We continue our discussion of Augustine, turning to Prof Stróżyński's fruitful approach to spiritual practices as recorded (but often ignored) in the texts of Plotinus and Augustine. It emerges that there is a quiet but insistent thread of divinisation ‘hiding’ in the text of the Confessions, and that the human self may be, in a sense, god.
Podcast Episodes Themed "Interview"
We are delighted to welcome Prof Stróżyński back to the podcast to deepen our understanding of Augustine's engagement with Platonist philosophy. The saint emerges as, in some ways, a model Plotinian thinker, in other ways something totally different from that, and, above all, as a philosophic thinker struggling with the reality of daily life in the collapsing western Roman empire.
We keep the tape running and continue our discussion with Prof Cooper, asking him how Victorinus' thought might provide useful tools for thinking toward a philosophically-satisfying Christianity today. Things get psychedelic, philosophic, and Platonistic.
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.
Episode 177: Gretchen Reydams-Schils on Calcidius and the Timæus
We discuss the Latin translation and commentary of Calcidius with Gretchen Reydams-Schils. Who was Calcidius, where did he get his interpretations of what Plato meant, and, best of all, how did his anti-esotericist approach to Plato feed into western Christian esotericisms? We find out.
We are delighted to speak with David Hernández de la Fuente on Nonnus of Panopolis, one of the last great epic poets of the Græco-Roman tradition, and a man with a lot to tell us about the interplay between Christianity and ‘paganism’ in late antiquity. Come for the indeterminate religiosity, stay for the esoteric Orphic lore.
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.
Our discussion with Jeremy Swist on The Emperor turns metaphysical, theurgic, and religious, as we discuss Julian's incredible synthesis of Iamblichean theology and metaphysics, traditional religions, and politics. Come for the pagan counter-church, stay for the transcendent solar metaphysics.
Episode 167: Jeremy Swist on the Emperor Julian, Part I: the Political Background and Political Project of the Emperor
Jeremy Swist, specialist on Late Platonism, late antiquity, and the great Julian the Faithful, lays out the political background and political project of The Emperor. Part I of a two-part discussion of late antiquity's greatest statesman. No bias here.
Episode 166: Joel Kalvesmaki on Evagrius’ Kephalaia Gnōstika: Philosophy, Scripture, and Apophatic Mysticism
In Part II of our discussion with Joel Kalvesmaki we explore the philosophy and mysticism of the Kephalaia Gnōstika, Evagrius' masterwork of mind-bending metaphysical aphorisms.
Episode 165: Joel Kalvesmaki on Evagrius of Pontus, the ‘Gnostic Trilogy’, and the Origenist Controversy
Part I of a discussion of Evagrius of Pontus – ascetic, philosopher, developer of Origen's thought, and mystical writer – with Joel Kalvesmaki. In this episode we cover the life and work of the great sage, in particular his ‘gnostic trilogy’, and discuss the ‘Second Origenist Controversy’ which would decide the fate of his opinions vis à vis Orthodoxy in the sixth century.
In a special episode, we ask Michæl Motia some more questions about Gregory of Nyssa. Come for the apophatic theology, stay for the apophatic anthropology.
In Part II with Father Sergey, we explore the Platonist ‘mystical’ themes, esoteric imagery of divine darkness, and the limits of human knowledge in the Cappadocians. Христос воскрес!
Episode 161: Claire Hall on Firmicus Maternus
Firmicus Maternus, a fairly prominent fourth-century intellectual from Sicily, wrote two works which survive: one is our earliest-surviving manual of astrological practice in Latin, and it shows a full-blooded belief in astral determinism, and the second is a rabid Christian polemic against traditional religious practices. Discuss.
‘With the rise of monotheism in the late Roman world, astrology became a forbidden science and began its long decline.’ Starting from this widespread, and completely false historical myth, we discuss the realities of monotheist astrologies across antiquity and beyond with Professor Kocku von Stuckrad.
We fill in some of the historical, cultural, and economic background of Zosimus' life and practice with Shannon Grimes. Come for the economics of metallurgy and ancient Egyptian trade-guilds, stay for the living statues.
In an extra episode with Dr Hallum we go all-in on the tangled textual web of the Arabic Zosimus. Who wrote what, and when? We then explore the incredible Muṣḥaf al-ṣuwar, our earliest alchemical emblem book, relating the text and images, and trying to make sense of it all.
Episode 158: Bink Hallum on the Extended Zosimus
We further explore the thought of Zosimus of Panopolis with Dr Bink Hallum, whose PhD research centred on the Arabic Zosimean corpus. We cover the basic (if confusing) textual situation, and then discuss astral influences, daimones and demons, mysterious talismans, Enochic ideas, and much more.
We continue our discussion of the great Zosimus, with anecdotes from the laboratory, discussion of the rhetorics of secrecy and the esoteric in Zosimus' works, and of Zosimus' Nachleben as one of the great alchemical authorities down the ages.
Episode 157: Matteo Martelli Introduces Zosimus of Panopolis
We discuss the life, work, and thought of Zosimus of Panopolis, greatest alchemist of late antiquity, with Professor Matteo Martelli. All is One!