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3. Number And Content Of Books: Stylistic Cleansing And Purported Vetusta Placita

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents an evaluation of Diels' source-criticism. His interpretative comparison of the Placita with Augustine's information on a doxographical work of Celsus in six books is flawed. Similarity is achieved at the cost of removing those parts of the work that fail to fit Augustine's description of Celsus' approach. The macrostructure of the treatise should not be interpreted with Celsus in mind but rather against the backdrop of the traditions of natural philosophy. After the introductory paragraphs the first book deals with the principles/elements, God and the gods, and a series of concepts in theoretical physics. The second book deals with the cosmos in general and celestial phenomena. The third is about atmospheric phenomena, the earth, and the sea. The fourth deals with the river Nile, the soul, the senses, speech, and breath. The fifth is about dreams, procreation, embryology, sterility, living beings, sleep, growth, and health.

Keywords: Augustine; Celsus; Content of Books; Diels; doxographical work; Number; Purported Vetusta Placita; source-criticism; Stylistic Cleansing



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