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 "Late Platonism"
Episode 179: The Manichæan Catholic: Augustine of Hippo
We turn to one of the most difficult, fascinating, and ultimately consequential thinkers of late antiquity, Augustine of Hippo. In this episode we discuss his relationship with Manichæism and Platonist philosophy, and a few of his important philosophical conclusions.
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.
Episode 176: Plato Latinus
The podcast turns from the eastern Roman empire to its western reaches, now falling into strife and decline as we move into the fifth century. In this episode we look at languages, especially Latin and Greek, and discuss how their intelligibility declined in the respective halves of the now-sundered empire. And we discuss the fate of Plato and Platonism in western Europe as we move into a series of episodes discussing late-antique esotericism in Latin.
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.
In Part I of a two-part-series centred around the great Hypatia of Alexandria, we introduce the life, and the notorious death, of the Late Platonist philosopher Hypatia, one of late antiquity's most evocative enigmas. Plus, a Christian mob didn't destroy the Great Library at Alexandria, but that doesn't mean there weren't some scabrous goings-on.
As we near the end of our Julian and his Amazing Friends series, we dive back into the text of Eunapius of Sardis to excavate Maximus of Ephesus, the wonder-worker who became Julian's closest friend and advisor. What happens when the Roman empire is guided by the insights of a theurgist, his gods, and the stars? We find out in this episode.
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.
We are delighted to speak with Frederico Fidler about Sallustius' On the Gods and the World, a short manual of a popular nature outlining how Platonist metaphysics work, how traditional Hellenistic religion is thought to mirror those metaphysical realities, and how esoteric hermeneutics are the key to unlocking the truth in the vast tradition of myth, ritual, and philosophy claimed by Julian, Sallustius, and other late-antique Hellenes. Come for the esoteric myths, stay for the kosmos as esoteric myth.
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.
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.
We discuss the great theologians, ascetics, and philosophers of fourth-century Christianity, the Cappadocian Fathers with Father Sergey Trostyanskiy. Come for the Philokalia, the collection which smuggles Origenistic and other anathematised ideas into the very bosom of orthodoxy, stay for the presence of divine darkness to the soul.
We keep the tape rolling and explore the fascinating byways leading off from Iamblichus' engagement with Egyptian culture, finding that the fiction égyptienne is not as fictive as Hellenophile scholarship has led us to believe. Featuring a cameo appearance from Basilides of Alexandria.
Episode 141: Brian Alt on Sacred Materials, Divine Names, and Subtle Physiology in Iamblichean Theurgy
We explore the nitty-gritty of the ritual acts lying behind the theoretical discussions in the De mysteriis. Brian Alt is our guide on a journey through Iamblichean theurgy, its many parallels in Hermetica and ‘magical’ papyri from Egypt, and its echoes in earlier and later Platonism.
In a very special episode, we dive into the parameters of Weird Platonism with Danielle Layne. Come for the Iamblichean divine signatures, stay for the erotology of the Indefinite Dyad.