Members-only podcast episode

The Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides, Porphyry, and the Sethian Gnostics

This is a special podcast episode for SHWEP members only

Join now to listen

In which we prove without any shadow of a doubt that the Anonymous Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides was written by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

Works Cited in this Episode:


  • Damascius on the Chaldæan Oracles’ use of hyparxis: e.g. Dub. et sol. 1.87.9-10 Ruelle = Westerink-Combes, 2.3.5-6; 1.108.17-20 Ruelle = Westerink-Combes, 2.36.2-6; 1.131.15-20 Ruelle = Westerink-Combes, 2.71.1-6; 2.101.25-7 Ruelle.
  • John Lydus De mensibus iv 122 and iv 53.
  • Proclus on Porphyry’s noetic triad: In Tim. III, 64, 8 ff.
  • Zostrianos (NHC VIII.1), Allogenes (NHC XI.3), Three Steles of Seth (NHC VII.5), and Marsanes (NHC X).


  • A.H. Armstrong. Gnosis and Greek Philosophy. In B. Aland, editor, Gnosis: Festschrift für Hans Jonas, pages 87–124. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1978; we quote p. 101.
  • Yuri Arzhanov, editor. Porphyry “On Principles and Matter”: A Syriac Version of a Lost Greek Text with an English Translation, Introduction, and Glossaries. Number 34 in Scientia Graeco-Arabica. De Gruyter, Berlin, 2021.
  • Majercik 1992 (see below), we quote p. 486.
  • Mazur 2021 (see below): we quote pp. 18-19. For an excellent survey of the scholarship on the authorship question, see ibid. pp. 16-25.
  • John D. Turner. Victorinus, Parmenides Commentaries, and the Platonizing Sethian Treatises. In Kevin Corrigan and John D. Turner, editors, Platonisms, Ancient, Mod-ern and Postmodern, pages 55–96. Brill, Leiden, 2007; we quote p. 55.

Recommended Reading:


  • Dylan Burns. Apocalypse of the Alien God: Platonism and the Exile of Sethian Gnosticism. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2014.
  • Jean-Marc Narbonne. Plotinus in Dialogue with the Gnostics. Number 11 in Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition. Brill, Leiden, 2011.
  • J.D. Turner. Sethian Gnosticism and the Platonic Tradition. Laval/Éditions Peeters, Montreal/Louvain-Paris, 2001.

Pre-Plotinian, but not Gnostic Authorship (Various):

  • G. Bechtle. The Anonymous Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides. P. Haupt Verlag, Bern, 1999 [unknown Middle Platonist].
  • Kevin Corrigan. Platonism and Gnosticism: The Anonymous Commentary on the Parmenides: Middle- or Neoplatonic? In J.D. Turner and R. Majercik, editors, Gnosticism and Later Platonism, pages 141–177. Society for Biblical Literature, Atlanta, GA, 2001 [ditto; but why not Numenius or Cronius?].

Porphyrian Authorship (Various):

  • L. Abramowski. Marius Victorinus, Porphyrius und die römischen Gnostiker. Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, 74:108–28, 1983.
  • John Dillon. What Price the Father of the Noetic Triad? Some Thoughts on Porphyry’s Doctrine of the First Principle. In George Karamanolis and Anne Sheppard, editors, Studies on Porphyry, pages 51–9. Institute of Classical Studies, London, 2007 [despite qualms, Dillon is willing to accept Hadot’s arguments for Porphyrian authorship of the Anonymous].
  • Pierre Hadot. Porphyre et Victorinus. Études Augustiniennes, Paris, 1968 [defended against many subsequent attacks at P. Hadot. Porphyre et Victorinus: Questions et hypothèses. In Res Orientales IX, pages 117–25. Groupe pour l’Étude de la Civilisation du Moyen-Orient, Bures-sur-Yvette, 1996].
  • Ruth Majercik. The Existence-Life-Intellect Triad in Gnosticism and Neoplatonism. CQ, 42(2):475–488, 1992 [a modified take on the Hadot-thesis].

Unknown Post-Plotinian Commentator (Various):

  • M. Baltes. Marius Victorinus. Zur Philosophie in seinen theologischen Schriften. München/Leipzig, 2002.
  • R. Beutler. Plutarchos von Athen. RE, 21(1):962–75, 1951.
  • M. Edwards. Porphyry and the Intelligible Triad. Journal of Hellenic Studies, 110: 14–25, 1990.
  • Wilhelm Kroll. Ein neuplatonischer Parmenidescommentar in einem Turiner Palimpsest. Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, 47:599–627, 1892.
  • A. Linguiti. Commentarium in Platonis “Parmenidem”. Testi e lessico nei papiri di cultura greca e latina. Olschki, Firenze, 1995.
  • Andrew Smith. Porphyry and His School. In Lloyd P. Gerson, editor, The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, pages 325–57. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010.
  • M. Wundt. Platons Parmenides. Number 25 in Tübinger Beiträge zur Altertumswissenschaft. Stuttgart/Berlin, 1935; see pp. 7-26.

(A Small Selection of) Important Works Suggesting Something Gnostic about the Existence-Noēsis-Life Triad:

  • Alexander J. Mazur. The Platonizing Sethian Background of Plotinus’s Mysticism. Brill, Leiden/Boston, MA, 2021 [Argues for a Sethian origin for Plotinus’ ‘mysticism’].
  • Tuomas Rasimus. Porphyry and the Gnostics: Reassessing Pierre Hadot’s Thesis in Light of the Second- and Third-Century Sethian Treatises. In John D. Turner and Kevin Corrigan, editors, Plato’s ‘Parmenides’ and Its Heritage, Volume 2: Reception in Patristic, Gnostic, and the Christian Neoplatonic Texts, pages 81–110. Brill, Leiden, 2011. [Rasimus argues for a Sethian author of the Anonymous].
  • J. H. Sieber. An Introduction to the Tractate Zostrianos from Nag Hammadi. Novum Testamentum, 15:233–40, 1973.
  • M. Tardieu. Les trois stèles de Seth. Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques, 57:545–75, 1973.
  • John D. Turner. The Gnostic Threefold Path to Enlightenment. Novum Testamentum, 22:324–51, 1980.