Volume 2, Issue 4, 2018
Ancient Greek Philosophy: Neo-Platonic Philosophy
The Death of Philosophers in Porphyry’s Sententiae 9
The starting point of this paper is a proposition in Porphyry’s Sententiae. There he says, “death is of two sorts: the one is the generally recognized one involving the loosing of the body from the soul; the other is that of the philosophers, involving the soul loosing itself from the body” (9, 1-3). What is most problematic is the last passage of this sentence: «καὶ οὐ πάντως ὁ ἕτερος τῷ ἑτέρῳ ἕπεται». This can be translated as “it is not always necessary that either should follow upon the other” or “it is never the case that either should follow upon the other”. I read this line as a denial of both the natural death as a consequence of the death of philosophers and the reverse. Considering what Porphyry understands as the death of philosophers, I would like to give an insight into the Sententiae themselves, and into the fact that this work is entitled “Pathways to the intelligibles” (‘Ἀφορμαὶ πρὸς τὰ νοητά’) in the manuscripts.