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Patterns of Perfection in Damascius' Life of Isidore

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In this article, it is shown that, following the precedent set in particular by Marinus' Life of Proclus, Damascius, in his Life of Isidore, uses biography so as to illustrate philosophical progress through the Neoplatonic scale of virtues. Damascius applies this scale, however, to a wide range of figures belonging to pagan philosophical circles of the fifth century AD: they show different degrees and forms of progress in this scale and thus provide an edificatory panorama of patterns of philosophical perfection. Each level of the scale of virtues is shown to be exemplified in Damascius' biographies. It is suggested that few, in Damascius' opinion, reached the highest levels of virtue and that philosophical decline is intimated in his descriptions of his contemporaries.


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