BMCR 2022.12.10

Simplicius the Neoplatonist in light of contemporary research: a critical review

, Simplicius the Neoplatonist in light of contemporary research: a critical review. Academia Philosophical Studies, 67. Baden-Baden: Academia Verlag, 2020. Pp. 260. ISBN 9783896658944. €54,00.

The book under review is an English translation by Ian Drummond of “an updated (unpublished) French text”, as it says in the preface (p. 10), i.e., a slightly expanded version of I. Hadot’s Le néoplatonicien Simplicius à la lumière des recherches contemporaines. Un bilan critique (Academia Verlag: Sankt Augustin, 2014).[1] I have not compared the French and English version in detail, but in what follows I shall mainly focus on the English translation by Drummond.[2]

In the wake of research done by Karl Praechter (1858-1933), a German professor of classical philology who taught at the universities of Bern and Halle, scholars wondered whether there was a clear-cut difference between Athenian and Alexandrian Neoplatonism. Praechter himself had come to the conclusion that one could detect fundamental doctrinal differences between the two schools. Alexandrian Neoplatonists displayed, he argued, a much more simplified theory of first principles, and no longer posited the One beyond being (epekeina tês ousias) on top of the metaphysical hierarchy. As far as Simplicius is concerned, Praechter thought that his commentary on Epictetus’ Encheiridion showed typical traits of his version of a more simplified Neoplatonism and concluded that it must have been written before Simplicius left Alexandria and came to Athens (cf. pp. 130-139). I. Hadot, and others, have successfully shown that such a view is untenable. She characterises late Neoplatonism as a more or less unitary movement with the exception of Syrianus and Proclus, who are set aside mainly because of their strong criticism of Aristotle and other doctrinal peculiarities. In Simplicius’ commentaries, she detects strong influence of his teacher Damascius, who was rather critical towards Proclus[3] and revived “the tradition before Syrianus and Proclus, by following more the line of Iamblichus than Syrianus and Proclus did” (p. 144).

Hadot’s study does not cover all aspects of scholarly work that has been done on Simplicius in the last couple of years.[4] Instead, she focuses on three main topics that largely correspond to her own research interests: A. Biography of Simplicius, B. The surviving works (except In Phys. and In de Cael.), C. Lost and partially lost works.[5] In doing so, it is one of her main objectives to defend her own views on the life and works of the Neoplatonist against criticism from colleagues. Hence, the French original of Hadot’s study and the slightly updated English translation do not claim to present new insights, but rather provide a summary or résumé of what she has published so far.[6] It constitutes a rather useful Summa, one may say, of her work on Simplicius and late Neoplatonism as a whole.

It is common consensus that Simplicius ca. 480–560 CE, a native of Cilicia, began his studies in Alexandria under Ammonius and later (around 510 [?]) moved to Athens together with his teacher Damascius. Damascius and Simplicius must have left Alexandria before 529, because at the time Philoponus is assumed to be a professor there and Simplicius explicitly states that they never met personally (In de Cael. 26.18–19).

Chapter A (“Biography”) deals with the scarce pieces of information that came down to us on the life of Simplicius and especially about his retreat after the so-called closing of the Platonic Academy in Athens by the Roman emperor Justinian in 529 and the following embassy of seven Neoplatonic philosophers, among them Simplicius, Damascius and Priscian, to King Chosroes of Persia.

While scholars usually assume that Damascius returned to his native Syria, as far as Simplicius is concerned altogether five options have been discussed in the secondary literature: Athens (A. Cameron); Alexandria; Syria, together with his teacher Damascius; Harrān (ancient Carrhae, in the north of Mesopotamia, close to the Syrian border; the latter was first suggested by M. Tardieu and defended in much detail by I. Hadot, pp. 26-112); or Cilicia (P. Golitsis). All of these options raise further questions and no satisfactory solution has been reached as of yet. To begin with, it is hard to believe that Simplicius returned to Athens, because we have no evidence that after 529 Platonism could be taught there, let alone that an official Platonic school could be re-opened. What is more, a return to Alexandria seems improbable because of the continuing repression of non-Christian intellectuals and because of the fact, mentioned above, that Simplicius never met John Philoponus in person. Tardieu’s and Hadot’s suggestion that Simplicius together with Damascius settled in Harrān, close to the Syrian border, has been criticised in much detail and does not seem to have found new followers.[7] It must remain a hypothesis.

In the peace treaty between Rome and Persia from 532, referred to by the historian Agathias, we are told that “these men [sc. the philosophers] should be allowed to return to their own country (eis ta sphetera êthê) and live there henceforth in safety, without being forced to adopt opinions that they did not hold, or to change their own faith” (p. 19, I am quoting from the translation by A. Cameron). There is a certain ambiguity in the wording. It might mean that they returned to some place within the Roman empire (e.g., Harrān) to which they had come even before their journey to the Persian court, or that they returned to the place where they had been born (in Simplicius’ case Cilicia, Asia Minor). There is one further difficulty that ought to be kept in mind. If Simplicius wrote most of his commentaries after 529, as most scholars agree, he was in need of an extensive library, which makes a return to Athens most likely, even if the Platonic school there was no longer functioning. What is more, Simplicius’ three larger commentaries (In de Cael., In Phys., In Cat.) do not seem to have been written for teaching purposes.[8] This would rather speak in favour of returning to his old workplace in Athens.

Apart from a general introduction to Simplicius’ commentaries and their composition, Chapter B (“The surviving works (except In Phys. and In de Cael.)”) provides a summary of the scholarly discussion regarding the commentaries on Epictetus, the Categories and De anima (regarding the latter, mainly questions of authorship).

It has been shown, by I. Hadot and others, that Neoplatonic commentaries on Aristotle in the period after Iamblichus, among many other features in common, share a certain type of twofold introduction. The first part offers an introduction to Aristotelian philosophy from a Neoplatonic perspective. In the second part, the treatise at hand is presented. Such a formal structure can best be studied in the commentary tradition on Aristotle’s Categories, where altogether eight different commentaries are extant.[9] According to Hadot, who cites the work of Concetta Luna, we can distinguish among these eight commentaries two families (pp. 114-115): a “Porphyrian” family (i.e., the two commentaries by Porphyry and those Neoplatonists who make direct use of Porphyry’s and Iamblichus’ commentaries, to wit, Dexippus, Boethius and Simplicius)[10] and an Alexandrian family (Ammonius, Philoponus, Olympiodorus and David [Elias]), whose basis is a now lost commentary by Syrianus and Ammonius’ work. Only in the commentaries on the Categories are both introductions present, since it served as the first text in a series of readings and hence was the appropriate place to acquaint the student with his philosophy.

In the Neoplatonic curriculum, Aristotle was read in order to prepare the student for a selection of twelve Platonic dialogues (starting with Alcibiades I and closing with the Timaeus and Parmenides). The metaphor used in this context is that of the greater and smaller mysteries. The way the curriculum is structured also suggests that Plato was considered superior to Aristotle. For instance, the latter receives the epithet “daimonios” while Plato, as a general rule, was called “divine.”[11]

The common sources and similar structure of the commentaries and the fact that they were repeatedly used in teaching and hence constantly revised, made them true works in progress. From this particular form and genesis of the commentary tradition, I. Hadot draws the following four important methodological conclusions (M1-4). All these are crucial in the discussions surrounding the authorship of the commentary on the De anima, considered below.

[M1] “The existence of parallel texts in two different commentators […] does not mean […] that there is in fact only one author. […] These passages […] cannot be used as evidence in discussing the attribution of a Neoplatonist commentary to an author other than the one indicated in the manuscripts.” (p. 116)

[M2] “The quotations of authors are often not made first hand, but are copied, freely or verbatim, from one commentary to another, often without mentioning the name of the original author. In no way therefore do they guarantee that the commentator read for himself the author he is quoting.” (p. 116)

[M3] One and the same Neoplatonist may have commented several times the same text in the course of his career. Since we usually possess only one version of such a commentary, self-references to other commentaries by the same authors are not necessarily to the version that came down to us. They may concern other versions of an author’s commentary. (pp. 116–117)

[M4] “[O]ne should never draw any conclusions on the originality of the doctrine of a given Neoplatonist commentator without looking at the whole of the earlier Neoplatonist scholarly tradition, which unfortunately contains many gaps.” (p. 117)

Chapter B.II deals with the commentary on Epictetus’ Encheiridion.

This commentary and Hierocles’ work on the Golden Verses are the only two examples of Neoplatonic commentaries on ethical texts. Such texts were designed for those who had just inscribed themselves in the Platonic school. In other words, they were read even before Aristotle’s Categories and the “small mysteries.” Simplicius’ commentary on Epictetus is the only example of a Neoplatonist annotating a Stoic text in order to introduce his readers to Neoplatonic ethics. Note that Simplicius does not even acknowledge the Stoic provenance of the text or author and is prepared to criticise un-Platonic elements of the Encheiridion, e.g. Stoic materialism or its views on psychology and eschatology.

Apart from providing a running commentary on selected passages from Epictetus, the work exhibits a series of digressions on fundamental topics of Neoplatonic philosophy: “The soul, against various determinists” (ch. 1); “that god is not the cause of evil things/the bad” (ch. 8); “the role of the philosophers in city-states” (ch. 24); “the derivative nature of the bad” (ch. 27); “the relations that reveal ‘appropriate actions’ (kathêkonta)” (ch. 30), “friendship” (ch. 30); and “providence” (ch. 31).

Simplicius’ aim in his text on Epictetus is to illustrate the condition of the embodied rational soul and to advocate moderation of the passions by reason (metriopatheia). Both can be seen as Platonic adjustments of Stoic views (materialistic psychology, apatheia). Regarding the virtues, we get discussions of political or civic virtues, that is, virtues pertaining to the realm of the vita activa of the city-state. Notable is also the ample treatment of Stoic “appropriate actions” (kathêkonta), once again in a strictly Platonic/Neoplatonic framework.

Compared to his other commentaries, the one on Epictetus has been somewhat neglected by scholars. It is the merit of I. Hadot to have prepared a critical edition, based on the two oldest manuscripts, unknown to previous editors, as part of her doctorat d’État (Sorbonne, 1977), published together with an ample introduction by Brill in 1996 (Philosophia Antiqua, 66). In 2001, the first of a two volume Budé set came out, providing Greek text, French translation and annotations. These publications as well as several articles are indispensable tools to place the commentary and its contents in its proper Neoplatonic context, after Proclus and especially after Damascius.

One remarkable offshoot of Hadot’s research on this work is that she detected several parallels to the commentary on the De anima (although read considerably later in the curriculum). Despite differences of terminology and doctrinal sophistication, the “philosophical system that lies at the base of the two commentaries is exactly the same, just as they share one of their subjects, namely, the human rational soul […].” (p. 145). Most interestingly, Hadot argues (pp. 133-139) that both commentaries take from Damascius the originally Iamblichean view that the human soul may change according to its essence (substantial change thesis). This is important because C. Steel used the latter as one of his main arguments to attribute the commentary on the De anima to Priscian. In general, I. Hadot is careful to emphasise Damascius’ influence on Simplicius: “[W]hen Simplicius’s teaching differs from that of Proclus, this divergence can always be explained by the influence exercised on Simplicius by his teacher Damascius.” (p. 132). One convincing example is the fact that Simplicius calls the highest principle “All before all things”, in Hadot’s words “a technical expression peculiar to Damascius” (p. 132).

There has been some speculation about a possible date of the commentary, also because in the epilogue Simplicius asserts that he wrote it in “times of tyranny” (In Ench. Epict. Epilogus ll. 4-5, Hadot 1996). Alan Cameron, for one, thought that it must have been written in the period between 529 and 531, i.e., after Justinian’s so-called closure of the Academy and before the embassy of the seven philosophers to the court of the Persian king. Others, such as Praechter and Merlan, made other suggestions, namely during Simplicius’ time in Alexandria or before he met Ammonius there. Hadot herself dates the commentary after 532 in Harrān, mainly because of an alleged conversation with a Manichaean and an observation on the river Aboras (cf. pp. 73-76 and 144). Unfortunately, there are no indications towards a possible date. What is more, “Simplicius does not cite this commentary in any of his other commentaries – a detail that it has in common with the De anima commentary – it is not possible even to propose a dating on the basis of self-citations by Simplicius.” (p. 144).

An important part of Hadot’s work on Simplicius’ commentary on Epictetus was dedicated to the controversial authenticity of the In de anima. Section B.III is entirely dedicated to the latter work. In the Neoplatonic curriculum, Aristotle’s De anima was read after the physical treatises (Physics, De caelo, On Generation and Corruption, Meteorologica) and before the Metaphysics. Psychology is in between the two, because the soul holds a middle position (In De anima 3.4-21). Hadot’s attempt to defend the authenticity of the commentary is based on the fact that all extant mss. attribute the commentary to Simplicius. In the Arabic tradition we find traces of such a work as well.

In the scholarly discussion surrounding the authorship, three parties can be singled out. A first group (I. Hadot and others) considers Simplicius to be the author. A second group (H. Blumenthal and others) is convinced that Simplicius cannot be the author, but do not want to speculate further, ascribing the text to a Ps.-Simplicius (i.e., a member of Damascius’ entourage or an apo phonês version by a student of a lecture held by Simplicius). A third group (F. Bossier, C. Steel, M. Perkams and others) attribute it to Priscian of Lydia, a student of Damascius, who also took part in the embassy of philosophers who travelled to Persia after 529.

The first to raise doubts about Simplicius’ authorship suggesting Priscian instead was the Renaissance philosopher Francesco Piccolomini (1520–1604). His arguments were mainly based on style and a comparison with Simplicius’ other extant works. In all, there figure three groups of arguments in the current debate: (1) parallels between the commentary on the De anima and Prisician’s Metaphrasis in Theophrastum; (2) self-references by the author of the De anima commentary; (3) doctrinal, stylistic and terminological differences to other commentaries by Simplicius.

As regards point 1, several striking parallels between the two texts initially even convinced I. Hadot herself that the commentary was written by Priscian (p. 160). Later on, she explained these parallels by means of a “shared scholarly tradition” on Aristotle’s De anima, comparing the commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories. Regarding the style of the In de anima, it has been remarked that comparisons are notoriously difficult, since we do not possess much material from Priscian himself. What is more, one ought to keep in mind that different perspectives and varying terminology of the different commentaries depend to a large extent on the different texts they are commenting on.

As regards the self-references in the De anima commentary, its author several times refers to other works of his: an Epitome of the Physics of Theophrastus, a commentary on the Metaphysics and one on the Physics of Aristotle. On a possible commentary on the Metaphysics, more shall be said below (see my remarks on chapter C of the book). Regarding the Epitome, scholars who think that the commentary is by Priscianus identify it with his Metaphrasis, while I. Hadot thinks it is simply a lost work by Simplicius himself. The altogether three references to the Physics commentary are likewise a matter of dispute. While Steel and others think they cannot be found in Simplicius’ own commentary and therefore suspect a lost commentary by Priscianus, Hadot (pp. 186-188) tries to demonstrate that they are “entirely verifiable” (p. 187). Another possibility, in conformity with Hadot’s own methodological remarks (pp. 116-117), may be that the author was referring to another version of his commentary on the Physics.

Finally, as regards divergences between this text and other works by Simplicius, scholars have claimed that the commentary on the De anima contains doctrines that are incompatible with what Simplicius wrote elsewhere.[12] Well known examples are the notion of the projection of lives (probolê), the problem whether the soul may change essentially while in contact with a body, and the peculiar notion of a double actuality (entelecheia). Now, I. Hadot sets out to demonstrate, to my mind successfully, that they are not. Most notably, she demonstrates, as mentioned above, that significant parallels can be found in Simplicius’ commentary on Epictetus, a text rarely referred to by scholars. On the whole, problems of philosophical contents are by far the most interesting part of the discussion on the authorship of the De anima commentary, because they deal with the rather subtle Neoplatonic distinctions and explanations concerning Aristotelian psychology.

If we assume, with Steel and Perkams, that Priscian is the author of the commentary on the De anima, we face, at least, two additional problems. First the Metaphrasis and the commentary differ in their reading of De anima III 4–5. While the former maintains that it is about the rational human soul, Priscian seems to consider it to be about the divine intellect (Metaphr. 25.27–37.34, esp. 34.24–28 and 35.19–23). Second, scholars such as Perkams have to assume that Priscian underwent a development regarding the doctrine of the double actuality. While the Metaphrasis does not mention it, he must have adopted it only later in the commentary on the De anima.

The discussion is complex, but several more recent voices (John Finamore, Frans de Haas, Gary Gabor) have come to agree with I. Hadot that Simplicius himself is the author of the commentary (pp. 168; 183-184).[13] However that may be, the most rewarding part of the disagreement makes us understand much better the intricate Neoplatonic exegesis of Aristotle’s De anima.

The section B.IV of the book (“The Commentary on Aristotle’s Categories”) falls into two parts. The first part (pp. 194-204) is written by I. Hadot and deals mainly with Simplicius’ sources (first of all Iamblichus, via Syrianus’ commentary, the former relying heavily on Porphyry and Pseudo-Archytas) and other short observations concerning other Neoplatonic commentaries on the same work, its place in the curriculum and date. As in the commentary on the De anima, Iamblichus is the main source, but “here it is an Iamblichus who relies heavily on Porphyry” (p. 198). All this, it seems to me, is mostly uncontroversial compared to the two preceding sections.

The second part is written by Ph. Vallat and deals with “The posterity of Simplicius’s Categories commentary in Arabic” (pp. 205-223; with a short appendix by I. Hadot on the survival of the commentary in the Byzantine era and the Latin Middle Ages). Vallat discusses in much detail Simplicius’ afterlife in Arabic sources, on which I am not able to judge. It seems clear, however, that part of Vallat’s aim is to find support for the Harrān hypothesis discussed above.[14]

Chapter C (“Lost and partially lost works”, pp. 226-239) contains a discussion of works that may have been written by Simplicius.[15] Of those lost commentaries and treatises, we mostly possess mere references to their titles; the exception is a commentary on Euclid’s Elements, of which fragments in Arabic and echoes in Albert the Great’s commentary have been found. There seems to have existed a commentary on the Phaedo (at least on the question of the immortality of the soul as has been written also by Proclus), on Iamblichus’ On the Pythagorean Way of Life, on Hermogenes’ Art of Rhetoric, and probably a short tract on syllogisms. The most interesting discussions in this chapter surround an allegedly lost commentary on the Metaphysics by Aristotle. Once again, this is intimately connected to the authorship on the commentary on the De anima, briefly summarized above. In the latter works, the author refers twice to his own commentary on the Metaphysics. At first sight, it seems that the existence of a commentary on the Metaphysics from the hand of Simplicius is confirmed by two scholia; the first (to be found in Parisinus gr. 1853) mentions a commentary by Simplicius on Met. A 3, 983b6, while the other (in Parisinus gr. 1901) seems to attribute to Michael of Ephesus, who can be identified as the author of the scholium, the view that Simplicius has written the commentary in question.

Hadot’s interpretation of both scholia have been challenged by M. Rashed.[16] He argues that the contents of the first scholium can, on doctrinal grounds, not be attributed to Simplicius, and that the second scholium does not present an independent proof for the existence of a commentary on the Metaphysics; for Michael of Ephesus may have known from the De anima commentary itself that its author (i.e., Simplicius) wrote such a work. The latter argument seems less convincing to me, but it is, of course, a possibility. On the other hand, if Simplicius has written the commentary on the De anima, he must have written a commentary on the Metaphysics as well.

As can be seen from this short summary, the discussion is rather complicated and cannot be treated separately from the question of the authorship of the De anima commentary. What seems to speak against a commentary by Simplicius on Aristotle’s Metaphysics is the fact that no traces of it survived and that already Ammonius Hermeiou’s lectures, as reported by Asclepius, present a concordist reading of the Metaphysics, harmonizing Plato and Aristotle on crucial aspects of their disagreement. Hence, given that Ammonius Hermeiou had already reacted against the much more polemical approach towards Aristotle’ criticism proposed by Syrianus in his own commentary, and after him Proclus, one may raise the question whether yet another commentary by Simplicius was really necessary. Or did he, in the end, only comment on Metaphysics Lambda? However, there seems to be one element in thinking about Simplicius’ lost works that makes this kind of speculation quite rewarding. In I. Hadot’s words:

Trying to get an idea of Simplicius’s philosophy only from his commentaries on Aristotle would give us a partial and therefore false impression of his work and his personality, and also would leave out his positive attitude to traditional religious practices and theurgy. (p. 189).

It is no secret that Ilsetraut Hadot, notwithstanding the merits of her scholarship, has been quite polemical when it comes to scholarly views she does not agree with.[17] This, in turn, has provoked at times unbalanced reactions on the part those whom she has criticized. Regrettably, the hostile spirit of these altercations has occasionally overshadowed the interesting scholarly disagreements that lie at the centre of these debates. There can be no doubt that I. Hadot has contributed substantially to scholarship on Simplicius in the 20th and 21st century. Even if not all her interpretations have been met with approval, most of what she wrote is and will be essential and inspiring reading for scholars working on the philosophy of late Antiquity. This concise English translation of the summary of her research on Simplicius is a most welcome addition to the literature on late Neoplatonism.[18]



[1] Already in 2015, Pantelis Golitsis published a rich and detailed review on the French version entitled “On Simplicius’ Life and Works: A Response to Hadot”, Aestimatio 12 (2015), pp. 56-82. In part, he is reacting to Hadot’s criticism of his own work, especially regarding the question whether we are entitled to speak of a school of Simplicius (see below for more details). His conclusion runs as follows: “Ilsetraut Hadot has devoted a great deal of her scholarly research to Simplicius and this book is a useful summary of her approach. She has helpfully collected most of the secondary literature on Simplicius [289-311] but, on the whole, her book is an unsafe guide to Simplicius as approached by other scholars and, regrettably, to Simplicius tout court. Despite this verdict, it is my firm belief that Hadot should be thanked for all the previous work that she has done, not at least because it is also thanks to her that younger scholars have been able to take different ways towards understanding better one of the last great philosophers of late antiquity” (pp. 77-78).

[2] For significant updates to the French original, see, for instance, pp. 110-112, p. 118 n. 340, p. 167 n. 463 and, generally speaking, all references to contributions published in or after 2014. Another difference between the French and the English version regards the footnotes. While in the French original every subchapter has its own set of notes, the English translation uses a system of consecutive numbering from 1 to 626. Finally, only the French edition provides a useful index bibliographique that lists the different entries of the bibliography together with the page numbers and notes where they are mentioned.

[3] “All the philosophers after Proclus and down to my time, more or less, followed Proclus not only on this detail, but in all the other dogmas, except for Asclepiodorus, Proclus’ most gifted student, and our Damascius. The former because of his immense talent, took pleasure in innovating in doctrinal matters, whereas Damascius, because of his love of work and his sympathy for Iamblichus, was not afraid to reconsider many of Proclus’ dogmas” (Simplicius, In Phys. 795.11–17, translated by I. Hadot, in: I. Hadot, Athenian and Alexandrian Neoplatonism and the Harmonization of Aristotle and Plato, (Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition, 18), Michael Chase (trans.), Leiden 2015, p. 126 n. 223).

[4] For an overview of Simplicius’ philosophy and extant commentaries, see C. Helmig, “Simplicius”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

[5] Cf. Golitsis, p. 57: “Simplicius’ biography, the identity of Athenian and Alexandrian Neoplatonism, the importance of the prolegomena for correctly assessing the commentaries and the authorship of the commentary on On the Soul, along with questions of dating Simplicius’ commentary on the Encheiridion, constitute the bulk of Hadot’s bilan critique.”

[6] This is to say, most of what she writes has been published before elsewhere, except for her detailed criticism of M. Perkams (pp. 170-183, and n. 470) as far as I can see.

[7] See, for instance, C. Luna, “Review of Thiel 1999: Simplikios und das Ende der Neuplatonischen Schule in Athen”, Mnemosyne 54 (2001), pp. 482–504. Hadot is responding to Luna on several occasions in chapter A (see the Index bibliographique of the French edition), but I found her arguments less convincing. Cf. E. Watts, “Where to Live the Philosophical Life in the Sixth Century? Damascius, Simplicius, and the Return from Persia”, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 45 (2005), pp. 285-315. See also R. Lane Fox, “Appendix: Harran, the Sabians and the late Platonist ‘Movers’”, in: A. Smith (ed.), The Philosopher and Society in Late Antiquity. Essays in Honour of Peter Brown, Swansea 2005, pp. 231-244. Although Hadot mentions Lane Fox in passing, she does not seem to resolve his worries. A useful collection of material and literature on the issue is provided by U. Hartmann, 2002, “Geist im Exil. Römische Philosophen am Hof der Sasaniden”, in: U. Hartmann, A. Luther, M. Schuol (eds.), Grenzüberschreitungen. Formen des Kontakts zwischen Orient und Okzident im Altertum, Stuttgart, pp. 123–160.

[8] See Golitsis (2015), p. 68 with n. 13. Simplicius rather seems to address readers, not students in a classroom.

[9] I agree with I. Hadot (p. 114), pace Adolf Busse, that the commentary nowadays ascribed to Elias was most likely written by David, as is unanimously attested by the mss. See C. Helmig, “Die jeweiligen Eigenheiten der Neuplatoniker David und Elias und die umstrittene Autorschaft des Kommentars zur Kategorienschrift”, in: Benedikt Strobel (ed.), Die Kunst der Philosophischen Exegese bei den spätantiken Platon- und Aristoteles-Kommentatoren, Berlin-Boston 2018, pp. 277-314.

[10] Boethius is an exception because he seems to use only Porphyry and not Iamblichus.

[11] Golitsis (2015), p. 59, is right to point to two passages where Simplicius calls Aristotle likewise “divine” (In de Cael. 87.27 and In Phys. 611.8), but these passages are probably exceptions. It does not seem to be justified to claim, as Golitsis does, that both philosophers were considered equal by Simplicius. Keep in mind that there are several Neoplatonists who explicitly criticise Aristotle (e.g., Syrianus and Proclus), while Plato is never criticized. Even Simplicius, who is usually eager to harmonise both, is prepared to carp at Aristotle once in a while, especially in his Corollaries.

[12] In this context, see especially Hadot’s comprehensive discussion of Perkams’ publications (pp. 170-183), which constitute one of the most original parts of the book compared to the French original.

[13] See F.A.J. de Haas, 2010, “Priscian of Lydia and Pseudo-Simplicius on the Soul”, in The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity, volume 2, Lloyd P. Gerson (ed.), Cambridge, pp. 756–764 (bibliography pp. 1147–1149) and, very recently, G. Gabor, 2020, “Colloquium 1. The Authorship of the Pseudo-Simplician Neoplatonic Commentary on the De Anima”, Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 35, pp. 1-22.

[14] For a rather balanced, more up to date analysis, see E. Coda, ‘Simplicius dans la tradition arabe’, in: Goulet, R. and E. Coda, 2016, “Simplicius de Cilicie”, in Dictionnaire des Philosophes Antiques (Volume VI: De Sabinillus à Tyrsénos), Paris, pp. 384-394.

[15] For a more comprehensive discussion of these dubia, cf. now E. Coda’s summary in: Goulet, R. and E. Coda, 2016, “Simplicius de Cilicie”, in Dictionnaire des Philosophes Antiques (Volume VI: De Sabinillus à Tyrsénos), Paris, pp. 361-384 and pp. 384-394 (on the Arabic tradition).

[16] See also P. Golitsis’ (2015) comments on pp. 76-77.

[17] See, for instance, pp. 166-167.

[18] Overall, I have noticed only a few minor mistakes, e.g. on p. 117 it should be “4.” Instead of “b)”; n. 353, read “Hadot 2014a” instead of “Hadot 2014”; on p. 189 read “Phaedo” instead of “Phaedrus”.