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A Platonic Cento in Cicero

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image of Phronesis

De Divinatione 1.115 has been ascribed in the past to Posidonius, to 'a Pythagoreanizing Posidonius', or to 'the Stoics'. Its emphasis on the soul's eternity and knowledge of 'all things in Hades and on earth' precludes such sources. I point out that the passage contains clear reminiscences of the myth of transmigration and αναμνησις in Meno and of a passage in the myth of Er, probably combining them with Republic 571-2. No philosopher or school known to us could be Cicero's source for such a combination, taking, as it does, such details of the Platonic myths as literal truths. I suggest that Cicero's source for this passage was some contemporary or slightly earlier 'Pythagoreanizing Platonist', whose identity can no longer be established.

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1999-02-01
2016-12-05

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