Why did ancient philosophers consult oracles, write about them, and consider them to be an important part of philosophical thought and practice? This book explores the extensive links between oracles and philosophy in Late Antiquity, particularly focusing on the roles of oracles and other forms of divination in third and fourth century CE Neoplatonism. Examining some of the most significant debates between pagan philosophers and Christian intellectuals on the nature of oracles as a central yet contested element of religious tradition, Addey focuses particularly on Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles and Iamblichus' De Mysteriis - two works which deal extensively with oracles and other forms of divination. This book argues for the significance of divination within Neoplatonism and offers a substantial reassessment of oracles and philosophical works and their relationship to one another. With a broad interdisciplinary approach, encompassing Classics, Ancient Philosophy, Theology, Religious Studies and Ancient History, Addey draws on recent anthropological and religious studies research which has challenged and re-evaluated the relationship between rationality and ritual.
Theurgy and the Soul
Author: Gregory Shaw
Publisher: Angelico Press / Sophia Perennis
Iamblichus was once considered one of the great philosophers. The Emperor Julian followed Iamblichus's teachings to guide the restoration of traditional pagan cults in his campaign against Christianity. Although Julian was unsuccessful, Iamblichus's ideas persisted well into the Middle Ages and beyond. His vision of a hierarchical cosmos united by divine ritual became the dominant worldview for the entire medieval world. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that he expected a reading of Iamblichus to cause a "revival in the churches." But modern scholars have dismissed him, seeing theurgy as ritual magic or "manipulation of the gods." Shaw, however, shows that theurgy was a subtle and intellectually sophisticated attempt to apply Platonic and Pythagorean teachings to the full expression of human existence in the material world.
The Neoplatonic Socrates
Author: Danielle A. Layne, Harold Tarrant
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Today the name Socrates invokes a powerful idealization of wisdom and nobility that would surprise many of his contemporaries, who excoriated the philosopher for corrupting youth. The problem of who Socrates "really" was—the true history of his activities and beliefs—has long been thought insoluble, and most recent Socratic studies have instead focused on reconstructing his legacy and tracing his ideas through other philosophical traditions. But this scholarship has neglected to examine closely a period of philosophy that has much to reveal about what Socrates stood for and how he taught: the Neoplatonic tradition of the first six centuries C.E., which at times decried or denied his importance yet relied on his methods. In The Neoplatonic Socrates, leading scholars in classics and philosophy address this gap by examining Neoplatonic attitudes toward the Socratic method, Socratic love, Socrates's divine mission and moral example, and the much-debated issue of moral rectitude. Collectively, they demonstrate the importance of Socrates for the majority of Neoplatonists, a point that has often been questioned owing to the comparative neglect of surviving commentaries on the Alcibiades, Gorgias, Phaedo, and Phaedrus, in favor of dialogues dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues. Supplemented with a contextualizing introduction and a substantial appendix detailing where evidence for Socrates can be found in the extant literature, The Neoplatonic Socrates makes a clear case for the significant place Socrates held in the education and philosophy of late antiquity. Contributors: Crystal Addey, James M. Ambury, John F. Finamore, Michael Griffin, Marilynn Lawrence, Danielle A. Layne, Christina-Panagiota Manolea, François Renaud, Geert Roskam, Harold Tarrant.
The 21 studies in this volume, which deal with issues of social and intellectual history, religion and historical methodology, explore the ways whereby over the course of a few hundred years -roughly between the second and the fifth centuries A.D.- an anthropocentric culture mutated into a theocentric one. Rather than underlining the differences between a revamped paganism and the emergent Christian traditions, the essays in the volume focus on the processes of osmosis, interaction and acculturation, which shaped the change in priorities among the newly created textual communities that were spreading across the entire breadth of the late antique oecumene. The main issues considered in this connection include the phenomena of textuality and holy scripture, canonicity and exclusion, truth and error, prophecy and tradition, authority and challenge, faith and salvation, holy places and holy men, in the context of the construction of new orthodox readings of the Greek philosophical heritage. Moreover the volume suggests that intolerant attitudes, which form a characteristic trait of monotheisms, were not an exclusive preserve of Christianity (as the Enlightenment tradition would insist), but were progressively espoused by pagan philosophers and divine men as part of the theory and practice of Hellenism?s theological koine. Efforts to establish the monopoly of a revealed truth against any rival claims were transversal to the textual communities which emerged in late antiquity and remodelled the intellectual and spiritual landscape of the Greater Mediterranean.
Magic in Western Culture
Author: Brian P. Copenhaver
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
The story of the beliefs and practices called 'magic' starts in ancient Iran, Greece, and Rome, before entering its crucial Christian phase in the Middle Ages. Centering on the Renaissance and Marsilio Ficino - whose work on magic was the most influential account written in premodern times - this groundbreaking book treats magic as a classical tradition with foundations that were distinctly philosophical. Besides Ficino, the premodern story of magic also features Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, Aquinas, Agrippa, Pomponazzi, Porta, Bruno, Campanella, Descartes, Boyle, Leibniz, and Newton, to name only a few of the prominent thinkers discussed in this book. Because pictures play a key role in the story of magic, this book is richly illustrated.
The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity comprises over forty specially commissioned essays by experts on the philosophy of the period 200–800 CE. Designed as a successor to The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy (edited by A. H. Armstrong), it takes into account some forty years of scholarship since the publication of that volume. The contributors examine philosophy as it entered literature, science and religion, and offer new and extensive assessments of philosophers who until recently have been mostly ignored. The volume also includes a complete digest of all philosophical works known to have been written during this period. It will be an invaluable resource for all those interested in this rich and still emerging field.
In this philosophy classic, which was first published in 1951, E. R. Dodds takes on the traditional view of Greek culture as a triumph of rationalism. Using the analytical tools of modern anthropology and psychology, Dodds asks, "Why should we attribute to the ancient Greeks an immunity from 'primitive' modes of thought which we do not find in any society open to our direct observation?" Praised by reviewers as "an event in modern Greek scholarship" and "a book which it would be difficult to over-praise," The Greeks and the Irrational was Volume 25 of the Sather Classical Lectures series.
Greek Philosophy and Mystery Cults
Author: María José García Blanco, María José Martín-Velasco
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
The contributions to this book offer a broad vision of the relationships that were established between Greek Philosophy and the Mystery Cults. The authors centre their attention on such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoic and the Neoplatonist philosophers, who used – and in some cases criticised – doctrinal elements from Mystery Cults, adapting them to their own thinking. Thus, the volume provides a new approach to some of the most renowned Greek philosophers, highlighting the influence that Mystery Cults, such as Orphism, Dionysianism, or the Eleusinian rites, had on the formation of fundamental aspects of their thinking. Given its interdisciplinary character, this book will appeal to a broad academic readership interested in the origin of Hellenic thinking and culture. It will be especially useful for those eager for a deeper approach to two fundamental domains that attract the attention of many Antiquity scholars: Greek philosophy and religion.
Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia
Author: Giovanni Casadio, Patricia A. Johnston
Publisher: University of Texas Press
In Vergil's Aeneid, the poet implies that those who have been initiated into mystery cults enjoy a blessed situation both in life and after death. This collection of essays brings new insight to the study of mystic cults in the ancient world, particularly those that flourished in Magna Graecia (essentially the area of present-day Southern Italy and Sicily). Implementing a variety of methodologies, the contributors to Mystic Cults in Magna Graecia examine an array of features associated with such "mystery religions" that were concerned with individual salvation through initiation and hidden knowledge rather than civic cults directed toward Olympian deities usually associated with Greek religion. Contributors present contemporary theories of ancient religion, field reports from recent archaeological work, and other frameworks for exploring mystic cults in general and individual deities specifically, with observations about cultural interactions throughout. Topics include Dionysos and Orpheus, the Goddess Cults, Isis in Italy, and Roman Mithras, explored by an international array of scholars including Giulia Sfameni Gasparro ("Aspects of the Cult of Demeter in Magna Graecia") and Alberto Bernabé ("Imago Inferorum Orphica"). The resulting volume illuminates this often misunderstood range of religious phenomena.
Seeing with Different Eyes
Author: Patrick Curry
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Seeing with Different Eyes: Essays in Astrology and Divination represents the cutting-edge of contemporary thought and research on divination. The thirteen authors come from a variety of academic disciplines, ranging from anthropology and classics to English literature and religious studies, and all address the question of divination, astrology and oracles in a spirit of critical but sympathetic inquiry. The emphasis is on a participatory and reflexive approach which is firmly post-positivist, seeking to understand the divinatory act on its own terms within widely varying contexts – ancient Greek and Chaldean philosophy and theurgy, Theravadan Buddhism, Biblical studies, Elizabethan Hermeticism, Jacobean drama, Heideggerian philosophy, Medieval scholasticism, 19th century occultism, contemporary Guatemalan divination and Western medical practice. The authors are all teachers or researchers in the area of divination and symbolism, which is a new disciplinary focus developing at the University of Kent, Canterbury under the aegis of the MA programme in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination. The essays in this volume originally contributed to an international conference of the same name held there in April 2006.
Theurgy in Late Antiquity
Author: Ilinca Tanaseanu-Döbler
Publisher: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
Theurgy is commonly taken to denote a complex of rites which are based on the so-called Chaldean Oracles, a collection of oracles in hexameters, which were probably composed during the late 2nd century AD. These rituals are mostly known through Neoplatonic sources, who engage in a passionate debate about their relevance to the salvation of the soul and thus to the philosopher’s ultimate goal. Ilinca Tanaseanu-Döbler examines the development of the discourse on theurgy, attempting to reconstruct what was understood as theurgic ritual in the late antique sources. Withstanding the temptation to impose a unity on the disparate sources which span several centuries, she thus goes beyond the picture of a coherent, extra-philosophical tradition drawn by the Neoplatonists to sketch the variations in the rituals subsumed under ‘theurgy’ and their function, and shows how every author constructs his own ‘theurgy’. This perspective leads to consider theurgy as an example of an ‘artificial’ ritual tradition, composed from already existing elements to create something claimed as sui generis. Theurgy offers the great opportunity to look at such a tradition from its beginning up to its end and to analyse the mechanisms of inventing and reinventing such a ritual tradition in process.
The Nay Science
Author: Vishwa Adluri, Joydeep Bagchee
Publisher: Oxford University Press
The Nay Science offers a new perspective on the problem of scientific method in the human sciences. Taking German Indological scholarship on the Mahabharata and the Bhagavadgita as their example, Adluri and Bagchee develop a critique of the modern valorization of method over truth in the humanities. The authors show how, from its origins in eighteenth-century Neo-Protestantism onwards, the critical method was used as a way of making theological claims against rival philosophical and/or religious traditions. Via discussions of German Romanticism, the pantheism controversy, scientific positivism, and empiricism, they show how theological concerns dominated German scholarship on the Indian texts. Indology functions as a test case for wider concerns: the rise of historicism, the displacement of philosophical concerns from thinking, and the belief in the ability of a technical method to produce truth. Based on the historical evidence of the first part of the book, Adluri and Bagchee make a case in the second part for going beyond both the critical pretensions of modern academic scholarship and the objections of its post-structuralist or post-Orientalist critics. By contrasting German Indology with Plato's concern for virtue and Gandhi's focus on praxis, the authors argue for a conception of the humanities as a dialogue between the ancients and moderns and between eastern and western cultures.
For the Love of the Gods
Author: Brandy Williams
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Follow the footsteps of history Discover the path to the gods For the Love of the Gods tells the epic story of theurgy, from its roots in ancient Egypt to its modern day practice. The lives and passions of the early Pagan philosophers come alive in these pages, immersing you in the bustling cities and diverse cultures that spawned theurgy as we know it today. Theurgy is best understood when it is deeply experienced. The stories presented here re-create the experience of these ancient practices and show how they were passed down through generations of teachers and students of differing ethnicities, genders, and ages. It’s commonly believed that ancient Pagan theurgy traditions were erased from the earth and replaced by monotheistic religions—but this is a myth. The way to the gods was never lost. For the Love of the Gods shares step-by-step instructions for theurgic rituals, so that you can create relationships with the gods and love them as the ancients did. Discover how to offer devotionals, create living statues, invoke into yourself and others, and achieve personal communion so that you, too, may dwell in the happy presence of the divine.