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II Middle Platonism and the Interaction of Interpretive Traditions A. PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA The tradition of mysticalallegoricalcommentaryon Homer has survived in substantial form only in the writings of the Neoplatonists, but evidence from the first two and a half centuriesof the Christian era—before the great synthesis of Plotinus, which marks the beginning of Neoplatonism proper—indicates that this period was a crucialone in the development of that tradition. Felix Buffiere's insistence on the second century as the time of the birth of mystical allegory needs qualification, as the discussion of the role of the Pythagoreans has suggested, but this does not alter the fact that Numenius and Cronius, two second-century thinkers, are cited repeatedly as the sources for our earliestsurviving essay in this mode, Porphyry's allegory of the cave of the nymphs in the Odyssey. The creative contribution of Numenius and his circle was doubtless substantial , but it in turn must be viewed against the background of developments in textual exegesis in Alexandria—developments concerned not with Homer but with the Hebrew scriptures. It is clearly impossible to do justice to the riches of the Philonic corpus in the context of a study of this sort, and our problem is compounded by the fact that the sources of Philo's own thought, as well as the diffusion of his influence beyond the Jewish and Christian communities , are very imperfectly understood.1 i. The standard comprehensive treatment of Philo is still Emile Brehier, Les Idees philosophiques et religieuses de Philon d'Alexandrie. For useful, brief, up-to-date summaries of his thought, see Henry Chadwick in CHLGEMP, pp. 137-57, an d John Dillon, Middle Platonists, pp. 139-83. Middle Platonism and Interpretive Traditions 45 Philo's death, ca. A.D. 50, falls at least a century before the floruit of Numenius in the tentative chronology we have adopted for the latter.2 Clement of Alexandria, who must have been a younger contemporaryof Numenius, and Origen the Christian, who, like Plotinus, studied under Ammonius Saccas, both show the influence of Philo.3 He is dated by his role in a mission to Caligula in 39, which he himself describes and which Josephus, fifty to fifty-five years his junior, likewise mentions,4 giving an indication that Philo was held in respect in the AlexandrianJewish community during his own lifetime and that he was remembered as a philosopher a generation later. Philo is known principally for his voluminous allegoricaltreatises on the Pentateuch, in which many of the habits of reading foreshadowed in the authors already discussed, but not fully developed in pagan contexts for several centuries, are systematically elaborated for the first time. Philo inherits the Stoic tradition of textual exegesis, already thoroughly Platonized, but paradoxically first preserved in substantial form here. The influence of Stoic elements incorporated into a Platonist matrix is perhaps stronger among the Alexandrians than elsewhere—a fact in part traceable to the influence of students of Antiochus of Ascalon, the tremendously influentialStoicizingPlatonistwho also taught Cicero and Varro.5 The specificallyphilosophical content of Philo's work and his overall debt to Stoicism need not concern us here, but one crucialissue—thatof etymology—should occupy our attention for a moment. We have seen that there is some reason to accept the idea that the concept of an authoritative bestower ofnames, who guarantees avitallinkbetween words and the things they designate, may go back to pre-Platonic Pythagoreanism .6 Embodied in the Cmtylus, at any rate, this idea formed the basis for later Stoic as well as Platonic speculation on etymology—or, more accurately , on syllabic and subsyllabic elements of words as keys to the relationships among words, and so among the things they designate. This powerful analytical tool has already been associated with a Pythagorean aKova-fj-aattested by a variety of ancient authors, and that 2. Cf. KP s.v. Philon 10, vol. 4, col. 772, and see ch. 28, below. 3. Colson and Whitaker in Philo vol. i, p. xxi; KP vol. 4, cols. 774-75. 4. Joseph. Antiq. fud. 18.259-60. 5. Dillon, Middle Platonists, pp. 142-45; on Antiochus and his influence, see also pp. 52-106, esp. 61-62. 6. See ch. iD, above. 46 HOMER THE THEOLOGIAN same aKovcr/jia is echoed repeatedly in Philo.7 Here, it is Adam who is the "establisher of names" (Gen. 2.19) and thus the analytictool finds its justification within the work to be analyzed. His assignment of names is described as...


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