At the outset of this section I made reference to what I call the Guthrie
approach. Although a perfectly reasonable way to structure a course on
ancient philosophy, one drawback is that it neglects those ancient philosophers
who came after Aristotle. The increase in scholarly interest in Hellenistic
and Late Ancient philosophy during the last three decades or so is beginning
to percolate down into the classroom, but only slowly. A number of the
approaches that I have touched upon already involve Post-Aristotelian
material but it may be helpful to address this issue directly here.
- Hellenistic Philosophy. Hellenistic philosophy is now well
served by two collections of fragments in translation: Inwood and Gersons
Hellenistic Philosophy and the first volume of Long and Sedleys
The Hellenistic Philosophers. Alternatively one could structure an introduction
to all three Hellenistic schools around a close study of one of Ciceros
dialogues. For an ancient sourcebook, one could read Books
7, 9, and 10 of Diogenes Laertius (all in the second volume of the Loeb
Classical Library edition). Sharples recent introduction
offers a thematic guide to the philosophical topics of this period.
- Roman Philosophy. Traditionally, very few scholars have claimed
that the Romans made any significant contribution to philosophy. However,
more recent studies have attempted to challenge (or at least qualify)
this claim. According to the ancient sources, philosophy was introduced
to the Romans by the famous embassy of three Athenian philosophers in
155 BC, and this forms a natural point of departure for a course devoted
to Roman philosophy. It might be appropriate for such a course to concentrate
upon Latin philosophical works, including those of Cicero, Lucretius,
and Seneca. However, one might prefer to extend the story to include
works by Philodemus, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.
A recent collection of essays and an introductory survey may prove useful.
- Philosophy at the End of Antiquity. The works of Augustine
form one of the largest body of philosophical texts to survive from
antiquity. Alan Perreiah has argued eloquently that Augustines
Confessions form a ideal text with which to introduce students to medieval
philosophy. He also acknowledges that in order to understand Augustine
one must also be familiar with a number of earlier ancient philosophical
movements, including Neoplatonism, Stoicism, and the work of Cicero.
Thus a course built around the Confessions, looking both backwards and
forwards, might offer a prefect bridge between the study of ancient
and medieval philosophy. A similar argument could perhaps be made for
Boethius, equally dependent on the Neoplatonic and Stoic traditions
and equally influential in the Middle Ages. The Consolation of Philosophy
offers itself as an equally readable text around which such a course
might be constructed.
- The Commentators. Under the direction of Richard Sorabji, the
vast corpus of late antique commentaries on Aristotle are currently
being translated into English for the first time. From the numerous
volumes that have been published to date, materials will be extracted
in order to form three sourcebooks under the common title The Philosophy
of the Commentators 200-600 AD: A Sourcebook. The three volumes will
be dedicated to Psychology, Physics, and Logic
and Metaphysics. Although not yet available (due 2003), these
are likely to be useful textbooks for intermediate or advanced courses.
They may perhaps be most useful when adopting one of the thematic approaches
Links: Review of Long
& Sedley and Inwood & Gerson / Review
Next Section: Major Texts