AFTER the great achievements of the Alexandrian scholars and scientists, Alexandrian philosophy in the Ptolemaic period cuts a poor figure, for it is a feature of intellectual life which only took root in the city at the very end of the Ptolemaic period, and then in an uncreative, though influential form. Thus the story to be told here is largely of negative significance.1

In the middle of the fourth century philosophy was centred on Athens and dominated by the Academy. In the following years the Academy was joined as a centre of philosophical inquiry by the Lyceum, and the future development of Greek philosophy was virtually decided by the creation of these two schools, which provided permanent establishments for future generations. Their prestige was such that no attempt was made to transplant them, and at the same time the two other great schools which were to dominate the thought of the Hellenistic world, Stoicism and Epicureanism, both established themselves in Athens, which thus remained the centre of philosophical studies down to the closing of the schools by Justinian in A.D. 563. Other centres of Stoicism and Epicureanism nevertheless arose, which reflect both the growth of the dispersed culture of the Hellenistic world and the interest of kings in philosophy.2 In the early days of Stoicism Antigonus Gonatas, himself an earnest student of philosophy, attracted to his court at Pella both Stoics and Cynics,3 and in the second century the school of Epicurus found a second home for itself at the Seleucid court at Antioch and in the Syrian cities under Seleucid rule.4 The kings of Pcrgamum also showed considerable interest in philosophy, particularly Stoicism, and lavishly supported the Athenian establishments of the Academy and the Lyceum.5 In the second century flourishing centres of Stoicism arose in Rhodes, the home of that philosophy from Panaetius onwards,6 and Tarsus, which shone as a cultural centre from the second century until the Imperial period, and to whose eminence as a nursery of philosophers Strabo bears eloquent witness.7

To these great philosophical movements Alexandria contributed very little, at least in the third and second centuries. Some slight


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Ptolemaic Alexandria


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