Why did ancient philosophers consult oracles, write about them, and consider them to be an important part of philosophical thought and practice? This book explores the extensive links between oracles and philosophy in Late Antiquity, particularly focusing on the roles of oracles and other forms of divination in third and fourth century CE Neoplatonism. Examining some of the most significant debates between pagan philosophers and Christian intellectuals on the nature of oracles as a central yet contested element of religious tradition, Addey focuses particularly on Porphyry's Philosophy from Oracles and Iamblichus' De Mysteriis - two works which deal extensively with oracles and other forms of divination. This book argues for the significance of divination within Neoplatonism and offers a substantial reassessment of oracles and philosophical works and their relationship to one another. With a broad interdisciplinary approach, encompassing Classics, Ancient Philosophy, Theology, Religious Studies and Ancient History, Addey draws on recent anthropological and religious studies research which has challenged and re-evaluated the relationship between rationality and ritual.
Table of Contents
Contents: Oracles and philosophy; Oracles, allegory and mystery cults; Debating oracles: pagan and Christian perspectives; Debating oracles: Porphyry’s Letter to Anebo and Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis; Divination, rationality and ritual in Neoplatonism; Divine inspiration, possession and contact with the gods in Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis; Divination and theurgy in Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis; Manifesting the gods: oracles as symbola; Bibliography; Index.
’Crystal Addey has given us a book to be welcomed warmly, reminding us of what an essential role practical� relations with the gods maintains in later Neoplatonism. Like it or not, Platonism is a religion as well as a philosophy, and Dr Addey masterfully explores the implications of that, while relating the religion to the philosophy.’ John Dillon, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland ’A very interesting exploration of the importance of oracles, divination and other religious practices to the philosophers of Late Antiquity, viewed against the general religious background of the period.’ Dominic O'Meara, Professor emeritus of philosophy, University of Fribourg, Switzerland