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Online Lecture

The Friend, the Eccentric, and the Jerk: How much did the Personalities of Philosophers Shape the Fate of Alexandrian and Athenian Teaching?

February 28, 2022

Lecture will take place on Zoom
7-9pm Athens & Alexandria
6-8pm Paris
5-7pm Oxford
12-2pm New York


Historians of philosophy are often challenged to discern the relative impacts of the ideas and the actions of ancient philosophers. The ideas of these thinkers often stand alone in an almost disembodied fashion, set apart from the physicality of a philosopher, his or her personality, and even their intellectual development over time. This talk considers the tension between the people, the ideas, and the social context in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria and investigates the way in which genial and difficult personalities influence the fate of Neoplatonic schools in the two cities in the late fifth and early sixth centuries AD.

Edward J. Watts
(Ph.D. Yale University, 2002)

Edward J. Watts is Alkiviadis Vassiliadis Endowed Chair and Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. His books include City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, Riot in Alexandria: Historical Debate in Pagan and Christian Communities, The Final Pagan Generation, Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher (2017), and Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny (Basic Books, 2018). His most recent book is The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press, 2021).