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Re: [neoplatonism] Pythagorean (?) Verse in Asclepius

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  • Goya
    ... M.C. I tend to move around a bit : summers in Victoria, winters in Paris. I ve just been giving some talks at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico -
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 9, 2010
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      > Michael - thanks for the translation!
      >
      > I see you are traveling, but don't recall your mentioning the context.  Is
      > this holiday, or have you found a way to carry the lamp of ancient
      > philosophy to the farflung universities of the world? (When your previous
      > message came from Victoria BC I had though maybe you had relocated to the
      > university there).

      M.C. I tend to move around a bit : summers in Victoria, winters in Paris.
      I've just been giving some talks at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico
      - including one to the Faculty of Neurosciences, where I argued that the
      mind cannot be reduced to the brain - and decided to hop over to Costa
      Rica with my wife. I'm now sipping a cerveza under Monte Arenal, an active
      volcano: so far I have had no temptation to fling myself into the crater,
      à la Empedocles...

      >
      > Anyway, the discussion about forms of circles raises a question I've had
      > for some time.  When I was in school, the Theory of Forms was always
      > presented with examples of tables, dogs, trees, and so on.  It was not
      > until much later that I had any idea of Plato's interest in forms of
      > Virtue, Beauty, Goodness, etc.  Maybe it's just me but these two classes
      > (of concrete objects vs. of 'transcendental' entities) seems different --
      > perhaps even qualitatively so.  Does anyone know if there is any
      > precedent, with Plato or elsewhere, for making this kind of distinction?

      M.C. Well yes, there's a huge controversy, continuing through
      Neoplatonism, as to whether or not there are Forms of individuals. The
      only indication Plato gives in this sense, AFAIK, is his discussion of the
      Form of the Bed in the Republic. I'll try and put together a bibliography
      when I get back to what is somewhat ineptly called "civilization".

      Best to all, Mike

      >
      > Plato's argument for the Form of the Good strikes me as a more interesting
      > and even persuasive argument for God's existence than the ontological
      > argument; every undergraduate learns the latter, but few the former.
      >
      > John Uebersax
      >
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      >
      >
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      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >


      Michael Chase
      CNRS UPR 76
      Paris-Villejuif
      France
    • leslie greenhill
      Hi Michael   I don t feel comfortable with the translation given of   Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: kluthi, ... Could you (or
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 10, 2010
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        Hi Michael
         
        I don't feel comfortable with the translation given of
         
        Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: "kluthi,
        > kudim'arithme, pater makaron te kai andron."

        Could you (or others) tell me again what this is in English.  (The word that interests me most is "andron".)
         
        Les
         


        P.O. Box 314
        Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
        Email: neoplatonist2000@...

        --- On Sat, 9/1/10, leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...> wrote:


        From: leslie greenhill <neoplatonist2000@...>
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Pythagorean (?) Verse in Asclepius
        To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
        Received: Saturday, 9 January, 2010, 9:26 PM


         



        Could someone provide an English translation of the Greek, please.
         
        Les

        P.O. Box 314
        Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
        Email: neoplatonist2000@ yahoo.com

        --- On Sat, 9/1/10, Goya <goya@...> wrote:

        From: Goya <goya@...>
        Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Pythagorean (?) Verse in Asclepius
        To: neoplatonism@ yahoogroups. com
        Received: Saturday, 9 January, 2010, 2:51 PM

         

        > I found this catchy verse in Asclepius' Comm. on the Metaphysics (38.10
        > Hayduck on 986a15, "phainontai de kai houtoi ton arithmon nomizontes
        > archen einai"):
        >
        > Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: "kluthi,
        > kudim'arithme, pater makaron te kai andron."
        >
        > Hayduck cannot identify it - I wonder where it does come from? Obviously
        > you first think of some Pythagorean source.
        >
        > Asclepius is nothing if not allusive in this commentary, which I am
        > delving into, just the Greek text and my old noodle, such as it is.
        > Earlier in this section he tells us that the odd number is indivisible,
        > just as the Form, auto kath'auto, is indivisible. Then he points out that
        > "horwmen gar hoti kai epi megalou kyklou kai epi mikrou to auto eidos
        > estin, homoiws de kai epi twn zwiwn. ei de huperche diaireton, edei allo
        > eidos echein ton megan kyklon kai allo ton mikron."
        >
        > When I read Greek like that, my heart sinks into dispair.

        M.C.: I would be inclined to understand this text in a fairly
        straightforward way: "For we see that there is the same form in the case
        of a large circle and a small one"

        Comment : I take this as just an elementary argument for the existence of
        forms. What allows us to say of a small and a large circle (or tree, or
        dog, or nation) that they are both circles (trees, dogs etc.)? Why, the
        fact that they participate in the same form.

        Trans : "The same holds true for animals as well".

        Comment: see my example of dogs, above.

        Trans.: "If it were divisible, then the large circle would have to have
        one form and the small one another".

        Comment: Circle is one, indivisible form. If it were not, then "Circle"
        would be divided into the subforms "large circle" and "small circle". But
        it's not ; therefore circle is indivisible. QED.

        Best, Mike (writing from San José, Costa Rica).

        Michael Chase
        CNRS UPR 76
        Paris-Villejuif
        France

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      • Goya
        ... M.C. : My bad, I omitted that part. It reads: And by the first and transcendent cause of the monad : Hark, glorious number, father of the blessed ones
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 10, 2010
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          > Hi Michael
          >  
          > I don't feel comfortable with the translation given of
          >  
          > Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: "kluthi,
          >> kudim'arithme, pater makaron te kai andron."
          >
          > Could you (or others) tell me again what this is in English.  (The word
          > that interests me most is "andron".)

          M.C. : My bad, I omitted that part. It reads:

          "And by the first and transcendent cause of the monad : "Hark, glorious
          number, father of the blessed ones and of men".

          The text is also cited, with variants, twice by Simplicius, and once by
          Johannes Lydus in his De mensibus, who attributes it to "Orphic in his
          book On the Hexad".

          Best, Mike





          Michael Chase
          CNRS UPR 76
          Paris-Villejuif
          France
        • John Dillon
          ... Yes, the line is very probably the opening line of an Orphic hymn ­ and if we may believe John Lydus, to the Number Six. But I wonder if the author is
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 10, 2010
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            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >> > Hi Michael
            >> >  
            >> > I don't feel comfortable with the translation given of
            >> >  
            >> > Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: "kluthi,
            >>> >> kudim'arithme, pater makaron te kai andron."
            >> >
            >> > Could you (or others) tell me again what this is in English.  (The word
            >> > that interests me most is "andron".)
            >
            > M.C. : My bad, I omitted that part. It reads:
            >
            > "And by the first and transcendent cause of the monad : "Hark, glorious
            > number, father of the blessed ones and of men".
            >
            > The text is also cited, with variants, twice by Simplicius, and once by
            > Johannes Lydus in his De mensibus, who attributes it to "Orphic in his
            > book On the Hexad".
            >
            > Best, Mike
            >
            > Michael Chase
            > CNRS UPR 76
            > Paris-Villejuif
            > France
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >

            Yes, the line is very probably the opening line of an Orphic hymn ­ and if
            we may believe John Lydus, to the Number Six. But I wonder if the author is
            addressing Number in general as the Œfather of gods and men¹, or the number
            Six in particular? JMD


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • leslie greenhill
            Mike, John   Many thanks.  The translation and the comments were most helpful as I am producing a work on Vitruvian Man (who is six feet tall).   Best
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 10, 2010
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              Mike, John
               
              Many thanks.  The translation and the comments were most helpful as I am producing a work on Vitruvian Man (who is six feet tall).
               
              Best wishes
              Les

              P.O. Box 314
              Mentone, Victoria 3194 Australia
              Email: neoplatonist2000@...

              --- On Mon, 11/1/10, John Dillon <jmdillon@...> wrote:


              From: John Dillon <jmdillon@...>
              Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Pythagorean (?) Verse in Asclepius
              To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
              Received: Monday, 11 January, 2010, 10:46 AM


               



              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >> > Hi Michael
              >> >  
              >> > I don't feel comfortable with the translation given of
              >> >  
              >> > Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: "kluthi,
              >>> >> kudim'arithme, pater makaron te kai andron."
              >> >
              >> > Could you (or others) tell me again what this is in English.  (The word
              >> > that interests me most is "andron".)
              >
              > M.C. : My bad, I omitted that part. It reads:
              >
              > "And by the first and transcendent cause of the monad : "Hark, glorious
              > number, father of the blessed ones and of men".
              >
              > The text is also cited, with variants, twice by Simplicius, and once by
              > Johannes Lydus in his De mensibus, who attributes it to "Orphic in his
              > book On the Hexad".
              >
              > Best, Mike
              >
              > Michael Chase
              > CNRS UPR 76
              > Paris-Villejuif
              > France
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >

              Yes, the line is very probably the opening line of an Orphic hymn ­ and if
              we may believe John Lydus, to the Number Six. But I wonder if the author is
              addressing Number in general as the Œfather of gods and men¹, or the number
              Six in particular? JMD

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]









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            • vaeringjar
              ... Now I do feel really dumb. Obviously I was making it much more complicated than it is, beat to death by glow worms as one of my professors would describe
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 11, 2010
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                > > Earlier in this section he tells us that the odd number is indivisible,
                > > just as the Form, auto kath'auto, is indivisible. Then he points out that
                > > "horwmen gar hoti kai epi megalou kyklou kai epi mikrou to auto eidos
                > > estin, homoiws de kai epi twn zwiwn. ei de huperche diaireton, edei allo
                > > eidos echein ton megan kyklon kai allo ton mikron."
                > >
                > > When I read Greek like that, my heart sinks into dispair.
                >
                > M.C.: I would be inclined to understand this text in a fairly
                > straightforward way: "For we see that there is the same form in the case
                > of a large circle and a small one"
                >
                > Comment : I take this as just an elementary argument for the existence of
                > forms. What allows us to say of a small and a large circle (or tree, or
                > dog, or nation) that they are both circles (trees, dogs etc.)? Why, the
                > fact that they participate in the same form.
                >
                > Trans : "The same holds true for animals as well".
                >
                > Comment: see my example of dogs, above.
                >
                > Trans.: "If it were divisible, then the large circle would have to have
                > one form and the small one another".
                >
                > Comment: Circle is one, indivisible form. If it were not, then "Circle"
                > would be divided into the subforms "large circle" and "small circle". But
                > it's not ; therefore circle is indivisible. QED.
                >
                > Best, Mike (writing from San José, Costa Rica).

                Now I do feel really dumb. Obviously I was making it much more complicated than it is, "beat to death by glow worms" as one of my professors would describe my confusion, trying to drag in the Timaeus. Asclepius has just said before in the part I didn't include that the Pythagoreans (not the Platonists) associated the Form with the odd number and matter with the even, and because of this view of divisibility he is stressing here, that Forms are not divisible, whereas matter is, like the Even, though Asclepius does not use term Infinite Dyad here.

                The passage of the Meta. being commented on here from Book A on the Pythagoreans (986a16, Ross's translation):

                "But the object of our review is that we may learn from these philosophers [the Pythagoreans]
                also what they suppose to be the principles and how these fall under
                the causes we have named. Evidently, then, these thinkers also consider
                that number is the principle both as matter for things and as forming
                both their modifications and their permanent states, and hold that
                the elements of number are the even and the odd, and that of these
                the latter is limited, and the former unlimited; and that the One
                proceeds from both of these (for it is both even and odd), and number
                from the One; and that the whole heaven, as has been said, is numbers."

                Of course Aristotle says nothing of the Forms in this context. Now that I think about it, I am not sure I have ever seen any notion of the Forms imputed back this way to the Pythagoreans by any other Neoplatonist, though it should be said that more than once in his commentary here Asclepius applies the adjective "symbolikws" to their association of the Forms with the Odd, so I suppose that qualifies it a bit.

                Thanks, Mike, for rescuing me from my own spider web.

                Dennis Clark
              • vaeringjar
                ... Thanks for the references - I will look for it in Simplicius to see how he uses it. ... A little surprising to me that it would be an opening line for a
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 11, 2010
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                  --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Dillon <jmdillon@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >> > Hi Michael
                  > >> >  
                  > >> > I don't feel comfortable with the translation given of
                  > >> >  
                  > >> > Dia te tes henados ten protisten kai exeiremenen aitian: "kluthi,
                  > >>> >> kudim'arithme, pater makaron te kai andron."
                  > >> >
                  > >> > Could you (or others) tell me again what this is in English.  (The word
                  > >> > that interests me most is "andron".)
                  > >
                  > > M.C. : My bad, I omitted that part. It reads:
                  > >
                  > > "And by the first and transcendent cause of the monad : "Hark, glorious
                  > > number, father of the blessed ones and of men".
                  > >
                  > > The text is also cited, with variants, twice by Simplicius, and once by
                  > > Johannes Lydus in his De mensibus, who attributes it to "Orphic in his
                  > > book On the Hexad".
                  > >

                  Thanks for the references - I will look for it in Simplicius to see how he uses it.

                  > >
                  >
                  > Yes, the line is very probably the opening line of an Orphic hymn ­ and if
                  > we may believe John Lydus, to the Number Six. But I wonder if the author is
                  > addressing Number in general as the Œfather of gods and men¹, or the number
                  > Six in particular? JMD
                  >
                  >

                  A little surprising to me that it would be an opening line for a poem the number 6, from the context of the use in Asclepius, where he's concentrating on the henad/monad but also dyad and nothing specifically to do with six, so perhaps it's number in general - ? Hard to say with what we have.

                  Dennis Clark
                • vaeringjar
                  The two citations I found in Simplicius of this same verse are both in his commentary on the Physics, one at 1102, 20, and the other at 453, 12. I assume those
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jan 21, 2010
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                    The two citations I found in Simplicius of this same verse are both in his commentary on the Physics, one at 1102, 20, and the other at 453, 12. I assume those are the two that Mike was kind enough to point out to us. The latter I would say is the more interesting of the two, for a number of reasons. Simplicius is commenting on Phys.202b36, part of the discussion of infinity, and contrasting the physici, who would make infinity accidental, to the Platonists and Pythagoreans who "ousian tina kath'hauten to apeiron hupothento kai ou symbebekos heterwi." A particular point he makes about the Pythagoreans here is that they place the infinite "en tois aisthetois" and that it is for them not separable ("ou chwriston"). And it is here that he introduces the verse also found in Asclepius, stating that this number in sensibles however is not the one hymned in the verse: "ou gar de kai ekeinon, hon legousi 'kekluthi kudm'arithme, pater makarwn, pater andrwn,'" nor in fact another Pythagorean number: "oude honper Hippasos aphwrisato paradeigma prwton huparchein tes kosmopoiias."

                    Urmson in his note to this passage in his translation of Simplicius points out that Nauck in his edition of Iamblichus' Vita Pythagorica assigns the first verse "kekluthi..." to the Hieros Logos - unfortunately I cannot find Nauck's text online to dig into enough to find out exactly what his reasoning is for attributing it to that work or whatever else of interest he might have to say on this subject. Not to be too pedantic, but Urmson by the way notes the citation of Hippasus as otherwise unattested, but that is not actually the case: it's also in Iamblichus' version of Nicomachus' Introduction to Arithmetic, 10, 20, where Iamblichus does however attribute it to "hoi de peri Hippason akousmatikoi" rather than Hippasus himself.

                    But as to the verses and Simplicius' main points - he appears to me to be trying to make some important distinction regarding Pythagorean number - three types at least - one in sensibiles which is not the same as the other two. As to the other two, I guess we can't say too much, other than to infer they are very important, one because of its vaunted "paternity" and the other as a basic principle. Unfortunately Iamblichus is not much help here either, as he is citing Hippasus
                    in a series of brief tags from several philosophers as their basic conceptions of number - namely Thales, Pythagoras, Eudoxus, Hippasus, and Philolaus as a part of the introduction to number, trying to define it. This portion is one of the few however where Iamblichus has added to the text of Nicomachus - something he said at the beginning of his version that he wouldn't do!

                    I don't know quite what more can be made of all this, though perhaps someone has done work on it. Reading Asclepius on the Pythagoreans and now Simplicius, and Syrianus as well, it occurs to me I at least need a good conception of what the later Neoplatonists viewed as "Pythagorean" doctrine - and ideally its relationship to the actual earlier doctrines, as much as we can determine them in the own various historical development, admittedly a troubled subject going all the way back to the namesake himself.

                    Dennis Clark
                  • vaeringjar
                    ... Just to clarify a bit, I skipped reproducing a bit of Simplicius above where he states that the Pythagoreans see number also as existing in the sensibles
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jan 21, 2010
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                      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, "vaeringjar" <vaeringjar@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > The two citations I found in Simplicius of this same verse are both in his commentary on the Physics, one at 1102, 20, and the other at 453, 12. I assume those are the two that Mike was kind enough to point out to us. The latter I would say is the more interesting of the two, for a number of reasons. Simplicius is commenting on Phys.202b36, part of the discussion of infinity, and contrasting the physici, who would make infinity accidental, to the Platonists and Pythagoreans who "ousian tina kath'hauten to apeiron hupothento kai ou symbebekos heterwi." A particular point he makes about the Pythagoreans here is that they place the infinite "en tois aisthetois" and that it is for them not separable ("ou chwriston"). And it is here that he introduces the verse also found in Asclepius, stating that this number in sensibles however is not the one hymned in the verse: "ou gar de kai ekeinon, hon legousi 'kekluthi kudm'arithme, pater makarwn, pater andrwn,'" nor in fact another Pythagorean number: "oude honper Hippasos aphwrisato paradeigma prwton huparchein tes kosmopoiias."
                      >
                      > Urmson in his note to this passage in his translation of Simplicius points out that Nauck in his edition of Iamblichus' Vita Pythagorica assigns the first verse "kekluthi..." to the Hieros Logos - unfortunately I cannot find Nauck's text online to dig into enough to find out exactly what his reasoning is for attributing it to that work or whatever else of interest he might have to say on this subject. Not to be too pedantic, but Urmson by the way notes the citation of Hippasus as otherwise unattested, but that is not actually the case: it's also in Iamblichus' version of Nicomachus' Introduction to Arithmetic, 10, 20, where Iamblichus does however attribute it to "hoi de peri Hippason akousmatikoi" rather than Hippasus himself.
                      >
                      > But as to the verses and Simplicius' main points - he appears to me to be trying to make some important distinction regarding Pythagorean number - three types at least - one in sensibiles which is not the same as the other two. As to the other two, I guess we can't say too much, other than to infer they are very important, one because of its vaunted "paternity" and the other as a basic principle. Unfortunately Iamblichus is not much help here either, as he is citing Hippasus
                      > in a series of brief tags from several philosophers as their basic conceptions of number - namely Thales, Pythagoras, Eudoxus, Hippasus, and Philolaus as a part of the introduction to number, trying to define it. This portion is one of the few however where Iamblichus has added to the text of Nicomachus - something he said at the beginning of his version that he wouldn't do!
                      >
                      > I don't know quite what more can be made of all this, though perhaps someone has done work on it. Reading Asclepius on the Pythagoreans and now Simplicius, and Syrianus as well, it occurs to me I at least need a good conception of what the later Neoplatonists viewed as "Pythagorean" doctrine - and ideally its relationship to the actual earlier doctrines, as much as we can determine them in the own various historical development, admittedly a troubled subject going all the way back to the namesake himself.
                      >
                      > Dennis Clark
                      >

                      Just to clarify a bit, I skipped reproducing a bit of Simplicius above where he states that the Pythagoreans see number also as existing in the sensibles and not on its own. That is how he gets from a discussion of the infinite to number.

                      Dennis Clark
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