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  • Marilynn Lawrence Moore
    ... From: Bryn Mawr Reviews To: Bryn Mawr Classical Review Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 10:29 AM
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Bryn Mawr Reviews" <bmr@...>
      To: "Bryn Mawr Classical Review" <bmcr-l@...>
      Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 10:29 AM
      Subject: BMCR 2008.12.05, Maurizio Migliori, Plato Ethicus


      >
      > Maurizio Migliori, Linda M. Napolitano Valditara, Davide Del Forno
      > (ed.), Plato Ethicus: Philosophy is Life: Proceedings of the
      > International Colloquium, Piacenza (Italy) 2003. Lecturae Platonis; v.
      > 4. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag, 2004. Pp. 353. ISBN
      > 9783896653277. EUR 49.50.
      >
      > Reviewed by Gerald A. Press, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center
      > (gerald.press@...)
      > Word count: 2517 words
      > -------------------------------
      > To read a print-formatted version of this review, see
      > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2008/2008-12-05.html
      > To comment on this review, see
      > http://www.bmcreview.org/2008/12/20081205.html
      > -------------------------------
      >
      > [Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]
      >
      > The papers in this interesting volume are from an international
      > colloquium of the same title held in Piacenza in 2003; they are
      > published here in English, though they have now also appeared in
      > Italian (Brescia: Morcelliana, 2008). Although they represent a variety
      > of approaches to Platonic ethics, they are united in favoring
      > over-arching readings of the Platonic works over the (mere) analysis of
      > particular stretches of Socratic argument. As a group they also
      > constitute a sign of another major change taking place in Plato
      > scholarship, away from the older assumption that Plato, like Aristotle
      > and other philosophers, can be said to have a separate part of
      > philosophy called "ethics."
      >
      > Given the number of papers, I will offer only a few general
      > observations after summarizing the contributions.
      >
      > One complaint made against contemporary Platonic esoterism, is that it
      > ignores or devalues Plato's constant concern with ethical and political
      > questions. Berti reviews the debates and concludes that, given the
      > coincidence of One and Good, there is an ethics in the "unwritten
      > doctrines," which is "founded on an extremely precise ontology" (48).
      >
      > The claim that virtue is knowledge has often been taken as the basis of
      > Plato's ethics. Bravo reviews discussions of episteme from Ryle (1949)
      > and Gould (1955) through Vlastos (1973) and some more recent
      > interventions (Stalley 2000, Tsouna 2001). He concludes that for Plato
      > episteme is both knowing that and knowing how but also "involves the
      > acting self-consciousness of...the subject who obtains it...[and]
      > includes as an essential element self-restraint, namely the capacity of
      > dominating the impulses opposed to virtue...which is equivalent to a
      > return of the soul to the Good" (61).
      >
      > Brisson criticizes books about Plato's ethics and politics -- e.g.,
      > Irwin 1995 and Bobonich 2002 -- that reduce "Plato's ethics to that of
      > Aristotle interpreted in the light of Kant" (63) and fail to deal with
      > the myths. He argues that Plato's ethics don't make sense without the
      > idea of transmigration of the soul and that "myths play a fundamental
      > and permanent role" in this, since in them "we witness the emergence of
      > a tendency to orient ethics towards physics...by resituating man within
      > his place on the scale of all living things" (63). According to
      > Brisson, Plato originated the idea of post-mortem retribution, a nexus
      > of ideas that is physicalized and hierarchialized in the Timaeus. Like
      > several other contributors, Brisson's Plato is rather Neoplatonic.
      >
      > Next come two papers on the much-debated question of the unity of
      > virtue. Casertano argues that, although Protagoras and Laws are as
      > different as comedy and tragedy, they are similar in their treatments
      > of the relation between virtue and the virtues (unity and multiplicity)
      > and share the view that discourse (logos) is to be preferred to mere
      > names and slogans about the definition of virtue. Centrone claims that,
      > although Plato left it open to discussion, there is a dialectical
      > relationship between unity and multiplicity. Plato "thought of the
      > unity of virtue in terms of a holon, or rather a hen-holon, that is an
      > organic and unitarian totality, consisting of different parts which are
      > not merely summed up or juxtaposed" (93). So, the identity thesis
      > should not be ascribed to Socrates. And Vlastos was wrong to see
      > "erroneous inferences within the final argument of the Laches" (105)
      > and thus deny that courage, for example, could be the whole of virtue.
      > Centrone thinks both views are true, in different senses of the term:
      > courage is the whole of virtue since all virtue is knowledge of good
      > and evil, but the virtues differ from each other in that of which each
      > is knowledge.
      >
      > Erler points out, surely correctly, that in the Gorgias and Phaedo
      > argument is not only epistemological but also ethical insofar as it is
      > therapy for the passions, "curing man's irrational elements" (118) as
      > ethical preparation.
      >
      > Ferrari compares ethical ideas in the Timaeus with Platonic ethical
      > ideas that "seem to go back to Socrates' thought" (121) -- e.g., some
      > views about the soul's nature, the proposition that no one does wrong
      > willingly, the idea of kallipolis, and eudaimonia as the telos of human
      > life and as assimilation to the divine. Many of them are proposed
      > again in the Timaeus, but involve, he argues, a de-Socratisation of
      > their theoretical framework in favor of something more cosmic. Ethics
      > is subsumed to physics, practical reason to theoretical.
      >
      > The opposition between philosopher and politician is an ethical topos
      > in several dialogues. Gastaldi examines it in the Republic, Gorgias,
      > and Theaetetus as well as in Aristippus and Antisthenes. The
      > confrontation, in her view, involves different kinds of knowledge as
      > well as different ways of life; but she thinks the opposition is less
      > stark than is often supposed, and overcoming it is "the main objective
      > in the project of the Republic" (145).
      >
      > Gerson is more candid than several other contributors in presenting a
      > Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato's ethics. He is surely right that
      > it offers an interesting alternative to the usual Anglo-American
      > version found in scholars such as Irwin (1977, 1995). Irwin doesn't
      > even consider the passage that was "the key to the Neoplatonic
      > interpretation" (151), Theaetetus 176a5-c5, with its necessity of evil,
      > flight from the world, and likeness to god, which coheres with Timaeus
      > 90b1-d7. For Gerson, a Neoplatonic version of Plato, "does not so much
      > contradict the mainstream interpretations...as it does supersede them
      > in its comprehensiveness" also making "it impossible to view Plato's
      > ethics as autonomous or metaphysically innocent" (164).
      >
      > In an explicitly "exploratory and provisional" way (176), Gill tries to
      > initiate a more nuanced discussion of the role of mathematics in
      > Plato's ethics. He raises objections to the "maximalist" views of the
      > esoteric theorists (such as Berti, Migliori, and Reale in this volume)
      > about the identity of the One and the Good and of Burnyeat that
      > mathematics is the core of Plato's vision of the world.
      >
      > Migliori, one of the editors of the volume, unfortunately allowed
      > himself the longest chapter in the volume. At 50 pages it is more that
      > four times the length of the papers by Gill and Notomi and plumped up
      > with unnecessary quotations. Migliori attempts to resolve the apparent
      > conflict between positive valuations of pleasure in some dialogues and
      > the generally anti-hedonistic tone of many others by relating it to
      > what he considers the fundamental ontological relation between unity
      > and multiplicity. The key is his somewhat mystifying claim that the
      > "structural polyfunctionality of the points of view which Plato adopts
      > case after case,...allow[s] his concepts to undergo often quite diverse
      > adjustments" (223).
      >
      > Assuming, perhaps rather optimistically,, that the history and
      > operation of dialectic are well understood, Napolitano Valditara claims
      > that eunoia, eumeneia, praotes, and philia are prerequisites to it and
      > constitute the ethics of dialectic. They are not merely empty and
      > superficial, but "formal and methodological obligations" (239) for both
      > dialectical participants; and they do not reduce dialectic to something
      > merely emotional because it arises from a cognitive acknowledgement of
      > not knowing. Although the paper is properly contextual, she reads the
      > dialogues uncritically as direct instruction and takes Socrates as
      > Plato's mouthpiece.
      >
      > Plato's way of doing ethics is "historical" rather than "systematic,"
      > according to Notomi, although "dialogical" might be a more accurate
      > word for what he means. Instead of defining the various virtues, Plato
      > uses dramatic dates, settings, and characters in the dialogues to
      > evaluate the specific lives of Socrates and his interlocutors and the
      > ethical issues they raise. Socrates' conversation with Critias in the
      > Charmides illustrates this. Although Critias' statements often sound
      > like Socratic ideas, Plato uses them and other dialogical details to
      > reveal the aristocratic or oligarchic interpretations Critias put on
      > them, thus distinguishing Critias' views from Socrates' and defending
      > Socrates against contemporary and later attacks.
      >
      > Even more than Migliori, Reale uses long and unnecessary quotations --
      > approximately one half of this short paper -- to support the claims
      > that the henological (read: esoteric) metaphysics of One and Many is
      > the basis of Plato's ethical position and is distinct from the
      > Aristotelian ontological metaphysics of being, becoming, and not-being.
      > As appears from the Philebus, the One is the conceptual basis of the
      > ideal city, the moral life, the "great metaphor of the soul" (261), and
      > health of soul and body in the Republic, as well as assimilation to
      > God.
      >
      > Like many other contributors, Rowe asserts that "ethical concerns
      > permeate and inform the whole of the Platonic corpus" (265), but his
      > main point is to argue that the principle that all our desires are for
      > the good is already present in early or transitional dialogues, such as
      > Gorgias, Meno, Euthydemus, Symposium, and Lysis. All the theorizing
      > about ethical goods in these dialogues, Rowe thinks, presupposes the
      > cosmic perspective that becomes explicit in Republic, Philebus, and
      > Timaeus. For Plato, "there is no physics or metaphysics, or indeed
      > much else, without ethics ... and no ethics without physics and
      > metaphysics" (268). Like most other contributors, he takes Socrates'
      > words to be Plato's despite writing, "I am of course perfectly aware
      > that Plato never actually says anything to us himself" (268n8).
      >
      > Santa Cruz deals with "a few...aspects of the Platonic conception of
      > equality in the fields of ethics and politics" (273) in Laws,
      > Politicus, and Republic. She connects proportionate equality (isotes)
      > in Laws with mean or measure (metrion) in Politicus and argues that
      > that conception of equality was first instantiated in the Republic's
      > admission of women into the guardian class.
      >
      > The best chapter in the book is Scolnicov's elegant and sophisticated
      > argument that "...irony is Plato's and his Socrates' main tool for
      > escaping the limitations imposed by the nature of the dialogue form,
      > live or purportedly 'reproduced,' without forfeiting its crucial
      > personal character" (290). Like Notomi, he shows the philosophical
      > import of a literary and dramatic feature of the dialogues; but, beyond
      > this, the paper is the best brief analysis of irony in Plato's
      > dialogues -- what it is and what it does -- currently available.
      > Scolnicov's critiques of interpreters such as Beversluis passim),
      > Vlastos (293), Hadot (294, 297), and others and of interpretive
      > approaches such as dogmatic metaphysics and the esoteric theorists'
      > pursuit of the ungeschreibene Lehre (297f.) are jewels of precision.
      >
      > Tulli plausibly ascribes a broadly ethical dimension to the Menexenus.
      > In it, he claims, Plato offers a mythical history that is the ideal
      > past of an ideal city (katholou) and that counters the real past of the
      > real Athens (kath'hekaston) found in Xenophon and Diodorus.
      >
      > Like many other contributors, Vegetti denies the autonomy of a Platonic
      > ethics. He illustrates the linkage among ethics, politics, anthropology
      > and psychology by examining pleonexia in Republic and Gorgias. Vegetti
      > observes, "the dialogues represent the enactment of the philosophical
      > quest ... [which] will be perceivable as such only subsequent to a
      > thorough reading of the dialogues..." (316).
      >
      > The Bibliography (329-44) seems to include only items cited by
      > contributors, rather than providing more extensive coverage of the
      > volume's topic; and, since some contributors cite many of their own
      > publications, it is somewhat lopsided.
      >
      > The "Introduction" explains why the papers are arranged simply
      > alphabetically. This choice is understandable, but it makes for a sense
      > of disorientation when the reader moves, for example, from a discussion
      > of ethical features of the unwritten doctrines in chapter 1 to the
      > meaning of episteme in "virtue is knowledge" in chapter 2 and then to
      > Platonic myths in chapter 3. The footnotes in the "Introduction"
      > identify a number of interpretive threads of interest connecting
      > various contributions, e.g., seeing a link between ethics and
      > metaphysics or ethics and physics, which might have suggested
      > arrangements more helpful to the reader.
      >
      > As the "Introduction" says, the contributors share two quite reasonable
      > beliefs. First, ethical topics are discussed throughout the corpus
      > because there is no Platonic ethics distinct from other parts of
      > philosophy, as there is in Aristotle and later philosophers. Second,
      > the contributors criticize and reject an approach to interpreting
      > Plato's ethics that used to dominate Platonic scholarship in English.
      > Napolitano Valditara describes it as, "Anglo-Saxon," "linguistic," and
      > "pertaining to the ethical propositions and argumentations" (8), but in
      > practice this turns out to mean opposition to the approach centered on
      > the reconstruction of a "Socratic philosophy", with its attendant
      > assumptions and orientations, rather than to Anglo-Saxon approaches in
      > general. Far more is going on in English writing about Plato's ethics
      > than is suggested by the repeated (even if deserved) criticisms of
      > Vlastos and Irwin in this volume.
      >
      > An attempt to wrest control of the discussion of "Platonic ethics" from
      > the Vlastosians may still have been a good idea in 2000 or 2001, when
      > the conference was being planned, but it now seems somewhat outdated,
      > since the movement appears moribund. It also seems narrow, since many
      > interpreters have long approached the dialogues without trying to
      > extract an autonomous ethical theory. Moreover, most contributors
      > actually share with the Vlastosians a number of developmental,
      > dogmatic, and non-dialogical assumptions that don't represent either
      > the state of the discussion or the diversity of present work.
      > Morcelliana's advertising for the Italian version inaccurately states,
      > "I testi qui raccolti, andando oltre questi modelli interpretativi,
      > dimostrano che Platone parla di etica dialogicamente, come di ogni
      > altro tema." Only the papers by Notomi, Scolnicov, and Tulli can be
      > described as dialogical.
      >
      > It is an interesting idea to publish the same papers both in original
      > languages and in English. Unfortunately, many of the English
      > translations here are not very good, and there are frequent errors in
      > grammar, syntax, usage, and idiom. On the other hand, for those who
      > don't read Italian, German, or Spanish, the volume offers a fine
      > opportunity to encounter unfamiliar scholars and modes of
      > interpretation that are interesting and fruitful in various ways, and
      > certainly worth knowing about. The volume should be read by all who are
      > interested in Plato's ethical ideas and purchased by all research
      > libraries.
      >
      > Table of Contents
      >
      > Linda M. Napolitano Valditara, Introduction (5-33)
      > Enrico Berti, Is There an Ethics in Plato's 'Unwritten Doctrines'?
      > (35-48)
      > Francisco Bravo, What is the Meaning of episteme in the Socratic
      > Proposition e arete episteme estin?"(49-61)
      > Luc Brisson, Myths in Plato's Ethics (63-76)
      > Giovanni Casertano, Virtues and Virtue: Names and Discourse (77-106)
      > Bruno Centrone, Platonic Virtue as a 'holon': From the Laws to the
      > Protagoras (93-106)
      > Michael Erler, 'Socrates in the Cave.' Argumentations as Therapy for
      > Passions in Gorgias and Phaedo (107-20)
      > Franco Ferrari, World's Order and Soul's Order: The Timaeus and the
      > De-Socratisation of Socrates' Ethics (121-32)
      > Silvia Gastaldi, The Philosopher and the Politician: Competing or
      > Comparable Ways of Life (133-50)
      > Lloyd P. Gerson, The Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato's Ethics
      > (151-64)
      > Christopher Gill, Plato, Ethics and Mathematics (165-76)
      > Maurizio Migliori, What is Fair and Good about Virtue? (177-226)
      > Linda M. Napolitano Valditara, An Ethics for Plato's Dialectic?
      > (227-44)
      > Noburu Notomi. Ethical Examination in Context. The Criticism of Critias
      > in Plato's Charmides (245-54)
      > Giovanni Reale, 'Henological' Basis of Plato's Ethics (255-64)
      > Christopher Rowe, "All our desires are for the Good." Reflections on
      > some key Platonic dialogues (265-72)
      > Maria Isabel Santa Cruz, On the Platonic Conception of Equality
      > (273-88)
      > Samuel Scolnicov, Plato's Ethics of Irony (289-300)
      > Mauro Tulli, Ethics and History in Plato's Menexenus (301-14)
      > Mario Vegetti, Anthropologies of 'pleonexia' in Plato (315-26)
      > Bibliography (329-44)
      > -------------------------------
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    • vaeringjar
      ... that it ... political ... (48). ... basis of ... (1949) ... Plato ... the ... capacity of ... to a ... I would be curious to hear others opinions on this:
      Message 2 of 25 , Dec 5, 2008
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        > >
        > > One complaint made against contemporary Platonic esoterism, is
        that it
        > > ignores or devalues Plato's constant concern with ethical and
        political
        > > questions. Berti reviews the debates and concludes that, given the
        > > coincidence of One and Good, there is an ethics in the "unwritten
        > > doctrines," which is "founded on an extremely precise ontology"
        (48).
        > >
        > > The claim that virtue is knowledge has often been taken as the
        basis of
        > > Plato's ethics. Bravo reviews discussions of episteme from Ryle
        (1949)
        > > and Gould (1955) through Vlastos (1973) and some more recent
        > > interventions (Stalley 2000, Tsouna 2001). He concludes that for
        Plato
        > > episteme is both knowing that and knowing how but also "involves
        the
        > > acting self-consciousness of...the subject who obtains it...[and]
        > > includes as an essential element self-restraint, namely the
        capacity of
        > > dominating the impulses opposed to virtue...which is equivalent
        to a
        > > return of the soul to the Good" (61).
        > >

        I would be curious to hear others' opinions on this: when I first
        encountered Plato years ago, after some study of the Presocratics, it
        it rathered surprised me that Plato appeared to place the Good at the
        highest ontological level, since from its name it does sound much
        more a purely ethical concept. But then I started interpreting it,
        perhaps based on an understanding of the term "arete" as not
        merely "courage", to mean rather something along the lines of "the
        best of anything" that could be aspired to, even in a purely physical
        way, as in pure gold, or the finest performing race horse, to
        ultimately an ideal summum abstracted as a pure principle on its own.
        At least this made sense to me, though it could still apply ethically
        as well. This was all before I was aware of the Unwritten Doctrines
        and the whole Pythagorean connection and the One, etc. How do others
        view the Good?

        And isn't that a nice thought there above, "...which is equivalent to
        a return of the soul to the Good." Anamnesis as a personalized, quite
        vivid, and concrete enactment of epistrophe to the One and the Good.
        A true merger of micro- and macrocosm. I like that, though I am not
        sure the author of the article actually intended any so overt
        allusion towards the Neoplatonic concept.

        I guess Iamblichus wouldn't buy into anything this simple though,
        would he? You need those symbola also to get you connected back...

        Dennis Clark
      • John Uebersax
        Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) -- mentioned in the underworld
        Message 3 of 25 , Dec 5, 2008
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          Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) -- mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This would seem an obvious subject for speculation.

          For comparison, St. Ambrose, in De paradiso, interpreted the four rivers of Genesis 2:10-14 in terms of Wisdom and the four cardinal virtues:

          "As Wisdom is the fountain of life, it is also the fountain of spiritual grace. It is also the fountain of other virtues which guide us to the course of eternal life. Therefore, the stream that irrigates Paradise rises from the soul when well-tilled, not from the soul which lies uncultivated. The results therefrom are fruit trees of diverse virtues. There are four principal trees which constitute the divisions of Wisdom. These are the well-known four principal virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The wise men of this world have adopted this division from us and transferred it to their writings. Hence, Wisdom acts as the source from which these four rivers take their rise, producing streams that are composed of these virtues."

          He then goes on to associate Phison with prudence, Gihon with chastity, the Tigris (Hiddekel) with fortitude, and the Euphrates with justice.

          John Uebersax
        • Harold Tarrant
          Dear All, Nothing on my shelf at home that might tell me the proper answer to that question right off, but don t you think that some allegorizing or
          Message 4 of 25 , Dec 5, 2008
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            Dear All,

            Nothing on my shelf at home that might tell me the proper answer to that question right off, but don't you think that some allegorizing or correct-name-theory is already lurking behind Plato Phaedo 112eff anyhow. Note that the author of the Derveni papyrus was already allegorizing Oceanus (=air) and Achelous (=water), presumably before P wrote Cratylus 402b-c on Okeanos, commented on by Proclus in Crat. 144, and there is also discussion of Ocean at in Tim. III 176-80. Of course Scamander/Xanthus is another river discussed in the Crat and Proclus' commentary (and also in the in Tim.).

            Harold

            Prof. Harold Tarrant,
            School of Humanities and Social Science,
            University of Newcastle,
            NSW 2308 Australia
            Ph: (+61) 2 49215230
            Fax: (+61) 2 49216933
            *Eu Prattein*
            >>> John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> 12/06/08 6:02 AM >>>
            Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) -- mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This would seem an obvious subject for speculation.

            For comparison, St. Ambrose, in De paradiso, interpreted the four rivers of Genesis 2:10-14 in terms of Wisdom and the four cardinal virtues:

            "As Wisdom is the fountain of life, it is also the fountain of spiritual grace. It is also the fountain of other virtues which guide us to the course of eternal life. Therefore, the stream that irrigates Paradise rises from the soul when well-tilled, not from the soul which lies uncultivated. The results therefrom are fruit trees of diverse virtues. There are four principal trees which constitute the divisions of Wisdom. These are the well-known four principal virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The wise men of this world have adopted this division from us and transferred it to their writings. Hence, Wisdom acts as the source from which these four rivers take their rise, producing streams that are composed of these virtues."

            He then goes on to associate Phison with prudence, Gihon with chastity, the Tigris (Hiddekel) with fortitude, and the Euphrates with justice.

            John Uebersax
          • vaeringjar
            ... Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) -- mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This would seem an
            Message 5 of 25 , Dec 5, 2008
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              --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Uebersax
              <john.uebersax@...> wrote:
              >
              > Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of
              Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) --
              mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This
              would seem an obvious subject for speculation.
              >
              > For comparison, St. Ambrose, in De paradiso, interpreted the four
              rivers of Genesis 2:10-14 in terms of Wisdom and the four cardinal
              virtues:
              >
              > "As Wisdom is the fountain of life, it is also the fountain of
              spiritual grace. It is also the fountain of other virtues which guide
              us to the course of eternal life. Therefore, the stream that
              irrigates Paradise rises from the soul when well-tilled, not from the
              soul which lies uncultivated. The results therefrom are fruit trees
              of diverse virtues. There are four principal trees which constitute
              the divisions of Wisdom. These are the well-known four principal
              virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The wise men
              of this world have adopted this division from us and transferred it
              to their writings. Hence, Wisdom acts as the source from which these
              four rivers take their rise, producing streams that are composed of
              these virtues."
              >
              > He then goes on to associate Phison with prudence, Gihon with
              chastity, the Tigris (Hiddekel) with fortitude, and the Euphrates
              with justice.
              >
              > John Uebersax
              >

              Would be worth a look at Olympiodorus' and Damascius' commentaries on
              the Phaedo to see if either has anything to say. I'll try to remember
              to do so this weekend.

              By the way, those other two rivers of Paradise, Phison and Gihon, are
              now thought by some to be actually ancient rivers that did apparently
              exist, flowing into the Tigris and Euphrates at a 90 degree angle at
              more or less the current mouths at the Persian Gulf - ancient rivers
              that existed in the Palaeolithic, before the final rising of sea
              levels at the end of the last cold period of the current ice age.
              Their beds have been detected from satellite photos. The four flowed
              together apparently then to form one large river that ran on through
              what would have been a most fertile region before emptying into the
              sea, all of which would have been flooded by the rising sea levels
              from 8000 BC on.

              Dennis Clark
            • S.R.P. Gertz
              Dear John, you might be interested in Numenius attempt to place the rivers of Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus, In Remp. II. 129.6-130.21.
              Message 6 of 25 , Dec 5, 2008
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                Dear John,

                you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers of
                Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus, In Remp. II.
                129.6-130.21. Porphyry's work On the Styx, collected by C. Castelletti,
                Porfirio Sullo Stige (Milan 2006), includes some etymological allegorising
                (fr.4 Castelletti = Stobaeus Ecl. 1.1012 Meineke, based on Apollodorus of
                Athens). In this context, Macrobius has an interesting discussion of the
                underworld, including the rivers as symbolic of human vices, at In
                Somn.Scip.I.X.11 Eyssenhardt. Olympiodorus' commentary on the Phaedo breaks
                off before the myth, but his commentary on the Meteorology defends Plato's
                theory of underground rivers against Aristotle, and contains a broadly
                ethical allegory; cf. Ol.In Met.141.36ff. Stueve CAG XII.2. Damascius,
                interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which the rivers
                are symbolic of the elements, only to reject it in favour of reading them
                as the places and destinations (le^xeis) of souls. Proclus' view is given
                without criticism at Damascius In Phaedonem I.541 Westerink, and refined at
                Dam. In Phd II.145.10ff (ameinon oun...). Let me know what other
                interesting passages you manage to dig up,

                best wishes,

                Seb.

                On Dec 5 2008, vaeringjar wrote:

                >--- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Uebersax
                ><john.uebersax@...> wrote:
                >>
                >> Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of
                >Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) --
                > mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This
                >would seem an obvious subject for speculation.
                >>
                >> For comparison, St. Ambrose, in De paradiso, interpreted the four
                >rivers of Genesis 2:10-14 in terms of Wisdom and the four cardinal
                >virtues:
                >>
                >> "As Wisdom is the fountain of life, it is also the fountain of
                >spiritual grace. It is also the fountain of other virtues which guide
                >us to the course of eternal life. Therefore, the stream that
                >irrigates Paradise rises from the soul when well-tilled, not from the
                >soul which lies uncultivated. The results therefrom are fruit trees
                >of diverse virtues. There are four principal trees which constitute
                >the divisions of Wisdom. These are the well-known four principal
                >virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The wise men
                >of this world have adopted this division from us and transferred it
                >to their writings. Hence, Wisdom acts as the source from which these
                >four rivers take their rise, producing streams that are composed of
                >these virtues."
                >>
                >> He then goes on to associate Phison with prudence, Gihon with
                >chastity, the Tigris (Hiddekel) with fortitude, and the Euphrates
                >with justice.
                >>
                >> John Uebersax
                >>
                >
                >Would be worth a look at Olympiodorus' and Damascius' commentaries on
                >the Phaedo to see if either has anything to say. I'll try to remember
                >to do so this weekend.
                >
                >By the way, those other two rivers of Paradise, Phison and Gihon, are
                >now thought by some to be actually ancient rivers that did apparently
                >exist, flowing into the Tigris and Euphrates at a 90 degree angle at
                >more or less the current mouths at the Persian Gulf - ancient rivers
                >that existed in the Palaeolithic, before the final rising of sea
                >levels at the end of the last cold period of the current ice age.
                >Their beds have been detected from satellite photos. The four flowed
                >together apparently then to form one large river that ran on through
                >what would have been a most fertile region before emptying into the
                >sea, all of which would have been flooded by the rising sea levels
                >from 8000 BC on.
                >
                >Dennis Clark
                >
                >
                >
              • John Uebersax
                Dear Harold, Dennis, Seb, Re: Numenius, Porphyry, Macrobius, Proclus, Olympiodorus, Damascius Thanks! This is very helpful and most promising indeed! John
                Message 7 of 25 , Dec 6, 2008
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                  Dear Harold, Dennis, Seb,

                  Re: Numenius, Porphyry, Macrobius, Proclus, Olympiodorus, Damascius

                  Thanks! This is very helpful and most promising indeed!

                  John Uebersax
                  Brussels
                • Harold Tarrant
                  Glad to read Stephen s contribution. I recall now that Numenius transfer of this kind of thing to the heavens seems to be anticipated with regard to the Styx
                  Message 8 of 25 , Dec 6, 2008
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Glad to read Stephen's contribution. I recall now that Numenius' transfer of this kind of thing to the heavens seems to be anticipated with regard to the Styx at least in the Timarchus story in Plutarch's essay on Socrates' Daimonion, 591a. Related to the question of any misplaced underworld rivers of course is the question of a misplaced Hades, also of interest to Plutarch in the De Facie from 942c.

                    Harold

                    Prof. Harold Tarrant,
                    School of Humanities and Social Science,
                    University of Newcastle,
                    NSW 2308 Australia
                    Ph: (+61) 2 49215230
                    Fax: (+61) 2 49216933
                    *Eu Prattein*
                    >>> "S.R.P. Gertz" <srpg2@...> 12/06/08 11:39 AM >>>
                    Dear John,

                    you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers of
                    Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus, In Remp. II.
                    129.6-130.21. Porphyry's work On the Styx, collected by C. Castelletti,
                    Porfirio Sullo Stige (Milan 2006), includes some etymological allegorising
                    (fr.4 Castelletti = Stobaeus Ecl. 1.1012 Meineke, based on Apollodorus of
                    Athens). In this context, Macrobius has an interesting discussion of the
                    underworld, including the rivers as symbolic of human vices, at In
                    Somn.Scip.I.X.11 Eyssenhardt. Olympiodorus' commentary on the Phaedo breaks
                    off before the myth, but his commentary on the Meteorology defends Plato's
                    theory of underground rivers against Aristotle, and contains a broadly
                    ethical allegory; cf. Ol.In Met.141.36ff. Stueve CAG XII.2. Damascius,
                    interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which the rivers
                    are symbolic of the elements, only to reject it in favour of reading them
                    as the places and destinations (le^xeis) of souls. Proclus' view is given
                    without criticism at Damascius In Phaedonem I.541 Westerink, and refined at
                    Dam. In Phd II.145.10ff (ameinon oun...). Let me know what other
                    interesting passages you manage to dig up,

                    best wishes,

                    Seb.

                    On Dec 5 2008, vaeringjar wrote:

                    >--- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Uebersax
                    ><john.uebersax@...> wrote:
                    >>
                    >> Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of
                    >Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) --
                    > mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This
                    >would seem an obvious subject for speculation.
                    >>
                    >> For comparison, St. Ambrose, in De paradiso, interpreted the four
                    >rivers of Genesis 2:10-14 in terms of Wisdom and the four cardinal
                    >virtues:
                    >>
                    >> "As Wisdom is the fountain of life, it is also the fountain of
                    >spiritual grace. It is also the fountain of other virtues which guide
                    >us to the course of eternal life. Therefore, the stream that
                    >irrigates Paradise rises from the soul when well-tilled, not from the
                    >soul which lies uncultivated. The results therefrom are fruit trees
                    >of diverse virtues. There are four principal trees which constitute
                    >the divisions of Wisdom. These are the well-known four principal
                    >virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The wise men
                    >of this world have adopted this division from us and transferred it
                    >to their writings. Hence, Wisdom acts as the source from which these
                    >four rivers take their rise, producing streams that are composed of
                    >these virtues."
                    >>
                    >> He then goes on to associate Phison with prudence, Gihon with
                    >chastity, the Tigris (Hiddekel) with fortitude, and the Euphrates
                    >with justice.
                    >>
                    >> John Uebersax
                    >>
                    >
                    >Would be worth a look at Olympiodorus' and Damascius' commentaries on
                    >the Phaedo to see if either has anything to say. I'll try to remember
                    >to do so this weekend.
                    >
                    >By the way, those other two rivers of Paradise, Phison and Gihon, are
                    >now thought by some to be actually ancient rivers that did apparently
                    >exist, flowing into the Tigris and Euphrates at a 90 degree angle at
                    >more or less the current mouths at the Persian Gulf - ancient rivers
                    >that existed in the Palaeolithic, before the final rising of sea
                    >levels at the end of the last cold period of the current ice age.
                    >Their beds have been detected from satellite photos. The four flowed
                    >together apparently then to form one large river that ran on through
                    >what would have been a most fertile region before emptying into the
                    >sea, all of which would have been flooded by the rising sea levels
                    >from 8000 BC on.
                    >
                    >Dennis Clark
                    >
                    >
                    >
                  • vaeringjar
                    ... Castelletti, ... allegorising ... Apollodorus of ... of the ... Phaedo breaks ... Plato s ... broadly ... Damascius, ... the rivers ... reading them ...
                    Message 9 of 25 , Dec 6, 2008
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                      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "S.R.P. Gertz" <srpg2@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Dear John,
                      >
                      > you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers of
                      > Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus, In Remp. II.
                      > 129.6-130.21. Porphyry's work On the Styx, collected by C.
                      Castelletti,
                      > Porfirio Sullo Stige (Milan 2006), includes some etymological
                      allegorising
                      > (fr.4 Castelletti = Stobaeus Ecl. 1.1012 Meineke, based on
                      Apollodorus of
                      > Athens). In this context, Macrobius has an interesting discussion
                      of the
                      > underworld, including the rivers as symbolic of human vices, at In
                      > Somn.Scip.I.X.11 Eyssenhardt. Olympiodorus' commentary on the
                      Phaedo breaks
                      > off before the myth, but his commentary on the Meteorology defends
                      Plato's
                      > theory of underground rivers against Aristotle, and contains a
                      broadly
                      > ethical allegory; cf. Ol.In Met.141.36ff. Stueve CAG XII.2.
                      Damascius,
                      > interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which
                      the rivers
                      > are symbolic of the elements, only to reject it in favour of
                      reading them
                      > as the places and destinations (le^xeis) of souls. Proclus' view is
                      given
                      > without criticism at Damascius In Phaedonem I.541 Westerink, and
                      refined at
                      > Dam. In Phd II.145.10ff (ameinon oun...). Let me know what other
                      > interesting passages you manage to dig up,
                      >
                      > best wishes,
                      >
                      > Seb.
                      >


                      Yes, that's about all can be said about the two Comm. on the Phaedo
                      of Olympiodorus and Damascius. Took a look at Westerink's edition of
                      them today, both playing off of Proclus most likely. All we know of
                      Iamblichus' on the Phaedo is to be extracted from Olympiodorus',
                      judging from Prof. Dillon's edition of the fragments, so I gather we
                      don't know how he would have allegorized the rivers or not.

                      Dennis Clark
                    • Jake Stratton-Kent
                      ... . Damascius, ... This is a very interesting thread, could you possibly list these planetary and elemental associations, as I am lacking the sources you
                      Message 10 of 25 , Dec 7, 2008
                      • 0 Attachment
                        2008/12/6 S.R.P. Gertz <srpg2@...>:
                        > Dear John,
                        >
                        > you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers of
                        > Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus,

                        . Damascius,
                        > interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which the rivers
                        > are symbolic of the elements,

                        This is a very interesting thread, could you possibly list these
                        planetary and elemental associations, as I am lacking the sources you
                        mention?

                        Jake
                      • Jake Stratton-Kent
                        ... PS I was wondering how closely they match Agrippa, who was certainly versed in Neoplatonism, but occasionally mismatches such associations (his virtues may
                        Message 11 of 25 , Dec 7, 2008
                        • 0 Attachment
                          2008/12/7 Jake Stratton-Kent <jakestrattonkent@...>:
                          > 2008/12/6 S.R.P. Gertz <srpg2@...>:
                          >> Dear John,
                          >>
                          >> you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers of
                          >> Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus,
                          >
                          > . Damascius,
                          >> interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which the rivers
                          >> are symbolic of the elements,
                          >
                          > This is a very interesting thread, could you possibly list these
                          > planetary and elemental associations, as I am lacking the sources you
                          > mention?
                          >
                          > Jake
                          >
                          PS I was wondering how closely they match Agrippa, who was certainly
                          versed in Neoplatonism, but occasionally mismatches such associations
                          (his virtues may be different too).

                          His Scale of the Number Four gives::

                          Phlegethon-Fire-Justice-Sun&Mars
                          Cocytus-Air-Temperance-Jupiter&Venus
                          Styx-Water-Prudence-Saturn&Mercury
                          Acheron-Earth-Fortitude-Fixed Stars&Moon

                          Jake
                        • John Dilon
                          ... St. Ambrose, by the way, is simply cogging this allegory from Philo of Alexandria (in Book I of the Legum Allegoriae). JMD [Non-text portions of this
                          Message 12 of 25 , Dec 7, 2008
                          • 0 Attachment
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > Glad to read Stephen's contribution. I recall now that Numenius' transfer of
                            > this kind of thing to the heavens seems to be anticipated with regard to the
                            > Styx at least in the Timarchus story in Plutarch's essay on Socrates'
                            > Daimonion, 591a. Related to the question of any misplaced underworld rivers of
                            > course is the question of a misplaced Hades, also of interest to Plutarch in
                            > the De Facie from 942c.
                            >
                            > Harold
                            >
                            > Prof. Harold Tarrant,
                            > School of Humanities and Social Science,
                            > University of Newcastle,
                            > NSW 2308 Australia
                            > Ph: (+61) 2 49215230
                            > Fax: (+61) 2 49216933
                            > *Eu Prattein*
                            >>>> >>> "S.R.P. Gertz" <srpg2@... <mailto:srpg2%40cam.ac.uk> > 12/06/08
                            >>>> 11:39 AM >>>
                            > Dear John,
                            >
                            > you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers of
                            > Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus, In Remp. II.
                            > 129.6-130.21. Porphyry's work On the Styx, collected by C. Castelletti,
                            > Porfirio Sullo Stige (Milan 2006), includes some etymological allegorising
                            > (fr.4 Castelletti = Stobaeus Ecl. 1.1012 Meineke, based on Apollodorus of
                            > Athens). In this context, Macrobius has an interesting discussion of the
                            > underworld, including the rivers as symbolic of human vices, at In
                            > Somn.Scip.I.X.11 Eyssenhardt. Olympiodorus' commentary on the Phaedo breaks
                            > off before the myth, but his commentary on the Meteorology defends Plato's
                            > theory of underground rivers against Aristotle, and contains a broadly
                            > ethical allegory; cf. Ol.In Met.141.36ff. Stueve CAG XII.2. Damascius,
                            > interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which the rivers
                            > are symbolic of the elements, only to reject it in favour of reading them
                            > as the places and destinations (le^xeis) of souls. Proclus' view is given
                            > without criticism at Damascius In Phaedonem I.541 Westerink, and refined at
                            > Dam. In Phd II.145.10ff (ameinon oun...). Let me know what other
                            > interesting passages you manage to dig up,
                            >
                            > best wishes,
                            >
                            > Seb.
                            >
                            > On Dec 5 2008, vaeringjar wrote:
                            >
                            >> >--- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <mailto:neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com>
                            >> , John Uebersax
                            >> ><john.uebersax@...> wrote:
                            >>> >>
                            >>> >> Have any Neoplatonist commentators allegorized the rivers of
                            >> >Tartarus -- Oceanus, Acheron, Pyriphlegethon, and Styx (or Cocytus) --
                            >> > mentioned in the underworld description of Phaedo 111c - 113e? This
                            >> >would seem an obvious subject for speculation.
                            >>> >>
                            >>> >> For comparison, St. Ambrose, in De paradiso, interpreted the four
                            >> >rivers of Genesis 2:10-14 in terms of Wisdom and the four cardinal
                            >> >virtues:
                            >>> >>
                            >>> >> "As Wisdom is the fountain of life, it is also the fountain of
                            >> >spiritual grace. It is also the fountain of other virtues which guide
                            >> >us to the course of eternal life. Therefore, the stream that
                            >> >irrigates Paradise rises from the soul when well-tilled, not from the
                            >> >soul which lies uncultivated. The results therefrom are fruit trees
                            >> >of diverse virtues. There are four principal trees which constitute
                            >> >the divisions of Wisdom. These are the well-known four principal
                            >> >virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice. The wise men
                            >> >of this world have adopted this division from us and transferred it
                            >> >to their writings. Hence, Wisdom acts as the source from which these
                            >> >four rivers take their rise, producing streams that are composed of
                            >> >these virtues."
                            >>> >>
                            >>> >> He then goes on to associate Phison with prudence, Gihon with
                            >> >chastity, the Tigris (Hiddekel) with fortitude, and the Euphrates
                            >> >with justice.
                            >>> >>
                            >>> >> John Uebersax
                            >>> >>
                            >> >
                            >> >Would be worth a look at Olympiodorus' and Damascius' commentaries on
                            >> >the Phaedo to see if either has anything to say. I'll try to remember
                            >> >to do so this weekend.
                            >> >
                            >> >By the way, those other two rivers of Paradise, Phison and Gihon, are
                            >> >now thought by some to be actually ancient rivers that did apparently
                            >> >exist, flowing into the Tigris and Euphrates at a 90 degree angle at
                            >> >more or less the current mouths at the Persian Gulf - ancient rivers
                            >> >that existed in the Palaeolithic, before the final rising of sea
                            >> >levels at the end of the last cold period of the current ice age.
                            >> >Their beds have been detected from satellite photos. The four flowed
                            >> >together apparently then to form one large river that ran on through
                            >> >what would have been a most fertile region before emptying into the
                            >> >sea, all of which would have been flooded by the rising sea levels
                            >> >from 8000 BC on.
                            >> >
                            >> >Dennis Clark
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >> >
                            >
                            >
                            >

                            St. Ambrose, by the way, is simply cogging this allegory from Philo of
                            Alexandria (in Book I of the Legum Allegoriae). JMD


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Stephen Lovatt
                            Dear Dennis, ... Presocratics, ... the highest ... purely ethical ... Indeed. Words can be deceptive! ... of the term ... lines of ... physical way, ... an
                            Message 13 of 25 , Dec 8, 2008
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Dear Dennis,

                              you write:

                              > I would be curious to hear others' opinions on this:
                              > when I first encountered Plato years ago, after some study of the
                              Presocratics,
                              > it it rathered surprised me that Plato appeared to place the Good at
                              the highest
                              > ontological level, since from its name it does sound much more a
                              purely ethical
                              > concept.

                              Indeed. Words can be deceptive!

                              > But then I started interpreting it, perhaps based on an understanding
                              of the term
                              > "arete" as not merely "courage", to mean rather something along the
                              lines of
                              > "the best of anything" that could be aspired to, even in a purely
                              physical way,
                              > as in pure gold, or the finest performing race horse, to ultimately
                              an ideal summum
                              > abstracted as a pure principle on its own. At least this made sense
                              to me, though it
                              > could still apply ethically as well. This was all before I was aware
                              of the Unwritten
                              > Doctrines and the whole Pythagorean connection and the One, etc.
                              > How do others view the Good?

                              I tend to the view that "The Good" is unconditional and non-contingent
                              being; that is "God" as in "I Am who Am". Plato says that "the Good" is
                              greater than being - but I think that he means "created and contingent
                              being - elsewise known as existence"

                              From Republic Book VI:

                              "And beauty itself, and good itself .... we set down according to a
                              single form of each, believing that there is but one, and calling it
                              'the being' of each.... and we say that the many beautiful things and
                              the rest are visible, but not intelligible; while the forms are
                              intelligible but not visible." [507b]

                              "The sun is not sight, but isn't it the cause of sight itself and seen
                              by it? ... this is what I call the offspring of 'the good', which 'the
                              good' begot as its analogue. What the good itself is in the intelligible
                              realm, in relation to understanding and intelligible things, the sun is
                              in the visible realm, relation to sight and visible things.... when [the
                              soul] focuses on something illuminated by truth and what is; it
                              understands, knows and apparently possesses understanding, but when it
                              focuses on what is mixed with obscurity - on what comes to be and passes
                              away - it opines and is dimmed, changes its opinions this way and that,
                              and seems bereft of understanding.... So that what gives truth to the
                              things known and the power to know to the knower is the form of the
                              good. And though it is the cause of knowledge and truth, it is also an
                              object of knowledge. Both knowledge and truth are beautiful things, but
                              the good is other and more beautiful than they. In the visible realm,
                              light and sight are rightly considered sun like; but it is wrong to
                              think that they are the sun, so here it is right to think of knowledge
                              and truth as good like but wrong to think that either of them is 'the
                              good' - for 'the good' is yet more prized!" [508b-e]#

                              "... not only do the objects of knowledge owe their being known to 'the
                              good', but their being is also due to it, although 'the good' is not
                              being, but superior to it in rank and power." [509b]

                              I tend to the view that "value" is fundamentally equivalent to "being"
                              [It is good to be.] and so there is no conflict between the notion of
                              "The Good" as the basis of value (and so ethics) and the notion of "The
                              Good" as "unconditional being" and so the basis of ontology.

                              Stephen Lovatt


                              Author of

                              "New Skins for Old Wine: Plato's Wisdom for Today's World"

                              see
                              http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pharseas.world/NewSkins.html
                              and
                              http://www.universal-publishers.com/book.php?method=ISBN&book=1581129602
                              and
                              http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1581129602
                              and
                              http://www.myspace.com/pharsea
                            • Jan Opsomer
                              Dear all, you might be pleased to know that Carlos Steel is writing an article on the rivers of the underworld. The provisional title is: Neoplatonic
                              Message 14 of 25 , Dec 9, 2008
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                                Dear all,

                                you might be pleased to know that Carlos Steel is writing an article
                                on the rivers of the underworld. The provisional title is:

                                Neoplatonic interpretations of the cosmology in the Phaedo myth

                                and it will be published in a volume on the Neoplatonic philosophy of
                                nature published by James Wilberding and Christoph Horn (with OUP).

                                Kind regards,

                                Jan Opsomer
                              • vaeringjar
                                ... of ... the rivers ... you ... Here is what is what Damascius has to say on this, in the second commentary, which has more discussion of this passage in the
                                Message 15 of 25 , Dec 10, 2008
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                                  --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "Jake Stratton-Kent"
                                  <jakestrattonkent@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > 2008/12/6 S.R.P. Gertz <srpg2@...>:
                                  > > Dear John,
                                  > >
                                  > > you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers
                                  of
                                  > > Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus,
                                  >
                                  > . Damascius,
                                  > > interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which
                                  the rivers
                                  > > are symbolic of the elements,
                                  >
                                  > This is a very interesting thread, could you possibly list these
                                  > planetary and elemental associations, as I am lacking the sources
                                  you
                                  > mention?
                                  >
                                  > Jake
                                  >

                                  Here is what is what Damascius has to say on this, in the second
                                  commentary, which has more discussion of this passage in the Phaedo
                                  thatn the first, giving the "commentator's" (= Proclus') view first:

                                  Ocean = water
                                  Cocytus/Stygius = earth
                                  Pyriphlegethon = fire
                                  Acheron = air

                                  He then expands on the identifications thus:

                                  "This is the commentator's opinion, but the postiion of the rivers
                                  does not accord with it: the first and highest is Oceanus, under it
                                  is the Acheron, under it again the Pyriphlegethon, under which the
                                  Cocytus; besides they are all called rivers, whereas the elements
                                  have different qualities. Therefore it is better to explain them as
                                  destinations and abodes of souls belonging to four different ranks
                                  and, beyond this, as divine characteristics: the power of
                                  delimitation is symbolized by the Oceanus, that of purification by
                                  the Acheron, that of chastistment through heat by Pyriphlegethon,
                                  that of chastistment of cold by the Cocytus." (pp.362-64 of
                                  Westerink's edition, his translation)

                                  Dennis Clark
                                • Jake Stratton-Kent
                                  thanks for that, certainly seem to be some variety of interpretation. ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  Message 16 of 25 , Dec 11, 2008
                                  • 0 Attachment
                                    thanks for that, certainly seem to be some variety of interpretation.


                                    On 10/12/2008, vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com>,
                                    > "Jake Stratton-Kent"
                                    > <jakestrattonkent@...> wrote:
                                    > >
                                    > > 2008/12/6 S.R.P. Gertz <srpg2@...>:
                                    > > > Dear John,
                                    > > >
                                    > > > you might be interested in Numenius' attempt to place the rivers
                                    > of
                                    > > > Tartarus in the planetary spheres, after Proclus,
                                    > >
                                    > > . Damascius,
                                    > > > interestingly, considers the view of Proclus, according to which
                                    > the rivers
                                    > > > are symbolic of the elements,
                                    > >
                                    > > This is a very interesting thread, could you possibly list these
                                    > > planetary and elemental associations, as I am lacking the sources
                                    > you
                                    > > mention?
                                    > >
                                    > > Jake
                                    > >
                                    >
                                    > Here is what is what Damascius has to say on this, in the second
                                    > commentary, which has more discussion of this passage in the Phaedo
                                    > thatn the first, giving the "commentator's" (= Proclus') view first:
                                    >
                                    > Ocean = water
                                    > Cocytus/Stygius = earth
                                    > Pyriphlegethon = fire
                                    > Acheron = air
                                    >
                                    > He then expands on the identifications thus:
                                    >
                                    > "This is the commentator's opinion, but the postiion of the rivers
                                    > does not accord with it: the first and highest is Oceanus, under it
                                    > is the Acheron, under it again the Pyriphlegethon, under which the
                                    > Cocytus; besides they are all called rivers, whereas the elements
                                    > have different qualities. Therefore it is better to explain them as
                                    > destinations and abodes of souls belonging to four different ranks
                                    > and, beyond this, as divine characteristics: the power of
                                    > delimitation is symbolized by the Oceanus, that of purification by
                                    > the Acheron, that of chastistment through heat by Pyriphlegethon,
                                    > that of chastistment of cold by the Cocytus." (pp.362-64 of
                                    > Westerink's edition, his translation)
                                    >
                                    > Dennis Clark
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >


                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                  • John Uebersax
                                    Per the discussion, this looks interesting: Avraham {sic} Ibn Ezra s {1092 - 1167} commentary (in M. Friedlander s _Essays on the Writings of Abraham
                                    Message 17 of 25 , Dec 13, 2008
                                    • 0 Attachment
                                      Per the discussion, this looks interesting:



                                      <quote>

                                      Avraham {sic} Ibn Ezra's {1092 - 1167} commentary (in M. Friedlander's
                                      _Essays on the Writings of Abraham Ibn Ezra_, 40) reads as follows:
                                      "And now I will reveal to you by allusion the secret of the gardens and
                                      the rivers {of Genesis 2:10 ff.} ... And I have not found this matter
                                      discussed by any of the sages except R. Solomon Ibn Gabirol, who was a
                                      great sage and saw into matters of the soul's mystery.... And the
                                      'river' -- is like a mother (which is to say, the universal natural
                                      common matter) to all bodies; and the 'four heads' [fonts] -- are the
                                      roots -- [the elements of fire, wind, water, dust]." In the standard
                                      editions of his commentary Ibn Ezra writes: "And he who understands
                                      this mystery will understand how the river diverges."

                                      </quote>

                                      Comments in {} are mine, those in [] are Cole's (or perhaps Friedlander's).



                                      From:



                                      Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol

                                      Peter Cole, tr.

                                      Princeton 2001

                                      p. 298 (Notes to pp. 151-152)

                                      ISBN 0691070326, 9780691070322

                                      http://books.google.com/books?id=r45AiSz85pMC



                                      John Uebersax

                                      --- On Wed, 12/10/08, vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...> wrote:
                                      From: vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...>
                                      Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Rivers of Tartarus
                                      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                                      Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 2:23 PM




                                      Here is what is what Damascius has to say on this, in the second

                                      commentary, which has more discussion of this passage in the Phaedo

                                      thatn the first, giving the "commentator' s" (= Proclus') view first:



                                      Ocean = water

                                      Cocytus/Stygius = earth

                                      Pyriphlegethon = fire

                                      Acheron = air



                                      He then expands on the identifications thus:



                                      "This is the commentator' s opinion, but the postiion of the rivers

                                      does not accord with it: the first and highest is Oceanus, under it

                                      is the Acheron, under it again the Pyriphlegethon, under which the

                                      Cocytus; besides they are all called rivers, whereas the elements

                                      have different qualities. Therefore it is better to explain them as

                                      destinations and abodes of souls belonging to four different ranks

                                      and, beyond this, as divine characteristics: the power of

                                      delimitation is symbolized by the Oceanus, that of purification by

                                      the Acheron, that of chastistment through heat by Pyriphlegethon,

                                      that of chastistment of cold by the Cocytus." (pp.362-64 of

                                      Westerink's edition, his translation)



                                      Dennis Clark





















                                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                    • vaeringjar
                                      ... I was curious to see if Proclus had anything to say on this subject in his commentary on the Timaeus, and sure enough he refers to the four rivers as
                                      Message 18 of 25 , Dec 13, 2008
                                      • 0 Attachment
                                        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "Jake Stratton-Kent"
                                        <jakestrattonkent@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > thanks for that, certainly seem to be some variety of interpretation.
                                        >
                                        >

                                        I was curious to see if Proclus had anything to say on this subject in
                                        his commentary on the Timaeus, and sure enough he refers to the four
                                        rivers as associated with the four elements, without giving the direct
                                        identifications, at in Tim. II.49. Festugiere's note ad loc (vol.iii
                                        p.79) refers to Olympiodorus' commentary on the Phaedo, especially
                                        Norvin 202.12, where he actually gives the same detailed identification
                                        as Proclus apud Damascium, which I had missed when I looked at the
                                        Olympiodorus, but also claims the whole idea is Orphic (=
                                        Orph.fr.123K).

                                        And why not?...:)

                                        Dennis Clark
                                      • Tzvi Langermann
                                        Just to remind us all that the poet Ibn Gabirol, cited by Ibn Ezra, is also the philosopher Avicebron, whose Fons Viate was a key text for Latin neoplatonism.
                                        Message 19 of 25 , Dec 13, 2008
                                        • 0 Attachment
                                          Just to remind us all that the poet Ibn Gabirol, cited by Ibn Ezra, is also
                                          the philosopher Avicebron, whose Fons Viate was a key text for Latin
                                          neoplatonism. Ibn Ezra's juicy tidbits are all we have of whatever
                                          allegorical commentary on the Bible (if that's what it was) that Ibn Gabirol
                                          wrote.

                                          Y. Tzvi Langermann
                                          Department of Arabic
                                          Bar Ilan University
                                          ----- Original Message -----
                                          From: "John Uebersax" <john.uebersax@...>
                                          To: <neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com>
                                          Sent: Saturday, December 13, 2008 8:01 PM
                                          Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Rivers of Tartarus


                                          >
                                          > Per the discussion, this looks interesting:
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > <quote>
                                          >
                                          > Avraham {sic} Ibn Ezra's {1092 - 1167} commentary (in M. Friedlander's
                                          > _Essays on the Writings of Abraham Ibn Ezra_, 40) reads as follows:
                                          > "And now I will reveal to you by allusion the secret of the gardens and
                                          > the rivers {of Genesis 2:10 ff.} ... And I have not found this matter
                                          > discussed by any of the sages except R. Solomon Ibn Gabirol, who was a
                                          > great sage and saw into matters of the soul's mystery.... And the
                                          > 'river' -- is like a mother (which is to say, the universal natural
                                          > common matter) to all bodies; and the 'four heads' [fonts] -- are the
                                          > roots -- [the elements of fire, wind, water, dust]." In the standard
                                          > editions of his commentary Ibn Ezra writes: "And he who understands
                                          > this mystery will understand how the river diverges."
                                          >
                                          > </quote>
                                          >
                                          > Comments in {} are mine, those in [] are Cole's (or perhaps
                                          > Friedlander's).
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > From:
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Selected Poems of Solomon Ibn Gabirol
                                          >
                                          > Peter Cole, tr.
                                          >
                                          > Princeton 2001
                                          >
                                          > p. 298 (Notes to pp. 151-152)
                                          >
                                          > ISBN 0691070326, 9780691070322
                                          >
                                          > http://books.google.com/books?id=r45AiSz85pMC
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > John Uebersax
                                          >
                                          > --- On Wed, 12/10/08, vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...> wrote:
                                          > From: vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...>
                                          > Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Rivers of Tartarus
                                          > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                                          > Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 2:23 PM
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Here is what is what Damascius has to say on this, in the second
                                          >
                                          > commentary, which has more discussion of this passage in the Phaedo
                                          >
                                          > thatn the first, giving the "commentator' s" (= Proclus') view first:
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Ocean = water
                                          >
                                          > Cocytus/Stygius = earth
                                          >
                                          > Pyriphlegethon = fire
                                          >
                                          > Acheron = air
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > He then expands on the identifications thus:
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > "This is the commentator' s opinion, but the postiion of the rivers
                                          >
                                          > does not accord with it: the first and highest is Oceanus, under it
                                          >
                                          > is the Acheron, under it again the Pyriphlegethon, under which the
                                          >
                                          > Cocytus; besides they are all called rivers, whereas the elements
                                          >
                                          > have different qualities. Therefore it is better to explain them as
                                          >
                                          > destinations and abodes of souls belonging to four different ranks
                                          >
                                          > and, beyond this, as divine characteristics: the power of
                                          >
                                          > delimitation is symbolized by the Oceanus, that of purification by
                                          >
                                          > the Acheron, that of chastistment through heat by Pyriphlegethon,
                                          >
                                          > that of chastistment of cold by the Cocytus." (pp.362-64 of
                                          >
                                          > Westerink's edition, his translation)
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > Dennis Clark
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          >
                                          >
                                          > ------------------------------------
                                          >
                                          > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >
                                          >


                                          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



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                                          18:59
                                        • Harold Tarrant
                                          Dear All, We have to be a bit careful in re-using citations of Olympiodorus On the Phaedo, as most of what was in Norvin is now regarded as Damascius.
                                          Message 20 of 25 , Dec 14, 2008
                                          • 0 Attachment
                                            Dear All,

                                            We have to be a bit careful in re-using citations of Olympiodorus On the Phaedo, as most of what was in Norvin is now regarded as Damascius. Westerink's Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo will help here. The Olympiodorus commentary is quite limited and does not cover the myth, and I think all the key terms/names are absent from W's Olymopiodorus index. So we are dealing with only Proclus and Damascius really. Damascius is an important source for Orphism, even early Orphism, and what I said early in this discussion about the Derveni Papyrus shows that some rivers at least were being treated as symbols for the physical elements among Orphic sympathizers by Plato's time. The Derveni author probably had no occasion to refer to the four rivers of the Underworld in his exegesis of his Orphic Zeus-text, but gives a pretty good idea about how others like him might have interpreted them. Perhaps in Numenius fr. 36 (only from Porphyry a century after) we find an indication that he too had some real insight into something in common between Orphic interpreters of the Classical period and Plato's myths. However, that is probably no excuse for taking too much of what Plato is doing as recasting Orphic beliefs. Still, he does seem to have been influenced by some 'Orphic' ideas of myth-like communication: if, that is, we should view the Derveni author more as an Orphic interpreter than as a Neo-Anaxagorean interpreter. The exact story of what is going on here is very difficult to fathom, which I guess if why some Platonists shun Orphism as if it were Tartarus!

                                            Good luck, and a happy festive season to my fellow white-water rafters,

                                            Harold

                                            Prof. Harold Tarrant,
                                            School of Humanities and Social Science,
                                            University of Newcastle,
                                            NSW 2308 Australia
                                            Ph: (+61) 2 49215230
                                            Fax: (+61) 2 49216933
                                            *Eu Prattein*

                                            >>> vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...> 14/12/2008 9:02 am >>>
                                            --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "Jake Stratton-Kent"
                                            <jakestrattonkent@...> wrote:
                                            >
                                            > thanks for that, certainly seem to be some variety of interpretation.
                                            >
                                            >

                                            I was curious to see if Proclus had anything to say on this subject in
                                            his commentary on the Timaeus, and sure enough he refers to the four
                                            rivers as associated with the four elements, without giving the direct
                                            identifications, at in Tim. II.49. Festugiere's note ad loc (vol.iii
                                            p.79) refers to Olympiodorus' commentary on the Phaedo, especially
                                            Norvin 202.12, where he actually gives the same detailed identification
                                            as Proclus apud Damascium, which I had missed when I looked at the
                                            Olympiodorus, but also claims the whole idea is Orphic (=
                                            Orph.fr.123K).

                                            And why not?...:)

                                            Dennis Clark
                                          • vaeringjar
                                            ... On the Phaedo, as most of what was in Norvin is now regarded as Damascius. Westerink s Greek Commentaries on Plato s Phaedo will help here. The
                                            Message 21 of 25 , Dec 15, 2008
                                            • 0 Attachment
                                              --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Harold Tarrant
                                              <Harold.Tarrant@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > Dear All,
                                              >
                                              > We have to be a bit careful in re-using citations of Olympiodorus
                                              On the Phaedo, as most of what was in Norvin is now regarded as
                                              Damascius. Westerink's Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo will help
                                              here. The Olympiodorus commentary is quite limited and does not cover
                                              the myth, and I think all the key terms/names are absent from W's
                                              Olymopiodorus index. So we are dealing with only Proclus and
                                              Damascius really. Damascius is an important source for Orphism, even
                                              early Orphism, and what I said early in this discussion about the
                                              Derveni Papyrus shows that some rivers at least were being treated as
                                              symbols for the physical elements among Orphic sympathizers by
                                              Plato's time. The Derveni author probably had no occasion to refer to
                                              the four rivers of the Underworld in his exegesis of his Orphic Zeus-
                                              text, but gives a pretty good idea about how others like him might
                                              have interpreted them. Perhaps in Numenius fr. 36 (only from Porphyry
                                              a century after) we find an indication that he too had some real
                                              insight into something in common between Orphic interpreters of the
                                              Classical period and Plato's myths. However, that is probably no
                                              excuse for taking too much of what Plato is doing as recasting Orphic
                                              beliefs. Still, he does seem to have been influenced by some 'Orphic'
                                              ideas of myth-like communication: if, that is, we should view the
                                              Derveni author more as an Orphic interpreter than as a Neo-
                                              Anaxagorean interpreter. The exact story of what is going on here is
                                              very difficult to fathom, which I guess if why some Platonists shun
                                              Orphism as if it were Tartarus!
                                              >
                                              > Good luck, and a happy festive season to my fellow white-water
                                              rafters,
                                              >
                                              > Harold
                                              >
                                              > Prof. Harold Tarrant,
                                              > School of Humanities and Social Science,
                                              > University of Newcastle,
                                              > NSW 2308 Australia
                                              > Ph: (+61) 2 49215230
                                              > Fax: (+61) 2 49216933
                                              > *Eu Prattein*
                                              >

                                              I am sorry about that - I was in a bit of a hurry when I posted that
                                              last and took Festugiere's note without cross-checking in Westerink,
                                              which I guess hadn't been published when Festugiere did his Timaeus
                                              translation (?), hence his reference only to Norvin and so didn't
                                              realize it was really in one of Damascius' set of lectures and not
                                              Olympiodorus'. Looks like I slipped into the Tartarus hole a bit
                                              there, probably looking for some warmth up here in the Frozen
                                              Northwest!

                                              Dennis Clark
                                            • John Uebersax
                                              The recent discussion on rivers reminds me of another topic: the multi-candle Advent wreath and the menorah. While this association might seem idiosyncratic,
                                              Message 22 of 25 , Dec 15, 2008
                                              • 0 Attachment
                                                The recent discussion on rivers reminds me of another topic: the multi-candle Advent wreath and the menorah. While this association might seem idiosyncratic, at least it fits the season. So, for your possible amusement...

                                                We first posit that a custom which enjoys wide popularity and/or long history must derive its appeal from some important symbolic meaning. Thus, while restraint is appropriate, we should not avoid completely speculation as to meanings.

                                                Recall that the Advent wreath has four candles arranged in a square, and a larger central one. The vertex candles are lit one per week; and on Christmas the center candle (sometimes called the Christ candle) is lit.

                                                Now if we have four rivers of Eden, which Philo and others see as symbolic of elemental virtues of the soul, may we not see in the four candles something similar?

                                                Or consider the seven candle Temple menorah (something, one might add, potentially brought from Egypt). It doesn't seem too remote to see something "planetary" or Neopythagorean in the seven candles; indeed, one might be surprised if a Pythagorizing Jew some time has not made the connection. That is, the seven candles of the menorah could potentially symbolize seven planetary 'gods' and corresponding elements/forces of the human psyche. (Okay, I'm glossing over the fact that Hanukkah menorah has nine candles.)

                                                And, as we saw with the Rivers of Tartarus, perhaps the seven planets can map to four, thus corresponding to the Advent wreath candles.

                                                The purpose of Advent is to prepare for the arrival of Christ -- customarily understood in this context as a special kind of consciousness, awareness, spirit, or something of the kind. It's arrival coincides with the lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas. But for this to happen, four lesser candles (lesser forms of consciousness? forces?) must first be lit. The luminescence of the fifth might even imply a synergy of by the other four -- something like a Platonic or Pythagorean harmony of the soul.

                                                I've searched the Advent liturgical readings for a pattern suggestive of what the four candles might mean, but not with great success. Tentative suggested themes might be (1) vigilance, attentiveness, or watchfulness, (2) purification, (3) discernment or wisdom, and (4) hope. Not exactly planetary -- perhaps the four cardinal virtues might fit better here.

                                                I should add that the Advent wreath is a relatively modern innovation, so the speculation rests on some notion of unconscious intuition guiding the precise form of the custom.

                                                John Uebersax PhD
                                                Brussels
                                              • Sebastian Moro
                                                Dear John,   Philo and Clement of Alexandria’s interpretated the Jewish candelabrum associating the six branches with three planets (including the moon) on
                                                Message 23 of 25 , Dec 15, 2008
                                                • 0 Attachment
                                                  Dear John,

                                                  Philo and Clement of Alexandria�s interpretated the Jewish candelabrum associating the six branches with three planets (including the moon) on each side and the Sun in the centre; and both authors link it with a cosmic lyre of seven strings and consider the Sun as the centre of this divine harmony. You can see Martine Dulaey, �Le Chandelier � Sept Branches dans le Christianisme Ancien�, Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes, 1983, Vol. XXIX�, N� 1-2, p. 3-26, for references.
                                                  The Christmas�tree adorned with lights can also be a symbol of the planets with a transcendent Sun on top.�I think Julian mentions a tree in his Hymn to Helios but I do not remember exactly in which context.
                                                  Best regards and Happy Holidays,
                                                  Sebastian Moro




                                                  --- On Mon, 12/15/08, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:

                                                  From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
                                                  Subject: [neoplatonism] Seasonal speculation: Pythagoras, menorah, advent wreath ....
                                                  To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                                                  Date: Monday, December 15, 2008, 9:20 PM






                                                  The recent discussion on rivers reminds me of another topic: the multi-candle Advent wreath and the menorah. While this association might seem idiosyncratic, at least it fits the season. So, for your possible amusement...

                                                  We first posit that a custom which enjoys wide popularity and/or long history must derive its appeal from some important symbolic meaning. Thus, while restraint is appropriate, we should not avoid completely speculation as to meanings.

                                                  Recall that the Advent wreath has four candles arranged in a square, and a larger central one. The vertex candles are lit one per week; and on Christmas the center candle (sometimes called the Christ candle) is lit.

                                                  Now if we have four rivers of Eden, which Philo and others see as symbolic of elemental virtues of the soul, may we not see in the four candles something similar?

                                                  Or consider the seven candle Temple menorah (something, one might add, potentially brought from Egypt). It doesn't seem too remote to see something "planetary" or Neopythagorean in the seven candles; indeed, one might be surprised if a Pythagorizing Jew some time has not made the connection. That is, the seven candles of the menorah could potentially symbolize seven planetary 'gods' and corresponding elements/forces of the human psyche. (Okay, I'm glossing over the fact that Hanukkah menorah has nine candles.)

                                                  And, as we saw with the Rivers of Tartarus, perhaps the seven planets can map to four, thus corresponding to the Advent wreath candles.

                                                  The purpose of Advent is to prepare for the arrival of Christ -- customarily understood in this context as a special kind of consciousness, awareness, spirit, or something of the kind. It's arrival coincides with the lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas. But for this to happen, four lesser candles (lesser forms of consciousness? forces?) must first be lit. The luminescence of the fifth might even imply a synergy of by the other four -- something like a Platonic or Pythagorean harmony of the soul.

                                                  I've searched the Advent liturgical readings for a pattern suggestive of what the four candles might mean, but not with great success. Tentative suggested themes might be (1) vigilance, attentiveness, or watchfulness, (2) purification, (3) discernment or wisdom, and (4) hope. Not exactly planetary -- perhaps the four cardinal virtues might fit better here.

                                                  I should add that the Advent wreath is a relatively modern innovation, so the speculation rests on some notion of unconscious intuition guiding the precise form of the custom.

                                                  John Uebersax PhD
                                                  Brussels


















                                                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                • Thomas Mether
                                                  Pardon, but this is not the oldest Advent wreath/candle. The Byzantine approach to Christmas (Feast of the Nativity) is 40 days (starts in November) and has 8
                                                  Message 24 of 25 , Dec 15, 2008
                                                  • 0 Attachment
                                                    Pardon, but this is not the oldest Advent wreath/candle. The Byzantine approach to Christmas (Feast of the Nativity) is 40 days (starts in November) and has 8 candles,
                                                    seven on the outer perimeter and one in the center. This Byzantine pattern is found in
                                                    the western lands (like the Celts) before the Roman church got there. So, connections
                                                    with more ancient traditions has to begin there and go back.
                                                     
                                                    Thomas Mether

                                                    --- On Mon, 12/15/08, John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...> wrote:

                                                    From: John Uebersax <john.uebersax@...>
                                                    Subject: [neoplatonism] Seasonal speculation: Pythagoras, menorah, advent wreath ....
                                                    To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
                                                    Date: Monday, December 15, 2008, 3:20 PM






                                                    The recent discussion on rivers reminds me of another topic: the multi-candle Advent wreath and the menorah. While this association might seem idiosyncratic, at least it fits the season. So, for your possible amusement...

                                                    We first posit that a custom which enjoys wide popularity and/or long history must derive its appeal from some important symbolic meaning. Thus, while restraint is appropriate, we should not avoid completely speculation as to meanings.

                                                    Recall that the Advent wreath has four candles arranged in a square, and a larger central one. The vertex candles are lit one per week; and on Christmas the center candle (sometimes called the Christ candle) is lit.

                                                    Now if we have four rivers of Eden, which Philo and others see as symbolic of elemental virtues of the soul, may we not see in the four candles something similar?

                                                    Or consider the seven candle Temple menorah (something, one might add, potentially brought from Egypt). It doesn't seem too remote to see something "planetary" or Neopythagorean in the seven candles; indeed, one might be surprised if a Pythagorizing Jew some time has not made the connection. That is, the seven candles of the menorah could potentially symbolize seven planetary 'gods' and corresponding elements/forces of the human psyche. (Okay, I'm glossing over the fact that Hanukkah menorah has nine candles.)

                                                    And, as we saw with the Rivers of Tartarus, perhaps the seven planets can map to four, thus corresponding to the Advent wreath candles.

                                                    The purpose of Advent is to prepare for the arrival of Christ -- customarily understood in this context as a special kind of consciousness, awareness, spirit, or something of the kind. It's arrival coincides with the lighting of the Christ candle on Christmas. But for this to happen, four lesser candles (lesser forms of consciousness? forces?) must first be lit. The luminescence of the fifth might even imply a synergy of by the other four -- something like a Platonic or Pythagorean harmony of the soul.

                                                    I've searched the Advent liturgical readings for a pattern suggestive of what the four candles might mean, but not with great success. Tentative suggested themes might be (1) vigilance, attentiveness, or watchfulness, (2) purification, (3) discernment or wisdom, and (4) hope. Not exactly planetary -- perhaps the four cardinal virtues might fit better here.

                                                    I should add that the Advent wreath is a relatively modern innovation, so the speculation rests on some notion of unconscious intuition guiding the precise form of the custom.

                                                    John Uebersax PhD
                                                    Brussels


















                                                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                                  • John Uebersax
                                                    ... Thanks! The article is found online here: http://documents.irevues.inist.fr/bitstream/2042/1147/1/83_XXIX_1_2_01.pdf John Uebersax
                                                    Message 25 of 25 , Dec 15, 2008
                                                    • 0 Attachment
                                                      Sebastian Moro wrote:

                                                      > Martine Dulaey, “Le Chandelier à Sept Branches dans le Christianisme
                                                      > Ancien”, Revue des Etudes Augustiniennes, 1983, Vol. XXIX ,
                                                      > N° 1-2, p. 3-26,

                                                      Thanks! The article is found online here:

                                                      http://documents.irevues.inist.fr/bitstream/2042/1147/1/83_XXIX_1_2_01.pdf

                                                      John Uebersax
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