Olympiodorus: Life of Plato and On Plato First Alcibiades by Michael Griffin, Richard Sorabji

By Michael Griffin, Richard Sorabji

Olympiodorus (AD c. 500–570), probably the final non-Christian instructor of philosophy in Alexandria, introduced those lectures as an creation to Plato with a biography. For us, they could function an obtainable advent to overdue Neoplatonism. Olympiodorus locates the 1st Alcibiades in the beginning of the curriculum on Plato, since it is set self-knowledge. His scholars are newbies, capable of technique the hierarchy of philosophical virtues, just like the aristocratic playboy Alcibiades. Alcibiades must be aware of himself, at the very least as someone with specific activities, ahead of he can achieve the virtues of mere civic interplay. As Olympiodorus addresses in most cases Christian scholars, he tells them that different phrases they use are frequently symbols of truths shared among their faiths.

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Extra resources for Olympiodorus: Life of Plato and On Plato First Alcibiades 1-9

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Hence this person is described ‘one-by-one’ (ho kath’ hekasta [sc. anthrôpos], 210,14). This is the person whom Olympiodorus identifies with the embodied ‘civic soul’ (210,27–8), the one who is concerned with these particular acts one-by-one (kath’ hekasta). His soul, as Proclus puts it, is divided in association with bodies, as it uses the body as an instrument to instantiate ethically meaningful actions (erga, praxeis). In this sense, when we speak of the ‘individual’, there is more to it then simply meaning ‘me’ as opposed to ‘you’ (or ‘Socrates’ as opposed to ‘Alcibiades’, as Olympiodorus and Proclus put it here).

Tês philosophou theôrias). The firmest starting-point (arkhê), he suggests, is ‘the recognition of our own being’ (tên tês heautôn ousias diagnôsin, 1,4–5). Such self-knowledge is necessary for a practical purpose: ‘having established this we shall in every way, I think, be able more accurately both to understand the good that is appropriate to us (agathon to prosêkon hêmin) and the evil that fights against it’. 3: Cicero presents Antiochus of Ascalon’s view that we must know ‘what we are’ in order to know what is good (agathos) or appropriate (oikeios) for us.

In the language of the ‘scale of excellence’ described above, if I act at the lower levels of natural or habituative excellence, then I am merely an embodied soul. If I begin to operate 30 Introduction at the level of the philosophical forms of excellence, by displaying ‘civic’ forms of excellence such as justice or moderation, or by separating my soul from the body through the application of ‘purificatory’ excellence, then I am an independent soul. Again, if I have attained the peak of the philosophical forms of excellence by contemplating reality, then I am an intellect (nous).

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