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The Decline and Fall of the N eoplatonic
Interpretation of Plato
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Schleiermacher and Esoteric Platonism 5

Medieval Platonism and N eoplatonism 7
Augustine and the New Academy 7
Medieval Platonism ................................................. .. ...... . 10
Medieval Academism ........ ... ...... .......................... .............. . 12
John of Salisbury ................................................. .......... . 13
Renaissance Platonism .. ...................... . ... ... ........................ . 14
Petrarch ........ . . ......... ... . .. ..... .............. ....... ................ . 14
From Boccaccio to Bruni ............................... - .......... .. ......... . 17
Marsilio Ficino 18
Pico della Mirandola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
The Dionysian Problem........................................................ 21
Cusanus and the Areopagite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Ficino and Dionysius 24
Faber Stapulensis and Dionysius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
The Rising Doubts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
The Revival of the New Academy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
L eonardo Bruni . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Melanchthon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Nizolio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
The Ramists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Montaigne 36
Gianfrancesco Pico .................... .. ............................. · · · · · · · · · 37
P etrus de Valentia ..................... .. .................................. . 38
Between Neoplatonism and the Academy 38
Serranus ........................................... · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 39
The third Alternative .......................................... · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 42
Rap in 43
Fleury 43
Andre Dacier ........................... · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 44
Gale ...... .. ...................... ·· ·· · · · · · · · · · · · ··· ···· · · ·· · · ·· · · ·· ···· ·· · · 45
The Cambridge Platonists 48
The Evils of Platonism 48
The Survival of the New Academy ........................................ · · · · 49
The Historians of Philosophy ................................. · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 49
Hom .. ...... .. ............................................................. . 50
Stanley ....... ............. ............... ·. · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 51
J. G. Vossius ........................................................... · · · · · 51
Leibniz 53
4 E. N . TIGERSTEDT» The Desline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato

Olearius .................................................................... 54
Mosheim .................................................................... 55
~~:c~:~ler.. : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 61
The Encyclopedia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Brucker in England ......................................................... . 62
The New Situation ......................................................... . 63
Tiedemann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 SCHLEIERMACHER AND ESOTERIC PLATONISM
Tennemann . .. ... .................. . . . .. .. ............ . ... . .. . ........ ..... . . 64
H egel ..................................................................... . 68
The Esoteric System ......................................................... . 69
The modern 'Esoteric' interpretation of Plato ascribes to him a more
NOTES .. . ...... . .. . ............................. . ................... . ...... . 71 or less secret 'esoteric' doctrine, consisting of a metaphysical system not
INDEX NOMINUM ........ . .... . ............... . ............ . ... . .......... . 107 to be found, at least not explicitly, in his written works, but propounded
orally to his disciples in the Academy and constituting the real though
hidden content of his philosophy. 1 According to the modern Esoterists,
this interpretation of Plato was the ruling one, not only in classical anti-
quity but for a long time afterwards, until, at the beginning of the nine-
teenth century, the evil genius of Schleiermacher succeeded in convincing
contemporary and later scholars of the non-existence of an esoteric Plato-
nism and in persuading them to confine their interpretation of Plato to
the Dialogues alone, thereby subjecting Platonism to a distortion from
which only the Esoterists of modern times have liberated it.z
As I have shown in another study, 3 the modern Esoteric interpreta-
tion of Plato cannot be found in any ancient Platonist, least of all in the
Neoplatonists, to whom Plato's entire philosophy was an esoteric doc-
trine, revealed to the initiated, not in any oral tradition but in the Master's
written works, if read according to the rules of Neoplatonic exegesis.
Nor is the role the modern Esoterists assign to Schleiermacher more
in accordance with the facts. Before him, so they assert, everybody be-
lieved in an esoteric Platonism. >>Es war allein die Autoritat Schleier-
machers, welche diese wohl fundierte Auffassung binnen kurzem fast
vollig zum Erliegen brachte. Es ist heute merkwiirdig zu sehen, wie er
durch die Entdeckung der Dialogform dazu gefiihrt, den Unterschied
zwischen Schrift und Wort zu vermischen - mit zehn Seiten in der Ein-
leitung seiner Platoniibersetzung es vermocht hat, die Meinung der Sach-
verstandigen fiir mehr als ein Jahrhundert zu bestimmen. >>4
Verily, an astonishing phenomenon - this overthrow of a tradition
more than two thousand years old, caused by >>ten pages>> in a German
translation of Plato, due to a y oung and not very authoritative man,
for in 1804, when the Introduction appeared, Schleiermacher was a high-
ly controversial figure in German theology, philosophy, and letters . A
miracle - if true.
It must, however, in all fairness be added that this account of Schleier-
machcr's revolutionary role in Platonic scholarship is only a tendentious
6 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 7

exaggeration of a current opinion, voiced by many scholars who by no of whose sketchy and fragmentary character the present writer is only
means share the Esoteric view of Plato. Thus, for instance, no less a man too well aware. Nonetheless, he hopes that the iollowing remarks will be
than Wilamowitz declared in his monograph on Plato that Schleiermacher of some use to future investigators.
was the man who discovered >>the real Platm> and thereby put an end
to the Neoplatonic Plato. 5 This view is still the ruling one, expressed in
learned papers6 and works of reference. 7 Actually, it goes back to Schleier- MEDIEVAL PLATONISM AND NEOPLATONISM
macher's own contemporaries 8 and the next generation of scholars, 9 who,
strongly impressed by his undeniably great and decisive contribution to It is a commonplace that medieval Platonism,l5 whether in the East
the study of Plato, tended to isolate him too much from his predecessors. or in the West, was actually Neoplatonism. 16 This, however, has been
Neither his many old and new admirers nor his recent detractors have strongly denied by one of the foremost authorities on this subject, Ray-
viewed his Platonic studies in a truly historical perspective. 10 mond KlibanskyP Without going into details, it may be said that it de-
If we today read those famous ten pages of the Introduction11 which, pends on what we mean by 'Neoplatonism'. If we use this term strictiori
according to a modern Esoterist, revolutionized our conception of Plato, sensu, as meaning that form of Platonism which starts with Plotinus,
we will find them disappointingly anodyne. They are evidently not written then, indeed, we must concede to Klibansky that a good deal of medieval
by a man who believes that he is the first to attack a deep-rooted pre- Platonism contains elements belonging to different and earlier phases of
judice but rather by one who feels that he has many sympathizers, as Platonism. But if by 'Neoplatonism' we refer to the transformation of
was indeed the case. The N eoplatonists are mentioned only casually and Platonism into a metaphysical or theological system, occurring in the
in a way which shows that Schleiermacher had not found it worth while last century B.C. and the two first centuries A.D. - whether ultimately
to study them closely. For, speaking of the conception of an esoteric Plato- originated by Plato himself or only by his immediate successors in the
nism as opposed to an exoteric, he says that of all the defen~ers of such Old Academy may in the present context be allowed to remain an open
a view >>die so-genannten N euplatoniker» are >>noch immer am meisten question18 - then the term, though susceptible to misunderstanding, is
zu loben», for they were the only ones who really attempted to systematize not so wrong as it may seem. For the investigations of the last decades
Plato. 12 That this systematization was in fact based on the Dialogues have more and more tended to abolish the demarcation between 'middle
seems not to have been clear to Schleiermacher. A careful reader has no Platonism' and 'Neoplatonism', which both are now considered parts of
difficulty in discerning that the real target of Schleiermacher's polemics one and the same great philosophic and religious movement, culminating
was not the ancient Neoplatonists but some modern scholars, in the first in but not limited to Plotinus and his disciples. 19
place certainly W. G. Tennemann, whose comprehensive work on Plato Much as they might have differed, the participators in this movement
had then recently appeared (1792- 95). 13 all considered Platonism a comprehensive metaphysical and theological
What had happened was something quite different from the current system. What this Platonism entirely lacked was the Socratic, aporetic
legend. Schleiermacher had no need to combat the Neoplatonic interpre- element in Plato for which these philosophers and theologians had no use. 20
tation of Plato for the excellent reason that, since at least half a century, The New Academy seemed to have disappeared without leaving a trace. 21
it had been rejected by most leading scholars. Metaphorically speaking:
Schleiermacher could not attack the old Neoplatonic fortress, for, when
he appeared upon the scene, it was already in ruins. What he did was to AUGUSTINE AND THE NEW ACADEMY
build a more modest house of his own, which many even today prefer
to the new-built castle of the Esoterists. There is, however, an interesting and important exception. In A.D.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the decline and fall of 386, an ex-professor of Rhetoric, who had just been converted to Chris·
the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato was an accomplished fact. This tianity and retired from his chair, Aurelius Augustinus, whom posterity
event had a long and complicated history, being itself only one aspect was to revere as St. Augustine, wrote a book Contra Academicos. 22 The
of the history of Platonism - a subject too vast to be mastered by any source was, of course, Cicero's Academica, which Augustine used in its
mortal man, even if confined to the West. 14 But even of the still more second revised edition, of which now only the first quarter and a few
restricted topic indicated in the title, this paper can offer only an outline, fragments of the remainder are extant. 23 But in contrast to Cicero, the
8 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES Hu111ANARUM LITTERARUM 52 9

future Father of the Church vehemently attacked the New Academy and the clouds of error having been removed, shone forth especially in Ploti-
its scepticism. nus. This Platonic philosopher is regarded as being so like Plato, that
Augustine's personal experience of Academic scepticism and his argu- one would think that they had lived at the same time. The interval of
mentation against it do not concern us here. What interests us is the way time between them is, however, so great that one should rather think that
in which Augustine tries to solve the difficult problem of reconciling Plato's Plato had come to life again in Plotinus>>. 33
idealism with the scepticism of Cicero and the New Academy. He does Mter this eloquent survey of the history of Platonism, the reader is
so by tentatively attributing a secret doctrine to the latter. rather taken aback, when confronted with a new reservation:
After having hinted at such a doctrine, 24 Augustine devotes the last >>This theory about the Academics I have sometime, as far as I could,
section of the Third and final Book to an attempt to prove its existence. thought probable. If it is false, I do not mind. It is enough for me that
He finds it impossible that such men as the Academic philosophers and I no longer think that truth cannot be found by man. But if anyone thinks
even more >>Marcus Tullius>> should not have realized the fatal consequence that the Academics were really of this opinion let him hear Cicero himself.
of their denial of Man's capability of ever reaching Truth. 25 Nor was this He assures us that the Academics had a practice of hiding their view,
the case. >>Indeed they did it - for they were clever and careful.»26 >>Why and of not revealing it to anyone except to those who lived with them
then, did such great men engage in perpetual and stubborn wranglings in up to old age. What that doctrine was, God knows! For my part, I do be-
order that no one might seem to possess the knowledge of Truth 1 Listen lieve that it was Plato's.>>34
now a little more carefully, not to what I know, but to what I think>>, Augustine tries hard to persuade himself, without quite succeeding,35
Augustine says diffidently. 27 that the New Academy had a secret doctrine, consisting of Plato's true
After his master Socrates' death, Plato learned many things from the philosophy, conceived as a metaphysical system. Whether due to Cicero,
Pythagoreans whose master Pythagoras had been listening to the teaching as Augustine very uneasily and ambiguously suggests36 or not, this opinion
of Pherecydes of Syros and to the wisdom of many other sages. 28 Combining cannot in any case be an invention of Augustine's, as some scholars be-
Socrates with Pythagoras, Plato put together a complete system of philo- lieve,37 because it can be found in earlier writers such as Numenius and
sophy, whose main characteristic was the dualism between the intelli- Sextus Empiricus. 38 This is not to deny that the theory about the secret
gible world, where truth itself resides, and this sensible world, which doctrine of the New Academy, Cicero included, was of personal importance
engenders only opinion. 29 >>These and other similar things , I believe, were to Augustine: he could simply not conceive that so many outstanding
preserved, as far as possible, by his successors and guarded as 'mysteries'. men deliberately preferred doubt to certitude. 39
For neither are such things easily understood save only by those who, That even Cicero becomes an adept of this secret doctrine is undoubted-
purifying themselves from every vice, are living a life at a level higher than ly a stiff proposition, but not quite so silly as, on the face of it, it seems.
is human; nor could he be without grave fault who, knowing them, would For Cicero's conception of Plato is by no means homogenous.40 To him
wish to teach them to men of any kind whatever>>. 30 Plato is not only the inquirer and doubter of the New Academy and the
Therefore, when Zeno, the founder of the Stoa, who had studied in Academica, but also the lofty moralist and sublime metaphysician of the
the Academy, began to propound a philosophy of his own, his former Phaedo and the Phaedrus , such as he appears in the First Book of the
fellow Academic, Arcesilas, who now was the leader of the Academy, Tusculan Disputations. 41 The fervour with which Cicero there speaks of
>>acted in a most prudent and useful way, since the evil was spreading Plato with whom he even prefers to go astray rather than hold true views
widely, in concealing completely the doctrine of the Academy and burying with his opponents, 42 clashes strongly with the way in which Plato is
it as gold to be found at some time by posterity.>>31 mentioned in the Academica Posteriora (I 12, 46). Nor should we forget
Arcesilas' secret policy was carried on by Carneades, and the conflict the heavy influence that Plato as a political theorist exerted on the author
between Stoics and Academics continued unto the time of Cicero. When of the De R e Publica and the De Legibus. 43 It is only too easy to under-
Antiochus, >>that Platonic Strawmam, who was at heart a Stoic, tried to stand why Augustine, forever searching for certitude, eagerly embraced
desecrate the shrine of Plato (Platonis adyta), Philo and after his death the theory that his beloved Marcus Tullius, too, was at heart a believer. 44
Cicero had recourse again to the former weapons of doubt and negation. 32 This means that Augustine deliberately shuts his eyes to the sceptical
>>Not long after this, then, all obstinacy and pertinacity had died down, aspects of Cicero's Platonism and Cicero's Plato. Not for a moment does
and Plato's doctrine, which in philosophy is the purest and most clear, he attribute any scepticism to Plato himself, as Cicero undoubtedly did.
10 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato C011Ili1ENTATIONES HUliiANARUl\I LI=ERARU!U 52 11

To Augustine, Plato is the systematic metaphysician of the Neoplatonists, This was the more important as the direct knowledge of Plato's works
the Master of Plotinus, himself >>another Plato>>, as more than a thousand remain very limited down to the beginning of the fifteenth century, when
years later an admirer of Plato, Plotinus, and St. Augustine, Marsilio the Greek Plato at last became known in the West. As early as in 387,
Ficino, was to call Plotinus. 45 St. Jerome had with his customary rhetorical exaggeration complained
Therefore, to Augustine, Platonism is identical with Neoplatonism, that nowadays only >>some idle old men know the works or even the name
and the >>libri Platonicorum)>, so much discussed by scholars, which he of Plato>>. 56 For centuries, Calcidius' partial translation of the Timaeus
often mentions apropos of his conversion, are Neoplatonic writings - ·was the only Platonic text extant in the West, and as late as ca. 1140
which ones is a matter that does not concern us here. 46 Of Plato himself, Peter Abailard could declare: >>Platonis scripta in hac arte (dialectics)
it seems that, at least when writing the Contra Academicos, Augustine nondum cognovit latinitas nostra)>. 57
had read only the Timaeus in Cicero's translation - not in that by Cal- Some years later, ca. 1156, Henricus Aristippus, archdeacon of Catania
cidius47 - for his scanty knowledge of Greek did not then allow him to and one of the foremost councellors of King William I of Sicily, translated
study Plato in the original, and it is more than doubtful, whether he ever into Latin the Meno and the Phaedo. 58 These clumsy, literal translations
attempted to do so.4s were, however, not much read, as the small number of extant MSS testi-
But whatever Augustine may have read of Plato, he read it through fies, most of which, moreover, belong to the Renaissance period. 59 Nor
Neoplatonic and Christian spectacles. To him, Platonism is a philosophy is there any sign that the possible study of the two Dialogues altered
which, up to certain limit, can be considered >>a preparation for the Gos- current opinions about Plato and Platonism, though both of them contain
pel».49 But it is a preparation necessarily restricted to the initiated few, remarkable expressions of the aporetic aspect of Platonism. 60 Despite the
whereas Christianity addresses each and all and can alone authoritatively labours of Aristippus, medieval Platonism remained faithful to the Nco-
give us the whole truth.5° platonic interpretation of late antiquity and, except for the partial study
of the Timaeus, 61 an indirect Platonism, not seriously disturbed by occa-
sional, rare quotations from the Meno or the Phaedo. 62
MEDIEVAL PLATONISM If we want to form an opinion of what an educated man in the middle
of the thirteenth century knew about Plato, 63 we may consult the vast
In all these respects - the limited or missing direct contact with Plato, Speculum Historiale, of Vincent de Beauvais (t ca. 1264) and his Domini-
the dependence on the Middleplatonic and Neoplatonic tradition, the de- can eollaborators.64
liberate Christian reinterpretation - Augustine inaugurates and decisive- No less than seven - admittedly very short - chapters of the Fourth
ly determines many centuries of medieval Platonism. Book are devoted to The first two (LXX, LXXIIII) deal with
Nor was his influence lessened by the study of Calcidius' commentary Plato's life, the following chapters with his opinions about God and the
on Timaeus 17 A - 53 C, for this Christian commentator (ca. A.D. 400) immortality of the soul (LXXV -LXXVIII), the last chapter (LXXIX)
was himself entirely dependent upon Middleplatonic as well as Neoplato- contains some Platonic )>dicta)>. The whole is a loose and superficial com-
nic interpretations of Plato,51 as was also the case of Macrobius' con- pilation from conscientiously indicated sources - all of them Latin. Though
temporary commentary on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis 52 - the two main knowledge of Greek was by then spreading in the vVest and Greek texts
pillars of medieval Platonism. The N eoplatonic element in medieval Pla- were busily being translated directly into Latin - the leading trans-
tonism was later on immensely strengthened by the discovery of the pseudo- lator of the thirteenth century being the Dominican William of Moer-
Dionysian writings in the West in Carolingian times, which gave access beke - there is no evidence that the brethren of his order in Beauvais
to Neoplatonism as brought to its systematic culmination by Proclus, knew Greek. 66 Everything they have to say about Plato is taken at second
though, indeed, christened by 'Dionysius' (ca. A.D. 500?). 53 Several cen- hand, except, perhaps, for the Timaeus.6 7 Incidentally, nothing points to
turies later, ca. 1280, the Latin translation of Proclus' commentary on the a study of the Aristippean translations - a circumstance that testifies
first hypothesis of the Parmenides brought medieval philosophers into to their limited circulation.
direct contact with Plato himself. The Neoplatonic influence was rein- The perhaps most curious passage is taken from >>Helinanclus>>, i.e.,
forced by many other translations of Greek texts, directly or from the the vast Chronicle of Helinand, a Cistercian monk in the cloister Froid-
Arabic. 55 mont (t after 121.3), much used by Vincent. 68 \Ve read there that it was
12 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES HuMANARUM LrTTERARUM 52

Plato's custom to give his books the names of his masters or of those who wiser. In Chapters VI-IX of the Fifth Book, we are told about Plato's
had taught the latter, in order to give his words and arguments greater death and his successors Apuleius and Hermes Trismegistus (!), where-
authority. >>Hence his books are called Thimaeus, Phedron (!), Gorgias, upon follow two chapters on Plotinus and one on Hermes. In the Sixth
Protagoras.>>69 Book, however, we are given a chapter (XXIII) on >>the philosopher Arthe-
What little is said about Plato's philosophy is, of course, wholly in silas (!)and the error of the New Academics>>, with quotations from Seneca's
conformity with current interpretation. The two aspects of Platonism De Beneficiis and Augustine's De Civitate Dei - not the Contra Academi-
which interests Vincent is the doctrine of God and of the immorality of cos. In a later chapter (XXVII), we are told some anecdotes about Car-
the soul, apropos of which Tertullian, Seneca, Macrobius, and Augustine neades, however, without any indication that he belonged to the Aca-
are quoted. Vincent's Plato is the Plato of St. Augustine - seen from afar demy. The whole makes the impression of disarranged excerpts.
and >>as through a glass, darkly>>.
John of Salisbury

MEDIEVAL 'ACADEMISM' The one medieval author who expresses a personal interest in and
sympathy with the New Academy is, as has often been pointed out, John
Yet, this is not the whole truth about Platonism in the Middle Ages. of Salisbury (1115/20 - 1180). 74 But his 'Academism' is of a rather super-
For there was always extant a different interpretation of Plato, viz., that ficial character, and his knowledge of the New Academy is very limited.
which is represented by Cicero in the Academica and some other works. John's main statements about his 'Academism' occurs in the Seventh
To ascertain the possible influence of this interpretation is, however, a Book of the Policraticus. There, in the very Prologue, he declares himself
most difficult task, which is not made easier by the absence of any com- a follower of the Academics, for the reason indicated in the heading of
prehensive treatment of >>Cicero in the Middle Ages>> - a topic whose chapter I: >>The Disciples of the Academy More Discreet than Other Philo-
vastness seems to have scared away scholars. 70 Recently, an American sophers Who Blinded by Their Rashness Have Been Delivered up to a
scholar pointed out that >>for Cicero we lack even the beginnings of a bib- Reprobate Sense>>. Surveying the ancient philosophers, he finds them great
liographical survey of extant manuscripts, printed editions, and commen- men, indeed, but swollen with pride and inspired by an undue confidence
taries>>. He adds: >>Until this sort of fundamental work is done, it is almost in the strength of their reason and the freedom of their will. >>The conse-
hopeless to attempt to trace the influence of a work such as the Acade- quence was that they who had become fully acquainted with almost every-
mica over a number of centuries.>> 71 thing were in fatal error with regard to the greatest matters, and in the
Nevertheless, the same scholar has given a useful short survey of the confusion of their various opinions they became ignorant of even the
fortunes of the Academica during the Middle Ages, rightly stressing that, least.>> 75 In contrast to these arrogant philosophers are the modest Aca-
though it was far Jess known and read than other Ciceronian works, yet demics who »not at all deny their own shortcomings, but taking their
it seems always to have found readers and copyists. 72 The best known stand upon the platform of lack of knowledge are sceptics with regard
section of the Academica was the second half of the Academica Priora, to almost every point.>>76
the Lucullus - or Hortensius, as it was often wrongly called - extant This does not, however, mean that John of Salisbury embraced the
in three or four old, Carolingian or post-Carolingian MSS - whereas the position of The Academics without reservation. For Chapter II is en-
Academica Posteriora, i.e., the extant first quarter, was much less known titled >>On the Error of the Academics>>, and there he resolutely rejects
- there is only one old MS, from the twelfth century. 73 Nor should we all radical doubt and adduces against their >>ineptitude>> the great father
forget the far more numerous readers of Augustine's Contra Academicos and loyal teacher of the Church, Augustine, though even he quite often
who, thanks to this work, acquired at least a second-hand knowledge >>employs Academic moderation in his works.>> 77
of Ciceronian Academism - together with a disbelief in its seriousness. Thus, John of Salisbury's 'Academism' reveals itself as simply a sturdy
Plato himself is, of course, in no way connected with Academic scepti- common-sense, which refuses to indulge in unprofitable speculations. 78 It
cism. is very sensible and not very philosophic. Nor has John any deeper know-
All this did not amount to any satisfactory knowledge of the New Aca- ledge of the philosophic doctrine he professes. Though he mentions Cicero's
demy, and if we consult the Speculum Historiale, we shall not be much Academica, he seems not to have read them himself; 79 he probably knew
14 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES HuMANARUM Lr=ERARUM 52 15

of them from Augustine's Contra Academicos. 80 Of the historical Academy Aristotle. In the secular dispute about their respective merits, Petrarch
John entertains very confused notions. In the long rambling poem in bad decisively sides with Plato.
elegiac verses, called Entheticus 81 - the sense of the name is uncertain What has been called Petrarch's Platonism, however, turns out to be
- dealing with >>the doctrines of the philosophers>>, there are some verses a problematic and controversial matter. 91 The locus classicus occurs in a
(726-734) on >>the doctrine of the Academics whose leader Arcesilas was>>, work from Petrarch's old age, De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia (1367). 92
which are an attack on Academic scepticism. 82 The attack is repeated The main scope of this work - the attack on contemporary Averroistic
subsequently (ll37-l138) and followed by verses (l139-ll64) on Anti- Aristotelianism - cannot be discussed here. 93 In this context, Petrarch
sthenes, the Academic, >>who was wiser because he asserted that only God extols Plato, >>the prince of philosophy>>, whom wise men, from Cicero and
knows everything, Man merely >>paucula>>. 83 On the contrary, though criti- Virgil to Ambrose and Augustine, have preferred to Aristotle. 94 If Aris-
cized, Plato is extolled as >>symmystes veri>> (936-IIOO). 84 It is naturally totle is praised by the great mass of common people, Plato is praised by
the N eoplatonic Plato whom John praises. Here, too, are no traces of princes and nobles, though both, indeed, deserve to be praised by all
any direct knowledge of Plato, except for the Calcidean Timaeus. 85 men. 95 But, as Augustine rightly says, Plato comes far nearer to Chris-
Undoubtedly, an exhaustive investigation of later medieval philosophy tian truth than Aristotle. 96 Nor is Aristotle's criticism of Plato above sus-
would discover further traces of an interest in Academic scepticism, thanks picion of envy and dishonesty. 97
to a study of Augustine's Contra Academicos or even of Cicero's Acade- After having in this way voiced his admiration of Plato, Petrarch turns
mica. 86 But it seems apriori improbable that this interest ever led to a on his adversaries and accuses them of ignorance about Plato and his
reinterpretation of Platonism as such. Until evidence to the contrary is works. Petrarch knows better, though, as he modestly says, he is »not
forthcoming, we can hardly doubt that Augustine's silent separation of versed in letters and has no Greek>>. >>Nevertheless, I have sixteen or more
Plato from the New Academy was unconditionally accepted. The Neo- of Plato's books at home, of which I do not know whether they have ever
platonic interpretation continued to reign supreme. heard of the names>>. If they do not believe Petrarch, they can come and
see. They will then see »not only several Greek writings of his but also
some which are translated into Latin, all of which they have never seen
RENAISSANCE PLATONISM elsewhere>>. And the books of Plato in Petrarch's possession are only a
small position of his works which Petrarch once saw in the hands of the
Nor could it be questioned as long as the direct knowledge of Plato's learned Greek Barlaam, who, alas, died before having taught Petrarch
work was so rare and so limited. And so it remained until the dawn of Greek. 98
the Italian Renaissance. On this point, too, the old conception of the This statement is of the greatest interest and signifies a new epoch
radically renovating character of the Renaissance proves to be true. 87 in European Platonism. For the first time, we hear of a Greek manuscript
And it is only appropriate that the first writer who expresses a new atti- of Plato in the West, though at least Henricus Aristippus must have had
tude to Plato should be Francesco Petrarca. 88 Recent investigations have one at his disposal. Petrarch's MS was long believed to have been lost
confirmed and strengthened the traditional notion of his decisive role in but has recently with great probability been identified as the most famous
the discovery and appreciation of classical literature. 89 of all MSS of Plato. 99 The latin translations of which Petrarch speaks
are still extant, at least two of them, Calcidius' Timaeus and Henricus
Aristippus' PhaedoJOO
Petrarch What, then, did Petrarch know of Plato's writings1 The Greek texts
we can leave out of the account, even if Petrarch might have read some
Petrarch's humanism is, of course, mainly a Latin humanism. Yet, Dialogues with Barlaam.10l The Timaeus was generally known and widely
the Greeks are never absent from his thoughts; he is always interested studied in the Middle Ages. There remain the Meno and Phaedo translated
in them, forever comparing them with the Romans and patriotically wor- by Henricus Aristippus. The latter work Petrarch had demonstrably read,
rying about their pretension to superiority. 90 In philosophy, indeed, the as the extant marginal annotations - of slight importance - testify, as
situation is different, for there, despite Cicero, Seneca, Apuleius, Macro- do also references to the Phaedo - or Phaedro, as Petrarch writes - in
bins, Boethius, the greatest names are those of two Greeks, Plato and his works.1o2
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMlii"ENTATIONES HuMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 17

But this direct contact with Plato did not make any real impression it indignantly. >>The Academy is disapproved and rebutted long since, and
upon Petrarch or influence his conception of Platonism. As Eugenio Garin it is established that something can be known when God reveals it>>, he
has pertinently said, >>the appeal to the reading of Plato was primarily exclaims in the De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia. 115 At the very end
polemical». If we turn from the enthusiastic praise of Plato in the De of his life, he even goes as far as calling the Academica >>rather a subtle
sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia to the chapter on Plato in the Rerum t han a necessary or useful work>>. 116
memorandarum libri (ca. 1345), we shall be sorely disappointed, for it con- It is therefore doubtlessly right to characterize Petrarch's attitude as
tains nothing that reveals any deeper knowledge of Plato. No doubt, >>more of a cautiousness than a full-blown scepticism>>. 117 It is an attitude
we must make some allowance for the fact that the latter work was written which resembles that of John of Salisbury, well-known to
at a comparatively early date, while Petrarch's study of Plato seems, at And, like J olm, Petrarch never sees Plato himself as an 'Academic'. To
least partially, to belong to his later years. 105 But there is no sign that him, as already to Augustine, Plato is in no way identified with the Aca-
Petrarch ever changed his mind. His conception of Plato and Platonism demy.
is derived from Latin sources, Cicero, Apuleius' De Platone et eius dogmate,
Augustine,l06 which means that it is medieval, Neoplatonic. The fact
that Petrarch preferred Plato to Aristotle meant nothing new, for there From Boccacio to Bruni
had always been philosophers and theologians who did the same. It
seems that we have to accept Garin's conclusion that Petrarch's Plato- Giovanni Boccaccio had the opportunity to admire Petrarch's Greek
nism was no more than a pious wish, fulfilled only in the Quattrocento.l P lato, 119 and he may have read the Latin Phaedo. 120 But when, at the end
And yet, as Garin has not failed to stress, Petrarch's attitude to Plato of his life, he wrote about Plato in his commentary on the Divina Comme-
points forward, in so far as it demands a recourse to the original text, dia,121 he did not reveal any direct knowledge of Plato, save, of course,
to the Greek Plato. Here, too, the common matchword of the Humanists, the Timaeus. Like Petrarch, he never learnt Greek, interested though he
ad fontes, holds true, even if Petrarch was compelled to leave the reali- was in Greek language and literature. 122
zation of this programme to later generations. The same holds true of his and Petrarch's foremost disciple, the great
Cicero being one of the principal sources of Petrarch's Platonism, we Chancellor of the Florentine republic, Coluccio Salutati.123 The appearance
may finally ask to what extent the Ciceronian Academism influenced Pet- of a new spirit reveals itself, however, in his eager attempts to acquire
rarch, who knew, studied, and quoted the Academica,110 possibly also the a copy of the Latin Phaedo, which he at last obtained. 124 But his great
Contra Academicos of St. Augustine,m whose authority to Petrarch over- contribution to Greek and Platonic studies in Italy was the invitation
shadows even that of Cicero. of Manuel Chrysoloras to Florence, of which he was the main promoter.
We find, sure enough, that Petrarch declares that >>the modest way Shortly afterwards, Chrysoloras together with Uberto Decembrio produced
of the Academy>> appeals to him: >>to follow probability where we cannot a Latin translation of the Republic (1400-03) which the old Chancellor
attain more, never to condemn anything rashly, never to assert anything might have read.l 25 Though far from successful, this translation initiated
impudently>>. 112 With mock-modesty he says that he is not an asserter of the great series of Plato-translations, culminating in that by Marsilio
truth (diffinitor) but a searcher for it (vestigator). For to assert behoves Ficino (1484), which made Plato accessible to all educated men. It is a
a sage, whereas Petrarch is >meither a sage nor near to wisdom>>, but, as tale, told often and well, not to be retold here. 1 26
Cicero says, >>a great opinion-holder>> (magnus opinator).U3 In a letter from This direct contact with the whole Corpus Platonicum led to a radical
his later years, he repeats this statement. He has found truth difficult change in Western Platonism - but only in the long run. Even if we
to discover and lost confidence in himself, so that he has become >>a prose- reject the opinion, hold by some scholars, that Italian Renaissance Plato-
lyte of the Academy as one of the big crowd, as the very last of this humble nism originated in the Byzantine East,m the undeniable Byzantine in-
flock>>. Now he doubts >>every single thing, with the single exception of fluence on Platonic studies in Italy tended to strengthen the traditional
what I believe is a sacrilege to doubt>>. 114 Xeoplatonic interpretation.
The last words indicate the limits of Petrarch's 'Academism'. If he . True, there are from the very beginning some new accents. A letter
is a sceptic, he is a Christian sceptic, to whom there are beliefs too sacred hke that by Leonardo Bruni, the foremost of the early fourteenth cen-
for doubt. ·when he is confronted with a radical scepticism, he rejects tury translators of Plato, to the Florentine humanist, Niccolo Niccoli,l2 8
18 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES HuMANARUM LI=ERARUM 52 19

with its enthusiastic appreciation of Plato's literary art, so typical of the In this way, Ficino composed a vast Corpus of writings which in his eyes
age, could hardly have been written in contemporary Byzance, as little were only a little less holy and revealed than the Scriptures.I3S
as Bruni's still more enthusiastic exaltation of poetic madness,l 29 as de- For to Ficino, Plato was only one link - though the most important
scribed in the Phaedrus, translated by Bruni in 1424.13° _ in the great chain of pagan theologians and philosophers who - paral-
Nevertheless, the Neoplatonic interpretation continued to hold its sway. lelling the Hebrews and inspired by them - announced Christ and paved
The Plato so eagerly defended in the long battle between Platonists and the way for Christianity: Zoroaster, Mercurius Trismegistus, Orpheus,
Aristotelians, culminating in the middle of the Quattrocento, when Aglaophamus, Pythagoras, Philolaus, and Plato, who in his turn gave
the protagonists were three Greeks - Gemistns Pletho, Bessarion, and birth to later thinkers, down to Gemistus Pletho, Bessarion, and Nicolaus
Georgius Trapezuntius131 - was the Plato of the Neoplatonists. To the Cusanus. 139 It is the philosophia pia, whose inheritor and representative
greatest of Plato's defenders, Cardinal Bessarion, Plotinus, Porphyry, Ficino believed himself to be.
Proclus, Iamblichus, Simplicius, Damascius were >>the most learned men Obviously, such a view of the history of philosophy implies not only
of the Platonic school».132 a 'platonizing' of Christianity and a 'neoplatonizing' of Platonism but as
well, and even more, a 'christianizing' of both Platonism and Neoplato-
nism. Whether we call this way of combining and mingling Christian and
M arsilio Ficino non-Christian ideas a synthesis or a syncretism must remain a matter of
personal judgement. In this context, the crucial point is that Ficino lent
The foremost of all Italian Renaissance Platonists was, of course, his enormous authority to supporting the Neoplatonic interpretation of
Marsilio Ficino,133 though he was more than a 'Platonist', if by this word Plato - though, it must be admitted, an interpretation which was in
we mean a mere student and disciple of Plato's. His importance to Euro- its turn heavily permeated by Christian ideas - the interpretation of the
pean Platonism is not limited to his famous Latin translation, which en- Timaeus is the exception that proves the rule. Ficino's Plato is at one
tirely superseded all earlier attempts and remained for centuries the Plato and the same time Neoplatonic and Christian, depending upon from which
of the Western world. 134 For Ficino was a philosopher in his own right, angle you regard him.
though Plato plays, indeed, a foundamental and central part in his philo- This means that to Ficino the interpretation of Plato constitutes no
sophy. Ficino intended to be and explicitly called himself a Platonist; the problem. He follows the Neoplatonists, as far as his Christian convictions
title of his chief philosophic work is Platonic Theology on the Immortality permit him to do so. In his Platonic Theology he distinguishes between
of the Souls; he regarded himself as a restorer of Platonism and was so six Academies: the ancient Athenian under Xenocrates, the Middle Aca-
regarded by his contemporaries.135 demy under Arcesilas, the New Academy under Carneades, the Egyptian
But the Plato who thus, thanks to Ficino, had risen from the dead under Ammonius (Saccas), the Roman under Plotinus, and finally the
was the Neoplatonic Plato. After having published all the Platonic writ- Lycian Academy under Proclus.I4o From this list Middle Platonism, as we
ings, the authentic as well as the spurious, in Latin, Ficino translated now call it, is conspicously absent, though Ficino well knew both Albinus
the Enneads (1492). In the >>Exhortation to those that listen to or read - whom he calls Alcinous - and Apuleius.141
Plotinus>>, he solemnly advises them that they should consider themselves The six Academies represent the continuity of the Platonic tradition. 142
listening to Plato himself. For, through the mouth ofPlotinus, Plato speaks Yet, they are not in Ficino's eyes of equal authority. This appears clearly
to us - a second Plato, as elevated as the first, and sometimes even from the heading of Chapter IV of Book XVII of the Theologia Platonica
deeper.136 So high was Ficino's opinion of Plotinus' authority as an inter- '~hich deals with the Platonic metempsychosis: >>That Plato should more
preter of Plato, that he even followed him in rejecting the interpretatio rightly be interpreted according to the first four Academies, especially
Christiana of the Timaeus. 137 the first and the fourth>>.l4 3 From the fifth and sixth Academies - those
The translation of Plotinus was followed by others of works by Iam- of Plotinus and Proclus - the first four differ by interpreting Plato's
blichus, Proclus, Porphyry, Synesius, Alcinous (i.e. Albinus) and other s~atemcnt about the metempsychosis as being merely poetical. But they
Platonists (1497), as well as by Commentaries on Plato (1496) and by a differ from each other in as much as the Academies of Arcesilas and Car-
translation of Dionysius the Areopagite (1496). Early in life (1471), Ficino neades turn Plato into a probabilist or even a pure sceptic. For such a
had translated the Pimander, ascribed to Mercurius (Hermes) Trismegistus. conception of Plato Ficino has as little use as the Neoplatonists had. 144
E. N. TIOERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COllfMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
20 21

Instead, he embraces the opinion of Xenocrates and Ammonius, 145 that Being: they are identical, because they are God. This implied a rejection
Plato really asserts something positive about the soul but that much of of the Neoplatonic interpretation of the Parmenides, such as it appears
what he says about the metempsychosis, being poetical, must not be inter- in Proelus' commentary, known in the West since the end of the thirteenth
preted literally, the less so, as he scarcely had invented it himself but century. thanks to William of Moerbeke. 151 According to Proclus, the
only told what he had learnt from others. first hypothesis of the Parmenides proves that to Plato the One was above
The passage is of great interest, for in it Ficino clearly dissociates Being - as it is in Neoplatonic metaphysics.
himself from the Neoplatonists, in the strict sense of the word, not only Pico argued that this was false, and one of his arguments was that
from Proclus but also from Plotinus whom, as we have seen, he generally the Parmenides could not be interpreted in that way, if only because the
regards as nearly equal to Plato in authority. That this dissociation was dialogue is >>nothing but a dialectical exercise>>, in which nothing is positi-
due to an endeavour to christianize the Platonic doctrine of metempsy- vely asserted152 - a thesis hotly opposed by Ficino in his own Commen-
chosis, is obvious. 146 We should not, however, attach too great an impor- tary on the Parmenides, published after Fico's death (1496), 153 but accepted
tance to it, for Ficino was an eclectic as well as a syncretist, who freely by Angelo Poliziano to whom Pico had dedicated his work.I54
picked and chose among the many authorities and writings which he re- Fico's interpretation of the Parmenides has been embraced by many
vered, so that it fitted into the vast system he had built, the pia philo- though by no means all - modern scholars. But this circumstance
sophia that he professed. The circumstance that at one point, however should not persuade us to regard him >>as an unbiassed historian of philo-
important, he dissociated himself from Neoplatonism, does not prevent sophy>>.155 His criticism of the Neoplatonic interpretation was due to phi-
his interpretation of Plato from being in the main N eoplatonie. 146 a losophic and religious, not historical or philological, reasons and it was
limited to this one point. Otherwise, Pico remained a Neoplatonist in his
view of Plato. 156
Pico della Mirandola

The same must be said of his younger friend and -- to a certain degree - THE DIONYSIAN PROBLEM
disciple, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. 147 Being even more a syncretist and
an eclectic than Ficino, 147 a Plato was to him only one - though certainly At the same time - in the middle and the second half of the Quattro-
a very important one - of the many thinkers whose ideas he as a true cento - there occurred, however, an event which was to have a great
Princeps Concordiae tried to combine. How far he may be called a 'Plato- influence on the interpretation of Plato and Platonism: the rise of what
nist' at all, is a controversial matter not to be settled there. 148 ·w hat in- may be called the 'Dionysian problem'. 157 In itself, that problem was
terests us is that the Plato whom Pico studied, admired, and used was nearly as old as the writings which since the beginning of the sixth cen-
the Neoplatonic Plato. The fervent praise of Plotinus, who >>speaks in a tury became known in the Greek East, under the name of Dionysius the
divine manner about divine things, and of human things in a way far Areopagite, whom St. Paul had converted to Christianity and whom later
above mam>, in On the Dignity of Man, 149 is revealing, as is the fact that legends had made the first bishop not only of Athens but of Paris, too.
Pico >mot so much caused as rather urged me to translate Plotinus>>, as In spite of some doubters and unbelievers, the unknown author's pre-
Ficino says in the preface to his translation.l50 tension to be a disciple of the Apostle's was generally accepted. 158
Once, and as far as we know, only once, Pico della Mirandola expli- In the West, Dionysius was quoted as an authority as early as by
citly rejects the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato, and he does so in- St. Gregory the Great, and he was several times translated during the
spired by his syncretism. He planned a special work on the Concord of Middle Ages, starting with Hilduin of Saint-Denis in 827-835. He be-
Plato and Aristotle, in order to demonstrate that these two thinkers es- came one of the foremost religious authorities, with a deep influence on
sentially agree - contrary to what Platonists and Aristotelians main- Christian mysticism and scholastic theology. 159 Nor did his influence abate
tained. The book in its entirety was never completed - like so many in the Italian Renaissancc.l 60 The great Cardinal Bessarion, who in his
others of Fico's plans it remained unrealized. But a part of it was written, own person represented the union of East and West, was a fervent admirer
On Being and the One (1491). Its main task was to show that Plato and of >>the prince of Christian theology>>, as he called Dionysius. 161 The same
Aristotle shared the same opinion of the relation between the One and admiration appears in Ficino and in Pico. To the former, who in 1496
22 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES Huli1ANARUM LITTERARUllf 52

(or 1497) published a Latin translation of the De Divinis Nominibus and mirum quod Ambrosius Augustinus et Hieronymus ipsum Dionysium non
the T heologia M ystica, the Areopagite was >>undoubtedly the foremost of viderunt, qui fuerunt post Athanasium. Damascenus etiam Dionysium
all Platonists>>.162 To Pico, Dionysius was >>vir ille divinus>>, greater than allegat, qui fuit post illos tempore saeculi VIII, Gregorius Papa ante
P lato and Aristotle, >>the prince of Christian theologians>>. 163 Damascenum Dionysium allegat>>.
But when this high-sounding praise was voiced, the authority of the That the inspirer of this marginale was Valla, appears from a letter
Areopagite had already been subjected to a criticism which in the long of Cusanus to Valla (summer 1450) which Valla proudly published in his
run was to show itself deadly. The critic was the most critically minded Antidotum in Poggium III. In it the Cardinal asks for Valla's permission
of all the Italian Renaissance Humanists, Lorenzo Valla. In his In Novum to copy t he Annotationes, which the Pope (Nicolaus V) had let him read
Testamentum Annotationes - not printed until 1505 by Erasmus, but and which he found >>useful for the understanding of the Scriptures>>.l74
circulating in manuscript - he sharply repudiated the tradition about As at the that time, both Valla and Cusanus were in Rome, they may
Dionysius as a mere legend. The historical Areopagite, declared Valla, even have met and discussed the subject.
was a judge not a philosopher, and of his writings nothing is known. For In any case, Cusanus' annotation contains matters which are not in
the works which now bear his name were - at least in the \Vest - un- Valla.l75 The argument that the absence of any mention of the Dionysian
known before St. Gregory, and have in modern times by >>some very learned writings in earlier ecclestiastical authors tells against their authenticity
Greeks>> been ascribed to Apollinaris. 164 had been used long before Valla, in the Eastern debates pro et contra the
Areopagite.l7 6 But in them another argument, of special interest to our
purpose, had been put forward. To modern scholars, one of the strongest
proofs of the sp uriousness and late age of the Corpus Dionysiacum is its
Cusanus and the Areopagite heavy dependence on the Neoplatonists, above all Proclus. This fact did
not escape the attention of the Byzantine theologians who knew Proclus
Valla had a contemporary on whom his criticism made a deep im- well. The defenders of Dionysius had therefore to explain this awkward
pression, a greater man than he, Nicolaus Cusanus. 165 The latter was a fact.
fervent admirer of Dionysius, whose 'negative theology' was one of the They did it by declaring Proclus a disciple of Dionysius'. The earliest
main inspirers of his own docta ignorantia. 166 Cusanus' knowledge of Greek known example of this reasoning seems to occur in the article on Diony-
was far too elementary to enable him to read the Areopagite - or any sius in t he Suda (end of the tenth century A.D.). There we read: >>We
other Greek philosopher or theologian - in the original,167 but he pos- should know that some profane philosophers, especially Proclus, have in
sessed several of the medieval translations of Dionysius, and on his in- their t eaching often made use of St. Dionysius, even his very words. This
stigation, the well-known humanist and General of the Order of Carnal- makes us suspect that earlier Athenian philosophers, having appropriated
doli, Ambrogio Traversari made a new one. 168 his book , as he himself mentions in the letter to Timotheus, concealed
In the same way, it must be stressed, Cusanus was reduced to reading them, so t hat they themselves should appear to be the fathers of his divine
Plato in translations, whether in those by Henricus Aristippus or in those book>>.l77
by Renaissance humanists, Bruni and others.l69 The same applies to later From where the unknown compiler of the Suda got this statement
Platonists such as Proclus, whom he eagerly studied.l7° There cannot be remains an open question. 17 8 But the statement was repeated in the same
any question of a direct contact between Cusanus and the Greek Plato or. a slightly altered form by later Greek writers. 179 In Cusanus' own time
which would have enabled him to overcome the medieval interpretation tlus accu sation against the Platonists of having stolen Dionysius' thoughts
of Plato. 171 On the contrary, to Cusanus Plato was still the Plato of the and words was made by Georgius Trapezuntius in his furious attack on
Neoplatonists, quite as much as to Ficino and Pico, whose high opinion Plato and Platonism, A Comparison between the Philosophers Aristotle and
Ptato.I so
of Dionysius he wholly shared. 172
Nonetheless, Valla's objections did not leave Cusanus unperturbed. On T~at, indepently of Trapezuntius, Cusanus was aware of the problem
the verso of the first page of a MS of a Latin translation of Dionysius, :onsbt~ted by the similarity between the Platonists, especially Proclus,
still extant among his MSS in the hospital at Cues,173 we read: >>Considera. llh<~ DIOnysius, appears from an annotation in a MS, mentioned above,
w Jch co t . h . ' . .
an, loquitur (Athanasius) de Dionysio Areopagita sicut videtur, et tunc n ams t e usual Greek arguments in favour of Dionysms pnon-
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COl\1MENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
24 25

ty.1Bl But it looks as if Cusanus could not quite make up his mind about This is the Greek explanation, well-known to Ficino. We notice, how-
this problem. ever, that Ficino does not accuse his beloved Platonists of having them-
For in one of Cusanus' latest works, the 'Tetralogue' De Non Aliud selves concealed Dionysius' books. He states, indeed, sometimes that the
(1462), one of the interlocutors, Pietro Balbo, the very man who just at Platonists had msurped)> Dionysian doctrines.l 91 But to Ficino, a similar
that time was translating Proclus' Platonic Theology for Cusanus, men- thing holds true of Plato himself. For was he not a disciple of the Jew to
tions that, during this labour, he found in Proclus many ideas expressed such an extent that Numenius called him ))a Moses speaking Attic)>1192
in nearly the same words as in Dionysius. Cusanus - who himself appears This way of arguing was, of course, no invention of Ficino's. The de-
in the Dialogue as 'Nicolaus' - replies: )>It is certain that your Proclus pendence not only of Plato but of all ancient pagan sages and philosophers
lived in a later age than Dionysius the Areopagite, but whether he had on the Jews had been asserted already in pre-Christian times by Jewish
seen Dionysius' writings is uncertaim>. 182 But in a still later work, De Vena- apologists and had been often repeated by Christian writers_19 3 Few, how-
tione Sapientiae (1463), Cusanus speaks of Proclus as following Dionysius.183 ever, have embraced this view so enthusiastically as Marsilio Ficino. But
This hesitation is, however, of minor importance, because Cusanus re- he went farther by attributing a Christian inspiration to later Platonists.
peatedly and strongly stresses Dionysius' dependence on Plato, e.g., in In the De Christiana Religione, he declared: )>The prisca theologia oi the
the same passage in the De V enatione Sapientiae in which he speaks of Gentiles, in which Zoroaster, Mercury, Orpheus, Aglaophamus, Pythago-
Proclus as a disciple of Dionysius' .184 In the Apologia Doctae Ignorantiae, ras agree, was all contained in the books of our Plato. Plato predicted in
Cusanus goes so far as to say of Dionysius that he has imitated Plato his letter that true mysteries could at length become manifest to man after
so much that we often find him copying Plato's very words serially.185 many centuries. This, indeed, happened, for in the times of Philo and
And in a passage in the Non Aliud, he tries to prove that Plato and Dio- Numenius the mind of the prisci theologi first began to be understood in
nysius are of the same opinion about the 'Otherness' of God. 186 the pages of the Platonists, namely immediately after the preaching and
Generally speaking, Nicolaus Cusanus' statements about the relations writing of the Apostles and apostolic Disciples. For the Platonists used
between Dionysius, Plato, and the Platonists seem to be singularly free the divine light of the Christians for interpreting the divine Plato>>. 194
from any apologetical or polemical tendency. If Proclus - perhaps - In this context it is that Ficino speaks of the Platonists' appropria-
was a disciple of Dionysius, the latter was himself a disciple of Plato - a tion of Christian ideas. Actually, to his open-hearted syncretism this was
Neoplatonic Plato. This was also Bessarion's view. In his Apology for not so much a fault as a merit rather. If Plato borrowed from the Jews
Plato, he stressed that Dionysius )>in all his works)> used not only Plato's and the Platonists from the Christians, it was all to the good and proves
ideas but his very words_l8 7 the essential agreement between Platonism and Christianity. True, Fici-
no admits that. there are differences between them which he sometimes
stresses, e.g., apropos of the creation195 or the Trinity. 196 But his general
Ficino and Dionysius endeavour is to demonstrate that Platonism is the philosophy which is
most compatible with Christianity. Therefore, it does not trouble him, if
Strange to tell, on this point the two Cardinals of the Roman Church Dionysius - as Bessarion had pointed out197 - used Platonic ideas and
appear more broad-minded than Marsilio Ficino. For the High Priest of terms or if the Platonists in interpreting Plato used )>the divine light of
Renaissance Platonism did not doubt that not only Proclus but all later the Christians)>. Nor does the latter circumstance prevent Ficino from
Platonists, such as Philo, Numenius, Plotinus, and Iamblichus, had got accepting the Neoplatonic interpretation, with some few exceptions. 198 To
many of their doctrines from Dionysius - and not only from him but his mind, all these thinkers share at heart one and the same ultimately
from St. John and St. Paul as well.l 88 In a letter Ficino declared that the revealed truth, though the Christians certainly perceive it far more clearly
Platonism of Dionysius was the form of that philosophy which pleased than others.l 99 This was also the opinion of his even more syncretistic
him most: ))I love Plato in Iamblichus, I admire him in Plotinus, I vener- young friend Pico, who declared that the Platonists had always been
ate him in Dionysius)>. 189 He adds that he often suspects that Platonists )>imitators of the Hebraic wisdom)>. 2oo
earlier than Plotinus, such as Ammonius and Numenius, had also read
Dionysius' books, before they )>through an unknown calamity)> were hid-
den from the ChurchJ90
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 27

Faber Stapulensis and Dionysius their thefts (i.e. those of the Platonists) were hidden from him>>.
Faber then goes on accusing the Platonists of stealing from the Chris-
Among the many foreigners who then visited Florence in order to en- tian writers, especially from Dionysius, thus profaning holy things, so
large their minds and to study the bonae litterae was a French philosopher that they were more worthy than the Prometheus of the myth of being
and theologian Jacques Lefevre d 'lhaples - soon known to the world chained to a Caucasian rock and lacerated by vultures. >>Therefore, may
of learning as Jacobus Faber Stapulensis. 201 In 1492, he met Ficino and no one deem that holy interpreter a Platonist, as if he had used Platonic
Pico, Politian and Landino, 202 who all made a deep impression on him. words when treating of divine matters. For, on the contrary, before the
We do not know the subject of their learned discourses, but if they ever times of the Apostles, both Plato and other philosophers lacked for the
happened to talk about the Areopagite, the Florentine scholars would have most part - not to say wholly- both words and thoughts to speak worthi-
noticed with satisfaction that their French guest wholly shared their high ly of God. And therefore, I could hardly temper a harsh laughter - unless
opinion of this author. And yet, there was a fundamental difference be- I were a Heraclitus - when it is sometime stated by the Platonists:
tween the Florentines and Faber. Much as he admired Dionysius, he did after the teaching and writings of the Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers,
not want to bring him near to Plato, as they did, but on the contrary to the writings of Plato began to be understood by Philo and Numenius>>.2os
separate him from Plato as far as possible. One of those Platonists who had voiced this ridiculous opinion was
This difference appears clearly from Faber's lengthy preface203 to his Faber's old friend, Marsilio Ficino, then still alive. Indeed, the very words
edition of Traversari's translation of Dionysius204 - together with the Faber ascribes to the >>Platonists>> can be read in De Christiana R eligione,209
Epistles of St. Ignace and St. Polycarp - entitled characteristically Theo- in the Chapter which Faber subsequently quotes.
logia vivijicans, Cibus solidus (1499). 205 Faber's admiration for Dionysius For Faber has not yet finished with the Platonists and their thefts.
is practically unlimited: he has never found anything, next to the Scrip- After mentioning the scholia, i.e. annotations, he has added to the text
tures , as great and divine as the writings of Dionysius. But in reading and the emendations he has made in Traversari's translation, and having
Dionysius we must observe certain rules. First, we must read him in the alluded to the legend about Dionysius as the first bishop of Paris, he quotes
humility of heart and the reverence of spirit, as becomes a study of di- three >>De furtis Platonicorum testimonia>>, as the subtitle runs in spacted-
vine matters. out letters. 210 The first testimony is Basil the Great, who in his Homily
Secondly, we must remember that this most holy writer was a philo- on the first verse of the Gospel according to St. John speaks of the in-
sopher not of the school of Plato or Aristotle, or the Stoics, or Epicure, fidels and lovers of profane wisdom who have usurped Christian truth:
or any human sect, but of the school of the Holy Ghost, his masters being >>For the devil is a thief and tries to enrich his fidels with what he had
St. Paul and Hierotheus, as he himself testifies. >>Not that he did not know stolen from us>>.211 The second testimony is >>Ambrosius Camaldulensis>>, i.e.,
wrat Plato and Aristotle knew: on the contrary, both of them (if chrono- Ambrogio Traversari, whose words are, however, taken, directly or in-
logy had allowed it) would have deemed themselves happy to have been directly, from the Suda. 212 The third is >>Marsilius Ficinus Platonicus>> -
his disciple. And therefore, do not listen to those who call him a Platonist>>. the attribute can, after what Faber had said earlier hardly be regarded
For Dionysius is something far more sublime, and to call him a Platonist as complimentary.
is as blasphemous as to call St. John the Evangelist a Pythagorean or Ficino's testimony is, as Faber explicitly states, taken from Book XXII
a Platonist, >>as some profane people have done>>. For has not Dionysius od De Religione Christiana: >>I have certainly found that the main myste-
himself protested that he had not learnt anything from profane thinkers ries of Numenius, Philo, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus were accepted by
in those most holy matters~ John, Paul, Hier·otheus, Dionysius the Areopagite. For what ever the
This attack is clearly directed against the syncretism so dear to many former (the Platonists) taught magnificently about the divine mind, the
Renaissance thinkers whom Faber knew and estimated but whom he here angels and other theological matters, it is obvious that they have appro-
firmly opposes. He does not even shrink from attacking Nicolaus Cusanus priated it from the latter». 213 Faber adds: >>Thus Marsilius. And if he had
whom he highly admired and whose works many years later he was to not chosen to be too lenient to the adversaries of Christian wisdom, he
edit: 206 >>And do not let yourselves be persuaded by the circumstance that would have said plainly: they have stolen. But enough of the Platonists. >>
even Nicolaus Cusanus, a student of the highest visdom of that most Obviously, Faber does not consider himself a Platonist, not even a
blessed father, deceived by a common error, calls him a Platonist.207 For Christian Platonist like Ficino. Despite all his admiration for Dionysius,
28 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato Coli1MENTATIONES HuMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
often voiced in his works, 214 he regards Plato with suspicious criticism was an admirer and student of Cusanus, 219 and certainly knew Valla well,22o
and much prefers Aristotle, 215 though he does not consider himself an but if he was conscious of them, they did not make any impression on
Aristotelian either. >>And though he favours Aristotle to a very high de- him.221
gree, he does not swear in the words of any master, but mingles Platonic But only two years after Faber's edition of Dionysius, these doubts
doctrines with Peripatetic, so that he can truly be praised for his own were openly expressed in England, in a public lecture, held in no less a
views. But he is to such an extent addicted to both philosophers that he place than St. Paul's Cathedral. The lecturer was William Grocyn, one
does not like to be called either a Platonist or an Aristotelian, but being of that small group of English humanists who were inspired by the 'New
wholly an apostolic man, wholly initiated into the mysteries of faith, he Learning', which, like the others, he had acquired at its source in Italy,
wholly overflows and abounds with sacred doctrine and wholly goes into e.g., as a student of Politian's (1488-91). 222 Like his friends and fellow-
raptures over the ambrosia and nectar of Dionysius himself, and over the humanists, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, and Thomas More, Grocyn was
divine loves of Hierotheus>>. Thus an enthusiastic and exuberant visitor. 216 among Erasmus' personal friends. 223
What interests us in Faber's attitude to Plato and Dionysius, is that Of Grocyn's Lectures on Dionysius - more precisely, on the De Coe-
his exaltation of the latter does not inspire him with any greater admira- lesti Hierarchia - a work admired and studied by his friend Colet223 a -
tion for the former. Faber dissociates Plato sharply from the Neoplato- we have two accounts. The first is contemporary and occurs in a letter
nists (and the Middle Platonists, too). Yet, this dissociation does not bene- by Sir Thomas More to his friend John Holt, probably written in Novem"
fit either party. For the Platonists are revealed as dishonest thieves of ber 1501: 224 >>Grocyn, my instructor, recently made a successful start on
Christian wisdom, while Plato is shown as being far from this wisdom, his lectures, at Saint Paul's, on the Celestial Hierarchies, the famous work
which can be found in him only by wrongly attributing to him the truth of St. Dionysius the Areopagite. It would be hard to tell which is greater
usurped by his later disciples. In this way, the Neoplatonic interpretation - the acclaim for himself or the profit for his listeners>>. More then adds
of Plato is decisively repudiated. some satirical comments upon the auditory.
Actually, in this context, Faber is not interested in Plato, and in the It appears clearly that Grocyn's lectures were still going on when the
Platonists only as far as to denounce their dishonesty. Even if he formally letter was written, and it seems obvious that they had so far not con-
refuses to take a definite position in the famous quarrel between Plato- tained any attack on Dionysius, for, if they had, More could hardly have
nists and Aristotelians, 217 he leaves his readers in no doubt about his own failed to mention it. In this case, the treacherous argumentum e silentio
conviction that of all the profane philosophies the Aristotelian agrees best may be used with some confidence.
with Christianity. 218 It would certainly be an exaggeration to call Faber The other account was given by Erasmus, 225 nearly twenty years later.
an 'anti-Platonist', but it is equally certain that he did not consider him- In the meantime, he had in 1505 published Vallas' Annotationes with its
self- nor his beloved Dionysius - a Platonist. On this point, he differed rejection of Dionysius - a copy of it belonged to Grocyn. 226 From now
widely from his Florentine friends, whose broad-minded, pro-Platonic syn- on, the problem of the authenticity of the Dionysian writings was put
cretism he did not share. From this viewpoint, we may, if we so choose, before the general public. That Erasmus himself wholly shared Valla's
call him 'medieval', however, without forgetting that he was a warm opinion, became evident, at least as early as 1516, when he published
friend of the 'New Learning', a bitter adversary of the Scholasticism then his famous edition of what he defiantly called the Novum Instrumentum,
ruling, and that he subsequently became one of the most important pio- together with his Annotationes. In his commentary on the relevant pas-
neers of the Reformation, a 'pre-Reformer'. sage in the Acts, Erasmus quoted with strong approval Valla and his
arguments. 227
Evidently, this statement had given offence, for in the second edition
The Rising Doubts (1519), in which the title was changed back to the traditional Novum
Testamentum, Erasmus added the following passage: >>Many years earlier,
Meanwhile, the doubts about the authenticity of the Dionysian writings as I remember, that incomparable man, William Grocyn, who was an
which Valla had voiced and Cusanus considered were slowly spreading, accomplished theologian, as well as highly expert and trained in all kind
though neither Valla's nor Cusanus' opinions were in print. We do not of learning, began in St. P<tul's Cathedral in London to explicate the Celes-
know, whether Faber ever knew of these doubts, though, as we saw, he tial Hierarchy, and, in a well premeditated introduction, he strongly as-
30 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONEs HuMANARUM LrTTERARUM 52

serted that this work was by Dionysius and vehemently attacked the the new Reformers. 234 The more the latter attacked Dionysius, the more
impudence of those that had a different view. But before he had gone the former defended him, and vice versa. The Protestant rejection of the
through half of the work, having got a more thorough taste of it, he can- Dionysian writings as impudent forgeries caused the Catholics to cling to
didly told the audience that after careful consideration he did not regard him tenaciously, down to the nineteenth century. We should, however,
the work as written by Dionysius the Areopagite>>. 228 not overrate the critical sense of Dionysius' Protestant adversaries. Many,
At the same time as the second edition of the New Testament, Eras- if not most, of them rejected him simply because the Catholics accepted
mus published his Paraphrase of the Pauline Epistles to the Corinthians. him and because they did not like his teaching.
In the dedicatory letter to Erard de la Marque, the future Cardinal, he But, independently of the results, the debate about Dionysius tended
repeated that the author of De Ooelesti Hierarchia seems >>to the learned>> to undermine the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato. If his writings were
to have been later than the disciple of St. Paul's. 229 to be regarded as authentic, then the N eoplatonists could hardly be ac-
Erasmus' many enemies did not allow him to leave the matter at that. quitted of gross plagiarism. But, on the other hand, if Dionysius himself
Foremost among them was the indefatigable Noel Beda, the Syndic of was a plagiarist, then he had borrowed his thoughts and words from the
the Paris Faculty of theology, the Sorbonne, to whom Erasmus' denial Neoplatonists, not from Plato himself. In both cases, the difference between
of the authenticity of the Dionysian writings seemed another of his in- Plato and the Platonici was stressed.
numerable heresies. In vain Erasmus tried to defend himself in a letter
to Beda (1525) in which he pointed out that Valla was the real originator
of the doubts about Dionysius. As might have been expected, this refe-
rence to Valla disarmed neither Beda nor the Sorbonne. In December
1527, the latter solemnly condemned the errors of Erasmus, among which
the rejection of Dionysius was explicitly mentioned. 231 Four years later, THE REVIVAL OF THE NEW ACADEMY
when the condemnation was made public in print, Erasmus replied by
his bitter Declarationes ad Oensuras Lutetiae vulgatas sub nomine Facultatis Another circumstance which has a similar effect was that curious phe-
Theologiae Parisiensis (1531). There, he repeated the story about Grocyn nomenon which may be called the Revival of the New Academy or the
who, as Erasmus now added, was >>during his lifetime a man of the most Return of the Sceptics, which manifested itself in the Italian and Euro-
stern and chaste life, a nearly superstitious observer of ceclesiastical dis- pean Renaissance, since the end of the fifteenth century. Recently, several
cipline, and deeply versed in scholastical theology>> - in a word, precisely scholars have treated of this movement, 23 5 which I shall deal with only
a man whom the Sorbonne ought to venerate. Defiantly, Erasmus con- insofar as it tended to change the hitherto current view of Platonism and
cludes the story about Grocyn's palinode with these words: >>The memory separate Plato himself from his later followers.
of Grocyn is still fresh, so that I shall easily be rebutted, if I lie>>. 232 The existence of the New Academy and its conception of Plato was,
It is difficult to disagree with Erasmus. Whatever an opinion we may of course, known to all the Renaissance Platonists, in the first place thanks
entertain of his veracity, it is unthinkable that he should have dared to tell to Cicero's Academica. But, as has been recently stressed, it is a fact that
a downright lie in a public and printed reply to the Sorbonne on a matter >>remarkably little attention» was paid to Academic scepticism by >>Plato-
which must have been known to many persons still living, and among nically orientated Renaissance thinkers>>.236 A Platonist like Marsilio Ficino
them most particularly Sir Thomas More. Although, in 1501 Erasmus was was well aware of the New Academy, but, as has been pointed out above, 237
not himself in England, we cannot but accept his account of Grocyn's he had little use for its interpretation of Plato, which, apropos of the
public rejection of the Areopagite. question of the soul's immortality, he explicitly rejected.238
The Dionysian question was to pursue Erasmus to his very end. A year Nevertheless, to say as has been newly said, about >>Platonically orien-
before his death, he was told that the Carthusians of Cologne had suborned tated Renaissance thinkers>> that they paid little attention not only to
>>a rather learned mam to attack Erasmus because of his denial of the auth- the New Academy but also to >>the figure of Socrates the doubter, to Plato's
enticity of the Dionysian writings. 233 indecisive dialogues>> is inexact. For against this general verdict we may
For by now, the Dionysian problem had become one of the many con- appeal to the testimony of no less a man than Leonardo Bruni, the greatest
troversial matters disputed between the defenders of the old faith and translator of Plato before Ficino.
32 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52

Leonardo Bruni he wrote in 1538 to be delivered in public by his disciple Conrad Lagus.246
Here, Plato is praised as a marvellous >>Oraton>, i.e. writer, and compared
In his Vita Aristotelis, mentioned above, 239 Bruni draws the obligatory to the swan (Pindar) which Horace extolls is his ode. >>Thus actually
parallel between Aristotle and Plato. He stresses their fundamental agree- this swan, viz. Plato, singing something divine, overcomes all 'orators in'
ment but also the numerous differences. Mter having severely criticized eloquence.>> Cicero himself has confessed that he became an orator in the
some aspects of Plato's thought, he continues: >>Moreover, Plato's teaching Academy, as not only his philosophic writings but also his forensic speeches
is varying and uncertain. For Socrates, whenever he appears upon the testify. We, too, can borrow many rhetorical ornaments from Plato.
scene, never discusses matters systematically from beginning to end, but But as to Plato's philosophy, the opinions of the learned differ much.
treats of them arbitrarily, now in this and now in that way, and, when >>First, it is certain that Plato did not write systematic treatises (ordine
disputing, seems to state not so much what he himself thinks as to refute integras artes) but expounded in free discussions, now in this way, now in
the opinions and statements of others. Aristotle, however, was both more that, what he approved or disapproved of. For, being an ingenious and
cautious in his teaching, for he did not take on a problem which he could eloquent man, and moreover by nature a jester (a"wnn"'6~). many of his
n ot solve, and more modest in his opinions>>. Bruni subsequently praises discussions are ironical and metaphorical, as, e.g., when he jestingly says
Aristotle as a careful father who educates his sons by diligent, continous that great men who have deserved well of the commonwealth are rightly
teaching. But such teaching is missing in Plato, >>whether he deemed it beaten by their citizens, because by their good deads, they have aug-
unnecessary, or did not want to offer it, or held it in contempt as being mented the cupidity and licence of the people. The Republic, too, where
but the small details and so to speak elements of learning. Therefore his he imagines a community of property, is openly ironical; for he wanted
books are better suited for men who are already trained and strong in to write a witty and figurative satire on the rapacity of the mighty>>. Simi-
learning, but they are incapable of teaching the young>>. 240 lar is the case of the Platonic ideas which the unlearned regard as foolish
In this important passage, we meet with the aporetic and Socratic inventions, because they do not understand Plato's lofty style, whereas
Plato of the New Academy - and of the Dialogues. For, though Bruni the Ideas are simple images and notions in the mind of thinkers, i.e., de-
knew the Academica, 241 it seems probable that his picture of Plato is based finitions or demonstrations.
upon a direct study of the Dialogues, several of which he had translated. >>As he thus often does not follow the method he so often recommends,
If this view is right, Bruni's statement is the first testimony of the danger as he not seldom digresses too freely in his discussions, and even shrouds
to the Neoplatonic - or to any systematic - interpretation which the some matters in figures and deliberately disguises them, and as he finally
new contact with the Greek Plato constituted. seldom speaks his mind, I assert that the young should preferably be made
We notice that Bruni's disapproval of the Platonic method of dis- to study Aristotle, who treats systematically of the scientific matters of
cussing philosophic problems is mainly justified by pedagogical arguments: which he speaks and exhibits a simpler method, or thread, of leading his
this is not the way to teach the young. To the Chancellor of the Floren- reader, and who usually states his opinions clearly.>>
tine republic the main purpose of philosophy is the intellectual and moral So far Melanchthon agrees with Bruni, though we notice that the
education of men which makes them fit to be citizens of a free common- German reformer's admiration for Plato seems stronger than that of the
wealth.242 For an unfettered, seemingly inconclusive, philosophic discussion Italian humanist, and that Melanchthon even excuses Plato's political
the politician and moralist Bruni has no use. utopia, which Bruni had censored so severely, as being but a jest. Sub-
sequently Melanchthon refuses to judge between two so outstanding philo-
sophers as Plato and Aristotle. It is, however, useful to demonstrate to
M elanchthon the young what the authors whom they habitually study have to offer.
Then follows renewed praise of Plato, viz. as a political and moral philo-
Bruni's attitude to Plato and Aristotle recurs in a curiously similar sopher, especially in the Laws, where - in contrast to the Republic -
way, 243 a hundred years later, in Juan Luis Vives' great work, De Dis- he speaks his mind simply and clearly and gives many useful counsels,
ciplinis (1531), 244 and above all, in Philip Melanchthon, 245 Humanist and which have inspired many legislators. Both Cicero and Aristotle have
Reformer, Vives' contemporary. learnt much from Plato's political philosophy.
Melanchthon's main statement about Plato is the 'declamation' which Therefore, l\Ielanchthon's conclusion is: let us love both, and when we
~-------- __ 3 _________________________
34 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMlii:ENTATIONES HuMANARUM LITTERARUM 52

have become fairly familiar with Aristotle, let us read Plato, )>for the sake a year before that on Plato (1537), 254 Melanchthon exclaims: )>Such is Plato's
of politics and eloquence)>. Finally, Melanchthon mentions with high ap- eloquence that he undoubtedly far outshines all those whose works are
proval Plato's belief in God and the immortality of the Soul. But, he extant.)>
warns the auditory, beware of mingling Platonic philosophy and Christia- But, here too, Melanchthon, criticizes Plato's lack of systematic order
nity and of transforming, in that way, God's Gospel into Platonism. Still and his irony, ))a rhetorical figure which is better suited for satire than for
worse are those who not understanding even Plato, and perverting his teaching)>. Melanchthon illustrates this judgement with the story about
metaphors, have given birth to monstrous doctrines which they have pro- one of Plato's disciples who, misunderstanding the Master's irony, tried
pagated in the Church, as Origines and after him many others have done. to realize the precepts of the Republic, with catastrophic results. On the
The resume has been so exhaustive because of the importance of the contrary, Aristotle intended to be of use to the schools: )>this intention
text and the writer, and also because Melanchthon's attitude to Plato has is to be highly praised also in a philosophen>. The Praeceptor Germaniae
often been misunderstood. This attitude is, indead, not unambiguous, be- is speaking.
cause Melanchthon looks upon and judges Plato from several different The same views are repeated in a later declamation on Aristotle
viewpoints. As an educator, he shares Bruni's preference for Aristotle, for (1544),255 where Melanchthon criticizes Plato for being ambiguous and
much the same reasons. As a humanist and a teacher of rhetoric, Melanch- enigmatic, both in his physics and in his ethics. He does not deny that
thon admires Plato greatly, not least because of the same playful irony the latter contains many wise thoughts, but Plato's discourses are am-
he censures in him as an educator. As a philosopher, he seems to put Plato biguous and unsystematic, some of them even seemingly absurd. It is of
at a level with Aristotle or at least next to the latter. As a theologian, no use to the Church to accustom young intellects to this loose way of
he approves of Plato's religious teaching but stresses the difference be- discussion, which makes them defend what is absurd and undermine what
tween Platonism and Christianity. 247 is certain, so that they can dispute with ambiguous arguments. )>There-
In this context, Melanchthon mentions only Origines by name. But it fore, let us leave the Academy to the Pyrrhonists, and embrace a simpler
is difficult not to interpret his criticism of any attempt to mingle Chris- philosophy, which does not play with empty tricks but demonstrates use-
tianity and Platonism as including Ficino and his followers. 248 In any case, ful matters, and speaks its mind properly, and calls a spade spade.))256
Melanchthon's view of Plato, as it appears in the Declamation does not It is difficult to overrate the importance of Melanchthon's statements
seem inspired by what in this study has been called the N eoplatonic inter- about Plato, in view of his great authority in the whole Protestant world
pretation of Plato. This must be stressed, not least because recently a and the immense popularity of his Declamations, which were constantly
German scholar has spoken much about Melanchthon's Neoplatonic lean- printed in new editions. 257 Thanks to them, innumerable readers have for
ings.249 Whether that holds true of his philosophy and theology in general, many generations been confronted with a Plato very different from the
is a question which here may be left open. But to say that to Melanchthon theologian and metaphysician of the Florentine Platonism: the ironical,
as to all of his age Plato )>always was the Plato as interpreted by the Neo- elusive, aporetic Plato of the New Academy.25s That Mclanchthon rejected
platonists)>,250 is certainly incorrect, as the Declamation proves. this Plato is of secondary importance.
The great nephew of Johannes Reuchlin - who on his travels in Italy In the declamation on Plato a short passage occurs where Melanchthon
had made the personal acquaintance of Ficino and Pico 251 - was, of course, speaks of those who mot having understood even Plata>>, have corrupted
familiar with the Florentine Platonism, which he demonstrably studied the Church by monstrous doctrines. 259 This is a hint of a viewpoint which
in the texts. 252 But this study had not influenced his view of Plato, which not many years later was to be of decisive influence on the interpretation
was determined by very different writers. In the first place, as appears of Plato.
from the Declamation itself, Cicero. The Plato of Melanchthon, the ironi-
cal and enigmatic debater and doubter, is the Plato of the Academica, Nizolio
i.e. of the New Academy - and, as we should certainly add, of the Dia-
logues. For the Professor of Greek in the University of ·w ittenberg was a A similar view of Plato as a great writer but an unsatisfactory thinker,
learned scholar who knew his Classics well and lectured on them. 253 The exactly because of his ambiguous and inconclusive reasoning, was expressed
fervent admiration with which Melanchthon speaks of Plato's art testi- by a contemporary of Melanchthon's, the Italian philosopher, Mario Ni-
fies to a personal study. In a declamation on the Life of Aristotle, delivered zolio (1488-1567), in his big book, De Veris Principiis et Vera Ratione
36 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
Philosophorum contra Pseudophilosophos (1553). 260 Like Melanchthon, Nizo- serious as Epicure, speaking about his Atoms, or Pythagoras, speaking
lio was a fervent admirer of Cicero, but unlike him also a bitter foe of about his Numbers. >>Ils estoient trop sages pour establir leurs articles
Aristotle's. He belonged to the many Renaissance philosophers who tried de foy de chose si incertaine et si debatable>>. 273 We see that Montaigne
to replace the Aristotelian logic and dialectics with grammar and rhetoric. ascribes his own scepticism to Plato. In the same section of the Essais
Aristotle is the main target of his polemics, and he sides with the defenders - the famous Apology for Raimond Sebond - Montaigne notes that some
of Plato against the attack of Georgius Trapezuntius. 261 But neither is he consider Plato a dogmatist, others a doubter, still others a dogmatist in
willing to subscribe to Cicero's exaltation of Plato. His own opinion is certain matters and a doubter in certain other. 274 As is his want, Montaigne
that Plato was, indeed, a genius but rather in Letters than in Philosophy. does not make a straight choice between these three possibilities, but
Those that intend to philosophize in a right way should read Plato often, stresses strongly the aporetic aspect of the Dialogues: >>Platon me semble
but try even more to learn from him the graces of style than the wisdom avoir ayme cette forme de philosopher par dialogue, a escient, pour loger
of thought.262 plus decemment en diverses bouches la diversite et variation de ses propres
fantasies>>. 275
The Ramists Montaigne may be regarded as the foremost literary representative
of what has been called 'Fideism', the belief that Truth - at any rate
But what Vives, Melanchthon, and Nizolio found reprehensible in Plato religious truth - cannot be attained by rational means but only by a
was precisely what to other contemporary writers seemed a great virtue. superrational revelation, accepted in an act of faith. 276 From the earliest
The Platonic scepticism and irony, the elusive and inconclusive character times, there had always been Christians who regarded all kinds of philo-
of his philosophy won their high approval. Thus, in his commentary on sophic speculation with distrust and antipathy, the more so as Greco-
Cicero's Academica, Orner Talon, 263 the friend and collaborator of Peter Roman philosophy seemed inseparably bound up with the pagan civili-
Ramus', expressed his strong sympathy for this Plato of the New Aca- zation they feared and loathed. Even in the heyday of Scholasticism there
demy.264 To Talon, Plato is the worthy successor of the doubter and dis- were many who looked with suspicion upon the new philosophy although
putator Socrates, and the New Academics are his legitimate inheritors. 265 it was approved by the Church, This 'fideistic' attitude was strengthened
This praise of Plato and the New Academy does not, however, imply by the revival of ancient scepticism, mentioned above. 277 In many writers
that Talon and his master Ramus were themselves sceptics, as their ene- - e.g., in Montaigne - Scepticism and Fideism combined in a curious
mies asserted. 266 This was certainly not the case, for Ramus was a firm way - a combination whose sincerity is as easy to suspect as it is difficult
believer in his own philosophy, which claimed to be a Christian philo- to disprove.
sophy, based only on the Scriptures. Just for that reason, Ramus as well
as Talon preferred Socrates, Plato, and the Academics to other ancient
philosophers, because they realized the inanity of mere human reason. 267 Gianfrancesco Pica
For a radical scepticism the Ramists felt no sympathy, and one of them,
Guy de Brues, attacked it in his Dialogues against the New Academics Naturally, the Fideists often showed themselves sympathetic to those
(1557).268 ancient thinkers who had stressed the limitation and weakness of human
reason. Not all of the Fideists were as exacting as Montaigne, but gladly
accepted Plato and the New Academy as fellow-combatants against
Montaigne the arrogance of philosophers. Thus Giova"nni Pico della Mirandola's
nephew, Gianfrancesco, in his big book, An Examination of the Vanity
On the other hand, there were writers, like Montaigne, 269 who considered of Pagan Teaching and the Verity of Christian Doctrine (1520). 278 There
the New Academy not sceptical enough, and preferred the Pyrrhonists. 270 he treats of the question, debated by Platonists, whether Plato was a
But, though little influenced by Renaissance Platonism and Neoplato- sceptic, a dogmatist, or possibly both, and stresses the difficulty of finding
nism,271 Montaigne was, at least in his last years, an interested and appre- Plato's true meaning, illustrating this circumstance with reference to the
ciative reader of Plato. 272 Non unexpectedly, he refuses to take the doctrine dispute between his uncle and Marsilio Ficino concerning the Parmenides. 279
of Ideas seriously. When speaking about the Ideas, Plato was as little And he dwells with pleasure on the New Academy.2so
38 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARU~f 52
Petrus de Valentia Serranus

In this context, a small but substantial work should be mentioned Nevertheless, it was a Calvinist divine, a French Huguenot, who was
which is a summing-up of current knowledge about the New Academy to vindicate Plato, the true Plato, freed from the >>inept commentaries>>
and its interpretation of Plato, the Spanish scholar Petrus de Valentia's of later Platonists and restored to his pristine purity. The vindicator and
Academica (1596). 281 The author's endeavour, so he explicity states, was restorer was Jean de Serres or Ioannes Serranus, as he called himself in
only to give a faithful account of the opinions of the ancient philosophers, his Latin works (1540-98). 290 A curious person this Serranus! In his
not to propound his own views. 282 Nevertheless, it appears clearly from his youth, a bitter religious controversialist, he became subsequently an eager
careful analysis of texts and testimonies both that he accepts the New spokesman for reconciliation between Catholics and Huguenots, and
Academy's interpretation of Plato as substantially correct, 283 and that ended as Historiographer Royal to Henri IV. Today, he is mostly known
its scepticism proves the vanity of human reason, without divine assis- for his big historical works: an account of contemporary political and
tance.284 The sage of this world is actually a fool - this is the edifying religious events in France and a general survey of French history, whereas
conclusion of Petrus de Valentia's book on the Academics. his Platonic studies seem to be forgotten.2 91
In 1578, Serranus collaborated with Henricus Stephanus (Henri Etienne)
in producing what must be called the most famous of all editions of Plato292
- the one whose pagination we still use when quoting Plato. Serranus
contributed a Latin translation, a long general introduction, and shorter
BETWEEN NEOPLATONISM AND THE ACADEMY introductions together with marginal annotations to each of the Dia-
logues.293 Although the translation was reprinted, it did not succeed in
In this way, Plato was liberated from the Neoplatonic systematization superseding Ficino's, which was regarded as being more faithful, nor was
which the Florentine Platonists285 and their many adherents had continued Serranus' new division of the Dialogues into six >>Syzygies>> accepted.2 94
and strengthened, and which still remained the authoritative interpre- In this context, it is the General Introduction which is of interest.
tation of Plato. But this liberation was obtained at a high price - so high The Introduction295 is partly an apology for Plato, partly a selfdefence.
that some contemporary Platonist refused to pay it. They could not accept For, as Sen·anus states at the beginning and does not tire of repeating,
an interpretation of Plato's thought which turned it into mere sceptical he is well aware that many good and pious men will criticize this venture
doubt and argumentation. Although convinced of the faultiness of the to translate and interpret Plato, either because they deem all secular
Neoplatonic interpretation, they were as convinced of the existence of a philosophy useless and dangerous, or because they reject Plato's philo-
positive Platonic teaching. sophy, or because they repudiate Serranus' interpretation of it. Nevertheless,
It seems that this tendency to ascribe a positive doctrine to Plato, he hopes that his work will be found of use to the Church of God which
different, however, from Neoplatonism, was especially popular with :Pro- he wishes to serve.
testant theologians. In the Catholic church, a multi-secular tradition The main obstacle was, of course, the general prejudice against philo-
spoke in favour of Neoplatonism, as the case of Dionysius the Areopagite sophy as such, so common among the educated Calvinist circles which
proves, though even here an opposition against the Neoplatonic - or Serranus in the first place addresses. Therefore, he tries very hard to con-
the Platonic - influence on theology was not absent. 286 In the Protestant vince his readers of the harmlessness and utility of philosophy. True, it
churches, this opposition was active from the very beginning. We have can be and has been abused, but so can many good things, like bread and
seen above that Melanchthon warned against mixing Platonism and wine. Even pagan philosophers may be studied, if only we know, how to
Christianity.287 In a similar way, Calvin attacked the Papists for having distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood in their speculations.
polluted the purity of the Christian faith with Platonic imagination,288 For even the Fall has not totally deprieved Man of his reason but left
though Plato himself seemed to Calvin the best of profane philosophers, some small sparks of truth in him. Such sparks are the belief in God, in
whom Calvin the humanist had studied thoroughly. 289 The place assigned virtue, in punishment or reward in a future life. 296 Serranus seems here
to mere human wisdom in Calvin's theology is, however, small and to profess that well-known Deistic Trinity: God, Virtue, Immortality.
secondary. Actually, he was not unfaithful to the teaching of Calvin. 29 7
E. N. TIOERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato C0111MENTATIONES HUMANARUJ\1 LITTERARUJ\1 52
40 41

From such a viewpoints, Serranus finds it easy to defend Plato as a that Plato had read the Bible, for it was translated only after his time, but
philosopher in whose writings a Christian reader can discover sparks of he finds it probable that Plato learnt indirectly from the Jews, through
the Eternal Light, though much obscured by pagan darkness. All Plato's the intermediary of the Egyptians, whom he visited. Thus, he mixed
insight into divine matters did not save him from deserting the one true Biblical truth with many errors, both his own and the Egyptian ones.
God for idols. But although, thank God, our children know more than Serranus again warns against paying too great attention to Platonic
the wisest pagan philosophers did, yet it is very useful to study Plato, allegories.
if only to discover how far mere human reason, unaided by Divine Grace, In this context is it that Serranus turns against such commentators
can reach. Furthermore, Plato teaches us much about nature, man, and of Plato as Iamblichus, Porclus, Prophyry, and others who only obscure
society, Finally, we can also learn from him how to argue well and write and maculate >>the sense and words of this most immaculate philosopher>>
clearly. with their foolish commentaries. >>To speak the truth>>, Serranus exclaims,
But we must never yield to a blind admiration, for, like all pagan >>the obscure dreams of those interprefers discouraged me formerly from
philosophers, Plato is full of errors, such as the metempsychosis, the com- reading Plato: But I have learned from experience that Plato is not to
munity of property and women, etc. We must reject what is evil in him be blamed but rather the insane diligence of the interpreters.>>3o2
and accept only what is good. Exactly for this reason, Serranus chose to Finally, Serranus defends Plato against the one-sided admirers of
interpret Plato to the young. Aristotle, who was, indeed, as great man but, like Plato, not without
Having thus proved his orthodoxy by denouncing Plato's errors, errors: >>both of them are pagans>>. On main points, however, Plato and
Serranus at last finds himself at liberty to defend Plato. First of all, against Aristotle agree. 308
the accusation of scepticism, lack of method, verbosity, allegorism. 298 An analysis of Serranus' own interpretation of the Dialogues, though
Serranus hotly denies that Plato was a sceptic and sharply rejects the in itself not without interest, is not to the present purpose, the less so,
interpretation of the New Academy. If Plato sometimes seems elusive as it does not seem to have exerted any wider influence. On the other
and sceptical, it is never in matters of importance, such as God, the im- hand, a later work by him must be mentioned in which he returned to the
mortality of the soul, good and evil. Nor is Plato without method, if only question of Platonic interpretation.
we read his Dialogues as we ought to do, viz., in the order into which Se- Nearly twenty years after his edition, in 1596, Serranus, or as he now
ranus arranged them.299 called himself, Jean de Serres, published a big work On the Immortality
As to the allegories, Sen·anus admits that Plato sometimes overdoes of the Soul, dedicated to Henri IV. 304 In his argumentation, Serranus
them and that, generally speaking, all pagan philosophy to some extent constantly invokes the testimony of the >>Academy>> - as he revealingly
obscures the simplicity of truth >>portentis et chimaeris>>. Yet to charge calls secular philosophy - though he as constantly stresses that the >>Aca-
especially Plato with doing so and to dwell on the allegories without curing demy>> possesses only poor sparks of the truth revealed to the Church.
for their purpose, is to calumniate Plato. Nor should we turn everything >>En l'une, est le vraisembable; en l'autre, la verite>>. 305 Nonetheless, Serranus
in him into allegory, for that would be futile, but explain matters pru- finds it useful and profitable to demonstrate the agreement between the
dently and conveniently. Serranus himself prefers Aristotle's simple method Church and the best pagan philosophy as regards the immortality of the
of teaching, but he tries to understand and explain Plato's procedure. soul: >>C'est done quelque chose pour ceux qui cherchent des raisons en
It was the habit of the earliest philosophers to teach by means of symbols la philosophie humaine>>.3os Although the Church is infinitely superior to
and images which strongly affect the imagination. Plato followed their the Academy, yet she can join hands with it >>en la defense de cette com-
example, especially as on many points his teaching differed from the usual mune verite>>.307
opinions of ancient philosophers and approached Christianity, e.g., con- As the name >>Academy>> indicates, Serranus now as well as formerly
cerning God, creation, immortality, etc., verities which >>Plato did not considers Plato - though >mn pauvre payem> - the best of all secular
find out for himself or from by mere human reason but got from a certain philosophers, but only if freed from >>les gloses des Platoniciens>>. 308 For
happier teaching .>>3oo >>le commun des Platoniciens>>,3°9 Serranus voices the same deep contempt
With these words, Serranus alludes to the ancient tradition, mentioned he showed in the Introduction: >>Estant chose fort importune de rapporter
above, 301 that Plato had in some way had access to the inspired wisdom les commentaires infinis de ses disciples, qui disent moins en plus, &
of the Jews. On this point, however, Serranus is very cautious. He denies montent si haut par tant d'imaginez degres, que s'estants premierement
42 E. N. TIGER!'TEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES liUlii:ANARUM LI=ERARUM 52 43

meslez auuec les nues, retombent en fin aux abysmes d'une trop perilleuse strange and obsolete in the new cultural atmosphere, dominated by Science
vanite, en laquelle ils se perdent & ceux qui les lisent>>.310 A marginal and Cartesian philosophy. Thus in France, in the second half of the seven-
note refers to Ficino's Theologia Platonica, and its sources, Iamblichus, teenth century, Ficino >>parait en baisse>>, as a modern scholar has
Proclus, Alcinous, Porphyry, etc. This is a direct attack on a central aspect remarked.312 True, Bossuet largely used Ficino's Platonic Theology, when
of the Florentine Platonism and the ancient Neoplatonism: their hier- defending the belief in the immortality of the soul, but that only prove
archical cosmology. Bossuet's conservatism on this point, too. 313
Subsequently, Serranus directs his attack on the Platonists' distortion
of Plato's doctrine of Ideas and his conception of God as the Creator of
Rap in
the world, under the evil influence of Aristotle: >>Or il est tres certain qui
si en toute l'escole des Payens il y a quelque estincelle de la premiere
Far more revealing of contemporary French opinion about Ficino
verite - - - elle reluit en oeste doctrine bien entendue, c'est a dire, leue,
is the harsh criticism to which his interpretation of Plato was subjected
remarquee, consideree, sans autre aide, que du simple Original, non en-
by two writers as different as the Jesuit Rene Rapin and the churchhistorian
tortille des commentaires des Disciples, qui font dire a leur Maistre, non
Claude Fleury. The former, well-known as a literary critic,314 published
pas ce qui est de son intention, mais de leur humeur.>>311
in 1671 a Comparison between Plato and Aristotle315 - wholly to the advent-
Thus, in this work, too, Serranus, gives his picture of a Plato, equally
age of Aristotle, whose philosophy agree best with Christianity, >>parce
unlike the Sceptic of the New Academy and the Hierophant of the Neo-
qu'elle est la plus raisonnable>>. 316 As to Plato's philosophy, >>elle est de
platonists, and, just for that reason, acceptable to true Christians.
peu d'usage en ce siecle>>, relegated to the libraries and to the cabinets
of some orators who try to ape Plato's eloquence. For though his doctrine
is very unsolid, he is undoubtedly a great stylist. 317 Naturally this opinion
The Third Alternative
about Plato inspires Rapin with a deep contempt for Ficino's foolish
attempt to use Platonism in defence of Christianity, whereas history proves
The appearance of loannes Serranus' Introduction marks a new phase
that it has been the cause of many heresies. 318 Rapin's own interpretation
in the history of Platonic interpretation. Hitherto, Plato- whether accepted
of Plato seems to be the Academic one, and he quotes Cicero's words that
or rejected - had been regarded either as the Neoplatonic systematic
Plato never asserts anything but doubts everything.319
metaphysician and theologian or the Academic disputer and doubter.
Written in the beautifully lucid French of the Grand Siecle, Rapin's
Now for the first time, as far as we know - this reservation is necessary
book is agreable to read but disappointing, for it is very ignorant and
- a third alternative is offered: Plato has, indeed, a positive teaching,
superficial. We may well doubt, whether Rapin had ever read Plato except
but it is by no means identical with that ascribed to him by the Neo-
in the Latin translation by the man he reviles, for he was a very mediocre
platonists. This implies that not only the Academic but also the N eo-
Hellenist. 320 Nevertheless, this hook remains an important testimony to
platonic interpretation is rejected as erroneous. The interpretation of the disrespect in which Plato and Ficino were held in Parisian literary
Plato is emancipated from the traditional views, held in classical antiquity,
circles in the heyday of French Classicism.
and based on the Platonic text alone. If such an attitude to Plato is a Rapin's Comparison was but one of several discourses on literary topics,
huge error - as some modern scholars assert - then Serranus, not Schleier- proposed by Guillaume de Lamoignon, First President of the Paris Parle-
macher, is the original culprit. ment, to the learned members of the small Academy he had founded a
It took a long time, however, before this new attitude became common,
year earlier. Claude Fleury had spoken to the same audience on Plato,
not least because its originator was no authoritative scholar but rather a
too, but his discourse was not published until 1686.321
dilettante. Serranus' interpretation suffered the same fate as his translation:
it could not assert itself against the Neoplatonic interpretation, so learnedly
propounded by Ficino and many other interpreters. And at their side, Fleury
the Academic interpretation continued to find adherents.
But gradually it became obvious that the spirit of the age was growing In contrast to Rapin, Fleury was a competent Hellenist, with a good
less and less favourable to Ficino and his brand of Platonism, which seemed knowledge of Greek literature,3 22 besides being endowed with a mind, free
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoM~mNTATIONES HuMA..><ARUM Lr=ERARUM 52 45

from current prejudices - as he showed, when defending Homer against called Les Oeuvres de Platon (1699). 333 True, following Fleury, whom he
his many modern detractors. 323 In a similar way, Fleury defends Plato explicity quotes, he rejects not only Serranus but also Ficino, for the same
aCYainst those that consider him highfaluting, undiscriminating, unmethod- reasons as Fleury. Thus he finds Ficino >>trop speculatif & trop abstrait>>,
ical - in a word, >>Un auteur de tres-peu d'utilite>> 324 - i.e., critics like always discovering the deepest meanings in Plato's simplest utterances,
Rapin.a2s being in this way able to explain Plato's philosophy as holy, and inspired,
One of the main causes of this false idea of Plato, is that very few and Christian.334
persons read him and those who do read him in translation. >>Or, les inter- But in contrast to Fleury, Dacier had read the ancient commentators
pretes l'ont pris selon leur sens, & non pas toujours selon le sien. Car of Plato and had a very high opinion of them, especially of Plotinus, whom
generalement la plupart des commentaires sont plus propres a faire con- he praises as a great moralist. 335 But he also admired Proclus. He admitted
noitre les pensees & le genie du commentateur, que de l'auteur commente>>. 326 that the Platonic Theology and the Elements of Theology >>sont fort difficiles
This appears from the two only commentators Fleury has read, viz. a entendre, parce qu'il est fort abstrait. Mais quand on peut les penetrer,
Marsilio Ficino and Ioannes Serranus. Of the latter he entertains an un- on les trouve tres profond & plein des chases admirables>>. 336 There cannot
favourable opinion: criticizing him for the lacking faithfulness of his transla- have been many contemporary Frenchmen who shared Dacier's admiration
tion, his systematization of Plato's philosophy, and his arrangement of for Proclus.
the Dialogues.327 As to the former, his translation is fairly faithful, and Under these circumstances, Dacier's Plato does not differ essentially
he was a learned and studious man, >>mais, autant que je puis juger, solitaire, from Ficino's, for both follow the Neoplatonists. Like Ficino, Dacier
abstrait, speculatif>>. Ficino attached great importance to >>la pretendue strongly rejects the Academic interpretation. Plato was no sceptic, but
theologie de Platom>, and to his doctrine of Intelligences and Ideas. >>Il a firm believer in absolute truth, though the undogmatic and aporetic way
cherche par-tout des mysteres, & explique par des allegories, ce qui pris in which in the Dialogues, according to the pattern of Socrates, he discusses
a la lettre, ne convient pas a ses principes, quoique peutetre il convint philosophic problems has induced many to think him a doubter. But the
a ceux de Platon.>> In this way, Ficino saves what is most to be condamned main cause of the obscurity the reader encounters in Plato is due to the
in Plato, for he is strangely prejudiced in his favour. 328 influence of Pythagoras. For like that thinker, Plato did not express his
But then Fleury does not think much of Plato's metaphysics and phy- opinions openly but only >>par des Enigmes & sous des mysteres, des
sics -- the Timaeus and the Parmenides do not interest him. 329 It is Plato figures, & des nombres, pour ne pas exposer des veritez si sublimes aux
the logician and moralist whom Fleury admires. 330 Small wonder, that he railleries des mechans, & pour ne les decouvir qu'a ceux qui seroient
frankly admits that he has not read any such ancient Platonists as Plo- dignes de les apprendre, & qui se donneroient euxmesmes la peine de les
tinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus. 331 This admission is revealing, developpen>.33 7 Here, we are confronted with the same Plato as in Ficino:
especially when we consider Fleury's general knowledge of and interest the Neoplatonic Mystagogue and Hierophant.
in Greek literature. It would have been impossible a hundred years earlier.
We have left the world of Renaissance Platonism far behind.

Andre Dacier Such an attitude to Plato seems to have been more common in con-
temporary England, though even there >>the third alternative>> of Serranus
But even in the Grand si ecle, there still were those that maintained had adherents, as appears from the curious work of the nonconformist
the Neoplatonic view of Plato. Among those was Andre Dacier, with the divine Theophilus Gale, The Court of the Gentiles, a large philosophic-
possible exception of his own wife, Anne, the foremost French Hellenist theological treatise.aas Influenced by Serranus whom he constantly quotes
of his time. 332 Learned, assiduous, a fervent admirer of the classics, whom - both the General Introduction and the comments on the Dialogues -
he eagerly defended in the famous Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes, Gale considers Plato the pagan philosopher who best agrees with Chris-
Dacier was not the man to abandon the traditional interpretation of Plato. tianity. Although, as we shall see, Gale regards Platonism as a danger
Dacier voiced his allegiance to the Neoplatonic Plato in a long intro- to the Church, yet he believes that, shorn of its errors, Plato's philosophy
duction to his translation of ten Platonic dialogues - rather misleadingly can be put to good use. Therefore, the Fourth and last Volume of his big
46 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMliiENTATIONES HuMANARUM LI=ERARUM 52

work bears the title >>Of Reformed Philosophie. Wherein Plato's Moral, Scriptures, they made what use they could of the Latter to R eforme, Refine
and Metaphysic or prime Philosophie is reduced to an useful Forme and and Strengthen the Former.>> 3"h '

Method.>> In the Preface, Gale adduces the example of Wyclif, Wessel, This is the same view of Plato and Platonism that we found in Faber's
Savonarola, Pico, Vives, Melanchthon, Faber Stapulensis, and Ramus, preface to the Areopagite: the best in the latter is borrowed or, as Faber
all of whom have demonstrated >>That Platonick Philosophie may be said, stolen from Christianity, for Plato himself did not understand the
greatly useful, if wei managed and rendered subservient to Theologie, high matters whereof he was treating. 3470
as in Augustin>>. 340 With Ficino, however, Gale shared a conception which dominates
The >>leformed>> Platonism which Gale propounds and whose shape his whole work: the belief that all ancient philosophy, in so far as it has any
does not concern us here evidently presupposes the rejection of the Neo- value at all, derives from the Jews. 348 This applies also to Plato, who was
platonic interpretation. Yet, we miss in him any clear statement to that >>the chief of those, who are supposed to transport Jewish Traditions into
purpose. In his Second Volume, Of Philosophie, Gale gives a detailed account Greece>>. 349 For that reason, one of the Chapters in Gale's book is called
of the history of ancient philosophy. There he brands the New Academy >>Of the Platonick Philosophie, its Traduction from the Jews>>.aso On this
as a traitor to Plato - explicitly adducing Serranus341 - and shows point, Gale shows none of Serranus' cautiousness; he sees in Plato but the
himself, like Serranus, very unfavourable to the >>New Platonicks>>:342 disciple of the Jews, though unfortunately neither a faithful nor a sincere
Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and others. 343 Their disciple. 351
founder, Ammonius, >>borrowed the choicest of his contemplations from Gale fully share the conviction, so common among Protestant theo-
the sacred Scriptures which he mixt with his Platonick Philosophizings>>,344 logians,352 that Platonism in its Neoplatonic form had been very detrimental
something that his successors continued to do. 345 to Christianity. He gives a dark picture of the consequences of >>this cursed
This view of Neoplatonism as being to a large extent derived from mixture of Platonick philosophie with Christianity>>, 353 >>the Prolific cause
Christianity was, of course, nothing new; we have found it, e.g., in Ficino346 of the worst Heresies and Corruptions in the Church>>,354 such as Mysticism,
and Faber,34 7 both of whom seem to have influenced Gale, though his Monasticism, Pelagianism, Scholasticism, generally speaking, all the evils
negative attitude to the Neoplatonic way of borrowing some of its main of Papism. But although Gale thus attacks Neoplatonism, he nowhere
ideas from Christianity is more alike to Faber than to Ficino. sharply separates if from Platonism. He says, indeed - following G. J.
Like Faber, whom he extolls, 347 " Gale believed that the later Platonists Vossius who had said it twenty years earlier355 - that the >>New Platonicks>>
had interpreted their Master in the light of the new Revelation which were actually eclecticts356 who had mixed Plato's doctrines with those of
could not fail to impress them, even if they were not converted to it. >>Being other philosophers. But to Gale, this circumstance was in itself no fault, for
of more raised and generous spirits>>, they >>could not but make some in- >>sound philosophie>> is eclectic.35 7 And this view of Neoplatonic eclecticism
quisition into those stupendious Miracles, and Reports, touching Christ, does not prevent Gale from stating that Plotinus' Enneads >>though obscure
and that Redemption brought to light by him; which Enquiries of theirs, and cloudie according to the Platonick mode, yet are they esteemed the
being attended with some Common Light, and Heat of the Spirit, raise most exactest model of Platonick philosophie extant>>. 358
their Spirits, and Philosophick Contemplations to some higher Elevation, The wording of the statement just quoted suggests that Gale had no
that what their Predecessors attain'd unto. And that which might animate deeper knowledge of Plotinus. Actually, nothing in the Court of the Gentils
the latter Platonists to such Enquiries, into those Divine and Sacred Mys- suggest any familiarity with the Neoplatonists. 358 • The attacks on them
teries, was their correspondence and agreement with the choicest of their do not contain anything which could not be read in earlier authors; Gale
Master Plato's Contemplations, who treated much (though without under- simply repeats what so many had said before. Although his voluminous
standing rightly the matters he treated of) concerning - - - the very work - crammed with the indigested learning of his age - undoubtedly
Being, self-Being, Word, Mind, Idea of the choicest Good, Soul of the tended to isolate Plato from the Neoplatonists, its confused and incon-
World, Chaos, etc. And the latter Platonists Ammonius, etc. finding these sistent attitude could not seriously shake the Neoplatonic interpretation.
their Master's notions so fully and clearly, explicated in sacred Revelations, The less so, as it continued to have prominent representatives in con-
both of the Law, and Gospel; this made them more affectionately inquisitive temporary England.
thereinto, and after their curious inquisitions, finding a great Symbolization,
and Harmonie betwixt many of their Platonick Principles, and the Divine
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato Co~IMENTATIONES HUMANARUni LITTERARUM 52
48 49

The Survival of the New Academy

The Cambridge Platonists
Alongside the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato, that of the New Aca-
Foremost among them is that important group of theologians and
demy still found adherents, supported as it was by Cicero's immense
philosophers called the >>Cambridge Platonists>>: Benjamin Whitgift, Henry
authority. 373 At the beginning oi the eighteenth century, a Christian >>Fi-
More, Ralph Cudworth, John Smith, et alii. 359 Coleridge thought that they
deist>>, the polymath Pierre-Daniel Huet, still used the scepticism of the
should more properly be called the >>Cambridge Plotinists>>, 360 and there
New Academy - to him the only true Academy - as a weapon against
can be no doubt that they did not distinguish between Platonism and
the arrogance of secular philosophers. 374
Neoplatonism, and tended to revere Plotinus as much as Plato. 361 Nor
should it be denied that this was to a large extent due to the influence
of Marsilio Ficino, to whose interpretation of Plato and Platonism they
were heavily indebted. 362 Like Ficino, the Cambridge Platonists considered
Platonism the philosophy which best agrees with the Christian revelation
- a view which caused them - or at least, some of them - to christianize
Hitherto, the interpretation of Plato had been a matter for theologians
Plato substantially just as Ficino had done. 363 And like him, they regarded
and philosophers, who were more interested in discussing whether the
Plato as but one - though by far the most important - link in the long
opinions ascribed to Plato were right than in examining whether he really
chain of what Ficino had called >>pia philosophia>>, 364 >>an unbroken suc-
held them. Of course, as has been amply illustrated, the evaluation of
cession from the ancient wisdom of the Orient up to Plato and the true
Plato's philosophy decisively determined the conception of it. This appears
Platonists>>, 365 whose followers they believed themselves to be.
clearly from the attitude of the interpreters to the two traditional schools
Though many of the works of the Cambridge Platonists, especially
of interpretation: the Neoplatonic and the Academic. A crucial problem
those of More and Cudworth, were too learned - and too voluminous
was the relationship between Platonism and Christianity. As has been
- to be widely read, 366 yet they exerted a not inconsiderable influence
pointed out above, 375 the separation of Platonism from Neoplatonism seems
on their contemporaries and later generations, thereby contributing to
to have been inspired by the wish to dissociate Plato from his later followers,
the maintenance of the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plato, down to
who were regarded as anti-Christian, and thus maintain the venerable view
Coleridge,367 and Thomas Taylor, >>the Platonist>>, whose numerous transla-
of Plato as anima naturaliter christiana.
tions of Plato, Plotinus, and other Platonists influenced English Romantics
But since the rise of modern philological and historical scholarship,
and American Transcendentalists. 368
there appeared a new kind of readers and interpreters of Plato who wanted
to find out what he himself had thought and said, independent of what,
according to the traditional interpretations, he ought to have done. 376
The Evils of Platonism That the interpretations of these new scholars were often just as pre-
judiced, just as influenced by their philosophic and religious views as
This identification of Platonism with Neoplatonism could, however, those of earlier interpreters is undeniable. Yet, the very attempt not to
be used for a very different purpose, viz., that of making Plato himself be bound by current interpretations was of importance, even if this attempt
responsible for the teaching of later Platonists. As has been pointed out in many, if not most, cases failed.
above, many theologians, most but not all of them Protestants, were This new trend in Platonic interpretation can be studied in some works
highly suspicions of the evil influence of Platonism on Christian theology. 369 which inagurated a new discipline - or, if we prefer, renewed an old one
Now this problem was suddenly brought home by a widely read anonymous - viz., the history of philosophy.377 In that field, too, classical antiquity
book, Le Platonisme devoile, 370 which accused all the Fathers of the Church had produced a work which for centuries was regarded as normative,
- and thereby all later theologians - of having corrupted the Christian Diogenes Laertius' Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. This
teaching under the influence of Platonism. 371 This accusation presupposed undigested - and probably unfinished - compilation divides the philo-
the identy of Platonism and Neoplatonism372 - an assumption which sophers into different >>sects>>, within which they are dealt with in a chrono-
the book's many critics shared with it. logical order, each of them provided with a biography, a bibliography,
50 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
and a longer or shorter )>doxography)>, i.e. an account of his teaching. It that he )>raro ex solidis principiis disputat)>, 383 but also that no other school
has therefore become usual to call this kind of history of philosophy )>doxo- has better philosophized on divine matters. But Plato's philosophy was
graphical».378 soon extinct, and his successors filled his school with new opinions.as4
Diogenes Laertius was known - directly or indirectly - in the Middle Subsequently, Horn distinguishes between the Old and the New Academy,
Ages, and in the first half of the fourteenth century, the English philo- the former alone being Platonic, because it possessed firm and fixed doc-
sopher Walter Burley compiled a free version. 379 During the Renaissance, trines, in contrast to the latter, though the New Academy was not Pyrrh-
the Greek original was studied, translated, and finally printed (1533). onian.385 In a later section, we are told that Christianity was soon cor-
But no attempt to revise or continue it seems to have been made, until, rupted by Platonism and that pagan philosophers, such as Plotinus, Por-
in one and the same year, 1655, two works were published, both of which phyry, and Iamblichus, attacked it. 386 But only a few pages further, Ploti-
were intended to supersede and surpass Diogenes. nus is mentioned as the man in whom Plato revives, 387 and in a still later
section Bessarion and Marsilio Ficino are praised. 388 Actually, Horn seems
to follow his excerpts and his whims wherever they carry him, without
Horn entertaining any coherent opinions of his own. 389

One of these two works had a most ambitious program, for, as the
title promised, it carried the account of the history of philosophy from
the creation down to the times of the author, the Dutch historian and Stanley
professor a.t Leyden, Georg Horn (Hornius).380 Unfortunately, neither
the author's knowledge nor his intelligence was equal to the ardous task. 381 The other work, entitled The History of Philosophy. Containing those
Horn was not unaware of this, for in his Preface he alleged as an excuse on whom the Attribute of Wise was conferred,390 had as its author the English
that he had written the book )>admodum iuvenis)>, twenty years old, and lawyer, classical philologist, and poet Thomas Stanley.391 He was a far
had not had the opportunity of revising it. 382 better scholar and had a far clearer mind than Horn. He was also far less
Horn's intention to liberate the history of philosophy from the Dio- ambitious and kept close to Diogenes Laertius. The very way in which
genian scheme and extend it to all nations and ages was laudable. But Stanley arranges this matter copies his Greek model, 392 though, at the
his ignorance and muddleheadedness made havoc of his intention. vVe end, three sections on Oriental philosophers - Chaldaeans, Persians,
get short chapters on ))antediluvian philosophy)>, where we learn that and Sabaeans - are added. Like Diogenes, Stanley closes his account
Adam, being taught by God in Paradise, was the first and best of all philo- of European philosophy with the Epicureans. No modern philosophers
sophers, on Noah as )>the restorer>> of philosophy)>, on the Egyptians, Indians are mentioned. As to Plato's philosophy, Stanley simply reprints Alcinous'
and Persians, on the Arabs, and even on the Chinese. Evidently, the youth- -i.e., Albinus' - Didascalicus which dispenses him from giving an account
ful author had read many books and made many excerpts which he pro- of his own.a9a The Platonists after Antiochus are silently ignored: they
duces in great disorder. Often the reader feels that the author has lost were not to be found in Diogenes.3 94
all control over his material. Very typical of Horn's method - or rather
of the lack of it - is that, having brought the historical account to an end,
he adds further chapters on the names of philosophy, the ways of pro-
pagating it, the places of its study, the pay for it, etc. In its uncritical, Johannes Gerhard V ossius
haphazard learning, Horn's book represents the contemporary historia
litteraria at its very worst. It is an omnium gatherum of all imaginable In Horn and Stanley we miss any personal attitude towards the problem
facts which may be connected with the history of philosophy. of Platonic interpretation or, indeed, any pronouncement upon that subject
In such a book, we should not look for any clear notions of Platonism at all. But only two years later, in 1657, a work appeared which contained
and its relations with Neoplatonism, nor are there any. Of Plato, Horn a new and revolutionary view of the history of Platonism. It was the
says that he had no method or system, and that in his Dialogues he at- posthumous work of Johannes Gerhard Voss (Vossius), De Philosophorum
tributed too great an authority to other persons such as Socrates, and Sectis. 395 Although the auther was one of the great luminaries of con-
52 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUli1ANARUM LI=ERARUM 52

temporary classical philology, this little book does not add to his glory, Leibniz
for it is a brief, laconic outline, rather confused, and evidently lacking
the finishing touch, as its editor, Vossius's son Isaac, apologetically ad- We do not know if, in his youth, Leibniz ever read Vossius's book
mitted.396 As Vossius had died in 1649, that year constitutes the terminus though that is by no means improbable, as he always was a true hellu~
ante quem, but we do not know how many years earlier the book was written. librorum. In any case, the most interesting expressions, though for natural
It opens with lists of the various philosophic schools (sects) and their reasons not the most influential ones, of the growing distrust of the Neo-
adherents in chronological order.397 The Platonists are divided into the platonic interpretation of Plato can be found in Leibniz.402
Old Academy - from Plato398 up to and including Crantor - the Second In 1670, Leibniz published a reprint of Nizolio's De veris principis,403
Academy - from Arcesilas to Hegesippus - the Third Academy - which he supplied with notes. In one of them, Leibniz declared that he
Carneades and Clitomachus - the Fourth Academy - Philo and Char- who desires a proof of Plato's most profound philosophy should not read
mides - and the Fifth, which concists of Antiochus alone. Then follow the the interpreters, even the ancient ones, >>magnam partem in turgidum
>>Platonici iuniores>>: Philo Iudaeus, Plotinus, Porphyry, Alcinous, Apuleius, ampullosumque sermonem ineptientes>>, but read the Parmenides and
Calcidius, Iamblichus, Proclus, Bessarion, Gemistus Pletho, and l\'Iarsilio the Timaeus themselves, where God and Nature are admirably explicated.404
Ficino. The chronological confusion may be due to the carelessness of As has been rightly pointed out, this statement is ambiguous, for Leibniz
the editor - for instance the author can hardly have put Plotinus before sticks to the traditional, Neoplatonic exaltation of these two Dialogues,
Apuleius - but what is of interest is the way in which the Neoplatonists at the same time as he rejects the >>interpretes veteres>>.4os
and their forerunners are brought together and separated from other Later on, Leibniz's opposition to the traditional interpretation of
Platonists. Still more interesting, however, is the list of what Vossius Plato becomes still more outspoken. In a letter to the Abbe Foucher who
calls the school of Potamon. This philosopher, whose works have all been had tried to renew the Academy - interpreted in a Christian spirit406
lost and about whom very little is known. 399 - a contemporary of Augustus? - Leibniz voices a criticism of Ficino which is fairly identical with the
- tried to combine Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism. Hence his criticism we know from Fleury's Discours sur Platon, published in the
philosophy was called >>Eclecticism>>, and Vossius also uses the term >>Eclectic same year, 1686. About Ficino, Leibniz says disparagingly that he only
school». To this school he assigns Potamon, Sotion, >>Ammonius Plutarchi speaks about >>Ideas, Worldsouls, Mystic Numbers, and suchlike matters>>,
magister>>, Plotinus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Gregory Thaumaturgus, and instead of trying to analyse Plato's notions. 407
Origines. We notice that Plotinus thus appears in two lists. In the text, This criticism recurs in an unfinished work, Scientia Generalis Oha-
Vossius justifies this by asserting that Plotinus was not alien to the Eclectic racteristica, of uncertain date. 408 But there it is extended to embrace the
school, 400 adducing as evidence what Porphyry had said about his Master, ancient Neoplatonists who are mentioned by name. Leibniz begins by
viz. that >>his writings are full of concealed Stoic and Peripatetic doctrines. declaring that our knowledge of Plato should be founded on his own words,
Aristotle's Metaphysics, in particular, is concentrated in them>>. 401 not on Plotinus or Ficino, who in their vain craving for the mystical and
This statement was, of course, well-known to scholars. Ficino had marvellous have corrupted his teaching - a circumstance which, to Leib-
duly translated it, and generations of modern Platonists had read it without niz's astonishment, scholars have hardly observed. >>Not without wonder
any qualms. Now suddenly it was used as an argument against the Plato- at human vanity>>, has Leibniz noticed to what extent later Platonists
nism of Plotinus. True, Vossius had not le courage de son opinion, for he corrupted Plato's excellent ethics, politics, dialectics, metaphysics, etc.,
continued to consider Plotinus a Platonist, too. Even more strange, he by falsely interpreting his metaphorical and poetical expressions and
did not include Plotinus' followers among the Eclectics. On this point, >>overcharging them with many new dreams>>. For these men - Plotinus,
too, later schoolars were to draw the conclusions Vossius, for whatever Porphyry, Iamblichus, Philostratus, Proclus, et alii - were addicted to
reason, had not drawn. Nevertheless, the significance of his short and superstitions and boasted of miracles, out of vanity or because they wanted
contradictory statements should not be underrated. For the first time to compete with the Christians. What a contrast to the deep, clear, simple
- as far as we know - one of the great masters of classical philology teaching of Plato himself! Therefore, Leibniz has always wondered, why
had publicly expressed doubts about the purity of Plotinus' Platonism nobody has given us >>a system of Platonic philosophy>>, for Francesco
and tentatively assigned him to the Eclectics. We shall see that Vossius' Patrizzi - a man of no mean ability - had corrupted his mind by the
words did not fall upon deaf ears. 401 a study of the >>Pseuclo-Platonists>>. Leibniz ends his remarks on Plato
54 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 55

by praising the doctrine of Ideas, and by expressing his regret that such from Christian sources, though they spoiled it by their luxuriant imagi-
a sublime and true teaching )>has for so long a time lain covered by futilities)>. nations.416
I n his last years, Leibniz several times repeated his wish that ))Some This way of explaining the undeniable parallels between Christianity
ingenious persom would put Plato's thought into a system. 409 Judging and Neoplatonism is well-known to us, particularly in the case of Dio-
from other utterances by Leibniz on Plato, we may suspect that this nysius the Areopagite.417 But with this explanation Olearius combines
system would have strongly resembled Leibniz's own philosophy. 410 a second, as well-known as the first, viz. that at least some of the parallels
All these statements are certainly of great interest. But we must never and similarities are due to the fatal influence of Neoplatonism - or, as
forget that, except for the note in the edition of Nizolio, none of them he says, Eclecticism - on Christianity. Olearius wholly shares the distrust
was known to other contemporary readers than - in some cases - Leib- of pagan philosophy - common especially among Protestant theologians
niz's corresponder,ts. The most important of them occurs in a work which - which we have encountered earlier. 418 It is, he says, impossible to
was not printed until1890. This circumstance strongly limits their influence. deny that many philosophic ideas have been imprudently accepted by
Nor is it right to assert, like Ernst Cassirer, that Leibniz was the first theologians, to the great detriment of Christian simplicity, and that such
E uropean thinkers who had liberated himself from the conception of a mixture of Platonic, Aristotelian, and Pythagorean notions with the
Plat onism formed by the Florentine Academy and seen Plato with his teaching of Christ and the apostles has given birth to various kinds of
own eyes,411 for that can be said also of Ioannes Serranus. It must further- error in the Church. 419 Thus Eclecticism - i.e., Neoplatonism - emerges
more be added that the )>Florentine)> interpretation never went unchallenged, as the villain of the history of Christian doctrine. 420
for it was always counterbalanced by the sceptical one. The great name
of Leibniz should not entice us into exaggerating his place in the history
of Plat onic interpretation. In it, far humbler minds have played a grea- Mosheim
t er role.
This view of Neoplatonism was soon to be developed at length, with
Olearius greater learning and greater vehemce, by a scholar whose authority and
fame made him one of the leaders of European Protestant theology in
One of them is Gottfried Olearius, philologist and theologian, professor the first half of the eighteenth century, Johann Lorenz von Mosheim,
at Leipzig, 412 who in 1711 published a Latin translation of Stanley's History )>the father of modern ecclesiastical historiography)>. 422
of Philosophy, 413 corrected and provided with several supplements, one Like Olearius, Mosheim expressed his opinion of Neoplatonism in
of which deals with the Eclectic school. 414 Though dull and full of theo- additions made to his Latin translation of an English book on philosophy,
logical bias - Olearius was a very pious man - this short study is of in this case, Cudworth's True Intellectual System of the Universe, which
importance, for in it the view of N eo platonism - suggested by Vossius who he published in 1733. 422 He attached long notes to Cudworth's text in
is quoted several times by Olearius - is fully developed. 415 which he not only explained but often criticized the author's statements
To Olearius, the Neoplatonists are all Eclectics; he silently deprives in detail.
than of the very name )>Platonists)> to which they laid claim. Their founder In one of his notes, 423 Mosheim sharply attacked Cudworth for failing
was not Plato but Potamon, whose teaching was revived by Ammonius to distinguish between Plato himself and the )>younger Platonists)> in the
Saccas. The latter was himself a Christian and taught Christian scholars, second, third, and fourth centuries, who made up a system from Plato's
e.g., Origines, but his most famous disciple, Plotinus, was, like the latter's remarks on gods and divine matters and adapted them to their own dry
successors, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, etc., a bitter foe of Christianity. and falsely subtle notions. It is most injudicious to search for Plato's
Thus - unlike Vossius - Olearius severs the ties between Platonism religious opinions in books such as Proclus' Platonic Theology, for these
and Neoplatonism, which to him is an incoherent mixture of many kind::: books expose not what Plato really taught but what he was made to teach
of philosophy, with Platonism and Pythagoreanism as the dominating by men )>inflated by metaphysical dreams)>, who always opposed Plato
elements, and with borrowings from Christianity, too. Above all, what to Christ and tried to find a new way of impeding the progress of Chris-
later Eclectics, such as Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus, say about tianity. )>That family)>, as Mosheim contempuously calls the Neoplatonists,
unworldliness, asceticism, and the mind's elevation to God emanates did not follow any certain method in interpreting Plato and so they arrived
56 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato ~ COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52

at the most divergent results. That, however, was due to their own mis- to Socrates the doctrines he himself had imported from Egypt or learned
guided ingenuity but also to Plato's own incredible obscurity and in- from the Pythagoreans. Still worse, being himself )>by nature not too well
constancy. 424 constituted nor very chaste and modest)>, and wanting to avoid disrepute,
Having thus dismissed both Plato and the Neoplatonists, Mosheim Plato made Socrates a participator in his own ignominy, as appears from
returned to the charge in a special study On the Perturbations of the Church )>the lascivious discourses)> Socrates delivers in the Symposium and the
due to the later Platonists, which he had published as early as 17:25 but Phaedrus. Nor can Mosheim approve of the way in which the philosophic
now reprinted in an enlargened and corrected form. 425 The very title ex- rulers in the Republic use lies in the education of the citizens.432 To him,
presses Mosheim's viewpoint. Like Olearius and other theologians prior the circumstance that Neoplatonism is worse than Platonism, does not
to him, he sees in Platonism, especially Neoplatonism, the root and source imply that Plato's own philosophy is to be recommended to Christians.433
of all kinds of errors and evils, not only in the doctrines, but also in the Here speaks the Protestant theologian's deep distrust of any secular
rites, disciplines, and institutions of the Christian Church. philosophy. 434
Mosheim follows Olearius, whom he quotes with approval, in regarding
Potamon as the founder of the Eclectic school, which, owing to its free
and critical attitude to the different philosophic schools, attracted Chris- Brucker
tians. But with Ammonius Saccas the situation changed. Born a Christian,
he became an apostate and a most bitter foe of Christianity. Under his Being an ecclesiastical historian, Mosheim dealt with Neoplatonism
guidance, Eclecticism became anti-Christian, and its adherents began to and its interpretation of Plato, even with Platonism itself, only in so far
call themselves Platonists, though they did not always follow Plato, whose as they played a part in the history of the Church. All the same, his views,
philosophy they mingled with many other philosophies, inventions of expressed in an often reprinted work, 435 carried great weight, not least
their own, and thefts from Christianity, the better to combat it, a hatred with a younger contemporary of his, who finally produced the exhaustive
of Christianity being the very soul of this )>younger Platonism>>. 426 history of philosophy the age was expecting, Jacob Brucker. 436
Mosheim does not deny that several of these philosophers, especially Brucker's Critical History of Philosophy from the First Beginnings
Plotinus, had very subtle minds or that not all of their doctrines are to of the World to our Times 437 is imposing by its mere bulle five large quartos
be despised - for many of them are taken from the Christians - but in heavy Latin, not, however, without very personal accents. It is a work
he declares solemnly that he does not know of any philosophic school of immense learning: the author seems to have read every possible book
which so preferred its own illusions and imaginations to sound reason, on his subject. It leaves Horn's and Stanley's works far behind. Even
so mendaciously interpreted ancient philosophers and myths, as to make the more complete and more modern account which the French poly-
them serve their cause, was so full of bitter hatred of Christianity and graph, Andn)-Francois Boureau-Deslandes, had recently published, 438 is,
desire to crush it. 42 7 No wonder, that Mosheim attributes the invention compared with Brucker's work, a superficial compilation, though it is
of such a philosophy to the Evil One himself. 428 anmittedly far easier to read in its fluent eighteenth century French. 439
The greatest danger of this philosophy did not lie in its direct attacks Nor is Brucker's learning uncritical. 440 True, he devotes more than
on Christianity but in the subtle way in which it insinuated itself into ten large pages to )>Antediluvian philosophy)> 441 but only in order to banish
the Church. For many Christians did not realize how pernicious this school this ghost once and for all. And the more than 300 pages which treat of
was but tried on the contrary to mingle Christian faith and Plat~nic philo- )>Barbarian philosophy)> - so dear to Horn - conclude that there was
sophy.429 Mosheim's subsequent discussion of this )>Platonizing)> of the no such philosophy. True philosophy begins with the Greeks. 442 In Brucker
Church may in this context be omitted; it is a contribution to an old and - unlike Horn but also Stanley - we breathe the air of the Enlightenment.
heated debate, well-known to us.430 But it is a Christian Enlightenment. Being, like Mosheim - the ))Celeber-
But this severe indictment of Neoplatonism and its interpretation rimus Mosheimius)> he loves to adduce 443 - a Lutheran theologian and
of Plato does not work in the favour of Plato. Unlike Serranus, whom educator, Bruckar narrates and judges the history of philosophy from
he must have known, 431 Mosheim does not distinguish between Plato and a moderate but firm Protestant viewpoint, with a preference for a prudent
the )>younger Platonists)> out of any special sympathy for the former. Eclecticism which enables us to select the best from all philosophies and
At the end of his study, he severely criticizes Plato for having ascribed submit ourselves to the teaching of Christ. 444
58 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 59

But though Brucker freely criticizes the philosophies of which he Even Theophilus Gale's belief in a purified Platonism which could be
treats, he takes great pains to give as substantial and correct an account made to agree with Christian teaching, is stigmatized as having >>sacra
of them as possible. In this way, his book becomes a mine of information, cum profanis confudisse>>, and poor Gale - >>a pious and learned man
freely used by later scholars, who did not hesitate to abuse him for his but, as then was the way of English theologians, attributing an insan~
lack of a truly philosophic viewpoint. 445 His treatment of the philosophers and exaggerated value to ecclesiastical antiquity>> - is accused of having
is still that of Diogenes Laertius: the historical and biographical sections mistaken Plato's true doctrine for that of later Platonists, being deceived
are well separated from the doxographical ones. Only too often, Brucker by Electicism, disguised as Platonism. 459
shows himself unable to give a coherent picture of a thinker or a philo- But neither is Brucker willing to accept the interpretation of the New
sophy; this is precisely the case with Plato. 446 Academy, in which he sees an apostasy from Plato, whose teaching had
Brucker's rejection of the traditional interpretations did not make hitherto been faithfully preserved in the Academy. 460 At the utmost,
his difficult task easier. In a work of his youth, Philosophic History of Brucker concedes hesitatingly that in his oral teaching, Arcesilas may
the Doctrine of Ideas, 441 he had criticized the Neoplatonic interpretation have remained true to Plato.461
as represented by Marsilio Ficino, and voiced a general distrust of the Having thus rejected the traditional interpretations of Plato, Brucker
commentators of Plato.44S finds himself obliged to give an interpretation of his own, in accordance
When twenty years later he returned to the subject, Brucker was with his principle that a reconstruction of a philosopher's opinions should,
strongly impressed by Mosheim's sharp attack on the Neoplatonists which if possible, be based on his own sayings, not on the statements of later
he often quotes with approval, as well as that by Olearius. Thus, the writers, who perhaps have purposely distorted his philosophy, as the
nearly 300 pages on the Eclectic school449 become one long, furious indict- Alexandrian Eclectics did with Plato and Pythagoras. 462 But to Brucker,
ment of the Neoplatonists. If Potamon was a sage, his school died with the admirer of Leibniz and the contemporary of Christian Wolf, to recon-
him, and Ammonius Saccas made of Eclecticism, which he falsely called struct a philosopher's thought means to construct a system from his writings,
Platonism, a weapon against the faith he hated with the hatred of an first extracting the general principles on which all his doctrines are based
apostate. 450 and then drawing from them the logical conclusions which constitute
It is the opinion of Mosheim which Brucker here expresses with even the whole body of his philosophy.463
greater vehemence, 451 which also appears in the judgments he passes The circumstance that Brucker imposes upon himsel± the task of
on Ammonius' disciples and successors. They are all - from Plotinus constructing a system of philosophy from the Dialogues alone, 464 implies
to Proclus and Olympiodorus - madmen, liars, impostors, vain and that he is confronted with the main problem of Platonic interpretation.
foolish forgers of a most detestable and false philosophy. 452 Brucker's For a long and bitter experience has proved the difficulty, if not the im-
indignation does not, however, keep him from giving a conscientious possibility, of such an enterprise.465 It must be said to his credit, that
and detailed account of the philosophy of these >>pseudo-Platonists>>, Brucker - unlike many later scholars - is fully aware of this difficulty,
heavily stressing the Oriental element in it and its essentially un-Platonic even if his explanation of it remains unsatisfactory.
character, which especially manifests itself in the doctrine that everything, Brucker deals with the problem in the ten pages of >>General obser-
even Matter, emanates from God - so contrary to the original Platonic vations on Plato's philosophy and the causes for his obscurity>>. 466 He
dualism. 453 Consequently, this philosophy should be called Syncretistic lists no less than eight causes. First, the secrecy which - in contrast
rather than Platonic.454 with Socrates but inspired by the example of Pythagoras - Plato main-
Brucker repeats this judgment when speaking about the Platonism tained, reserving his innermost thoughts for his disciples. Secondly, the
of the Fathers455 and about the Areopagite whom he naturally rejects way in which Plato expressed his opinions. Using the dialogue, he avoided
as inspired by the follies and inventions of the Neoplatonists. 456 Nor is to state his own opinions openly, preferring to refute those of others.
he more lenient towards modern Platonists such as Ficino who, compared Thirdly, his poetical and ambiguous style. Fourthly, his mathematical
with Plato and Plotinus, will be found more Plotinian than Platonic. 457 and geometrical way of arguing. Fifthly, his exaggerated and inconsistent
In the same way, Brucker is sharply critical of the Cambridge Platonists. subtility. Sixthly, the contradictions caused by his appropriation of
Though appreciating their learning and piety, he rejects their attempt mutually incompatible ideas of earlier philosophers. If we only liberate
to mingle Platonism - in reality, Eclecticism - and Christianity. 458 ourselves from >>the vile prejudice of authority which during so many
60 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMA.c'fARUM Lr=ERARUM 52 61

hundred years has swayed the minds)>, we realize that Plato's philosophy in his naive and honest way bitterly about the difficulty of giving a true
is nothing but a contradictory mixture of the systems of Pythagoras picture of Plato's philosophy. 4 69
and Heraclitus. Plato tried in vain to combine Pythagoras' belief in eternal, All the same, Brucker's contribution to the development of Platonic
unchanging Numbers - which he called Ideas - with Heraclitus' belief interpretation is of the highest importance. His rupture with a millennia!
in a perpetual Mutability. The seventh cause for Plato's obscurity are tradition is radical and final. The rejection of the Neoplatonic interpre-
the changes the Academy suffered - a circumstance which makes the tation, so long prepared, is now carried out, ruthlessly and effectively;
interpretation of Plato still more difficult, as it increases our perplexity its aporetic consequences openly admitted. And this work of destruction
about his real meaning. These seven reasons would have been amply occurred not in a learned paper, read only by the initiated, but in a manual,
sufficient to render the interpreter's task immensely difficult. But, says which, despite its size and language, was for several generations to be read,
Brucker with a sigh, there is never enough of evils. For )>the execrable used, and plagiarized everywhere in Europe.
pest of syncretism)>, which has always been detrimental to philosophy,
has been especially noxious to an understanding of Plato.
Mter this parting shot at the Neoplatonists, Brucker proceeds to give The Zedler
a detailed account of Plato's philosophy, systematically divided into
Dialectics, Metaphysics, and Physics, and expressed in short, clear para- In Brucker's own country, Germany, the reception of his view of Plato
graphs, each of them carefully provided with references to loca probantia even preceded the publication of the Historia critica. For Brucker had
in the Dialogues. A closer analysis of Brucker's reconstruction - or rather earlier published a book in German, which can be considered a roughdraft
construction - of Plato's system is not to the present purpose; it suffices of the Latin work, Kurtze Fragen aus der philosophischen Historie, von
to say that Brucker on the one hand rejects the Neoplatonic interpretation Anfang der Welt bis auf unsere Zeiten, 470 in over 9 000 pages. Though
but on the other hand insists on a great distance between Christianity intended as a textbook, for students - hence the curious exposition by
and Platonism, of which, as we have seen, he entertains a rather unfavour- means of question and answer which makes a quaint impression upon a
able opinion. modern reader - the copious notes testify to the author's learning.
It is to-day easy to perceive the superficial and naive - to some extent This book was used, or rather copied, in the article )>Platonische Philo-
even futile - nature of Brucker's treatment of Plato. 467 He makes no sophie)> which in 1741 appeared in a monumental encyclopaedia, Grosses
attempt to analyse Plato's thought which, in his hands, becomes a heap vollstandiges Universal Lexicon aZZer Wissenschaften und Kunste, Welche
of disparate and contradictory sententice, without any fundamental unity. bishero durch rnenschlichen Verstand und Witz erfunden und verbessert
The belief that Plato must have had a system Brucker shares, indeed, worden, published by Johann Heinrich Zedler in Leipzig. 471 The long
with Hegel and many other interpreters of Plato down to the present day. article 4 72 is wholly based on Brucker, who is often quoted, not only Kurtze
On this essential point, the great enemy of the Neoplatonists appears Fragen but also the Historia de Ideis. The no less than twelve reasons
as their faithful heir. for the obscurity and incomprehensibility of Plato which are listed at
Nor do the reasons for Plato's obscurity which Brucker mentions the beginning are more or less identical with those mentioned in K urtze
indicate any deeper understanding of the problem, for he mostly confines Fragen and the Historia critica.473 And when the unknown author474 finally
himself to repeating old and well-known argument. That Plato kept his says that consequently the history of this philosophy stands on very
true teaching secret - at least in regard to religion - that he choose weak legs and that one should not believe it to be what most people, owing
the form of the dialogue so as not to expose his mind openly, that his to a too high esteem for Plato, have been enticed to believe, then he is
poetical style and ambiguous irony make him elusive and enigmatic, saying precisely what Brucker thought.475 The subsequent list of Plato's
that he was dependent on earlier thinkers - all these arguments could doctrines is also identical with that given in Kurtze Fragen and the His-
be found in Greek and Roman writers and had been repeated since the toria critica. 476 Naturally, Brucker's rejection of the Neoplatonic inter-
Renaissance. 468 Brucker puts them conscientiously together and adds pretation and of Neoplatonism in general is reproduced. 4 77
new arguments of his own, without caring for any inner coherence. Ac- Thus, in a work which may be regarded as the most authoritative
tually, he gives the impression of being at a loss what to do with so queer literary manifestation of the earlier German Enlightenment, the Neopla-
an author as Plato. He cannot make head or tail of him and complains tonic interpretation of Plato was held up to scorn and derision - more
62 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52

than sixty years earlier than Schleiermacher's Introduction. That Plato >>the charlatans of antient philosophy>> - and Brucker is condescendingly
himself did not fare much better, did probably not overmuch worry the praised as one who, >>though not endowed with the spirit of philosophy
German burghers who were the supporters and readers of the Zedler. to that eminent degree which for his arduous and important task was
to have been wished, has yet by his industry, by his erudition, and the
general soundness of his judgment, performed a service of the highest
The Encyclopedie value to philosophy>>. 484 In 1824, the Scottish philosopher, Sir William Hamil-
ton, still considered Brucker's book the best history of philosophy,4ss
At that time, books in German were, however, hardly read outside though by then several other works had published on that subject, especially
Germany, except in Scandinavia. Therefore, the appearance of Brucker's in Germany.
great work in what was still the international language of learning meant
t hat his views on Platonism and Neoplatonism became accessible to all THE NEW SITUATION
Europe. Among his readers and admirers was a man who was soon to edit
an encyclopaedia more famous even than the Zedler, Denis Diderot. 478 In the second half of the eighteenth century, the rejection of the Neo-
The Encyclopedie in general made ample use of Brucker, nor did it platonic interpretation of Plato thus became more and more accepted
conceal its obligation. The article >>Philosophie>> declares that those who by scholars and the general public. Of course, the old belief in that inter -
want to study the matter >>au fond>> would find >>abondamment de quoi pretation did not vanish at once, as the example of Thomas Taylor proves,
se satisfaire>> in Brucker's excellent work. 479 Diderot, indeed, especially but its supporters fought a losing battle. The tide of scholarship and opinion
found in Brucker >>abundantly>> what he needed, when writing his numerous had turned against them. It was now taken for granted that any inter-
articles on the history of philosophy, for many of them are to a great pretation of Plato had to be based above all upon his own works - ex-
extent extracts from the Historia Critica. 480 This is the case of the long clusively even some would have added. This implied a new situation.
articles, >>Eclectisme>>481 and >>Platonisme>>. 482 In the former, Diderot, like For only few were willing to assert with the New Academy and Taylor's
Brucker, praises Eclecticism in principle but inveighs strongly against the Edinburgh reviewer 486 that Plato affirms nothing. Most were, like Brucker ,
eclecticism of the Neoplatonists whom he paints in dark colours, borrowed trying hard to discover some positive teaching in Plato, i.e., a system .
from Brucker. The long survey of their teaching is directly taken from
the latter. In the same way, the account of Plato and his philosophy fol-
lows Brucker closely, the main difference being that Diderot has turned Tiedemann
Brucker's heavy Latin into his own racy French. In this way, Brucker's
rejection of the Neoplatonic interpretation was presented to the many It took some time before scholars clearly realized into what a difficult
readers of the Encyclopedie, half a century before the appearance of Schleier- situation the rejection of the traditional interpretations of Plato had
macher's translation. It is no exaggeration to say that Diderot's adoption placed them. This unconsciousness - or half-consciousness - can be
of Brucker's view made it the opinio communis among cultivated people· studied in Dieterich Tiedemann's comprehensive work, Geist der speku-
lativen Philosophie. 487 As the title indicates, this work is not like Brucker's
a manual but a survey of the history of philosophy down to the writer's
Brucker in England own times, written by a philosopher - professor at Marburg - who was
a follower of Leibniz and Locke but an adversary of Kant and one who
Brucker maintained his authority for a long time. In 1809, The Edin- regarded his subject from the viewpoint of moderate Enlightenment
burgh Review gleefully quoted his worst diatribes against the Neoplato- and a rationalism that was combined with empiricism.488
nists apropos of Thomas Taylor's translation of Plato. 483 Being an ardent Although Tiedemann did not concur in the usual wholesale condem-
admirer of them, Taylor had not hesitated to follow their interpretation, nation of the Neoplatonists,4B9 he accepted the rejection of their inter-
a circumstance which brought down on him the wrath of the reviewer, pretation of Plato,49o without, however, being quite aware of the conse-
expressed in The Edinburgh Review's usual slugger style. The Neoplatonists quences. That Plato had a system, is to Tiedemann so self-evident a fact,
and their unhappy modern follower are reviled - the former are called that he does not even bother to discuss it, but proceeds without more
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES HuMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
64 65

ado to give an account of this system, according to his own concept of big book - over 1200 pages - System der Platonischen Philosophie,496
philosophy. Nor does he, as Brucker tried to do, confine himself to Plato's is the first modern monograph on Plato. Tennemann returned to the
own statements but adduces freely Aristotle, Cicero, Diogenes Laertius, subject in his comprehensive Geschichte der Philosophie, 497 whose Volume
and others. Especially Aristotle is to Tiedemann an authority whose II contains no less than 340 pages on Plato.49S
reliability he hotly defends against ancient and modern critics. 491 The very title of the former work is a programme. Tennemann is as
This confidence in Aristotle manifests itself in Tiedemann's treatment certain as Brucker that philosophy is only possible as a system and that
of doctrines which Aristotle ascribes to Plato but which can be found in Plato therefore must have had one. But he strongly disapproves of Bruc-
the Dialogues only with difficulty or not at all. As we know, this circum- ker's attempt at a reconstruction, which he condemns as a loose, incoherent,
stance still constitutes one of the central problems of Platonic interpre- and incomplete collection of sententiae, whereas Plato's philosophy was
tation,492 and it does Tiedemann credit that he realized it.493 no conglomeration of earlier philosophies, as Brucker believed,499 whose
After having dealt with Plato's philosophy according to the Dialogues, whole, treatment of Plato generally speaking is uncritical and unreliable,
Tiedemann in a final section tentatively attempts a reconstruction of owing to his false, theological perspectives.5oo
those aspects of this philosophy which are not contained in Plato's extant For in Tennemann we meet with a spirit very different from that of
writings, 49 4 complaining about the scantiness and obscurity of the evidence. Brucker. The latter had been a pious Lutheran theologian, whereas Tenne-
For Plato kept those doctrines secret, out of the >>Geheimnissucht>> he mann was a fervent adept of Kant's philosophy, the >>Critical Philosophy>>
had learnt from the Pythagoreans. The doctrines turn out to be >>eine as he calls it, according to the Master's example. This new philosophy,
allgemeine Theorie von den Principien aller Dinge>>, a sort of ontology, Tennemann declares, has given us an infallible criterion, according to which
wherein Plato tries to deduce everything, even the Ideas, from one or we can understand and judge all earlier philosophies and demonstrate
two principles - an enterprise which the Lockean Tiedemann finds very their virtues and vices. The more truth a system contains, the closer it
foolish. He has no sympathy for the esoteric teaching which, on the authority approaches to the Critical Philosophy. This applies also to Plato.50l
of Aristotle, he ascribes to Plato, but what is of interest in this context As usually happen in such cases, the difference between Brucker's
is the fact that he feels himself compelled to do so. and Tennemann's views of Plato is not quite as great as Tennemann wants
Still more interesting, from our point of view, is that Tiedemann thus his readers to believe. On some essential points, their position is identical.
endowes Plato with a doctrine of first principles which, so to speak, crowns With Brucker Tennemann shares the radical rejection of the Neoplatonic
his philosophy. This ressembles strongly the views of the modern Esoterists interpretation. It is to him a product of wild enthusiasm; >>die neue pla-
who also base their reconstruction of Plato's >>Prinzipienlehre>> on secondary tonische Philosophie>> was in fact neither Platonic nor a philosophy. 502
sources, in the first place, Aristotle. But Tiedemann differs from them When many years later Tennemann gave an account of the Neoplatonic
in being better aware ot the difficulty of constructing a coherent system philosophy in his Geschichte der Philosophie, 50 3 it was as unfavourable
from the obscure and fragmentary statements in Aristotle and other con- as that in Brucker's Historia critica. Nor is Tennemann more favourable
temporary and later writers. Accepting Aristotle's account of these Platonic to Ficino and other modern Platonists than Brucker had been. 504 Further-
doctrines, Tiedemann also accepted Aristotle's negative evaluation of more, Tennemann entirely agrees with Brucker that an account of Plato's
them. On this point, too, the difference is great between Tiedemann and philosophy must be based above all on his own works, and he even cri-
his modern successors. ticizes Brucker for not having strictly followed this principle. 505 For his
own part, Tennemann declares that, if Plato's works were not extant,
Tennemann we could hardly form even a vague idea of his . philosophy from the state-
ments of other writers.5os What they tell us is mostly unreliable; even
To Tiedemann, the account and the discussion of Plato's philosophy Aristotle's testimony is questionable.5° 7 Only after having carefully made
was only one section, though a large one, in his history of philosophy, use of Plato's own writings, are we entitled to search for some useful con-
More important and far more exhaustive was the reconstruction of Plato's tributions to our knowledge of him in his commentators and other authors. 508
philosophy, conceived as a more or less complete system, by the philo- This means that Tennemann is confronted with the same problem as
sopher and classical scholar, Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann, professor at Brucker. Granted that, being a philosopher, Plato, had a system, and
Jena and then at Marburg, where he succeeded to Tiedemann.495 His that the traditional interpretations of his philosophy are false, 509 how
66 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LI=ERARUM 52

are we to reconstruct this system from the Dialogues alone, which at Tennemann's argumentation seems to have come to a dead end. The
any rate are apparentiy quite unsystematic? Like Brucker, Tennemann Platonic system cannot be found in the Dialogues which nevertheless
admits that the task is very difficult. After a rather perfunctory discussion constitute the only true source of our knowledge of it. The dilemma created
of the authenticity and chronology of Plato's work - we may note that by Tennemann the classical scholar is solved by Tennemann the Kantian
he accepts the Amores, the Alcibiades Minor, the Epinomis and all the philosopher. Mter all, the Dialogues do contain fragments of Plato's system
Epistles as Platonic - Tennemann gives an account of the main causes which can be collected and put together, >>wenn man sie nach dem Zweck
of Plato's obscurity which reminds us strongly of Brucker's. 510 und dem obersten Grundsatz, wortiber wir doch aus seinen Schriften
First, Plato considered the general public unable to understand his einige Kenntniss erlangen, verbundet und anordnet>>. 523 We have only
philosophy. 5u Secondly, a free discussion of many matters, especially to read Plato in the light provided by the Critical Philosophy.
political and religious ones, was dangerous. 512 For that reason, Plato made Reading Plato in this spirit, Tennemann subjects the Dialogues to
use of the dialogue form which he had learnt from the dramatists and a systematization as ruthless and as selfconfident as the Neoplatonic
Socrates and which enabled him to state his views indirectly. 513 Unfor- one, for only thus can he >>die Gedanken von ihrer Einkleidung und ihrem
tunately, though his Dialogues are great works of art, they are very unsatis- ausseren Gewande absonderm>. 524 He declares it necessary to assume that
factory from a philosophic viewpoint, for they render it more difficult a philosopher always intends to express a rational, or at least thinkable,
to find out Plato's real opinion, especially as he so often expresses himself sense, which can be discovered >>by due means>>. And with a naive frankness,
sceptically, ironically, or poetically, as in his myths, invented in order sorely lacking in his modern successors, Tennemann states that in recon-
to please the imagination of the great public. 514 structing Plato's thought, one often finds oneself >>in dem Faile, dass man
Thus, at first sight, the Dialogues seem to contain no system at all.515 ihm gleichsam helfen muss, in dem er sich nicht so ausdrtickte, als die
But Tennemann refuses to be content with so negative a conclusion: Idee, welche ihm vorschwebte, erforderte>>. 525
Plato had a system. Only, it is not to be found in the Dialogues, at least Like many modern scholars, Tennemann pretends to understand
not directly, for they contain no more than fragments of it, intelligible Plato better than the latter understood himself. Looking down upon poor
to him alone who knows the system beforehand. 516 For Plato never intended Plato from the summit of Enlightenment and Kantianism, Tennemann
to expose it in his writings but reserved it for his oral teaching, in accord- condescendingly asserts: >>man darf sicher annehmen, dass die richtigere
ance with his belief in the superiority of the spoken to the written word, Erklarung welche sich in seinen Schriften vorkommt, auch in seinen Augen
as expressed in the Phaedrus and the S econd and Seven Epistles. 517 The der Vorzug vor den andern behauptete. Nicht selten ist man in dem Fall
existence of such an oral system is evident also from statements in Aristotle dass man dem Plato nachhelfen muss, weil ihm ein Begriff mit gewissen
and some later writers, from which it appears that Plato's secret philo- Merkmalen vorschwebte, den er entweder nicht vollkommen zergliedern
sophy treated of God and His relationship with the world: >>Also war sie oder auch mit Worten beziehen konnte>>.526 If we are inclimed to smile
wahrscheinlich eine Metaphysik oder Ontologie, eine Lehre tiber das Wesen at Tennemann's presumption, let us not forget that he even at this day
der Dinge, und ihren Zusammenhang aus Prinzipiem>.518 But this esoteric has imitators.527
philosophy, so Tennemann believes, must also have embraced logic and Like every scholar who attempts to construct a system of Platonic
ethics, in fact, the whole cosmos of philosophy.519 philosophy, based on the Dialogues alone, Tennemann finds himself con-
So far Tennemann is in agreement with the modern Esoterist. 520 But fronted with the annoying obstacle which Plato's contradictions constitute.
he differs from them - as also from his forerunner Tiedemann - in paying He admits their existence and gives advice - only too well taken by
far less attention to the testimony of Aristotle and other writers about later scholars - how to eliminate them, by regarding them as due either
>>Plato's unwritten doctrines>>, 521 though he refers to the former's state- to different viewpoints, or to different phases of Plato's intellectual develop-
ment about them and to his account of Plato's philosophy. The famous ment, or to the different publics he addressed.5 28 Much of the advice is
lecture On the Good, which plays such a central role in the Esoterists' in itself sound enough and can be accepted by any scholar. But the main
reconstruction of Plato's system is no more than just mentioned by Tenne- trend is to lessen the contradictions as far as possible, in order to achieve
mann.522 His distrust of all secondary sources keeps him from basing his a harmonizing effect, detrimental to a real analysis of Plato's work.
own reconstruction of Plato's system on them. To him, the Dialogues In this way, Tennemann succeeds in constructing a conprehensive sys-
remain the chief expression of Plato's philosophy. tem of Platonic philosophy, the account of which fills the last three volumes

68 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of tho Neoplatonio Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52

of his work. An analysis of this system - divided in a very Kantian way at his word but distinguish between concept (Begriff) and idea (Vorstellung).
into epistemology, theoretical philosophy, and practical philosophy - >>Weiss man aber was das Philosophische ist, so klimmert man sich urn
may here be left at that, the more so as this construction has had very solche Ausdrlicke nicht, und weiss was Plato wollte>>, Hegel says with
little influence on later scholars. Even those of them that accepted the a majestic self-confidence. 541 Whereupon he proceeds to give a survey
notion of an esoteric Platonic philosophy did not necessarily accept Tenne- of the main three parts of Plato's philosophy, dialectic or speculative
mann's >>Kantianisirung>> of Plato, as appears from Coleridge's protests, philosophy, the philosophy of nature, and the philosophy of spiritcor-
but thought, like Heinrich von Stein, that it often lead to a wholesale responding to the main three parts of Hegel's own system. For, as we
>>Entplatonisirung>> of Plato. 530 The way in which Plato's thought is forced know, to Hegel all earlier philosophies lead up to and conclude in Hegelia-
into Kantian categories is a distortion worse than any Neoplatonic mis- nism. Therefore, Hegel, like Tennemann, pretends to understand Plato
interpretation.531 The Neoplatonists had at least a deep admiration for better than he did himself. If we do not find Hegel ridiculous, it is because
Plato and even - whatever we may think about their relationship with in his case there is no such disproportion between Plato and his critic
him - some essential ideas in common. To Tennemann, Plato's philo- as in the case of Tennemann. A great thinker is talking about his equal.
sophy is with all its merits, conscientiously enumerated, 532 a failure, which So far Hegel follows Tennemann. 542 But he refuses to do so in regard
is circumstantially exposed in a final >>Beurtheilung>>. 533 Based on unproved to the second idea which Tennemann had bequeathed to posterity. The
principles, Plato's system lacks real unity, and even if its principles were mere notion of an esoteric philosophy is contemptuously dismissed as
proved, it could not achieve its aim. 534 For it is a rational dogmatism >>silly>> (einfiUtig). 543 Here is seems difficult not to assume a certain influence
which turns pure thought into intellectual intuition.535 It is only a poor of Schleiermacher, much as Hegel detested him - a sentiment cordially
adumbration of the full revelation of Truth in the Critical Philosophy. 536 reciprocated by the latter.544 For in 1804, Volume I of the Plato-translation
Thus Plato is sacrified upon the altar of Immanuel Kant. had appeared, containing the Introduction where Schleiermacher without
But though Tennemann's Kantian interpretation of Plato did not mentioning any names polemizes against Tennemann. On the other hand,
carry conviction, he nevertheless bequeathed two ideas of great importance Schleiermacher's role should not be exaggerated. As we have seen, his
to the Platonic scholars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The attack on the belief in an esoteric Platonism was directed not so much
first was the belief that Plato had a philosophic system. This assumption against any traditional interpretation as against a new interpretation
was, of course, no invention of Tennemann's, for it was more or less shared which had failed to gain support.
by all earlier Platonists, save the New Academy, and can be traced back
to Plato's immediate successors in the Old Academy, Speusippus and
Xenocrates, though it culminated in the Neoplatonists.537 But Tenne- The Esoteric System
mann gave this old assumption new vigour, after the shaking it had been
given by Brucker, who had only half-heartedly ascribed a system to For the assumption that Plato had a complete, closeknit philosophic
Plato, complaining about his obscurities, ambiguities, and contradictions. system, which only occasionally and fragmentarily appears in the Dialogues
Not thus Tennemann, to whom, indeed, Plato was wrong - as every but which was explicated in his lectures at the Academy cannot be found
pre-Critical philosopher was bound to be - but wrong in a systemati- in any ancient writer, as I have shown elsewhere. 545 It is in fact an invention
cal way. of Tennemann's, as he himself seems to have uneasily realized. 546 If, during
his lifetime, this idea did not become popular with scholars, not least
Hegel owing to its rejection by such leaders of opinion as Schleiermacher and
Hegel, it was destined to gain new life and popularity more than a century
This belief in a systematical Plato was soon to gain a supporter, far and a half later. The modern Esoterists are Tennemann's true heirs, though
more famous and influential than Tennemann, Hegel. In his V orlesungen they seem unaware of this fact and rather unmindful of his memory. 547
uber die Geschichte der Philosophie,ssa Hegel declared that Plato was sys- They may, indeed, object that they have not followed him in the attempt
tematical in his oral teaching, 539 and that it is perfectly possible to recognize to construct a system from Plato's written works, but have based their
a system in his writings, even if the dialogue form precludes any systematic construction on those secondary sources Tennemann either rejected or
exposition. 640 But in reconstructing this system, one must not take Plato used very sparingly. Whether by doing so, they have proved themselves
70 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato

more discriminating, is a question which may be left unanswered here.

What in any case they have not done, is precisely what they boast of
doing, viz., restoring the >>traditional>>, i.e., Neoplatonic interpretation,
for that had been destroyed once and for all in the eighteenth century.
The destruction was whole-heartedly endorsed by Tennemann, whose
own systematization of the Dialogues was, however, more akin to the NOTES
Neoplatonists than he realized. For, in contrast to the modern Esoterists,
both believed that a complete philosophic system could be extracted 1 See the account and criticism of the Esoteric interpretation in my Interpreting Plato, to
from the Dialogues, though they differed widely about the character and be published in the Gommentationes.
value of this system. On this point, the Esoterists have generally accepted Thus, e.g., H. J. Kramer, Arete bei Platon und Aristoteles (Heidelberg, 1959), pp. 17ff.,
38lff., 479ff., und Klaus Oehler, Antike Philosophie und Byzantinisches Mittelalter (Miin-
the verdict of modern scholarship and refrained from systematizing the chen, 1969), p. 72 (~Der entmythologisierte Pia tom).
Dialogues, trying instead to depreciate their importance in favour of a Interpreting Plato.
other sources - in direct contrast to the Neoplatonists. 4 Kramer, op.cit. p. 18; Italics mine.

5 Wilamowitz, Platon, I (2d ed. Berlin, 1919), pp. 743f., 748; IP, p. 6; cf. Geschichte der

Philologie (Leipzig, 1959), p. 51.

See, e.g., Hans-Georg Gadamer, >>Schleiermacher platoniciem (Archive• de Philosophie,
32, 1969, pp. 28 - 39). Of the same opinion is C. J. de Vogel, Philosophia, I (Assen 1970 ),
p. 356 (•>On the Neoplatonic Character of Platonism and the Platonic Character of Neo-
platonism>>; originally published in Mind, 1953), where, without mentioning Schleiermacher,
she says: >>a more radical change took place in the nineteenth century: only then was Plato
separated from Neoplatonic interpretation>> .
7 See, e.g., Hans Dorrie, >>Platonismus>> (RGG 3 , V, 1961, cols. 411-415), who says >>erst

Schleiermacher und Eduard Zeller drangen wieder zum V erstandnis Platons selbst vor>>
(col. 415), cf. his article, >>Plato•> (KP, IV, 1971), col. 903.
8 Typical is the great scholar August Bceckh's enthusiastic review (Heidelbergische Jahr-

bucher der Literatur, I: 1, 1808, pp. 81-121 ), where this otherwise very levelheaded critic
exclaims apropos of the Introduction: >>ZU dieser Quelle !asset uns hingehen, ihr Philologen;
verstehen wir das Ganze nicht, wozu frommt uns das Einzelne? Danken wir ihm, dass er
das Verstandniss gelost hat, welches zwey J ahrtausende so nicht losen konnten: von der
Zukunft lasst sich weder Gutes noch Boses verbiirgen; aber hatte er sich ihrer nicht ange-
nommen, wer weiss, wie lange die Philologen noch nach dem Schliissel zum P I a t o n, wie
die Armen nach Brod hatten gehen miissem (p. 84). All the more interesting it is that Boeckh
dissociated himself from Schleiermacher precisely in regard to the latter's denial of an esoteric
Platonic teaching whose existence Boeckh defends with arguments similar to those used
by the modern Esoterists (pp. 85ff), who, however, seem to have overlooked this important
forerunner. Schleiermacher answered in a letter, printed in >>Briefwechsel Schleiermachers
mit Boeckh und Bekker>> (Mitteilungen aus dem Literaturarchiv in Berlin, N.F. 11, 1916,
pp. 25 - 35 ); the long letter (18 June 1808) does not, however, discuss our matter. - Boeckh's
review was reprinted in his Gesammelte Kleine Schrijten, VIj, Kritiken, ed. Ferdinand Ascher-
son & Paul Eichholtz (Leipzig, 1872), pp. 1 - 38. According to the editors (p. 38 n.), Boeckh
later on changed his opinion at least concerning the authenticity of Epistle VII, which he
had adduced against Schleiermacher; he now regarded it as spurious, like all the Platonic
Epistles. See further E. Bratuscheck, >>August Boeckh als platoniker>> (Philosophische Monats·
hefte, 1, 1868, pp. 257 - 349), based on Boeckh's unprinted lectures on Plato; according to
them, Boeckh believed that, like the Pythagoreans, Plato found room for an esoteric element
in his teaching (p. 314).
9 Eduard Zeller, who was highly critical of many of Schleiermacher's theories, never-

theless called his Plato >>a work of genius» (Die Philosophie der Griechen in ihrer geschicht-
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
72 73

lichen Entwicklung, II:1, 6th edition, Hildesheim, 1963, p. 497): a very strong word in Zel- further David Knowles, The Evolution of Medieval Thought (New York, 1962), pp. 30 and
ler's mouth, especially as his own master, Hegel, had spoken so contemptously of Schleier- 337, B. Geyer, Die patristische und scholastiche Philosophic (Ueberweg's Grundriss der Philo-
macher, see below, p. 69 - In contrast to Boeckh, Zeller unreservedly accepted Schleier- sophie, II, 11th ed. Berlin, 1928), pp. 148ff., and M.-D. Chenu, La theologie au douzieme
macher's rejection of the esoteric interpretation (op.cit., II:1 6 , p. 484). In my opinion, the 11iede (Etudes de philosophie medievale, XLV, Paris, 1957), pp. 108ff.
great authority and enduring influence of Zeller's Philosophie der Griechen has been far 17 See op.cit., pp. 27ff., 36ff.
18 It has been discussed in Interpreting Plato.
more detrimental to the cause of Esoterism than Schleiermacher's short and rather obscure
verdict. Zeller, not Schleiermacher, is the real villain of the piece. - It may be added that See especially the many studies by Philip Merlan, in the first place From Platonism
Friedrich Ast, though no friend of Schloiermacher's, had on this point joined hands with to Neoplatonism (3d ed., The Hague, 1968), and >>Greek Philosophy from Plato to Plotinus 11
him, see Platon's Leben und Schriften (Leipzig, 1816), p. 512. in The Cambridge History of Later Greeek and Early Medieval Philosophy (1967), pp. 14-132,
10 It is much to be regretted that Wilhelm Dilthey never finished his Leben Schleier- who points out that what was formerly called '1\fiddle Platonism' is nowadays often called
machers. The First Volume, the only part published by him (1870), stops just before the 'pre-Neoplatonism' (p. 14) . H. Dorrie, »Neoplatonismus» (RGG3, IV), col. 1427, calls Nee-
appearance of the Platotranslation. What now has been published as Volume II (Dilthey, platonism »eino zugloich philosophische als religiose Bewegung, die urn 70 v. Chr. als Platen-
Gesammelte Schriften, XIII:2, ed. Martin Radeker, Giittingen, 1970), contains only frag- Renaissance begann, dann aber sich ins Theologische hintiberwachs». That Merlan traces
ments of the planned chapter on Schleiermacher and Plato (pp. 37-75). Under such cir- 'Neoplatonism' (largiori sensu) back to the Old Academy - if not to Plato himself - whereas
cumstances, the best appreciation of Schleiermacher as a Platonic scholar is still the relevant Dorrie insists upon the difference between Plato and (later) Platonism - »Platonismus&
chapter in Heinrich von Stein's Sieben Bucher zur Geschichte des Platonismus, III (Giittingen, (RGG 3 , V), cols. 413-415 - is not to the present purpose. Cf. also Faggin, >>Neoplatonismo»
1875; reprinted, 1965), pp. 341-375, with the characteristic title, >>Die Wiederherstellung (EF, III, cols. 854-857).
des platonischen Studiums durch Schleiermacher». See Morlan, >>Greek Philosophy from Plato to Plotinus•>, p. 97, apropos of Plotinus.
n Platon, Werke, I:1 (3d ed., Berlin, 1855), pp. 7-17. The Introduction, first published 21 Merlan, op.cit., p. 53.
in 1804, was stilistically slightly revised in the second edition, 1828. I use the recent critical edition of the Contra Academicos by \V. M. Green in Corpus
12 Op.cit., I:1a, p. 13. - The meagre and rather uninteresting remarks in Schleiermacher's Christianorum, Series Latina, XXIX, Aurelii Augustini Opera, II:2 (Turnholt, 1970). Green
L ectures on the history of philosophy (1812), published by H. Ritter in Friedrich Schleier- had earlier edited this work in Stromata Patristica et Mediaevalia, II (Utrecht, 1956); the
macher's Siimtliche Werke, III:1 (Berlin, 1839), add nothing to the point. new edition contains a copious bibliography. I have used the English translation by J. O'Meara
13 On Tennemann, see below, pp. 64ff. - Another possible candidate is D. Tiedemann, (Ancient Christian Writers, XII, Westminster, Maryland, 1950), which has a substantial
see below, pp. 63ff. commentary.
14 For obvious reasons, there is no comprehensive history of either Platonism or Platonic 23 Augustine's knowledge and use of Cicero have been exhaustively treated of in two

scholarship, but see the short surveys by H. Dorrie (quoted above, n. 7), G. Faggin, >>Plato- comprehensive works, Maurice Testard's dissertation, Saint Augustin et Ciceron, I-II (Paris,
nismo>> (EF, III Florence, 1957), cols. 1444-1447, and D. A. Rees, >>Platonism and the 1958), cf. H. Hagendahl's review (Gn, 32, 1960, pp. 428-434), and Hagendahl's own book,
Platonic traditiom (EPh, VI, New York, 1967), pp. 333-341, and furthermore Bruno Nardi, Augustine and the Latin Classics, I -II (Studia Gracca et Latina Gotoburgensia, XX:1-2,
&II platonismo nel medioevo e nell'eta moderna>> (EI, XXVII, 1935, pp. 521-524). The old 1967). Concerning especially the Contra Academicos, see Testard, op.cit., I, pp. 70-129,
work by Heinrich von Stein, Sieben Bucher zur Geschichte des Platonismus, I- III (Giittingen, 172ff., 186ff., 209ff., 23lff.; II, pp. 1-7, 113, and Hagendahl, op.cit., I, pp. 52-70; II, pp.
1862 -75; reprinted Frankfurt, 1965), is still indispensable but very incomplete and out 498-510.
of date, especially Vol. III, which deals with &das Verhiiltnis des Platonismus zur Philo- 24 Contra Aoademicos II 1, 24, 29, III 14.

25 Op.cit., III 35-36. 26 Op.cit., III 36. 27 Op.cit., III 37.

sophie der christlichen Zeitem; it is limited to the West.
16 Raymond Klibansky's short survey, The Continuity of the Platonic Tradition during 28 This small doxographical sketch is mainly taken from Cicero's Tusculan Disputations

the :Middle Ages (London, 1939) - cf. P. 0. Kristeller's review in The Journal of Philosophy, I 16-17, 38-39, and De RePublica, I 16; the former source is indicated in Green's edition,
37 (1940), pp. 409-411 - is still authoritative, the more so as he is the general editor of but oddly enough not the latter, though it was pointod out by Testard, op.cit. II, p. 113.
Corpus Platonicum Medii Aevi. See further Clemens Biiumker, >>Der Platonismus im Mittel- Concerning further possible sources, see Carl Andresen, >>Gedanken zum philosophischen
alter>> and &Mittelalterlicher und Renaissance Platonismus>> (Beitriige zur Geschichte der Philo- Bildungshorizont Augustins vor und in Cassiciacum» (Augu..<tinus, 13, 1968, pp. 77-98),
sophie des Mittelalters, XXV: 1/2, 1928, pp. 139-193), Ernst Hoffmann, &P!atonismus und cf. also Paul Drewniok, De Augustini contra Academicos libris III (Diss. Breslau, 1913 ),
Mittelalter>> (Platonismus und christliche Philosophie, Zurich, 1960, pp. 230-311), and Euge- pp. 72ff.
29 Op.cit., III 37. 3 0 Op.cit., III 38. 31 Ibid.
nio Garin, Studi sul platonismo medievale (Florence, 1958). Several studies on this subject
32 Op.cit., III 41. 33 Ibid. 34 Op.cit., III 43. The quotation is Cicero fr. 21 Muller.
are included in Association Guillaume Bude. Congrils de Tours et Poitiers (Paris, 1954), and
35 As also appears from the contemporary letter to He1mogcnianus, EJJistolae 1, 3,
in tho collection Platonismus in der Philosophie des lt! ittelalters (Wege der Forschung, CXCVII,
Darmstadt, 1969). I do not consider it necessary to ennumerate current textbooks and works quoted by Hagendahl, op.cit., I, p. 504 n. 4. 1\foro than ten years later, Augustine repeated
of reference, but see R. Arnou's comprehensive article, »Platonisme des Peres•>, in DOTh, this opinion in his Confessions V 10, 19 and 14, 25, but even now in an ambiguous way, cf.
XII:2 (1935), cols. 2258-2392, and the bibliographical survey in R. J. Henle, Saint Thomas Hagendahl, op.cit., II, p. 502.
36 The revised edition of the Academica which Augustine used being for the most part
and Platonism (The Hague, 1956), pp. XIIIff.
16 This has been the general opinion of scholars, ever since in the eighteenth century lost, it is difficult to check his statement, but as O'Meara points out: •The quotation given
Neoplatonism was definitely separated from and opposed to true Platonism, viz. to Plato from Augustine [quoted above in the text] does not cover the theory to which he attaches
himself, see, v.g., Baeumker, op.cit., pp. 156, 183ff., and Hoffmann, op.cit., pp. 274ff. See it. It merely states: (1) That the Academics were accustomed to conceal their own view,
74 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 75

and, (2) that they revealed it only to those who lived with them up to old age. It does not Study of the 'Timaeus' in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries>> (Pensamiento, 25, l969,pp.
authorize the statement that the secret doctrine (1) was Plato's, and (2) that they deliberately 183 - 194).
taught an assumed negative one. If Cicero had in fact expounded such an opinion, Augustine 52 On Macrobius in the Middle Ages, see M. Schedler, Die Philosophie des Macrobius

would have quoted him explicitely to that effect>> (Against the Academics, p. 159 n. 73).· und ihr Einfluss auf die Wissenschaft des Mittelalters (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philo-
But these objections were raised already by Rudolf Hirzel, Untersuchungen zu Cicero's philo- sophic des Mittelalters, XII:6, Mtinster i.W., 1916).
sophischen Schriften, II (Leipzig, 1883}, pp. 216ff. The belief of Drewniok, op.cit., pp. 74ff., 5 3 On Dionysius the Areopagite, see below, pp. 2lff.
and Testard, op.cit., II, pp. 6ff., that Augustine was inspired by a now lost section of the 54 Proclus' commentary was discovered by Klibansky and edited by him and C. Labowsky
Academica posteriora cannot be right, as pointed out by Hagendahl, op.cit., II, p. 50 H. in Plato Latinus, III, Parmenides - - - nee non Procli Commentarium in Parmenidem
37 Thus Hagendahl, I.e., but O'Meara, too, thinks so, see op.cit., p. 191 (n. 48). See the (London, 1953) of. Kristeller's review in the Journal of Philosophy, 53, (1956), pp. 196 - 201,
criticism in Andresen, op.cit., pp. 86f., in Eckard Konig, Augustinus Philosophus (Studia See further Klibansky, >>Ein Proklos-Fund und seine Bedeutung•> (SHAW, 1928/29:5}, and
et Testimonia Antiquitatis, XI, 1970), p. 24 n. 19, and especially in Hirzel, op.cit., III, pp. >>Plato's Parmenides in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance» (Mediaeval and Renaissance
pp. 220ff. Studies, I, 1941 - 43, pp. 281 - 380).
3B See the texts quoted in Interpreting Plato. With a reference to Hirzel, O'Meara, l.c .• 55 See Maurice de Gandillac, •>Le platonisme au XII• et au XIII• siede» (Congres de Tour

says that >>there is no relevant evidence in favour of Augustine's view>>. This is misleading, et de Poitiers }, pp. 270ff.
for at least Sextus Empiricus had earlier sources. 56 PL, XXVI col. 401 (In Ep. ad Galatas III 487). But Jerome includes also Aristotle

3 9 Augustine's personal interest in the theory has rightly been stressed by Andresen, - which weakens his statement.
5 7 Petrus Abelardus, Dialectica, ed. L. M. de Rijk (Assen, 1956), p. 91. It is interesting
op.cit., p. 86, against Ragnar Holte, Beatitude et sagesse (Paris, 1962}, p. 99, who denied it,
see his review of Holte (Gn, 39, 1967, p. 21 - 62). and typical of Abailard that he combines this with an attack on Aristotle: >>Qui fortasse,
si et scripta magistri eius Platonis in hac arte novissemus, utique et ea r eciperemus nee
40 There is no comprehensive treatment of the different aspects of Plato and Platonism
forsitan calumnia discipuli de definitione magistri recta videretur>> etc. (I.e.). We are reminded
in Cicero, but see Stein, op.cit., II, pp. 240ff., and several of the papers in Pierre Boyance,
of the many bitter altercations between Platonists and Aristotelians in the XV, XVI, and
Etudes sur l'humanisme ciceronien (Collection Latomus, 121, Bruxelles, 1970}, especially
XVII centuries.
>>Le platonisme a Rome. Platon et Ciceron».
58 See Plato Latinus, I, Meno interprete Henrico Aristippo, ed. V. Kordeuter & C. Labowsky
41 The source of this book is a very controversial matter, of. Merlan, >>Greek Philosophy>>
(London, 1940}, and II, Phaedo interprete Henrico Aristippo, ed L. Minio-Paluello (London,
(above, n. 19}, p. 57, who points out the strictly dualistic character of the Platonism ex- 1950). On Aristippus, see further J. de Ghellinck, L'Essor de la litterature latine au XII 0
pressed there. siecle (I - II, Paris, 1946), II, pp. l7ff., 34lff., Kenneth M. Setton, >>The Byzantine Back-
42 Tusculanae Disputationes I 17,39. This very passage was used in the Contra Academicos,
ground to the Italian Renaissance>> (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 100,
of. above, n. 28. 1956}, pp. l9ff., and the literature quoted by them. On Aristippus as translator of Plato
43 Concerning this aspect of Ciceronian Platonism, I refer the reader to the forthcoming
see P. 0. Kristeller's important reviews of Plato Latinus, I - III, in The Journal of Philo-
Volume II of my Legend of Sparta. sophy, 28 (1940}, pp. 695 - 697 and 53 (1956), pp. 196 - 201.
44 See Testard, op.cit., I, pp. 93ff., l72ff., 232ff.; pp. 274ff. he points out that long after-
5 9 Rightly pointed out by Eugenio Garin, Studi sul platonismo medievale, pp. 3ff., and
wr.rds, in the Epistle CXVIII to Dioscurus (A.D. 410) Augustine r epeats his earlier opinion. especially L'eta nuova (Naples, 1969), pp. 265ff. (•>Platone nel quattrocento italiano>>), against
45 See below, pp. l8ff.
Klibansky, Continuity, pp. 27ff., who believes in a relatively wide circulation of Aristippus'
46 See the survey of the discussion in O'Meara, The Young Augustine (London, 1954},
translations, adducing, e.g., the circumstance that since 1271 they wore accessible to Parisian
pp. l33ff. sohoolmen in the library of the Sorbonne. But he has not proved that they were really read.
47 Thus Pierre Courcelle, Lea lettres Grecques en Occident de Macrobe a Cassiodore (2d
On the contrary, as Garin, L'eta nuova, pp. 266ff., demonstrates in detail, it was the Renaissance
ed., Paris, 1948), pp. l56ff. On the contrary, Andresen, op.cit., pp. 93ff., finds Calcidius' interest in Plato that gave a new life to those old, half.forgotten translations, soon to be
influence probable. superseded by the new Humanist ones. See also Klibansky's own collaborator Minio-Paluello's
Although Courcelle, op.cit., pp. l6lff., following Paul Henry, Plotin et l'Occident (Spici- reservation, >>Il 'Fedone' Iatino con note autografe del Petrarca>> (Rendiconti della Academia
legium Lovaniense, XV, 1934}, asserts that Augustine later on became capable of reading Naz. dei Lincei, Ser. VIII, Vol. IV, 1949), p. 107 n.l., of. R smigio Sabbadini, Le scoperte
that most difficult work, the Enneads, in Greek. This seems hard to believe, but I do not dei codici latini e greci, II (2d ed., Florence, 1967), p. 265.
wish to discuss here the vexed question of Augustine's knowledge of Greek, concerning which so See Interpreting Plato.
see, e.g., H.-I. Marron, Saint Augustin et la Fin de la culture antique (Paris, 1938) and Retrac- 61 For the partial translation of the Parmenides by William of Moerbeke had the same
tationes (Paris, 1949). fortune as Aristippus' translations: of its 5 MSS only one belongs to the 14th century, all
See R. A. Markus, >>Marins Victorinus and Augustine>> (Cambridge History), pp. 343ff. the rest are later, as Garin points out (Studi, p. 3 n.4), of. Plato Latinus, III, pp. XIIff.
Seo O'Meara, Against the Academics, pp. l73ff. (n 61 }, who quotes Epistle CXVIIl 62 As, e.g., in Roger Bacon, Opus Majus, II, od. J. H. Briggs (Oxford, 1897), pp. 274ff.,
17 33. Cf. further Klibansky, Continuity, p. 23. pointed out by Ch. H. Haskins, Studies in the History of Medieval Science (2d ed., Cambridge,
51 l\Iass., 1927), p. 167 n.43. But the reference there to L eopold Gall, Albert des Grossen Ver-
Sec Plato Latinus, IV, Timaeus a Calcidio translatus commentarioque instructus ed.
J. H. vVaszink (London & Leyden, 1962). In his comprehensive introduction Waszink haltnis zu Platon (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, XII:l, 1913),
d eals in detail with the problem of Calcicius' person, time, and sources. Cf. further Waszink, is misleading, because Gall explicitly states that he finds it extremely improbable that Albert
Studien zum Timaioskommentar des Calcidius (Leidon, 1964), and Margaret Gibson, >>The had read the Latin JVeno and Phaedo. Albert's disciple, St. Thomas Aquinas, seems not even
76 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, Tho Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERAR!JM 52 77

to have read the Timaeus, if we are to believe R. J. Henle's careful investigation, Saint See further Sabbadini, Scoperte, IP, pp. 212ff., and Max Manitius, Handschriften antiker
Thomas and Platonism, p. XXI, quoted by Garin, Studi, pp. 3ff. - As to the mention of Autoren in mittelalterlichen Bibliothekskathalogen (B;Jiheft zur Zeitschrift fiir Bibliotheks-
the Phaedo in that section of Gottfried of Vitcrbo's Pantheon (end of the 12th century), wissenschaften, 67, 1935), pp. 19ff.
which has as yet not been critically edited, see Ghellinck, op.cit., II, p. 113. 74 I quote from Clemens C. J. "Webb's editions of the Policraticus, I-II (Oxford, 1909),

63 As Etienne Gilson rightly points out (La philosophie au moyen age, 2d ed. Paris, 1944, and of the Metalogicon (Oxford, 1929). I have used Joseph B. Pike's partial translation of
pp. 325ff. ), the Specula of Vincent and other similar works are >>des ouvrages de vulgarisatiom, the Policraticus, Frivolities of Courtiers and Footprints of Philosophers (Minneapolis, 1938)
not works of scholarship, and their value to the historian consists precisely in >>mirroring>> as well as the translation of the Metalogicon by Daniel D. Me Garry (Berkeley, 1955). The
the average knowledge of their times. greater Entheticus is quoted from the reprint PL, CIC. - The old solid work by C. Schaar-
64 I have used the Speculum Historiale in a copy of the edition by Anton Koberger, Niirn· schmidt, Johannes Saresberiensis nach Leben und Studien, Schriften und Philosophie (Leipzig,
berg, 1483 (Copinger 6248), in KB. On Vincent, see the article by Henri Peltier, DThC,XV:2 1862), is still indispensable. Hans Liebeschiitz's modern monograph, Mediaeval Humanism
(1950), cols. 3026ff., and George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, II:2 (Washing· in the Life and Writings of John of Salisbury (Studies of the War burg Institute, 16, London,
ton, 1931), pp. 929ff. Michel Lemoine's short paper, >>L'oeuvre encyclopedique de Vincent 1950), deals mostly with John's political ideas. See further Birger Munk-Olsen's lecture
de Beauvais& (Cahiers mondiales, 9, 1965/6, pp. 571-579), does not add to our knowledge. »L'humanisme de Jean de Salisbury. Un Ciceronian au 12° siecle», and the subsequent dis-
The old paper by E. Boutaric, &Vincent de Beauvais et la connaissance de l'antiquite classique cussion (Entretiens sur la Renaissance du 12e siecle, Paris, 1968, pp. 53-93).
au trezieme siecle& (Revue des questions historiques, 17, 1875, pp. 5-57), is faulty and super- 75 Policraticus VIII (Webb, II, p. 94 = Pike, p. 217).

ficial, far better is Aristide Marigo, >>Cultura letteraria e preumanistica nolle maggiori enci- 76 L.c. (Webb, II, p. 95 = Pike, p. 218). John repeats his Academic profession Meta-

clopedie del duecento>> (GSLI, 68, 1916, pp. 1-42, 289-326 ). The old account by Pierre logicon II 13-14, 20; III Prologus; IV 7 (Webb, pp. 86ff., 106, 119, 172).
Daunou in Histoire litteraire de la France, XVIII (Paris, 1835), is still very readable and 77 Ibid. VII2 (Webb, II, p. 98 = Pike, p. 221). A similar attack on Academic scepticism

characteristic of its author: learned, acute, and full of contempt for medieval barbarism. Metalogicon II 7 (pp. 72ff. Webb).
65 See the analysis in Marigo, op.cit., pp. 34. 78 Concerning John of Salisbury's philosophic attitude, see Gilson, Philosophie au moyen

66 Cf. Marigo, op.cit., pp. 33ff. age 2 , pp. 274ff., Schaarschmidt, op.cit. pp. 174ff., Liebeschiitz, op.cit., pp. 74ff., and 1\lunck-
67 Marigo's doubt (p. 39), whether the compilers of the Speculum Historiale had any Olsen, op.cit., pp. 64ff.
direct knowledge even of the Timaeus, seems improbable, because of the great accessibility 79 Thus Webb, Policraticus, I, p. XXIX, endorsed by Schmitt, op.cit., p. 36. But later

of the Calcidean translation. on, Webb seems to have changed his mind, cf. Metalogicon, p. XIV. Schaarschmidt did
68 Of Helinand's Chronicle, the section treating of events A.D. 634-1200 can be read, not doubt that John had read the Academica (p. 92).
e.g., in PL, CCXII. Books I-XVI are extant in a MS in the British Museum. See Auguste 80 Webb, Policraticus, I, p. XXXVI, seems doubtful even on this point, but in Metalogicon,
Molinier, Les sources de l'histoire de France des origines aux guernes d'Italie, III (Paris, 1903), p. XVII, he positively says that John used the Contra Academicos, a fact which, indeed,
pp. 89ff. appears from lJietalogicon IV 26 and 34 (pp. 193 and 203). Schaarschmidt entertained no
Go The passage belongs to Book IV Ch. LXXVII: >>de libris platonicis at eius sententia doubt (p. 133).
de i=ortalitate anime>>. Koberger's edition is unpaginated. Instead of >>protagoras&, this 81 Concerning the Entheticus, see the careful analysis in Schaarschmidt, op.cit., pp. 194-

edition has *Pitagoras&, which is due either to a printer's error or to an error in the MS used 211, unknown to Phyllis Barzilay, »'l'he Entheticus de dogmate philosophonum of John of
by Koberger. The form &Phedro& was, however, usual in the Middle Ages, see Garin, Studi, Salisbury& (Medievalia et Humanistica, 16, 1968, pp. 11-29), which is a superficial resume.
p. 107 n.l. It is probably due to a contamination with *Phaedrus&, cf. Giovanni Gentile, 8 2 PL, CXCIX, col. 981.
Opere, XV, Studi sul Rinascimento (3d ed., Florence, 1968) pp. 48ff. 83 Ibid., col. 990. - Needless to say, there has never been an Academic by the name
70 In 1898, Eduard Norden declared: >>Fiir eine G esc hi c h t e Cicero s im Mit- of Antisthenes. Schaarschmidt pertinently says: »unter dem man Carneades vermuthen
t e l a l t e r uns noch so gut wie alles>> (Die antike Kunstprosa, II, 5th cd., Stuttgart, miichte, wenn die vorgetragenen Siitze mit den uns bekannten Ansichten des beredten Cy-
1958, p. 708 n.l ). Sixty years later, Maurice Testard repeated the same complaint (Saint renaers besser stemmtem (p. 205). Carneades is, indeed, mentioned Policraticus VII 13
Augu.stin et Ciceron, I, p. 219 n.l), Still later, at the Fourth Congress of Medieval Philosophy (Webb, II, p. 149), taken from Valerius l\Iaximus VIII 7, ext. 14; the same phrase occurs
in 1967, the necessity of a study of this topic was emphasized, see Gerard Verboke, >>Les sources Speculum Historiale V 27, cf. above, p. 13.
de Ia pensee medievale. Antiquite et moyen age>> (Arts liberaux et philosophie au moyen age, 84 Ib,id., col. 985.
Paris, 1969) , p. 389. - The old classical work of Th. Zielinski, Cicero im Wandel der Jahr- 85 It has sometimes been assumed that the »Grecus interpres•> whom John mentions

hunderte (Leipzig, 1912), does not deal with the Middle Ages. C. Becker's exhaustive article in the Metalogicon (I 15 and III 5, Webb, pp. 37 and 140), having met him in Apulia in 1155-
in RAG, III (1957), naturally confines itself to antiquity. N. E. Nelson, >>Cicero's De Officiis 56 (III Prologus = Webb, p. 117), cf Policraticus VI 24 and VII 19 (Webb, II, pp. 67 and
in Christian thought 300-1300>> (University of Jl,lichigan, Publications, Language and Lite- 173), was identical with Henricus Aristippus, the translator of the !Jleno and the Phaedo,
rature, X, 1933, pp. 59-160), treats of a single theme. See further Ghellinck, op.cit., II, see V. Rose, >>Die Liicke in Diogenes Laertios und der alto Dbersetzer »(II, 1, 1866), pp. 370ff.,
pp. 79ff. followed by M. T. Mandolari,>> Enrico Aristippo, archidiacono di Catania nella vita culturale
Charles B. Schmitt, Cicero Scepticus: A Study of the Influence of the Academica in the e politica del sec. XI >>(Bollettino storico catanese, 4, 1939), pp. 99ff. But there is no real evidence,
Renaissance (International Archives of the History of Ideas, 52, The Hague 1972), p. 34. cf. Webb, Policraticus, I, pp. XXIIIff., and 223, and Plato Latinus, I, p. X. However
See op.cit., pp. 35ff. that may be, there is no proof of John having ever read Henricus Aristippus' Plato-trans-
See the survey of the MSS by Otto Plasberg, .M. Tulli Ciceronis Scripta quae man- lations, as already Schaarschmiclt, op.cit., pp. ll6ff., pointed out.
suerunt'a<~c. 42. Academicorum reliquiae cum Lucullo (BT, Leipzig, 1922), pp. XVI ff. 86 The latter seems to have been the case of Henry of Gent, see Schmitt's treatment
78 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES H UMANARUM LITTERARUM 52

of his Summa - end of XIII century - op.cit., pp. 39ff. - In this context, the medieval 14, 1952, pp. 59-65), and >)II Petrarca, l'umanesimo e la scolastica>) (Lettere italiane, 7,195
translation of Sextus Empiricus', Pyrrhonian Hypotheses (XIII century?) is of some interest, pp. 367-388).
see H. l\Iutschmann, »Die t!berlieferung der Schriften des Sextus EmpiricuS>) (Rheinisches 94 Prose, pp. 750ff. = Nachod, pp. 107ff.
llfuseum, N.F. 64, 1909), pp. 256ff., >)Zu t!bersetzertatigkeit des Nicolaus von Rhogium>) 95
Prose, p. 754 = Nachod, pp. 110ff.
(Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift, 31, 1911, cols. 691-693), and the Introduction to 96
Prose, I.e. = Nachod, p. 111. 97 Prose, pp. 754ff. = Nachod, pp. 1llff.
his ed ition of Sextus (BT, I, 2d ed., 1955, pp. Xff). But his attribution of it to Nicoolo da 98
Prose, p. 756 = Nachod, pp. ll2ff. As to Petrarch's knowledge of Greek, see Nolha
Reggio, a well-known translator of medical texts for the Angevine court at Naples in the op.cit., II, pp. 187ff.
first half of the fourteenth century, is hardly right, cf. Fr. Lo Parco, ~Niccolo da Reggio~ 99
After Petrarch's death, Boccaccio stated that in 1359 or 1360 he had seen at Petrarch
(Atti della R, Accademia di Archeologia, Lettere e Belle Arti, Napoli, N.S. II:2, 1913, pp. 271- home Plato's works, >)0 tutti o Ia maggior parte o a lmeno i piu notabili scritti in Iettera
317), and Robert Weiss, ~The translators from the Greek of the Angevin court of Naples~ grammatica greca, in un grandissimo volume>) (Tutte le opere di Giovanni Boccaccio, v
(Rinascimento, 1, 1950, pp. 195-226), who both fail to mention Sextus. I gather that Pro- Esposizioni sopra la Oomedia di Dante, ed. Giorgio Padoan, Verona, 1965, p. 233), quote
fessor Schmitt will treat of the Sextus-translation in the Oatalogus Translationum et Oom- by Marcel, op.cit., p. 301. - Evidently, it was this J\IS which together with many other
mentariorum. of Petrarch's books was acquired by the Visconti library at Pavia, in whose inventori
87 Concerning Renaissance Platonism, see the surveys by Raymond Marcel »Le plato-
of 1426 and 1459 it is mentioned, see Elizabeth Pellegrin, La bibliotheque des Visconti
nisme de Petrarque a Leon l'Hebrem, R. Lebegue, >)Le platonisme en France au XVI• sieclN, des Sforza dues de Milan, au X v• siecle (Paris, 1955), pp. 98 (A 126) and 310 (B 346
and M. de Gandillac, >)Le platonisme, en Allemagne aux XIV• et xve siecles>), in Oongres of. the supplement to Pellegrin's book, published by Tammaro de l\Iarinis (Paris, 1969
de Tours et Poitiers (above, n. 15), a ll with copious bibliographies. As to Renaissance Plato- p. 57. This MS was by Aubrey Diller, >)Petrarch's Greek Codex of PlatO>) (Classical Philolog
nism in Italy, see Eugenio Garin, Storia della filosofia italiana, I (2d ed., Turin, 1966), and 69, 1964, pp. 270 - 271) and E. Pellegrin, »l\IIanuscrits de Petrarque dans los bibliothequ
Giuseppe Saitta, Il pensiero italiano nell' umanesimo e nel rinascimento, I-III (2d ed., Flo- de France>) (ltalia medioevale e umanistica, VII, 1964), pp. 487ff. identified with Cod. Pari
rence, 1960 - 61 ). P. 0. Kristeller's puper, >)Renaissance Platonism>) (Facets of the Renaissance, Grace. 1807, known to the editors of Plato as Codex A. It dates from the ninth century an
Los Angeles, 1959, pp. 87 -107), is short but substantial. contains the eight and ninth Tetralogies, the Definitiones and other Spuria. A facsimile w
88 As long as the Edizione nazionale delle opere di Francesco Petrarca is incomplete - published by Henri Omont (Paris, 1908). - Petrarch speaks of it in Familiares XVIII 2(e
and it will remain so for many a year - references to and quotations from Petrarch's works Rossi, III, pp. 276ff.) and in a leiter to Boccaccio (Varia 22, Opera, p. 369): >)Platonicu
are bound to be a complicated matter. I have naturally used the Edizione nazionale, when volumen, quod o illo Transalpino incenclio eruptum domi habeO>), of. Nolhac, op.cit., II, p. 133
ever I could do so. The works not yet included in it are used either in such modern critical They are now in Bibliotheque Nationale, Codd. Lat. 6280 and 6567A, see Plato Latinus
editions as have appeared, or, where there are lacking, in the Basic Edition of 1581(Henrio- II, p. XII, and IV, pp. CXXf. Cf. Marcel, op.cit., p. 302, and Nolhac, op.cit., II, pp. 140f
petri), of whose unreliability I am well aware. An excellent anthology with a critical text See further L. Minio-Paluello, >)II 'Feclone' Iatino con note autografe dol Petrarca>),quote
and good notes is Fr. Petrarca, Prose, eel. G. Martellotti et alii (La letteratura italiana, storia above, n. 59.
101 See Secretttm (Prose, pp. 756f.), from which passage it appears that this study wa
e testi, 7, Naples, 1955). There is a copious bibliography in Natalino Sapegno's chapter on
Petrarch in Storia della lettemtura italiana, II, Il Trecento (Florence, 1965), pp. 305ff. short and of little importance. - On Barlaam and his relations with Plato, see Giovann
8 9 Concerning Petrarch as a classical scholar, two earlier works are still indispensable, Gentile, >)Le traduzioni medievali di Platone o Francesco Petrarca» (Opere, XV, Studi su
Pierre de Nolhac, Petrarque et l'humanisme, I - IP (Bibliotheque littoraire de Ia renaissance, Rinascimento 3 , pp . 2lff.), Nolhac, op.cit., II, p. 138ff., Marcel, op.cit., p. 301, Garin, Storia
N.S., 1 - 2, Paris, 1907), and Remigio Sabbadini, Le scoperte dei codici latini e greci nei secoli P, pp. 250ff., 280ff., l\I. Jugie, >)Barlaam de Seminara>) (DHGE, VI, Paris 1932, cols 817
XIV e XV, I - II (Florence, 1905 - 141; now to be ret.d in Eugenio Garin's reprint, 1967). 834), E. Impellizari, ~BarlaamO>) (Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, VI, Rome, 1964, pp
But they must be supplemented by many later investigations, see, e.g., Umberto Bosco, 392-397), and Setton, op.cit., pp. 40ff.
102 See, e.g., Familiares, III 18,5 and IV 3,6, ed. V. Rossi, (Edizione nazionale, X, pp
»II Petrarca e l'umanesimo filologico>) (GSLI, 120, 1942, pp. 65 - 119), and Giuseppe Billano-
vich, »II Petrarca e i classici>) (Studi Petrarceschi, VII, 1966, pp. 21-33). 139 and 165), and De otio religiosi, ed. G. Rotondi (Studi e testi, 195, Vatican City, 1958)
p. 65. In the introduction to his edition of the Rerum memorandarum libri (Edizione nazionale
See Nolhac, op.cit., II, pp. 127ff.
XIV, Florence, 1945), p. CXXXIII n.l, Giuseppe Billanovich doubted whether Petrarc
91Concerning Petrarch's Platonism, see the short but penetrating remarks by Garin, possessed other translations of Plato than the Calcidean Timaeus. Subsequently, however
Storia, !2, pp. 249ff., and Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance (Stanford, he abandoned his doubts, see Minio-Paluello, op.cit., p. 107 n 3 - a circumstance whic
Cal., 1964), pp. 9ff. See further It. Marcel, >)Le plt.tonisme de Potrarque a Leon l'Hebrem, has escaped the attention of Armand Tripet, see his Petrarque ou la connaissance de soi (Tra-'
pp. 296ff., Walter Ruegg, Cicero und der Humanismus (Zurich, 1956), pp. 20ff., and Saitta, vaux d'Humanisme et de Renaissance, XCI, Geneva), p. 89 n.4. - Concerning tho tit!
op.cit., !2, pp. 88ff. The subject is also treated of in P. P. Gerosa, Umanesimo cristiano del Phaedro, see above, n. 69. - That Petrarch had no first-hand knowledge of the Republi
Petrarca (Turin, 1966), see espoci&Jly pp. 246ff. appears from a passage in Invective contra medicum II (Prose, p. 664), apropos of the oxpulsio
92The best edition is that by P. G. Ricci in Prose, pp. 710-767, together with an Italian of the poets from the City.
translation and short notes. Unfortunately, it omits some passages, so that L. M.Capelli's 103 Garin, op.cit., !2, p. 250.
old edition (Bibliotheque litteraire de la Renaissance, VI, Paris, 1906) must still be consulted. 104 See Billanovich's edition, pp. 26ff (25). In his copious notes, the editor has given ex-'

I have used Hans Nachocl's English translation in The Renaissanre Philosophy of Man (4th haustive references to the sources.
cd., Chicago, 1956), pp. 47-133. 105 Minio-Paluello suggests that Pctrarch read the Phaedo only at the end of his life (op.cit.,

93 See P. 0. Kristeller, >)Potrarch's Averroists>) (Bibliotheque d'.Humanisme et Renaissance, p. 113). On the other hand, Barlaam died as early as 1348. What Potrarch, Rerum memo-
80 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUAiANARUM LITTERARUM 52

randum libri II 31 (Billanovich, p. 65) says about the >)aliquot Platonis libelli ex ilia greca \Veiss, >)Gli stucli greci di Coluccio Salutati>) (111iscellanea in onore di Roberto Cessi I Roma
in hanc latinam linguam translati>), which prove that you can translate from Greek into Latin 1958, pp. 349 - 356). Ravilo P. Oliver, >)Plato and Salutati>) (Transactions and l?r;ceeding;
without a total stylisticalloss, seems, however, to indicate an early knowledge of the Aristip- of the American Philological Association, 71, 1940, pp. 315-334), is of slight importance.
pean translations. - It must be stressed that Salutati explicitly called Aristotle »princeps ille philosophorum,
lOG So far RUegg is right, when he says: >)Petrarca kennt Plato aus zweiter Hand, durch nee Platonem ut Arpinas [Cicero] excipio» (De laboribus Herculis, ed. B. L. Ullman, Ziirich,
Vermittlung Ciceros und AugustinS>) (op.cit., p. 22). Thus already Georg Voigt, Die Wieder- 1951), p. 4, cf. p. 460.
belebung des klassischen Altertums, I (4th ed., Bsrlin, 1960; the first edition was published See the letters to Andrea Giusti of Volterra (1393) and Giovanni Conversano of Ra.
in 1859), pp. 81ff. Cf. further Gerosa, op.cit., pp. 246ff. venna (1401), in Salutati, Epistolario, ed. Francesco Novati (I-IV, Rome, 1891-1911),
107 Plotinus is mentioned as »ille platonicorum princeps>), Familiares XXIII 5,6 (Edi- II, pp. 444, 449; III, p. 515. - Salutati's copy of the Phaedo is still extant, see Klibansky,
zione nazionale, XIV, p. 170); called >)ingens PlatonicuS>), De vita solitaria I (Prose, p. 340), Continuity, pp. 29ff. It contains the Timaeus, too. See further Plato Latinus, II, p. XIII,
and, following Macrobius, >)inter philosophic professores cum Platono princepS>), Ibid. II and IV, p. CXXVII.
(op.cit., p. 526). Petrarch had, of cources not read Plotinus. In 1405, P. P. Vergorio mentioned this translation in a letter to Salutati (Epistolario,
108 To the praises of Plato, quoted above, may be added Familiares IV 15, 8; XVIII 2, IV:2, p. 366), who seems to have got access to it, to judge from Epistolario IV:1, p. 84, cf.
11; XIX 3, 25 - 26; XX 10, 6 (Edizione nazionalo, X, p. 190; XII, pp. 277 and 317; XIV, Ullman, op.cit., pp. 245ff.
p. 127); De remediis utriusque fortunae I 49, (Prose, p. 628); De otio religioso, pp. 70ff. In See especially the comprehensive survey by Eugenio Garin, >)Richerche sulle tradu-
Triomfo della fama III 4-7 (1352), Plato precedes Aristotle. On the other hand, Plato's zioni di Platone nella prima mota del sec. XV» (111edioevo e Rinascimento. Studi in onore di
homosexuality scandalized Petrarch, see De remediis I 49 (Prose, p. 628) and 69 (Opera, Bruno Nardi, FlorJnce, 1955, I, pp. 339-374), of. Storia dellafilosofia italiana, J2, pp. 287
pp. 63ff.; not in Prose) and Senilia XV (XIV) 11 (Opera, pp. 94lff.). and 349, with bibliography.
109 Garin, Storia, J2, p. 250. Concerning this problem, which cannot be discussed here, see Garin, Storia, J2, pp.
110 Schmitt, Cicero Scepticus, has devoted a fow pages to this subject (op.cit., pp. 45ff. ). 358ff. and 370, and Studi sul platonismo medievale, pp. 153ff., with copious bibliographies,
See further Jerrold E. Seigel, Rhetoric and Philosophy in Renaissance Humanism (Princeton and P. 0. Kristeller's important papers, »Italian Humanism and Byzantium» and >)Byzan-
1968), p. 57. - Concerning Petrarch's study of the Academica, se Nolhae, op.cit., J2, pp. tine and Western Platonism in the Fifteenth Century>) in his Renaissance Concepts of Man
228ff., and Subbaclini, op.cit., J2, pp. 102ff.; IJ2, pp. ll5ff., 212. and Other Essays (N.Y., 1972) pp. 64-109).
111 Gerosa denies that Petrarch read the Contra Academicos (op.cit., p. 272 n.128), and See Leonardi Bruni Arretini Epistolarum Libri VIII, ed. Lorenzo 1\:lehus (I-II, Flo-
Nolhac does not mentions it in his enumeration of Augustinian works known to Petrarch, rence, 1741), I, pp. 15ff. (18). On Bruni and Plato, see Arnaldo della Torre, Storia dell' Aca-
see op.cit., IJ2, pp. 192ff. demia Platonica di Firenze (Florence, 1902), pp. 444ff.
112 Rerum memorandarum libri IV 31 (Billanovich, p. 214). - Of the historical Academy See Bruni, II, pp. 36ff. (VI 1, to Marrasio Siculo ). Cf. also the Praefatio in librum
Petrarch had but little knowledge. Carneacles is, however, mentioned (ibid. I 25, 25; I 30; Platonis, quidicitur Phaedrum, published by Hans Baron in Leonardo Bruni Aretina, Huma-
II 30 = Billanovich, pp. 31, 35, 63). nistisch-philosophische Schriften (Leipzig, 1928), pp. 125ff.
113 De vita solitaria II (Prose, p. 548); the quotation is from Academica, II 66. 130
But Bruni refused to translate tha Republic, because >)multa sunt in his libris abhor-
114 Senilia I 6 [5) (Opera, p. 745). The letter - 25 October 1362 to Francesco Bruni rentia a moribus nostris, quae pro honore Platonis tacere satius est, quam proferre>) (op.cit.
was translated by Nachocl, Renaissance Philosophy of 111an, pp. 34ff. II, p. 128; IX 4, to Niccolo Ceba), cf. Jakob Freudenthal, >)Leonardo Bruni als Philosoph~
115 Capelli, op.cit., p. 90 = Nachocl, p. 126; the passage is omitted by Ricci. (Neue Jahrbilcher fur da,9 Klassische Altertum, 27, 1911, pp. 48-66), pp. 55ff. And in his
116 Senilia XV (XVI) 1 (Opera, p. 948). The letter was written in 1374, see Giuseppe Vita Aristotelis (ca 1429), Bruni sharply criticizes Plato's doctrine of metempsychosis and
Fraccasctti's translation, Le Senili, II (Florence, 1892), pp. 468f. the community of property and women in the Republic, see Humanistisch-philosophische
117 Schmitt, op.cit., p. 46. Cf. Gerosa, op.cit., pp. 233ff., 270ff. Schriften, p. 45, cf. Baron's comments, p. XIX. Bruni's criticism of Plato's methods of dis-
118 See Gerosa, op.cit., pp. 205ff., who demonstrates in detail Petrarch's knowledge and cussing philosophy is treated of below, pp. 32ff.
use of John. Concerning this episode, see Ludwig Mohler, Kardinal Bessarion (Quellen und For-
119 See above, n. 99. schungen aus dem Gebiete der Geschichte, XX, Paderborn, 1923), pp. 396ff., Walter l\f<inch,
120 See the allusion to the Phaedo, Esposizioni, p. 631. Die italienische Platonrenaissance und ihre Bedeutung fur Frankreichs Literatur u.nd Geistes -
121 See Esposizioni, pp. 238ff.; the editor, G. Padoan, points out that Walter Burley's
geschichte (1450 - 1550) (Romanische Studien, 40, Berlin, 1936), pp. 24ff., Garin,Storia,
De vita et moribus philosophorum, much read in the Middle Ages, was Boccaccio's main source J2, pp. 365ff., Fran<;ois Masai, Plethon et le platonisme de Mistra (Paris, 1956), pp. 329ff.,
(pp. 84lff.) Basile Tatakis, La Philosophie Byzantine (Brehier, Histoire de la Philosophie, Suppl. II,
122 Vittore Branca's statement (Boccaccio medioevale, Florence, 1956, pp. 186ff.) that
Paris, 1949), pp. 28lff., Della Torre, op.cit., pp. 437ff., and Kristeller, Renaissance Concepts
Boccaccio could read Homer and Plato whom Petrarch only silently revered, has no support of Man, pp. 100ff.
in the facts. Although Boccaccio knew far more of Greek litterature then Petrarch did, this See Bessarion, De natura et m·te (Mohler, Aus Bessarions Gelehrtenkreis, Quellen und
was not due to a direct study of the original texts. Concerning his knowledge of Greek, see Forschungen, XXIV, 1942), p. 114, cf. his In Calumniatorcm Platonis libri IV (eel. Mohlet
Agostino Pertusi, Leonzio Pilato fra Petrarca e Boccaccio, pp. 416ff. That he could write Quellen uncl Forschungen, XXII. 1927), pp. 98ff.
Greek characters appears, e.g., from the reproduction of a MS in Pertusi (Plate XXI). All references are to Marsilii Ficini - - - Opera Omnia (Basle, 1576, Henricpetri).
123 Concerning Salutati's scanty knowledge of Greek, soe B. L. Ullman, The Humanism The text of this edition being very faulty, I have, as far as possible, used earlier editions,
of Coluccio Salutati (Padua, 1963), pp. llSff; he just know tho alphabet. Cf. further Robert preferably tho original ones. Indispensable is P. 0. Kristoller, Supplementum Ficinianum,
82 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES H UMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 83

I -II (Florence, 1937}, which contains many hitherto unpublished texts, an index of refe- tinus, see Opera quae extant omnia (Paris, 1577), III, fol. 15 r 0 , 125r 0 , 171r 0 , cf. Freudenberger,
rences to theologians and philosophers quoted in Ficino's works, and a copious Ficinian op .cit., pp. 347ff. See further Kristeller, Renaissance Concepts of Man, p. 153.
147 There is no modern critical edition of all of Fico's works, but seven I of them have
bibliography. The standard monograph is by Kristeller, and should be used in the enlargened
Italian edition, 1l pensiero filosofico di Marsilio Ficino (Florence, 1953}; Kristeller has sum- been critically edited by Eugenio Garin, De hominis dignitate, H eptaplus, De ente et uno e
med up his views on Ficino in Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance, pp. 37 - 53. sc1·itti vari (Florence, 1942) and Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem, I - II (Flo-
R. Marcel, Marsile Ficino (Paris, 1958}, is mainly biographical; Michele Schiavone, Problemi rence, 1946 - 52) - both in Edizione nazionale dei classici del pensiero italiano. I have used
filosofi ci in Marsilio Ficino (Milan, 1957}, deals with Ficino's metaphysics and epistemo- the English translations of On the Dignity of Man by Charles Glenn Wallis, of On Being and
logy. There is a,n important chapter on Ficino in Garin, Storia della filosofia italiana, P, the One by Paul J. W. Miller, and of Heptaplus by Douglas Carmichael, all of them published
pp. 373 - 421, cf. also Saitta, Marsilio Ficino e la filosofia dell' Umanesimo (3d ed., Bo- with an introduction by Miller (New York, 1965). - The standard work on Pico is still
logna, 1954}, and 1l pensiero italiano, P, pp. 521-587. Garin's monograph (Florence, 1937), but on some points he has revised his viewa, see his
134 As a modern classical scholar has demonstrated, Ficino's translation is, generally
paper, >>Le interpretazioni del pensiero di Giovanni Pico>>, in the collective work, L'Operz,
speaking, correct and faithful, see Jean Festugiere, La philosophie de l'amour de Marsile e il pensiero di Giovanni P ica della Mirandola nella storia dell'umanesimo, I - II (Florence,
Ficin (Studes de philosophie medievale, 31, 1941, pp. 141 - 152: ))Notes sur la valeur de 1965), which contains many other important contributions, especially P. 0. Kristeller, >>Gio-
Marsile Ficin traducteur de Platon et de Plotim ). This applies to all Ficino's translations vanni Pico della Mirando Ia and his Sources>>. See further the chapters on Pico in Garin, Storia
dellafilosofia italiana, P, in Saitta, Il pensiero italiano, P, and in Kristeller, Eight Philosophers,
from the Greek.
135 See Kristeller, Ficino pp. 13ff., and the texts quoted there.
furthermore Avery Dulles, Princeps Concordiae, Pica della Mirandola and the Scholastic
136 Opera, II, 1548. On this point, Ficino could adduce St. Augustine, see above, p. 8.
tradition (Cambridge, Mass., 1941) - cf. Ernst Cassirer's criticism (JHI, 3, 1942, pp. 123 -
137 Opera, II, p. 1442 gives a corrupt text, see my paper, >>The Poet as Creator>> (Campa·
144, 319 - 346) - Engelbert Monnerjahn, Giovanni Pica della Mirandola. Ein Beitrag zur
philosophischen Theologie des italienischen Humanismus (Wiesbaden, 1960}, and especially
rative Literature Studies, 5, 1968), pp. 46lff., 479.
Giovanni DiNapoli's important monograph, Giovanni Pica della Mirandola e la problematica
138 See Garin, Storia, P, p. 381. Cf. Ficino's letter to Martin Prenninger (12 June 1489},
dottrinale del suo Tempo (Roma, 1965).
critically edited by Klibansky, Tradition, p. 42ff. (Opera, I, p. 899). 147 a DiNapoli, op.cit., pp. 278ff., points out that in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam
139 See Kristeller, Ficino, pp. 16ff., and Eight Philosophers, pp. 38ff., Garin, op.cit., P,
divinatricem (XII, 2 = Garin, pp. 492ff.), Pico speaks disparagingly of his youthful admira-
pp. 38lff., and Marcel, Ficin, pp. 602ff., and the texts quoted by them. Cf. also Kristeller, tion for the wisdom of the Egyptians and the Chaldaeans, who were actually superstitious
))The Unity of Truth>> in his Renaissance Concepts of Man, pp. 43 - 63. and idolatrous. Devoted to astronomy, these people did not practice other parts of philo-
140 Theologia Platonica XVII 1 (Opera, I, p. 386 = Teologia platonica, ed. Michele Schia- sophy. But Di Napoli's conclusion that Pico generally rejected the Prisca Theologia, so
vone, I -II, Bologna, 1965, II, p. 368). R. Marcel's critical edition of the Theologia does dear to Ficino (cf. above p. 19), seems somewhat exaggerated, though the differenc e between
not yet include Book XVII. Cf. Kristeller, Ficino, pp. 17ff., and Marcel, Ficin, pp. 280ff. him and Ficino is obvious.
148 As to the character of Fico's Platonism, scholars do not agree - sometimes even
141 In the Commentary on the Parmenides, Ch. XXXVIII, Ficino refers to Plutarch as

being one of the >>probatissimi Platonici>> (Opera, II, p. 1155}, and in the Commentary on the not with themselves. Thus, in his chapter on Pico in Eight Philosophers, Kristeller stresses
Timaeus, Ch. XIII, Ficino mentions that according to Platonists such as Severus, Atticus, that, unlike Ficino, Pico mever claimed to revive Platonic philosophy, or to give it a pre-
and Plutarch, Plato did not believe that the world was eternal (Opera , II, p. 1443) - an dominant position over other schools of philosophy>>, and that he >>did not even choose to
interpretation which was rejected by Plotinus and other Neoplatonists, cf. above, p. 00. call himself a Platonist>> (p. 55). But in his paper on Fico's sources, which he had one year
142 As Kristeller, op.cit., pp. 17ff., points out, with Proclus this continuous tradition earlier read to the Convegno internazionale on the occasion of the fifth centenary of Fico's
comes to an end, but Ficino finds traces of the Platonic tradition even in later ages - e.g., birth, Kristeller declares, that >>Fico's position remained in many ways within the limits of
in the Arabs Avicebron, Alfarabi, and Avicenna, and in the Scholastics Henry of Ghent Platonism even where it differed from that of Ficino>>, adding that he was >>inclined to attribute
and Duns Scotus, cf. the letter to Prenninger, quoted above, n. 138. a special significance to the Platonic and Neoplatonic element in Fico's work, and to justify
143 Opera, I, 393; Schiavone's edition omits the chapter (II, p. 401). to some extent the traditional view which makes of him one of the leading representatives
144 See further below, p. 31. of Renaissance Platonism>>. Kristeller even says that he sees mo danger in applying the
145 This separation of Plotinus from his teacher Ammonius, who himself wrote nothing, label of Platonism to Fico's work, provided that we are aware of the presence and importance
seems strange, for they are generally coupled together by Ficino, see Opera, I, pp. 72, 386, of the numerous other, especially Aristotelian and scholastic, ingredients of his thought>>
393, 928; II, pp. 1155, 1441, 1553, 1556, 1626, 1666. However, in the Commentary on Enneads (L'Opera e il pensiero di Giovanni Pica della Mirandola, I, p. 69). Other scholars have stressed
IX1, Ficino states that - in contrast to Plotinus - Ammonius remained >>semper Chris- the Platonic respectively Neoplatonic element in Fico's thought even more strongly, see
tianus>> (Opera, II, p. 1663}, cf. the discussions about this subject in the XVIII century, Monnerjahn, op.cit., pp. 173ff., whereas Garin maintains that Platonism is only one ingre-
below pp. 54ff. dient among many other of Fico's philosophy (L'Opera et il pensiero, I, pp. 7ff.).
146 This has not escaped the attention of Kristeller, op.cit., pp. 115ff., though he does 149 De hominis dignitate etc. ed. Garin, pp. 140ff. = Wallis, p. 23. In the same passage

not treat of the passage discussed here. other Neoplatonists are highy praised: Ammonius, Porphyry, Proclus, Hermias, Damascius,,
146 a The same can be said of the well-known and influential book of Augustinus Steuchus, and Olympiodorus, >>and many others, in all of whom there always shines that TO Os'io'V
De Perenni Philosophia (1540), cf. Th. Freudenberger's monograph (Reformationsgeschicht- that is, divine something, the peculiar emblem of the Platonists>>. Disputationes, I, P· 52
liche Studien und Texte, 64/65, Munster i.W., 1935). Steuchus can sharp ly criticize, e.g., Pico says that ))Plotinus in platonica familia primae fere auctoritatis habetur>>.
150 Opera, II, p. 1537. 151 See above, p. ll.
Proclus as a >>veritatis dcpravator, quanquam doctus>>, but, on the other hand, praise Plo-
84 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIO~ES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
152 De hominis dignitate, pp. 390ff. = Miller, pp. 39ff. Concerning Pico's interpretation 166
On Cusanus and Dionysius, see E. Vansteenberghe, Le cardinal Nicolas de Cues (Paris
of the Parmenides and his general view of tho agreement between Plato and Aristotle on
1920), pp. 413ff., Ernst Cassirer, Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissanc
this point, see Klibansky, »Parmenides>>, pp. 317ff., Garin, Fico, pp. 75ff., Kristeller, Eight
(Studien der Bibliothek Warburg, 10, L eipzig, 1927), pp. 8ff., and especially Maurice d
Philosophers, p. 64, and especially Miller's introduction which gives a pertinent analysis
Gandillac, Nicolaus von Cues (Dusseldorf, 1953; this German edition is a revision of a
of the problem (pp. XVII ff.). See further Giovanni di Napoli, op.cit., pp. 222ff., 314ff.,
earlier French one, Paris, 1942), pp. 103ff., 27lff. Gandillac has also contributed the seotio
and his paper >>L'essere e uno in Pico della Mirandola>> (Il Pensiere italiano del Rinascimento
on Cusanus in the article »Denys l'Areopagite», DSAM, III, cols. 375 - 378, and treate
e il nostro tempo, Florence, 1970, pp. 117 - 129).
of Cusanus in his lecture on »Le platonisme en Allemagne aux XIV• et XV• siecles~ (Gongre
See Opera, II, p. 1164, cf. Klibansky, op.cit., pp. 322ff., and Kristellcr, Ficino, pp. 37ff.
153 de Tours et Poitiers, pp. 372 - 375).
154See Angeli Politiani Opera - - - Omnia (Basic, apud Nicolaum Episcopium Jtmio- 167
This has been proved beyond reasonable doubt by the careful investigation of Marti
rem, 1553), p. 227. Garin has pointed out that the Plato of Politian is not that of Ficino Honecker, »Nicolaus von Cues und die griechische Sprache>> (SAHW, 1937/ 38:2), who ha
see >>L'ambiante del Poliziano>> (IZ Poliziano e i suoi tempi, Florence , 1957), p. 26. cf. further refuted the opinion of earlier scholars that Cusanus read Plato in the original - thus Cassirer
Garin, »lnterpretazioni», pp. 27ff. op.cit., pp. 16ff. - or Dionysius - thus Vansteenberghe, op.cit., pp. 28ff. - though the latte
155 Thus rightly Klibansky, op.cit., p. 321. Yet, when ten years later Kristeller followed
in the passage just cited enumerates the many Latin translations of Greek works, possesse
Klibansky (L'Opera e il pensiero, I, pp. 68ff., and 14lff. ), the latter now embraced the view by Cusanus. Cf. also Gandillac, OJJ.cit., pp. 87ff., and Garin, L'eta nuova, pp. 304ff. Cf. Kristel
he formerly had rej ected (op.cit., I, p. 141 ). lor, Renaissance Concepts of .Man, pp. 103ff.
156 See Kristeller, op.cit., I, pp. 14lff. 168
See the important study by Ludwig Baur, >>Gusanus-Texte, III.l. Marginalien. 1
157 The whole complex of the Dionysian problem and the overrich literature on it are Nicolaus Cusanus und Ps. Dionysius im Sichte dor Zitate und Randanweisungen des Cusanus
exhaustively surveyed by several scholars in DSAM, III (1957), cols. 244 - 429, and in >>(SHAW, 1940/41:4), according to which Cusanus possessed the translations of Johanne
DHGE, XIV (1960), cols. 265-310. D. Roques, »Dionysios Areopagita>>, in RAG, III (1957), Scotus Eriugena, Ioannes Saracenus, and Robert Grosseteste. Traversari's translation wa
cols. 1075 - 1121, deals only with the Areopagite himself. - The Greek originals are -badly, made in 1436 and was generally used by Cusanus, who had also a Greek MS of Dionysius
as usual - printed in PG, III - IV, but should preferably be read, together with the different now no longer extant. The works of Dionysius are contained in Codd. Cusan. 43 - 45, se
ancient Latin translations, in Dionysiaca, I-II (Bruges, 1937 - 38). The Goelestis Hier- J. Marx, Verzeichnis der Handschriften-Sammlung der Hospital zu Cues (Trier, 1905), pp
archia has been edited by Giinter Heil (Sources chretiennes, 58, Paris, 1958). 38ff. Traversari's translation is Cod. 43.
Concerning the discussion about Dionysius in the East, see the detailed account by
158 See Marx, op.cit., pp. 164ff. Most of the Plato-translations are in Cod. 177, excep
Andre Royer and others, DSAM, III, cols. 286 - 318, cf. further Jr. Hausherr, >>Doutes au P. C. Decem brio's of the Republic, which is Cod. 178. Cf. Vansteenberghe, op.cit., pp. 429ff.
sujet du Divin Denys» (Orientalia Christiana Periodica, II, 1936, pp. 484 - 496). and Honocker, op.cit., pp. 62ff. Cusanus did not possess any Greek MS of Plato.
159 SeeM. Cappuyns, >>Le Pseudo-Denys l'Areopagite en Occident au Moyen age» (DHGE, Of Proclus Cusanus possessed the Theologia Platonica - in the Latin translatio
XIV, cols. 290-296), and the section on >>Influence du P soudo-Denys en Occident>>, DSA.M, made for him by P. Balbo - the Elementatio (Institutio) theologica, and In Parmenidem -
III, ools. 318ff. both in the translation of William of Moerbek e - now extant in Codd. 185, 186, and 195
1 60 See Cappuyns, »Le Pseudo-Denys l'Areopagite en Occident a l'epoque moderne>> of Marx, op.cit., pp. 172ff., 181. On Cusanus' study of Proclus, see Vansteenbergh e, op.cit.,
(DHGE, XIV, cols. 296ff.), and DSAM, III, cols. 383ff. pp. 436ff., Honecker, op.cit., pp. 63ff., and esp ecially Gandillac, op.cit., pp. 88, 98ff., ll9ff.
1 61 In Galumniatorem Platonis I, VII and II, IV (pp. 73 and 89 ed. Mohler, cf. Mohler, 270ff., who demonstrates in detail how d eeply the ideas of Proclus and other Neoplatonist
Kardinal Bessarion, pp. 370ff., 389, and Moneh, op.cit., pp. 39 and 57. permeated Cusanus' thought.
162 Opera, I, pp. 920f. (Ep. X to Pierleoni the Platonist), cf. Opera I, pp. 960, 965; II,
As Cassirer believed, op.cit., pp. 16ff.
Thus rightly Honecker, op.cit., pp. 64ff., Gandillac, op.cit., pp. 87 et passim,
p. 1024. On Ficino and Dionysius, see R. Marcel, DSAM, III, cols. 383 - 386, and Ficino,
Garin, op.cit., pp. 293-317 (•Cusanus o i platonici del Quattrocento>> ). On the contrary
pp. 642ff., Monch, op.cit., pp. 119ff., and Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the H ermetic
Ernst Hoffmann asserted that to Cusanus, notwithstanding his dependence on Neoplatonis
Tradition (London, 1964), pp. 117ff.
163 and Medieval Platoniem, his Platonism ~durch Eckharts religioses Erlebni;; der platonischer
See De Ente et Uno V (ed. Garin, p. 414), Gommento sopra una canzone de amore com-
Idee in ein und dieselbe neue, tiefere Dimension verlegt, die ihn d en genuinen Platon nahe
pasta da Girolamo Benivieni>> (ed. Garin, p. 462) and the Epistle to Antonio Faenza (Opera
stehen liisst als das iibrigo Mittelalter und sogar die Renaissance>> (>>Nikolaus von Cue;;>>
I, p. 260). On Pico and Dionysius, see Garin, Fico, pp. 123ff., 132ff., 194ff. Monch, op.cit.,
1949; reprinted in Platonismus und Ghristliche Philosophie Ziirich, 1960, pp. 469ff., n.31)
p. 137, Monnerjahn, op.cit., pp. 41, 175ff., and Di Napoli, op.cit., pp. 332ff.
cf. his p aper »Das Universum des Nicolaus von Cues>> (SHA TV, 1929 / 30:3), p. 40, wher,
See Valla, Opera Omnia, I, p. 852 (I use the r eprint of earlier editions, Turin, 1962, Cusanus is called >>der erste genuine Platoniker in der christlichen Philosophic».
with a preface by Eugenio Garin; Vol. I reproduces the Basle-edition of 1540). Valla repeated 173
Cod. Cus. 44 foil v 0 , published in Baur, op.cit., p. 19. Baur does not specify the transla
his criticism in the EncomiumS. Thomae Aquinatis, printed only in 1886 by J. Vahlen (Opera, tion, except that it is not by Traversar·i. .
II, p. 351). 1
Tho lett er is known to us through Valla; it is published and commented upon m L
165 As the great edition, Nicolai de Gusa Opera Omnia, >>iussu et auctoritate Aeadem iae
Barozzi & R. Sabbadini, Studi sul Panormita e sul Valla (Florence, 1891), pp. 127ff. I quot
Literarum Heidolbergensis>>, is still far from being complete, I have in my quotations - the reprint in Valla, Opera Omnia, II, pp. 433ff.
if not otherwise stated - used the edition by Leo Gabriel, Nicolaus von Kues, Philosophisch 175
I do not know to what passage in St. Athanase Cusanus is referring.
- theologische Schrijten, with a German translation by D. & \V. Dupre, I - III (Wien, 1964 176
See the studies on Dionysius in the East, quoted above n. 158.
-67). 177
Suidae Lexicon, eel. Ada Adler, III (Leipzig, 1931), p. 108, cf. Df';A~'\1, III, col. 303
86 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES H UMANARUM LITTERARUM 54 87

178 See Georg Wentzel, Die griechische Obersetzung der Viri inlustres des Hieronymus De Christiana Religione XXVI (Opera, I, p. 29).
(Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, XIII:3, 1895), See Marcel, op.cit., pp. 612ff., and the literature quoted there.
p. 40. Opera, I, p. 25. I have used the English translation in Charles Trinkaus, In Our Image
179 It occurs, e.g., in the Proemium to Georgius Pachymeres' (1248-ca. 1310) Paraphrases and Likeness. Humanity and Divinity in Italian Humanist Thought (I-II, London, 1970),
of Dionysius, PG, III, cols. 115-116, and in an anonymous scholion, PG, IV, cols. 21-24, II, p. 742.
cf. Wentzel, l.c. Sec above, p. 18.
18 Comparationes phylosophorum Aristotelis et Platonis (Venice, Jacobus pentuis de 196
Sec Ep. XII to Jacopo Rondoni (Opera, I, p. 956), cf. Marcel, Ficino, pp. 634ff. On
Leuco, 1523 [1524], fol. [G VIII r 0 ] . I use the reprint, Frankfurt, 1965. The book was written th is point, Ficino opposes Bessarion, of. Garin, Pico, p. 78.
9 19 8 See above, pp. 19ff.
ca. 1455, see Mohler, Kardinal Bessarion, pp. 352ff., and especially Garin, L'eta nuova, pp. 1 7 See above, p. 24.
287ff. (>)La distruzione eli Piatone del TrapezuntiO>)). Cf. also Kristeller, Renaissance Concepts Cf. Kristeller, Ficino, pp. 15ff. , Garin, Storia della filosofia italiana, I, pp. 38lff.,
of j}fan, pp. 100ff. 39lff., and Saitta, Pensiero italiano, I, pp. 523ff.
181 This annotation - 200
made by some copyist, not by Cusanns himself - occurs Cod. Heptaplus 13 (p. 212 ed. Garin); the whole work is permeated by this id9a, cf. Garin,
Cus. 44 fol. 1v 0 - preceding the holograph, quoted above, pp. 22ff. - see l\Iarx, op.cit., pp. Pica, pp. 75ff.
39ff. , who only cites the first and last lines. As he says, it is a >)Notiz des 'Petrus episcopus The old Study by K. H. Graf, >)Jacobus Faber Stapulensis) (Zeitschrift fur die hia-
Nycoterensis' tiber cler Benutzung des Dionysius clurch den Philosophen ProkloS>). A repro- torische Theologie, 22, 1852, pp. 3-86, 165-237), has not been replaced by any modern
duction of it which the Cusanus Library at Cues has kindly put at my disposal shows that monograph: it deals mostly with Faber's religious activity and theolog ical writings. Of greater
the first section is substantially, though not verbally, identical with the anonymous scholion, importance to our purpose are tho many relevant passages on Faber in Augustin R9naudet,
PG, IV, cols. 21- 24- cf. above, n. 179 - quoted by Cusanus' friend, Dionysius the Carthusian, Prereforme et hurnanisme a Paris pendant les premiers guerres d'Italie (1494-1517) (2d ed.,
in his commentary on De Coelesti Hierarchia (ca. 1466), seeS. Dionysii Areopagitae - - - Paris, 1953). On Faber and Dionysius, see a lso D.P. Walker, »The Prisca Theologia in France»
Opera - - - Commentariis B. Dionysii a Rikel nunc iterum diligentissime editis elucidata (JWCI, 17, 1954; reprinted in The Ancient Theology, London, 1972, from which I quote),
(Cologne, Johannes Quentel, 1556), col. 11b (I have used a copy in UUB). The scholion was pp. 8lff., and Eugene F. Rice, Jr., ))The Humanist Idea of Christian Antiquity; Lefevre
usually printed after the Prvlogue to the Scholia on Dionysius, ascribed, rightly or wrongly, d'Etaples and hi s c ircle>) (Studies in the Renaissance, IX, 1962, pp. 126-160).
to St. Maximus the Confessor, cf. Wentzel, l.c. This Prologue is contained in Cod. Cus. 41, see Concerning Faber's Italian voyage 1491-92, see Renauclet, op.cit., pp. 136ff.
Marx, l.c. In a similar way, the second section of the annotation is substantially identical with 2° Partly reprinted in Dionysiaca, II, pp. CX-CXII.
the end of the Prologue, as printed PG, IV, cols. 22-23. - The bishop Petrus of Nicotera Although, by then, Fioino's translation of the De Mystica Theologia and the De Divinia
seems to be unknown. Nicotera was an episcopical see in Southern Italy, founded in 1392, Jl.'ominibus had been printed at Florence, end of 1496 or beginning of 1497 (GKW 8410).
which had a bishop Petrus, dead ca. 1415, see Konrad Eubel, Hierarchia catholica medii aevi, I have used a copy of the original edition (Paris, 6 February 1498 [ 1499], Joannes
I (2d ed., Mi.inster, 1913); p. 366. In any case, the annotation shows Cusanus' interest in Higmannus et Wolfgang Hopylius, Rain* 6233) in KB. The book is full of misprints, and
the Dionysian problem. the punctuation is arbitrary. See Ronauclet, op.cit., pp. 3711ff., but cf. below, n. 208. -
182 Schriften, II, p. 533 = Opera Omnia, XIII, Directio Speculantis seu De Non Aliud, In 1515, Faber published a new edition, with notes by Josse Clichtove (Paris, Henrie Ste-
ed. L. Baur & P. Wilpert (Leipzig, 1944), p. 47. phanus), see Renaudet, op.cit., p. 665. - Klibansky, ))Ein Proklos-Fund>), p. 21 n. 3, refers
183 De Venatione Sapientiae XXII (Schriften, I, p. 103). to an edition of Dionysius, published by Faber in Venice 1!81, >)per loannem Tacuinum de
184 See l.c., and an earlier passage, Schriften, I, p. 95. Tridono)), and was followed by Walker, op.cit., p. 219 n.2. The date must be due to a printer's
1 8 5 Seh1-iften, I, p. 538; cf III, p. 30. error or some misunderstanding, for there is no su ch edition, see GKW, VII (Leipzig, 1938),
186 Schriften, II, p. 545 = Opera Omnia, XIII, pp. 52ff. cols. 447ff., and Faber did not publish any book before 1497, see Renaudet, op.cit., p. 131.
187 In Calumniatorem Platonis I 7, 2; II 4, 2-3 (pp. 78 and 89 Mohler), Baur, >)Nicolaus There is a long list of editions in Dionysiaca, I, pp. XXXI ff. The editio princips was printed
Cusanus and Ps. Dionysius Areopagita>), p. 19, refers to tho3e very passages as proving that in Bruges, ca. 1480. There was, indeed, a Venetian edition of Faber's Dionysius, printed
Bessarion like Faber Stapulensis criticized Cusanus for having called Dionysius a Platonist! by Ioannes Tacuinus, but only in 1502, see British .Mttseum. General Catalogue of Printed
But he as wrongly asserts that Dionysius the Carthusian made the same reproof, adducing Books, 53 (London, 1960), col. 89. Moreover, Ioannes Tacuinus does not seem to have pub-
p. 842 in the Cologne-edition of the Areopagite, quoted above, n. 181. The passage belongs, lished any books before 1492, see G. Fumagalli, Lexicon Typograficum Italiae (Florance,
however, to Faber's Preface to the Paris-edition of 1499, which is reprinted in the Cologne- 1906), p. 468.
edition of 1556. Cf. furthet• below, pp. 26ff. This edition was published in 1514, see Renaudet, op.cit., pp. 66lff.
188 2 7
De Christiana Religione XXII (Opera, I, p. 25), Theologia Platonica I5 and XIII3 0 See above, pp. 30ff.
(Opera, I, pp. 89 and 270), Epistle XII to Jacopo Rondoni (Opera, I, p. 956), and in the Faber, >)Piis leotoribuS>), op.cit., fol. A III v 0 • The last sentence. runs (I have expanded
commentary on Plotinus (Opera, II, p. 1689). Cf. R. Marcel, Ficino, pp. 620ff., 634ff. the abrcviations): >)Necque quis hunc sacrum interpretem p1atonicum ideo putet: quia verbis
189 clissorcnclo de divinis usus sit platonicis. quin imo ot verba, et sententie et Platoni, ot reliquis
In another passage, Ficino even declares that he prefers Dionysius to Pinto himself,
»propter novum veritatis lumen>) (Opera, II, p. 1924). philosophis pro maiori parte (ne dicam pro toto) de deo digne loquendi ante apostolorum
190 Ep. XI to F. Pierleone (Opera, I, p. 925), cf. Marcel, op.cit., p. 644, who, however, tempora deorant. Et proinde profusum equiclem risum (ne si heraclitus quidem fuissem)
wrongly translates »delilisccrcnt>), by »aient disparu>). temperare haud valuissem: cum aliquanclo apud platonioos ita legendum oocuruisset. Post
191 De Chri.Ytiana Religione XXII and Ep. XII to Jacopo Rondoni (Opera, I, pp. 25 and apostolorum apostolicorumque virormn contiones et scripta: a Philone et Numenio inc~perunt
956). scripta Platonis intclligi >). Renaudet, op.cit., p. 376, renders this as follows: »Iis (the Platonists)
88 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LI=ERARUM 52
ne comprirent Platon qu'apres avoir lu les Peres apostoliques, qu'ils renierent. Les mots magna concordia affinitateque consentit, atque coniuncta est». Cf. Renaudet, op.cit., pp.
manquaient a !'auteur des Dialogues pour exprimer dignement les verites qu'il entrevoyait; l45ff., l53ff.
ce fut seulement apres Ia revelation des apotres et des Peres apostoliques que Plotin (!) et 219 See above, pp. 26ff.
Numenius commencerent a saisir sa pensee.» This seems to me to be the opposite of what 22
°Concerning the study of Valla in Paris and France, see Henaudet, op.cit., pp. 84, 120,
Faber is actually saying. To state that according to him, Plato >>lacked words with which to 125 n. 2-3, 394, 423.
express worthily the truths he discerned» is to miss the point. For, according to Faber, Plato 221
Cf. Henaudet, op.cit., pp. 375ff., who, however, wrongly believes that Valla rejected
Jacked not only »verba» but also »scntentiae». The latter term cannot here mean »sentences» the Dionysian writings because of their Neoplatonio character. No such argument is to be
in a grammatical or rhetorical sense, but must mean 'opinions', 'thoughts', 'doctrines', cf. found in Valla, see above, p. 22.
Liber sententiarum I Plato lacked both words and thoughts. Therefore, Faber finds it ridiculous 222
There in no modern monograph on Grocyn, but see l\fontagu Burrows, »A Memoir
of the Platonists to declare that Plato began to be understood only after that his disciples
of William Groeyn» (Collectanea, II, Oxford, 1890, pp. 317 - 380), and Sidney L ee's article
had studied the Christian writings - as if poor Plato really had entertained the opinions
in DNB, 23 (1890), pp. 266-269. Grocyn's only published work is a preface to Linacre's
these thieves ascribed to him. That the editors of Dionysiaca have interpreted the passage
edition of Proclus' Sphaera (Venice, Aldus, 1499). Erasmus criticized Grocyn's lack of pro-
in question as I do, appears from the way in which they print it: »Et proinde profusum equi-
ductivity, see Opus Epistolarum, II, p. 487. On Groeyn's visit to Italy (1488 and II, p. 247 _
dcm risum (ne si Heraclitus quidem fuissem) temperare haud valuissem, cum aliquando apud
90), see George B. Parkes, The English Traveller to Italy (Rome, 1954), pp. 46lff.
Platonicos it a legondum occurruisset: post apostolorum apostolicorumque virorum contiones 223
et scripta a Philone et Numenio interceperunt scripta Platonis intelligi» (I, p. CXII). Walker, Much has been written about Erasmus' visits to England and about his English friends,
op.cit., p. 83 n.3. mentions as a possibility the interpretation given here. - But I admit see, e.g.,Howard J. Savage, »The First Visit of Erasmus to England• (PJ.!LA, 37, 1922, pp.
that Faber could have expressed himself more clearly. Renaudet, op.cit., p. 132, rightly 94-112), and Albert Hyma, »Erasmus and the Oxford Reformers (1493-1503; 1503 - 19)>>
calls hts Latin >>lourd, scolastique, prolixe et peu correct». (N ederlandsch Archief voor Kerkegeschiedenis, N.S., 25, 1932, pp. 69 - 92; 97 -134; 38, 19.31/52,
209 See above, pp. 24ff.
pp.65-85). -Erasmus met Grocyn for the first time in London in 1499, and mentions him
0 0
21° Faber, op.cit., fol. [A IV r - V ] .
often with high praise in his letters, see, e.g., Opus Epistolarum, I, p. 273; II, pp. 247, 441,
211 See the Greek text, PG, XXXI (Paris, 1857), col. 472 (Homilia XVI). Faber's transla- 486ff; V 247. Their correspondance is no more extant. The extant letters of Erasmus do not
tion is not quite correct. As this text was not yet printed, Faber must have had access to contain any allusion to Grooyn's lectures on the Areopagite. - On Erasmus and Dionysius,
a ~IS. see also Frances A. Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, pp. 165ff.
212 See above, p. 23. - Faber knew and possessed the Suda, as Baatus Rhenanus tells " Colet made a Latin abstract from both the Celestial and the Eccles iastical Hierarchy,

in an annotation in a copy of Lucian's works, see Gustav C. Knod, A us der Bibliothek des based on the Latin translation of Ambrogio Traversari; it was printed as late as in 1869 by
B eatus Rhenanus (Strassburg, 1889), pp. 26ff. The editio princeps (Milan, 1499) was probably • J. H. Lupton, Ioannes Coletus Super Opera Dionysii, together with an English translation,
the copy Hhenanus saw at Faber's house. an introduction and notes. On Colet and the Areopagite, see, besides Lupton's Introduction,
Ficino, Opera, I, p. 25. The passage is a continuation of the passage, quoted above, p. 00. Leland Miles, John Colet and the Platonic Tradition (London, 1962), especially pp. 28ff.,
See the statements quoted by Renaudet, op.cit., pp. 284 n.3, 487 n.1, 627 n.1, which, 34ff., 98ff., 136ff. Colet's Dionysian studies wer e strongly influenced by ~Iarsilio Ficino,whom
not being to my purpose, I refrain from discussing. he had not met during his visit to Italy but with whom he subsequently corresponded, see
This appears already from the many Aristotelian editions, commentaries, and transla- Parks, op.cit., I, pp. 466ff., and especially Sears Jayne, John Colet and .~.Uarsilio Ficino (Ox·
tions Faber published, whereas he only d evoted one special work to Plato, Hecatonomiarum ford, 1963), pp. 17ff., 29ff., 36ff., 42ff., 62ff., 77ff. Jayne believes that Colet's abstract from
libri septem (Paris, 1506), in which he offered his readers a resume of Plato's political thought, Dionysius must be earlier than Grocyn's attack in 1501 (op.cit., pp. 29ff., 36ff. ). but the
cf. Henaudct, op.cit., pp. 484ff and Jean Boisset, »Les 'Hecatonomies' de Lefevre d'Etaples•> argument is not conclusive. Actually, as Miles, who had read Jayne's book in manuscript,
(Revue philosophique, 150, 1960, pp. 237 - 240). On Faber and Aristotle, see Renaudet, pointed out, Colet's sermon at 'Volsey's installation in 1515 >>was built around the Dionysian
passim, especially pp. 280ff., and Eugene F. Hice, Jr., »Humanist Aristotelianism in France. angelic orders and the Areopagite's notion that earthly things appropriately symbolize the
Jacques Lefevre d'Etaples and his circle>> (Humanism in France at the End of the Middle things of h eavem (p. 28). In spite of this Miles himself believes, like Jayne, that >>Grocyn'~
Ages and in the Early Renaissance, New York, 1970, pp. 132 - 149). In the Prologue to his Dionysian lectures at S.t Paul's Cathodral - - - had convinced him [Colet] that the Areo-
edition of Aristotle's works on natural philosophy (original edition Paris, 1494; I uso a copy pagite was not a Christian disciple of the apostle Paul» (l.c.). Miles adduces no evidence for
in KB of the edition Paris, 1539, Jehan Petit), Faber calls Aristotle >>summum - - - this statement which is a priori highly improbable. Foe the contemporary debates about the
omnium vere philosophantium ducem>> (fol. II r 0 j. Dionysian writings show clearly that those who rejected their authenticity also rejected
The quotation occurs in a letter by Hieronymus of Pavia to Symphorien Champier their value and validity. Modern Catholics, indeed, while regarding these writings as wrongly
(24 l\Iay 1514), quoted by the latter in his Duellum (Venice, 1519). As this work has not attributed to the disciple of St. Paul, still admire them as documents of mystical piety.
been accessible to me, I quote from Renaudet, op.cit., p. 620 n.6. Cf. Walker, op.cit., pp. 8lff. But such an attitude cannot be expected from a sixteenth century divine.
217 224
Boo Faber's refusal to take sides for or against Plato or Aristotle, Dialogi quatuor ad See The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, eel. Elizabeth Frances Rogers (Princeton,
~\1etaphysicorum intelligentiam IV (in the edition of the Naturalia, quoted above n. 215), 1947), p. 4, Ep. 2). I have freely usedl\1iss Rogers's translation in St. Thomas .ltore, Selected
fol. CCCvo; cf. Renaudet, op.cit., pp. 154ff., who, however, exaggerates Fabar's impartiality. Letters (New Haven, 1961), pp. 1 - 3.
Sec the revealing statement in the Preface, addressed to Germain de Ganay, to Fa- 225
"'ith a few, especially noted, exceptions, I quote Erasmus according to the edition
ber's Commentarioli introductorii metaphysices (in the edition, quoted above, n. 215), fol. by Jean Le Clerc (Johannes Clericus), Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami Opera Omnia I-X,
CCLXV!Iv 0 , where he says that the theology of the AristotC'lians •Chri~tianae sapientiae (Leiden, 1703-06; I usc the rcprint, Hildcshcim, 1961 62). Tho monumental edition of
90 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic I nterpretation of P lato 00MMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 91

E rasmus' correspondence by P.S. and Helen Allen, and H. W. G:trrod, Opus Epistolarum 241 Soc op.cit., pp. ll 5ff.
Des. Erasmi Roterodami, I-XII (Oxford, 1906 - 58), is a mine of information: 242 See Baron in Bruni, op.cit., pp. XX ff., cf. Garin, Storia, P, pp. 290ff., and S&.itta,
226 It is listed in Linacre's Catalogue of Grocyn's books, made after the latter's death, Pen<~iero, !2, pp. 272ff.
see Burrows, op.cit., p. 321. The list does not contain a copy of the De Coelesti Hierarchia, 2 4 3 It should be pointed out that the Vita Aristotelis was one of Bruni's most popular

b u t has the following item: >>Divicie Dionisii [quaere]>> (p. 323), whatever that may mean. works, printed many times in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, see British jJfuseum,
227 Novum Instrumentum (Froben, Basle, 1516), pp. 394-395. I use a copy in KB. General Catalogue of P1·inted Books, 28 (1960), ools. 522ff. It was in all probability well-
_ I n his edition of St. Jerome, published in the same year, Erasmus briefly repeated his known to both Vives and J\Ielanchthon.
rejection of Dionysius, see Omnium Operum Divi Eusebii Hieronymi - - - Tomus 244 Joannis Ludovici Vivis De Disciplinis Libri XII (Leiden, Jean Maire, 1536), p. 398

Secundus (Basel, Froben, 1516), fol. 3r 0 • (Liber IV): »In Platone multum est eruditionis sed reconclitae, ut quum ars occultatur in
228 Novum Testamentum (Froben, Basle, 1519), p. 225, pointed out in Opus Epistolarum, opere, eoque dicentibus non satis congruens: doctis vera melior, etsi in natura arbitranda
X I , p. 111 (n. to Ep. 3006). The second edition was published in March 1519, see op.cit., non est cum Aristotele comparandus, ut in praeceptis morum excel lat>>. See Carlos G. Norena,
III, p. 387. Juan Luis Vives (Archives I nternationales d'Histoiro des Idees, 34, 1970), pp. 164ff., who
2 2 9 Opus Epistolarum, III, p. 482 (Ep. 916; dated 5 February 1519). stresses that >>Vives grew progressively suspicious of Plato's use of the myth, at least as an
230 Op.cit ., VI, p. 182 (Ep. 1620; elated 2 October 1525): »Candidius tamen orat facturus, educational device. Reluctantly, he admitted that the poetical style and nebulous mysticism
si D ionysium asserens, cum Valla potissimum dimicasset, qui huius sententiae primus autor of Plato were ill adepted to the conciseness and order of the classroom>>. Of. also the state-
exstitit. Verum non sum qui talia non quaeam concoquero>>. Cf. R enaudet, Etudes erasmiennes ment about Plato in Vives' De Aristotelis Censura (1538), quoted by Norena, l.c.
(1521 - 1529) (Paris, 1939), pp. 242ff., 255ff., who does not, however, mention Dionysius. 245 If not otherwise stated, all quotations from Melanchton are taken from C. G. Bret-

2 31 Determinatio Facultatis Theologiae in Schola parisiensi supe1· quamplurimis assertatiO·· schneider's old, out-of-elate but still indispensab le edition in the Corpus Reformatorum,
nibus D. Erasmi Roterodami (Paris, 1531 ), reprinted in Erasmus, Opera Omnia, IX, cols. Philippi Melanthonis (/) Opera quae supersunt omnia, I-XXVIII (Halle, 1834 - 60). See
81 3 -918, together with Erasmus' Declarationes. Of. Renauclet, op.cit., pp. 289ff. Strange also jJfelanchthons 1Ve1·ke in Auswahl, III, Humanistische Schriften, eel. Richard Nurnberger
enough, the passage singled out for reproof by tho Sorbonne is that in the epistle to Cardinal (Giitersloh, 1961 ). Of the vast literature on Melanchthon, the recent large work by vVilhelm
de Ia Marque not the far more substantial treatment of tho question in the commentary on Maurer may be mentioned, Der junge jJ.felanchthon zwischen Humanismus und Reformation,
tho Acts. Subsequently, however, this passage was expurgated by the Roman and the Spanish I - II (Gottingen, 1967 - 69), with a copious bibliogeaphy. Karl Hartfelder, 1\Ielanchthon
Indices, see Opera, X, col. 1827. als Praecepto1· Germaniae (J\fonumenta Germaniae Paedagogica, 7, B erlin, 1889), remains
232 Opera, IX, cols. 914 - 915. Erasmus' Declarationes was published in December 1531, indispensable. See also Stein, Sieben Bucher zur Geschichte des Platonismus, III, pp. 215ff.
see Bonifacius Amorbach's letter to Erasmus (Opus Epistolarum, IX, p. 397 n.57). - The 246 J\felanchthon, Opera, XI (1843) cols. 413 - 425, cf. Stein, l.c., Hartfelder, op.cit., pp.

characterization of Grocyn resembles that given some years earlier (March 1523) in a letter 372ff., and Peter Petersen, Geschichte de1· aristotelischen Philosophie im protestantischen Deutsch-
to Jodocus Gaverius, sec Opus Epistolarum, V, p. 247: >>praetor theologiae professionem in land (Leipzig, 1921 ), pp. 46ff.
omn i genera clisciplinarum usque ad morositatem exacto versatus>>. 247 Melanchthon had done so al ready in the first edition of his Loci Communes (1521),

233 Opus Epistolarum, XI, pp. llOf. (John Camerarius' letter, 29 l\Iarch 1535). see JJ.felanchthon's TVerke in Auswahl, II:1, ed H. Engelland (Giitersloh, 1952), pp. 8ff., cf.
234 See Pontien Polman, L'Element historique dans la Controverse religieuse du XVI siecle Erich Seeberg, Gottfried Arnold (:i\feerane, 1923), p. 450. The passage is lacking in the final
(Gambleux, 1932), pp. 2lff., 62, 1llff., 328, 333, 349, 517, 535. To the rajectora of Dionysius edition of 1559.
belonged Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin, to the defenders Eck, Bellarmin, and Baronius. - 24 8 Thus Hartfelcler, op.cit., p. 374 n.l.

The letter in defence of Dionysius which Eck published in 1526, mentioned by Polman, 249 See Maurer, op.cit., I, pp. 50, 69, 84ff., 90ff., 92ff., II, pp. 23ff., 390ff.

op.cit., p. 321, does not belong to Giovanni Pica della Mirando Ia, as Polm'1n seema to bslieve, 25 0 Concerning Reuchlin's relations with the Florentine Platonists, see L. Geiger, Johannes

but to his nephew, Gianfrancesco, as the title, quoted by Polman, clearly indicates. It is not Reuchlin (Leipzig, 1871), pp. 23ff., 32ff., 17lff., and Hans Rupprieh, >>Johannes R euchlin
included in the collected editions of Gianfrancesco Pica's works, such as the Basle-edition und seine Bedeutung im europaischen Hamanismus» (Johann Reuchlin 1455-1522, Pforz-
of 1573 (Henricpetri). See Charles B. Schmitt, Gianfrancesco Pica della ~Mirando/a (1469- heim, 1955, pp. 10 - 34).
153-3) and his Criticism of Ariatotle (The Hague, 1967, pp. 195 (no. 21) and 206ff. (no. 33 and 25 1 Maurer, op.cit., I, p. 87; p. 93, he speaks of the Platodeclam:J.tion without notic ing

37). - Sec further >>Denys lc Pseudo-Areopagite>> (DHGE, XIV), cols. 296ff., with, however, that it contradicts his assertion; pp. 187ff., he speaks of Melanchthon's admiration for Plato
several factual errors, e.g., regarding Grocyn and Pica, and C. A. Partridge, >>Renaissance as a rhetorician.
Thought on the Celestial Hierarchy: The Decline of a Tradition>> (J HI, 20, 1950, pp. 155 - 166 ). 252 See Carl G. Brandis, >>Luther und J\felanchthon als Benutzer der vVittenberger Biblio-

235 See Charles B. Schmitt's work on Gianfmncesco Pica, quoted above, n. 234 and his
thek•> (Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 90, 1917, pp. 206 - 221).
Cicero Scepticus, quoted above, n. 71, furthermore Richard H. Popkin, The History of Scept- 253 Hartfelcler mentions no lectures on Plato in the list he gives of Melanchthon's lectures

cism from Erasmus to Descartes (Assen, 1960). However, none of these works deals with (op.cit., pp. 553ff. ), but he stresses that a great part of them, perhaps the greater, is unknown.
my iopic. 254 Opera, XI, co ls. 342 - 349 (De Vita Aristotelis) = Werke, III, pp . 96 - 104. On Me·
236 lanchthon and Aristotle see Hartfolder, op.cit., pp. 375ff., Peterson, op.cit., pp. 19 - 108,
Schmitt, Cicero Scepticus, p. 53. 237 Soe above, p. 19.
238 Theologia P/atonica (Opera, I, p. 393), cf. Opera, I, pp. 797, 981, 1008ff.; II, p. 1237, and Maurer, op.cit., I, pp . 90ff.
255 Opera, XI, cols. 64 7 - 658 Werke, III, pp. 122 134.
see Schmitt, op.cit. pp. 52ff.
23 9 See above, n. 130. 2 56 The same advice to shun the AC'ademy is given in the declamation De Philosophia

2 4 0 Bruni, llumanistisch-philosophische Scln·iften, p. 45. (1536), in the Philosophiae "lioralis fi:pitome (1538), and in t h o Loci Communes (1552), see
92 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMliiENTATIONES HUMANARUM LI=ERARUM 52 93

Opem, XI, col. 282; XVI, col. 23; XXI, cols. 1086f., cf. Schmitt, Cicero Scepticus, pp. 60ff. Empiricus, see Villey, op.cit., pp. 10lff., 218. - Friedrich, op.cit., pp. 54ff., speaks of Mon-
257 See Nurnberger's Introduction to his selection from the Declamationes (lVerke, III, taigne's >>Platon-Fremdhoit» - too strong a word, cf. Kellermann's criticism (op.cit., p. 314).
pp. 15ff.). 273 Essais II, XII (s. 494). 274 L.c. (pp. 49lff.). 275 L.c. (p. 492).
258 In the late declamation, De Studiis Veteris Philosophiae (1557), Melanchthon utters 276 Concerning the notion of Fideism, see Popkin, op.cit., pp. XIVff. Cf. further S. Harent,
a very »orthodox» condemnation of the New Academy for having been unfaithful to Plato: »Foi>> (DThG, VI:1, 1915), cols. 174 - 236. On Montaigne's Fideism see Herman Janssen,
>>Hi digressi a Platonis vestigiis Acadcmiae veteris dogmata corroperunt. Quare qui secuti Montaigne fideiste (Amsterdam Diss., 1930), and C. Constantin, >>Montaigne>> (DThG, X:2,
sunt aliquanto post Platonis sectatores, non Academicos sese suspecto nomine sed Platonicos 1929, cols. 2338-2344).
vocari voluerunt, coniunxeruntque rursus cum Academia veteri peripateticas scholas» (Opera, 277 See above, pp. 3lff.
XII, cols. 260). The whole doxographical section of this declamation is very traditional and 27 8 On Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola, see Schmitt's monograph, quoted above,

impersonal. It is a further proof of Melanchthon's ambiguous attitude to Plato. n. 234, and furthermore Popkin, op.cit., pp. 19ff., Garin, Storia, IP, pp. 588ff., and Saitta,
259 Opera, XI, col. 425. op.cit., !2, pp. 635ff. Tho quotations are from the Basle-edition of 1573.
260Quotations from this work are from the critical edition by Quirinus Breen (Edizione 279 Opera Omnia Joannis Francisci Pici, II, pp. 74lff. There he criticizes Ficino's attemp t

~azionale dei Classici del Pensiero Italiano, Serio II, 3:1 - 2, Rome, 1956). On Nizolio, see to ascribe a firm doctrine to Plato, However, Aristotle is the main target of Gianfrancesco's
Breen's long introduction, Garin, Storia, IP, pp. 74lff., and Saitta, op.cit., IP, pp. 494ff. attacks.
261 Nizolio's main statement about Plato occurs in De Veriis Principiis IV 7 (op.cit ., II, 280 Opera, II, pp. 743ff., 1095ff.

pp. 179-183). 281 I use a copy of the first edition (Antwerp, Plantin, 1596), in UUB. On Petrus de
262 Op.cit., II, pp. 180f. Of. Loibniz's annotation, quoted below, pp. OOff.
Valentia (or Pedro de Valencia, 1555 - 1620), see Popkin, op.cit., pp. 37ff and Schmitt, op.cit.,
263 The is no modern monograph on Orner Talon - or Andomarus Talaeus as h 3 called pp. 74ff. Manuel Serrano y Sanz's monograph (Bajadoz, 1910), has not been accessible to me.
himself in Latin - but see ·walter J. Ong, Ramus. Method and the Decay of Dialogue (Cam- 2 82 Academica, p. 17: ~Nos autem nunc nee quaestionem ipsam examinamus, nee decretum
bridge, Mass., 1958), passim, R. Hoykaas, »Humanisme, scienco, et reforme. Pierro de la interponimus nostrum, sed rem gestam narramus, grammatico operi, ut Galenus ait, id
Ramee (1515 - 72)» (Free University Qua1·terley, 5, 1957/ 8, pp. 167 - 294), and Schmitt, est veterum dictis repetendis et in m edium afferendis, operam impendentes nostram, inglorio
op.cit., pp. 81 - 91. nimis, uti nunc hominum sensus est, ne dicam infami negotio. Tamen hoc agamus>>.
264 Quotations from Talon's Academia are from a copy in KB of Audomari Talaei - 283 Academica, pp. 25ff., 97ff. 28 4 Op.cit., pp. 123ff., cf. Schmitt, op.cit., p. 75.
Opera (Basle, Officina Pcrnaca, 1584). The work was originally published in 1547 - 50, not 2 85 GianfranceEco Pico's criticism of Marsilio Ficino - mentioned above, n. 279 - is revea-
in 1548, as Henri Busson, Le rationalisme dansla litteraturefrancaise de la Renaissance (1533- ling.
1601) (2d ed., Paris, 1957), p. 235, and Popkin, History of Scepticism, p. 29, state, see Ong, 286 Concerning this opposition - both Catholic and Protestant, - see the well-do cu-
Ramus and Talon Inventory (Cambridge, Mass. 1958), pp. 468ff. mented study by Walther Glawe, Die Hellenisierung des Ghristentums in der Geschichte der
265Opera, pp. 33lff., 357, 876, 399, cf. - Busson, op.cit., pp. 235ff., Popkin, op.cit., pp· Theologie von Luther bis auf die Gegenwart (Neue Studion zur Geschichte der Theologie und
28ff., and Schmitt, op.cit., pp. 85ff. Kirche, XV, Berlin, 1912), cf. E. Seeb erg, Gottfried Arnold, pp. 472ff.
266 See Busson, op.cit., pp. 237, 27lff., Popkin, op.cit., pp 29ff., and Schmitt, op.cit.,
287 See above, pp. 34ff.
pp. 89ff. 288 See, e.g., Joannis Galvini Opera quae supersunt omnia, LVIII" (Corpus Reforma-
See Ong, Ramus, pp. 43ff., 47ff., Hoykaas, op.cit., pp. 132ff., and Schmitt, op.cit., torum, LXXVI, Braunschweig, 1892), col. 423 (In Acta Apostolorum), and LII (Corpus,
pp. 87ff. LXXX, 1895), col. 112 (In Epistolam ad Golossenses.).
Panos Paul l\Iorphos has edited and commented on Les Dialogues de Guy de Brues, 289 Concerning Calvin's general attitude to Plato and Platonism, see Josef Bohatec,
Gontre les Nouveaux Academiciens (Baltimore, 1953). See further Morphos's exhaustive Bude und Galvin. Studien zur Gedankenwelt des franzosischen Frii.hhumanismus (Graz, 1950),
introduction, Popkin, op.cit., pp. 30ff. and Schmitt, op.cit., pp. 102ff. The question of Brues's pp. 418ff., 426ff., and especially the exhaustive analysis in Jean Boisset, Sagesse et saintete
sincerity need not worry us h ere. dansla pensee de Jean Galvin (Paris, 1959), though he seems to exaggerate Cr..lvin's Platonism.
Montaigne is quoted from Alb:Jrt Thibaudet's edition of Les Essais (Bibliotheque Boisset does not deal with Calvin's attitude to later and contemporary Platonism, nor with
de la Pleiade, Paris, 1939). Of the overwhelming literature on Montaigne I shall only refer his rejection of the Areopagito. Still more exaggerated is Roy W. Battenhouse, >>The Doctrine
to Pierro Villoy, Les sources et l'evolution des Essais de JJfontaigne, I - II (Paris, 1908), and of Man in Calvin and in Renaissance Platonism>> (JHI, 9, 1948, pp. 447-471); his attempt
Hugo Friedrich, JJiontaigne (2d eel., Bern, 1967). to find Neoplatonism in Calvin is singularly unconvincing. - The theological basis of Cal-
See tho passages in the Essays quoted by Busson, op.cit., pp. 409ff., Villey, op.cit., vin's attitude to pagan wisdom is analysed in Giinter Gloede, Theologia Naturalis bei Galvin.
II, PP· 207ff., and Craig B. Brush, lJfontaigne and Bayle. Variations on the Theme of Skepticism (Tiibinger Studien zur systematischen Theologie, 5, Stuttgart 1935), see especially PP·
(The Hague, 1966), pp. 13ff., 86ff. 306ff.
Montaigne possessed a copy of Plotinus' Enneads with Ficino's translation (Basle, 29 0 On Serranus, seo Ch. Dardier, >>Jean de Serres>> (Revue historique, 1883, 22, pp. 291-

1559), still extant, but there are no traces in tho Essays of a study, see Villey, op.cit., I, pp. 197f. 328; 23, pp. 28-76), who mostly deals with Serranus as a historian. A monograph would
On ~lontaigne's study of Plato, see Villey, op.cit., I pp. 192ff.; II, pp. 434ff., 518ff., be welcome. The short passage in Busson, Rationalisme, pp. 513ff., is misleading, the Plato-
and specially Frederick Kellermann, >>~iontaigne, Reader of Plato• (Comparative Litemture, edition is not even mentioned, and Busson seems to ignore Dardier's paper. Corrado Vivanti,
8, 1956, pp. 307 322). As Villcy points out, l\Iontaigne read Plato in Ficino',; translation, Lotta politica e pace religiosa in Franciajra Cinque- e Scicento (Turin, 1963}, has devoted a
of which there were many editions. He had also eagerly read Cicero's Academica and Sextus chapter to ~II tentative irenico eli Jean de Serres~.
94 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
291 All quotations from Serranus' and Stephanus' Plato are from a copy of the original 1 In Tmit e du Choix et de la Methode des Etudes (Pt.ris, 1686); I quote from a copy of
edition in KB, Platonis Opera quae extant Omnia (s.l., but actually Geneva, 1578). the edition Paris, 1759 in KB .
292 R. Klibansky has shortly mentioned Serranus, but only apropos of the Parmenide&, Francois Gacquere's dissertation on Fleury (Paris, 1925), deals mainly with other
see »Plato's Parmenides>> , p. 327. matters, more to the point is Knight, op.cit., passim.
293 Concerning this edition, see .J. A. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca, III (4th cd. by G. C. Fleury's Lettre sur Homere has now been published by Noemi H epp, Deux amis d'Ho-
Harles, Hamburg, 1793), pp. 70 n. kk and 13lff., with references to earlier criticism. mere au XV II• siede (Paris, 1970), and treated of in detail in Miss Hepp 's thesis, Hom ere
294 A rather unfavourable opinion of Serranus t.s a Platonic scholar was voiced by Claude en France au XVII/ 8iede (Paris, 1968).
Fleury and Andre Dacier, see below, pp. 44ff. 324 Traite du Choix, pp. 29lff.
295 »Ioannes Serranus Verae Solidaequae Philosophiae Studioso Lectori>> (op.cit., I, fol. Although the Discours sur Platon was given on 2 .June 1670, it was not printed until
XXI ro - XXXII vo). sixteen years later. It is hard to b elieve that when Fleury prepared it for publication, he
297 See the literature on Calvin quoted above, n. 289, and especially Gloede's book. did not pay any attention to Rapin's attack, published a year after the d elivery of his own
296 Op.cit., I, fol. xxiiv 0 • 29 8 Op.cit., I, fol. xxvr 0 - VIv 0 •
Lecture. Naturally, he does not mention Rapin: that would have b een impolite.
299 Serranus divides the Dialogu es into the following six groups: I, Eutyphro, Apology, Traite du Choix, pp. 294ff. 327 Op.cit., pp. 296ff. 32 8 Op.cit., p. 296
Crito, Phaedo; II. Theages, Erastes, Theaetetus, Sophistes, Eutydemus, Protagoras, Hippias 329 Op.cit., pp. 318ff. 330 Op.cit., pp. 305ff. 331 Op.cit., p. 295.
Minor; III Cratylus, Gorgias, Ion; IV. Philebus, Meno, Alcibiades Maior and Minor, Charmides, An Andre Dacier, see L. Pichard's article in Dictionnaire des Lettres Francaises. Le
Laches, Lysis, Hipparchus, Menexenus, Politicus, Minos, Republic, Laws, Epinomis; V. Dix-Huitieme Siede , I (Paris, 1963), p. 361.
Timaeus, Timaeus Locrius, Critias, Parmenides, Symposium, Phaedrus, Hippias maior; IV. This work is here quoted from a copy in KB of the second edition (I - II, Paris, 1701;
Epistles and Spuria. •>augmentee & corrigee•> ). The Dialogues translated are the Alcibiades Mai01· and Minor, Theages,
300 Op.cit., I, fol.x xir0 • 301 See above, pp. 25ff. Eugyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Laches, P1·otagoras, Amatores.
302 Op.cit., I, fol. xxxir 0 • 3 0 3 Op.cit., I, fol. xxxiv 0 •
Op.cit., II, p. 221. 335 Op.cit., I, pp. 226ff. 336 Op.cit., I, p. 224. 33 7 Op.cit., I, pp. 75ff.
304 De l'Immortalite de l'Ame, Representee par preuues certaines et par les fruitts excellen8 I (Oxford, 1669), II (Oxford, 1670) , III - IV (London, 1677). I am very grateful to
de son vrai usage. Par Ian de Serres - - A Lyon, Pour les Freres d e Gabiano (I) XCVI the Library of the Queen's University of Belfast for having put a copy of this rare work
(Colophon: A Lyon. Par les Heritiers de Pierre Roussin, 1596). 16 unpaginated pp. + 669 pp. at my disposal. About Gale very little has been written, but see Alexander Gordon's article
in 8°. A second edition was published at Rouen, 1597, with the titlo De l'Immortalite in DNB, XX (London, 1889), pp. 377 - 378, Glawe, Hellenisierung des Christentums (above,
de l'Ame, pour bien vivre et bien mourir. Cf. British Museum. General Catalogue of Printed n. 286), pp. 9lff., and Charles B. Schmitt, »Prisca Theologia e Philosophia Perennis•> (Il
Books, 219 (1964), col. 425. I am very grateful to the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, for having pensiero italiano del Rinascimento e il tempo nostro, Florence, 1970, pp. 211 - 236 ), pp. 228ff.
put a copy of the first edition at my disposal. - The character and scope of Gale 's work is well revealed in the subtitle: •>A Discourse touching
305 Preface, unpaginated. Similar declarations abound in the book, see, e.g., pp. 12,52ff.,
the Original of Human Literature, both Philologie and Philosophic, from the Scriptures,
158ff., 175, 254ff., 262ff., 282, 314ff., 332, 341, 363ff., 538ff., 623ff., 644ff. and .Jewish Church. In order to a D emonstration of l. The Perfection of Gods 'Vord, and
306 Op.cit., pp. 158f.
Church Light. 2. The Imperfection of Natures Light, and mischief of Vain Philosophic.
307 Op.cit., p. 160. In stating this, Serranus remains true to Cah·in's teaching, see Gloede's
3. The right Use of Human L earning, and esp ecially sound Philosophic>>. - In 1671 -82,
analysis of Calvin's doctrine of immorta lity (op.cit., pp. 88ff.). a second Edition, •>revised and enlargened•>, was published, which has not been accessib le
3 08 Op.cit., p. 31. 309 Op.cit., p. 35. 310 Op. cit ., p . 18. 311 Op.cit., pp. 25ff.
to me. In 1676, Gale published a big philosophic work, Philosophia generalis, cf. Court of
312 H enr i Busson, La religion des classiques (1660 - 1685) (Paris, 1948), p . 323, who refers the Gentiles, IV, p. l.
to Ferdinand Gohin, •>La Fontaine et Platom (La Fontaine. Etudes et recherches, Paris, 1937, 9 See, e.g., op.cit., I, p. 12; II, pp. 84ff., 179ff., 249ff., 383, III, p. 49.
pp. 16 - 62), see especially pp. 26ff. - On Plato in seventeenth century France, see Th. 340 Op.cit., IV, fol. [A4r f]. 341 Op. cit., II, pp. 249ff., 270ff.

Goyet, •>Presence de Platon dans le classicisme francais•> (Congres de Tours et Poitiers, pp. Gale seems to have been the first writer who used this term, though it became popular
364 - 371). only more than a hundred years later, see below, n. 490.
313 See Busson, op.cit., p. 401 n.4. But when quoting Plato in Latin, Bossuet did not u se 343 SEe op.cit., II, pp. 247-266 (•>Of the Academicks and New Platonicks of Alexandria»).
Ficino's translation, which h e possessed, but made a translation of his own, see J .. B. Bas suet, 3 4 Op.cit., II, p. 253. 345 Op.cit., II, pp. 254ff. 346 See above, p. 25. 347 See above, pp. 26ff.

Platon et Aristote, ed. Th. Goyet (Etudes et Commentaires, LVI, Paris, 1964) , pp. XXXVII ff. 347b Op.cit., II, p . 254, cf. pp. 4lff. 3470 See above, p. 27f.

314 On Rapin there is an old dissertation by Ch. D ejob, De Renata Rapino (Paris, 1881). 348
See above, p. 25. 349 Op.cit., I, fol. 2v 0 • 347 a Op.cit., IV, fol. A3v 0 •
315 La Comparaison de Platon et d'Aristote, avec les Sentimens des Peres sur leur Doctrine, 350
Op. cit., II, pp. 226ff. 351 Op.cit., I, pp. 9ff., II, pp. 235ff., 272ff. 352 Seo above, pp. 38ff.
et quelques R~flexions Chrestiennes (Paris, 1671) . All quotations are from a copy of this ori- Op.cit., II, p. 265. 354 Op.cit., IV, fol. A4r 0 • 355 See below, pp. 5lff.
gint.l edition in KB. 356 Op. cit., II, pp. 260ff., where Vossius is quoted.
316 35
Op.cit., p. 267. 317 Op. cit., p. 218. 318 Op.cit., pp. 215ff. 7 Op.cit., II, fol. b 2v •
0 3 58 Op. cit ., II, p. 255.
319 358
Op.cit., p. 81. The quotation is from Academica I46. a Though the Enneads is quoted op. cit., II, p. 226, and Proclus In Timaeum is quoted
I entirely agree with the severe judgment in R.-C. Knight Racine et la Grece (Etudes ibid. p. 249.
de litterature etragere et comparece. 23, Paris, 1950), pp. 36ff. As Knight points out, the There is an interesting anthology by C. A. Patrides, The Cambridge Platonists, 1969),
book abounds in factual errors. Among other strange things we learn that Socrates was with a substantial introduction and a copious bibliography. See further the survey in Douglas
put to death under the rule of the Thirty Tyrants (pp. 25ff.)! Bush, English Literature in the Earlier Seventeenth Century (The Oxford History of English
E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato CoMMENTATIONES HuMANARUM LITTERARUM 52
96 97

Literature, V, 2d ed., 1962). - Most of the vast literature on the Cambridge Platonists such as Porphyry , Iamblichus, and Proclus, because of their hatred of Christianity, cf. Aspelin,
deals only incidentally with our topic, but see Gunnar Aspelin, Ralph Cudworth's Inter- op.cit., p. 42.
pretation of Greek Philosophy (Goteborgs Hogskolas Arsskrift, XLIX, 1943:1), though this Modern students of these authors have confessed the difficulty, not to say the im-
short paper is far from being exhaustive. The remarks in Ernst Cassirer Die platonische possibility, of penetrating their works, see Lichtenstein, op.cit., p. X, &.nd Frederick .J. Powicke,
Renaissance in England und die Schule von Cambridge (Studien der Bibliothek Warburg, The Cambridge Platonists (London, 1926) , p . VI. Cudworth's True Intellectual System has
XXIV, Leipzig, 1932), passim, are often too vague and general. been called >>an important attack on atheism and materialism which few except his editors
360 Coleridge on the Seventeenth Century, ed. Roberta F. Brinkley (Durcham, N.C., 1955), have ever read through >>(Herschel Baker, The Wars of Truth, London, 1952, p. 125). Anyone
p. 366. who has attempted to read the book agrees with this statement.
361 See e.g., the Discourses of .John Smith, in Patrides's Anthology, where Plotinus is 367 See below, n . 485 and 529.
constantly quoted and used. The same holds true of Henry More and Ralph Cudworth as On Taylor, see Thomas Taylor The Platonist, Selected Wt·itings, edited, with intro-
even a casual look into More's Opera Omnia, I-III (London, 1675 -79) or Cudworth's ductions, by Kathleen Raine and George Mills Harper (Bollingen Series, LXXXVIII, Prin-
The True Intellectual System of the Universe (London, 1678) will prove. It is of course possible ceton, N.J.; 1969). Miss Raine's introduction »Thomas Taylor in England>>, is an uncriticial
to believe that the Cambridge Platonists were right in identifying Platonism with Neoplato- apotheosis. Far better is Frank B. Evans's paper, >>Thomas Tay lor, Platonist of the Romantic
nism, as .John Passmore, Ralph Cudworth (Cambridge, 1957), pp. 14ff., and still more Patrides, P eriod >> (PMLA, 55, 1940, pp. 1060 - 1079), cf. also his »Platonic scholarship in Eighteenth-
op.cit., pp. 2ff., tend to do. In any case, both are right in asserting that the Cambridge philo- Century England>> (Modern Philology, 41, 1943/44, pp. 103 - llO). On Taylor see further
sophers Platonism was not second-hand but based on a direct study of Plato. But they below, p. 62.
r ead him >>through the eyes of the Neoplatonists and the Florentine Academy>>, as Passmore 369 See above, pp. 38 and 48.
says elsewhere (»Cambridge Platonists>>, EPh, II, New York, 1967, p. 10). Patrides, op.cit., Published in 1700, with the famous fictitious indication >>Cologne chez Pierre Marteam.
pp. l7ff., stresses Plotinus' influence. - I fail to understand, how Serge Rutin, H enry More. The author was a French refugee theologian, Matthieu Souverain, about whom very little
Essai sur les doctrines theosophiques chez les Platoniciens de Cambridge (Studien und Materialie is known.
zur Geschichte der Philosophie, II, Hildesheim, 1966), p. 31, can say: »Morus n'a pas eu See H einrich von Stein, >> D er Streit tiber den angeblichen Platonismus d er Kirchen-
recours au texte original des Dialogues platoniciens (en depit d'une connaissance remarquable vater» (Zeitschrift fur die historische Theologie, 31, 1861, pp. 319 - 418), cf. Sieben Bucher
de la bngue greeque) mais aux traductions latins de M arsile Ficin>>, in spite of the fact that, zut· Geschichte des Platonismus, III, pp. 18ff. Glawe, H ellenisierung des Christentum, corrects
though h e uses Ficino's translation, More constantly quotes Plato in Greek, from the edition Stein's account in details but does not really supersede it.
of H enricus Stephanus, as his Opera Omnia amply demonstrates. 372 See Stein, >>D er Streit>>, pp. 373ff.
362 Yet this has been denied by Aharon Lichtenstein, Henry More. The Rational Theology 373
A vindication of the New Academy was attempted by the Abbe Simon Foucher,
of a Cambridge Platonist (Cambridge, Mass. 1962), p. 89 n. 141, adducing Sears .Jayne,>>Ficino who in several books asserted that the Academics were no real sceptics, see Craig B. Brush,
and the Platonism of the English Renaissance>> (Comparative Literature, 4, 1952, pp. 214- Montaigne and Bayle (International Archives of the History of Ideas, 14, The Hague, 1966),
238), which does not, however, treat of the Cambridge Platonists. In his intellectual auto- pp. 176ff. Unfortunately, none of Foucher's works has been accessible to me.
biography in the Praefatio generalissima to his Opera Philosophica (Opera Omnia, II, p. VII), See the numerous pages on Plato and the Academy in Huet's De Imbecillitate Mentis
More says explicitly, under the marginal heading >>Priorum studiorum frustratio quem foelicem H umanae Lib1·i Tres (Amsterdam, 1738), pp. 79ii. The French version, Traite philosophique
habuerit exitum>>: >>Fecit enim ut serio demum mecum cogitare inciperem, and scientia rerum, de la foiblesse de l'esp1·it humain, was published in 1723.
illa revera esset summa hominum foelicitas, an aliud quodpiam majus ac divinius. Et certe 375 See above, p. 42.
si esset, an tam, acri intentoque Autores legendi, aut res contemplandi studio, quam purga- As .Jean Le Clerc said, apropos of Proclus' Commentary on the Parmenides: >>Verum
tione animi ab omnibus omnino vitiis, esset acquirendo: praesertim cum Scriptores iam licet negare nolim hanc forte fuisse Platonis m entem, attamen non ita facile crediderim
q~i~ Pla~o
Platonicos, Marsilium Ficinum, Platinum ipsum, Mercurium Trismegistum, Mysticosque
adeo Theologos, manu versare incepissem». The list is revealing. Cf. Rutin, op.cit., pp. 43ff.,
114ff. Ficino's influence on Cudworth was demonstrated by Stein, Sieben Bucher zur Geschichte
I Proclo, aliisque ejus recentioribus discipulis, qui non tam quaerunt
quam quid sentire dobuerit, ut rationi consentanea loqueretur, & quas1 mdub1tatum assu-
ment, ita eju s interpretandam mentem, ut a veritate non recodat. Sed & hoc vitium est

des Platonismus, III, pp. l60ff. pleorumque aliorum interpretum>>. - The statement occurs in a note to Le Clerc's Latin
363 See Patrides, op.cit., pp. 4ff., 41. Cudworth even discovered the Trinitarian dogma translation of Thomas Stanley's History of Oriental Philosophy (the last part of his History
in Plato, see Stein, op.cit., III, pp. l72ff., and Aspelin, op.cit., p. 41. On this point, Ficino of Philosophy) first published in Amsterdam, 1690; it was reprinted p. ll98 in Olearius'
had been more reticent, see above, p. 25. More, for his part, identified the three P ersons L atin translation of Stanley's H istory, see below, n. 413. - Jean L e Clore is very typical
of the Christian Trinity with the three Hypostases of Plotinus, see Rutin, op.cit., pp. 108ff. of the new, critical scholarship, see Annie Barnes's monograph (Paris, 1938).
364 See above, pp. 19ff. 377
For obvious reasons, .Joannes .Jonsius, De Scriptoribus Historiae Philosophiae Libri IV
365 Aspelin, op.cit., p. 32. See further Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 170ff. Rutin, op.cit., pp. 6ff., (Frankfurt, 1669) deals mostly with classical writers. There is only a short final chapter,
and Patrides, op.cit., pp. 7ff. As Stein and Patrides point out, the circumstance that th<> with the heading: >>Viri Docti, qui sequ entibus seculis Historiam nostram Philosophicam
Cambridge Platonists rejected the works of H ermes Trismegistus and Dionysius the Areopa- illustrarunt, breviter & cursim astiguntur.>> Nearly &. hundred years later, .Jabob Brucker
gite as spurious, did not imply any essential opposition to the concept of a >>philosophia was forced to be more detailed in his great work - cf. below, n. 437. - see I, pp. 3lff., where
perennis>>, about which see Charles B. Schmitt, »Perennial Philosophy: From Agostino Steuco he gives a survey of his modern forerunners, with severe but not unfounded judgments.
to Leibniz>> (JHI, 27, 1966, pp. 505-532), and >>Prisca Theologia e Philosophia Perennis>>, A very full list of works on this subject is to be found in W. G. Tennemann, Geschichte der
quoted above, n. 338. The same is to be said of Cudworth's criticism of later Neoplatonists Philosophic, I (Leipzig, 1798 ), pp. LXXVIII ff. - It is to be regretted that there is no modern
98 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato
exhaustive treatment of the historiography of philosophy. The remarks in Louis Brehier,
Histoire de la philosophie I (Paris, 1931 ), pp. 12ff., are interesting but far too short. The same much for the same reasons, he criticizes Plato for his poetical, metaphorical style and for
must be said about John Passmore, >)The Idea of a History of Philosophy >)(The Historia- his Pythagorean use of symbols (op.cit., II, pp. 7lff.). This criticism is quoted in Gale, Court
graphy of the History of Philosophy, History and Theory, Beiheft 5, the Hague, 1965), pp. of The Gentiles, II, p. 271.
18ff., and about his article, >)Philosophy, History of>), in EPh, VI (New York, 1967), pp. 4oo Op.cit., II, p. 113.
226 - 238. The only monograph dealing with our period, Johannes Freyer, Geschichte der Porphyry, Vita Plotini 14; I use the translation by A. H. Armstrong in his Loeb-
Geschichte der Philosophie (Beitrage zur Kultur und Universalgeschichte, XIV, Leipzig, edition of Plotinus (I, London, 1966, p. 41 ).
401 a Thomas Gale's use of Vossius has been pointed out above, p. 47.
1912), is very unsatisfactory. It is, moreover, confined to Germany.
402 I owe my knowledge of most of the passages in Leibniz's writings, quoted and ana-
378 Cf. Passmore, >)Idea>), p. 19.

379 Cf. my paper, >)Luther och Aristoteles' Poetib (Lychnos, 1960 - 1961 ), p. 144. lysed h ere, to Klibansky's paper, >)Plato's Parmenides in the Middle Ages and the Renais-
3 8° Georgii Hornii Historiae Philosophicae libri septem. Quibus De origine, successione, sance>), pp. 329ff. There seems to be no special study of Leibniz's relations to Plato, but see
sectis & vita Philosoprum ab obte condito ad nostrum aetatem agitur (Leyden, Elsevir, 1655). Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 250ff., who quotes other statements by L eibniz on Plato, though Stein
I have u sed a copy of this original edition in KB. - Horn does not quite fulfil his promise, does not stress Leibniz's criticism of the Neoplatonic interpretation, most of the statements
for the account closes with Ramus, though in the Preface Horn speaks with admiration of quoted by Klibansky, being then unpublished.
4 0 3 On Nizolio, see above, pp. 35ff.
his age as a >)Seculum Philosophicum>), and mentions Gassendi, Hobbes, and Descartes (p. 7,
of. pp. 320ff.). - On Horn, see the article in Biographisch W oordenbook van Protestantsche G. W. Leibniz, Die philosophischen Schriften, eel. C. J. Gerhardt, IV (Berlin, 1880),
Godgeleerden in Nederland, ed. J.P. D. Brie & J. Loosj es, IV (The Hague, 1931), pp. 304 - p. 176.
405 See Klibansky, l.c. 406 Cf. above, n. 373.
310, and Passmore, >)Philosophy, Historiography of>), p. 227.
381 See Brucker's severe judgment (op.cit., I, p. 35), though he adds: >)Etsi laudandus 407 Leibniz, op.cit., I (Berlin, 1875), p. 380. The text was first published in Paris, 1854.

vel propetera sit, quod primus fere ausus sit nobilissimam historiae partem concinno exhibere Leibniz includes Francesco Patrizzi in the conclamnation.
408 Leibniz, op.cit., III (Berlin, 1890 ), pp. 147ff. Ernst Cassirer has given a rather free
382 Horn, op.cit., p. 5. German translation of a part of the relevant passage in his Platonische Renaissance in England,
3 83 Op.cit., p. 193. Horn refers to Georgius Trapezuntius' book against Plato, see above, pp. l08ff.
p. 18. See the letters to Pierre Coste (1713) and Nicolas Remond (10 January 1714), Leibniz,
384 L.c. 385 Op.cit., pp. 217ff. 386 Op.cit., 269ff. Op.cit., p. 273. 388 Op.cit., pp. 32lff. op.cit., III (Berlin, 1887), pp. 436 and 605.
389 See the amusing description of Horn's way of composing his books in Ch. G. Jocher, See Stein, op.cit., III, p. 250 n.2. The most important of these utterances, the letter
Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexicon II (Leipzig, 1750), cols. 1708 - 09. to Michael Gottlieb Hansch (25 July 1707), praises Plato as the ancient philosopher who
390 I - IV (London, 1655 - 62), reprinted 1687, 1701, 1743 . I have used a copy of the comes nearest to Christianity, and expresses Leibniz's general agreement with Platonism,
edition of 1687 in UUB. In this edition, the subtitle was changed to >)Containing the Lives see. G. G. Leibnitii Opera Omnia, eel. L. Dutens, II:1 (Geneva, 1768), pp. 222 - 225. The
Opinions, Actions and Discourses of the Philosophers of every Sect>). letter does not refer to our problem, on the contrary, Plotinus is quoted with approval.
391 Thomas Stanley is nowadays mainly known as an excellent minor poet, see G. M. 411 Cassirer, op.cit., p. 108.
412 On Olearius, see the short notice by G. Miiller, in Realencyclopadie fur protestantische
Crump's edition of Stanley's Poems and Translations (Oxford, 1962). Margaret Flower has
compiled >)A Bibliography of his writings in Prose and Verse (1647 - 1743)>), in Transactions Theologie und Kirche, XIV (3d eel., Leipzig, 1904), pp. 357ff., who wrongly elates the transla-
of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, I (1949 - 53), pp. 139 - 172. Despite the title, the tion of Stanley to 1702.
413 Historia philosophiae vitas, opiniones resque gestas et dicta Philosophorum sectae cuiusvis
Latin translation of 1740 is not listed.
392 On this point, Fr. Ueberweg seems to me to have been right, pace Passmore, who complexa autore Thoma Stanleio ex Anglico sermone in Latinum translata, emendata, variis
polemizes against him (>)Idea>), p. 20). But the imitation of Diogenes was pointed out already dissertationibus atque observationibus aucta, I - II (Leipzig, 1711). I have used a copy in
by Brucker, op.cit., I, p. 36. UUB. - The translator's name is not mentioned in the book, but we know that he was
393 Stanley, op.cit., pp. 180 - 196. Olearius, see, e .g., Brucker, op.cit., I, p. 36.
394 Diogenes Laertius' account of the Academy closes with Clitomachus. If Stanley 414 >)De philosophia eclectica>) (op.cit., II, pp. 1205 - 1222).

415 See, e.g., op.cit., II, pp. 1206, 1211.

included Philon and Antiochus, it was certainly because they are often mentioned by Cicero.
416 Op.cit., II, pp. 1218ff., 122lff. 417 See above, pp. 23ff.
Stanley's total silence about later Platonists, especially the Neoplatonists, was ironically
418 See above, pp. 39ff. 4 19 Op.cit., II, p. 1220.
commented upon by his German translator, see the address to the reader in the Latin edition,
42 0 Strangely enough, in his comprehensive work, Die Hellenisierung des Christentums,
mentioned below, n. 413.
The Hague, 1657; constituting Volume II of De Philosophia et Philosophorum Sectis; W. Glawe does not even mention Olearius.
421 On Mosheim, see Karl Heussi's monograph (Tiibingen, 1906) which in this context,
Volume I was published in 1658. I have used a copy of this first edition in KB.
In his dedicatory epistle to Conrad van Berningen, which opens Vol. I. Cf. Brucker, however, is of lesser importance than his earlier study, Die Kirchengeschichtsschreibung
op.cit., I, p. 35. Johann Lorenz von Mosheims (Geschichtliche Untersuchungen, IV, Gotha, 1904), of. further
39 7 The lists are not paginated.
F. Ch. Baur's famous old work, Die Epochen der Kirchlichen Geschichtsschreibung, PP· ll8-
399 On Potamon, see Praechter, Philosophie des Altertums,1 2 pp. 565ff. l32, Karl Volker, Die Kirchengeschichtsschreibung der Aufklarung (Tiibingen, 1921 ), passim,
398 What Vossius says about Plato is short and of little interest. Like Melanchthon, and Walter Nigg, Die Kirchengeschichtsschreibung (Miinchcn, 1934), pp. l00 - ll8, and Seeberg,
Gottfried Arnold, pp. 579ff.
100 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato COMMENTATIONES HUMANARUM LITTERARUM 52 101

422 The printing began in 1729, see Hcussi, Mosheim, p. 133. Boureau-Deslandes, see Rolf Geissler, >>Die Entstehung einer kritischen Philosophiegeschichte
423 Systema intellectuale huius mundi (J ena, 1733 ), p. 273 n.41, apropos of what Cudworth in der franzii sischen Aufklarung>> (Neue Beitrage zur Literaturwissenschajt, 21, Neue B eitrage
says about Plato's gods, Cap. IV & XIV, cf. alsop. 290 n. 68 III. - I have used a copy in KB. zur Philosophie der Aujklarung, B erlin, 1964, pp. 59 - 75, 334 - 342).
424 Op. cit., p. 273 n. 41. 439 From a Marxist viewpoint, Geissler tries hard to exalt Boureau-Deslandes's book as
42 5 De turbata per recentiores Platonicos Ecclesia commentatio, with separate pagination. an expression of the spirit of French enlightenment, despite the awkward fact that the En-
- The study was reprinted in Mosheim's Dissertationes ad historiam ecclesiasticam pertinentes, cyclopedists u sed Brucker not D eslandes, see b elow n. 479. - On Plato, D sslandes is as
I (2d ed., Altona & Flensburg, 1743), pp. 85 - 216. In this reprint, Mosheim abstained from superficial as on other points: Plato is reproach ed for having kept his true opinions secret.
adding further material, confining himse lf to referring to Brucker's work, which had just (I, p. 196) and for having contradicted himself and thereby troubling his readers (I, pp
appeared, but stressing some differences between himself and Brucker (op.cit., I, pp. 753ff.) . 20 lf). Not unexpectedly, our author finds the N eoplatonists unintelligible, esp ecially Plotinus,
Mosheim gave a resume of his views in Institutionum H istoriae Ecclesiasticae libri quatuor and marvels at their popularity with the Fathers (III, pp. 133ff.). Brucker's severe judgment
(Helmstedt, 1755), pp. 78ff. - Concerning this study, see Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 40ff., and (I, p. 37) seems wholly justified; in the second edition of his book, D eslandes protested against
>>Der Streit tiber den angeblichen Platonismus der Kirchenvater>> , pp. 408ff., H eu ssi, Kirchen- Brucker, see Geissler, op.cit., p. 74. - Evidently his book is written at second hand. We
geschichtsschreibung, pp. 45ff., Volker, op.cit., pp. 57ff., and especially Glawe, op.cit., pp. may well wonder, whether D eslandes had read anything more of Plato than the t en Dia-
152ff., who gives an exhaustive account of Mosheim's views of Platonism and its relations logues, translated by Dacier.
with Christianity. 440 See »Cautelae observandae>> (Historia critica, I, pp. 13ff.), where Brucker formulates
426 D e Turbata, etc., pp. 5ff., 8ff., 1lff.
his critical principles, most of them accepted by modern scholars. H e does not, however,
427 Op. cit ., p. 3. 428 Op.cit., p. 14. 429 Op.cit., p. 13. 430 See above, p. 48.
discuss the authenticity of the Platonic writings, but refers the reader to J. A. Fabricius,
431 Salvo errore, Mosheim never cites Serranus' attack on the Neoplatonists, but it is
Bibliotheca Graeca, see op.cit., I, p. 656.
very improbable that so learned a man as Mosheim did not know of it, the more so as it
441 Op. cit ., I, pp. 50-62. 442 Op.cit., I, p. 363.
occurred in the most famous edition of Plato. - As to Theophilus Gale, Mosheim seems
443 Brucke r dedicated Vol. V of Kttrtze Fmgen aus der philosophischen His torie to Mos-
to have ignored him, for the »Vir egregius>>, Th. Gale, who is critized for his excessive love
heim, who, however, shared this honour with C. A. H eumann and J. A. Fabricius.
of the Platonists (Cudworth, p. 975 n.2, in Mosheim's dissertation on the G1·eatio ex nihilo)
444 Brucker, op.cit., I, pp. 2lff. See Brehie r, H istorie de la philosophie, I p. 18, and Pass-
is not Theophilus but his contemporary Thomas Gale, who in 1678 edited I amblichus' D e
mysteriis - the very book which caused Mosheim's criticism - see Charles B. Schmitt, more, >>Idea of a History of Philosophy>>, pp. 20ff., who is very unfavourable to Brucker.
>>Prisca Thoologia e Philosophia P erennis», p. 228. Cf. Alt. op.cit., p. 79.
445 Thus, naturally, H egel, see V Mlesungen iiber Geschichte der Philosophie, I, (sa'TI.tliche
432 Op.cit., pp. 40ff.
433 In a note to Cudworth's book (p. 703 n. 73), Mosheim mentions that the Cambridge W erke, ed. H . Glockner, 17, 3d ed., Stuttgart, 1959), pp. 146f., > Dieses W ark is so ein grosser
Platonists were critazed by their contemporaries for their exaggerated love of Plato, mec, Ballast>>, cf. Passmore, op.cit., p. 2lff. More balanced are the judgmonts of W . G. T ennemg,nn,
ut. puto, sine omni causa>>. H e refers to Sam. Parker, Impartial Gensttre of the Platonic philo- Geschichte der Philosophie, I, p. LXXVI, and Victor Cousin, Gours de l'histoire de la philo-
sophie (Oxford, 1666), which h as not been accessible to me. sophie, I, Introduction a l'histoire de la philosophie (Nouvelle edition, Paris, 1842), pp. 368ff.,
434 See H eussi, Kirchengeschichtsschreibung, pp. 56ff. Concerning Mosheim's theological of. Stein, op.cit., III, p. 332 n.7 . and Glawe, op.cit., pp. 182ff.
position - a sincere but latitudinarian Lutheranism - see Emmanuel Hirsch, Geschichte 446 Concerning Brucker's treatment of Plato, see Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 332ff., and Alt.
der neueren evangelischen Theologie, II (Giitersloh, 1951), pp. 354ff. op.cit., pp. 73ff. Apropos of Tennemann, of. below, pp. OOff.
435 H eu ssi, op.cit., p. 56 n.l. 447 Historia philosophica doctrinae de Ideis (Augsburg, 1723; published anonymDusly).
436 K. Alt's dissertation, Jakob Brucker, ein Schulmeister des 18. Jahrhunderts (Erlangen, I quote from a copy in KB.
1926), is a mere collection of biographical and bibliographical material. The remarks on 448 Op. cit., pp. 32ff. In this context, Brucker quotes the remark by L e Clerc, cited above.
Brucker in Freyer, op.cit., pp. 22ff., are among the b est in this book. There is also a good n. 376.
section on Brucker in Jacques Proust, Diderot et l'Encyclopedie (Paris, 1962), pp. 244ff. 449 Historia critica, II, pp. 189-462.
Cf. further G. Kohl-Fuhrtmann' s article in Neue D eutsche B iographie, II (Miinchen, 1955), 450 Op.cit., pp. 205ff., cf. VI, pp. 363ff., 384ff.
p. 647. Franz H erre's contribution to L ebensbilder aus dem Bayerischen Schwaben, 6, Munich, 451 Cf. Stein, op.cit., III, p. 47.
1958), pp. 372 - 387, is slight. 452 See, e.g., Historia critica, II, pp. 229ff., 257, 260ff., 319ff.
437 Historia Gritica philosophiae a mundi incunabulis ad nostram usque aetatem deducta, 453 Op.cit., II, p. 365. 454 Op.cit., II, pp. 358ff.
I - IV: 1 - 2 (Leipzig, 1742 -44) . All references a re to this edition. In 1767, these five volumes 455 Op.cit., III, pp. 328ff. 456 Op.cit., III, pp. 52lff.
were reprinted and a sixth volume added, containing >>accessiones, observationes, emenda- 457 Op.cit., IV:1, pp. 53ff., cf. 355. 458 Op.cit., IV:1, pp. 437ff.
tiones, illustrationes atque supplementa>>; in 1747 and 1756, an abr idged ed ition was pub- 459 Op. cit., IV:1, pp. 434ff.
lished, see Alt, op.cit., pp. 64ff. 46° See the sections >>D e Academia 1nedia>> and >>D e Academia nova>>, op.cit., I, PP· 7-!6-
438 Histoire critique de la philosophie ou l'on traite de son origine, de ses progres, et de diverses 775, cf. II, p. 162.
Revolutions qui lui sont arrivees jusqu' a notre tems, I - III (Amsterdam, 1737). I have used 461 Op.cit., I, pp. 752ff. Brucker's main authority is Augustine, see above, pp. 7ff.
462 Op.cit ., I, p. 16. 463 Op.cit., I, p. 15.
a copy in KB. This edition does not conta in Book X, which, according to the programme,
should treat of the »Renaissance des L ettres et de !a Philosophic en Europe•>. This section 464 See the explicit declaration: >>Nos dictorum m emores, ad ipsum P1atonem ejusque
was added to a new edition, published in I 7 56, which has not been accessible to m e. 0 n dialogos respioiemus, & quantum lic:et, ejus vcrb[L & ratocinia ita expendemus ut n exum.
102 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato

484 The Edinburg Review, April 1809, pp. 194ff. The reviewer· had certainly read Brucker
potissimum systematics secundum fidei historiae & artis rationalis leges eruamus>> (op.cit., in Latin, but in 1791 William Enfield had published an English abridgment, cf. Passmore,
I, p. 669). >>The Idea of a History of Philosophy>>, p. 20.
465 See my paper, Interpreting Plato, where this fact is demonstrated in detail.
485 I owe my knowledge of this fact to Pa33mJre, l.c. - CJleridge however, spoke of
466 Op.cit., I, pp. 659-668.
Brucker's work as >>a wilderness in six huge Quartos>>, see S, T. Coleridge, Philosophical
467 Heinrich von Stein, op.cit., III, p. 334, speaks severely but not unfairly of Brucker's
Lectures, eel. Kathleen Coburn (London, 19±9), p. 56. Th'tt did not prevent him from using
lack of any real understanding of Plato. Brucker in his own lectures on the history of philosophy, e.g., when talking about the Neo-
468 See above, passim., and Interpreting Plato.
platonists or, as he, like Brucker, calls them, Eclectics, see op.cit., pp. 237ff., cf. G. N. G.
469 Brucker closes his account of the various causes of Plato's obscurity with these words:
Orsini, Coleridge and Germ~n Idealism (CMbondale & Evansville, 1969), p. 43. But Cole -
>>Ex disputatis hactenus constare arbitremur, quam difficile sit, vcram Platonicae philo- ridge also used profusely W. G. '.rennem'tnn, Geschichte der Philosophie, see balow, n. 529.
sophiac effigicm ita delineasse, ut omnia recto atque firmo stent talo, & indubitata nitentur 486
The Edinbttrgh Review, April 1809, p. 19;): >>0n3 of th9 most remarkable features of
fide: clarumque esse, non cxigua attentione & accurata ratiocinatione opus esse ut pro-
the writings of Plato is that h9 affirms nothing; whereas the friends of Mr Taylor, [th 3
babilibus conjecturis vera Platonis mEns detegatun> (op.cit., I, p. 668).
Neoplatonists] are the most desperately affirmative of all human beings>>.
470 I -III (Ulm, 1731-36); I have used a copy in UUB. In 1737, a new edition was
4 8 7 I-IV (Marburg, 1791 -97). I have used a copy in UUB.
FubliEhcd, in 1736 end 1751 en abstract. Alt, op.cit., pp. 58ff., gives an detailed summary
of the content. On Tiedemann, see 0. Liebm'tnn's article in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, XXXVIII
471 I-LXIV+ Suppl. I-V (1732-54); I use a copy in KB. Concerning the Zedler, (Leipzig, 1894), pp. 276-277. His work h'ts been treated of by Freyer, op.cit., pp. 60ff.,
see Robert Collison, Encyclopaedias. Their History throughout the Ages (2d ed., London, 85ff.; the section on Plato by Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 335ff. As was to be expected, Hegel had
1966), pp. 104ff., and Elgar Bliihm, >>Johann Heinrich Zedler und sein Lexikom (Jahrbuch a deep contempt for Tiedemann, see Geschichte der Philosophie, I (Sammtliche Werke, 17),
der Schlesischen Friedrich- Wilhelms· Universitdt zu Breslan, VII, 1962, pp. 184- 200). p. 147, cf>> H. W. Walsh, >>Hegel on th3 History of Philosophy>> (The Historiography of the
472 Op.cit., XXVIII (1741 ), cols. 727-741.
History of Philosophy), p. 69.
473 See Kurtze Fmgen, I, pp. 627ff., and Historia critica, I, pp. 659ff. See Geist der spekulativen Philosophie, III, pp. 26lff., 433. Tiedem:mn is obviously
474 He may even have beEn Brucker himself, for the many learned contributors to the reacting against Mosheim and Brucker.
Zedler are unknown, cf. Collison, l.c. When Vol. XXVIII was published, the general editor 490
Geist, III, pp. 130ff., 179ff., Like Gale, whom hs pro~J.b!y did not know, Tiedem'tnn
was the \\'olfian philosopher Carl Gunther J.udovici. used the term >>Neoplatonists>>, or as he writes, >>Neu Pla\oniker>>. Like Brucker, hs calls
475 Cf. Zedler, XXVIII, col. 729, and Bisto1·ia critica, I, pp. 665-668. them also >>Eclectics>> (p. 189). But according to him even th9 Old Academy was unfaithful
476 Cf. Zedler, XXVIII, cols. 729ff., Kurtze Fragen, I, pp. 639ff., and Historia critica, to Plato (II, pp. 328ff.). Tiedemann also follows Bruck'lr in his unfavourable view of modern
I, pp. 670ff. Platonists. Thus he says of Ficino that the !attar was >>more hot-hsaded than clear-headed>>
4 7 7 See Zedler, XXVIII, cols. 728ff., where it is stated that »die jiingere (!) Platonici, (V, p. 327) and Pico della Mirandola is judged severely (V, pp. 327ff.). The Cambridge Pla-
von Hierocles und Porphyrius an, die Platonische Philosophic der Christlichen Religion tonists are better treated, but of Cudworth it is disapprovingly said that he trusted too
entgegen zu setzen gesucht, und damit sie ihrem Wahn nach, desto herrlicher heraus kame, much in >>his New Platonists>> (V, pp. 492ff.).
491 Geist, I, pp. XXII ff. 492 See Interpreting Plato.
sie mit tausenderley Grillen, an welche Platen niemals gedacht hat, angefiillet und ver-
493 See the section Geist, II, pp. 192ff., cf. p. 73.
derbet habem.
47 8 Diderot's contribution to 1he Encyclopedie and his use of Brucker have been carefully 494 Tiedemann believed that several Platonic works had been lost. (Geist, II, p. 192).

investigated in Jacques Proust's work, cited above, n. 436. 495 There seems to be no monograph on Tennemann, but see 0. Liebmann's short article
479 L'Encycl~pcdie, XII (Neuchatel [Paris], 1765), p. 515. It is curtly added: >>On peut
in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, XXXVII (Leipzig, 1894), pp. 565ff., and Max Wundt,
aussi lire l'histoire de Ia Philosophie par M. Deslandes>>. Evidently, the writer has no high Die Philosophie an der Universitdt Jena (Jena, 1932), pp. 193ff., cf. Freyer, op.cit., pp. 128ff.
opinion of him. According to Proust, op.cit., pp. 128ff., Diderot is probably not the author The best appreciation of Tennemann's Platonic studies is that of Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 337ff.
of the article, but he certainly approved of the conclusions, cf. Proust, op.cit., pp. 255ff. 496 I-IV (Leipzig, 1792-95). I quote from a copy in KB.
480 As to Diderot's use of Brucker, see Proust, op.cit., pp. 548ff., who is, however, inclined
497 I-XI (Leipzig, 1798-1819). At the author's death the work was left unfinished.
to minimize Diderot's dependence on Brucker. 498 Op.cit., II, pp. 188-528. 49 9 System, I, pp. 267ff., 282ff.
481 L'Encyclopedie, V (1755}, pp. 270-293. The heading is preceded by an asterisk, which 501 Op.cit., I, pp. Vff.
5oo Op.cit., I, p. Xff.
shows that the article is by Diderot, cf. Proust, op.cit., pp. 137ff., 549ff. 502 Op.cit., I, p. VIII. 503 VI (1807); passim.
482 L'Encyclopedie, XII, pp. 745-753. The article though unsigned is by Diderot, see
504 Op.cit., IX (1814}, pp. 130ff. 505 System, I, pp. XIf., cf. Geschichte, II, p. 203.
Proust, op.cit., pp. 128ff., 553ff. 506 System, I, p. 83.
483 The Edinburgh Review, April1809 (N° XXVII), pp. 187-211. The anonymous reviewer
507 Op.cit., I, p. XXII. This seems to be directed against Tiedemann, cf. above, P· 81.
must have been a good classical scholar, to judge from his pertinent remarks on Taylor's As Vol. II of Tiedemann's book was published a year before Vol. I of Tennemann's mono-
faulty translation. Concerning this review see Frank B. Evans III, >>Thomas Taylor, Platonist graph - in 1791 - the latter must have read it.
of the Romantic Period>> (PMLA, 55, 1940), p. 1070, and Kathleen Raine's introduction 608 Op.cit., I, p. 84.
to the edition of Taylor's Selected Writings (mentioned above, n. 368), pp. 23ff. In the biblio- 509 Needless to say, Tennemann did not consider the New Academy truly Platonic, see
graphy attacked to this selection (p. 535) it is stated that the review is msually attributed Geschichte IV (1803), pp. 188ff., 333ff. To him, as to Brucker, Plato was no scepetic.
to James Mill».
104 E. N. TIGERSTEDT, The Decline and Fall of the Neoplatonic Interpretation of Plato
time, Alcinous - is not mentioned by Tennemann in this context. The fragment of Aristocles'
510 System, I, pp. l25ff., cf. Geschichte, II, pp. 214ff. History of Philosophy extant in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica, which Tennemann diffi.
511 System, I, pp. 137ff.
dently adduces, does not speak of any oral esoteric Platonic philosophy, see Aristoclis Messe-
512 vVe should remember that System der platonischen Philosophie was published during
nii reliquiae, ed. Hermann Heiland (Diss. Giessen, 1925), pp. 27 (fr. 1).
54 The modern Esoterists mention Tennemann very seldom. H. J. Kramer says, however,
the religious reaction in Prussia which had followed upon the Enlightenment under Frederick
the Great and was persecuting the Kantian philosophy, see Paul Schwartz, Der erste Kultur· in a note that he is still >>lesenswert>> (Arete bei Platon und Aristoteles, p. 381 n.3).
kampf in Preussen um Kirche und Schule (Monumenta Germaniae Paedagogica, LVIII,
Berlin, 1928).
513 System, I, pp. l25ff.

514 System, I, pp. l39ff., cf. Geschichte, II, p. 203.

515 System, I, p. 84, and Geschichte, II, p. 204.
516 System, I, p. 266 and Geschichte, II, pp. 22lf.
517 System, I, pp. l28ff., and 264.

518 On this point, Tcnnemann seems to follow Tiedemann, see above, p. 64.
519 System, I, pp. 264ff., and Geschichte, II, p. 218.
520 See Interpr:_eting Plato.

521 Tennemann seems to havebeen the originator of the curious idea that Aristotle,
when speaking of Plato's >>unwritten doctrines>>, was in fact referring to a written work, see
System, I, p. 114, cf. Interpreting Plato.
522 System, I, p. 114.

523 System, I, p. 266, and Geschichte, II, pp. 216ff.

524 System, I, p. 154. 525 Op.cit., I, p. 155.
526 Op.cit., I, p. 159. 527 See Interpreting Plato.
529 Coleridge read Tennemann's Geschichte der Philosophie closely - his copy of the book

with copious Marginalia is now in the British Museum - and accepted the thesis about an
esoteric Platonism but protested against Tennemann's Kantianism, see Philosophical Lectures,
pp. 18, 56ff., 159ff., 165, 175ff., 237ff., 295ff., 425ff. Another point of dispute was Coleridge's
high opinion of Neoplatonism, which he never clearly distinguished from Platonism, see
Orsini, Coleridge and German Idealism, pp. 42, 55, but cf. p. 146.
530 Thus Stein, op.cit., III, pp. 337ff.
531 Coleridge spoke of>> the Procrustean Bed of Kantian Formalism>> (op.cit., p. 428).

53 2 System, I, p. 215. 533 Op.cit., IV, pp. 270 - 301.

534 Op.cit., IV, p. 289. 535 Geschichte, VI, pp. 44ff.
536 System, I, pp. Iliff. 537 See above, p. 7.
538 The lectures were published after Hegel's death by his pupil K. L. Michelet. I quote

from the reprint in the »Jubilaumsausgabe>> by Hermann Glockner, Samtliche W erke, 17 - 19

(3d ed., Stuttgart, 1959). Of. Julius Stenzel, »Hegels Auffassung der griechischen Philosophie>>
(Kleine Schrijten zur griechischen Philosophie, 2d ed., Darmstadt, 1957, pp. 307 - 318).
539 Vorlesungen, II (Samtliche Werke, 18), pp. 220.
540 Op.cit., pp. 183ff. 541 Op.cit., p. 190.

542 H egel had a low opinion about Tennemann's Geschichte der Philosophie, expecially

the sections on ancient philosophy, see Vorlesungen, I (Samtliche Werke, 17), p. 148.
Vorlesungen, II (Samtliche Werke, 18), pp. 179ff., cf. 238.
544 See Hegel's contemptuous words about Schleiermacher, op.cit., p. 179.
54 5 See Interpreting Plato.
546 See System, I, pp. 264ff., where Tennemann tries hard to convince himself and his

readers that Plato's esoteric philosophy was a complete system. The way in which he uses
words like »mutmasslich>>, >>wahrscheinlich>>, »Vermuthung>>, >>scheint», etc. reveals his doubts,
whether the existence of such a system can be proved by recourse to the ancient sources.
In contrast to modern Esoterists, Tennemann admitted that Numenius' statement about
Plato's secret teaching referred only to his theology. Albinus - or as he was called at the

BT Bibliotheca Teubneriana The name of Plato and the names in the notes are not included.
DHGE Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Geographic Ecclesiastiques
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GKW Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke Ammonius of Athens pp. 52. Fleury, Claude pp. 43 ff.,
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Communicated April 1973 2. Heiskan ative and
5· Kivimaa ctions in
Chaucer 5.,