Aaron Johnson

Aaron P. Johnson (Lee University): 'The Philosophical Uses of historia in Porphyry'. Listen here.

One of the most signal differences between Plotinus and his student Porphyry whether in content, tone, or topical range is the profusion of historical information and interests in the writings of the latter. While Porphyry was never named a histōr (but rather a philosophos who was polymathēs and polytheamōn), investigations into areas that we would distinguish as historical, ethnographic, scientific, and philological are offered in almost every work of his surviving corpus. These are precisely the sort of areas of inquiry that fell under the ancient rubric of historia. The paper to be delivered at Oxford will examine the occurrence of historia in Porphyry’s writings, before turning to some particular problems attendant on any attempt to appreciate his historiographical assumptions.