Reading Plato, Tracing Plato: From Ancient Commentary to Medieval Reception, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reading Plato, Tracing Plato

From Ancient Commentary to Medieval Reception, 1st Edition

By Stephen Gersh


352 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789697
pub: 2005-03-14
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Stephen Gersh deals here with the Platonic tradition in European thought from the 4th to the 14th century. During this period one can distinguish an earlier phase, consisting of the work of ancient Greek commentators who possessed Plato's original works, and a later phase comprising the activities of medieval Latin scholars who, in the absence of most or all of Plato's own works, derived their own version of 'Platonism' from the patristic and secular writers of late antiquity. The essays collected in this volume deal with such important figures in the history of Platonism as Porphyry, Proclus, Boethius, Eriugena, Anselm of Canterbury, and Thierry of Chartres, and together serve to demonstrate the variety, continuity, and especially creativity of these writers. Also notable is the light which many of the essays cast not only on the dialectical or logical aspects usually emphasized by historians of philosophy, but also on the grammatical, rhetorical, and even semiotic elements of texts.


’These studies examine many significant figures with novel approaches and offer exacting documentation to support nuanced conclusions on topics of enduring interest from antiquity to contemporaneity.’ Review of Metaphysics

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; The medieval legacy from ancient Platonism; Cratylus Mediaevalis - Ontology and polysemy in medieval Platonism (to ca. 1200); Porphyry's commentary on the 'Harmonics' of Ptolemy and Neoplatonic musical theory; Calcidius' theory of first principles; Aristides Quintilianus and Martianus Capella; Proclus' theological methods. The programme of Theol. Plat. I. 4; Proclus' Commentary on the Timaeus. The prefatory material; Dialectical and rhetorical space. The Boethian theory of topics and its influence during the Early Middle Ages; Per se ipsum. The problem of immediate and mediate causation in Eriugena and his Neoplatonic predecessors; Omnipresence in Eriugena. Some reflections on Augustino-Maximian elements in Periphyseon; The structure of the return in Eriugena's Periphyseon; Eriugena's Ars Rhetorica - Theory and practice; Structure, sign, and ontology from Iohannes Scottus Eriugena to Anselm of Canterbury. A reply to John Marenbon; Anselm of Canterbury; Honorius Augustodunensis and Eriugena. Remarks on the method and content of the Clavis Physicae; Platonism - Neoplatonism - Aristotelianism. Thierry of Chartres' metaphysical system and its sources; (Pseudo-?) Bernard Silvestris and the revival of Neoplatonic Virgilian Exegesis; Berthold von Moosburg on the content and method of Platonic philosophy; Harmonics and semiotics in the Middle Ages: remarks on a recent publication; Index.

About the Author

Stephen Gersh is Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General