restricted access Euripides’s Orestes and the Concept of Conscience in Greek Philosophy

This article challenges the common view that philosophical analysis of the phenomenon of conscience begins with medieval philosophers. Just as Jerome’s Commentary on Ezekiel furnished the medieval schoolmen with a common text, vocabulary, and philosophical concerns, so Euripides’s Orestes served a similar function for four pre-medieval Greek philosophers: Plutarch, Philostratus, Olympiodorus, and Philoponus. Stimulated by a common text, these philosophers offered a series of intricate and interrelated philosophical accounts of conscience and its place in human psychology. I track the development of the philosophers’ different conceptions of conscience, and indicate relevant points of comparison with later notions of the concept.