The Shifting Sands of Fourth-Century Alexandrian Cultural Life

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:
The Shifting Sands of Fourth-Century Alexandrian Cultural Life

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The first part of this chapter explores the ecclesiastical and intellectual causes of the Alexandrian Christian community's movement away from the philosophically influenced Christian intellectual circle. The second part of this chapter examines Alexandrian pagan schools and the role they played in the education of Christians in the second half of the fourth century. Two major strains of Platonic philosophical interpretation contested with one another in later fourth-century Alexandria. These include the Platonism developed by Plotinus and Porphyry and the theurgically influenced interpretation of Iamblichus. The chapter also presents an account of the career of Hypatia, a highly erudite woman who succeeded her father in heading the school which he founded. With its emphasis upon contemplation, Hypatia's training worked in typically Plotinian fashion. In her school, Christian students did not need to worry about their convictions conflicting with their training.

Keywords: Alexandria; Platonism; Plotinus; Porphyry; Hypatia; Christianity; paganism; religion

Chapter.  17577 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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