We discuss Marius Victorinus, a fascinating character from the tumultuous Roman scene in the mid fourth century who converted from Platonism to Platonism-plus-Christianity. His life and thought give us a valuable window onto the cultural scene in fourth-century Rome, as well, as some crucial data for the transmission of Platonist ideas into the Latinate middle ages.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Chaldæan Oracles"
The On Dreams of Synesius of Cyrene is one of the finest pieces of esoteric writing to survive from antiquity. It preserves fragments of the Chaldæan Oracles, conveys fully fleshed-out theories of veridical imagination, dream-divination, and magic based on kosmic correspondence, and gives us other valuable details of antique occult lore. It is also self-consciously an esoteric piece of writing, and seems to be suggesting that it is a polytheist message-in-a-bottle to be read by future generations, once the dark times of Christian persecution have passed. So we read it.
Episode 175: Jay Bregman on Synesius of Cyrene
We dive into the fascinating life and thought of Synesius of Cyrene, Platonist philosopher and student of Hypatia of Alexandria, and Orthodox bishop of Ptolemaïs. Committed Christian or pagan bishop? We'll see ....
Episode 174: Noble Lies and Philosophic Silence: Hypatia, Synesius, and the New Esotericism in the Fourth Century
Fear, loathing, violence, and persecution. How does the philosopher operate under such circumstances? We look at the case-studies of Hypatia of Alexandria and her student Synesius of Cyrene, for some pointers.
We discuss Sosipatra of Pergamum, an otherwise-unknown late polytheist holy woman and philosopher, depicted by her biographer Eunapius as a living goddess as well as a philosophic teacher in the lineage of Iamblichus. Come for the Late Platonist resistance to Christianity in the fourth century, stay for the mysterious Chaldæan strangers.
Episode 169: Strategies of the Esoteric in the Hellenism of the Emperor Julian: Exclusion and Pluralism in a Late-Antique Polytheism
We discuss the dynamics of Julian's esoteric religious/political formulation of Hellenism, and reflect on some of the very strange things that happen when esoteric religions like Iamblichean theurgy (and Christianity) are taken out of the small conclave and projected onto the corridors of power.
Episode 135: Esoteric Hermeneutics, Divine Hierarchy, and the Ineffable: The Philosophy of Iamblichus, Part I
We explore Iamblichus' extraordinary ‘esoteric-literalist’ approach to the Platonic corpus and the upper reaches of his complex metaphysics, the realms of the One(s) and the noetic-noeric levels of reality. Featuring special guest-star the Noeric Hebdomad.
We talk about theurgy: what, where, when, and, indeed, how? It's more complicated than we thought. Come for the Chaldæan Oracles, stay for the Technical Brutal Death Metal.
Episode 128: Porphyry and the Barbarians: Ethnicity, Religious Practice, and Esoteric Interpretation
We get into Porphyry's reception of Greek and non-Greek wisdom, and the ways in which esoteric truth is to be found in various cultural locales. We also discuss the one place where it is most definitely not to be found: Christianity.
We discuss the question of who might have written the Anonymous, and the possible ramifications that might have on the relationships between Sethian Gnosticism and Platonist philosophy in late antiquity. Another one for the hardcore.
We introduce an enigmatic text, the anonymous commentary on Plato's Parmenides, and discuss why it, and its noetic triad of hyparxis, noēsis, and zōē, have so many scholars of Platonism and Platonistic religious currents arguing and causing a fuss.
Episode 122: Radcliffe G. Edmonds III on the ‘Mithrasliturgie’
We discuss PGM IV 475-824, the famous ‘Mithrasliturgie’, with Radcliffe G. Edmonds III. Come for the immortalisation, divinisation, and visionary cosmic ascent, stay for the magical crocodile-surfing.
Episode 110: Matthew Neujahr on the Sibylline Oracles
We discuss the Sibylline Oracles, a strange, sprawling, extremely complex collection of oracular hexameters from antiquity. Matthew Neujahr is our guide through a textual and prophetic labyrinth of ancient woman sages, Hellenic, Jewish, and Christian prophetic concerns, and the high uncanny.
We ask Anna van den Kerchove some seriously irresponsible questions about ancient Hermetism, the fate of the Hermetica, and the intellectual milieu of late antiquity (and even the second century). She answers with both scholarly care and aplomb.
We investigate the esoteric practice of one of Middle Platonism's most enigmatic figures, the great Numenius of Apamea.
In a special interview with Sarah Iles Johnston, expert on ancient Græco-Roman religion, relations between the living and dead, and theurgy, we discuss Hekatē, a fascinating goddess at the centre of the theurgic theory and practice of the Chaldæan Oracles and beyond.
Episode 76: The Chaldæan Oracles and Theurgy
We have looked at what kind of world the Chaldæan Oracles set forth. We turn now to the ways in which the adept navigates that world – through ritual, epiphanic visions, cognitive disciplines, talismans, and by leaving the body through breathing. This is theurgy, and esoteric religion in antiquity would never be the same again.
Episode 75: The Chaldæan Oracles
We introduce one of the most extraordinary and influential texts of antiquity for the history of western esotericism: the Chaldæan Oracles. We discuss questions of authorship (Julian the Theurge, the Gods, or the Soul of Plato?) and the mythic metaphysics found in the text.
Episode 63: Dylan Burns on the ‘Underworld of Platonism’
Building on our previous episode, where we introduced 'Middle Platonism', in this interview we investigate the middle Platonist 'Underworld', religio-philosophical texts of antiquity which became mainstays of later western esoteric traditions: the Chaldæan Oracles, the Hermetica, and the Gnostic tractates.