From the Old Academy to Later Neo-Platonism

Studies in the History of Platonic Thought

Harold Tarrant, London: Routledge, 2010, 370 p.


This volume collects a set of papers on ancient Platonism that span the nine centuries between Plato himself and his commentator Olympiodorus in the 6th century, many of them less easy to obtain. Much of the work is at the intersection of philosophy and literature, and a recurrent aim is to challenge existing orthodoxies and to suggest alternatives. Two further related aims are to encourage the rereading of Plato in the light of the later tradition, and the tradition in the light of influential passages of Plato. The articles are grouped here in three sections, dealing first with Socrates, Plato and the Old Academy, then with the Platonic revival and the 2nd century AD, and finally with later Neoplatonism.

(Text from the publisher)

Table of contents


Part I Socrates, Plato, and the Old Academy: Midwifery and the Clouds;

The Hippias Major and Socratic theories of pleasure;

The composition of Plato’s Gorgias;

Plato’s Euthydemus and the two faces of Socrates;

Chronology and narrative apparatus in Plato’s dialogues;

Orality and Plato’s narrative dialogues;

Plato, prejudice, and the mature-age student in antiquity;

Myth as a tool of persuasion in Plato;

Review of Leonardo Tarrant, Speusippus of Athens.

Part II The Platonic Revival and the 2nd Century AD: Agreement and the self-evident in Philo of Larissa;

The date of anon. In Theaetetum;

Middle Platonism and the 7th Epistle;

Logos and the development of Middle Platonism;

Platonic interpretation in Aulus Gellius; Numenius Fr. 13 and Plato’s Timaeus;

Platonism before Plato: tracing a philosophy to ever earlier roots;

The proximity of philosophy and medicine in the age of Galen;

Shadows of justice in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses.

Part III Later Platonism: The Gorgias and the demiurge;

More on Zeno’s Forty Logoi;

Olympiodorus and history;

Restoring Olympiodorus’ syllogistic;

Politike Eudaimonia: Olympiodorus on Plato’s Republic;



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