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John Dillon Platonizes Further

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In this continuation of our discussion, Professor Dillon and the SHWEP chat some more about Middle Platonism, concentrating in particular on the question of what this stuff was like in its historical context. How did one ‘enroll’ to study philosophy in the Roman world? What did it cost (there were no upfront fees, as far as we can tell, but these philosophers had to eat somehow)? How did you know when you’d ‘graduated’? And what was the relationship between this formal, or semi-formal lecture-theatre culture, which seems to have been a feature of cities right across the empire, and the esoteric religious movements springing from the same intellectual milieu as Middle Platonist philosophy but pursuing quite different goals? Last but not least, we discuss Plotinus, the greatest Platonist of antiquity, and one about whose life we know an unaccustomed amount, but at the same time, not nearly enough.

Works Discussed in this Episode:

Lakmann, M.-L., 2019. Platonici minores, 1. Jh. V. Chr. – 2. Jh. N. Chr: Prosopographie, Fragmente und Testimonien mit deutscher Ubersetzung. Brill, Leiden. This work is perhaps the final seal upon the long project initiated by Heinrich Dörrie to tabulate every scrap of Middle Platonism we possess (Dörrie, H., 1987. Der Platonismus in der Antike. Stuttgart/Bad Cannstatt.).

Recommended Reading:

Boys-Stones, G., 2018. Platonist Philosophy, 80 BC to AD 250: An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Dillon, J., 1977. The Middle Platonists: A Study of Platonism 80 BC to AD 220. Duckworth, London.
Dillon, J. (1979). ‘The Academy in the Middle Platonic Period’, Dionysius 3 : 63-77.
Dillon, J., 1993. Alcinoös: The Handbook of Platonism. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Dillon, J. (2002). ‘The Social Role of the Philosopher in the Second Century AD: Some Remarks.’ In: Stadter, P. A. & van der Stockt, L. (Ed.), Sage and Emperor: Plutarch, Greek Intellectuals, and Roman Power in the Time of Trajan, Leuven University Press, Leuven.
Whittaker, J. (1987). ‘Platonic Philosophy in the Early Centuries of the Empire’, ANRW II : 81-123.