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 is Teaching Fellow in Classics at the University of St Andrews, UK. She obtained her doctorate in Classics from the University of Bristol (2009). She has published numerous book chapters and articles on oracles, divination and religion in Neoplatonism and Late Antiquity. She is a member of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies and the Centre of Late Antique Religion and Culture, Cardiff University.
"[T]he book offers a good interpretation of Iamblichus’ De mysteriis and a wealth of important observations on various details of the material. The new approach it proposes to the study of Neoplatonic rituals promises insights in the field of Neoplatonic religiosity well beyond Porphyry and Iamblichus. This is an important contribution to research on theurgy." Bryn Mawr Classical Review