in the East’ in P. Remes and S. Slaveva-Griffin (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Neoplatonism (London). Edwards, M. (2019) Aristotle and Early Christian Thought (Abingdon). Erismann, C. (2018) ‘Writing the History of Aristotelian Logic in the Long Ninth Century’, Medieval Worlds: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Studies 8, 162–169. Foltz, B.W. (ed.) (2019) Medieval Philosophy: A Multicultural Reader (London). Hadot, P. (1981) Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique (Paris), trans. M. Chase, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford, 1995). Hyman, A. and Walsh, J.W. (eds.) (1967) Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, the Islamic and Jewish Traditions (Indianapolis) (rept. 1973, 1983, 2010). Ierodiakonou, K. and Zografidis, G. (2010) ‘Early Byzantine Philosophy’, in L.P. Gerson (ed.) The Cambridge History Philosophy in Late Antiquity, vol. 2 (Cambridge), 843– 868. Kaldellis, A. (2007) Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformation of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition (Cambridge). Kaldellis, A. and Siniossoglou, N. (eds.) (2017) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge). Karamanolis, G. (2014) The Philosophy of Early Christianity (London). King, D. (2015) ‘Logic in the Service of Ancient Eastern Christianity: An Exploration of Motives’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91, 1–33. Marenbon, J. (2015) Pagans and Philosophers: The Problem of Paganism from Augustine to Leibniz (Princeton). Parry, K. (2017) ‘Fate, Free Choice, and Divine Providence from the Neoplatonists to John of Damascus’, in A. Kaldellis and N. Siniossoglou (eds.) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge), 341–361. Ramelli, I. (2009) ‘Origen, Patristic Philosophy, and Christian Platonism: Re-Thinking the Christianisation of Hellenism’, Vigiliae Christianae 63, 217–263, Riedweg, C., Horn, C. and Wyrwa D. (eds.) (2018) Philosophie der Kaiserzeit und der Spätantike. Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie. Die Philosophie der Antike 5/3 (Basel).

part 1 Identity and Terminology



chapter 1

Eastern Christianity and Late Ancient Philosophy: A Conspectus Ken Parry

1

Introduction1

This contribution offers an overview of the period from the sixth to ninth centuries, a period that saw Christians in the East reassess their relationship with the Greek philosophical heritage. That this phenomenon was dependant to some extent on the pagan schools of philosophy seems relatively clear, only assessing the exact nature of that dependence is more difficult to determine. Whatever the case, it is an indisputable fact that interest in Greek philosophy became a fascination for Eastern Christians in a more overt manner than it had previously. I may be overstating the case for viewing this period as one of transformation,2 but I believe it does mark a significant and qualitative shift that only lately has begun to be recognised. It is still not sufficiently known that it was mainly authors from the Christian East, who in the period we are dealing with,3 engaged with philosophical texts and utilised them as a handmaid or ancilla to their Christian faith. But although the term handmaid is used by them, it is perhaps the wrong term4 as it implies something supplementary rather than essential and embedded. I do not mean to imply that there was no Christian interest in Greek philosophy before the sixth century,5 but simply to demarcate a specific timeframe of inquiry that illustrates a cultural change. It was during this period, customarily known as the

1 I have found the following recent articles to be especially helpful: McCollum 2015, 15–65; Brock 2015, 98–124; Johnson 2015, 1–122; Mavroudi 2015a, 295–342; Mavroudi 2015b, 28–59; King 2015, 1–33. 2 See Sorabji 1990; Sorabji 2016. 3 In the East late antiquity traverses the Byzantine empire and the early caliphate. For extension of the term into Persia and other areas, see Humphries 2017, 8–37. 4 On philosophy as handmaid, Philo, Congr. 77–80 (Alexandre); Clement, Str. 1.5 (Stählin, Früchtel and Treu); Origen, Epist. Greg. Thaum. (Crouzel). 5 Karamanolis 2014, and now Edwards 2019. For the first phase of reception of Aristotle, see Runia 1989, 1–34; for the second phrase through to John of Damascus, see Frede 2005, 135– 173. Also, Johannes Zachhuber’s paper in this volume.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_003

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Dark Ages in the West,6 that Eastern Christians actively explored their interest in Greek philosophy, generally that of Aristotle and his Neoplatonic commentators, and specifically in the field of logic and philosophical definitions. The Christians involved were mainly but not exclusively from the Greek- and Syriacspeaking communities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.7 The late ancient fascination with Aristotle’s Categories and its Neoplatonic commentaries has turned out to be one of the most significant periods in the history of philosophy. Until recently the Aristotelian commentators were generally ignored, either because it was thought that Greek philosophy died out with Proclus at Athens, or that the process of Christianisation had suppressed all interest in philosophy. Standard histories of Western philosophy still give this impression, and yet it was often the works of these commentators that were known to scholars in the Christian East and the early Arab Muslim worlds.8 The extensive corpus of the Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca [CAG],9 published in 23 volumes between 1882 and 1909, represents one of the largest collections of extant Greek philosophical texts. It contains some 15,000 pages of philosophical literature written by Neoplatonist commentators.10 This collection from late antiquity constitutes the richest source of philosophical literature from the ancient world, a fact that has yet to register with the wider scholarly community. It was the interest of Eastern Christians in Hellenic wisdom that contributed to the later encounter between Muslims and Christians in Baghdad during the ʿAbbāsid caliphate.11 This flowering of intellectual cultures across the religious and philosophical divisions of late antiquity laid the foundations for subsequent philosophical, scientific, and theological developments in the Middle Ages. The desire of the monotheistic communities of Christians and Muslims, as well as Jews,12 to engage with Aristotelian philosophy, created a shared 6

7 8

9 10 11 12

The mid-seventh to mid-ninth century is sometimes called the “Byzantine dark age”, but this is mainly from the perspective of historiography. On the literature of the period, see Kazhdan 1999–2006. King 2013, 61–82. The Kitāb al-Fihrist of al-Nadīm provides names of many Christian scholars, their translations and their works, see Dodge 1970, biographical index. The East Syrian ʿAbdišoʿ bar Brikha or Ebedjesus (d. 1318) lists in his “Catalogue of Books” several authors who wrote works on Aristotelian logic, see Badger 1852, 361–379. I have adopted the acronym [ACA] for the English translation series Ancient Commentators on Aristotle. Sorabji 1990, chap. 1. Watt 2013, 26–50; Adamson 2016, 453–476. In the early tenth century the Karaite scholar Yaʿqūb al-Qirqisānī wrote in Arabic on the role of Aristotelian syllogistic reasoning in Jewish legal thought, see Ravitsky 2018, 149–173.

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intellectual commitment that has rarely been seen since.13 One of the pivotal developments associated with this engagement was the translation of Greek philosophical texts into a variety of Eastern Christian languages, a development that provided an important backdrop to the Graeco-Arabic translation movement. Without this Eastern Christian translatio studiorum the early Muslim world would have been slower to formulate its cultural and intellectual identity vis-à-vis the Hellenic legacy. My intention, then, is to look at some of these Eastern Christian initiatives insofar as we can identify what prompted them and what their purpose was. It does not claim to be comprehensive, so given the word constraints and the limitations of my knowledge, I will confine myself to an overview of the period. However, before doing so I would like to make a few remarks for the sake of clarification.

2

The Eastern Christian Communities

We need first to discuss the sectarian nature of Eastern Christianity and the question of nomenclature.14 I am using the term Eastern to distinguish the Christian communities of Greek-speakers, Syriac-speakers, Armenian-speakers, and so forth, from their Latinophone co-religionists in the West. We should note, however, that Eastern Christian linguistic divisions do not separate neatly along ethnic and denominational lines, but criss-cross christological boundaries. It is important therefore to know whom we are dealing with because misunderstandings remain regarding the identity of some of these communities. 2.1 Caucasian Traditions We might begin with the Christian traditions of the Caucasus region with Armenia claiming to be the first country to embrace Christianity with the conversion of king Trdat by Gregory the Illuminator c. 314. According to tradition it was due to the efforts of Mesrop Maštocʿ (d. 440) in devising the Armenian alphabet that Armenians joined the Christian literary cultures of the East. The Georgians were able to join them around the same time with the invention of their alphabet which is traditionally attributed to Mesrop as well.15 Armenians were not present at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and the Armenians and Georgians appear to have gone their divergent ways into the anti-Chalcedonian 13 14 15

Watt 2005, 151–165. For historical background, see Parry 2007. Thomson 1994, I.

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and Chalcedonian camps respectively by the late sixth century. It was the result of Greek and Syriac influence that several important early Christian texts have been preserved in Armenian and Georgian which are otherwise lost in their original languages. Like other Eastern Christians the Armenian and Georgian churches use the epithet “Orthodox” in their official titles irrespective of their christological positions. 2.2 Syrian Traditions We turn now to the Syrian tradition of the so-called “Nestorians”, or more properly the Church of the East or East Syrians. The title “Nestorian” was applied mainly in polemics against them by other Christian groups, and occasionally by writers from the Church of the East themselves,16 but in general it was not a self-identifying title.17 The Church of the East declared its independence in Persia in 420, largely to register its minority status under Zoroastrian dominance. It was never the Nestorian Church; this title came to be attached to it as the result of the fifth-century christological controversies.18 Nestorius, the bishop of Constantinople, who was deposed at the Council of Ephesus in 431, never founded a church of his own and never went to Persia. He died after 16 years of exile in Egypt the same year as the Council of Chalcedon in 451.19 The Church of the East celebrated Nestorius as an Antiochene father, and as one of the three “Greek Doctors”, along with Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia.20 The other Syrians, the so-called Jacobites (today the Syrian Orthodox) or West Syrians, are named after the sixth-century bishop Jacob Baradaeus/Yaʿqub Burdʿoyo (d. 578), who was responsible for consecrating hierarchs for the fledgling anti-Chalcedonian church. The term Jacobite was used by the Jacobites of themselves as well as being applied to the anti-Chalcedonian Christians of Egypt, who were also known as Theodosians, but subsequently as Coptic Christians.21 The Syrian Orthodox were labelled “Monophysite”, but more recently as the result of inter-faith dialogue, Miaphysite.22 Today the title Oriental Orthodox is used as a general term for the anti-Chalcedonian churches, consisting 16 17

18 19 20 21 22

See Reinink 2009, 217–250. The title is not found as such in Central Asia and China, where the Middle Persian “tarsāg” and the Chinese “jingjiao” were used of and by Christians from the Church of the East, see Lieu 2013, 123–140. Brock 1996, 23–35. Parry 2013a, 41–49; Bevan 2016. McVey 1983, 87–96. Seleznyov 2013, 382–398. Winkler 1997, 33–40; Brock 2016, 45–55. For criticism of this term, see Millar 2013, 43–92, esp. 52.

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of the Syrians, the Copts, the Ethiopians, and the Armenians. The Church of the East is often included in this group, but it does not belong to it doctrinally. While the Orient Orthodox recognise the first three councils up to Chalcedon in 451 as ecumenical, the Church of the East recognises only the first two before Ephesus in 431. 2.3 Greek Traditions We come next to the Greek tradition separated into the Church of Constantinople and the Melkites.23 The term Melkite derives from the Syriac for king (焏‫)ܡܠܟ‬, so by extension “royalist” or “imperialist”,24 and was applied by antiChalcedonians to those who remained loyal to the Chalcedonian patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. The term may have originated to distinguish Chalcedonian from anti-Chalcedonian dioceses in the sixth century, but it became better known in the early Arab caliphate to distinguish Melkites from the Syrian Orthodox and the Church of the East. It was important for the Muslim authorities to identify the different Christian “protected peoples” (ahl aldhimma) for collecting the poll tax ( jizya). An early witness to use of the term in Syriac is found in a letter of the patriarch of the Church of the East, Timothy 1 (r. 780–823) dated 799, in which he refers to patriarch Job in Baghdad (d. 843) as “the patriarch of the Melkites”.25 Since the eighteenth century the title has been taken by the Greek Catholic Church of the Middle East, which, like its earlier namesake, is Arabic-speaking. Another branch of Syriac-speaking Chalcedonians were the Maronites, who for a time embraced Monothelitism, but who eventually came under the jurisdiction of the Roman Church in the wake of the Crusades.26 We conclude with the Byzantine Church and use of the title “Orthodox” with an uppercase “O”.27 This epithet is problematic and anachronistic, as it is not applied to the see of Constantinople in our period. The term “orthodox” like the term “catholic” was used loosely and in a general sense.28 The patriarch of Constantinople adopted the title “ecumenical” in the sixth century, whereas the term “Byzantine” to describe the patriarchate is seldom found. One of the earliest to define “orthodox” in relation to heresy was Epiphanius of Salamis in his

23 24 25 26 27 28

Griffith 2001, 9–55. For a later definition that takes issue with this derivation, see Treiger 2014, 8–37. Letters 43 and 48; Brock 1999, 233–246; Bidawid 1956, 35, 37–38. Naaman 2011. The title is used, for example, by Hussey 1986. See further Magdalino 2010, 21–40. See the definition of these terms in Latin from the early seventh century by Isidore of Seville, Barney et al. 2006, 172.

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Panarion.29 The term as a title was used in the eighth-century work of John of Damascus, known in the manuscript tradition as the Precise edition of the orthodox faith (Ἔκδοσις ἀκριβὴς τῆς ὀρθοδόξου πίστεως).30 However, John’s use of the term is not a direct reference to the Byzantine Church, whose patriarch at the time had succumbed to Iconoclasm, but to the Chalcedonianism he espoused and felt obliged to defend in Syria-Palestine. His work is a defence of Chalcedon and dyophysite christology in a competing environment of sectarian Christians and Muslims. The title was used again in a Chalcedonian statement of faith drawn up by the Melkite Theodore Abū Qurrah in the early ninth century on behalf of the patriarch of Jerusalem.31 The so-called “Triumph of Orthodoxy” at the end Iconoclasm in Constantinople in 843 may be taken as an additional development, and the schism between the Greek and Latin churches in 1045 contributed further to use of the term, but as an official title of the Byzantine Church it is late and has been applied retrospectively. It is more a product of Byzance après Byzance than anything else.32

3

Armenian Christianity

Having surveyed the Eastern Christian communities to be discussed, we will say something first about the Armenian interest in late ancient philosophy. It seems translations of Greek philosophical texts into Armenian began earlier than those into Georgian.33 In Georgia it was Ioane Petritsi in the twelfth century whose interest in Neoplatonic philosophy resulted in his translation and commentary on Proclus’ Elements of Theology. He is said to have studied with Michael Psellos and John Italos in Constantinople. In Armenia, on the other hand, the reception of Greek philosophy began with the so-called “Hellenizing School” (Yunaban Dprocʿ), which may have had connections with the Syriac translation movement of the sixth century.34 The Armenian translations of philosophical texts stemming from this school appear to have begun with David the Invincible (Dawitʿ Anyałtʿ), whom later tradition makes a pupil 29 30 31

32 33 34

See Kim 2015. Kontouma 2015, V, 6–8. This was the Epistle to the Armenians composed by Theodore in Arabic and translated into Greek by Michael the Synkellos who possibly took it to Armenia, see Lamoreaux 2005, 83– 101. The French title of the book by the Romanian author Nicolae Iorga, published in 1935, that came to embody the post-Byzantine view of Byzantium in the Balkans. For the Georgian material, see Nutsubidze et al. 2014, and McCollum 2015, 49–53. Calzolari 2016, 47–70.

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of Mesrop Maštocʿ. The legendary status afforded David in medieval Armenia makes it difficult to disentangle fact from fiction. In the Armenian tradition, David the Invincible is conflated with the Alexandrian David the Philosopher from the school of Olympiodorus, whose Introduction to Philosophy in Armenian translation was ascribed to David the Invincible.35 In his translation David the Invincible renders the title in Armenian as Definitions and Divisions of Philosophy (Sahmankʿ ew Tramatowtsiwnkʿ Imastasirowtsean), and makes other notable changes from the Greek text for his Armenian audience.36 Other works attributed to him are commentaries on Porphyry’s Isagoge and Aristotle’s Categories and Prior Analytics.37 The suggestion that Constantinople was the location where David and other Armenian translators worked raises questions about the nature of higher learning in the capital during the period we are concerned with.38 This would imply that texts of the Alexandrian Neoplatonic commentators, notably those of Ammonius and Olympiodorus, were available in the Queen of Cities, which though not impossible, is not confirmed by the Greek sources.39 The figure of Stephanus of Alexandria might be important here as he is said to have been called to Constantinople to teach Plato and Aristotle by the emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641). However, recent research has thrown doubt on the identity of Stephanus and whether he was summoned to Constantinople at all.40 Nevertheless, the presence of Armenian translators of philosophical texts in Constantinople in the early seventh century would seem to offer evidence of the availability of certain works in the city at that time.41 According to the “autobiography” of the Armenian translator, Anania Širakacʿi (d. 670), he was on his way to Constantinople because he could not find anyone in Armenia who knew philosophy, when he met a group of students heading for Trebizond who persuaded him to join them because of the reputation of an Armenian-speaking teacher by the name of Tychikos.42 Anania became the favourite pupil of Tychikos and stayed with him for eight years before returning to his homeland where he became renowned as “the father 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42

See Sorabji and Griffin 2018 and introduction in Westerink 1962. See introduction and notes by Kendall and Thomson 1983. The subheading of David’s treatise is aimed at Pyrrho the Sceptic, see the paper by Elvira Wakelnig in this volume. See Muradyan 2014, and the collection of essays in Calzolari and Barnes 2009. Thomson 2010, 19–38. Rouéche 1974, 61–76. Rouéche 2016, 541–563. He is listed as a commentator of Aristotle’s Categories and De interpretatione by al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-Fihrist (Dodge 1970, 2, 598–599). Terian 1982, 175–186; Muradyan 2014, 321–348. Lemerle 1986, 90–93; Berberian 1964, 189–194.

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of the exact sciences in Armenia”. Further evidence for Armenians studying in Constantinople comes from the early eighth century with the translator of Dionysius the Areopagite, Stepʿanos Siwnecʿi (d. 735), who is said to have spent twenty years in Constantinople before returning to Armenia in 728.43

4

Syrian Christianity

4.1 Syrian Orthodox There has been some discussion recently concerning the nature of the Syrian Christian interest in Greek philosophy and logic, with a consensus emerging that it was dictated by pedagogical and cultural interests rather than simply polemical concerns.44 If this was the case, then we may need to distinguish the rationale of the various Christian communities utilising Aristotelian philosophy and whether they had different agendas. It is noticeable that Greek philosophy did not attain the same status in Coptic and Ethiopic as it did in Syriac and Armenian, although they belonged to the same anti-Chalcedonian family of churches.45 The Armenian Church celebrated a feast day for the Holy Translators which included among others, David the Invincible, the sixth-century translator and commentator on Aristotle mentioned above. There is no doubt that translating texts from Greek into Syriac was a factor in reinforcing the cultural identity and intellectual standing of the Syrian Orthodox in the sixth century.46 With its leading theologian Severus of Antioch writing in Greek it was essential to translate his works for a Syriac-speaking audience. It is not clear when translations of his works into Syriac began, but it may have been from the time of his flight to Egypt in 518.47 His condemnation by emperor Justinian in 536 would certainly have spurred on the desire for translations.48 It was also in the early sixth century that the first translations into Syriac of Aristotle’s Categories and Porphyry’s Isagoge were made.49

43 44 45 46

47 48 49

Terian 1982, 182. See the works of Stepʿanos listed in Thomson 1995, 201–203. He also translated Nemesius of Emesa’s De natura hominis in 717; see Morani 1981, 71. See above, King 2015; Becker 2006, chap. 7. Pietruschka 2016, 81–108. Given the authority of Cyril of Alexandria for the Miaphysites we may note that translations of his works into Syriac began during his lifetime; see King 2008. On Cyril’s knowledge and use of Aristotelian logic in his writings, see van Loon 2009, 61–122. Paul of Callinicum translated Severus’ writings against Julian of Halicarnassus; see King 2007, 327–349. On whether Severus knew Syriac, see Alpi 2016, 59–69. Menze 2008. See introduction in King 2010.

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It is likely that these translations were useful in interpreting Severus of Antioch’s writings in Syriac. The sixth century saw both anti-Chalcedonians, such as John Philoponus (aka John the Grammarian),50 a student of the Neoplatonist Ammonius of Alexandria, and Chalcedonians, such as Leontinus of Byzantium and Theodore of Raithu,51 well versed in the application of Aristotelian logic to theological issues. It may be noted that Aristotle in the Christian East became detached from his harmonization with Plato and was no longer read as an introduction to studying Plato’s dialogues.52 He was treated as an independent philosophical source with interest confined largely to the Organon, the collective name for Aristotle’s six works on logic, a title attributed to Andronicus of Rhodes in the first century BCE. The interest in philosophical definitions is evident in Severus of Antioch’s treatise against the Chalcedonian, John the Grammarian (not to be confused with Philoponus), quoted in Peter of Callinicum’s Contra Damianum and preserved in Syriac.53 He explains several definitions by saying that the term “man” is indicative of the substance, signifying the community, equality, and connaturality of the whole genus, but if someone happens to point out Job, for example, then the peculiar characteristic of the name indicates Job, and his single hypostasis. He continues: For immediately one hears “Job”, one has understood man—not all men, but one of those placed under the substance (焏‫ )ܐܘܣܝ‬and common genus (焏‫ )ܓܢܣ‬of manhood. For the particular appellation “Job” does not permit the hearer’s understanding to be diffused over the full expanse of the substance and embrace all men. No, it curbs the understanding by the properness of the designation; it limits and directs the mind towards the one hypostasis (焏‫ܡ‬熏‫ )ܩܢ‬of so-and-so; and indicates distinctively what characterizes the very hypostasis.54 Terms such as substance and genus would have been familiar to those who had studied the philosophical definitions of the Neoplatonic schools and their com50

51 52 53 54

See Sorabji 1987. Philoponus was known to the Arabs as Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī, that is, John the Grammarian. On the term “φιλόπονος” used of John and philosophers, see Sorabji 1987, 5–6; Edwards 2000, 93, n. 248. M. Chase, “Neoplatonic Logic in Theodore of Raithu: A Preliminary Study”, available at academia.edu. Also Krausmüller in this volume. On the topic of harmonization, see Gerson 2005; Karamanolis 2006. Ebied 2016, 65–123. See further Allen and Hayward 2004, 44–46, 75–98. Severus of Antioch, Contra Damianum 9, 81–88 quoted by Peter of Callinicum (Ebied, Van Roey and Wickham 1994, 244). Ebied 2016, 83.

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mentators, whereas the term hypostasis, since its introduction at the Council of Nicaea in 325, and its elaboration by the Cappadocian fathers in the fourth century, had come increasingly to denote individualised existence in Christian thought.55 In Neoplatonism it was taken as a synonym of ‘οὐσία’, but as observed by the church historian Socrates Scholasticus in the fifth century ‘ὑπόστασις’ had largely replaced it.56 In his correspondence with Sergius the Grammarian, we find Severus castigating his correspondent for conceding to Greek philosophers for the proper interpretation of technical terms used by the Christian fathers. Severus writes that it is an error of judgement on Sergius’ part for failing to understand the proper role of pagan philosophy in acting as an auxiliary to Christian theology. He writes in his Third Letter to Sergius the Grammarian: But because you have written, “Let us be indulgent to the accurate (findings) of the philosophers, even if they are not of our fold, (and) particularly to (their) interpretations of terms”, know that you have written outside the law of the Church. For none of the Doctors of true religion said, “We make pagan philosophy a [leader] in our studies of terms and words”, but they say they accept it subsequently, as a handmaid (‫ܐ‬狏‫)ܐܡ‬, in so far as it agrees with the teachings and considerations of truth.57 He follows this with a quote from Basil the Great’s treatise Against Eunomius: But is not difficult to show that he (Eunomius) gabbles these things from the wisdom of the world, from which he has lifted up his neck, and in this way has set down innovations in terms. For they belong to Aristotle, as those who have read his work The Categories would be able to say …58 In his Contra Damianum Severus summarises the importance of definitions for the study of scripture by remarking that it is necessary to give definitive demonstrations of technical terms by approximating them to passages and words from scripture.59 He demonstrates this by explaining the opening lines from the

55 56 57 58 59

Erismann 2011, 269–287. Socrates Schol., Ecc. Hist. 3. 7 (Hansen). Lebon 1949, 169–170 (trans. Torrance 1988, 220–221). Basil, Adv. Eun. 1.9 (Sesboüé et al.); Torrance 1988, 221. Ebied 2016, 76–77. On Severus’ exegesis of scripture, see Roux 2016, 160–182.

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Book of Job; “There was a certain man in the land of Uz”, to show that the phrase “there was a certain man”, demarcates the hypostasis of the particular individual from the universal being of all men.60 He does this with the intention of instructing the reader about the meaning of hypostasis and substance, terms usually discussed in christological and trinitarian contexts.61 In fact Severus’ use of scripture to elucidate philosophical technical vocabulary was part of a broader remit endorsed by other patristic authors. As the principal interpreter of Cyril of Alexandria for the Miaphysite community Severus’ writings in Syriac became a major source of inspiration. Severus may have reprimanded Sergius the Grammarian for his inappropriate acceptance of philosophical terminology, but he was in turn accused of the same offence by the Chalcedonian Anastasius of Sinai in the seventh century. Anastasius laid the errors of the Miaphysites firmly at the door of Aristotle and his Hellenic successors, pointedly accusing them of paying more attention to philosophical wisdom than to Moses and the apostles.62 He was supported in this by John of Damascus in the following century who accused the Miaphysites of sanctifying Aristotle and turning him into the thirteenth apostle.63 The name of Aristotle and his syllogistic method had become a missile in the internecine warfare between Chalcedonians and anti-Chalcedonians with neither side prepared to relinquish it. In his Introduction to Aristotle’s Categories, addressed to Theodore, the sixthcentury Syrian Orthodox translator of Pseudo-Dionysius, Sergius of Rešʿaina, who may have studied in Alexandria with the Neoplatonist Ammonius, is keen to show the importance of Aristotle for higher learning.64 He writes as follows: The ultimate source and beginning of all education was Aristotle. It was he who put together each of the parts of philosophy in the place required by its nature, forging out of them in all his writings a complete and wondrous portrait of the knowledge of all things that come into being. Without Aristotle’s works on logic neither can the meaning of writings on medicine be grasped, nor can the opinions of the philosophers be known,

60 61 62 63 64

Severus, Contra Damianum 5, 30–61 quoted by Peter of Callinicum (Ebied, Roey and Wickham, 1994, 26). Ebied 2016, 86. Torrance 1988, 136–137, 218–219. Anastasius of Sinai, Hodegos 6, 2, 57–60 (Uthemann 1981, 102). John of Damascus, Contra Jacobitas 10 (Kotter 1981, 113–114). For background, see Hugonnard-Roche 2004.

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nor indeed the true sense of the divine scriptures … there can be no other course or path to all the areas of knowledge except by way of training in logic.65 There are two points worth noting here. The first is Sergius’ reference to the importance of logic for making sense of scripture, and although he does not expand on what he means, it is more than merely a nod to his Christian faith. Training in Aristotelian logic enabled Christians to clarify their thinking in preparation for study in any discipline, including biblical exegesis. The second point is his overt reference to Aristotle himself. Admittedly he is writing this in the introduction to his translation as a justification for the task he has set himself, but for those Christians who were native Greek-speakers and could read Aristotle and his commentators in the original Greek, his name was more often disparaged than eulogised.66 Jacob of Edessa in the late seventh century echoes Severus of Antioch’s remarks on the use of Aristotelian terminology by the fathers in the following way: These definitions signify particular substances: they are not adapted to universal substances, because the effect of these profane logicians give this definition mainly to particular things, that is to hypostases. In a secondary sense, and by secondary imposition, they give the name of hypostasis to universal substances. Not so the holy Doctors of the Church but first and foremost and most often they impose this name of substance upon the universal, and by secondary imposition, rarely and as (it were) as a result of what they have in common with the universal, they impose this name also upon particular things, i.e. the hypostases.67 Translations of Aristotle into Syriac among the Syrian Orthodox were made by George, Bishop of the Arabs,68 as well as Jacob of Edessa in the eighth cen-

65

66

67 68

Brock 1997, 202–204. For another work with a similar title addressed to a different recipient, see Aydin 2016. For an anonymous translation of the Categories once ascribed to Sergius, see King 2010. Aristotle’s apparent “misanthropic” view of providence is a case in point, see Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 27.10 (Gallay and Jourjon), and further Bydén 2013a, 147–176. This doxographical tradition is noted in the East Syrian work The Cause of the Foundation of the Schools from the late sixth century, see Becker 2008, 134; Becker 2006, chap. 7. Hugonnard-Roche 2008, 205–222. Watt 2015, 141–164.

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tury, followed by the translations into Arabic of Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī in Baghdad in the tenth century. Athanasius of Balad translated Porphyry’s Isagoge and an anonymous introduction to Aristotelian logic in the seventh century. In addition, he is known to have translated the Organon from the Prior Analytics to the Sophistical Refutations, but this has not survived. With respect to Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī, al-Nadīm mentions that he wrote a refutation of Proclus.69 We can follow Sergius of Rešʿaina’s enthusiasm for Aristotle through to the thirteenth century in an anonymous chronicle by a Syrian Orthodox author, in which logic is again promoted as essential for studying scripture. This is what it says: Aristotle collected all the scattered kinds of philosophical doctrines and made them into one great body, thick with powerful opinions and doctrines, since he separated the truth from falsehood. Without the reading of the book of logic that he made it is not possible to understand the knowledge of books, the meaning of doctrines, and the sense of the Holy Scriptures, on which depends the hope of the Christians …70 This is a further endorsement of the need to retain the insights of logic for the Christian exegete who strives for the fuller sense of scripture and the deeper understanding of doctrine. Perhaps this enthusiasm needs to be put into perspective, however, because not all authors were keen to embrace the Stagirite and his logical method. As with Severus’ criticism of Sergius the Grammarian above, authors needed to appreciate and understand the patristic application of technical philosophical expressions. 4.2 The Church of the East As far as the Church of the East is concerned, the transfer of the school of Edessa on Byzantine territory to Nisibis under Sasanian protection in 489 resulted in a significant development in East Syrian pedagogy.71 The move established Nisibis as the main intellectual centre of learning for the Church of the East in Persia,72 so that by the late sixth century students were travelling

69 70

71 72

al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-Fihrist, II, 613 (Dodge). On Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī’s life and work see Endress 2017, 434–468. Quoted in Griffith 2009, 155: Hilkins 2018, 23, 45, 119. John Watt has pointed out to me the possible literary dependence of this passage on the extract from Sergius of Rešʿaina cited above. Reinink 1995, 77–89. On the reception of Neoplatonic Aristotelianism in the Cause, see Becker 2006, chap. 7.

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there from across the Sasanian world. In the Syriac text, known as The Cause of the Foundation of the Schools, history is presented as a series of schools in a chain of transmission in which the Greek schools of philosophy are maligned. And although Aristotelian logic was part of the curriculum, Aristotle himself is castigated for teaching that providence does not extend to below the moon, a long attested doxographical tradition.73 The school of Persia appears to have gone into decline in the first half of the seventh century, due to a combination of political and religious challenges, but its legacy continued long after as a model of learning and instruction in the Church of the East.74 The reputation of the school of Nisibis was known to Junillus Africanus, an imperial lawyer in Constantinople in the first half of the sixth century, because he mentions it in the introduction to his Instituta Regularia Divinae Legis.75 This handbook to biblical exegesis uses the question-and-answer (ἐρωταποκρίσεις) format to focus attention on the historical sense of scripture in the Antiochene tradition, while applying a series of definitions not unlike those in the prolegomena to philosophy. He tells us of a certain Paul the Persian in connection with the school of Nisibis, but this is not thought to be Paul the Persian who wrote an introduction to Aristotelian logic in Syriac and a commentary on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione. Although the Paul in question is believed to have belonged to the Church of the East, there are several such Pauls identified from the period and so it is not certain which one Junillus is referring to.76 The East Syrian Paul the Persian, who wrote on Aristotle at the request of Khosroes I Anūshirwān (r. 531–579), is believed to have converted to Zoroastrianism when his ambition to become a metropolitan was denied.77 It was to the court of Khosroes I that the seven Athenian philosophers are said to have travelled after the closing of the Academy by Justinian in 529,78 and for whom one of them, Priscian of Lydia, wrote his Solutionum ad Chosroem.79 The widespread knowledge of the Categories in the Church of the East is evident with Gabriel of Qatar, who in the seventh century writes as follows:

73 74 75 76 77 78 79

Bydén 2013a, and n. 66 above. On Gondeshapur, or Beth Lapaṭ in Syriac, as a Sasanian centre of the Church of the East, see Brock et al., 2011, 72. See Mass 2003, 119. See the entries by L. van Rompay in Brock et al. 2011, 324–325. Gutas 1983, 231–268. The historian Agathias (d. 582) is our main source for this event, History B 28–30 (Frendo). Nechaeva 2017, 359–380; Watts 2005, 285–315. Priscian’s text is preserved in Latin (Huby).

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Accordingly, imitating this ordering, the skilled philosopher and exact investigator of natural phenomena, Aristotle, himself counted up and defined with ten genera all the simple appellations of the world’s phenomena; within these (ten) all the natures, and all that are within the natures, are contained. First of all he had skilfully constructed that fourfold higher level of substance, accidents, the common and the individual; and then from it he generated those ten (genera), which are the ten categories …80 Gabriel goes on to mistakenly identify Aristotle himself as the author of the Isagoge, but this misidentification is not perhaps surprising given the close connection of this work with Aristotle’s name. We know that pseudonymous texts were going the rounds claiming Aristotle as their author,81 and we may note that the Alexandrian Neoplatonist Ammonius mentions only two manuscripts of the Categories were known to him.82 Scholars from the Church of the East became renowned under the ʿAbbāsids for their translations of Greek philosophical and medical works into Arabic. The most famous of these were Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq (809–873) and his son Isḥāq in the ninth century, who were associated with the Graeco-Arabic translation movement in Baghdad.83 In a letter written by the patriarch of the Church of the East, Timothy I, dated to 780–781, he records the conversation he had with someone at the caliph’s court in Baghdad who was an admirer of Aristotle’s philosophy.84 This is one of the earliest references to the interest in Aristotelian philosophy at the ʿAbbāsid court, while Timothy himself was commissioned by the caliph al-Mahdī (r. 775–785) to translate Aristotle’s Topics from Syriac into Arabic.85 The text of Timothy’s dialogue with al-Mahdī on Islam and Christianity survives in a Syriac and Arabic edition.86 Also at the ʿAbbāsid court from the 80 81 82

83 84 85

86

Quoted in Brock 2014, 163. The Pseudo-Aristotle De Mundo was translated into Syriac by Sergius of Rešʿaina; see McCollum 2011, 165–178. See Cohen and Matthews 1991, 20. For a character assassination of Ammonius by the anti-Chalcedonian historian, Zacharias of Mytilene, see his Ammonius (Gertz, Dillon and Russell). The same Zacharias wrote a Life of Severus of Antioch consisting of anti-pagan rhetoric (Brock and Fitzgerald). On the evidence for the so-called “House of Wisdom” (bayt al-ḥikma), see Gutas 1998, 53– 60. Griffith 2007, 103–132. See also Nestor Kavvadas’ paper in this volume. Watt 2004, 15–26. In Letter 25 Timothy I requests a logician to be appointed bishop of Ḥarēw (Herat in today’s Afghanistan) so that he can debate with the Jacobites; see Bidawid 1956, 27. See Samir and Nasry 2018.

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Church of the East was the translator ʿAbdishoʿ bar Bahrīz who wrote a treatise on logic based on Aristotle’s Categories and Porphyry’s Isagoge at the request of the caliph al-Maʾmūn (r. 813–833).87 It is of interest to see the Muslim ʿAbd al-Jabbār (d. 1025) in his Critique of Christian Origins, arguing that the Christian mutakalliūm are atheists and heretics because they teach what is contrary to Christ. Among them he mentions the Melkite Qusṭā ibn Lūqā, the Syrian Orthodox Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī, as well as Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq and his son Isḥāq from the Church of the East. When it is put to them that religion is not established by scholastic discourse, they evoke the name of Aristotle to justify their position. ʿAbd al-Jabbār writes: Yet Aristotle did not believe in a [divine] book or a prophet or a [religious] law. He denied the parting of the sea, the transformation of [Moses’] staff into a snake, the bringing of the dead to life, and Mary’s giving birth without a man. [Aristotle] thought that to believe in these things is to be ignorant, foolish, and weak minded. Now tell me who is more weak minded: [Aristotle] or the one who makes him the proof for his religion and relies on him …88 Although ʿAbd al-Jabbār is here criticising Christians for their use of Aristotle, his statement may be aimed at those Muslims who resorted to Aristotle as well. Anti-Aristotelianism in the Islamic world reached its culmination with al-Ghazālī (d. 1111) and his attack on al-Fārābī’s and Ibn Sīnā’s adoption of Aristotle’s physics and metaphysics but not of his logic.89 It is also interesting to find the Muslim polymath al-Bīrūnī (973–c. 1050), writing in his Chronology of Ancient Nations at the end of the tenth century in Khwarazm (part of modern Uzbekistan), informing his readers that Nestorius advocated the use of syllogistic reasoning in theological debate. He suggests that his disagreement with the Byzantine Church was the result of adopting a specific method of investigation: He instigated people to examine and to investigate for themselves, to use the means of logic, syllogism, and analogy for the purpose of being prepared to oppose their adversaries, and to argue with them … This was the method of Nestorius himself. He established as laws for his adherents

87 88 89

Troupeau 1997, 135–145. For discussion of this work, see Elvira Wakelnig in this volume. Reynolds and Samir 2010, 153. On ʿAbd al-Jabbār, see Reynolds 2004. Fakhry 1983, 217–233.

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those things in which he differed from the Melkites, differences to which he had been led by his investigation and unwearying study.90 On the face of it this looks like a Chalcedonian (Byzantine) appraisal of Nestorius that al-Bīrūnī has picked up, and this would not be surprising given that he writes about Melkites as well as “Nestorians” in his study of the liturgical calendars of the Christian communities known to him. The presence of Eastern Christians in Central Asia, with bishoprics at Merv and Samarkand, was well established before al-Bīrūnī’s time,91 but what contribution they may have made to the blossoming of science and philosophy at such centres of learning as Bukhara and Samarkand remains largely unknown.92

5

Byzantine Christianity

5.1 The Eastern Provinces When it comes to assessing Byzantine Christianity, we need to think of two different locations; Constantinople and the Eastern provinces of Syria-Palestine, the first being distinct from the second in terms of activity and chronology. Constantinople was active philosophically in the sixth and again in the ninth century, while the Eastern provinces were active throughout much of this period.93 Looking at it historically, we can see that despite the changed political and religious situation in Syria-Palestine, it was not unfavourable to Chalcedonian authors wanting to pursue their philosophical interests. The extent to which this was influenced by their Syriac-speaking neighbours is not clear, although given that Syriac culture was largely bilingual it may have impacted upon authors for whom Greek was their mother tongue. Greek philosophical ideas were after all their patrimony, but it is unknown to what extent they may have thought that these were being hijacked by their co-religionists from across the christological divide. The Church of Constantinople was in no position to impose uniformity in the Eastern provinces under the Arab caliphate in the seventh to ninth centuries, especially when for much of the period it was itself under the thumb of heretical emperors and patriarchs, promoting Monothelitism and Icono-

90 91 92 93

Sachau 1879, 306. Parry 2012, 91–108; Parry 2016, 203–220. For background, see Starr 2013. For an essential survey of our period, see Kapriev 2005, 45–199.

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clasm.94 However, it is important to note the nature of Byzantine theology, as John Meyendorff wrote some time ago: In Byzantium theology was never a monopoly of professionals or of a “teaching church” (magisterium) … This lack of a clearly and juridically defined criterion of orthodoxy implied that the responsibility for the truth was shared by all.95 In other words, there was no monolithic institution called “Orthodoxy” that made it necessary for theologians to exercise self-censorship in relation to the use of philosophical methodology.96 What authority there was came from scripture, the fathers, and the ecumenical councils, but the opinions of individual fathers or the decrees of local synods were a different matter and by no means universally binding.97 Chalcedonians in Constantinople and in SyriaPalestine in our period must have looked at each other askance, with one given over to the heretical teachings of emperors and patriarchs, and the other to the dominance of Islam.98 The last twenty years has seen a growing interest in the study of Byzantine philosophy, with scholars taking seriously its existence for historical and philosophical research. Several studies have set out to re-evaluate the place of philosophy in Byzantium, but whether we can speak of “Byzantine philosophy” as such or should confine ourselves to “philosophy in Byzantium” is still a debated question.99 Whatever the case, there is still some way to go before handbooks to the history of philosophy include chapters on the subject. A case in point is the recent Brill’s Companion to Aristotle in Late Antiquity, as well as Brill’s Companion to Plato in Late Antiquity, published in 2016 and 2018 respectively, neither of which has a chapter on the Byzantine or the Eastern Christian traditions, the absence from both being a notable omission in assessing the period. This is particularly regrettable in view of the increased interest in these traditions, and is perhaps indicative of the common opinion that Byzantium and the

94 95 96 97 98 99

For the period, see Humphreys 2015. Meyendorff 1987, 5. For an example of syllogistic reasoning in defence of Chalcedonian orthodoxy in the sixth century, see Uthemann 2017, 329–338. Photios, Letter to Pope Nicholas, Epistle 290: 204–208 (Laourdas and Westerink 1985, 130). On the term “Saracen-minded” (σαρακηνόφρων) thrown at John of Damascus by the Iconoclasts, see Awad 2018, 44–71. Kapriev 2015, 1–8. On logic in Byzantium, see Erismann 2017, 362–380.

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Christian East may be ignored because nothing of interest happened there.100 It is to be hoped that the recent Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (2017) will help change such misperceptions,101 but it shows that the task of compiling a comprehensive history of philosophy in the Christian East still lies ahead. No survey of late ancient philosophy and Eastern Christianity can ignore the corpus of writings attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, whose influence may be found along the christological spectrum. We have mentioned that Sergius of Rešʿaina made a Syriac translation in the sixth century, and this was followed by a revised translation by Phocas of Edessa in the seventh.102 It may have been Sergius philosophical interests that led him to translate the Areopagite because he is the only Christian author he worked on and for whom he was the epitome of Christian Neoplatonism.103 However, Dionysius was no less important for the Church of the East. The patriarch Timothy I in another of his letters asks his correspondent to find out which is the best of two Syriac translations,104 and Joseph Ḥazzaya is said to have written a commentary on the corpus in the eighth century.105 We noted above a translation into Armenian by Stepʿanos Siwnecʿi was made in the same century,106 and Ephrem Mtsire did one into Georgian in the eleventh century, in addition to the Latin translation by John Scotus Eriugena in the ninth century. However, perhaps more could be said regarding the Aristotelianism of Pseudo-Dionysius, influenced as he was by Neoplatonism (pace Proclus) with its blend of Platonism and Aristotelianism.107 At least the idea of Dionysius being both a Christian and a Neoplatonist is no longer considered a contradiction in terms.108 Just as it is no longer the

100

101 102 103 104 105 106

107

108

This is not intended as a direct criticism of the editors and contributors to these excellent and well-researched Companions, but rather as a reminder of what still needs to be done. Kaldellis and Siniossoglou 2017, esp. the discussion by Gutas and Siniossoglou, “Philosophy and ‘Byzantine Philosophy’”, 271–295. Perczel 2009, 27–41; Perczel 2015, 211–225. Suggested to me by John Watt in a personal communication. Timothy I, Letter 43; Brock 1999, 237, 244; Bidawid 1956, 35. Sherry 1964, 78–91. Thomson 1987 notes that the Armenian version is close to the Greek text presented by emperor Michael III to Louis the Pious in 827. This is Parisinus graecus 437 probably composed at the Stoudios Monastery in Constantinople, see Parry 2020, ‘Theodore the Stoudite and the Stoudios Scriptorium in Ninth-Century Byzantium’ (in press). Because of his reputed first-century status it was argued that it was Proclus who cribbed from Dionysius and not the other way around. John Philoponus may have been responsible for claiming this; see Proclus in Opsomer and Steel 2003, 6. Severus of Antioch was one of the first authors to appeal to the authority of the Corpus

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case with Boethius when viewed against his sixth-century social and cultural background,109 nor indeed with Michael Psellos in eleventh-century Byzantium.110 It has never been suggested, as far as I know, that John of Damascus was inconsistent and contradictory in writing his Dialectica and the Precise edition of the orthodox faith. A recent study of Hellenism in Byzantium has described the period from fifth to the eleventh century as “Hellenism in limbo”.111 However, limbo does not have to mean suspended animation because intellectual life was not entirely dormant in these centuries. The fact that Greek Christian Hellenism was ambivalent towards its philosophical inheritance has often been noted, yet the reason for this ambivalence is not hard to see. Ever since heresy became a byword for unacceptable difference in the early Christian world, Hellenism came out on the wrong side of the fence. Early Christians recognised that they were forging a middle way between Hellenism and Judaism, while at the same time they condemned both as misguided forebears. This negative attitude can be traced through to the period we are dealing with, and although Hellenism was apparently inimical to Christianity, it provided a common language of intellectual discourse that was hard to resist. In fact, to have resisted it would have been detrimental, as the Cappadocian fathers recognised when they opposed Julian the Apostate’s “Hellenism for pagans” agenda.112 The feast of the Three Hierarchs (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom) in the Byzantine Church, instituted around 1100 by emperor Alexios I Komnenos, resulted from debates among intellectuals of the respective merits of these three classically trained fathers of the church.113 This resistance is evident from what John of Damascus says about a certain sect he calls the Γνωσιμάχοι, that is, “those who fight against knowledge”. Apparently, they were opposed to the development of doctrine, asserting that those who search the scriptures for higher knowledge were wasting their time, because God asks nothing more of them except that they perform good deeds.114 It is better therefore to pursue a simple life and not be curious about

109 110 111 112 113 114

Dionysiacum, while Photios in the ninth century quotes from an unknown author called Theodore who wrote a work entitled The Book of Dionysius is Authentic; see Parry 2006, 223–235. Daley 1984, 158–191; Donato 2013. Miles 2017, 79–101. Kaldellis 2007, 173–187; Lemerle, 1986. Pelikan 1993, 9–15; Elm 2012, 389–393. Saradi 2014, 133–160. John of Damascus, Liber de haeresibus 88 (Kotter 1981, 57). The first 80 heresies are from the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis.

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doctrines arrived at through the acquisition of additional knowledge. The group is not known before John’s mention of it, but it is referred to by Theodore the Stoudite in the early ninth century, who quotes John verbatim.115 These Christians who emphasised the simple life over a deeper knowledge of the scriptures were clearly viewed by John as enemies of learning. Undoubtedly there were some who turned their backs on learning in favour of a simple life, and this attitude became embedded in some monastic circles that denounced secular learning in favour of piety and prayer. This reflected the sentiment that a Christian should speak in the manner of a fisherman and not in the manner of Aristotle (piscatorie et non Aristotelice).116 However, it would be a mistake to equate anti-intellectualism with monasticism per se,117 when most of our authors were monks and many monasteries were famous for their scholarly achievements, such as Mar Sabas in Palestine,118 St Catherine’s at Sinai, Qennešre on the Euphrates, and the Stoudios in Constantinople.119 Interestingly the East Syrian ʿEnanišoʿ of Adiabene in the seventh century is said to have painted the walls of his cell at the Monastery of Beth ʿAbe with the “definitions and divisions” of philosophy, and to have composed a commentary on them at the request of his brother.120 John of Damascus is unlikely to have thought he was being Janus-faced when he accused the Miaphysites of turning Aristotle into the thirteenth apostle. Like Basil the Great before him,121 he could see that Aristotelian syllogisms had been usurped by heretics, and yet his own theological enterprise was clearly reliant on the logical tradition in its Chalcedonian guise. John followed the example of more recent fathers, such as Maximus the Confessor and Anastasius of Sinai in the seventh century, in their application of philosophical vocabulary. Anastasius had composed his Hodegos as a refutation of the Miaphysites, but he agreed with them that technical expressions should be understood in the light of scripture. He writes:

115

116 117 118 119 120 121

Theodore the Stoudite, Ep. 48 (Fatouros 1991, 137). This may not be a direct borrowing from John but from a shared source because Theodore does not otherwise acknowledge or quote him, even in his writings against the Iconoclasts. The sect was unknown to Sophronius of Jerusalem in the seventh century, see Allen 2009. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 23, 12, 11–14 (Mossay); Grillmeier 1987, 223. See Johnsén 2018, 219–235. Patrich 2001. Parry 2020 (in press). Budge 1893, II, 11, xi, 177–178. Basil, Adv. Eun. 1.5 (Sesboüé et al.).

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We should explain the concepts of substance, genus, nature, hypostasis and person, according to Moses, the prophets and the Gospel, so that no one can contradict us.122 Yet for Chalcedonians like Anastasius, the validity of such concepts was dependent upon the orthodoxy of the author. Although the proper interpretation of philosophical concepts was to be found in scripture, this was contingent upon the christological position of the exegete. If heretics were incapable of interpreting scripture correctly, then their understanding of philosophical concepts must ipso facto be suspect. Greek authors knew they did not have exclusive rights on Greek philosophical ideas, but it was implied that as native speakers they had a better grasp of them. This led to a certain hubris among Hellenophone Christians towards those who had adopted a translated vocabulary and on whom the nuances of the Greek language were lost. This was countered by Severus Sebokht (d. 667), bishop of the Syrian Orthodox monastery of Qennešre and author of works on Aristotelian logic, who criticised Greek cultural hegemony and promoted Syrian scholarship in response to those who considered nonGreeks incapable of learning.123 The obligations of Greek-speakers adhering to Chalcedon were as much linguistic and cultural as they were theological. Greek chauvinism showed itself in the propaganda war between the Byzantines and the Arabs concerning who the true heirs of the Hellenic tradition were.124 The Arabs accused the Byzantines of repudiating Greek philosophy because of their Christianity, whereas Muslims welcomed it because of Islam.125 Al-Fārābī’s assertion regarding the episcopal censorship of Aristotle’s Organon because it was inimical to Christianity has been read as Arab antiByzantine propaganda promoted under al-Maʾmūn (r. 813–833), but matters may not be as straightforward as they appear.126 It was al-Maʾmūn who is said to have had a dream in which a man identified himself as Aristotle and engaged in philosophical debate with him. This apocryphal story is reported by al-Nadīm as an explanation of why philosophical texts came to be studied by the Arabs.127 He also gives an account of why Greek philosophy came to be rejected by the Byzantines once they became Christians:

122 123 124 125 126 127

Anastasius of Sinai, Hodegos VI, 2, 57–60 (Uthemann). Brock 1982, 17–34, esp. 23–24; Brock 1997, 222–223. Mavroudi 2015b. El Cheikh 2004, 100–1011. Text in Rosenthal 1992, 50–51. See the reassessment by Watt 2008, 751–778. al-Nadīm, Fihrist, II, 583–584 (Dodge).

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Philosophy appeared among the Greeks and Romans before the religious code of the Messiah, for whom be peace. When the Byzantines became Christians, they prohibited it. Some of the books they burned, but some they treasured. They, moreover, prevented people form speaking about anything in philosophy which was opposed to the prophetic doctrine. Then later, the Byzantines returned to the schools of philosophical thought. This was due to Byzantine king Julian, who used to stay at Antioch and whose minister was Themistius, the commentator on the books of Aristotle.128 This report by al-Nadīm consists of truths and half-truths. The burning of Porphyry’s Against the Christians began in the reign of Constantine the Great (r. 311–337) and continued with Theodosius II (r. 408–450). It was under the emperor Julian (the Apostate) (r. 361–363), whose adviser was the orator and commentator on Aristotle, Themistius, that the Greek schools of philosophy were revived but reserved for pagans.129 John of Damascus sums up the Chalcedonian position on the use of technical expressions in a passage from his work against the Byzantine Iconoclasts: Where can you find in the Old Testament or in the Gospels explicit use of such terms as “Trinity” (τριάδος) or “consubstantial” (ὁμοούσιον) or “one nature of the Godhead” (μίαν φύσιν θεότητος) or “three persons” (τρεῑς ὑποστάσεις), or anything about Christ being “one person with two natures?” (δύο φύσεις). However, the meanings of all these things are found, expressed in other phrases which the scriptures do contain, and the holy fathers have interpreted for us.130 He was followed in this by the Melkite, Theodore Abū Qurrah, in the early ninth century who was one of the first Christian authors to write in Arabic. He writes: Those who love and protect true doctrine must distinguish and clarify the terms most frequently used by philosophers, for many of the seemingly wise, not fully understanding these terms, have fallen short of the truth …131

128 129 130 131

al-Nadīm, Fihrist, II, 579 (Dodge). On the response of the Cappadocian fathers to this see n. 112 above. Oration 3.11 (Kotter 1975, 122). Opusculum 2 (PG 97, 1469C); Lamoreaux 2005, xxvii.

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Theodore is credited with translating some philosophical works into Arabic, including pseudo-Aristotle On the Virtues of the Soul, and like John of Damascus was a staunch defender of Chalcedon against other Christian communities under Islam.132 John of Damascus might distain the use of Aristotelian terms by his theological opponents, but this did not prevent him from compiling the Dialectica, the most detailed handbook of Greek logic and philosophical terminology from the eighth century, with subsequent translations into Arabic and Georgian as well as into Latin, demonstrating its widespread reception.133 In fact, no other text of its kind was composed by a Chalcedonian, so it is unique to that tradition. He clearly wanted to make explicit what had remained largely implicit before his time, and in doing so stamped his authority on his community’s acceptance of philosophical terminology as an essential prolegomenon to the study of dogma. This is not the occasion to offer a detailed exposition of the work, so I will confine myself to the following observations. Historically the Dialectica has been uprooted from its Sitz und Leben, so it should be replanted in the context of its time.134 We have already remarked that the Church of Constantinople was in dire straits theologically because of its support for the heretical doctrines of Monothelitism and Iconoclasm, but in addition, John’s own position in Palestine was under pressure from two sides. On the one hand, the Christian denominations were in contention with each other, while on the other, the Umayyad caliphate was attempting to curtail the public activities of non-Muslims. In such a situation, John must have felt the need to defend his community and its dogmatic tradition, and this he did by writing his Font of Knowledge, of which the Dialectica forms the first of its three parts, the other two being the Book of Heresies and the Precise edition on the orthodox faith. However, the manuscript tradition shows that the three parts circulated independently and were not read together, or at least not till much later.135 Nevertheless, the prooemium to the Dialectica suggests that they were conceived as one work, with the Dialectica offering an introduction to technical philosophical expressions necessary for understanding Chalcedonian theology and the interpretation of scripture. It is a remarkable testimony to how far late

132 133 134 135

See further Awad 2016. John was known to the Melkites by his Arabic name, Yuḥannā ibn Sarjūn ibn Mansūr. On John’s Rezeptionsgeschichte, see Adrahtas 2015, 264–277. For John’s early Islamic context, see Awad 2018. See Kontouma 2015, V, 1–2. We may observe that John in his Liber de haeresibus follows earlier heresiologists in including the Platonists, Stoics, and Epicureans, while fusing the Pythagoreans with the Peripatetics, Heresies 5–8 (Kotter 1981, 21–22).

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ancient philosophy had come in the Christian East by the mid-eighth century. Naturally John is at pains to point out the patristic application of such terms. On several occasions in this work John distinguishes terms defined by the holy fathers (ἅγιοι πατέρες), from those of the pagan philosophers (ἔξω φιλόσοφοι), especially such terms as nature (φύσις), substance (οὐσία), and form (μορφή).136 He devotes three chapters in fact to discussing and defining these three terms as understood by the fathers to make clear their meaning to his Chalcedonian readers.137 He expresses the view that like an artisan who needs particular tools to carry out his trade, or a queen who requires to be waited upon by her handmaid (ὑπηρέτις),138 philosophy is necessary for the proper study of theology. The text quotes verbatim from earlier collections of definitions from the Alexandrian school of Aristotelian commentators, for example, it includes the six definitions of philosophy given by Elias and David in their Introductions (Prolegomena) to Philosophy,139 viz. philosophy is 1) the knowledge of beings as beings, 2) the knowledge of things divine and human, 3) a preparation for death,140 4) the assimilation of man to God as far as is humanly possible,141 5) the art of arts and the science of sciences, and 6) the love of wisdom. To this last John adds that because God is true wisdom, the love of God must be the true philosophy,142 which is his Christian take on the philosophy of “outside wisdom” (ἔξω σοφία). The inclusion of the two Alexandrian commentators Elias and Stephanus in the Doctrina Patrum of the late seventh/early eighth century, a florilegium of passages taken from the Bible and the church fathers, in which different symbols are used to identify authors, is important for their reception by the Chalcedonian community. Among the symbols are ΘΡ for Theodore of Raithu 136 137 138 139 140

141

142

Dialectica 41 (Kotter 1969, 107). Dialectica 39–41 (Kotter 1969, 106–108). Dialectica 1 (Kotter 1969, 54). The names Elias and David give little indication the texts were composed by Christians, see Wildberg 1990, 33–51. To this Stephanus of Alexandria adds “while the living being is still preserved”, to avoid condoning suicide, see Roueché 2016, 549–551. For the Neoplatonic criticism of the Stoic justification for suicide, see Papazian 2015, 95–109. Theodore the Stoudite states that no service or liturgy is to be performed for anyone committing suicide, Ep. 449 (Fatouros 1991, II, 635). This is Plato’s ὁμοίωσις θεῷ κατὰ δυνατόν, Tht. 176a5–b2 (LCL 123). Anastasius of Sinai suggests that Plato stole this idea from Moses and quotes Gen 1:26, see his Hexaemeron (Kuehn and Baggarly 2007, 191). On Plato the Attic Moses, Clement of Alexandria, Str. 1.22 (Stählin, Früchtel and Treu). Dialectica 3 (Kotter 1969, 56). For these definitions by Elias and David, see Sorabji and Griffin 2018, 25–29, 103–105. Also discussed by Elvira Wakelnig in this volume.

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and ΜΜ for Maximus (the monk) the Confessor, but also the symbols ΣΤΦ for Stephanus the Philosopher and ΗΛΦ for Elias the Philosopher.143 Their inclusion in this florilegium is clear recognition of their status as authorities whose works could be utilized, and this was understood by John of Damascus, for example, who as we have seen incorporates the definitions of philosophy from Elias in his Dialectica. 5.2 Constantinople Turning to Constantinople we can see a marked change in its intellectual history in the ninth century, despite the first half being under the sway of Iconoclast emperors. This change is often attributed to the revival of learning under the patriarch Photios, following the collapse of Iconoclasm and the Triumph of Orthodoxy in 843. However, the change can be detected by the late eighth/early ninth century, with the introduction of Aristotelian logic terminology into the debate over icons by authors such as Theodore the Stoudite and the patriarch Nikephoros.144 A similar take up is found in the Latin West at the Carolingian court, notably by Alcuin of York in his De Dialectica and Theodulf of Orléans in his polemic against Nicaea II from the 790s,145 which suggests that the interest in Aristotelian logic was wide-spread across Christendom and the Arab caliphate by the early ninth century.146 Textbooks of logic terminology in Greek had been compiled throughout the sixth to eighth centuries, and would undoubtedly have been available for teaching in the capital,147 just as John of Damascus in Syria-Palestine in the early eighth century was familiar with such compilations. On the question of what was explicitly stated and what was implied by scripture, Theodore the Stoudite writes: The scriptures do not say the Son is of the same substance (ὁμοούσιος) as the Father, or that the Holy Spirit is God, or that the Christ’s mother is Theotokos, but all these doctrines are taught by the later fathers (τῶν Πατέρων ἕστερον) and are in fact based on passages from scripture. Even if scripture does not say it in these same words the exigencies of the time require it to be spelled out that Christ is the prototype of his image.148

143 144 145 146 147 148

Diekamp 1907, 249. Parry 2013b, 35–58; Parry 1996, chap. 6; Tollefesen 2018. Freeman 2003, I, 81–87. Marenbon 2005, 223–243; Hermans 2016. Roueché 1974. Theodore the Stoudite, Antirrheticus II. 7 (PG 99, 356CD). On this passage see Parry 2018, 261–275. Theodore also remarks that although he will resort to syllogisms it will not be

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Theodore says this in the context of refuting the Iconoclasts, but he is stating it as a general principle to be applied in other contexts in which technical language is used to explain the meaning of scripture. By the ninth century this had become a standard hermeneutical tool for demonstrating the dynamic nature of doctrine. This positive view of doctrinal progression was not considered an innovation, rather it showed that the appeal to the consensus of tradition by heretics, in this case the Iconoclasts, was without foundation. The Triumph of Orthodoxy was declared in Constantinople in 843 and marked a turning point because it came to be viewed as ending not only Iconoclasm but the era of the christological controversies. The document known as the Synodikon of Orthodoxy was subsequently read out on the First Sunday in Lent denouncing all known heresies.149 The anathemas added to the Synodikon in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, in the wake of the resurgence of interest in Proclus and Neoplatonism, and the show trials in Constantinople of John Italos and Eustratius of Nicaea, take us outside our present timeframe.150 Suffice to say, Eustratius was accused of maintaining that Christ used Aristotelian syllogisms.151 However, apart from the closing of the Academy by Justinian in 529, the negativity of the Komnenian authorities towards Neoplatonic philosophy is not apparent in our period. Finally, there is one Greek translation movement I should like to draw attention to which is often left out of the discussion because of what one scholar has described as “intellectual silence”.152 This is the transmission of Byzantine Christianity to the Balkans and southern Russia. It is curious that we can speak of a Syriac, Armenian, and Arabic Aristotle, but not a Slavonic one. The mission of Constantine the Philosopher and his brother Methodios to the Slavs in the second half of the ninth century, under the highly educated and philosophically inclined patriarch Photios, left few traces of classical learning in the Balkans and southern Russia at that time. This appears to be at odds with the hagiographical tradition that maintains Constantine, who took the monastic name Cyril, and who with his brother Methodius created the Slavonic alphabet, received a grounding in philosophy and dialectics as part of his Constantinopolitan education, and that he took part in an inter-faith debate at the Khazar

149 150 151 152

with the artifice of the Aristotelian system (τεχνολογία), Antirrheticus III (PG 99, 389A). Gregory of Nyssa says a similar thing, Contra Eunomium 2 (Jaeger). Gouillard 1967, 1–313; Lauritzen 2010, 41–48. Trizio 2017, 462–475. Joannou 1952, 24–34. Thomson 1999, passim.

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court in the Caucasus before his mission to Moravia.153 Photios himself composed several philosophical chapters in his Amphilochia,154 as well as preserving in his Bibliotheca Neoplatonic works no longer extant.155 In addition, he utilised syllogistic arguments against the addition of the filioque to the Creed in his Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit.156 Furthermore, his pupil Arethas of Caesarea is credited with collecting manuscripts of Plato’s works and writing commentaries on Porphyry’s Isagoge and Aristotle’s Categories.157 For those within Photios’ circle interest in and discussion of philosophical topics would have been of central concern.158

6

Concluding Remarks

I believe the period we have been reviewing marks an important shift in the intellectual history of Eastern Christianity. As one door closed for the pagan schools of philosophy, another opened for the Christian East. We have looked at some of the most prominent traditions of Eastern Christianity and compared their attitude to the heritage of late ancient philosophy. We have seen that there is both an overt and covert adoption of Aristotelian terminology, with the former being more conspicuous among Syriac authors and the latter among Greek ones, although John of Damascus changed that for the Byzantine and Melkite communities. Admittedly, in some cases the Christian adoption of such technical expressions did not result in a clearer and more precise understanding of doctrinal issues, but rather it appeared on occasions to muddy the waters.159 Be that as it may, the fact that they were subsumed into the intellectual discourse of many of the major figures of the period, should give us pause for reflection and further investigation. It has long been the case for scholars of early Islamic cultural and intellectual history to assess the impact of Hellenic logic and philosophy, but only recently for scholars of the Christian East to assess the corresponding impact in their own field. As Peter Adamson has 153 154 155 156 157

158 159

Life of Constantine the Philosopher 4, 9–11 (Kantor 1983, 31–33, 45–63). For example, “On Substance”, Amphilochia 138 (Westerink 1986, 145–150). See Byden 2013b, 9–34. Hierocles, codices 214, 251; Damascius, codices 130, 181, 242 (Henry). Photios, Myst. in PG 102, 279–400. See the critical edition by Share 1994. On the so-called “collection philosophique”, a group of texts mainly from the Neoplatonic tradition from the third quarter of the ninth century, often associated with Arethas, see Cavallo 2007, 155–165. Anton 1994, 158–183; Schamp 1996, 1–17. Krausmüller 2011, 151–164, and Kavvadas in this volume.

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recently written: “I believe the most significant challenge is the incorporation of Christian philosophy as a recognized part of the study of ancient philosophy”.160 However, until now such terms as “Christian philosophy” and “patristic philosophy” have remained problematic and not generally accepted, so there is still some way to go before they find their way into scholarly publications.

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W.J. van Bekkum, et al. (eds.) Syriac Polemics: Studies in Honour of Gerrit Jan Reinink (Louvain), 103–132. Griffith, S.H. (2009) Hunayn ibn Ishaq and the Kitab Adad al-falasifah: The Pursuit of Wisdom and a Humane Polity in Early ʿAbbāsid Baghdad (Piscataway). Grillmeier, A. (1987) Christ in Christian Tradition, vol. 2. From the Council of Chalcedon (451) to Gregory the Great (590–604) (London). Gutas, D. (1983) ‘Paul the Persian on the Classification of the Parts of Aristotle’s Philosophy: A Milestone between Alexandria and Baghdad’, Der Islam 60, 231–268. Gutas, D. (1998) Greek Thought, Arabic Culture. The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ʿAbbāsid Society (2nd–4th/8th–10th centuries) (London). Hermans, E. (2016) ‘Aristotle from York to Basra: An Investigation into the Simultaneous Study of Aristotle’s Categories in the Carolingian, the Byzantine and Abbasid Worlds’, Unpublished PhD thesis, New York University. Hilkins, A. (2018) The Anonymous Syriac Chronicle of 1234 and its Sources, OCA, Bibliothèque de Byzantion, 18 (Leuven). Hugonnard-Roche, H. (2004) La logique d’Aristote du Grec au Syriaque (Paris). Hugonnard-Roche, H. (2008) ‘Jacob of Edessa and the Reception of Aristotle’, in B. ter Haar Romeny (ed.) Jacob of Edessa and the Syriac Cultures of His Day (Leiden), 205– 222. Humphreys, M. (2015) Law, Power, and Imperial Ideology in the Iconoclast Era c. 680–850 (Oxford). Humphries, M. (2017) ‘Late Antiquity and World History: Challenging Conventional Narratives and Analyses’, Studies in Late Antiquity 1.1, 8–37. Hussey, J. (1986) The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire (Oxford). Joannou, P. (1952) ‘Eustrate de Nicée. Trois pièces inédites de son procès (1117)’, Revue des études byzantines 10, 24–34. Johnsén, H.R. (2018) ‘The Virtue of Being Uneducated: Attitudes towards Classical Paideia in Early Monasticism and Ancient Philosophy’, in L. Larsen and S. Rubenson (eds.) Monastic Education in Late Antiquity: The Transformation of Classical Paideia (Cambridge), 219–235. Johnson, S.F. (2015) ‘Introduction: The Social Presence of Greek in Eastern Christianity, 200–1200 CE’, in id. (ed.) Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Greek. The Worlds of Eastern Christianity, 300–1500, vol. 6 (Farnham), 1–122. Kaldellis, A. (2007) Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformation of Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition (Cambridge), 173–187. Kaldellis, A. and Siniossoglou, N. (eds.) (2017) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge). Kapriev, G. (2005) Philosophie in Byzanz (Würzburg). Kapriev, G. (2015) ‘Philosophy in Byzantium and Byzantine Philosophy’, in M. Knežević (ed.) The Ways of Byzantine Philosophy (Alhambra, Cal.), 1–8.

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Karamanolis, G. (2006) Plato and Aristotle in Agreement: Platonists on Aristotle from Antiochus to Porphyry (Oxford). Karamanolis, G. (2014) The Philosophy of Early Christianity (London). Kazhdan, A. (1999–2006) A History of Byzantine Literature (650–1000), 2 vols. (Athens). Kim, Y.R. (2015) Epiphanius of Cyprus: Imagining an Orthodox World (Ann Arbor). King, D. (2007) ‘Paul of Callinicum and his place in Syriac literature’, Le Muséon 120, 327–349. King, D. (2008) The SyriacVersions of the Writings of Cyril of Alexandria: A Study in Translation Technique, CSCO 626 (Leuven). King, D. (2013) ‘Why Were the Syrians Interested in Greek Philosophy?’, in P. Wood (ed.) History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East (Oxford), 61–82. King, D. (2015) ‘Logic in the Service of Ancient Eastern Christianity: An Exploration of Motives’, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91,1, 1–33. Kontouma, V. (2015) ‘The Fount of Knowledge between conservation and creation’, in eadem, John of Damascus: New Studies on his Life and Works, Variorum Collected Studies Series (Farnham), V. Krausmüller, D. (2011) ‘Aristotelianism and the Disintegration of the Late Antique Theological Discourse’, in J. Lössl and J.W. Watt (eds.) Interpreting the Bible and Aristotle in Late Antiquity: The Alexandrian Commentary Tradition Between Rome and Baghdad (Farnham), 151–164. Lang, U.M. (2001) John Philoponus and the Controversies over Chalcedon in the Sixth Century: A Study and Translation of the Arbiter (Leuven). Lauritzen, F. (2010) ‘Against the Enemies of Tradition. Alexios Studites and the Synodikon of Orthodoxy’, in A. Rigo and P. Ermilov (eds.) Orthodoxy and Heresy in Byzantium: The Definition and the Notion of Orthodoxy and Some Other Studies on the Heresies and the Non-Christian Religions (Rome), 41–48. Lemerle, P. (1986) Byzantine Humanism: The First Phrase. Notes and remarks on education and culture in Byzantium from its origins to the 10th century, trans. H. Lindsay and A. Moffatt, ByzAus 3 (Canberra). Lieu, S. (2013) ‘The “Romanitas” of the Xi’an Inscription’, in Li Tang and D.W. Winkler (eds.) From the Oxus River to the Chinese Shores: Studies on East Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia (Vienna), 123–140. Magdalino, P. (2010) ‘Orthodoxy and Byzantine Cultural Identity’, in A. Rigo and P. Ermilov (eds.) Orthodoxy and Heresy in Byzantium: The Definition and the Notion of Orthodoxy and Some Other Studies on the Heresies and the Non-Christian Religions (Rome), 21–40. Marenbon, J. (2005) ‘Les Catégories au début du moyen âge’, in O. Bruun and L. Corti (eds.) Les Catégories et leur histoire (Paris), 223–243. Mass, M. (2003) Exegesis and Empire in the Early Byzantine Mediterranean: Junillus Africanus and the Instituta Regularia Divinae Legis (Tübingen).

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Egypt’, in M. Vincent (ed.) Studia Patristica 68, vol. 16: From the Fifth Century Onwards (Greek Writers) (Leuven), 41–49. Parry, K. (2013b) ‘Aristotle and the Icon: The use of the Categories by Byzantine Iconophile Writers’, in S. Ebbesen, et al. (eds.) Aristotle’s Categories in the Byzantine, Arabic and Latin Traditions (Copenhagen), 35–58. Parry, K. (2016) ‘Byzantine-rite Christians (Melkites) in Central Asia and China and their Contacts with the Church of the East’, in L. Tang and D. Winkler (eds.) Winds of Jingjiao: Studies on Syriac Christianity in China and Central Asia (Vienna), 203–220. Parry, K. (2018) ‘Theodore the Stoudite: The Most “Original” Iconophile?’, JÖB 68, 261– 275. Parry, K. (2020) ‘Theodore the Stoudite and the Stoudios Scriptorium in Ninth-Century Byzantium’, in R. Ast, M. Choat, et al. (eds.) Observing the Scribe at Work: Scribal Practice in the Ancient World OLA (Leuven) (in press). Parry, K. (ed.) (2007) The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity (Oxford). Parry, K. (ed.) (2015) The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Patristics (Oxford). Patrich, J. (ed.) (2001) The Sabaite Heritage in the Orthodox Church from the Fifth Century to the Present, OLA 98 (Leuven). Pelikan, J. (1993) Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Encounter with Hellenism (New Haven). Perczel, I. (2009) ‘The Earliest Syriac Reception of Dionysius’, in S. Coakley and C.M. Stang (eds.) Re-Thinking Dionysius the Areopagite (Oxford), 27–41. Perczel, I. (2015) ‘Dionysius the Areopagite’, in K. Parry (ed.) The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Patristics (Oxford), 211–225. Pietruschka, U. (2016) ‘Some Observations on the Transmission of Popular Philosophy in Egyptian Monasteries after the Islamic Conquest’, in D. Janos (ed.) Ideas in Motion in Baghdad and Beyond: Philosophical and Theological Exchanges between Christians and Muslims in the Third/Ninth and Fourth/Tenth Centuries (Leiden), 81–108. Ravitsky, A. (2018) ‘Yaʿqūb al-Qirqisānī on Human Intellect, Legal Inference, and the Meaning of the Aristotelian Syllogism’, Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, 26, 149–173. Reinink, G. (1995) ‘“Edessa grew dim and Nisibis shone forth”: The School of Nisibis at the transition of the sixth-seventh century’, in J.W. Drijvers and A.A. MacDonald (eds.) Centres of Learning. Learning and Location in Pre-Modern Europe and the New East (Leiden), 77–89. Reinink, G.J. (2009) ‘Tradition and the Formation of the “Nestorian” Identity in Sixthto Seventh-Century Iraq’, Church History and Religious Culture 89.1, 217–250. Reynolds, G.S. (2004) A Muslim Theologian in the Sectarian Milieu: ʿAbd al-Jabbār and the Critique of Christian Origins (Leiden). Rosenthal, F. (1992) The Classical Heritage in Islam (London). Rouéche, M. (1974) ‘Byzantine Philosophical Texts of the Seventh Century’, JÖB 23, 61– 76.

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Rouéche, M. (2016) ‘A Philosophical Portrait of Stephanus the Philosopher’, in R. Sorabji (ed.) Aristotle Re-Interpreted. New Findings on Seven Hundred Years of the Ancient Commentators (London), 541–563. Roux, R. (2016) ‘Severus of Antioch at the Crossroad of the Antiochene and Alexandrian Exegetical Tradition’, in J. D’Alton and Y. Youssef (eds.) Severus of Antioch: His Life and Times, TSEC 7 (Leiden), 160–182. Runia, D. (1989) ‘Festugiere Revisited: Aristotle in the Greek Patres’, Vigiliae Christianae 43.1, 1–34. Saradi, H. (2014) ‘The Three Fathers of the Greek Orthodox Church: Greek paideia, Byzantine innovation and the formation of Modern Greek identity’, in I. Nilsson and P. Stephenson (eds.) Wanted Byzantium: The Desire for a Lost Empire (Uppsala), 133– 160. Schamp, J. (1996) ‘Photios aristotélisant? Remarques critiques’, in M. Billerbeck and J. Schamp (eds.) Kainotomia. Die Erneuerung der griechischen Tradition (Fribourg), 1–17. Seleznyov, N.N. (2013) ‘Jacob and Jacobites: The Syrian Origins of the Name and Its Egyptian Arabic Interpretation’, Scrinium 9, 382–398. Sherry, E.J. (1964) ‘The Life and Works of Joseph Hazzaya’, in W.S. McCullough (ed.) Seed of Wisdom: Essays in Honour of T.J. Meek (Toronto), 78–91. Sorabji, R. (ed.) (1987) Philoponus and the rejection of Aristotelian science (London). Sorabji, R. (ed.) (1990) Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence (London). Sorabji, R. (ed.) (2016) Aristotle Re-Interpreted: New Findings on Seven Hundred Years of the Ancient Commentators (London). Starr, S.F. (2013) Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane (Princeton). Terian, A. (1982) ‘The Hellenizing School. Its Time, Place, and Scope of Activities Reconsidered’, in N. Garsoïan, et al. (eds.) East of Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the Formative Period (Washington, D.C.), 175–186. Thomson, F.J. (1999) The Reception of Byzantine Culture in Mediaeval Russia, Variorum Collected Studies Series (Aldershot). Thomson, R.W. (1994) ‘The origins of Caucasian civilization: the Christian component’, in eadem, Studies in Armenian Literature and Christianity, Variorum Collected Studies Series (Aldershot), I. Thomson, R.W. (1995) A Bibliography of Classical Armenian Literature to 1500AD (Turnout). Thomson, R.W. (2010) ‘Constantinople and Early Armenian Literature’, in R.G. Havannisian and S. Payaslian (eds.) Armenian Constantinople (Costa Mesa, Cal.), 19–38. Tollefesen, T.T. (2018) St Theodore the Studite’s Defence of Icons: Theology and Philosophy in Ninth-Century Byzantium (Oxford).

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Treiger, A. (2014) ‘Unpublished Texts from the Arab Orthodox Tradition (1): On the Origin of the Term “Melkite” and On the Destruction of the Maryamiyya Cathedral in Damascus’, Chronos: Revue d’Histoire de l’Université de Balamand 29, 8–37. Trizio, M. (2017) ‘Trials of Philosophers and Theologians under the Komnenoi’, in A. Kaldellis and N. Siniossoglou (eds.) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge), 462–475. Troupeau, G. (1997) ‘ʿAbd Īšūʿ ibn Bahrīz et son livre sur les définitions de la logique (Kitāb Ḥudūd al-manṭiq)’, in D. Jacquart (ed.) Les voies de la science grecque. Études sur la transmission des textes de l’Antiquité au dix-neuvième siècle (Geneva), 135–145. Uthemann, K.-H. (2017) ‘Syllogistik im Dienst der Orthodoxie: Zwei unedierte Texte byzantinischer Kontroverstheologie des 6. Jahrhunderts’, in id. Studien zu Anastasios Sinaites: Mit einem Anhang zu Anastasios I. von Antiochien (Berlin), 329–338. van Loon, H. (2009) The Dyophysite Christology of Cyril of Alexandria (Leiden). Watt, J.W. (2004) ‘Syriac Translators and Greek Philosophy in the Early Abbasid Iraq’, The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies Journal 4, 15–26. Watt, J.W. (2005) ‘The strategy of the Baghdad philosophers: the Aristotelian tradition as a common motif in Christian and Islamic thought’, in J.J. van Ginkel et al. (eds.) Redefining Christian Identity. Cultural Interaction in the Middle East since the Rise of Islam, OLA 134 (Leuven), 151–165. Watt, J.W. (2008) ‘Al-Fārābī and the History of the Syriac Organon’, in G.A. Kiraz (ed.) Malphono w-Rabo d-Malphone: Studies in Honor of Sebastian P. Brock (Piscataway), 751–778. Watt, J.W. (2013) ‘The Syriac Aristotle Between Alexandria and Baghdad’, Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture 7, 26–50. Watt, J.W. (2015) ‘The Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy of George, Bishop of the Arabs’, in S.H. Griffith and S. Grebentein (eds.) Christsein in der islamischen Welt: Festschrift für Martin Tamcke zum 60. Geburtstag (Wiesbaden), 141–164. Watts, E. (2005) ‘Where to Live the Philosophical Life in the Sixth Century: Damascius, Simplicius, and the Return from Persia’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45, 285–315. Wildberg, C. (1990) ‘Three Neoplatonic Introductions to Philosophy. Ammonius, David and Elias’, Hermathena 149, 33–51. Winkler, D. (1997) ‘Miaphysitism: A New Term for Use in the History of Dogma and in Ecumenical Dialogue’, The Harp X, 3, 33–40.

chapter 2

Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity: Some Reflections on Concepts and Terminologies Johannes Zachhuber

1

Introduction

The question of the relationship between nascent Christian thought in late antiquity and the philosophical tradition is neither new nor original. Of the various answers that have been proposed, however, many can be classified into a binary according to which Christian thought in the Patristic period is either seen as primarily opposed to philosophy or as strongly, potentially unduly, dependent on it. In this chapter, I shall query this alternative and argue that it rests on an ultimately anachronistic distinction between philosophy and theology. Instead I will seek to demonstrate that Patristic “theology” can helpfully be understood in analogy to a philosophical school. By carefully examining the potential as well as the limitations of this analogy, my paper aims at an understanding of ancient Christian thought as fully embedded in its historical context while reckoning with its sui-generis character. The binary of what one may call the “dependency thesis” and the “opposition thesis”, with their many sub-options and variants, has had far-reaching consequences for Patristic scholarship. The former of the two viewpoints has led researchers to trace Patristic ideas to their roots in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle or the Stoics.1 More recently, scholars have also ventured further afield and included late ancient philosophers, such as Plotinus, Porphyry or Iamblichus, in their consideration of sources.2 Yet the question is inevitably one of origins; philosophical passages in Patristic texts are systematically mined for their dependence on pagan philosophical writers. A whole literature exists of articles and even monographs investigating the Fathers’ knowledge and

1 Classical treatments along those lines include Chadwick 1966; Armstrong and Markus 1960; Ivanka 1964. 2 Cf. the detailed and subtle use of the Neopythagorean theory of numbers in Klaus Seibt’s interpretation of Marcellus of Ancyra’s Trinitarian doctrine: Seibt 1994, 460–476. On a grander scale this attempt is made across the impressive oeuvre of Ilaria Ramelli.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_004

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use of philosophical authorities, or at least their familiarity with ideas prevalent in those non-Christian texts. Where scholars have opted for the “opposition thesis”, emphasising the distance between Patristic authors and Hellenistic philosophy, they have consequently tended to discount philosophical parallels and have focused instead on specifically doctrinal issues, on scriptural exegesis, or the history of liturgy— usually from a perspective that is immanent to the Christian tradition. It should be immediately apparent from this rough and simplistic sketch that both viewpoints have spawned genuinely fruitful research. In proposing a different approach, my aim therefore is not to denounce them as wrong or unhelpful. Scholarship conducted along those lines has led to valuable insights and provided essential knowledge and understanding of Christian thought and practice in late antiquity. Nevertheless, there are downsides to this bifurcation; notably it seems to me that we lose sight of something which, once again for want of a better word, I would call the philosophical dimension that is inherent in Patristic thought itself. This philosophical dimension of Patristic thought is most obvious in areas with a thematic overlap between Patristic and pagan philosophical writings. Examples include debates about first principles (ἀρχαί);3 cosmology;4 the origin of matter;5 the doctrine of the soul;6 ethics;7 and so forth. More recently, some philosophers have shown an interest in Patristic texts dealing with those topics; there is now a nascent field of specialisation known as “Patristic philosophy” whose most impressive representative to date is arguably George Karamanolis’ The Philosophy of Early Christianity.8 Karamanolis, on the basis of an expert understanding of Greek philosophy, both classical and late ancient, approaches a wide variety of Patristic texts as philosophy to encourage his philosophical colleagues, as it were, to take Christian authors more seriously as genuine participants in the major philosophical controversies of the time. Once again, there is a fruitful scholarly field to be explored. Yet it is arguable that this recent embrace of Patristic philosophy has not gone far enough. In restricting itself to those areas in which Christian and pagan thinkers shared common concerns, a philosophical reading of the Fathers stays too much on

3 4 5 6 7 8

Karamanolis 2013, 66–72. May 1994. Köckert 2009. Cf. Ramelli 2007; Karamanolis 2013, 181–213. Thorsteinsson 2010; Merki 1952. Karamanolis 2013. In addition, cf. Sorabji 1983; Ramelli 2013.

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the surface (or on the fringes) of Patristic thought and writing. Philosophy is still seen as something extraneous to the Christian tradition with which Christian authors happened to coincide every once in a while. By contrast, I would argue that philosophy extends right to the heart of Patristic thought. In order to grasp this possibility, we need to take seriously the philosophical dimension of doctrine itself. In a wider sense, of course, the philosophical debates Karamanolis and others have explored are also related to doctrine, for example the doctrine of creation. Christian authors writing on cosmology were mindful of the tenet, generally accepted at least since the third century, that God created the world ex nihilo, from nothing.9 Similarly, Christians writing on the soul were guided by doctrinal assumptions about the resurrection of the body and, from a certain point onwards, the rejection of metempsychosis.10 What I have in mind, however, is the Trinitarian and Christological dogma, the two areas on which the ancient Church sought to arrive at a unified position and which, in consequence, took up vastly more time, energy, and intellectual creativity than any other topic Patristic authors dealt with in their writings. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the use of philosophical concepts in these doctrinal debates has proved most controversial in past scholarly debates. A classic example is the Patristic adoption of physis-terminology.11 The term was popular with Origen already,12 became central to the philosophically sophisticated and proto-systematic writing of Gregory of Nyssa,13 and eventually found its place at the very centre of Christian doctrinal identity due to its inclusion in the Chalcedonian definition of faith in 451. At first sight, this is a paradigmatic case of what Harnack called the “hellenisation of the gospel”. Physis had been a term central to the emergence of Greek philosophy in the fifth century BCE and its unique ontological potency can be said to embody much that is specific or even unique about this intellectual tradition. It is notoriously untranslatable; its Latin equivalent natura is an artificial word coined to render Greek philosophy. It is no accident that modern European languages have mostly simply borrowed from either the Greek or the Latin in order to express what appears to be a specific set of notions connected with the term from its historical inception.

9 10 11 12 13

May 1994, 177–178. Gregory of Nyssa, De anima et resurrectione (PG 46, 103B–121A). Cf. for what follows, Zachhuber 2016, 744–781. Tzamalikos 2005, 762–763. Zachhuber 1999; Zachhuber 2010, 615–620.

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Unsurprisingly, therefore, there was originally no Hebrew equivalent of physis,14 and the term is consequently absent from the Hebrew Bible. In its Greek version, the Septuagint, the word is almost entirely restricted to those books that were presumably written in Greek without a Hebrew original. More intriguingly, physis is also largely absent from the vocabulary of the New Testament—in fact, strikingly so given its popularity with contemporary Hellenistic Jewish writers such as Josephus.15 In a word, Patristic predilection for this kind of terminology has practically no biblical basis while evidently harking back to a long and powerful tradition of pre-Christian philosophy. This aspect of Patristic thought has therefore unsurprisingly often been seen as emblematic of the illegitimate influence of pagan thought on Christian doctrine. For example, the influential nineteenth-century theologian, Albrecht Ritschl, directed some of his most scathing attacks against the allegedly “physical” tendency of Patristic theology which, according to him, was one of the insidious instances of the falsification of the gospel message by later Christian theology.16 This line of argument has cast a long shadow over Patristic scholarship because it was taken up and amplified by Ritschl’s student, Adolf Harnack in his magisterial History of Dogma.17 And yet, a more careful study of the use of this kind of language by Christian authors soon reveals that the evidence for continuing extraneous philosophical influence on these debates is rather limited. Instead, a clear sense of a specific, Christian understanding of physis is emerging early on even though this use is in itself diverse and often not without ambiguity. The Jewish thinker Philo of Alexandria is arguably the most important source for later Christian authors. For the early development of a Christian idiom Origen is then crucial, and in the late fourth century Gregory of Nyssa develops a comprehensive conceptual framework for which physis-terminology is central. Later theological debates draw on this foundation; their participants develop further, more systematic and, at times, more sophisticated concepts and definitions based on the work of earlier Christian thinkers. This observation, it seems to me, is not easily compatible with either of the two standard views I introduced earlier. On the one hand, the Patristic tradition

14 15

16 17

The modern ‫ טבע‬is first introduced in translations of Greek philosophical texts. The only occurrences in the New Testament are: Rom 2:14; Gal 4:8; 2 Pet 1:4. For contextualisation and detailed references including usage in Josephus, cf. Koester 1973, 263– 264. Ritschl 1872, 8. Harnack 1958, vol. 3, 297 and note 580. For the historical background, cf. Zachhuber 2011, 51–70.

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(in which, for the sake of the argument, I here include Philo), while not hermetically sealed off from earlier philosophical ideas, developed its most substantial concepts on its own, not by systematic dependence on external sources. On the other hand, however, the very centrality of physis-terminology for doctrinal development suggests that Patristic theology cannot be considered as inherently non-philosophical or even anti-philosophical. We might rather say that the Patristic tradition itself was or at least became a form of philosophy. It is for this reason that sooner or later Patristic authors began to write treatises on definitions of physis and similar terms, as their doctrinal use appeared to require careful distinctions and differentiations similar to what philosophical authors were doing in their schools.18 At precisely this point the need emerges to query the categories by which we understand the emergence of Christian thought in late antiquity. It is arguable that the two opposing theses from which I started share the assumption that Christian “theology” and “philosophy” are two categorically distinct realities. It is therefore possible, as well as necessary, to trace “philosophical” sources of “theological” views, critique philosophical influence on Christian thought or investigate theology more or less in isolation from its Hellenistic environment. Is this underlying premise, however, plausible and helpful from a historical point of view?

2

Patristic “Theology”? A Terminological Problem

The distinction between philosophy and theology is today usually conceived as a duality of disciplines. Historically, this distinction originated with the foundation of the Western medieval university and its separate philosophical and theological faculties. It is this institutionalisation of philosophy and theology as two faculties that has above all dominated our perception of them as “disciplines”.19 The same duality cannot, however, be presupposed in the Patristic era. Part of the reason is that the word “theology”, even though it is well attested in classical and post-classical Greek, did not—contrary to our intuition—offer itself as an obvious term to signify Christian reflection on their faith.

18

19

For example ps.-Athanasius, Liber de definitionibus (PG 28, 533–553); Leontius of Jerusalem, Adv. Nest. 2.1 (PG 86, 1552–1553). Cf. Furrer-Pilliod 2000. For Maximus Confessor, cf. van Deun 2015, 281. Cf. Geyer 1964, 133–145; Pannenberg 1973, 11–12.

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Let us look at the evidence.20 While the term theologia rather obviously means “speech” or “word” about God, in ancient usage it usually refers to poetic speech of God. “Theologians”, therefore, were first of all the great poets, such as Hesiod, Homer or Orpheus.21 The term could secondly signify those who would perform hymns to the deity at local cults, occasionally also those doing so as part of the imperial cult.22 As there were male and female deities, there were also male and female theologians. Put simply, theologia was what theologians produced. In one magical papyrus from late antiquity, the term refers to a brief formula of invocation: “Come in; appear to me, Lord”.23 More common was its use for hymns about the gods or for mythological speech about God or the gods. Later Platonists, such as Iamblichus or Proclus, occasionally used the term in a more philosophical context, but note that for those same thinkers the line between philosophy and myth was blurred as they considered it a mark of true philosophy to make use of poetic and mythological sources for their own philosophical reflection. Given the strong link between theologia and pagan religiosity, Christian thinkers were unsurprisingly reluctant to make use of the word and its cognates; throughout the Patristic period they were only infrequently employed. Where Christian authors did use them, it should not be assumed that “theology” or “theologian” is an accurate translation. St John the Evangelist is called theologos because of the great, poetic prologue with which the gospel started,24 not necessarily because he was deemed more of a “theologian” than, say Paul (who admittedly is referred to as “the theologian” by Didymus the Blind).25 It is similarly likely that Gregory of Nazianzus owed his title of theologos to his status as a “poet” of divine things. Even where no specific reference to poetic speech is apparent, we should still expect the term to connote the use of concrete words rather than an abstract system of thought. While, for example, theologia was part of ps.-Dionysius the Areopagite’s idiosyncratic vocabulary, he usually employs it to mean “Word of

20 21

22 23 24 25

Cf. for what follows the well-informed overview, Markschies 2009, 16–27. Aristotle, Metaphysics B 4, 1000a 9–11 (Jaeger); Clement of Alexandria, Protr. 2.26.6 (Mondésert); Str. 5.78.4 (Stählin, Früchtel and Treu); Origen, CC 1.25 (Koetschau); Damascius, De princ. 67 (Ruelle). Poland 1909, 46–48. For the more complicated use of theologos in the context of the imperial cult cf. the detailed references in Markschies 2009, 18–19. Εἴσελθε, φάνηθί μοι, κύριε: Papyri Graecae Magicae, vol. 1, no. IV 1000 ff. (106–108). The invocation is repeated several times; it is referred to as theologia in no. IV 1037 (p. 108). Markschies 2009, 23. Didymus, fr. in Psalm. 71:1; 135,4 (Mühlenberg).

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God”, i.e. Scripture.26 Eusebius of Caesarea, writing in the early fourth century against Marcellus of Ancyra under the title de ecclesiastica theologia, does not put forth an early version of Church Dogmatics, but targets Marcellus’ way of speaking about God, specifically the Logos; the book title might be rendered as “concerning the Church’s way of speaking about God, (the Son)”.27 This has been no more than a rough overview, but the underlying research is not, as far as I can see, controversial. The result can be summed up without much need for circumspection or equivocation: there is no evidence that throughout the Patristic period Christian authors thought of their own work, or of the intellectual reflection conducted in the service of the Church, as “theology”. Instead, there is evidence for something else: that Christians think of their own intellectual operation as “true philosophy”.28 The most famous, early instance surely is the opening of Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho, in which the Christian teacher is greeted as a philosopher and, subsequently, describes his conversion to Christianity by an “old man” as the discovery of true philosophy:29 A flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me; and whilst revolving his words in my mind, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable.30 The historicity of Justin’s account has been variously adjudicated in past scholarship,31 but be this as it may, the salient point for my argument is that in this text Justin describes his ultimate calling to be a Christian thinker as the fulfilment of his philosophical search for truth, which in practice was a journey through the main philosophical schools.32 Justin’s choice of the term philosophy for his Christian insight is not an anomaly; it is echoed by other contemporary Christian writers. According to 26 27 28 29 30

31 32

Markschies 2009, 27. Cf. for this meaning of theologia, Eusebius, HE 1.1.7 (Schwartz). Bardy 1949, 97–108. Justin Martyr, Dial. Tr. 1–9 (Goodspeed). Justin, Dial. Tr. 8.1 (Goodspeed): ἐμοῦ δὲ παραχρῆμα πῦρ ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ ἀνήφθη, καὶ ἔρως ἔχει με τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἐκείνων, οἵ εἰσι Χριστοῦ φίλοι· διαλογιζόμενός τε πρὸς ἐμαυτὸν τοὺς λόγους αὐτοῦ ταύτην μόνην εὕρισκον φιλοσοφίαν ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ σύμφορον. Trans. Reich 1867, 96. Chadwick 1965, 275–297; 280: “[…] we are being given an essentially veracious autobiography […]”. For the opposite view see, for example, Goodenough 1923, 58. Justin, Dial. Tr. 2 (Goodspeed).

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the witness of Eusebius, Melito of Sardes wrote of “our philosophy” as “the philosophy that was born together with the Empire”.33 Even authors who took a more negative view of Greek culture and philosophy, such as Tatian and Tertullian, nevertheless claim the term philosophy for Christianity.34 The same is true for Clement of Alexandria, for whom Christian thought is “barbarian philosophy” as opposed to the (pagan) philosophy of the Greeks.35 Passing on to Origen, things look somewhat different, at least at first sight. In his celebrated letter to Gregory the Wonderworker, extant as chapter thirteen of the Philokalia, he describes the educational ideal in his own school in these words: I wish to ask you to extract from the philosophy of the Greeks what may serve as a course of study or a preparation for Christianity, and from geometry and astronomy what will serve to explain the sacred Scriptures, in order that all that the sons of the philosophers are wont to say about geometry and music, grammar, rhetoric, and astronomy, as fellow-helpers to philosophy, we may say about philosophy itself, in relation to Christianity.36 A number of noteworthy observations can be made on this passage. To begin with, Origen is aware that philosophy—or “the philosophy of the Greeks”, as he calls it—is not simply speculation about first principles, but the culmination of all the sciences, geometry, music, grammar, and rhetoric (ὅπερ φασὶ φιλοσόφων παῖδες περὶ γεωμετρίας καὶ μουσικῆς, γραμματικῆς τε καὶ ῥητορικῆς καὶ ἀστρονομίας, ὡς συνερίθων φιλοσοφίᾳ). It is, one might say in the jargon of German Idealism, Wissenschaftslehre, the science of knowledge in that it takes all the other branches into its service and caps them off with supreme speculative insight. Interestingly, then, Origen does not simply construct the task of Christian “theology” in parallel to that of philosophy, but neither does he describe it as an unrelated alternative. Instead, he claims for the kind of reflection he sought to instil in the students of his school a superior standpoint than that of “phi33 34 35 36

Eusebius, HE 4.26 (Schwartz). Tatian, Ad Gr. 31.1 (Goodspeed); Tertullian, de pall. 6.2.4 (Turcan). Clement, Str. 1.13.57; 2.2.25; 8.1.1 (Stählin, Früchtel and Treu). Cf. Bardy 1949, 104–106. Origen, Epist. Greg. Thaum. 1.10–18 (Robinson): διὰ τοῦτ’ ἂν ηὐξάμην παραλαβεῖν σε καὶ φιλοσοφίας Ἑλλήνων τὰ οἱονεὶ εἰς χριστιανισμὸν δυνάμενα γενέσθαι ἐγκύκλια μαθήματα ἢ προπαιδεύματα, καὶ τὰ ἀπὸ γεωμετρίας καὶ ἀστρονομίας χρήσιμα ἐσόμενα εἰς τὴν τῶν ἱερῶν γραφῶν διήγησιν· ἵν’, ὅπερ φασὶ φιλοσόφων παῖδες περὶ γεωμετρίας καὶ μουσικῆς, γραμματικῆς τε καὶ ῥητορικῆς καὶ ἀστρονομίας, ὡς συνερίθων φιλοσοφίᾳ, τοῦθ’ ἡμεῖς εἴπωμεν καὶ περὶ αὐτῆς φιλοσοφίας πρὸς χριστιανισμόν. Trans. Crombie 1869, 388.

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losophy” in general. As much as philosophy takes into its service the insight of all the other disciplines, he writes, so Christianity integrates the insights of philosophy ([…] τοῦθ’ ἡμεῖς εἴπωμεν καὶ περὶ αὐτῆς φιλοσοφίας πρὸς χριστιανισμόν). This is subsequently illustrated with the celebrated analogy of the plundering of the Egyptians, taken from the Book of Exodus.37 One might therefore think that Origen, unlike Justin, thinks of Christian theology as a separate discipline after all, possibly even anticipating the medieval notion of philosophy as the handmaiden of theology. Indeed, it appears that the term philosophy for Origen usually denotes pagan thought.38 Yet the close parallel he constructs between “the philosophy of the Greeks” and “Christianity” suggests that ultimately his conception is not so far removed from that of Justin or Clement. We might rather suspect that Christianity (χριστιανισμός) for him is the name of an alternative, true form of philosophy. It is superior not merely in insight, but as an existential commitment embedded in an institutional community; as such it guarantees the fullest form of truth to which the pagan schools could not advance.

3

Philosophy in Late Antiquity

Given the reluctance of early Patristic writers to associate themselves with “theology” and their embrace, albeit not without qualifications, of the term philosophy for their own pursuit, the possibility that philosophy might be a suitable category for understanding the character of early Christian reflection on their faith deserves serious consideration. In order to gauge its plausibility, however, it is necessary to add a number of observations on the character of late ancient philosophy. This was rather different from how the discipline presents itself in today’s university, or how it is generally understood. While rational reflection played a major role, philosophy was not at all purely academic. We need to consider several aspects. First, I would want to call to mind what Pierre Hadot has called “philosophy as a way of life”.39 We owe to the great French philosopher the insight that in order to understand what philosophy meant in antiquity we need to see it as affecting human life in its entirety. Without neglecting the importance of 37 38 39

Origen, Epist. Greg. Thaum. 2 (Robinson). Bardy 1949, 106, n. 38. Hadot 1995. It may bear mentioning that this book does not translate the French La philosophie comme manière de vivre (Paris 2001) but is based on the earlier Exercises spirituels et philosophie antique, Paris 1983.

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Stoic epistemology or Platonic psychology, Hadot emphasised what he called the “spiritual” dimension of all philosophy. For a person to turn to philosophy meant finding a way to develop one’s own humanity, a formation of one’s self and character. Hadot himself therefore found it easy to integrate the development of Christian thought into this bigger picture he had of ancient philosophy: Although some Christian authors might present Christianity as a philosophy, or even as the philosophy, this was not so much because Christianity proposed an exegesis and a theology analogous to pagan exegesis and theology, but because it was a style of life and a mode of being, just as ancient philosophy was.40 The alternative Hadot here seems to set up between Christianity as a “style of life and a mode of being” and Christianity’s intellectual commitments is arguably artificial. It seems to me, however, that one does not have to accept his interpretation in its entirety in order to agree with his observation that philosophy in antiquity concerned human existence in a broad sense; that it therefore unfailingly carried something of what we would call a religious dimension; that it was often practised by those committed to a particular lifestyle; and that its purpose extended beyond abstract knowledge or insight. In fact, some of Hadot’s insight was anticipated by Arthur Darby Nock who had emphasised this quasi-religious aspect of ancient philosophy and its apparent parallel in Christianity in his 1933 book Conversion.41 It also bears mentioning that Galen in the second century compared the Christians he knew in Rome with philosophers on the basis of their commitment to a life of chastity and their adoption of strict moral principles: Sometimes, they [sc. The Christians] show such behaviour as is adopted by philosophers; for fearlessness of death and the hereafter is something we witness in them every day. The same is true of abstention from sexual intercourse. Some of them, both men and women, go their whole life without sexual intercourse. There are among them those who possess such a measure of self-control with regard to food and drink and who are so bent on justice, that they do not fall short of those who profess philosophy in truth.42 40 41 42

Hadot 2004, 240. Nock 1933. I am grateful to Prof Mark Edwards who made me aware of Nock’s book. Galen, Platonicorum dialogorum compendia. The Greek original of the work is lost; the

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Second, let us consider what the subject matter of philosophical work was in late antiquity. This too was much broader than what today counts as philosophy. In fact, it was much broader than what most people now think made up ancient philosophy. This is because our canon of philosophical works in antiquity has been adapted to suit our own sense of what philosophy is. Therefore, we focus on Plato’s dialogues; on Aristotle’s systematic writings; even in late antiquity we tend to prioritise Plotinus’ Enneads as they at least resemble what we think philosophical writing should look like. In reality, the bulk of philosophical work consisted of very different genres. Commentary, notably, took up the vast majority of extant philosophical output, at least from the late ancient period.43 The classical author to be commented on was Aristotle,44 but he was by no means the only one. There were, naturally, commentaries on Plato’s dialogues, but more intriguing for my present purpose is another group of writings that attracted commentary or at least philosophical interest: the Chaldean Oracles,45 the Hermetic Corpus,46 and passages from Homer, as in the famous case of Porphyry’s exegesis of the Cave of the Nymphs in Book XIII of the Odyssey.47 There was thus considerable overlap between “philosophical” and “theological” authors regarding literary genres: Christian authors writing commentaries on Scripture, composing essays on topics such as creation or the soul, or engaging in systematic exposition of doctrine stayed formally close to what their pagan colleagues would do in pursuit of philosophy. This state of affairs has been summarised by Pierre Hadot as follows: In the first and second centuries, the time of the birth of Christianity, philosophical discourse in each school consisted mainly of explicating texts by the school’s founder […]. The discourse of Christian philosophy was also, quite naturally, exegetic, and the exegetical schools of the Old and the New Testament, like those opened in Alexandria by Clement of Alexandria’s teacher, or by Origen himself, offered a kind of teaching which was completely analogous to that of contemporary philosophical schools.48

43 44 45 46 47 48

quote follows Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa (1971), 150 [accessed 18/2/19] at http://www.tertullian.org/ fathers/ibn_abi_usaibia_01.htm#p150. Betegh 2010, 26–28. Sorabji 1990, 1–30. Finamore and Johnston 2010, 161–173. We know that Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus wrote commentaries on the Oracles, but they are lost. Finamore and Johnston 2010, 161. Cf. Iamblichus, Myst. 1.2 (des Places). Porphyry, De antr. Nymph. (Seminar Classics 609). Hadot 2004, 239.

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Let me now turn to a third aspect. Philosophy was mostly not a matter of individuals; it was practised in schools. In fact, this structure of “schools” was characteristic for intellectual and professional life in antiquity way beyond what we today would refer to as philosophy. There were, of course, the famous philosophical schools, the Platonist, the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Peripatetics, and other, smaller ones as well. Yet there were also medical schools. In fact, it seems that the earliest references to a diversity of schools occurred in this field;49 and when later authors, such as Origen, refer to schools they often begin with the medical schools.50 Yet there were even more, for example, grammatical schools. These schools had internal structures of authority, including a current head of the school, as well as a historic dimension. The head justified his authority on the basis of his direct descent from the founder of the school. This could, as in the case of the Platonic School, involve the transmission of unwritten doctrine,51 but in any event the notion of tradition was key. The relevance of this structure of philosophical schools for early Christianity was pointed out by Hans von Campenhausen in his classical study Ecclesiastical Power and Spiritual Power in the Church of the First Three Centuries.52 Once again, my point is not to accept tout court the particular hypothesis advanced in this book, but to make use of one important observation it contains. He wrote: Ancient philosophy, quite like the Christian Church, knows of no doctrinal tradition without the idea of a community that is its carrier, or at least the connection of the predecessor with his successors. As in the later lists of bishops, these philosophical “diadochi” are counted on the basis of their distance from the founder of the school, and diadoche does no longer mean the content of teaching (paradosis) but the process by which the connection of handing on and receiving is created, that is the School (airesis).53 Von Campenhausen subsequently pointed out that this structure was first encountered in Gnostic schools which regularly referred to the direct relationship of their school head to an apostle. It was in response to these claims, he argued, that the majority church transformed this notion into the well49 50 51 52 53

von Staden 1982, 76–100. Cf. Origen, CC 3.12 (Koetschau). On Plato’s unwritten doctrine, cf. de Vogel 1988, 3–56. von Campenhausen 1963. von Campenhausen 1963, 175; trans. mine.

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known theory of apostolic succession as the foundation of institutional, ecclesial authority based on the monarchical episcopacy.54 Whether or not this further claim by von Campenhausen is historically tenable can be left to one side here. More important is his observation that early Christian thought much like philosophy developed in the institutional, or at least proto-institutional context of a school in which authority is based on the head’s historical connection with an even more authoritative source. Fourth, one of the notable elements by which school affiliation was recognised was adherence to certain doctrines. Platonists, for example, would at a minimum be identified by the assumption that the soul was immaterial and immortal; Stoics by their belief in providence; Epicureans by their atomism; etc.55 These assumptions, which school members would accept on an axiomatic basis, were called dogmata; in fact, not only philosophers stricte dictu but medics and others also accepted dogmas on the basis of their affiliation with a particular school. For the recognition that this parallel exists, we have a fourth-century Christian example. Marcellus of Ancyra, the combative proponent of the Council of Nicaea and scourge of real or perceived Arians, wrote in his polemic against Asterius the Sophist: Asterius says that his own fathers made a declaration and wrote a dogma about God based on their own proper deliberation. For the word “dogma” pertains to human will and knowledge. That this is the case is sufficiently proved to us by the dogmatics of the physicians; it is proved as well by the so-called dogmas of the philosophers. And I think that no one is unaware of the fact that also the decrees by the Senate are still called dogmas of the Senate.56 Marcellus’ attack on the “dogma” of his opponents has played a certain role in liberal Patristic scholarship. Theodor Zahn, who wanted to reclaim Marcellus as the “scriptural theologian” of his age, relied on it to argue that his hero 54 55 56

von Campenhausen 1963, 179–184. Cf. Edwards 2008, 97. Marcellus, fr. 17 Vinzent/86 Klostermann and Hansen: ἀπόφασιν ἀποπεφάσθαι τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ πατέρας Ἀστέριός φησιν καὶ δόγμα περὶ θεοῦ εγραφέναι ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκείας ἑαυτῶν προαιρέσεως. τὸ γὰρ τοῦ δόγματος ὄνομα τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης ἔχεται βουλῆς τε καὶ γνώμης. ὅτι δὲ τοῦθ’οὕτως ἔχει μαρτυρεῖ μὲν ἡμῖν ἱκανῶς ἡ δογματικὴ τῶν ἰατρῶν τέχνη, μαρτυρεῖ δὲ καὶ τὰ τῶν φιλοσόφων καλούμενα ⟨δόγματα⟩· ὅτι δὲ καὶ τὰ συγκλήτῳ δόξαντα ἔτι καὶ νῦν δόγματα συγκλήτου λέγεται, οὐδένα ἀγνοεῖν οἶμαι. For a similar use of dogma cf. Constantine’s letter to Alexander of Alexandria and Arius, Urkunden zur Geschichte des arianischen Streits, 17.10 (34.8–11).

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saw through the dangers of philosophical influence on Christian teaching in the fourth century.57 Subsequently, this fragment (extant only in Eusebius of Caesarea58) adorned the title page of Adolf Harnack’s History of Dogma. The underlying interpretation of Marcellus’ thought has, however, since been radically criticised among others by Kurt Seibt.59 Be this, however, as it may, Marcellus’ polemical reference to dogma—which incidentally accords well with his broadside against the alleged Platonic influence on Origen and his school60—serves my present argument in an altogether more straightforward way by illustrating that a fourth-century author could easily perceive the connection between the “doctrines” accepted by Christians and the “dogmas” of the other schools. A fifth and final point ought to be noted although it is more difficult to pin it down with exact precision. Despite their disagreements, schools in antiquity also shared certain assumptions between them. Perhaps most interesting— and most pertinent for the understanding of nascent Christian thought—is the growing sense in late antiquity that Aristotle’s so-called logical writings, first of all Categories, form a basis of intellectual activity that can more or less be detached from specific philosophical commitment.61 For a while, this was not a universally accepted position—the last Platonist who polemicized against this view was no less a figure than Plotinus62—but over time this is what it became. It might be argued that the most unequivocal cases of “philosophical” ideas present in the church fathers are of precisely this kind. In the fourth century, Jerome could chide an opponent for his ignorance of the Categories;63 Gregory of Nyssa would likewise criticise Eunomius by insinuating that his argument contradicted this same text.64 But there are other axioms too, and at least some of them show that this area of “shared assumptions” was also something of a sliding scale or even a slippery slope, at least from a Christian perspective. While a consensus emerged early in the imperial period that there was truly and properly only one God,65 the common bracket in religious terms for the philosophical schools was and remained paganism. L.G. Westerink has shown for the sixth-century philoso57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65

Zahn 1867, 52–54; 61. Eusebius, Contra Marcellum, 1.4.15–16 (20.12–23; Hansen and Klostermann). Seibt 1994, 35–38. Marcellus, fr. 22 Vinzent/88 Klostermann and Hansen. See the chapter by Ken Parry in this volume. Plotinus, Enn. 6.1–3 (Henry and Schwyzer). Cf. Chiaradonna 2002. Jerome, Ep. 50.1.2–3 (Hilberg). Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium, 1.180–181 (Jaeger). Athanassiadi and Frede 1999.

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pher Olympiodorus, a philosopher in other words who worked during the time of Emperor Justinian, how deeply inscribed the idea that a “philosopher” was a pagan philosopher remained throughout late antiquity: To those classes of society which used to provide the students for the philosophical schools the word philosopher must have meant what Olympiodorus implies it does, a pagan thinker.66 It is at this point that we can begin to perceive the difficulties with, and the limits of, my proposed theory that nascent Patristic theology can be understood in analogy to a philosophical school. Before discussing these difficulties in more detail, however, let me summarise my argument up to this point and lay out what I believe are its strengths and advantages.

4

A New Model: Early Christian Thought as a Philosophical School

The five observations I have adduced were principally meant to indicate how philosophy as practiced and understood in late antiquity was different from our own notion of this discipline. At the same time, they indicate how ancient Christians as well as their non-Christian contemporaries could have conceived of Christianity as a philosophy. The nearest analogy, suggested already by Justin’s account in his Dialogue, is that of a philosophical school with its distinctive ethos, texts, traditions, and doctrines. Like the members of other schools, Christian “theologians” based their work on the exegesis of Scripture. Like medics and philosophers, they accepted a number of dogmatic truths as axiomatic. Christians were not different from philosophers in that they conducted their rational reflection within a communal structure formed by the reception of an institutional tradition. Most of all, perhaps, it was the close integration of Christian thought with a firm commitment to a “way of life”, principled and often inconvenient, that made pagan contemporaries, such as Galen, think of them as philosophers albeit imperfect ones. What precisely is gained by understanding early theology in this way? First of all, we might expect it to improve our understanding of its relationship with “philosophy”. As we have seen, discussion of this question has often been conducted around the problematical alternative of the opposition thesis and the dependency thesis. But to think of theology as a philosophical school can help

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Westerink 1990, 336.

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avoid this unfruitful alternative: Christian authors had as little reason to speak highly of Plato, Aristotle or the Stoics as the respective members of these rival schools had when it came to doctrines held by the other schools.67 At the same time, this did not exclude the recognition that some views were more compatible with their own perspective than others. More importantly, the critique of “philosophers” does not preclude the possibility that Christian thought was still philosophical in its own right. In my view, the notion that Christian “theology” in late antiquity could be understood as an autonomous philosophy is perhaps the strongest heuristic advantage of the historical interpretation presented above. It opens up a whole programme of research as it necessitates careful interpretation of a wide range of patristic texts on the assumption that they can reveal to us philosophical insights. This has partly been attempted by Orthodox theologians such as John Zizioulas.68 I agree with their principal intuition that to study Patristic authors is to detect in their writing philosophical, ontological, epistemic, and logical ideas that are germane to their Christian provenance. I am not, however, convinced that these authors have fully done justice to the philosophical challenges such an analysis poses. Unlike Zizioulas, I would foreground Christology, not the Trinity. While important work for a Patristic philosophy did indeed happen in the fourth century—and the Cappadocian contribution can hardly be underestimated— the “ontological revolution” of which Zizioulas speaks really only happened when the Christological controversy produced intellectual challenges far surpassing those of the fourth-century Trinitarian one.69 I cannot in the present context develop these ideas further, but I wish to flag them up for one specific reason. They indicate, I hope, that my proposal to understand early Christian thought in analogy to a philosophical school is not the same as blurring the boundaries between Christian and non-Christian thought during this period. On this point, Pierre Hadot and Étienne Gilson disagreed sharply.70 Hadot, on the basis of his work on the spiritual character of ancient philosophy, to

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Note the existence of polemical genres in philosophical literature, for example the antiStoic writings “on fate” by authors such as Alexander of Aphrodisias and Plotinus (Enn. 3.1, Henry and H.R. Schwyzer). Zizioulas 2002. Zizioulas 2002, 36. The background of this disagreement lies in a major French debate about Christian philosophy in the 1930s and 40s. For an overview of this debate and English translations of central texts, cf. now Sadler 2011.

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which I have alluded earlier, emphasised continuities between non-Christian and Christian thought during this period: If Christianity was able to be assimilated to a philosophy, the reason was that philosophy was already, above all else, a way of being and a style of life.71 For him, the decisive break only occurred when philosophy was re-defined as a mostly intellectual discipline in the Middle Ages (and, intriguingly, as part of the establishment of the medieval university).72 Hadot therefore opposed Gilson who spoke of a Christian philosophy as an early alternative to the Greek, pagan tradition on the basis of what he called the metaphysics of Exodus (cf. Exod 3:14). Gilson, according to Hadot, […] formulated [the significance of Christian philosophy] in purely theoretical terms: Did Christianity introduce new concepts and problematics into the philosophical tradition? With his characteristic clarity of mind, he saw the essence of the problem: “The most favourably philosophical position is not that of the philosopher, but that of the Christian”.73 As I have made clear earlier, I am deeply appreciative of Hadot’s approach and entirely agree with his emphasis on the broader frame within which ancient philosophy in the more technical sense is inscribed. Yet I think he underestimates the extent to which Christian thought led to radically different conceptions and ideas within this frame. Once again, I cannot go into details, but while I remain unconvinced by most aspects of Gilson’s idea of a “metaphysics of Exodus” as the one Christian philosophy, I agree with him (as much as I agree with Zizioulas) that the kind of philosophy Christianity eventually established was ultimately incompatible with the systems of earlier Greek philosophy.

5

Difficulties and Limits of the New Model

As indicated earlier the analogy of Patristic theology with a philosophical school has its limits, and I shall use the remainder of this paper to explore 71 72 73

Hadot 1995, 130. Cf. op. cit., 126–140. Hadot 1995, 269–270. On the problem of Hadot’s interpretation of the role of Christianity in the transformation of Western philosophy, see Hankey 2003, 193–224. Hadot 2004, 259. The reference is to Gilson 1998, 25.

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those problems. These limits, I believe, do not invalidate the analogy. Christian “theology” is ultimately a sui generis phenomenon; the point, therefore, in understanding its emergence is not to find a model that is a perfect fit, but to identify models that approximate what we need to understand. Perhaps the easiest way to approach the limitations of my model is to think about the word that is used for the philosophical and other schools in Greek: it is the word hairesis, the same of course from which our word heresy is derived. Do I think that Church Fathers thought of the Church as a heresy and of themselves as heretics? Certainly not. The transition from the neutral term hairesis to the pejorative term heresy is difficult to trace, and doing so is not my task in this paper.74 In my view, it is perfectly possible that it has to do with the fact that the Christian groups most eager to embrace the notion of themselves as a philosophical school were soon judged as deviants—I am thinking of Gnostic schools.75 Still the term hairesis could be used without pejorative connotations even in the third century. An interesting example for this is found in Origen’s Contra Celsum. Celsus, the Platonic opponent of Christianity, had used the plurality and diversity of rival groups within the religion as an argument to discredit it as such. To this Origen offers the following rejoinder. It is true, he concedes, that there are many schools within Christianity, but there are also many schools within medicine and philosophy and, actually, also in Judaism. The reason is, he speculates, that “schools of different kinds have never originated from any matter in which the principle involved was not important and beneficial to human life”.76 These different schools in Christianity, then, arose, according to the Alexandrine thinker, […] not at all as the result of faction and strife, but through the earnest desire of many literary men to become acquainted with the doctrines of Christianity. The consequence of which was, that, taking in different acceptations those discourses which were believed by all to be divine, there arose schools, which received their names from those individuals who admired, indeed, the origin of Christianity, but who were led, in some way or other, by certain plausible reasons, to discordant views.77

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Cf. Simon 1979, 101–116. von Campenhausen 1963, 172–176. Origen, CC 3.12 (Koetschau): οὐδενὸς πράγματος, οὗ μὴ σπουδαία ἐστὶν ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τῷ βίῳ χρήσιμος, γεγόνασιν αἱρέσεις διάφοροι. Trans. Crombie 1872, 94–95 with changes. Origen, CC 3.12 (Koetschau): οὐ πάντως διὰ τὰς στάσεις καὶ τὸ φιλόνεικον αἱρέσεις ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ σπουδάζειν συνιέναι τὰ χριστιανισμοῦ καὶ τῶν φιλολόγων πλείονας. Τούτῳ δ’ ἠκολούθησε,

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I must leave aside here Origen’s surprisingly liberal view on diversity within the Church for which he even cites 1Cor 11:19 (“Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine”). More significant is how he equates Christianity not to one school but to philosophy as a whole. The same incidentally goes for Judaism. This does not seem to have been an isolated reference; recall how in the passage from his letter to Gregory, which I quoted earlier, Christianity (christianismos) had also been set in parallel with philosophy as such. Origen does not, I believe, want to be polemical here or seek rhetorically to elevate Christianity above its competitors. Note how he ascribes to Judaism also the property of embracing a variety of schools—a usage well documented, incidentally, in Josephus for whom Pharisees and Sadducees were Jewish “schools”.78 Origen simply seems to sense that each of those “religions”—as we would say—is too big, too complex and perhaps too autonomous to fit the mould of a school. They themselves encompass schools and therefore operate at the level of “medicine” or “philosophy” rather than one of their schools. Further limitations of my analogy can be gauged by reconsidering the criteria offered above in support of my identification of Christian “theology” as a philosophical school. In each case, arguably, the analogy is valid but not perfect. Hadot’s notion of philosophy as a way of life is valuable as a bracket showing the connection between ancient philosophy and Christianity. Yet it surely points to similarity not identity. No philosophical school offered anything like the Christian gospel—the idea of salvation given indiscriminately to all those willing to accept the faith. Perhaps Hadot’s colleague at the Collège de France, Michel Foucault, was too rigid in his emphasis on the radical distinction between the philosophical emphasis on self-perfection and the Christian focus on religious authority due to humans’ fundamentally flawed volition,79 but it is hard to deny that there was a difference between the two. While theology is not different from philosophy in its reference back to Scripture in the form of authoritative quotation or full commentary, the extent of the authority the Bible holds is quite out of kilter with the respect even the most venerated classical philosophical, literary or religious texts commanded

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διαφόρως ἐκδεξαμένων τοὺς ἅμα πᾶσι πιστευθέντας εἶναι θείους λόγους, τὸ γενέσθαι αἱρέσεις ἐπωνύμους τῶν θαυμασάντων μὲν τὴν τοῦ λόγου ἀρχὴν κινηθέντων δ’ ὅπως ποτ’ οὖν ὑπό τινων πιθανοτήτων πρὸς τὰς εἰς ἀλλήλους διαφωνίας. Trans. Crombie 1872, 95 with changes. Josephus, Ant. 13.5.9; 18.1.2 (Niese); BJ 2.8.14 (Niese). Foucault 1993, 198–227.

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for the pagan philosopher. Obviously, Neoplatonists will take very seriously the dialogues of Plato, but there is no sense that they were ever invested with infallibility in the way the Bible was for Christians (and Jews). The same goes for the institutional framework. While the role of the school head and their inheritance of a philosophical tradition is similar to the notion of the teaching magisterium handed down to Christian bishops on the basis of apostolic succession, one cannot really say that the two are the same. No philosophical school ever developed a consolidated institution resembling what the Christian Church was to become. And—needless to say—no school head claimed authority on the basis of a tradition that went back to God Incarnate himself. It is likewise obvious that the dogmas of the Christian Church took on a significance incomparably larger than those held by the other schools in late antiquity. Their very wording led to controversy and institutional schism. Once sanctioned by a Council, they were signed into the law of the Christianised Empire, and any deviation was rigidly policed. More important than any of those differences, however, was arguably the area I indicated above as “consensual overlap” between and across schools. Scholars who insist on a sharp separation between Christianity and philosophy in late antiquity usually stress those common assumptions as being strongly opposed to major Christian beliefs. For example, Marwan Rashed and Riccardo Chiaradonna in a recent review article, having stressed that ‘no Christian thinker, in the whole of antiquity, […] would have considered himself a “philosopher”’,80 elaborate this view in the following way: The likely explanation for this is that the great majority of the pagan philosophers upheld three major theses which contradicted Christian dogma: they were ready to accept a plurality of divine entities; they did not believe in the Christian Resurrection; and they thought that the world had existed for ever in the past.81 They add that these theories were not simply philosophical “theses” but rather “important elements of a general ideological framework”. I think this observation is valid as far as it goes. One cannot read Patristic texts for a long time without encountering blanket condemnations of “philosophy” or “the philosophers”82 or indeed find theological opponents smeared with the accusation 80 81 82

Rashed and Chiaradonna 2010, 275. Rashed and Chiaradonna 2010, 275. Karamanolis 2013, 31–38.

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that their particular views have been derived from one or the other “philosopher”.83 The main root of this rhetorical strategy was indeed, I would argue, the existence of shared assumptions among the philosophical schools that were incompatible with basic beliefs held by Christians.84 This is confirmed by the attitude displayed by pagan philosophers towards Christianity which often, most notably perhaps in the case of Celsus, emphasised Christianity’s departure from a common core of philosophical and quasi-religious assumptions shared by all the schools and indeed all other nations; this was what Celsus called “the true word or account” (ἀλεθὴς λόγος).85 What all this amounts to, I think, is a healthy warning against any attempt to underplay the distinctness of Christian thought. Patristic theology was not a Christianised form of Platonism; on the contrary, many assumptions that were shared by most or all philosophical schools were unacceptable from the Christian point of view. In some cases, this was because of specific doctrines to which Christians were committed, in many others because the bond that held the diverse philosophical schools together was itself religious, that is, pagan. For these reasons, it ultimately took many centuries for Christian thinkers to work out quite what the underlying ontological principles were that would establish a Christian philosophy; this process, I believe, was hardly complete until the seventh or eighth century. When it finally had reached its provisional conclusion, the outcome was in many ways incompatible with earlier philosophical traditions.86 What does not follow, I think, is a sharp disjunction between Christian thought and “philosophy” as such. On the contrary; the sharp divisions indicate rival claims to the same territory. The kind of alternative, more peaceful coexistence Rashed and Chiaradonna have in mind in the Islamic world87—and later on, of course, in Western Christendom—becomes possible on the basis of a division of areas or fields. If the absence of this division makes the participation of Christians in professional philosophy more difficult in late antiquity, this ultimately indicates more, not less overlap between the occupations of the “theologian” and the “philosopher”. 83

84 85 86 87

Hippolytus, Ref. omn. haer., proem, 8 (Marcovich); Marcellus of Ancyra, fr. 22 Vinzent/88 Klostermann and Hansen. Cf. the famous antitheses in Tertullian, De praesc. Haer. 7.9 (Refoulé): “Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? quid academiae et ecclesiae? quid haereticis et christianis?” Though admittedly there was also the not-so-occasional anti-intellectual streak among early Christian authors. On Celsus’ conception of the “true account”, cf. Frede 1994, 5193–5198. Dörrie 1967, 21–55. Cf. Zachhuber 2015, 89–110. Rashed and Chiaradonna 2010, 275–276.

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Conclusion

To summarise: objections to the understanding of Christian “theology” in antiquity in analogy to a philosophical school indicate real problems, not merely rhetorical counterarguments. It would, without a doubt, be erroneous simply to identify nascent Christianity with a philosophical school—were this the case, it would be hard to explain why the Church, unlike the schools, has survived the end of late antiquity. To recognise these limits, however, is altogether different from denying the legitimacy of the analogy. Rather, what emerges is an even clearer sense of Christian “theology” as a kind of “oversized” philosophical school; a school that ultimately bursts its category because it takes its properties to an extreme. The more we need to understand the sui generis character of Christian thought, as well as its continuity into the Middle Ages and eventually into Modernity, it may be necessary to focus on the differences between Christian theology and all its rival institutions existing in the ancient world. By the same token, however, I would affirm that a concern for the emergence and the initial growth and development of Christian thought until the end of late antiquity requires us to conceptualise the rational reflection generated within the Church in analogy to existing institutions. It is for this purpose, that I believe the comparison with philosophical schools can be of great value.

7

Acknowledgments

Earlier versions of this paper were presented to the Boston Colloquy of Historical Theology and the Wednesday Club at Oxford. I would like to thank the participants of those events for helpful questions and criticisms of my argument. Prof Mark Edwards read a draft of the paper and offered valuable observations on its topic.

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Damascius (1889–1899) De principiis, ed. E. Ruelle, 2 vols. (Paris). Didymus (1975–1977) Fragmenta in Psalmos, ed. E. Mühlenberg, Psalmenkommentare aus der Katenenüberlieferung, 2 vols. (Berlin). Eusebius of Caesarea (1903–1909) Historia ecclesiastica, ed. E. Schwartz, Eusebius Werke, vol. 2 [in three parts] (Berlin). Eusebius of Caesarea (1972) Contra Marcellum, eds. G.C. Hansen and E. Klostermann, Eusebius Werke, vol. 4, 2nd ed. (Berlin), 1–58. Gregory of Nysa (1863) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 46, De anima et resurrectione, 12–160 (Paris). Gregory of Nyssa (1960) Contra Eunomium 1–3, ed. W. Jaeger, 2nd ed. (Leiden). Hippolytus (1986) Refutatio omnium haeresium, ed. M. Marcovich (Berlin). Iamblichus (1966) De mysteriis, ed. E. des Places (Paris). Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa (1971) The History of Physicians, 4 vols., trans. L. Kopf, Modern Manuscripts Collection. History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine (Bethesda, MD); available online [accessed 18/2/12] at http://www.tertullian.org/ fathers/ibn_abi_usaibia_01.htm#p150. Jerome (1910) Epistulae I–LXX, ed. I. Hilberg, CSEL 54 (Vienna). Josephus (1955) Antiquitates Judaicae, ed. B. Niese, Flavii Iosephi Opera, vols. 1–4 (Berlin, 1887–1890). Josephus (1955) De bello Judaico, ed. B. Niese, Flavii Iosephi Opera, vol. 6 (Berlin). Justin Martyr (1867) Dialogue with Trypho, trans. G. Reith, in Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 2 (Edinburgh), 85–278. Justin Martyr (1915) Dialogus cum Tryphone, ed. E.J. Goodspeed, Die ältesten christlichen Apologeten (Göttingen), 90–265. Leontius of Jerusalem (1865) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 86/1, Adversus Nestorianos, 1399–1768 (Paris). Marcellus of Ancyra (1972) Fragmenta, eds. E. Klostermann and G.C. Hansen, Eusebius Werke, vol. 4, 2nd ed. (Berlin), 185–215. Opitz, H.G. (ed.) (1934) Urkunden zur Geschichte des arianischen Streits, 318–328 (Berlin). Origen (1869) Letter from Origen to Gregory, trans. F. Crombie, in Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 10 (Edinburgh), 388–390. Origen (1872) Contra Celsum, Books II–VIII, trans. F. Crombie, in Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 10 and 23 (Edinburgh). Origen (1893) Epistula ad Gregorium Thaumaturgum, ed. Robinson, The Philocalia of Origen (Cambridge), 64–67. Origen (1899) Contra Celsum, ed. P. Koetschau (Leipzig). Plotinus (1964–1982) Enneades, eds. P. Henry and H.R. Schwyzer, 3 vols. (Oxford). Porphyry (1969) De antro nympharum, Seminar Classics 609 (Buffalo, NY). Preisendanz, K. (1928) (ed.) Papyri Graecae Magicae, ed. vol. 1 (Leipzig).

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Ps.-Athanasius (1857) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 28, Liber de definitionibus, 533– 553 (Paris). Tatian (1915) Oratio ad Graecos, ed. E.J. Goodspeed, Die ältesten Apologeten (Göttingen), 268–305. Tertullian (1957) De praescriptione haereticorum, ed. F. Refoulé (Paris). Tertullian (2007) De pallio. ed. M. Turcan (Paris).

Secondary Sources Armstrong, A.H. and Markus, R. (1960) Christian Faith and Greek Philosophy (London). Athanassiadi, P. and Frede, M. (eds.) (1999) Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity (Oxford). Bardy, G. (1949) ‘“Philosophie” et “Philosophe” dans le vocabulaire chrétien des premiers siècles’, Revue de l’ascétique et de la mystique 25, 97–108. Betegh, G. (2010) ‘The Transmission of Ancient Wisdom: Texts, doxographies, libraries’, in L.P. Gerson (ed.) History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, vol. 1 (Cambridge), 25–38. Chadwick, H. (1965) ‘Justin Martyr’s Defence of Christianity’, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 47, 275–297. Chadwick, H. (1966) Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition (Oxford). Chiaradonna, R. (2002) Sostanza, movimento, analogia: Plotino critic di Aristotele (Naples). de Vogel, C.J. (1988) ‘Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrines: Fifty years of Plato studies’, in id., Rethinking Plato and Platonism (Leiden), 3–56. Dörrie, H. (1967) ‘Die platonische Theologie des Kelsos in ihrer Auseinandersetzung mit der christlichen Theologie auf Grund von Origenes c. Celsum 7, 42 ff.’, in Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen I Philologisch-Historische Klasse, 21– 55. Edwards, M. (2008) ‘Origen’s Platonism: Questions and Caveats’, Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum 11, 80–98. Finamore, J.F. and Johnston, S.I. (2010) ‘The Chaldean Oracles’, in L.P. Gerson (ed.) History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, vol. 1 (Cambridge), 161–173. Foucault, M. (1993) ‘About the Beginnings of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth’, Political Theory 21, 198–227. Frede, M. (1994) ‘Celsus Philosophus Platonicus’, in W. Haase and H. Temporini (eds.) Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt II 36/7 (Berlin), 5183–5213. Furrer-Pilliod, Chr. (ed.) (2000) Ὅροι καὶ ὑπογραφαί: Collections alphabétiques de définitions profanes et sacrées, Studi e Testi 395 (Vatican City). Geyer, B. (1964) ‘Facultas theologica. Eine bedeutungsgeschichtliche Untersuchung’, Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 75, 133–145. Gilson, E. (1998) L’esprit de la philosophie médiévale, 2nd ed. (Paris). Goodenough, E.R. (1923) The Theology of Justin Martyr (Jena).

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Hadot, P. (1983) Exercises spirituels et philosophie antique (Paris); English text: Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, ed. A. Davidson, trans. M. Chase, Oxford 1995. Hadot, P. (2001) La philosophie comme manière de vivre (Paris). Hadot, P. (2004) What is Ancient Philosophy, trans. M. Chase (Cambridge, MA). Hankey, W.J. (2003) ‘Philosophy as a Way of Life for Christians?: Iamblichian and Porphyrian Reflections on Religion, Virtue, and Philosophy in Thomas Aquinas’, Le Néoplatonisme 59, 193–224. Harnack, A. (1958) History of Dogma, trans. N. Buchanan et al., 6 vols. (New York). Karamanolis, G. (2013) The Philosophy of Early Christianity (Durham). Köckert, Ch. (2009) Christliche Kosmologie und kaiserzeitliche Philosophie (Tübingen). Koester, H. 1973 ‘φύσις’, in G. Friedrich (ed.) Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament, vol. 9 (Stuttgart), 246–271. Markschies, C. (2009) Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen (Tübingen). May, G. (1994) Creatio ex Nihilo: The Doctrine of ‘Creation out of Nothing’ in Early Christian Thought (Edinburgh). Merki, H. (1952) ΩΜΟΙΩΣΙΣ ΘΕΩΙ: Von der platonischen Angleichung an Gott zur Gottähnlichkeit bei Gregor von Nyssa (Freiburg). Nock, A.D. (1933) Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo (Oxford). Pannenberg, W. (1973) Wissenschaftstheorie und Theologie (Frankfurt/M). Poland, F. (1909) Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens (Leipzig). Ramelli, I. (ed.) (2007) Gregorio di Nisa: Sull’anima e la resurrezione (Milan). Ramelli, I. (2013) The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A critical assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena (Leiden). Rashed M. and Chiaradonna, R. (2010) ‘Before and After the Commentators: An exercise in periodization’, in Inwood, B. (ed.) Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophie, vol. 38 (Oxford), 251–297. Ritschl, A. (1872) A Critical History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation, trans. J. Black (Edinburgh). Sadler, G.B. (2011) (ed.) Reason Fulfilled by Revelation: The 1930s Christian Philosophy Debates in France (Washington). Seibt, K. (1994) Die Theologie des Markell von Ankyra (Berlin and New York). Simon, M. (1979) ‘From Greek Hairesis to Christian Heresy’, in W.R. Schoedel and R.L. Wilken (eds.) Early Christian Literature and the Classical Intellectual Tradition (Paris), 101–116. Sorabji, R. (1983) Time, Creation, and the Continuum: Theories in antiquity and the early Middle Ages (London). Sorabji, R. (1990) ‘The Ancient Commentators on Aristotle’, in id. (ed.) Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient Commentators and their Influence (Ithaca, NY), 1–30.

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Thorsteinsson, P. (2010) Roman Christianity and Roman Stoicism: A comparative study of Ancient morality (Oxford). Tzamalikos, P. (2005) Origen—Cosmology and Ontology of Time (Leiden). van Deun, P. (2015) ‘Maximus the Confessor’s Use of Literary Genres’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford), 274–286. von Campenhausen, H. (1963) Kirchliches Amt und geistliche Vollmacht in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, 2nd edn. (Tübingen). von Ivanka, E. (1964) Plato Christianus: Übernahme und Umgestaltung des Platonismus durch die Väter, Einsiedeln. von Staden, H. (1982) ‘Hairesis and Heresy: The case of the hiareseis iatrikai’, in B.F. Meyer and E.P. Sanders (eds.) Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, vol. 3 (Philadelphia), 76–100. Westerink, L.G. (1990) ‘The Alexandrian Commentators and the Introductions to their Commentaries’, in R. Sorabji (ed.) Aristotle Transformed, The Ancient Commentators and their Influence (Ithaca, NY), 325–348. Zachhuber, J. (1999) Human Nature in Gregory of Nyssa: Philosophical Background and Theological Significance (Leiden). Zachhuber, J. (2010) ‘Physis’, in L.F. Mateo-Seco and G. Maspero (eds.) The Brill Dictionary of Gregory of Nyssa (Leiden), 615–620. Zachhuber, J. (2011) ‘Albrecht Ritschl and the Tübingen School. A neglected link in the history of 19th century theology’, Zeitschrift für neuere Theologiegeschichte 18, 51–70. Zachhuber, J. (2015) ‘Christology after Chalcedon and the Transformation of the Philosophical Tradition: Reflections on a neglected topic’, in M. Knežević (ed.) The Ways of Byzantine Philosophy (Alhambra, CA), 89–110. Zachhuber, J. (2016) ‘Physis’, in Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum, in G. Schöllgen et al. (eds.) vol. 27 (Stuttgart), 744–781. Zahn, T. (1867) Marcell von Ancyra: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Theologie (Gotha). Zizioulas, J. (2002) Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (New York).

part 2 Greek Christian Thought



chapter 3

Drunk on New Wine (Acts 2:13): Drinking Wine from Plato to the Eucharist Tradition of Early Christian Thinkers Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides

1

Introduction

This paper* investigates the reception of Platonic and Neoplatonic ideas about wine and its influence on the intellect in early Christian thinkers who were anxious at that time to articulate the meaning and importance of the mystery of the eucharist.1 Of course, Proclus’ influence on Christian theology, mainly through ps.-Dionysius’ ability to dress Proclean metaphysics “in Christian draperies”, is well established in scholarship.2 Here, however, I argue that ps.-Dionysius’ appreciation of the eucharist in Proclean terms, as a symbol that “invokes the full presence of the divine”,3 infused with Plotinus’ image of the intellect as being “drunk with nectar”,4 does not merely rely on superficial similarities between the theurgic rite and the Christian mystery but presupposes a deeper

* Abbreviations of classical authors and their works follow the Oxford Classical Dictionary list, https://oxfordre.com/classics/page/abbreviation‑list/. References to classical texts and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History follow the Classical Loeb Library editions (LCL). When citing LCL translations, I specify the volumes and include them in the Bibliography. All other editions and translations of primary sources are fully cited in the Bibliography. 1 The need to explain the Christian dogma was felt strongly across early Christian communities. Already from the time of Nero prejudice against Christians increased and a frequent accusation levelled against them was that of atheism; cf. Dio 52.36.2; Jos. AP 2.148; Tac. Ann. 15.44.5; Suet. Ner. 16.2; Plin. Ep. 10.96.8; cf. Eus. HE 3.32–33; Coleman-Norton 1966, 1.3–4; Harland 2003, 231–243 with 1Thess 4:11–12 and Rom 13:1–7; Keresztes 1979, 262 and Keresztes 1989, 88; Benko 1984, 25; Walsh 1991, 268; Potter 1994, 8; Beard, North and Price 1998, 1.225; Stegemann and Stegemann 1999, 317–318. By the second century the situation deteriorated further; Lampe 2003, 69–103. Thus, the Christian Apologists tried to revamp the intellectual pedigree of Christianity by bringing it in sync with the prevalent Greco-Jewish traditions; Norris 2004, 40–41; Lampe 2003, 260–284; cf. Keresztes 1965, passim. 2 Struck 2004, 257; Perczel 2003, 1195; Dodds 1933, xxvi. 3 Struck 2004, 260. 4 Plot. Enn. VI.7[38].35, 25; cf. Enn. III.5[50].7.2. Harrington 2005; also, Clark 2016, 91–92, 97, 101–102.

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understanding of the role and effect of wine on human intellect and its limits. Therefore, I suggest a rereading of the relevant Platonic texts, especially the Symposium, where Plato compares Socrates’ philosophical frenzy to Bacchic revelry. The return to Plato is necessary because the Jewish traditions which were absorbed in the New Testament5 and the popular at that time Stoic attitudes to wine consumption rejected unequivocally the use of wine as a means of achieving spiritual growth.6 The Socratic way of drinking with its anagogic character echoes the Christian eucharistic tradition in which wine, consecrated to symbolize the blood of Jesus, is consumed as commemoration of the divine passion (anticipated in the last supper)7 and as a way of entering communion with God.8 The reception of the Platonic texts by the Alexandrian fathers, especially Clement and Origen, who belong to the same intellectual milieu as Plotinus and Iamblichus, offer ps.-Dionysius an additional paradigm for associating wine with wisdom and divinity; from this perspective, the eucharist contains the Christian doctrine about the role of wine in achieving the desired union with God as it was shaped through the intellectual exchanges of pagans and Christians from the second to the fourth century CE.

5 In the OT, see Gen 9:20, 21; 19:32–33; 1Sam 25:36–37; 2Sam 13:28; Esth 1:10; Prov 20:1, 23:29– 35; 31:4–5; Isa 28:7; Lev 10:8–11; Judg 13:3–4; Hab 2:5; Ezek 44:23; in the NT, see Eph 5:18; Luke 1:15; Rev 14:10, 16:19, and 17:1–2; 1Tim 3:2–3 and 5:23; 1Pet 4:7; 1 Cor 3:17; Rom 14:21; Titus 2:3. Wine does appear frequently in the OT as divine blessing, but this is strictly wine that has no intoxicating qualities (so probably it is unfermented); see Gen 27:28; 49:10–12; Ps 104:14, 15; Isa 55:1; Amos 9:13; John 2:10, 11. See Bacchiocchi 2001, 63–87 for a detailed analysis of each of the passages cited here. 6 Chrysippus argues that virtue could be lost through drunkenness (Diog. Laert. VII.127 = SVF 3.237) and Zeno of Citium crafted a syllogism establishing that a good man will not get drunk, which Seneca quotes in his own letter against drunkenness (Sen. Ep. 83.9 = SVF 1.229). Cf. Tranq. 17.4–12, where Seneca recommends copious drinking to his friend Serenus, a passage often misunderstood as his deviation from Stoic positions and his adoption of Platonic mania; see, for example, Schiesaro 2003, 21–23 and contra Anagnostou-Laoutides and Van Wassenhove (2020, forthcoming). 7 De Andia 2005, 44–45 discussing John Chrysostom’s Hom. on John 85.3 and 86.4 (PG 59, 463 and 473). The main traditions for the use of wine in the last supper are preserved in Matt 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:14–23; 1Cor 11:17–34; cf. ps.-Dion. EH III.1 (Heil, p. 81/PG 3, 428B22–24). Note that Heil and Suchla who edited the Corpus Dionysiacum II and I respectively also cite the PG numbering. 8 According to ps.-Dionysius, the purpose of the eucharist is “to pass the light of God onto the initiates”, EH III (Heil, pp. 79–80/PG 3, 425A23–425B2). Ps.-Dionysius refers to the eucharist as Synaxis, a gathering of the whole church in worship; cf. DN 4.7 (Suchla, pp. 150–151/PG 3, 701c–d); again, EH III (Heil, pp. 79–80/PG 3, 424C7–425B6); cf. EH III.2–3 (Heil, pp. 82–83/PG 3, 428C7–9 and 429A22–429B3). Also, see De Andia 2005, esp. 38–40, 52–53.

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Wine-Consumption and Intellectual Activity in Plato

Plato is preoccupied with the correct way of drinking both in the Symposium and the Protagoras.9 Early in the Symposium a jesting exchange between Socrates and Agathon, who agree to have Dionysus as the judge of their wisdom,10 prompts Pausanias to ask all the banqueters which method of drinking would suit them best.11 Eryximachus’ advice, stemming from his medical training, not to engage in heavy drinking,12 is welcomed by the majority of the group (a number of whom are nursing a hangover from the night before) and accords with Pausanias’ view that, like most activities, the outcome of wine drinking depends on how it is performed.13 The central comparison between drinking wine and being in love—which in the philosopher mutates into love for wisdom and virtue—becomes more obvious when Alcibiades interrupts the dinner party, totally drunken, and delivers a praise of Socrates’ imperviousness to intoxication.14 In his speech Alcibiades boldly compares Socrates with Marsyas and the Silenus-figures one comes across in sculpture shops,15 a theme that reintroduces Dionysian elements at an important point in the dialogue: Socrates has just finished his expose of Diotima’s theory of love, according to which pederasty forces the soul to be impregnated with desire for virtue and beauty.16 Alcibiades argues that in his philosophical contemplation Socrates resembles the followers of Dionysus, typically portrayed as drunken,17 despite being totally sober. Similar behavior that mimics the symptoms of being intoxicated and outof-control is also displayed by those who listen to his speeches: mesmerized by his words,18 audiences undergo a festive frenzy, typical of Bacchic and Corybantic rites, as Alcibiades knows from personal experience:19 9

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

For the connection of drinking, composing poetry, and speaking in both dialogues, see Anagnostou-Laoutides and Payne 2020 (forthcoming); cf. Anagnostou-Laoutides 2021 (forthcoming) and n40 below. Pl. Symp. 175e7–9. Pl. Symp. 176a: τίνα τρόπον ῥᾷστα πιόμεθα; Pl. Symp. 176c1–d5. Pl. Symp. 181a1–7. Pl. Symp. 220a4–5. Pl. Symp. 215b–e; cf. Symp. 221d7–8. Socrates in jest refers to Alcibiades’ speech as a scene from a Satyric or Silenic play (Symp. 222d4–5). Pl. Symp. 209b8; 210b8. For Dionysus and Silenoi as drunken in ancient art, see van de Grift 1984; cf. Eur. Cycl. 139– 161; cf. Eur. Bacch. 704–7. Pl. Symp. 215d6: ἐκπεπληγμένοι ἐσμὲν καὶ καταχόμεθα. Pl. Symp. 215e1–3. On Dionysus and the Corybantes, see Graf and Johnston 2007, 210–211. Also, Ustinova 2017, 118–126 (on Corybantic and Dionysian rites), and 315–341 (on Socratic Baccheia); cf. n. 21 below.

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ὅταν γὰρ ἀκούω, πολύ μοι μᾶλλον ἢ τῶν κορυβαντιώντων ἥ τε καρδία πηδᾷ καὶ δάκρυα ἐκχεῖται ὑπὸ τῶν λόγων τῶν τούτου, ὁρῶ δὲ καὶ ἄλλους παμπόλλους τὰ αὐτὰ πάσχοντας. For when I hear him I am worse than any Corybantic celebrant; I find my heart leaping and my tears gushing forth at the sound of his speech, and I see great numbers of other people having the same experience.20 Alcibiades’ comparison of philosophical mania with Bacchic frenzy21 is also examined at length in the Phaedrus.22 However, as noted above, there is something unique about this equation of drunkenness with philosophical inquiry: Socrates’ similarity to Marsyas23 is rooted in their internal sobriety,24 despite the outward impression of being drunk.25 Alcibiades clarifies the point further in the second half of his speech: here Socrates is praised as a “truly spiritual and miraculous creature”,26 the most sober and manly, sensible and persevering man he has ever met.27 Crucially, Alcibiades adds, no-one has ever seen this wondrous man28 getting drunk.29 Even when the agreement of the banqueters to drink modestly is disrupted by a large group of revelers who march in and force everyone to drink heavily,30 Socrates continues to drink in moderation until dawn in the company of Agathon and Aristophanes, clearly unaffected by wine. Socrates’ imperviousness to intoxication corresponds to his ability to withstand the cold, as famously exemplified when he served with Alcibiades in the 20 21 22

23

24 25 26 27

28 29 30

Trans. LCL 166 (Lamb), 215, bar κορυβαντιώντες (= “wild fanatics” in Lamb). Pl. Symp. 218b3–4: πάντες γὰρ κεκοινωνήκατε τῆς φιλοσόφου μανίας τε καὶ βακχείας; cf. Usher 2002, 214–219; Ustinova 2017, 315–322; Anagnostou-Laoutides 2021 (forthcoming). Pl. Phdr. 244a–245b; esp. 245a3: μανία … ψυχήν, ἐγείρουσα καὶ ἐκβακχεύουσα; also, Pl. Phdr. 249e4 where the lover of beauty is understood as partaking in madness: ταύτης μετέχων τῆς μανίας and 251a7–8 where the philosopher who sees a godlike face or image of beauty is not afraid to be regarded as totally out of his mind: μὴ ’δεδίει τὴν τῆς σφόδρας μανίας δόξαν. For Plato’s other references to Marsyas, see Pl. Euth. 285c; Leg. 677d; on Marsyas and his competition with Apollo, see Hdt 1.14.3 and 2.26.3; Diod. Sic. 5.75.3; Str. 10.3.14 and 2.8.15; also, Xen. Anab. 1.2.8 with Buzzetti 2014, 55–58. Pl. Symp. 216d–217a; esp. 216d9: γέμει σωφροσύνης. Cf. Ar. Nub. 413 (οἴνου τ’ ἀπέχει) where Socratic inquiry is associated with abstinence from wine. Also, see Anagnostou-Laoutides 2021 (forthcoming). Pl. Symp. 219c1–2: τούτῳ τῷ δαιμονίῳ ὡς ἀληθῶς καὶ θαυμαστῷ. Trans. LCL 166 (Lamb), 231. Pl. Symp. 219d5, 4–7: … ἀγάμενον δὲ τὴν τούτου φύσιν τε καὶ σωφροσύνην καὶ ἀνδρείαν, ἐντετυχηκότα ἀνθρώπῳ τοιούτῳ οἵῳ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἂν ᾤμην ποτ’ ἐντυχεῖν εἰς φρόνησιν καὶ εἰς καρτερίαν. Cf. Lamb’s translation in LCL 166, 233. Pl. Symp. 221c7–8: ἄξιον παντὸς θαύματος. Pl. Symp. 220a4–5: Σωκράτη μεθύοντα οὐδεὶς πώποτε ἑώρακεν ἀνθρώπων. Pl. Symp. 223B, esp. line 6: ἀναγκάζεσθαι πίνειν πάμπολυν οἶνον.

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army at Potidaea. At that time Socrates was reported to have been walking barefoot in the snow, wearing only a thin cloak.31 Both of these exceptional qualities can be explained through theories of the soul as hot matter which were especially advocated by Heraclitus and which Plato was familiar with.32 According to these theories, the soul ought to be kept warm and dry in order to realize its potential for virtue.33 Indeed, in the Timaeus Plato described wine as one of four types of water which have been mixed with fire (and so the main element of the soul according to Heraclitus); importantly, he adds, wine warms “not only the body but also the soul”.34 Wine, however, can be dangerous because despite being hot, it moistens people’s soul35 thus diluting our ability to pursue virtue due to its liquid nature. Only Socrates’ soul, constantly engaged in philosophical enquiry, is already so hot and dry36 that can remain unaffected by wine and cold. Those who encounter Socrates and begin to engage in inquiry with him experience this new level of activity in the soul as something akin to intoxication, a process of warming the soul which parallels the effects of drinking wine and of Bacchic frenzy. These views are also reflected in Plato’s last dialogue, the Laws, where he develops the notion of educating people about how to drink wine. Plato writes:37 Shall we not pass a law that, in the first place, no children under eighteen may touch wine at all, teaching that it is wrong to pour fire upon fire either in body or in soul (διδάσκοντες ὡς οὐ χρὴ πῦρ ἐπὶ πῦρ ὀχετεύειν εἴς τε τὸ σῶμα καὶ τὴν ψυχήν), before they set about tackling their real work, and 31 32

33

34 35 36 37

Pl. Symp. 220a6–c1. Heraclitus thought that the soul had attributes of fire in reflection of the universe (Her. D85 ap. Cl. Str. 5.14.105.2–4/PG 9, 160A–B). Moistening the soul would lead to its death (Her. D100 ap. Cl. Str. 6.2.17.2/ PG 9, 229B), while a virtuous soul was certainly attention should be paid to the righteous conduct of the individual. For Plato’s familiarity with Heraclitean ideas, see Barnes 1982, 49–52; Kahn 1985; Lebedev 2014, 463–472; cf. Pl. Cra. 402a. [Her. D103 ap. Stob. Flor. ΙΙΙ.17.42 (= vol. ΙΙΙ, p. 505,8 Hense): αὔη ψυχὴ, σοφωτάτη καὶ ἀρίστη [a dry soul: wisest and best; also, in Porphyry, De antr. Nymph. 11.22 (Nauck)]. Although in D100 Heraclitus refers to water, he shows a notable disdain for Dionysian revelry as exemplified by Clement’s citation of him (cf. D16 ap. Cl. Protr. 2.34.5/ PG 8, 112B; also, D18 in Protr. 2.22.20/PG 8, 88A). On this, see Herrero de Jáuregui 2008, 142–143 and 156 (ad loc.); cf. Plutarch discussing Epicurus’ views on the heat-producing atoms of wine: Plut. Adv. Coloten 1110A and Quaest. Conv. 652A with Reesor 1983, 100. For another passage in which the soul’s activity serves to warm the body, see Pl. Ph. 63d6–e2. Pl. Tim. 60a5–6: τὸ μὲν τῆς ψυχῆς μετὰ τοῦ σώματος θερμαντικὸν οἶνος. My trans. Xen. Symp. 2.24; Ath. Deipn. 11.504c. Cf. Arist. Resp. 472a4–5; De an. 404a27,31 and 405a9 with Couloubaritsis 1980, 140; Drozdek 2017, 99–100; extensively discussed in Anagnostou-Laoutides 2021 (forthcoming). Pl. Leg. 666a–c3; trans. LCL 187 (Bury), 133, 135; also, see Hutson 2013, 87–88.

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thus guarding against the excitable disposition of the young? And next, we shall rule that the young man under thirty may take wine in moderation, but that he must entirely abstain from intoxication and heavy drinking (μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο οἴνου μὲν δὴ γεύεσθαι τοῦ μετρίου μέχρι τριάκοντα ἐτῶν, μέθης δὲ καὶ πολυοινίας τὸ παράπαν τὸν νέον ἀπέχεσθαι). But when a man has reached the age of forty, he may join in the convivial gatherings and invoke Dionysus, above all other gods, inviting his presence at the rite (which is also the recreation) of the elders, which he bestowed on mankind as a medicinal potent against the crabbedness of old age, that thereby we men may renew our youth, and that, through forgetfulness of care, the temper of our souls may lose its hardness and become softer and more ductile, even as iron when it has been forged in the fire. Although Plato acknowledges the medical benefits of wine, especially for the elderly,38 he regards its heat and moisture as especially dangerous for younger people who ought to avoid heavy drinking. Therefore, although the metaphor of inebriation is useful for articulating the effects of philosophical advance, the life of Socratic examination is essentially a replacement for the activity of drinking, an idea also confirmed by Aristophanes in the Clouds (cited in n. 25 above). Again, Plato expressed this idea both in the Phaedrus39 and the Protagoras40 (regardless of changes in his political thought in the Laws). The Socratic way of drinking (or rather exchanging wine for philosophical contemplation) is notably consistent with Jewish traditions: Hosea (7:5), for example, mentions that the “heat of wine” made the princes sick during the king’s coronation or birthday. Furthermore, the term ‘heat’ (Hebrew hemah) is used in Deuteronomy (32:33) to refer to the poisonous effects of wine: ‘Their wine is the poison of serpents’, a phrase that recalls Alcibiades’ comparison of the effect of Socrates’ inebriating, caustic discourse on his audi38 39

40

Cf. Hutson 2013, 83–86. Also, see Belfiore 1986, 424–426 and 429–430. In Pl. Phdr. 256a7–d Socrates argues that the lovers, emulating the driver of the soul’s chariot, ought to dedicate themselves to philosophy, guided by self-control. Thus, their souls will gain their wings. If, however, they live without philosophy and are tempted by love of honour, probably when they have been drinking (256b10–c1: τάχ’ ἄν που ἐν μέθαις), then they fail to attain true virtue though they still have a chance of achieving virtue of a lesser degree. Only by rejecting wine and surrendering oneself to god one may hope to attain true inspiration (249c–d), to become a real lover of beauty (249d–e, ὅ ἐρῶν τῶν καλῶν ἐραστὴς καλεῖται). Also, see Phdr. 238a1 discussing sophrosyne and its opposite, excess (hubris). Notably, drinking wine is named as one of the excesses (238b4–6) that may take hold of people (περὶ δ’ αὖ μέθας τυραννεύσασα …); Anagnostou-Laoutides 2021 (forthcoming). See Pl. Prot. 347c3–348a6 where Socrates defends a sympotic practice that involves speaking with his own voice as opposed to relying on the words of others; Usher 2002, 211–212.

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ences with the bite of a snake or adder.41 Given the longstanding cultural interaction of the Greeks and the Jews in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially from the Hellenistic period onwards, it is important to appreciate that the Christian eucharistic tradition developed in this milieu of (generally unproblematic) intellectual exchange and eclectic use of tropes. Although Tertullian came to call Plato omnium haereticorum condimentarius (spice-supplier to all heretics),42 his reaction rather confirms a deeply entrenched tendency of relying on earlier traditions for articulating Christian doctrines. From this point of view, the much-discussed reliance of Dionysius Areopagite on Neoplatonic thinkers43 becomes less a matter of competing cultures and more a matter of employing familiar concepts to describe a novel theological experience.44 In my view, it is in this milieu that we ought to appreciate the use of allegory, a very recognizable Platonic and Neoplatonic trope,45 first introduced by Philo and 41

42 43

44 45

Pl. Symp. 217e, 218a; also, see Jer 51:39 with Bacchiocchi 2001, 82 but also 131–144 where he argues that the wine used in the last supper was probably non-alcoholic in line with the Mosaic law which prohibited leavened or fermented foods to be consumed during the Passover and in keeping with Jesus’ references to leaven as a sign of moral corruption. Thus, he concludes, in the last supper Jesus employs the image of the grape and its juices as a symbol of renewal and promise. Tert. De anim. 23.5 (Waszink); cf. De anim. 3.1: philosophi patriarchae haereticorum (Waszink) and adv. Herm. 8.3 (Waszink); also, see Tatian, Ad Gr. 21 (Whittaker). See, for example, Wesche 1989; Golitzin 1990 and 1993; Shaw 1999, esp. 585–586 on ps.Dionysius’ reliance on Iamblichus. Ps.-Dionysius also relied on Proclus and Plotinus for his understanding of Love; Vasilakis 2014, 240–254. As Vasilakis 2004, 200 notes, Koch 1895 and 1900 (echoed by Stiglmayr 1895) regards ps.-Dionysius as a plagiarist of Proclus. Also, see Vasilakis 2004, 205n10 discussing scholars who accept ps.-Dionysius’ critical engagement with Proclus’ text, such as Louth 2008, 581 Vogel 1981, 75; McGinn 1996, 199–203; Florovsky 1987, 210, 216–222; cf. Saffrey 1966 and 1982; Steel 1997; Rist 1999, 377–378; Perczel 2000; Stang 2012, 27–39, 143–144. Also, see Rorem 1993, 151, 169 and Schäfer 2006. For ps.-Dionysius’ familiarity with Porphyry, see Wear and Dillon 2007, 34. Burns 2004, 111 with n. 1 and Corrigan and Harrington 2018 also offer a summary of previous bibliography. Cf. the longstanding scholarly debate on whether the parables of Jesus should be understood figuratively; Reinstorf and van Aarde 2002; López 2017, esp. 152–158. Rappe 2000, 119. For the use of allegory in Greek poetry before Plato, see Plut. Quomodo adul. 19e8–f1; Porph. De antr. Nymph. 31.18–23 (Nauck) and Hom. Quest. 20.67–75 (MacPhail); Or. CC 6.42 (PG 11, 1360C–1361B); cf. Long 2006, 213 and Naddaf 2009, 118 on allegory in the Derveni Papyrus. The Stoics also used allegory (Cornutus, Theol. 75.17– 76.16 Boys-Stones); Porph. Contr. Christ. fr. 39.30–35 (Harnack = Eus. HE 6.19.5–8); Brisson 2004, 41–55; Most 2010, 26–38. Plato is aware of the allegorical tradition in Greek literature (for example Pl. Ion 530c referring to Metrodorus of Lampsacus) and repeatedly attacks poetry in favour of philosophy (though notably in Ion and the Phaedrus poetic inspiration is akin to philosophical inspiration); Brisson 2004, 15–19 and 2012a, 118–119. His rejection of poetry means that Neoplatonists often tried to bridge the disagreement between Plato and Homer. Kuisma 1996; Lamberton 1986, 37, 63–64 with n. 66; Brisson

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thoroughly applied by Clement and Origen of Alexandria as a most effective tool of Christian theological exegesis.46 Notably, Ammonius Saccas who was the teacher of both Plotinus and Origen, was influenced by Neopythagorean beliefs regarding the use of symbols as pointers to the path of wisdom.47 Thus, Plotinus had reportedly pledged not to reveal the teachings of his master, though he clearly employed them in his own educational method(s).48 Furthermore, Numenius of Apamea, a Platonist who flourished in the second century, associated Platonic and Pythagorean principles with Indian, Jewish, Persian, and Egyptian wisdom, confirming the shared intellectual tradition from which approaches to knowledge developed in all these neighboring cultures.49 Porphyry even reports that Numenius, whose views influenced Proclus,50 had no difficulty in comparing a line from Genesis 1:2 with Egyptian representations, Heraclitus, and Homer, all pointing to the link between the soul’s descent into creation and wetness.51

3

Drinking God’s Wine: Neoplatonic Allegory and Ps.-Dionysius

Jesus is reported as having spoken in an obviously symposiastic setting of his own body and blood as a meal to which the disciples were invited to participate.52 In the Gospel of John (6:55–56) we read: ἡ γὰρ σάρξ μου ἀληθῶς ἐστιν βρῶσις καὶ τὸ αἷμά μου ἀληθῶς ἐστιν πόσις. ὁ τρώγων μου τὴν σάρκα καὶ πίνων μου τὸ αἷμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μένει κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ

46

47

48 49 50 51 52

2004, 73. Still, Plato uses myth to illustrate philosophical truths: Most 2012, 16–19; Brisson 1998, 108–109; Clay 2007, 229–234; on Plato's use of metaphor in the Republic, see Cairns 2014 and Anagnostou-Laoutides 2021 (forthcoming). Philo, De Prov. 2.(394)40–41; Dawson 1992, 73–126; Borgen 2003, 114–143; Lamberton 1986, 44–54. For Clement’s use of allegory, see Dawson 1992, 183–234; for Origen’s use of allegory, see Hanson 1959, 131–374. Cf. Demetrius, On Style 99–102. Grant 1970, 136–139; Struck 2004, 102–103; Rangos 1999, 261–270; cf. Trypho, RhGr 3.193 f. (Spengel); Cl. Str. 1.22.150.4 (PG 8, 893B); Or. CC 1.15, 4.51, 5.38 and 57 (PG 11, 684A, 1112 B, 1241A and 1272A–B). Porph. Plot. 14.16; cf. Porph. VP 20.15 (Nauck). Numen. fr. 1a (des Places); Eus. PE 9.7.1 (Mras); cf. Iambl. Myst. 1.1 (Parthey); Lamberton 1986, 54–77; Brisson 2004, 71–74. Tarrant 2004; see, for example, Numen. fr. 37 (des Places) [= Procl. In Tim. I.76.30–77.23 (Diehl)]. Porph. De antr. Nymph. 10.10–12 (Nauck) [= Numen. fr. 30 (des Places)]; Hom. Od. 6.201; cf. n. 32 and 33. Mark 14:23–25; Matthew 26:26–29; Luke 22:19–20.

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For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. In Mark 14:24 again we read:53 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου τῆς διαθήκης τὸ ἐκχυννόμενον ὑπὲρ πολλῶν He said: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the sake of many. Pouring his blood for humanity Jesus is not dissimilar to Dionysus who, according to Euripides, can be poured as a drink offering.54 The similarity was picked up by Clement who presented Christ as uttering the words which Dionysus addressed to Pentheus in the Greek drama.55 Clement appreciated this as Jesus’ instruction into his mysteries. Furthermore, the metaphorical framework in which Jesus describes himself as the vine56 and the general use of Dionysian symbols and cultic elements by early Christians can only point to the common cultural space in which pagans and Christians interacted.57 Early Christian art offers ample evidence of Dionysian imagery adopted by Christians, including the grape/vine, the banquet and even, Jesus as a philosopher.58 Therefore, the correspondence between ps.-Dionysius’ appreciation of the bread and wine of the eucharist, now cast as the body and blood of Christ,59 and 53 54 55 56 57

58

59

Cf. 2Tim. 4:6 where Paul refers to his impending death as being poured out like a drink offering. Eur. Bacch. 284: οὗτος θεοῖσι σπένδεται θεὸς γεγώς. This is the scene where Dionysus meets Pentheus in the guise of a stranger. See Cl. Str. 4.25.162.3 (PG 8, 1372A–B); cf. Eur. Bacch. 470-472-474-476. John 15:1. Smith 1996: 231 discusses Plut. Quaest. conv. 671D–E where Yahweh and the Feast of Tabernacles are identified with Dionysus and his rites. According to Plutarch, the Jewish Sabbath is related to the cult of Bacchus, still known at his age by the name Sabbi, an etymological affinity that even the Jews themselves appreciate. See Jensen 2000, 59–63 (on Dionysian symbols in early Christian catacombs) and 44–46 (on Jesus as the seated philosopher/teacher); also, see Snyder 2003, 52–53 on the association of the grape (rather than the vine) with the “redemptive sacrifice of Christ” and 119 on the bearded “Christus philosophicus”, an image which appears on Christian sarcophagi and is modelled on the itinerant philosophers of Roman antiquity. On Christ and the grape, see Leonardi 1947 and Nussbaum 1963; cf. Mathews 1993, 38–39, 45, 96–97. See Wear and Dillon 2007, 113; Louth 2001, 62–63 discussing ps.-Dion. EH, III.12 (Heil, pp. 92–93/PG 3, 444A–B).

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Proclus’ understanding of the dismembered (by the Titans) body and heart of Dionysus, now standing for the cosmic soul and intellect,60 stems from a shared intellectual tradition and is certainly not an orchestrated effort to corrupt the Christian dogma with pagan notions.61 One must remember that at this point it was the Christians who had to defend themselves against the accusation of atheism (see n. 1). Proclus understood Dionysus’ dismemberment at the hands of the Titans as a reference to the creation of our material cosmos which happens when the cosmic intellect undergoes a process of division,62 while Macrobius in his Commentary on the Dream of Scipio63 refers to the Orphics who identify the material intellect with Bacchus. Accordingly, ps.-Dionysius adopts the language of inebriation to describe the eucharist purely at the symbolic level and almost certainly as a nod of acknowledgement of the intellectual tradition he draws on. As Hernández de la Fuente observed, “[W]ine and divinity are exchangeable metaphorically and symbolically in the case of Dionysos and Christ”.64 Indeed, in agreement with Heraclitus (whose views Plato employed; n. 32 above), Proclus argued that the god Dionysus, the son of Zeus who represents “the universal demiurgic Intellect”,65 held sway over moist and warm creation, itself symbolized by wine,66 while in his commentary on Plato’s Timaeus he argued that the heart of Dionysus represents the cosmic intellect.67 Fur60

61 62

63 64 65 66 67

Van den Berg 2008, 289; also, see Hernández de la Fuente 2014, 235–237 discussing the myth of Dionysus-Zagreus in Proclus and Plotinus, especially Plot. Enn. IV.3[27].12 and Procl. In Tim. III.80.20f. (Diehl) on the symbolism of the mirror used by the Titans to entice the young god, but also, Damascius who in his In Phd. 1.171 (Westerink) appreciates the god’s dismemberment and subsequent rebirth as enabling the liberation of our souls from the bodily world (on Phd. 69d1; cf. n. 71 below). The appeal of the symbolism for the Christians who in the context of the eucharist appreciated Christ’s divided body as enabling their salvation is obvious. Cf. Meisner 2018, 263–264. Lankila 2011 appreciates the Areopagite corpus as a Neoplatonic attempt to protect Proclus’ work. Procl. In Tim. III.145.9f. (Diehl); cf. Olymp. In Phd. 4.9–10: γενέσεως … ἔφορος (Finckh = 1.6, Westerink) for Dionysus as “the patron of genesis;” cf. Olymp. In Phd. 3.30: τῶν τῇδε ἔφορός ἐστιν, ἔνθα ὁ πολὺς μερισμὸς (Finckh = 1.5 Westerink) for as “the patron of this world, where extreme division prevails”, discussed in Hernández de la Fuente 2014, 237. Macr. Comm. Sc. Somn. 1.12.12 (Willis); cf. Hernández de la Fuente 2013, 472–477 for the parallels between Dionysus and Christ in Nonnos’ Dionysiaca. Hernández de la Fuente 2013, 467–468. Procl. In Crat. 85, 90.8: ὅλον δημιουργικὸν νοῦν (Pasquali) on Pl. Crat. 402d. Procl. In primum Euclidis, Def. xxiv–xxix, 167.9–11 (Friedlein): ὁ δὲ Διόνυσος τὴν ὑργὰν καὶ θερμὴν ἐπιτροπεύει γένεσιν, ἧς καὶ ὁ οἶνος σύμβολον ὑγρὸς ὢν καὶ θερμός; cf. Plut. cup.div. 527D. Proc. In Tim. II.146.1 (Diehl): οὐ μέντοι πᾶς νοῦς, ἀλλ’ ὁ ἐγκόσμιος and II.146.3–4: τὸν μὲν δὴ νοῦ ἀμέριστον οὐσία τοῦ Διονύσου καλεῖ; also, Taylor 1816, 216 (On the Theology of Plato, vii.33) and van den Berg 2008, 190–191.

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thermore, Proclus associates heat with good and God,68 and with reference to Plato’s Cratylus,69 where Plato summarized Heraclitus’ theory of flux,70 he stated that wine deprives people of their intellect and that oinos should be rather understood etymologically as oionous, quasi intellect (cf. oinoflugia in 1 Peter 4:3). This oionous, Proclus explains, is the intellectual form when separated from the whole though already participated in.71 This individual intellect is called wine by the theologians, a name common for the god and all his creations.72 Wine, however, Proclus continues,73 ἀναλόγως οὖν ἐν τοῖς οὔσιν ὁ οἶνος ἐγγινόμενος ἐνεργεῖ, ἐν μὲν τῷ σώματι εἰδωλικῶς κατὰ οἴησιν καὶ φαντασίαν ψευδῆ, ἐν δὲ τοῖς νοεροῖς τὸ κατὰ νοῦν ἐνεργεῖν καὶ δημιουργεῖν. operates analogously at the various levels of being—in the body it operates like an image through belief and false imagination, while in the intellectual realm activity and creation take place intellectually.74 Here Proclus echoes closely Alcibiades’ description of Socrates’ exceptional character in the Symposium, further adding that although both Dionysus and

68 69 70 71

72 73

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For example, Procl. De mal. subs. chap. 35 218.28 (Boese); In Tim. I.373, 22 (Diehl). Crat. 406c5–6; Procl. In Crat. 109, 114.5–115.21 (Pasquali). Colvin 2007, 764–768. See Hernández de la Fuente 2014, 237–238 on Olympiodorus’ and Damascius’ reaction to Phd. 69d1 where Plato describes philosophers who lead a virtuous life as mystic ‘Bacchuses’ [cf. Cl. Str. 1.19.92.3 (PG 8, 808B discussed below)]. Olympiodorus (In Phd. 8.7, Westerink) agrees that the person who leads such a life becomes a Bacchus. Damascius echoes the notion (In Phd. 1.171, Westerink) observing that a man who leads a Dionysian life is a philosopher in the stage of purification. Procl. In Crat. 109, 115.13–14 (Pasquali). Procl. In Crat. 109, 115.16–21 (Pasquali); cf. Procl. In Tim. III.310.30–311.6 (Diehl): τὸν γὰρ Διόνυσον ⟨οἱ θεολόγοι⟩ ταύτῃ τῇ προσηγορίᾳ κεκλήκασιν, ὃ δέ ἐστι πάσης τῆς δευτέρας δημιουργίας μονάς· ὁ γὰρ Ζεὺς βασιλέα τίθησιν αὐτὸν ἁπάντων τῶν ἐγκοσμίων θεῶν καὶ πρωτίστας αὐτῷ νέμει τιμάς, ⟨καίπερ ἐόντι νέῳ καὶ νηπίῳ εἰλαπιναστῇ⟩. διὰ δὴ τοῦτο καὶ τὸν Ἥλιον νέον θεὸν εἰώθασι καλεῖν (καὶ ⟨νέος ἐφ’ ἡμέρῃ Ἥλιοσ⟩, φησὶν ⟨Ἡράκλειτοσ⟩), ὡς Διονυσιακῆς μετέχοντα δυνάμεως. [The theologians have called Dionysus by this name, because he is the monad of all second creation. Because Zeus places him as a king of all the mundane gods and bestows first honours to him, although he is a young and an infant banqueter. For this reason, they usually refer to the Sun as a new god (and Heraclitus says [there is a] “new Sun every day”) because he partakes in Dionysus’ strength; my trans.]. Trans. Duvick 2007, 105.

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Aphrodite are playful gods, the philosopher knows to take these matters seriously.75 As van den Berg notes,76 Proclus regards the creation of the material universe as “the spontaneous effect of the secondary activities of the young gods, whereas their serious, primary activities consists in the contemplation of the intelligible”.77 In this spirit, Plotinus also wrote in the Enneads:78 Intellect also, then, has one power for thinking, by which it looks at the things in itself, and one by which it looks at what transcends it by a direct awareness and reception (ἐπιβολῇ τινι καὶ παραδοχῇ) … And that first one is the contemplation of the Intellect in its right mind, and the other is Intellect in love (νοῦς ἐρῶν), when it goes out of its mind ‘drunk with the nectar;’79 then it falls in love, simplified into happiness by having its fill; and it is better for it to be drunk with a drunkenness like this than to be more respectably sober. For Plotinus, the language of mania, the Dionysian language, is perfectly suitable for describing our union with god because the Christian god, much like the Platonic Demiurge, is erotic80—indeed our own yearning for a nostos to him may be understood as evidence of our participation in the divine.81 Furthermore, the texts discussed above illustrate that, in keeping with Plato, the Neoplatonic and Christian inebriation as a means of uniting with god does not involve alcohol. Ps.-Dionysius Areopagite, who describes god as “drinking and

75

76 77 78 79

80 81

Procl. In Crat. 107, 113.22–24 (Pasquali). Van den Berg 2008, 193 points the use of παίγνιον in Plato’s Leg. 803c4–5 (also see his n. 104); cf. Proclus, In Tim. I.127, 14–18 (Diehl) with Opsomer 2003, 45. Again, van den Berg 2008, 193. Procl. In Parm. V.1036, 4–9 (Steel). Plot. Enn. VI.7[38].35. 21–27; trans. LCL 468 (Armstrong), 197; Smith 2004, 37–40. Cf. Symp. 203b2–c1 where Poros drunk with nectar begets Eros from Penia; also, see Porph. De Antro 16.23–24 (Nauck); Sent. 37.36–49 (Lamberz). Cf. Or. CC 4.39 (PG 11, 1089D) for the identification of the garden of Zeus with paradise, Poros with Adam and Penia with the serpent. See Hayes 2017, 28; cf. Riggs 2009 and 2010 on the importance of Eros in ps.-Dionysius and Proclus. Plot. Enn. VI.7[38].20, 22, 31 and 34; also, I.6[1].7 and VI.9[9].4.19 where Plotinus refers to our mystical union with god in terms of an erōticon pathēma; cf. Alcinous, Did. II.153.5–6 (Whittaker): Ἡ ψυχὴ δὴ θεωροῦσα μὲν τὸ θεῖον καὶ τὰς νοήσεις τοῦ θείου εὐπαθεῖν τε λέγεται, καὶ τοῦτο τὸ πάθημα αὐτῆς φρόνησις ὠνόμασται, ὅπερ οὐχ ἕτερον εἴποι ἄν τις εἶναι τῆς πρὸς τὸ θεῖον ὁμοιώσεως. In addition, Plotinus reported having several out-of-body experiences; see, for example, Enn. 6.7[38].32 and 40; 6.8[39].1; 6.9[9].9; Porph. Plot. 23. For Proclus’ homoiosis to god, cf. Marinus, VProcli 18.5–34 (Boissonade).

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drunk and sleeping and suffering from excess”82 introduces Epistle 9 with a reference to his Symbolic Theology.83 The symbols, he argues, employed in oracles about God, seem to the common people to describe him as monstrous. And he adds:84 Καὶ γὰρ ἀτοπίαν δεινὴν ἐναπομόργνυνται ταῖς ἀτελέσι τῶν ψυχῶν, ὁπόταν οἱ τῆς ἀποῤῥήτου σοφίας πατέρες διὰ δή τινων κρυφίων καὶ ἀποτετολμημένων αἰνιγμάτων ἐκφαίνωσι τὴν θείαν καὶ μυστικὴν καὶ ἄβατον τοῖς βεβήλοις ἀλήθειαν. For they give a colour of incongruity dreadful to the uninitiated souls, when the Fathers of the unutterable wisdom explain the Divine and Mystical Truth, unapproachable by the profane, through certain, certainly hidden and daring enigmas. The argument is reverberated in his Mystical Theology where he writes:85 Ἐν δὲ τῇ Συμβολικῇ Θεολογίᾳ, τίνες αἱ ἀπὸ τῶν αἰσθητῶν ἐπὶ τὰ θεῖα μετωνυμίαι, τίνες αἱ θεῖαι μορφαί, τίνα τὰ θεῖα σχήματα καὶ μέρη καὶ ὄργανα, … τίνες αἱ μέθαι καὶ αἱ κραιπάλαι, … καὶ ὅσαι ἄλλαι τῆς συμβολικῆς εἰσι θεοτυπίας ἱερόπλαστοι μορφώσεις. Further, in Symbolical Theology we have considered what are the metonymies drawn from the sensible world and applied to divine matters; which are the divine images, the divine shapes, and the parts and instruments (attributed to it), … what is meant by divine inebriation and hangover … and all other sacred forms of symbolic divine representation. As Stang observed, ps.-Dionysius who appreciated the commonplace association of drunkenness with complete lack of moderation,86 explains God’s drunkenness further in the Epistles as87 82 83 84 85 86 87

Ps.-Dion. Ep. 9.1 (Heil, p. 195/PG 3, 1105B9–10): καὶ πεπωκότα καὶ μεθύοντα καὶ ὑπνώττοντα καὶ κραιπαλῶντα διαπλαττούσης. Ps.-Dion. Ep. 9.1 (Heil, p. 193/PG 3, 1104B5). Ps. Dion. Ep. 9.1 (Heil, p. 193/PG 3, 1104B6–9); trans. Parker 1897, 168. Ps.-Dion. Myst. Th. III (Heil, p. 147/PG 3, 1033B11–1033C3); my trans. having consulted Parker 1897, 134. Ps.-Dion. Ep. 9.5 (Heil, p. 204/PG 3, 1112C11-1): ἡ μέθη καὶ ἀσύμμετρος ἀποπλήρωσίς ἐστι καὶ νοῦ καὶ φρενῶν ἔκστασις. Ps.-Dion. Ep.9.5 (Heil, pp. 204–205/PG 3, 1112C); trans. Parker 1897, 176; Stang 2012, 168–169.

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… τὴν ὑπερπλήρη κατ’ αἰτίαν προοῦσαν ἐν αὐτῷ πάντων τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀμετρίαν. Ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν ἐπακολουθοῦσαν τῇ μέθῃ τοῦ φρονεῖν ἔκστασιν τὴν ὑπεροχὴν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν ὑπὲρ νόησιν οἰητέον, καθ’ ἣν ἐξῄρηται τοῦ νοεῖν ὑπὲρ τὸ νοεῖν ὢν καὶ ὑπὲρ τὸ νοεῖσθαι καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτὸ τὸ εἶναι καὶ ἁπλῶς ἁπάντων, ὅσα ἐστὶν ἀγαθά, μεμεθυσμένος ἅμα καὶ ἐξεστηκώς ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς ὡς πάντων αὐτῶν ἅμα καὶ ὑπερπλήρης ὤν, ἀμετρίας πάσης ὑπερβολή, καὶ αὖθις ἔξω καὶ ἐπέκεινα τῶν ὅλων ἀνῳκισμένος. … super-full immeasurableness of all good things pre-existing in Him as Cause. But, even in respect to being out of wits, which follows upon drunkenness, we must consider the pre-eminence of Almighty God, which is above conception, in which He overtops our conception, as being above conception and above being conceived, and above being itself; and in short, Almighty God is inebriated with, and outside of, all good things whatever, as being at once a super-full hyperbole of every immeasurableness of them all; and again, as dwelling outside and beyond the whole. His clearly Neoplatonic belief in using symbols that hide the truth from the uninitiated is repeated in the Divine Names, where ps.-Dionysius explains that the many misinterpret the symptoms of divine ecstasy as being out of one’s mind;88 in reality, he who suffers union with God, is out of his mind from error to truth, he is not mad but liberated from error.89 Thus, many stories of early conversions to Christianity describe the experience as being overwhelmed with eros, falling madly in love, as well as being under the spell or even the demonic powers of the preacher,90 a trend that reiterates the importance of using recognizable rhetorical tropes for expressing a unique spiritual experience in which the mind takes precedence over the body or even leaves the body temporarily. However, in my view, ps.-Dionysius’ confident appreciation of the allegorical interpretation of divine inebriation had a notable earlier model in Clement of Alexandria, a dedicated and thorough reader of Plato,91 who wrote at a time when allegory was at the heart of theological debate.

88 89

90 91

Ps.-Dion. DN 7.4 (Suchla, p. 199/PG 3, 872D–873A, esp. 872d7): ἐξεστηκότα. Ps.-Dion. DN 7.4 (Suchla, p. 199/PG 3, 873A1–3): οὐχ … μαινόμενον, ἀλλὰ τῆς ἀστάτου καὶ ἀλλοιωτῆς περὶ τὴν παντοδαπῆ τῆς πλάνης ποικιλίαν φορᾶς διὰ τῆς ἁπλῆς καὶ ἀεὶ κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ὡσαύτως ἐχούσης ἀληθείας ἠλευθερωμένον. Stang 2012, 172. For ps.-Dionysius’ appreciation of the eucharist in terms of Platonic ecstasy, see Stang 2012, 163–168 on DN 4.10–13 (Suchla, pp. 154–159/PG 3, 705C–712B). Samellas 2012. For example, Anagnostou-Laoutides 2018.

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Clement of Alexandria: Eucharist and the Allegory of Inebriation

Allegories became relevant in the first Christian centuries in light of the rise of Gnosticism, an intellectual tradition that utilised widely Platonic modes of thinking. The Gnostic Apocryphon of James92 claims that after his resurrection Jesus spent 18 days explaining his parables to his disciples, while Irenaeus reports that several Valentinian Gnostics claimed this time to have been 18 months.93 In fact, both Irenaeus and Justin Martyr94 refer to the difficulty of understanding Jesus’ parables, while the latter employs a very Porphyrian expression to refer to the prophets who expressed their words and actions ‘in parables and types, thus hiding the truth they held’.95 Clement of Alexandria fought against the Gnostics arguing that faith rather than esoteric knowledge was the criterion of salvation.96 Yet, Clement’s theology emerges through systematic engagement with pagan philosophical advances.97 Therefore, he claims that his main work, the Stromateis/Stromata98 Περιέξουσι δὲ οἱ Στρωματεῖς ἀναμεμιγμένην τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῖς φιλοσοφίας δόγμασι, μᾶλλον δὲ ἐγκεκαλυμμένην καὶ ἐπικεκρυμμένην, καθάπερ τῷ λεπύρῳ τὸ ἐδώδιμον τοῦ καρύου· ἁρμόζει γάρ, οἶμαι, τῆς ἀληθείας τὰ σπέρματα μόνοις φυλάσσεσθαι τοῖς τῆς πίστεως γεωργοῖς … will contain the truth mixed up with the opinions of philosophy, or rather covered over and hidden, as the edible part of the nut in the shell. For, in my opinion, it is proper that the seeds of truth be kept for the husbandmen of faith, and nobody else. A few paragraphs further Clement returns to the aspects of truth that ancient philosophers (barbarian and Greek) tried to uncover in terms of the Dionysian

92 93 94 95 96 97

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Apocryphon of James 8.1–5 (Williams). Iren. adv. haer. I.3.2 (Rousseau and Doutrelau). Iren. adv. haer. V.2.1 (Rousseau, Doutrelau, Mercier) and Just. Mart. Dial. Tr. 5.2.1 and 68.1 (Marcovich). Just. Mar. Dial. Tr. 90 (Marcovich). Cl. Str. 7.10.55.1–3 (PG 9, 477C). Cf. Cl. Str. 2.1.3.5 (PG 8, 933B). See Artemi 2014, 13 who claims somewhat enthusiastically that in Clement’s view “educated and mature Christians inevitably seek an understanding superior to that of teaching of Bible, and in this progressive theology necessarily included philosophy”. Cl. Str. 1.1.18 (PG 8, 708B); cf. Artemi 2014, 65. All Clement translations rely on ANF II, modified.

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sparagmos suggesting a useful synthesis as the only way for re-recreating the theology of the perfected word (ὁ δὲ τὰ διῃρημένα συνθεὶς αὖθις καὶ ἑνοποιήσας τέλειον τὸν λόγον ἀκινδύνως εὖ ἴσθ’ ὅτι κατόψεται, τὴν ἀλήθειαν), a task which in all probability he has set for himself.99 Besides, Clement believed in our homoiosis with God, a phrase he borrowed from Plato’s Theaetetus 176b2–3100 and cited in Str. 2.22.133.3 (PG 8, 181B).101 Furthermore, he appreciated our salvation in mystic terms and in direct comparison with Bacchic rites; hence, in Str. 4.25.162.3 (PG 8, 1372A), [shortly after discussing the eucharist,102 he notes:103 αὐτὸς οὖν ἡμᾶς ὁ σωτὴρ ἀτεχνῶς κατὰ τὴν τραγῳδίαν μυσταγωγεῖ, ὁρῶν ὁρῶντας καὶ δίδωσιν ὄργια. κἂν πύθῃ· τὰ δὲ ὄργια ἐστὶ τίν’ ἰδέαν ἔχοντά σοι; ἀκούσῃ πάλιν· ἄρρητ’ ἀβακχεύτοισιν εἰδέναι βροτῶν κἂν πολυπραγμονῇ τις ὁποῖα εἴη, αὖθις ἀκουσάτω· The Saviour Himself, then, plainly initiates us into the mysteries, according to the words of the tragedy: “Seeing those who see, he also gives the orgies”. And if you ask, “These orgies, what is their nature?” You will hear again: “It is forbidden to mortals uninitiated in the Bacchic rites to know”. Clement reverts to the teachings of Socrates in Str. 1.19.92.3 [PG 8, 808B; repeated in 5.3.17.4 (PG 9, 36A)] warning that although there are many holders 99 100

101

102 103

Cl. Str. 1.13.57.6 (PG 8, 756B); cf. 1.13.57.1 (PG 8, 753C). Dillon 1977, 120; Méhat 1966, 373–379; Ashwin-Siejkowski 2008, 92–93; Hägg 2010; cf. Lanzilotta 2013; also, see Plot. Enn. I.2[19].6.2–3. Clement refers to Platonic homoiosis in Str. 2.19.100.3 (PG 8, 1044B6); 5.14.95.2 (PG 9, 140A11); and 5.14.96.2–3 (PG 9, 141B1–3); cf. 4.22.137.1 (PG 8, 1348A14–15); 4.26.171.4–172.1 (PG 8, 1380B13–14) and 5.5.29.1–4 (PG 9, 52A3–4); cf. n. 101 below. On Plato’s Theaetetus, see Annas 1999, 54, 70–71; Gerson 2005, 242–245. The notion of assimilation to god is also hinted in Resp. 613a7–b1; Leg. 716c–d with van Riel 2013, 23–24; Tim. 90 b–d with Sedley 1997, 335; cf. Betegh 2003. The passage attracted the attention of Philo; see his On Flight and Finding 12.(555)63; cf. 2.(547)8–10. Clement returns to the issue of our assimilation to God repeatedly in the Stromata: 1.11.52.3 (PG 8, 749C6); 2.19.97.1 (PG 8, 1040B2); 2.20.103.1 (PG 8, 1048C1); 2.22.136.5–6 (PG 8, 1085B7–13); 4.6.30.1 (PG 8, 1241B3–5); 4.14.95.1 (PG 8, 1301C2); 4.23.147.2 (PG 8, 1356D3) and 4.23.148.2 (PG 8, 1357B3); 6.7.60.3 (PG 9, 281C1–5); 6.12.104.2 (PG 9, 325B7–9); 6.14.114.4–6 (PG 9, 337B14–15); 6.17.150.3 (PG 9, 381A14–B2); 6.17.160.4–161.4 (PG 9, 393A1–B5); 7.3.14.1 (PG 9, 417A9–15); 7.11.64.5 (PG 9, 489A13–14). Cl. Str. 4.25.161.3 (PG 8, 1369B). Also, Cl. Str. 4.22.139.4–141.1 (PG 8, 1349B–C): at night, released from the perceptions of sense, the soul can turn on itself and participate in wisdom; thus, mysteries (τελεταὶ) tend to be celebrated at night; therefore, Christians must be watchful and sober (ἀλλὰ γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμεν).

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of the thyrsus in the mysteries, only few become Bacchuses (see n. 71 above; εἰσὶ γὰρ δή, ὥς φασι⟨ν οἱ⟩ περὶ τὰς τελετάς, ναρθηκοφόροι μὲν πολλοί, βάκχοι δέ τε παῦροι), which he interprets as meaning that “many are called but few chosen”.104 Socrates is further quoted as he explains that these Bacchuses are those who have practiced philosophy in the right way and who will receive confirmation of their virtue soon after death. At this point, Clement wonders: ἆρ’ οὐ δοκεῖ σοι πίστεως ἐκ τῶν Ἑβραϊκῶν γραφῶν τὴν μετὰ θάνατον ἐλπίδα τοῦ δικαίου σαφηνίζειν; Does he not then seem to declare from the Hebrew Scriptures the righteous man’s hope, through faith, after death? And almost anticipating ps.-Dionysius, Clement also thinks that the wise man is often misunderstood by the many. Referring to Solomon and citing Wisdom 5:3–5 in a passage that could effortlessly pass as referring to Socrates,105 the common people admire the philosopher who after death has been established among the Sons of God and regret deriding him and thinking that his life was madness (τὸν βίον αὐτοῦ ἐλογισάμεθα μανίαν). Regarding the eucharist, Clement believes its meaning to be a ceremonial urge to emulate Christ’s sacrifice.106 Notably, he refers to Christ’s love for humans which accords with ps.-Dionysius’ conviction that our yearning to unite with God reflects his love for his creation, including humans.107 He comments specifically on the meaning of Jesus’ blood during the eucharist in the Paedagogus108 in terms that totally agree with the Neoplatonic appreciation of our union with god and of course, ps.-Dionysius. According to Clement, the blood of the Lord has a twofold meaning (Διττὸν). Through the carnal aspect of Jesus’ blood we are redeemed from corruption (ᾧ τῆς φθορᾶς λελυτρώμεθα); but through its spiritual aspect (τὸ δὲ πνευματικόν) and by drinking Jesus’ blood, we come to partake of the Lord’s immortality (τῆς κυριακῆς μεταλαβεῖν ἀφθαρσίας). Hence,109

104 105 106 107 108 109

Matt 24:14: πολλοὺς μὲν τοὺς κλητούς, ὀλίγους δὲ τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς αἰνιττόμενος. Cl. Str. 6.14.110.1–3 (PG 9, 337b–c). Str. 3.4.28.4 (PG 8, 1133B). Stang 2012, 167–168. Cl. Paed. 2.2.19.4 (PG 8, 409B). Cl. Paed. 2.2.20.1 (PG 8, 409B–412A).

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… τοίνυν κίρναται ὁ μὲν οἶνος τῷ ὕδατι, τῷ δὲ ἀνθρώπῳ τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ τὸ μὲν εἰς πίστιν εὐωχεῖ, τὸ κρᾶμα, τὸ δὲ εἰς ἀφθαρσίαν ὁδηγεῖ, τὸ πνεῦμα, ἡ δὲ ἀμφοῖν αὖθις κρᾶσις ποτοῦ τε καὶ λόγου εὐχαριστία κέκληται, χάρις ἐπαινουμένη καὶ καλή, ἧς οἱ κατὰ πίστιν μεταλαμβάνοντες ἁγιάζονται καὶ σῶμα καὶ ψυχήν. … as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality. And the mixture of both—of the water and of the Word—is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul. Immediately after this, Clement clarifies that the drinking of Jesus’ blood is not to be confused with drinking actual wine. Thus, he adds, he admires those who adopt an austere way of life, opting for water, the medicine of temperance,110 fleeing as far as possible from wine, shunning it as they would the danger of fire.111 Clement repeatedly expresses his aversion to drinking in the Stromata too,112 and he specifically states that he approves of the Socratic way of drinking:113 ὁ γοῦν Σωκράτης φυλάσσεσθαι κελεύει τὰ ἀναπείθοντα μὴ πεινῶντας ἐσθίειν καὶ μὴ διψῶντας πίνειν καὶ τὰ βλέμματα καὶ τὰ φιλήματα τῶν καλῶν ὡς χαλεπώτερον σκορπίων καὶ φαλαγγίων ἰὸν ἐνιέναι πεφυκότα. Socrates accordingly bids people guard against enticements to eat when they are not hungry, and to drink when not thirsty, and the glances and kisses of the fair, as fitted to inject a deadlier poison than that of scorpions and spiders. Hence, I would be tempted to understand his conviction in the Paedagogus that wine is particularly harmful to young people in light of Plato’s suggestion in

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Cl. Paed. 2.2.20.3 (PG 8, 412A): τῆς σωφροσύνης τὸ φάρμακον ἐπιποθοῦντας τὸ ὕδωρ. Cl. Paed. 2.2.20.4 (PG 8, 412A–B): φεύγοντας δὲ ὅτι μάλιστα πορρωτάτω τὸν οἶνον οἷον πυρὸς ἀπειλήν. Of course, it may be argued that Clement is at pains to defend Christ against the accusations of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of the tax collectors and a sinner; Str. 3.6.52.4 (PG 8, 1156B): ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος φάγος καὶ οἰνοπότης, φίλος τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλός. Johnson 2007, 5–6. Cl. Str. 2.20.120.4–5 (PG 8, 1065B).

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the Laws (cited above) to pass legislation that would prohibit young people from drinking. Clement writes:114 Ἀρέσκει οὖν τοὺς παῖδας καὶ τὰς κόρας ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πλεῖστον ἀπέχεσθαι τοῦ φαρμάκου τούτου· οὐ γὰρ κατάλληλον ζεούσῃ ἡλικίᾳ τῶν ὑγρῶν τὸ θερμότατον ἐπεγχεῖν, τὸν οἶνον, οἱονεὶ πῦρ ἐποχετεύοντας πυρί, ἐξ οὗ ὁρμαί τε ἄγριαι καὶ φλεγμαίνουσαι ἐπιθυμίαι καὶ διάπυρον ἦθος ἐκκαίεται, προπετεῖς τε οἱ νέοι ἔνδοθεν χλιαινόμενοι ἐπὶ τὰς ὀρέξεις γίνονται, ὡς δὴ προὖπτον αὐτῶν τὴν βλάβην ἐλέγχεσθαι διὰ τοῦ σώματος, πεπαινομένων θᾶττον ἢ προσῆκεν τῶν τῆς ἐπιθυμίας μελῶν. It is proper, therefore, that boys and girls should keep as much as possible away from this medicine. For it is not right to pour into the burning season of life the hottest of all liquids—wine—adding, as it were, fire to fire. For hence wild impulses and burning lusts and fiery habits are kindled; and young men inflamed from within become prone to the indulgence of vicious propensities; so that signs of injury appear in their body, the members of lust coming to maturity sooner than they ought. So, it seems that Clement who associates water with man (thus reminding us of Heraclitus’ association of mortal creation with wetness) and wine with fire maintains a very Platonic appreciation of the eucharist providing a crucial link in the history of the transmission and appropriation of pagan philosophical ideas in the Christian dogma. Furthermore, he leaves little doubt about the metaphorical understanding of wine during the eucharist.

5

Conclusion

My analysis suggests that despite the importance of using actual wine in the eucharist to symbolize our union with God, this part of the liturgy is to be understood purely at the symbolic level and certainly not as a practical way of achieving spiritual awareness. In fact, Christians are urged to opt for water and avoid wine which gives rise—especially when at a young age—to lust and false judgement. On this, early Christian fathers totally agree with Plato and it is difficult to overlook the continuity between the Dionysian Socrates of the Symposium who manages to remain sober despite consuming wine because of

114

Cl. Paed. 2.2.20.3–4 (PG 8, 412A–B).

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his philosophical fervor which outdoes the wine heat and Clement’s Gnostic who is untouched by the heat of passions:115 ἡ δὲ δι’ αὑτὴν αἱρετὴ σωφροσύνη, κατὰ τὴν γνῶσιν τελειουμένη ἀεί τε παραμένουσα, κύριον καὶ αὐτοκράτορα τὸν ἄνδρα κατασκευάζει, ὡς εἶναι τὸν γνωστικὸν σώφρονα καὶ ἀπαθῆ, ταῖς ἡδοναῖς τε καὶ λύπαις ἄτεγκτον, ὥσπερ φασὶ τὸν ἀδάμαντα τῷ πυρί. But self-control, desirable for its own sake, perfected through knowledge, abiding ever, makes the man lord and master of himself; so that the Gnostic is temperate and passionless, incapable of being dissolved by pleasures and pains, as they say adamant is by fire. In the Protrepticus,116 Clement who refers to faith as light117 expresses his dissatisfaction with philosophical dogmas and claims that he will instead seek “the Lord of Spirits, the Lord of Fire, the Creator of the World, Him who lighted up the Sun”. So, it seems, real understanding can warm up the faithful and bring them closer to God, the lord of Fire, allowing them to experience his divine heat. Given that Eastern eucharist practice insists on adding hot water to the wine of the eucharist, it seems to me that the symbolism here accords with the symbolic value of wine which is to be replaced by spiritual fervor. Thus, the zeon (boiling water) added to the wine quickly dissolves the alcohol, making it less actual wine, but at the same time, consecrates it and transforms it to the seed of faith necessary for the effective practice of the rite.118 The continuity of this tradition which points to a creative Christian synthesis of previous traditions is illustrated by Nicholas Cabasilas in the fourteenth century who notes about the zeon:119

115

116 117 118

119

Cl. Str. 7.11.67.8 (PG 9, 493C); cf. Str. 7.6.34.4 (PG 9, 449B) where fire is described as sanctifying sinful souls; Clement explains that he does not refer to vulgar fire but to the fire of wisdom which pervades the soul passing through the fire (πῦρ οὐ τὸ παμφάγον καὶ βάναυσον, ἀλλὰ τὸ φρόνιμον λέγοντες, τὸ διικνούμενον διὰ ψυχῆς τῆς διερχομένης τὸ πῦρ). Also, see 1.17.87.2 (PG 8, 801B) referring to the fire of Prometheus as retaining a trace of wisdom. Cl. Protr. 6.67.2 (PG 8, 172B): Τὸν κύριον τῶν πνευμάτων ποθῶ, τὸν κύριον τοῦ πυρός, τὸν κόσμου δημιουργόν, τὸν ἡλίου φωταγωγόν. Cl. Str. 4.11.80.3 (PG 8, 1289A). Cf. Bradshaw and Johnson 2012, 172–173; Hadzidakis 2013, 325. Also, see Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses mystagogicae 5.7–9 (PG 33, 1113 and 1116) placing emphasis on faith with Wybrew 2003, 34–35 arguing that Cyril is the first father to break from the symbolic appreciation of the God’s presence in the eucharist. Nicholas Cabasilas, Sacrae liturgiae interpretatio 37.4 (SC 4, 228/PG 150, 452B); my trans.

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Τὸ μὲν γὰρ ὕδωρ, τοῦτο αὐτό τε ὕδωρ ὂν καὶ πυρὸς μετέχον, τὸ Πνεῦμα σημαίνει τὸ ἄγιον, ὃ καὶ ὕδωρ λέγεται καὶ ὡς πῦρ ἐφάνη τότε τοῖς τοῦ Χριστοῦ μαθηταῖς ἐμπεσόν. This water, being water per se but also partaking in fire, signifies the Holy Spirit, which is both referred to as water120 yet also appeared in the form of fire when it descended on the disciples of Christ. The heat of the wine is now transferred to the water, which comes to incorporate fire and symbolize true knowledge and true faith. By purifying the wine, water stands for the divine spirit which is never to be found in alcohol.

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chapter 4

Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Iulianum: Imperial Politics, and Alexandrian Philosophy (c. 416–428) Matthew R. Crawford

So entrenched is the view of Cyril of Alexandria as an ecclesiastical tyrant who ruthlessly and scrupulously wielded his power to crush foes both at home and abroad that it is counterintuitive to learn that he began his episcopal tenure from a position of pronounced weakness, facing persistent opposition both from a faction of the Christian population of Alexandria as well as from imperial authorities. Upon the death of the former bishop Theophilus in 412, the city’s Christian community split into two camps, with some supporting the archdeacon Timothy as Theophilus’ replacement and others backing Cyril, who, although ordained only as a reader at the time, was Theophilus’ nephew. Presumably Timothy’s higher ecclesiastical rank made him seem a more suitable successor, while Cyril’s familial association with the former bishop worked to his advantage.1 Because our historical sources for this event are brief, we do not know any further details about the alliances backing each of these candidates2 but the two sides were evenly matched enough that the struggle went on for three days and was only resolved when Abundantius, the commander of the troops in Egypt, sided with Cyril.3 As a result, according to the church historian 1 On this episode, see Haas 1997, 297–298. On episcopal elections in Egypt in late antiquity, see Wipszycka 2015, 127–169. She discusses contested patriarchal elections on pp. 154–169, but only for the period following the Council of Chalcedon, and so does not include Cyril’s election in her survey. 2 Haas 1997, 299 proposed that Cyril’s decision to close the Novatianist churches in Alexandria might have been because they supported Timothy, his rival in the contested election. Socrates himself, however, does not make this connection and, accordingly, Haas presented this idea as merely possible (“the Novatianists may have taken sides in the internal quarrels of the Alexandrian church”). However, Watts 2017, 108 asserts Novatianist support of Timothy not as a hypothesis but as historical fact without acknowledging the silence of the sources on this point (“The contest between Timothy and Cyril lasted just long enough for the Novatian Christian leaders in Alexandria to express support for Timothy”). Watts further proposes that Cyril’s actions against the Jewish community might have been because “he suspected” them of supporting Timothy (p. 108), though again there is no evidence for any such motivation. 3 Socrates, EH 7.7.3 (Maraval and Périchon). There is a textual problem with this passage. All of the Greek manuscripts, as well as the Syriac translation of Socrates’ history, say that Abun-

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Socrates, “on the third day after the death of Theophilus, Cyril was enthroned as bishop” (τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ μετὰ τὴν τελευτὴν Θεοφίλου ὁ Κύριλλος ἐνθρονισθεὶς ἐπὶ τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν).4 However, this initial victory did not bring to an end Cyril’s power struggle with his opponents. Rather, the next two and a half years of his episcopate (i.e., October 412 through March 415) were marred by violent quarrels with two prominent segments of Alexandrian society. First was a multistaged conflict with the Jewish community.5 One day, as the imperial prefect Orestes was announcing new regulations on dancing exhibitions in the theatre, one of Cyril’s most devoted supporters who was present seemingly expressed too much enthusiasm for these new measures, evidenced by his excessive applause.6 The Jews in attendance, whom Socrates describes as the primary target of these new restrictions, denounced the overly enthusiastic Hierax as an instigator of riots and sedition, and Orestes, perhaps to appease a crowd unhappy with his new edict, had the unfortunate man publicly flogged. Offended by this treatment of a member of his community, Cyril summoned the Jewish leaders before him and threatened them with severe reprisals if they continued in such behavior. This was a bold threat coming from a bishop who only recently won a contested election and who likely had not yet consolidated his power base within the city. Sensing weakness, certain members of the Jewish community staged a nighttime attack against the Christian populace of the city, murdering many Christians in the streets after falsely exclaiming that a church was on fire.7 True to his word, the next day Cyril took matters into his

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dantius supported Timothy, while an early Armenian translation asserts his support of Cyril. The very next sentence begins with διό and reports Cyril’s enthronement, so the flow of the passage certainly makes more sense if Abundantius had supported Cyril rather than his opponent. Hence, both the latest editions of the text opt for the reading of the Armenian translation. See Maraval and Périchon 2007, 34; Hansen and Širinjan 1995, 352–353. On this issue see especially Wessel 2000, 98–104. Watts 2006a, 337 n. 22, finds the decision to go with the Armenian reading “puzzling” since in his view it is out of step with Socrates’ notions about imperial authority and the origins of conflict. Watts, however, does not address how to make sense of the διό, which remains a significant obstacle to the reading of the Greek and Syriac versions. Socrates, EH 7.7.4 (Maraval and Périchon). For what follows see Socrates, EH 7.13 (Maraval and Périchon). Cf. Haas 1997, 299–304. Beers 2020, plausibly suggests that Hierax, in addition to being a grammar-school teacher was also a “professional claquer”, and in this role had significant power to manipulate the reception of imperial acclamations such as the one Orestes was attempting to pronounce about dancing. Watts 2017, 109, expresses unjustified skepticism on this point, perhaps out of a desire to exonerate the Jewish leaders who were “bewildered and terrified” by Cyril’s threat.

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own hands, gathering a group of Christians at the cathedral and staging a march towards the site of the incident, which degenerated into widespread looting and destruction of property and resulted in the expulsion of a number of Jews from the city. Not long after occurred the episode for which Cyril is most remembered by historians of late antiquity.8 Socrates reports that Orestes was incensed at Cyril’s conduct but was seemingly powerless to do anything to restrain him beyond sending a report to Theodosius, which was answered by Cyril’s own account of the event directed towards the young emperor. At this stage the bishop displayed some measure of prudence by listening to moderate voices in his own community calling for him to seek reconciliation with the imperial prefect. When, however, Orestes rebuffed Cyril’s representatives who had been sent to mediate the reconciliation, and then insulted the bishop to his face, as he extended to the prefect a copy of the gospels, the rift in the city between the centres of ecclesiastical and imperial authority appeared intractable. At this point the power struggle spread to include another segment of the city’s inhabitants, namely the non-Christian teachers of philosophy who represented Alexandria’s seven-hundred-year-old tradition of academic learning. Hypatia, one of the most well-known Platonist instructors in the city, was seen having “frequent interviews” with Orestes, no doubt acting in the traditional role of philosopher-as-political-advisor. Yet, in light of the prefect’s public refusal of the bishop’s gospel book, his association with the pagan Hypatia was perceived by some as further evidence of his lack of Christian faith, and suspicion grew that she was the obstacle preventing the reconciliation between Orestes and the bishop and the attendant restoration of social harmony. The tragic result was that Hypatia was attacked by what was probably an ad-hoc mob of Christians, who pulled her from her carriage, dragged her through the streets, tortured and dismembered her in the Great Church of the Caesarion (Cyril’s own cathedral), and finally cremated what was left of her corpse. In Socrates’ assessment of the affair, she had fallen victim to the political “envy” (φθόνος) between the bishop and the prefect. Although the evidence for Cyril’s direct involvement in Hypatia’s violent murder is frustratingly patchy, Edward Gibbon was simply restating Socrates’ own assessment, when he said the event “imprinted an indelible stain on [Cyril’s] character and religion”.9

8 For what follows, see Socrates, EH 7.15 (Maraval and Périchon). For a sober assessment of these events, see Haas 1997, 307–314; Beers 2020. 9 Gibbon 1843, vol. 3, 250. Cf. Socrates, EH 7.15.6 (Maraval and Périchon).

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The violence between Jews and Christians that happened during Cyril’s tenure, and especially that against Hypatia, are well known by scholars of this period. However, what is sometimes overlooked is that these two events were in fact mere episodes in a protracted power struggle between the centres of ecclesiastical and imperial authority in Alexandria. Cyril, of course, in the end prevailed over Orestes, though he started from a position of vulnerability as a result of his contested election and had to expend a significant amount of political capital to accomplish this goal. The consequence could only have been imperial displeasure at the new bishop’s flagrant defiance in the face of the emperor’s representative in the city,10 as well as concern among the inhabitants of the city about how he intended to co-exist with the remaining nonChristian segments of Alexandrian society. The purpose of the present chapter is to demonstrate how Cyril’s treatise Contra Iulianum arises out of this specific moment of Alexandrian civic life and the bishop’s relation with the emperor in Constantinople. Although Cyril’s heavy-handed tactics have been central to the scholarly portrayal of him since Gibbon, in fact he fought for his cause not only with bruises and bribes but also with logic and rhetoric, and he did so at great length. Among Greek Christian authors from late antiquity, more literature survives from his pen than any other figure, with the exception of John Chrysostom. Cyril’s penchant for loquaciousness was remarked upon, and indeed mocked, by his opponents during his own lifetime and it must be admitted that it is a quality that can repel modern readers as much as late antique ones. Nevertheless, it also reveals a man willing to go to great lengths to engage intellectually with his opponents, to persuade by argument and not simply to coerce by force. Nowhere was this more on display than in his treatise titled Contra Iulianum. This extensive refutation of the Contra Galilaeos of the Emperor Julian originally comprised at least twenty books, and, although today roughly half of it is lost, what survives runs to 800 pages in the latest critical edition.11 Yet despite its enormous size, or perhaps because of it, this work has scarcely been studied in modern scholarship. Robert Wilken was only slightly exaggerating when he pointed out that “[i]n any list of the most unread major works of early Christian literature Cyril’s Contra Iulianum would stand close to the top, if not at

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Though Orestes himself might have been regarded as somewhat culpable for the escalating situation given his refusal of Cyril’s attempt at reconciliation. On the possible relation of imperial legislation to these events, see Rougé 1987; Haas 1997, 314–316; Beers 2020; Wipszycka 2015, 263–265. Riedweg et al. 2016–2017. On the structure of the treatise in twenty books and an overview of the contents of each, see Riedweg et al. 2016–2017, CXVIII–CXLVII.

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the summit”.12 Yet the degree of neglect of this text is scarcely indicative of its importance for understanding this period of late antique history, as I hope to demonstrate in a joint project that I am currently engaged in with Aaron Johnson, which will result in the first translation of the entire work into English.13 My contribution to this project is being supported by a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council which is running from 2018 until 2020 (Project ID: DE180101539). As an initial sample of this larger project, my translation of the prologue and opening of book one is appended to this essay.14

1

Contra Iulianum and Imperial Politics

In order to demonstrate the fruitfulness of bringing this text into our scholarly analyses of late antique history, here I want to highlight how these early pages of the lengthy treatise reveal Cyril attempting to shore up his weakness in the areas of his relation to the imperial court and his relation to the centuries-long tradition of Alexandrian philosophy. To begin with the most obvious but nevertheless important fact, Cyril dedicated his treatise to Emperor Theodosius II. Indeed, the entire prologue is manifestly an argument that the treatise is aligned with the Emperor’s own agenda.15 Cyril begins with the expected praise of the emperor’s rule and piety, asserting that “the fame of [his] scepters has advanced to the highest sphere, irradiating the universe with the splendour

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Wilken 1999, 42. Since Wilken’s publication a handful of studies have appeared, mostly from the team responsible for producing the new GCS and SC critical editions of the text. See, for example, Boulnois 1997, 264–271; Vinzent 2000; Boulnois 2006; Boulnois 2008; Riedweg 2008; Riedweg 2012, 439–476; Bradshaw 2014, 21–39; Boulnois 2017. A German translation of the treatise is also underway, and two volumes of a French translation have so far appeared: Burguière and Évieux 1985; Boulnois et al. 2016. In addition to bemoaning the fact that Contra Iulianum was so often ignored in secondary scholarship, Robert Wilken also pointed out that Cyril’s Greek can be a barrier to engaging with the text. His “style is prolix and turgid, an unhappy synergy of grandiloquence and affectation; he likes rare and unusual words …; and he is achingly repetitious. … The Contra Iulianum is not a book one reads for pleasure” (Wilken 1999, 43). Having now worked through a significant portion of the treatise, I can only concur in Wilken’s judgment, though it is also clear that a close reading of the text has its rewards. The translations included in this paper are solely my own and will no doubt be revised as Aaron and I collaborate on the full translation. On the political history of this period, see especially Millar 2006 and the collected essays in Kelly 2013.

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of lawful order”.16 This “glorious summit” that Theodosius occupies is due to the fact that he himself undertakes to promote the “glory” of God and Christ, who is the “great emperor”.17 As the emperor offers εὐσέβεια to Christ, so others bring their own “offerings” (ἀναθήματα) to Theodosius, and the offering appropriate for an archbishop consists of “well-composed books” which also lead to the “glory of God” and so further the Emperor’s own goals. The books in view are, of course, the twenty volumes of Contra Iulianum. At the opening of book one Cyril describes his action of composing these books in terms parallel to those with which he earlier praised Theodosius. Just as Theodosius’ reign “irradiates the universe with the splendor”, so too Cyril himself “fills up [his] soul with divine light”, and so provides others with “the highest assistance”.18 Moreover, just as Theodosius regards those who oppose God’s glory as his “worst enemies”,19 so too Cyril claims that with this treatise he is producing arguments that oppose those who “injure [God’s] glory”.20 Thus, the emperor and the archbishop work in tandem to promote the glory of Christ and shed light upon the world, the former by maintaining a “lawful order” (εὐνομία)21 and the latter by providing the intellectual justification for this endeavor. It is worth considering why Cyril chose to dedicate this treatise to Theodosius, for it was not an obvious decision. Theodoret’s slightly later anti-pagan work (De Graecarum affectionum curatione) was not dedicated to the emperor, and most of Cyril’s works had no explicit dedicatee. The only other work of his that is directed to Theodosius II is his De recta fide, and in that instance Cyril’s reason for doing so was unambiguous—to curry favor with the court in his worsening dispute with Nestorius. It is, therefore, logical to look for a similar motivating factor with respect to Contra Iulianum, and when we do so one appears close at hand. It was once thought that Cyril began this work in the 420s and did not complete it until around 439–441, shortly before his death.22 However, the editors of the new edition of the text have re-dated it to the period between 416 and 428, based on close parallels with Cyril’s annual Festal Letters during this period and on the account of the work’s origin preserved in the History of Patriarchs of Alexandria, which places its composition prior to the outbreak of the Nestorian controversy in 428.23 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Contra Iulianum prosph. 1 (GCS 20.4). Contra Iulianum prosph. 2–3 (GCS 20.4–6). Contra Iulianum 1.1 (GCS 20.11–12). Contra Iulianum prosph. 2 (GCS 20.5). Contra Iulianum prosph. 3 (GCS 20.6). Contra Iulianum prosph. 1 (GCS 20.4). Cf. Wilken 1999, 44. Similarly, Haas 1997, 308 has it written in the 430s. See Riedweg et al. 2016–2017, 1, CIX–CXVI.

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This is, of course, the period immediately after the murder of Hypatia in 415. As pointed out by Wolfram Kinzig, if Contra Iulianum was composed at this time, it makes sense to see it as a part of Cyril’s attempt to improve relations with the imperial administration which up to this point had been tense, to put it mildly.24 Cyril was surely politically savvy enough to recognize that following these opening years of his episcopacy, reconciliation with the imperial court had to be a major priority, and it makes sense to read Contra Iulianum as a key element in this undertaking. Seen in this light, the dedication to Theodosius II in the prologue is an attempt to accomplish two goals. First, it articulates a theory of earthly political legitimacy as being based upon imperial promotion of the glory of Christ, and by so doing tacitly distinguishes between the reigns of Theodosius and Julian, opening up the necessary space for Cyril then to launch an attack on the latter emperor.25 Secondly, in stating the purpose of his treatise Cyril explicitly aligned his aim as bishop with the goal of Theodosius’ own rule, thereby presenting himself as a force supporting rather than undermining the emperor’s exercise of power. In other words, this dedication is carefully crafted to send a message contrary to the impression that Constantinople had received from Orestes’ reports about the conduct of the new bishop since he had assumed office. The fact that his tenure as bishop of Alexandria was not cut short might even be due to the mending of relations represented by Contra Iulianum. If we press further, the prologue and the opening to book one can also inform us about the social and religious situation within Alexandria itself. Cyril leaves us in no doubt as to why he chose Julian as the opponent in this work. There are, in fact, many, he says, who “fight against the glory of Christ”, but Julian seems to be at the forefront of this conflict in Cyril’s city. Halfway through the prologue, the bishop provides the reader with a brief overview of Julian’s upbringing and apostasy, before then mentioning the “three books” that he composed “against the holy gospels and against the pure worship of the Christians”.26 Note, however, that at this point Cyril shifts to the present tense. With these books Julian “is disturbing many”.27 The dead apostate emperor still continues to fight against the glory of Christ in the books he has left behind, and so is a suitable opponent both for Cyril and even for Theodosius himself. There is no reason not to take Cyril at his word. Contemporary pagans in Alexandria were bringing forward Julian’s books and, in Cyril’s words, “claiming that they 24 25 26 27

Riedweg et al. 2016–2017, CXIII. I am grateful to Ed Watts for emphasizing this point in a question he posed to me at the meeting of the Pacific Partnership for Late Antiquity in April 2017. Contra Iulianum prosph. 4 (GCS 20.7–9). Contra Iulianum prosph. 4 (GCS 20.8).

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contain an invincible cleverness and that none of our teachers has ever been able to refute or to overthrow his arguments”.28 The mention here of “teachers” puts this debate squarely within the classroom culture of late antique Alexandria, which was surely still reeling from the recent lynching of one of the most prominent of its instructors.29 Through Cyril we are probably hearing the objections brought by pagan students and perhaps even teachers against their Christian peers. The specific reasons why Julian’s books seem to be so potent are his rhetorical skill and especially his evident insider’s knowledge of the Christian scriptures.30 At the same time, however, Julian is a safe target for Cyril’s polemic. By selecting a long-dead, disgraced, and apostate emperor, Cyril was able to use Julian as a proxy for the contemporary situation instead of engaging directly with living pagan teachers in the city, which could have been perceived as politically risky since it could lead to further civic unrest. Cyril admits that these pagan critics using Julian’s books are having some success, causing feeble Christians to “become fresh prey for the demons”.31 It is their proactiveness that has apparently led him to enter into the fray. In a candid moment, he concedes that “the wise shed few tears for those people who chose to keep quiet about things that someone might be ashamed of, and reasonably so”.32 In other words, the bishop expresses a willingness to live peacefully with pagans provided that they keep their heads low and go about their business quietly. In this respect he is in agreement with the policy of Theodosius himself. A law issued in 423 commanded that Christians “shall not abuse the authority of religion and dare to lay violent hands on Jews and pagans who are living quietly and attempting nothing disorderly or contrary to law”.33 It is striking that this law comes from the same period as when Cyril was composing Contra Iulianum, and, although we do not know whether the law or the treatise was issued first, it is another indication of the alignment between the bishop and imperial policy. The Theodosian law does not specify what counts as “disorderly” conduct but Cyril is clear that what he has in mind is some form of pagan proselytism: “they are like a group of serpents lying in ambush at an intersection, who cruelly rush upon passers-by, injecting the poison of perdition into people who are easily led astray”.34 Of course, in light of his earlier

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Contra Iulianum prosph. 5 (GCS 20.9). On which see Watts 2006b. Contra Iulianum prosph. 4. Contra Iulianum prosph. 4 (GCS 20.9). Contra Iulianum 1.2 (GCS 20.13). C. Th. 16.10.24 (Pharr 1952, 476). Cf. Watts 2006b, 199–200. Contra Iulianum 1.2 (GCS 20.13–14).

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statement that Theodosius’ “enemies” are those who oppose Christ’s glory, the implicit message Cyril is sending here is that such proselytizing pagans were at risk of incurring imperial displeasure thanks to their disorderly conduct.

2

Contra Iulianum and Alexandrian Philosophy

The prologue and opening chapters of book one also reveal Cyril’s conception of his own position and task in relation to his contemporaries, especially with respect to practitioners of philosophy. Cyril is not typically among those late antique figures who come to mind when one thinks of philosophically astute Christian authors. His older contemporary Synesius is much more emblematic of someone who self-consciously cultivated an image of the “philosopherbishop”.35 Yet it seems to me that in Contra Iulianum Cyril was attempting to cast himself as a kind of intellectual expert who occupied the same social space as the philosopher-bishop. The key passage here is the opening to book one, which I have already alluded to above: Those wise and sagacious experts in the sacred dogmas marvel at the beauty of the truth and value nothing so highly as the ability to understand “a parable and an obscure word, both the sayings of the wise and their enigmas” (Prov 1.6). For by thus focusing their exact and articulate mind on the divinely inspired writings, they fill up their souls with the divine light, and through acquiring a right worthy of emulation to take pride in their upright and most lawful way of life, they may become providers to others too of the highest assistance. For it is written, “Son, if you should become wise for yourself, you will be wise also for your neighbor” (Prov 9:12). Though he does not use the term “philosophy” as such, Cyril’s emphasis on the “wise” man places his treatise in the same late antique discourse. Moreover, in two respects Cyril’s description here is in keeping with the notion of the “philosopher-bishop” one finds in Synesius. First, note that the defining characteristic of the “wise expert” is his or her ability to interpret obscure canonical texts. Synesius would surely have agreed, though the texts he turned to might have included the Chaldean oracles, whereas Cyril has in mind primarily the Old and New Testaments. Second, note that in keeping with many of his con-

35

Cf. Bregman 1982.

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temporaries, Cyril assumes that the “wise expert” does not exist solely for him or herself but for the benefit of others. Those who fill up their souls with the divine light by interpreting sacred texts do so in order to become “providers” of assistance to others. The theologically astute bishop, therefore, has a distinct social role to fulfill. This, I suggest, provides a useful lens through which to view the remainder of Cyril’s corpus; for it was in this same period or shortly thereafter that he was authoring most of his extensive exegetical commentaries, specifically two large works on the Pentateuch (De adoratione, Glaphyra), a Commentary on Isaiah, a Commentary on the Twelve Prophets, and a Commentary on the Gospel of John. Later in his career he would also compose Homilies on Luke, a Commentary on Matthew, and a Commentary on the Pauline Epistles. With these works Cyril was fulfilling the social role that he outlined at the beginning of Contra Iulianum, serving as a “wise and sagacious expert” who provided divine benefits for the Alexandrian polis. Such a positive construal of his position was likely intended to counteract the disruptive and indeed destructive impression the early years of his episcopate had created in the minds of his contemporaries, and it probably also reveals an attempt to rival the social role performed by philosophers like Hypatia. Yet it would be wrong to assume that Cyril has only the Christian scriptures in view in his self-presentation as a “wise expert”. Rather, in Contra Iulianum he sought to interpret and integrate wisdom from a wide variety of Greek philosophical sources as well. He probably already had some basic training in philosophy, as indicated by his usage of Aristotelian logic to expound his Christology in the Nestorian controversy.36 Moreover, it seems that in his writing of Contra Iulianum he sought to expand his philosophical knowledge in order to respond more effectively to the contemporary challenge of Alexandrian paganism. In an insightful study now several decades old, Robert Grant highlighted that many of the passages from philosophical sources cited in Contra Iulianum came from Cyril’s reading of a handful of earlier Christian authors, most prominently Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Pseudo-Justin Martyr, a fact that might diminish our regard for the merit of his treatise. Yet Grant also demonstrated that in numerous instances Cyril followed these passages back to the original philosophical text, read that original source further, and then integrated further analysis of it into his treatise.37 These proximate Christian sources were, therefore, merely Cyril’s gateway into a much larger body of literature. Grant specifically looked at his usage of the Placita of Aëtius, Alexander

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Siddals 1987, 341–367; van Loon 2009, 61–191. Grant 1964, 265–279.

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of Aphrodisias’ On Providence, Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Plotinus’ Enneads, several of Porphyry’s works including his History of Philosophy, and the Hermetic corpus. Furthermore, in a separate study E.P. Meijering drew attention to the fact that with his citations of Numenius, Plotinus, and Porphyry, Cyril became the first Christian author in the East to attempt to show that “the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrines of the divine Principles held by the Platonists do not contradict each other”.38 In other words, his treatise was not merely a rejection of the entirety of the Hellenic intellectual tradition, but also creatively sought to appropriate it for Christian purposes. Of course, none of this is to suggest that Cyril was as philosophically astute as someone like Synesius who had enjoyed a thorough philosophical education under Hypatia herself, but it is an impressive range of sources, and some of the fragments cited by Cyril survive nowhere else. More pertinently, these citations from serious philosophical texts indicate that Cyril’s refutation was not simply an intra-Christian conversation but sought to meet Julian on his own terms, using the same body of evidence and standards of judgment adduced in the classrooms of Alexandria. In other words, it engaged directly with the intellectual tradition that Hypatia had represented. Nevertheless, in the process of appropriating philosophical sources for his rebuttal of Julian, Cyril was also careful to demarcate his own tradition from that represented by people who actually called themselves philosophers. In his first comment about philosophy as such in Contra Iulianum he states, For is there any wise teaching worth grasping that isn’t contained in the Mosaic discourses? And how could someone not admire his ideas? For those who are well-versed in the finer points of the Greeks’ academic pedantry say that philosophy is divided into theoretical knowledge and indeed practical knowledge, and that if someone is skilled in both, he goes on to be regarded as someone who successfully practices philosophy. Well then, observe that Moses was just this kind of person. For in discussing the essence above all essences and its incomparable glory and preeminence over all things, he talks about God like no one else does, and he shows that the one and only God is the Lord and fashioner of the universe. And if you place a high value on the good and are passionate about the good life, you will realize that Moses prescribes rules that are remarkable and the best of all and the means by which one may be held in high esteem.39

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Meijering 1974, 26. Contra Iulianum 1.17 (GCS 20.35–36).

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The first thing to be observed about this passage is that Cyril here presents philosophical discourse as something foreign to the intellectual milieu of himself and presumed his readers. Rather than present Christianity as somehow the true “philosophy”, he maintains the distance between it and his community, by referring to “those” other persons who have expertise in this domain. What makes this discourse striking is that since the second century Christians had been describing their movement as a form of φιλοσοφία,40 a habit that persisted into Cyril’s own day, as can be seen perhaps most famously in his older contemporary John Chrysostom who so described the burgeoning ascetic movement.41 Unlike Chrysostom, Cyril clearly was not eager to bolster Christianity’s standing by presenting it as a “philosophy”, and this hesitancy could be due to the recent strife between Christians and pagan teachers in Alexandria, which pressured him to draw the boundaries between these rival communities as sharply as possible.42 Another of the striking things about this passage is the way in which it both seems to dismiss philosophical studies and to regard it as a legitimate intellectual pursuit. The latter is indicated by the participial form of ἀκριβόω, which I have translated as “those who are well versed” and which carries no overt negative connotation, nor is there any indication that Cyril intends the word sarcastically. However, the object of this intellectual pursuit is here called τὰς περιεργίας. For περιεργία LSJ lists “futility, needless questioning, overelaboration, useless learning”, all of which carry overtly negative connotations. Lampe’s lexicon of patristic Greek gives a somewhat more expansive range of uses but none that are positive. Hence, in this passage Cyril seems to concede that philosophy is a complex subject that requires an accurate investigation to access, though he also demeans it as really just excessive learning that can be dispensed with. Cyril then presses the argument further by drawing attention to stories the Greeks themselves circulated about the travel of famous persons to Egypt, where, he reasons, they must surely have encountered Moses’ writings. At first he refers to the Greek “historians” (ἱστοριογράφοι), without naming any specific authors but in the next paragraph it becomes clear that the people he has in mind are Pythagoras, Thales, and Plato. Although Cyril’s argument depends upon conceding some validity to these figures (i.e., he is assuming that they are truthfully reporting their trips to Egypt and some of the things they learned there), he twice undercuts their standing by impugning their motives. He first 40 41 42

Cf. Malingrey 1961. For one recent study, see Stenger 2016, 173–198. Of course, the fact that Cyril felt the need to reinforce such boundaries probably implies that they were in fact more fluid. On this point, cf. Vinzent 2000.

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says that they “travelled over practically the entire earth in their constant desire to learn, in order that they might seem to know many things” (πᾶσαν ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν περινοστοῦντες τὴν γῆν, ἀεί τι μανθάνειν ἤθελον ἵνα δοκοῖεν εἰδέναι τὰ πολλά).43 The whiff of criticism comes in the last clause. The Greek “historians” did not go to Egypt simply in order to learn but rather so that they might “seem to know many things”. In other words, they sought knowledge not for its own sake but in order for their knowledge to be seen by others. This subtle critique shortly becomes more blatant when Cyril says that Solon and Plato “had both been to Egypt to make themselves appear to know more than anyone else” (ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ γεγονότες ὑπὲρ τοῦ τι πλέον τῶν ἄλλων εἰδέναι δοκεῖν).44 In other words, it was vanity that prompted their historical investigations, rather than any more elevated motivation. This same attempt to distance Christianity from philosophy appears again a few pages later when Cyril introduces the first quotation from a philosophical text in Contra Iulianum. He has just been arguing that Abraham worshipped not simply a local, ethnarchic deity but instead the supreme Creator of heaven and earth, and he is leading into a discussion of Abraham’s vision of three men by the Oak of Mamre. To argue for the legitimacy of the incorporeal deity revealing itself “in types and by the senses”, Cyril appeals to the precedent of a noted philosopher: Now how could anyone doubt that instruction through riddles is altogether necessary for people who are first encountering such subtle concepts, concepts that have, as it were, been filed down to an elegant polish (that is, concepts about God), when even the Greek wise men were not ignorant of this requirement? Porphyry, who has an uncommon reputation among the Greeks for his worldly learning, says in the first book of his History of Philosophy something like this about the ones who are called “wise persons”, or better put, those who have a reputation for thinking that they are wise.45 What follows is a passage from Porphyry’s Life of Pythagoras that passes on a report from the Neopythagorean philosopher Moderatus of Gades who explained why the Pythagoreans found it necessary to use numbers to express truths about the “first principles” (τὰς πρώτας ἀρχὰς), akin to grammarians and geometricians relying on sensible things to convey incorporeal realities. What I 43 44 45

Contra Iulianum 1.18 (GCS 20.36). Contra Iulianum 1.19 (GCS 20.38). Contra Iulianum 1.25 (GCS 20.46–47).

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want to draw attention to in this passage is not Cyril’s actual point in citing the Porphyrian fragment, but rather what it reveals about his stance towards philosophy and philosophical sources. We see here again the same conflicted posture as before. The argument requires that Porphyry is expressing a valid point about the way in which one apprehends incorporeal realities—otherwise why bother appealing to him as an authority on this point—but Cyril finds it necessary to undermine the authority of the very source to which he is making appeal. Porphyry’s History of Philosophy is in fact not a history of “wise persons” but instead about “those who have a reputation for thinking that they are wise” (δοκησισοφίας ὑπόληψιν ἐσχηκότων). The usage of a disparaging term derived from the root δοκέω is in keeping with the two passages I mentioned above in which Plato was concerned about making sure he appeared to be wise (εἰδέναι δοκεῖν) before other people. Cyril is once more accusing the “wise persons” among the Greeks of being concerned with the mere appearance of wisdom, even while calling upon them as witnesses to confirm his understanding of proper intellectual inquiry. Once again, it is tempting to interpret his disparagement of those who practice philosophy as deriving from his need to reinforce communal boundaries within the contested social reality of Alexandria. If the famous wise men of the Greeks were motivated by mere vanity, then by implication those contemporary Greeks who followed them must be as well. The passages I have looked at so far imply either that Cyril is feigning his ignorance of philosophy, pretending to be an outsider to this discourse in order to draw sharper distinctions between his presumed readers and their intellectual opponents, or that he is speaking from the standpoint of someone for whom philosophical inquiry is genuinely a foreign domain. The latter, it seems to me, is the more likely scenario given how infrequent φιλοσοφία and its cognates appear in his corpus, even within the treatise Contra Iulianum.46 In light of Cyril’s seeming outsider stance towards philosophical sources and ideas, I

46

Cyril does on occasion use such terminology, as for example when he refers to the Apostle John as one who shows “supreme philosophical skill” (ἄριστα φιλοσοφῶν) (hom. pasch. 27.2, PG 77, 933), and the Apostle Paul as one who “philosophizes” (φιλοσοφεῖ) (glaph. Gen. 2, PG 69, 109). In another passage, coming from a letter to all the Christians of Egypt, he even gives a brief introduction to a lay audience on the way in which the notion of “substance” is “philosophized” (τῶν παρὰ πολλοῖς φιλοσοφουμένων in hom. pasch. 12.5–6, PG 77, 689). See also the passage at Mich. 7:14–15 (Pusey, vol. 1, p. 733) in which Cyril slips briefly into philosophical terminology, referring to matters that are “philosophized” in the church, consisting of “moral and dogmatic instruction” leading to “practical and contemplative virtue”. Still, these passages are exceptions and are not characteristic of his regular speech patterns. Especially rare is the noun φιλοσοφία, appearing only once in an undisputed passage (thes., PG 75, 108) aside from a handful of passages in Contra Iulianum.

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suggest that his own educational formation was not likely to have occurred in an overtly philosophically oriented school like that of Hypatia.47 His comments instead seem to reveal the influence of another, more distinctly Christianized tradition of intellectual formation, one that did not call itself a “philosophy”, even though, in light of Cyril’s evident philosophical awareness, it must have appropriated philosophical resources for the articulation of Christian truth claims. Contra Iulianum also contains terminology that does reveal Cyril’s more native discourse, the manner of speaking he slips into most often and in which he feels most at home. I have already noted that in the prologue to the treatise he mentions Christian “teachers” who supposedly are unable to answer Julian’s attack,48 and in fact the term διδάσκαλος turns out to be a recurring motif. Early in book 1, when he first drops the names of several persons whom the “Greeks think highly of” he lists Anaximander, Empedocles, Protagoras, and Plato. Even though all of these figures are of course well known for their philosophical contributions, Cyril does not call them “philosophers”, but instead the “teachers” of the Greek παῖδες.49 Furthermore, when he introduces Greek sources into his argument, such as passages from Aristotle, Porphyry, or the Hermetic corpus, he often describes their authors as having been “Julian’s teachers”.50 Of course none of these figures could literally have been “teachers” of Julian, as Cyril was no doubt aware. His reference to them as “teachers”, therefore, reveals a deliberate choice to represent the literary debate between himself and the apostate emperor in such terms. Another term that Cyril frequently uses is σοφός, as in the aforementioned opening to the treatise when he speaks of the “wise and sagacious experts in the sacred dogmas” who “marvel at the beauty of the truth”. The noun σοφία is comparatively rare, but the substantival adjective σοφός recurs repeatedly, both to refer to persons whom Cyril sincerely regards as “wise” as well as those supposed “wise ones” among the Greeks. Thus, I suggest that Cyril is most accustomed to thinking of intellectual activity in terms of διδάσκαλοι and their παῖδες, and that he casts his treatise in terms of a debate over whose διδάσκαλος is truly σόφος.51 It is plau47 48 49 50 51

Pace Vinzent 2000, 72–73; and Rougé 1990, 496, who entertained the possibility that Cyril himself may have been a student of Hypatia. Contra Iulianum prosph. 5 (GCS 20.9). Contra Iulianum 1.4 (GCS 20.16). See, for example, Contra Iulianum 2.41–42; 2.45; 3.8 (GCS 20.142–143; 148; 173). Somewhat similarly, David Brakke has argued that Athanasius associated the term “teacher” with heretical human instructors, in contrast to Christ, the true teacher (Brakke 1995, 66–70). Where Cyril might differ from Athanasius is in his positive reference to Christian “teachers” at Contra Iulianum prosph. 5 (GCS 20.9). Unless Cyril is here simply report-

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sible to view this language as a window into actual Alexandrian social life at this time, in which teachers competed with one another to attract students and students debated with one another the merits of their respective teachers. In other words, this sounds very much like the sort of intellectual culture within which Hypatia lived. Hence, even if Cyril was not educated in a properly “philosophical” classroom like that of Hypatia, the sort of tradition he inhabits apparently did occupy the same social space as a kind of rival intellectual formation.52 The oddity of this kind of direct engagement with Greek philosophy as a competing intellectual tradition becomes evident when considered against the previous history of the Alexandrian episcopate. No bishop of Alexandria since the time of Heraclas in the third century had so deeply interacted with the Greek philosophical tradition either in terms of its storied past or contemporary pagan teachers, or had gone to such lengths to distinguish Christianity from Hellenic wisdom. Neither Athanasius nor Theophilus, Cyril’s two most prominent predecessors from the previous century, had written an antipagan treatise of this nature,53 which raises the question of why he thought it necessary to do so. Part of the answer to this question must have been the unprecedented crisis in the relation between the office of bishop and the city’s philosophical tradition that was caused by the murder of Hypatia. In other words, it was the social unrest in Alexandria in the years from 412 to 415 that produced Cyril of Alexandria’s monumental apology for the faith.

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ing the language of his opponents (which cannot be ruled out), the reference implies that the concept of a human “teacher” was not entirely negative in his mind, as Brakke claimed it was for Athanasius. My reading of the treatise thus stands at odds with Vinzent 2000, 80–81, who argued that it “neither presupposes nor testifies to” a “constant struggle between pagans and Christians” (“Aus dem Vorgetragenen möchte ich die vorsichtige Arbeitshypothese ableiten, daß antipagane christliche Literatur im fünften Jahrhundert—wie etwa Cyrills Schrift gegen Julian—nicht aufgrund eines beständigen Kampfes von Heiden und Christen entstanden ist, ja daß sie einen solchen weder voraussetzt noch für ihn zeugt”.). Athanasius did of course write a Λόγος κατὰ Ἑλλήνων, and Cyril’s arguments in Contra Iulianum are in keeping with that earlier work, but Athanasius did not go nearly as deeply into the non-Christian Hellenic tradition as did Cyril, or engage with it at such length.

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Appendix: Sample Translation of Against Julian by Cyril of Alexandria (prosph. and 1.1–3)

Address to the Most Pious and Christ-Loving Emperor Theodosius 1. The successes of your favored rule are noteworthy, remarkable, and beyond all expression, and the incomparability of your adherence to piety, which is like an inheritance come to you from above, you have successfully defended from the arrows of envy, thanks to the skill in all things excellent that you received from your father and also your grand-father, which is obvious in this instance. And I am impelled to apply to your own person the words of our Savior. For he says, “A city set upon a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt 5:14). For elevated things somehow always have the attribute of being conspicuous. Now what could possibly match the height of Your Serenity? Certainly nothing, for the fame of your scepters has advanced to the highest sphere, irradiating the universe with the splendor of lawful order, and causing heaven—that is, the rational powers above in heaven—to rejoice at your clemency and pious devotion to Christ. For you are admired on both accounts, so much so that, possessing an equal virtue in both domains you have surpassed all manner of acclamation. As a result, the offerings others bring to you, O Christ-loving Emperor Theodosius, comprise victories, crowns, calls of thanks, and all other means by which people might reasonably honor the mighty deeds of emperors. 2. But as for us who have been chosen to offer the divine service, we too were required to bring an offering of our own, in the form of well-composed books for the glory of God. For, in fact, to establish that glory has always been the focus of your desire and your habits and your many prayers. For on the one hand, you regard as utterly detestable and as the worst of your enemies those persons who, like drunken people, rage against God’s glory in every possible way, and on the other hand you regard as worthy of every honor whoever undertakes to think and to speak in a way that promotes the glory of God. And I would say that this excellence is even saintly and that it is most fitting to the glorious summits that you occupy. For the divine prophet David, singing to Christ, the Savior of all, somewhere says, “Did I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and was I not wasting away at your enemies? I hated them with a perfect hatred; they became my enemies” (Ps 138:21–22 [LXX]). Now this statement is exceptionally appropriate. For just as when someone loves to resist those who—I do not know how—have chosen out of sheer stupidity not to love you, it is regarded as a clear proof of their devotion to you, so too the genuineness of one’s love to Christ is made manifest by vigorously opposing those persons who have calumniated what belongs to Christ, nearly crying out and repeating that statement from the inspired scripture, “Being zealous, I was zealous for the Lord” (1Kgs 19:10).

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Now it is necessary to say what sort of work I am offering to you with these words of mine. 3. Pardon me if I undertake to speak not only about the emperor, but also on behalf of the glory of Christ, the great emperor who, with his Father, is joint ruler of the universe, the only one who would properly, and indeed necessarily, say, “Through me emperors rule” (Prov 8:15). For he also is “the Lord of glory” (cf. 1Cor 2:8), both in heaven and upon the earth. Therefore, it necessarily follows that we who contend together on behalf of the sacred dogmas (who have of course been appointed by him to this task) raise up arguments capable of advocating on his behalf against those who wish to injure his glory, arguments that might also prove beneficial to those who read them: for those whose hearts are fickle and very easily carried away in a direction they shouldn’t be it will be a most useful protection, and, moreover, for those who have a firm footing in the faith it will be a sort of staff able to support them in their need to be still more deeply established and to keep the tradition of the orthodox faith unshaken. Who then is the one fighting against the glory of Christ? There are many of them, those who at various times have been dragged down to this level through the devil’s perversity, but above all Julian, who formerly was famous for the glorious achievements of his empire, but was ignorant of Christ, the giver of the empire and of the power to rule. For, before the period of his rule, he was counted among those who believed, and was even considered worthy of holy baptism itself and had also been trained in the sacred books. 4. But there were depraved and superstitious men who had—I do not know how—become acquainted with him and they produced arguments in favor of apostasy. Then, taking up arms with Satan for this purpose, they escorted him to the traditions of the Hellenes and turned him who had been trained in the holy churches and monasteries into a servant of unclean demons. For “bad company corrupts good morals”, as the all-wise Paul said (1Cor 15:33). And so I say that those who desire a secure way of thinking, who are guarding the tradition of the orthodox faith like a pearl, must not let those who desire to practice superstition sneak into their mind or allow them to speak freely. For it is written, “With the holy you will be holy, with the innocent man you will be innocent, with the chosen one you will be chosen, and with the crooked you will pervert” (Ps 17:26–27 [LXX]). Therefore, the most excellent Julian, who had a clever tongue, sharpened it against Christ, the Savior of us all, and composed three books against the holy gospels and against the pure worship of the Christians, and with these he is disturbing many, having caused no small amount of injury. Indeed, fickle and credulous persons are easily falling into his arguments and are becoming fresh prey for the demons. And somehow now and then even those who are firm in

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the faith are being thrown into a disturbance. For they suppose that he knew the sacred and divine scriptures, since he heaps up a great many testimonies from them for his own arguments, even though he did not know what he was talking about. 5. Moreover, many of those superstitious persons, when they encounter those who have Christ’s mind-set, are ridiculing them from top to bottom, bringing forward Julian’s books against us, and claiming that they contain an invincible cleverness and that none of our teachers has ever been able to refute or to overthrow his arguments. Accordingly, with many people urging us on to this task and with confidence in the God who says, “And now go, and I will open your mouth” (Exod 4:12), I have entered the arena and taken on my duty of pulling down the Hellenic eyebrow raised superciliously against the glory of Christ, and, as far as I am able, coming to the aid of those who have been deceived, by showing that that accuser of Christ, the Savior of us all, has been misled and does not know the divine scriptures. Now I dedicate these words on this subject to your Christ-loving and most holy Highness. May God always protect you in an unwavering tranquility, as you overwhelm your enemies and place them all under your feet, and pass on your holy empire to your children’s children, with Christ nodding in assent, through whom and with whom be glory to God the Father with the Holy Spirit unto eternity. Amen. Book 1 1. Those wise and sagacious experts in the sacred dogmas marvel at the beauty of the truth and value nothing so highly as the ability to understand “a parable and an obscure word, both the sayings of the wise and their enigmas” (Prov 1:6). For by thus focusing their exact and articulate mind on the divinely inspired writings, they fill up their souls with the divine light, and through acquiring a right worthy of emulation to take pride in their upright and most lawful way of life, they may become providers to others too of the highest assistance. For it is written, “Son, if you should become wise for yourself, you will be wise also for your neighbor” (Prov 9:12). But those people whose hearts are perverted and whose minds are deformed, having no share at all in the divine light, rise up against the dogmas of piety, and, with exceedingly arrogant tongues, disparage the ineffable glory, and, spewing out insulting words, “they speak injustice unto the height”, as sung by David in Psalms (Ps 72:8 [LXX]). And I believe that they acquired this sickness as a result of having within themselves an exceeding madness and ignorance, or rather, to be honest, as a result of a plot of that wicked dragon who is the source of all evil, I mean Satan.

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2. And we find additional confirmation of this in the marvelous Paul, who wrote, “Even if our gospel has been concealed, it has been concealed among those who are being destroyed, among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers lest they behold the illumination of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2Cor 4:3–4). Therefore, the fact that the one who is deemed to be “god of this age” and who is the plunderer of the glory above has darkened their hearts is not hard to see. For they have undeniably been led astray and they set up over one’s life too many gods to count, both demons and souls of heroes, just as they themselves say and are bent on thinking. However, the wise shed few tears for those people who chose to keep quiet about things that someone might be ashamed of, and reasonably so. But now this undertaking of theirs is proceeding so far into impiety that they are also seeking to implant into others the sickness of so shameful a superstition. For they are like a group of serpents lying in ambush at an intersection, who cruelly rush upon passers-by, injecting the poison of perdition into people who are easily led astray. And about them it might be said, and appropriately so, “Serpents, brood of vipers, how can you speak good things when you are evil?” (Matt 12:34a) And the Lord would not have been far from the truth when he said, “The good person brings forth good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil person brings forth evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart” (Matt 12:35); and, “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34b). 3. And I say this after reading the books of Julian, who brought an intolerable accusation against our pure worship, saying that we have been deceived and have foolishly departed from the straight and blameless path, and that we are going onto the rocks and render to the God of the universe a worship that is utterly unwanted by him, since it accords neither with the laws that came through the all-wise Moses, nor with the superstitions of the Hellenes—that is, their customs and habits—but instead have invented a kind of intermediate way of life that misses them both.

Bibliography Primary Sources Cyril of Alexandria (1868) In xii prophetas, ed. P.E. Pusey, 2 vols. (Oxford). Cyril of Alexandria (1985) Contre Julien. Tome 1: Livres I–II, eds. P. Burguière and P. Évieux, SC 322 (Paris). Cyril of Alexandria (2016) Contre Julien, Tome 2: Livres III–V, ed. M.O. Boulnois et al., SC 582 (Paris).

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Cyril of Alexandria (2016–2017) Gegen Julian, eds. C. Riedweg et al., GCS Neue Folge 20–21, 2 vols. (Berlin). Cyril of Alexandria (1863) Thesaurus de sancta consubstantiali trinitate, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 75, 9–656 (Paris). Cyril of Alexandria (1864) Glaphyra in Pentateuchum, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 69, 9–677 (Paris). Cyril of Alexandria (1864) Homiliae paschales, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 77, 401–981 (Paris). Pharr, C. (ed.) (1952) The Theodosian Code and Novels, and the Sirmondian Constitutions: A Translation with Commentary, Glossary, and Bibliography, Corpus of Roman Law 1 (Princeton). Socrates (1995) Kirchengeschichte, eds. G.C. Hansen and M. Širinjan, GCS Neue Folge 1 (Berlin). Socrates (2007) Histoire ecclésiastique (Livres I–VII), eds. P. Maraval and P. Périchon, SC 506 (Paris).

Secondary Sources Beers, W.F. (2020) ‘Bloody Iuvenalia: Hypatia, Pulcheria Augusta, and the Beginnings of Cyril of Alexandria’s Episcopate’, in D. LaValle Norman and A. Petkas (eds.) Hypatia of Alexandria: Her Context and Legacy (Tübingen). Boulnois, M.-O. (1997) ‘Platon entre Moïse et Arius selon le Contre Julien de Cyrille d’Alexandrie’, Studia Patristica 32, 264–271. Boulnois, M.-O. (2006) ‘Le Dieu suprême peut-il entrer en contact avec le monde? Un débat entre païens et chrétiens sur la transcendance divine à partir du Contre Julien de Cyrille d’Alexandrie’, in E.A. Moutsopoulos and G. Lekkas (eds.) La transcendance dans la philosophie grecque tardive et dans la pensée chrétienne, Actes du VIe congrès de philosophie grecque (Paris), 177–196. Boulnois, M.-O. (2008) ‘Dieu peut-il être envieux ou jaloux? Un débat sur les attributs divins entre l’empereur Julien et Cyrille d’Alexandrie’, in D. Auger and E. Wolff (eds.) Culture classique et christianisme: Mélanges offerts à Jean Bouffartigue (Paris), 13–25. Boulnois, M.-O. (2017) ‘Païens et chrétiens en concurrence: l’ instrumentalisation de la philosophie dans les controverses d’Origène contre Celse et de Cyrille d’ Alexandrie contre Julien’, in C. Riedweg (ed.) Philosophia in der Konkurrenz von Schulen, Wissenschaften und Religionen: Zur Pluralisierung des Philosophiebegriffs in Kaiserzeit und Spätantike, Philosophie der Antike 34 (Berlin), 217–255. Bradshaw, D. (2014) ‘The Philosophical Theology of St Cyril’s Against Julian’, Phronema 29, 21–39. Brakke, D. (1995) Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford). Bregman, J. (1982) Synesius of Cyrene, Philosopher-Bishop, The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 2 (Berkeley).

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Gibbon, E. (1843) The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (New York). Grant, R.M. (1964) ‘Greek Literature in the Treatise De Trinitate and Cyril Contra Julianum’, Journal of Theological Studies 15, 265–279. Haas, C. (1997) Alexandria in Late Antiquity: Topography and Social Conflict (Baltimore). Kelly, C. (ed.) (2013) Theodosius II: Rethinking the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity (Cambridge). Malingrey, A.-M. (1961) ‘Philosophia’. Étude d’un groupe de mots dans la littérature grecque, des présocratiques au IVe siècle après J.-C., Études et commentaires 40 (Paris). Meijering, E.P. (1974) ‘Cyril of Alexandria on the Platonists and the Trinity’, Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 28, 16–29. Millar, F. (2006) A Greek Roman Empire: Power and Belief Under Theodosius II (408/450), Sather Classical Lectures 64 (Berkeley). Riedweg, C. (2008) ‘Das Verbot, vom Baum der Erkenntnis von Gut und Böse zu essen (Gen 2,17): Zeichen eines missgünstigen Gottes? Kaiser Julian und Kyrill von Alexandrien in einer virtuellen Debatte’, in K. Schmid and C. Riedweg (eds.) Beyond Eden: The Biblical Story of Paradise (Genesis 2–3) and Its Reception History (Tübingen), 187– 208. Riedweg, C. (2012) ‘Exegese als Kampfmittel in der Auseinandersetzung zwischen Heiden und Christen. Zum “Sündenbock” von Leviticus 16 bei Julian und Kyrill von Alexandrien’, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 16, 439–476. Rougé, J. (1987) ‘Les débuts de l’épiscopat de Cyrille d’ Alexandrie et le Code Théodosien’, in ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΙΝΑ: Hellénisme, judaïsme et christianisme à Alexandrie (Paris), 339–349. Rougé, J. (1990) ‘La politique de Cyrille d’Alexandrie et le meurtre d’ Hypatie’, Cristianesimo nella Storia 11, 485–504. Siddals, R.M. (1987) ‘Logic and Christology in Cyril of Alexandria’, Journal of Theological Studies 38, 341–367. Stenger, J. (2016) ‘Where to Find Philosophy? Spatiality in John Chrysostom’s Counter to Greek Paideia’, JECS 24, 173–198. van Loon, H. (2009) The Dyophysite Christology of Cyril of Alexandria, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 96 (Leiden). Vinzent, M. (2000) ‘Halbe Heiden—doppelte Christen. Die Festbriefe Kyrills von Alexandrien und die Datierung seines Werkes Contra Iulianum’, in A. Dörfler-Dierken, W. Kinzig, and M. Vinzent (eds.) Christen und Nichtchristen in der Spätantike, Neuzeit und Gegenwart. Beginn und Ende des Konstantinischen Zeitalters. Internationales Kolloquium aus Anlaß des 65. Geburtstages von Professor Dr. Adolf Martin Ritter (Mandelbachtal-Cambridge), 41–60. Vinzent, M. (2000) ‘“Oxbridge” in der ausgehenden Spätantike oder: Ein Vergleich der Schulen von Athen und Alexandrien’, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 4, 49– 82.

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Watts, E. (2006a) ‘The Murder of Hypatia: Acceptable or Unacceptable Violence’, in H.A. Drake (ed.) Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices (Hampshire), 333–342. Watts, E. (2006b) City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 41 (Berkeley). Watts, E. (2017) Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher, Women in Antiquity (New York). Wessel, S. (2000) ‘Socrates’ Narrative of Cyril of Alexandria’s Episcopal Election’, Journal of Theological Studies 52, 98–104. Wilken, R.L. (1999) ‘Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Iulianum’, in W.E. Klingshirn and M. Vessey (eds.) The Limits of Ancient Christianity: Essays on Late Antique Thought and Culture in Honor of R.A. Markus (Ann Arbor), 42–55. Wipszycka, E. (2015) The Alexandrian Church: People and Institutions, The Journal of Juristic Papyrology Supplements 25 (Warsaw).

chapter 5

Philosophy as Transformation in Early Christian Thought Michael Champion

This chapter* explores intersections between the philosophical goal of godlikeness, virtue development, and ways of knowing in late-antique monasticism. It traces philosophical ideas from Stoicism and Platonism which remained influential in Late Antiquity, before analysing works of Dorotheus of Gaza, an influential sixth-century monk, who had trained in rhetoric and medicine in Gaza and Alexandria, before he entered a monastery at Thawatha, just outside Gaza. The movement I explore is from godlikeness to virtue and back again. This transition involves translating between ethical and metaphysical claims, and entails a distinctive way of going about knowing. In Dorotheus of Gaza, practising the virtues likens monks to God, and what counts as a virtue is determined by claims about what God is like. Humility—in the Classical world a highly unlikely candidate for virtue, let alone the paradigmatic virtue Dorotheus makes of it—is a means by which a good monk becomes godlike, because God-incarnate is humble. Metaphysical claims entail virtues and practising a particular virtue opens up knowledge about metaphysical truths.1 In the case of Palestinian monasticism, as for the Neoplatonists discussed elsewhere in this volume, one comes to know that God and the world are like this rather than that, through reading and reflecting in ways that are taken to be transformative rather than merely informative. In this frame, knowing that humility is a virtue because humility characterises God is necessary but * Abbreviations of classical authors and their works follow the Oxford Classical Dictionary list, https://oxfordre.com/classics/page/abbreviation‑list/. References to classical texts follow the Loeb Classical Library editions (LCL), unless otherwise stated. When citing LCL translations, I specify the volumes and include them in the Bibliography. 1 Such a claim is held across different philosophical schools, as true for Platonists as for Stoics or Epicureans on quite different grounds. For example, Epictetus claims that it is necessary to come to know “what sort of thing the gods are; for whatever sort of thing they are found to be, it is necessary for him who wants to please and obey them to try to become like them as much as possible” (Diss. 2.14.12–13; trans. mine). Here Stoics claim, unlike Platonists as I will discuss further below, that God has virtues and because God is like x, we should be like x.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_007

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insufficient. Such knowledge is acquired through reading, praying, and meditating (activities often spoken about interchangeably). In a broader argument which requires a longer elaboration than is possible within the constraints of this paper, I hope to show that Dorotheus structures his monastic discourses as a whole in order to move readers ever deeper into knowledge of virtues like humility and the resulting concept of what God is really like, and that this view of texts as transformational is itself dependent on the metaphysical claim that it is possible for humans to become godlike through the exercise of the virtues and other practices, reading, praying and meditating among them. Here I can make the more limited claim that Dorotheus’ account of humility is grounded in metaphysics, and that his theoretical claims in the areas of virtue and metaphysics are meant to transform readers to become godlike. Dorotheus’ reflections on monastic life provide metaphors to live by, by which insiders, in this case monks in Palestine, come to embody truths significant for their community in a process of self-transformation through the acquisition of theoretical knowledge and its concomitant claims on the ethical life.

1

A Mixed Platonic, Stoic Inheritance

As soon as one starts talking about philosophy as becoming like God, there are two curly corners to navigate.2 First, it just seems absurd. As Julia Annas puts it, the almost total neglect of the theme of godlikeness in treatments of Platonic ethics “may be due to genuine bafflement, even embarrassment … it may be tempting to write off the idea as fantastic … something not worth philosophical attention”.3 The absurdity is particularly striking in the case of Christianity, where the claim that a mere creature could become godlike at the very least approaches idolatry. Second, it demands (and sometimes begs) the question: “which god can one approximate?”. Both the absurdity and the confusion about the nature or identity of the relevant God is clear from the first discussions of godlikeness within Platonism; Gretchen Reydams-Schils has recently noted that it is further muddied in Stoicism.4 The resulting Stoic-Platonic admixture remains important within Palestinian monasticism, which in this regard does not follow the Neoplatonic tendency to construct complex hierarchies of virtues.

2 On the ideal of becoming godlike in Plato, see Sedley 1999, 309–328; Runia 2013, 288–293. 3 Annas 1999, 54. See also Russell 2004, 241–260. 4 Reydams-Schils 2017, 142–158. This article identifies the two problems I also trace here.

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The locus classicus for godlikeness as the goal of philosophy comes in a digression in the Theaetetus (176a–b, Burnet; trans. mine): διὸ καὶ πειρᾶσθαι χρὴ ἐνθένδε ἐκεῖσε φεύγειν ὅτι τάχιστα. φυγὴ δὲ ὁμοίωσις θεῷ κατὰ τὸ δυνατόν· ὁμοίωσις δὲ δίκαιον καὶ ὅσιον μετὰ φρονήσεως γενέσθαι. Therefore we ought to attempt to escape from earth to [the gods] as quickly as possible; and escape is likeness to God, so far as that is possible; and to become like God is to become just, holy, and wise. The absurdity lies not merely in the assumption that it is possible for humans to become godlike. It is compounded by the idea that goodness comes not from becoming properly human, but from leaving the world of human ethical decisions entirely (escaping to the gods). Certainly, the Platonic tradition allows the godlike philosopher to return to the world of human affairs, if becoming just, holy, and wise is to return to the cave, as it were (Pl. Resp. 514a–520a). Elements of the Timaeus and the Philebus, for example, seem to make likeness to God a moral value and a means of ordering an otherwise messy world.5 But the suspicion remains that the holy and just man can only exist in splendid transcendental isolation. As Reydams-Schils and others have noted, a plausible reading of Plato’s account of justice in the Theaetetus passage is to make it denote a properly ordered reality, with the divine realm ranked higher than the earthly realm.6 In imitating justice in this sense, just, holy, and wise humans become divine by ordering their souls in accordance with the higher ordering of reality. But then it is difficult to see how Plato’s account of godlikeness includes a concept of justice which is genuinely involved in politics and real human, inter-personal injustices.7 Unresolved tensions in the godlikeness ideal between escape and political engagement make concepts of justice deeply contested, as Reydams-Schils has recently argued.8 Alcinous (Did. 28, Louis) attempts to make headway by multiplying gods, specifying more precisely which god is to be imitated. He has a transcendent

5 See, for example, Pl. Tim. 42a–d, 47a–c, 89e–90d; Philb. 29b–33b, 64e, and the discussion at Russell 2004. 6 Reydams-Schils 2017. 7 See Bonazzi 2012, 149–150. Bonazzi attempts to make a case that the Theaetetus passage should not be read as consigning justice to otherworldliness. But cf. Reydams-Schills 2017, 144–145. 8 Reydams-Schills 2017, 144–145.

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noetic divinity who thinks himself, and a providential, relational divinity in the world soul. The latter—the god “in the heavens”—is the divinity to be imitated. In this view, ὁμοίωσις is encosmic. The world soul, in Alcinous’ scheme, is ordered towards the extra-cosmic mind, so assimilation to the world soul is not contrary to movement towards noetic divinity, but since the god beyond the cosmos is also beyond virtues,9 assimilation through the exercise of virtues will only go so far. One can become a better human being without becoming godlike; and one can be a god without having virtues, at least in the ordinary human sense.10 In the Platonic tradition, this is eventually overcome in Proclus with a scheme of participation, where the lower virtues participate to a given degree in the higher ones, rejecting the Plotinian emphasis on flight from the world.11 But for our purposes, the Stoic contribution is significant. Where Platonists like Alcinous have humans align their souls to the world soul, thinking that the world soul is a reflection of a higher noetic reality, for Stoics, this higher noetic reality is itself thought of as part of the cosmos. So Chrysippus argues that people should do “everything on the basis of the concordance of each man’s guardian spirit with the will of the administrator of the whole”, where the administrator of the whole is understood to be “right reason pervading everything”.12 This allows Stoics to argue for an immanent scheme of virtues and divine providence, and therefore, in opposition to Platonists and Peripatetics who set God beyond virtue, to claim instead that God does possess virtues. So, for example, the Roman Stoic Musonius Rufus (25–95 CE) argues: In general, of all creatures on earth man alone resembles God and has the same virtues that he has, since we can imagine nothing even in the gods better than prudence, justice, courage, and temperance. Therefore, as God, through the possession of these virtues, is unconquered by pleasure or greed, is superior to desire, envy, and jealousy; is high-minded, beneficent, and kind to mankind—for such is our conception of God— so also man as an imitation of Him, when living in accord with nature, 9 10 11 12

This is a key Aristotelian point: cf. Aristotle Eth. Nic. 1178b8–18 (Bywater). So Alcinous 28.3.6–9 (Louis): ἀκόλουθον οὖν τῇ ἀρχῇ τὸ τέλος εἴη ἂν τὸ ἐξομοιωθῆναι θεῷ, θεῷ δηλονότι τῷ ἐπουρανίῳ, μὴ τῷ μὰ Δία ὑπερουρανίῳ, ὃς οὐκ ἀρετὴν ἔχει, ἀμείνων δ’ ἐστὶ ταύτης. See Baltzly 2004, 297–321. Diog. Laert. 7.88 (Long): εἴωθεν ὁ νόμος ὁ κοινός, ὅσπερ ἐστὶν ὁ ὀρθὸς λόγος, διὰ πάντων ἐρχόμενος, ὁ αὐτὸς ὢν τῷ Διί, καθηγεμόνι τούτῳ τῆς τῶν ὄντων διοικήσεως ὄντι· εἶναι δ’ αὐτὸ τοῦτο τὴν τοῦ εὐδαίμονος ἀρετὴν καὶ εὔροιαν βίου, ὅταν πάντα πράττηται κατὰ τὴν συμφBalωνίαν τοῦ παρ’ ἑκάστῳ δαίμονος πρὸς τὴν τοῦ τῶν ὅλων διοικητοῦ βούλησιν. See discussion at Reydams-Schils 2017, 148.

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should be thought of as being like Him, and being like Him … when we encounter men whom people call godly and godlike, we do not have to imagine that these virtues came from elsewhere than from man’s own nature.13 Christians appropriated these Stoic and Platonic arguments in diverse ways. First, Christians can (though do not always) build on a Stoic claim that God can possess virtues. They especially do this in the context of writing about divine philanthropy, where divine justice is characterised by φιλανθρωπία. For example, Clement of Alexandria (important for the monastic tradition we will turn to shortly) emphasises the connection between godlikeness, justice, and virtue [see Str. 2.22.133, GCS 52(15)]. Reminding his readers that Plato argued that likeness to god is “to become holy and just with wisdom”, Clement interrogates the concept of justice in play. He emphasises justice both as φιλανθρωπία (and hence relationship, communal virtue, and concern for others), and as a properly ordered psychology mirroring the good created order (and hence individual perfection). Christian thinkers can also use broadly Stoic arguments to claim that properly human nature, as displayed in Jesus, is virtuous. But Platonism is never far away. Christians also stand within a broadly Platonic space to argue that humans other than Jesus participate in Jesus’ perfections, and become like the transcendent God by such participation. The mystical tradition makes much more of the absolute transcendence of God in a more Platonic key, but is less significant for the strand of Christian asceticism I focus on in this chapter. In the line of the tradition I am now exploring, Christians attempt to make sense of real-world justice and virtue (thus meeting the absurdity objection), and re-insert a Platonic otherworldly element into the metaphysics by distinguishing between God-incarnate and God-in-himself without focusing on this highest metaphysical entity. To answer the absurdity objection, Christians emphasise the immanence of virtue, and to answer the “which God?”

13

Musonius Rufus, Diss. 17 (Lutz): καθόλου δὲ ἄνθρωπος μίμημα μὲν θεοῦ μόνον τῶν ἐπιγείων ἐστίν, ἐκείνῳ δὲ παραπλησίας ἔχει τὰς ἀρετάς· ἐπεὶ μηδ’ ἐν θεοῖς μηδὲν ὑπονοῆσαι κρεῖττον ἔχομεν φρονήσεως καὶ δικαιοσύνης, ἔτι δὲ ἀνδρείας καὶ σωφροσύνης. ὥσπερ οὖν ὁ θεὸς διὰ τὴν παρουσίαν τούτων τῶν ἀρετῶν ἀήττητος μὲν ἡδονῆς, ἀήττητος δὲ πλεονεξίας, κρείττων δὲ ἐπιθυμίας, κρείττων δὲ φθόνου καὶ ζηλοτυπίας, μεγαλόφρων δὲ καὶ εὐεργετικὸς καὶ φιλάνθρωπος· τοιοῦτον γὰρ ἐπινοοῦμεν τὸν θεόν· οὕτω καὶ τὸ ἐκείνου μίμημα τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἡγητέον, ὅταν ἔχῃ κατὰ φύσιν, ὁμοίως ἔχειν, … οὐ γὰρ ἑτέρωθέν ποθεν ταύτας ἐπινοῆσαι τὰς ἀρετὰς ἔχομεν ἢ ἀπ’ αὐτῆς τῆς ἀνθρωπείας φύσεως, ἐντυχόντες ἀνθρώποις τοιοῖσδέ τισιν, οἵους ὄντας αὐτοὺς θείους καὶ θεοειδεῖς ὠνόμαζον. For translation and discussion, see Reydams-Schils 2017, 156–158. Reydams-Schils notes similarity with the passage in Epictetus cited above n. 1: Epict. Diss. 2.14.11–13. See also Laurand 2014, 144–192.

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question, they make Jesus the proximate object of imitation. The Neoplatonic hierarchy is collapsed into the single person of Jesus, the unique mediator between worldly and unworldly perfections.

2

Dorotheus: Transformative Philosophy and the Virtues

To explore this line of the tradition in Late Antiquity in more detail, I now turn to Dorotheus of Gaza, although I will draw on other thinkers to whom Dorotheus is indebted, such as Gregory of Nyssa and Basil of Caesarea. Dorotheus was trained in rhetoric and probably also in medicine, and his ascetic teachings and letters display familiarity with themes of contemporary philosophy, although philosophical argumentation is not his main concern. His writings circulated in the Greek ascetic tradition, and also had an afterlife in Western monasticism up to the early modern period, where his ascetic discourses were on the reading list of Jesuit novices.14 His thought, for all its distinctiveness, may therefore be taken as representative of a significant strand of Christianity’s response to—and adaptation of—the goal of philosophical transformation. There are two movements in Dorotheus’ adaptation of the Platonic ideal of philosophy as transformation. First, the ideal identifies a range of virtues which must be exercised and strengthened on the way to godlikeness, since becoming godlike means exercising godlike virtues. This move therefore builds from the Stoic view that God can have virtues. It means that accepting information about what God is like entails a particular way of acting in the world; Christian philosophising in this mode, therefore, is not merely about information. Philosophical claims are read not as indicative statements but as imperatives about how to live. I will briefly explore this dynamic in relation to the distinctively Christian virtue of humility, a characteristic which was not highly valued in earlier Greco-Roman ethics. Second, building from this view that Christian philosophy is not merely informative, the godlikeness goal grounds a set of reading and exegetical practices where texts are understood to transform readers. This shapes Dorotheus’ writing practices, as he constructs a text which is intended to be digested ruminatively and thereby (re)construct his readers. Humility is the crowning pinnacle of the virtues, in Dorotheus’ account.15 The elevation of this virtue is based upon a narrative of the divine plan of sal-

14 15

For Dorotheus, see Regnault’s introduction to the SC edition. For a detailed analysis of Dorotheus’ account of humility, see Champion 2017.

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vation that orders and constructs the experience of Dorotheus’ community, for which it is foundational. The divine plan of salvation within the ascetic tradition on which Dorotheus draws provides an ordered framework of history through which humans come to know God. Gregory of Nyssa, for example, repeatedly insists that God orders the world according to a sequence of causal principles and laws by which humans can come to know God,16 a sentiment shared by Dorotheus, explicitly drawing on Gregory.17 Gregory argues that the true significance or meaning (διανοία) of the biblical text can be discovered because “the Word follows a path and a sequence (ἀκολουθία) in adapting human nature to God”.18 This path includes all the elements of the divine plan Dorotheus elucidates. Dorotheus tells a story of the divine plan of salvation from creation to redemption which emphasises divine justice explicitly as divine φιλανθρωπία. God made humans in his likeness, but the lack of humility of Adam and Eve in the garden means that they are cast out of paradise and became slaves to their passions (1.1). Originally joyful, peaceful, and glorious, humanity is marred by the Fall, which was caused by a lack of humility manifested in the proud assertion of will and desire. Therefore humans must recognize their powerlessness, first through the granting of the law to Moses (1.2–3), and then in the gracious act of divine humility in the incarnation of the “New Adam”.19 The incarnation shows both the sinfulness of humanity and the glorious power of the God, made real in humility and divine philanthropy. In the knowledge that humans continue to sin after the incarnation, Christ who humbles himself cleanses humanity from its sins in the waters of baptism (1.5.8–18, 1.7.3–5), offers liberation through forgiveness, grants humans the faculty of conscience by which to judge good and evil, and helps them to cleanse the passions and moderate their unruly wills through the practice of humility (1.6). Within this theological anthropology, humility is taken to be Christ-like (1.7.19–20; 2.33–34). It is a divine virtue which displays pity, mercy, and philanthropy. For Dorotheus, through enacting the way of life of total humility, the monk becomes like God, overcoming the separation between God and humans marked by the fall (διὰ πάσης ταπεινῆς ἀγωγῆς ἑνῶσαι ἑαυτοὺς τῷ Θεῷ).20 The

16 17 18 19 20

For example Apol. Hex. in PG 44, 69A–71B; Cant. 5 (Langerbeck GNO 6, p. 144). Cicero speaks of the ordinem seriemque causarum, most probably translating τάξις and ἀκολουθία (SVF 1.27; Cic. Div. 1.55). Gregory of Nyssa, Cant. 5 (Jaeger, pp. 144–145): ἡ δὲ κατὰ ἀναγωγὴν θεωρία τῆς προεξητασμένης ἔχεται διανοίας· ὁδῷ γὰρ καὶ ἀκολουθίᾳ προσοικειοῖ τῷ θεῷ τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν ὁ λόγος. Dorotheus, 1.4.16 (SC 92, 152). Dorotheus, 1.11.2; 11.123.24–30 (SC 92, 162, 376,78).

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more one imitates the God who humbled himself, the more one is conformed to Christ and thus attains more closely to divine glory while simultaneously recognising more truly the gulf between creator and creature: “humility is God-like and incomprehensible” (ἡ ταπείνωσις θεϊή ἐστι καὶ ακατάληπτος).21 One might see Dorotheus attempting (if not entirely successfully) to navigate between the Stoic attribution of virtue to god and the Platonic/Aristotelian rejection of this attribution by making the incarnate and historical, rather than the unknowably transcendent God, the object of transformative imitation. Dorotheus’ thought in this regard resonates with that of Gregory of Nyssa and Basil of Caesarea. Recognising (in Platonic/Aristotelian) mode the dangers in claiming that God has virtues, Gregory had strictly limited the ways in which imitation could lead humans to (at least the incarnate) God, arguing that humility is the one divine quality in which humans can participate since they have a natural affinity with Christ’s humility (ἡ δὲ ταπεινότης συμφυής τις ἡμῖν).22 Conceptualising Jesus as mediator is central for both thinkers: he is understood as the mingling of divine with human nature, enabling human divinisation.23 Basil similarly argues that humans can become perfect by imitating Christ’s historical humility, revealed in the impoverished circumstances of his birth, his low status family, obedience to his inferiors, and the abjection and suffering of his death.24 Humility is imitation of Christ, who descended from heaven to the lowest humanity.25 Hence “the progress of the soul is progress in humility”.26 In the imitation of Christ’s humility, humans may gain “eternal glory and may arise from humility, the perfect and true gift of Christ” to “true glory, among the angels, and near God”.27 By humbly imitating Christ, the soul “may enter by the grace of God into paradise in the splendour of the shining soul, rejoicing with Christ for all ages of ages”.28 That the historical Jesus could be glorified becomes the basis for the hope that historical, time-bound lives, might be transformed into eternal perfection.

21 22 23 24

25 26 27 28

Dorotheus, 2.37.19–20 (SC 92, 202). de beat. 1.4 (GNO 7.2:83,12 Callahan). Gregory of Nyssa, Cant. 5 (Langerbeck, p. 145): διὰ τῆς πρὸς τὴν φύσιν ἡμῶν συνανακράσεως. For Basil on humility, see Amand 1948, 312–317; Osborn 1974, 103–104. For texts of Basil, see Garnier and Maran 1839. This edition was republished in PG 30–32, 1857; all texts cited are from PG 31. See, for example, Basil, Renunt. PG 31, 648B; Reg. fus. 43 (PG 31, 1028C); Hom. 20.6–7 (PG 31, 535C–537D); Reg. fus. 29, 31, 41, 45,1–2, 51 (PG 31, 989D–992C, 993CD, 1021AD, 1032D–1033A, 1040C–1041A); Moral. 25,1–2 (PG 31, 744BC). Basil, Hom. 20.6 (PG 31, 535BC); Renunt. PG 31, 648B. Basil, Renunt. PG 31, 648A, cf. 648C. Basil, Hom. 20.6–7 (PG 31, 532A, 540A–B). Basil, Renunt. PG 31, 648C.

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Humility thus colours the virtues because it gives access to a divine characteristic. It likens the believer to God because God in Christ is characterised by humility (a Stoic-type move), and since all good things participate in God, all virtues share in humility (a return to Platonism). Humility is a divine gift which grants access to truth and goodness despite the fall, as monks imitate divine humility, participate in divine qualities, and thereby become progressively more God-like. This is what enables Dorotheus to recast humility from its classical form of the cravenness of vicious abjection into a valued virtue. Therefore, humility entails a view of what god is like, and what humans are like. It motivates particular sorts of action, explains why those actions are virtuous, and provides reasons to think that acting humbly is both in accordance with human nature and simultaneously a means of approaching godlikeness.

3

Philosophy as Transformation and Transformative Texts

Believing that knowledge is transformative in the sense that it alters the core of one’s being, enables historical individuals to attain to eternity, and thus changes thinkers beyond merely giving them access to a new set of truth claims entails the claim that the soul is capable of being transformed. One way of making sense of this claim is to argue that corporeal actions can affect the soul. Dorotheus brought medical books with him to his monastery and took charge of its infirmary, so we may be confident that he was aware of contemporary medical debates about how “psychological capacities follow the blends in the body”.29 Galen had argued that the mortal part of the soul is “the blend of the body”,30 and argued that bodily practices, including consumption of food and wine, and also gymnastics, music, geometry, and arithmetic, may produce psychic virtues or vices [Quod animi mores 71, 11–73,20 (Kuhn); cf. Pl. Tim. 87b], and Neoplatonists up to the late sixth century argued about the ways in which this might be achieved.31 Dorotheus likewise argues that the soul is affected sympathetically by the body and is disposed in accordance with it (συμπάσχει καὶ συνδιατίθεται) (cf. 2.38.12–39.22).32 Hence for Dorotheus as for his contemporary 29

30 31 32

Galen, Quod animi mores 32, 1–13 (Kuhn). See Tempkin 1991, 134–138, 149–180. Dorotheus diverges from many of the ascetic thinkers Tempkin discusses with respect to his medical training and attention to physical regimen (δίαιτα), a key component of late-antique medical and philosophical practices. See further Mayer 2015, 337–351. Galen, Quod animi mores 44,6–8 (Kuhn). For this long-running debate, the details of which Dorotheus does not engage, see Sorabji 2006, 182–204. Dorotheus, 2.39.10 (SC 92:204). Compare parallels in medical authors at LSJ s.v.

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Neoplatonists, training the body (in his case through practices of education, physical work, or bodily postures in prayer or obedient deference), can achieve the transformation of the soul from unruly human disorder to godlike virtue.33 In what follows, I will focus on the role of exegesis and reading in ascetic transformation, arguing that Dorotheus aimed to construct a transformative text that could work upon his readers performatively to bring them closer to divine perfection. In this regard, Dorotheus is close to his contemporaries in the philosophical schools. For shared exegetical emphases and conventions help to connect Dorotheus’ monastic instructions to contemporary philosophical literature. For example, in accordance with widely-used Aristotelian scientific method, Dorotheus repeatedly begins his exegesis by first defining terms by seeking their essence (for example, 4.47).34 After the “what kind?” question comes, as for example in the near contemporary Proclus, detailed reading of terms and phrases, first by drawing on different opinions and schemes of different interpreters (Basil, Anthony, Paul, Abba Agathon) and working them into the wider argument. Then he explains the main philosophical themes or problems thrown up by the text, recognisable from the philosophical genre of problemata (“how can we please God?”, “can one fear God and love him?”, “what sort of spiritual boldness is allowed?”). As in contemporary Neoplatonic commentaries, interpretive difficulties or differences are noted, although often, as in contemporary philosophical commentary, their harmonisation displays the commentator’s ingenuity. Praise for the biblical text is as common as Neoplatonic praise for Plato’s works. While biblical texts are the primary interpreters of other biblical texts, Dorotheus also uses sayings of the desert fathers and earlier theologians to interpret scripture, just as contemporary philosophers used Homer, theologians and other poets. Partly, this places Dorotheus within a long line of privileged ascetic teachers, just as Proclus’ citation of the opinions of earlier philosophers in his commentaries constructs his own persona within a privileged chain of philosophical interpreters. Each of these moves has been identified as central to Proclus’ exegetical method, for example.35 Together they build an image of Dorotheus as a philosophical exegete. If one feature of philosophical exegesis is treating the text as transformative, we have further reason to believe that Dorotheus shares this view.

33

34 35

Neoplatonic philosophers after Galen argued about how the soul or its powers or capacities can take on the characteristics of the body. See the discussion in Sorabji 2006, and compare Dorotheus 2.39.6–9 (SC 92, 204). “what sort of thing does he mean by ‘love’ and ‘fear’ ” (ποίαν ἄρα λέγει ἀγάπην καὶ ποῖον φόβον; 4.47.3). Cf. An post. 2.1 89b34, 2.3 90b4. See David Runia 2013, 4–9.

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Like all later Neoplatonists, Dorotheus thinks it is crucial to demonstrate the single goal, aim, or intention (skopos) of the target text.36 Dorotheus repeatedly affirms that it is necessary “always to turn one’s mind to the skopos and to act in knowledge of it”. He is committed to the claim that his target text forms a unity.37 The unity of the text is put to many uses: for example, to demonstrate the unity of the creator God who generates and is perceived in the unified text, or to harmonise the Old Testament with the New Testament. Most importantly for our purposes, a constant slippage between the skopos of the text and the skopos of human action betrays the assumption that holy texts and sayings are transformative. The text’s skopos is accordingly always ethical or soteriological—with both understood as transformative categories. So in his exegesis of Luke 6:36 (“be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful”), the skopos of the text, to teach mercy, is divided into several different sorts of merciful action (employing the beloved philosophical practice of diaeresis), which are then expounded through examples from monastic living.38 Humility is the key characteristic attributed to Jesus, whose skopos is to teach humans how they came into sin, namely, by failing to exercise humility. Humility thus gives specifically ascetic content to monastic philosophy understood as the inculcation of virtue to enable monks to become godlike. An associated feature of intentionally transformative texts is practices of memorisation and internalisation. Dorotheus’ students, like students of philosophy, were expected to memorise authoritative texts and reflect on them in a concentrated, disciplined, and structured set of spiritual and intellectual exercises. This is perhaps the closest connection between ascetic life and ancient philosophical practices, even if monastic life, like the ascetic canon of authoritative texts, would have surprised and repelled contemporary philosophers. A key set of overlapping practices arises from the intellectual and spiritual meditative rumination on texts, brilliantly explored in the Western case by Mary Carruthers.39 In the Greek ascetic tradition, the key verb, μελετάω, is used to describe an intensive, repetitive, and concentrated way of being formed by, or interiorising a text, concept, or image on the way to assimilation to God.40 36 37 38 39

40

On this general point and its relationship to thinking of the goal of philosophy as transformation within a textual community, see Baltzly 2017, 173–195. As Proclus, for example, In Tim. 278.24 (Diehl): “Plato’s goal …”. Dorotheus, 14.156–157 (SC, 438–442); compare also love in Ep. 1.181 (SC, 490–492). Such diaeresis is frequent; see also, for example, in the discourse On the Fear of God. For example, Augustine understands rumination as the regurgitation of what one has learned in an attempt to digest it properly; Cassian recommends “incessabilis ruminatio” (Coll. 14.12). See Carruthers 2000, 90; Carruthers 2008, 206. See further Rönnegård 2013, 79–92.

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Metaphors of digestion are common. For example, Dorotheus’ contemporary in the monastery at Thawatha, the holy man Barsanuphius, identifies meditation with rumination (Epp. 49, 53). These meanings of μελετάω and its cognates resonate also within earlier philosophical traditions. Plato uses the terms to speak of learning by heart, and thinks that such memorisation engraves thoughts in one’s mind (Pl. Criti. 113b). Epictetus most memorably relates meditation to digestion: novice learners initially want to vomit up their knowledge but end up more maturely digesting it (Diss. 3.21.1–2, 6). Such meditative reading of authoritative texts constitutes the ethical or soteriological process of being transformed by the text (rather than merely making it one’s own).41 Dorotheus’ writings are congruent with these traditions. Like Plato, he thinks of memorising texts by heart as meditation (μελέτη). When Dorotheus began his classical education, he tells us that his reading replaces food, as he intensively digests texts and gives no thought to his meals (10.105). The account plays on this cultural plot of reading as transformation by ingestion. Dorotheus continually deploys scriptural texts in his writings in this way, to the extent that his writings could be seen as a performance in textual form of meditative rumination. Take the riff on Matt 11:29 (“Learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls”) (1.7.19 [full], 1.7.31 [part]; 1.8.1 [part], 1.8.33 [full]). His extensive quotations form an inclusio, with the repeated full quotation enclosing further restatements of the first and second half, and individual words are mulled over in between the quotations. This riff functions to emphasise, and more importantly to instil, monastic humility and is shortly followed by a similar repetitive meditation on Gal 6:14 (crucifixion to the world); Gal 6:2 (bear one another’s burdens); Matt 5:25–26 (examining one’s conscience); Ps 137:8–9 (don’t let evil thoughts take root); Gen 1:26 (natural virtues), Luke 6:36 (be merciful). Furthermore, several apophthegmata— sayings of the desert fathers—are similarly deployed ruminatively across the instructions.42 The passages used in this ruminative fashion all focalise central monastic virtues which Dorotheus explores in detail across his writings. In each case, the rhetorical repetition performs in the text meditative chewing of the cud (repeating the text and returning to it in slightly different contexts), digesting it (breaking it into bits), making it one’s own through placing it in one’s ascetic context, and thus moving from mere “words and external forms” to a transformed heart and mind “a true humble disposition cultivated in the heart itself and within this mind-set”. Hence one function of Dorotheus’ 41 42

“Making the text one’s own”, Carruthers 2000, 165. For example, Dorotheus, 1.7–8, 13–14; 3.41–42; 4.56–57; 11.115–117; 12.134; 14.156–158 (SC, 154– 160, 166–168; 210–214; 240–242; 360–364; 396; 438–444).

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instructions is to provide the scriptural material for ascetic meditation, ordering scripture for monastic spiritual practices, in order to help monks become more godlike. Throughout, the assumption is that texts can transform. In a closely-related way, Dorotheus uses metaphor to make otherwise ordinary experiences come to explain for insiders in his monastic community the deep structure of reality. The text repeatedly takes apparently normal experiences, events, or objects, and imbues them with a set of meanings that enables monks to come to know more completely (what they take to be) truths about the nature of God and God’s creatures. As an example, we may consider Dorotheus’ extended reflection on the symbolism of the monastic habit. Dorotheus, like the monastic teacher Evagrius before him, takes an apparently ordinary piece of clothing and uses it to reveal truths to his community. At the heart of his treatment is again the move to derive virtues from metaphysics. He emphasises the Christological foundations of monastic humility.43 The purple mark, also found on the uniforms of royal soldiers, show that monks fight for a king and cannot desert their posts. It also reminds monks of Christ’s salvific suffering as they endure mortal suffering. The belt similarly reminds the monks of their humility since it is a sign of mortification of fleshly desires. The scapular, making a cross over the monk’s shoulders, returns to the theme of Christshaped humility, while the cowl or hood symbolizes humble abasement, since it is the same dress as that worn by (morally and spiritually immature) children; it guards the mind, warding off evil thoughts as humility does. With this description, we have a clear example of “metaphors to live by”.44 To outsiders, the monastic habit is distinctive, certainly: in elite texts written in Atticising Greek in which monachos is unheard of, monks are referred to by periphrases identifying their dress (see, for example, Procopius’ classicising Histories). But to Dorotheus’ monastic readers, the habit is written into discourses of humility which both demand particular ways of living, and denote claims about God and the sort of participation in divinity which is taken to be possible, paradigmatically participation in the life of God incarnate through humility. Others have identified the philosophical importance of metaphors in Neoplatonism, emphasising that they serve to promote selftransformation through philosophy both as spiritual exercises and as motivating and explaining such practices, thereby connecting philosophical tenets to the philosophical life.45 Dorotheus uses metaphor in a similar way in his 43 44 45

Dorotheus, 1.15–19 (SC 92, 168–176); cf. Evagrius Praktikos Prologue, Letter to Anatolios (SC 171, 482–494). Lakoff and Johnson 2003. For example, Baltzly 2014, 793–807; Clark 2016.

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monastic instructions. His “philosophy” has very different conceptual content, but in his approach to texts and his view of the goal of Christian contemplation, he is close to his contemporaries in the philosophical schools.

4

Conclusions

Significant features of Dorotheus’ method are shared with transformative philosophical texts of the period. An important element in viewing texts as transformative is to emphasise the skopos of the text in ways familiar from contemporary Neoplatonism. In his focus on the single skopos of the text, he elides the distinction between the goal of the text and the goal of the ideal readers, godlike monks in Dorotheus’ community. Understanding the biblical text as itself transformative, means that the skopos of the text can equally and simultaneously be constructed as the skopos of the Christian reader, who attains the goal of divine perfection by becoming like the text through virtuous action and the ruminative digestion of scripture. Dorotheus then performs in his text the meditative practices he thinks will help to transform his readers, as they digest the text and thereby become physically formed by it. In drawing on medical arguments that bodies can affect souls, Dorotheus provides further grounds to justify such ruminative reading practices on the way to godlikeness. His elaborate descriptions and explanations of (to outsiders) apparently ordinary things (like the monk’s habit), are also intended to transform members of the monasteries, as they come through their meditative reading to inhabit a world grounded in a particular view of the nature of God, and consequently value specific virtues, such as humility. Ascetic knowledge and reading practices are ordered to help monks acquire ascetic virtues in lives directed towards godlikeness. Within this strand of ascetic early Christianity, then, ideas about becoming like God generate novel ideas about the virtues (what should be valued, how virtues relate to each other, and how virtue is grounded in metaphysical claims). The idea that the goal of philosophy is to become godlike entails the identification and privileging of certain virtues, and a distinctive ordering of the virtues based on claims about what God is like. These claims about godlikeness and the virtues sit within narratives about how God is believed to act within the world and bring his creatures to a promised perfection. In Dorotheus’ account, monks practice virtue in the day-to-day life of the monastery, and value particular virtues because those virtues are identified as characteristic of Jesus. Dorotheus does not make virtue completely immanent, as in the Stoic case, but he has a strong view of divine providential jus-

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tice exercised within the world, and consequently the need to practice justice within human relationships, not merely as a reflection of a higher order. In this, he is closer to the Stoic treatment of godlikeness and divine justice as philanthropia, and this emphasis means that he foregrounds the imitation of the historical actions of Jesus. Jesus as the unique mediator between God and humanity within history brings concepts of participation in God back into his account, but eradicates the extended scheme of participatory hierarchies so characteristic of later Neoplatonism. Dorotheus’ emphasis on virtue in the context of the monastery makes him focus on participation in Jesus’ divine-human virtues. We do not find the more Neoplatonic accounts of the unknowable and unreachable God of the mystical or apophatic traditions. Nonetheless, elements of Platonic and Stoic godlikeness, for all their apparent absurdity, and modified for Dorotheus’ ascetic frame of reference, offer a significant way into key aspects of his claims about God, anthropology, salvation, reading practices, and the ordering of knowledge within the monasteries of late-antique Palestine. Intersection of Christian thought with forms of contemporary philosophical speculation is marked, even in a Christian writer who did not have formal philosophical training in the specialised schools of Neoplatonism. Important doctrinal differences remain, but philosophical practices, methods of interpretation, and goals are shared. The strongest shared commitment is the idea that intellectual endeavour is transformative, and to the extent that it is transformative, it cannot be properly characterised as simply a set of information or skills. That thinkers trained in “Christian thought” share philosophical commitments and practices with Neoplatonists is good reason to speak of “late-antique philosophy”, supporting the broader project of seeking out connections between the intellectual activities of Christians and Neoplatonists.

Bibliography Primary Sources Albinous (1945) Albinos. Épitomé, ed. P. Louis (Paris). Aristotle (1894) Aristotelis ethica Nicomachea, ed. I. Bywater (Oxford). Barsanuphius and John of Gaza (1997–1998, 2000, 2002) Correspondance, eds. F. Neyt and P. de Angelis-Noah, SC, 426–427, 450–451, 468, 5 vols. (Paris). Basil the Great (1857) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, Homiliae et sermones, 163–618; Sermo de Renuntiatione Saeculi, 625–648; Moralia, 700–888; Regulae fusius tractatae, 890–1052 (Paris).

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Cicero (1905) De Divinatione. M. Tulli Ciceronis scripta quae manserunt omnia, eds. C.F.W. Mueller, part 4, vol. 2 (Leipzig). Clement of Alexandria (1960) Stromata, eds. O. Stählin, L. Früchtel, and U. Treu, GCS 52(15) (Berlin). Diogenes Laertius (1964) Diogenis Laertii vitae philosophorum, ed. H.S. Long, 2 vols. (Oxford). Dorotheus (2001) Dorothée de Gaza. Oeuvres spirituelles, eds. L. Regnault and J. de Préville, SC 92 (Paris). Evagrius (1971) Évagre le Pontique. Traité pratique ou le moine, eds. A. Guillaumont and C. Guillaumont, SC 171 (Paris). Galen (1964–1965) Claudii Galeni opera omnia. Medicorum graecorum opera, ed. C.G. Kuhn (Hildesheim). Garnier, J. and Maran, P. (1839) Basilii Opera Omnia 1–3, 2nd edn. (Paris). Gregory of Nyssa (1960) In Canticum canticorum. Gregorii Nysseni Opera [GNO] 6, ed. H. Langerbeck (Leiden). Gregory of Nyssa (1992) De beatitudinibus. GNO 7/2, ed. R. Callahan (Leiden). Gregory of Nyssa (1863) Apologia in hexaemeron, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 44 (Paris). John Cassian (2004) Collationes, 2nd edn., CSEL 13, ed. M. Petschenig (Vienna). Musonius Rufus (1947) Dissertationum a Lucio digestarum reliquiae, ed. C.E. Lutz (New Haven, CT). Plato (1900) Platonis opera, ed. John Burnet, 5 vols. (Oxford). Proclus (1903–1904, 1906) Procli Diadochi in Platonis Timaeum commentaria, ed. E. Diehl, 3 vols. (Leipzig).

Secondary Sources Amand, E. (1948) L’ascèse monastique de Saint Basile: essai historique (Maredsous). Annas, J. (1999) Platonic Ethics Old and New (Ithaca). Baltzly, D. (2004) ‘The Virtues and “Becoming Like God”: Alcinous to Proclus’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26, 297–321. Baltzly, D. (2014) ‘Plato’s Authority and the Formation of Textual Communities in Late Antiquity’, Classical Quarterly 64, 793–807. Baltzly, D. (2017) ‘The Skopos Assumption: Its Justification and Function in the Neoplatonic Commentaries on Plato’, International Journal for the Platonic Tradition 11, 173–195. Bonazzi, M. (2012) ‘Theoria and Praxis: On Plutarch’s Platonism’, in T. Bénatouïl and M. Bonazzi (eds.) Theoria, Praxis, and the Contemplative Life after Plato and Aristotle, Philosophia Antiqua 131 (Leiden), 139–161. Carruthers, M. (2000) The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400–1200 (Cambridge). Carruthers, M. (2008) The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge).

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Champion, M.W. (2017) ‘Paideia as Humility and Becoming God-like in Dorotheos of Gaza’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 25.3, 441–469. Clark, S. (2016) Plotinus. Myth, Metaphor, and Philosophical Practice (Chicago). Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (2003) Metaphors We Live By. With a New Afterword (Chicago). Laurand, V. (2014) Stoïcisme et lien social. Enquête autour de Musonius Rufus (Paris), 144– 192. Mayer, W. (2015) ‘The Persistence in Late Antiquity of Medico-Philosophical Psychic Therapy’, Journal of Late Antiquity 8.2, 337–351. Osborn, E.F. (1974) Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought (Cambridge). Reydams-Schils, G. (2017) ‘“Becoming Like God” in Platonism and Stoicism’, in T. Engberg-Pedersen (ed.) From Stoicism to Platonism: The Development of Philosophy, 100 bce–100 ce (Cambridge), 142–158. Rönnegård, P. (2013) ‘Melétē in Early Christian Ascetic Texts’, in H. Eifring (ed.) Meditation in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Cultural Histories, 79–92 (London and New York). Runia, D.T. (2013) ‘The Theme of Becoming like God in Plato’s Republic’, in L. Brisson and N. Notomi (eds.) Dialogues on Plato’s Politeia (Sankt Augustin), 288–293. Russell, D. (2004) ‘Virtue as “Likeness to God” in Plato and Seneca’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 42.3, 241–260. Sedley, D. (1999) ‘The Ideal of Godlikeness’, in G. Fine (ed.) Plato 2: Ethics, Politics, Religion, and the Soul (Oxford), 309–328. Sorabji, R. (2006) The Philosophy of the Commentators 200–600AD, Volume 1: Psychology (with Ethics and Religion) (London). Tempkin, O. (1991) Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians (Baltimore).

chapter 6

Theology and Philosophy in the Late Patristic Discourse: Pure Existence, Qualified Existence, and the Arbor Porphyriana Dirk Krausmüller

This paper traces the emergence in the sixth century of a new theological ontology, which was a modification of an earlier model that the Cappadocian bishops Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa had developed in the late fourth century. The Cappadocians had only recognised two components within each concrete being, the qualities that it shared with other members of the same species and the qualities that marked it out as an individual. By contrast, some theologians of the sixth century assumed the presence of a further component within a concrete being, pure being or existence, which precedes all qualification, despite the fact that the Cappadocians had explicitly rejected such a notion. In order to construct their arguments these theologians availed themselves of philosophical concepts. Of particular importance was the so-called arbor Porphyriana, the framework of genera and species, which the third-century philosopher Porphyry had systematised in his treatise Isagoge. The Cappadocians had radically simplified this framework by reducing it to the lowest species, which they then juxtaposed with the individuals. Our sixth-century authors were not content with this solution. They again turned to the arbor Porphyriana and adapted it to their needs. They focused on the highest genus, substance, which they took to denote pure existence, and some of them went so far as to cut out the intermediate genera and species so that the highest genus was directly juxtaposed with the lowest species. The result was an extended Cappadocian framework where every concrete being has existence as its core around which the natural and hypostatic idioms are then layered. That philosophy could play such a role in theological arguments casts a revealing light on the nature of the late Patristic discourse. Theologians not only regarded philosophical concepts as ready-made building blocks from which they could construct their arguments but also seem to have accepted that such concepts could accurately signify what was reflected in reality.1

1 This article is part of the Project “Reassessing Ninth Century Philosophy. A Synchronic

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_008

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Leontius of Byzantium

The sixth-century theologians to which I have referred in the previous paragraph are for the better part shadowy figures. Their arguments are only known to us because they were adapted by later authors. This makes it difficult and sometimes impossible to establish the purpose that they originally served. Moreover, we cannot always be sure that they are reproduced correctly. Therefore I will start with an author whose writings have come down to us and whose arguments can therefore still be studied in their original context. This author is Leontius of Byzantium who lived as a monk in Palestine in the first half of the sixth century.2 I will first briefly discuss a passage in his earlier treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, which I have already analysed in greater detail in a recent article,3 and then turn to a passage in his later treatise Solutiones where the influence of the arbor Porphyriana is more obvious.4 Before, however, I will sketch the context in which Leontius developed his arguments. The obvious starting-point is the ontological framework that Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nyssa had developed in the late fourth century. Basil and Gregory had conceptualised the Christian God as a species with three members, or in their own words, one common divine nature or substance and three hypostases: Father, Son and Spirit. They had furthermore distinguished between two sets of qualities: firstly, qualities that are shared by all members of a species, such as “omnipotent”, which can be said of Father, Son and Spirit alike, and secondly qualities that mark out the individual, such as “being begotten”, which can only be said of the Son but not of the Father or the Spirit. They had called the set of shared qualities account of being (account of substance, account of nature) and the individual qualities characteristic idioms. And they had declared that the common nature accounted for the account of being whereas the hypostasis accounted for the addition of characteristic idioms to the account of being. For them the divine nature or species did not have an existence of its own but only ever existed in hypostases.5 From the late fifth century onwards this model began to play an important role in the Christological controversy. The defenders of the Council of Chal-

2 3 4 5

Approach to the Logical Traditions” (9 SALT) that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 648298). On Leontius of Byzantium, see Hombergen 2001, 133–138. See n. 9 below. Leontius of Byzantium, Daley 2017. The literature on Cappadocian Trinitarian theology is vast. See, for example, Zachhuber 2000, 43–122.

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cedon claimed that with the incarnation there existed in Christ a human nature but not a separate human hypostasis. In this way they sought to do justice to the human component while at the same time safeguarding the oneness of Christ. This model, however, met with fierce criticism by the Nestorians and the Monophysites who rejected the creed of Chalcedon. These two groups denied that in the incarnation a distinction between nature and hypostasis could be made, which left only two possible models: either there were two natures and two hypostases or there was only one nature and one hypostasis. In order to challenge the Chalcedonians both Nestorians and Monophysites declared that a nature, which was not at the same time hypostasis, was anhypostatos, that is, completely inexistent. The Chalcedonians did not accept this stark alternative. They argued that nature was neither inexistent nor a fullblown hypostasis but had an intermediate status of being, which they called enhypostatos.6 However, then the question arose, how to conceptualise this intermediate status of being. Here the framework created by the Cappadocians was of little help. The concept of an account of being, which they had introduced, referred to the material aspect, the sum of properties shared by all members of a species, because they were above all concerned with establishing the consubstantiality of Father, Son and Spirit. By contrast, they had had little to say about the existential aspect of the account of being. Although they sometimes declared that with regard to the account of being, being as such could be asserted they never explained how this was to be understood.7 Thus the Chalcedonians were forced to rethink the Cappadocian model. Leontius of Byzantium was perhaps the first theologian who met this challenge head-on. In his treatise Contra Nestorianos and Eutychianos he declares that the enhypostaton is not hypostasis, which denotes a concrete being and marks out the person through the characteristic idioms, but rather substance. Then he explains what he means by these terms: Τὸ δὲ ἐνυπόστατον τὸ μὴ εἶναι αὐτὸ συμβεβηκὸς δηλοῖ, ὃ ἐν ἑτέρῳ ἔχει τὸ εἶναι καὶ οὐκ ἐν ἑαυτῷ θεωρεῖται. τοιαῦται δὲ πᾶσαι αἱ ποιότητες αἵ τε οὐσιώδεις καὶ ἐπουσιώδεις καλούμεναι ὧν οὐδετέρα ἐστὶν οὐσία, τουτέστι πρᾶγμα ὑφεστώς, ἀλλ’ ὃ ἀεὶ περὶ τὴν οὐσίαν θεωρεῖται.8

6 See Gleede 2012, 50–61. 7 See, for example, Basil of Caesarea’s Ep. 214, 205–206 (Courtonne). 8 Leontius, Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos (henceforth abbreviated as CNE), 132.22–26 (Daley).

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Enhypostaton denotes that it is not an accident, which has its being in another and is not considered in itself. Such are all qualities, both those called substantial and those called non-substantial, neither of which is a substance, that is, an existing thing, but is that which is always considered in connection with a substance. This is a highly complex statement, which needs to be unravelled with great care.9 The best starting point is the second sentence. There any particular substance is juxtaposed not only with “non-substantial”, ἐπουσιώδης, qualities but also with substantial qualities.10 According to Leontius, substance as the enhypostaton is the core around which both types of qualities are layered. The purpose of this conceptual framework seems clear. It permitted Leontius to conclude that “there is no nature that is anhypostatos”, οὐκ ἔστιν φύσις ἀνυπόστατος, because the account of being is anchored in something else, which is enhypostatos, and thus confers “being” on it. This is without doubt a neat solution to the problem. However, in order to arrive at it Leontius had to modify the conceptual framework that the Cappadocians had developed for the Trinity. In their Trinitarian writings the Cappadocians had juxtaposed the account of being, and the characteristic idioms. By contrast, Leontius introduced a third element, existence, which precedes both natural and hypostatic qualities. The discrepancy is reflected in a terminological shift. For Basil and Gregory substance and nature were virtually synonymous terms: the account of being applied to both. By contrast, Leontius seems to distinguish the two terms from one another although his terminology is not entirely consistent.11 In the new framework only nature would then retain its old meaning whereas substance would be identified with the enhypostaton.12 One possible source of inspiration for Leontius was the conceptual framework that the Cappadocians had developed during their struggle with the Arian theologian Eunomius of Cyzicus. This framework is rather different from the one that they had set out in their Trinitarian writings. In order to rebut Eunomius’ contention that the name “unbegotten” denoted the substance of

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For an in-depth discussion of this passage and the context in which it appears, see Krausmüller 2011, 484–513. On the term ἐπουσιώδης, see Gleede 2012, 64. See Leontius of Byzantium, CNE, 134.4 (Daley), where the two terms are identified with one another. The same distinction is found in a Christological treatise by Heraclianus of Chalcedon. See Dirk Krausmüller 2011, 156–158.

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God they had made a strict distinction between God’s substance and the qualities that can be attributed to him.13 Basil, for example, had declared that the names, which we ascribe to God, “do not disclose the substance but mark off some idioms around it”, οὐκ αὐτὴν παρίστησι τὴν οὐσίαν, ἰδιώματα δέ τινα περὶ αὐτὴν ἀφορίζει.14 It is evident that this model resembles closely Leontius’ statement that the substantial qualities are around substance. However, if Leontius was indeed influenced by the Cappadocians he did not choose to make his dependence obvious. Instead he employed terminology of philosophical provenance. Unfortunately, it is not immediately evident what specific philosophical concept Leontius used in order to explain what he meant by enhypostaton. The first sentence of the passage under discussion, which contains the relevant information, is quite convoluted. Leontius first explains what substance, in the sense of enhypostaton, is not, namely an accident, and then characterises the former term in contradistinction to the latter: unlike an accident, enhypostaton is not in another but is in itself. The juxtaposition between substrate and accident is familiar from Neoplatonic commentaries on Aristotle’s works. It appears in discussions of primary substances, concrete beings such as a horse or a dog, which serve as the substrate of accidents such as the colour of fur.15 Such an interpretation, however, must be excluded because it cannot be reconciled with the immediately following statement where substantial qualities are introduced as a type of accident. In the philosophical discourse substantial qualities are classified not as accidents inhering in first substances but as elements, which constitute first substances and thus are an intrinsic part of them.16 Therefore one may conclude that Leontius has created a nonsensical statement. However, there is one context in which substantial qualities are indeed identified as accidents. Porphyry had explained that first substances themselves consist of two elements, substantial qualities and an as yet unqualified substrate; and he had further declared that in relation to this unqualified substrate the substantial qualities have the status of accidents since they are not intrinsically linked to it.17 13 14 15 16 17

See, for example, Beeley 2008, 90–95; and Radde-Gallwitz 2012. Basil, PG 29, 580A4–5. This conceptual framework was adapted by theologians of the sixth century. See, for example, Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 201.9–202.9 (Diekamp). Leontius is familiar with this concept, see Leontius of Byzantium, CNE, 134.14–15 (Daley). For Porphyry’s argument see the next footnote. For an interpretation, see Krausmüller 2011, 501. See also the lengthy discussion in Gleede 2012, 74–75, which follows Gleede’s interpretation of Leontius’ argument in CNE. Surprisingly, Gleede does not then discuss whether Leontius might have had recourse to this model.

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As far as I can see, this is the only way in which one can make sense of Leontius’ statements. However, this does not mean that Leontius slavishly adheres to this framework. The philosophers had identified the first substrate with “unqualified matter”, ἄποιος ὕλη.18 Leontius accepts that the substrate precedes all qualification. However, he gives no indication that he wishes it to be identified as matter. Indeed, such a reading can be ruled out for two reasons. Firstly, Leontius’ framework is applicable not only to created being but also to the immaterial divinity; and secondly, philosophers usually attributed to matter only a very attenuated mode of existence. Thus it seems possible that Leontius was making use of other conceptual frameworks as well.

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Further Considerations of Leontius of Byzantium

In this section, I will argue that one of these conceptual frameworks was the socalled arbor Porphyriana, the classificatory scheme of genera and species that Porphyry had set out in his treatise Isagoge and that had then been discussed by Neoplatonic commentators.19 Leontius repeatedly mentions the arbor Porphyriana, not only in his treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos but also in his later work Solutiones.20 However, recourse to Porphyry was not as unproblematic as it first may seem. When the Cappadocians had developed their ontological model they had likened the Trinity to Porphyry’s lowest species but excluded the existence of a higher genus under which the species “god” would fall.21 As long as Leontius only speaks of created species, the problems arising from his adaptation of the arbor Porphyriana are contained. Although the Cappadocians had given the impression that their model was applicable not only to God but also to created being, this did not constitute an article of faith and recourse to alternative models remained an option. However, once in the Solutiones Leontius avers that the species “god” is also part of the arbor Porphyriana. The context is a discussion about the proper use of theological concepts. Leontius’ Monophysite adversary accepts that in the case of the Trinity one must distinguish between nature and substance on the one hand and hyposta-

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Simplicius, In Aristotelis Categorias commentarium, 48.1–33 (Kalbfleisch). Porphyry, Isagoge et in Aristotelis categorias commentarium, 2.13–14.20 (Busse). On the term and its history see Baumgartner 1980, 889–890. For the Neoplatonic discussion, see Ammonius, In Porphyrii isagogen sive V voces, 65–66 (Busse). Leontius of Byzantium, CNE, 168.26–29 (Daley); Solutiones, 278.7–15 (Daley). See, for example, Basil of Caesarea, Ep. 361, 221 (Courtonne).

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sis on the other. However, he then contends that this framework is not applicable to the incarnation where the terms nature, substance and hypostasis are synonymous.22 Leontius protests against such a conceptual shift and maintains that there can be only one framework, which must then be applied to both the Trinity and the human race. That Leontius would take such a stance is not surprising. After all, the distinction between nature and hypostasis was at the heart of Chalcedonian Christology. However, unlike other Chalcedonian theologians he does not merely state his position but supports it with an argument: Οἱ γὰρ ὅροι τῶν πραγμάτων συνωνύμως κατηγοροῦνται κατά τε τῶν ὁμογενῶν κατά τε τῶν ὁμοειδῶν, ὡς οἱ ταῦτα δεινοὶ ἀποδεικνύουσιν· εἰ γὰρ οὐσίαν ἁπλῶς ὁριζόμενοι εἴποιμεν τήν τινος ὕπαρξιν δηλοῦν, πᾶν τὸ κοινωνοῦν τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ ὀνόματος καὶ τοῦ ὅρου κοινωνήσει, κἂν μυρίος ᾖ τῶν οὐσιῶν διαφορά· ὑπάρχειν γάρ φαμεν οὐσίαν καὶ θεὸν καὶ ἄγγελον καὶ ἄνθρωπον καὶ ζῷον καὶ φυτόν, καὶ κοινὸς ἐπὶ πάντων ὁ τῆς οὐσίας ἀποδίδοται λόγος, τὸ ὑπάρχειν τούτων δηλῶν οὐ τὸ τί αὐτῶν ἢ τὸ πῶς· ταῦτα γὰρ οἱ ἴδιοι ἑκάστου πράγματος ὅροι συνεμφαίνουσιν.23 The definitions of things are predicated univocally of those that are members of the same genus and of those that are members of the same species, as is shown by those who are knowledgeable in these matters. For if in defining pure substance we were to say that it denotes the existence of something (or: somebody), all that share a substance will share the name and the definition (sc. of that substance) even if there were to be innumerable differences between the substances, for we say that god and angel and human being and animal and plant is a substance and for all of them a common definition of substance is given, denoting their existence and not their “what” or their “how”. For these are expressed by the proper definitions of each thing. Based on the arbor Porphyriana, this argument has a clear purpose, to justify the Chalcedonian position and to disqualify the Monophysite alternative. The reasoning goes as follows. The two species “god” and “human being” despite being radically different from one another nevertheless fall under the same overarching genus. This overarching genus is the highest genus, substance, which

22 23

Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, 276.22–27 (Daley). Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, 276.28–278.5 (Daley).

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denotes pure existence. Since both the Word and the flesh exist, the same rules must apply to them even though one is God and the other is a created being. However, Leontius does not make this line of reasoning explicit. Instead he presents a general argument and leaves it to his readers to draw their own conclusions. This is without doubt a conscious strategy. Leontius insinuates that the arbor Porphyriana reflects the true order of being and must therefore be universally valid. Thus the readers get the impression that they are guided by reason alone when they arrive at the conclusion that only the Chalcedonian position can be correct. That Leontius expected this strategy to be successful casts a revealing light on the late Patristic theological debate. The readers he had in mind were obviously people who already held philosophy in high regard. Having claimed that a good theologian must be familiar with the philosophical discourse, Leontius takes pains to show that he is such a theologian. His argument is replete with philosophical terms and concepts. For example, he claims that species are predicated univocally of their genera and individuals are predicated univocally of their species, or in other words, when we say that a human being is an animal and a horse is an animal, we mean by animal in each case the same thing, and when we say that Peter is a human being and Paul is a human being, we mean by human being in each case the same thing. This statement is undoubtedly inspired by Porphyry who declared that “the genera are predicated unequivocally of the species under them”, τὰ μὲν γένη συνωνύμως κατηγορεῖται τῶν ὑφ’ ἑαυτὰ εἰδῶν.24 However, this does not mean that Leontius agrees with Porphyry in all respects. Unlike his predecessor, he accords the divine a position in the system of genera and species. It is not difficult to see why he took this step. If he had followed Porphyry he would have had to concede that the being of God is not the same as the being of man. This he could not do without jeopardising his argument. Here we can clearly see how the Chalcedonian Christological discourse with its application of the same ontological framework to both divinity and humanity posed problems to the transcendence of God. This demotion of the divine, however, is not the only oddity in the passage. Equally strange is Leontius’ willingness to distinguish between the “existence” of beings and their “what” and “how” in the first place. The meaning of the last two terms can be gathered from Porphyry’s Isagoge: they refer to the genus and to the specific differences that together constitute the definition of a species.25 As we have seen, such a conceptual framework is irreconcilable with Cappado-

24 25

Porphyry, Isagoge, 15.20–21 (Busse). Porphyry, Isagoge, 3.17–20 (Busse).

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cian ontology where the arbor Porphyriana was reduced to the lowest species and the distinction between genus and specific differences was suppressed. However, it should be noted that Leontius does not completely abandon Cappadocian terminology for he calls “substance” not only the Porphyrian highest genus but also the lowest species, such as angel or human being, just as the Cappadocians had done. According to Leontius, this model is applicable not only to created species but also to God. However, one important difference remains. In the case of the human being, we can distinguish between his existence, his genus “animal”, and his specific difference “rational”. In the case of God, such a threefold distinction is impossible because the species God immediately follows after the highest genus. As a consequence, there is no “what” and the specific differences that constitute the species God are directly juxtaposed with pure existence. Thus, God is made up of two “substances”, existence and the Cappadocian account of being. This raises the question: how are we to interpret this existence? It can be ruled out that Leontius conceived of it as a quasi-Platonic idea that transcends both God and created being and in which both God and created being participate because such a conceptual framework would be irreconcilable with the most fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. Instead, he seems to regard it as something that is immanent in each being. Indeed, when he speaks of “the existence of a particular one”, τήν τινος ὕπαρξιν, he seems to have in mind the individual and not the species. This existence precedes all qualification through specific differences and can therefore be considered the innermost core of an individual. At this point, a comparison with the results of our discussion of Leontius’ earlier treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos is instructive. As we have seen, Leontius had made a distinction between an unqualified substrate, that conveys reality, and a set of substantial qualities, that inhere in this substrate. The similarities between the two scenarios are obvious, despite the fact that they are based on quite different philosophical concepts, the unqualified substrate on the one hand and the highest genus on the other. This suggests that in Leontius’ eyes the philosophical concepts were no longer as distinct from each other as they originally had been. This simplification was without doubt made easier because the philosophers themselves had already correlated the various conceptual frameworks with one another by assimilating specific differences to substantial qualities and likening genus to matter.26

26

Porphyry, Isagoge, 15.6–8 (Busse); id. In Categorias Commentarium, 95.21 (Kalbfleisch).

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That Leontius has altered the Cappadocian model becomes obvious when we apply his conceptual framework to the Trinity. If at the core of every individual is pure existence, which bestows reality on the qualities that establish membership in a species, then it follows that separateness must precede commonality. Of course, this does not mean that Leontius intended to destroy the foundations of Trinitarian theology. It may well be that he was not aware of how momentous a step he had taken. However, it is worth considering one passage in his Solutiones where an alternative framework is sketched: Πῶς οὖν μίαν Χριστοῦ φύσιν καλεῖς, καὶ ταύτην σύνθετον, τῆς Χριστοῦ προσηγορίας οὐ φύσιν ἀλλ’ ὑπόστασιν σημαινούσης περὶ ἣν αἱ φύσεις ὁρῶνται, καὶ ἐν αἷς τὸ πρόσωπον ἀφορίζεται.27 How, then do you speak of one nature of Christ, which is also composite, when the appellation “Christ” does not denote a nature but a hypostasis around which the natures are seen and in which (sc. the natures) the person is marked off? This is a highly idiosyncratic statement about the make-up of Christ. Contrary to customary usage, person and hypostasis are not synonymous. Instead, only the former has its usual meaning whereas the latter denotes an entity around which the divine and human natures are layered. This is at odds with Leontius’ usual understanding of the hypostasis of Christ as the result of the union of the divine and human natures, and also with the Cappadocian teaching that it is the addition of the hypostatic idioms to the natural idioms, which constitutes hypostasis. It would be wrong to conclude that Leontius had changed his mind. The statement is merely an aside in a passage that is devoted to quite a different topic and is clearly not intended to carry much weight. Nevertheless it is interesting because it shows that Leontius could conceive of an alternative ontological model where “hypostasis” is the anchor for both natural and hypostatic idioms. Leontius only speaks about the special case Christ where two natures are present in a single hypostasis but it is evident that this model could be applied to ordinary individuals as well. They would then consist of three concentric layers, the hypostasis, the nature and the person. Since in this model the hypostasis would precede both the natural and the hypostatic idioms, it would be empty and its only function would be to give existence to both nat-

27

Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, 284.11–15 (Daley).

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ural and hypostatic idioms. This is a scenario that could be easily reconciled with Leontius’ interpretation of the arbor Porphyriana where pure existence precedes essence.

3

Pamphilus Theologus

Engagement with the arbor Porphyriana was not limited to Leontius of Byzantium. In the second half of this article I will turn to other authors of the time who also tried to make use of Porphyry’s conceptual framework. These authors tend to be compilers of already existing material. Thus, they preserve for us the remnants of a once much broader debate. I would like to begin with Pamphilus, the author of a theological handbook who probably lived in the second half of the sixth century.28 A good part of Pamphilus’ handbook is taken up by definitions of theological key terms. Given their importance both in the Trinitarian and in the Christological discourse, it comes as no surprise that the terms “substance” and “nature” are discussed at length. As one would expect, Pamphilus starts by reiterating the Cappadocian position that in the theological discourse nature and substance mean the same thing.29 However, he then concedes that one can make distinctions between the two terms. One of these distinctions is relevant to our topic. It reads as follows: Τινὲς τῶν πατέρων καὶ διδασκάλων σαφηνίζοντες τί σημαίνει τὸ τῆς φύσεως ὄνομα, ταύτην εἶπον εἶναι τὴν ποιὰν τῷ παντὶ ὕπαρξιν, οὐχ ἁπλῶς ὕπαρξιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν ποιὰν ἀορίστως, καὶ οἶμαι ὡς ὀρθῶς καὶ ἀνελλιπῶς ὁ ὅρος ἔγκειται. σαφηνείας δὲ χάριν διὰ τοὺς ἐριστικούς, εὐγνωμόνως ἀκούειν τῶν πατρικῶν μὴ θέλοντας λέξεων, προσθετέον τὸ κατ’ οὐσίαν, ἵνα ᾖ ὁ ὅρος τοιοῦτος· φύσις ἐστὶν ἡ ἑκάστου κατ’ οὐσίαν καὶ ποιὰ τῷ παντὶ ὕπαρξις· τὸ γὰρ κατ’ οὐσίαν προστίθεται, ἐπείπερ ἰδιαίτατα ἡ διαφορά,30 τουτέστιν ἢ κυριώτατα ἢ οὐσιώδης ἡ τοῦ λογικοῦ ἐν τῷ ὁποῖον τί ἐστι κατηγορεῖται, καὶ ἔστι κατ’ οὐσίαν ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ καθὸ λογικόν· καὶ ἠφώρισται κατὰ τοῦτο ἀπὸ τῶν ὁμογενῶν εἰδῶν· ὅπερ λογικὸν καὶ συστατικὸν ὑπάρχει τῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐσίας. διὰ οὖν τοῦτο κατ’ οὐσίαν, διὰ τὰ συμβεβηκότα τὰ ἀχώριστα, καὶ αὐτὰ ἀφορίζοντα τὰ εἴδη καὶ τὰ ἄτομα ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ἀλλ’ οὐχὶ κατ’ οὐσίαν, ἀλλὰ κατὰ συμβεβηκός. οὐκοῦν τὴν μὲν ἁπλῶς 28

29 30

Pamphilus, Diversorum Postchalcedonensium Auctorum Collectanea, vol. 1, 127–161 (Declerck). On Pamphilus, see Grillmeier und Hainthaler 2002, 135–158; and dell’Osso 2010, 377–394. Pamphilus, Opus 139.120–127 (Allen). Ed. τὰ διάφορα.

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ὕπαρξιν ἐπὶ τῆς οὐσίας οἱ πατέρες ἐξέλαβον, τὴν δὲ ποιὰν ἐπὶ τῆς φύσεως, τὸ προσὸν μᾶλλον καὶ πεφυκὸς ταῖς οὐσίαις ἰδίως, εἴτε κατ’ ἐνέργειαν, εἴτε κατὰ δύναμιν, φύσιν ἀποκαλέσαντες.31 Some of the fathers and teachers clarifying what the term “nature” signifies, have stated that it is the qualified existence for everyone (or: everything), not simple existence, but the qualified one in an undefined way, and I think that the definition is correct and complete. But because of the disputatious who do not wish to hear the words of the fathers in a benevolent manner, one must add for the sake of clarity “as regards substance”, so that the definition is such: “nature is the qualified existence for everyone (or: everything) as regards their substance”. For “as regards their substance” is added, since the most specific difference, that is, the one in the true sense of the word or the substantial one of “rationality” is predicated on “what kind of thing it is”, and it is in the human being as regards substance insofar as it is “rationality”. And it is in this respect separated from other species of the same genus and constitutive of the substance “human being”. So, this is the reason that “as regards substance” is added, namely because of the inseparable accidents, which also distinguish the species and the individuals from each other, however, not according to substance but according to accident. Therefore, the Fathers gave the meaning “simple existence” to substance and the meaning “qualified (sc. existence)” to nature, calling “nature” what is present and inherent in the substances in a specific manner, be it according to actuality or according to potentiality. In the first and last sentence of this difficult passage Pamphilus summarises the position of an earlier theologian whose name he does not mention. The position of this theologian shows clear similarities with the arguments of Leontius of Byzantium that we have discussed so far. The concept of pure existence has a counterpart in the highest genus of the Solutiones whereas the distinction between substance as existent and nature as the set of qualities that are added to this existent is found in Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos. This shows clearly that Leontius of Byzantium participated in a broader discourse and furthermore increases the likelihood that there is a link between Leontius’ two arguments. In order to grasp the full meaning of this passage, we need to identify the source from which it is ultimately derived. The best starting-point is the strange

31

Pamphilus, Opus 141.157–142.180 (Allen).

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and almost untranslatable phrase ἡ ποιὰ τῷ παντὶ ὕπαρξις, which denotes the qualities that accede to pure existence. A TLG search reveals that there is only one close counterpart for this phrase, the sentence ποῖα παντὶ ζῴῳ ὑπάρχει in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, which appears in the following context: Πρὸς δὲ τὸ ἔχειν τὰ προβλήματα ἐκλέγειν δεῖ τάς τε ἀνατομὰς καὶ τὰς διαιρέσεις, οὕτω δὲ ἐκλέγειν, ὑποθέμενον τὸ γένος τὸ κοινὸν ἁπάντων, οἷον εἰ ζῷα εἴη τὰ τεθεωρημένα, ποῖα παντὶ ζῴῳ ὑπάρχει, ληφθέντων δὲ τούτων, πάλιν τῶν λοιπῶν τῷ πρώτῳ ποῖα παντὶ ἕπεται, οἷον εἰ τοῦτο ὄρνις, ποῖα παντὶ ἕπεται ὄρνιθι, καὶ οὕτως αἰεὶ τῷ ἐγγύτατα.32 In order to grasp problems, one should excerpt both the anatomies and the divisions; and in this way, laying down the genus common to all the subject matter, one should excerpt (if, for example, animals are under consideration) whatever belongs to every animal; and having got this, again excerpt whatever follows every case of the first of the remaining terms (for example, if it is bird, whatever follows every bird), and always excerpt in this way whatever follows the nearest term.33 In this passage Aristotle explains how one can determine the content of particular genera. One needs to identify ποῖα παντὶ ὑπάρχει, that is, what qualities are found in every member of a genus. This is evidently not the most obvious port of call for a Christian who wished to make an ontological statement. It is possible that the anonymous theologian was attracted to it because it contained the word ὑπάρχειν, which seemed to offer an appropriate counterpart for pure existence. Comparison shows that the anonymous theologian modified Aristotle’s statement in two ways. Firstly, he replaced Aristotle’s intermediate genera “animal” and “bird” with the highest genus. Secondly, he identified the qualities present in substances with the qualities that characterise the lowest species. Accordingly, Pamphilus offers as an example a quality of one lowest species, the “rationality” of the human being. The suppression of all intervening genera and species is not without conceptual problems. It requires that specific differences of a higher order are added to the qualities that mark out the lowest species. However, it would be wrong to think that our author was the first to take this step. Already the Cappadocians had reduced the arbor Porphyriana to the lowest species, which made it impossible to distinguish

32 33

Aristotle, Aristotelis analytica priora et posteriora, 98a1–7 (Ross). The translation is quoted from Barnes 1984, 162.

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between genus and specific difference. The real innovation is the reintroduction of the highest genus as a separate category. A comparison with Leontius’ argument in the Solutiones casts further light on this development. As we have seen Leontius juxtaposed in the case of God pure existence directly with the account of being whereas in the case of created species he left the intervening genera and species in place. Thus one can argue that the unknown theologian took the specific case of God as a starting-point and applied it to created species as well, thus establishing a universally valid ontological framework. However, can we be sure that this model was applied to God? Unfortunately Pamphilus only reproduces the definition itself and tells us nothing about the purpose that it originally served. Yet, he does give us one precious piece of information when he informs us that the concept of qualified existence had incurred strong criticism. Other authors had pointed out that the qualities were not sufficiently distinguished from mere accidents. This complaint is probably based on a misunderstanding. However, it suggests that the model was specifically developed for the divinity. Only there the presence of accidents constituted a major theological problem because it endangered the simplicity of the divinity. Interestingly, Pamphilus thinks that he can offer a solution to this problem. He declares that the qualities that make up “nature” must be identified with specific differences such as “rational” in the case of the human species. In his view, specific differences pass muster because they are constitutive of substances and thus can themselves be regarded as substantial. This argument is most likely again based on the writings of Porphyry who had declared that parts of substances are themselves substances.34

4

Anastasius of Antioch

The unknown theologian whose definitions of nature and substance have survived in Pamphilus’ treatise was not the only one who wrestled with the arbor Porphyriana. This is evident from the writings of two further authors, Anastasius of Antioch and Theodore of Raithou, who both lived in the second half of the sixth century. In the following, I will discuss in turn relevant passages in their writings. Anastasius, who twice served as patriarch of Antioch, contributed to the theological debate of the time with a series of speeches in which he explained

34

Porphyry, In Categorias Commentarium, 94.17–19 (Busse).

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orthodox Trinitarian theology and Christology.35 In these speeches, Anastasius repeatedly uses the term substance in the sense that the Cappadocians had given to it, defining it as the account of being, the sum of the qualities that are common to all members of a species.36 However, there is one context where an alternative definition is offered. It is an attack on John Philoponus’ theory that the divine substance is divided into the Father, the Son and the Spirit each of whom then constitutes a particular substance. Anastasius first reiterates the Cappadocian position, claiming that the humanity and the divinity in the incarnated Word are common or generic substances that are not divided into individuals.37 Then, he offers the following explanation: Οὐσίας γὰρ τὸ εἶναι σημαινούσης καὶ πάντων ὁμοίως τοῦ εἶναι μετεχόντων, τί τῶν ὄντων ἧττόν ἐστι κατὰ τὸν τοῦ εἶναι λόγον ἵν’ ἐκεῖνο μερικὴ λέγοιτο οὐσία καὶ εἰδική, τῆς οὐσίας γενικόν τι δηλούσης; οὐ γὰρ εἰδικόν. καὶ γένος μὲν γενικώτατον ἀκηκόαμεν καὶ εἶδος εἰδικώτατον, γένος δὲ εἰδικώτατον νῦν πρώτως μανθάνομεν. εἰ γὰρ καὶ λέγεταί τινα τῶν εἰδῶν γένη, καθὰ καὶ τὰ ἔμμεσα λεγόμενα τῶν γενῶν εἴδη ἑτέρων εἰδῶν ὄντα γένη, ἀλλ’ οὖν ταῦτα πάντα κατὰ πλειόνων κατηγοροῦνται, ὅπερ κοινότητος μᾶλλόν ἐστι ἢ εἰδικότητος.38 Since substance denotes being and all (sc. beings) equally participate in being, which of the beings is less as regards its account of being so that it might be called particular and special substance, when substance denotes something generic? We have heard of the most generic genus and the most specific species but of the most specific genus we now hear for the first time. For even if some of the species are called genera, as the species of the so-called intermediate genera, which are genera of other species, it is nevertheless the case that all these are predicated of many, which is a sign of commonality rather than specificity. This argument has a clear purpose. Anastasius wants to show that substance can only ever be generic. However, the shape that it takes is very strange indeed. Anastasius equates “substance” not with the species but rather with pure being. Accordingly, the term “account of being” takes on a new meaning. It no longer 35 36 37 38

Anastasius of Antioch, Opera omnia genuina quae supersunt, 374–377 (Sakkos); and dell’Osso 2010, 317–320. See, for example, Anastasius of Antioch, Oratio 3, 54.20–22 (Sakkos). Anastasius of Antioch, Oratio 3, 54.30–34 (Sakkos). Anastasius of Antioch, Oratio 3, 54.34–55.8 (Sakkos).

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denotes the sum-total of the qualities that make up the species “God” or “man” as it had in the immediately preceding passage. Instead, it is equated with being itself in which both God and man again seem to participate. The references to the arbor Porphyriana in the context leave no doubt that pure being is equated with the highest genus substance. It is not at all certain that Anastasius was aware of the significance of this shift since his argument is confused in the extreme. The confusion reaches its height in the concluding statement: Τίς δὲ τοσαύτην ἄνοιαν νοσεῖ ὥστε τὸν τοῦ εἶναι λόγον εἰς τὸν πῶς εἶναι καὶ οἷον εἶναι καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἐναλλὰξ νοῆσαι ἅπερ ἐστὶν οὐσία τε καὶ ὑπόστασις;39 Who suffers from such madness that he would take the notion of being to refer to that of “being how” and “being such” and turn on its head what is substance and hypostasis? Here Anastasius accuses his adversary of mixing up substance with hypostasis. The thrust of the argument is obvious. Anastasius claims that by dividing it into Father, Son and Spirit Philoponus treats the divine substance as if it were hypostasis. However, what he actually says is again something quite different. As we have seen, the account of being does in the context not refer to the lowest species but to pure being. That this interpretation is correct is evident from a very similar statement in Theodore of Raithou’s treatise Praeparatio: Οὐσία μὲν γὰρ αὐτὸ τὸ εἶναι μόνον δηλοῖ· ὑπόστασις δὲ οὐ μόνον τὸ εἶναι δηλοῖ, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ πῶς ἔχειν καὶ τὸ ὁποῖόν τι εἶναι παρίστησι.40 For substance denotes only being itself whereas hypostasis denotes not only being but also presents the “being how” and the “being such”? Here substance is explicitly identified with pure being. This identification creates enormous conceptual problems because now the distinction between the characteristic idioms and the natural qualities can no longer be upheld. The fact that two contemporary authors, Anastasius and Theodore, reproduce similar statements suggests that they borrowed from an earlier theolo-

39 40

Anastasius of Antioch, Oratio 3, 55.9–11 (Sakkos). Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 204.10–11 (Diekamp).

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gian. Unfortunately, nothing is known about this theologian or the purpose of his argument. However, we can still identify the text from which he drew inspiration. The two technical terms πῶς ἔχειν and ὁποῖόν τι εἶναι that he uses have counterparts in Porphyry’s Isagoge: Τὸ δὲ ἐν τῷ τί ἐστι κατηγορεῖσθαι (sc. τὸ γένος) χωρίζει ἀπὸ τῶν διαφορῶν καὶ τῶν κοινῇ συμβεβηκότων, ἃ οὐκ ἐν τῷ τί ἐστιν ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ ποῖόν τί ἐστιν ἢ πῶς ἔχον ἐστὶν κατηγορεῖται.41 The fact that it is predicated in “what is it” separates (sc. the genus) from the differences and the ordinary accidents, which are predicated not in “what is it” but in “which kind is it” or “how is it”. In this passage, Porphyry juxtaposes genus with both specific differences and simple accidents. This juxtaposition is adopted by the anonymous theologian but again with a significant modification. Porphyry who refers to the essence of the genus clearly had in mind a genus such as “animal”, which has a distinct content. The anonymous theologian, however, speaks of the highest genus, substance in the sense of pure existence. This is a phenomenon that we have already encountered in Pamphilus’ treatise. There another philosophical text, Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, was equally modified through replacement of the intermediate genera with the highest genus. In addition, we can also see a clear parallel with the arguments of Leontius of Byzantium. In his treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos Leontius had defined substance as the enhypostaton or existent and juxtaposed it with all idioms that accede to it. There is, however, a crucial difference between the two authors. Leontius had then introduced a third term, nature, which he identified with the account of being, and which he juxtaposed with hypostasis and the characteristic idioms that constitute it. This is a step that the anonymous theologian did not take, possibly because it flew in the face of Cappadocian teaching. As a consequence, he ended up with substance as pure existence and a hypostasis that is the direct bearer of the natural idioms as well.

41

Porphyry, Isagoge, 3.17–20 (Busse).

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Theodore of Raithou

Unfortunately, we cannot say more about the anonymous theologian. However, it is worth having a closer look at the argument of the other of his adapters, Theodore of Raithou.42 Theodore not only reproduces the original statement but adds a long explanation, which may contain his own interpretation. It reads as follows: Τοῦ γὰρ εἶναι αὐτοῦ, ὅπερ ἡ οὐσία σημαίνει, κοινῶς πάντα τὰ ὄντα μετέχουσιν. οὐχ ὅμοια δέ εἰσιν ἀλλήλοις ὅλα τὰ ὄντα, ἀλλὰ καὶ πολλὴν ἔχουσι τὴν διαφοράν, ἴδιά τινα ἑκάστου τούτων ἔχοντος, οἷς τῶν ἄλλων διαλλάττει ὡσαύτως τοῦ εἶναι μετειληφότων· ὥστε ἡ μὲν οὐσία κοινόν τι εἶναι σημαίνει, ἡ δὲ ὑπόστασις ἰδικόν.43 For of being itself, which substance signifies, all beings partake commonly. However, all beings are not similar to each other, but the difference that exists between them is great, because each of them has some particular features, through which it differs from the others that equally participate in being. Thus substance signifies something common whereas hypostasis signifies something particular. In this passage we are told that all beings participate in pure being alike despite all differences that exist between them. Here “substance” clearly has the meaning of highest genus. This is all the more surprising as Theodore then refers to the Cappadocian distinction between that which is common and that which is particular. In this context it cannot have its original meaning. Instead “common” must refer to existence whereas “particular” must refer to all qualifications. As a consequence the properties that mark out the hypostasis are not only the characteristic idioms but also the natural idioms. However, this is not the end of Theodore’s argument. He then proceeds to illustrate the general point he has made with a specific example: Νοήσωμεν δὲ αὐτὸ ἐπὶ παραδείγματος τοιούτου· ὁμοῦ πάντες οἱ ἄνθρωποι κοινὸν ἔχουσι τὸ εἶναι. καὶ γὰρ πάντες ὡσαύτως “ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν”, ἔχει δὲ ἕκαστος ἡμῶν ἴδιά τινα, οἷς τῶν ἄλλων χωρίζεται ἀνθρώπων, οἷον πατρίδα, γένος, κλῆσιν, ἐπιτήδευμα, πράξεις, πάθη καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἃ καὶ συμ-

42 43

On Theodore of Raithou, see Grillmeier and Hainthaler 2002, 117–127. Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 204.12–16 (Diekamp).

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βεβηκότα καλοῦμεν. ταῦτα οὖν χωρίζουσι τὸν καθ’ ἕκαστον ἡμῶν τῶν λοιπῶν ἀνθρώπων. ὑποθώμεθα γάρ, ὅτι ὁ Παῦλος ἄνθρωπός ἐστιν ὡς ὅλοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι, καὶ κατὰ τοῦτο τὸ εἶναι ἄνθρωπος οὔτε αὐτὸς τῶν λοιπῶν ἀνθρώπων διαφέρει οὔτε ὅλοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι τούτου.44 Let us consider it through such an example. All human beings have “being” in common because we all “live and move and are”, but each of us has some specific features, through which he is separated from the other human beings, such as fatherland, family, name, profession, deeds, sufferings and the like, which we call “accidents”. These, then, separate each and every one of us from the remaining human beings. Let us assume that Paul is a human being like all human beings, and as regards being a human being he neither differs from the other human beings nor do all human beings differ from him. Since this is supposed to be merely an illustration of the previous argument, one expects to find no conceptual differences at all. However, this is not the case. Now Theodore does not speak of pure being but of the specific being of a lowest species, the “human being”, with its distinct account of being. This means that the lowest species is reintroduced through the backdoor. Comparison between the two parts of the argument reveals that Theodore has striven to use identical terminology while at the same time changing the conceptual framework. The two phrases πάντα τὰ ὄντα and ὅλα τὰ ὄντα that we have found in the previous passage are replaced by the more specific πάντες οἱ ἄνθρωποι and ὅλοι οἱ ἄνθρωποι and τὸ εἶναι is replaced with τὸ εἶναι ἄνθρωπος, which equates substance no longer with existence but rather with the set of characteristics that identify individuals as members of a species. It is with this common definition that Theodore then juxtaposes the characteristics that mark out the individual Paul, such as his birthplace Tarsus.45 Thus, we can conclude that Theodore, too, distinguishes in the end between pure existence and the account of being, although he has not succeeded in creating a conceptual framework that would accommodate these two meanings of “substance”.

44 45

Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 204.17–205.2 (Diekamp). Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 205.2–7 (Diekamp).

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John of Damascus

The authors on which we have focused so far lived in the sixth century. This does not mean, however, that the conceptual framework, which they had developed, does not also appear in later texts. In the early eighth century John of Damascus made reference to it in his Dialectica: Οἱ μὲν ἔξω φιλόσοφοι κατὰ τὸν προλελεγμένον λόγον διαφορὰν εἶπον οὐσίας καὶ φύσεως, οὐσίαν μὲν εἰπόντες τὸ ἁπλῶς εἶναι, φύσιν δὲ οὐσίαν εἰδοποιηθεῖσαν ὑπὸ τῶν οὐσιωδῶν διαφορῶν καὶ μετὰ τοῦ ἁπλῶς εἶναι καὶ τὸ τοιῶσδε εἶναι ἔχουσαν, εἴτε λογικὴν εἴτε ἄλογον, εἴτε θνητὴν εἴτε ἀθάνατον.46 According to the aforementioned discourse the pagan philosophers spoke of a difference between substance and nature, saying that substance is simple being, whereas nature is substance that has become specified by the substantial differences and has along with simple being also being in such and such a way, either rational or non-rational, mortal or immortal. This passage has already been discussed by Anna Zhyrkova, who notes that John distinguishes between two types of being.47 Zhyrkova suggests two possible sources for John’s statement, the Stoic distinction between κοινῶς ποιόν and ἄποιος ὕλη; and the Neoplatonic distinction between absolute and determinate being.48 As we have seen, Leontius of Byzantium introduced a second substrate, a concept, which he took from an Aristotelian commentary but which ultimately goes back to the Stoics.49 By contrast, John’s statement ultimately seems to be derived from descriptions of the arbor Porphyriana. This becomes evident when we consider the remainder of the passage where we read: Οἱ δὲ ἅγιοι πατέρες παρεάσαντες τὰς πολλὰς ἐρεσχελίας τὸ μὲν κοινὸν καὶ κατὰ πολλῶν λεγόμενον ἤγουν τὸ εἰδικώτατον εἶδος οὐσίαν καὶ φύσιν καὶ μορφὴν ἐκάλεσαν.50

46 47

48 49 50

John of Damascus, 1, 93.3–7 (Kotter). Zhyrkova 2010, 87. Zhyrkova also discusses other passages in the Dialectica, which deal with the topic of being. It is, however, questionable whether these passages can be regarded as expressions of a coherent philosophical position. The Dialectica appears to be a collection of disparate elements. Zhyrkova 2010, 102–103. See Wildberg 1988, 209–210. John of Damascus, Dialectica 31, 94.25–27 (Kotter).

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The holy Fathers, however, leaving aside the great gibberish called that which is common and said of many, that is, the most specific species, substance and nature and form. A very similar sentence is found in Theodore of Raithou’s Praeparatio. According to Theodore, the Fathers called the most specific species substance and nature “letting go of this great gibberish”, ἀφέντες τὴν πολλὴν ταύτην ἐρεσχελίαν.51 In the Praeparatio, too, this sentence is preceded by a statement about pagan philosophy. Unlike John, however, Theodore speaks at this point of the arbor Porphyriana, which he sets out in great detail. The passage begins with the declaration that “the sages of the pagans called substance the first of all species and genera”, οἱ τῶν Ἑλλήνων σοφοὶ πρώτην ἁπάντων εἰδῶν τε καὶ γενῶν τὴν οὐσίαν κατηγοροῦσιν.52 It seems that John of Damascus himself or somebody else remodelled Theodore’s statement, replacing the arbor Porphyriana with the distinction between substance as simple being and nature as qualified being. That such remodelling took place is in itself interesting because the new conceptual framework was a fruit of the Patristic discourse of the previous centuries. In the Dialectica it is nevertheless attributed to pagan philosophers. By then the Christological problems that had led to the development of the new conceptual framework had evidently been lost sight of.

7

Conclusion

Through analysis of a number of primary sources we have been able to detect a trend within sixth-century Chalcedonian theology. Pure being or existence is added as a third component to the two sets of natural and hypostatic qualities, which the Cappadocians had introduced into the theological discourse two centuries earlier. As a consequence, existence becomes the innermost core of each being, which precedes both nature and hypostasis and functions as a substrate for them. In order to make their case, sixth-century theologians had recourse to philosophical and in particular Aristotelian concepts. Leontius of Byzantium built his argument on the distinction between matter as an unqualified substrate and qualities constitutive of a species, which accede to this substrate. However, in order to make it serve his needs he had to modify this conceptual framework considerably, replacing matter with existence. This may

51 52

Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 209.5–6 (Diekamp). Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, 207.10–11 (Diekamp).

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explain why another framework, the arbor Porphyriana, enjoyed greater popularity. After all, there pure existence was already present in the guise of the highest genus substance. Leontius himself used the arbor Porphyriana in his later treatise Solutiones where he subordinated the species God and the species human being to the highest genus. However, he still made an important distinction. In his argument, God was placed directly under the highest genus whereas the human being was separated from it through the intermediate genera. Other authors seem to have gone further and generalised this model, cutting out all intermediate genera so that in the case of created being, too, pure existence is directly juxtaposed with the lowest species. However, engagement with the arbor Porphyriana did not always yield meaningful results. Several authors juxtaposed pure being with all idioms, with the result that the distinction between hypostatic and natural properties could no longer be upheld. Such a framework is irreconcilable with Christian doctrine. I have nevertheless included it in the discussion because it gives an insight into the low intellectual level of much of the debate, and it provides the necessary context for more successful contributions. Indeed, it is quite startling to see how both the uniformed and the sophisticated wrestled with the same problems and how they arrived at similar conclusions. Such speculation was undoubtedly prompted by the debates of the day. Confronted with attacks by both Nestorians and Monophysites, Chalcedonians averred that the human nature within the incarnated Word was real and not just a mental construct, despite the fact that it did not have a hypostasis of its own. However, one gets the sense that over time authors became interested in ontology for its own sake. The new conceptual framework that they had created was by no means unproblematic. If the common nature is only real when it is anchored in existence, and existence is located in the individual, then, separateness precedes connectedness. The conceptualisation of Father, Son and Spirit as three distinct entities precedes the consideration of their common nature. However, this is not merely a theological issue. As we have seen, the authors assume that their framework is applicable to created being as well. This means that each being comes to be seen as an empty monad to which are added qualities that would otherwise not exist. This amounts to a radical rejection of realist interpretations of the arbor Porphyriana where it is thought that genera and species have a reality of their own and that they can bind together the beings that fall under them.

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Bibliography Primary Sources Ammonius (1891) Ammonii in Porphyrii isagogen sive V voces, ed. A. Busse, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 4.3 (Berlin). Anastasius of Antioch (1976) Anastasii I Antiocheni opera omnia genuina quae supersunt, ed. S.N. Sakkos (Salonica). Aristotle (1964) Aristotelis analytica priora et posteriora, ed. D. Ross (Oxford). Aristotle (1984) The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, trans. J. Barnes (Princeton). Basil (1957, 1961, 1966) Saint Basile. Lettres, ed. Y. Courtonne, 3 vols. (Paris). Basil of Caesarea (1857) PG 29, ed. J.-P. Migne (Paris). John of Damascus (1969) Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, vol. 1: Institutio Elementaris, Capita Philosophica (Dialectica), ed. B. Kotter, Patristische Texte und Studien 7 (Berlin). Leontius of Byzantium (2017) Complete Works, ed. B.E. Daley, SJ, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford). Pamphilus (1989) Diversorum Postchalcedonensium Auctorum Collectanea, vol. 1: Pamphili Theologi opus, ed. J.H. Declerck, Eustathii Monachi opus, ed. P. Allen, Corpus Christianorum, Series Graeca 19 (Turnhout). Porphyry (1887) Porphyrii Isagoge et in Aristotelis categorias commentarium, ed. A. Busse, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 4.1 (Berlin). Simplicius (1907) Simplicii in Aristotelis categorias commentarium, ed. K. Kalbfleisch, Commentaria in Aristotelem graeca 8 (Berlin). Theodore of Raithou (1938) Analecta Patristica. Texte und Abhandlungen zur griechischen Patristik, ed. F. Diekamp, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 117 (Rome).

Secondary Sources Baumgartner, H.-M. (1980) ‘Arbor porphryiana, porphyrischer Baum’, Lexikon des Mittelalters, vol. 1. (Munich and Zurich), 889–890. Beeley, C.A. (2008) Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In your Light We Shall See Light (Oxford). dell’Osso, C. (2010) Cristo e Logos: il Calcedonismo del VI secolo in Oriente, Studia Ephemerides Augustinianum 118 (Rome). Gleede, B. (2012) The Development of the Term ἐνυπόστατος from Origen to John of Damascus, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 113 (Leiden and Boston). Grillmeier, A. and Hainthaler T. (2002) Jesus der Christus im Glauben der Kirche, vol. 2.3: Die Kirchen von Jerusalem und Antiochien (Freiburg, Basel and Vienna). Hombergen, D. (2001) The Second Origenist Controversy. A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis’ Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-Century Origenism, Studia Anselmiana 132 (Rome).

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Krausmüller, D. (2011) ‘Aristotelianism and the Disintegration of the Late Antique Theological Discourse’, in J. Loessl and J. Watt (eds.) Interpreting the Bible and Aristotle. Christian and Late Platonist Commentary between Rome and Bukhara (Aldershot), 151–164. Krausmüller, D. (2011) ‘Making Sense of the Formula of Chalcedon: the Cappadocians and Aristotle in Leontius of Byzantium’s Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos’, Vigiliae Christianae 65, 484–513. Radde-Gallwitz, A. (2012) Basil of Caesarea: A guide to his life and doctrines (Eugene, OR). Suchla, B.R. (1980) ‘Die sogenannten Maximus-Scholien des Corpus Dionysiacum Areopagiticum’, Nachrichten der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen. Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 1980, fasc. 3 (Göttingen), 31–66. Wildberg, C. (1988) John Philoponus’ Criticism of Aristotle’s Theory of Aether (Berlin and New York). Zachhuber, J. (2000) Human Nature in Gregory of Nyssa. Philosophical Background and Theological Significance, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 46 (Leiden). Zhyrkova, A. (2010) ‘John Damascene’s Notion of Being: Essence vs. Hypostatical Existence’, St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 54, 85–105.

chapter 7

Translating Crisis into Logic: John Damascene’s Iconic Conceptualization of History vis-à-vis Late Neoplatonic Symbolism Vassilis Adrahtas

1

Introduction

Although the title of the present study might strike one as rather poetic, it is precisely through the poetic that I want to put forward a number of research questions. In particular, I am interested in how the chosen intellectual figures made sense of the crisis of their times; how they made sense out of that crisis; and, finally, how they made crisis the very substance of sense. With regards to the theological and philosophical perspectives I have chosen to explore, I intend to demonstrate that such questions did presuppose and entail a specific logic in each case. Furthermore, as the subtitle of the present study makes clear, my thesis is that John Damascene worked with an iconic type of logic, a logic of icons, a logic of iconicity, whereas Late Neoplatonism— and in particular Proclus, who will be my exclusive field of reference as far as late antique philosophy is concerned—employed a symbolic type of logic, a logic of symbols, a logic of symbolicity. In this respect, one could say that the present study engages in a comparative investigation into the history of ideas.1 I do not address the historical question of whether or not the Damascene’s iconic logic presupposes the symbolic logic of Proclus, that is, if the former has a textual grounding in the latter; such an approach in itself would require a

1 Although both Proclus and John Damascene use “icon” and “symbol” interchangeably, John Damascene is clearly in favour of “icon”. To my understanding this is not just a matter of linguistic preference, but more pointedly a matter of conceptual reference. Again, although both thinkers in employing their terminology presuppose and entail a physical referentiality, the latter is different in each case: in Proclus it is about the ontological status of φύσις, whereas in John Damascene it is about the experiential factuality of ἱστορία. Thus, throughout this study by employing the term “iconicity” I have in mind a physical mediation of historical facts (in reference to Jesus), whereas by employing the term “symbolicity” I mean a physical mediation of ontological realities (in reference to nature).

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_009

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whole study of its own.2 Instead, I focus on a systematic philosophical presentation of the Damascene’s iconic logic in juxtaposition to elements of Proclus’ symbolic logic. More specifically, my interest lies primarily in the Damascene’s icons, while Proclus’ symbols are considered insofar as they allow one to bring forth the distinctiveness of the Damascene’s position more lucidly. Consequently, the present comparative investigation into the history of ideas should be regarded as a comparative phenomenology of the experience of (transcending) crisis. Textually I have limited myself to the Three Treatises against Those Who Defame the Holy Icons and The Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith with regards to the Damascene, whereas in the case of Proclus I have taken Platonic Theology to be most pertinent to the issues explored in the present study. It seems that John Damascene works through a conceptualization of history which, although coherent, is not comprehensive theoretically, while Proclus works through a symbolism that constitutes a full-blown and all-encompassing theory. In this regard the Damascene and Proclus are definitely asymmetrical. However, I propose that this asymmetry be seen heuristically within a fundamental symmetry between the two, a symmetry that was—amongst other concerns—the main reason for my choice of presenting them jointly. In particular, both of them lived within a crisis which was, undoubtedly, prepared and effected gradually, but at the same time most radical in its implications and consequences. Secondly, both of them recapitulated and reaffirmed their respective traditions due to, within and through the crisis they experienced. And last but not least, both of them seem to have opted for an elaboration of the onto-logical category of symbol as the most effective means to articulate a theoretical transcendence of crisis. If I were to justify in advance the contribution the present exploration makes to the scholarly study of the Damascenean œuvre, I would maintain that in what follows I attempt to suggest a way in which scholarship could possibly find new avenues beyond the Aristotelian logic point of view that has unduly dominated the relevant research agenda for more than half a century.3 More specifically, apart from the overt Neoplatonic Aristotle that scholarship has painstakingly identified in the Damascenean corpus, there might be—equally, 2 Nevertheless, as it is clear from the section “Objections and Suggestions” in the present study, I do not avoid the historical question altogether—for ultimately this would have been problematic methodologically—and I do answer it in the affirmative: even if a direct historical causality between Proclus and John Damascene would prove to be far-fetched, some kind of genetic historical causality through a series of mediative inter-textuality is only reasonable to be assumed. 3 See, for example, Studer 1956; Oehler 1964, 133–146; Richter 1964; Richter 1982; Louth 2002; Erismann 2011, 269–287.

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if not more so—a covert Neoplatonic Plato within the thought of John Damascene that deserves to be considered. The present study, if anything, can only aspire to be a first step towards such a direction. In this manner the Damascene’s work could be appreciated in light of a broader dialogic with late antique philosophy than what has been presumed thus far. This is precisely the ultimate objective of the present study as long as it aspires to demonstrate the Damascene’s iconic transmutation of the Neoplatonic symbol.

2

Contextualization

In one of his books Nikolaos Loudovikos4 argues—through what I regard as a biased and negative assessment—that, in contrast to the Church Fathers, philosophers are thoroughly and consistently angst-stricken. His judgement is especially relevant to Neoplatonism insofar as he signals out Plotinus as a typical example of this inescapable condition of angst. However, if angst is not extended so as to include the Church Fathers as well—and I would dare say even more so—then one is doomed from the very beginning to misunderstand the very gist of what their work was all about. John Damascene, as I think will become sufficiently clear in what follows, is a typical example of the angststricken Church Fathers. This can be shown to be the case in at least two ways, one explicit and the other implicit. Thus I have come out to speak, because I am assaulted by fear … For I was of the opinion that it is certainly dire … that the Church … should be turning back to the beggarly elemental spirits by being fearful of something about which there is no fear and, as if not knowing the real God, being afraid of slipping into idolatry …, writes John Damascene in the second chapter of his first treatise on the holy icons.5 But this chapter only goes on with and intensifies the performativity of his writing in the first chapter of the same treatise, which is highly dialectical in the sense that it is saturated with contradictions that feed upon one another. It

4 Loudovikos 1999. 5 Contra imaginum calumniators orationes tres, 66: 1.24–2.12 (Kotter); my translation throughout and emphasis. Louth, St John Damascene, 19–20 translates as follows: “Compelled to speak by a fear that cannot be borne, I have come forward … For it seems to me a calamity … that the Church … should return to the first elements, afraid where no fear was, and, as if it did not know the true God, be suspicious of the snare of idolatry”.

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is only reasonable to assume that this performativity reflects a dialectical tension already operative at the level of his very experience. And it is the latter that in the second chapter takes on the proportions of what could be seen as angst, a condition though that does not petrify him but compels him to act. If this can stand as an example of the Damascene’s explicit angst, then an example of his implicit angst can be traced in the writing performativity that drives The Exact Exposition. In this work his preoccupation, obsession I would rather say, with accuracy, exactitude and by extension logical clarity allows one to suppose that he is driven by a dreadful concern that everything be written down the way it absolutely should. In other words, the very definitiveness he aims at can be deconstructed so as to indicate an underlying and repressed experience of terror; an experience of terror that subsequently and consciously has been sublimated into a logically coherent and consistent system concerning the articulation of faith. But if his explicit angst refers unequivocally to the so-called Iconoclastic Controversy, what does his implicit angst refer to? My answer is: to “the terror of history”.6 But before I elaborate on this, let us turn for a moment to Proclus. In his Platonic Theology Proclus uses—not at all often, but quite tellingly— two terms I regard as quite revealing with regards to his own experience. The terms are “anguish” (ὠδίς) and “to strain, to torment” (βασανίζειν). Proclus concludes the first chapter of book one with an explicit reference to his own angst (and its overcoming): “And we shall attain the excellent end of the anguish we have within ourselves regarding things divine, as we yearn to know something about them … and strain ourselves as much as possible”.7 Such an experience— one about the question of the Divine—can only be adequately conceptualized within a situation of lack or loss, and in particular the fundamental lack or loss of meaning. As it is well known, the fifth century (although Athens and Alexandria continued into the sixth century) is the century of socio-political defeat for pagan Hellenism. In this respect, Proclus could not but live out his Hellenic lifeworld within a situation that witnessed the latter’s eclipse due to the emergent Christian world order. Thus, from an anthropological point of view, the explicit angst traceable in his writing performativity finds its condition of possibility within the experience of the final stage in the crisis of Hellenism.

6 Cf., for example, Eliade 1971, 139–161; Dodds 1965. 7 Saffrey and Westerink 1968, 12: 12–15; my translation and emphasis. Fortier (2014) translates as follows: “and we will have the best end of the birth-pangs which we have in us concerning the gods, yearning to gain some knowledge concerning them … as far as possible … putting ourselves to the test” (p. 135).

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Nevertheless, Proclus also exhibits an implicit angst through the very construction of his Platonic Theology. The indications of what I am referring to are so abundant that they become alarmingly suspect. Terms such as ἐξῃρημένη (removed), ὑπερέχουσα (exceeding), ὑπεριδρυμένη (superior), which denote what is transcendentally detached from and at the same time untouched by the ever-changing circumstances of life, or synonymous terms such as μόνιμον (unwavering), ἀκίνητον (unmoving), ἀσφαλές (secure)—especially the last one—are either used or echoed in virtually every sentence that Proclus writes. If anything, what one can make of all this is the persistent attempt of Proclus to demarcate an existential space of safety. In light of the crisis of his times, this is by no means accidental; more to the point, it is by all means compulsive. Proclus writes thus because he cannot do otherwise; his very writing is the only freedom left to him, but equally so this freedom is his noble and at the same time tragic fate.8 In his case, to put it otherwise, the real external crisis of Hellenism was existentially internalised as a vacuum to be filled up by his freedom; his freedom of being aware and evocative of the possibility that lived reality could and should be otherwise. This is why Platonic Theology can be read as his envisioning of a perfect world—out of angst and in the face of the real world he lived in. Going back to the question about the terror of history with regards to John Damascene, I would like to put forward my own frame of reference—which I will attempt to corroborate subsequently through an analysis of his texts— as to what exactly the problem he faced presupposed and entailed. It seems that in positing the so-called Iconoclastic Controversy as a frame of reference for understanding the Damascene’s defence of icons, scholarship has in some respects been looking at the tree and missing the forest. What I mean is that in dealing with icons the Damascene was interested in something broader, namely, tradition.9 It was tradition that he problematized in a manner his ostensible opponents did not; a manner radical enough to bring to the fore the dialectical structure of tradition. But in any case, tradition is about history, and so the real crisis that generated the Damascene’s angst was a crisis about the historicity of faith: the icon-problem should be seen as the predicament of tradition and the predicament of tradition as the concern of whether and how there was to be a history again—one’s own history! This remark can only be fully appreciated—especially in terms of angst—in light of the 8 Cf. Buckley 2002, 167–179. 9 As Ken Parry (1996, 156) has written: “Without wishing to oversimplify the matter, there is a sense in which the entire controversy over images could be said to centre on the place of tradition in the Byzantine church”.

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emergent Islamic world order, which disrupted, challenged and relativized Christian historicity. This was the ultimate terror of history to which John Damascene responded by recreating tradition and inventing “orthodoxy” as a definitive system through his iconic, i.e., emblematic conceptualization of history.

3

The History Factor in John Damascene

“Certainly those who do not know the scriptures are led astray … those who do not research the mind hidden under the word”, writes the Damascene in the fifth chapter of his first treatise,10 and immediately adds at the very beginning of chapter six that “the purpose is one and the same”.11 Here his discussion is about meaning and intention; meaning as the sought-out message of a given medium, and intention as the point of reference for meaningfulness. What the Damascene is actually doing here through the performativity of his writing is a transposition of certain cardinal philosophical problems into the field of biblical hermeneutics. If the word-medium and the mind-message do change each and every time and if intention-purpose has been postulated as unchanging, how is one to resolve this discrepancy? How is the dialectics of unity and multiplicity, the Same and the Other, to be accounted for? The principle of synthesis has already been put forward in the fourth chapter as the hypostasis of the incarnate Logos. It is the incarnate God that the Damascene conceptualizes as the intentionality of history, that is, the unity of history within and through its difference, and thus as the condition of possibility for any coherent and cohesive historicity of meaning. These remarks entail that in John Damascene’s conceptualization of history there is progress and advancement, something that is explicitly stated in chapter eight: “we [are those] … to whom it has been given to be with God by having realized the truth … and to be abundantly enriched in the perfection of knowing God and to end up in a perfect man by leaving behind [our] infancy”.12 Nevertheless, history is not exclusively conceived of as progress, but the latter is regarded as a possibility and an actuality within the former. The Damascene is not espousing historical progress in general, but historicity as progress in this or that particular instance. Presumably this conceptualization

10 11 12

John of Damascus, 3, 78: 5 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 79: 6.1 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 81: 8.4–14 (Kotter).

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of history—strictly as a schema—is the inverse of Proclus’ conceptualization of reality; at least in part, since both time as εἰκών αἰῶνος (the image of eternity) and ἔγχρονον (temporal) do have a place in that reality. Furthermore, the Damascene’s history stands out as discontinuous compared to the continuous reality of Proclus (as attested by his abundant use of συνεχῶς, προσεχῶς, ἐπομένως and their cognates). In other words, one could schematically depict Proclus’ reality as a closed circuit and the Damascene’s history as an upward curve.13 It is worth noting that it is the particular historicity as progress that constitutes the focal point for the Damascene, and it is only in light of this that for him a general history is even conceivable: the discontinuity of the particular allows and calls for the continuity of the general. Thus, the Damascene seems to have recast the traditional philosophical general—particular distinction in purely historical terms. On the other hand, in the case of Proclus it is the general continuity—throughout and between πρόοδος and ἐπιστροφή— that allows for the particular discontinuity; because there is indeed such a discontinuity therein—not only at the level of ὑλική ἀσθένεια (material infirmity), but also at the level of φύσις (the actuality of ontological potentialities), to say the least—which stands out as a procedural moment within continuity itself. To substantiate one’s position on the basis of the most particular, i.e., the eschaton in Proclus’ terminology, as John Damascene has it—although for him the same term also receives a totally reverse meaning—would be an outright anathema. At the end of the eighth chapter of his first treatise, the Damascene not only makes it perfectly clear that for him the raison d’ être of the whole schema of history is Christ—since it is he who as the particular historicity-progress par excellence makes sense of the whole schema—but he also identifies Christ-as-

13

Evidently, the basis of my approach here is the more or less established distinction between the concept of circularity found in Hellenic philosophy and the concept of linearity so characteristic of Christianity. However, I problematize this distinction insofar as I see circularity and linearity in relation to the entirety of the respective worldviews and not specifically in reference to concepts of time. For the philosophically minded Hellenes what is circular is φύσις as such and not primarily or even necessarily time in particular. On the other hand, what is linear for Christian theologians is basically the history of salvation (Heilsgeschichte) and only secondarily the connection between this or that time and only insofar as it forms part of this history. Furthermore, my problematization intends to bring forth the particular contour of Proclus’ circularity and John Damascene’s linearity. For a general introduction to the circular–linear distinction of time concepts, see Eliade 1971. For a substantial qualification regarding the circularity of time in Hellenic philosophy, see Sorabji 1983.

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the-particular par excellence with the core of symbolicity. He urges: “Give form … to the symbols of his divine nature, enacted [as they are] by divine energy through the activity of the flesh … Present all of them both in words and in colours”.14 Here the Damascene refers to the hypostasis of the Logos insofar as it was witnessed as an event-history which consisted of symbols. Conceptually speaking, the Logos is rendered a topology of symbolicity, for it is his symbols that count primarily and fundamentally as symbols. This course of thought brings us to the notion of symbol in the thought of the Damascene, a subject which I have elaborated elsewhere with regards to The Exact Exposition,15 and which for the purposes of the present study I will reiterate as concisely as possible.

4

From a Typology of Symbols to a Theory of Icons

In the works of John Damascene there is no definition or systematic consideration of the notion of symbol. The term itself is employed rather occasionally and this has led some to underestimate its importance.16 Notwithstanding that, based on Chapters 1–14 of The Exact Exposition one can make a strong case with regards to its pervasiveness as a meaning-structure. But before we proceed to the Damascenean typology of symbols, a few remarks are necessary. Throughout his works the Damascene uses σύμβολον (symbol) as synonymous to τύπος (form) and εἰκών (icon),17 terms which are nevertheless much more widely used and preferred by him, especially the last one. If there is possibly a distinction that can be drawn between them—basically one of emphasis—it could be reasonably put as follows: “symbol” is mostly about signification and thus a term that lends itself to semantics; “form” is about perception and thus a term that lends itself to aesthetics; and “icon” is about referentiality between different levels of reality—especially historical reality—and thus quite pertinent to metaphysics—and, for that matter, to a metaphysics of history.18 All 14 15 16 17

18

John of Damascus, 3, 82: 8.59–83:8.74 (Kotter). Adrahtas 2002, 15–34. Cf. Papadopoulos 1997. This is perhaps most conspicuous in his dictum, that theology would not have been possible εἰ μὴ εἰκόσι καὶ τύποις καὶ συμβόλοις τοῖς καθ’ ἡμᾶς χρησαίμεθα (“if we were not to use things according to us as icons and forms and symbols”). Expositio fidei, 33: 5–6 (Kotter). My classification draws upon the distinctive meaning that these terms have acquired in the history of ideas/philosophy. “Symbol” became cardinal to signification/semantics due to its primary meaning of correspondence; and it is in the sense of signification that one uses the term philosophically nowadays. “Form”, in turn, being more or less related to per-

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adrahtas SIGNIFIER

Symbol 1 (re. theology as discourse)

Sign SIGNIFIED SIGNIFIED

SIGNIFIER

SIGNIFIED

SIGN

SIGN

Symbol 2 (re. theology as mediation of tradition)

Symbol 3 (re. tradition/theology per se)

SIGNIFIER

SIGN SIGNIFIER SIGNIFIED

figure 7.1 John Damascene’s typology of symbols. Capital letters indicate symbols proper

of them, though, are aspects of one and the same theological or, better, ontotheo-logical experience—insofar as theology involves both ontic and logical elements.19 There are three types of symbols which can be reconstructed in light of John Damascene’s theological discourse; and all of them can be approached as variations of the Saussurean model.20 Symbol 1 is the most simple and straightforward, being about the intrinsic relationship between language and thought; Symbol 2 is the most complicated and dialectical, being about the conceptual and linguistic mediation of the experience of revelation; and Symbol 3 is the most compact and integral, being about the unmediated experience of revelation (see Fig. 7.1). At the same time these symbolic types are based upon one another or, conversely, derived from one another. Furthermore, all of them betray an Aristotelian logic provenance, although this has been substantially

19 20

ception due to its primary meaning of impression, became prominent in aesthetics; and it is in the sense of overall perception that one uses the term in modern art theory/criticism. Lastly, “icon” points to referentiality within reality due to its primary meaning of likeness or semblance; and it is in the sense of similitude that one uses it in the metaphysical problematics that have recently emerged as to the reality of the virtual. Adrahtas 2001. de Saussure 1955. My reference to the Saussurean model is due to the following reasons: i) John Damascene not only uses the term “symbol” but also terms such as σημεῖον (sign), σημαῖνον (signifier), σημαινόμενον (signified), σημαίνειν (to signify) and σημαντική (signifying [voice]), a fact that allows one to approach his thought from the perspective of semantics; ii) the Saussurean model—wrongly in my view—has been deemed unsuitable for the understanding of the tradition of thought to which the Damascene belongs (see for example the monograph of S. Papadopoulos mentioned above in n. 15); and, lastly, analyzing the Damascene on the basis of this model can yield a more nuanced, complex and elaborate picture of the model itself. For the first of the aforementioned points, see for example John Damascene’s Dialectical Chapters in Capita philosophica, 60–63 (Kotter).

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modified due to their Christian functionality. However, what is lacking therein is a distinctively Platonic contour, like the one we find for instance in Proclus’ Platonic Theology. In this work, for one thing, the terminology associated with symbol is far beyond anything the Damascene provides us with: παράδειγμα (paradigm), σύμβολον (symbol), εἰκών (image), ὁμοίωμα (likeness), τύπος (form), ἄγαλμα (representation), ἴνδαλμα (appearance), ἔμφασις (reflection), σύνθημα (sign), δεῖξις/ἔνδειξις (indication), αἴνιγμα (hint), εἴδωλον (semblance), σκιά (shadow), as well as several other minor terms.21 Apart from the fact that through these terms Proclus attached to the whole ontological spectrum a corresponding spectrum of symbolicity, rendering thus Platonic realism into a theory of symbolism exhibited through an intricate system of multiple intertwined structures22—something simply absent from the work of the Damascene—there are two major elements of this symbolism that demonstrate the difference between Damascenean iconicity and Proclean symbolism. These are the notions of analogy and mimesis,23 which while from a theoretical point of view are of paramount importance to Proclus, are rather secondary, if not minimal, in the work of the Damascene. In Chapters 9–13 of his first treatise John Damascene presents his five definitions of the iconic. The latter—in striking contrast to the typology of symbols seen above—is elaborated and systematically discussed. However, it is inter21

22 23

A full referencing of these terms in Proclus’ Platonic Theology would include hundreds of textual occurrences. However, I believe that thanks to its comprehensiveness the following passage from the very end of Book I, Chapter 29 would suffice as a most telling example. “For as the creative mind constitutes with regards to matter reflections (ἐμφάσεις) of the primary ideas within itself, and produces semblances (εἴδωλα)—temporal of things eternal, divisible of things indivisible and shadowy drawn (ἐσκιαγραφημένα), so to speak, of those that truly are—in precisely the same manner, I think, our own science forming itself according to (ἀποτυπουμένη) the noetic creation makes through the intellect likenesses (ὁμοιώματα) not only of other things but also of the gods themselves, imaging (ἀπεικάζουσα) their uncombined-ness through combination, their simplicity through variety and their unity through multitude. And so, shaping (πλάττουσα) thus the names of things divine, it brings them forth as images (εἰκόνας) at the lowest level. For it gives birth to each name as a representation (ἄγαλμα) of the gods. And as theurgy by means of some symbols (συμβόλων) calls upon the ample goodness of the gods for the sake of illuminating the hand-made representations (ἀγαλμάτων), in the same manner also the noetic science of things divine, through the combination and division of sounds, reveals (ἐκφαίνει) the most hidden essence of the gods … We must … also respect the lowest faint echoes (ἀπηχήματα) of the gods, and by revering them hold fast to their primary paradigms (παραδείγμασι)” (my translation and emphasis). Trouillard 1982. Rangos 1999, 249–277.

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esting to enquire into the relationship between the three types of symbols and the five types of icons that the Damascene articulates. It seems that only the first three types of icons intersect with his typology of symbols, leaving thus out of an obvious correspondence the last two types of icons. Probably the reason for this relates to the fact that the symbol is more or less abstract, whereas the icon is much more physical. In other words, it is this physicality as historicity that the remaining two definitions of the iconic bring forth as a frame of reference. But let us consider the first definition of the iconic: “Icon is a likeness that characterises the prototype and also has a certain difference to it”.24 What is interesting and at the same time puzzling is that this definition seems superfluous by including the qualification “that characterises” (χαρακτηρίζον), for one would regard it as self-evident. Nevertheless, it seems that the Damascene wants to emphasize the concreteness or specificity of the prototype, i.e., the fact that the latter should not be thought of as something general or even indefinite. And a question arises: what does he have in mind? The Damascene goes on by adducing, most probably as an example of his definition, the hypostasis of the Logos, and also by drawing out some implications for iconicity in light of Triadology. A reasonable solution to this conundrum is that the prototype he started writing about is indeed Jesus Christ as the hypostasis of the incarnate Logos—besides, that was what the major contested issue of the crisis he was responding to involved—and in this respect his first definition implies that the historical iconicity with regards to the Logos is dependent upon an iconicity ascribable to the Trinity. This latter iconicity allows one to appreciate a dialectic inherent in the first type/definition of icon, i.e., a dialectic between its characterizing and differentiating aspect. I would like to term this dialectics “relative simulation” and juxtapose it to an “absolute simulation” with respect to Triadology. What is intriguing, though, is that for the Damascene absolute simulation within the Trinity is due precisely to difference. To elucidate this issue, one could assert that in Triadology difference is internally constitutive of simulation, and that is precisely the reason one speaks of simulation and not identification, whereas at the level of the created difference is externally constitutive of simulation and so it becomes the basis not so much of non-identification but of differentiation. Thus, if historical iconicity is about differentiation, Triadological simulation seems to be more about alterity. Consequently, one could maintain that the relationship between these

24

John of Damascus, 3, 83: 9.3–5 (Kotter). This is based on Aristotle’s definition of a homonym, Categories 1.a; see Parry 2013, 35–58.

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two modes of iconicity is premised upon Triadological simulation being the transcendental condition of possibility for the emergence and realization of historical simulation. It is worth mentioning here that in Proclus En (“the One”) is also postulated as the transcendental condition of possibility for the entire spectrum of the symbolic constitution of reality, but what should be emphatically pointed out is that there is no symbolic-ness whatsoever involved in En.25 On the contrary, for the Damascene the Trinity is conceptualized as the very core or source of iconicity. The second definition of the icon—basically an example, strictly speaking—is placed firmly within an eschatological perspective. There are … in God icons and paradigms of those that will come to be by him, and this is his pre-eternal will … These icons and paradigms Saint Dionysius … calls predestinations.26 For in his will everything that is predestined by him has been characterized … just as … one forms … the shape [of something].27 Here the icon as an eschatological future reality is a kind of schema, a shape or form in itself. Reasonably one could argue that this is so because it shapes and forms; because it creates shapes and forms. In other words, the Damascene is saying that historicity consists of shapes and forms which are shaped and formed as such in light of the predestined future, the eschaton. Although the phrasing of the definition can also be taken otherwise, given the use of the terms “paradigm” and “pre-eternal”, it is evident that the Damascene is working out his second type of icon through a reverse reconstruction of Neoplatonic paradigms, such as those most prominently featuring in the work of Proclus.28 However, what one should not fail to notice is that there is a dialectical tension between the first and the second definition, i.e., between the icon-as-visible and the icon-as-invisible. Undoubtedly the invisible is posited as the transcendental condition of possibility for the visible, but more to the point this transcendentality is conceived

25

26

27 28

This is another way of putting Proclus’ radical apophaticism and absolute simplicity with regards to En as the basis of his whole metaphysical system (and of course the problems that this basis posed as to the causal explanation of plurality). See Greig 2017. Although the term προορισμούς in the original can also be translated as “predeterminations”, I have opted for the rendering “predestinations” so as to bring forth the eschatological connotations. John of Damascus, 3, 84 (Kotter). This definition is discussed by Parry 2017, 341–360. For a comprehensive introduction to paradigms in Proclus, see Terezis and Tempelis 2017.

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of temporally, in terms of time. In a way it seems that the Damascene is readdressing through his second definition issues raised in his first: the iconic transcendentality of the future is put forward as a reflection of Triadological iconicity. The predestined eschaton constitutes the icon-invisible-now, which implies that it also stands as an icon-visible-then. Thus for the Damascene, indirectly but unmistakably, the eschaton is the ultimate, irreducible and unsurpassable iconic. Furthermore, as far as the Trinity is concerned, the eschaton could be regarded as Triadological iconicity co-inhering within the order of the created iconic or, to put it otherwise, as the deification of human/historical iconicity. The third definition emphasizes the manner in which revelation is mediated. “The visible [things] are icons of the invisible and unformed, which happen to be bodily formed for the sake of faint comprehension”.29 But what is interesting is that, as John Damascene proceeds to elaborate on this mediation gnoseology of his, it becomes clear that such a gnoseology is based on analogy only as one and, for that matter, not the fundamentally necessary condition of its realization. “As to the fact that … the forms are put before the unformed and the shapes before the unshaped, one would maintain that the reason is not only analogy according to us” (my emphasis).30 The fundamentally necessary and sufficient condition of iconic mediation is what could be termed “historical realism”, for it is in the reality of history that human nature lies and expresses itself. Revelation takes place through and within historical forms, and thus an icon cannot but relate to it as a historical form. If then the divine word providing for our own analogy invested the simple and unformed with certain forms, how could it not turn into an icon those that have been shaped according to our own nature and which, although we yearn for them, because they are not present, cannot be seen?31 In light of the above, it is evident that John Damascene is referring to two sets of historical forms: on the one hand, the primary historical forms that make up the revelation of the incarnate Logos as the event-history of Jesus Christ, and on the other the secondary historical forms that make up tradition as a θεωρία-history. More to the point, though, the Damascene is conditioning the relationship of these two sets of iconicity according to his qualified mediation gnoseology of analogy and once again—this time much more explicitly—he 29 30 31

John of Damascus, 3, 85 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 85 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 85 (Kotter).

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Absence Invisible

Presence Icon

Lack/Loss Forms

Visible Fulfillment

Ἀναγωγή

Formless

figure 7.2 Inverse structures in John Damascene’s 3rd definition of the icon

is making the secondary iconic conceptualization of history dependent upon the primary iconicity of Jesus’ event-history as revelation. However, the Damascene’s thought structure presents a further intricate aspect. His third definition presupposes and entails two schemata that seem to be related in a kind of inverse analogy. According to the first schema the forms refer to the formless via ἀναγωγή, whereas according to the second schema the iconic lies in-between the invisible and the visible, an absence and a presence, transforming thus a lack or loss into fulfilment (see Fig. 7.2). In this respect, the third type/definition of icon is about the dialectics between the absence and the presence of Jesus within the historical experience of revelation. This dialectics between absence and presence in the third type/definition of icon comes forth in yet another way as the Damascene make a seemingly unrelated comment on the faculty of imagination, which nevertheless can only be taken as being pertinent to the type of iconicity he is referring to. “For through the senses some kind of imagination is constituted in the front ventricle of the brain and thus it is directed to the faculty of judgement and deposited within memory”.32 Presumably this comment on mental physiology has to be transposed to and translated into its proper context: the senses and imagination involved in this type of icon suggest historical iconicity be seen as the subsequent mediation of the primary icon that Jesus’ event-history is, which by being absent now becomes present through memory and then accumulates into tradition as the iconic θεωρία-history. Especially in light of imagination and memory one could speak of iconicity as the imaginariness of history. But anyhow in the third definition of the icon two modes of iconicity are presupposed: the first is a realistic/historical iconicity and the second a semantic/gnoseological iconicity.

32

John of Damascus, 3, 85 (Kotter). On this, see Parry 2018, 35–56.

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Finally, the fourth and the fifth type of icon are unequivocal about the history-oriented outlook of John Damascene throughout his dialectics of definition. “We call icon that which through hints outlines future events”33 (fourth definition), and “We use the word icon with regards to events as to remember [them] … And this use is double, both through word … and through vision”34 (fifth definition). Elaborating on these two definitions the Damascene basically engages in biblical hermeneutics either through typology—with its associated eschatological connotations—or through ethical edification so as to consolidate historical consciousness. But the Damascene’s history-oriented outlook can also be substantiated on the basis of his references to divine economy. Otherwise certain expressions he uses simply make no sense at all. For instance, when he asks, “Is God one and the same God”,35 the answer he is implying is not speculative, but rooted within the historicity of revelation. Furthermore, in Chapter 15 of his treatise one can trace an iconological θεωρία-history that poses the issue of the relation between God and materiality, a topic to be taken up and developed in Chapter 16—which, to be sure, constitutes his most bold, innovative and original theological statement—into a full-blown theology of history. In the old days, God—the immaterial and unshaped—was by no means imaged, but now, since God has been seen through the flesh and mingled with humans, I do image what can be seen of God. I do not worship matter, but I do worship the creator of matter, the one who became matter for me and accepted to reside within matter and performed my salvation through matter; and I shall not stop revering matter, through which my salvation has been performed … the body of God is God, due to the union with regard to the hypostasis … the wood of the cross … the site of Calvary … the holy tomb … the all-holy book of the Gospels … the life-giving altar … above all these the body and blood of Christ … Either dispense with the respect and the reverence towards all these or concede to ecclesiastical tradition …36

33 34 35 36

John of Damascus, 3, 86: 12.1–2 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 86: 13.1–9 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 88: 15.1 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 89–90 (Kotter).

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Objections and Suggestions

One might object that John Damascene does not employ the terminology one would expect, a terminology modern readers are most accustomed to when it comes to issues pertaining to history, and so it might be said to be precarious or even arbitrary to ascribe to him a historical self-consciousness or awareness. But then one would be in a very difficult position so as not to acknowledge the Damascene’s heightened appreciation of the senses, materiality and the body as metonymies of history. Notwithstanding that, the theology of history the Damascene elaborates throughout Chapters 15–18 is the other side of a theology of divine energies or grace. “And indeed I revere and I hold in awe the remainder of matter, through which my salvation took place, since it is full of divine energy and grace”.37 All the examples of historical materiality he goes through—all of them associated with the Christ-event-history—as icons “stand so as to remind … as effecting the reminding of divine energy”.38 In other words, the Damascene’s theology of energies is a theology of presence, that is, Christ’s presence, which as such stems experientially from his absence. And it is precisely this Christo-icono-centric theology of history that is regarded by John Damascene as the differentia specifica of Christianity. It is a daunting challenge to attempt to articulate the type or types of iconicity that the so-called iconoclasts were espousing, because they were indeed espousing one or more and that was the real issue at stake in their controversy with the so-called iconophiles. Not iconicity per se, but how iconicity should be conceptualized and by extension employed was the real issue.39 From a logical semantics point of view, for the Damascene the icon is an in-between topology that mediates the relationship of a past event and its future eventfulness, a prototype (the historical Jesus) and an archetype (the eschatological Jesus). In this respect, the icon resists intellectual subjectivism. If the latter was truly the implication of the iconicity the so-called iconoclasts were espousing, then that iconicity can be identified as an absolutized virtuality. Be that as it may, one can be sure that John Damascene was espousing an iconic realism, which in keeping with the language of the theory of realia I would dare term a theory of presentalia.40

37 38 39 40

John of Damascus, 3, 89: 16.15–90: 16.17 (Kotter). John of Damascus, 3, 93: 17.21–23 (Kotter). Cf. Brubaker 2012, 33–34. Insofar as the Damascene was consciously working towards a theory of icons, I think that he also had broader metaphysical considerations in mind, although he did not intend to create some kind of alternative ontology. In this sense, the iconic realism and theory of

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Historically speaking, what connects the Damascene to Proclus is Maximus the Confessor and Pseudo-Dionysius, the latter being his most cherished traditional authority second only to the Cappadocians. But at the same time these two figures distance him from Proclus: actually what one can trace in the series of Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus and John Damascene is the trajectory of a gradual Christianization of Proclean symbolism through simplification, deenchantment and total inversion. In this respect, although the iconicity we witness in the Damascenean œuvre hardly resembles Proclean symbolism, at a closer look the former presupposes the latter. To put it in visual terms, what could be described as the convoluted Hellenic spiral was step by step opened up, stretched out and finally set down as a line—and, for that matter, a dotted one! At the end, the fragmentation of the symbolic that Proclus was so anxious about at the lowest levels (ἐν τοῖς ἐσχάτοις) of reality did take over; albeit in a manner that would lead to new ways of unifying human experience.

6

Beyond Similarities and Differences

Damascenean iconicity is, at the level of its communication, misleadingly simple; one easily misses the intricate structures (i.e., the message) within the medium. On the contrary, Proclean symbolism is communicated in such a sophisticated manner that it inevitably imposes its intricate composition. But then the sheer magnitude of the edifice easily conceals the real thread of Proclus’ thinking. Although quite elucidating, it would be rather simplistic and superficial to go through the major points of similarity and difference between Proclus and the Damascene—especially the points of difference. Besides, they are so conspicuous! Even the dialectics between their similarities and differences would not suffice to provide us with the much-needed key to understand what actually Proclus and John Damascene stand for when they experientially ground themselves in the symbol and the icon, respectively. Notwithstanding that, I think that as far as Proclean symbolism is concerned one can attempt to

presentalia I am referring to is a hermeneutic way of putting his iconology in philosophical jargon. If for the Damascene what is really real (ὄντως ὄν) is whatever forms part of Jesus’ Heilsgeschichte as a series of icons connected to one another by means of elective affinity, then this means that the really real is such due to, through and within its presentation, for without presentation an icon is not even conceivable. Presentalia, i.e., icons as presentations, can be of the past, present or future in terms of temporality, and thus have nothing to do with modern philosophical presentism.

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identify its foundational spot, so to speak—even a blind spot for many—and then attempt to relate it to the iconicity of John Damascene. Firstly, the symbolism one finds in Proclus is all-inclusive: everything is a symbol of everything. That is more or less the way he would have put it himself. And it is all-inclusive in a manner that the Damascene’s iconicity is not. The Damascene is—in whatever way one chooses to look at him—exclusive: not everything is involved in his iconic conceptualization of history. Secondly, Proclus’ symbolism is not only all-inclusive, but also all-coinhering: symbols are everywhere in everything; not only everything is or can be a symbol, but everything presents itself as a symbol precisely by being in everything. Thirdly, his symbolism is all-dynamic: although his theoretical system about reality is a closed one, it looks like the universe of Proclus is on fire! One simply—and paradoxically I have to admit—does not find this kind of dynamism in the schema the Damascene is working with. Although an open one, since it is about history, this schema is not as dynamic as the one Proclus provides us.41 Thus, the features of the latter’s symbolism are all-inclusiveness, all-coinherence and all-dynamism; features that render his Weltanschauung totally integrated. One wonders, however: Is this world the world of the senses? No, it is not; on the other hand, though, partly it is, if one sees the whole thing from the perspective of the tip of the iceberg. But then the bulk of the iceberg remains inaccessible to the senses. Consequently, if the universe of Proclus is not of the senses, then everything he is talking about when he talks about reality is something hidden, something perceived, and this is the κρύφιον.42 It is the latter that constitutes the gist of his symbolicity. In other words, the symbol has so cardinal a place in his understanding of reality, because it is more or less equivalent to the κρύφιον. And this is even more so—and paradoxically and puzzlingly so—because when one looks at his hierarchy of symbols—for there are indeed symbols that are more symbols than other symbols—it seems that the closer one gets to the material world the less symbolic symbols become, and the further one goes from materiality the more symbolic symbols are.

41

42

By writing that “the universe of Proclus is on fire”, I admittedly have taken recourse to the poetic in order to convey my impression. If I were to do the same in the case of John Damascene, who nevertheless does not focus on the universe but on history, I would say that “the history of John Damascene resembles a display of fireworks”. To be sure there is dynamism in both cases, but it is different for quite different reasons. Since for Proclus everything is informed by En and thus En is hinted at in everything, κρύφιον (the hidden) is nothing else but his way of putting the absence/presence of En. Besides, everything is a symbol insofar as it functions as a manifestation, and in this respect it presupposes and entails the hidden.

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There are many ways, I assume, through which one can approach Proclus’ symbolism, but I would suggest that there is one term in his whole system, a truly uncanny term, that we should not fail to acknowledge as foundational: ὕπαρξις.43 I think that this term is much more uncanny than “the One” itself: one has problems understanding “the One” (En), but when it comes to ὕπαρξις I believe that one becomes really perplexed, since it is not φύσις, it is not οὐσία, it is not εἶναι, it is not ὑπόστασις, it is not ἐνέργεια, it is not δύναμις. If I were to define it somehow, I would say that it is that something “above” something else that allows the latter to be and at the same time not be itself. According to my reading of Platonic Theology, when Proclus talks about ὕπαρξις, he alludes to the very heart of his symbolicity: everything is a symbol as ὕπαρξις! Ὕπαρξις is that limit-point (ἀκρότητα), that moment, that instance, the (pre)eminency (ὑπεροχή), the flowering (ἄνθος), the excellence of something (ἔξαρσις), of each and every being, that allows it to touch the other (συνάπτεσθαι), and by touching it provides the basis for the coherent and cohesive system we find in Platonic Theology. Although ὕπαρξις as an ontological moment or instance seems to be different in every being, it is virtually the same because it is always a symbol of En. Thus, ὕπαρξις in Proclus should not be understood as standing for individuality per se, but as constituting an individuation of sameness. But why exactly am I emphasizing this so uncanny—according to my view—and intriguing concept? Because I think that, when it comes to the Damascene and all the theology he represents, everything comes down to hypostasis.44 In his work hypostasis is also a moment, an instance—in terms of historical temporality— which although looks the same is inherently different. I suppose that in some way Christian theologians might have—this of course is a conjecture, albeit a reasonable one—profited substantially from the understanding of ὕπαρξις in Late Neoplatonism in the process of trying to articulate as much as possible their own understanding of hypostasis. I am not equating the two; I am just pointing out a functional and semantic equivalence operative in the two systems. And in doing so, I wonder who is the Christian and who is the Pagan.

43 44

For an introduction and a number of issues concerning this term, see Romano and Taormina 1994. Plexidas 2001.

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Bibliography Primary Sources John of Damascus (1969) Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, 1. Institutio elementaris. Capita philosophica, ed. B. Kotter, Patristische Texte und Studien, 7 (Berlin and New York). John of Damascus (1973) Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, 2. Expositio fidei, ed. B. Kotter, Patristische Texte und Studien, 12 (Berlin and New York). John of Damascus (1975) Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, 3. Contra imaginum calumniators orationes tres, ed. B. Kotter, Patristische Texte und Studien, 17 (Berlin and New York); trans. A. Louth (2003) Three Treatises on the Divine Images (Crestwood, NY). Saffrey, H.D. and Westerink, L.G. (1968–1997) Théologie platonicienne, 6 vols. (Paris).

Secondary Sources Adrahtas, V. (2001) ‘The Use of Logic in the Work of St John of Damascus: Approaches to Πηγή Γνώσεως’, Unpublished MPhil thesis (in Greek), University of Athens. Adrahtas, V. (2002) ‘The Notion of Symbol as a Logical/Aesthetic Category according to the Theology of St John of Damascus’, Phronema 17, 15–34. Brubaker, L. (2012) Inventing Byzantine Iconoclasm (London). Buckley, T. (2002) ‘An Ontology of Freedom in Proclus’ Commentary in Parmenidem 1022.24–27’, Modern Greek Studies: A Journal of Greek Letters 10, 167–179. de Saussure, F. (1955) Cours de linguistique générale (Paris). Dodds, E.R. (1965) Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety (Cambridge). Eliade, M. (1971) The Myth of the Eternal Return. Cosmos and History (Princeton, N.J.). Erismann, C. (2011) ‘A World of Hypostases: John of Damascus’ Rethinking of Aristotle’s Categorical Ontology’, Studia Patristica 50 (Leuven), 269–287. Fortier, S. (2014) ‘The Prolegomenon to Proclus’ Platonic Theology: An Introduction, Translation, and Commentary of Chapters 1–7 of Book I of the Platonic Theology’, Unpublished PhD thesis. Université Laval, Québec. Greig, J. (2017) ‘The First Principle in Late Neoplatonism: The Study of the One’s Causality in Proclus and Damascius’, Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Munich. Loudovikos, N. (1999) Closed Spirituality and the Meaning of Self (Athens) [in Greek]. Louth, A. (2002) St John Damascene: Tradition and Originality in Byzantine Theology (Oxford). Oehler, K. (1964) ‘Aristotle in Byzantium’, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 5, 133– 146. Papadopoulos, S. (1997) Theology and Language: Empirical Theology—Conventional Language (Athens) [in Greek]. Parry, K. (1996) Depicting the Word: Byzantine Iconophile Thought of the Eighth and Ninth Centuries (Leiden).

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Parry, K. (2013) ‘Aristotle and the Icon: The Use of the Categories by Byzantine Iconophile Writers’, in S. Ebbesen, J. Marenbon and P. Thom (eds.) Aristotle’s Categories in the Byzantine, Arabic and Latin Traditions (Copenhagen), 35–58. Parry, K. (2017) ‘Fate, Free Choice, and Divine Providence, From the Neoplatonists to John of Damascus’, in A. Kaldellis and N. Siniossoglou (eds.) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge), 341–360. Parry, K. (2018) ‘Locating Memory and Imagination: From Nemesius of Emesa to John of Damascus’, in B. Neil and E. Anagnostou-Laoutides (eds.) Dreams, Memory and Imagination in Byzantium, Byzantina Australiensia, 24 (Leiden), 35–56. Plexidas, I.G. (2001) Person and Nature: Reflections on the Notion of Person in the Thought of John Damascene (Thessaloniki) [in Greek]. Rangos, S. (1999) ‘Proclus on Poetic Mimesis, Symbolism, and Truth’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 17 (Oxford), 249–277. Richter, G. (1964) Die Dialektik des Johannes von Damaskos. Eine Untersuchung des Textes nach seinen Quellen und seiner Bedeutung, Studia Patristica et Byzantina 10 (Ettal). Richter, G. (1982) Philosophische Kapitel. Eingeleitet, übersetzt und mit Erläuterungen versehen (Stuttgart). Romano, F. and Taormina, D.P. (eds.) (1994) Hyparxis e Hypostasis nel Neoplatonismo (Florence). Sorabji, R. (1983) Time, Creation and the Continuum (Chicago). Studer, B. (1956) Die theologische Arbeitsweise des Johannes von Damaskos, Studia Patristica et Byzantina 2 (Ettal). Terezis, C. and Tempelis, E. (2017) Proclus on the Transition from Metaphysical Being to Natural Becoming: A New Reading of the Platonic Theory of Forms (Piscataway, NJ). Trouillard, J. (1982) La mystagogie de Proclos (Paris).

part 3 Proclus the Neoplatonist



chapter 8

Civic Virtues and the Goal of Likeness to God in Proclus’ Republic Commentary Dirk Baltzly

1

Becoming like God by Reading Plato

After Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, every school of philosophy took one of the central tasks of ethics to be the specification of the telos at which our actions aim and the nature of eudaimonia.* Though Plato’s works pre-date the Ethics, it is not too difficult to see the Aristotelian idea of a telos or goal of living implicit in the Republic.1 After all, the point of this work is to show that the truly just man is happier than the unjust man—even an unjust man who enjoys a good reputation—by inquiring into the nature of justice. The case for the happiness of the just man is not prosecuted by explicitly identifying what happiness is and then showing that he enjoys more of it than the unjust man. Rather, Plato’s Republic offers rich portraits of different possible psychic and civic constitutions. The argumentative force of the dialogue relies on the reader sharing a preconception of what a happy life should be like with the characters in the dialogue. The freedom from internal dissension that is characteristic of both the just person and the just city is never argued to be the font of a notion of happiness that is explicitly articulated. Rather, the lack of internal dissension is shown to be the source or basis of many features of an individual’s life (or of our collective political lives) that the participants in the dialogue value. Moreover, lives (and cities) that diverge from the ideal of unity found in the just person are taken to be unhappier the greater the internal dissension and lack of harmony that is involved. This is presented as at least one of the major reasons why these lives are ineffective and unhappy. So even if the exact nature

* All references to classical texts are from the Loeb Classical Library (LCL). Titles and authors are abbreviated according to the Oxford Classical Dictionary List, https://oxfordre.com/classics/ page/abbreviation‑list/. 1 Irwin 2007, 114–116. This observation about the continuity of Plato’s ethical project with Aristotle and the dominance of Aristotle’s framework for subsequent theorists is now part of received wisdom in magisterial overviews such as Irwin’s book.

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of psychic or communal flourishing is left undefined, there is little doubt that unity plays a central role in securing it.2 In light of the starring role that psychic harmony plays in Plato’s dialogue, it would not be unreasonable for a modern reader to respond to the question, “If the writer of the Republic had addressed himself to the topic in the style of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, what would he have identified as the telos?” with the answer “psychic harmony”. The role of harmony among the different parts of the soul in showing why the life of the just person is happier than that of the unjust man lends a certain plausibility to the thought that eudaimonia is simply to be identified with psychic harmony even if that identification is not guaranteed by Plato’s text. It might then come as something of a surprise to learn that ancient Platonists from the second century onwards used the Aristotelian framework and identified the goal of living with likeness to god rather than psychic harmony.3 In reaching this conclusion, they gave pride of place to a text that Socrates himself identifies as a digression from the main argument in the Theaetetus.4 Socrates: But it is impossible that evils should be done away with, Theodorus, for there must always be something opposed to the good; and they cannot have their place among the gods but must inevitably hover about mortal nature and this earth. Therefore we ought to try to escape from earth to the dwelling of the gods as quickly as we can; and to escape is to become like God, so far as this is possible; and to become like God is to become righteous and holy and wise (φυγὴ δὲ ὁμοίωσις θεῷ κατὰ τὸ δυνατόν· ὁμοίωσις δὲ δίκαιον καὶ ὅσιον μετὰ φρονήσεως γενέσθαι) … God is in no wise and in no manner unrighteous, but utterly and perfectly righteous, and there is nothing so like him as that one of us who in turn becomes most nearly perfect in righteousness. The virtues—perhaps to be explicated in terms of the relations among the parts of the soul—are here identified as the relevant respect in which we are 2 Of course, there are also other reasons why the just person is better off. So famously Book IX argues that the pleasures of the just philosopher in whom reason rules are superior to those in whom other parts of the soul dominate. This seems to be a result of the nature of the objects after which these souls strive. The things that philosophers seek to “fill their souls with” nourish the best part of us with the things that are truly real. 3 Since the turn of the century some scholars have assessed this idea as a genuine reading of Plato. See Sedley 1999; Russell 2004; Armstrong 2004, 171–184. 4 Pl. Tht. 176a–b; trans. LCL 123 (Fowler), 127–129.

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to become like god. As a reading of Plato’s Republic, this is not perhaps wildly implausible, and one can find at least one text where virtue and likeness to god are related.5 This, then, must be our conviction about the just man, that whether he fall into poverty or disease or any other supposed evil, for him all these things will finally prove good, both in life and in death. For by the gods assuredly that man will never be neglected who is willing and eager to be righteous, and by the practice of virtue to be likened unto god so far as that is possible for man (ἐπιτηδεύων ἀρετὴν εἰς ὅσον δυνατὸν ἀνθρώπῳ ὁμοιοῦσθαι θεῷ) (my emphasis). The thought in this passage seems to be that the virtuous person is loved by the gods (theophilos) so that all that fate brings him works out for the best. When we consider why the just person is loved by the gods, then the old adage that love is an attraction of like to like6 recommends the view that, through his virtue, the just person is like god—to the extent that this is possible for a person. This likeness is to be achieved through the practice of virtue. The idea that virtue renders a person like god and part of the community of gods is, of course, shared with Stoicism. What makes Neoplatonism’s pursuit of the idea that virtue assimilates the human to the divine is the manner in which they suppose virtue is cultivated and perfected. Or at least this is what I have argued elsewhere.7 To see the difference, consider the way in which Epictetus’ philosophical writings both exhort his audience to virtue and elucidate what that virtue consists in. Epictetus’ exhortation to virtue is frequently couched in opposition to the careful study of texts.8 The books of Chrysippus are not without value, in Epictetus’ view, but anyone who supposes that he will become virtuous simply by reading them until he knows them back to front is missing something. By contrast, the Neoplatonic schools were what Brian Stock described as textual communities.9 It was precisely through dedicated and communal reading of the great works of Aristotle and especially Plato that one acquired and perfected the virtues. So tight was the connection between virtues and texts that the curriculum of Platonic works studied within these communities was explicitly correlated 5 6 7 8 9

Pl. Resp. 613a–b, trans. LCL 276 (Shorey), 487. Cf. Hom. Od. 17.218 quoted in support of this idea in Pl. Lysis 214a. Baltzly 2014. Epict. Diss. I.4.13, ff.; II.21.11, IV.4. 11 (Schenkl). Stock 1983.

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with stages of moral and intellectual improvement. Since there are only four cardinal virtues, but a wide range of Platonic text studied by the Neoplatonists, an extended textual-aretaic correlation was possible because the cardinal virtues themselves were multiplied through the introduction of gradations of virtues. What was implicit in Plotinus was clarified by Porphyry in his Sentences. But the most extensive list of gradations was introduced by Iamblichus in his work On Virtues and we find it described in Damascius’ Phaedo Commentary I. §§138–151 (Westerink).10 – Natural: held in common with animals and linked to the mixtures of the body (cf. Galen). There is the possibility of clash between these virtues. Either they belong to the body or they are reflexes of reason not impeded by some disorder or they are due to training in a previous life. – Ethical: acquired by habituation and right belief. Since they are beyond the influence of temperament or mixture of body, they do not clash with one another. They belong to both reason and the irrational nature. Laws 2.653a. – Civic: these are virtues of reason, but of reason in relation to the irrational part of the soul when it orders (kosmountos) these parts and uses it as its instrument. “through phronēsis ordering the gnostic part; through courage ordering the spirit; the appetitive by temperance and all of them by justice”. – Purificatory: belong to reason, but reason insofar as it withdraws from relations to other things. It discards the body as instrument and restrains activities that depend on this instrument. The cathartic virtues deliver the soul from genesis. Phdo 69bc. – Theoretic: exist in the soul when soul has forgotten itself and reverts upon what is above it: intellect. They are a kind of mirror image of the civic virtues, since they indicate the soul’s activity in relation to something other than itself. The civic virtues operate by reason, while the theoretic virtues operate by intellect. These virtues operate in both a cognitive and appetitive manner (gnōstikōs kai orektikōs). “It is as if the soul aspires to become nous instead of soul, but nous is both [gnostic and orektic]”. These virtues are discussed in the Theaetetus. – Paradigmatic: virtues exhibited by soul when it is no longer contemplating intellect, but it is established by participation (kata methexin) in the intellect which is the paradigm of all things. Damascius credits Iamblichus, not Porphyry, with introducing this level of virtue.

10

For the elaboration of this theme in Plotinus by Porphyry, see Brisson 2006. For its deployment in subsequent Neoplatonists, see Baltzly 2004 and Finamore 2012.

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– Hieratic: exist in the “one of the soul”. They are coextensive with all the grades of virtue discussed earlier. However, the hieratic virtues are proper to the One, while the others are concerned with Being. These virtues are developed through the twelve dialogues that Iamblichus assumed to communicate the whole of Plato’s philosophy.11 Alcibiades I Gorgias Phaedo Cratylus Theaetetus

introductory on the self civic virtue purificatory virtue theoretic virtue: the contemplation of Being through names theoretic virtue: the contemplation of Being through concepts (noêmata) Sophist theoretic virtue: the contemplation of Being through things (pragmata): physics Statesman theoretic virtue: the contemplation of Being through things: physics Phaedrus theoretic virtue: the contemplation of Being through things: theology Symposium theoretic virtue: the contemplation of Being through things: theology Philebus culmination of this decad in the contemplation of the Good beyond Being. Two further dialogues were believed to recapitulate and perfect this teaching under the heading of physics and theology. These crowning dialogues were the Timaeus and Parmenides. Because of textual problems with our the most explicit statement of this textual and moral correlation, some of this remains a bit uncertain.12 In particular, it remains mysterious whether the Timaeus and the Parmenides were supposed to correlate to distinct gradations of the virtues. Moreover, the author of the Anonymous Prolegomena omits mention of paradigmatic and hieratic virtues, mentioning only natural, ethical, civic, purificatory and theoretic virtues. But even with these limitations in our evidence, we can see that the Neoplatonic reading order of the dialogues was supposed to correlate in some fairly close way with the cultivation of virtues that would culminate in the goal of likeness to god. 11 12

For a survey of the reading order of Plato’s dialogues and its importance, see Tarrant 2014. The text, of course, is the Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy. On the textual uncertainties, see Westerink 1962, xxxvii–xl.

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This raises a puzzle, for when we consider a work like Olympiodorus’ Commentary on the Gorgias or any of our surviving commentaries on the Phaedo, it is far from obvious exactly what civic or purificatory virtues are and even more mysterious how these works are supposed to inculcate them. A cynic might suppose that the scale of virtues that correlates with progress through the Platonic curriculum is simply a pretext. The scholastic attention to the minutiae of Plato’s dialogues and the wild allegorising characteristic of the Neoplatonic commentary tradition were pursued as an end in themselves with very little thought to moral development. Even those engaged in this textual fetishism could not really have supposed that they became better, more divine men or women through it. This cynicism, however, does not sit well with our surviving evidence of the Neoplatonists’ self-conception. Works like Marinus’ Life of Proclus are centred around the scale of virtues.13 Though it is perhaps less explicit in Damascius’ Life of Isidore,14 it is nonetheless clear that the ancient Platonists took seriously the correlation between reading Plato and becoming better people—and specifically more godlike people.

2

Paideia and Platonism

If we are to respect the evidence in front of us, then we must endeavour to see how the teaching settings that are reflected more or less directly in our surviving Plato commentaries could have been thought to contribute to the ideal of assimilation to the divine. I believe that the most plausible answer to this question emerges from a comparison with the teaching situations through which young men (and sometimes women) of the late Roman Empire absorbed paideia. By paideia I mean the ability to write or speak in a linguistic style associated with the Empire’s educated elite along with a knowledge of canonical authors that enabled the creative use of quotation, allusion and analogy to convey meanings in a way that similarly educated persons could appreciate and others could not.15 Since Brown’s Power and Persuasion, historians of late antiquity have examined the social functions of paideia in binding together the

13 14 15

Cf. Edwards 2000, li. O’Meara and Sang-Ki 2006. In this incomplete and general characterisation of the nature and purpose of late antique education I do not take myself to be saying anything novel and certainly nothing controversial. For an overview, see Watts 2012.

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diverse peoples who composed the governing elite of the vast empire and limiting the exercise of authority by virtue of paideia’s implicit claims to civilised treatment.16 Philosophy and acquaintance with the texts of Plato in particular was a part of general paideia. But membership in the Platonic schools went beyond this. While general paideia enabled the performance of a particular social identity for others, the distinctively philosophical paideia of the Platonic schools aimed at a primarily internal transformation. If a “gentleman’s education” served to change the way in which others perceived you, the intense Platonic education of the schools sought to transform the manner in which you perceived yourself and all other things. It too involved taking on a distinctive language, but more than that it sought to supplant what were supposed to be the concepts and discursive habits of an embodied soul for the superior stock of concepts and immediate intellectual insight or nous that characterise the soul in its disembodied state. The education the gradation of virtues that was realised through the reading of Plato’s dialogues was identical to the capacity to live and experience one’s world through ideas and images derived from those dialogues—to live in and through the text of Plato.17 This, at least, is my best hypothesis for explaining the apparent gap between what the commentary tradition aims at—the acquisition of increasingly abstract gradations of the cardinal virtues—and what it consists in: pages and pages of creative exegesis of Platonic texts. This exhaustive exegesis was meant to lay the foundations for a kind of Platonic literacy that is parallel in important ways to the literacy of general paideia. But instead of performing that literacy publicly in order to be an educated person in the eyes of others, Platonic literacy is performed both with and for an even more select circle of others—the fellow members of one’s philosophical circle—as well as internally for oneself. This internal discursive practice (together with asceticism and ritual magic or theurgy) was thought to enable moments of non-discursive awareness of the really real (i.e. the divine intelligibles) and beyond that awareness of the ineffable font of what is really real (i.e. the One). If this hypothesis about the educational or transformative function of the commentary tradition is correct, then when we turn to a work on one of these gradations of virtue, we should find two things. First, readings of Plato’s text that enable the audience to understand familiar aspects of their world differently and better by virtue of seeing them in Platonic terms. By developing 16 17

Brown 1992. The general notion of “living in and through” the dialogues of Plato is developed at greater length in Baltzly 2014; Baltzly 2017.

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“Platonic literacy” these readings enable the philosophical initiate to read his world in terms of a new metaphors to live by. Second, since the virtues are that through which we are assimilated to the divine, a proper understanding of these virtues will proceed through “theological” resources.18 After all, if x serves to liken A to B, then an understanding of x’s nature must make reference to B. Since what the Neoplatonists mean by “theology” takes in what contemporary philosophers call “metaphysics”—and perhaps more as well; cf. Proclus, Plat. Theol. I.3—this means that the exegesis of Platonic passages concerned with the virtues will involve appeal to metaphysics. Call the first of these the re-visioning prediction and the second the mirroring prediction. In what follows I will try to lend some weight to my hypothesis about the ethical purpose of the Platonic commentary tradition by showing that these two predictions are realised in the case of Proclus’ treatment of the civic virtues in his essay on Republic IV.

3

The Mirroring Prediction

Somewhat surprisingly to modern readers, the Republic was not on the Neoplatonists’ list of Plato’s twelve most important books. It normally fell outside the scope of the established curriculum and thus Proclus’ commentary, or series of essays on it, is unique among the surviving Neoplatonic works on Plato. Their view about the Republic was that it dealt with the civic grade of virtues and thus its place in the curriculum was filled by the Gorgias which was also deemed to be concerned with civic virtues.19 The shorter book was doubtless more tractable as a text for a close and sustained reading than the lengthier Republic.

18

19

Abbate 2006 makes the point that Proclus’ moral and political philosophy is shot through with metaphysics (and thus theology). As he puts it (p. 200): “Metaphysics and theology (which in late Neoplatonism is strictly connected with metaphysical theory) are the true sources and reference points of Proclus’ political speculation: in these two kinds of knowledge Proclus finds the paradigmatic and conceptual structures on the basis of which he deems it possible to elaborate a political theorization of some sort”. One cannot but agree. Abbate, however, does not draw the connection that I am seeking to make: that since the virtues are precisely those states of the soul and intellect through which we are assimilated to the divine, the account of those states must mirror the metaphysical relations among divinities or abstract objects. Cf. Proclus, In R. I 10.10–14 and I 208.29 (Kroll) on why the virtues described in Book IV of Republic are specifically civic virtues. For the place of the Gorgias in the curriculum, see the introduction to Olympiodorus 1998.

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While the middle books of the Republic are replete with metaphysics, Plato’s initial account of the nature of the virtues in book IV is not. The division of the soul into its three parts is motivated by an argument that appeals only to homely, down-to-earth examples of psychic conflicts common to everyday life and spinning tops. It contains no intimation of the metaphysical complexities that will be introduced in the middle books that immediately follow. While book X seeks to demonstrate the immortality of the soul and provides a myth of its post-mortem judgement, book IV’s account of the soul is seemingly indifferent to its status as corporeal or incorporeal, mortal or immortal. This is not to say that the middle books of the Republic, with their metaphysics of the Forms and the Good beyond Being, are irrelevant to the argument of book IV. The subsequent books identify the hastily sketched guardians of Republic III and IV with philosophers and show why, given the nature of the objects that they love and understand (i.e. Forms), it is reasonable that they should rule. In so doing, the subsequent books seek to vindicate a claim that Glaucon admits far too quickly and easily at 428b—that the city they have constructed is governed well and wisely. But these considerations offer subsequent support for the premise in the Book IV argument that the city is wholly good. They do not affect the arguments through which the virtues themselves are identified with relations among the parts of the soul. By contrast, Proclus’ exegesis of the arguments of Republic IV is suffused with metaphysics—that is to say, reference to the intelligible, divine causes or gods to which the virtues assimilate the human soul. It is not merely that he brings in metaphysical principles to provide foundations for claims that are otherwise grounded only in the agreement of Socrates’ interlocuters (though he does that, of course). Rather, Proclus is at pains to emphasise the manner in which the structure of the virtuous soul mirrors relations among intelligible causes. Let us consider some examples. Reflection upon the account of the virtues sketched in Republic IV shows that some virtues, such as wisdom and courage, are present in the city or in the soul by virtue of a single part of the whole considered in isolation. The other two— justice and temperance—are grounded in relations among all the parts.20 A person or city is just when each part of the soul or social class serves that function that it does best and does not meddle in the functions of the other parts. Similarly, a soul or a city exhibits temperance when there is agreement among all the elements about who should rule.

20

The point is made clearly at Pl. Resp. IV, 431e–432a by noting that moderation is more like a harmony than courage or wisdom, which have been discussed previously.

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In Proclus, this largely implicit feature of Plato’s account is explicitly presented in terms of the “Platonic categories” of pros ti and kath auto. The tradition of these two as a Platonic alternative to Aristotle’s ten categories is a very old one and finds it textual basis in the manner in which this distinction in drawn in the Sophist.21 The context of the Sophist assures that this distinction between kath auto and pros ti will also be related to the megista genê or five greatest kinds that permeate all things: Being, Sameness, Difference, Motion and Rest. Each is what it is kath auto, but Sameness and Difference are, in addition, also pros ti. Proclus combines this logico-metaphysical distinction with another standard division in Neoplatonic thought: the distinction between ousia, dynamis, and energeia. Now in the strict sense, a virtue is a source of perfection in the cognitive or appetitive life of a being.22 But we can, in accordance with the distinction between kath auto and pros ti, divide activities into those that a thing manifests in relation to itself and those that it manifests in relation to other things. The sum of these distinctions is then applied to the case of the soul’s virtues in this way:23 The perfection and the activity of each of the beings is one thing when it is considered in itself, but something else when considered in relation to another. In the same way, the existence of each thing is different from the relation of that thing to another. After all, the perfection of man is one thing, but the perfection of man-who-is-a-master is another, just as man is not the same thing as a master. Nor is it the same thing to view the soul simpliciter and to view it ruling the body.24 Each of the three parts of the soul thus has a self-directed activity and an otherdirected activity. Reason’s kath auto perfection consists simply in promoting a life that is theoretical and purified from the body. Similarly, the spirited part of the soul’s kath auto perfection lies in the things that relate to it alone—in particular, visiting revenge upon those who have slighted you. Finally, the activity 21

22 23 24

On the “Platonic categories”, see Hermodorus ap. Simplic. in Phys. 248.2–5 (Diel); Xenocrates ap. Simplicius, in Cat. 63.21–64.12 (Kalbfleisch); Diogenes Laertius, Lives 3.108–109 (Dorandi); Sextus, adv. Math. 10.263–266 (Mutschmann). For an assessment of the relation of these reports to Plato’s thought, see Fine 1993, 171–182. Procl. In R. I 206.12–13 (Kroll). Procl. In R. I 207.15–23 (Kroll). Translations from Essay 7 of Proclus’ Republic Commentary are from the forthcoming second volume Proclus: Commentary on Plato’s Republic, in Dirk Baltzly, John Finamore and Graeme Miles (Cambridge University Press).

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of appetite manifests that part’s non-relational virtue when it welcomes any and every pleasure without even having reference to its own set of preferences among the sources of pleasure. That is its ergon considered kath auto.25 Distinctively civic virtues, however, are manifested in the psychic parts’ relational activity.26 One might say that each kind among the three acts in this manner [sc. virtuously kath auto] when it does only what belongs to it, as if were not subordinate to the rule of the remaining [parts]. But since all these things have been yoked together with one another and constitute a single life, it is necessary to distinguish the relational activity of all of them and thus to see both the virtue and the vice that belongs to each one. It is this disposition that it defined as political virtue since it is such as to perfect the relational life of the parts of the soul. The opposite disposition to this is the one that destroys the vital relation that these parts naturally have to one another. Proclus appeal to the logico-metaphysical categories of pros ti and kath auto clarifies some aspects of Plato’s own discussion. While it might initially appear that the virtues of wisdom and courage are a matter of one class within the city or one part of the soul considered in isolation, this initial impression is in fact misleading. Courage consists in the spirited part or the auxiliaries acting under the command of reason. Less obviously, civic wisdom consists in the reasoning part of the soul’s providential care for the entire person—including the mortal, irrational parts of the soul. All the virtues are thus relational. Indeed, this is what makes them properly called civic virtues. Yet at the same time, each has its own non-relational kath auto virtue. The virtues thus exhibit the same kath auto and pros ti relations that we find among the megista genê. Each is what it is kath auto, but each also stands in a relation. Motion, for instance, is the same as itself and different from Rest. The tripartite division of the soul and the city is illuminated by an appeal to another principle of Neoplatonic metaphysics: the doctrine of mean terms. The Neoplatonists adopt as a general principle Plato’s account of the binding of earth and fire by air and water in the Timaeus. A mean or middle term (meson) stands between any two apparently incompatible extreme or end terms (akra). Like the middle term in a proportion, the mean term “binds” the two extremes

25 26

Procl. In R. I 208.5–22 (Kroll). Procl. In R. I 208.23–209.2 (Kroll).

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together. In the context of Proclus’ exegesis of the virtues in Republic IV, the spirited part of the soul is likewise a mean between two extremes. Reason is akin to the intellect, while Desire is akin to the body. The Spirited part of the soul forms a mean between these two extremes in the same way that 4 unites 2 and 8 in a geometric proportion. It is also characteristic of the doctrine of mean terms that the intermediate term partakes of both extremes. Thus soul, as both generated (relative to timeless intellect) and ungenerated (relative to body that only ever comes to be), is a mean term that binds together corporeal intelligible natures. As general formula, the doctrine of mean terms can be represented as A : A&B : B with the understanding that there is some prima facie incompatibility between A and B which is resolved by the introduction of an intermediate that is A in some regard, but B in some other regard. The spirited part of the soul is such a mean term between reason (which only rules) and appetite (which only is ruled). The spirited part both rules appetite and is ruled by reason. Proclus takes some time to show that the ruling aspect of the spirited part of the soul does not rule in the same sense in which reason rules. Spirit’s capacity to rule, when exercised without the guidance of reason, is merely a kind of bullying. The A in the A&B combination that mediates between A simpliciter and B simpliciter is transformed by its combination with B. This exactly parallels the distinct senses in which soul and intellect can be said to be ungenerated. The former is ungenerated in the sense that there was never a time when it did not exist. The latter is ungenerated by virtue of transcending time entirely. There is some evidence to suggest that Plato regarded the virtues of person as, in some sense, prior to the virtues of cities. At the very least he remarks that:27 “Is it not, then”, said I, “impossible for us to avoid admitting this much, that the same forms and qualities are to be found in each one of us that are in the state? They could not get there from any other source. It would be absurd to suppose that the element of high spirit was not derived in states from the private citizens who are reputed to have this quality as the populations of the Thracian and Scythian lands and generally of northern regions”. On the other hand, Socrates’ treatment of the degenerate forms of constitution stresses the importance of the familial and civic environment in which a per-

27

Pl. Resp. IV, 435e–436a, trans. LCL 237 (Shorey), 379, 381.

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son is raised. If cities are as their citizens make them, then it is equally true that citizens are as their cities make them. So Plato’s text is at least superficially ambiguous about whether individuals of a particular kind are ontologically prior to political orders of a particular kind or vice versa. (Perhaps more plausibly yet, Plato may have supposed that there was a complex interplay between psychic and civic types so that neither is inevitably primary). Proclus, however, argues for a strong version of the priority of individual virtues to the virtues of city-states. His argument relies heavily upon metaphysical considerations that are conspicuously absent from Plato’s text.28 After all, the city is greater in extent than a single soul, even if the virtues of the city are [merely] images of the virtues of the individual soul since it is surely the case here too the principle that says that things that more indivisible exceed in power the things that have undergone a decline into greater divisibility and the things that are fewer in number surpass in power what is greater in quantity. So, the priority of psychic virtues over the virtues of cities results from, and displays again for us, a familiar principle about the relations of precedence among the divine causes. The same is true of the order among the three parts of the soul. Proclus is not content with Plato’s rather limited evidence for the superiority of reason to the spirit and appetite. Instead, he exhibits the order of the psychic parts as a result of the manner in which effects proceed from the order of causes.29 By virtue of this fact [sc. that desire loves the body], as we said, it is third, just as the reasoning part is first since it loves intellect, while the spirited part is intermediate since it loves power. For power is intermediate between intellect and existence (hyparxis). The reflection of this (sc. existence) extends to the third [rank] and because of this fact, it [sc. the reflection of existence] desires the body which solely participates in it. The reflection of power extends to what is prior [to the reflection of existence] and because of this fact desires power, while the reflection of intellect extends only to the very first position and because of this fact it longs after intellection. Here too the following principle prevails—the

28 29

Procl. In R. I 217.10–16 (Kroll). Procl. In R. I 226.11–22 (Kroll); for a much more detailed explanation of this passage, see MacIsaac 2009, 126–130.

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one that shows that the reflections of the things that come first advance to greater extent and that the things that are higher are the objects of desire for more things than those that are lower. Thus, the final stage of the soul is such as to love the body and desires this alone: the preservation of the body. Here we have a familiar metaphysical or theological principle of Neoplatonism: the effects of higher causes extend further down than those of intermediate causes. In the case at hand, we have an echo of the notion that matter is a kind of negative reflection of the One—the causal contributions of the causes intermediate between the One and matter having exhausted themselves previously. A familiar Neoplatonic triple emerges: hyparxis, dynamis, and nous ordered from more to less general. Everything participates in existence. More things participate in power than in nous. The desiring part of the soul is here equated with the sole product of the highest of these causes—hyparxis—and the generality of bare existence is mirrored in the indefiniteness of body which is the object of love for this reflection or emphasis of the higher cause. The spirited part of the soul is product of both hypostases—hyparxis and dynamis—and as a result of its origins it desires power or authority as well as the preservation of the body. In fact, as the locus of courage, the spirited part may on some occasions desire to exercise authority and to claim victory even at the expense of the body. Finally, the reasoning part of the soul is the product of all three and desires only the distinctive activity of its most proximate cause—the activity of intellection. Graphically we can present the situation as follows. Grey indicates the causal influence of the increasingly higher orders of cause in the constitution of the parts of the soul. table 8.1

The procession of psychic parts from their causes

Hyparxis Dynamis Nous 1. Reason 2. Spirit 3. Appetite This is a complex metaphysical picture and doubtless we could raise objections to it, perhaps even from the point of view of Proclus’ views on the nature of procession elsewhere. But the point I want to make here is simply that it is a tale about divine causes. The structure of the parts of the soul and the soul’s virtues reflect relations among divine causes—i.e. gods—and this is exactly what we should expect if virtues serve to render us godlike.

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The Revisioning Prediction

We turn now to another thing we should expect to find if my hypothesis about the function of the commentary tradition is correct. I have supposed that the reading of the Platonic dialogues under the guidance of the proper teacher does not merely inform us about the civic, purificatory and theoretic virtues. It inculcates those virtues in us by giving us new concepts that permit us to live in and through the Platonic dialogues. This, I have claimed, involves the acquisition of a kind of Platonic literacy that allows us to read the world and ourselves in light of the truth of Plato’s philosophy. The Neoplatonists supposed that both the Gorgias and the Republic deal with the civic gradation of virtue. In the case of both dialogues, a key theme in their reading is that the entire cosmos constitutes a polis. The ideal government of a human polis should imitate the provident governance of the cosmos. The ideal constitution within the individual soul will likewise realise relations strongly analogous to the cosmic politea. In the case of the Gorgias, the analogy between cosmic and human constitutions is conveyed through the concluding myth of judgement.30 Likewise, in the Republic the Neoplatonists took the astronomical details of the Myth of Er to be more than mere decoration. In addition to conveying information about the post-mortem fate of the soul, the myth also shows that the cosmos too is a polis which contains divine classes exactly analogous to those in the ideal city state.31 Two examples will illustrate the manner in which Proclus’ reading of Republic IV provides open-ended opportunities for reading and interpreting one’s life through the image of the human soul, the polis, and the entire cosmos as structured in just the same way. At the conclusion of his essay, Proclus notes that while Socrates has shown that the three parts of the soul under discussion are essentially distinct, he has not shown that this enumeration of psychic parts is exhaustive. Could there not be other parts, in addition to reason, spirit and appetite? The answer to this question yields a way of looking at our own psychic unity as an image of the unity of the cosmos. We have already noted Proclus use of the doctrine of mean terms to portray the spirited part of the soul as intermediate between reason and appetite. In 30

31

Olympiodorus supposes that the myth gives the “paradigmatic cause” of the civic wellbeing. This, of course, is the cosmic macrocosm of which the well-ordered soul is a microcosm. For the overall purpose of the myth, see In Gorg. 46.7 (Jackson et al.)—a point that does not emerge clearly form the detailed exegesis that follows in Lectures 47 and 48. Procl. In R. II 98.7–99.23 (Kroll).

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the final part of his essay he returns to the theme of binding wholes together by terms in proportion. In the Timaeus Plato famously argued that there must be four elements in order to bind fire and earth into a single cosmos. Since these were three dimensional they are “solid numbers”—that is to say, numbers that are the product of three numbers. Between two such solid numbers, it takes two middle terms to establish a continuous geometric progression. In his commentary on the Timaeus, Proclus notes that there is a method for finding the means between two solid numbers. One method involves finding two means each having two factors in common with one extreme and one with the other. Thus to find the mean proportional terms between 8 (2 × 2×2) and 27 (3×3×3) use 2×2×3 and 2×3×3 to arrive at 12 and 18. Proclus assigns three powers to each of the elements and shows how the intermediates bind together the extremes (fire and earth) in just the same way: Fire Air Water Earth

tenuous tenuous dense dense

sharp blunt blunt blunt

easily moved easily moved easily moved moved with difficulty

In this table, each element shares two powers with its neighbour and this provides a physical counterpart to the arithmetic example above. In the case at hand, the extreme terms are taken to be the faculty of reason and the body. Just as air and water provide the terms of a continuous geometric proportion between the opposed elements of fire and earth, so too the spirited and appetitive parts of the soul bind reason to the body: Reason Spirit Appetite Body

indivisible indivisible plural in form/parts having many parts

having desire having desire having desire lacking desire

intellectual lacking intellect lacking intellect lacking intellect

The assignment of these defining features is not an entirely arbitrary imposition on Plato’s text. Proclus thinks that the appetitive part of the soul has multiple parts and forms because Plato calls it a hydra or many-headed beast. Similarly, the spirited part of the soul is more like the indivisible reason because in the degenerate forms of constitution there is only one misfit—timocracy— corresponding to the domination of this part of the soul over the others. Whatever the merits of the assignments of terms, the effect is to exhibit a strong parallel between the interior world of the individual human soul and the cosmos as a whole. So just as there were only two elements necessary to

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create a unified cosmos containing the opposed elements of fire and earth, so too there are only two psychic parts necessary to create a unified microcosmos constituted from the extremes of a rational soul and a human body. Not only does the parallel of elemental and psychic bonds establish a continuity between the human being and the cosmos, we must also keep in mind that the parallel drawn in the Timaeus itself invites the reader to see the physical unity of the cosmos as an image of the unity of series of numbers. Proclus now adds a third term to that analogia. As the unity of the world is to the unity of a continuous geometric proportion, so is the unity of the soul–body composite to the cosmos itself. The commentary thus enables a self-conception that places us as a limiting case of a unity that is manifested everywhere else. The other way in which the Timaeus is connected to Proclus’ reading of Republic IV is through the notion of harmonies in the World Soul. Famously Timaeus 36a–b encodes into the composition of the World Soul ratios corresponding to the harmonic intervals of the octave, the fifth, the fourth, the tone and the Pythagorean semi-tone. In his Republic Plato likens the virtue of moderation to symphonia or harmonia (430e, 431e, 442c) and at 432a3 remarks that is sung throughout all the parts of the city. Proclus seizes upon διὰ πασῶν συνᾴδοντας in order to introduce the idea that the “distance” between the faculty of reason and appetite corresponds to the musical interval of the octave. The term for this musical interval is διὰ πασῶν and it is identified with the ratio 2:1. So the three parts of the soul constitute an octave. In Pythagorean musical theory, an octave is composed of a fifth (3:2) and a fourth (4:3). Proclus takes the interval between reason and spirit to correlate with the fifth and that between spirit and appetite to correlate with the fourth on the grounds that the fifth is the “more perfect” harmony and that the consonance between reason and spirit is closer than that between spirit and appetite. (There are, as Proclus himself saw, reasons to put things the other way around, but those details need not detain us here.) It is one thing to regard deviations from the ideal, virtuous psychic type as a kind of disharmony in some vague sense. It is quite another envision distinct and acoustically identifiable harmonies corresponding to the correct relations among the parts of a soul. When we witness the actions of the timocrat—the man who cares too much for reputation and winning—we can take ourselves to “hear” the badly played fifth between his reason and his spirit. When, at the end of the day, we reflect on our own conduct, we can imagine this selfinspection as one might the concentration and experimentation that takes place in tuning a guitar. Was my comment in the seminar today intended to be constructive or to display my own superior learning? Did I succeed in playing a fifth or some other, inharmonious chord? When I felt no shame at my desire for

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more money, did spirit and appetite within me produce a harmonious fourth or some other, jarring note? Finally, the identification of the relations among the parts of the virtuous soul with specific harmonies also enables the thought that our own souls might or might not be in tune with the harmonies of the World Soul. Establishing these parallels between the soul’s virtues and the cosmos provides a way of deepening and enriching metaphors that were already present in Greek thought. The image of the human as a microcosm is familiar already, as is the image of the virtuous life as harmonious. These were metaphors the ancients already lived by. But these quite specific additions to those metaphors give a clear sense to the idea of a kind of moral and intellectual progress in Platonic literacy—a literacy which enabled those who possessed it to live in and through Plato’s dialogues.

5

Conclusion

I have offered a general theory of how the Platonic commentary tradition was intended to function within the life-project of the Neoplatonic philosophers. This general theory yields two predictions about what we will find when we turn to an example from that commentary tradition. I have argued that this is exactly what we find in Proclus’ remarks on the civic virtues in Republic IV. I take this to provide some modest measure of confirmation for the general theory. Of course—as in any enterprise that undertakes this methodology— there is still ample room for me to be wrong. If H predicts P and P is observed, it does not inevitably follow that H is correct. That is the fallacy of affirming the consequent. The degree to which the fact that the prediction is fulfilled supports the truth of the hypothesis depends on the likelihood that we have observe P even if H were false. Here it must be conceded that there may be considerable scope for doubt. After all, one of my predictions was that we would see Proclus dragging in lots and lots of metaphysical machinery in his exegesis of Plato’s text. The hypothesis that the Neoplatonists were just pathologically obsessed with metaphysics would predict that too. So, you might think that it is hardly surprising that I found what I thought I would find. Only sustained testing of my general theory about the function of commentary writing could hope to vindicate it. This much, however, can be said for it in opposition to its alternatives. It takes Neoplatonic philosophy and its stated soteriological aims seriously. It is very puzzling how anyone could have supposed that all this detailed attention to Plato’s text, and the often very creative

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exegesis that accompanied it, assimilate a person to the divine.32 I have taken that goal seriously and provided an account of how highly intelligent and sincere philosophers could have spent whole lifetimes doing this. This account may be mistaken, but it at least fulfils what I take to be the guiding principle of all humanistic work in Classics and Ancient Philosophy: humani nihil a me alienum.

Bibliography Primary Sources Damascius (1977) The Greek Commentaries on Plato’s Phaedo, vol. 2, ed. and trans. L.G. Westerink (Amsterdam). Diogenes Laertius (2013) Lives of Eminent Philosophers, ed. T. Dorandi, Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries vol. 50 (Cambridge). Edwards, M. (trans.) (2000) Neoplatonic Saints: the lives of Plotinus and Proclus by their students, TTH 35 (Liverpool). Epictetus (1965) Epicteti dissertationes ab Arriano digestae, ed. H. Schenkle (Leipzig). Olympiodorus (1998) Olympiodorus Commentary on Plato’s Gorgias, trans. R. Jackson, K., Lycos, and H. Tarrant, Philosophia Antiqua 78 (Leiden and Boston). Plato (1921) Plato: Theaetetus, Sophist, trans. H.N. Fowler, LCL 123 (Cambridge, MA). Plato (1937) The Republic, Vol. I: Books I–V, trans. P. Shorey, LCL 237 (Cambridge MA). Plato (1941) Plato: Republic, Vol. II: Books VI–X, trans. P. Shorey, LCL 276 (Cambridge MA). Proclus (1899) Procli Diadochi in Platonis Rem publicam commentarii, ed. W. Kroll (Leipzig). (forthcoming) Baltzly, D., Finamore, J., and Miles, G. (forthcoming) Proclus: Commentary on Plato’s Republic, vol. 2 (Cambridge). Sextus Empiricus (1961) Adversus Mathematicos in Mutschmann, H. (ed.) Sexti Empirici Opera, ed. H. Mutschmann, 3 vols. (Leipzig). Simplicius (1882) Simplicii in Aristotelis Physicorum librus quattuor priores (1–4) commentaria, ed. H. Diels, Commentaria in Aristotelem graeca IX. Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin). Simplicius (1907) Simplicii in Aristotelis Categorias commentarium, ed. C. Kalbfleisch, Commentaria in Aristotelem graeca VIII. Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin).

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Ahbel-Rappe (2000) takes up a closely related puzzle: if the Neoplatonists seek union with an ineffable source of all things, then why is their philosophical project so dominated by discursive activities? While we may not agree on the solution to this puzzle, it is surely the right sort of question to ask.

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Secondary Sources Abbate, M. (2006) ‘Metaphysics and Theology as Methodological and Conceptual Paradigms in Proclus’ Ethico-Political Theory’, in M. Perkams and R. Piccione (eds.) Proklos: Methode, Seelenlehre, Metaphysik., Philosophia Antiqua (Leiden). Ahbel-Rappe, S. (2000) Reading Neoplatonism: non-discursive thinking in the texts of Plotinus, Proclus, and Damascius (Cambridge). Annas, J. (1999) Platonic Ethics, Old and New, vol. 57, Cornell Studies in Classical Philology (Ithaca). Armstrong, J.M. (2004) ‘After the Ascent: Plato on Becoming Like God’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26, 171–184. Baltzly, D. (2004) ‘The virtues and “becoming like god”: Alcinous to Proclus’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 26, 297–321. Baltzly, D. (2017) ‘The Skopos Assumption: Its Justification and Function in the Neoplatonic Commentaries on Plato’, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 11.2, 173–195. Baltzly, D. (2014) ‘Plato’s Authority and the Formation of Textual Communities in Late Antiquity’, Classical Quarterly 64.2, 793–807. Brisson, L. (2006) ‘The doctrine of the degrees of virtue in the Neoplatonists: an analysis of Porphyry’s Sentences 32, its antecedents, and its heritage’, in H. Tarrant and D. Baltzly (eds.) Reading Plato in Antiquity (London). Brown, P. (1992) Power and persuasion in late antiquity: towards a Christian empire (Madison). Finamore, J. (2012) ‘Iamblichus on the Grades of Virtue’, in E. Afonasin, J. Dillon, and J. Finamore (eds.) Iamblichus and the Foundations of Late Platonism, Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism and the Platonic Tradition (Leiden). Fine, G. (1993) On Ideas: Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s theory of forms (Oxford and New York). Irwin, T. (2007) The Development of Ethics: A Historical and Critical Study. Vol. 1: From Socrates to the Reformation (Oxford and New York). MacIsaac, D.G. (2009) ‘The Soul and the Virtues in Proclus’ Commentary on the Republic of Plato’, Philosophie antique 9, 115–143. O’Meara, D. and Sang-Ki, J. (2006) ‘Patterns of perfection in Damascius’ “Life of Isidore”’, Phronesis 51.1, 74–90. Russell, D.C. (2004) ‘Virtue as “likeness to God” in Plato and Seneca’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 42.3, 241–260. Sedley, D. (1999) ‘The Ideal of Godlikeness’, in G. Fine (ed.) Oxford Readings in Plato: Ethics, Politics, Religion and the Soul (Oxford), 309–328. Stock, B. (1983) The implications of literacy: written language and models of interpretation in the eleventh and twelfth centuries (Princeton, N.J.). Tarrant, H. (2014) ‘Platonist curricula and their influence’, in P. Remes and S. SlavevaGriffin (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Neoplatonism (London and New York).

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Watts, E. (2012) ‘Education: Speaking, Thinking, Socializing’, in S.F. Johnson (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity (Oxford and New York). Westerink, L.G. (1962) Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy (Amsterdam).

chapter 9

Summarising Platonic Education in Proclus’ Reading of Plato’s Cave and Divided Line Graeme Miles

Essay Twelve of Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Republic discusses Plato’s image of the cave in the dialogue’s seventh book.1 In so doing it lays out a general program of Platonic education, spanning the ascent from the most shadowy and unreal level of visual illusions and reflections to the approach to the One or Good itself. It is concerned, in short, with the overall trajectory of philosophical development as Proclus sees it, and with some of the central, transformative metaphors through which this process is articulated, imagined and, in part at least, carried out. At a little under nine Teubner pages this is not among the longer of the essays in Proclus’ collection, and I shall argue that it is intended for an audience at a relatively early stage of their education as Platonic philosophers. What it offers, however, is an unusually succinct overview of the philosophical ascent to which Proclus would have his students aspire. Given the lack of scholarly discussion of this essay, I will analyse its contents in some detail before discussing its position and significance as a late antique philosophical text more broadly. It is easy to forget when reading Proclus that he is writing as a member of an embattled, pagan minority.2 References to Christianity in his work are relatively few and he is absorbed rather in the philosophical and cultural labyrinths which he inherits. The biography of Proclus by Marinus (Proclus or On Happiness) is a little more forthcoming about Proclus’ place as a non-Christian philosopher in an increasingly Christian world, but here too Marinus is careful not to speak too directly against the opposition, compared to the much more aggressive and outspoken Damascius.3

1 There is almost no scholarly discussion of this essay. See the notes in Festugière 1970 and Abbate 2004. References to Proclus will be to the first volume of Kroll’s edition of the Commentary on Plato’s Republic unless otherwise stated. 2 See Athanassiadi 1993, 1–29, and the introduction to her Damascius. Philosophical History. 3 On Marinus’ Proclus or On Happiness, see von Fleschenberg 1928; Blumenthal 1984, 469–494; Edwards 2000; Saffrey, Segonds and Luna 2001. On Damascius’ Philosophical History or Life of

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Though he does tell us that Proclus had to withdraw from Athens on one occasion due to the hostile actions of “vulture-giants”, and that his ability to play a political role in the city was limited (Vit. Procl. 15), this is as far as he goes. In references like this one to the “vulture-giants” or in Damascius’ many allusions to the “Typhoean” nature of his age we certainly can see anti-Christian sentiments expressed or implied,4 but the latter term at least does not refer exclusively to Christians even in Damascius, who uses it, for instance, of the pagan leader Pamprepius (fr. 112A, Athanassiadi).5 In the works of Proclus himself, it seems on occasion that the writer is inhabiting the Platonic republic (in Remp. I 145.30–146.5). On other occasions, however, he is careful to urge his listeners or readers not to share his teaching with just anyone (in Remp. I 205.21–23).6 Here, perhaps, he has Christians partly in mind, but there is nothing to limit his remarks to practitioners of the new religion, and one can readily imagine other audiences which would for one reason or another not have responded favorably to Neoplatonic arguments or theurgy.

1

Plato’s Cave and the Lower Segments of the Divided Line

Essay Twelve offers a discussion of two passages which for modern readers are central to any reading of Plato’s Republic: the images of the cave and the divided line. It is not always the case that the parts of the text which interest Proclus and other Neoplatonic readers the most are those which also attract modern interpreters; readers of Proclus become accustomed to long and detailed discussions of passages which a contemporary reader may be inclined to skim over without a second thought. The analogy between male and female guard dogs and male and female guardians, for example, may well strike us a passing point by Plato’s Socrates on the way to more important arguments about the eligibility of women to become guardians and the necessity for the same education for men and women. For Proclus, however, this is a point demanding substanIsidore, see Asmus 1909, 1910, 424–480 and 265–284; Damascius, Zintzen 1967 and Athanassiadi 1999; O’Meara 2006, 74–90; Miles 2018, 55–66. 4 The notion of anti-Christian “code-words” entered scholarship on late-antique Platonism in Saffrey 1979, 553–563. Barnes raises some well-founded criticisms and argues convincingly for a Proclus who took little part in politics: Barnes 2013, 168–188. See also Wildberg 2016. 5 On Pamprepius in Damascius, see Athanassiadi 1999, 268–279 and Athanassiadi 1993, 19. 6 Lamberton (2012, 307 n. 326) is likely correct that we can see here primarily a reference to Christians. Nonetheless, these need not be the only group whom Proclus would imagine not to approve of his/Syrianus’ teaching.

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tial discussion, as he considers it to bear on the issue of declining differences within species as one ascends ontologically (In Remp. 240.27–241.3). In the case of the cave and divided line, however, the passages under discussion are plainly important ones from a modern and a late-antique Platonic perspective. Though we have no access to the ancient discussion of these passages besides this essay of Proclus, it is clear from the introduction to the essay that such discussion did once exist. He begins as follows: If it is necessary that we too should speak about the cave and all the things outside the cave and their resemblance to reality, let us first discuss how Plato himself divides all things in the cutting up of the line.7 The first phrase here clearly implies that many others have discussed these topics before Proclus.8 On other occasions he expands on such remarks by telling us who these predecessors were and by referring directly to their opinions in the process of making clear his own. In Essay Twelve, however, he does not do this either in the opening or as the essay progresses. This, I believe, is due to the relatively introductory level at which this essay is pitched: Proclus is concerned on this occasion with providing a detailed but not over-detailed summary of the meaning of these important passages, without overburdening his discussion with the arguments of his predecessors and his own counterarguments against them, or with refinements of their positions. This hypothesis concerning the intended audience will also be relevant later in my reading of this essay, when I come to considering what is included and what is omitted from Proclus’ interpretation. Foreshadowing somewhat this later discussion I will say at this point that I consider this essay one designed to give aspiring philosophers an overview of the path of philosophical education lying before them. Consequently, Proclus deals in summary with quite advanced parts of that path but in a way which is relatively broad-brush. Brief comment is needed at this point on the question of how Essay Twelve fits into the Commentary on the Republic as a whole. This commentary does not follow the line-by-line approach of, for instance, the Commentary on the Timaeus, with the exception of the section on the Republic’s Myth of Er. Rather, it is presented as a series of essays dealing with different parts of the dia7 Procl. In Remp. 1.287.20–23. All translations from Essay Twelve are my own, from the forthcoming second volume of Proclus. Commentary on Plato’s Republic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) by Dirk Baltzly, John Finamore and Graeme Miles. Other translations are credited when they are cited. 8 As Festugière (1970, 96 n. 2) also observes.

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logue. This has, consequently, been treated as a work relatively lacking in unity, possibly collected at some later time by a compiler other than Proclus himself. Though it cannot be denied that the essays cover the Republic in varying degrees of detail and indeed at varying levels of complexity, it is striking that the overall collection does cover the Republic quite systematically. Though this commentary is, admittedly, sui generis, it is not a chance assemblage of materials. Perhaps the most likely model of composition and compilation is to see Proclus initially composing several of the essays independently before settling at some point on the plan of commenting in this form on the Republic as a whole. This is not, it has to be said, the place to consider the commentary and its composition as a whole, but since some of my reading of Essay Twelve depends on seeing this essay as pitched at a level somewhat different to other parts of the commentary, it is best to have said something by way of explanation at this point.9 Proclus begins by rightly emphasising the close connection between the divided line and the cave. As Plato himself states in his account of the cave, “this image … must be connected (προσαπτέον) with all that has been said earlier” (In Remp. 517a8–b1). How close a relationship Plato means to suggest between the image of the cave and the preceding images of the divided line and the sun has been much debated,10 and what connection Proclus understands here will emerge as the discussion continues. At any rate, Proclus in this section merely states a relationship between the images of this section of the Republic which Plato had in any case indicated: each of them is concerned with the types of apprehension of different kinds of object. Unlike Plato, however, Proclus is also concerned in this introductory part of his discussion to emphasise the continuity of the ontological levels which one is to apprehend. This concern with continuity he sees as implicit in Plato’s use of the image of a single line: So wishing to demonstrate that the procession of existent things from the one was continuous (συνεχῆς) and unified (ἡνωμένη), Plato conveyed this continuity (συνέχεια) through the image of a single line, with the subsequent proceeding from the prior at each stage through similarity and

9 10

See the fuller discussion in the general introduction to Proclus in Baltzly, Finamore and Miles 2018, 9–15. See, among much else: Raven 1953, 22–32; Ferguson 1963, 188–193; Hall 1980, 74–86; Malcolm 1981, 60–68; Strang 1986, 19–34; Karasmanis 1988, 147–171; Harte 2007, 195–215; Majumdar 2007, 144–159; Barney 2008, 357–372. Richard Hunter sees in Plato’s handling of the image here in relation to the broader philosophical discussion “a new poetics, one appropriate to philosophical writing as he conceives it”: Hunter 2012, 86–88.

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coherence, since no emptiness separates existent things. This would not be lawful, because the good leads forth all things and reverts them back into itself. At any rate it is necessary that the process of coming to be (γένεσις) must be like that which produces it. Therefore, since that [producing it] is one, the process of becoming must of necessity be continuous.11 Having established the continuity of reality as depicted in the divided line, Proclus turns to its different, unequal sections; as in Plato’s own discussion of the line and the cave, the implication is that these images capture the full range of epistemological levels.12 Proclus then draws for the first, though not the last time in this essay, on the Philebus, to make a further point about the unequal sections of the line. Indeed, in the Philebus (16c9–d4, Burnet) [Plato] instructs those considering existent things to consider after the one the dyad, if there is one at all, and if not, the number close to the dyad. Therefore, the division of all things into unequal parts indicates, in his view, the rank of the things divided, and he postulates the inequality through the whole as an image of the inequality in its order of existence (ὕπαρξις) (288.20–26). The thought here is very compressed, but it appears that Proclus argues as follows: since there is a fundamental inequality between the monad and the dyad, this inequality is reflected in the continuous succession of ontological/epistemological levels which proceeds from them. As he has remarked just before, “similarity is a kind of unity” (288.17–18) (ἡ γὰρ ὁμοιότης ἑνότης τίς ἐστιν). Consequently, the similarity of all subsequent things to the unequal dyad means that all of those things must also be in some way unequal. After explaining the first division of the line into two parts as representing “what is understood by intellect” (τὸ νοούμενον) (289.8) and what can be seen (τὸ ὁρώμενον) (289.9), Proclus turns to consider the lower parts of the line as Plato does since, Proclus says, these are closer to us and more familiar (289.18– 19). Given the relative brevity with which Proclus treats the divided line, it is remarkable how much of the discussion he spends on its very lowest portion, that dealing with “images” (εἰκόνες).13 Staying close to the discussion in this passage of the Republic itself, Proclus does not on this occasion connect “images” such as reflections and shadows with artistic representations, though 11 12 13

Procl. In Remp. 1.288.6–12. On this implication in Plato’s descriptions, see Mohr 1984, 34. On the εἰκών in Proclus, see Dillon 1990, 247–258. Also, van den Berg 2001, 120–136.

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this connection is, of course, made elsewhere in the dialogue (596d). Rather, he discusses at some length the nature of shadows and reflections, before turning to other kinds of imagined visual effects, essentially illusions of different sorts. These images are, he says following the Sophist (266b, Duke et al.), produced by “a divine artifice” (δαιμονίᾳ μηχανῇ). As examples of deliberately produced illusions, he first and very generally alludes to the “phantoms and shadows” (τὰ εἴδωλα … καὶ τὰς σκίας) which the “arts of the magicians” claim to produce (290.14–15). The working of these illusions, for Proclus, prove that shadows, reflections and illusions work through συμπάθεια (290.13–14). This, of course, is an old explanation for the powers of magicians in general, to the extent that Iamblichus felt obliged to avoid this term in his De Mysteriis, to distinguish theurgy from magic.14 Proclus, by contrast, is willing to make use of this term on a number of occasions, as for instance In Remp. 3.7.12 where he evokes συμπάθεια as the quality by which the perceptible universe is united. The examples of illusions, in other words, in the discussion of the lowest portion of the divided line, are motivated by a conviction that such perceptual oddities illustrate, albeit at a low level of reality, universal principles. His next choice of example, developed at slightly greater length, takes this approach further. Why do I speak of [magicians’] arts? Those powers can be exercised even irrational animals prior to any reason.15 The hyena, he tells us, treading from above on the shadow of a dog, “casts it down and makes the dog its meal” (290.17–19). This on its own would be barely comprehensible, but the same curious belief is reported in Aelian’s On the Nature of Animals (6.14, Scholfield) on the authority of Aristotle.16 The first part of the Aristotelian fragment relates that the hyena is able to send animals to sleep due to a special power in its left paw. When attacking dogs, however, it casts its shadow on the intending victim, thus reducing it to silence. Having silenced the dog, the hyena is able to carry it off and eat it. Aelian, interestingly, likens hyenas to witches (ὡς αἱ φαρμακίδες), much as Proclus introduces his hyenas by analogy with magicians. His last example of συμπάθεια at work in optics is again an Aristotelian one, this time from De Insomniis (2. 459b27, Terzaghi): a mirror is said to turn a bloody colour when it is looked into by a menstruating woman (in Remp. 290.19–21). 14 15 16

On Iamblichus’ defence of theurgy, see Dillon 2007, 30–41 and the introduction to Iamblichus in Clarke, Dillon and Hershbell 2004. Procl. In Remp. 1.290.17–18. Fr. 369 ( fragmenta zoica) in Rose 1886.

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What Proclus does here with his shadows and reflections departs markedly from Plato. For Plato, the shadows and reflections of this level of the line stand in an asymmetrical dependency to their objects, which seems to correspond to the asymmetrical dependency between the fourth and third sections of the divided line.17 There is never in Plato any sense that the shadows and reflections could affect the objects to which they correspond, but this is precisely what Proclus does allow in these examples. The power of συμπάθεια, for Proclus, allows the relationship to become, potentially at least, a symmetrical one. The hyena’s shadow is not simply a shadow corresponding to a real hyena but something which, by its peculiar power, allows the hyena to affect other animals.18 The example of the bloody mirror works somewhat differently, but here too the relation of object and reflection is not of a kind that Plato imagined. Here συμπάθεια allows the reflection to reveal something not immediately obvious from the object herself, extending in a different sense the reflective relationship. What exactly Proclus has in mind concerning the supposed powers of magicians over shadows and images is not made entirely clear. Here, as in the two other examples, he evidently expects his listeners to recognise the kind of practices that he intends, abbreviating the allusion as far as he can. The phrasing seems to suggest effects produced upon the shadows and images themselves (πρός τε τὰ εἴδωλα … καὶ τὰς σκίας, 290.14–15). It is also possible that some of these more closely resembled the power of the hyena which follows upon this example, producing effects at the level of real objects (so in the second section of the line) rather than merely upon shadows and images. The paradoxes which Proclus chooses as examples may well strike us as colourful or absurd, but his hyenas and other exotica are for him no laughing matter, as is clear from the difficulty which they in fact raise for him. The main reason for spending so long as he does on this lowest part of the line is the correspondence which he rightly sees in the relationships between the first and second parts of the divided line, and the third and fourth. This he makes clear at the end of his discussion of the first and lowest part: The reflections are also realities (ὑποστάσεις) according to Plato, and I think this is clear from the analogy. For he says that just as the images are in relation to physical things (τὰ ὁρατά), so are discursive objects (τὰ 17 18

On the importance of asymmetrical dependency in the divided line, see Stocks 1911, 75. This is also why Proclus is not on this occasion interested in the first part of this Aristotelian fragment, detailing the hyena’s soporific left paw. This power seems to work on a different logic and is not concerned with the possible effects of reflections and shadows on physical objects.

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διανοητά) to intelligible objects (τὰ νοητά). And these (discursive objects) are apparently both forms and existent things; and the images, therefore, being simulacra (εἴδωλα) of visible objects have a certain nature and existence (οὐσία) of one kind of another in which they exist.19 Despite their relatively low level, reflections and shadows have a kind of reality, in other words, because they are produced by a relationship which resembles, at a lower level, that between discursive and intelligible objects. By introducing examples of the kind that he does, however, Proclus does anything but clarify this central point. If he is willing to allow that the objects of the first and lowest part of the line can affect those of the second part, on some occasions at least, making at least a little more symmetrical the determinedly asymmetrical relationship of these two sections in the Republic, one would expect an analogous situation to prevail between the two upper sections as well. Yet it is hard to imagine how such a breach of asymmetry could ever be imagined between the intelligible and the discursive, however we understand the latter.20 Introducing the possibilities of συμπάθεια is, in other words, sufficiently important to Proclus that he is willing to raise a problem for himself in the broader analogy, the explanation of which is his avowed pedagogical goal. By contrast there is very little said about the objects to which these reflections and shadows correspond. These are merely divided, following Plato (510a, Burnet), into manufactured objects and natural ones (In Remp. 291.3). In shifting to discuss the second part of the line, however, Proclus moves to consider at the same time the relation of this analogy to the image of the cave. Everything in the cave, he tells us, is analogous to the visible (291.5): the natural and manufactured objects of the world as a whole are equivalent to the second part of the line. This leaves the first part of the line, on which he has spent considerable exegetical effort, without an analogous feature in the cave.

2

Ascending the Line, Ascending from the Cave

At this stage, Proclus introduces another variation from Plato (though he would no doubt not have seen it that way) when he states that there is a further mimetic relationship between the discursive and the visible (291.15–28). This

19 20

Procl. In Remp. 1.290.22–27. This is a notorious problem in the interpretation of the Platonic passage. See, for instance, Karasmanis 1988.

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is hardly surprising given the continuity which Proclus proposes for the various levels of reality, both earlier in this essay and in his thought more generally. Each level, that is, now mimics that immediately before it.21 The progression upward is not, Proclus tells us, from hypotheses to conclusions (συμπεράσματα) (292.2–3) but from first principles (ἀρχαί) to yet prior first principles, and eventually to the indemonstrable (ἀναπόδεικτον) and unhypothetical (ἀνυπόθετον). This is in truth the first principle of everything; dependent upon nothing but with everything dependent on it. From this true first principle of all Proclus distinguishes the monad as first principle of arithmetic, suggesting that the ἀρχαί of different orders of things ultimately depend on the one first principle of everything. A somewhat vague “these things” (τούτοις),22 apparently referring to intermediate levels of reality and their ἀρχαί, can be used as “stairs” in the ascent (292.13). The choice of word here (ἐπαναβασμοῖς) is a somewhat unusual one, and recalls Diotima’s speech in the Symposium (211c), where Diotima (as reported by Socrates) summarises the philosopher’s ascent through ἔρως, from the love of a particular beautiful body to all bodies in general, and then to beautiful ways of life and studies (μαθήματα) and ultimately to knowledge of beauty in itself. Though the connection between Diotima’s overview of spiritual ascent and the ascent which Proclus sees in the divided line is not developed further, the implication is nonetheless that these Platonic passages depict from different perspectives the same narrative of ascent to the truly real.23 The divided line has become, in other words, overtly a map of the ascent from the sensible through the intelligible to the One. In the Republic itself we may take the line as an image of such an ascent, and its connection to the images of the sun and the cave, which do propose an ascent, suggest as much, but in Plato’s line itself we do not get much if any sense of motion upwards or downwards through the various levels. Moreover, Proclus emphasises this connection of the divided line to the more dynamic images which surround it in the conclusion of this section when he speaks of the ascent to the ἀρχή of all things as the approach to the ruler in the intelligible world, analogous to the sun in the physical world, and paraphrases Plato’s statement that it is ‘even beyond

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23

For a succinct overview of Proclus’ ideas of procession and reversion, and his insistence both on the distinctness of levels and their continuity, see Chlup 2012, 47–111. Festugière 1970, 102 n. 3 remarks on this common use (or as he says, abuse) of neuter plurals at I.294.4, though only occasionally does it render the text as difficult as it does there. On the relation of Diotima’s speech to the cave from a developmental perspective, see Frede 1993, 397–422.

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existence (οὐσία) and superior to it in seniority and power’ (509b9, Burnet) in his formulation that it is ‘even beyond existence and being’ (οὐσίας ὄν ἐπέκεινα καὶ ὄντος; In Remp. 292.20–21). The discussion of the divided line, for Proclus, is ground-work for the interpretation of the cave itself. This, he reasonably states, is concerned with our nature, not in relation to its capabilities but in relation to education and ignorance (quoting directly of course for these last words: παιδείας τε πέρι καὶ ἀπαιδευσίας; cf. Pl. Resp. 514a2, Burnet). It shows us, Proclus states, an εἰκών of what an uneducated life really is by contrast to a life educated in the divisions of reality discussed.24 On occasion, Proclus takes care to distinguish image (εἰκών) from symbol (σύμβολον), but only, as John Dillon remarks, “when he is on his very best behaviour”.25 This appears to be one such occasion; the distinction between the two, when it is followed, is part of a broader distinction between inspired poetry (which makes use of σύμβολα) and a “middle” type of poetry, the definition of which is difficult and contested.26 Though Plato’s cave is not, of course, a poetic composition, the clearest definition of this type of poetry which Proclus gives (in the sixth essay of the Republic Commentary) would suggest that the nature of this passage closely resembles his “middle” type of poetry: While [this type of poetry] recognises the essence of the things that truly exist, and it loves to contemplate the beautiful and the good, both in words and in deeds, it also brings each of the subjects that it treats into an interpretation in metre and rhythm.27 The cave is clearly, for Proclus, an image of “what exists”; like the middle type of poetry it also “provide[s] a recollection of the cycles of the soul and of the unseen λόγοι and diverse powers in them” (179.13–15). There is, unfortunately, damage to the text at this point, and at least one folio is missing. Though one can only speculate as to what was there, it is clear from the sequence of the essay that it dealt with the beginning of the prisoner’s ascent to the upper world. It may, therefore, have been a primar-

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Proclus employs the same term, εἰκών, for the cave as the Republic itself (Pl. Resp. 515a4, Burnet). On the great variety of terms which have been used, with greater and lesser degrees of reflection, to refer to Plato’s passage, see Gilabert Barberà 2015, 105–115. Dillon 1990, 254. On the three types of poetry see also Sheppard 1980, 162–202. See on Proclus’ divisions of poetry the introduction to Essay Five in Baltzly, Finamore and Miles 2018, 122–126. Procl. In Remp. 1.179.6–9.

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ily protreptic section. However that may be, when our text resumes Proclus is considering the experiences of the prisoner who has ascended from the cave to the world above. Between the items of sense, corresponding to the shadows experienced in the cave, and the real objects of the intelligible, Proclus says, Plato has surreptitiously (λεληθότως, 293.25) introduced intermediary objects. The supposedly “surreptitious” manner in which this point is stated is initially surprising but seems to refer only to how little space is allotted to this stage of the education of the prisoner in the Republic, given the importance which Proclus himself ascribes to it. For those of us listening attentively (τοῖς μὴ παρέργως ἀκούουσιν, 293.26) these intermediary objects are the objects which geometry and arithmetic investigate. Dianoia (discursive reason) must exercise and purify itself, then project (προβάλλειν) the λόγοι of these objects which exist within it, seeing them not in images but “folded together” in themselves and without parts (συνεπτυγμένως ὄντα καὶ ἀμερῶς, 294.2–3). Proclus describes here in a succinct but clear form his general view of the use of mathematics for the philosopher and the point in philosophical development at which such study is helpful, and indeed vital.28 Ordinarily, in perceiving the physical world, Proclus considers that we project internal λόγοι which correspond to the forms onto physical objects in order to understand them. The first step towards approaching the intelligible itself is also through projection, but of a different kind. One projects the λόγοι using the faculty of φαντασία, as a step towards apprehending them directly without such projection. Mathematics does not then take the philosopher to the higher levels of the intelligible, let alone towards the one itself, but it is a necessary intermediary step in moving from the sensible to the intelligible worlds. It provides a type of self-knowledge to the soul, in the form of knowledge of its own λόγοι which, since they correspond to the intelligible objects themselves, prepare the soul for its further ascent. The process is discussed in much greater detail in Proclus’ Commentary on Euclid: Therefore just as Nature stands creatively above the visible figures, so the soul, exercising her capacity to know, projects on the imagination, as on a mirror, the reason-principles (λόγοι) of the figures (σχήματα); and the imagination, receiving in pictorial form these impressions of the reason28

Proclus’ writings on Euclid and mathematics, especially what survives of his commentary on Euclid’s Elements, have received substantial scholarly attention. See Schmitz 1996, 89– 100 and Schmitz 1997; Nikulin 2002; Bernard 2003, 29–48; O’Meara 2005a, 133–145; Harari 2006, 361–389; Lernould 2010; MacIsaac 2014, 44–98.

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principles within the soul, by their means affords the soul an opportunity to turn inward from the pictures (εἴδωλα) and attend to herself.29 The soul “wants to penetrate within herself to see the circle and the triangle there, all things without parts and all in one another, to become one with what she sees and enfold their plurality” (in Eucl. 141). Just as in the Republic Commentary, Proclus speaks in the Commentary on Euclid of projecting these λόγοι and then rolling them back into unity (συμπτύξαι τὸ πλῆθος “rolling together their multiplicity” [In Eucl. 141.22]). This use of mathematics as philosophical exercise is clearly the same in both texts, and the lesser level of detail in Essay Twelve is telling once more of the nature of this essay. Its treatment of individual topics appears rather to be designed as an introductory summary, outlining the process of philosophical ascent as a whole rather than discussing any one part of it in detail. Progressing from these metaphorical shadows, Proclus moves to Plato’s description of the released prisoner becoming acquainted with the stars at night, as his eyes gradually become accustomed to the world above. This passage, for Proclus, can be interpreted both literally and metaphorically. He sees Plato as recommending that the aspiring philosopher learn astronomy, since the stars are “likenesses of the intelligible” (τῶν νοητῶν … ὁμοιώματα, 294.5–6), but Proclus is also acutely aware of the metaphorical meaning of the passage: the philosopher comes to know the intelligible world before he can approach its ultimate source. What the philosopher learns, he says, is the nature belonging to these intelligible things and their divine qualities (θεότητας).30 Just as the light of the stars, in its sunlike nature, ultimately depends on the sun itself, so these qualities of intelligible things depend on their relationship to the Good. Unlike Plato, however, Proclus adds that in this stage of gazing first at the heavens, just as the whole of the heavens must be studied and known prior to the vision of the sun, so one must look at “the entire intelligible order” (τὸν νοητὸν σύμπαντα διάκοσμον, 294.12–13). This might seem an unrealistic project to pursue: even if we accept the existence of an intelligible world and the desirability of knowing it, how could one come to know it completely, as Proclus demands? In response to this anticipated objection, Proclus fleshes out further the analogy between learning astronomy and acquiring a complete knowledge of the intelligible. Some of the intelligible objects are analogous to the complete spheres (ταῖς ὁλαῖς σφαίραις, 294.15), others to the stars which the spheres con-

29 30

Procl. In Eucl. 141; trans. Morrow 1970. These are “leurs perfections divines” in Festugière’s translation (1970, 102).

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tain, others again to the cycles in them (294.16–17). Seeing these orders (τάξεις) in the intelligible, we are to attach them to “the things above soul”. This might seem merely to extend the parallel between these two kinds of knowledge, but Proclus makes clear his point by reference to a third analogy: the various kinds of gods. The whole spheres are images (εἰκόνες)31 “of the gods who are truthfully hymned as whole” (294.18–19), the cycles are images of those which are simultaneously both whole and partial, and the stars of those which are properly called partial (294.20–22). Lest we doubt that Plato intended to imply any such thing when he spoke of the prisoner moving from the sight of the stars to the sun itself, Proclus insists that Plato did indeed know of these orders (τάξεις), as Proclus reminds us that he himself has demonstrated “elsewhere”.32 “And the theologians”, he says, “are full of these doctrines” (294.23–25). In the course of extending the celestial analogy, Proclus has shifted from considering the world of the forms to the place of the gods within the intelligible. It is characteristic of his theology to see gods as existing at a variety of levels, from the henads which exist as paradoxically independent personalities at the level of the One down through the orders of being.33 This is outlined most clearly in proposition 139 of the Elements of Theology, where he writes that “in each class of beings—bodies, souls, intellects—the highest members belong to the gods, in order that in every rank there may be terms analogous to the gods … Thus deity exists on the corporeal, the psychical, and the intellective level—evidently by participation in each case, since deity in the primary sense is proper to the henads”.34 As so often, the logic of Proclus’ cosmic order is the logic of participation. In the present passage, Proclus intends to unfold from the Republic’s brief lines about the prisoner getting to know the heavens which he has just come to perceive a reference to learning such rankings of divinity within the intelligible, progressing from the more partial and lower to the more whole and universal. It is not too much to see this learning of the ranks of gods as a theurgic as much as a theological learning. Proclus’ interest in and dedication to theurgy do 31

32

33 34

We might expect σύμβολα here, but the distinction between the two terms is only really strictly enforced when it is essential for Proclus’ argument, and here it is not. See above n. 13. The reference is not clear, and may well be to a text by Proclus which is no longer extant. Proclus is, however, concerned with demonstrating the basis in Plato of his own, complex theology in the Platonic Theology. If this is the point of reference, Essay Twelve would be a very late work. On the Proclean teaching on Henads, see Butler 2008, 131–143; Butler 2010, 131–157 Butler 2012, 131–150. For a clear and succinct introduction to the topic, see Chlup 2012, 112–119. Trans. Dodds 1963, 123.

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not require any argument, and it would be remarkable, in fact, if he did not integrate theurgy somewhere into his account of the philosopher’s ascent through the levels of being. In this, as in the rest of his discussion in this essay, the account is very brief. Nonetheless, it must be noted that he grants a relatively high position to theurgy and knowledge of the gods here, above mathematics and at least on a level with reasoning about the relations prevailing among the forms if not above such reasoning.35

3

The Experience of the Good and the Purpose of Proclus’ Essay

In the conclusion of his account of the prisoner’s ascent Proclus reaches the limits of discursivity, as we might well expect that he would.36 Since the Good is beyond being, he cannot hope to convey it to us directly. Drawing once more on the Philebus (65a, Burnet), he suggests that we can know something of the Good by getting to know “the intelligible things ranked and existing in the antechamber of the Good” (ταῖς ἐν προθύροις αὐτοῦ τεταγμέναις καὶ οὔσαις νοηταῖς), these being truth, beauty and symmetry (In Remp. 295.21–22). Once more Proclus declines to go into full detail, reminding his readers that he has discussed this in a book “On the Three Monads”, which for us does not survive (295.24–25). There he had discussed how each of these monads reflected the nature of the Good, what each provided to the intelligible and how it provided this. Given too that he refers to these three abstractions as “monads” we can infer from his use of this term elsewhere that he sees each as the first term in its sequence within the intelligible, participating in turn (as in clear from this passage in any case) in the Good itself. There is, for Proclus as for Plato, a possibility of seeing the Good itself, of achieving the vision (θέα) of it. It is with a forceful restatement of the transcendence and causal power of the Good which Proclus ends, reminding us of the image of the sun with which this sequence of images in Plato’s Republic began. For given that it generated the sun, and all those things by which the sun is responsible for genesis, that thing itself is by much more a prior cause, and if it is the cause of existence for intelligible things, and also the cause of all things of which those things are causes, it is all the more to be hymned as cause.37 35 36 37

Lewy 1978; van Lieferinge 1999; Majercik 2013; Tanaseanu-Döbler 2013; Addey 2014. On the limits of language, see Rappe 2007. Procl. In Remp. 1.296.13–15.

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This is not the first time that the notion of “celebrating in a hymn” has appeared in this essay. In his introduction of the “gods truthfully celebrated as universal” (294.19–20) the same verb, ὑμνέω, had been used, and it does appear in such contexts elsewhere in Proclus.38 Nonetheless, though this ending most certainly is rhetorical, and is intended to sway his readers emotively, as well as by argument, towards the pursuit of philosophy, it is not mere rhetoric. Proclus was himself, of course, a writer of hymns, whose theurgic purpose has been ably explored by Robbert van den Berg.39 Ending at this point, with an emotive appeal to his listeners to ascend through an arduous intellectual and spiritual training is revealing of the purpose of this essay in several respects. It is, like so many of the other authorial choices that we have explored, apt for a protreptic work aimed at a relatively basic level. It also silently omits the events that follow in Plato’s text itself: the philosopher must reluctantly descend again from these lofty heights for the sake of his fellow prisoners (519c– 521b).40 The reason for that omission is, I believe, the remoteness of the goal for Proclus’ audience. At this stage they require an overview of the path to be taken and encouragement to persevere. The subsequent social responsibility which follows for the individual able to make that ascent is not the current concern. That does not mean, however, that Proclus did not follow Plato in seeing such a responsibility as a real one. Marinus’ encomium of his master claims that Proclus took what part in politics he, as a pagan in a Christian society, could. Whether or not these claims are exaggerated, it is clear that the ideal which Marinus and Proclus espouse is not an entirely otherworldly one, without social conscience.41 The absence then of any discussion of such responsibilities here is likely due to the purpose of this particular essay rather than to any change of mind on Proclus’ part. The full Proclean system is apparent at every turn in this essay, but is consistently treated in broad terms. A commentary like that on the Alcibiades offers a reasonable parallel: there too, despite the introductory nature of the work, which deals with the first text in the Iamblichean curriculum, advanced topics are also introduced, indicating to students where the philosophical path which they have begun is leading. It should be noted in this twelfth essay of the Republic Commentary that Proclus does not attempt to map this path onto the Iamblichean curriculum of Platonic texts which he inherits and within which 38 39 40 41

See, for example, In Remp. 1.33.5, 57.13, 68.25 and on this word in Proclus, van den Berg 2001, 26–27. Van den Berg 2001, 86–111. This too has been a much-discussed topic. See, for instance, Davies 1968, 169–173. See especially O’Meara 2005b.

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he works. Given that the progression in the scale of virtues which this curriculum is meant to bring about does map onto such a narrative of ascent as he is concerned with in this essay, the fact of its omission is notable. Here once more the reason is likely the avoidance of what for a protreptic essay would be excessive detail, potentially obscuring the outlines of the path he describes. What this essay does is take some of the central, transformative metaphors of the Republic and uses them to motivate and inform Proclus’ students. That philosophy was intended by late-antique Platonists to be a transformative undertaking is clear from a number of sources: from essays and passages like this one, from the biographies of ancient philosophers, from the close engagement with theurgy and religion more generally in the works of Proclus and others. Essay Twelve is an exercise in the presentation of metaphors through which to live. In attempting to persuade his listeners as he does, Proclus cannot have been unaware that this was a call to a way of life at odds with the Christian society in which he lived. Though much of this spiritual and philosophical trajectory could be, and subsequently was, adapted into Christian form (in the Pseudo-Dionysian corpus and subsequent thought depending upon it), in Proclus’ own societal and philosophical context, Essay Twelve is effectively a philosophical pitch. For all that its details may seem abstruse and dry, it is, I believe, intended as a general presentation of a way of life which Proclus presents as superior to its competition, either the living of a non-philosophical life or of a Christian one. Unlike Essay Six of this same commentary, which ends with an exhortation to his listeners to keep silent about the esoteric material which he has imparted regarding the true meaning of the sacred, Homeric poems (205.21–23), Proclus here is reminding his readers or listeners of what we might call the religious and transformative nature of the Platonic life in its progression from the lowest, most shadowy reaches of reality to its ultimate source.

Bibliography Primary Sources Aelian (1959) On Animals, Volume II: Books 6–11. Trans. A.F. Scholfield. LCL 448 (Cambridge, MA). Aristotle (1886). Aristotelis qui ferebantur librorum fragmenta, ed. V. Rose (Leipzig). Damascius (1999) Philosophical History, trans. P. Athanassiadi (Athens). Damascius (1967) Damascii Vitae Isidori Reliquiae, ed. C. Zintzen (Hildesheim). Iamblichus (2004) De Mysteriis, trans. E. Clarke, J. Dillon and J. Hershbell (Leiden). Majercik, R. (2013) The Chaldaean Oracles: Text, Translation and Commentary, 2nd ed. (Dilton Marsh).

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Marinus (2001) Proclus ou sur le bonheur, eds. and trans. H.D. Saffrey, A.P. Segonds and C. Luna (Paris). Plato (1901) Philebus in Platonis Opera, vol. 2, ed. J. Burnet (Oxford). Plato (1902) Republica in Platonis Opera, vol. 4, ed. J. Burnet (Oxford). Plato (1995) Sophist in Platonis Opera, vol. 1, ed. E.A. Duke et al. (Oxford). Porphyry and Marinus (2000) Neoplatonic Saints. The Lives of Plotinus and Proclus by their Students, trans. M.J. Edwards (Liverpool). Proclus (1901) Procli Diadochi in Platonis Rem Publicam Commentarii, ed. W. Kroll (Leipzig). Proclus (1963) The Elements of Theology, trans. E.R. Dodds (Oxford). Proclus (1970) A Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements, trans. G.R. Morrow (Princeton). Proclus (1970) Proclus. Commentaire sur la République, Tome II. Dissertations VII–XIV (République IV–IX), trans. A.-J. Festugière (Paris). Proclus (2001) Proclus’ Hymns. Essays, Translations, Commentary, trans. R. van den Berg (Leiden). Proclus (2004) Commento all Repubblica di Platone. Testo greco a fronte, trans. M. Abbate (Milan). Proclus (2012) Proclus the Successor on Poetics and the Homeric Poems. Essays 5 and 6 of His Commentary on the Republic of Plato, trans. R. Lamberton (Atalanta). Proclus (2018) Commentary on Plato’s Republic. Volume 1, trans. D. Baltzly, J. Finamore and G. Miles (Cambridge). Proclus (forthcoming) Commentary on Plato’s Republic. Volume 2, trans. D. Baltzly, J. Finamore and G. Miles (Cambridge). Synesius of Cyrene (1944) N. Terzaghi (ed.) “De Insomniis”, in Synesii Cyrenensis opuscula, ed. N. Terzaghi (Rome), 143–189.

Secondary Sources Addey, C. (2014) Divination and Theurgy in Neoplatonism: Oracles of the Gods (Farnham). Asmus, R. (1909, 1910) ‘Zur Rekonstruktion von Damascius’ Leben des Isidorus’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 18, 424–480 and 19, 265–284. Athanassiadi, P. (1993) ‘Persecution and Response in Late Paganism: The Evidence of Damascius’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 113, 1–29. Barnes, J. (2013) ‘Proclus and Politics’, in V. Harte and M. Lane (eds.) Politeia in Greek and Roman Philosophy (Cambridge), 168–188. Barney, R. (2008) ‘Eros and Necessity in the Ascent from the Cave’, Ancient Philosophy 28.2, 357–372. Bernard, A. (2003) ‘Pourquoi et comment Proclus commentait-il Euclide?’ Cahiers François Viète 6, 29–48.

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Blumenthal, H.J. (1984) ‘Marinus’ Life of Proclus. Neoplatonist Biography’, Byzantion 54.2, 469–494. Butler, E.P. (2008) ‘The Intelligible Gods in the Platonic Theology of Proclus’, Méthexis 21, 131–143. Butler, E.P. (2010) ‘The Second Intelligible Triad and the Intelligible-Intellective Gods’, Méthexis 23, 131–157. Butler, E.P. (2012) ‘The Third Intelligible Triad and the Intellective Gods’, Méthexis 25, 131–150. Chlup, R. (2012) Proclus: An Introduction (Cambridge). Davies, J. (1968) ‘A Note on the Philosopher’s Descent into the Cave’, Philologus 112, 121– 126. Davies, J. (1977) ‘The Philosopher and the Cave’, Greece and Rome 24, 23–28. Dillon, J. (2007) ‘Iamblichus’ Defence of Theurgy: Some Reflections’, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 1, 30–41. Dillon, J. 1990 ‘Image, Symbol and Analogy. Three Basic Concepts of Neoplatonic Allegory Exegesis’, in J. Dillon (ed.) The Golden Chain: Studies in the Development of Platonism and Christianity, 247–258 (Aldershot). Ferguson, J. (1963) ‘Sun, Line and Cave Again’, Classical Quarterly 13, 188–193. Frede, D. (1993) ‘Out of the Cave: What Socrates Learned from Diotima’ in R.M. Rosen and J. Farrell (eds.) Nomodeiktes: Greek Studies in Honour of Martin Ostwald (Ann Arbor, Mich.), 397–422. Gilabert Barberà, P. (2015) ‘La ‘Imagen’ de la caverna y la tentación constante de corregir a Platón: Benjamin Jowett como ejemplo’, Estudios Clásicos. Traducir a los clásicos 1, 105–115. Hall, D. (1978) ‘The Philosopher and the Cave’, Greece and Rome 25, 169–173. Hall, D. (1980) ‘Interpreting Plato’s Cave as an Allegory of the Human Condition’, Apeiron 14.2, 74–86. Harari, O. (2006) ‘Methexis and Geometrical Reasoning in Proclus’ Commentary on Euclid’s Elements’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 30, 361–389. Harte, V. (2007) ‘Language in the Cave’, in D. Scott, Maieusis: Essays on Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat (Oxford), 195–215. Hunter, R. (2012) Plato and the Traditions of Ancient Literature. The Silent Stream (Cambridge). Karasmanis, V. (1988) ‘Plato’s Republic. The Line and the Cave’, Apeiron 21, 147–171. Lernould, A. (2010) (ed.) Études sur le Commentaire de Proclus au premier livre des Éléments d’Euclide (Villeneuve d’Ascq). Lewy, H. (1978) Chaldaean Oracles and Theurgy (Paris). MacIsaac, D.G. (2014) ‘Geometrical First Principles in Proclus’ Commentary on the First Book of Euclid’s Elements’, Phronesis 59.1, 44–98. Majumdar, D. (2007) ‘Mysticism and the Political: Stairway to the Good in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”’, Philotheos 7, 144–159.

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Malcolm, J. (1981) ‘The Cave Revisited’, Classical Quarterly 31, 60–68. Miles, G. (2018) ‘Mythic Paradigms and the Platonic Life: Becoming Bacchus in Damascius’ Philosophical History’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 138, 55–66. Mohr, R. (1984) ‘The Divided Line and the Doctrine of Recollection in Plato’, Apeiron 18.1, 34–41. Nikulin, D. (2002) Matter, Imagination and Geometry: Ontology, Natural Philosophy and Mathematics in Plotinus, Proclus and Descartes (Aldershot). O’Meara, D.J. (2005a) ‘Geometry and the Divine in Proclus’, in T. Koetsier and L. Bergmans (eds.) Mathematics and the Divine: A Historical Study (Amsterdam), 133–145. O’Meara, D.J. (2005b) Platonopolis: Platonic Political Philosophy in Late Antiquity (Oxford). O’Meara, D.J. (2006) ‘Patterns of Perfection in Damascius’ “Life of Isidore”’, Phronesis 51.1, 74–90. Rappe, S. (2007) Reading Neoplatonism. Non-Discursive Thinking in the Texts of Plotinus, Proclus, and Damascius (Cambridge). Raven, J.E. (1953) ‘Sun, Divided Line, and Cave’, Classical Quarterly 42, 22–32. Saffrey, H.D. (1979) ‘Allusions antichrétiennes chez Proclus: le diadoque platonicien’, Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 59, 553–563. Schmitz, M. (1997) Euclids Geometrie und ihre mathematiktheoretische Grundlegung in der neuplatonischen Philosophie des Proklos (Würzburg). Schmitz, M. 1996 ‘Heimweh nach Euklid? Zur Grundlegung von Euklids Geometrie in der neuplatonischen Philosophie des Proklos’, in K. Döring, B. Herzhoff und G. Wöhrle (eds.) Antike Naturwissenschaft und ihre Rezeption (Trier), 89–100. Sheppard, A.D.R. (1980) Studies on the 5th and 6th Essays of Proclus’ Commentary on the Republic (Göttingen). Stocks, J.L. (1911) ‘The Divided Line of Plato Rep. VI’, Classical Quarterly 5.2, 73–88. Strang, C. (1986) ‘Plato’s Analogy of the Cave’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 4, 19–34. Tanaseanu-Döbler, I. (2013)Theurgy in Late Antiquity: The Invention of a Ritual Tradition (Göttingen). van Lieferinge, C. 1999 La Théurgie. Des Oracles Chaldaïques à Proclus (Liège). von Fleschenberg, O.S. (1928) Marinos von Neapolis und die neuplatonischen Tugendgrade (Athens). Wildberg, C. (2016) ‘Proclus of Athens: A Life’, in P. d’ Hoine and M. Martijn (eds.) All From One: A Guide to Proclus (Oxford), 1–26.

part 4 Pagans and Christians in Byzantium



chapter 10

Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists: Was He Constructing “Pagan Saints” in the Age of Christianity? Han Baltussen

Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists, written in the early 390s CE, holds an important position in the history of late antique philosophy.1 Not only does it provide some unique materials on the activities of intellectuals between the mid-third century and the late fourth century, but it also bears witness to the polemical discourse between pagans and Christians after the failed attempt by Julian to return the empire to pagan ways—a phenomenon described as “a passing cloud” by the Christian author Athanasius.2 The former point, its unique content, is widely acknowledged and studied. The latter issue, its polemical purpose, is I believe still in need of detailed analysis. Momigliano’s claim that in his Bioi Eunapius gave “an idealized picture [of fourth-century Neoplatonists] in order to compete with the biographies of Christian saints” was made in passing without further elaboration.3 Cox Miller has attempted to characterise ancient biography in this light, but the label “biography” does not apply comfortably to Eunapius’ work.4 In this paper I will argue that the question of implicit polemic can be further clarified by way of asking some basic questions and by reviewing what may seem small issues but could have major implications in thinking about Eunapius’ aims. I propose to examine critically the widely accepted, but little tested hypothesis that Eunapius was constructing a counter-narrative to Christian saints’ lives, because it may help to clarify the dynamics between Christians and pagans in the fourth century, but it may 1 In older scholarship the work is sometimes (erroneously) cited as Lives of the Sophists, which does the work a disservice and overstates the influence of Philostratus. I will cite from the Loeb text in view of the difficulty of several different reference systems (see Hartmannn 2016 for criticism of Goulet’s rearrangement of numbering and omission of Boissonade numbers). 2 Teitler 2016, 142. 3 Momigliano, OCD3 (1996), s.v. Eunapius. 4 Cox Miller 1983. In her last chapter, entitled “Conclusion: The Creative Use of History” (134ff.) Cox does pursue a similar agenda and describes the lives as “celebrations of the virtues of certain eminent individuals … through prisms of divine sonship or godlikeness” (134). This characterisation does not include Eunapius, whom she mentions only once (p. 36).

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also offer an explanation which fits the pagan perspective better.5 Another useful question is how we can establish the purpose of the work, or determine whether there is just one purpose or several, when scholars cannot agree.

1

Background

Since its first modern edition in 1822 by Boissonard, Eunapius’ Lives of Philosophers and Sophists (VPS) enjoyed intermittent scholarly attention, and its Loeb translation of 1921 (using the 1822 text) also signalled a broader interest for late antiquity. Penella’s short monograph from 1990 managed to raise interest into the work’s significance. Remarkably, no less than four books have appeared on Eunapius in the past two decades: a major commentary in German,6 a French text and translation,7 an Italian commentary8 and another French translation.9 But there seems to be no agreement on the question which genre the Lives belong to.10 Eunapius of Sardis (c. 346 CE–c. 414) wrote two major works: (1) Ἱστορία Χρονική (Historia Chronikē)11 continues a work by the historian Dexippus, which covered the period from Emperor Claudius 270CE to Emperors Honorius and Arcadius, sons of Theodosius, 400CE; and (2) Lives of Philosophers and Sophists (ΒΙΟΙ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΣΟΦΙΣΤΩΝ) from Plotinus to Chrysanthius (c. 250– c. 380CE). The latter text offers an important account of some twenty-five intellectuals, the majority of whom were pagan philosophers and orators (including a few so-called iatrosophists). The Lives constitute a crucial source for this period, at a time when Christianity was clearly acquiring greater influence in many ranks of society. Momigliano’s notion of an “idealized picture” has been accepted by many and a quick perusal of the text suggests he is right; yet the

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My work on this text is part of an international project in collaboration with Dirk Baltzly and Graeme Miles (UTas), Michael Champion (ACU), and Peter Adamson (LMU Munich), investigating the concept of becoming godlike in Greek, Christian and Islamic Philosophy (based on Theaet. 176a–c). As part of our proposal Graeme Miles and I are preparing a new English translation of Philostratus and Eunapius respectively for the Loeb series (under contract with HUP). The current edition was translated by Emily Wilmer Cave Wright (née France) and published in 1921 (LCL 134). On Wright, see Lang 1994. Becker 2013. Eunapius of Sardis 2014 (ed. and trans. Goulet, 2 vols.). Eunapius of Sardis 2007 (ed. and trans. Civiletti). Eunapius of Sardis 2009 (ed. and trans. D’Jeranian). For some methodological considerations on history versus biography, see Rotberg 2010. Fragments edited by Blockley 1983.

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idea that this was done in competition with the growing number of biographies on Christian saints (p. 1) has not yet been fully articulated, while it also raises further questions. The recent and voluminous publications on Eunapius’ Lives (for example, Becker ca. 700 pp, Goulet 900 pp), have not, I believe, fully clarified the polemical purpose of the text. Goulet gives a meticulous study of pagan rituals and religious atmosphere at the time, but does not really broach the question in his introduction.12 In characterising the work Becker resorts to using the term “Kollektivbiographie”, which has very little explanatory force and seems to simply assume that the purpose of the work is known.13 He argues that we should not make philosophical biography dependent on Christian hagiography, because such a move would be less than fair to the pagan bioi.14 But even if we allow for the term of “group biography”, this obscures the great diversity among such works of clustered lives. Three problems are worth exploring. (1) Firstly, discussions of the purpose in these works have a few surprising gaps in their use of the primary and secondary evidence; (2) secondly, some established views and terminology are unsatisfactory: as I already suggested, the convention to speak of “biography” in this case is one, but even more important is the highly Christianised terminology (signalled by the scare quotes in my title, “pagan saints”). These points highlight the fact that our discourse and language about this period tends to describe the pagan tradition from a Christian perspective. And (3) thirdly, and more broadly, there is the further issue of treating religion and philosophy in this period as very different as a result of careless terminology, while overlooking the similarities (or overlaps). These three issues produce a three-fold structure to my argument: it moves from reframing our perspective on its supposed genre (biography), to the spe-

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He gives a useful analysis of Eunapius’ position in the religious ambiance of the time (I, 305–334) and of the unusual term θειάσμος (“divinely inspired state”) at I, 367–381. See Becker 2013, 51–77, “Die VPS als Zeugnis paganer Hagiographie.” Becker starts by saying that the evidence in the scholarship of the past 50 years is showing tendencies of reading VPS as “Heiligenleben”, i.e. lives of saints. He charts the various terms and trends (for example, the use of “hagiography” since the 1960s) illustrating that the tendency to regard them as some kind of “saints” is even older. The various terms he cites in older literature demonstrates the Christianised perspective on the problem, see below. Becker 2013, 53: “allzu leicht eine Vereinnahmung der Philosophenbiographik resultieren könnte, und zwar dergestalt, dass pagane Philosophenviten als Reaktionen auf die christlichen Texte gedeutet wurden. Dadurch geraten die Philosophenbioi letztlich in ein Abhängigkeitsverhältnis, das den Anliegen dieser Texte keinesfalls gerecht wird”. Becker clearly places biography, vitae and bioi on the same footing.

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cial features in the text that may redirect our focus (divine traits), to considering Eunapius’ use of terminology (i.e. words like theios). Momigliano’s comment to suspect a polemical angle clearly has merit but deserves careful scrutiny. The study of this important work, it seems to me, must begin with some basic questions about the author’s motives, sources and ultimately, its purpose.

2

Reading VPS: Content and Structure

What is it about this work that it should prompt another investigation into its purpose, when Eunapius himself seems to be quite clear about his aim? Eunapius states in his introduction:15 T1 But the aim of my narrative is not to write about the lesser activities (τὰ παρέργα) of distinguished men, but about their main achievements (τὰ ἔργα). […] To those who desire to read this narrative it will tell its tale, (i) not indeed with complete certainty as to all matters—for it was impossible to collect all the evidence with accuracy—nor (ii) shall I separate out from the rest the most illustrious philosophers and orators, but I shall [345] set down for each one their way of life (τὸ ἐπιτήδευμα). (iii) That in every case he whom this narrative describes attained to real distinction, the author—for that is what he aims at—leaves to the judgement of any who may please to decide on the basis of the indications made available here (ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων σημείων).16 I will comment on the full passage in detail below, but clearly the focus here is on “great achievements of renowned individuals” (possibly an allusion to Xenophon and Plutarch who are both mentioned),17 and the text seems to express a fairly confident message. But what we find out soon after gives us pause. Eunapius undercuts our expectation by saying: T2 This much, then, I place on record, in the awareness that some things have perhaps escaped me, but other things have not. And in that, after expending much thought and effort so that the result might be a continuous (συνεχῆ) and well-circumscribed (περιγεγραμμένην) account of the

15 16 17

As Hahn 1990, 476 notes, the introduction has long been ignored by scholars. Wright, 344–345. Xen. Symp. 1.1 (trans. Marchant and Todd, LCL 168); Plut. Alex. 1. 1.

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philosophical and rhetorical life of celebrated men, I fell short of my ambition (οὐ τυγχάνων τῆς ἐπιθυμίας), I have had the same experience as those who are madly and feverishly in love.18 If Eunapius did not manage to reach his goal, does that mean he did not practise what he preached? This leaves the question about his own aim somewhat open and we may use this small confession as an excuse to investigate the matter further. At least he reveals an important aspect of his approach: he says he aimed for a “continuous and definite account”. The whole section from which this passage is lifted is programmatic in its outlook and confirms that in principle he has given the immediate aim serious thought. A further look at the work’s content and structure will assist in understanding his aim and execution. We find a clear structure which can be placed in its time: Eunapius reports on these individuals either as a contemporary (i.e. he has observed it up close), or from what he has learned through written or oral reports; his life overlaps with many of the lives he describes (for example, Julian, Prohaeresius, Chrysanthius). He also refers to several historical events, such as the foundation of Constantinople (which he deems disastrous given the adverse winds that obstruct the ships’ approach to the port) and the destruction of the Sarapeion in 391.19 The importance of Eunapius’ Lives hardly needs arguing, as soon as we realise the lack of good parallel sources on these individuals during this period.20 In addition, because his History survives only in fragments, the Lives assist in finding out what kind of writer Eunapius is: a reasonably intelligent author who was himself a witness to much of what he reports on and offers us many useful comments on his method and events of his time. In one passage, for instance, he asserts his awareness of the unstable nature of the oral tradition and expresses the ambition to provide a more fixed and reliable account for the period.21 As to the three groups he includes (philosophers, sophists, and physicians) the philosophers outnumber the others. But Momigliano’s claim that Eunapius was primarily concerned with “Neo-Platonists” seems to over-emphasize numbers over import. What does require an explanation is the very odd and unprecedented addition of physicians (or “iatrosophists”). If Eunapius is following Philostratus, as many have claimed, surely doctors have no place here? In his 18 19 20 21

Wright, 345. The date is not certain because ancient reports do not align, but 391–392 is the most likely (Hahn 2006). For some useful material we can use Ammianus Marcellinus’ historical work. Wright, 345.

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(much-neglected) 2005 article Edward Watts has argued (quite persuasively I think) that Eunapius’ reason for this odd collocation of philosophers, orators and physicians is most easily explained by assuming that he is creating intellectual genealogies which place him at the heart of this network of “renowned individuals”.22 This construct of Eunapius’ imagination gives us already one possible motive (which, notably, remains implicit): how he is connected to men of importance and moral excellence. In other words, the work is as much about Eunapius as it is about his admired subjects. The names deserving particular attention are Iamblichus, the Platonist who introduced theurgy and Eastern ritual into the school, Prohaeresius the orator at the court of the emperor (and a Christian!), and Oribasius, an influential physician, who dedicated one of his own works to Eunapius.23 Each is, as it were, the archetype of the individual lineages in three learned domains (philosophy, rhetoric, medicine). Eunapius is connected to all three.24 But “biography” does not offer a satisfactory label for several reasons. I now turn to consider this question.

3

Biography?

The question of genre (is it biography or not?) seems to me one of some consequence. The sketchy and episodic lives of philosophers, orators and physicians in Eunapius’ work, connected to the tradition of late Platonism, are hardly biographies in the strong sense of the word. As already mentioned, Edward Watts offered a good explanation for the presence of all three groups. But what should we make of their sketchy nature? In their edited volume The Limits of Ancient Biography, McGing and Mossman open their introduction with a quote purportedly attributed to Somerset Maugham: “There are three rules for writing biography, but unfortunately no one knows what they are” (2006, 9). They go on to say that this statement illustrates well how slippery the term “biography” is. To my mind, the selective accounts of the lives of these men (and at least one woman) make them something other than biography, at least as we now understand it. They are not full 22 23 24

Watts 2005, 338. Oribasius’ [Book] Addressed to Eunapius (ad Eunapium, CMG VI. 3, ed. J. Raeder 1926). We may perhaps compare Porphyry’s life of Plotinus and strong polemical works against the Christians (see Meredith 1980, Whittaker 2001). John Finamore (2005) has in fact recently argued that Porphyry used the life of Plotinus as self-promotion, esp. in the light of the relation between Porphyry and Amelius, Plotinus’ star student before Porphyry arrived. He also points to recent arguments that demonstrate the link between biography and panegyric (2005, 50 n. 3). See also below on Porphyry.

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birth-to-death accounts, but deviate considerably from the common features of early accounts of lives, whether martyr accounts (Justin Martyr), saints’ lives (Life of Anthony), or pagan lives (say, Plutarch or Suetonius). While Eunapius expressed an intention to offer “coherent and continuous accounts”, they are, in fact, biographical sketches, but not biographies. Goulet has made the same comment, but still continues to refer to them as biographies.25 As noted, Becker gets around the problem by speaking of “Kollektivbiografie” which lacks explanatory force.26 Interestingly, Cox Miller suggests that bios may be compared to a painting, a likeness (which is close to my “sketch”, and the characterisation in Philostratus).27 Eunapius himself offers a justification for his enterprise, by indicating there is a “gap” in the existing literature which he intends to fill (“the crop of philosophers between Sotion and Porphyry was not described”28). But this should not distract us from his broader agenda of presenting “excellent men and their excellent deeds”. What is he trying to prove here? To reveal the presence of implicit polemic—my next point of order—I now come to some passages which may illustrate how Eunapius’ anti-Christian sentiment and his pre-occupation with very special characteristics of his “renowned men” serves a particular agenda. We may start with a useful testimonium from the ninth-century patriarch of Constantinople, Photius, who describes Eunapius’ style and attitude in his Historia Chronikē (T1 Blockley), indicating that he found his “organisation and clarity suitable for history … except that in some places he uses overblown circumlocutions more suitable for forensic oratory than for history” (my emphasis). Photius also mentions that “he often innovates, especially in syntax, but not so as to cause inelegance or arouse criticism of his methods”.29 Even if his judgment of Eunapius’ work as historian illustrates some interesting criteria for the genre (style, organisation, clarity), we cannot of course infer from this what the contemporary judgement of his Lives would have been. Of greater interest for our particular purpose is the fact that Photius in the same passage also mentions Eunapius’ antipathy against the Christians. After introducing the History, Photius describes Eunapius as follows:

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26 27 28 29

Cf. Goulet, I 97, where he also notes that the Lives do not provide the successive events, facts or dates for these intellectuals, either chronologically or methodically. Interestingly, Wright at one point translates βιοί as “records-of-their-lives” (p. 349). Becker 2013, 52ff.; cf. id. 2016, 228. Cox Miller 2000, 235. Wright, 347. Translation by Blockley 1983, 3 (= Testimonium 1, Photius Bibl. Cod. 77, I pp. 158–160). See also his judgment of Zosimus (who preserves passages from Eunapius) Test. 2, id. p. 5.

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T3 while impious in his religious belief (δυσσεβής τὴν θρησκείαν)—for he admires the Hellenes—he slanders (κακίζων διασύρει) the Emperors who adorned their reigns with Christian piety, disparaging them continually and in every way, especially Constantine the Great. He praises the impious (ἐξαίρει δὲ τοὺς δυσσεβεῖς), particularly Julian the Apostate (καί τῶν ἄλλων πλέον Ἰουλιανόν τὸν παραβάτην), and this history is the result of his effort to put together an encomium of that ruler (σχέδον τι τὸ τῆς ἱστορίας αὐτῷ εἰς τὸ ἐκείνου ἐγκώμιον συντεθὲν ἐξεπονήθη).30 The obvious Christian perspective Photius displays here does not stand in our way of gauging some of Eunapius’ commentary on the emperors, and his praise for Julian; the final comment is especially useful, since it seems to reveal something about the overall tone of the History.31 For the Lives we need to return to the passage from the introduction that concerns his own statement of the aim, but now in full (parts of T1): T4 But the aim of my narrative is not to write of the lesser activities (τὰ παρέργα) of distinguished men, but their main achievements (τὰ ἔργα). T5 To those who desire to read this narrative it will tell its tale, … I shall [345] set down for each one their way of life (τὸ ἐπιτήδευμα). That in every case he whom this narrative describes attained to real distinction (ἄριστος ἦν εἰς ἄκρον), the author—for that is what he aims at—leaves to the judgement of any who may please to decide from the indications made available here (ἐκ τῶν ὑποκειμένων σημείων).32 The focus is clearly on deeds and way of life of individuals of “real distinction”. In other words, this is not a history of the late Platonists, as Hahn has rightly pointed out, but an evocation of an intellectual culture, representing the best of pagan culture in its significant examples of learning and practice (philosophy, rhetoric, medicine).33

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Tr. Blockley. Hahn 2006; Buck 1977. Wright, 345. Hahn 1990, 495: “hervorragende Vertreter zeitgenössischer παιδεία”.

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Divine Traits and Their Significance: Some Case Studies

The anti-Christian agenda of Eunapius, well-known in antiquity, but less so presently, can assist in exploring further how to make more explicit that he was mounting a counter-narrative to Christian lives. This kind of approach requires us to demonstrate how much the argument will rely on implicit contrasts and polemical intent, which in turn must include a proper contextualised understanding of the work. I will construct my argument in three steps: first, I will use a neglected study by the French scholar Jerphagnon who shows how Plotinus’ life by Porphyry can be read as a polemic against the life of Christ; this example can serve as an analogue case and will point us, I think, in the right direction when it comes to exploring the polemic between Christian and pagan writers in the fourth century. Next, I will offer some further case studies in Eunapius’ Lives to show similar strategies in his presentation of these pagans. Third and last, I will test some of the terminology that may support the argument. Jephargnon’s article has a telling title which can be translated as “The hidden meanings [or subtext] of the Life of Plotinus or the “gospel” of Plotinus according to Porphyry”.34 Jerphagnon argues that, if one compares the essay on Plotinus with the Gospels—the first clear hagiographical lives—Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus contains a number of subtle counter-moves, which unlike his scholarly refutations of the Christian doctrine (his Against the Christians, a work mostly lost), constitute a strategy by example, in opposition to the account in the Gospels, presuming these as known. His first example concerns the opening gambit of the Life, when Porphyry tells us that “Plotinus who lived among us, was ashamed to be in a body” (VP 14.1). The Gospel of John states that the “Word became flesh and was among us”. Again, whilst Jesus’ life was anchored in a long genealogy going back in time, Plotinus is presented as “never wanting to talk about his ancestors, parents or home land”.35 Beyond these small opening gambits, a continued contrast is built up between Jesus who acted and lived like a mortal (including eating, drinking, and sleeping [Matt 8:24]), and Plotinus who lived on an absolute minimal diet, draws out a deeper opposition: Plotinus who is shown as hardly eating, drinking, or sleeping, stands for Soul and Spirit, while Jesus becomes the Spirit in the flesh, in matter. Then there is the connection to the divine: Jesus is described as having a “face shining with light” (Matt 17:2). But while the story in Matthew talks about a supernatural encounter (the metamorphosis on Mount Thabor), Porphyry relates a story that has a rational 34 35

Jerphagnon, 1990, 41–52. On the Gospels as aretalogy, accounts of virtuous and miraculous acts, see also Cox Miller 1983, 3–4. Jerphagnon 1990, 43.

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context (his classroom teaching). And while Jesus ascends to heaven, Plotinus possesses a constant spiritual link with the Ideal World above (his so-called undescended mind).36 There are other examples, but the point will be clear that, even if these particular insights seem rather small and veiled, it is the contextualised and more subtle approach that is appealing, one which tries to uncover hidden allusions based on a thorough knowledge of the intellectual and doctrinal background of the textual evidence.37 Building on this, we can say that many explicit and implicit allusions to the existing culture of saints’ lives are also present in Eunapius’ work, and some of these allusions can be interpreted in the same vein as Jerphagnon has done for Porphyry. To make a start with my analysis we can seek out the obvious elements in the text, that is, words that suggest the kind of activities that the hagiographers boast about regarding the saints. Eunapius like many others realised the importance of personality, regardless of the doctrines. This is why he focuses on three things: (i) a special personality, (ii) miracle deeds, and (iii) a moral lifestyle which puts their doctrine into practice. My examples aim to illustrate these three aspects and work towards an interpretation that is based on a pagan, Platonising perspective.

5

Plotinus’ Special Powers and Other Miraculous Deeds

The first passage offers an unconcealed parallel to Christian claims about Jesus. In the “Life of Porphyry”38 Eunapius tells us about an event during Porphyry’s time as a student of Plotinus which is supposedly based on Porphyry’s own Life of Plotinus: T6 But as soon as he arrived there and became intimate with that great man Plotinus, he forgot all else and devoted himself wholly to him. And since with an insatiable appetite he devoured his teaching (ἀκορέστως … ἐμφορούμενος) and his original and inspired discourses, for some time he was content to be his pupil, as he himself says. Then overcome (νικώμενος) by the force of his teachings he conceived a hatred of his own body 36 37

38

Jerphagnon 1990, 46–47. I am aware that Urbano 2013 has criticised Jephargnon, but the example illustrates a wider point about the kind of reading that is required: a contextualised, subtle understanding of implied knowledge and reflexes in this period. Wright, 353.

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and of being human, and sailed to Sicily across the straits and Charybdis, along the route where Odysseus is said to have sailed [cf. Thuc. 4.24]. … [p. 357] There he lay groaning and starving himself (ἀποκαρτερῶν), and he would take no nourishment and “avoided the path of men.” [Iliad 6. 202] But great Plotinus “kept no vain watch” [Iliad x. 515] on these things, and either followed in his footsteps or inquired for the youth who had fled, and so found him lying there; then he found abundance of words that recalled to life his soul, as it was just about to speed forth from the body. Moreover, he gave strength to his body so that it might contain his soul. [p. 359] … So, Porphyry breathed again and arose.39 There is little left to the imagination here: there is a strong suggestion that Plotinus has brought Porphyry back from (the brink of) death. In light of the earlier comments on the spiritual and bodily, the language is also interesting, since it describes the mental process of learning in very physical terms of digestion and eating: he speaks of “insatiable appetite”, “devoured”, regarding Porphyry’s learning process, but then switches to self-starvation described as “taking no nourishment” (i.e. actual food). With masterful timing Plotinus uses words to revive his student, annulling, by the way, the harmful effect his teaching had in the first place. In other words, he shows himself a miracle worker very much like what we find described in the gospels. The important additional point to make here is that, if Eunapius based his account on Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus, he delivers a version which patently misrepresents that account (as we have it). Wright’s reading of this version is rather naive and clearly assumes incompetence in Eunapius’ report, when she comments “Eunapius quotes incorrectly the account of this incident given by Porphyry himself”, adding the version of Porphyry.40 In view of the overall approach in the work I would suggest that Eunapius is trying to make Plotinus fit the model of the miracle-working holy man—rather than “quote” an interesting passage from his “source”, which has a very different version. In other words, Eunapius is manipulating the text to make this fit the overall pattern of “remarkable deeds by remarkable men” as he sees them and wants his readers to see them.41

39 40 41

Wright, 357–359. Wright, 356, n. 3. Buck (1977, 135) already suggested this. Penella (1990, 25 f.) discusses the passage but does not remark on this point, because, like Wright, he is more concerned with the question whether Eunapius’ use of Porphyry’s Life is accurate (he considers the discrepancies in the story about Sicily an honest mistake, rather than believe the suggestion that Eunapius is guilty of invention, as Bidez has proposed [26n]).

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My next passage concerns one of the central figures of the Platonists of this century, Iamblichus. Eunapius, referring to himself in the third person, relates an anecdote which he claims to have heard from his teacher Chrysanthius. It reports that Iamblichus performed certain “magical” rituals—an important characterization as he introduced theurgy, the ritualistic interaction with the gods as a core part of their religious practice. In what follows Eunapius claims to demonstrate his divine nature: T7 He said that there occurred the following sure manifestations of his divine nature (ἐπιδείξεις αὐτοῦ μέγαλας τῆς θειότητος). […] It was the hour for sacrifice, and this had been made ready in one of the suburban villas belonging to Iamblichus. Presently when everything had been duly performed and they were returning to the city, walking slowly and at their leisure,—for indeed their conversation was about the gods as was in keeping with the sacrifice—suddenly Iamblichus even while conversing was lost in thought,42 as though his voice were cut off, and for some moments he fixed his eyes steadily on the ground and then looked up at his friends and called to them in a loud voice: “Let us go by another road, for a dead body has lately been carried along this way.” After saying this he turned into another road which seemed to be less impure, and some of them turned aside with him, who thought it was a shame to desert their teacher. But the greater number and the more obstinate of his disciples, among [p. 369] whom was Aedesius, stayed where they were, ascribing the occurrence to a portent and scenting like hounds for the proof. And very soon those who had buried the dead man came back. But even so the disciples did not desist but inquired whether they had passed along this road. “We had to”, they replied, “for there was no other road.”43 The unusual powers of Iamblichus, one is led to believe, consist of an acute sense of smell or a sixth sense about a dead body (considered unclean on a day of sacrifice) having passed along a certain road. Note how “the greatest number and more obstinate of his students” display a sceptical attitude and insist on testing the claim by waiting for evidence (in this case, witnesses). We should not, however, only see him as an obscurantist mystic, because from later sources we know that both Porphyry (Simpl. In Cat. 2.6–8) and Iamblichus (id. 2.9ff., 3.2) were known for their valuable contributions in solving prob-

42 43

A possible allusion to Socrates in Plato, Symp. 175a–b. VPS in Wright, 367.

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lems in Aristotle logical work, the Categories.44 These anecdotes clearly aim to make him a “superhuman”, somebody with extraordinary skills.

6

A Man of Small Body But Big Soul

The next passage of interest is very similar in tone, in trying to show the remarkable character of the person, and again the emphasis is on the mental rather than the physical: T8 At the same time as Iamblichus, lived Alypius, who was especially skilled in dialectic. He was of very small stature and his body was not much larger than that of a dwarf (τὸ σῶμα πυγμαῖον), but even his body as it appeared was really all soul and mind; to such a degree did the corruptible element in him fail to increase, since it was absorbed into his more divine nature. Therefore, just as the great Plato says,45 that in contradistinction to human bodies, divine bodies dwell within souls, thus also of him one might say that he had migrated into a soul, and that he was confined and dominated there by some higher power (συνέχεσθαι καὶ κρατεῖσθαι ˹ᾗ˺ παρὰ τοῦ κρείττονος46). Now Alypius had many followers, but his teaching was limited to oral encounters, and no one ever published a book by him.47 As with Plotinus, Eunapius emphasizes that Alypius is “all soul and intelligence”, which is quite significant if we take into account his remark on Alypius’ body as being “of very small stature” and “not much larger than that of a dwarf”, thus making “soul and mind”, or spirituality, the primary traits, and practically identical to his body. The link to Plotinus is even closer in the claim that the “bodies dwell within souls”, possibly going back to Plato (Tim. 36b).48 Alypius

44 45 46

47 48

Cf. Baltussen 2008, 136. As Porphyry’s student, he was as gifted as his master in his understanding of philosophy, but less gifted in his writing style. As Wright notes, perhaps a confused reference to Timaeus 36. The Greek text is Goulet’s (ᾗ before παρὰ was added by Boissonade, deleted by Vollbregt). While the whole phrase is elliptical, the overall meaning is not hard to grasp. Goulet translates “dominé comme par un être supérieur” (the addition of “comme” suggests he reinstates ᾗ; the half brackets are the conventional text critical signs for additions). Wright, 373. Since this is a rather paradoxical claim—body being in the soul—and since Eunapius does not clarify it further, one really wonders whether Eunapius actually understood this notion.

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is not only described in terms that confirm Plato’s words, but also resembles Socrates in that he has never published anything: his impact is by direct teaching and his impressive spiritual qualities.49 One could list many other examples in which the three features of unusual character, miracles and consistent lifestyle are highlighted as belonging to these remarkable pagan intellectuals who proudly carry forward the Plotinian tradition. But I will move on to a few comments on religious terminology and how certain terms complicate the question of Eunapius’ purpose even further.

7

Testing Terminology

So far we have seen that the lives may be subtle and not-so-subtle about claiming special powers for their protagonists. There is, however, one aspect which has come up a few times already and which may give us a good way into analysing this idea of the connection to the divine, by examining the relevant terminology normally associated in a religious context. I am thinking of the words for “god” (θεός) and “divine” (θεῖος). The first problem here is how to translate these terms without the Christian colouring they have acquired, given that Christianity has determined much of the discourse [remember how Photius in T3 in the ninth century speaks of pagans as “lacking respect, being impious” (δυσσεβεῖς), and of Julian as “going off the right track, going astray” (παραβάτης)]. The second problem is how to avoid the misguided idea that philosophy is absolutely distinct from religion in this context. The most relevant Greek word to consider here is θεῖος and terms of reverence or lack thereof (ἀσεβής). We should probably exclude δυσσεβεῖς (and its opposite εὐσεβής) which appeared already in Homer and Greek tragedy, but not in Eunapius. It refers mostly to the attitude one has to a god or gods. Terms like this suggest they are the result of an external perspective labelling others. As Tim Whitmarsh has expressed it in his new book Battling the Gods. Atheism in the Ancient World, it often concerns terms used by “self-styled protectors of religious orthodoxy” or an “in-group”, deriding non-believers as the outgroup.50 According to LSJ, the core term σέβας denotes “reverential awe, reverence, worship; majesty, holiness (Hom.)”. The two opposites clearly indicate that there is a good kind (eu-) and a bad kind (dus-). In archaic and classical Greek culture, the terms clearly divide the Greeks into those who follow religious practice and 49 50

These may well make him a “holy man” (theios anêr): note the triple reference to divine features. Whitmarsh 2016, 116.

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those who do not. My point is that they would not divide humankind into two groups in the way that is implied in Photius’ terminology. More interesting is the use of θεῖος. Plotinus was called a theios anēr, a label which hints at his superhuman abilities and special access to a higher reality. This idea has started much earlier in the Platonic tradition, with Pythagoras who would later be made into a proto-typical pagan “divine man”, as Clarke and Fowden have pointed out.51 The use of this term should give us pause as to how this applies to humans. The translations “divine”, “godlike” are both acceptable, but not unproblematic. It is clear to even the most casual observer that the term would traditionally be used for a superhuman being—one that is extremely powerful, invulnerable and immortal. In other words, to use it for mortal humans would seem to be a category-mistake and therefore inappropriate. How, then, can we reconcile the use of the adjective without ascribing it to Eunapius’ enthusiasm for pagan intellectuals of his day? It is possible that the original meaning of the word has been eroded, and just means “wonderful, amazing, awesome” or something similar. But the usage in Eunapius suggests we should perhaps think of a weaker translation in order to suggest some kind of connection with the divine, for instance, “having a special quality”, or “having access to the divine”. These translations seem to apply to persons mostly.52 Yet another use of this term refers to the abstract idea of “the divine”. One example is the comment in the life of Iamblichus, when he was worshipping τὸ θεῖον, a phrase which in late Platonism normally refers to the One, a supposed highest level of existence. But Wright’s translation of the phrase as “Divine Being” (365) seems to miss the point: there is no “Divine Being” in the sense of a God, only an abstract, highest, all-encompassing level of existence. The later Platonist tradition may perhaps shed some light on the use of the term, when applied to members of the school, and especially its leaders. Of course, we have to be careful not to project back the later meaning onto the fourth century. In the sixth century Simplicius uses the term θείος to refer to Plotinus, while also calling him “the great Plotinus” (ὁ μέγας Πλώτινος, in Cat. 108.22, 275.10, in DC 20.1253) or the “most divine Plotinus” (θειότατος, in Cat. 51

52

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Clarke 2000, 32; Fowden 1982, 34; Hahn 1990, 494–495. See also Iamblichus’ Vita Pythagorica by Dillon and Hershbell 1991. For the earlier tradition of the pagan holy men see Anderson 1994. A further possibility I cannot pursue here is the idea that their ethical progress is charted by the use of θεῖος so that comparative and superlative forms could be indicating their moral status on the scale of virtues. Becker 2016 has attempted to make a case for this line of interpretation, and while his observations are often perceptive, he overstates his case on a deliberate application of the scala virtutum. Baltussen 2008, chap. 5.

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73.27) and to Iamblichus in Phys. 60.7, 639.23, etc.54 Simplicius’ wide reading of Porphyry, Iamblichus and other Platonists allows us to take his comments as partly reflecting the earlier stages of the tradition. The epithet θεῖος seems to acknowledge Iamblichus’ theological orientation, further illustrated by the interesting comments Urmson has made to his translation of Simplicius’ Corollaries on Place and Time. He notes that “divine”, while usually reserved for Plato (Procl. In Tim. 3.9,22, Diehl; Simpl. in De Caelo 377.27, Heiberg) and the great metaphysicians among late Platonists (as here for Iamblichus, cf. 564.11), is also used for Pythagoras, in particular to denote his importance as the predecessor of Plato “in the Golden Chain of higher truth (Iamblichus Vita Pyth. (Klein) 29.162,3–4; Syrianus in Metaph. 81.31).”55 Urmson (Corroll., 107 n.) also points out that Aristotle receives the epithet δαιμόνιος, a term alluding to the daimôn of Socrates (Pl. Apol. 40a; cf. Plot. Enn. 3.4). Other epithets for his predecessor exegetes can further illustrate their function, as they seem to signify an interesting hierarchy of the members of the “Golden Chain”. Urmson’s footnote was triggered by the unusual attribution of the epithet θεῖος to Aristotle, a unique occurrence suggesting Simplicius is elevating him for this one instance. Epithets range from ἡμέτερος ἡγεμών, ὁ φιλόσοφος to κριτικώτατος, φιλοσοφώτατος, μέγας, δαιμόνιος. They do represent a certain hierarchy, but it is not certain that they are all Simplicius’ creations. Their usage seems to reflect a mixture of standardized characterisation and honest respect.56 And this brings me to my final point, the second problem I mentioned, concerning the relationship between philosophy and religion.57 The increasingly religious nature of late Platonism, already highlighted by scholars such as Dodds (1923) and Saffrey (1984), may be used to argue that the competing sects of Platonism and Christianity seemed to converge in their agendas, but fiercely disagreed on how to implement them. Both were otherworldly in orientation, both had rational arguments to expound and justify their positions, both had remarkable spiritual leaders to show the way.58 In response to political and social turmoil their attention would be directed to particular issues, but once the political establishment came to support the “new” religion, the old ways of pagan practices came under pressure. The argument from tradition and seniority became one of the decisive points over which they locked

54 55 56 57 58

See Baltussen 2008, 248 n. 78. Urmson 1992, 31 n. This section draws on Baltussen 2008, 155. Further research into these honorific titles is needed. This section rehearses several points from Baltussen 2008, chap. 5. On the pagan holy man, see Fowden 1982; Brown 1998.

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horns in the fourth and fifth centuries: Iamblichus’ return to Pythagoreanism was strongly motivated by this attempt to make a claim for the oldest and most venerable origin of their ideas, thus hoping to trump competing “philosophies”. This label could be applied to groups and ideas engaged in spiritual and intellectual pursuits, whereas we might prefer to separate them out into religion and philosophy. MacMullen has helpfully illustrated the semantic shift of the word philosophia to “ascetic piety” by the third c. CE: T9 [Anon.] [Every student ought to pursue] that uncomplicated love for philosophy which lies solely in knowing God through continual contemplation and holy piety. For many confuse philosophy by the complexity of their reasoning … by combining it with various incomprehensible intellectual disciplines through their over-subtle reasoning.59 Clearly philosophy (in the traditional sense) and religious doctrines were regarded on equal footing, both useful to describe a “school of thought”. Even Christian authors were starting to claim that their faith was the “only true philosophy”. But it is unlikely that the term θεῖος ever had the sense in which the Christians used it: for the late antique Platonist writers θεῖος and the superlative θειότατος referred to impressive humans with a special connection to a higher domain, not to a supernatural Being.

8

Conclusion: Some Preliminary Results

I have argued that the biographical sketches and terminology in Eunapius may be taken to serve a specific polemical agenda which implicitly sets up a counternarrative to Christian saints’ lives. More work is needed on this implicit aspect to establish in minute detail how much the divine traits determine the subtext of Eunapius’ hagiographical narrative and what the specific purpose and target audience were. It will be especially useful to include early Christian lives in the comparison as well as the earlier roots of the sages and “holy” men.60 Eunapius was writing at a time when pagan history seemed to lack a chronicler as well as a defender of the Hellenic beliefs. After several periods of persecution earlier in the century hopes had been high when young emperor Julian 59 60

MacMullen 1997, 85–86 and n. 24. For the Christian lives I am thinking of Life of Antony by Athanasius (ca. 350 CE), Jerome’s Lives of Illustrious Men (ca. 392 CE), which I will deal with elsewhere. For the earlier tradition of sages and holy men, see Anderson 1994.

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in the 360s attempted to reinstate the pagan gods and way of life and to eliminate Christianity from the empire.61 But this last-ditch attempt came to nothing when he died prematurely while on military campaign in 363. Eunapius’ dislike of Christianity and his admiration for Julian motivated him to reveal his support for the Hellenic way of life (βίος, ἐπιτήδευμα) in two major works, both of which displayed a critical attitude towards Christianity and a competitive spirit in putting great spiritual men of his time on display. He chose to emphasize the successions of teacher and student, the range of intellectual pursuits, and the awe-inspiring capabilities these individuals had in order to show that pagan tradition was superior, attempting to match the claims about Christian “holy men” by providing inspiring details about his Hellenic heroes, their moral excellence and miraculous deeds, based on written or oral eyewitness accounts. Yet in the broader context of the acrimonious intellectual debates between these parties, and especially in light of the further development of the human interactions with the “divine” (whatever its meaning), the Lives of Eunapius present an interesting and sustained attempt to present an apologia in the postJulian age, a rear-guard skirmish which in its rhetorical and religious hyperbole at the same time succeeds and fails: the work shows that pagan holy men can compete with Christian saints, but ultimately it cannot turn the tide of events. Admittedly, this set of lives comes to us through the narrow lens of one frustrated pagan intellectual who attempts to transcend this personal misfortune by recording (and thus preserving) an important counter-culture raising the issue to a more generalised level. The possible ways in which the purpose can (and has) been understood— the more explicit aims—are (1) to preserve the memory of an important group of pagan intellectuals; (2) to emphasize their “remarkable actions” and miraculous powers; (3) to memorialise moral exempla with divine natures; (4) to preserve the memory of an important group of pagan intellectuals linked to himself. But his emphasis on their “remarkable actions” and miraculous powers shows that it is not a straightforward case either of “excellent deeds” as he claims himself at the outset.62 It is one thing to claim that his lives exhibit similarities to Christian lives, but quite another, as I want to claim, that much of it is motivated as a contest. This claim requires us to unravel the hidden signals for this counter-point. The strongly polemical streak could explain his manipulation of the real world events: the incident between Plotinus and Porphyry,

61 62

See Teitler 2016 on the Christian judgement of Julian (not always as negative as we are sometimes made to believe). Or of a scala virtutum structuring, as Becker 2016 would have it. See above nn. 41 and 52.

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the fictional meetings, the miracles etc.63 Very few statements about the individuals in the work can be taken for granted, as some have tended to do. The lack of historical reliability is especially ironic when we consider how he makes bold claims about his keen interest in the truth in his Universal History, as for instance in fr. 1 from Book 1 (apud Exc. de sent 1). Here Eunapius talks about his method in comparison with Dexippus and notes the following principles in Dexippus with which he clearly agrees: (1) not to duplicate previous accounts; (2) not to write on material which is more congenial to poets; (3) chronological method not conducive to a well-organised account. The lives, by contrast, constitute a highly subjective plea for the pagan lifestyle, inspired in a rather haphazard way, by Plotinian ideas of virtue and Iamblichan notions of theurgy. In rewriting the history of those on the losing side, he seems to use every possible means to keep the Hellenic spiritual tradition alive, even if this involves fabrication, distortion and manipulation. We know very little about its distribution or relation with other similar texts. It is striking that Eunapius’ perception of the rise of Christianity shows limited knowledge of the actual doctrine, no tolerance for their various life styles, and a deep resentment for the premature death of his hero and last pagan emperor, Julian (whose nickname “the Apostate” was of course a Christian epithet—see T3). I would submit that his focus was not on writing a philosophical work or historical account, but on creating an impressive dossier of stirring characters and deeds in a way that would enhance their status and what they stood for, without paying much attention to the historicity of the accounts. In the final analysis, the enormous admiration for Iamblichus and Julian and deep conviction that the traditional Hellenic religious outlook was the true path for pagans, made this unremarkable individual write a remarkable account of the intellectual circles of the fourth century, for which we have very few other sources available.64 Truth and biography have always had a troublesome relationship, and Eunapius made the most of the blurred lines between fact and fiction in the service of his spirited apologetics.

9

Acknowledgments

This paper was presented to various audiences in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and I am grateful to the audiences for their stimulating questions which

63 64

Cox Miller calls it “creative use of history” (1983, 134, chapter title). As Cox Miller rightly points out (1983, 5), a “charge of dishonesty is misbegotten”.

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helped to clarify my thoughts. I am also grateful to Tiana Blazevic for her assistance in the final preparation for press. The paper is part of my preparations for a new English translation of Eunapius’ Lives for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard, LCL 134; cf. n. 5 above). Classical sources cited here follow the Loeb Classical Library editions unless otherwise noted.

Bibliography Primary Sources Blockley, R.C. (1983) (ed. end trans.) ‘Eunapius, Fragments’, in id. (ed.) The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire: Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus (Liverpool). Eunapius of Sardis (1956) Eunapii vitae sophistarum, ed. G. Giangrande (Rome). Eunapius of Sardis (2007) Eunapio di Sardi. Vite di filosofi e sofisti, ed. and trans. M. Civiletti (Milan). Eunapius of Sardis (2009) Eunape de Sardes, Vies de philosophes et de sophistes, ed. and trans. O. D’Jeranian (Paris). Eunapius of Sardis (2014) Eunape de Sardes. Vies de philosophes et de sophistes, ed. and trans. R. Goulet, 2 vols. (Paris). Iamblichus (1991) De Vita Pythagorica, eds. and trans. J. Dillon, and J.P. Hershbell (Atlanta). Plato (1929) Timaeus. Critias. Cleitophon. Menexenus. Epistles, ed. and trans. R.G. Bury, LCL 234 (Cambridge, MA). Proclus (1903–1906) In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria, ed. E. Diehl, 3 vols. (Leipzig). Simplicius (1894) Simplicii in Aristotelis De Caelo Commentaria, ed. J.L. Heiberg (Berlin). Simplicius (1992) Corollaries on Place and Time, ed. and trans. J.O. Urmson (London). Symposium, Xenophon in Seven Volumes, vol. 4 (LCL 168), trans. E.C. Marchant and J.O. Todd (Cambridge, MA and London). Wright, W.C. (1921) (trans.) Philostratus and Eunapius, LCL 134 (Cambridge, MA).

Secondary Sources Anderson, G. (1994) Sage, Saint, and Sophist: Holy Men and Their Associates in the Early Roman Empire (London-New York). Baltussen, H. (2008) Philosophy and Exegesis in Simplicius. The Methodology of a Commentator (London). Becker, M. (2013) Eunapios aus Sardes, Biographien über Philosophen und Sophisten (Stuttgart). Becker, M. (2015) ‘Review of Goulet 2014 edition’, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 3.30. Becker, M. (2016) ‘Depicting the Character of Philosophers: Traces of the Neoplatonic

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Scale of Virtues in Eunapius’ Collective Biography’, in M. Bonazzi and S. Schorn (eds.) Bios Philosophos. Philosophy in Ancient Greek Biography (Turnhout), 221–258. Brown, P. (1978) The Making of Late Antiquity (Cambridge, MA). Buck, D. (1977) ‘Eunapius of Sardis’, Unpublished PhD thesis, Oxford. Buck, D. (1992) ‘Eunapius’ Lives of the Sophists: A Literary Study’, Byzantion 61, 141–157. Clarke, G. (2000) ‘Philosophic Lives and the Philosophic Life. Porphyry and Iamblichus’, in T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (eds.) Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Berkeley), 29–50. Cox Miller, P. (1983) Biography in Late Antiquity: A Quest for the Holy Man (Berkeley and Los Angeles). Cox Miller, P. (2000) ‘Strategies of Representation in Collective Biography. Constructing the Subject as Holy’, in T. Hägg, P. Rousseau and C. Høgel (eds.) Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity (Berkeley), 209–254. Dillon, J. (2006) ‘Holy and not so Holy: On the Interpretation of Late Antique Biography’, in B. McGing and J. Mossman (eds.) The limits of ancient biography (Swansea). Dodds, E.R. (1923) Select Passages Illustrating Neoplatonism (London). Finamore, J. (2005) ‘Biography as Self-Promotion: Porphyry’s Vita Plotini’, Dionysus XXIII, 49–62. Goulet, R. (1980) ‘Sur la chronologie de la vie et des oeuvres d’ Eunape de Sardes’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies 100, 60–72. Hahn, J. (1990) ‘Quellen und Konzeption Eunaps im Prooemium der Vitae Sophistorum’, Hermes 118.4, 476–497. Hahn, J. (2004) Gewalt und religiöser Konflikt. Studien zu den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Christen, Heiden und Juden im Osten der Römischen Reiches (von Konstantin bis Theodosius II.) (Berlin). Hahn, J. (2006) ‘Vetustus error extinctus est: Wann wurde das Sarapeion von Alexandria zerstört?’, Historia 55.3, 368–383. Hamilton, N. (2009) Biography (Cambridge, Mass.). Hartmann, U. (2015) Der spätantike Philosoph. Die Lebenswelten der paganen Gelehrten und ihre hagiographische Ausgestaltung in den Philosophenviten von Porphyrios bis Damaskios (Jena). [non vidi] Hartmann, U. (2016) ‘Review of Goulet 2014’ [accessed 18/2/19] at https://www.h‑net .org/reviews/showrev.php?id=46418. Jerphagnon, L. (1990) ‘Les sous-entendus anti-chrétiens de la Vita Plotini ou l’ évangile de Plotin selon Porphyre’, Museum Helveticum 47.1, 41–52. Lang, M.L. (1994) ‘Wright, Emily Wilmer Cave France’, in W.W. Briggs (ed.) Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists (Westport, CT—London), 726–727. MacMullen, R. (1997) Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (New Haven, Connecticut). Meredith, A. (1980) ‘Porphyry and Julian against the Christians’, ANRW II 23.2, 1119–1149.

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Momigliano, A. (1962) The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (Oxford). Momigliano, A. (1993) The Development of Greek Biography (expanded version; original ed. 1971) (Cambridge, Mass). Penella, R. (1990) Greek Philosophers and Sophists in the Fourth Century AD (Leeds). Rotberg, R.I. (2010) ‘Biography and History: Mutual Evidentiary and Interdisciplinary Considerations’, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 40.3, 305–324. Saffrey, H. (1984) ‘La Théologie Platonicienne de Proclus, fruit de l’ exégèse du Parménide’, Revue de théologie et de philosophie 116, 1–12. Teitler, H.C. (2016) The Last Pagan Emperor. Julian the Apostate and the War against Christianity (Oxford); (trans. from the Dutch, Julianus de Afvallige. Athenaeum– Polack and Van Gennep, Amsterdam, 2009). Urbano, A. (2013) The Philosophical Life (Washington D.C.). Watts, E. (2005) ‘Orality and Communal Identity in Eunapius; Lives of Philosophers and Sophists’, Byzantion, 75, 334–361. Whitmarsh, T. (2016) Battling the Gods. Atheism in the Ancient World (New York). Whittaker, H. (2001) ‘The Purpose of Porphyry’s Letter to Marcella’, Symbolae Osloenses 76, 150–168. Williams, M.S. (2008) Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography. Between Eusebius and Augustine (Cambridge).

chapter 11

A Pagan Philosopher at the Imperial Court: The Case of Pamprepius Meaghan McEvoy

1

Introduction

In 484, a battle was fought near Antioch between the forces of the beleaguered emperor Zeno, and his renegade general Illus, together with the usurper he had created, Leontius. Zeno’s 17-year reign was beset with civil strife, and his troubles with Illus had been long-standing. Among Illus’ more surprising confederates, and heavily involved in the rebellion, was an Egyptian grammarian, poet and pagan philosopher named Pamprepius. From his early years at Panopolis, a major centre for learning in late antique Egypt, Pamprepius had made his way to Athens and then on to Constantinople, where the patronage of Illus saw him rise to public prominence and to dizzying high office, despite his wellknown religious affiliations and the intensely Christian environment of the late fifth-century court. The Neoplatonist Damascius, writing not long after the fall of Illus, Leontius and Pamprepius, would declare of the pagan in no favourable light that everyone living knew what sort of a man he was.1 Pamprepius’ notoriety aside, his career offers a remarkable insight into the heights to which a pagan philosopher could still climb, thanks to the help of a powerful Christian patron, at the court of Constantinople in the late fifth century.

2

The Christian Court of Fifth-Century Constantinople

The imperial court of fifth-century Constantinople was well-known for its piety and involvement in ecclesiastical occasions and benefactions. While in the early decades of the century the emperor Arcadius (395–408 CE) and his wife Eudoxia, for example, are reported in the sermons of John Chrysostom and the Chronicon paschale as humbly and reverently welcoming the relics of saints into Constantinople with lavish processions and ceremonies, their daughter

1 Damascius, VIsid. fr. 112A (Athanassiadi 1999, 268).

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Pulcheria is said to have been involved in the founding of several churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the city.2 Similarly the court of Arcadius’ longreigning son, Theodosius II (408–450 CE), is reported by the ecclesiastical historians to have differed little from a monastery, with the emperor rising early each morning to sing hymns with his sisters, learn scriptures by heart, and debate them with his bishops.3 Following on from the demise of the Theodosian house in the East, and the death of Theodosius II in 450, the matter of the succession had been peacefully achieved both in the case of Marcian in 450, and of Leo I in 457.4 The court of the emperor Leo I (457–474) continued the emphasis on Christian imperial activity inherited from the Theodosian dynasty, with this particular emperor’s activities in this area most strikingly reflected in his relationship with Daniel the Stylite, the Syrian monk who established himself on a column on the outskirts of the city in c. 459. Daniel’s Vita, thought to have been written by one of the saint’s followers in the late fifth century, reports on Leo I’s frequent consultations with the Stylite.5 These consultations included discussions of the emperor’s hopes for a son (and the entreaty that Daniel pray for this eventuality), matters of court politics, and of appointments to high office, including the appointment of the future emperor Zeno as magister militum per Orientis, an appointment which was soon followed by Zeno’s marriage to the emperor Leo’s daughter Ariadne.6 The activities of the empress Verina, the wife of Leo I, were also important in their contribution to the pious image of the court, and we hear during his reign of her visits to holy women such as St Matrona and her gifts to churches in Constantinople.7 This patronage of ecclesiastical establishments and holy men by the imperial court was also embraced by local aristocratic elites. As scholars such as 2 For an account of Arcadius and Eudoxia receiving the relics of unnamed martyrs in Constantinople early in the fifth century, see John Chrysostom. Homilia dicta postquam reliquiae martyrum, PG 63, 468–472 and John Chrysostom, Homilia dicta praesenti imperatore, PG 63, 473–478, and for a discussion of the role of Eudoxia in particular, see Kelly 2013, 221–243. For the arrival of further relics in the city in 406, received by Arcadius, see Chronicon Paschale, s.a. 406. And for the church foundations of Pulcheria, see Holum 1982, 142–143. 3 For example, Sozomen HE 9.1 (Bidez and Hansen); Socrates HE 7.22 (Hansen). On the court of Theodosius II and its pious character, see Harries 1994, 35–44; also, Holum 1982, 91–92, and Gardiner 2013, 249–251. 4 On the death of Theodosius II and the accession of Marcian, see Burgess 1993/1994, 47–68. On the demise of the Theodosian imperial house in the East, see McEvoy 2019a, 118–121. On the accession of Leo I, see Croke 2005, 149–152. 5 On the Vita and its dating, see Lane Fox 1997, 176–172. 6 See, for example, VDan. 44, 48, 55, 57 (Dawes and Baynes). 7 See further Croke 2015, 296–297.

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Kim Bowes have pointed out, from the mid-fourth century onwards, the elites of Constantinople had invested considerable resources in the building of churches and ecclesiastical communities in and around the city.8 This was an activity in which high-ranking military men were often also involved, as we see in the case of the monastery established on his estates by the magister equitum Promotus in the 390s, and the gifts made to the Church of St Anastasia at Constantinople in the 460s by the magister militum Fl. Ardaburius Aspar and his family.9 Although the reign of the emperor Zeno (474–491) also sought to pursue this tradition of pious activities (including through consultations with Daniel the Stylite),10 Zeno’s reign was far more tumultuous than any other experienced in the fifth-century East up to this point. Within a year of his accession, Zeno faced a serious rebellion which saw his brother-in-law Basiliscus usurp his throne, forcing Zeno into hiding in Isauria. While Zeno managed to stage a remarkable come back the following year in 476, ousting Basiliscus to reclaim his position as emperor, Zeno continued to face major challenges to his authority throughout the remaining years of his reign.11 Much of this unrest stemmed from his tenuous dynastic claim to the throne and the nature of his accession. As noted above, Zeno was the husband of the emperor Leo’s elder daughter Ariadne, and had not been elevated as Caesar or co-Augustus by Leo I during his lifetime.12 Zeno’s accession as Augustus had in fact occurred at the hands of his young son, Leo II, the grandson of the emperor Leo. The child Leo II had been elevated as Augustus in November 473 prior to his grandfather’s death in January 474, and had in February of the same year in turn elevated his father. Leo II himself had then died in November 474.13 While Zeno’s wife, the Augusta Ariadne, provided Zeno’s dynastic tie to the house of Leo throughout his reign, Zeno faced repeated challenges to his authority from the time of his son’s death onwards.14 Amidst the many upheavals of Zeno’s reign, the figure of the Isaurian general Illus was a major figure, involved in the launch of Basiliscus’ initial usurpation 8 9 10 11 12

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Bowes 2008, 103. For the building of Promotus, see Bowes 2008, 114; on the gifts of Aspar, see Snee 1998, 176–177 and McEvoy 2016, 496. See, for example, Zeno’s consultation with the saint at VDan. 68 (Dawes and Baynes). On Zeno’s life and reign see PLRE 2. 1200–1202 and in general, see Kosinski 2010. According to some sources Leo had wished to elevate Zeno but feared a serious backlash due to Zeno’s unpopularity—see, for example, Candidus, fr. 1 (Blockley) and McEvoy 2016, 501. For details on the accessions of Leo II and Zeno, see McEvoy 2019b, 197–208. For Leo II, see PLRE 2.664–665. For the crucial role of Ariadne, see Croke 2015 and also Meier 2010, 277–291. On the role of the death of Leo II in Zeno’s insecurity, see McEvoy 2019b.

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in January 475, and also in the return of Zeno to the throne in the summer of 476, as well as the defeat of another usurper, Marcianus, in 479. Finally in 484, Illus would launch his own rebellion against Zeno.15 But it is his activity as a patron that is our focus here, although as we shall see this patronage was intimately connected with his political activity. And one particular focus of his patronage, the pagan grammarian, poet and philosopher Pamprepius, was a rather unexpected one, deserving of further investigation.

3

Pamprepius in Athens

Pamprepius first appears in our sources in the 470s, associated with his arrival in Constantinople at that point, however an unusual source, in the form of his horoscope, informs us of his birth in Panopolis in Upper Egypt in 440,16 while a number of other sources offer some information about his career prior to his arrival in the imperial city.17 Panopolis in the fifth century was the site of a school which had educated and influenced a number of major grammarians and poets of the era (perhaps most famously among them, Nonnus) many of whom travelled far beyond their home city, as Alan Cameron has expertly explored.18 The city was a centre of Hellenic culture, and it is here that Pamprepius trained as a grammarian in the 450s,19 prior to leaving to journey to Athens in 473, perhaps in the hope of improving his fortunes by travelling beyond his home town. According to the historian Malchus: … [Pamprepius] showed skill in all he attempted. He came to Athens, was appointed a teacher of grammar by the city and taught there for many years, while he himself was instructed in the higher learning by the great Proclus.20

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For an overview of the career of Illus, see PLRE 2.586–590. The text of the horoscope, believed to be by Rhetorius, is in Catalogus codicum astrologum Graecorum VIII,4 221–224 (Cumont). For more detail on the horoscope, see Pingree 1976, 133+135–150 (who however argues Rhetorius was not the author); also Cameron 2015a, 37 and Cameron 2015c, 16. For a full overview of Pamprepius’ life and career, see PLRE 2. 825–828. Cameron 2015c, 2; Cameron 2015a, 45. As Cameron points out, wealthy patrons could frequently offer more lucrative patronage than local city councils. On the social mobility of poets and scholars in the late Roman world, and another important case, that of Ausonius, see also Hopkins 1961, 239–249. Cameron 2015c, 4; Cameron 2015a, 45. Malchus, fr. 23 (trans. Blockley 1983, 452–453).

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That Pamprepius had studied under the Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus in Athens is reported by a number of other sources, including Damascius, the epitome of whose account was preserved by Photius. Damascius reports of Pamprepius that: Being ambitious and not wishing to appear inferior to anyone, he competed with everybody except Proclus and the other philosophers. For he could not even come near him in wisdom. But as regards preliminary learning, Pamprepius toiled and exerted himself so much that in a short time he gave the impression of being the most knowledgeable and erudite man among the local intelligentsia, namely the Athenian Plutarch, son of Hierius, and the Alexandrian rhetor Hermeias, whose reputation in learning he strove to surpass. It is in this way that he toiled hard to acquire the preliminary education in so far as training in poetry and grammar can make one wise.21 While Damascius clearly was unimpressed by Pamprepius, not all were so dismissive, and our sources inform us that Pamprepius was successful in earning the support of his first recorded Christian patron, the wealthy local patrician Theagenes, who was a patron of the Academy at Athens.22 It is from Pamprepius’ years in Athens that we owe his only surviving poetry—a panegyric addressed to Theagenes, generally ascribed to the Egyptian poet.23 As Cameron has emphasised, it is important to recognise that travelling poets like Pamprepius (and indeed his earlier Egyptian counterpart, Claudian), were also pens-for-hire: offering powerful rhetorical skills which their wealthy patrons could use to further their own agendas.24 Such skills would serve Pamprepius well in the future during his time in the retinue of the general Illus, and were presumably part of the appeal for Illus of taking Pamprepius into his entourage.25 21 22

23

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Damascius, VIsid. fr. 112B (trans. Athanassiadi 1999, 269–271). Malcus, fr. 23 (Blockley 1989, 452); Damascius, VIsid. 100A (Athanassiadi); see further Kaegi 1966, 265. Pamprepius also apparently married during his time in Athens, but we have no further information about his wife: Damascius, VIsid. 77D (Athanassiadi); Rhet. in Cumont, 221–222. 50 lines of the panegyric survive on a Vienna papyrus—see text and English translation in Page 1941, 582–587; and further Cameron 2015c, 16. He also apparently published a work on etymology during his time in Athens: see Cameron 2015c, 21 and Christ, Schmid and Stählin 1924, 1081 n. 3. Cameron 2015c, 16. Cameron also compares the activities of Pamprepius under the patronage of Illus to those of Claudian under the patronage of Stilicho—see Cameron 2015c, 27. On the importance of panegyrists in the train of powerful generals in the fifth century, see Gillett 2012, 265–292.

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The happy relationship Pamprepius had established with his first patron Theagenes was not to last, however. Continuing his account of the travelling poet and philosopher’s activities, Malchus notes that an accusation was made against Pamprepius before Theagenes, who as a result “manhandled him”, and Pamprepius, “because he had gained more recondite knowledge than was necessary for a teacher”, left Athens to travel to Constantinople, where he arrived in May 476.26

4

Pamprepius in Constantinople

476 was a tumultuous year for the imperial court at Constantinople. When Pamprepius arrived in the city, it was still under the control of the usurper Basiliscus, whose initial revolt been launched against Zeno in January 475. Basiliscus, the brother-in-law of the late emperor Leo I, had originally been supported in his usurpation by a number of other members of the imperial family (such as his sister the Augusta Verina) as well as men like the magister militum, Illus.27 Yet while Illus had been involved in the original deposition of Zeno, he was to change sides in the course of the conflict, and the deposed emperor’s restoration in the summer of 476 was due in no small part to Illus’ decision to throw his weight behind Zeno once more. When Zeno returned to Constantinople and to power in August 476, Illus and his army formed part of the victorious emperor’s military escort.28 Zeno reclaimed his throne, sending Basiliscus into exile and captivity in a fortress in Isauria, along with his family.29 In gratitude, in 477 Illus would be appointed the emperor’s magister officiorum, also gaining the rank of patricius, and he would go on to hold the Eastern consulship in 478.30 Illus was an extremely powerful man, and according to the

26 27

28 29

30

Malchus, fr. 23 (trans. Blockley 1989, 452). Pamprepius may also have spent time in other cities prior to arriving in Constantinople—see Cameron 2015c, 16. John Ant. fr. 210 (C. and T. Müller). On the involvement of Illus in the usurpation of Basiliscus, see Elton 2000, 398 and Kosinski 2010, 80–82. Illus was of Isaurian descent, like the emperor Zeno himself, and the connections between the two were explored in an important article by Brooks in 1893, but given a much-needed update by Elton in 2000. Candidus fr. 1 (Blockley); Malalas 15.12 (Jeffreys); Theophanes AM 5969 (de Boor). On the revolt of Basiliscus, and the restoration of Zeno, see Elton 2000, 398–399 and Kosinski, 2010, 91–97. Basiliscus and his family apparently perished through starvation, according to the Anon.Val. 9.43 (Rolfe); Marc. com. s.a. 476 (Croke) and Malalas 15.5 (Jeffreys). Illus was sole consul for the year in 478: PLRE 2. 587.

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contemporary Candidus, “[He] rendered many services to the Roman state both through his bravery in war and through acts of generosity and justice in the city”.31 In addition to being an influential military man and politician, Illus apparently also aspired to be a patron of education. It is unclear at exactly what point Pamprepius forged his association with Illus, although we know that the two must have established a relationship before the year 478. It seems on the surface an unlikely alliance: Illus was known to be an orthodox Christian,32 while the non-Christian beliefs of Pamprepius were also widely known. According to the historian Malchus, “… in a city that was full of Christians he did not hide that he was a Hellene by religion but declared it openly and freely”.33 Yet, Damascius writes that Illus was fond of learning, and wished to hear a discussion on the soul delivered before an audience of educated men, and while many scholars came and offered their philosophical theories, Illus remained unsatisfied.34 Finally, another senior man of the court, Marsus, introduced Illus to Pamprepius.35 Damascius informs us that Pamprepius then, … delivered an elegantly composed speech on the soul which had been written some time before and, since in Plato’s words, the ignorant appears more plausible than the knowledgeable to the ignorant, Illus was deceived by his well-studied prattle and pronounced him the most learned of all the teachers in Constantinople.36 While Damascius may have been unimpressed with Pamprepius’ philosophical pretensions, the same was not true for Illus, who apparently on the basis of Pamprepius’ “elegantly composed speech” took the trouble to see Pamprepius gain a public salary in the schools of Constantinople.37 Illus’ choice of patronage seems to have occasioned some surprise—indeed some of our sources indicate that speculation arose in Constantinople as to what hold the pagan

31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Candidus, fr. 1 (trans. Blockley, 1989, 469). Theod. Lect. Epit. 435 (Hansen); Zach. HE 5.9 (Hamilton and Brooks); also Evagr. HE 3.16 (Bidez and Parmentier). Malchus, fr. 23 (trans. Blockley 1989, 453). See on Pamprepius as a “militant pagan” Cameron 2015b, 155 and Kaster 1988, 329–332. As Elton observes, Christianity did not stop Illus admiring the skills of rhetors: Elton 2000, 403. Marsus had apparently held an honorary consulship, and would later join the revolt of Illus and Leontius: PLRE 2. 728–229. Damascius, VIsid. fr. 77D (trans. Athanassiadi 1999, 199). See also Cameron 2015c, 21. Damascius, VIsid. fr. 77D (Athanassiadi). Cameron 2015c, 25–27.

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Pamprepius might have over the Christian general, speculation which also in time gave rise to rumours about the beliefs of Illus himself.38 Initially however, Illus’ patronage brought to Pamprepius a stipend, and his recommendation of students to Pamprepius as a teacher and philosopher. We also hear of Pamprepius composing a poem during this time—perhaps an epic—entitled the Isaurica, which may have celebrated the restoration of Zeno to the throne, and likely also Illus’ role in the defeat of Basiliscus.39 As the political loyalties of Illus changed over time however, so too did the role he expected Pamprepius to play. While Illus had supported the emperor Zeno’s return to power (as noted above), tensions between the general and the emperor remained, not least because Illus had, since perhaps 474, kept the emperor’s brother Longinus imprisoned in Isauria as a guarantee of Zeno’s good faith.40 As a result of these tensions and the degree of his political and military influence, Illus became the subject of numerous assassination plots, the first taking place as early as 478 (the year of his consulship), and perpetrated by another high office-holder, Epinicus, although our sources report that it was later revealed to have been instigated by Zeno’s mother-in-law, Verina.41 Illus left Constantinople following the botched attempt, and Pamprepius, we hear, did not initially accompany him. In the absence of his patron, Pamprepius quickly fell prey to charges not merely of being pagan, but of practising witchcraft and prophecy against the emperor on Illus’ behalf. The result was that Zeno was soon persuaded to expel Pamprepius from the city.42 Upon hearing of his expulsion from Constantinople, Illus apparently sent for Pamprepius, bringing him to join him in Isauria, whereupon he made him his advisor and a member of his household, and “… since he had great political intelligence, Illus entrusted him with the administration of those duties of his office for which he did not have time, and when he returned to Byzantium took him along”.43 We thus see Pamprepius move from his role as a teacher in Constantinople, to being a key advisor in the household of one of the most influential political and military figures of the era. Following this first assassination plot and his departure from Constantinople, the general Illus refused to 38 39 40 41 42 43

For example, Malchus, fr. 23 (Blockley). Cameron 2015c, 12. John Ant. fr. 214.1 (C. and T. Müller); Marc.com. s.a. 485 (Croke); Theophanes AM 5975 (de Boor). John Ant. fr. 211.1 (C. and T. Müller). See further Elton 2000, 399. Malchus, fr. 23 (Blockley). Theophanes also accused Pamprepius of being a magician: AM 5976 (de Boor). Malchus, fr. 23 (trans. Blockley 1989, 453).

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return to the city until the empress Verina was handed over to him, and when this had taken place, he held her in captivity in Isauria.44 Only then did Illus and his newly-appointed advisor, Pamprepius, return to Constantinople. The year 479 would see Pamprepius reach the height of his political prominence.

5

Pamprepius as Quaestor, Consul and Patricius; the Revolt of Illus

Upon his return to the Eastern capital with his patron Illus, Pamprepius was elevated to some of the highest offices in government—securing the rank of quaestor the same year, while some sources also refer to him as patricius and consul (since this is not otherwise recorded it may have been an honorary consulate).45 Within only a few years of his arrival in Constantinople, the pagan grammaticus from Panopolis had risen to remarkable heights, thanks to the influence of his patron. Yet, as ever in the reign of Zeno, civil strife was never far away, and this same year saw the launch of yet another attempt upon the throne, this time by Marcianus, the brother-in-law of Zeno, husband of Leo I’s younger daughter Leontia.46 This rebellion, which came close to unseating Zeno once more, included the launching of a major assault on the palace in Constantinople, but was ultimately defeated by reinforcements of Isaurian troops brought across from Chalcedon by the general Illus.47 It is at this moment that we gain another glimpse into the role of Pamprepius as Illus’ advisor—at one point when Illus apparently feared the palace was lost, Malchus informs us that: … Pamprepius encouraged him by saying, “The decrees of Providence are on our side”, and this led those who had heard him to suspect that he was divining this from some secret foreknowledge.48 Malchus goes on to record that when the battle against Marcianus was won, Illus remembered Pamprepius’ prediction, and thereafter apparently consulted with him first on all matters whether great or small.49

44 45 46 47 48 49

Malalas 15.12 (Jeffreys) and on the activities of Verina in general, Lezska 1998, 128–136. See PLRE 2.827. Cameron 2015c, 27. Marcianus was also the son of the Western emperor Anthemius and the grandson of the Eastern emperor Marcian: see PLRE 2.717–718. Elton 2000, 395. Malchus, fr. 23 (trans. Blockley 1989, 453–455). Malchus, fr. 23 (Blockley).

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It was not long after the defeat of the usurpation of Marcianus that a further assassination plot against the general Illus was launched, once more in connection with the women of the imperial house. This intrigue arose apparently as a result of the empress Ariadne, Zeno’s wife, pleading with Illus to release her mother Verina, a request which the general rudely denied. Malalas gives us a detailed account of the plot against Illus formulated by Ariadne, culminating in an attack upon him during games in the hippodrome, which succeeded only in the attacker managing to cut off the tip of Illus’ ear, while Illus’ men killed the attacker himself. A longer-term result of the failed assassination attempt however was the permanent alienation of the general from the emperor.50 Zeno pleaded ignorance of the plot, and granted Illus permission to withdraw from court to Antioch, appointing him magister militum per Orientem, a position he held from 481–483.51 When Illus left Constantinople once more, he was accompanied by his right hand man, Pamprepius. This new phase of Pamprepius’ career would see him change path yet again, as his patron’s imminent rebellion cast the pagan teacher and philosopher too as a rebel. Illus would launch his rebellion against Zeno in 484, but at some point before this, we are informed that Pamprepius travelled to Alexandria on Illus’ behalf, there to try to stir up pagan circles to rebel against Zeno. According to a later Christian source, at Alexandria Pamprepius indulged in making sacrifices and false oracles predicting (as a result of Illus’ planned revolt) the collapse of Christianity and the revival of paganism.52 Although some scholars have argued for the revolt being inspired by paganism, as Cameron has pointed out, these claims should be viewed with caution—there is no doubt that Pamprepius’ patron Illus was a Christian, and promises of favours to pagans would have alienated Alexandria’s substantial Christian population.53 It is however possible that if there was a religious aspect to the revolt, it was connected with opposition in the region to Zeno’s Henotikon, the religious statement issued by the emperor in 482.54 Yet as Elton highlights, the reception of Zeno’s Henotikon in fact reveals the general Illus’ important ecclesiastical contacts, as one sup-

50 51 52 53

54

Malalas 15.13 (Jeffreys). Malalas 15.13 (Jeffreys). Zacharias, Vie de Sévère (Kugener). For discussion, see Cameron 2015b, 156; Cameron 2015c, 5–6. Also, Kaegi 1966, 247–248, 253; Harl 1999, 22 and Athanassiadi 1993, 19. Indeed, Illus is known to have had friendly contact with the patriarch of Alexandria of the time (see below n. 55). For one such influential claim of paganism as a motivating factor in the revolt, see Stein 1949, vol. 2, 23–24. For further discussion, see Cameron 2015b, 155–156. Cameron 2015b, 156.

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porter of his revolt was the patriarch Calandion of Antioch, while Illus is also known to have been in contact with Tarasios of Alexandria.55 The success of Pamprepius’ visit to the pagans of Alexandria is still more unlikely when the frequent unfavourable comments made by Damascius regarding Pamprepius are taken into account. Damascius’ remarks denigrated Pamprepius both intellectually and physically (at one point he is declared to have been “a beast even more contorted and rabid than Typhon himself”), making clear that even among some pagans Pamprepius was regarded with suspicion and disfavour.56 Yet, regardless of the exact purpose or promises of Pamprepius’ visit to Alexandria, it was a forerunner to the full rebellion Illus would launch in 484, and a further reflection of the close association of the pagan advisor with the political activities of the Christian general. In 483 the emperor Zeno apparently asked Illus to release his brother Longinus from captivity, and when Illus refused, dismissed the general from his office.57 This seems to have been the final trigger for Illus’ rebellion, which saw the general first release the usurper Marcianus, who was being held in captivity in Papyrius in Isauria, as well as contact a number of potential allies, including Persians and Armenians in the East, and Odovacer in the West.58 While the release of Marcianus may indicate he had been Zeno’s initial intended alternative Augustus to Zeno, the rebellion took another path when Zeno sent the general and patrician Leontius against Illus. Illus persuaded Leontius to join forces with him, and followed this political coup by releasing the empress Verina from captivity in order for her to declare Leontius Augustus and publicly repudiate Zeno.59 The initial stage of the rebellion was short-lived: the emperor Zeno sent new forces against Illus and Leontius, who inflicted a massive defeat on the rebels outside of Antioch in September 484, with Illus, Leontius and Pamprepius themselves fleeing to the fortress of Papyrius. From here the rebellion dragged on for another four years, with the remnants of the rebel force besieged in the fortress. It was an unhappy group—Illus apparently gave over defence 55

56 57 58 59

Elton 2000, 402. Contact between generals and churchmen in this era was by no means unusual and a further indication of their extensive patronage networks—for discussion see Elton 1996, 102 and n. 17; Elton 2000, 402; and Lee 2013, 93–95. Damascius, VIsid. fr. 112A (trans. Athanassiadi 1999, 269). Cameron 2015b, 156–157; Cameron 2015c, 27; Elton 2000, 399. The emperor also confiscated the Constantinople property of Illus at this point: see Joh. Ant. fr. 214.1 (C. and T. Müller). John Ant. fr. 214.2 (C. and T. Müller). On the course of the revolt, see Elton 2000, 399 ff. On Leontius, see PLRE 2.670–671. On his elevation by Verina, see Malalas 15.13 (Jeffreys); Theophanes AM 5973 and 5974 (de Boor).

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of the fortress to another officer, taking little further interest in events, spending his time instead in reading books.60 This was not before, however, Pamprepius was executed by the rebels: apparently when his predictions about the future ceased to come true he was accused by Illus of having betrayed them and led them on to their doom. As Malalas reports: “Pamprepius was killed on the battlements as a traitor in their midst, and his corpse was thrown out on the mountains”.61 In the aftermath of the rebellion the imperial government launched a crackdown on pagan circles in Alexandria, labelled as a period of persecution by some ancient and modern commentators.62 The general Illus and his usurper Leontius would ultimately be captured and executed by Zeno. In the tenth-century compilation known as the Patria, mention is made of the house of Illus in Constantinople being a church dedicated to John the Forerunner.63

6

Christian and Pagan Advisors at the Imperial Court in the Fifth Century

The Christian general Illus’ extensive patronage of the pagan philosopher Pamprepius may come as a surprise against the backdrop of growing imperial and aristocratic patronage of Christian establishments in and around Constantinople in this period.64 Yet while pagan advisors were not the norm in this era, they were also not unknown—either under the Theodosians earlier in the fifth century or thereafter. Indeed, as scholars have observed, the sheer amount of surviving writing by pagans from the late antique period should serve as a reminder that such men still rose to prominence and high office—the works of Eunapius of Sardis and Olympiodorus (who, though openly pagan, dedicated his history to the emperor Theodosius II) among others, indicate this at the very least.65 The attention given by Christian commentators of the fifth century to refuting pagan works or beliefs (such as Cyril of Alexandria’s Contra Julianum) also highlights the fact such ideas remained widespread in society. And while there is no question that Pamprepius’ patron Illus was a Christian,

60 61 62 63 64 65

John Ant. fr. 214 (6) (C. and T. Müller). Malalas 15.14 (Jeffreys). For discussion, see Athanassiadi 1999, 275; Athanassiadi 1993, 19–22; also Cameron 2015b, 157. Patria, 3.33, 211 (trans. Berger, 2013). For discussion, see Bowes 2008, 106–116. Kaegi 1966, 245; also Athanassiadi 1993, 18.

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we hear occasionally of pagan military men also reaching high command in this period, such as Fravitta, the general responsible for the ousting of the rebel Gainas in 400, during the reign of the emperor Arcadius.66 Furthermore, looking back through the catalogues of fifth century highoffice holders, it also becomes apparent that there are times when the religious affiliations of some advisors or philosophers involved with the imperial court or with high office-holders are not always clear. Early in the reign of the emperor Theodosius II, for example, it was reported by the ecclesiastical historian Socrates, that the powerful praetorian prefect Anthemius, who was himself esteemed as “the most prudent man of his time” always consulted with the most judicious of his friends, and particularly with: Troilus the sophist, [who] while excelling in philosophical attainments, was not inferior to Anthemius himself in political wisdom. Almost all things were therefore done with the concurrence of Troilus.67 Socrates’ account makes no attempt to clarify whether Troilus was pagan or Christian.68 His religious affiliation remains unclear, but if he was pagan, this does not seem to have been viewed as a problem in an influential key advisor of the pious Theodosian court (even, indeed, when being reported by an ecclesiastical historian). A similar case may be found in the figure of Cyrus of Panopolis, who hailed from the same town in Upper Egypt as Pamprepius, and had risen to prominence at the court of Theodosius II in the late 430s as a poet and philosopher favoured by Theodosius and his wife the empress Eudocia.69 Cyrus rose to the position of urban prefect of Constantinople and then praetorian prefect of the East, but fell from power dramatically in 441, whereupon he was apparently forcibly tonsured and made bishop of the town of Cotyaeum in Phrygia. An indication of the extent of the emperor’s displeasure with him may be found in the report that Cotyaeum had lynched its last three bishops. Cyrus was in fact to survive his episcopal post, which he resigned after the death of Theodosius II when he returned to Constantinople.70

66 67 68 69 70

On Fravitta, see Elton 1996. Socrates, HE 7.1 (Hansen). See further Holum 1982, 84–85 and in general on Troilus, PLRE 2.1128. For a detailed exploration of Cyrus’ life and works, see Cameron 2015a, and also PLRE 2. 336–339. He is also found consulting the Christian holy man Daniel the Stylite at Constantinople late in his life—see VDan. 31 (Dawes and Baynes).

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It was long thought that Cyrus had been a pagan prior to his forced tonsure. Although Alan Cameron has recently refuted this idea persuasively, the fact that such a view was possible (even in antiquity) is again an indication of the occasional obscuring of the religious affiliations of some key advisors at court in the fifth century.71 This may perhaps suggest a relatively peaceful coexistence of religious affiliations, despite the firmly Christian orientation of the court; and it has been argued that the marriage of the emperor Theodosius II to Eudocia, the allegedly pagan daughter of an Athenian sophist, in 421, may have contributed to this attitude. Although Eudocia was baptised before her marriage and her later activities in the Holy Land would mark her out as a convinced Christian, her background may have assisted an atmosphere of greater acceptance of pagan philosophical viewpoints at court than we might expect.72 Yet it has also been pointed out that a greater prominence of classicising writers and philosophers can be discerned in the second half of the fifth century, rather than the first.73 Indeed, it is interesting to note that we also hear of an instance of a pagan philosopher being in very high office in imperial government in the West, only around a decade earlier than Pamprepius, and in a similar period of political upheaval and uncertainty. Fl. Messius Phoebus Severus was a pagan Roman aristocrat who, according to Damascius, had left Rome for Alexandria in the early 460s, to pursue the study of philosophy. Damascius reports that, He pursued the study of philosophy through the numerous and varied books which he possessed. And he was more capable than anybody of attracting those who excelled in learning so that they continually visited him. And he was pious.74 Upon the appointment of the new Western emperor Anthemius in 467, Severus had returned to Rome, where he was made urban prefect and held the consulate in 470. Yet Anthemius’ promotion of Severus led to suspicion of the emperor’s own Christian credentials, despite the fact that Anthemius was even known to have founded a church in Constantinople.75 Damascius reports the

71 72 73 74 75

For Cameron’s most recent discussion, see 2015a, 46. Holum 1982, 115–120, 189–192 and Cameron 2015a. See particularly Cameron 2015a, 72. Damascius, VIsid. fr. 51C (Athanassiadi). Anthemius is reported by the Chronicon Paschale (s.a. 454, Dindorf) to have founded a church dedicated to St Thomas in Constantinople, prior to his appointments as Western emperor.

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rumour that the emperor Anthemius was by religion a Hellene, like Severus, and that “Together they had a secret plan to restore the abomination of idolatry”.76 It is worth noting that immediately following the comment in which Damascius alleges that Severus and Anthemius intended to restore pagan worship, it is also remarked that Illus and Leontius had similar impious plans and “that the person who led them on in this direction was Pamprepius”.77 While we certainly can, therefore, find cases of the appointment of known pagans to high office in both the Eastern and Western Roman empire in the fifth century, in the later decades of the century in particular it becomes clear that such appointments could result in speculation and rumours about the political figures who appointed or patronised them. And certainly not all such pagan intellectuals who tried to advance to prominent positions, or who came to imperial attention, fared well or achieved high office. Indeed, we hear from Malalas of a grammarian, philosopher and quaestor under Leo I by the name of Isocasius, who was stripped of his office in 467 and accused of being a pagan, although his behaviour at his trial so impressed the crowd that they demanded his release and he was allowed to return home.78 Another philosopher, one Hierocles of Alexandria in the mid-fifth century, was beaten and imprisoned for attempting to teach in Constantinople.79 And similarly, Theophanes reports on one Pelagius, “an admirable man and a distinguished epic poet”, being executed for treason by the emperor Zeno, with Zonaras adding the detail that he was accused of pagan practices.80 Furthermore, this blurring of the boundaries of religious affiliations and even activities may also be reflected in surviving reports from a number of sources that the emperor Zeno himself had consulted horoscopes both before and during his reign, despite his Christian beliefs. Apparently one such horoscope related to Zeno seeking predictions about the likely lifespan of the son born to the emperor Leo and empress Verina, a son who would stand between the emperor Zeno and the throne, had he lived.81 And in a later case, both the Chronicon paschale and John Malalas assert that Zeno consulted a caster of horoscopes regarding the question of who would succeed him:

76 77 78 79 80 81

Damascius, VIsid. fr. 77A (trans. Athanassiadi 1999, 199). See also Kaegi 1966, 272. Damascius, VIsid. fr. 77B (trans. Athanassiadi 1999, 199). Malalas 14.38 (Jeffreys); for further details see PLRE 2. 633–634 and Elton 2000, 403. Kaegi 1966, 267. See further PLRE 2.559–560, and more recently Schibli 2002, 35–40. Theophanes, AM 5983 (trans. Mango and Scott, 1997, 208); Zonaras 14.2 (Büttner-Wobst); see further Cameron 2015c, 31. On this horoscope, see Pingree 1976.

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The emperor Zeno asked the very learned comes Maurianos who would reign after him, for Maurianos used to foretell many things for him since he had mystic knowledge. He predicted that an ex-silentarius would succeed both to his state and his wife …82 Even a Christian emperor in the late fifth century, it seems, could be found voluntarily dabbling in pagan practices.

7

Conclusion

The dramatic rise and fall of Pamprepius, the grammarian, poet, philosopher, quaestor, patrician and consul is a remarkable tale of the association between a gifted pagan scholar and a powerful general in the late fifth century. Against the backdrop of the intensely Christian court of Constantinople, the patronage of the Christian Illus of the man from Panopolis brought with it wealth and high office, but also danger and ultimately death. In some senses the fate of these players in high politics were simply a symptom of the uncertainties and upheavals of the time—the reign of Zeno was an era of frequent (and often bloody) struggles for power. The involvement of Pamprepius in the entourage of Illus, and his role as one of Illus’ key advisors, illustrates the variety of the patronage networks of powerful generals of the era, often recognised as encompassing Christian as well as military office-holders, but rarely as also incorporating pagan advisors.83 In addition, the case of Pamprepius also reflects the continued blurring of the roles of such men under the patronage of a powerful grandee, as he was called upon to act first as a teacher and philosopher, then as an imperial lawmaker and advisor, then as a predictor of the future in times of trouble. But most of all, the life and death of Pamprepius reveals the dizzying heights to which a pagan philosopher still could—and did—rise at the Christian court of Constantinople in the late fifth century.

82 83

Malalas 15.16 (Jeffreys). Similarly, Chronicon Paschale, s.a. 490 (Dindorf). See also Elton 2000, 404. On the remarkable extent of such patronage networks of the generals of the era, see Elton 2000, 405.

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Bibliography Primary Sources Ammianus Marcellinus (1995) The Chronicle of Marcellinus: a translation and commentary, trans. B. Croke (Sydney). Berger, A. (2013) Accounts of Medieval Constantinople, The Patria, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 24 (Cambridge, MA). Candidus (1983) Fragments, in R.C. Blockley (ed. and trans.) Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 2 (Cambridge), 464–473. Chronicon Paschale (1832) ed. L. Dindorf, CSHB (Bonn); trans. M. Whitby and M. Whitby (1989) Chronicon Paschale, 284–628 AD (Liverpool). Chronographia Theophanis (1883), ed. C. de Boor (Leipzig); trans. C. Mango and R. Scott (1997), The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern history, AD 284–813 (Oxford). Cumont, F. (1921) Catalogus codicum astrologum Graecorum VIII,4 (Brussels). Damascius (1999) Vita Isidori, in P. Athanassiadi (ed. and trans.) The Philosophical History (Athens). Evagrius (1898) The ecclesiastical history of Evagrius with the scholia, eds. J. Bidez and L. Parmentier (London); trans. M. Whitby (2000) The ecclesiastical history of Evagrius Scholasticus (Liverpool). John Chrysostom (1862) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 63, Homilia dicta postquam reliquiae martyrum, 468–472; Homilia dicta praesenti imperatore, 473–478 (Paris). John of Antioch (1874–1885) Fragments, in C. and T. Müller (eds.) Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, 5 vols. (Paris). Malalas (1832) Chronographia, ed. L. Dindorf (Bonn); trans. E. Jeffreys, M. Jeffreys, R. Scott et al. (1986) The Chronicle of John Malalas, a translation (Melbourne). Malchus (1983) Fragments, in R.C. Blockley (ed. and trans.) Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 2 (Cambridge), 402–462. Rolfe, J.C. (trans.) (1939) Anonymus Valesianus in Ammianus Marcellinus: Res gestae, vol. 3 (Cambridge, MA). Socrates (1995) Historia ecclesiastica: Kirchengeschichte, ed. G.C. Hansen (Berlin). Sozomen (1995) Historia ecclesiastica: Kirchengeschichte (2nd edn.) eds. J. Bidez and G.C. Hansen (Berlin). Theodore Lector (1995) Epitome, in G.C. Hansen (ed.) Theodore Anagnostes, Kirchengeschichte, 2nd edn. (Berlin). Vita Danielis Stylitae (1948) The Life of Daniel the Stylite, in E. Dawes and N.H. Baynes (trans.) Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary biographies of St Daniel the Stylite, St Theodore of Sykeon and St John the Almsgiver (New York). Zachariah of Mitylene (1899) The Ecclesiastical History of Ps-Zachariah of Mitylene, trans. F.J. Hamilton and E.W. Brooks (London).

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Zachariah of Mitylene (1903) Life of Severus, ed. and French trans. M.A. Kugener PO 2, 4–115 (Paris). Zonaras (1897) Epitomae historiarum libri XVIII, ed. T. Büttner-Wobst (Bonn).

Secondary Sources Athanassiadi, P. (1993) ‘Persecution and response in late paganism’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 63, 1–29. Athanassiadi, P. (1999) Damascius: The Philosophical History, text with translation and notes (Athens). Bowes, K. (2008) Private worship, public values, and religious change in late antiquity (Cambridge). Brooks, E.W. (1893) ‘The Emperor Zenon and the Isaurians’, English Historical Review 8.30, 209–238. Burgess, R.W. (1993/1994) ‘The Accession of Marcian in the light of Chalcedonian Apologetic and Monophysite Polemic’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 86/87, 47–68. Cameron, A. (2015a) ‘The empress and the poet’ in A. Cameron (ed.) Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford), 37–80. Cameron, A. (2015b) ‘Pagans and poets in Byzantine Egypt’ in A. Cameron (ed.) Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford), 147–162. Cameron, A. (2015c) “Wandering poets: a literary movement in Byzantine Egypt” in A. Cameron (ed.) Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy (Oxford), 1–36. Christ, W., Schmid, W. and Stählin, O. (1924) Geschichte der griechische Litteratur 2.2 (Munich). Croke, B. (2005) ‘Dynasty and ethnicity: Leo I and the eclipse of Aspar’, Chiron 35, 147– 203. Croke, B. (2015) ‘Ariadne Augusta: Shaping the Identity of the Early Byzantine Empress’, in G.D. Dunn and W. Mayer (eds.) Christians Shaping Identity from the Roman Empire to Byzantium: Studies Inspired by Pauline Allen (Leiden), 293–320. Elton, H. (1996) ‘Fravitta and Barbarian Career Opportunities in Constantinople’, Medieval Prosopography 17, 95–106. Elton, H. (2000) ‘Illus and the imperial aristocracy under Zeno’, Byzantion 70, 393–407. Gardiner, L. (2013) ‘The imperial subject: Theodosius II and panegyric in Socrates’ Church History’, in C. Kelly (ed.) Theodosius II: rethinking the Roman empire in late antiquity (Cambridge), 244–268. Gillett, A. (2012) ‘Epic panegyric and political communication in the fifth-century west’, in L. Grig and G. Kelly (eds.) Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford), 265–292. Harl, K.W. (1999) ‘Sacrifice and Pagan Belief in Fifth and Sixth Century Byzantium’, Past and Present 128, 7–27.

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Harries, J. (1994) ‘“Pius Princeps”: Theodosius II and Fifth-Century Constantinople’, in P. Magdalino (ed.) New Constantines (Aldershot), 35–44. Holum, K. (1982) Theodosian Empresses: Women and Imperial Dominion in Late Antiquity (Berkeley). Hopkins, M.K. (1961) ‘Social Mobility in the Later Roman Empire: The Evidence of Ausonius’, Classical Quarterly 11, 239–249. Kaegi, W. (1966) ‘The Fifth Century Twilight of Byzantine Paganism’, Classica et Mediaevalia 27, 243–275. Kaster, R. (1988) Guardians of Language (Berkeley). Kelly, C. (2013) ‘Stooping to Conquer: The Power of Imperial Humility’, in C. Kelly (ed.) Theodosius II: rethinking the Roman empire in late antiquity (Cambridge), 221–243. Kosinski, R. (2010) The Emperor Zeno: Religion and Politics (Cracow). Lane Fox, R. (1997) ‘The Life of Daniel’, in M. Edwards and S. Swain (eds.) Portraits: Biographical representation in the Greek and Latin Literature of the Roman Empire (Oxford), 175–226. Lee, A.D. (2013) ‘Theodosius and his Generals’, in C. Kelly (ed.) Theodosius II: Rethinking the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity (Cambridge), 90–108. Lezska, M. (1998) ‘Empress-Widow Verina’s Political Activity during the Reign of the Emperor Zeno’, in W. Ceran (ed.) Mélanges d’histoire Byzantine offerts à Oktawiusz Jurewicz à l’Occasion de son soixante-dixième Anniversaire (Łódź), 128–136. McEvoy, M. (2016) ‘Becoming Roman: The not-so-curious Case of Aspar and the Ardaburii’, Journal of Late Antiquity 9, 483–511. McEvoy, M. (2019a) ‘Celibacy and survival at court from Theodosius II to Leo I, 408– 474 AD’ in S. Tougher (ed.) The Emperor in the Byzantine World (Ashgate), 115–134. McEvoy, M. (2019b) ‘Leo II, Zeno and the Transfer of Power from a Son to his Father in 474 AD’, in N. Lenski and J.W. Drijvers (eds.) Shifting Frontiers XII: The Fifth Century— Age of Transformation (Edipuglia), 197–208. Meier, M. (2010) ‘Ariadne: der ‘Rote Faden’ des Kaisertums’, in A. Kolb (ed.) Augustae: Machtbewusste Frauen am römischen Kaiserhof? (Berlin), 277–291. Page, D.L. (1941) Greek Literary Papyri, 2 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.). Pingree, D. (1976) ‘Political horoscopes from the reign of Zeno’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 39, 133+135–150. Schibli, H.S. (2002) Hierocles of Alexandria (Oxford). Snee, R. (1998) ‘Gregory Nazianzen’s Anastasia Church: Arianism, the Goths, and Hagiography’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 52, 157–186. Stein, E. (1949) Histoire du Bas-Empire, 2 vols., trans. J.R. Palanque (Paris).

chapter 12

Pagan and Christian Dream Theory in Maximus the Confessor Bronwen Neil

1

Introduction

In his trial at Constantinople in 655, Maximus the Confessor (c. 580–662) was accused of having a dream a decade earlier that the Byzantine emperor Constans II (641–668), considered treasonous. Debates over the true nature of dreams had a long history in Western philosophy, with Plato arguing mostly that they had little value and Aristotle insisting that they could not be vehicles of divine revelation. Philo of Alexandria (d. c. 47), a middle Platonist, took a more allegorical approach, one which was taken up in the third century by Origen, in Against Celsus.1 While certain aspects of Origenian thought resurfaced in the seventh century, Maximus seems to have modified the Neoplatonist evaluation of dreams as potential vehicles of divine revelation or prophecy. I examine how Maximus’ theory on dreams and their involuntary status evolved from his signature theory, the gnomic or deliberative will. This can be related to a much older distinction, that posed by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, between “things that are up to us” (that is, vices and virtues) and “things that are not up to us”.2 Maximus combined this insight with Nemesius of Emesa’s new, distinctly Christian view of providence. While Maximus did not exclude the possibility of mantic dreaming, he relegated it to “things that are not up to us”, the realm of providence over which we have no control.

1 Neil 2018, 123–137. On dream theory in Late Antiquity, there has been a flourishing of research since the seminal work of Cox Miller 1994. See especially Dossey 2013, 209–239, a comparison of pagan and patristic sources on sleep and dreaming; on medical uses of dreams for diagnosis and healing; Oberhelman 2014; Angelidi and Calofonos 2014 and Keskiaho 2015, with a focus on the reception of Augustine and Gregory the Great in the West. 2 This seems to be a direct borrowing of the kind ruled out by Portaru 2015, 143–144, in his careful study of other areas of similarity to Aristotelian thinking, namely, Maximus’ doctrines of being, motion, energy and the soul-body relationship. See also Sauvé Meyer 2014, 75–90.

© koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2020 | doi:10.1163/9789004429567_014

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Let us first hear the charge against Maximus brought by Sergius Magoudas, a court official. It is preserved in the Record of the Trial, which purports to be a verbatim account of the trial by an anonymous observer from the circle of Maximus’ supporters.3 Sergius Magoudas [said]: “Pope Theodore sent me to the patrician Gregory to tell him not to be afraid of anybody. I mean that the servant of God, Father Maximus, had a dream that in the heavens to the East and West there were crowds of angels. And the angels in the East shouted: ‘Constantine Augustus, you shall conquer!’ whereas the angels in the West exclaimed: ‘Gregory Augustus, you shall conquer!’ And the voices of those in the West prevailed over those in the East”.4 The record of the trial of Maximus the Confessor in Constantinople, held in May 655, alludes to events that took place following the monk’s famous debate against the former patriarch of Constantinople, Pyrrhus,5 at Carthage in July 645. That debate was presided over by the patrician Gregory mentioned here.6 After the debate, Maximus was said to have accompanied the defeated and contrite Pyrrhus to Rome, where the former patriarch had promised to retract his support for monothelitism before Pope Theodore.7 When Maximus was called to trial in the capital nine years later, one of the many spurious charges brought against him was that he had reported this dream in a letter to Pope Theodore (642–649), who had used it to reassure imperial courtiers that they were right to support Gregory’s claim to the throne. The implication was that Maximus, as a holy man, had been given a prophetic message that God supported Gregory, not Constans, the grandson of Hera-

3 On the works of Maximus and his supporters, who included Anastasius the Monk, Anastasius Apocrisiarius, Theodosius of Gangra, and the brothers Theodore and Euprepius of Constantinople, see Jankowiak and Booth 2015, 19–83, esp. 24–27; Neil 2006, 95–99. It is possible that Maximus wrote or partially wrote this trial record himself, as Jankowiak and Booth note. Jankowiak and Booth 2015, 72 no. 90. 4 Relatio Motionis 2, 50. Translations are my own slightly modified versions of those in Allen and Neil. On the staging of the 655 trial and its political import, see Brandes 1998, 141–212, esp. 155 n. 90. 5 Pyrrhus was patriarch of Constantinople from 638 until 641, when he was deposed for supporting Martina, the widow of Heraclius. He was briefly reinstated in January to June 654 after he returned to Constantinople’s monothelite stance. 6 Disputatio cum Pyrrho, PG 91, 288A. 7 Disputatio cum Pyrrho, PG 91, 353A. See further Noret 1999, 291–296; Allen and Neil 2002, 17– 18; and Strickler 2017.

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clius.8 Maximus had stated earlier in his trial that “God did not approve lending aid to the Roman empire during the reign of Heraclius and his kin”.9 God had abandoned the house of Heraclius due to their support of the compromise formula of monoenergism, “one activity” in Christ. Monoenergism had evolved into the theory of one will in Christ (monothelitism) and, by the 640s, Maximus was a vocal opponent of both. It was Theodore who began preparations for the Lateran Synod which upheld dyothelitism in 649, under the newly installed Pope Martin. I argue that Maximus’ theory of the two wills in Christ, and the gnomic will in the rest of created humanity, paved the way for his unique attitude to dreams and their interpretation. Responsibility for one’s dreams was a philosophical question, as much as one of Christian belief, and it arose (I believe) out of a clash between the pagan and Christian understandings of providence.

2

Earlier Greek Views on Providence

Debates over the nature of providence and free will had a long history in Western philosophy. While the Stoic school developed a strong doctrine of fate, which was unalterable and independent of human free will (proaíresis),10 Plato argued for a theodicy in Laws, Book 10. Philo of Alexandria adopted the Platonist view, with the further insight that God aids souls in their quest for freedom in proportion to their devotion to the divine and love for their fellow human beings. Philo’s formulation was to have a profound impact on Origen of Alexandria’s On First Principles.11 Plato, Philo and Origen allowed for visions of the divine in dreams, and for mantic dreams sent by God.12 In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle distinguished between vices and virtues pertaining to “things that depend on us”, on the one hand, and “things that do

8

9 10 11

12

Cf. Maximus, Ep. 10, PG 91, 449A–453A and Ep. 24, PG 91, 608B–613A for further criticism of Heraclius and his heterodoxy. See discussion of Maximus’ subversion of imperial propaganda in Booth 2014, 307–309. Relatio Motionis 1, Allen and Neil 2002, 50. See Sharples 1983, 141–156, for an overview of five pagan views of providence with which Nemesius disagreed. Moore 2005, ISSN 2161–0002 [accessed 16/5/23] at http://www.iep.utm.edu/midplato/ #SH6a. See also Parry 2017, 341–360, esp. 342–343, a survey of pagan Greek antecedents to early Christian theorizing on this subject. In Neil, Costache, and Wagner 2018, chap. 1, it is argued that this is a feature of the Alexandrian Platonist school of dream theory as exemplified by Philo, Origen, Athanasius, and Synesius of Cyrene.

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not depend on us” on the other, the latter being those actions or states that depend on nature, not choice.13 Some states were ambiguous, such as physical ugliness. No one can blame those who are “ugly by nature”, Aristotle conceded; if this was due to lack of exercise or care of the body, however, then it was a vice, and worthy of blame.14 The same went for blindness. He then extrapolated from physical weaknesses to spiritual ones: “Of vices of the body, then, those in our own power are blamed, those not in our power are not. And if this be so, in the other cases also the vices [of the soul] that are blamed must be in our own power”.15 Aristotle himself had little to say on the subject of providence, but, according to many pagan and Christian commentators, he believed that only the heavens were ruled by providence; anything below the moon fell outside providence.16 The early fifth-century philosopher Nemesius of Emesa (mod. Homs) had a slightly different take on Aristotle’s view of providence, however.17 According to Nemesius, Aristotle believed that particulars, or things that concerned individuals, pertained to nature while universals were governed by providence.18 It was the divine nature of every human being that caused it to pursue what was to its advantage, as Aristotle suggested in the Nicomachean Ethics Book 6.19 This meant for Aristotle that the things that depend on us and those that do not both depended on nature, not providence. Nemesius was concerned to refute this, saying that things that do not depend on us do depend to some degree on providence, which he defined as “the will of God which rightly governs everything which exists”.20

13

14 15 16 17

18 19 20

Eth. Nic. 3.5, trans. Barnes, 1995, 1758.3–6: “The end, then, being what we wish for, the means what we deliberate about and choose, actions concerning the latter must be according to choice and voluntary. Now the exercise of the excellences [cf. “virtues” trans. Ross] is concerned with means. Therefore excellence [cf. virtue (Ross)] also is in our own power, and so too vice”. Eth. Nic. 3.5, trans. Barnes, 1759.23–29. Eth. Nic. 3.5, trans. Barnes, 1759.29–31. Sharples 1983, 144. For a useful summary of the little that is known about Nemesius’ life and his only surviving work, De natura hominis, see Motta 2010, 510–518. Motta 2010, 509 dates De natura hominis to the end of the fourth, or the very early fifth century. Sharples 1983, 144. Nemesius, De natura hominis 44, PG 40, 797A. This passage is discussed by Sharples 1983, 143. Morani 1987, provides a modern edition of the text. Nemesius, De natura hominis 43, PG 40, 792B.

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Nemesius of Emesa on Dreams

Nemesius’ definition of providence as the will of God which rightly governs everything which exists allowed for prophetic dreams that were involuntary but providential. According to him there were two causes of such dreams: the soul, which is separate from the body, and discursive thought, which is seated in the brain. In On the Nature of Man, he argues that the soul is clearly separate from the body because it does not shut down when the body does during sleep, “but in itself it is active in its dreams, foretelling the future and associating with things intelligible”.21 In his discussion of thought and the categories of discursive thinking, including divination by dreams, Nemesius puts prophetic dreams down to the power of thought: “It is this [i.e. thought] also which foretells the future to us through dreams, which the Pythagoreans say is the only true method of divination, following the Hebrews”.22 The Pythagoreans here are probably Numenius, whom Origen called a follower of Pythagoras and the Jews, and “the Hebrews” Philo of Alexandria, whose tract On Dreams That Are Sent by God, also allowed for prophetic dreams, following the examples in the Hebrew Scriptures.23 In Nemesius’ excursus on the generative part of the soul, he discusses wet dreams as the result of an involuntary movement that pertains to nature: “For we eject semen in dreams without wishing to, and the desire for sexual intercourse belongs to nature, for we are moved towards it when unwilling”.24 Sexual desire pertains to the irrational part of the soul, but sexual activity does not, as he continues on to say: “But the activity [of sexual intercourse] is incontestably up to us and involves the soul: for it is accomplished through the organs that are subject to impulse, and it is in our power to abstain and conquer the impulse”.25 Only once does Nemesius clearly link providence and prophetic dreams, and that is in Section 42 on providence:26 [If providence be abolished] Prophecy and all foreknowledge are also abolished. But nothing of this is consonant with what happens almost

21 22 23 24 25 26

Nemesius of Emesa, De natura hominis 3; trans. Sharples and van der Eijk, 81. Nemesius of Emesa, De natura hominis 12, Sharples and van der Eijk, 118. See Sharples and van der Eijk, Nemesius of Emesa, 118 n. 588 and n. 589. Telfer, 1955, 338– 339 n. 3. Nemesius of Emesa, De natura hominis 25, Sharples and van der Eijk, 153. Nemesius of Emesa, De natura hominis 25, Sharples and van der Eijk, 153. Nemesius of Emesa, De natura hominis 42, Sharples and van der Eijk, 206. My emphasis.

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every day. For there have been many divine epiphanies in times of need, many remedies are given to the sick in dreams, many predictions have been fulfilled in every generation, and many murderers or evildoers are terrified by night and by day.

4

Maximus on Providence and the Will

Maximus took the same view as Nemesius, with whose work On the Nature of Man he was familiar, and whose doctrine of providence he borrowed,27 that things that do not depend on us do depend to some degree on providence. The centrality of providence to Maximian thinking is illustrated by the following statement from Centuries on Love: “All doctrines are concerned either with God or with visible and invisible things or with providence and judgement about them”.28 From the fourth century, speculations on divine providence, free will, the final restoration of all to God, and the origins of evil were frequently discussed in patristic writings especially in the writings of the Cappadocians, their disciple Evagrius of Pontus (d. 399),29 and John Chrysostom, priest of Antioch and patriarch of Constantinople (398–404).30 Maximus the Confessor’s distinction between the gnomic and natural wills, now recognized as one of his major contributions to Byzantine understandings of spiritual anthropology, grew out of his earlier discussions on the subject, which are recorded in his letters and small works (opuscula),31 as well as the Ambigua.32 His belief that the will was natural, while willing was personal, solved a long-standing philosophical problem inherent in the relationship between divine providence and humanity. Put simply, this problem was how Christ could have had a human will that was separate from but not in conflict with his divine will, the will of the Father that he apparently bowed to

27 28 29 30

31 32

Louth 2015, 501, comments that John of Damascus also borrowed directly from the same passages of Nemesius. Maximus Confessor, Cap. car. 1.78 (PG 90, 977); trans. Berthold and intro. Pelikan 1985, 43. See Sinkewicz 2003; Dysinger 2001, 462–471. On Evagrius’ response to these questions, and his influence on Maximus, see Viller 1930, 156–184, 239–268, 331–336. For Maximus’ departure from Evagrius on various points to do with the logismoi, see Neil 2015, 238–240. On John Chrysostom’s influential discussion of the gnomic will, see n. 37 below. See Jankowiak and Booth 2015, 33 no. 15 (Ep. 15); 34, nos. 16–18 (Opus. 13, 14 and 18), 37 no. 25 (Ep. 2), 42–43, no. 35 (Ep. 19, Ep. 15), 44–45 no. 37 (Ep. 14). Parry 2017, 353 shows how Amb. 10.42–43 draws on Nemesius’ understanding of providence as applying not just to universals but to particulars.

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in the Garden of Gethsemane.33 In response to the monothelite controversy, Maximus solved the problem by distinguishing between a natural will which belonged to the nature, not the person, of Christ, and the gnomic or deliberative will characteristic of every human being since the Fall. The latter was the faculty which deliberated about the right course of action, while the natural will was an essential property of the unalterable natural definition of each being. Maximus elucidated twenty-eight different senses of γνώμη, apart from other Greek words meaning “will” or “volition” or “intention”.34 For Maximus, Christ alone had no need of a deliberative will since his natural will conformed perfectly to the divine will.35 John of Damascus (d. c. 750) concurred that Jesus had no need of a gnomic will, but he adds the qualification that, when fallen humanity is reconciled to God, the gnomic will of individuals will conform to the natural will of Christ.36 Damascus’ concept of the will owed much to Maximus, and both could trace their understanding of γνώμη back to John Chrysostom, as others have shown.37 Maximus’ ideas on the dreams and the gnomic will grew out of his thinking on providence and salvation, and the role of the passions or “emotional disturbances” in provoking sin. He understood the passions to be completely separated from dreams, in that passions belonged to the voluntary part of the soul but dreams did not. Thus, the mystery of revelation could take place in angelic dreams, which elevated the dreamer and aided his or her ascent to the divine, but such dreams were not truly voluntary; rather, they pertained to the realm of providence, or things that were not “up to us”. A similar theology of revelation was developed a few decades earlier by John Moschus, who, like Maximus, distinguished between predetermination and God’s foreknowledge.38 Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen underlines the importance of autonomy

33 34 35 36 37

38

See Louth 1996, 59–60; Bathrellos 2004, 142–148; and Neil 2015, 235–249; Parry 2017, 353– 355. Disp. cum Pyrrho, PG 91, 312B–C. See the discussion of Maximus’ terminology on will in Blowers 2012, 45–46. See Blowers 2016, 160–165. Blowers 2016, 50. See Laird 2015, 194–211 on this key concept in John Chrysostom’s works and its direct relevance to Maximus’ theory of the gnomic and natural wills. On John of Damascus’ discussion of the will and providence, and his dependence on Maximus, see Blowers 2016, 49–50; Frede 2002, 63–95, esp. 73–75; Parry 2017, 357–359. Llewellyn Ihssen 2014, 109–110: “In short, by the end of the seventh century, eastern theologians place salvation in the hands of those who are free to choose or not choose, as is their wont …”.

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to John Moschus and the ascetic movement which formed around John and Sophronius of Jerusalem,39 and to which Maximus also later belonged.40 These concerns were taken up by Maximus as early as the 640s.

5

Maximus on Obsessive Chains of Thought

While Evagrius identified the two causes of evil as bad thoughts inspired by demons and those inspired by our fallen will, Maximus distinguished between three causes of evil: the passions, demons, and the fallen will.41 The fallen gnomic will does not accord with human natural will, that which is in conformity with God’s will for human beings. That is why it has to deliberate on the path to goodness. Maximus distinguished between the passions themselves and obsessive chains of thought (logismoi), the precedents to a passion.42 So, for example, debilitating sexual desire was a logismos, while fornication was the passion resulting from putting this thought into action. While any degree of sexual desire was seen as inappropriate for monks (as in Evagrius), for a non-celibate lay person, lust was regarded as a normal bodily passion. The passions had to be rooted out before the logismoi could be dealt with. When thoughts are “mere thoughts” and do not incite the passions, whether the subject is awake or asleep, the highest state of dispassion (apatheía) has been reached.43 Not all logismoi are intrinsically evil, however. There are also natural logismoi worthy of the soul engaged in contemplating and knowing divine mysteries.44

6

Maximus on Dreams

For Maximus, dreams held the same morally neutral status as “mere thoughts”, that is, they were not culpable in themselves, as he explained in relation to the charge brought against him in the trial at Constantinople, that he had told of a dream in which a host of angels in the East shouting, “Constantine 39 40

41 42 43 44

Ihssen 2014, 108–113. Booth 2014, 149–150 discusses the literary evidence for the close links between the three and other members of the circle known as the “Eucratades” after Sophronius’ surname Eucratas. Maximus Confessor, Cap. car. 2.33, 3.93 (PG 90, 996 and 1045); Viller 1930, 180 and n. 97. See Bathrellos 2015, 296–298. Maximus Confessor, Cap. car. 1.93 (PG 90, 981). Maximus Confessor, Quaest. ad Thalassium 64 (CCSG 7, 211).

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Augustus, you shall conquer!” was drowned out by a host in the West shouting their support for the exarch Gregory. On the strength of this dream, Pope Theodore apparently sent Father Thomas (otherwise unattested) to the patrician Gregory to encourage him in his challenge to imperial authority, nine years before the current trial. Father Thomas at that time allegedly reported it to Sergius Magoudas,45 who apparently did nothing with the information. Maximus’ alleged dream occurred around the time of the exarch Gregory’s bid for the imperial throne in 646, a bid which ended in ignominy the following year with his death when the Arabs were invading North Africa. Maximus denied ever having had such a dream, and asked the accuser to bring forward witnesses to the contrary: Peter the Patrician, Father Thomas or Pope Theodore. He continued,46 And if he should prove me guilty [of recounting a dream of mine], his would be the crime, not mine who am supposed to have seen it. After all, a dream is something which is not under the control of the will (aproaireton). The law punishes only actions which are under the control of the will if, that is, they are done in defiance of it. Then two more officials accused him of lying, and he broke down completely, weeping as he spoke:47 With God’s permission, you have the power over both life and death. However, if these people are telling the truth, then it’s Satan who’s really God. But if he isn’t, as indeed he’s not, these people haven’t told the truth either. Nor may I be worthy to see in the company of Christians the manifestation of the supersubstantial God, who is both maker and demiurge, creator, provider, judge, and Saviour of all, if I ever had a dream (onar) of this kind or heard another person recount it, except at this present time by Lord Sergius, who is well disposed to the empire. This is a clear statement of the providence of God, which is not at odds with his assertion that prophetic dreams are involuntary. Maximus is not saying that dreams cannot be true, in the sense of prophetic, but simply that he did not 45

46 47

Brandes 1998, 185 n. 21, notes that the surname is perhaps related to the Mesopotamian city Magouda, on the Euphrates. Sergius is mentioned a second time in the same section of the Relatio Motionis, as cited below. On other officials present at the trial of 655, see Neil 2006, 99–102. Relatio Motionis 2 (Allen and Neil 2002, 52). Relatio Motionis 2 (Allen and Neil 2002, 52).

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have such a dream. Indeed, he seems to allow for a glimpse of the divine, at least in the next life, when he speaks of seeing “the manifestation of the supersubstantial God” in the company of the saints.48 His eloquent defence did not save him from condemnation to exile in Bizya. It is important to note here that Maximus did not posit a direct link between providence and dreams, for he did not discuss dreams theoretically at all in his corpus. However, it is evident from the Dispute at Bizya,49 a record of the debate he had with Theodosius of Caesarea (Bithynia) while in exile in 656, that he accepted Nemesius’ theory of divine providence that affects particulars, not just universals, and also the Aristotelian distinction between the things that are up to us and those that are not. It is in the latter category that God’s providential plan for humanity comes in to play. In the course of the debate, Maximus elaborated upon the distinction between things that depend on us and things that do not, substituting providence as the governing principle of the latter, not nature (in distinction to Aristotle): “The matters which are up to us are all acts of choosing, that is to say, virtues and vices. Those which are not up to us are inflictions of the sorts of punishments which happen to us, or their opposites [sc. rewards]”.50 As examples of things that are not up to us, he suggests “the punishment of illness”, and “the gladness of good health”, although the operating causes of these states, such as intemperance/temperance, do originate from us. This is part of the divine economy: God preordains our final end only in the sense that there is a divinely established system of punishments and rewards for disobeying or obeying the commandments respectively. Maximus’ definition of acts of choosing (“things that are up to us”), which pertain to the gnomic or deliberative will, does not include dreams. Dreams belong to the realm of things which are “not up to us”. That is, they are not acts of choosing; they therefore fall into the subcategory of the not-culpable under law. That is not to say that Maximus agreed with Aristotle’s opinion that dreams were not sent by God and were not designed for the purpose of revealing the future. By dreams, Aristotle meant the presentations that appear in sleep based on the movement of sense impressions.51 On the distinction between sense impressions and the imagination, he writes: “That imagination is not sense is clear from the following considerations: Sense is either a faculty or an activity, for example, sight or seeing: imagination takes place in the absence of both, as, 48 49 50 51

As cited in the previous note. On the Disputatio Bizyae and its setting, see Booth 2014, 314–317; Brandes 1998, 156 and 205; Allen and Neil 2002, 36–37. Disputatio Bizyae 3 (Allen and Neil 2002, 78). Aristotle, On Dreams 3, in The Parva Naturalia (trans. Ross 1931) 460a–461b. David Gallop (1990, 60–117) provides useful commentary in his more recent translation.

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for example, in dreams”.52 Such movements were caused by nature: increased sensory impressions occurred when the blood sank downwards or cooled in sleep.53 Even so, Aristotle admitted that dreams “have a divine aspect, however, for Nature [their cause] is divinely planned, though not itself divine”.54 Thus he allowed that dreams could sometimes reveal “objective facts” by coincidence, although he considered it unlikely that they should be mantic.55 Indeed, Aristotle went so far as to say that visions could not be God-sent because even some of the lower animals had dreams,56 and people “of inferior type” had the power of foreseeing the future.57 He explains that people who suffer from a garrulous and excitable nature sometimes by pure coincidence foresaw things in vivid dreams that were fulfilled: “For, inasmuch as they experience many movements [of the soul] of every kind, they just chance to have visions resembling objective facts”.58 In a similar way, Maximus does not rule out the possibility that dream-visions could divulge divine intentions; but not as a result of the vice or virtue of the viewer; rather as part of God’s divine economy. The status or knowledge of the dreamer becomes irrelevant in Maximus’ understanding of dream-visions. Like the activity (energeia), the will for Maximus was natural, not personal or hypostatic, although it emanated from the person. Our capacity to will is natural, but how we will, the process of willing, is personal. According to this distinction, natural will is “an essential property of the unalterable natural definition (logos phuseos) of each being”.59 Maximus insists that human will is only “self-determining” to the extent that it conforms to the archetype of the divine image.60 Things that happens to us, like dreams, reflect our lack of autonomy. By emphasising its involuntary nature, Maximus avoided commenting on the content of his alleged subversive vision, though its subversive message was most likely one he endorsed, given his strong criticism of the Heraclian dynasty in the course of his trial.

52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

Aristotle, On the Soul 3.3, Ross, 428a. Aristotle, On Sleep, Ross, 457a33–b6; On Dreams 3, Ross, 461a–b. Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams 2, Ross, 463b. Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams 2, Ross, 463b–464a. Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams 2, Ross, 463b. Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams 2, Ross, 463b and 464a. Aristotle, On Prophesying by Dreams 2, Ross, 463b. Murphy and Sherwood 1990, 276–278. Disputatio cum Pyrrho, PG 91, 324D2–5: “If man is the image of the divine nature, and the divine nature is self-determining, therefore the image is self-determining; in so far as the image conforms to the archetype, he is self-determining in nature”.

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Conclusion

In this brief account of Maximus’ doctrine of providence and his understanding of the human will, we have seen how both influenced his characterisation of dreams as involuntary. His emphasis was always on restored human nature, which was the purpose and consequence of the incarnation of Christ in human form.61 Part of the divine economy was the human capacity to experience passions and to dream of evil things, even though these experiences were not under the control of the will. As Maximus wrote in the first of his Fifteen Chapters, For it is fitting and just that the wicked suggestions of the devil, which are undertaken by the mind willingly, are punished by him [sc. the devil]. Indeed, he is now the sower of lust through voluntary emotions and passions, and now the instigator and agent of pain and torment through the involuntary ones.62 Involuntary dreams might cause pain and torment but they were not inherently sinful. Like mere thoughts, they were neutral in themselves; what mattered was what one made of those things that are “not up to us”. While such fine philosophical distinctions as those made by Aristotle may seem remote from a seventh-century monk’s show-trial for treason, we have seen how Maximus at his trial applied this very Aristotelian distinction, combined with the Christian definition of providence adopted by Nemesius of Emesa, which encompassed prophetic dreams sent by God.

Bibliography Primary Sources Aristotle (1931) On Dreams, On Sleep, On Prophesying by Dreams in The Parva Naturalia. Translated with Notes, ed. W.D. Ross; trans. J.I. Beare and G.R.T. Smith, The Works of Aristotle, vol. 3 (Oxford). Aristotle (1941) Nicomachean Ethics, ed. W.D. Ross in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. R. McKeon (New York). Repr. online, The Internet MIT Classics Archive. http:// classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html. Aristotle (1961) On the Soul, ed. W.D. Ross, trans. J. Smith (Oxford). 61 62

Quaestiones ad Thalassium 64, Laga and Steel, 197; trans. Blowers and Wilken 2003, 150. Maximus Confessor, Capita XV 1.87, PG 90, 1216. My emphasis.

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Aristotle (1990) Aristotle on Sleep and Dreams: A Text and Translation with Introduction, Notes, and Glossary, ed. and trans. D. Gallop (Peterborough, Ontario and Lewiston, NY). Aristotle (1995) The Nicomachean Ethics, in Complete Works of Aristotle, Volume 2: The Revised Oxford Translation, trans. J. Barnes, Bollingen Series 71/2 (Princeton), 1729– 1867. Evagrius of Pontus (2003) Evagrius Ponticus: The Greek Ascetic Corpus, trans. R.E. Sinkewicz, Oxford Early Christian Studies (Oxford). Maximus the Confessor (1857) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 90, Capita de Caritate, 959–1082; Capita XV, 1177–1185 (Paris). Maximus the Confessor (1865) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 91, Opuscula et Epistolae, 9–285 and 353–649; Disputatio cum Pyrrho, 288–353; Ambigua ad Johannem, 1061–1417 (Paris). Maximus the Confessor (1980–1990) Quaestiones ad Thalassium una cum Latina interpretatione Ioannis Scotti Eriugenae, ed. C. Laga and C. Steel, Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 7 and 22 (Turnhout). Maximus the Confessor (1985) Maximus the Confessor. Selected Writings, trans. G.C. Berthold and intro. J. Pelikan, Classics of Western Spirituality (New York). Maximus the Confessor (1996) Maximus the Confessor, trans. A. Louth, The Early Church Fathers (London and New York). Maximus the Confessor (2002) Disputatio Bizyae, in Maximus the Confessor and his Companions, ed. and trans. P. Allen and B. Neil, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford), 76–118. Maximus the Confessor (2003) On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: Selected Writings from St. Maximus the Confessor, trans. P. Blowers and R.L. Wilken, Popular Patristics Series 25 (Crestwood, NY). Nemesius of Emesa (1863) Opera Omnia, ed. J.-P. Migne, PG 40, De natura hominis, 504– 817 (Paris). Nemesius of Emesa (1987) Nemesii Emeseni De natura hominis, ed. M. Morani, Bibliotheca scriptorium graecorum et romanorum Teubneriana (Leipzig). Nemesius of Emesa (2008) Nemesius of Emesa, On the Nature of Man, trans. R.W. Sharples and P.J. van der Eijk, TTH 49 (Liverpool). Relatio Motionis (2002) in Maximus the Confessor and his Companions, ed. and trans. P. Allen and B. Neil, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford), 48–74.

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Bathrellos, D. (2015) ‘Passions, Ascesis and the Virtues’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford) 287–306. Blowers, P.M. (2012) ‘Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus on Gnomic Will (γνώμη) in Christ: Clarity and Ambiguity’, Union Seminary Quarterly Review 63/3–4, 44–50. Blowers, P.M. (2016) Maximus the Confessor: Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration of the World (Oxford). Booth, P. (2014) Crisis of Empire. Doctrine and Dissent at the End of Late Antiquity, Transformation of the Classical Heritage 52 (Berkeley). Brandes, W. (1998) ‘“Juristische” Krisenbewältigung im 7. Jahrhundert? Die Prozesse gegen Martin I. und Maximos Homologetes’, in L. Burgmann (ed.) Fontes Minores 10. Forschungen zur byzantinischen Rechtsgeschichte 22 (Frankfurt am Main) 141– 212. Dossey, L. (2013) ‘Watchful Greeks and Lazy Romans: Disciplining Sleep in Late Antiquity’, Journal of Early Christian Studies 21/2, 209–239. Dysinger, L. (2001) ‘The Logoi of Providence and Judgment in the Exegetical Writings of Evagrius Ponticus’, Studia Patristica 37, 462–471. Frede, M. (2002) ‘John of Damascus on Human Action, the Will, and Human Freedom’, in K. Ierodiakonou (ed.) Byzantine Philosophy and its Ancient Sources (Oxford), 63– 95. Ihssen, B. Llewellyn (2014) John Moschos’ Spiritual Meadow. Autonomy and Authority at the End of the Late Antique World (Farnham). Jankowiak, M. and Booth, P. (2015) ‘A New Date-List of the Works of Maximus the Confessor’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford), 19–83. Keskiaho, J. (2015) Dreams and Visions in the Early Middle Ages. The Reception and Use of Christian Ideas (400–900), Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series (Cambridge). Laird, R. (2015) ‘Mindset (gnomê) in John Chrysostom’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford), 194–211. Louth, A. (2015) ‘Maximus the Confessor’s Influence and Reception in the Byzantine and Modern Orthodoxy’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford), 500–515. Meyer, S. Sauvé (2014) ‘Aristotle on What is Up to Us and What is Contingent’, in P. Destree, R. Salles, and M. Zingano (eds.) What is Up to Us? Studies on Agency and Responsibility in Ancient Philosophy. Studies in Ancient Moral and Political Philosophy, 1 (Sankt Augustin), 75–90. Miller, P. Cox (1994) Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture (Princeton, New Jersey). Moore, E. (2005) ‘Middle Platonism’, Chapter 6a, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philos-

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ophy. A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource, ISSN 2161–0002 [accessed 16/5/23] at http://www.iep.utm.edu/midplato/#SH6a. Motta, B. (2010) ‘Nemesius of Emesa’, in L. Gerson (ed.) Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity (Cambridge), 509–519. Murphy, F.-X. and Sherwood, P. (1990) Konstantinopel II und III, in G. Dumeige and H. Bacht (eds.) Geschichte der ökumenischen Konzilien 3 (Mainz). Neil, B. (2006) Seventh-century Popes and Martyrs: The Political Hagiography of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Studia Antiqua Australiensia 2 (Turnhout and Sydney). Neil, B. (2015) ‘Divine Providence and the Gnomic Will before Maximus the Confessor’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford), 235–249. Neil, B. (2018) ‘Dream-visions, Prophecy and Contemplation in Origen’s Contra Celsum’, in E. Pachoumi and M. Edwards (eds.) Praying and Contemplating in Late Antiquity (Tübingen), 123–137. Neil, B., Costache, D. and Wagner, K. (2019) Dreams and Virtue in Early Christian Alexandria (Cambridge). Noret, J. (1999) ‘La rédaction de la Disputatio cum Pyrrho (CPG 7698) de saint Maxime le Confesseur serait-elle postérieure à 655?’ Analecta Bollandiana 117, 291–296. Oberhelman, S. (ed.) (2014) Dreams, Healing, and Medicine in Greece from Antiquity to the Present (Farnham). Parry, K. (2017) ‘Fate, Free Choice, and Divine Providence, from the Neoplatonists to John of Damascus’, in A. Kaldellis and N. Siniossoglou (eds.) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge), 341–360. Portaru, M. (2015) ‘Classical Philosophical Influences: Aristotle and Platonism’, in P. Allen and B. Neil (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford), 127–148. Sharples, R.W. (1983) ‘Nemesius of Emesa and Some Theories of Divine Providence’, Vigiliae Christianae 37, 141–156. Strickler, R. (2017) ‘A Dispute in Dispute: Revisiting the Disputatio cum Pyrrho Attributed to Maximus the Confessor (CPG 7698)’, Sacris Erudiri 56, 243–272. Telfer, W. (1955) Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa (London). Viller, M. (1930) ‘Aux sources de la spiritualité de S. Maxime: les oeuvres d’ Évagre le Pontique’, Revue d’Ascétique et de Mystique 11, 156–184, 239–268, 331–336.

part 5 Syriac and Arabic Christian Thought



chapter 13

The Greek Jargon of Logic and East Syrian Intra-elite Conflicts in the Early Islamic Empire Nestor Kavvadas

Using syllogistic arguments in dealing with burning issues of ecclesiastical dogma seems to have been a major trend in outgoing Late Antiquity.* This kind of usage of syllogistic forms in public debates touching on theological matters was at once everywhere around the Mediterranean world, in Byzantium as well as in the Frankish Empire, among Christian Syrians as well as among the emerging Arabic-speaking Muslim elites.1 But it is a particularity of the East Syrian communities that such syllogistic forms of argument—a newly-contrived Greek jargon of logic, as it were—were brought to bear in fierce conflicts among most influential exponents of its leading elites. In their semi-private correspondence as well as in synodical documents, prominent East Syrian Metropolitans or even Catholicoi, i.e. the highest-ranging prelates of the East Syrian Church, turned to that jargon of logic in moments when they saw their authority attacked and in peril. What made them do so? The question might best be dealt with by first looking at the specific role that this “jargon of logic” was called to play in some letters and documents by East Syrian church leaders clashing with one another. Public persons engaged in conflicts threatening their political survival might seem inclined to resort to such means as they deem most defining of their authority under attack, of their own pedigree, the elite they stand for. In such clashes for survival, the utter tension seems to drag forth the “identity markers” of the elites involved and render these “identity markers” visible to the observer in their most clear-cut form. Such a privileged view into the meaning of that Greek,

* This article is largely based on N. Kavvadas, ‘Verdächtiges Prestige: Die griechische Bildung, das Jargon der Logik und die Konflikte der ostsyrischen Eliten’, in: M. Perkams/A. Schilling (eds.) Griechische Bildung und Wissenschaft bei den Ostsyrern. Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Geistesgeschichte der “Kirche des Ostens” von der Spätantike bis an den Ausgang des Mittelalters (Transmissions), Berlin/Boston [in preparation]. 1 Cf., for example, Freeman and Meyvaert 1998, 105–108; Brock 1986, 119–140, esp. 121 and 124– 127.; Declerck 1983, 229; Ryssel 1891, 81; cf. King 2013, 73–74; al-Masudi § 3447 (Barbier de Meynard 1987).

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“Aristotelian” jargon of logic as a component of the implicit self-definition of East Syrian elites might be found, as we shall see, in the extant testimonies of their internal power conflicts.

1

Initial Restraints

An early such case of using the “jargon of logic” in ecclesio-political conflicts is found in the career of the Catholicos-Patriarch Ishojahb III (r. 649–659).2 Before his election as Catholicos, Ishojahb, then a metropolitan of Adiabene, found himself entangled in a conflict with a group that contested his legitimacy as a metropolitan and demanded the restoration of Ishojahb’s deposed predecessor, Makkiha. The opposition group behind Makkiha grew quite strong thanks to the support of a local grandee (who was not even baptised, by the way), and became a serious threat—even though its official head was a simple Archdeacon named John—to Ishojahb’s position as a metropolitan.3 Then, in responding to an epistolary declaration of war by Archdeacon John, Ishojahb explained that The matters (ὕλαι) of words are known, [it is known] which one belongs to each word. [And] not just the [matters] that underlie the words, but also [those underlying] the meaning, the form and the genus of the logical categories; these [categories] that you, the glorifiers of philosophy, use to call proving (ἀποδεικτικοὺς) syllogisms, because by means of them—by the pride of rationality, as it were—you can discern truth from lie, so that you are not carried away in a sophistic manner (σοφιστικῶς) by the false opinion by means of good-looking imitations [of truth], [by means] of the [superficial] forms, [that] come from uneducated people like us. Now, if […] your negative (ἀποφαντικὸς) [statement] stemmed from a great number of sentences (προτάσεις), […] how much more is it appropriate that also now your objection (ἀντίφασις) against us—while employing partial as well as holistic designations (προσδιορισμοὺς)—should be a little bit inclined to [have] mercy on us.4

2 On Ishojahb, whose extant letters preserve, among others, some of the earlies extant testimonies about the Arab conquest of the Sasanian Empire and its consequences for Christians, see Ioan 2009. 3 Concerning the clash between Ishojahb and the party of John and Scheroe, see Fiey 1970, esp. 16–19. ̈ 4 :‫ܐ‬狏‫ ܡܠ‬狏‫ ܕܬܚܝ‬爯‫ܕ ܐܝܠܝ‬熏‫ ܒܠܚ‬熏‫ ܠ‬.‫ܐ ܕܗܝ‬煟‫ܐ ܐܝ‬狏‫ ܡܠ‬爏‫ܐ ܠܟ‬狏‫ ܕܡܠ‬爿‫ ܗܘܠ‬犯‫ ܓܝ‬爯‫ ܐܢܝ‬爯‫̈ܝܥ‬煟‫ܝ‬

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Subsequently, Ishojahb launches a syllogistic proof that it was impossible for him to engage John’s arguments, because they are artful sophistries. Therefore, he would answer in a plain manner and in plain speech, which, however, can be philosophical in a deeper, truer sense.5 This was then Ishojahb’s reaction to the previous letter by Archdeacon John, where the latter had made his case against the former. Clearly, in that nonextant letter John had brought to bear his entire arsenal of “Aristotelianising” syllogisms. And Ishojahb now responded by giving a proof that he too could speak the Greek “jargon of logic” his opponent had turned against him, that he too was familiar with the technicalities of syllogistic arguments. If Ishojahb refrained from refuting one by one John’s syllogisms by counter-syllogisms, it was only because he did not want to. Against John’s “sophistic” technicalities, he preferred the traditional ecclesiastical language of simplicity’s “true philosophy”.

2

The Greek Jargon of Logic as Camouflage

If Ishojahb III still upheld “traditionalist” reserve vis-à-vis syllogistic arguing in church affairs, a century later, at the peak of the ʿAbbāsid translation movement, such restraint would look outdated. By then, employing a “graecisising” jargon of logic as an object of prestige—or, as a prestigious weapon—had already founded a tradition of its own in East Syrian Church politics. A characteristic, albeit extreme such case is found in a synodical document issued under the East Syrian Catholicos Henanisho II. This synodical document—the only one coming down to us from Henanisho’s rule—marks the end of a power conflict that could have costed Henanisho his see at the least.6 Henanisho became involved in that conflict with his elevation to the see of the Catholicos in 773. Henanisho had been promoted to Catholicos shortly after another pretender, George, a monk of the Beth Hale monastery near Mosul, 焏‫ ܡܫܒ̈ܚܢ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬熏‫ܘܢ ܿܗܢ‬狏‫ ܕܐܢ‬爯‫ ܗܠܝ‬:焏‫ ܡܠ̈ܝܠ‬焏‫ܪܓ‬熏‫ ܕܩܛ‬焏‫ ܘܙܢ‬焏‫ ܘܐܣܟܡ‬焏‫ ܘܚܝܠ‬焏‫ܐܠ‬ 狏‫ܡ‬焏‫ܘܢ ܟ‬煿‫ ܕܒ‬:‫ܐ‬犯‫ܘܢ ܠܡܩ‬狏‫ ܐܢ‬爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ ܡܥ‬焏‫ܕ̈ܝܩܛܝܩܝ‬熏‫ܣ ܐܦ‬熏‫ܠܝܓܣܡ‬熏‫ܢ‬熏‫܆ ܣ‬焏‫ܦܝ‬熏‫ܕܦܝܠܣ‬ 焏‫ ܕܘܡ̈ܝ‬爯‫ ܡ‬焏‫ ܕܠ‬焏‫ ܐܝܟܢ‬:‫ܢ‬熏‫ ܠܟ‬焏‫ܫ‬犯‫ܬܐ ܡܦ‬熏‫ ܕܓܠ‬爯‫ܪܐ ܡ‬犯‫ ܫ‬:‫ܬܐ‬熏‫ܐ ܕܡܠܝܠ‬狏‫ܚ‬熏‫ܬܫܒ‬ ‫ܬܐ‬熏̈‫ ܗܕܝ‬焏‫ ܐܢܫ‬爯‫ ܡ‬:‫ܢ‬熏‫ܢ ܠܟ‬熏‫ ܬܚܛܦ‬焏‫ ܕܓܠ‬焏‫ܒܚ‬熏‫ ܫ‬狏‫ܝ‬焏‫ܦܣܛܢ‬熏‫ ܣ‬焏‫ܫܦܝܪܝ ܐܣܟܡ‬ 爿‫ܘܛܣܝ‬犯‫ܐ ܕܦ‬焏‫ܓ‬熏‫ ܕܣ‬焏‫ܢ ܠܡܢܝܢ‬熏‫ܣ ܕܝܠܟ‬熏‫ … ܐܦܦܢܛܝܩ‬犯‫ ܐܢ ܓܝ‬.爯‫ܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬爯‫ ܕܚܢ‬爯‫ܗܠܝ‬ 煟‫ ܿܙܕܩ ܗܘܐ ܕܟ‬.‫ܬܢ‬熏‫ ܕܠ‬焏‫ ܕܗܫ‬燿‫ ܕܝܠ‬爿‫ܢܛܝܦܣܝ‬焏‫ ܐܦ ܠ‬狏‫ܐܝ‬犯‫ܝ‬狏‫ ܝ‬焏‫ … ܟܡ‬:焏‫ܥܠ‬狏‫ܡ‬ 爯‫ ܕܥܠܝ‬焏‫ܬ ܪܚܡ‬熏‫ ܠ‬爏‫ ܩܠܝ‬:熯‫ ܬܬܚܫ‬焏‫ܘ ܟܠܢܝ‬煿ܿ‫ ܒ‬煿‫ ܒ‬狏‫ ܐܘ ܟܝ‬焏‫ܢܝ‬狏‫ܣ ܡܢ‬熏‫ܝܣܡ‬犯‫ܝ‬煟‫ܘܣ‬犯‫ܒܦ‬ 煟‫ܬܬܢܓ‬. Letter 23 (Duval 1904, 176–177). 5 Ishojahb III in Duval 1904, 178. 6 The extant sources concerning that conflict are readily found in Berti 2009, 148 ff.

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had been appointed as Catholicos by the Caliph al-Mahdi,7 with the collaboration of Metropolitan Isaac of Kashkar, the greatest diocese of the East Syrian Church—which was, of course, flagrantly anticanonical. It was in reaction to that unacceptable appointment of George of Beth Hale that Henanisho was elected as Catholicos. However, Henanisho’s election was also anything but canonically flawless: His electors were just one influential Archdeacon and two dioceses of the East Syrian Church, those of Hirta and of Beth Garmai. The riposte of the opposite church party around “Catholicos” George of Beth Hale and metropolitan Isaac of Kashkar, was immediate. Isaac and his circle issued an elaborate objection against the election of Henanisho, declaring it invalid primarily because it lacked the endorsement of the Metropolitan of Kashkar whose vote—as the prelate’s second-in-rank in the entire East Syrian Church—was traditionally considered indispensable for a new Catholicos to be designated. The clash between Isaac’s and Henanisho’s rival church parties seemed implacable. However, Isaac of Kashkar died shortly after. Thereupon, the two parties reached a compromise, and sealed it with the aforementioned synodical document of Henanisho. The terms of that compromise were that Henanisho would admit in public that his original election was uncanonical, lacking the metropolitan of Kashkar’s endorsement. In exchange, the bishops and clergy of the diocese of Kashkar would now declare, at one with the entire General Synod of the East Syrian Church, that they acknowledged Henanisho as their legitimate Catholicos-Patriarch, despite his invalid election! Such an intricate compromise was unprecedented. Just as peculiar was the document of that compromise. In that synodical paper, we witness a Catholicos-Patriarch confessing in public that “we [pl. maiestatis], wanting to impose our self-righteousness, have managed this [sc. Henanisho’s election to Catholicos] by means of trickeries and cunning”.8 Thus constrained to humiliate himself before his rivals of the late Metropolitan of Kashkar’s party, Henanisho then goes on to explain what had led him to the present compromise as follows: Between the [original] assertion (κατάφασις) [sc. Henanisho’s election] and the negation (ἀπόφασις) concerning these [things], there came the objection (ἀντίφασις) by Isaac, bishop of Kashkar, and his episcopal congregation; an [objection] that discerned truth from lie. They [sc. Isaac and his bishops] composed a sentence (πρότασις) from [decisions of] the 7 On the relations between the East Syrian Catholicoi and the ʿAbbāsid Caliphs, see Hage 2001, 3–17. ̈ 8 ‫ܕܐ‬煿‫ ܠ‬爯‫ܐ ܪܟܒܝ‬狏‫ ܘܨܝܥ‬焏‫ܪܣ‬熏‫ ܦ‬煟‫܆ ܒܝ‬爟‫ ܢܩܝ‬爯‫ܬܐ ܕܢܦܫ‬熏‫ܢ‬焏‫ ܕܟ‬爯‫ ܨܒܝ‬煟‫( ܟ‬Chabot 1902, 246).

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Synod as well as from nature [sc. based on “natural reason”], and they made a rigid syllogism and asked for retribution for the injustice done to them by that election [sc. of Henanisho to Catholicos-Patriarch].9 This reads more like a riddle than like an official declaration of the East Syrian Synod. What Henanisho’s Synod wants to say here, is simply that after Henanisho’s original proclamation (κατάφασις) as Catholicos-Patriarch, Isaac of Kashkar’s party issued a written objection (ἀντίφασις) bringing such cogent arguments against Henanisho’s original election, that the latter could not but concede to that objection. One can hardly escape the impression that Henanisho is using here this unintelligible jargon of logic so as to disguise what was for him, a ruling Catholicos-Patriarch of the East Syriac Church and its representative before the Caliph, an all-too compromising political manoeuvre. This impression is corroborated by the way Henanisho phrases his solemn, explicit admittance that he had been wrong up to now while his rivals, the party of the late Isaac of Kashkar, were right to defy him: I, Henanisho, and all bishops subscribing this with me, [declare], as this contradiction (ἀντίφασις) between my assertion (κατάφασις) and their [sc. the bishops of Kashkar] negation (ἀπόφασις) brought to light the lie, that indeed [the bishops of Kashkar] proved, and made a well-founded case that they were right by means of logical sentences (προτάσεις) of the assertive (ἀποφαντικὸς) speech, [using] the same categories as we did concerning the same subject (ὑποκείμενον), and, to conclude (ἐν συμπεράσματι), speaking of the same thing not just by synonymy, nor by [falsely transferring things said] of one part [of a thing] to another […], [but] through dialectical as well as analytical definition, by conclusive (ἀποδεικτικοὺς) definitions.10

9

10

犯‫ ܕܟܫܟ‬焏‫ܦ‬熏‫ ܐܦܝܣܩ‬犟‫ ܕܐܝܣܚ‬爿‫ܦܣܝ‬狏‫ ܐܢ‬狏ܼ‫ ܥܠ‬:爯‫ ܕܗܠܝ‬爿‫ܦܣܝ‬熏‫ ܘܐܦ‬爿‫ ܩܛܦܣܝ‬狏‫ܒܝ‬ 爯‫ ܕܡ‬爿‫ܘܛܣܝ‬犯‫ ܦ‬熏‫ ܪܟܒ‬:‫ܬܐ‬熏‫ ܕܓܠ‬爯‫ܪܐ ܡ‬犯‫ ܫ‬狏ܼ‫ܫ‬犯‫ ܡܦ‬煿ܿ‫ܝ‬狏‫ܗ܆ ܿܗܝ ܕܐܝ‬狏‫ܥܝ‬犯‫ܘܕܡ‬ ‫ܐ‬狏‫ ܓܒܝ‬煟‫ܬܗܘܢ ܕܒܝ‬熏‫ ܥܠܝܒ‬熏‫ ܘܬܒܥ‬.熏‫ܓܣܝܣܡ‬熏‫ܠ‬熏‫ܘ ܣ‬犯‫ ܘܩܛ‬.焏‫ ܟܝܢ‬爯‫ܘܕܘܣ ܘܡ‬煿‫ܢ‬熏‫ܣ‬ ‫( ܗܕܐ‬Chabot 1902, 246). ‫ ܗܕܐ‬爿‫ ܐܢܛܝܦܣܝ‬煟‫ ܟ‬:‫ܐ‬煟‫ ܐܝ‬熏‫ ܐܪܡܝ‬營‫ܘܢ ܕܥܡ‬煿‫ܬܐ ܟܠ‬煿̈‫ܥ ܘܐܒ‬熏‫ ܚܢܢܝܫ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬焏‫ܐܢ‬ 煟‫ ܒܝ‬:‫ܬܐ‬熏‫ܪܐ ܕܕܓܠ‬犯‫ ܒܫ‬狏ܼ‫ܘܢ ܥܠ‬煿‫ ܕܝܠ‬爿‫ܦܣܝ‬熏‫܆ ܘܐܦ‬營‫ ܕܝܠ‬爿‫ ܩܛܦܣܝ‬狏‫ܕܪܪܬܐ ܒܝ‬ .爯‫ܢ ܕܝܠ‬熏‫ܪܝ‬熏‫ܓ‬煿‫ ܗܘ ܩܛ‬煟‫ ܼܗܘ ܟ‬.‫ܣ‬熏‫ܐ ܐܦܦܢܛܝܩ‬犯‫ܡ‬焏‫ ܡ‬爯‫ܐ ܕܡ‬狏‫ܓܝܩ̈ܝ‬熏‫ ܠ‬爿‫ܘܛܣܝ‬犯‫ܦ‬ 焏‫ ܠ‬煿‫ ܕܝܠ‬煟‫ ܟ‬煿‫ ܕܝܠ‬.犯‫ܡ‬焏‫ ܠܡ‬狏‫ܝ‬焏‫ܪܙܡ‬煿‫ܢܦ‬熏‫ ܘܕܣ‬.‫ܘܢ‬煿‫ܢ ܕܝܠ‬熏‫ ܕܗܘܦܩܡܢ‬煿ܿ‫ ܡܢ‬煟‫ ܟ‬煿ܿ‫ܡܢ‬ 焏‫ܢ‬熟‫ ܒ‬煿‫ ܒ‬煟‫ ܟ‬煿‫ ܒ‬:‫ܐ‬狏‫ܬܐ ܡܢ‬犯‫ܬܐ ܘܐܚ‬犯‫ ܐܚ‬煟‫ ܨܝ‬焏‫܆ ܘܠ‬焏‫ ܐܚܪܢ‬煟‫ ܨܝ‬焏‫ ܠ‬.焏‫ܬ ܫܡ‬熏‫ܝ‬熏‫ܒܫ‬ ‫ܐ‬狏‫̈ܝ‬熏‫ܚ‬狏‫ ܒ‬:焏‫ܛ̈ܝܩ‬熏‫ ܘܐܢܠ‬焏‫ ܕܝܠܩܛ̈ܝܩ‬焏‫ܡ‬熏̈‫ ܬܚ‬煟‫ ܒܝ‬爟‫ ܘܿܗܘ ܕܣܝ‬:‫ܓ‬犯‫ܩܛ‬狏‫ ܼܗܘ ܕܡ‬煟‫ܼܗܘ ܟ‬ .‫ܬܗܘܢ‬熏‫ܢ‬焏‫ ܟ‬熏‫ܪܘ ܘܐܩܝܡ‬犯‫ܐ ܫ‬狏‫ܕܝܩܛ̈ܝܩܝ‬熏‫( ܐܦ‬Chabot 1902, 249–250; cf. King 2013, 77).

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This extravaganza of “Aristotelianising” vocabulary is so nonsensical, that one could take it for a fit of irony against the prelates of Kashkar—who had made massive use of syllogisms in their previous objection to Henanisho’s election—were it not for the deadly seriousness of that “cold war” that suppressed any thought of irony or sense of humour.11 This incomprehensible sentence12 was Henanisho’s formulation for a compromise that saved his see, and he is absolutely serious here. By using that esoteric, but most prestigious jargon that had the aura—at least to an uninformed layman—of the impeccable, “scientific” correctness of formal logic, Henanisho could stage the embarrassing deal with his opponents as a sovereign decision he made after he realised— always in the light of logic’s “objective truth”—that he had previously been wrong and of course admitted this as a good prelate. But to whom did Henanisho want to make credible his own version of the compromise in that way? Who were his addressees? To be sure, all that camouflage would not impress those prelates and archonts who were directly involved in, or had first-hand information about the events that had made Henanisho take his opponents’ offer. But, in the eyes of a wider public of outsiders, his jargon of logic could keep up the appearances, as it were.

3

Syllogisms as Threats

Timothy I, Henanisho’s notorious successor, used that jargon of syllogistic logic even more pragmatically. Exponent of an East Syrian aristocratic family that had procured him the then highest possible education, including Greek rhetoric and philosophy, Timothy became Catholicos-Patriarch after a remarkably meteoric career. What is more, he was to keep that particularly envied and dangerous see of the Catholicos for nearly a half a century (780–823). Timothy’s long tenure coincided with the heyday of Greek learning, most particularly of Greek rhetoric and philosophy, in ʿAbbāsid Mesopotamia, among Christian East Syrian elites as well as among Muslim Persian or Arab ones; and Timothy was involved in that educational breakthrough. Having received the best available training in Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy, Timothy not only fostered the

11

12

For a different interpretation, see King, 77–78 (delicate irony of this sort, by the way, seems to be entirely missing from pre-modern Syriac literature anyway; the wisdom humour in the anecdotal sayings gathered by Barhebraeus is of an altogether different kind, see Barhebraeus 1897). Passages that are almost incomprehensible without a fair knowledge of Greek are found in several other Syriac texts of that age too; for example, see Nau 1910, 223–224.

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so-called East Syrian school movement all along, he also played a part in the ʿAbbāsid translation movement,13 that epochal project to procure Arabic translations of Greek philosophy and science, Middle Persian historiography and Indian mathematics.14 So, looking at how Timothy—a representative figure of a Syrian erudite from the inner circle of ʿAbbāsid political elites—would employ philosophical-styled arguments in his own politics might help us better understand what kind of roles that philosophical-styled, logically structured ways of arguing could play in his world. A characteristic case of Timothy’s use of the jargon of logic in church politics is found in a rather exceptional letter he sent to the man who was probably his most intimate associate, the Metropolitan Sergios of Elam, appointed to that post by Timothy himself just a short time before. This letter—unlike the friendly tone of their other correspondence—is a sharp admonition. The question about what made Timothy send a letter like this to his closest collaborator can only be given a very tentative answer: it seems that Sergios had failed to support Timothy against his rivals who were particularly influential in Elam, or at least he had given Timothy—who had appointed him as metropolitan of Elam exactly to suppress opposition against the Catholicos—the impression that he was failing him by leaving one or two of Timothy’s letters unanswered.15

13 14 15

On his role, see Berti 2009, esp. 321–322 and 331; Berti 2007, 307–317. Cf. Gutas 2001, 347–352; cf. Gutas 2012, 480. The context of this might be found in the political circumstances of Sergios’ early career at the metropolitan see of Elam (Huzistan). Already in the first place, Sergios had been placed there by Timothy to make a stand against a movement of opposition to Timothy’s regime, a movement that had made Huzistan—the province of the new Metropolitan Sergios—its stronghold. In Huzistan, a faction around bishop Abraham of Gai had been countering Timothy already before Sergios was promoted to Metropolitan. What is more, that faction around Abraham had been able to secure the support of what was then the most influential Christian family of Bagdad, the Buhtishu family of the Caliph’s personal physicians, who seem to have been sceptical anyway towards the Catholicos Timothy and his extraordinarily ambitious plans to “homogenize” East Syrian Christianity under the rule of his own “orthodoxy” (on the tensions between Timothy and the Buhtishu family, see Abele 2008, 66–67; concerning Timothy’s efforts to impose his “Orthodoxy”, cf. Berti 2007, 189–190). And once defiance towards Timothy arose in Huzistan, almost all other enemies of his, first of all Isho bar Nun, the churchman who was to succeed Timothy, decades later, on the patriarchal throne, joined the opposition movement: Isho bar Nun even managed to get elected as bishop of Ram-Hormizd in Huzistan (Berti 2007, 286). It was in this context of a chain reaction against him that Timothy decided to make Sergios Metropolitan of Huzistan, even despite the fact that this appointment was likely to be taken as a provocation by the Persian population of that province, as Sergios was an Aramaic-speaking native of the far-away city of Mosul. That Timothy made this decision in the face of predictable reactions, shows just how exceptional his confidence in Sergios

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The Catholicos’ reaction to this was a final warning. He wrote to Sergios that whoever is greeted and keeps silence, he is a great depriver. So, since we greet you, but you take refuge in a Pythagorean silence, and [if] whoever acts like this is a great depriver, from this it is gathered that you are a great depriver indeed. And then Timothy made as clear as possible how grave Sergios’ omission really was: Rabban mar Sergios does not greet back. Whoever does not greet back is a depriver. Thus, Rabban mar Sergios is therefore a depriver. But, from among the deprivers, there are those who are absolute deprivers and again these who are [deprivers] in a certain aspect and [only] partially. Now, Rabban mar Sergios is a depriver on the whole as well as partially, on these grounds: If Rabban Sergios is depriving the Catholicos, whereas the Catholicos is [empowered] over the whole [Church], then Rabban Sergios is a great depriver, or rather a depriver on the whole. But under that absolute deprivation fall by necessity the partial deprivations too; whence Rabban Sergios is thus an absolute depriver and a partial one at the same time. However, it is not our [intention] to denigrate your Chastity with these [words]; for neither can we ever call the sun darkness, nor the circle square. Thus, we would never denigrate your Chastity by these [words]. For how could the one who is a living and rational icon of all goods, who is a teacher and doer of things divine, and is at the same time acknowledged by all [as such], […] be a depriver, great or small? Because, if Rabban Sergios is a teacher, and every teacher is also a giver, therefore Rabban Sergios also is a donator. But no single giver and donator can be a depriver, and be called one. So, it follows that Rabban Sergios is no depriver.16

16

really was. But even so, it appears that the situation in Huzistan then was so explosive, that even Sergios’ loyalty to Timothy was shaken at some point, or at least it seemed so. Such seems to have been the cause of Timothy’s deposition warning letter to Sergios. 爯‫ܠܢ‬焏‫ ܫ‬爯‫ ܕܚܢ‬犯‫ ܓܝ‬爯‫ܘ ܡ‬煿‫ ܐܢ‬.焏‫ܙܐ ܪܒ‬熏‫܆ ܗܘ ܗܘ ܓܠ‬犟‫ܝ‬狏‫ ܘܫ‬煿‫ ܒܫܠܡ‬爟‫ ܠ‬爯‫ܠܝ‬焏‫ܕܫ‬ ‫ܙܐ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬爯‫ ܗܟ‬燿‫ ܕܐܝ‬爯‫ ܗܘ ܕܝ‬:狏‫ܣ‬熏‫ ܐܬܓ‬焏‫ܪܝ‬熏‫ܐܓ‬狏‫ ܦܝ‬焏‫ܩ‬狏‫ ܒܫ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬狏‫ ܐܢ‬:燿‫ܒܫܠܡ‬ 犯‫ ܟܒ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬狏‫ ܐܢ‬爏‫ ܢܦ‬.燿‫ܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ܙܐ ܐܪܐ ܪܒ‬熏‫ ܕܓܠ‬犿‫ܟܢ‬狏‫ ܕܡ‬爯‫ ܗܠܝ‬爯‫ ܡ‬:‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ܪܒ‬ 焏‫ ܠ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ ܡ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬.爯‫ ܐܝܟ‬燿‫ ܕܐܝ‬.‫ܘܬܐ‬熟‫ ܘܕܓܠܝ‬焏‫ܘܬܢ̈ܝ‬熟‫ܢ ܓܠܝ‬熏‫ ܗܢ‬熏‫ܓܝ̈ܣܡ‬熏‫ܠ‬熏‫ܘܒܣ‬ 爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ܝ ܣ‬犯‫ ܡ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ ܐܪܐ ܡ‬.‫ܙܐ ܗܘ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬焏‫ ܠܫܠܡ‬焏‫ ܡܦܢ‬焏‫ ܕܠ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬爏‫ ܟ‬.焏‫ ܠܫܠܡ‬焏‫ܡܦܢ‬ .焏‫ܢܝ‬狏‫ ܘܡܢ‬焏‫ ܕܝܠܢܝ‬狏‫ ܟܝ‬爯‫ ܗܘ ܕܝ‬.焏‫ ܟܠܢܝ‬犯‫ ܓܝ‬爯‫ ܗܘ ܡ‬爯‫ܙܐ ܕܝ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬爯‫ ܡ‬.‫ܙܐ ܗܘ‬熏‫ܓܠ‬ 爯‫ ܡ‬爯‫ܘ ܕܪܒ‬煿‫ ܐܢ‬.爯‫ ܐܝܟ‬燿‫ ܕܐܝ‬.‫ ܗܘ‬焏‫ܢܝ‬狏‫ ܘܡܢ‬焏‫ܙܐ ܟܠܢܝ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ܗܘ ܡ‬ ‫ܙܐ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ ܡ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬.‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ ܟܠܢܝ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬焏‫ܘܠܝܩ‬狏‫ ܩ‬:熟‫ ܓܠ‬焏‫ܘܠܝܩ‬狏‫ ܠܩ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ܣ‬

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The way Timothy employs syllogisms here is very particular, and a closer look could help us better understand his intentions. His argument appears to consist of two distinguishable syllogisms. The first one is: a) Whoever fails to greet back, is a depriver; b) Sergios has refrained from responding to a letter, i.e. to a greeting, sent to him by Timothy; therefore, Sergios is a depriver. In formal terms, this first syllogism is acceptable. But Timothy goes further to claim that a) whoever acts as a depriver against the Catholicos is an absolute (καθ’ ὅλου) depriver; b) Sergios indeed acts as a depriver against the Catholicos, inasmuch as he does not answer his letter; so, it follows that Sergios is an absolute (καθ’ ὅλου) depriver. It is this second argument that interests Timothy the most; and this he explicitly labels a syllogism using the Greek loan word, συλλογισμός. After all, only this second “syllogism” can make out of the personal offence against Timothy an official offence against the Catholicos—indeed, against the entire Church. But this second “syllogism” suffers from grievous flaws. Its first premise (a), far from being a “commonly accepted”, quasi self-evident fact—as a premise of a syllogism is supposed to be—it is not even intelligible without presuming in advance a “hidden premise”. That hidden premise is that the PatriarchCatholicos represents in his own person the entire body of the Church and that the Church, in turn, represents in an ontological sense, even embodies, as it were, Being in its entirety.17 Only this “hidden premise”, which is fundamental to the ecclesiology not just of the East Syrian church, but of the entire Christian East, can, under certain conditions, account for considering an offence against the Patriarch-Catholicos as an offence against the entire Church and thus against Being in its entirety—as an “absolute” (καθ’ ὅλου) offence. But, however clear this “hidden premise” may have been to eighth-century East Syrian prelates, it is by no means acceptable in a logic of syllogisms, be

焏‫ܢ̈ܝ‬狏‫ܢ ܡܢ‬熏‫ ܘܗܢ‬焏‫ ܐܢܢܩ‬爯‫ ܡ‬焏‫ܬ ܗܘ ܟܠܢܝ‬熏‫ ܬܚ‬焏‫ ܐܠ‬.‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ ܟܠܢܝ‬狏‫ ܐܘܟܝ‬焏‫ܪܒ‬ 狏‫ ܠܝ‬焏‫ ܐܠ‬.‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ܢܝ‬狏‫ ܘܡܢ‬煟‫ ܐܟܚ‬焏‫ܙܐ ܟܠܢܝ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ ܐܪܐ ܡ‬.爯‫ܣܠܩܝ‬ ‫ܐ‬犯‫ܣܦܝ‬焏‫ ܠ‬焏‫ ܘܠ‬焏‫ܢ‬熏‫ ܒܓ‬焏‫ ܐܘܟܡ‬焏‫ ܠܫܡܫ‬犯‫ ܓܝ‬焏‫ ܘܠ‬.爯‫ܠܝ‬煿‫ܬܟ ܒ‬熏‫ ܠܢܟܦ‬焏‫ܫ‬犯‫ ܕܢ‬爯‫ܠ‬ ‫ܘ‬煿‫ ܠ‬犯‫ ܓܝ‬焏‫ ܐܝܟܢ‬.爯‫ܠܝ‬煿‫ ܒ‬爯‫ܘܡ ܪܫܝܢ‬狏‫ܬܟ ܡ‬熏‫ ܠܢܟܦ‬焏‫ ܘܠ‬焏‫ ܗܟܢ‬.爯‫ܝܢ‬犯‫ܢ ܐܡ‬熏‫ܢ‬熏‫ܬܬܪܓ‬ 煟‫ܘܗܝ ܐܟܚ‬狏‫ܪܐ ܘܐܝ‬熏‫ܐ ܘܣܥ‬狏‫̈ܝ‬煿‫ ܐܠ‬爯‫ ܕܗܢ‬焏‫ ܘܡܠܦܢ‬.爯‫ ܛ̈ܒ‬爏‫ ܕܟ‬焏‫ ܘܡܠܝܠ‬焏‫ ܚܝ‬焏‫ܩܢ‬熏‫ܕܝ‬ :焏‫ ܡܫܩ‬焏‫ܐ ܕܒܢ̈ܝܢܫ‬狏‫ ܠܢܦ̈ܫ‬焏‫ܪܥ‬焏‫ܐ ܠ‬犯‫ܬ ܡܛ‬熏‫ܡ‬煟‫ ܕܒ‬犯‫ ܗܘ ܓܝ‬.‫ܬܘܕܐ‬狏‫ ܡ‬犿‫ ܟܠܢ‬爯‫ܘܡ‬ 爯‫ܐ ܡ‬狏‫ ܒ̈ܝܫ‬爯‫ ܘܡ‬:‫ܬܐ ܪܐܣ‬熏̈‫ ܠܒ‬爏‫ܬܐ ܥ‬熏‫ ܡܠܝܠ‬營‫ܦ‬熏̈‫ܐ ܘܛ‬狏‫ ܚܟܡ‬營‫ ܪܣܝܣ‬爯‫ܒ‬熟‫ܘܒܟܠ‬ ‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܘܐܝ‬爯‫ ܗܟ‬燿‫ ܐܪܐ ܘܗܘ ܕܕܐܝ‬焏‫ ܐܝܟܢ‬:‫ ܘܐܦ ܙܪܐ‬焏‫ ܡܠ‬爯‫ܐ ܕܝ‬狏‫ ܛܒ‬:焏‫ܟ‬煟‫ ܡ‬爯‫ܠܝ‬煿‫ܠ‬ .‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ ܡܠܦܢ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬犯‫ ܐܢ ܓܝ‬.犯‫ܐܡ‬狏‫ܪܐ ܢ‬熏‫ ܐܘ ܙܥ‬焏‫ܙܐ ܪܒ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬:‫ܘܐ‬煿‫ܘܢ‬ .‫ܘܗܝ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ ܡܫܟܢܢ‬爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ ܪܒ‬爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ܘܗܝ܆ ܐܪܐ ܡ‬狏‫ ܐܝ‬焏‫ܘܒ‬煿‫ ܘܐܦ ܝ‬焏‫ ܡܠܦܢ‬爯‫ ܕܝ‬爏‫ܟ‬ 爯‫ܝ‬煟‫ ܐܪܐ ܡ‬焏‫ ܠ‬.犯‫ܐܡ‬狏‫ܘܗܝ ܘܡ‬狏‫ܙܐ ܘܐܝ‬熏‫ ܓܠ‬焏‫ ܘܡܫܟܢܢ‬焏‫ܘܒ‬煿‫ ܝ‬煟‫ ܚ‬焏‫ ܘܠ‬焏‫ܐܠ‬ 爿‫ܓܝ‬犯‫ ܣ‬爯‫ܘܗܝ ܪܒ‬狏‫ܙܐ ܐܝ‬熏‫( ܓܠ‬Timotheos I, Braun 1953, 88–89). 17

Cf. for example, Zizioulas 1985, esp. 194–196; Zizioulas 1990, esp. 138 ff.

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it Aristotelian or not. From the point of view of syllogistic logic, this “hidden premise” that whoever offends the Catholicos is an “absolute” (καθ’ ὅλου) offender, clearly transfers a specific quality—that of being “absolute”—from the object of an offence, in this case the Catholicos, to the offence itself and, going even further, to its subject in its quality as an offender. But this is a blatant μετάβασις εἰς ἕτερον γένος. So, what Timothy is putting forth here as a syllogism appears to be but a poor imitation—and this by a man of substantial philosophical education, clearly capable of constructing genuine syllogisms.18 It is an imitation that functioned as a garb for a principle of Eastern ecclesiology, i.e., for an object of faith. To be sure, that syllogistic guise would never convince people not adhering to the underlying ecclesiological article of faith, and again people adhering to the latter would hardly need that fallacious syllogism to understand what it means to offend the Catholicos-Patriarch. But, then, for what audience was that syllogistic guise meant for, and what could have been its intended function? What was Timothy’s intention? By using that syllogistic language that had become so prestigious, or even “official”, in East Syrian church politics, Timothy seems to be making clear that his warning had to be taken seriously now. If Sergios failed once again to answer Timothy and ensure him (perhaps also by other acts that remain here unmentioned) of his loyalty, the former would irrevocably prove to be a depriver; and, as Timothy underscores, it is “logically” impossible that “one who is a […] a teacher and doer of things divine”—i.e., a bishop like Sergios—“be a depriver, great or small”. But, if Sergios proved a depriver indeed, then it would be impossible that he should, at the same time, be a bishop. That is, he would have to be deposed. This last “logical” conclusion is left to be drawn by Sergios himself or other potential future readers. By leaving it unstated, Timothy is not making it less obvious; he is leaving the way open for Sergios to comply—as he actually did—and then do so, as if nothing had ever happened. It appears then that Timothy uses here the jargon of syllogistic logic to phrase an implicit, though unmistakeable, threat of deposition, and to show that he means what he says. This “official” logical idiom makes his letter sound like the actual document of Sergios’ deposition that would follow if the latter did not respond—perhaps in the same way that a warning letter sent before a law-suit often employs the legal language of the bill of indictment that will follow if the addressee does not comply. Thus, Timothy phrased his letter in that technical manner to make his intentions clear to Sergios, but also so as his

18

On this, see Heimgartner 2012, 11–21, esp. 15–21; cf. Heimgartner 2008, 69–80, esp. 74–80.

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letter may be used, in case he should have to depose Sergios, as a proof that the latter had been duly warned, and be shown to other metropolitans or other people possibly involved in the affair. That technical syllogistic idiom appears then to have developed into the most respectable, official-sounding language for the most sensible affairs of high church politics.

4

Logical Training, Elite Identity Formation and the Allure of Byzantine Culture

An esoteric jargon of philosophical logic seems then to have established itself in the internal conflicts of East Syrian elites in the early Arab Empire. With this jargon, a highly recognisable form of argument that would style itself as syllogistic or even Aristotelian took root. Exponents of the highest echelons of East Syrian communities would put forward that specific kind of argument and wording to take stances against one another in harsh political clashes; they would use this jargon to express their own standpoint against their political opponents or wavering allies. Clearly, using this elite jargon had to do with self-assertion, each time in a different way, depending on the circumstances. Ishojahb employs it just to show that he too had full command of that jargon no less than his opponent, although he did not want to answer with his own syllogisms the ones of his opponent; Henanisho wanted to demonstrate to all sides that he could justify his embarrassing compromise with his rivals, and this in the most rational, official-like, respectable manner; and Timothy wanted to make clear to his closest associate that he was ready to go against him and formally depose him if the latter should fail to reassure him of his loyalty. It remains an open question, what the main motive for the sons of East Syrian elite families was then to learn, generation after generation, that Greek jargon of logic—the idiom of (often wannabe) “Aristotelian” syllogisms—in a years-long, hard and expensive training.19 To be sure, this phenomenon is concomitant with, or even constitutive of the rise of a novel class of leading elites all over the Syrian world. Long before the Arab conquest, as the fierce conflicts 19

The appropriation of that idiom by the students was indeed a declared aim of the East Syrian higher Schools; see the 1st Canon of the Synod held by Catholicos George I in the year 676, in Chabot 1902, 217; cf. Berti 2011, 241–250, esp. 245–246. Concerning the longterm reception of Greek learning and culture by the Syrians from the Seleucids down to Late Antiquity—that could be the background of that phenomenon—see, for example, Andrade 2013, esp. 94ff. and 314ff.; Millar 2006, esp. 107 ff.; Millar 2015a, 553–576; Millar 2015b, 631–678; Debié 2015, esp. 442ff.; ter Haar Romeny et al. 2009, 1–52; cf. also Kavvadas, Verdächtiges Prestige (in preparation).

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between Chalcedonians, Miaphysite Anti-Chalcedonians, and “Nestorian” East Syrians were already destabilising the Byzantine Near East and tearing apart its socio-political tissue, as Byzantine imperial elites and political and administrative magistrates were gradually growing weaker, when, among the East Syrian communities of the Sasanian Empire, a “Nestorian” ecclesiastical structure separate from the Byzantine Orthodox Church first came up, there emerged novel, largely indigenous elites. Very often, they were ambitious prelates coming from upper middle class families. For them, the highest possible education at one of the finest schools of theology and exegesis as well as of Greek logic and rhetoric was indispensable. For the sons of that new elite, the higher Syrian Schools like those of Nisibis or Qenneshrin seem to have been almost as uncontested a sign of distinction, a place to make connections with other sons of that same elite and a guarantee of adequate education as Oxford and Cambridge were for the nineteenth-century English elites. The role of these Syrian higher schools and their erudite teachers for the rise and spread of Greek logical-philosophical education in the Syrian world was emphasised by Daniel King in a thought-provoking study based on a vast amount of published and unpublished Syriac philosophical texts.20 Nonetheless, it remains an open question why it was then Greek, “Aristotelian” logicphilosophical training in particular that became the hallmark of these Syrian higher schools and the most conspicuous sign of scholarliness—and as such an identity marker that some of the most influential exponents of East Syrian elites would put forward in the most decisive conflicts, when they had to resort to the basics of their status of authority. Could it be that at least one reason for this was the firm connection between that Greek logic-philosophical education and the Byzantine imperial culture, along with a certain Byzantine cultural imperialism “from below”—that made the Syrians accept, adopt, and propagate for themselves the Byzantine emblems of high culture?

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20

King 2013, passim.

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Heimgartner, M. (2008) ‘Trinitätslehre beim ostsyrischen Patriarchen Timotheos (780– 823) in der Auseinandersetzung mit dem Islam’, in M. Tamcke (ed.) Christliche Gotteslehre im Orient seit dem Aufkommen des Islams bis zur Gegenwart, Beiruter Texte und Studien 126 (Beirut), 69–80. Heimgartner, M. (2012) ‘Der ostsyrische Patriarch Timotheos I. (780–823) und der Aristotelismus: Die aristotelische Logik und Dialektik als Verständigungsbasis zwischen den Religionen’, in M. Tamcke (ed.) Orientalische Christen und Europa: Kulturbegegnung zwischen Interferenz, Partizipation und Antizipation, Göttinger Orientforschungen. Syriaca 41 (Wiesbaden), 11–21. Ioan, O. (2009) Muslime und Araber bei Īšōʿjahb III. (649–659), Göttinger Orientforschungen: Syriaca 37 (Wiesbaden). Kavvadas, N. ‘Verdächtiges Prestige: Die griechische Bildung, das Jargon der Logik und die Konflikte der ostsyrischen Eliten’, in M. Perkams and A. Schilling (eds.) Griechische Bildung und Wissenschaft bei den Ostsyrern. Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Geistesgeschichte der „Kirche des Ostens“ von der Spätantike bis an den Ausgang des Mittelalters (Transmissions), Berlin and Boston [in preparation]. King, D. (2013) ‘Why Were the Syrians Interested in Greek Philosophy?’, in P. Wood (ed.) History and Identity in the Late Antique Near East (Oxford), 61–82. Millar, F. (2006) A Greek Roman Empire. Power and Belief under Theodosius II, 408–450 (Berkeley). Millar, F. (2015a) ‘Greek and Syriac in Edessa and Osrhoene, 213–363’, in F. Millar (ed.) Empire, Church and Society in the Late Roman Near East. Greeks, Jews, Syrians and Saracens (Leuven), 553–576. Millar, F. (2015b) ‘The Evolution of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the Pre-Islamic Period: From Greek to Syriac?’, in F. Millar (ed.) Empire, Church and Society in the Late Roman Near East. Greeks, Jews, Syrians and Saracens (Leuven), 631–678. Nau, F. (1910) ‘Notes d’astronomie syrienne’, Journal asiatique 16, 209–228. ter Haar Romeny, B. et al. (2009) ‘The Formation of a Communal Identity among West Syrian Christians: Results and Conclusions of the Leiden Project’, Church History and Religious Culture 89, 1–52. Zizioulas, J. (1985) Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church, Contemporary Greek Theologians 4 (London). Zizioulas, J. (1990) Ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἐν τῇ θείᾳ εὐχαριστίᾳ καὶ τῷ ἐπισκόπῳ κατὰ τοὺς τρεῖς πρώτους αἰῶνας (Athens).

chapter 14

Pyrrho and Sextus Refuting Philosophy and the Value of Definition: On the Arabic Reception of the Late Antique Prolegomena to Philosophy Elvira Wakelnig

1

David’s Prolegomena to Philosophy in Greek and Armenian

The Late Antique Neoplatonic curriculum starts with an introduction to philosophy, i.e. the so-called Prolegomena to Philosophy, which are studied even before Porphyry’s introduction to Aristotle’s Categories, i.e. the Isagoge. These Prolegomena to Philosophy are placed at the beginning of the Neoplatonic commentaries to the Isagoge, before the Prolegomena to Porphyry’s text1 and the commentary on it. They explain the aims and methods of philosophy. Particular attention is given to division and definition which are presented as basic philosophical principles. The importance which philosophy in the Neoplatonic tradition accords to division and definition also becomes apparent in a particular genre of literature, namely compilations of philosophical divisions and definitions attested in the Greek, Syriac and Arabic traditions.2 The material of these compilations derives almost exclusively from the Neoplatonic commentaries to Aristotle, and first and foremost from the Prolegomena to Philosophy and to Aristotelian Philosophy. It comes as little surprise that the Prolegomena 1 There are thus two sets of prolegomena in the commentaries on the Isagoge, namely the one to philosophy and the one to the Isagoge. In the latter, preliminary questions or main points regarding the Porphyrian treatise are discussed. Similarly, Aristotle’s Categories are preceded by two sets of Prolegomena, the Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy and the ones to the Categories, covering the same preliminary issues. For a discussion of this so-called schema isagogicum allegedly deriving from Proclus, see Mansfeld 1994, 10–57. For the Prolegomena to Philosophy and to Aristotelian Philosophy, see Hein 1980; and Westerink 1962, xxv–xxxii. 2 I argue for the importance of this literary genre in more detail in my article “Late Antique Philosophical Terminology in Early Kalām. The Polysemous Greek Term atomon and its Arabic Equivalent juzʾ lā yatajazzaʾ”. The most famous Greek example is the Dialectica of John of Damascus. For other similar compilations, see Roueché 1980, 71–98. For a Syriac version in diagrammatic form, see Hugonnard-Roche 2004, 101–122. The most striking Arabic example known to be extant today and discussed below is the Book on the Definitions of Logic (Kitāb Ḥudūd al-manṭiq) by ʿAbd Īšūʿ ibn Bahrīz, the East Syriac metropolitan of Mosul in the early ninth century.

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to Philosophy and, in taking them up, also the philosophical compilations deal with and refute objections which deny the existence of philosophy and the role of definition for it. Greatly surprising, however, is the fact that these objections and their refutation play a much more prominent role in surviving Armenian and Arabic texts than in any of the extant Greek ones.3 In Greek, Ammonius presents one argument against the existence of philosophy or rather of any kind of knowledge, namely the constant changing of things, in the name of the Sceptics (ephektikoi) when discussing the different philosophical schools in his Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy. The same argument reoccurs in the same place in Philoponus and Olympiodorus.4 David, however, presents the same argument together with three others in his Prolegomena to Philosophy5 and thus has the most comprehensive treatment of arguments denying the existence of philosophy among the Greek commentators. The arguments are found in lectures 2 and 3, and at the beginning of lecture 4.6 There, David, for the first and only time, identifies these opponents of philosophy and accuses them of trying to refute the existence of philosophy by applying the very same philosophy the existence of which they deny. The beginning of lecture 4 reads:7 3 The arguments were also discussed at the beginning of the Prolegomena to Philosophy in the Syriac tradition, if we are to judge on the basis of the material which is presented in the Book of the Dialogues by Severus bar Šakkū (d. 1241). See Baumstark 1900, 191–195. 4 Ammonius, CAG IV.IV, 2.17–25; Philoponus, CAG XIII.I. 2.7–20; Olympiodorus, CAG XII.I, 4.20– 29. 5 This is one of many occurrences in which material originally presented in a later writing of the Neoplatonic curriculum gradually shifts to the very beginning of the curriculum, i.e. in this case from the Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy to the very first writing of the curriculum, i.e. the Prolegomena to Philosophy. David’s Prolegomena to Philosophy, to the Isagoge and his commentary to the Isagoge exist in a Greek and an Armenian version. His Prolegomena to Philosophy in these two versions will be considered in this article. For the Prolegomena to the Isagoge and his commentary on the Porphyrian treatise, see Muradyan 2014. 6 For a summary of the sceptical arguments and the counter-arguments in the Neoplatonic commentators of Aristotle, see Flückiger 2005, 113–129. 7 The Greek reads (CAG XVIII.2, 8.21–9.2): Πρᾶξις δʹ. Εἰ καὶ πάρεργον ἦν τὸ ζητῆσαι ἐπὶ τῆς φιλοσοφίας τὸ εἰ ἔστιν, ἀλλ’ οὖν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ συμμάχῳ χρησάμενοι τοὺς λόγους τῶν πειραθέντων τὴν ὕπαρξιν ἀνελεῖν τῆς φιλοσοφίας ὡς ἀσθενεῖς ἀνετρέψαμεν· καὶ γὰρ οἷς ἔρις ὁ βίος ἐστίν (οὗτοι δέ εἰσιν οἱ Πυρρώνειοι οἱ πάντα ἀνατρέπειν πειρώμενοι), τὴν μητέρα τῶν ἀποδείξεων, φημὶ δὴ τὴν φιλοσοφίαν, δι’ ἀποδείξεων ἠβούλοντο ἀνατρέπειν καί, ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι, τὴν φιλοσοφίαν διὰ φιλοσοφίας ἀνέτρεπον. πρὸς οὓς ἀπαντᾷ ὁ Πλάτων λέγοντας μὴ εἶναι κατάληψιν· πῶς φατε μὴ εἶναι κατάληψιν ὡς κατειληφότες ἢ ὡς μὴ κατειληφότες; καὶ εἰ μὲν ὡς καταλαβόντες, δῆλον ὅτι ἔστι κατάληψις, ἐπειδὴ κατελάβετε· εἰ δὲ ὡς μὴ κατειληφότες, τίς ὑμῖν πιστεύσει τοιαῦτα λέγουσιν, ἃ μὴ κατελάβετε μηδὲ ἐπίστασθε; I cite the English translation by Gertz 2018.

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Even if our enquiry into the existence of philosophy was a digression, we have demonstrated that the arguments of those people who try to deny its existence are weak, using the truth as our ally. For these people who lead lives of contention (they are the Pyrrhonists, who try to overturn everything), wanted to overturn the mother of proofs, I mean philosophy, using proofs, and, so to speak, overturn philosophy using philosophy. This is what Plato replies to these people, who say that there is no knowledge: “Do you say that knowledge does not exist inasmuch as you know [that it does not exist], or inasmuch as you don’t know? If you know, it is clear that knowledge exists, since you know [that it does not exist]. But if you don’t know, who will believe you when you are making statements that you neither know nor understand?”8 In the Greek version of David’s Prolegomena the identification of the opponents of philosophy as the Pyrrhonists hinges on this one single mention.9 And according to Sextus Empiricus’ Pyrrhonian Outlines (Pyrrōneiōn Ypotypōseōn) the claim that something is unknowable—and the assertion implicit in the above denial of the existence of philosophy is that it cannot be known, as we shall see below in the discussion of the four arguments preceding this final counter-argument—conforms rather with Academic than with Sceptic philosophy.10 Interestingly, the Armenian version of these same Davidian Prolegomena to Philosophy puts Pyrrho himself right into the title which reads “Definitions and Divisions of Philosophy by the Thrice-Great and Invincible Philoso-

8 9 10

The Platonic refutation is already found in Ammonius (CAG IV.IV, 2,11–17; trans. Cohen, Matthews, 10), Philoponus (CAG XIII.I, 2,20–24; trans. Sirkel, Tweedale, Harris, 40), Olympiodorus (4,5–9; trans. Gertz 2018, 198) and Elias (CAG XVIII.I, 109,31–110.3) when discussing the philosophical school of the Sceptics in their Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy. Michael Chase (Simplicius 2014, 98, n. 44) suggests that the ascription of the refutation of Ephectic views to Plato may be explained by the fact that in the Commentators’ period the view “that Plato himself had held Ephectic views” was still current. Trans. Gertz 2018, 90–91. Philoponus mentions Pyrrho as the head of the Sceptic or Ephectic school (CAG XIII.I, 2.8). Sextus (HP I, 1–3) characterises the three possible results of philosophical investigation as “either a discovery, or a denial of discovery and a confession of inapprehensibility, or else a continuation of the investigation. … Those who are called Dogmatists in the proper sense of the word think that they have discovered the truth—for example, the schools of Aristotle and Epicurus and the Stoics, and some others. The schools of Clitomachus and Carneades, and other Academics, have asserted that things cannot be apprehended. […] And the Sceptics are still investigating” (trans. Annas and Barnes 2000, 3). On the passage, see Barnes 2007, 322–334.

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pher David, in Opposition to the Four Propositions of the Sophist Pyrrho”.11 However, the only other mention of Pyrrho, or rather his followers in the text occurs in the very same passage as it does in the Greek, i.e. after having dealt with the four arguments against the existence of philosophy and before tackling the question of what philosophy is.12 Nevertheless, by using the phrase “in Opposition to the Four Propositions of the Sophist Pyrrho” in its title, the Armenian version implicitly ascribes the following four arguments against the existence of philosophy to Pyrrho: – Philosophy is the knowledge of being; being is a homonym, homonyms are indefinable and therefore unknowable; so philosophy is unknowable13 – Philosophy is the knowledge of existing things; existing things are always changing, thus indefinable and thus unknowable; so philosophy is unknowable14 Or in an alternative formulation: Knowledge occurs through conformity between the knower (i.e. the soul) and the knowable (i.e. the ever changing object), but soul does not change along with the knowable; so there is no knowledge or philosophy15 – Philosophy is divided into theoretical and practical philosophy, and theoretical philosophy into mathematics, natural science and theology; mathematics is a preparatory exercise and no philosophy, natural science does not exist due to the ever changing nature of its objects, theology is unknowable due to its object being imperceptible and thus unknowable; so neither the parts of philosophy nor philosophy as such exist16 11

12

13 14 15 16

See the Armenian edition and English translation in Kendall and Thomas 1983, 3. Cf. the title of the Greek version which reads ‘Introduction to Philosophy, Taken from the Lectures of David, the Most God-loving and Godly Philosopher’ (trans. Gertz 2018, 83), i.e. ΤΑ ΠΡΟΛΕΓΟΜΕΝΑ ΤΗΣ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΙΑΣ ΑΠΟ ΦΩΝΗΣ ΔΑΒΙΔ ΤΟΥ ΘΕΟΦΙΛΕΣΤΑΤΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΘΕΟΦΡΟΝΟΣ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΟΥ (CAG XVIII.II, 1). On the relation between David’s Greek and Armenian versions, see Calzolari 2009, 39–65. For the astonishing appellation of David as Thrice-Great and Invincible, see Arevšatyan 1996, 1–5. The Armenian passage (ed. and trans. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 20–21) is similar to the Greek one quoted above. The second mention of Pyrrho occurs at the end of the Armenian version when the title of the treatise, which has now come to an end, is repeated (ed. and trans. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 158–159). See CAG XVIII.II, 3.1–5, and trans. Gertz 2018, 85; and ed. and trans. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 6–7. See CAG XVIII.II, 3.32–4.21, and trans. Gertz 2018, 86; and ed. and trans. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 10–13. This is the argument that Ammonius, Philoponus and Olympiodorus cite when presenting the Sceptic school in their Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy (see above). See CAG XVIII.II, 5.1–17, and trans. Gertz 2018, 87; and ed. and trans. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 12–15.

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– If philosophy is not knowledge, it can be neither craft nor science, because they are knowledge of their subject matter; if philosophy is particular knowledge, it is worse than the other crafts and cannot be “the craft of the crafts”; if philosophy is universal knowledge, it cannot exist, because universals do not exist17 It is striking that these arguments make use of the methods described in the Prolegomena, namely defining and dividing. The first two arguments conclude that something undefinable is unknowable, and the third argument accepts the division of philosophy into the parts proposed by the Neoplatonists. As for Pyrrho, one would rather expect that he adhered to a division into logic, physics and ethics.18 The first, second and fourth arguments further use definitions of philosophy proposed in the Prolegomena later on. All this gives the impression that these arguments, partly already discussed in Plato and Aristotle, have been developed within the framework of teaching the contents of the Prolegomena, only to be easily refuted by the teacher.19 The implicit ascription to Pyrrho in the Armenian tradition is thus clearly not historical in any way.20 A higher claim to historicity seems to be had by the Arabic tradition which ascribes some arguments against the value of definition to Pyrrho and, most interestingly, to Sextus. The combination of these two names brings Sextus Empiricus’ Pyrrhonian Outlines to mind, and one may indeed detect some parallels between these Arabic passages and Sextus’ treatise.

17 18 19

20

See CAG XVIII.II, 6.23–7.10, and trans. Gertz 2018, 88–89; and ed. and trans. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 16–17. This is the division accepted by Sextus in his Against the Logicians (i.e. Against the Mathematicians [= M] bk 7, section 20); see trans. Bett 2005, 6. Wildberg (1990, 39–40) suggests that in his Prolegomena to Philosophy, David “seems to proselytize” for philosophy and “to make deliberate use of a terminology which runs barely short of being Christian”. He continues: “Curiously, David devotes lectures two and three to a long-winded refutation of those who wish that philosophy cease to exist. … There is no precedent for this debate in either Ammonius or Elias. The arguments, which are altogether bad arguments, though perhaps not obviously so, David attributes, surprisingly, to Pyrrhonic sceptics (8.25), not to hostile Christians, as one might have expected. But there were no Pyrrhonic sceptics at that time against whom David had to defend Platonic positions. Did he think up ‘strong’ Pyrrhonist arguments in order that he might, by refuting them, at the same time confound any Christian attempt to abolish philosophy?” On the historical Pyrrho, see Pérez 2012, 1749–1771.

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The Prolegomena to Philosophy in the Arabic Tradition

The first and only known complete Arabic version of Prolegomena to Philosophy survives in the commentary to the Isagoge (Tafsīr Kitāb Īsāġūǧī li-Furfūriyūs) by the East Syriac physician, philosopher and theologian Ibn al-Ṭayyib (d. 1043), dating to the early eleventh century. There is, however, bibliographical evidence that many of Ibn al-Ṭayyib’s predecessors did also comment on the Isagoge, and they may thus have also composed Prolegomena.21 One very likely candidate for having done so is the well-known East Syriac physician and Arabic translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (808–873) who is credited with the authorship of the following, now unfortunately lost treatise: Questions preceding Porphyry’s Book known as the Introduction and what must be read before Porphyry’s Book (Masāʾil muqaddama li-kitāb Furfūriyūs al-maʿrūf bi-l-mudḫal wa-yanbaġī an yuqraʾ qabla kitāb Furfūriyūs).22 This sounds remarkably like a description of the Prolegomena to Philosophy. One of Ḥunayn’s earlier contemporaries, the East Syriac metropolitan of Mosul, ʿAbd Īšūʿ ibn Bahrīz composed a Book on the Definitions of Logic (Kitāb Ḥudūd al-manṭiq) which he dedicated to the caliph al-Maʾmūn (reg. 813–833). At the beginning of his treatise Ibn Bahrīz refers to the material on which he relied for compiling it, namely Aristotle’s Categories, Porphyry’s Isagoge and the books of the commentators on those. A perusal of the Book on the Definitions of Logic confirms Ibn Bahrīz’s claim. A substantial part of the material he presents can be traced back to the Prolegomena of Philosophy in either the Greek or the Syriac tradition. And it was probably the latter tradition of which the metropolitan made use for his compilation.23 As already indicated in the title, definition plays an important role in Ibn Bahrīz’s treatise which he starts discussing (1) the division of division, (2) the division of definition, (3) the basis of a definition, (4) the unsoundness of a definition, and (5) the abolishment of knowledge by Pyrrho and Sextus. The last passage shall be quoted in full, and as Ibn Bahrīz’s compilation survives in two different recensions, both of them are presented in parallel columns:24 21 22 23 24

On the Arabic commentators, see Hein 1980, 47–56. See the bio-bibliography of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿā 1882–1884, I, 200. See Wakelnig 2019, 167. M.T. Dānešpažūh’s edition of Ibn Bahrīz’s Book on the Definitions of Logic in al-Manṭiq liIbn al-Muqaffaʿ. Ḥudūd al-manṭiq li-Ibn Bahrīz (1978, 97–126) presents the version of the Istanbul manuscript in the main text of his edition on p. 106, and the version of the Damascus manuscript, which he reproduces in the original diagrammatic form, in a footnote on p. 107. I am currently preparing a new edition and English translation of the text. The text of Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (ed. Dānešpažūh 1978, 1–2, passages 3–4) contains a similar account and refutation of those trying to invalidate definition and thereby knowledge, yet without any indication of who they may be.

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Damascus, MS Ẓāhirīya 4871, fol. 130a14–1525

Istanbul, MS Ragıp Paşa 1463, fol. 51a5–726

Already Pyrrho and Sextus have said about the abolishment of knowledge that if one always only knows everything by its definition, then the definition needs to be known by another definition and this one by another one and so on until the infinite. The infinite is absolutely not perceptible, so there is then absolutely no knowledge.

Pyrrho’s statement about the abolishment of knowledge: If one always only knows everything by its definition, then the definition needs to be known by its definition. It belongs to that which is infinite, and the infinite is not perceptible. So there is then absolutely no knowledge.

The attributions to Pyrrho in the Istanbul manuscript and to Pyrrho and Sextus in the Damascus manuscript are unambiguous. Although the Arabic transliterations of the Greek names are slightly garbled, there remain enough indications to reconstruct the probably original forms “Fūrun” and “Sāqsṭūs”.27 The argument presented in their names shows that the assertion that everything is known by definition results in an infinite regress and concludes with the epistemological claim that the infinite is imperceptible. A possible ultimate source which could also account for the double ascription is the following passage in Sextus’ Pyrrhonian Outlines (II, 207 and 210):28 25

The Arabic text reads:

‫وقد قال فورن ]فع َو ْري ص[ وساقسطوس ]وسافسطوس ص[ في إ بطال العلم إن ّه إن كان إن ّما يعرف‬ ‫ل شيء بالحّد فالحّد إذا محتاجا ًإلى أن يعرف بحّد آخر وهذا بآخر وذلك إلى ما لا نهاية له وما لا‬ ّ ‫ك‬ .‫نهاية له لا يدرك البت ّة فليس إذا علم البت ّة‬ 26

The Arabic text reads:

‫ل شيء بالحّد فالحّد يحتاج إلى أن يعرف بالحّد وهو لما‬ ّ ‫قول فورن في إ بطال العلم إن كان إن ّما يعرف ك‬ 27

28

.‫ما لا نهاية ⟩له⟨ وما لا نهاية له لا يدرك فليس إذا علم بت ّة‬ The transliteration reads Sāfsṭūs. This can easily be emended to Sāqsṭūs, namely without changing the outline of the Arabic word, i.e. its rasm, only by adding one further dot over the “f” (‫ )ف‬to change it into “q” (‫)ق‬. However, it has to be said that the usual transliteration of Greek “x” (ξ) in Arabic is not “qs” but “ks” (‫)كس‬. Yet, there is at least one, although nowadays badly corrupted transliteration of the name of the Greek philosopher Xenophanes which must originally have read ʾq⟨sinu⟩fānīs. See Bos and Langermann 2015, 65.17. The problem of how the transliteration Sāqsṭūs would have been pronounced in Arabic, which does not allow for the pronunciation of three consecutive consonants, need not concern us here. The Greek reads (ed. Mutschmann 1912, I, 117): καὶ γὰρ ἐπεὶ πάντα μὲν ὁρίζεσθαι θέλοντες καθάπαξ οὐδὲν ὁρισόμεθα διὰ τὴν ⟨εἰς⟩ ἄπειρον

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Again, if we want to define everything we shall define absolutely nothing because of the infinite regress, … But perhaps definitions are actually undecidable because of the infinity of the particulars on the basis of which they ought to be decided.29 Even if this has indeed been the ultimate source of the material in the Book on the Definitions of Logic, it would not have been the only one. For Ibn Bahrīz’s passage is an amalgamation of two issues which are treated separately in the Greek tradition, namely the denying of the existence of knowledge or philosophy and the refutation of the value of definition. This becomes particularly clear in Ibn Bahrīz’s counter-arguments against Pyrrho and Sextus:

Damascus, MS Ẓāhirīya 4871, fol. 130a16–2130

Istanbul, MS Ragıp Paşa 1463, fol. 51a7–1131

The reply to that is in three ways

The reply is in two ways

One of them: It is said to them: do you say that there is no knowledge out of knowledge or ignorance? If you say “out of knowledge”, you have affirmed the knowledge which you deny; and if you say “out of ignorance”, then your statement will not be accepted, since it is out of ignorance according to yourself.

It is said to them: do you say that there is no knowledge out of knowledge or ignorance? If you say “out of knowledge”, you have affirmed the knowledge which you deny; and if you say “out of ignorance”, then your statement will not be not accepted, if you are ignorant according to yourself.

29 30

ἔκπτωσιν, … τάχα δὲ καὶ ἀνεπίκριτοί εἰσιν οἱ ὅροι διὰ τὴν ἀπειρίαν τῶν κατὰ μέρος, ἐξ ὧν ἐπικρίνεσθαι ὀφείλουσιν· Trans. Annas and Barnes 2000, 124. The Arabic reads: :‫والجواب في ذلك على ثلثة أوجه‬

‫أحدها ـ ان يقال لهم أبعلم قلتم إن ّه لا علم أم بجهل فإن قلتم بعلم فقد أقررتم بما أنكرتم من العلم وإن‬ ‫قلتم بجهل لم يقبل قولـكم إذ كان على جهل منكم‬ ‫ل‬ ّ ‫والثاني ـ ان الحّد ضر بان اسم وتفسير فإن ّما تحّد وتفس ّر ]وتفسير ص[ اسم الحّد لا تفسيره فك‬ ‫اسم محتاج إلى تفسير فأمّا للتفسير فليس يلزمنا له تفسير لأن ّه بي ّن واضح‬ ‫والثالث ـ ان للحدود والتفسير رؤوس وأوائل مستغنية عن التفسير فقد اجمعت عليها العامّة كحرارة‬ ‫النار ونور الشمس فإذا انتهينا إليها استدللنا بها على غيرها ولم نحتج إلى الاستدلال بغيرها‬ 31

The Arabic reads:

‫الجواب على وجهين يقال لهم أبعلم قلتم إن ّه لا علم أم بجهل فإن قلتم بعلم فقد أقررتم بما أنكرتم من‬ ‫والثاني ان الحّد ضر بان اسم وتفسير وإن ّما‬.‫العلم وإن قلتم بجهل لم يقبل قولـكم إن كنتم على جهالة منكم‬

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Damascus, MS Ẓāhirīya 4871, fol. 130a16–21

Istanbul, MS Ragıp Paşa 1463, fol. 51a7–11

The second: Definition is of two sorts: term and explanation. You only define and explain [MS: explanation] the term “definition”, not its explanation. Every term needs an explanation. As for the explanation, we need not have an explanation for it, for it is clear and obvious.

The second: Definition is of two sorts: term and explanation. Only the term “definition” is defined and explained [MS: divided], not its explanation. Every ⟨term⟩ needs an explanation [MS: a division]. As for the explanation, we need not have an explanation for it, for it is clear and obvious.

The third: Definitions and explanations have principles and fundamentals which do not need an explanation. People at large agree on them, like the heat of fire and the light of the sun. When we eventually get to them, we conclude other things from them, but we need no conclusion from things other than them.

The first refutation of Pyrrho’s and Sextus’ argument is exactly the one which is found in David’s Greek and Armenian Prolegomena.32 There it is attributed to Plato who is said to have refuted the Pyrrhonists by it. The second counterargument is based on distinguishing a definition which is only a term or a name from a definition called an explanation. As Ibn Bahrīz nowhere else employs these two kinds of definition, it is difficult to make sense of the argument. It may be related to the following anonymous quotation in David’s Prolegomena:

‫ل ⟩اسم⟨ يحتاج إلى تفسير ]تقسيم ص[ فأمّا التفسير‬ ّ ‫يحّد و يفس ّر ]و يقسم ص[ اسم الحّد لا تفسيره وك‬ ‫فليس يلزمنا له تفسير لأن ّه بي ّن واضح هـ‬ 32

Yury Arzhanov has kindly informed me about the existence of a similar passage in a Syriac scholion to the orations of Gregory of Nazianzus which he has published in Arzkhanov 2019. This attests to the wide diffusion of such Prolegomena material in Syriac as well.

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“a name, they say, is a compact definition, i.e. [compact] by giving a general view, or [rather], through conciseness, while a definition is a name that has been unfolded” (trans. Gertz 2018, 94).33 Yet, David then denies that names or terms are definitions, and Ibn Bahrīz does not suggest anything like that elsewhere. The third counter-argument which is only preserved in the Damascus recension of the Book on the Definitions of Logic proposes an avoidance of the infinite regress insofar as it postulates primary principles in no need of definition. However, as it is not said what these principles may be and as there is no parallel in David’s Prolegomena, this counter-argument remains somewhat enigmatic. Ibn al-Bahrīz is, however, not the only Arabic author who preserves arguments against definition attributed to Pyrrho and Sextus and, in this form, unknown to the surviving Greek tradition. A Tehran manuscript preserves an interesting compilation, unfortunately without beginning or end, therefore without any indication of either title or author, in which Prolegomena material is presented together with maxims of ethical character in an astonishing mix.34 From the Prolegomena to Philosophy, for example,35 the anonymous compiler has derived sections dealing with several definitions of philosophy, the question of whether logic is an instrument or a part of philosophy, and the following discussion about definition, which starts with another argument attributed to Pyrrho and Sextus:36 Sextus and Pyrrho say that the genera and the manifest essential properties are in thought and their reality is not perceptible. For every defini-

33

34

35

36

The Greek reads (CAG XVIII.II, 12.1–2): ὄνομα μὲν γάρ, φάσιν, ἐστὶν ὅρος συνεσταλμένος, τοῦτ’ ἔστι κατὰ σύνοψιν ἤγουν ἐν συντόμῳ, ὅρος δέ ἐστιν ὄνομα ἐξηπλωμένον. For the Armenian, see Kendall and Thomson 1983, 28–29. The compilation in question is one of three separate treatises contained in MS Ketābḫāneye Markazī-ye Dānešgāh 2103. The first treatise is a short text, probably added at a later stage to the then still largely empty first page. The second treatise presents the opinions of Ancient Greek philosophers on one of the main Islamic tenets, namely the tawḥīd, the Oneness of God. For an edition, translation and study of this treatise, see Wakelnig 2015, 223–245. There is further an account of the philosophical schools stemming from some version of the Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy, and several definitions of medicine from some Prolegomena to Medicine, preceding Late Antique commentaries to Galen’s On Sects for Beginners. The Arabic reads (Tehran, MS Ketābḫāne-ye Markazī-ye Dānešgāh 2103, 25): ‫ن الأجناس والأعراض اللائحة في الفكر غير مدرك حقيقتها‬ ّ ‫وقال ]ا[سقـ]ـطـ[ـسطوس وفورن إ‬

‫ححه فالحّد الصحيح غير مدرك‬ ّ ‫ل حّد يستخرج بالفكر يحتاج إلى حّد يص‬ ّ ‫نك‬ ّ ‫لأ‬

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tion, which is brought out by thought, needs a definition which renders it sound. But then the definition which renders (the other definition) sound is not perceptible. The idea of the argument is clearly to undermine the assertion, for example made by David in the Prolegomena, namely that “definitions are usually constructed from the genus and the constitutive differentiae” (trans. Gertz 2018, 93).37 The Arabic formulation of the equivalent to “constitutive differentiae” is quite surprising, i.e. “manifest essential properties” (al-aʿrād al-lāʾiḥa), but I take this to refer to the essential property by which one species differs from another. The argument sets out to claim that genus and specific difference are only in thought, thus imperceptible and, so the implicit assumption, unknowable. If every definition is, however, based on genus and specific difference, then no definition is perceptible, and no definition can render another one sound. No such argument is found in the section on definition in the Pyrrhonian Outlines. However, in the following sections on division and its different kinds, in which Sextus argues against the epistemological value of the division, an argument along similar lines occurs. It reads (II, 213 and 219):38 Since some of the Dogmatists say that logic is a science of deduction, induction, definition and division, and we have already discussed deduction and induction and definitions (after our arguments about standards and signs and proofs), we think it not out of place briefly to discussion division too. Now they say that divisions are made in four ways: either a word is divided into significations, or a whole is divided into parts, or a genus into species, or a species into individuals.39 … If they say that genera and species are conceptions, then the assaults made on the ruling part

37

38

39

The Greek reads (CAG XVIII.II, 11.18–19): … οἱ ὅροι εἰώθασιν ἀπὸ γένους καὶ συστατικῶν διαφορῶν λαμβάνεσθαι, … For the Armenian and its translation, see ed. and tr. Kendall and Thomas 1983, 26–27. The Greek reads (ed. Mutschmann, I, 118 and 120): Ἐπεὶ δέ τινες τῶν δογματικῶν τὴν διαλεκτικὴν εἶναί φασιν ἐπιστήμην συλλογιστικὴν ἐπαγωγικὴν ὁριστικὴν ⟨διαιρετικήν⟩, διελέχθημεν δὲ ἡμεῖς ἤδη, μετὰ τοὺς περὶ τοῦ κριτηρίου καὶ τοῦ σημείου καὶ τῆς ἀποδείξεως λόγους, περί τε συλλογισμῶν καὶ ἐπαγωγῆς καὶ περὶ ὅρων, οὐκ ἄτοπον ἡγούμεθα εἶναι καὶ περὶ διαιρέσεως βραχέα διαλαβεῖν. γίνεσθαι τοίνυν τὴν διαίρεσίν φασι τετραχῶς· ἢ γὰρ ὄνομα εἰς σημαινόμενα διαιρεῖσθαι ἢ ὅλον εἰς μέρη ἢ γένος εἰς εἴδη ἢ εἶδος εἰς τὰ καθ’ ἕκαστον. … εἰ μὲν ἐννοήματα εἶναι τὰ γένη καὶ τὰ εἴδη λέγουσιν, αἱ κατὰ τοῦ ἡγεμονικοῦ καὶ τῆς φαντασίας ἐπιχειρήσεις αὐτοὺς διατρέπουσιν· It seems worth noting that among the seven kinds of division presented by Ibn Bahrīz, the same four occur.

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and on appearances overthrow them;40 and if they allow them a subsistence of their own, what will they say to the following argument? …41 Although in this passage only genus and species are discussed, the specific difference is probably included in this discussion. Whereas in the Greek, Sextus denies both options, namely that genera and species are conceptions as well as that they are self-subsistent, the Arabic accepts the first option for the sake of the ensuing argument. If we thus allow for the hypothesis that the ultimate source of the Arabic passage is, once again, Sextus’ Pyrrhonian Outlines, there are at least two possible ways to account for the divergence of the former from the latter. Either we assume that Sextus compiled a longer list of arguments against definition no longer extant in the Greek tradition, or the Prolegomena to Philosophy at some point contained also some of Sextus’ arguments against division. This does not seem unlikely, given that the Prolegomena accord equal importance to definition and division. So, if a set of arguments against definition was included and refuted, we may well assume that a set of arguments against division had equally been included and refuted. During the transmission of the Prolegomena these two sets of arguments then became fused as we have seen above in Ibn Bahrīz’s treatise with regard to the arguments refuting knowledge and definition. The other alternative would suggest that Sextus himself provided further arguments against definition construed along the lines of his refutation of division. These arguments would then have entered the Prolegomena where they were presented with appropriate counter-arguments. The Arabic text of the Tehran manuscript does, indeed, provide two counterarguments, the first presented anonymously, the second ascribed to Plato:42

40

41 42

Annas and Barnes make a cross-reference to II, 70–71, where one reads (p. 85): “But even if appearances could be conceived of, they will be inapprehensible; for since they are feelings of the ruling part, and the ruling part, as we have shown, … is not apprehended, we shall not apprehend its feelings either”. Trans. Annas and Barnes 2000, 126–127. The Arabic reads (Tehran, MS Ketābḫāne-ye Markazī-ye Dānešgāh 2103, 25–26):

‫ن‬ ّ ‫ن الحّد استخرج من حدود الأرضين لأ‬ ّ ‫ل ما عرف عرف بحّد لأ‬ ّ ‫فردّ عليه هذا وقيل له ليس ك‬ ‫الأوائل لم ّا كرهوا الظلم وضعوا الحدود في الأرضين ليلا يدخل في الشيء ما ليس | فيه ولا يخرج عنه‬ ‫ وردّ افلاطون هذا‬.‫ما هو منه فسلـكت الفلاسفة هذه الطر يقة في الأشياء التي تقع تحت الحدود‬ ‫ل واحد من‬ ّ ‫نك‬ ّ ‫ن فليس يحتاج الثاني إلى ثالث اضطرارا ًلأ‬ ٍ ‫أيضا بً قول آخر فقال الحّد إذا صح ّ فحّد ثا‬ ‫ل واحد منهما حّد لصاحبه‬ ّ ‫الأّول والثاني يحّد صاحبهكما يحّد المكيال المكي ّل والأوزان الموزون فان ك‬ ‫ححه و يبرهن عليه‬ ّ ‫يص‬

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This is replied against and said to them:43 Not everything which is known is known by a definition. For “definition” derives from the defining boundaries of lands. For since the Ancients hated the wrong, they placed the defining boundaries on the lands so that nothing which is not in it may enter it and nothing which belongs to it may not be included in it.44 The philosophers have followed this way with regard to things which fall under definitions. Plato also refutes this with another statement and says: If the definition is sound, then there is a second definition. The second is not necessarily in need of a third, for each of the first and the second define each other, like the measure and the measured and the weights and the weighed. So each one of them is a definition for the other rendering it sound and proving it. The first counterargument recalls the third counterargument against the infinite regress with regard to definition in Ibn Bahrīz’s Book on the Definition of Logic, according to which definitions are based on unchallengeable principles. These principles are here compared to the boundaries set up on land to mark off one’s property from the one of one’s neighbour. As for the second counterargument the closest parallel I have found occurs in Ibn al-Ṭayyib’s Prolegomena to Philosophy as a counterargument against the infinite regress of defining and reads:45 Here occurs a doubt of the following form. To say that the definition has a definition necessitates going on to infinity. This is because when I define the definition, I must define it by some definition which in its turn must be defined, and so on. People have solved this doubt by saying that our defining the definition does not involve going on to infinity, but (that) we determine the second definition by the first and the first by the second.46 43

44 45

Lit. him, which makes one wonder whether at some point in the textual transmission the argument was presented as Pyrrho’s alone, but cited according to Sextus’ presentation of it. Cf. the very similar account of the origin of definition in David (CAG XVIII.II, 15.13–15; trans. Gertz 2018, 97) and in Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (ed. Dānešpažūh 1978, 1, passage 2). The Arabic reads (ed. Gyekye 1986, 13–14): .‫ن الحّد له حّد يلزم منه المضي إلى ما لا نهاية‬ ّ ‫ ان القول بأ‬.‫ك صورته هذه الصورة‬ ّ ‫وقد يطرأ على هذا ش‬

‫ل‬ ّ ‫ وقد ح‬.‫وذلك أن ّي إذا حددت الحّد فينبغي أن أحّده بحّد ما وذلك الحّد ينبغي أن يحّد على هذا‬ ‫ك بأن قالوا ليس يلزم المضي إلى ما لا نهاية من حّدنا للحّد لكن ّا نعر ّف | بالحّد الأّول الحّد‬ ّ ‫قوم هذا الش‬

46

For the English translation, see Dunlop 1951, 76–94. Trans. Dunlop 1951, 82.

.‫الثاني و بالحّد الثاني الحّد الأّول‬

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What is most surprising is, however, that the compilation in the Tehran manuscript and Ibn al-Ṭayyib continue with the same material of which they make, however, different use. The Tehran manuscript presents the following counter-counter-argument and lets the reader believe that it is once again Pyrrho and Sextus who claim the following:47 To defeat this, they argue by saying: Among the two (definitions) there is nothing whose soundness is known so one of them may attest to the soundness of the definition due to the other. For they are both altogether unknown, and an unknown does not become known by the unknown. That is as if someone said: “Which city does Rome resemble?” And it is said to him: “It resembles Alexandria”, but Alexandria is also unknown to him. Then each of them is like the other with regard to description and both of them are altogether unknown. Ibn al-Ṭayyib, in contrast, wants to anticipate exactly this counter-argument and to show that it need not necessarily follow:48 This does not necessitate their employing empty words and explanation of the unknown by the unknown and being like someone to whom it is said, “What is the distance between the city of Alexandria and Rome?”, and he replies, “The same as between Rome and Alexandria”, and when the question is again put, “How far is it between Rome and Alexandria?” he replies, “As far as between Alexandria and Rome”. This man in his reply makes nothing clear, but indicates the unknown by the unknown. The correct reply is as follows. … 49

47

The Arabic reads (Tehran, MS Ketābḫāne-ye Markazī-ye Dānešgāh 2103, 26): ‫ ليس؟⟨ ما في هذين من عرف صحتّ ه فيشهد أحدهما لصاحبه‬+⟩ ‫جوا في كسر هذا بأن قالوا‬ ّ ‫فاحت‬

‫ي بلد‬ ّ ‫بصح ّة الحّد لأّنهما جميعا ًمجهولان والمجهول لا يتعرف منه مجهول وذلك لو إ‬ ّ ‫ن قائلا ًقال مثل أ‬ ‫ل واحد منهما مثل‬ ّ ‫تكون الروم فقيل له مثل الاسكندر ي ّة والاسكندر ي ّة أيضا ًمجهولة عنده لكان ك‬ .[‫صاحبه في الصفة وكانتا جميعا ًمجهولتين ]مجهولتان ص‬ 48

The Arabic reads (ed. Gyekye, 14):

‫وهو لا يلزم أن يكونوا مستعملين للنقد وتبي ّن المجهول بالمجهول و يكونوا بمنزلة من قيل لهكم المدى‬ ‫ن بينهما كمثل ما بين رومي ّة والاسكندر ي ّة ولما اعتد عن‬ ّ ‫من مدينة الاسكندر ي ّة ورومي ّة فأجاب بأ‬ ‫ فهذا‬.‫ن بينهما مثل ما بين الاسكندر ي ّة ورومي ّة‬ ّ ‫السؤال بملغ المدى بين رومي ّة والاسكندر ي ّة أجاب بأ‬ 49

… ‫ والجواب الصحيح يجري على هذا‬.‫ل على المجهول بالمجهول‬ ّ ‫المجيب لم يوضع شيئا ًولـكنه د‬ Trans. Dunlop 1951, 82.

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The parallelism between the Tehran manuscript and Ibn al-Ṭayyib’s Prolegomena to Philosophy confirms that the material in the former must also derive from some Prolegomena. It further seems that the Tehran manuscript has kept the more original version, for the comparison between two unknown cities makes more sense in the context of definition than the unknown distance between two places which may rather be used to illustrate questions of relation and relatives. The two subsequent passages of the Tehran manuscript have no parallels in the known Prolegomena to Philosophy. As the final reference to the “Sophists” may refer back to Pyrrho and Sextus,50 I quote them nevertheless for the sake of completeness:51 Some of them say: there is discourse whose truth is necessarily known by the intellect, there is discourse whose meaning is necessarily indicated, and there is discourse which is convention with regard to knowing the thing. They say: to the necessary belong the knowledge of the things which are generated ⟨[add:] through that by which they are generated [?]⟩ and of those which are not generated through that by which they are notgenerated, and (the knowledge) of the existing things through that by which they exist and (the knowledge of the things) inexistent through that by which they are inexistent; to convention belongs the knowledge of the things, which (themselves) fall under convention and whose knowledge falls under convention by their description being conventional. These are the sophists who have been mentioned before. The insistence on speech being a mere convention fits well with Sextus’ attitude.52

50 51

The Armenian title of David’s Prolegomena, for example, mentions “the Sophist Pyrrho”. The Arabic reads (Tehran, MS Ketābḫāne-ye Markazī-ye Dānešgāh 2103, 26–27):

‫ل على معناه ضرورة ومنه‬ ّ ‫ن من الكلام ما يعرف حقيقته ضرورة في العقل ومنه ما يد‬ ّ ‫وقال قوم منهم إ‬ ‫ وقالوا من الضرورات معرفة الأشياء الكائنة والأشياء التي ليست كائنة‬.‫اصطلاح على معرفة الشيء‬ ‫بما ليست بهكائنة والأشياء الموجودة بما هي به | موجودة والتي ليست موجودة بما ليست به موجودة‬ ‫ومن الاصطلاحات معرفة الأشياء التي وقع الاصطلاح عليها وعلى معرفتها به بما هي مصطلح على‬ .‫وصفها به وهولاء هم السوفسطائية ]السوفسطانية ص[ المقدم ذكرهم‬ 52

See, for example, Spinelli 1991, 62–64.

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Pyrrho and Sextus in Arabic

We have now surveyed the Arabic material on Pyrrho and Sextus which is contained independently in two texts deriving, at least partly, from the Prolegomena tradition, namely in Ibn Bahrīz’s Book on the Definitions of Logic and in an anonymous untitled and defective philosophical compilation preserved in a Tehran manuscript. Unlike the four arguments attributed to Pyrrho in the Armenian version of David’s Prolegomena, the Arabic material fits well with the doctrines presented in Sextus’ Pyrrhonian Outlines. Thus the assumption suggests itself that at some point arguments authored by Sextus have found their way into some Prolegomena of Philosophy. One may well imagine that a teacher or an author of Prolegomena to Philosophy was concerned with the very close resemblance between what the Prolegomena set out to do, namely establishing definition and division as basic tools of philosophy, and the criticism of exactly these same tools in Sextus Empiricus’Pyrrhonian Outlines. For in his section on definitions (II, 205–212), Sextus refutes the following claims of the Dogmatists: that definitions are “indispensable either for apprehension or for teaching”. His consequent presentation of what Dogmatists consider as an unsound definition is very close to the affirmative discussion of unsound definitions in, for example, Ibn Bahrīz. Let us have a look at the two texts. There is first Sextus’ presentation of the Dogmatist view which he will then refute (II, 209–210):53 [The Dogmatists] say that unsound definitions are those which include something which does not belong to all or some of the definienda. That is why, when someone says that a human is an immortal rational or a literate mortal rational animal—in the one case no humans being immortal, in the other some not being literate—they say that the definition is unsound.54 And there is almost the same explanation of unsound definition, yet in the affirmative in the Book on the Definitions of Logic:55

53

54 55

The Greek reads (ed. Mutschmann, I, 117): καί φασι μοχθηροὺς ὅρους εἶναι τοὺς περιέχοντάς τι τῶν μὴ προσόντων τοῖς ὁριστοῖς, ἤτοι πᾶσιν ἢ τισίν. διόπερ ὅταν εἴπῃ τις τὸν ἄνθρωπον εἶναι ζῷον λογικὸν ἀθάνατον ἢ ζῷον λογικὸν θνητὸν γραμματικόν, ὅπου μὲν μηδενὸς ὄντος ἀνθρώπου ἀθανάτου, ὅπου δὲ τινῶν μὴ γραμματικῶν ὄντων, φασὶ μοχθηρὸν εἶναι τὸν ὅρον. Trans. Annas and Barnes 2000, 124. An affirmative discussion of the unsoundness of definition, which is very close to Ibn Bahrīz’s formulation also occurs in David’s Prolegomena, see CAG XVIII.II, 16.5–12; trans.

pyrrho and sextus refuting philosophy

Damascus, MS Ẓāhirīya 4871, fol. 130a10–1356

327

Istanbul, MS Ragıp Paşa 1463, fol. 51a2–557

Depiction of the division of the unsoundness of definition58 The unsoundness of a definition is according to two ways:

The unsoundness of a definition brought about in two ways:

One of them is a surplus in (the definition), which is a lack in the defined [MS: definitions], like our statement: “man is a rational, mortal and writing [MS: was] living being”. For the surplus “writing” in it excludes everyone who does not write.

One of them is a surplus in (the definition), which is a lack in the defined, like our statement: “man is a rational, mortal and writing living being”. For it excludes everyone who does not write from mankind.

The other is a lack in (the definition), which is a surplus in the defined, like our statement: “man is a rational living being”. For the lack of the (term) “mortal” in (the definition), adds the angels and makes them enter (into the definition) together with mankind.

The other is a lack in (the definition), which is a surplus in the defined, like our statement: “man is a rational living being”. So the lack of the (term) “mortal” makes the angels (being part) of the entirety of mankind.

56

Gertz 2018, 98; ed. and tr. Kendall and Thomson 1983, 39. Interestingly, however, David does not speak of unsound definitions, but only of the reciprocal relation between words and things included in a definition—for example, too few words, too many things. The Arabic text reads (cf. Dānešpažūh’s edition 1978, 105): ‫ أحدهما الز يادة فيه التي هي نقصان من المحدود‬:‫ فساد الحّد يكون على وجهين‬:‫تصو ير تقسيم فساد الحّد‬

‫ن ز يادة الكاتب فيه نقصت‬ ّ ‫]الحدود ص[ كقولنا الإنسان حيّ ناطق مائت كاتب ]كانت ص[ فإ‬ ‫ن‬ ّ ‫ والآخر النقصان منه الذي هو ز يادة في المحدود كقولنا الإنسان حيّ ناطق فإ‬.‫ل من ليس بكاتب‬ ّ ‫ك‬ ‫نقصان المائت منه زاد الملـكي ّة وأدخلهم مع الإنس‬ 57

The Arabic text reads (cf. Dānešpažūh’s edition 1978, 102):

‫ أحدهما الز يادة فيه التي هي النقصان من المحدود كقولنا الإنسان حيّ ناطق‬:‫فساد الحّد من وجهين‬ ‫ والآخر النقصان منه الذي هو ز يادة في‬.‫ل من ليس بكاتب عن الإنسانية‬ ّ ‫مائت كاتب فإن ّه يخرج ك‬ ‫المحدود كقولنا الإنسان حيّ ناطق فنقصان المائت جعل الملائكة في جملة الإنس‬ 58

The Damascus manuscript presents the unsoundness in diagrammatic form.

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It is immediately after this discussion of the unsound definition, which so much resembles Sextus’ portrayal of the dogmatists’ view, that Ibn Bahrīz discusses and refutes Pyrrho’s and Sextus’ abolishment of knowledge and definition. These observations raise the interesting question whether scepticism had still played a more important role in Late Antiquity than normally assumed today and thus provoked a reaction of the Neoplatonic School whose traces found their way into the Arabic Prolegomena. The sceptical material in Ibn Bahrīz and the Tehran manuscript shows, at least, how information about and some fragments of Pyrrho’s and Sextus’ opinions have reached the ArabicIslamic world.59 The teaching which the Prolegomena reflect was also concerned with other philosophical schools, as may be gleaned from the division of the various philosophical schools at the beginning of the Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy. And, as we have seen, it is exactly there that an argument against the existence of philosophy is first presented.60 The Arabic reception of these Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy is slightly better documented than the one of the Prolegomena to Philosophy. The only Arabic version in the original context of a commentary to Aristotle’s Categories has, once again, survived in Ibn al-Ṭayyib’s commentary. However, there is also a short treatise attributed to the Muslim philosopher al-Fārābī (d. 951) which is entitled On What Should Precede the Study of Philosophy (Fī-mā yanbaġī an yuqaddama qabla taʿallum al-falsafa) and which has been characterised by Fritz Zimmermann as Prolegomena to Aristotle’s Philosophy, which “does not appear to derive from any of the known examples from sixth-century Alexandria”.61 Apart from these two complete versions of the Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy, a—for our discussion very interesting—fragment on the philosophical schools must be mentioned. It most probably ultimately derives from the Prolegomena, but is preserved in Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Rare Sayings of the Philosophers (Nawādir al-falāsifa), or rather in the only surviving later reworking of Ḥunayn’s compilation.62 This reworking are al-Anṣārī’s Learned Sayings of the Philosophers (Ādāb al-Falāsifa)

59 60 61 62

I also argue that some of Democritus’ and Epicurus’ atomist doctrines have reached the Arabic-Islamic world via the Prolegomena tradition, see Wakelnig 2019, 167–171. See above, 312. See Zimmermann 1981, xcix, n. 2 and 259. In the Arabic tradition Prolegomena material often resurfaces in compilations of sayings and anecdotes attributed to Greek philosophers and wise men, such as in the above discussed untitled text preserved in a Tehran manuscript. I am further inquiring this interesting link in my forthcoming article “Not Everything that Looks Like a Doxography is One”.

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which start with an explicit reference to Ḥunayn followed by a long passage on the different Ancient philosophical schools and how they got their names. Ḥunayn first lists schools whose names derive either from the opinions of their members or from their aims in philosophy. The first example given are the Sceptics, and Pyrrho and Sextus are mentioned by name:63 [Names of the schools which indicate the opinions of said schools]: The opinion either regards their (philosophical) theory, or it regards the intended aim of their theory. As for regarding their theory, it is the opinion of “those who refrain” [MS: “those who enjoy for a long time”]. They are the followers of Pyrrho and Sextus. They are called by that name because they protect themselves by [or: refrain from;64 MS: enjoy] wisdom and ⟨do not⟩ know it by anything. The reading and interpretation of this passage are problematic, but with regard to the main point which concerns us here, they are unambiguous, i.e. the names of Pyrrho and Sextus. The transliteration of the former as Fūrūq can easily be corrected to Fūrūn. The transliteration of Sextus is peculiar, as it is neither Arabic “ks” nor “qs” which are attested for transcribing the Greek “x”,65 but “ǧs”. Interestingly, however, a marginal note provides the alternative reading Sqṭs, originally probably Sqsṭs, which conforms well to the other Arabic transliterations we have seen so far which use “q” as well. There remains the problem as to whether the Sceptics are presented as either “enjoying (m-t-ʿV.) wisdom for long” and knowing it somehow, or as “refraining” (m-n-ʿV.) from it and not knowing anything. In the first case we interpret the passage in the light of the three philosophical attitudes presented by Sextus and according to which the 63

In Badawī’s edition (1985, 37), the Arabic reads: ‫ فرأي المتمن ّعين‬.‫ إمّا أن يكون في علمها وإمّا أن يكون في الغرض المقصود إليه في علمها‬:‫والرأي‬

‫ وإن ّما سم ّوا بهذا‬.[‫ سقطس‬:‫]المتمتعين ص[ وهم شيعة فورون ]فوروق ص[ وسجسطس ]في الهامش‬ 64

65

.‫الاسم لأّنهم تمن ّعوا ]تمتعوا ص[ بالحكمة و⟩ما⟨ عرفوها بشيء من الأشياء‬ I suspect that this is the reading Badawī had in mind, given note 1, where he states that the Sceptics refrain from having opinions and doubt the human capacity to know, and given that he added a negation in the following phrase. It would then, however, have been more consistent to change the preposition bi- to ʿan. For as the text stands now, it says that they defend themselves by wisdom. Cf. the German translation by Merkle 1921, 37: “Was das Studium der Philosophie betrifft, so gehört hieher die Ansicht der Betrachtenden (Skeptiker), das ist die Schule des Pyrrho und des Sextus. Sie erhielt diesen Namen nur, weil sie über die Weisheit lange betrachteten und durch irgend etwas zur Erkenntnis derselben gelangten”. See above, n. 27.

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Sceptics are still investigating (see above, n. 9). Some corroboration for this interpretation may come from the fact that the preposition used in the passage does not suggest that the Sceptics refrained from (ʿan) knowledge. As for the second interpretation according to which Badawī has emended his edition, the two other Arabic Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy do apply the same root (m-n-ʿ). However, they both do not use the fifth, but the first form which indicates that the Sceptics prevented other people from knowledge. Let us have a look at these both passages. In al-Fārābī we read:66 As for the group named according to the opinions which its followers hold of philosophy, they are the group which is linked to Pyrrho and his followers, and it is called the preventing one, for they believe in preventing people from knowledge. In Ibn al-Ṭayyib’s Prolegomena the idea that the Sceptics prevented people from knowledge is expressed with even greater clarity:67 Those who prevent—they are the group which turn people away and prevent them from knowledge. The head of this group was known as Pyrrho … In the ensuing discussion of the Sceptics, Ibn al-Ṭayyib further mentions Zeno and Cratylus but does not refer to Sextus. Whereas the two passages are not decisive for the interpretation of the above quoted Ḥunayn text, they are remarkable in their lack of any mention of Sextus. It seems as if the combined mention of Pyrrho and Sextus is restricted to the Prolegomena material preserved in Ibn Bahrīz, the anonymous of the Tehran manuscript and Ḥunayn.68 Ibn al-Ṭayyib who lived and worked almost 200 years after Ibn Bahrīz does mention Sextus neither in his Prolegomena to Philosophy nor in his Prolegomena to Aristotelian Philosophy. This may be due either to a conscious decision on his part, namely that he did not see much sense in mentioning philosophers hardly known in the Arabic tradition, or to his not having access to the source material

66

67 68

In Dieterici’s edition (1890, 50.7–9), the Arabic text reads: ‫وأمّا الفرقة المسمّاة من الآراء التي كانـ]ـت[ يراها أصحابها في الفلسفة فهي الفرقة التي تنسب إلى‬ .‫فور ُن وأصحابه وتس َمّى المانعة لأّنهم يرون منع الناس من العلم‬ In Ferrari’s edition (2006, 4.26–27), the Arabic reads: … ‫والمانعون فهم فرقةكانت تصّد الناس وتمنعهم من العلم ورئيس هذه الفرقة يعُ رف بفورن‬ The possibility of a link between the anonymous and Ḥunayn must await further research.

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to which Ibn Bahrīz and Ḥunayn did have access.69 In any case, the period during which Pyrrho and Sextus entered the Arabic tradition via the Late Antique Prolegomena seems to have been rather short.70

Bibliography Primary Sources al-Fārābī (1890) Alfārābī’s Philosophische Abhandlungen aus Londoner, Leidener und Berliner Handschriften, ed. F. Dieterici (Leiden). Ammonius (1895) In Aristotelis Categorias Commentarius (CAG IV.IV), ed. A. Busse (Berlin). Ammonius (1991) On Aristotle’s Categories, trans. S.M. Cohen and G.B. Matthew (London). David (2018) Introduction to Philosophy, trans. S. Gertz, in Elias and David, Introductions to Philosophy; Olympiodorus, Introduction to Logic, trans. S. Gertz, Ancient Commentators on Aristotle (London). David the Invincible (1904) Prolegomena et in Porphyrii isagogen commentarium (CAG XVIII.II), ed. A. Busse (Berlin). David the Invincible (1983) Definitions and Divisions of Philosophy by David the Invincible Philosopher, ed. and trans B. Kendall and R.W. Thomas, University of Pennsylvania Armenian Texts and Studies 5 (Chico, California). David the Invincible (2014) Commentary on Porphyry’s Isagoge. Old Armenian Text with the Greek Original, trans., intro and notes G. Muradyan, Philosophia Antiqua 137 (Leiden, Boston). Elias (1900) In Porphyrii Isagogen et Aristotelis Categorias Commentaria (CAG XVIII.I), ed. A. Busse (Berlin). 69 70

It seems most probable that all three of these scholars drew on Syriac sources. There is, however, another channel of transmission via which at least Pyrrho got to be known in Arabic, namely through the doxographic tradition. The so-called Doxography of Pseudo-Ammonius (Kitāb Amūniyūs fī Ārāʾ al-falāsafa) reports some philosophical controversies between the Academics (al-aqādīmīyūn) and the Pyrrhonists (al-bīrūnīyūn), the followers of Pyrrho (Bīrūn). This Pyrrho has nothing in common with the Pyrrho of the Prolegomena material, as may also be inferred from the different transliteration of his name, and may ultimately go back to the Refutation of All Heresies (Tou kata pasōn aireseōn elenchou) of Hippolytus of Rome. See Rudolph 1989, 65–67, 102–103, 190–193. However, the originally Greek material has been heavily reworked, probably by an Arabic author, and the Pyrrho presented by Pseudo-Ammonius is very different from the little we know about the historical person. This article was written in the framework of the project “Gathering Knowledge” financed by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): V 384-G15.

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Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (1985) Ādāb al-Falāsifa iḫtaṣarahū Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Anṣārī, ed. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Badawī (Kuwait). Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿā (1882–1884) Kitāb ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, ed. A. Müller, 2 vols. (Cairo, Königsberg). Ibn al-Ṭayyib (1986) Ibn al-Ṭayyib’s Commentary on Porphyry’s Eisagoge, ed. K. Gyekye (Beyrouth). Ibn al-Ṭayyib (2006) Der Kategorienkommentar von Abū l-Faraǧ ʿAbdallāh ibn aṭ-Ṭayyib, ed. C. Ferrari (Leiden, Boston). Ibn Bahrīz and Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (1978) al-Manṭiq li-Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ. Ḥudūd al-manṭiq liIbn Bahrīz, ed. M.T. Dānešpažūh (Tehran). Olympiodorus (1902) Prolegomena et in Aristotelis Categorias Commentarium, ed. A. Busse, CAG XII.I (Berlin). Philoponus (2015) On Aristotle Categories 1–5, trans. R. Sirkel, M. Tweedale and J. Harris, Ancient Commentators on Aristotle (London). Philoponus (olim Ammonius) (1898) In Aristotelis Categorias Commentarius, ed. A. Busse, CAG XIII.I (Berlin). Sextus Empiricus (1912) Opera, ed. H. Mutschmann (Leipzig). Sextus Empiricus (2000) Outlines of Scepticism, trans. J. Annas and J. Barnes, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (Cambridge). Sextus Empiricus (2005) Against the Logicians, trans. R. Bett, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (Cambridge). Simplicius (2014) On Aristotle Categories 1–4, trans. M. Chase, Ancient Commentators on Aristotle (London).

Secondary Sources Arevšatyan, S.S. (1996) ‘David l’Arménien et Denys l’ Aréopagite’, in L’ Arménie et Byzance: Histoire et culture (Paris), 1–5. Arzhanov, Y. (2019) Syriac Sayings of the Greek Philosophers. A Study in Syriac Gnomologia with Edition and Translation, CSCO 669 (Leuven). Barnes, J. (2007) ‘Sextan Scepticism’, in D. Scott (ed.) Maieusis. Essays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat (Oxford), 322–334. Baumstark, A. (1900) Aristoteles bei den Syrern vom V.–VIII. Jahrhundert: Syrische Commentare zur ΕΙΣΑΓΩΓΗ des Porphyrios (Leipzig). Bos, G. and Langermann, Y.T. (2015) ‘An Epitome of Galen’s On the Elements Ascribed to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 25, 33–78. Calzolari, V. (2009) ‘La version arménienne des Prolegomena Philosophiae de David et son rapport avec le texte grec’, in V. Calzolari and J. Barnes (eds.) L’ œuvre de David l’Invincible et la transmission de la pensée grecque dans la tradition arménienne et syriaque, Philosophia Antiqua 116 (Leiden, Boston), 39–65. Dunlop, D.M. (1951) ‘The Existence and Definition of Philosophy. From an Arabic Text Ascribed to al-Fārābī’, Iraq 13.2, 76–94.

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Flückiger, H. (2005) ‘The ΕΦΕΚΤΙΚΟΙ in the Commentators’, in A. Brancacci (ed.) Philosophy and Doxography in the Imperial Age, Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere “La Colombaria” Studi 228 (Firenze), 113–129. Hein, C. (1980) Definition und Einteilung der Philosophie. Von der spätantiken Einleitungsliteratur zur arabischen Enzyklopädie (Frankfurt am Main, Bern, New York). Hugonnard-Roche, H. (2004) ‘Introductions syriaques à l’ étude de la logique: à propos de quelques Divisions de Porphyre’, in H. Hugonnard-Roche (ed.) La logique d’Aristote du grec au syriaque. Études sur la transmission des textes de l’ Organon et leur interprétation philosophique, Textes et traditions 9 (Paris), 101–122. Mansfeld, J. (1994) Prolegomena. Questions to be Settled Before the Study of an Author, or a Text, Philosophia Antiqua 61 (Leiden, New York, Köln). Merkle, K. (1921) Die Sittensprüche der Philosophen „Kitâb Âdâb al-Falâsifa“ von Ḥonein ibn Isḥâq in der Überarbeitung des Muḥammed ibn ʿAlî al-Anṣârî. InauguralDissertation München (Leipzig). Pérez, B. (2012) ‘Pyrrhon d’Élis’, in R. Goulet (ed.) Dictionnaire des Philosophes Antiques Vb de Plotina à Rutilius Rufus (Paris), 1749–1771. Roueché, M. (1980) ‘A Middle Byzantine Handbook of Logical Terminology’, Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 29, 71–98. Rudolph, U. (1989) Die Doxographie des Pseudo-Ammonios. Ein Beitrag zur neuplatonischen Überlieferung im Islam, Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 49.1 (Stuttgart). Spinelli, E. (1991) ‘Sceptics and Language: phōnaí and lógoi in Sextus Empiricus’, Histoire Épistémologie Langage 13.2, 57–70. Wakelnig, E. (2015) ‘Greek Sages on the Tawḥīd. Ancient Philosophy in Accord with the Islamic Doctrine of the Oneness of God’, Studia Graeco-Arabica 5, 205–245. Wakelnig, E. (2019) ‘Late Antique Philosophical Terminology in Early Kalām. The Polysemous Greek Term atomon and Its Arabic Equivalent juzʾ lā yatajazzaʾ’, Journal of Abbasid Studies 6.2, 150–184. Wakelnig, E. (forthcoming) ‘Not Everything that Looks Like a Doxography is One: The Philosophical Compilation in the Tehran MS Ketābḫāne-ye Markazī-ye Dānešgāh 2103’, in M. Jas and A. Lammer (eds.) Received Opinions: Doxography in Antiquity and the Islamic World, Philosophia Antiqua (Leiden, Boston). Westerink, L.G. (1962) Anonymous Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy (Amsterdam). Wildberg, C. (1990) ‘Three Neoplatonic Introductions to Philosophy: Ammonius, David and Elias’, Hermathena 149, 33–51. Zimmermann, F.W. (1981) al-Farabi’s Commentary and Short Treatise on Aristotle’s De Interpretatione (New York).

Index ʿAbbāsid(s) 3, 27 caliphate 1, 7, 14 caliphs 300n7 court 27 Mesopotamia 302 political elites 303 translation movement 299, 303 ʿAbd al-Jabbār 28 ʿAbdishoʿ bar Bahrīz (see ʿAbd Īšūʿ ibn Bahrīz) ʿAbdišoʿ bar Brikha or Ebedjesus 14n8 ʿAbd Īšūʿ ibn Bahrīz 8, 28, 311n2, 316, 319– 321n39, 326, 328, 330–331 Abraham, patriarch 122 Abraham of Gai 303n15 Abundantius 110, 111n3 Adam 92n79, 139 “New Adam” 139 Aedesius 250 Agathon 83–84 Agathon, abba 86, 142 Alcibiades 83–84, 91, 201, 232 al-Anṣārī 328 Alcinous 135–136 Alcuin of York 38 al-Bīrūnī 28–29 al-Fārābī 28, 34, 328, 330 al-Ghazālī 28 al-Mahdī, caliph 27, 300 al-Maʾmūn 28, 34, 316 al-Nadīm 14n8, 25, 34–35 allegory(-ies) 4, 87–88, 94–95 allegorical 87n45, 280 allegorising 202 Alexander of Aphrodisias 67n67, 119–120 Alexander of Alexandria 64n56 Alexandria 4, 17, 19, 23, 110, 112–113, 116–117, 120–121, 123, 125, 133, 177, 270–272, 274– 275, 324, 328 Alexandrian 19, 27, 37, 82, 111, 113–114, 118– 119, 125, 265 church 110n2 paganism 119 school 37 Alexios I Komnenos 32 Alypius 251 Amelius 244n24

Ammonius of Alexandria 19, 21, 23, 27, 155n19 Ammonius Saccas 88, 312–313n7, 314n15, 315n19 Pseudo-Ammonius 331n70 Anania Širakacʿi 19 Anastasia, St church of 263 Anastasius Apocrisiarius 281n3 Anastasius of Antioch 5, 163–165 Anastasius of Sinai 23, 33–34, 37n141 Anastasius the Monk 281n3 Anaximander 124 Andronicus of Rhodes 21 Anthemius, emperor 269n46, 273–275 Anthony the Great 142 Antioch 5, 17, 20, 163, 261, 270–271 Antiochene father 16 tradition 26 Apollo 84n23 Arab(s)/Arabic 7–8, 14–15, 17–18n31, 21n50, 24, 27, 34–36, 288, 297–298n2, 302– 303, 307, 311–312, 318, 320–323n45, 324n, 325n51, 326–327n, 328–330 caliphate 1, 7, 13–14, 17, 29, 38 empire 307 reception 311 tradition(s) 1, 8, 311, 315–316, 330–331 translation 1, 3, 25, 27 version 316, 328 Arcadius, emperor 240, 261–263n2, 273 Arethas of Caesarea 40 Ariadne, empress 262–263, 270 Arian(s) 64, 153 Arius 64n56 Aristophanes 84, 86 Aristotle 1n1, 2, 7, 14, 19 Aristotelian 14n12, 24, 31, 36, 39–40, 136n9, 140, 142, 170, 198, 223–224n18, 280n2, 289, 291, 298–299, 307 commentary 169 commentators 14, 37 philosophy 14, 20, 27 logic 3, 14n8, 20n46, 21, 24–26, 34, 38, 119, 175, 182, 197, 308

336 “Aristotelianising” 302 Aristotelianism 25n72, 31 anti-Aristotelianism 28 Armenia 2, 15, 18n31, 19–20 Armenian(s) 1, 2, 15–17, 19–20, 31, 39, 312– 314, 319–320n33, 321n37, 325n50 Christianity 18 Church 20 tradition 19, 315 translation 19, 111n3 translator(s) 19 version 106, 313, 314, 326 Athanasius of Alexandria 124n51, 125n53, 239, 255n60, 282n12 Athanasius of Balad 25 Athens 1, 5, 6, 14, 19, 177, 219, 261, 264– 266 Academy 1, 26, 39, 265 Augustine 143n39, 280n1 Ausonius 264n18 Bacchus 89n57, 90–91n71, 97 Bacchic 82, 84–85, 96 (see also Corybantic and frenzy) Baccheia 83n19, 84n21 Baghdad 1, 14, 17, 25, 27 Balkans 39 Barsanuphius 144 Basil of Caesarea (see Basil the Great) Basil the Great 22, 32–33, 138, 140, 142, 150– 151, 153–154 Basiliscus 263, 266, 268 Beth ʿAbe 33 Beth Garmai 300 Beth Hale monastery 299 Beth Lapaṭ 26n74 Bithynia 289 Bizya 289 Boethius 32 Buhtishu, family 303n15 Bukhara 29 Byzantine 29, 285, 308 Christianity 29, 39 Church 17–18, 28, 32, 178n9, 308 community(-ies) 40 culture 307 “dark age” 14n6 empire 2, 13n3 emperor 280

index iconoclast(s) 30n98, 33n115, 35, 38–39 material 9 philosophy 1n1, 2n3, 30 propaganda 34 territory 25 theology 30 tradition 1, 30 Byzantines 34–35 Byzantium 3–4, 8, 18n32, 21, 30, 32, 268, 297 Caesarion 112 Calandion of Antioch 271 Cappadocian(s) 4, 22, 32, 35, 67, 150–151n5, 152–155, 158–160, 162, 164, 166–167, 170, 190, 285 Carneades 313n10 Carthage 281 Catherine, St Monastery of 33 Caucasus 15, 40 Chalcedon 2, 15–16, 18, 34, 36, 152, 269 anti-Chalcedonian(s) 15–17, 20–21, 23, 27n82, 308 Chalcedonian(s) 4, 16–18, 21, 23, 29–30, 33–37, 54, 152, 156–157, 170–171, 308 Council of 110n1 post-Chalcedonian 4 Chalcedonianism 18 christological 15–16, 23, 29, 31, 34, 39, 54, 67, 145, 151, 153n12, 157, 160, 170 Christology 4, 18, 67, 119, 156, 164 Chrysanthius 6, 240, 243, 250 Chrysippus 82n6, 136, 199 Claudius, emperor 240 Clement of Alexandria 2–3, 59–60, 62, 82, 85n33, 88–89, 94–100, 119, 137 Clitomachus 313n10 Constans II, emperor 280 Constantine Augustus 281, 287–288 Constantine the Great 35, 64n56, 246 Constantine the Philosopher 39 Constantinople 6–7, 16–20, 26, 29–31n106, 33, 36, 38–39, 113, 116, 243, 245, 261–264, 266–271n57, 272–276, 280–281, 285, 287 contemplation 83, 86, 92, 146, 201, 255 Coptic 16, 20 Copts 17

337

index Corybantic 83–84n20 (see also Bacchic and frenzy) Cotyaeum, town in Phrygia 273 Cratylus 201, 330 Crusades 17 cynic 202 cynicism 202 Cyril of Alexandria 4, 20n46, 23, 39, 110– 126, 272 Cyril of Jerusalem 100n117 Cyrus of Panopolis 274 Damascius 7, 91n71, 200, 202, 218–219, 261, 265, 267, 271, 274–275 Daniel the Stylite 262–263, 273 Dark Ages 14 David, Alexandrian philosopher 19, 37, 311–315n19, 319–321, 323n44, 325n50, 326–327n55 David, prophet 128 David the Invincible 18–20 Dawitʿ Anyałtʿ (see David the Invincible) Democritus 328n59 Dexippus, historian 240, 257 Didymus the Blind 57 Diodore of Tarsus 16 Dionysus 3, 83, 86, 89–91 Dionysus-Zagreus 90n60 Dionysian imagery 89 Dionysian initiation 84 Dionysian revelry 82, 85n33 Dionysian sparagmos 95–96 Dionysian symbols 89 Dionysius Areopagite 20, 31, 87, 185 see also Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite Diotima 83, 226 Dorotheus of Gaza 4, 133–134, 138–147 drunkenness 82n6, 84, 92–94 see also inebriation ecstasy 3, 94n89 economy (divine) 188, 289–291 Edessa School of 25 Egypt 6, 16, 20, 110, 121–123n, 261, 264, 273 Egyptian(s) 60, 88, 261, 265 Elam (Huzistan) 303n15 Elias, Alexandrian philosopher 37–38, 313, 315

Empedocles 124 ʿEnanišoʿ of Adiabene 33 Ephectic 313n7 and 9 Ephesus Council of 16–17 energy(-ies) / energeia divine 181, 189, 206, 290 Ephrem Mtsire 31 Epictetus 133n1, 137n13, 144, 199 Epicurus 85n33, 313n10, 328n59 Epicureans 36, 63–64, 133n1 Epinicus 268 Epiphanius of Salamis 17, 32n114 Eros 92n79 and 80, 94, 226 Eryximachus 83 eschatological 185, 188–189 ethics 53, 197, 315 Greco-Roman 138 Neoplatonic 5 Platonic 134 Ethiopians 17 Ethiopic 20 eucharist 3, 81–82, 89–90n60, 94n89, 95– 100 eucharistic 82, 87 Euclid 228n28 Eudoxia, empress 261–262 Eunapius of Sardis 6, 239–253, 255–258, 272 Eunomius of Cyzicus 22, 65, 153 Euphrates 33, 288 Euprepius of Constantinople 281n3 Eusebius of Caesarea 58–59, 65, 119 Eustratius of Nicaea 39 Evagrius of Pontus 145, 285, 287 Eve 139 Feast of Tabernacles 89n57 Flavius Ardaburius Aspar 263 Flavius Messius Phoebus Severus 274 Frankish Empire 297 Fravitta, general 273 frenzy 82, 83, 85 (see also Bacchic and mania) Gabriel of Qatar 26–27 Gainas 273 Galen 3, 61, 66, 141–142n33, 200, 320n35 Gaza 133 George, Bishop of the Arabs 24

338 George, monk of the Beth Hale monastery 299–300 George I, Catholicos 307n19 Georgia 18 Georgian(s) 15–16, 18, 31, 36 Church 16 tradition(s) 1 Gondeshapur (see Beth Lapaṭ) Gregory, exarch 7 Gregory of Nazianzus 32, 319n Gregory of Nyssa 39, 54–55, 57, 65, 138–140, 150–151, 153 Gregory the Great 280n1 Gregory the Illuminator 15 Gregory, patrician 281, 288 Gregory the Wonderworker 59, 70 Ḥarēw (Herat) 27n85 Hellenism 7–8, 32, 177–178 henads 230 Henanisho II, Catholicos 299–302, 307 Heraclas 125 Heraclianus of Chalcedon 153n12 Heraclitus 85, 88, 90–91, 99 Heraclian dynasty 290 Heraclius, emperor 19, 281–282 Hermeias, Alexandrian rhetor 265 Hermetic corpus 62, 120, 124 Hesiod 57 Hierax 111 Hierius 265 Hippolytus of Rome 331n70 Holy Land 274 Holy Scriptures 25 Holy Spirit 101 Homer 57, 62, 87n45, 88, 142, 252 Homeric 233 Honorius, emperor 240 Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq 27–28, 316, 328 Huzistan 303–304n15 hymn(s) 6, 57, 230–232, 262 Hypatia 4, 112–113, 116, 119–120, 124–125 Iamblichus 52, 57, 62n45, 87n43, 200–201, 223, 250–251, 253–255, 257 Iamblichan 257 Iamblichean 232 Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿā 62n42 Ibn al-Ṭayyib 316, 323–325, 328, 330

index Ibn Sīnā 28 icon(s) 5, 38, 174–175, 178, 181–182n18, 184– 185, 190, 304 iconic 174–176, 179, 183–184, 186–187, 189, 191 iconicity 174, 183–187, 189–191 Iconoclasm 18, 29–30, 36, 38–39 Iconoclast(s) 30n98, 33n115, 35–36, 38–39, 189 iconoclastic controversy 177–178 iconological 188 iconology 190n iconophile(s) 189 Illus, general 7, 261, 263–272, 275–276 Indian 88, 303 inebriation 92–95 methaphor of 86 language of 90 see also drunkenness Ioane Petritsi 18 Irenaeus of Lyon 95 Isaac of Kashkar 300–301 Isauria 263, 266, 268–269, 271 Isḥāq, son of Ḥunain ibn Isḥāq 27–28 Isho bar Nun 303 Islam 27, 30, 34, 36 Islamic 8–9, 28, 36, 40, 72, 179, 240, 297, 320n34, 328 Islamization 5 Ishojahb III, Catholicos-Patriarch 298–299, 307 Jacob Baradaeus 16 Jacob of Edessa 24 Jacobite(s) 16, 27n85 Jerome 65, 255 Jerusalem 17–18 Jesus 3, 82, 87n41 and 44, 88–89, 95, 97– 98, 137–138, 140, 143, 146–147, 174n, 184, 186–187, 189, 190n, 247–248, 286 Jew(s) 2, 14, 71, 89n57, 111, 113, 117, 284 Jewish 9, 14n12, 55, 70, 82, 86–89n57, 110n2– 112 Job 21 Book of 23 Job, patriarch 17 John, Archdeacon 298–299 John Chrysostom 32, 113, 121, 261–262, 285– 286

index John Damascene (see John of Damascus) John Italos 18, 39 John Malalas 275 John Moschus 286–287 John of Damascus 5, 13n5, 18, 23, 30, 32– 33, 35–38, 40, 169–170, 174–192, 286, 311n2 John Scotus Eriugena 31 John the Evangelist 57, 123n John the Forerunner 272 John the Grammarian 21n50 see also John Philoponus and Yaḥyā alNaḥwī John Philoponus 31n107, 164 see also John the Grammarian and Yaḥyāal-Naḥwī Joseph Ḥazzaya 31 Josephus Flavius 55, 70 Julian, emperor 4, 6, 32, 35, 113, 116–117, 120, 124–125n52, 126–129, 239, 243, 246, 252, 255–257 Julian of Halicarnassus 20n47 Junillus Africanus 26 Justin Martyr 58, 60, 66, 95, 245 see also Pseudo-Justin Martyr Justinian I, emperor 1, 20, 26, 39, 66 Khazar 39 Khosroes I Anūshirwān 26 Khwarazm 28 Lateran Synod 282 Leo I, emperor 266 Leontia, daughter of Leo I 269 Leontius of Byzantium 5, 7, 21, 151–161, 163, 166, 170–171, 261, 271–272, 275 Logos 58, 179, 181, 185–186, 290 Longinus, brother of the emperor Zeno 268, 271 Louis the Pious 31n106 Magouda, city 288 Makkiha, metropolitan 298 Malchus, historian 264, 266–267, 269 mania 82n6, 83, 85 (see also frenzy) Marcellus of Ancyra 52n2, 58, 64–65 Marcianus 264, 269–271 Marinus 202, 218, 232 Maronites 17

339 Marsus 267 Marsyas 83–84 Mary 28, 262 Mar Sabas Monastery of 33 Martin I, Pope 282 Martina, the widow of Heraclius 281n5 mathematics 6, 228–229, 303, 314 Matrona, St 262 Maurianos 276 Maximus the Confessor 7, 33, 38, 56n18, 190, 280–282, 285–291 medicine 23, 69–70, 98–99, 133, 138, 244, 246, 320n35 Melito of Sardes 59 Melkite(s) 17–18, 28–29, 35–36n132, 40 Merv 28 Mesrop Maštocʿ 15, 19 metaphor 3, 86, 134, 144–145, 204, 214, 218, 233 metaphorical 89–99, 229 metaphysics 28, 68, 81, 134, 138, 145, 181, 204–205, 207, 214 Methodius 39 Miaphysite(s) 16, 20n46, 23, 33, 308 Michael III, emperor 31n106 Michael Psellos 18, 32 Michael the Synkellos 18n31 mimesis 183 Monoenergism 282 Monophysite(s) 16, 152, 155–156, 171 Monothelite(s) 7, 281, 286 Monothelitism 17, 29, 36, 281–282 Moravia 40 Moses 23, 28, 34, 37n141, 120–121, 129, 139 Mosul 8, 299, 303, 311n2, 316 Mount Thabor 247 Musonius Rufus 136 Muslim(s) 14–15, 17–18, 28, 34, 297, 302, 328 non-Muslims 36 Myth of Er 211, 220 Nemesius of Emesa 20, 280, 282n10, 283– 285, 289, 291 Neoplatonic 1, 5, 14, 18–19, 25n72, 37n140, 39–40, 81, 87–88, 90n61, 92, 94, 97, 134, 138, 142, 147, 154–155, 169, 174–176, 185, 199, 201–202, 204, 206–207, 210, 214, 219, 265, 312n5–6, 328

340 Neoplatonism 1, 4, 5–6, 22, 31, 39, 145–147, 174, 176, 192, 199, 204n18, 210 Neoplatonist(s) 5–7, 14, 21, 23, 27, 31, 71, 87n45, 133, 141–143, 147, 200, 202, 204, 207, 211, 214–215n, 239, 261, 280, 315 Nestorian(s) 7, 29, 171, 308 Nestorian controversy 115, 119, 152 Nestorius 16, 28–29, 115 Nicaea Council of 22, 64 Nicaea II 38 Nikephoros, Patriarch 38 Nicholas Cabasilas 100 Nicholas, Pope 30n97 Nisibis 25 School of 26, 308 Nonnus 264 Novatianist(s) 110n2 Numenius of Apamea 88, 120, 284 Oak of Mamre 122 Odysseus 249 Olympiodorus 1, 19, 66, 91n71, 202, 211n30, 272, 312–313n7, 314n15 Orestes 111–113, 116 Origen 2, 54–55, 59–60, 62–63, 65, 69–70, 82, 88, 280, 282, 284 Origenian 280 Orpheus 57 paganism 8, 65, 270 Palestine 5, 18, 29–30, 33, 36, 38, 134, 147, 151 Palestinian monasticism 133–134 Pamphilus Theologus 5, 160–163, 166 Pamprepius 6–7, 219, 261, 264–276 Panopolis 6, 261, 264, 269, 273, 276 Papyrius (Isauria) 271 Paul, apostle 58, 89n53, 123n46, 127, 129, 157, 168 Paul the Persian 26 Paul of Callinicum 20n47 Pausanias 83 Pelagius 275 Penia 92n79 Pentateuch 119 Peripatetics 36n135, 63, 136 Persia 13n3, 16, 25–26 Persian(s) 16n17, 26, 88, 271, 302–303

index Peter, apostle 157 Peter of Callinicum 21, 23n60 Peter the Patrician 288 Philo of Alexandria 56, 280 Philostratus 120, 239n1, 240n5, 243, 245 Phocas of Edessa 31 Photius, Patriarch 38–40, 245–246, 252– 253, 265 physis 54–56 Placita of Aëtius 119 Plato 1n1, 2–3, 5–6, 8, 19, 21, 37n141, 40, 52, 62–63n51, 67, 71, 81–83, 85–87, 90–92, 94, 96, 98–99, 121–121, 123–124, 134n2, 135, 137, 142–143n37, 144, 176, 197–199, 201–209, 211–214, 218–222, 224–232, 250n42, 251–252, 254, 267, 280, 282, 313, 315, 319, 322–323 Platonic 4–5, 61, 63, 65, 69, 81–82, 87–88, 92, 94n89, 95–96n100, 99, 135–138, 140, 147, 183, 199–200, 202–204, 206, 211, 214, 218–221, 223, 225n20, 226–227, 229, 231–233, 253, 313n7, 315n19 quasi-Platonic 158 Platonising 248 Platonism 4, 31, 72, 133–134, 137, 141, 202, 219, 244, 253–254 Platonist(s) 2, 4, 36n135, 57, 63–65, 88, 112, 120, 133n, 134, 136, 198, 202, 233, 244, 246, 250, 253–255, 280, 282 Plotinus 6, 52, 62, 65, 67n67, 81–82, 87n43, 88, 90n60, 92, 120, 176, 200, 240, 244n24, 247–249, 251, 253, 256 Plutarch 85n33, 89n57, 242, 245, 265 Poros 92n79 Porphyry 4–5, 19–20, 25, 28, 35, 40, 52, 62, 87n43, 88, 120, 122–124, 150–151, 154– 155, 157, 160, 163, 166, 200, 244n24, 245, 247–251n44, 254, 256, 311, 316 Porphyrian 95, 123, 158, 312n5 Priscian of Lydia 26 Proclus the Diadochos 1, 3, 5–6, 14, 18, 25, 31, 39, 62n45, 81, 87n43, 88, 90–92, 136, 142–143n37, 174–175, 177–178, 180, 183, 185, 190–192, 197, 204–214, 218–233, 264–265, 311n1 Proclean 81, 183, 190, 230n33, 232 Prohaeresius 243 Prometheus 100n115 Protagoras 124

index Pseudo-Justin Martyr 119 see also Justin Martyr Pseudo-Dionysius 3, 23, 57, 81–82, 87n43, 88–90, 92–94, 97, 190 see also Dionysius the Areopagite Pulcheria 262 Pyrrho, Sophist 8, 19, 311–331 Pyrrhonic 315n19 Pyrrhonist(s) 313, 331n70 Pyrrhus of Constantinople 281 Pyrrhus of Rome 281 Pythagoras 121, 253–254, 284 Pythagorean(s) 36n135, 88, 122, 213, 284, 304 Neopythagorean 52n2, 88, 122 Pythagoreanism 255 Qennešre/Qenneshrin 33, 34, 308 Qusṭā ibn Lūqā 28 Rabban mar Sergios 304 see also Sergios of Elam Rhetorius 264n16 Roman Empire 275 Rome 61, 274, 281, 324 Russia 39 Samarkand 29 Sassanian 25–26, 288, 308 Sceptic(s) 312–313n10, 315n19, 329–330 scepticism 328 Seneca 83n6 Sergios of Elam 303–304 see also Rabban Sergios Sergius Magoudas 281, 288 Sergius of Rešʿaina 23–25, 27n81, 31 Sergius the Grammarian 22–23, 25 Severus bar Šakkū 312n3 Severus, Fl. Messius Phoebus 274–275 Severus of Antioch 20–25, 31n108 Severus Sebokht 34 Sextus 8, 311–331 Simplicius 1, 253–254 Sinai 33 Socrates, philosopher 3, 82–86, 91, 96–99, 198, 205, 208, 211, 219, 226, 250n42, 252, 254 Socrates Scholasticus 22, 110n2–3, 111–112, 273 Solomon 97

341 Solon 122 Sophronius of Jerusalem 33n115, 287 Sotion 245 Sozomen 262n3 Stepʿanos Siwnecʿi 20, 31 Stephanus of Alexandria 19, 37–38 Stoic(s) 36n135, 37n140, 52, 61, 63–64, 82, 87n45, 133n1, 134, 136–138, 140–141, 146– 147, 169, 282, 313n10 anti-Stoic 67n67 Stoicism 4, 133–134, 199 Suetonius 245 Sicily 249 symbol(s) 4–5, 37–38, 81, 87n41, 88–89, 93–94, 174–176, 181–184, 190–192, 227 symbolic 90, 93, 99–100n118, 174–175, 182, 185, 190–191 symbolicity 174, 181, 183, 191–192 symbolism 90n60, 100, 145, 174, 183, 190–192 symbolize 82, 99, 101, 145 Synesius of Cyrene 118, 120, 282n12 Syria 2–3, 5, 18, 29–30, 38 Syriac 7, 14–18, 20–21, 23–24, 26–27, 29– 31, 39–40, 110n3, 301–302n11–12, 308, 311–312n3, 316, 319n, 331n69 version 111n3, 311n2 Syrian(s) 7–8, 16–17, 20, 23–26, 28, 33–34, 262, 297–303, 305–308 Syrianus 219n6 Tarasios of Alexandria 271 Tatian 59 Tehran 320, 322, 324–326, 328, 330 Tertullian 87 Thales 121 Thawatha 133, 144 Theagenes 265–266 Themistius 35 Theodor Zahn 64 Theodore, unknown author 33n108 Theodore Abū Qurrah 18, 35–36 Theodore of Constantinople 281n3 Theodore of Mopsuestia 16 Theodore, Pope 281–282, 288 Theodore of Raithu 5, 21, 37, 163, 165, 167– 168, 170 Theodore the Stoudite 31n106, 33, 37– 39

342 Theodoret of Cyrus 115 Theodosian law 117 Theodosians, anti-Chalcedonians of Egypt 16 Theodosius II, emperor 4, 35, 112, 114–118, 126, 240, 262, 272–274 Theodosius of Caesarea 289 Theodosius of Gangra 281n3 Theodulf of Orléans 38 theologian(s) 2–3, 5, 20, 30, 55, 57, 64, 66– 67, 72, 91, 142, 150–154n15, 156–157, 161–163, 166–167, 170, 180n, 192, 230, 286n38, 316 theological 8, 14, 21, 28, 33–34, 36, 55–56, 63, 71, 87–88, 94, 139, 150, 155, 157, 160, 163, 170–171, 174, 182, 204, 210, 230, 254, 297 theologically 119 theology 2–3, 8, 22, 30, 36–37, 52, 55– 61, 66–70, 72–73, 81, 95–96, 150– 151, 159, 164, 170, 181n17, 182, 188– 189, 192, 201, 204, 230, 286, 308, 314 Theophanes, the Confessor 268n42, 276 Theophilus of Alexandria 110–111, 125 Theotokos 38 theurgic 230, 232 practices 5 rite 81 theurgy 6, 183n21, 203, 219, 223, 230–231, 233, 244, 250, 257 Thomas (?), father 288 Thomas, St church of 274n75 Timothy, archdeacon 110–111n3

index Timothy I, Catholicos 7, 17, 27, 31, 302–307 Trdat, king 15 Trebizond 19 Triumph of Orthodoxy 18, 38–39 Troilus the sophist 273 Tychikos, Armenian teacher 19 Typhon, monster 7, 271 Umayyad caliphate 36 Uz 23 Uzbekistan 28 Verina, empress 262, 266, 268–269, 270–271, 275 Xenophon 242 Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī 21n50 see also John the Grammarian and John Philoponus Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī 25, 28 Yaʿqūb al-Qirqisānī 14n12 Yaʿqub Burdʿoyo (see Jacob Baradaeus) Yuḥannā ibn Sarjūn ibn Mansūr (see John of Damascus) Zacharias of Mytilene 27n82 Zeno, emperor 7, 261–264, 266, 268–272, 275–276, 330 Zeno of Citium 82n6 Zeus 90–91n73, 92n79 Zonaras 275 Zoroastrian 16 Zoroastrianism 26