Athens and Its Philosophical Schools in the Fifth Century

Edward J. Watts

in City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780520244214
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931800 | DOI:
Athens and Its Philosophical Schools in the Fifth Century

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By the turn of the fifth century, the dominance that Athenian teachers had once enjoyed over the political life of the city was only a memory. Much of this was due to the rapid evolution of Athenian public life in the late fourth century. Teachers, most of whom were pagan, had to determine how best to adapt to a new political environment in which their independence was diminished and religious concerns could never be ignored. Amidst these changes in the city, there is a distinct shift in the focus of the extant sources describing Athenian education. This chapter reveals the closed world of private philosophical schools at a very significant moment: when Athenian teachers of philosophy first introduced Iamblichan Neoplatonism to the Athenian educational environment. This chapter also discusses the activities of Plutarch, the most prominent early exponent of Iamblichan Neoplatonism in Athens, to effectively function in this new political environment.

Keywords: Plutarch; Iamblichan Neoplatonism; education; Athens; classical era; teachers; philosophy; Christianity

Chapter.  16914 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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