A History of Ancient Philosophy: From the Beginnings to Augustine

By Karsten Friis Johansen | Go to book overview

30

GREECE AND ROME

Towards the end of his life when Cicero (106-43 BC) wrote his work on the foundation of morals, the De finibus, he began the last book (Cic. De fin. V 1 ff.) with a recollection from his grand educational journey to Greece in his youth. He finds himself in Athens and with good friends he makes for the Academy. All the sites are permeated by the glorious past, and the great ancients appear to their mind's eye: Plato, Sophocles, Pericles and Demosthenes. Cicero's friend, the Epicurean Atticus, is also allowed to send a quiet thought to the outsider in the garden. This is an evocative picture on the verge of sentimentality and nostalgia. A Roman of Cicero's cast and social position was probably marked by a certain ambivalence: he had received his literary and philosophical education from the subjugated Greeks, but he also acknowledged his Roman heritage; as a citizen in a world-wide realm he was called to an active life in the service of the state and of civilization. A Greek, on the other hand, could only live in the past. Philosophy had become an eclectic, epigone philosophy; the great questions had been asked and the answers had been provided. The basic attitude was that one should not get lost in subtleties such as the debate between Stoics and Academics, but rather that all good forces-which is to say Stoics, Academics and Peripatetics, but not, of course, Epicureans-should join in cherishing common values.

Many Romans might of course be mentioned as mediators between Greece and Rome, among them the lonely Lucretius or the learned Varro. But Cicero was the principal actor in the cultural process of amalgamation that was to determine Europe's history ever afterwards. He had received a thorough and all-round philosophical education. He 'elected' to become an Academic and was close friends with his two teachers, Philo of Larissa (c. 160-80 BC) who headed the Academy after Carneades' student Clitomachus and Antiochus of Ascalon (c. 12 5-68 BC) who directed the Academy during Cicero's studies in Athens (cf. Brut. 306; 315; Acad. II 113).

Philo belonged to the Carneades tradition and disputed the possibility of certain knowledge; but the fact that nothing is certain does not mean that everything is equally uncertain-whether he went further than Carneades on this point cannot be ascertained (18; 32 ff.; Sext. Emp. Hyp. Pyr. I 235). Antiochus went considerably further.

-484-

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A History of Ancient Philosophy: From the Beginnings to Augustine
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Presocratic Philosophy 9
  • 1 - Myth, Poetry and Philosophy 11
  • 2 - Ionian Natural Philosophy 20
  • 3 - Heraclitus 29
  • 4 - The Pythagoreans 36
  • 5 - The Eleatics 45
  • 6 - Post-Parmenidean Natural Philosophy 59
  • 7 - Medical Science 79
  • Part II - The Great Century of Athens 83
  • 8 - Pericles' Athens 85
  • 9 - Tragedy and View of History 88
  • 10 - The Sophists 99
  • 11 - Socrates 118
  • Part III - Plato 137
  • 12 - Life, Works and Position 139
  • 13 - What is Virtue? Can Virtue Be Taught? 160
  • 14 - Idea and Man 173
  • 15 - The Good Constitution of State and Man 198
  • 16 - The Late Dialogues: Knowledge and Being 213
  • 17 - The Late Dialogues: Nature, Man and Society 236
  • 18 - Plato and the Early Academy 254
  • Part IV - Aristotle 267
  • 19 - Life, Works and Position 269
  • 20 - Logic and Theory of Science 293
  • 21 - Natural Philosophy and Psychology 316
  • 22 - Metaphysics and Theology 343
  • 23 - Ethics and Politics 366
  • 24 - Rhetoric and Poetics 392
  • 25 - The Early Peripatetics 400
  • Part V - Hellenistic Philosophy 405
  • 26 - Science and Philosophy 407
  • 27 - Epicurus 423
  • 28 - Early Stoicism 442
  • 29 - Scepticism 471
  • 30 - Greece and Rome 484
  • Part VI - Late Antiquity 499
  • 31 - Imperial Rome 501
  • 32 - Plotinus 532
  • 33 - Late Neoplatonism 556
  • 34 - Early Christian Thought 569
  • 35 - Augustine 588
  • Abbreviations General 625
  • Bibliography 639
  • Index 663
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