March 18, 2020
Episode 87: Numerical Mysteries: Nichomachus of Gerasa, Arithmology, and Second-Century Neopythagoreanism
In this episode we pick up some dangling threads from the Neopythagorean ‘tradition’ (which is more of an idea of a tradition than a tradition, but one which then became such a strong idea of a tradition that it became a tradition, if you see what we mean), discussing the intriguing first-century figures Eudorus of Alexandria and Moderatus of Gades.
We then move on to Nicomachus of Gerasa, an early-second-century writer on mathematics, harmonics, Pythagoras, and arithmology. Finally we discuss the fourth-century Theology of Arithmetic, a handbook on the numbers one through ten, a.k.a. the sacred Tetractys, which preserves much of Nicomachus’ lost arithmological work. Along the way we reflect a bit on number viewed from the perspectives of symbolism and metaphysical function, in other words, arithmology.
- John Dillon. The Middle Platonists: A Study of Platonism 80 BC to AD 220. Duckworth, London, 1977.
- E. R. Dodds. ‘The Parmenides of Plato and the Neoplatonic One’. Classical Quarterly, 22:129–142, 1928.
- M.L. D’Ooge, F. E. Robbins, and L.L. Karpinski. Nicomachus of Gerasa: Introduction to Arithmetic. Macmillan, New York, NY/London, 1926 [still the most thorough study].
- D. O’Meara. Pythagoras Revived : Mathematics and Philosophy in Late Antiquity. Ox-
ford University Press, Oxford, 1989.
- F. E. Robbins. ‘The Tradition of Greek Arithmology’. Classical Philology, (16):97–123, 1921.
- Robin Waterfield, editor. The Theology of Arithmetic. Phanes Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 1988.
- John Whittaker. ‘Neopythagoreanism and Negative Theology’. Symbolae Osloenses, 44:109–125, 1969a.
- Idem. ‘Epekeina Nou Kai Ousias’. Vigiliae Christianae, 23(2):91–104, Jun. 1969b.
- Idem. ‘Neopythagoreanism and the Transcendent Absolute’. Symbolae Osloenses, (48):77–
Arithmology, Eudorus, Iamblichus, Middle Platonism, Moderatus of Gades, Monad, Neopythagoreanism, Nichomachus of Gerasa, Numenius, Philosophy, Porphyry, Pythagoras, Pythagoreanism
March 19, 2020
I’m happy for the lead on Keith Critchlow, whom for some reason I hadn’t heard of. Been looking into the origins of the term “sacred geometry” which you don’t see often in [neo]platonic scholarship (Plato didn’t write “let none who are ignorant of hieros geometry enter here”) but is all over the place on the internet. I was initiated as a teenager into the tradition of “Drunvalo Melchizedek” via the books of Bob Frissell, and recently found when I started digging a couple of books entitled “Sacred Geometry” from the early 1970s, one of which was dedicated to the traditionalist Schwaller de Lubizc. So it’s another confirmation to learn that Critchlow was afollower of Guenon.
March 23, 2020
I was the source of cymatics in the Royal Society’s Robert Hooke, I came across Penelope Gouk’s “Music, Science and Natural Magic in Seventeenth Century England”. It is now one of my favorite books. It has both an excellent array of illustrations and great storytelling about the foundations of science — in the context of natural magic.