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The School of Platonism – Commentaries on Plato in Late Antiquity

In late antiquity, Platonic philosophy consisted mainly of commentaries on the dialogues of Plato.  Beginning with an anonymous Middle Platonic commentary on the Theaetetus and culminating in the great commentaries of Proclus, Damascius and Olympiodorus, Platonic  antiquity has given us a substantial number of commentaries on Plato.

These texts belong to a school curriculum, which has its distinct conceptual foundation in the philosophy of Plato.  This curriculum was developed by Iamblichus and practiced until well into the 7th century.  Its goal was a systematic and didactic-anagogic introduction to the philosophy of Plato.

The extant commentaries come from this school curriculum, which was practiced in the two centers of Platonism in late antiquity, Athens and Alexandria.  The importance of these methodological and hermeneutic approaches to Plato’s philosophy still to this day hasn’t been fully realized and the approaches themselves consistently used for the interpretation of Plato.

The Leibniz research project “The School of Platonism – Commentaries on Plato” is an attempt to fully give these commentaries their due.  One focal point of this project is the commentary on the dialogue Parmenides, which was seen by the ancient commentators as the summit and epitome of Platonic metaphysics, dialectic and theology.