Bryn Mawr Classical Review 97.7.10


Keimpe A. Algra, Pieter W. van der Horst, and David T. Runia (edd.), Polyhistor: Studies in the History and Historiography of Ancient Philosophy Presented to Jaap Mansfeld on His Sixtieth Birthday. Philosophia Antiqua 72. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996. Pp. x + 438. ISSN 0079-1687. ISBN 90-04-10417-8.


Reviewed by Robin Waterfield, 101650.757@compuserve.com, Teddington, UK.

Naturally this volume suffers from the grapeshot incoherence of most Festschriften, despite the editors' attempt to impose order on it by arguing in the Introduction that there is a common thread -- 'the indissoluble link between the ideas and themes of ancient philosophers and the writings in which those ideas and themes have been presented'. This is a desperate argument: of course there is such a link. They are on safer ground in acknowledging the breadth of interests represented when they point out that in response to their request to write, if possible, on subjects on which Mansfeld himself has published, the contributors came up with papers covering the entire field of ancient philosophy, from its origins to its latest manifestations, and that this is 'an impressive testimony to the staggering range of Jaap's interest and participation in the research on the history of ancient philosophy'.

The seven categories into which the twenty-four papers have been divided are: 'The Presocratic Tradition' (two papers), 'Plato' (three papers), 'The Academy and the Peripatos' (four papers), 'Hellenistic and Early Roman Philosophy' (five papers), 'Imperial Philosophy' (five papers), 'Dialectic and Doxography' (three papers), and 'History of Scholarship' (two papers). Every single contributor is an eminent scholar, and the papers are of the quality one might therefore expect. The four chief European languages are represented, with English predominant. The book is as beautifully produced as Brill books customarily are, with very few misprints.

It is not a short book, and the papers, as I have said, cover a wide variety of topics. Even if I were merely to summarize the contents of each of the papers, this review would become overlong. Since I cannot claim the breadth of expertise of Mansfeld, and since I think the best service I can offer is to give some idea of the content of as many of the papers as possible, in order to keep the review within reasonable length I shall refrain from any comment on those papers which are furthest removed from my own interests -- that is, the two final papers in the book on the history of scholarship (J. Glucker on 'The Two Platos of Victorian Britain' and W.M. Calder III on 'Drei Briefe Wilhelm Diltheys an Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf (1908-1910)'), T. Dorandi on 'Richerche sulla trasmissione delle Divisioni Aristoteliche', and three from the section on Imperial philosophy (T.L. Tieleman on 'The Hunt for Galen's Shadow: Alexander of Aphrodisias, De anima 94.7-100.17 Bruns Reconsidered', P.-L. Donini on 'Doti naturali, abitudini e carattere nel De fato di Alessandro', and P.W. van der Horst on '"A Simple Philosophy": Alexander of Lycopolis on Christianity').

Malcolm Schofield kicks off, in 'Anaxagoras' Other World Revisited', with a reconsideration of the difficult fragment 4a of Anaxagoras. In this fragment Anaxagoras appears to assume the existence of an alternate world of some kind, identical to our own, but 'elsewhere'. But where is it? When did it exist, or is it supposed to exist now? After surveying and criticizing six other interpretations, from Simplicius to Furley, Schofield develops Mansfeld's own view, which is that this alternate world is in fact a microscopically small version of our own, in keeping with Anaxagoras' dicta that 'In everything there is a portion of everything' and that 'There is no least'. In an era of fractals, our surprise at such a notion may be lessened; in any case, Schofield points out that the interpretation fits well not only with the wording of the fragment itself, and with Anaxagoras' general doctrines, but also helps to explain some obscurities in other fragments.

I confess that all I knew about Metrodorus of Chios before reading Brunschwig's paper 'Le fragment DK 70 B 1 de Metrodore de Chio' was that he was a pupil of Democritus. Actually, since Brunschwig's aims in this paper are modest, I still do not know much more at a general level. Metrodorus' B1, in which he appears to announce a radical scepticism, was famous enough to have survived in several variant versions, and Brunschwig sets himself the task of trying to see which wording is the most likely to be authentic. He examines each version with a fine-tooth comb, accepting or rejecting on the grounds of general plausibility and/or harmony with the tenor of the other versions. Each examination provides Brunschwig with another clue to what Metrodorus could or at any rate should have said. While eschewing a precise translation into Greek, he concludes that Cicero's version, or at least part of it, and with textual emendation, is the most authentic: nego scire nos sciamusne aliquid an nihil sciamus, ne id ipsum quidem scire nos. He leaves open the question of the authenticity of Cicero's last clause, which adds to the epistemological scepticism universally attested for Metrodorus an ontological scepticism as well: nec omnino sitne aliquid an nihil sit.

In the first of two papers on Plato's Republic, Keimpe Algra ('Observations on Plato's Thrasymachus: The Case for Pleonexia') does not try to come up with a new interpretation of the troublesome argument in Book I between Socrates and Thrasymachus, but to combine the interpretations of other scholars (he singles out Kerferd, Kahn and Rutherford) into a clearer picture. Following Kahn in taking Book I as proleptic of issues to be taken up later in Republic, it does not worry Algra that Thrasymachus appears to come up with two different definitions of justice ('the advantage of the stronger' and 'someone else's good'), because proleptic introductions are often vague and incomplete. He thinks that Plato was not concerned at this stage with making Thrasymachus consistent, but wanted to have down on paper two definitions of justice one of which opposed his own at the level of social justice, while the other did so at the level of individual justice. However, Algra rightly points out that the notion of pleonexia links both of Thrasymachus' definitions, and then, after showing how Plato's characterization of Thrasymachus brings out features of pleonexia, he modifies Kerferd's 1947 interpretation until he ends with the following resolution of the two definitions: 'The fact that justice (at the level of the individual) is someone else's good, comes down (at the political level) to justice being the advantage of the stronger' (pp. 57-8). This paper will please those who side with Kerferd and who like the kind of approach to Platonic texts exemplified by Rutherford's recent book The Art of Plato, but others may find it less satisfying.

In 'Kompsoi Asklepiades: La critica di Platone alla medicina nel III libro della Repubblica', Mario Vegetti sets up the following Aunt Sally: since in the luxurious city of 372e ff. the terminology of contemporary dietary medicine (as found especially in Regimen, Airs Waters Places, and Places in Man) affords Plato the tools for diagnosing the moral and social maladies afflicting the city, and for suggesting not only an appropriate therapy, but also the blended character of the guardians, it is surprising to find him launching a strong attack on dietary medicine, summed up in the character of Herodicus, in 405a-410b. Vegetti's thesis is essentially that Herodicus, whenever he occurs in the Platonic dialogues, is a kind of anti-Hippocrates. Hence Plato can attack the finicky and hypocondriac version of dietary medicine practised by Herodicus, while retaining his respect for the Hippocratic version. In fact, it might have been part of Plato's purpose precisely to distinguish Herodicus' theories from, above all, those of Regimen (which according to Vegetti is Plato's prime reference in 405d, and may therefore be enrolled along with Airs Waters Places as a genuinely Hippocratic work). However, within the context of Plato's social planning, it remains true to say that since individual existence has no value apart from its social function, dietary medicine has no place in the ideal city, which will make use only of the public-spirited battlefield techniques of Asclepius and his sons (even though this turns against Plato's earlier holistic medical comments in Charmides). Ironically, then, dietary medicine equipped Plato with the tools for purging his city of, among other things, itself -- or at least of the Herodican version of itself, since there will still be room in the city for 'good doctors' (408c-d), who Vegetti sees as potentially politicized Hippocratic doctors.

In 'Gegonen (Platon, Tim. 28 B 7). Ist die Welt real entstanden oder nicht?', Matthias Baltes discusses the old chestnut implicit in his title. He brings an impressive array of problems to bear against the views (a) that Plato meant to describe an actual creation in time, and (b) that he meant to imply that creation had taken place as a single act some time in the past. He sides, therefore, with those who interpret the account of creation in Timaeus as metaphorical, such that in actual fact the world is constantly undergoing genesis. He supports this less with philosophical than with grammatical considerations, claiming inter alia that the perfect gegonen, mentioned in his title, is on the face of it the only impediment to understanding Plato to be talking about continuously present genesis, but rapidly arguing that since it is neither aorist nor imperfect, gegonen can refer to continuous time. He ends with some unconvincing remarks about why, if this is what Plato meant, he chose to be so enigmatic about it. Baltes says that it was Plato's purpose in Timaeus, as in all his dialogues, to raise problems, stimulate thought, and leave hints as to the possible solution of the problems.

The third section of the book begins with a marvellous piece by John Dillon, 'Speusippus on Pleasure', in which he continues his resuscitation of Speusippus from the graveyard of neglect with a reconstruction of his views on pleasure. He has Speusippus arguing against the psychological hedonism of some of his colleagues in the early Academy (notably Eudoxus), and claiming that happiness lies in aochlesia, a mean state between the two evils of pleasure and pain, which is reached by imposing peras on the unlimited spectrum of feeling from pain to pleasure. In the second half of the paper Dillon then argues that Speusippus is the target of Plato's ironical attack at Philebus 44a-d. This is not an original view, but Dillon's presentation of it is lucid: against the background of the first half of his paper he can argue that Plato does not always fairly represent Speusippus' view, and that what was at issue between uncle and nephew was more than a merely semantic difference.

'On Aristotle's Semantics in De Interpretatione 1-4' is a typically careful and scholarly commentary on certain aspects of the text in question by L.M. de Rijk. Issues discussed are the precise meaning of homoiomata and pragmata in 16a7 ('substitutable representations' for the former and, following Boethius, 'things as conceived in the mind' for the latter); of haplos e kata khronon in 16a18 (a natural disjunction, says de Rijk, since haplos elsewhere in Aristotle bears the connotation of timelessness and universality); the phrase 'none of whose parts is separately significant' at 16a20-21, which serves to distinguish an onoma from a logos, since none of the parts of an onoma -- i.e. its letters -- is separately significant; the meaning of rhema ('attribute', says de Rijk, not 'verb', and gives a thorough commentary on the whole of chapter 3, where rhemata are discussed); and finally chapter 4 on logos, where de Rijk's most important comments support the unorthodox but occasionally argued view that the veridical use of einai is primary and combines both the existential and copulative senses.

Ian Kidd's 'Theophrastus Fr. 184 FHS&G: Some Thoughts on His Arguments' is a brief and pleasantly written article. Having summarized the fragment as it is found in Philo's De Aeternitate Mundi, and established to his own, and, I would think, to anyone else's satisfaction that at least the 'spines' of the four arguments contained within the fragment, even if not some details of vocabulary and presentation, are genuinely Theophrastan, Kidd goes on to examine each of the arguments in greater detail, to consider their possible provenances and the amount of contamination they may have undergone. He stresses, though, that however varied the apparent provenance of such arguments, we should not oversimplify the transmission of ideas and so reject as inauthentic fragments which appear too variegated. Typically Theophrastan is the appeal in this fragment to observable phenomena rather than abstract Aristotelian argument. Also typical of Theophrastus is the use of the arguments in Epicurean rather than (just) Stoic writers. In short, there seems little ground for doubting the Theophrastan nature of the arguments.

It is, of course, no new idea to trawl Diogenes Laertius' incomplete list of Chrysippus' writings to glean some information about this elusive thinker. In 'The Catalogue of Chrysippus' Logical Works', Jonathan Barnes does so to some effect, but first, with proper caution, he checks on the list's 'pedigree'. It stems not just from Apollodorus of Tyre (who was not, Barnes argues, a pupil of Apollodorus of Seleucia), but probably from an earlier source before him. Eschewing the 'numbers game' of trying to guess precisely how many books Chrysippus wrote, Barnes focuses on the fact that that some of the titles listed under 'Ethics' sound surprisingly logical. He is prepared simply to accept that these works had enough ethical content for the list's compiler to have included them there. If that is so, (a) the compiler must have known the content not just the titles of at least some of Chrysippus' works, and (b) the titles must stem from Chrysippus himself, since otherwise they wouldn't occasionally be misleading, but would be more descriptive. So the list does have a good pedigree. Finally, Barnes tentatively argues that the categories into which the list is divided may stem from Chrysippus himself. The article is, as Barnes admits, 'small beer', but it is good Festschrift material, and useful background for further work.

We are so used to talking about a 'chain' of causation that our minds gloss over the implications of this metaphor, particularly that each element in a causative process is a discrete item, linked only by the fact that it causes the one after it, in the manner of a series of falling dominoes. In 'Cicero's Rope', R.J. Hankinson argues that tacit reliance on this metaphor obscures the Stoics' notion of causation which lays more stress (like Aristotle, Hankinson claims) on the continuity of the process and the interrelation of things than on any discrete identity the parts making up the process may have. Thus the 'rope' mentioned by Cicero at De divinatione 1.127 is a more accurate metaphorical tool. This article contains the best short account I have seen of causation in Stoic philosophy, and of the differences and, importantly, similarities between the two types of cause they distinguished -- 'containing' and 'antecedent' causes.

The title of Carl Joachim Classen's 'Aristipp und Seine Anhanger in Rom' is slightly misleading, since the paper turns out to concentrate almost entirely on Cicero's evidence, and skates very rapidly over the -- admittedly meagre -- other Latin testimonia. From a rapid survey of the evidence, Classen argues that Cicero had not read any complete work by Aristippus or any Cyrenaic, and was relying on purely anecdotal evidence, often preserved in hostile sources, or at best on handbooks which compared and contrasted the philosophical doctrines of various schools. Besides, it is not clear how developed a philosophical structure Aristippus or his followers had, and Cicero was of course hampered by the lack of any living Cyrenaics whose works he could read. Later Roman evidence seems in its turn to be dependent on Cicero. In short, then, we can really hope to learn nothing of substance about Cyrenaic philosophy from the Latin evidence.

Both the two articles on Lucretius focus in different ways on un-Epicurean elements within the poem. P.H. Schrijvers' short article (in occasionally slightly inaccurate English), 'Lucretius on the Origin and Development of Political Life', analyses De Rerum Natura 5.1105-1160 to establish that there is little strictly Epicurean provenance to Lucretius' account of the evolution of democracy out of kingship, via tyranny, aristocracy, oligarchy and ochlocracy. Rather, Lucretius is drawing on traditional Greek political archaeology, with a tinge of Homeric colouring as well. If we need to think of a single source for Lucretius' ideas, Schrijvers suggests Dicaearchus of Messene.

H.B. Gottschalk's paper on Lucretius is altogether a more meaty affair. Under the rubric 'Philosophical Innovation in Lucretius?', Gottschalk first distinguishes two ways in which a later author may modify the doctrine of the philosophical system within which he is working. He illustrates the first, straightforward kind of change by pointing out that at 3.230 ff. Lucretius asserts that the soul has four components, whereas Epicurus had said that there were only three. This kind of modification is an updating of the master's teaching, to meet new challenges or discoveries. The second kind is harder to grasp. It is not so much change of doctrine as change of the way the doctrine is understood. Gottschalk illustrates this by referring to the fact that although Lucretius' theory of the gods was identical to that of Epicurus, the Roman poet is far more hostile to religion. Or again, whereas Epicurus was unreservedly against participation in political life, Lucretius qualifies this opposition slightly. Most remarkably, Epicurus warned his followers to avoid poetry like the plague, while Lucretius actually wrote a poem. This modification, Gottschalk argues, was intended to make Epicurean thought more palatable to the urbane Roman audience Lucretius was targeting.

In 'L'oikeiosis sociale chez Epictete', Brad Inwood demonstrates that the Socratic tension between egoistic eudaimonism and other-directed concern was inherited by Epictetus and, on reflection about Epictetus' sources, by the Stoics in general. There is nothing untraditional about the opinion, which Inwood teases out of the Epictetian evidence, that as a rational being I will be prepared, if circumstances require it, to do without anything or any person other than myself, in order to preserve my equanimity and happiness. However, whereas the usual Stoic line was that my care for others was an extension of my care for my children (since children are a part of myself), Epictetus develops instead the idea that since Zeus is our common father, we are all bound socially as brothers and sisters.

In 'Alcinous' Epistemology', David Sedley tackles the extremely dense and difficult chapter 4 of Alcinous' Didaskalikos. He manoeuvres his way through the text by means of an illuminating diagram, which shows that Alcinous is working with a more or less precise parallelism between two types of cognition (equivalent to doxa and episteme in Republic) and their perceptible and intelligible objects. Throughout the discussion of the epistemology of doxa and of the sensible world, Alcinous draws implicitly on Theaetetus -- even, Sedley demonstrates, where this has not previously been recognized. This Theaetetian background is due to the fact that Alcinous took Plato's dialogue to be concerned solely with the perceptible world, and as a wholehearted attempt to define knowledge, because according to him, for Plato knowledge could only be of Forms.

Taking De Anima 2-4 as a test case, Hans Baltussen shows, in 'A "Dialectical" Argument in De Anima 4', how Topics illuminates Aristotle's tactics, which may fairly be called 'dialectical' rather than merely 'doxographical' or 'historical'. Aristotle assembles cases for agreement or disagreement, subjects terms to linguistic analysis, and develops an elaborate critique of Empedocles. In all these cases Topics provides a theoretical blueprint for Aristotle's tactics at both the general and particular levels. However, Baltussen concludes, dialectic is itself a complex term and system, and the label should not be applied superficially, without attention to which aspects of dialectical argument are in use at any given moment.

That Theophrastus drew exclusively on Timaeus for his account of Plato's theory of sensation or perception in De Sensibus is well known; however, his account, as Tony Long shows in 'Theophrastus' De Sensibus on Plato', contains some odd omissions and distortions. Long compares Plato's account of each sense or sensible property with Theophrastus' report and finds a variety of treatments, ranging from almost verbatim records to serious misrepresentation, via omissions and extreme condensation. Long has no firm explanation to offer for this patchy treatment, apart from suggesting that the most peculiar misrepresentation (that Plato dealt only with sight and hearing) is due to Theophrastus' desire to fit Plato into his preordained schema whereby some thinkers explain perception by the doctrine of like to like, others by like to unlike. However, the importance of Long's study is, as he says, that this is the one case where we can test Theophrastus against the original. Since he shows himself to be capable of such errors and distortions, we ought to be on our guard in other cases, where we have no means of checking him.

The final paper I shall summarize is that of David Runia, 'Additional Fragments of Arius Didymus on Physics'. This is a particularly valuable piece (though note the misprint on p. 364: Runia discusses the fragments listed under '4' in his list, not '3'). Eschewing the prosopographical minefields surrounding the identification of Arius and Aetius, Runia concentrates on refining Diels's work on Arius. His knowledge of all the relevant doxographers is impressive. It enables him to come up with eight criteria for distinguishing genuine Arian material from the contexts where it is embedded. Applying these eight criteria allows him to suggest ten further passages which may well be from Arius, and two included by Diels which are probably not from Arius. The whole article is clearly laid out and argued, and I have no doubt that most of Runia's conclusions will be found acceptable by other scholars in the future.

There is a fine tradition of Dutch (let alone Dutch-published) ancient philosophical Festschriften; think, for example, of Zetesis (1973, for Emile de Strijcker) and Kephalaion (1975, for Cornelia de Vogel). In my opinion, however, this collection of essays is the best of the lot.