Online Lecture on «Ladders of Virtue and Inspiration: Harmonizing Porphyry and Iamblichus in Later Platonist Exegesis» by Michael Griffin

Within the framework of the Research Project “Between Athens & Alexandria. Platonism, 3rd-7th c. CE” (2022-2024) supported by the A. S. Onassis Foundation, the IMS-FORTH, in collaboration with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Center for Hellenistic Studies (ACHS), organizes a monthly online lecture series on late antique Neoplatonism (3rd-7th c. CE).
The series hosts invited talks in English or French by leading scholars in the field. Lectures take place via Zoom at 7pm Athens & Alexandria. Prior registration is required.
The topic of the 2023 talks is "Porphyry, Iamblichus, and 4th Century Neoplatonism".
All welcome!

Οn Tuesday May 23, at 19:00 (Athens time) Associate Professor Michael Griffin (University of British Columbia) will give a lecture on «Ladders of Virtue and Inspiration: Harmonizing Porphyry and Iamblichus in Later Platonist Exegesis».

Damascius famously reports that Porphyry and Iamblichus give priority, respectively, to philosophy and hieratic practice (On Phaedo 1.171-2). In this paper, I would explore how Hermias, Damascius, and Olympiodorus unpack and ultimately resolve the distinction. Some later Platonists frame Porphyrian philosophy as a ladder of virtues culminating, not only in contemplation, but in the ‘paradigmatic’ virtue that amounts to unity with Nous; ‘hieratic’ practice culminates in the highest inspiration, unity with the One. However, ‘hieratic’ virtue is also a parallel hierarchy coexisting alongside the philosophical scale of virtues, reaching each level of the soul by means of inspiration (enthousiasmos). Importantly, I would argue that each tier of inspiration also underlies and causes a tier of virtue, in a way that explains how Porphyry’ and Iamblichus’ views (as later Platonists construct them) can be reconciled.

You can register in advance to our seminar meetings using the following LINK.