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Online Lecture

Porphyry, “Poet, Philosopher, and Priest”?

February 7, 2023

Lecture will take place on Zoom
7-9pm Athens & Alexandria
6-8pm Paris

5-7pm Dublin
12-2pm New York

Image: Imaginary Debate Between Averroes (1126–1198 CE) and Porphyry (234–c. 305 CE). Monfredo de Monte Imperiali, Liber de herbis, 14th c.


I will direct my talk to the ideas expressed in the working hypothesis adopted by the “Between Athens & Alexandria” project, that the Neoplatonic Schools of Athens and Alexandria are essentially one School adapting itself to the different environments of the two cities, but by focussing less on the possible reception of Porphyry in Athens and Alexandria than on Porphyry himself, in terms of the form and content of his philosophical project and on how this would have presented itself objectively to his successors. To regard Porphyry and Iamblichus as polar opposites and as putative champions respectively of rational and religious Platonism and thus also of an Alexandrian and Athenian version of Neoplatonism is too coarse a distinction, and one which distorts the complex spectrum of Neo-platonic understanding of the relationship of philosophy to religion.

Andrew Smith (University College Dublin)

Andrew Smith is Emeritus Professor of Classics in University College Dublin. He studied under Willy Theiler in Bern and was a colleague of Hilary Armstrong and Henry Blumenthal in Liverpool before moving to Ireland. His publications include the Teubner edition of Porphyry’s fragments and Porphyry’s Place in the Neoplatonic Tradition. He is joint editor with John Dillon of a series of philosophical commentaries on Plotinus for the Parmenides Press.