Book Series Philosophie hellénistique et romaine / Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy , vol. 4

Bios Philosophos. Philosophy in Ancient Greek Biography

Mauro Bonazzi, Stefan Schorn (eds)

  • Pages: 313 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Language(s):English, French, German
  • Publication Year:2016

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-56546-0
  • Paperback
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  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57280-2
  • E-book
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An innovative study focusing on the interrelationship between ancient Greek biographical texts and philosophy, from the 4th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D. 


Mauro Bonazzi teaches History of Ancient Philosophy at Milan State University; he is the vice-editor of "Méthexis. An International Journal of Ancient Philosophy".

Stefan Schorn teaches Ancient History at KU Leuven (Belgium), he is editor-in-chief of "Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker IV: Biography and Antiquarian Literature".


« On pourrait se demander: Un autre livre sur la biographie antique était-il vraiment nécessaire? Peut-il apporter quelque chose de nouveau dans ce domaine tellement étudié? Le volume "Bios Philosophos. Philosophy in Ancient Greek Biography" (…) prouve que la réponse est sans aucun doute affirmative. » (Tiziano Dorandi, in Sehepunkte, 17/6, 2017)

“[It] delivers a both deep and wide tour through the philosophical aspects of Greek biographical production.” (Bernardo C. D. A. Vasconcelos and Gustavo Laet Gomes, Classica, 30/2, 2017, p. 137)

« Nous pouvons constater, grâce à ce volume, que les biographies de philosophes rédigées par des philosophes dans l’Antiquité expriment les positions philosophiques et intentions pédagogiques de ces derniers (…) Ce volume, d’un excellent niveau scientifique, donne à voir un éventail très large des possibilités à cet égard. » (Dominic O’Meara, dans Philosophie antique, 17, 2017, p. 208)




In the 4th century B.C., philosophers began to write not only philosophical texts, but also biographical ones.  As biographers, they often presented members of their own schools as the epitome of their ideals, or tried to prove that the followers of others lived in ways inconsistent with their own doctrines, which the writers thereby hoped to show were ultimately unrealizable. Other biographies contained chapters engaging in doxographical or more properly philosophical discussions.  Even when the philosopher-biographers’ attention turned to the lives of politicians and poets, they would find occasions to introduce their philosophical concerns. This whole genre of Greek biography, then, is an rich source of commentary on the philosophical doctrines current in Antiquity.

The papers collected in this volume explore the many ways in which philosophy was incorporated into such texts, as well as how the genre was used as a means of philosophical instruction, discussion and polemics. They analyze texts from the 4th century B.C. to the 6th century A.D., some belonging to the best-known examples of the genre, and others being virtually unknown to most students of Antiquity. The volume contains studies of, among others, Dicaearchus, Timaeus, Philodemus, Plutarch, Lucian, Iamblichus, Philostratus, Eunapius and the anonymous Prolegomena to Plato’s Philosophy.


Introduction — Mauro Bonazzi & Stefan Schorn

Pythagore chez Dicéarque: anecdotes biographiques et critique de la philosophie contemplative — Thomas Bénatouïl

Empedocles Democraticus: Hellenistic Biography at the Intersection of Philosophy and Politics — Phillip Sidney Horky

La biografia del Κῆπος e il profilo esemplare del saggio epicureo — Dino De Sanctis

Plutarch’s Unphilosophical Lives: Philosophical, after All? — Jan Opsomer

The Spectacle of a Life: Biography as Philosophy in Lucian — Karin Schlapbach

Biographie und Fürstenspiegel. Politische Paränese in Philostrats Vita ApolloniiStefan Schorn

Zwischen Polemik und Hagiographie: Iamblichs De vita Pythagorica im Vergleich mit Porphyrios’ Vita PlotiniIrmgard Männlein-Robert

Depicting the Character of Philosophers: Traces of the Neoplatonic Scale of Virtues in Eunapius’ Collective Biography — Matthias Becker

Il filosofo platonico secondo Damascio — Franco Trabattoni

Κάθαρσις e protrettica nel βίος dei Prolegomena anonimi alla filosofia di Platone — Mario Regali