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A Threat to Public PietyChristians, Platonists, and the Great Persecution$
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Elizabeth DePalma Digeser

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801441813

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801441813.001.0001

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Schism in the Ammonian Community

Schism in the Ammonian Community

Porphyry v. Iamblichus

(p.98) Chapter 4 Schism in the Ammonian Community
A Threat to Public Piety

Elizabeth DePalma Digeser

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the rift between Porphyrians and Iamblichaeans, the earliest evidence for which appears in Porphyry of Tyre's treatise On Abstinence. More specifically, it analyzes the debate between Porphyry and Iamblichus over rituals. Porphyry explains in On Abstinence the harmful effects of pollution (especially from eating animal flsh) on the soul of someone striving to live philosophically. Clues in the text suggest that Castricius, to whom the work is dedicated, abandoned Porphyry to pursue the philosophical life with Iamblichus. This chapter first considers issues of common ground and terminology among Platonists before discussing Plotinus's view of rituals. It then establishes what is known about Iamblichus's formation and goes on to explore the points of contact and disagreement between him and Porphyry. It also explains how Porphyry formulated his own theology for the return of the soul in a system that stipulated different practices for different types of souls.

Keywords:   souls, Porphyry of Tyre, On Abstinence, Iamblichus, rituals, Castricius, philosophical life, Platonists

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