Personal Legacy and Scholastic Identity

Edward J. Watts

in Riot in Alexandria

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780520262072
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945623 | DOI:
Personal Legacy and Scholastic Identity

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This chapter discusses the importance of historical traditions within a range of ancient intellectual environments. Beginning with Plato's Academy in the fourth century bc and ending with the schools of Iamblichus and Chrysanthius three-quarters of a millennium later, it shows how the leadership of ancient schools used their own personal histories as well as those of their predecessors to advertise the unique and positive aspects of the teaching circles they headed. While these narratives helped to develop the public profile of an institution, they also played the more important role of cementing student allegiances to the school. In many cases, teachers first exposed students to illustrative personal anecdotes about their intellectual ancestors in intimate private conversations. This tied institutional history to the unique teacher–student personal bond that, in theory at least, lent a familial air to a scholastic life. Because students were both personally and emotionally invested in these stories, they worked doubly hard to defend the integrity of their own school's traditions while, at times, attacking the credibility of those associated with rival schools.

Keywords: Plato; Iamblichus; Chrysanthius; leadership; ancient schools; scholastic life; students; teachers; personal histories; allegiances

Chapter.  11699 words. 

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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