Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, Vol 10, No 2 (2008)

The Prevailing Circumstances: The Pagan Philosophers of Athens in a Time of Stress

Emilie F. Kutash
Issued Date: 21 Nov 2009


The phrase, “prevailing circumstances” (tois Parousin oikeian) is one that can be found in the work of Damascius, Proclus, Simplicius and Olympiodorus, all Neoplatonic philosophers of the Athenian School during Late Antiquity. The fact that Proclus and his successors employed veiled expressions regarding the Christian threat documents their ongoing struggle with Christian authority. The brief reign of Julian the Apostate (360-363) was a crucial juncture for pagan political survival. The Academy in Athens founded by Plutarch and organized by Proclus and his followers was an institution with little continuity with Plato’s original academy. Proclus and his followers incorporated the oriental gods, theurgic practices and promoted Platonic theology much as did Julian with a new resoluteness. There are direct links which connect the Athenian school and its prominent teachers to Julian’s followers This paper documents the ongoing pagan-Christian struggle in the Athenian School , their continued allegiance to Julian and raises the question whether they were more actively politically subversive than their writings let on..

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DOI: 10.1558/pome.v10i2.184


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