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Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Conference in Cardiff

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  • Olivier Dufault
    Hi, I have presented a paper in Cardiff on Zosimus. For those interested, I ve posted it on my academia.edu page. To my knowledge, there is no link between
    Message 1 of 11 , Jun 22, 2013
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      Hi,
      I have presented a paper in Cardiff on Zosimus. For those interested, I've
      posted it on my academia.edu page.
      To my knowledge, there is no link between Zosimus and any specifically
      platonic doctrine, despite the fact that the Souda ascribes a life of Plato
      to Zosimus (this is not the only strange thing with this notice). The most
      interesting link between early Greek alchemy and Platonism that I have read
      is in an article by Luc Brisson called "Le corps dionysiaque." which shows
      the alchemical connotations of Olympiodorus' reading of the anthropogenesis
      attributed to Orpheus in which both Dionysius and the Titans are
      sublimated by Zeus' lightening.
      To the works on ancient Greek alchemy already cited, there is also the
      important edition that Michèle Mertens did of a part of Zosimus' corpus in
      the Budé series (Vol.4 part 1 of the *Alchimistes grecs *collection). For
      those interested in the technical side of alchemy, there is also the
      edition of two papyri with recipes (part of the "Anastasi papyri", from
      which a lot of the PGM come from) done by Robert Halleux in the same
      collection.
      The most "philosophical" treatise by Zosimus, called "On the Letter Omega"
      (part of M. Mertens' edition) was also edited, translated and annotated by
      Howard Jackson in SBL. For those interested in the Gnostic connection,
      Jackson also has an interesting article on the identity of the Nicotheos
      "the hidden" quoted by Zosimus in the same treatise.

      Best,
      Olivier Dufault


      2013/6/21 Robert Wallace <bob@...>

      > Hi everyone,
      >
      > Probably many of you are aware of C.G. Jung's major interest in alchemy,
      > which he took to be (in good part) an early version of depth psychology.
      > Rather than producing literal gold, the philosopher's stone produced a
      > transformed life. Jungians have produced detailed commentaries on many
      > especially early modern alchemical texts, drawing out this kind of
      > relevance. What they haven't explored is the relationship between early
      > alchemy and what we call "philosophy." Does Principe's book deal with this
      > issue at all? Does he acknowledge the "psychological" interpretation of
      > alchemy?
      >
      > The issue interests me a lot because philosophy, particularly Platonic
      > philosophy, is also very much about the transformation of human lives (what
      > Plato calls "turning around"). And Platonic philosophy is likewise a deep
      > study of human psychology, but neither the Jungians nor anyone else I know
      > of has studied the relationship between Jung and Platonism in any detail.
      > (Jungians like Erich Neumann and Edward Edinger touch on it, but don't make
      > it a subject of study in its own right.) Maybe someone can tell me about
      > good work that's been done on this.
      >
      > The question interests me because I perceive the broadly Platonic
      > tradition as the most important spiritual, intellectual, and psychological
      > alternative to dominant modes of thought which first emerged among the
      > Greek Sophists and materialists and are still dominant in western
      > societies. But the broadly Platonic tradition takes numerous different
      > forms, which aren't necessarily even aware of each other. (For example, as
      > religious mysticism, modern Romantic poetry, various kinds of esotericism,
      > humanistic psychology… and even, in important respects, alchemy.) So a
      > historical account of how these different strands have related to one
      > another would surely be very illuminating.
      >
      > Best to all,
      > Bob Wallace
      >
      > On Jun 19, 2013, at 2:38 PM, vaeringjar wrote:
      >
      > > Dear Prof Dillon, thanks, I hope next year to meet everyone! I keep
      > saying that. One day it will happen.
      > >
      > > I would recommend to everyone interested in what appears to me an
      > excellent and very judiciously written new survey of alchemy, by Laurence
      > Principe, The Secrets of Alchemy. I have been looking for a good
      > introductory book done in a scholarly way, and I think this one fits the
      > bill nicely.
      > >
      > >
      > http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Alchemy-Synthesis-Lawrence-Principe/dp/0226682951/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1371670516&sr=1-1
      > >
      > > He also definitely writes with a sense of humor! Not a bad thing.
      > >
      > > With this subject, it's easy enough to get lost in the fog...or I should
      > say mercurial vapors!
      > >
      > > Sorry for the pun...
      > >
      > > Dennis Clark
      > >
      > > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, John Dillon <jmdillon@...> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > That's great news, Mike, I will look forward to reading that, too,
      > when I it's
      > > > > available.
      > > > >
      > > > > Rather tangentially I have been studying ancient alchemy,
      > particularly Zosimus
      > > > > and Stephanus, and some early Byzantine poems. I don't recall ever
      > being made
      > > > > aware of any direct links between ancient alchemy and any particular
      > strand of
      > > > > Neoplatonic thought but I was curious if anyone had any experience
      > in this
      > > > > area. I gather a whole trove of recently found texts of Zosimus in
      > Syriac
      > > > > translation are being made available, so not sure if there is much
      > there.
      > > > >
      > > > > I gather also the latest scholarship does make Stephanus the author
      > of the
      > > > > alchemical works attributed to him, such as De Chrysopoeia, but
      > Olympiodorus
      > > > > not, to those attributed to him. So far in my study, all I can see
      > that might
      > > > > have commonality is the concept of a unity underlying all metals,
      > all matter,
      > > > > but that is hardly glaringly Neoplatonic in nature.
      > > > >
      > > > > The most interesting thing I have seen so far is a truly fascinating
      > if
      > > > > cryptic reference in Zosimus relating the action of the 'stone that
      > is not a
      > > > > stone' to the Mithraic mystery. I am not sure this reference has
      > been studied
      > > > > by Mithraic scholars, but then again probably it has.
      > > > >
      > > > > Would Porphyry have had an interest in alchemy, I wonder? Zosimus
      > would likely
      > > > > have been a contemporary of him or maybe more exactly Iamblichus, and
      > > > > curiously enough, Zosimus refers to some character named Bitos, who
      > likely
      > > > > equates to the Bitys mentioned in DM by Iamblichus.
      > > > >
      > > > > Murky underworld...quite a broth they brewed in Ye Olde AEgypt...!
      > > > >
      > > > > Dennis Clark
      > > > >
      > > > > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <mailto:
      > neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com> ,
      > > > > "Goya" <goya@> wrote:
      > > > >> >
      > > > >> > Hi Dennis,
      > > > >> >
      > > > >> > I think it's safe to say a good time was had by pretty well all.
      > Three
      > > > >> > simultaneous sessions meant everyone was forced to miss some
      > interesting
      > > > >> > sessions, but I attended many interesting papers on Gnosticism,
      > Proclus,
      > > > >> > Plotinus and so on. Particularly enjoyed Harold Tarrant's paper
      > on Procl.
      > > > >> > In Remp.
      > > > >> >
      > > > >> > Best, Mike
      > > > >> >
      > > > >> >
      > > > >>> > > Hello, everyone - was wondering how did the conference go in
      > Cardiff? I
      > > > >>> > > really wanted to attend - finally - but my health and other
      > things
      > > > >>> weren't
      > > > >>> > > quite up for it. I do hope to attend, maybe next time.
      > > > >>> > >
      > > > >>> > > Wish we could have one here in Seattle - the weather just now
      > is
      > > > >>> > > fantastic, but July would be a better time, almost never rains
      > that time
      > > > >>> > > of year here.
      > > > >>> > >
      > > > >>> > > Dennis Clark
      > > > >>> > >
      > > > >>> > >
      > > > >> >
      > > > >> >
      > > > >> > Michael Chase
      > > > >> > CNRS UPR 76
      > > > >> > Paris-Villejuif
      > > > >> > France
      > > > >> >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > >
      > > > Yes, Denis, sorry that you couldnąt have gotten to Cardiff. It would
      > have
      > > > been very good to meet up. We had a good session on Prayer. I canąt
      > really
      > > > help on Zosimus or Stephanus, Iąm afraid. I am duly impressed! John
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      > Robert Wallace
      > website: www.robertmwallace.com
      > blog: http.//robertmwallace.blogspot.com
      > email: bob@...
      > phone: 414-617-3914
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • vaeringjar
      Yes, I would very much like to read your paper, if you post it at academia.edu, please do let us know. I wondered even at first reading about the Suda entry
      Message 2 of 11 , Jun 23, 2013
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        Yes, I would very much like to read your paper, if you post it at academia.edu, please do let us know. I wondered even at first reading about the Suda entry too - there is just nothing else I see particularly Platonic in Zosimus, so far, but then again, we are missing so many of his works, apparently, that it's risky to draw too many conclusions.

        Still, given what else is in the treatise on Omega, I would think if anywhere he would cite Plato or some Platonic idea there. But who knows for sure? And also his dates are likely 3rd to early 4th century, unless I am wrong, so he will not have had the longer, post Plotinian tradition on which to draw, only I would think up to Plotinus, and I wonder if he will have even known of Plotinus' works, or Porphryry's or Iamblichus'.

        Which is not to say he could not have known of the Middle Platonist traditions, especially the Neopythagorean strains, such as of Eudorus, right there in Alexandria in fact.

        What else is strange about the notice in the Suda?

        Also, can you give the information on the Jackson article on Nicotheus? I am pursuing a bit on him just now myself, how in fact I came back to Zosimus, In that same treatise it is connection with him that Zosimus makes the curious reference to the Mithraic mysteries.

        Yes, the Mertens' Bude Zosimus is indispensable, and I have had trouble finding Jackson's edition. There is however now also an Italian edition with texts of a couple of the other treatise as well, with extensive commentary by Angelo Tonelli, Zosimo di Panopoli, Visione e risvegli, BUR 2004, with the text - also very inexpensive and easy to get online at Amazon.it. He does make mention of Jung's work in his introduction, but his commetary is mostly though not entirely philological, comparing many readings with other editions, going back to Berthelot.

        Thanks,
        Dennis Clark

        --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Olivier Dufault <odufault@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi,
        > I have presented a paper in Cardiff on Zosimus. For those interested, I've
        > posted it on my academia.edu page.
        > To my knowledge, there is no link between Zosimus and any specifically
        > platonic doctrine, despite the fact that the Souda ascribes a life of Plato
        > to Zosimus (this is not the only strange thing with this notice). The most
        > interesting link between early Greek alchemy and Platonism that I have read
        > is in an article by Luc Brisson called "Le corps dionysiaque." which shows
        > the alchemical connotations of Olympiodorus' reading of the anthropogenesis
        > attributed to Orpheus in which both Dionysius and the Titans are
        > sublimated by Zeus' lightening.
        > To the works on ancient Greek alchemy already cited, there is also the
        > important edition that Michèle Mertens did of a part of Zosimus' corpus in
        > the Budé series (Vol.4 part 1 of the *Alchimistes grecs *collection). For
        > those interested in the technical side of alchemy, there is also the
        > edition of two papyri with recipes (part of the "Anastasi papyri", from
        > which a lot of the PGM come from) done by Robert Halleux in the same
        > collection.
        > The most "philosophical" treatise by Zosimus, called "On the Letter Omega"
        > (part of M. Mertens' edition) was also edited, translated and annotated by
        > Howard Jackson in SBL. For those interested in the Gnostic connection,
        > Jackson also has an interesting article on the identity of the Nicotheos
        > "the hidden" quoted by Zosimus in the same treatise.
        >
        > Best,
        > Olivier Dufault
        >
        >
      • vaeringjar
        Principe does briefly discuss Jung along with other modern interpreters of alchemy, but not in any great depth and not really in any agreement either. Because
        Message 3 of 11 , Jun 23, 2013
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          Principe does briefly discuss Jung along with other modern interpreters of alchemy, but not in any great depth and not really in any agreement either. Because Jung pretty much discounted the physical side of alchemy.

          I think it's important, at least from my study, to keep in mind that western alchemy was in part science of its time, going back to the beginning - but that does not mean that it also was a system of belief that had important, even crucial, psychological components at well, for some practitioners, over the 1500 years of its development. I don't think it's a simple either/or, in other words, in my opinion. But then this modern concept of pure science and technology obviously is not relevant to someone like Zosimus in the first place!

          And I am curious to read Jung himself on alchemy, especially on Zosimus. And looking forward to it too, but keeping it in perspective as well.

          What I like about Eliade's book, which I am still reading, is how he tries to put it in the context of earlier religions and beliefs, and I think it should be.

          As for Platonic links to alchemy in general, certainly it is safe to say the general view that some form of matter underlies all elements is definitely like that put forth by Plato in the Timaeus, and also certain aspects of Aristotle's take on the elements, from the Meteorologica are likely are part of the basic, common background to ancient western alchemy. It certainly was never atomistic in it's basic view of matter.

          With Stephanus and then the development of Arabic alchemy, and how it was passed on to the west on the medieval period, I think the Platonic content may be greater, but I am still studying that, so I better not say more and get myself into trouble! The Arabic alchemists brought in several elements of Greek science and medicine, complicated the tradition in some very interesting ways.

          Zosimus however may well have had definite influences from the Gnostics.

          Dennis Clark

          --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Robert Wallace <bob@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi everyone,
          >
          > Probably many of you are aware of C.G. Jung's major interest in alchemy, which he took to be (in good part) an early version of depth psychology. Rather than producing literal gold, the philosopher's stone produced a transformed life. Jungians have produced detailed commentaries on many especially early modern alchemical texts, drawing out this kind of relevance. What they haven't explored is the relationship between early alchemy and what we call "philosophy." Does Principe's book deal with this issue at all? Does he acknowledge the "psychological" interpretation of alchemy?
          >
          > The issue interests me a lot because philosophy, particularly Platonic philosophy, is also very much about the transformation of human lives (what Plato calls "turning around"). And Platonic philosophy is likewise a deep study of human psychology, but neither the Jungians nor anyone else I know of has studied the relationship between Jung and Platonism in any detail. (Jungians like Erich Neumann and Edward Edinger touch on it, but don't make it a subject of study in its own right.) Maybe someone can tell me about good work that's been done on this.
          >
          > The question interests me because I perceive the broadly Platonic tradition as the most important spiritual, intellectual, and psychological alternative to dominant modes of thought which first emerged among the Greek Sophists and materialists and are still dominant in western societies. But the broadly Platonic tradition takes numerous different forms, which aren't necessarily even aware of each other. (For example, as religious mysticism, modern Romantic poetry, various kinds of esotericism, humanistic psychology… and even, in important respects, alchemy.) So a historical account of how these different strands have related to one another would surely be very illuminating.
          >
          > Best to all,
          > Bob Wallace
          >
        • Olivier Dufault
          The entry in the Souda is strange because the two works it attributes to Zosimus are not found in the Greek textual tradition. Besides the unknown life of
          Message 4 of 11 , Jun 24, 2013
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            The entry in the Souda is strange because the two works it attributes to
            Zosimus are not found in the Greek textual tradition. Besides the unknown
            life of Plato, it mentions �Alchemical works (*ch�meutika*) in 28 books in
            alphabetical order (*kata stoicheion*), whom some call *Cheirokm�ta*.
            Since the Greek alphabet has 24 letters, there is an obvious problem there.
            Reitzenstein suggested that the four additional letters were taken from the
            Coptic alphabet. Still, we are left to wonder why Zosimus only took 4 out
            of the 6 Coptic letters added to the Greek alphabet (Sahidic has 30
            letters, I don't know if the Achmimic alphabet is different, and that would
            be important since Zosimus came from Achmim/Panopolis).

            Another strange thing is that it does not mention any of the books we
            actually know. One possible explanation is that what it called
            "Cheirokm�ta� was a later compilation, now lost, of the works we know from
            the three main corpus.

            The article by Howard Jackson is "The Seer Nikotheos and His Lost
            Apocalypse in the Light of Sethian Apocalypses from Nag Hammadi and the
            Apocalypse of Elchasai", Novum Testamentum, Vol. 32, Fasc. 3 (Jul., 1990),
            pp. 250-277.

            Note that the reference to the Mithraic mystery is not in the treatise *On
            the Letter Omega *but in another one *peri asbestou *(�about
            quicklime�: *M�moires
            authentiques* XIII). Since the product of the operation is called "the
            stone which is not a stone", Mich�le Mertens remarks that the mithraic
            mystery must be that of Mithras being born out of a stone.

            Best,
            Olivier Dufault


            2013/6/23 vaeringjar <vaeringjar@...>

            > **
            >
            >
            > Yes, I would very much like to read your paper, if you post it at
            > academia.edu, please do let us know. I wondered even at first reading
            > about the Suda entry too - there is just nothing else I see particularly
            > Platonic in Zosimus, so far, but then again, we are missing so many of his
            > works, apparently, that it's risky to draw too many conclusions.
            >
            > Still, given what else is in the treatise on Omega, I would think if
            > anywhere he would cite Plato or some Platonic idea there. But who knows for
            > sure? And also his dates are likely 3rd to early 4th century, unless I am
            > wrong, so he will not have had the longer, post Plotinian tradition on
            > which to draw, only I would think up to Plotinus, and I wonder if he will
            > have even known of Plotinus' works, or Porphryry's or Iamblichus'.
            >
            > Which is not to say he could not have known of the Middle Platonist
            > traditions, especially the Neopythagorean strains, such as of Eudorus,
            > right there in Alexandria in fact.
            >
            > What else is strange about the notice in the Suda?
            >
            > Also, can you give the information on the Jackson article on Nicotheus? I
            > am pursuing a bit on him just now myself, how in fact I came back to
            > Zosimus, In that same treatise it is connection with him that Zosimus makes
            > the curious reference to the Mithraic mysteries.
            >
            > Yes, the Mertens' Bude Zosimus is indispensable, and I have had trouble
            > finding Jackson's edition. There is however now also an Italian edition
            > with texts of a couple of the other treatise as well, with extensive
            > commentary by Angelo Tonelli, Zosimo di Panopoli, Visione e risvegli, BUR
            > 2004, with the text - also very inexpensive and easy to get online at
            > Amazon.it. He does make mention of Jung's work in his introduction, but his
            > commetary is mostly though not entirely philological, comparing many
            > readings with other editions, going back to Berthelot.
            >
            > Thanks,
            > Dennis Clark
            >
            >
            > --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Olivier Dufault <odufault@...> wrote:
            > >
            > > Hi,
            > > I have presented a paper in Cardiff on Zosimus. For those interested,
            > I've
            > > posted it on my academia.edu page.
            > > To my knowledge, there is no link between Zosimus and any specifically
            > > platonic doctrine, despite the fact that the Souda ascribes a life of
            > Plato
            > > to Zosimus (this is not the only strange thing with this notice). The
            > most
            > > interesting link between early Greek alchemy and Platonism that I have
            > read
            > > is in an article by Luc Brisson called "Le corps dionysiaque." which
            > shows
            > > the alchemical connotations of Olympiodorus' reading of the
            > anthropogenesis
            > > attributed to Orpheus in which both Dionysius and the Titans are
            > > sublimated by Zeus' lightening.
            > > To the works on ancient Greek alchemy already cited, there is also the
            > > important edition that Mich��le Mertens did of a part of Zosimus' corpus
            > in
            > > the Bud�� series (Vol.4 part 1 of the *Alchimistes grecs *collection).
            > For
            >
            > > those interested in the technical side of alchemy, there is also the
            > > edition of two papyri with recipes (part of the "Anastasi papyri", from
            > > which a lot of the PGM come from) done by Robert Halleux in the same
            > > collection.
            > > The most "philosophical" treatise by Zosimus, called "On the Letter
            > Omega"
            > > (part of M. Mertens' edition) was also edited, translated and annotated
            > by
            > > Howard Jackson in SBL. For those interested in the Gnostic connection,
            > > Jackson also has an interesting article on the identity of the Nicotheos
            > > "the hidden" quoted by Zosimus in the same treatise.
            > >
            > > Best,
            > > Olivier Dufault
            > >
            > >
            >
            >
            >


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • vaeringjar
            Thanks, Olivier, for the information - I thought I had looked at Mertens on the Mithraic reference, but I guess I missed that - yes, it s in the thirteenth
            Message 5 of 11 , Jun 25, 2013
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              Thanks, Olivier, for the information - I thought I had looked at Mertens on the Mithraic reference, but I guess I missed that - yes, it's in the thirteenth memoir.

              Well, I think in part the same thing as she does, that it has to do with his birth from the rock, but probably not just that.

              Thanks, I will look at her notes again. I wonder if Berthelot has anything on that passage. Still need to look on the Mithraic studies side too.

              Best,
              Dennis

              --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Olivier Dufault <odufault@...> wrote:
              >
              > The entry in the Souda is strange because the two works it attributes to
              > Zosimus are not found in the Greek textual tradition. Besides the unknown
              > life of Plato, it mentions "Alchemical works (*chèmeutika*) in 28 books in
              > alphabetical order (*kata stoicheion*), whom some call *Cheirokmèta*.
              > Since the Greek alphabet has 24 letters, there is an obvious problem there.
              > Reitzenstein suggested that the four additional letters were taken from the
              > Coptic alphabet. Still, we are left to wonder why Zosimus only took 4 out
              > of the 6 Coptic letters added to the Greek alphabet (Sahidic has 30
              > letters, I don't know if the Achmimic alphabet is different, and that would
              > be important since Zosimus came from Achmim/Panopolis).
              >
              > Another strange thing is that it does not mention any of the books we
              > actually know. One possible explanation is that what it called
              > "Cheirokmèta" was a later compilation, now lost, of the works we know from
              > the three main corpus.
              >
              > The article by Howard Jackson is "The Seer Nikotheos and His Lost
              > Apocalypse in the Light of Sethian Apocalypses from Nag Hammadi and the
              > Apocalypse of Elchasai", Novum Testamentum, Vol. 32, Fasc. 3 (Jul., 1990),
              > pp. 250-277.
              >
              > Note that the reference to the Mithraic mystery is not in the treatise *On
              > the Letter Omega *but in another one *peri asbestou *("about
              > quicklime": *Mémoires
              > authentiques* XIII). Since the product of the operation is called "the
              > stone which is not a stone", Michèle Mertens remarks that the mithraic
              > mystery must be that of Mithras being born out of a stone.
              >
              > Best,
              > Olivier Dufault
              >
              >
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