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Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy$
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Alan Cameron

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190268947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190268947.001.0001

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The Last Days of the Academy at Athens

The Last Days of the Academy at Athens

(p.205) 10 The Last Days of the Academy at Athens
Wandering Poets and Other Essays on Late Greek Literature and Philosophy

Alan Cameron

Oxford University Press

Justinian’s closing of the Academy at Athens in 529 AD is a familiar story. Under pressure from the Christian emperor, seven philosophers, heirs to Plato’s teachings, left for Persia, which, they had heard, resembled their master’s ideal state under its king, Chosroes. On discovering how far it fell short of the ideal, they returned, to either Athens or Harrân, on the Persian border, where they set up a school. However, discussing in detail the relevant texts of Agathias, Damascius, and other neoplatonists, this chapter proposes that, under consideration, most of the familiar story unravels. It is not clear that Justinian “closed” anything, or that the “Academy” as it existed in the sixth century was actually continuous with Plato’s garden, or that the expedition to Persia was other than a kind of sabbatical. What remained of the school of Athens drew to a close later, and for different reasons.

Keywords:   Academy at Athens, neoplatonist philosophers, Damascius, Agathias, Chosroes, king of Persia, Justinian

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