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Olympiodorus the Alchemist or not

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  • vaeringjar
    This is hardly a burning issue, but I was curious to get any thoughts on the subject of whether the Olympiodorus under whose name an alchemical work has come
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 29, 2007
      This is hardly a burning issue, but I was curious to get any thoughts
      on the subject of whether the Olympiodorus under whose name an
      alchemical work has come down to us and was included by Berthelot in
      his collection titled by him as "On the Sacred Art" is the same as the
      Neoplatonist. Westerink in his intro to the Olympiodorus' Commentary on
      the Phaedo is very dismissive of the idea. I have read a bit of an
      article by Cristina Viano on the Greek alchemists and the Timaeus in
      the collection L'alchimie et ses racines philosophiques which seemed
      perhaps less sceptical. I have not read the alchemical text yet, but I
      am curious about a couple of things in there, and was curious as to
      whether it is by the Alexandrian philosopher. I am trying to get all of
      her essay as well - I happened on it in an excerpt on Google books.
      Fortunately at least the first two volumes of Berthelot's collection
      are now available there as well, though some of the pages did not scan
      properly. Modern online lacunae - do we need a new term for something
      like that?

      Is there a consensus on this, following Westerink's view, or not?

      Dennis Clark
    • jensav55
      Luc Brisson, in Le corps dionysiaque , (1992), rep. in Orphée et l orphisme dans l antiquité gréco-romaine (1995), apparently (I m getting this citation
      Message 2 of 4 , Dec 9, 2007
        Luc Brisson, in "Le corps 'dionysiaque'," (1992), rep. in Orphée et l'orphisme dans
        l'antiquité gréco-romaine (1995), apparently (I'm getting this citation second-hand) points
        out that in his remarks on Dionysus and the Titans in his Phaedo commentary,
        Olympiodorus uses terms familiar from alchemy to describe the creation of humans from
        the "sublimate" of the Titan's "vaporization" by the lightning of Zeus; Brisson goes on to
        relate this to an alchemical etymologization of "Titan" from titanos, "quicklime".


        Edward Butler


        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "vaeringjar" <vaeringjar@...> wrote:
        >
        > This is hardly a burning issue, but I was curious to get any thoughts
        > on the subject of whether the Olympiodorus under whose name an
        > alchemical work has come down to us and was included by Berthelot in
        > his collection titled by him as "On the Sacred Art" is the same as the
        > Neoplatonist. Westerink in his intro to the Olympiodorus' Commentary on
        > the Phaedo is very dismissive of the idea. I have read a bit of an
        > article by Cristina Viano on the Greek alchemists and the Timaeus in
        > the collection L'alchimie et ses racines philosophiques which seemed
        > perhaps less sceptical. I have not read the alchemical text yet, but I
        > am curious about a couple of things in there, and was curious as to
        > whether it is by the Alexandrian philosopher. I am trying to get all of
        > her essay as well - I happened on it in an excerpt on Google books.
        > Fortunately at least the first two volumes of Berthelot's collection
        > are now available there as well, though some of the pages did not scan
        > properly. Modern online lacunae - do we need a new term for something
        > like that?
        >
        > Is there a consensus on this, following Westerink's view, or not?
        >
        > Dennis Clark
        >
      • vaeringjar
        ... l orphisme dans ... citation second-hand) points ... commentary, ... creation of humans from ... Zeus; Brisson goes on to ... titanos, quicklime . ...
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 10, 2007
          --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "jensav55" <epb223@...> wrote:
          >
          > Luc Brisson, in "Le corps 'dionysiaque'," (1992), rep. in Orphée et
          l'orphisme dans
          > l'antiquité gréco-romaine (1995), apparently (I'm getting this
          citation second-hand) points
          > out that in his remarks on Dionysus and the Titans in his Phaedo
          commentary,
          > Olympiodorus uses terms familiar from alchemy to describe the
          creation of humans from
          > the "sublimate" of the Titan's "vaporization" by the lightning of
          Zeus; Brisson goes on to
          > relate this to an alchemical etymologization of "Titan" from
          titanos, "quicklime".
          >
          >
          > Edward Butler
          >
          >

          Thanks for the reference, that is curious. I will take a look at both
          the Brisson article and Olympiodorus' text tonight to see more about
          this.

          Dennis Clark
        • vaeringjar
          ... l orphisme dans ... citation second-hand) points ... commentary, ... creation of humans from ... Zeus; Brisson goes on to ... titanos, quicklime . ... I
          Message 4 of 4 , Dec 12, 2007
            --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "jensav55" <epb223@...> wrote:
            >
            > Luc Brisson, in "Le corps 'dionysiaque'," (1992), rep. in Orphée et
            l'orphisme dans
            > l'antiquité gréco-romaine (1995), apparently (I'm getting this
            citation second-hand) points
            > out that in his remarks on Dionysus and the Titans in his Phaedo
            commentary,
            > Olympiodorus uses terms familiar from alchemy to describe the
            creation of humans from
            > the "sublimate" of the Titan's "vaporization" by the lightning of
            Zeus; Brisson goes on to
            > relate this to an alchemical etymologization of "Titan" from
            titanos, "quicklime".
            >
            >
            > Edward Butler
            >
            >


            I should thank you again, since reading 1.1-9 of Olympiodorus' Comm.
            on the Phaedo has proved most enlightening in a wholy different
            context.

            Brisson indeed is arguing that the alchemical treatise is by
            Olympiodorus the philosopher, because of a passage in chapter 3 the
            first lecture of the Phaedo Comm., where Olymp. is describing the
            soot that rises from the vapors of the incinerated Titans which is
            also the matter for the creation of mankind. This all comes as an
            elucidation on the prohibition of suicide, Phaedo 61c...a most
            bizarre one, I would think, to most modern readers. That being we
            mustn't kill ourselves because our nature ultimately is Dionysian,
            the god having been torn to pieces and eaten by the Titans, who in
            turn were zapped by Zeus' thunderbolt.

            The terms for that soot and vapor are the same as the alchemical ones
            familiar to Olymp. the alchemical writer, and Brisson gives some more
            interesting discussion about the alchemical aspects in general of
            Titans. Hence both works are from the same author.

            So doubtless I would normally defer to Brisson, and it's certainly
            striking that the same very technical and unusual language is used in
            both works, but is that enough? I reread Westerink's critique in his
            edition of the Phaedo Comm. and he raises other specific problems
            with the common authorship, but he also I think rather hurts his case
            by being dismissive in general of alchemical writing as not worthy
            of a philosopher, etc. Well, in 2007 yes, but up until Newton's time,
            that was hardly the case.

            Personally I am not sure what to think, but Brisson makes his case
            very well, and his article if nothing else, in tandem with
            Westerink's edition, gives excellent commentary on this Orphic myth
            that Olympiodorus has related in the Phaedo Commentary.

            Dennis Clark
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