Monday, October 24, 2016

Antidosis and Protrepticus


We are making available for scholarly use and comment the latest version of our essay: The Antidosis of Isocrates and Aristotle's Protrepticus.
Abstract: Isocrates' Antidosis ("Defense against the Exchange") and Aristotle's Protrepticus ("Exhortation to Philosophy") were recovered from oblivion in the late nineteenth century. In this article we demonstrate that the two texts happen to be directly related. Aristotle's Protrepticus was a response, on behalf of the Academy, to Isocrates' criticism of the Academy and its theoretical preoccupations. -/- Contents: I. Introduction: Protrepticus, text and context II. Authentication of the Protrepticus of Aristotle III. Isocrates and philosophy in Athens in the 4th century IV. The Protrepticus of Aristotle as a response to the Antidosis of Isocrates V. Conclusion: dueling conceptions of philosophy, still dueling.
The older document, based on our talks at the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in 2006 and at Yale University in 2007, has been cited in the following:
  1. Blank, D. Aristotle’s ‘Academic Course on Rhetoric” and the end of Philodemus, On Rhetoric VIII’ Cronache Ercolanesi 37 (2007), 5-48. 
  2. Himanka, J. et al. On filosofoitava: Jälkipuhe Aristoteleeseen. Niin &; Näin 4 (2008), 52-53 at 53. Available here.
  3. Van der Meeren, S. Exhortation à la Philosophie: Le dossier Grec Aristote (Paris, 2011).
  4. Vetekeikis, T. References to Isocrates in Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric. Literatura 53 (2011), 7-40. Available online here. 
  5. Zbigniew Danek. "Przeciw komu występuje Izokrates w swoim Liście do Aleksandra?". Roczniki Humanistyczne 3 (2015), 53-65. Available online here
You can also reach the document through a link from the essays page on

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The first English translation of Iamblichus' Protrepticus

The first complete English translation of all 21 chapters of the Iamblichus' Protrepticus was published by Thomas Moore Johnson in 1907:
Iamblichus’ Exhortation to the Study of Philosophy, Fragments of Iamblichus, Excerpts from the Commentary of Proclus on the Chaldean Oracles, Plotinus’ Diverse Cogitations: First translated from the Original Greek by Thos. M. Johnson, Editor of the Platonist; to which are added the Golden Verses of Pythagoras (Osceola, Missouri, U.S.A., 1907).

T. M. Johnson's work has been reprinted by Phanes Press (with a forward by J. Godwin; edited by S. Neuville, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1988; but it leaves out some material included in the orignal*). A useful biography of T. M. Johnson and an explanation of how the first English translation of Iamblichus' Protrepticus came to be published in Osceola, Missouri is available in Paul R. Anderson's fascinating account of Platonism in the Midwest. T. M. Johnson's gigantic library of Platonic Philosophy was donated by his son to the University of Missouri, Columbia library, which holds in its special collections about 1800 of the volumes he bought with the proceeds from his law practice.

Image source: p. 2 of The Thomas Moore Johnson Collection, Columbia, University of Missouri, 1949

(By the way, I, Monte Ransome Johnson have no reason to believe that I am related by blood to Thomas M. Johnson, despite a cursory attempt to establish a connection through internet-based genealogical research tools.

T. M. Johnson did not have much to go on when he set out to translate Iamblichus' work. Only the last of the chapters had been earlier rendered into English. Chapter 21 of Iamblichus' Exhortation to Philosophy consists of a list of 39 Pythagorean symbola (also called acusmata) along with a commentary by Iamblichus on each of the symbola. Thomas Stanley translated the entirety of this chapter into English in one of the sections devoted to explaining the philosophy of Pythagoras of his monumental History of Philosophy, published in London in 1660. One marvels at the scholarly accomplishment of the great Thomas Stanley, given that this is the longest, most obscure and most difficult chapter of Iamblichus' long, obscure, and difficult work. The translation was not improved upon until 1804 with the translation of the same chapter 21 by William Bridgman (also published in London).

The shortcomings of T. M. Johnson's translation may therefore be excused-- he performed a noble service by attempting to translate into English this work, a work which is much more important to the history of philosophy than even he, with his overblown conception of the continuity and importance of Platonism, could imagine.

In this post I want to reflect on my namesake's own remarks about translation (in his preface) and on the formatting and meta-textual aspects of Johnson's translation (including his notes). I will also say a little about the contents of his volume. Let me begin by quoting from the very beginning of his Preface.
The English language, by reason of the poverty of its philosophical vocabulary, is inadequate to fully express the deep insights of the Platonic thinkers. Their books are in a "sealed dialect" to the many, in any language, and to the mere verbal Greek scholar as well as to those who are innocent of Greek they are unintelligible. Chemistry, Biology, and the other natural "sciences" have technical vocabularies, and Philosophy, the Science of sciences, has a vocabulary peculiar to itself, and this must be mastered before one can apprehend philosophic conceptions. Philology alone will not furnish a key to the thought of Plato and the Platonists. (p. I)
T. M. Johnson conceived of himself as part of a long and continuous line of Platonists, one which included Iamblichus of Chalcis. He thought that it was necessary to comprehend texts in the original Greek in order to understand this Platonic tradition, but that this was far from sufficient, since a deep philosophical ability that eludes mere "verbal Greek scholars" was also necessary. These convictions also served as a kind of apologia for Johnson's frequently incomprehensible and oft-criticized translations-- critics and readers who failed to appreciate his translations did so because of their own lack of facility in Greek and the shallowness of their philosophical convictions.

T. M. Johnson's bewildered readers might have justifiably wondered why, given Johnson's views about translation and about the English language, anyone should bother to read an English translation of Iamblichus' work-- and why Johnson should bother to have produced one. If English lacks the vocabulary to translate ancient Greek philosophy, then no English translation of this work would be possible. And if it were not possible even to apprehend philosophical conceptions before mastering the philosophical vocabulary in Greek, then what would be the point of reading an English translation, even if one could be produced? The answer to this question comes later in Johnson's rambling Preface:
This translation is not intended for the Greek scholar, who will read the writings of Iamblichus in the original, if at all-- but it was made and is printed for the benefit of those who, ignorant of Greek, ardently desire to acquire a knowledge of Platonic thought. The work was not designed for the proficient in philosophy: it is avowedly of an elementary character, though by no means lacking in profound thoughts and insights. Compared with many modern "philosophical" books, now enjoying an ephemeral popularity, it may well and truly be termed 'profound'. (p.II)
The answer, then, is that T. M. Johnson saw the translation of Iamblichus' Protrepticus as serving a protreptic function. Just as Iamblichus' own work had represented the works of the ancients as the best introduction to the true philosophy in his own time, so Johnson saw the translation of Iamblichus' work as the best introduction to the very same true philosophy. The purpose is to introduce philosophy, and to encourage one to study philosophy. The purpose of the translation is not then to engage in philosophy per se, because that is an activity that requires not only working in ancient Greek but, even more importantly, having gone beyond introductions and on to the mastery the Greek philosophical conceptions. Johnson represents himself as one who has accomplished this, and who has put himself in a position to indicate not only what Iamblichus said, but also how he said it.
Every translation from the Greek is more or less defective and unsatisfactory, and the version of Iamblichus' Exhortation to the Study of Philosophy now printed will not be found to be an exception to the rule I have simply aimed to reproduce faithfully in English the manner and thought of the original text, but to what extent this has been done, must be determined by others. It would be a severe and just reflection on this translation, if it could be truly said of it that it rad like an original work. No accurate translation, by reason of its very nature, ought to resemble an original production. The reader is entitled to have the manner as well as the matter of an ancient author presented to him. I other words, a faithful translation will show not only what the original writer said, but how he said it. (p.II, emphasis in original)
Unfortunately, T. M. Johnson does not elaborate further on this point. He does not indicate what this difference amounts to, the difference between what Iamblichus said and how he said it. The key to that difference, I contend, is in Iamblichus' use of earlier sources-- his use of the ancient philosophers, including Plato, but also Archytas, Aristotle, and an anonymous philosopher (probably Democritus)-- in order to make his own point. But that is not a difference that someone convinced of the continuity and even unity of the Platonic philosophy is in a very good position to appreciate. And although T. M. Johnson does understand that Iamblichus used other sources, he does not understand how, or even how much, Iamblichus has used other sources. He writes:
The text of Iamblichus is in a corrupt condition. Some of the corrupt passages are easy to emend, the sense and structure of the text clearly showing what is demanded, but others are beyond correction. Iamblichus, moreover, is a difficult author to interpret. The changes of pronouns, the long and involved sentences, the abrupt beginnings and endings, all these and other idiosyncrasies are in the original, and must reappear, partially at least, in the translation. Steadily intent on the formulation and expression of his thought, Iamblichus gave little or no heed to his style. (p.III)
T. M. Johnson does not have any comprehension of why Iamblichus, seemingly inexplicably, changes pronouns, why his sentences are so long and involved, why his beginnings and endings all seem so abrupt. He conceives of Iamblichus as "steadily intent" on his own formulation and expression of thought. But the answer to all these questions lies in how Iamblichus uses his sources-- the fact that he preserves them intact and refrains from modifying them, or modifies them as little as possible, but tries to assemble them as building blocks in his teetering monument to Pythagorean philosophy. The changes in pronoun occur because he cuts passages straight out of dialogues and pastes them into his own continuous monologue meant to serve as a ladder from exoteric and popular philosophy to esoteric and technical Pythagorean philosophy. The long and involved sentences come when he is making a transition from one disconnected topic-- or source text-- to another. The abrupt beginnings and endings are due to his desire to minimize his own contribution and to focus on the message of the texts he has selected.

T. M. Johnson was aware that Iamblichus used Plato-- he included footnotes that indicated page ranges of Platonic dialogues that are the sources for chapters XIII-XIX. For this he acknowledges consulting certain earlier English translations of Platonic dialogues. He did not, however, apparently perceive that Iamblichus also used Plato (extensively) in chapter V, and T. M. Johnson's own footnotes do not show where Iamblichus starts or stops citing Plato, how much source material has been left out, or whether any modifications have been made to it.

T. M. Johnson also acknowledges that Iamblichus used Aristotle: "I am specially indebted to Prof. Ingram Bywater's paper 'On a lost dialogue of Aristotle' (p.III). But in fact T. M. Johnson seems to made very little use of the insights of Bywater's groundbreaking article. In the preface he writes "Certainly, as Prof. Bywater says, Iamblichus 'makes no secret of the composite origin of his book,'-- but nevertheless, there is much more originality in the Exhortation than is generally supposed" (p.III). The comment is never given a warrant, and cannot possibly cast doubt on Bywater's sage discernment of the voice of Aristotle among the pages of Iamblichus. And Johnson makes no reference to Aristotle's own Protrepticus, except in a footnote in chapter V (footnote on p.112-113 to his p.19 = 28,6-7 Pistelli), a footnote to a passage that does not derive from Aristotle's Protrepticus but from Plato's Clitophon (containing a partial quotation and paraphrase of Clitophon 407bd, which T. M. Johnson apparently does not realize); in the note Johnson quotes as a parallel a translation of the Oxyrhynnchus Papyrus 666, which contains a fragment that has been attributed to Aristotle's Protrepticus. He never even mentions the thesis of Bywater's article, that Aristotle's dialogue the Protrepticus was the source for chapters VI-XI of Iamblichus' Protrepticus.

Similarly, T. M. Johnson never discusses the sources of chapters II (which contains excerpts from an otherwise unknown set of hortatory maxims) or XX (which contains excerpts from an otherwise unknown late fifth century political writer, probably Democritus).  T.M. Johnson does acknowledge the source of chapter III (the Pythagorean Golden verses, for which he provides a complete translation elsewhere in the volume), and chapter IV (Archytas of Tarentum, although he casts doubt on the scholarly consensus that the fragments are not genuine). The Pythagorean Golden verses he indents and puts into quotation marks, also providing the verse numbers; the fragments of Archytas he puts into quotation marks. But in general T. M. Johnson does not pay much attention to Iamblichus' sources-- not even Plato: except in chapters III-IV he never tries to rigorously differentiate the cover text from the source texts. The main reason for that, and in turn the main reason for the shortcomings of his translation of Iamblichus' Protrepticus, is his conviction that the importance of the work is not as a source of lost original works of philosophy, but as a living exhortation to the perennial and esoteric Platonic philosophy. This also explains the other translations he includes in the same volume, which might otherwise seem disconnected: other fragments of letters of Iamblichus; the complete Pythagorean Golden Verses; excerpts from Proclus' commentary on the Chaldean Oracles; disconnected passages of Plotinus. According to T. M. Johnson, these works all serve the same function: exhortation to the study of philosophy.

But the great value of Iamblichus' work as a sourcebook for classical philosophical protreptic and as evidence of the philosophical curriculum of late antiquity is obscured by this focus. What is needed is a deeper appreciation of Iamblichus' sources and how he used them, and why he used them (and modified them) as he did. An appreciation of that might help to make the interpretation of Iamblichus easier than T. M. Johnson perceived it to be, and also make a translation into English more feasible and more useful. One hopes that the next English translation of Iamblichus' work will be able to bring out that value as well as serving the purpose that T. M. Johnson pursued: encouraging people to the study of philosophy.

* Note: The Phanes reprint leaves out some material, including the title page, dedication, supplementary notes, and Johnson's translation of Plotinus Ennead III.ix. So I have scanned these pages and link to them here.


Anderson, P. R. Platonism in the Midwest. New York and London, 1963.

Bridgman, W. Translations from the Greek, viz. Aristotle’s Synopsis of the Virtues and Vices; the Similitudes of Demophilus; The Golden sentences of Democrates; and the Pythagoric Symbols with the Explanations of Iamblichus. London, 1804.

Bywater, I. On a lost dialogue of Aristotle. Journal of Philology, 2 (1869), 55-69.

Stanley, T. The History of Philosophy: the third and last volume, in five parts. London, 1660.

Thomas Moore Johnson Collection of Philosophy at the University of Missouri Libraries.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Citations of our 2005 OSAP essay

Updated: August 2016

We are collecting references to: D. S. Hutchinson and M. R. Johnson, Authenticating Aristotle's Protrepticus, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 29 (2005), 193-294. Please let us know if you know of any others so that we can add them to our bibliography.
1.     Minca, B. and C. Partenie. Aristotel: Protrepticul. (Bucharest 2005), p. 17-18.
2.     Bussanich, J. New Editions of Iamblichus: A Review Essay. Ancient Philosophy 25 (2005), 478-494.
3.     Flashar, H. Aristoteles: Fragmente zu Philosophie, Rhetorik, Poetik, Dictung (Darmstadt 2006).
4.     Bronstein, D. Review of A. P. Bos, The Soul and its Instrumental Body: a Reinterpretation of Aristotle's Philosophy of Living Nature (Leiden 2003), Ancient Philosophy 26 (2006), 422-427 at 427.
5.     Bobonich, C. Aristotle’s ethical treatises. The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (ed. R. Kraut), 12-36 (Oxford, 2006).
6.     Bobonich, C. Why should philosophers rule? Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Protrepticus. Social Philosophy and Policy 24 (2007), 153-175.
7.     Hare, J. God and Morality: a philosophical history (Malden, MA and Oxford 2007).
8.     Blank, D. Aristotle’s Academic Course on Rhetoric and the end of Philodemus, On Rhetoric VIII Cronache Ercolanesi 37 (2007), 5-48.
9.     Walker, M. Living by contemplation: Theoria, self-maintenance, and flourishing in Aristotle's ethics. Yale Ph. D. diss., 2008.
10.  Van Kooten, G. H. Paul's Anthropology in Context: the image of God, assimilation to God, and Tripartite Man in Ancient Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, and Early Christianity, p.137 (Tübingen 2008).
11.  Ratte, C. La loi dans l'anonyme de Jamblique. Camenulae 2 (2008). Available here.
12.  Himanka, J. et al. On filosofoitava: Jälkipuhe Aristoteleeseen. Niin & Näin 4 (2008), 52-53 at 53. Available here.
13.  Wolfsdorf, D. Epicurus on euphrosune and energeia (DL 10.136). Apeiron 42 (2009), 222-257.
14.  Tuominen, M. The Ancient Commentators on Plato and Aristotle (California 2009).
15.  Graham, D. (ed., trans. and comm.) The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics, Part I (Cambridge 2010), at p. 876.
16.  Walker, M. The utility of contemplation in Aristotle’s Protrepticus. Ancient Philosophy 30 (2010), 135-153.
17.  McBryde, D. I. The Foundations of Aristotle’s Ethics. Newcastle, Australia, Ph.d. diss., 2010.
18.  Castagnoli, L. Ancient Self-Refutation (Cambridge 2010), p. 187n1.
19.  Long, A. A. Aristotle on eudaimonia, nous, and divinity. In J. Miller (ed.), Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: a critical guide. (Cambridge 2011), p.102n24.
20.  Van der Meeren, S. Exhortation à la Philosophie: Le dossier Grec Aristote (Paris, 2011).
21.  廣川洋一(2011年)『アリストテレス「哲学のすすめ」』講談社学術文庫。
22.  Lundberg, C. O. Lacan in Public: psychoanalysis and the science of rhetoric, p.185-186 (Tuscaloosa 2012).
23.  Pakaluk, M. Aristotle on Human Rights. Ave Maria Law Review 10 (2012), 379-388 at 388n45.
24.  Feke, J. Ptolemy's defense of theoretical philosophy. Apeiron 45 (2012), 61-90 at n.9.
25.  Cambiano, G. The desire to know: Metaphysics A 1. Aristotle's Metaphysics Alpha: Symposium Aristotelicum (ed. C. Steel), 1-42 at 40 and n.77 (Oxford 2012).
26.  Betegh, G. 'The Next Principle' Metaphysics A 3-4, 984b8-985b22. Aristotle's Metaphysics Alpha: Symposium Aristotelicum (ed. C. Steel), 105-140 at 117 (Oxford 2012).
27.  Shields, C. Aristotle's Philosophical Life and Writings. The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle (ed. C. Shields), 3-16 at 15n27 (Oxford 2012).
28.  Menn, S. Aristotle's Theology. The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle (ed. C. Shields), 422-464 at 453n8 (Oxford 2012).
29.  Lacore, M. L'Anonyme: un palimpseste démocritéen dans le Protreptique de Jamblique? Kentron 28 (2012), 131-158 at 139 and n26.
30.  Wareh, T. The Theory and Practice of Life: Isocrates and the Philosophers (Cambridge, MA 2012), cf. p35, 41, 44, 49.
31.  Tsouni, G. Antiochus on Contemplation and the Happy Life. The Philosophy of Antiochus (ed. D. Sedley), 131-150 at 138n33 (Cambridge 2012).
32.  Castagnoli, L. Self-refutation and dialectic in Plato and Aristotle. Development of Dialectic from Plato to Aristotle (ed. J. Leth), 27-61 at p. 51 (Cambridge 2012). 
33.  Wolsdorf, D. Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy, p.283 (Cambridge 2012).
34.  Nielsen, K. M. Ancient Ethics. International Encyclopedia of Ethics (ed. H. LaFollette), p. 245-257 at 251. (Oxford, Blackwell 2013).
35.  Horky, P. S. Plato and Pythagoreanism (Oxford 2013) at pp.52-53.
36.  Edmonds, R. G. Redefining Ancient Orphism: a study in Greek religion (Cambridge 2013). 
37.  Heath, M. Ancient Philosophical Poetics, p.97 (Cambridge 2013).
38.  Heath, M. Aristotle on the Value of Tragedy. British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (2014), 111-123 at 115.
39.  Hutchinson, D.S. and M. R. Johnson, Protreptic Aspects of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, in R. Polansky (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, pp. 383-409 (Cambridge 2014).
40.  Warren, J. The Pleasures of Reason in Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic Hedonists (Cambridge 2014), p.65.  
41. Devereux, D. Theôria and praxis in Aristotle's Ethics. In P. Destrée and M. Zingano, Theoria: studies on the status and meaning of contemplation in Aristotle's ethics (Louvain-La-Neuve: Peeters, 2014), p.160n1.
42.  Johnson, M. R. Luck in Aristotle's Physics and Ethics. Bridging the Gap between Aristotle's Science and Ethics, ed. D. Henry & K. M. Nielsen (Cambridge 2015), 254-275.
43.  Johnson, M. R. Aristotle's Architectonic Sciences. Theory and Practice in Aristotle's Natural Science, ed. D. Ebrey (Cambridge 2015), 163-186.
44.  Mihai, C.-I. Protreptic Discourse and Way of Life in Ancient Philosophy: Classical sources and Christian receptions. (University of Iași Ph.D. Thesis 2015). Available here.
45.  Diamond, E. Mortal Imitations of the Divine Life (Northwestern University Press 2015).
46.  Collins, J. H. Exhortations to Philosophy: the protreptics of Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle (Oxford 2015). 
47.  Renaud, F. and H. Tarrant, The Platonic Alcibiades I: the dialogue and its ancient reception (Cambridge 2015), p.94. 
48.  Walker, M. Confucian Worries about the Aristotelian Sophos. In Moral and Intellectual Virtues in Western and Chinese Philosophy: The Turn Toward Virtue, ed. Mi Chienkuo, Michael Slote, and Ernest Sosa (New York 2015), 196-213.
49.  Jażdżewska, K. Dio Chrysostom’s Charidemus and Aristotle’s Eudemus Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 55 (2015), 679-687 at n.18.
50.  Baker, S. H. The concept of ergon: towards an achievement interpretation of Aristotle's 'function argument'. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 48 (2015), 227-266 at n.22.
51.  Leunissen, M. Perfection and the physiology of habituation. In Aristotle's Physics: a critical guide, ed. M. Leunissen (Cambridge 2015), 225-244 at n.22. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Exhortations to Philosophy

UPDATE: See now the excellent review of Exhortations to Philosophy
by Diego De Brasi at Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.12.16

Hot off the press! And highly recommended...

In Exhortations to Philosophy: the protreptics of Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle (Oxford 2015), James Henderson Collins II has written a history of the development of the protreptic / hortatory genre, focusing on the crucial figures of Plato and Isocrates.  He also includes an Epilogue "Aristotelian Protreptic and a Stabilized Genre" (pp. 242-264). Here is the abstract from the OUP website:
This book is a study of the literary strategies which the first professional philosophers used to market their respective disciplines. Philosophers of fourth-century BCE Athens developed the emerging genre of the "protreptic" (literally, "turning" or "converting"). Simply put, protreptic discourse uses a rhetoric of conversion that urges a young person to adopt a specific philosophy in order to live a good life. The author argues that the fourth-century philosophers used protreptic discourses to market philosophical practices and to define and legitimize a new cultural institution: the school of higher learning (the first in Western history). Specifically, the book investigates how competing educators in the fourth century produced protreptic discourses by borrowing and transforming traditional and contemporary "voices" in the cultural marketplace. They aimed to introduce and promote their new schools and define the new professionalized discipline of "philosophy." While scholars have typically examined the discourses and practices of Plato, Isocrates, and Aristotle in isolation from one another, this study rather combines philosophy, narratology, genre theory, and new historicism to focus on the discursive interaction between the three philosophers: each incorporates the discourse of his competitors into his protreptics. Appropriating and transforming the discourses of their competition, these intellectuals created literary texts that introduced their respective disciplines to potential students.
 If I may quote myself, here is what I said in a blurb on the back cover:
This book delineates a sharper picture showing how Isocrates, Plato, and Aristotle developed literary tools originating in archaic poetry into the forms of philosophic and scientific discourse that we still depend on today, tools that have since antiquity turned readers away from worse forms of argument towards better ones.
And Paul Woodruff said:
Collins is the first to bring out how a rich, complex literary genre came to be. Protreptic belongs to a unique approach to philosophy; ancient Athens was a marketplace for ways of living philosophically. Anyone seeking to understand the climate of ideas in the fourth century should read this masterly study.
In a later post I hope to discuss his conclusions about the "stabilized genre" of protreptic as it is reflected in the Protrepticus of Aristotle. In the meantime, check it out.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Digital version of key Iamblichus manuscript available online

The Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana is digitizing many of the manuscripts from its Plutei collection. Among those that have already been digitized and made available online is Plut.86.03, the most important manuscript of Iamblichus' work De Pythagorica secta (usually referred to in apparati critici as "F"). The manuscript includes: De vita pythagorica, Protrepticus, De communi mathematica scientia, and part of the Introduction to Arithmetic of Nicomachus of Geresa, and some other things. It dates from 1300-1400.

Doug and I have twice traveled to Florence in order to inspect the manuscript, with the assistance of the very helpful Laurenziana librarians and invigilators. We have also worked off of microfilm and printed out copies. But this high-resolution, color version (which can be enlarged) makes this work much easier. Check it out! (Thanks to Stephen Menn for the pointer.)

To the first folio of the whole manuscript:

To the first page of the Protrepticus:

To the eighteenth century catalogue entry:

To the English instructions for searching the whole database:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ettore Bignone (1879-1953)

Ettore Bignone is another titan of 20th century research on Aristotle's early works, and their relationship to Hellenistic Philosophy (especially Epicurus). See our bibliography for references to his publications on the Protrepticus specifically. The source of the above photograph and signature is the frontispiece of:

Epicurea in memoriam HECTORIS BIGNONE: Miscellanea philologica. Università di Genova facoltà di lettere: Instuto di filologia classica, 1959.

Earlier we featured Ingemar Düring.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Reconstruction, includes Greek text

We invite you to download and examine a PDF of the latest version of our reconstruction from:

New features of this version include:
  • A reconstruction of the dialogue, based on the core evidence in Iamblichus' On the Common Mathematical Science xxii-xxvii and Protrepticus VI-XII, in English translation followed by Greek text (occasionally supplemented with editorial comments).
  • Section on "Peripheral evidence, not in their original sequence"
  • Section on "Possible further evidence, not authenticated"
  • Section on "Rejected evidence, not relevant to this dialogue"
We make this version freely available for research and teaching purposes (but not for any commercial purposes). As always, please contact us with comments and suggestions about how this work could be more effective and useful for your research and teaching. You can leave a comment here or email us.