SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE THEME
SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
HIGHLY CUSTOMIZABLE THEME
SECOND MEETING OF THE
NORTH AMERICAN SECTIONS
INTERNATIONAL PLUTARCH SOCIETY
"Plutarch's Unexpected Silences"
15-18 May, 2019
By Itidorfa07 (Own work) CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped from original)
Lion of Chaeronea Statue

Abstract Details

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5/16/2019  |   12:00 PM - 12:30 PM   |  Hampton Inn Conference Room

Plutarch omits — Iamblichus replies? Puzzling silences in Plutarch and their aftermath.

Plutarch’s account of oracular divination leaves some crucial thematic areas unexplored, some arguments intentionally unfinished and some pivotal questions unanswered — especially concerning the critical problem of the interaction between the sensible and the transcendent. How is the material force of the Delphic pneûma supposed to affect the immaterial essence of the priestess’s soul? In what way does the god Apollo intervene within the contingent dynamic of the mantic process? What is the relation between the multiple levels of causation at work behind the oracular activity? Plutarch’s Delphic dialogues offer a quasi-comprehensive account of oracular divination, but carefully elude these crucial points of explanation. The present contribution intends to explain why — in light of his broader philosophical reflection — Plutarch might have chosen to leave similar questions open. In order to do so, it will try to reconstruct Plutarch’s image and heritage through the eyes of the later Platonist Iamblichus. Iamblichus’ third book of De mysteriis Aegyptorum, which is entirely devoted to divination, seems to be addressing and trying to solve exactly the issues that Plutarch had avoided in his works, and thus to fill in the void left by his silences — as thematic and lexical references suggest (for Iamblichus as a possible ‘reader of Plutarch’ cf. Van Liefferinge 1998). More widely, the comparison between Plutarch and Iamblichus will prove useful to understand that what is at stake in their respective omissions and solutions is a pivotal set of problems that has been for centuries at the centre of the Platonic reflection, has animated its debates against other philosophical schools and has shaped its very tradition and identity.

Elsa Giovanna Simonetti (Primary Presenter), elsa.simonetti@gmail.com;
I am a Newton International Fellow at Durham Department of Classics and Ancient History, and an FWO Post-Doctoral at KU Leuven. My recent publications and present research project examine the relation between divination and philosophy in antiquity (especially during the first centuries AD). After studying Philosophy in Bologna (BA) and Padova (MA), I was awarded my joint doctorate from Università di Padova and KU Leuven in 2016. During my PhD, I was a Visiting Research Student at the Department of Classics of Ohio State University (2014). My dissertation, published in 2017 (A Perfect Medium? Oracular Divination in the Thought of Plutarch, Leuven University Press), examines the role of oracular mantic in the writings of Plutarch of Chaeronea. Affiliations: - International Plutarch Society, Italian Section - Society for Classical Studies

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