Iamblichus: De Mysteriis De Mysteriis

Iamblichus: De Mysteriis De Mysteriis

Iamblichus: De Mysteriis De Mysteriis

Iamblichus: De Mysteriis De Mysteriis


This volume presents the first modern English translation of Iamblichus De mysteriisalongside the standard critical edition of the text by Edouard Des Places (Les Belles Lettres, 1966). Iamblichus provides a unique insight into the mystical side of late Neoplatonism, arguing that the only good is union with the gods and that the only route to this divine union is theurgy religious ritual demonstrating supernatural power. The process of sacrifice, the activities of angels and demons, the meaning of divine possession, and the functioning of oracles are all examined in this extraordinary defense of theurgic mysticism against contemporary critics such as Porphyry. Clarke, Dillon, and Hershbell bring this famous and fascinating text to light through their introduction and extensive notes. Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)


Given Martin Sicherl's thorough study of the De mysteriis, brief observations here will suffice. According to Sicherl, the famous scholar Joseph Bidez, prior to his death in 1945, announced an essay on the manuscript tradition of the De mysteriis, which has never been published and which now seems to be lost. It was Bidez who encouraged Sicherl to undertake his own study of the manuscripts, editions and translations of Iamblichus's De mysteriis, indispensable for any translator. After extensive travels between 1938 and 1956, Sicherl was able to inspect almost all the manuscripts, and divided the collection into two classes. Among the first are those with Greek lemmata from the Byzantine period, omitted in some copies. The "hyparchetype" of all codices is Vallicellianus F20 (= V), c. 1460, studied by Marsilio Ficino for his own Latin translation (or paraphrase) of the De mysteriis (1497). In the second class of complete manuscripts are those going back, directly or indirectly, to a single codex, Marcianus graecus 244 (= M). This is the second "hyparchetype," c. 1458. Like Bidez before him, Sicherl used the sigla V and M, but for Bidez, M was Monacensis graecus 361b, which he mistakenly took for Marcianus graecus 244. Sicherl himself used M for Marcianus graecus 244 and G for Monacensis graecus 361b, while

See Sicherl's (1957) foreword.

Sicherl (1957, xi) notes that he was able to learn "aus Autopsie" all
manuscripts "mit Ausnahme der spanischen und englischen."

On the concept of the "hyparchetype" see Sicherl (1957, 160); for the
sake of simplicity, Sicherl understood a potiori an exemplar, which came from
the East to Italy, and from which all extant manuscripts, with the exception of
h, are derived.

On Ficino's paraphrase see Sicherl (1957, 182–88). Ficino's work was
translated into Italian by Giovanni di Niccolo da Falgano. On V see Sicherl
(1957, 22–37).

On M see Sicherl (1957, 90–97).

Sicherl (1957, 3).

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