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Recollection and Prophesy in the De Divinatione

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image of Phronesis

In the light of Glucker's claim to have found in De Divinatione 1.115 a separate, unnamed Pythagorean-Platonic influence on Cicero, I examine the passage again with special reference to early Platonic interpretation. I find that the Meno's influence is wider than had been suspected, suggesting (i) the correspondence between the two types of 'natural' divination, dreams and ecstatic prophecy, and (ii) the kinship of souls. Posidonius' influence on the underlying interpretation of Platonic psychology is to be detected, insofar as he would have read Meno 81d as a statement about all souls (together) having all available knowledge. However, Cratippus, Cicero's other main source, can be held to have directly borrowed from Meno 81d2-3 for his crowning argument (De Div. 1.71), and it is likely that other material that uses 81d would also stem from Cratippus.

A little is known elsewhere of early interpretation of the Meno. Comparison with other early 'Platonist' material suggests strongly that we must look to Antiochus' school for this view that dreams regularly contain substantial truth explicable in terms of the nature of soul. This would lead once again to Cratippus, and nothing prevents our detecting his hand behind 1.115. Indeed 1.70, which Glucker uses to argue that Cratippus' dream-divining soul would literally have to leave the body, only makes good sense when understood metaphorically.


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