Thursday, 5 February 2015

Olga Alieva: Protreptic and Paraenesis in the Late Antique Literature

Workshop: Protreptic and Paraenesis in the Late Antique Literature

(Rethinking the protreptic in Neoplatonism and Early Christianity
In the II and III cent. AD the genre of protreptic experienced an extraordinary revival both in the pagan camp and in the Christian one, and in both cases this revival had to do with fundamental reconsideration of conversion, which was now taken to be non-discursive in its ultimate cause. In Clement of Alexandria’s Protrepticus the notion of protreptic gained a broader meaning: now it is not only a literary genre, λόγος προτρεπτικός, but the exhorting and converting God, leading us to salvation —Λόγος Προτρεπτικός. Origen’s student St. Gregory the Thaumaturge also says in his Address to Origen that it is God-Logos himself who inspired his love for Origen and true philosophy. In the Neoplatonist camp the same “metaphysical” shift happened to the notion of conversion. In Plotinus, discoursive thinking and persuasion are only “images” of noetic contemplation. The latter happens when our soul, purged of all the affects of the body, turns towards itself and at the same time towards the inner god. The Plotinean idea that self-knowledge is the starting point for ἐπιστροφή and the knowledge “of the all” was later elaborated by Porphyry in Περὶ τοῦ γνῶθι σαυτόν and in the Letter to Marcella. The aim of my paper is to trace the evolution of this genre in a broader philosophical context of the II-III cent.)



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