Reframing neoplatonism in Zacharias Scholasticus' Ammonius

Conference item


Champion, Michael 2017. Reframing neoplatonism in Zacharias Scholasticus' Ammonius. E. Amato, A. Corcella and D. Lauritzen (ed.) Colloque International de Paris, Collège de France, 23-25 Mai 2013. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. pp. 99 - 115
AuthorsChampion, Michael
Abstract

[Extract] Aeneas and Procopius of Gaza, and Zacharias Scholasticus, the later Bishop of Mitylene, all debated problems about the eternity of the world1. Aeneas of Gaza’s philosophical dialogue the Theophrastus directly influenced Zacharias’ Ammonius, and Procopius’ Commentary on Genesis also treats these subjects. The Gazans were partly motivated by thinkers such as the Neoplatonist Proclus, whose Timaeus Commentary and Eighteen Arguments Against the Eternity of the World systematised and added new precision to existing philosophical arguments2. Their debate bridges the gap between Proclus and the later controversies about creation in Alexandria between John Philoponus and Simplicius3. This chapter explores Zacharias’ contribution. Zacharias grew up in Gaza, and his debts to Aeneas show the closeness of his connection to the city, although after studying in Alexandria and Berytus, work kept him away from his home town. His dialogue the Ammonius consists of four internal conversations between a “Christian” and the Neoplatonic philosopher Ammonius, the pagan student Gessius, who went on to become a famous doctor, and a student who is “slipping towards paganism”4. The conversations with Ammonius and Gessius are set in the Alexandrian classrooms and are recounted to the Christian student by Zacharias within the confines of a beautiful new church. The settings of the dialogues thus point to the various audiences Zacharias is addressing: philosophers and pagan and Christian students.

Year2017
PublisherPeeters
Book titleL’École de Gaza: Espace littéraire et identité culturelle dans l’Antiquité tardive: Actes du Colloque International de Paris, Collège de France, 23-25 Mai 2013
Page range99 - 115
ISBN9789042932630
Research GroupInstitute for Religion and Critical Inquiry
Place of publicationLeuven, Belgium
EditorsE. Amato, A. Corcella and D. Lauritzen
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