Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. vii-vii

Figures

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pp. ix-ix

Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xiii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvii

This study of the role of biographical literature as an arena for competing Christian and Neoplatonist claims on the classical philosophical tradition is a revision of my Brown University doctoral dissertation completed in 2005. In it I wrestle with two areas of inquiry: on the one hand, the relationship of Christianity to Classical, Hellenistic, and post-Hellenistic philosophy; and on ...

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Introduction: Biography as Arena of Philosophical Competition

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pp. 1-31

We who live and work in academia know that the exchange and debate of ideas does not occur divorced from various contexts—intellectual, cultural, political, and social. Our participation in the production of knowledge occurs in various arenas of activity, including classrooms, departments, educational institutions, and, of course, academic fields, each defined by ...

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1. The Roots That Remain

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pp. 32-79

These words from the alleged correspondence between the Greek orator Libanius of Antioch (ca. 314–93) and the Cappadocian Basil of Caesarea (330–79) splendidly express the nature of the cultural habitus of the educated Christian.1 In ep. 339 Basil protests that on choosing to devote himself to the writings of Moses and the prophets—“in substance true, though in style ...

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2. Moses and Pythagoras: Reading the Bios as Philosophical History

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pp. 80-124

I have argued that biographical literature served as a type of social charter that crafted a series of relationships among subjects, authors, and audiences. In the field of ancient philosophy bioi also located communities of teachers and disciples within lineages of descent and narratives of the origins of philosophy. Greek and Christian intellectuals of the second century, such as ...

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3. Plotinus and Origen: Biography and the Renewal of Philosophy

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pp. 125-162

Numenius of Apamea had charged Plato’s Academic successors with abandoning the original (Pythagorean) Plato, thus driving philosophy into a state of decline. He called for a reform that would strip away the hermeneutical traditions of the Hellenistic schools in order to establish a Neopythagorean Platonism. Both Greek and Christian intellectuals seized on the spirit, ...

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4. Constantine and Julian: The Politics of Philosophy

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pp. 163-204

Eusebius lived to witness dramatic political, social, and religious upheavals in the fourth century. His writings have contributed to the construction of the historical memory of that period. The biographical sketch of Origen in book 6 of the Ecclesiastical History situates the hero within a context of oppression and violence, as he and other Christians struggled to survive the Roman ...

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5. The Cell and the School: Geographical and Social Distance in the Competition for Philosophy

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pp. 205-244

The bioi examined in the preceding two chapters spanned a tumultuous period of political and cultural upheaval. From Diocletian (284–305), who initiated a long and systematic persecution of Christians, to Theodosius I (379– 95), who proclaimed Nicene orthodoxy the religion of the Roman Empire, the dynamics of political and social power were erratic and their relation to ...

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6. Macrina and Sosipatra: Beyond Their Nature

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pp. 245-272

Education and philosophy were male enterprises in antiquity. The aim of paideia was to produce “Greeks,” men of culture, virtue, prestige, and power. All aspects of elementary, literary, and rhetorical training—from its organization to its curricula to its intended outcomes—were ordered toward the molding of good male citizens, who would pursue a public career in politics ...

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7. Syrian Monks and Proclus: Athens at the Periphery and Center of Philosophy in the Fifth Century

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pp. 273-314

By the fifth century, the Greek segment of the educated elite was losing its grasp on official institutions of education. Christians had transferred the locus of pedagogical authority away from the philosophers and communities of the Greeks, and dislocated philosophical expertise from Greek identity. The Greeks no longer enjoyed the prestige, privileges, and authority ...

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Epilogue

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pp. 315-322

In an article entitled “The Last Days of the Academy at Athens” Alan Cameron wrote, “Even those who know nothing else of Justinian know that he closed the Academy at Athens in A. D. 529.”1 Many consider this an event that marked the final blow to Neoplatonist philosophy in antiquity. However, like the idea of the “fall of Rome,” the events surrounding the “closure” of ...

Bibliography

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pp. 323-343

Index

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pp. 345-353