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Aristotle on the Etruscan Robbers: A Core Text of "Aristotelian

Bos, A. P.
Journal of the History of Philosophy, Volume 41, Number 3, July
2003, pp. 289-306 (Article)
Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press
DOI: 10.1353/hph.2003.0024
For additional information about this article
Access Provided by The Ohio State University at 04/12/12 2:12PM GMT
* Abraham P. Bos is Professor of Ancient and Patristic Philosophy at the Free University,
Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 41, no. 3 (2003) 289306
Aristotle on the Etruscan Robbers:
A Core Text of Aristotelian
A B R A H A M P. B O S *
1 . A N O N - P L A T O N I C D U A L I S M I N A R I S T O T L E S L O S T W O R K S
THE SOUL OF A MORTAL ON EARTH IS NOT AT HOME, says Aristotle in his dialogue Eudemus.
The story about the mantic dream of the expatriate Eudemus and his expectation
that he will return home
is well known. It makes clear that, in Aristotles view,
the death of the human individual should be interpreted as the souls return to
its homeland.
This is strongly suggested by the revelation of Silenus which
Plutarch (first century CE) passes down in a literal quotation from the Eudemus.
contains the theme of human life on earth as a punishment (timria). The motif
of human life as a punishment is central to two texts by Iamblichus (250325 CE)
and Augustine (354430 CE), which are usually connected with Aristotles
I want to examine these texts in more detail here. My intention in the
following exposition is to propose a non-Platonistic explanation of these texts. In
my opinion they have wrongly been read as testimonies of a Platonistic phase in
Aristotle. The existence of such a phase in Aristotles development has never been
proved. Besides, the interpretation of these texts suffered from the fact that
Cicero, De divinatione, I 25, 53 = Aristotle, Eudemus fr. 1 W. D. Ross, Aristotelis Fragmenta Selecta
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1955); fr. 56 O. Gigon, Aristotelis Opera, vol. III: Deperditorum librorum fragmenta
(Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1987).
However, it is not immediately clear what that true homeland of the soul is. In Hippolytus,
Haereses I 20, 4 we have a report that according to Aristotle the soul survived the death of the indi-
vidual but in time is dispersed into the fifth element of the heavenly spheres; cf. also I 20, 6. This
might indicate that also in Aristotles lost works true eternity was attributed to the incorporeal intellect.
Plutarch, Moralia (Consolatio ad Apollonium) 115B-E = Aristotle, Eudemus fr. 6 Ross; fr. 65 Gigon.
Augustine, Contra Iulianum Pelagianum IV 15, 78 = Aristotle, Protrepticus 10b Ross; C 106: 2
Dring; fr. 823 Gigon; and Iamblichus, Protrepticus 8 (47, 2148, 9 ed. H. Pistelli) = Aristotle, Protrepticus
10b Ross; B 1067 Dring; fr. 73 Gigon. Cf. E. Berti, La filosofia del primo Aristotele (Padova: Cedam,
1962), 4537, 541; repr. (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 1997), 3958, 466.
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Aristotles De anima had also been explained in an unhistorical way since Alexander
of Aphrodisias in the third century CE.
2 . R E V I S I N G T H E M O D E R N V I E W O F A R I S T O T L E
We have to make a different assessment of Aristotles contribution to the discus-
sion on the soul compared with what was current until recently. For after W. Jae-
and F. Nuyens
, modern scholars became inclined to leave Aristotles dia-
logues out of consideration, because they regarded them as Platonizing. But a
fundamental correction is necessary on this point.
Jaeger led modern Aristotle
studies in a wrong direction by assuming a sharp distinction between Aristotles
lost dialogue Eudemus and his surviving treatise De anima. Although nowadays
Jaegers theory for many scholars is something of a dead horse, nevertheless a real
alternative has not been proposed. We still have to get rid of the consequences of
the Jaegerian paradigm and develop a unitary interpretation of Aristotles entire
oeuvre. Even more consistently than O. Gigon has already done,
we should as-
sume that Aristotles lost works and his surviving biological writings and De anima
did not propose two (or more) different psychological theories but one and the
same. Because this one Aristotelian psychology was a non-Platonistic but neverthe-
less dualistic psychology, we have much more reason than could be recognized in
the past to assume Aristotelian influence on this discussion.
On one essential issue Aristotle disagreed with his teacher Plato: the soul,
particularly the indissoluble bond of the soul with a body. Aristotle radically and
W. Jaeger, Aristoteles. Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung (Berlin: Weidmannsche
Buchhandlung, 1923). A French translation was published as late as 1997: Aristote. Fondements pour une
histoire de son volution, translated and introduced by O. Sedeyn (Combas: d. de lclat, 1997). For the
sake of references I will use the English translation Aristotle. Fundamentals of the history of his development,
R. Robinson, trans. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934; 2nd ed. 1948; repr. 1962).
F. J. C. J. Nuyens, Ontwikkelingsmomenten in de zielkunde van Aristoteles. Een historisch-philosophische
studie (Nijmegen/Utrecht: Dekker & Van de Vegt, 1939). A French edition of this work was published
under the title Lvolution de la psychologie dAristote, F. Nuyens (Louvain: Institut Suprieur de Philosophie,
Cf. A. P. Bos, Aristotles psychology: diagnosis of the need for a fundamental reinterpretation,
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 73 (1999): 30931; Aristotles doctrine of the instrumental
body of the soul, Philosophia Reformata 64 (1999): 3751; Plutarchs testimony to an earlier explana-
tion of Aristotles definition of the soul, Plutarco, Platn y Aristteles, A. Prez Jimnez, J. Garca Lpez,
and R. M. Aguilar, eds. (Madrid: Ediciones Clsicas, 1999), 53548; Why the soul needs an instru-
mental body according to Aristotle (De anima I 3, 407b1326), Hermes 128 (2000): 2031; Aristotles
De anima II 1: The Traditional Interpretation Rejected, Aristotle and Contemporary Science, vol. 2, D.
Sfendoni-Mentzou, J. Hattiangadi, and D. Johnson, eds. (New York: Peter Lang, 2001), 187201;
The distinction between Platonic and Aristotelian dualism, illustrated from Plutarchs myth in De
facie in orbe lunae, Estudios sobre Plutarco, A. Prez Jimnez, and F. Casadess, eds. (Madrid-Mlaga:
Ediciones Clsicas, 2001), 5770; Aristotles psychology: the modern development hypothesis re-
jected (Aristotle Today. International Conference 2001 [Naoussa, Greece, 2002], 389402); Aris-
totelian and Platonic dualism in Hellenistic and early Christian philosophy and in Gnosticism,
Vigiliae Christianae 56 (2002), 27391. See also De ziel en haar voertuig. Aristoteles psychologie geherinterpreteerd
en de eenheid van zijn oeuvre gedemonstreerd (Leende: Damon Press, 1999) and The Soul and its Instrumen-
tal Body. A Reinterpretation of Aristotles Philosophy of Living Nature (Leiden: Brill, 2003).
O. Gigon, op. cit., 230.
Cf. Hippolytus, Haereses I 20, 3: -c. c-oc| tc `-.ctc t. H`ct.|. cu.|c, -ct.| `| tcu
-. u, oc,ctc, c -| ,c H`ct.| c-c|ctc|, c o- A.ctct-`, -.o.c-|-.| -c. -tc tcutc -c.
tcut| -|cc|.-c-c. t. -t. c.ct. and I 20, 6. Cf. Cicero, De natura deorum I 13, 33 = Aristotle,
41.3bos 6/16/03, 8:48 AM 290
consistently argued for the distinction between nous and psych.
For Aristotle the
nous-in-act is always wholly incorporeal. But he considered it characteristic of the
soul that it cannot carry out its functions without body.
However, the crucial question is: what body does Aristotle mean when he says
that the soul cannot perform its specific activities without body? Jaeger and
Nuyens were wholly convinced that Aristotle was referring to the visible, external
body of a human being, animal, or plant. Hence they saw a yawning gap between
Aristotles views in De anima and his position in the dialogue the Eudemus. In the
Eudemus Aristotle had clearly argued that the soul can perform its own functions
very well, indeed better, without the galling and oppressive visible body.
But in De
anima II 1, in his famous definition of the soul, Aristotle says that the soul is
inextricably bound up with a sma physikon organikon.
Jaeger and Nuyens, fol-
lowing an almost unanimous tradition since Alexander of Aphrodisias in the third
century CE, interpreted this sentence in the sense that the soul is the formal prin-
ciple or entelechy of an organic body or a natural body equipped with organs,
i.e., the visible body of a plant, animal, or human being.
This traditional inter-
pretation must be rejected. For a natural body in Aristotle is never the body of a
living creature but always an elementary body or a composition of elementary
De philosophia fr. 26 Ross; fr. 25, 1 Gigon, where I follow J. Ppin, Thologie cosmique et thologie chrtienne
(Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964), 140 in reading: Aristoteles in tertio de philosophia libro
multa turbat a magistro uno [Platone] uno dissentiens. These testimonies cannot be brushed aside by
claiming that there were various differences between Plato and his pupil. The point is that all these
differences can be reduced to one essential disagreement. Cf. also Atticus fr. 7 (= Eusebius, Praeparatio
Evangelica XV 9, 14): c|t., o- -c. -| tcutc., o.c--tc. H`ct.|. c -| ,c c. |cu| c|-u u,
cou|ctc| -.|c. cu|.ctcc-c., c o- ..-. t, u, tc| |cu|.
This point is sharply formulated by E. Barbotin, La thorie aristotlicienne de lIntellect daprs
Thophraste (Louvain/Paris: Publications Universitaires, 1954), 220: En somme, le schisme intrieur qui
divisait le compos humain chez Platon subsiste chez son disciple, mais subit une transposition progressive: au lieu
dopposer le c.c la u , celui-ci oppose finalement la u au vus; dans la hirarchie des principes
constitutifs de lhomme, le dualisme sest dplac de bas en haut. This Aristotelian position is best set out with
reference to a passage in Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunae 28, 943A: |cu, ,c u, cc. u c.ctc,
c-.|c| -ct. -c. --.ct-c|the intellect is so much more excellent and divine than the soul as the
soul is in relation to the body; Alcinous, Didaskalikos X 164, 18: --. o- u, |cu, c-.|.|. . . . Cf. A.
P. Bos (2001): 5770.
Cf. Aristotle, De anima I 1, 403a518, a5: c. |-tc. o- t. | `-. ct.| cu -- | c |-u c. ctc, c c-.|
cuo- c.-.|. a15: c-. -tc c.ctc, t.|c, -ct.| (A. Jannone, 1966); II 2, 414a201: c.c -| ,c cu-
-ct., c.ctc, o- t., -c. o.c tcutc -| c.ct. uc-.. . . .
Cf. Aristotle, Eudemus fr. 1 Ross; fr. 56 Gigon; fr. 6 Ross; fr. 65 Gigon. See also Protrepticus fr. 10b
Ross; fr. 73 and 823 Gigon (texts which it is also better to connect with the Eudemus).
De anima II 1, 412a27412b1; 412b46: -. o- t. -c.|c| -. cc, u, o-. `-,-.|, -. c|
-|t-`--.c .t c.ctc, uc.-cu c,c|.-cu.
Cf. R. D. Hicks (1907), 51: the first actuality of a natural body furnished with organs; W.
Jaeger, Aristotle, 334: the entelechy of the organic body, cf. 45; W. S. Hett (1936), 69: the first
actuality of a natural body possessed of organs; F. Nuyens (1939), 220: een natuurlijk bewerktuigd
(organisch) lichaam (a naturally instrumented [organic] body); W. Theiler (1959), 25: die
vorlufige Erfllung des natrlichen mit Organen ausgestatteten Krpers; D. W. Hamlyn (1968), x
and 9: the first actuality of a natural body which has organs; R. Bodes (1993), 137: la ralisation
premire dun corps naturel . . . pourvu dorganes.
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And in the whole of Aristotles oeuvre organikon never means equipped
with organs but always serving as an instrument or instrumental.
That is to say, Aristotle emphasizes in his definition in De anima II 1 that the
soul forms a composite substance with a natural body which serves the soul as
an instrument. Once this has been recognized, and the important role of pneuma
in Aristotles biological writings has been acknowledged, it becomes clear that
what Aristotle is saying in his definition is that the soul (as regards the realization
of its typically psychic functions) is indissolubly linked with pneuma, which is the
vehicle and instrument and shell of the soul
(in human beings and blooded
animals; for lower animals and plants Aristotle supposes that an analogon forms
the instrument of vegetative and animal souls).
Therefore, I will defend the thesis that the anthropological view of Aristotles
lost works is compatible with the one of Aristotles preserved biological works and
even with the (corrected) one of the De anima. In doing so I will privilege
Augustines text, because it explicitly mentions Aristotle as the author of an image
of the body-soul relationship which Cicero quotes at the end of his Hortensius.
3 . T H E E T R U S C A N R O B B E R S
In Contra Iulianum Pelagianum IV 15, 78 Augustine states:
It seems significant that some of them approximated the Christian faith when they per-
ceived that this life, which is replete with deception and misery, came into existence only
by divine judgment, and they attributed justice to the Creator by whom the world was
made and is administered. How much better and nearer the truth than yours were the
views about the generation of men held by those whom Cicero, as though led and com-
pelled by the very evidence of the facts, commemorates in the last part of the dialogue
Hortensius. After mentioning the many facts we see and lament with regard to the vanity
and the unhappiness of men, he says:
From which errors and cares of human life it results that sometimes those
ancientswhether they were prophets or interpreters of the divine mind by
the transmission of sacred riteswho said that we are born to expiate sins
committed in a former life, seem to have had a glimpse of the truth, and that
that is true which Aristotle says, that we are punished much as those were who
once upon a time, when they had fallen into the hands of Etruscan robbers,
were killed with studied cruelty; their bodies, the living [corpora viva] with the
See my discussion in A. P. Bos (2001): 1889 and Aristotle, De motu animalium 10, 703a26;
Metaphysica Z 2, 1028b8ff.; and De caelo I 1, 268a45. Note also that Aristotle, De anima II 1, 412a12
calls the physical bodies the principles of the others.
See also De anima III 9, 432b18; b25. Cf. S. Everson, Aristotle on Perception (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1997), 64 and J. Barnes, ed. Classical Review 49 (1999): 121. The notion of instrumental body
has been prepared for by Aristotle in De anima I 3, 407b1326 where tc o-c -|c| c. c should be taken
as the instrumental body which receives the soul principle in distinction from the visible body that is to
be produced in the way described in De generatione animalium II 1, 734b719. Cf. A. P. Bos, Why the soul
needs an instrumental body according to Aristotle (De anima I 3, 407b1326), Hermes 128 (2000):
Cf. A. L. Peck, Aristotle, Generation of animals (London: W. Heinemann, 1942), vi, lix.
It might seem obvious to ask: if Aristotle means to be talking about pneuma as the instrument
of psyche here and elsewhere in De anima, why does he never say so? The answer is at least as obvious:
in De anima Aristotle does not only discuss higher animals and human living beings which possess
pneuma but also plants and lower animals which do not possess pneuma but do have an analogon as
the instrumental body of their soul.
41.3bos 6/16/03, 8:48 AM 292
dead, were bound so exactly as possible one against another: so our souls,
bound together with our bodies, are like the living joined with the dead.
Did not the philosophers who thought these things perceive more clearly than you the
heavy yoke upon the children of Adam, and the power of justice of God, though not aware
of the grace given through the Mediator for the purpose of delivering men?
Compare this with the text of Iamblichus, Protrepticus 8:
Which of us, looking to these facts, would think himself happy and blessedwhich of us,
all of whom are from the very first beginning (as they say in the initiation rites) shaped by
nature as though for punishment [timria]? For it is an inspired saying of the ancients that
the soul pays penalties [timria] and that we live for the punishment of great sins. For,
indeed, the conjunction of the soul with the body looks very much like this. For as the
Etruscans are said often to torture captives by chaining dead bodies [nekrous] face to face
with the living, fitting part to part, so the soul seems to be extended throughout and af-
fixed to all the sensitive members of the body.
In the above passage from his polemic against the Pelagian Julian, Augustine re-
fers to Ciceros dialogue Hortensius,
which Augustine says was meant as an exhor-
tation to philosophy. This work, later lost, made an overwhelming impression on
Augustine when he read it at the age of nineteen, as he describes in his Confes-
In retrospect he says that its effect was to make him desire the immortality
of wisdom and help return him to God. It is often surmised that Ciceros model
Saint Augustine, Against Julian, M. A. Schumacher, trans. (Washington, DC: The Catholic Uni-
versity of America, 1957). The Latin text reads: Videntur autem non frustra christianae fidei propinquasse,
qui vitam istam fallaciae miseriaeque plenissimum non opinati sunt nisi divino iudicio contigisse, tribuentes
utique iustitiam conditori, a quo factus est et administratur hic mundus. Quanto ergo te melius veritatique vicinius
de hominum generatione senserunt quos Cicero in extremis partibus Hortensii dialogi velut ipsa rerum evidentia
ductus compulsusque commemorat. Nam cum multa quae videmus et gemimus de hominum vanitate atque infelicitate
dixisset: Ex quibus humanae, inquit, vitae erroribus et aerumnis fit ut interdum veteres illi, sive vates sive in
sacris initiisque tradendis divinae mentis interpretes, qui nos ob aliqua scelera suscepta in vita superiore poenarum
luendarum causa natos esse dixerunt, aliquid vidisse videantur verumque sit illud quod est apud Aristotelem,
simili nos affectos esse supplicio atque eos qui quondam, cum in praedonum Etruscorum manus incidissent,
crudelitate excogitata necabantur, quorum corpora viva cum mortuis, adversa adversis accommodata quam aptissime
colligabantur: sic nostros animos cum corporibus copulatos ut vivos cum mortuis esse coniunctos. Nonne qui ista
senserunt, multo quam tu melius grave iugum super filios Adam et dei potentiam iustitiamque viderunt, etiamsi
gratiam, quae per mediatorem liberandis hominibus concessa est, non viderunt? See also IV 16, 83: Huius
evidentia miseriae gentium philosophos nihil de peccato primi hominis sive scientes, sive credentes, compulit dicere,
ob aliqua scelera suscepta in vita superiore poenarum luendarum causa nos esse natos, et animos nostros
corruptibilibus corporibus eo supplicio quo Etrusci praedones captos affligere consueverant, tamquam vivos cum
mortuis esse coniunctos.
I. Dring, trans. Iamblichus, Protrepticus 8 (47, 2148, 9 ed. Pistelli). The Greek text reads: T.,
c| cu| -., tcutc `-.| c.c.tc -uoc..| -.|c. -c. c-c.c,, c. .tc| -u-u, uc-. cu|-ctc-|,
-c-c- cc.| c. tc, t-`-tc, `-,c|t-,, .c- c| -. t...c c|t-,; tcutc ,c --.., c. cc.ct-c.
`-,cuc. tc c|c. o.oc|c. t| u| t...c| -c. | c, -. -c`cc-. -,c`.| t.|.| cctct.|.
c|u ,c cu-u., tc.cut. t.|. -c.-- c, tc c.c t, u,. .c- ,c tcu, -| t Tu|.c cc.
ccc|. -.| c``c -., tcu , c `.c-c- |cu,, cco-c-u c|tc, -ct c |t.-u tc. , . c. |--cu ,, c |t.cc. cu,
--cctc| c, --cctc| -c, ccccttc|tc, cut., -c.--| u o.ct-tcc-c. -c. cc---c``c-c.
cc. tc., c.c-t.-c., tcu c.ctc, -`-c.|.. On this text cf. also E. Berti, La filosofia del primo Aristotele
(Padova: Cedam, 1962), 4537, 541; repr. (1997), 3958, 466.
Cf. L. Straume-Zimmermann, Ciceros Hortensius (Bern/Frankfurt a. M.: Peter Lang, 1976);
M.T. Cicero, Hortensius, Lucullus, Academici libri, edited, translated, and commentary by L. Straume-
Zimmermann, F. Broemser, and O. Gigon (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1990).
Augustine, Confessiones III iv, 7v, 9; cf. Beata vita 1, 4.
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294 J OU R N A L OF T HE HI S T OR Y OF P HI L OS OP HY 41: 3 J U L Y 2003
for the Hortensius was Aristotles Protrepticus.
But it may also well be that he used
Aristotles Eudemus, which he certainly knew and which doubtless had protreptic
features as well.
I note here that these texts, which are themselves of a later date, unmistakably
attribute to Cicero, and via him to Aristotle, a conception involving:
(a) the entire race of human mortals living on earth;
(b) human life on earth as a form of penance and punishment;
(c) penance and punishment for grave crimes which have been committed;
(d) a condition of the human soul which entails alienation from its original (and
happy) condition as a result of this punishment; and
(e) a connection with traditions of ancient mysteries and initiations.
These texts do not talk about punishments in an earthly existence which are due
to a previous (evil) existence on earth of an individual or his ancestors. The hu-
man condition as such is presented here as the result of guilt, which must be
necessarily a guilt which beings of a higher-than-human status have taken upon
Jaeger dealt with these texts in his chapter on Aristotles Protrepticus,
which he
dated before Platos death. His treatment strongly influenced the entire discus-
sion, because he believed the work did not contain an Aristotelian conception
but was still entirely in line with Platos views.
Like the Eudemus, the Protrepticus
proclaims, according to Jaeger, a profoundly pessimistic view of life on earth.
express this, Aristotle uses the language of Platos Phaedo,
most notably in the
comparison of the Etruscan robbers. Jaeger concluded: In spite of the self-tor-
menting crassness of this simile it bears the marks of genuine personal experi-
ence and sensitive emotion. The young Aristotle had really felt the pains of mans
dualistic existence as Plato and the Orphics had felt them before him.
Following Jaeger, Nuyens regarded the Protrepticus as typical of Aristotles early
Platonizing phase.
But he sees in the Protrepticus a distinct difference with regard
to the theory of the soul. Besides the dualistic theory of the soul particularly found
in the text about the Etruscan robbers,
it contains, for the first time, a more
positive, instrumentalist view of the relationship between body and soul in which
the visible body is seen as the instrument (organon) used and needed by the
See n. 34 below.
Cf. H. Flashar, Platon und Aristoteles im Protreptikos des Aristoteles, Archiv fuer Geschichte der
Philosophie 47 (1965): 5379 and A. P. Bos, Aristotles Eudemus and Protrepticus: are they really two
different works?, Dionysius 8 (1984): 1951.
W. Jaeger, op. cit., 54101.
W. Jaeger, op. cit., 84: All the essential parts of it are in fact Platonic, not merely in language
but also in content.
W. Jaeger, op. cit., 98.
W. Jaeger, op. cit., 99.
W. Jaeger, op. cit., 100.
F. Nuyens, Ontwikkelingsmomenten, 803; French ed. 903.
F. Nuyens (1939), 84 n. 38; French ed. 93 with n. 34.
41.3bos 6/16/03, 8:48 AM 294
Though Nuyens does not consider these two positions incompatible, he
does see Aristotles later development as an almost inevitable result of further
reflection on their consequences.
Nuyens bases his theory of an instrumental-
ist psychology in Aristotle on information deriving from a long passage in
Iamblichuss Protrepticus, which, following I. Bywater,
he accepts as an almost
literal rendering of a passage in Aristotles Protrepticus.
I. Dring, in his edition of the texts which he believed can be related to
Aristotles Protrepticus,
included Iamblichuss text as a fragment (B 1067) and
Augustines text as a related text (C 106: 2). He bases this view on the hypoth-
esis that Iamblichuss Protrepticus almost literally adopts large parts of Aristotles
work of the same name. In his opinion, Ciceros translation, or at least Augustines
reproduction of it, is remarkably washy.
In 1963 J. Brunschwig published a valuable study devoted to the texts about
the Etruscan robbers.
Unlike Dring, he holds that Augustines quotation from
Cicero corresponds closely to Iamblichuss text.
Brunschwig also discerns le
pessimisme ultra-platonisant du jeune Aristote in these texts.
Plato had often drawn
a sombre picture of earthly life. In the Phaedo he referred to the secret tradition
which talked about life on earth as a being held in custody.
The playful etymol-
ogy of sma in the Cratylus links up with this: the people around Orpheus regard
the body as the wall of a prison which detains the soul for the length of its pen-
ance. Or as others say: it is the sepulchral monument of the soul which is buried
in it.
The atrocities of the Etruscan pirates seem to imply an even more negative
F. Nuyens (1939), 835; French ed. 935, where Nuyens refers to Iamblichus, Protrepticus 7
(41, 158 ed. Pistelli) = Aristotle, Protrepticus fr. 7 Ross; fr. 73 Gigon: - t. tc. |u| tc - | - ct. u t. |
-| .| tc o- c.c, -c. tc -| c-. tc o- c-tc., -c. tc -| tc. tc o uc--.tc. ., c,c|c|.
F. Nuyens (1939), 85; French ed. 95.
I. Bywater, On a lost dialogue of Aristotle, Journal of Philology 2 (1869): 5569. Bywaters
theory rests mainly on the correspondences in the content of the passage from Iamblichus and that of
Augustines quotation from Ciceros Hortensius. For Cicero mentions Aristotle as author. And Trebellius
Pollio says that Cicero wrote his Hortensius ad exemplum Protreptici (Historia Augusti 2, 97, 202 =
Aristotle, Protrepticus test. a Ross; C 6: 5 Dring). For no good reason Bywater takes this to mean on
the model of the Protrepticus, i.e. the Aristotelian dialogue entitled the Exhortation to Philosophy
(55). This view was already disputed by R. Hirzel, ber den Protreptikos des Aristoteles, Hermes 10
(1876): 803. See also W. G. Rabinowitz, Aristotles Protrepticus and the sources for its reconstruction (Ber-
keley: University of California Press, 1957), 237, 934.
Aristotles Protrepticus. An Attempt at Reconstruction, I. Dring (Gteborg: Almquist and Wiksell,
1961). In this work Dring dismisses the highly critical study by W. G. Rabinowitz as excessively sceptical.
But Drings enterprise founders on a failure to recognize that Iamblichus in his Protrepticus presents
the same kind of instrumentalist psychology which he had read into Aristotles De anima, and this
psychology is based on an incorrect interpretation of Aristotles definition of the soul in De anima II 1.
I. Dring (1961), 265.
J. Brunschwig, Aristote et les pirates tyrrhniens (A propos des fragments 60 Rose du
Protreptique), Revue philosophique de la France 88 (1963): 17190.
J. Brunschwig (1963), 172. He does admit on 182 n. 4 that Iamblichuss cc. tc.,
c.c-t.-c., tcu c.ctc, -`-c.| is more precise than Augustines rendering.
J. Brunschwig (1963), 172 with reference to W. Jaeger, op. cit., 100 and F. Nuyens (French
ed.), 904. On 171 he talks about la violence de son pessimisme et loutrance trangement baroque de son
imagerie. Of course, it would be very strange if after 353 BC Aristotle still held the same view which
Plato presented in his Phaedo around 390.
Plato, Phd. 62b: ., -| t.|. cuc -c-| c. c|-.c..
Plato, Cratylus 400c: cc .. t, u,, ., t--c-|, -| t. |u| cc|t... and: oc-cuc. -|tc.
c. c`.ctc --c-c. c. c. O-c tcutc tc c|cc, ., o.-| o.ocuc, t, u, .| o -|--c o.o.c.|,
tcutc| o- -.c`c| --.|, .|c c.tc., o-c.t.cu -.-c|c.
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assessment of the human situation on earth: not just imprisonment but lifelong
However, Brunschwig provides an illuminating background to the Aris-
totelian motif. He points out that Herodotus relates a story in which the inhabit-
ants of the city of Agylla were massacred by the Etruscans in 534 BC. This laid a
curse on the region which later inhabitants, instructed by the oracle in Delphi,
were able to ward off by making large sacrifices and instituting periodical games.
And Virgil, Aeneid VIII, 47888, mentions that this kind of Etruscan torture had
been used already by order of King Mezentius, entirely in accordance with the
method described by Aristotle. Brunschwig concludes that the story about the
Etruscan atrocity was already associated in Antiquity with the theme of divine
However, Brunschwig also refers to the ancient tradition which connects
Etruscan pirates with the god Dionysus. In this tradition Dionysus was imprisoned
as a boy by Tyrrhenian pirates on one of their ships. The scoundrels, believing
they held a scion of a royal family, hoped to secure a large ransom, and ignored
the warnings of their helmsman. But Dionysuss bonds were magically loosened
and the terrified pirates jumped overboard and were changed into dolphins.
Brunschwig goes on to connect the Etruscans as enemies of Dionysus with the
Titans, who, according to a different tradition, lured Dionysus away, tore him
apart, and devoured him.
Though the author points out that this tradition is
only reported in extenso by relatively late texts, he believes it is implied in a num-
ber of texts by Pindar, Plato, and Xenocrates.
Finally, in regards to the origin of these texts in Augustine and Iamblichus,
Brunschwig opts for a relationship with Aristotles Eudemus. He thus avoids Nuyenss
problem that two different psychological theories were propounded by Aristotle
in one work, the Protrepticus.
And he can establish a link between Silenus
Dionysuss traditional companionwho figures as a prisoner of King Midas in
Aristotles dialogue Eudemus and the prisoners of the Etruscan pirates.
The discussion was continued by J. Ppin.
He is full of praise for the work of
Brunschwig. And he starts by underscoring the pessimism which these texts ex-
press. This leads him to connect them with the young Aristotle who was still very
J. Piquemal, Sur une mtaphore de Clment dAlexandrie: les dieux, la mort, la mort des
dieux, Revue philosophique de la France 88 (1963): 191 neatly puns that Aristotle has made Platos
grave into a sarcophagus.
Herodotus, I 167.
J. Brunschwig (1963): 1735.
Cf. Hymni Homerici VII 78, where `.ctc. .. Tuc|c. are mentioned. The same activity of
Dionysus as one who loosens bonds is central in Euripides, Bacchae, 43247, 497, 613ff., and 643ff.
J. Brunschwig (1963): 17880.
Recently this hypothesis has been vigorously disputed by L. Brisson in various articles collected
in his Orphe et lOrphisme dans lAntiquit grco-romaine (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 1995). But he fails to
pay sufficient attention to the texts about the Etruscan robbers that may be important also for the
history of Orphism.
This entails a rejection of Drings premise that Iamblichus in his Protrepticus quoted only
Aristotles work of the same name.
J. Brunschwig (1963): 185.
J. Ppin, La lgende orphique du supplice tyrrhnien, in Lart des confins. Mlanges offerts M.
de Gandillac, A. Cazenave and J. F. Lyotard, eds. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1985), 387
41.3bos 6/16/03, 8:48 AM 296
much a Platonist.
The aim of Ppins contribution is to show that the crime of
the Etruscans already formed part of the Orphic tradition.
But Ppin also points
out the interesting fact that the pirates tied together the living prisoner and the
corpse face to face, so that the corpse forms, as it were, a mirror image of the
living prisoner. Moreover, this coupling can be seen as a kind of copulation.
For Ppin this indicates the importance in the Greco-Roman tradition of the mir-
ror motif, and an extra link with the tradition about Dionysus, whom the Titans
lured by means of, among other things, a mirror.
Ppin also suggests that the
term extended, which Iamblichus uses for the soul, has an intentional etymo-
logical connection with the name of Dionysuss enemiesthe Titans.
Ppin upholds the attribution of these texts to Aristotles Protrepticus.
Yet there is still something unsatisfactory about the hypothesis that Aristotles
image of the human condition in the Eudemus is far more negative than Platos
conception in the Phaedo, which may have been written a number of decades
earlier. This is all the more true if Platos own position on the souls relationship
with the body became less negative in later years.
Some authors have therefore
tried to excuse Aristotle by suggesting that the Eudemus was written in a mood of
deep pessimism brought on by the death of Aristotles dear friend Eudemus of
Cyprus, and they argue that the conception of man proposed in the Eudemus
cannot be regarded as typical of Aristotle.
A. H. Chroust, who went very far in
developing this train of thought, assumes too readily that Aristotle acquired a
great reputation in Antiquity with a work which did not promote his own views.
Such a course of events is not easily demonstrable in the history of philosophy.
J. Ppin (1985): 388: Lessentiel de cette conceptionce qui ne surprend pas ds lors quil sagit du
jeune Aristote, encore largement platoniciense rencontre dj dans les dialogues de la maturit de Platon.
J. Ppin (1985): 389.
J. Ppin (1985): 390. For copulation Iamblichuss text uses cu-u.,. Augustine/Cicero
has: copulatos.
J. Ppin (1985): 392. On this motif, cf. also J. Ppin, Plotin et le miroir de Dionysos (Enneads
IV 3 [27] 12, 12), Revue Internationale de Philosophie 24 (1970): 30420.
J. Ppin (1985): 393 on o.ct-tcc-c. with reference to Proclus, In Timaeum III (ed. E. Diehl,
vol. II 146, 148): -c. tcc c| tc o.c c|tc, tcu -cccu t-tc-|| -.|c. t| u| tcu T.tc|.-cu
-.ccu tcu, O.-cu, c|c.|c-c., o. c| cu c|c| u -.-c`ut-. tc c|, c``c -c. t-tctc.
o. cutcu c|tc, and In Cratylum 106 (ed. Pasquali): 56, 137. Ppin (1985): 394 also shows that
Plato, with his doctrine of an immaterial soul, could say in exactly the same way that the soul extends
throughout the visible body (Timaeus 34b, 36e; cf. Phaedo 67c).
J. Ppin (1985): 399400.
Cf. H. J. Drossaart Lulofs, De ogen van Lynceus (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967), 20.
Cf. A. H. Chroust, Aristotle. New light on his life and on some of his lost works, vol. 2 (London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973), 4354, esp. 534: a consolatio mortis is hardly the proper document
for reliable inferences as to the authors true and ultimate philosophical convictions or teachings, 70;
F. L. Peccorini, Divinity and immortality in Aristotle: a de-mythologized myth?, The Thomist 43 (1979):
225. I. Dring, Aristoteles (Heidelberg: Carl Winter-Universittsverlag, 1966), 5546, sharply attacks
the persistent fables convenues which have come to surround the Eudemus. He believes the works aim
was not to advance a distinct view of its own but rather to give a broad orientation on the main posi-
tions. See, however, J. M. Rist, The mind of Aristotle. A study in philosophical growth (Toronto: University of
Toronto Press, 1987), 166: Consolation literature, if not philosophically serious, would hardly con-
tain attacks on the logic of the theory of the soul as some kind of harmony. An entirely distinct Aristo-
telian position in the Eudemus is argued by H. J. Drossaart Lulofs (1967), 158.
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4 . A N O P P R E S S I V E B O N D W I T H D E A D B O D I E S
However, I think that the text in Augustine and the related text in Iamblichus can
be explained in a new way if we take our cue from our new view of Aristotles
psychology. That might take away the impression that Aristotles image offers a
more pessimistic view of life on earth than Plato had presented. Perhaps we should
surmise that Aristotle used a different image because he had developed a differ-
ent conception of the soul and believed it could best be expressed by a new im-
age. As I said before, there is no solid basis for Jaegers hypothesis of a Platonistic
phase in Aristotles philosophy. There is no reliable evidence for the claim that
Aristotle ever accepted the doctrine of Ideas.
And though the Eudemus talks
about the soul as a kind of eidos, De anima, too, calls the soul the eidos of a natural
We should also take note of Ciceros statements that Aristotle had assumed
a special relationship between the soul and the fifth element.
Augustine describes the torment which the Etruscan pirates inflicted on their
victims as follows: their bodies, the living with the dead, were bound as exactly as
possible one against another.
Augustine connects this with the situation of the
soul in relation to the body: our souls, bound together with our bodies, are like
the living joined with the dead.
Two things are remarkable here. The soul is compared with a composite, namely
with a body which possesses life, in contrast to something simplea body which
does not possess life. Second, it is suggested that the soul has a certain dimension-
ality and is wholly congruous with the content of the visible, earthly body. This
cannot be properly connected with any of the traditional interpretations of
Aristotles theory of the soul:
(a) Not with the view of the Eudemus in Jaegers interpretation, where the soul is a
kind of eidos in the sense of an Idea or something of the nature of an Idea.
(b) Not with the traditional view of De anima, in which the soul is seen as the
incorporeal form of a visible natural body equipped with organs.
But it may be that the texts of Augustine/Cicero and Iamblichus suggest a view of
Aristotles psychology which differs from the usual one. Interestingly, a number of
other reports do the same. Cicero repeatedly assures us that, according to Aristotle,
mans soul consists of the same substance which makes up the celestial beings.
Eminent Aristotelian scholars have often dismissed these statements as unreli-
Cf. J. M. Rist, op. cit., 9, 14.
Aristotle De anima II 1, 412a20; 2, 414a139. Cf. Diogenes Laertius, V 33: `-,-. o -|t-`--.c|,
, -ct.| -.oc, t. cc.ctc|.. Cf. J. M. Rist, op. cit., 467.
In Latin: corpora viva cum mortuis, adversa adversis accommodata quam aptissime colligabantur.
In Latin: sic nostros animos cum corporibus copulatos ut vivos cum mortuis esse coniunctos. Dring
reads cumulatos instead of copulatos.
W. Jaeger, op. cit., 456 with reference to Simplicius, In Aristotelis de Anima Commentarii 221,
203 = Eudemus fr. 8 Ross; fr. 64 Gigon.
Cicero, Academica I 7, 26; Tusculanae disputationes I 10, 22; I 17, 41; I 26, 2765, 66 = Aristotle,
De philosophia fr. 27 Ross; T 18, 1 and fr. 994, 995, 996 Gigon.
41.3bos 6/16/03, 8:48 AM 298
But others have staunchly argued that Ciceros information is specific and
accurate and shows so many affinities with acknowledged Aristotelian positions
that it should be taken seriously.
Moreover, Aristotles extant work contains the
explicit statement that the dynamis of every soul has something of a body which is
different from and more divine than that of the so-called elements.
Bearing this in mind, we can take another look at the texts about the torments
undergone by the prisoners of Etruscan robbers. These texts talk about two bod-
ies being bound together. But the important difference is that one body is a dead
body, a corpse, and the other a body which still possesses its vitalizing principle. At
first sight, therefore, Aristotles anthropology here sees mans earthly, visible body
as a material entity which remains as a corpse if one abstracts from the presence
in it of something else which is a complex entity. And this complex entity is also
said to be a bodily substance, but one which differs crucially from a corpse owing
to the presence of a vitalizing principle. That which makes the visible body of a
living creature into a living body thus seems to have been presented by Aristotle as
a body too, but a body with a very special nature.
It is surprising that this information has never led to another solution than the
one usually proposed by commentators. For in a number of works in the extant
Aristotelian Corpus, Aristotle also explained the vital phenomena of the visible
body by means of another, special body, namely pneuma. And his conception of
this pneuma was emphatically non-materialistic, for he says that it is led by an in-
corporeal soul-principle. Clear examples of this are given by De motu animalium,
De generatione animalium,
and the Parva naturalia.
The most explicit statement
is found in De motu animalium 10, which talks about a special body that is the
vehicle of orexis and that functions in ensouled bodies as that which causes move-
ment by being moved itself.
Aristotle says that this special body is pneuma and
that it functions as the souls instrument
and that lower kinds of animals and
plants possess an analogous substance. It is wholly acceptable to surmise that, in
his story about the Etruscan tortures, Aristotle made the corpse correspond to the
visible body and the living body to pneuma plus the incorporeal soul-principle.
The dimensional aspect of the soul could then be easily explained by means of
Aristotles theory of pneuma, which is present throughout the visible body as a
P. Moraux, Quinta essentia, Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Enzyclopaedie, 74 Halbband (Stuttgart, 1963),
120926. See also D. E. Hahm, The fifth element in Aristotles De philosophia, Journal of Hellenic
Studies 102 (1982): 6074.
C. Lefvre, Quinta natura et psychologie aristotlicienne, Revue philosophique de Louvain 69
(1971): 543. See also P. Merlan, in The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, A.
H. Armstrong, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967; repr. 1970), 401 n. 9: Much in
the history of the Peripatos can better be understood if we side with Kampe and Arnim and take into
account that the materialistic interpretation of Aristotle was in antiquity very frequent and started very
De generatione animalium II 3, 736b2931: Hcc, -| cu| u, ou|c., -t-cu c.ctc, -c.--
---c.|.|-- |c. -c. --.ct- cu t. | -c`cu- |.| ctc.-. .|. See on this text my paper Pneuma and Aether
in Aristotles philosophy of living nature, in The Modern Schoolman 79 (2002): 25576.
Cf. De generatione animalium I 22, 730b1422; II 3, 736b335.
Cf. De memoria 1, 450a27b5; De iuventute 4, 469b311; 6, 470a1920; 27, 480a1617.
De motu animalium 10, 703a56: - ct. | c -., tc - cc|, c -.|-. -.|cu -|c| - | o- tc. , - u c.,
c.cc. o-. t. -.|c. c.c tc.cutc|. The same theory is formulated in De anima III 10, 433b19.
De motu animalium 10, 703a20.
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mediating entity between the soul-principle and the visible body.
Because pneuma
is present throughout the entire living creature, Aristotle can say in De generatione
animalium that it is impossible that a face or a hand or flesh or another part is
what it is if the sensitive soul is not actually or potentially present in it, in a relative
or in an absolute sense. For (if this is not the case) then it is a corpse or part of a
We should bear in mind here that Aristotle explicitly held sensation to
be an activity that could not be realized without a body,
and that he located
the soul-principle itself in the heart.
The same idea of living people bound to corpses (nekroi) is expressed in
Iamblichuss parallel text. We could interpret this, too, as an indication that Aristotle
regards pneuma as ensouled in a primary sense, while the visible body, which
remains as a corpse when the soul-complex withdraws from it, is ensouled only
in a secondary, derivative sense. But an extra element in Iamblichuss text is his
statement that the soul seems to be extended throughout and affixed to all the
sensitive members of the body.
Iamblichus does not talk about sensible but about sensitive members of the
If we recall that, for Aristotle, the soul as entelechy is seated in the heart as
its command center, Iamblichus must again be referring to (psychically character-
ized) pneuma, which passes on all sensations from the senses to the center of con-
sciousness in the heart and conveys all the emotional reactions back to the parts
of the body.
5 . A C O M P A R I S O N W I T H C O R P U S H E R M E T I C U M X
Can we imagine the procedure which Aristotle used to explain why being born
has such a negative effect? I know of only one text in the tradition which offers an
explication that comes very close to what Aristotle could have meant. The name
of Aristotle is not mentioned in this text, but it does evoke an Aristotelian atmo-
sphere in all kinds of ways. I am referring to treatise X of the Hermetic Corpus,
entitled The Key. This treatise talks about gnsis as the key to perfect happiness
for the soul, but also about ignorance as the greatest evil to befall the soul:
Cf. De iuventute 4, 469b6; De spiritu 2, 481b19: tc o- |-uc o. c`cu tc cuutc|. Cf. 3, 482a33;
De mundo 4, 394b912.
De generatione animalium II 5, 741a103: cou|ctc| o- cc.c| -.c cc-c -.|c. c``c t.
c.c| -|cuc, c.c-t.-, u, -|-,-.c ou|c-. -c. c`., -ctc. ,c c.c| |--c,
|--cu c.c|. Cf. I 19, 726b20.
De anima I 1, 403a7.
Cf. De generatione animalium II 5, 741b15ff.; De iuventute 4, 469b38.
Iamblichus, Protrepticus 8 (48, 79 ed. Pistelli): cu t., - c.--| u o.ct-tc c-c. -c.
cc---c``c-c. cc. tc., c.c-t.-c., tcu c.ctc, -`-c.|.. Cf. C. Santaniello, Traces of the lost
Aristotle in Plutarch, in Plutarco, Platn y Aristteles, A. Prez Jimnez et al., eds. (Madrid: Ediciones
Clsicas, 1999), 62941, 636f.
This is pointed out by J. Brunschwig (1963): 182 n. 4. I. Dring had translated: all the sensi-
tive members of the body.
J. Ppin (1985): 3945 points out that the Stoics later used the same terminology
(c|t.c--t-.|-.| and c|t.c--.|) to explain that the fine-material soul is present throughout the
visible, coarse-material body.
Corpus Hermeticum X 8: -c-.c o- u, c,|.c.c. Cf. Corpus Hermeticum, tome I (Traits IXII),
Greek text by A. D. Nock, A. J. Festugire, trans. (Paris, 1946; repr. 1972).
41.3bos 6/16/03, 8:48 AM 300
A soul which has not achieved gnsis of the things that are and their essence and of the
Good is blind, and is shaken by the passions resulting from its bond with the body and,
being unhappy through lack of self-knowledge, is subject to bodies which are alien to its
essence and pernicious. It drags the body along as a burden, not ruling it but being ruled.
This is the evil of soul.
The souls blindness is reminiscent of the text in which Aristotle compares the
human condition with that of bats, which cannot see in daylight.
The souls
subjection is discussed by Aristotle in a passage which states that human nature
is unfree in many respects.
The shaking of the soul by alien bodies suggests the
image of a ship in a flying storm. These bodies must be the four sublunary
elements, which together form the visible body. The soul has nothing in com-
mon (koinnia) with them.
For the garment of the soul is a complex matter, as
the following passage shows: The intellect is in reason; reason is in the soul; the
soul in the pneuma. Pneuma pervades the veins and the arteries and the blood and
in this way sets the living creature in motion and drags it along, as it were.
Pneuma pervades the body via the blood, and therefore some people have iden-
tified blood with the soul, says the author. But this is a mistake. For the death of a
body does not occur owing to a change in the blood, but because blood no longer
flows when the pneuma has withdrawn to the soul.
It is remarkable that the au-
thor talks about the death of the body here. He thus concurs with Plutarch, who
in the final myth of De facie in orbe lunae distinguished between the first death
and the second death, in which the soul-body is abandoned by the intellect.
This distinction is a logical consequence of Aristotles fundamental separation of
theoretical intellect and productive soul.
Some modern scholars believe that
the identification of blood with the soul (which the author attributes to some
philosophers) was influenced by the Jewish conception and the Septuagint.
However, it is clear only that the Hermetic author was familiar with Aristotles
criticism of those who identified the soul with blood.
Corpus Hermeticum X 8: u ,c , o- | - .,|cu cc t. | c |t.| o- t | tcu t.| u c.|, o- tc
c ,c-c |, tu`. ttcucc o- , - |t.|c cc-. tc. , c --c. tc. , c.ct.-c. ,, -c. -c-coc. .|, c ,|c cccc - cut |,
ocu`-u-. c.cc.| c``c-ctc., -c. c-c., .c- ct.c| cctccucc tc c.c, -c. cu- ccucc c``
cc-|. cut -c-.c u. I have used the translation by B. P. Copenhaver, Hermetica (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992).
Aristotle, Metaphysica c 1, 993b911.
Aristotle, Metaphysica A 2, 982b29: c``c ,c uc., ocu` t.| c|-..| -ct.|.
In De anima I 3, 407b17, Aristotle stresses the need of a koinnia between the soul and the body
that receives the soul.
Corpus Hermeticum X 13: u o- c|-.cu c-.tc. tc| tcc| tcutc| c |cu, -| t. `c,., c
`c,c, -| t u, u -| t. |-uct. tc |-uc o.-c| o.c `-.| -c. ct..| -c. c.ctc, -.|-.
tc .c| -c. .c- tcc| t.|c cctc-..
Corpus Hermeticum X 13: o.c -c. t.|-, t| u| c.c |c.cuc.| -.|c., cc``c-|c. t| uc.|,
cu- -.oct-, ct. .tc| o-. tc |-uc c|c.cc. -., t| u| -c. tc c.c c,|c. -c. tc, `-c,
-c. tc, ct.c, --|.-|c. -c. tct- tc .c| -c--`-.| -c.tcutc -ct.| c -c|ctc, tcu c.ctc,.
Cf. Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunae 942F ff.
Cf. Hippolytus, Haereses I 20, 4 and 6, where it is said that according to Aristotle soul is dis-
solved into the fifth body. From Hippolytuss treatment of Basilides as an Aristotelianizing Gnostic in
book VII, however, it becomes evident that something higher than soul remains.
Corpus Hermeticum, translation, introduction, and commentary by R. van den Broek and G.
Quispel (Amsterdam: In de Pelikaan, 1991), 126 n. 16.
Cf. Aristotle, De anima I 2, 405b28, where Critias is mentioned as a supporter of this naive view.
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Next, this cosmology and anthropology is put in a strictly monarchianist frame-
work: All things depend on one principle, and this principle (depends) from the
One which is alone. And the principle is set in motion so that it becomes the
principle (of motion of all other things). But the One which is alone stands still
and is not in motion itself.
The One which is alone is clearly the transcendent
Unmoved Mover in Aristotles theology. The principle that is set in motion is the
external celestial sphere of the fixed stars, which is the first mover that is set in
motion. The term which is used here for the dependence of all things is typically
Aristotelian too.
It recalls the image of the magnet with its pull.
Hence the
author can say: God holds fast the cosmos; the cosmos holds fast man. And the
cosmos is the son of God; man (is the son) of the cosmos and thus, as it were, the
grandson of God.
Mans relationship to God is then elaborated in a typically Hermetic way: God
is not unknowing with regard to man, but knows him well and wants to be known
by him. And this alone is for man the means of preservation, the Knowledge of
God. This is the ascent to Olympus.
The theme of ascent as the way which the
soul goes when it acquires gnsis is opposite to the way of mans genesis. For genesis
is the process in which the soul undergoes a dialysis and suffers a loss of concen-
Only when it possesses gnsis of God can the soul be characterized as
When it has undergone dialysis of itself, it brings about oblivion in itself
and no longer shares in the beautiful and the good.
A. J. Festugire translates
dialysis and to dialyse itself as to be separated from its real self. But we may
surmise that in this way a Neoplatonic view is being read into a text that has a
different background. We can also think here of a process of dilution or solu-
that is due to the development of the visible body which is produced and
ruled by the soul.
Corpus Hermeticum X 14: - - .c , o- c , tc c |tc ttc., o- c - - tcu - |c , -c. c |cu,
-c. -| c -.|-.tc., .|c c`.| c ,-|tc., tc o- -| c|c| -ct--|, cu -.|-.tc..
Corpus Hermeticum X 14: ttc.. Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysica A 7, 1072b14; De caelo I 9, 279a28-
30; and De motu animalium 4, 700a5 (where the term functions in an allegorical explanation of Homers
passage on the golden chain). Cf. A. J. Festugire (1946), 129-30 n. 51. Earlier this author noted:
cette notion dun Dieu-Bien nagissant que par son vouloir, cest--dire sa pense, parat bien driver
assez directement dAristote, Mta. A 67 (ibid. 118-9, n. 10).
Cf. Plato, Ion 533d ff.; 536a.
Corpus Hermeticum X 14.
Corpus Hermeticum X 15: tcu tc c |c| c.t .c| c |-. . - ct. |, ,|. c., tcu --cu . cut -.,
tc | O`uc| c |c cc.,.
Corpus Hermeticum X 15: u| c.oc, --ccc., . t--|c|, cut| o.c`uc.| cut, o-.
Corpus Hermeticum X 15: cut. c|., c,c- u, A. D. Nock. (But the reading of this passage
and what follows it is uncertain.) It is relevant to note that the term good places the soul on the level
of the divine Origin. Corpus Hermeticum X 12 said that the cosmos is not good because it is in motion,
but not bad because it is imperishable. By contrast, man was characterized as bad because he is
changeable and mortal.
Corpus Hermeticum X 15: o.c`ucccc o- -cut| -,,-||c `-|, -c. tcu -c`cu -c. c,c-cu cu
-tc`cc |-..
For Aristotles use of the term o.c`uc., see De caelo III 7, 306a1 where he talks about t t.|
-.-o.| o.c`uc-., by which he means the breaking up of concrete bodies into a multitude of triangles
(in Platos Timaeus). De somno 1, 454b8 mentions o.c`uc., of the soul. De generatione animalium II 3,
737a11 speaks of dialysis (solution) of sperm fluid.
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The author illustrates this process of soul-dilution by comparing it to the
development of a child. The beauty of the soul in a newly born child is still recog-
But as the child grows, his soul is, as it were, torn apart and stretched
through all parts of the visible body.
We might suspect that the author here
imagines birth, i.e., the entrance into a material body, as a process in which the
soul is tied more and more tightly to the material body, like the prisoners of the
Etruscan pirates in the description of Aristotles Eudemus, and in which it is torn
apart, as happened to the young Dionysus at the violent hands of the Titans.
Chapter 16 explains how the death of mortal man is like a return to the condi-
tion of the perfectly happy soul of a newborn child. The soul of the individual can
then restore its relationship with the World-Soul.
The following stages are dis-
tinguished in this process: the soul ascends and withdraws into itself; the pneuma
withdraws into the blood; the soul contracts into the pneuma. The intellect is thus
freed of its garments [endymata], for its nature is divine, and receives a fiery body,
with which it roams through all space, and it leaves the soul behind to be judged
and receive just punishment.
We thus find here the doctrine of the separation of intellect and soul(-body),
implicitly attested as Aristotelian by Hippolytus
and also described in Plutarch,
De facie in orbe lunae. The soul with its pneuma can apparently be called a garment
of the intellect. The source of this doctrine must be the Aristotelian theory that
the soul (as distinct from theoretical intellectuality) cannot carry out its specific
activities without corporeality.
These doctrines are unknown to the novice and he asks for a further explana-
tion: What do you mean, my Father? Is the intellect separated from the soul and
the soul from the pneuma, when you say that the soul is the garment (endyma) of
the intellect and the pneuma of the soul?
This gives Hermes Trismegistus the
opportunity to go into more detail: The combining of these garments occurs in
an earthly body. For the intellect cannot seat itself alone and naked in an earthly
The quality of the intellect does not admit of physical contact with an
At this stage the individual souls unity with the World-Soul still exists too: - t. c-oc | t- ||
t, tcu -cccu u,.
Here, too, the text is clearly defective. A significant passage reads: ctc| o- c,-.- tc c.c -c.
-ctcccc cut| -., tcu, tcu c.ctc, c,-cu,, o.c`ucccc o- -cut| -,,-||c `-|. B. P. Copenhaver
reads here: when the body gets its bulk and drags the soul down to the bodys grossness. Cf. Aristides
Quintilianus, De Musica II 2, p. 53, 19 (R. P. Winnington Ingram): -ctccc t- cut| -c. ccc.tc|
Corpus Hermeticum X 16: tc o- cutc cuc.|-. -c. tc., tcu c.ctc, -.cuc.|.
Corpus Hermeticum X 16: c|coccucc ,c u -., -cut|, cuct-``-tc. tc |-uc -., tc
c.c, o- u -., tc |-uc, c o- |cu, -c-cc, ,-|c-|c, t.| -|ouct.|, --.c, .| uc-., c.ctc,
u. |cu `cc -|c, -.c`-. c |tc tc c|, -ctc`.. | t | u | -. c-. -c. t -ct c . c| o. - . Aristotle,
De motu animalium 10, 703a21 had already noted that pneuma can contract. On cuctc` as contrac-
tion of the soul see J. Ppin (1985): 396-7.
Hippolytus, Haereses I 20, 4, 6.
Aristotle, De anima I 1, 403a5-8; a16-8.
Corpus Hermeticum X 16: H., tcutc `-,-.,, . ct-; c |cu, t, u, ..-tc. -c. u
tcu |-uctc,, ccu -.c|tc, -|ouc -.|c. tcu -| |cu t| u|, t, o- u, tc |-uc.
Corpus Hermeticum X 17: cu|--c., t.| -|ouct.| tcut.|, . t--|c|, -| c.ct. ,.|. ,.|-tc.
cou|ctc| ,c tc| |cu| -| ,.|. c.ct. ,u|c| cutc| -c- -cutc| -occc.. Cf. Plato, Timaeus 30b;
Philebus 30c.
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earthly body.
Again the background here is formed by Aristotles anthropology,
with its sharp distinction between the immaterial intellect and the soul, which
cannot operate without a body. This view cannot possibly be regarded as Stoic in
origin, first of all because of the fundamental rejection of Stoic materialism by all
Gnostic conceptions. The solution to the problem is: the intellect has adopted
the soul as a garment, and the soul, which is itself something divine, uses the
pneuma as its servant. And the pneuma governs the living creature.
Two remarks can be made here. The souls relationship to the pneuma is that of
a user and an instrument. This is in line with what Aristotle says in De anima I 3:
techn must use its instruments, and the soul its body.
The pneuma is called the
servant of the soul. In comparable fashion Aristotle called vital heat most ser-
viceable to the productive activity of the soul.
When the intellect has got free
from the earthly body, it clothes itself in its own mantle [chiton], the fiery one,
which it could not keep on when taking up residence in the earthly body. But
the body that goes with the intellect is fire. Because the intellect is the demiurge
of all things, it uses fire as its instrument [organon] for this production.
author is talking here about the human intellect and the intellect of the World-
Soul. The Platonic notion of the divine Demiurge has been corrected in accor-
dance with Aristotles criticism of Platos Timaeus: the production of material things
is impossible without corporeality. Hence the intellect of the World-Soul needs
a natural body as its instrument (organon). This is underscored by the state-
ment: Without being clothed in fire the human intellect cannot create divine
products, since it has a human condition as a result of its dwelling-place.
To sum up, we can see that this text in the Hermetic Corpus presents a number
of remarkable doctrines which are clearly connected:
(a) The fundamental system is not a two-way division of man but a trichotomy of
visible body, soul, and intellect. The intellect is not a function of the soul but
differs essentially from the soul in its ability to achieve knowledge of the transcen-
dent and to become separated from all corporeality.
Corpus Hermeticum X 17: cu t- t | tcccu t| c -t | c |cc- c-c. cu,.t.c -|c| cu t c-tc |
(ou|ctc| -ct.).
Corpus Hermeticum X 17: -`c-| cu| .c- -.c`c.c| t| u|, o- u -c. cut --.c t.,
cucc -c-c- u-t t. |-uct. tc. tc o- |-uc tc .c| o.c.--..
Aristotle, De anima I 3, 407b25-26: o-. ,c t| -| t-|| c-c. tc., c,c|c.,, t| o-
u| t. c.ct..
De partibus animalium II 7, 652b10: tc., t, u, -,c., u-t.-.tctc| t.| c.ct.| tc
--c| -ct.|. See also De generatione animalium V 8, 789b10-2; De spiritu 9, 485a28-b3.
Corpus Hermeticum X 18: c tc| cu | c |cu , c c``c, tcu ,. |cu c. ctc,, tc | . o.c| -u -u , - |-ou cctc
.t.|c, tc| u.|c|, c| cu- -ou|ctc -.| -., tc ,.|c| c.c -ctc.-cc.. Cf. Plotinus, Enneads IV 3
(27) 9, 3, where the souls fire-body and air-body is also distinguished from the gross-material earthly
body: |cu, o- cutctc, .| c|t.| t.| --..| |cct.| -c. tc cutctc| c|t.| t.| ctc.-..| --.
c.c, tc u o.cu,c, ,c .| c |cu, t.| c|t.|, c,c|. t. u. c, t| o.cu,.c| tc.. So
the author draws a clear distinction between the cosmic Intellect and God, who is called Father and
the Good in X 1-3. We should realize that all elementary physical bodies are used as instrumental
bodies by soul-principles. I take that as the purport of Aristotle, De anima II 4, 415b18-20, in connec-
tion with De generatione animalium III 11, 761b13-23.
Corpus Hermeticum X 18: ,u|c, ,c .| tcu uc, c -| c|-.c., |cu, cou|ct-. tc --.c
o.cu,-.|, c|-..|c, .| t c.-c-..
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(b) The soul survives after death and so is relatively independent. But the soul, in
turn, is shed and abandoned by the intellect, which casts off all materiality.
(c) The doctrine of soul is connected with the doctrine of pneuma as the instru-
mental body of the soul. That is to say, the pneuma doctrine is that of Aristotle
and not that of the Jewish tradition starting with Philo of Alexandria.
(d) The soul-body is presented as the vehicle (ochma) of the soul, but also as its
garment (endyma) or mantle (chiton, peribolaion).
These doctrinal details make for a striking relationship with the anthropology in
the final myth of Plutarchs De facie in orbe lunae. The most plausible theory for the
source of this anthropology is that it embroiders on Aristotles lost writings such
as the Eudemus and De philosophia.
There is one more interesting point. The earlier part of The Key mentions
the god Kronos, of whom it is said that, when he shares in the perfect contempla-
tion, he moves out of his body.
Plutarchs De facie also talks about the god
Kronos, who, bound in the shackles of sleep, is only occasionally allowed to share
in Zeuss counsel.
We know from Tertullian that this theme played a role in one
of Aristotles lost works.
It appears to be evident that Aristotlethrough that
mythical story about the dreaming Kronoshinted at the metaphor of sleeping
and waking that he used to indicate the condition of the soul as first entelechy
over against the condition of the actualized entelechy.
Thus the text of treatise X in the Hermetic Corpus gives us valuable extra
information about the way in which the doctrine of a soul-body can have its place
within a non-materialistic anthropology, and can be combined with the notion of
the soul surviving the death of the individual.
After this lengthy digression on the anthropology of the Hermetic Corpus, I
now return to the texts of Augustine and Iamblichus which formed my starting-
point. I conclude that the Hermetic text offers solid grounds for interpreting the
texts about the Etruscan robbers not as Platonistic but as an important example
of Aristotelian dualism. Finally, this interpretation, if valid, lends credence to
the view that the two texts should not be traced back to Aristotles Protrepticus, if in
fact this was a separate work, but to Aristotles dialogue Eudemus or On the soul.
becomes even clearer, too, that the Eudemus was not just a consolatory work or an
occasional text, but a serious contribution to the ongoing philosophical debate.
Corpus Hermeticum X 5.
Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunae 941A-942B.
Cf. Tertullian, De anima 46. See J. H. Waszink, Traces of Aristotles lost dialogues in Tertullian,
Vigiliae Christianae 1 (1947): 137-49; idem, The dreaming Kronos in the Corpus Hermeticum, Mlanges
H. Grgoire = Annuaire de lInstitut de Philologie et Histoire 10 (1950): 639-51; and A. P. Bos, Cosmic
and meta-cosmic theology in Aristotles lost dialogues (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1989), 16-20.
Aristotle, De anima II 1, 412a25-6.
But for I. Bywater [(1869): 60] it was precisely Ciceros mention of Aristotles name which
furnished decisive proof that Iamblichuss text derived from Aristotles Protrepticus Assigning this text
to the Eudemus therefore has very negative consequences for the possibility of reconstructing an inde-
pendent work Protrepticus by Aristotle.
Contra A. H. Chroust and F. L. Peccorini (mentioned above) and K. Gaiser, Ein Gesprch
mit Knig Philipp. Zum Eudemos des Aristoteles, in J. Wiesner, Aristoteles, Werk und Wirkung (dedi-
cated to P. Moraux), Bd I (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1985), 473, who thinks it unlikely dass Aristoteles
in dem literarischen Werk einen genuin philosophischen Beitrag zur Frage der Unsterblichkeit der Seele leisten wollte.
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306 J OU R N A L OF T HE HI S T OR Y OF P HI L OS OP HY 41: 3 J U L Y 2003
De anima II 1, 412a6-b6.
De anima II 1, 412a16.
See S. Everson, op. cit., 64. Aristotle, De anima III 9, 432b18, b25.
Cf. Diogenes Laertius, V 33; Plutarch, Platonicae quaestiones 8, 1006D with the commentary by
H. Cherniss (Loeb Classic Library, 1976), 80-1; Hippolytus, Haereses VII 24, 1-2.
But we could then assume that the theory of the life of creatures in Aristotles
biological works in the Aristotelian Corpus is perfectly compatible with that of his
lost works. And this could embolden us to take a further step. If, in one of his lost
works on the soul, Aristotle talked about the soul as a complex entity which also
has a corporeal component, this can be connected with the theory of De anima II
1. Aristotle argues there that the soul is the eidos of a natural body which poten-
tially possesses life and is organikon.
In this connection he speaks of a com-
pound substance.
If we translate the term organikon as serving as an instru-
ment, which is the only possible meaning in Aristotle
and is how it is translated
by all the authors who discussed Aristotles definition of the soul before Alexander
of Aphrodisias
it is clear that there, too, Aristotle conceived of the soul as the
incorporeal form-principle which forms a complex unity with a special natural
body that the soul uses as its instrument.
In that case the hypothesis of a three-phase development in Aristotles psychol-
ogy, which was based on the observation of an unbridgeable gap between the
psychology of the Eudemus and that of De anima, has become totally superfluous.
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