Re: Tiberianus Platonicus?
- --- In email@example.com, John Dilon <jmdillon@...> wrote:
> > On Mar 25, 2008, at 11:04 AM, vaeringjar wrote:
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > At any rate, I just wanted to share this, since it really is
> >> > nice poem, and it's a shame we don't have more of Tiberianus.I
> >> > wasn't able to find much on him - Gersh doesn't refer to himin his
> >> > book on Latin Platonism, as far as I can tell, and admittedlythere
> >> > is not much here textually to go on.hymn
> > M.C.The classic study devoted to this poem is Hans Lewym "A Latin
> > to the Creator ascribed to Plato", Harvard Theological Review 39.4in "the
> > (1946), 243-258> It's readily available via JSTOR.
> >> > I suppose from his dating, if it
> >> > is reliable, that he could have been influenced by Porphyry.
> > M.C. Quite likely. Norden (quoted by Lewy) situates the author
> > circle of Roman Platonists floruishing at the beginning of thefourth
> > century". Porphyry may well have been teaching at Rome as head ofwhat
> > used to be Plotnius' school in the late 3rd-early 4th cent. B.C.and
> >> > I would
> >> > need to think more about it, but there might also just be some
> >> > influence of the Chaldaean Oracles here too -
> > M.C. No doubt.
> >> > if that were the case,
> >> > would this be the only witness of such in the Latin tradition?
> > M.C By no means. Martianus Capella is full of Chaldaean material,
> > there are traces in Macrobius, Marius Victorinus, ClaudianusMamertus,
> > Ambrose, and of course Augustine (all of whom probably draw theirConfessions,
> > information from Porphyry).
> > Speaking of Augustine, it seems to me that when, in the
> > he speaks of the "secreti atque ineffabiles sinus" of memory(Conf.
> > VIII, 13), he is almost certainly using Chaldaean imagery; cf. theoften!).
> > *aphrastoi kolpoi* of fr. 56, 2 Des Places.
> > Best, Mike.
> >> >
> > Michael Chase
> > (goya@... <mailto:goya%40vjf.cnrs.fr> )
> > CNRS UPR 76
> > 7, rue Guy Moquet
> > Villejuif 94801
> > France
> Well, that is a most informative intervention by Michael (as so
> Maybe after Hans Lewy there is nothing more to be said, but youcould check
> him out! JMDYes, thanks, Prof Dillon and Michael for the handy references.
Nothing new under the sun, or at least in this case. Lewy no less -
not a surprise then is there is something Chaldaean going on here. I
wonder that there was no reference to the article in the Loeb, since
it's from 1946, though of course it's just a Loeb short introduction,
and they don't always supply bibliographical information. I am
curious to see what Lewy says, but at least I picked up on the trail
on my own reading. JSTOR shows that the article was published
posthumously. Unfortunately I cannot access JSTOR as an individual.
Being an amateur also has its disadvantages, but not to complain.
I just did little more searching online, and there is a bit more out
there on Tiberianus and this poem - especially in the recent book by
Edward Courtney from Oxford, Fragmentary Latin Poets, but of course
the Google preview has cut out the 20 or so pages devoted to
The apparently Orphic reference to Zeus beginning, middle, and end I
couldn't place exactly by memory is in one of the verses quoted
in "de Mundo" and also, interestingly enough, rather the same idea in
the Derveni papyrus. So I suppose Tiberianus could also have gotten
this from Apuleius' translation of de Mundo (or whoever did that
version) - ? I assume Lewy noted the de Mundo source but obviously
couldn't have done the latter. Others have already noted this, as is
apparent from my limited surfing online. Several of those authors
refer to Tiberianus as a Neoplatonist outright.
So perhaps there is still something to be gleaned here - now I have
an excuse to delve more into the Derveni whirlpool...see if there are
any other Orphic links from this poem. The weaving analogy is
actually applied in the Orphic tradition to the body than the soul, I
think, but I imagine that is likely Orphic also. Again, Lewy should
be consulted first and all these others.
- A blog gives this English translation of the hymn, apparently
transcribed from Hans Lewy's 1946 article:
Almighty, borne by age-old heavens,
amid Thy myriad virtues Thou art ever One,
and no one can measure Thee with number or with time.
Now (if by any name it is meet to invoke Thee)
Thou shalt be invoked by the unknown name
in which Thou, the Holy One, dost rejoice,
whereat the mighty earth trembles,
and the wandering stars stand in their swift course.
Thou art One and likewise Many, Thou art First and Last,
Thou art at once the Center and the Survivor of the universe.
For Thou art without end,
yet Thou bringest an end to the swift passage of time,
and on high, from eternity, Thou dost behold harsh fate
swept on with immutable whirl,
Thou dost behold lives enclosed in time
and again led back and returned to the upper spheres
so that the vitality,
exhausted by births,' which the universe has lost
may return to it and may again
circulate through the (celestial) bodies.
If indeed we may turn our mind to Thee
to assay Thy holy form wherewith Thou,
the Immeasurable, dost gird the stars
and dost embrace all at once the vast ether,
with limbs, perchance, swift as the flash of lightning
Thou art as it were a fiery radiance, by whose blaze
Thou dost see all and dost rule our sun and day.
Thou art the whole race of gods,
Thou the cause and strength of all things,
Thou art all nature, one god innumerable,
in Thee are both male and female,
to Thee was once born this god, this universe,
the home of both men and gods,
gleaming and sparkling with the sublime flower of youth.
Breathe Thy favor on my prayer, and grant me to know
how this universe was created, how born or made.
Grant, O Father, that I may know the sublime causes,
by what bond Thou hast sustained the cosmic mass,
with what insubstantial numbers, even and odd,
Thou hast, in Thy greatness, woven the Soul,
and what vigorous force lives in the Swift Bodies.
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "John Uebersax"
>I was aided by a couple of Neoplatonic angels who sent me a copy of
> A blog gives this English translation of the hymn, apparently
> transcribed from Hans Lewy's 1946 article:
> Almighty, borne by age-old heavens,
> amid Thy myriad virtues Thou art ever One,
> and no one can measure Thee with number or with time.
> Now (if by any name it is meet to invoke Thee)
> Thou shalt be invoked by the unknown name
> in which Thou, the Holy One, dost rejoice,
> whereat the mighty earth trembles,
> and the wandering stars stand in their swift course.
> Thou art One and likewise Many, Thou art First and Last,
> Thou art at once the Center and the Survivor of the universe.
> For Thou art without end,
> yet Thou bringest an end to the swift passage of time,
> and on high, from eternity, Thou dost behold harsh fate
> swept on with immutable whirl,
> Thou dost behold lives enclosed in time
> and again led back and returned to the upper spheres
> so that the vitality,
> exhausted by births,' which the universe has lost
> may return to it and may again
> circulate through the (celestial) bodies.
> If indeed we may turn our mind to Thee
> to assay Thy holy form wherewith Thou,
> the Immeasurable, dost gird the stars
> and dost embrace all at once the vast ether,
> with limbs, perchance, swift as the flash of lightning
> Thou art as it were a fiery radiance, by whose blaze
> Thou dost see all and dost rule our sun and day.
> Thou art the whole race of gods,
> Thou the cause and strength of all things,
> Thou art all nature, one god innumerable,
> in Thee are both male and female,
> to Thee was once born this god, this universe,
> the home of both men and gods,
> gleaming and sparkling with the sublime flower of youth.
> Breathe Thy favor on my prayer, and grant me to know
> how this universe was created, how born or made.
> Grant, O Father, that I may know the sublime causes,
> by what bond Thou hast sustained the cosmic mass,
> with what insubstantial numbers, even and odd,
> Thou hast, in Thy greatness, woven the Soul,
> and what vigorous force lives in the Swift Bodies.
> Source: http://www.arcanology.com/2005/10/09/a-platonic-hymn-to-the-
> John Uebersax
the article, and was thinking it would be nice to share Lewy's
translation, which I prefer to the Loeb, so thanks for doing it
already. For those interested, here is the Latin, in the text of
Riese from his edition of the Anthologia Latina, again from Lewy's
Omnipotens, annosa poli quem suscipit aetas,
Quem sub millenis semper virtutibus unum
Nec numero quisquam poterit pensare nec aevo,
Nunc esto affatus, si quo te nomine dignum est,
Quo, sacer, ignoto gaudes, quod maxima tellus
Intremit et sistunt rapidos vaga sidera cursus.
Tu solus, tu multus item, tu primus et idem
Postremus mediusque simul mundique superstes.
Nam sine fine tui labentia tempora finis,
Altus ab aeterno spectans fera turbine certo
Rerum fata rapi vitasque involvier aevo
Atque iterum reduces supera in convexa referri.
Scilicet ut mundo redeat, quod partibus (h)austum
Perdiderit, refluumque iterum per corpora fiat.
Tu (siquidem fas est in temet tendere sensum
Et speciem temptare sacram, qua sidera cingis
Immensus longamque simul complecteris aethram
Fulmineis forsan rapida sub imagine membris)
Flammifluum quoddam iubar es, quo cuncta coruscans
Ipse vides nostrumque premis solemque diemque. 20
Tu genus omne deum, tu rerum causa viporque,
Tu natura omnis, deus innumerabilis unus,
Tu sexu plenus toto, tibi nascitur olim
Hic deus, hic mundus, domus hic hominumque deumque,
Lucens, august0 stellatus flore iuventae.
Quem (precor, aspires), qua sit ratione creatus,
Quo genitus factusve modo, da nosse volenti.
Da, pater, augustas ut possim noscere causas,
hlundanas olim moles quo foedere rerum
Sustuleris animamque levi quo maximus olim 30
Texueris numero, quo congrege dissimilique,
Quidque id sit vegetum, quod per cita corpora vivit.
There is much to be gleaned from Lewy's article, which I am still
digesting. One thing of note not included in the Loeb is the
information from the headings in the two oldest MS of the poem: one
has "versus Platonis de deo" and the other "versus Platonis a quodam
Tiberiano de greco in latinum translati." I assume we should be very
hesitant to give full credence to this ascription, that these verses
are actually the words of Plato, but I can certainly imagine a later
writer composing them in his persona, as if he had written them. But
tthis does at least make it all a little more interesting, if nothing
The poem was in fact also noted early on by Kern in his Orphic
fragments, and the notion of Zeus first, middle, and last, certainly
is Orphic, and aside from appearing in the one form in the Derveni
papyrus and the lines quoted in de Mundo, also interestingly enough
appears in those same lines again quoted by Porphyry in one of the
fragments of de cultu simulacrorum, reported by Eusebius. I checked
in the Latin de Mundo, and the same verses are not translated there
into Latin, rather left in Greek. But the more exact formulation of
Zeus first, middle, and last, can be found actually in Plato in the
Laws, which Kern also cites as a fragment. So it's hard to know
exactly what was Tiberianus' source in his poem, maybe just Plato in
the Laws, it must be admitted. As Lewy points out in his artice, we
are much in the world of the Timaeus here in this poem.
I did have a wild idea about the poem, which I suppose is maybe not
that wild. When I first read it I was reminded of the circle of
around Plotinus, including the senator Rogatianus, not that
Tiberianus himself could have been in that circle, if his dates are
correct, since he is later 4th century, but he still must have been
that sort erudite Roman aristocrat, as Prof Dillon described him in
his posting. Then I was considering the possibility of Porphyrean
influence on him, and I thought about those birthday celebrations
held in Plotinus' circle for Plato and Socrates, and Porphyry's
account of his recitation of his poem on the Hieros Gamos that
impressed Plotinus but made another of their circle call him mad -
all this related in his Life of Plotinus.
So my wild speculation: what if this poem were actually a translation
of such an original Greek poem from their circle, via Porphyry? I
haven't been able to track down any secondary literature, if there is
any, on Porphyry's own Hieros Gamos, though if it dealt with the
marriage of Zeus and Chthonie as in Pherecydes, that hieros gamos, it
well could itself had Orphic overtones, I would think.
No, I certainly wouldn't say this poem itself is Porphyry's Hieros
Gamos. But, again, a really wild idea, perhaps: could Tiberianus'
poem actually be a translation of some other poem by Porphyry like
it? Recited perhaps at one of those birthday parties for Plato, with
Plato speaking for himself through the poem - ?!?