AMMONIUS

AMMONIUS Saccas 2nd-3rd c.. As Drrie Hermes 83, 1955, 466 and Schrder ANRW II 36,1 1987 520 observed, the surname Saccas is found only in Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Graec. aff. cur. VI, 96 PG 83, 977 B 1-5; SC 57,1 p. 276, 1-4, in the Lexicon Suidae I 145,30-31; IV 151,23-24 Adler and in Ammianus Marcellinus 22, 16, 16 I 291,15-20 Seyfarth, where, however, the words Saccas and Plotini magister are an interpolation and where the Ammonius named with other grammarians is not the Alexandrian philosopher but a grammarian see Drrie, 1955, 467. We have evidence on Ammonius from Porphyry Vita Plot. 3; 7; 10; 14; 20, Eusebius of Caesarea HE 19,9-10, Nemesius of Emesa De nat. hom. 2,19,31; 3,56-60, Theodoret Graec. aff. cur. VI, 96 and Photius Bibl., cod. 214, 172a. Proclus also alludes to Ammonius’s teaching in Theol. Plat. II, 4 II 31,8-9 Saffrey-Westerink: Origen the Neoplatonist is said to have attended the same school as Plotinus. A comparison of the evidence allows us to conclude the following: 1 Ammonius taught at Alexandria for ca. 50 years, from the time of Commodus d. 192 until his own death, ca. 242, the year of Gordian III’s Persian expedition, which Plotinus joined: there is no reason to doubt this, as Drrie does 1955, 468. That Ammonius had already begun his activity at the time of Commodus is considered very probable by Baltes Gnomon 56 1984 205. 2 As nearly all scholars admit Dodds, Les sources de Plotin, 31 n. 1; Theiler, Forsch. zum Neuplat. 1 and 39; Kettler, Kerygma und Logos, 322-323, Origen the Christian studied at Ammonius’s school: there is no reason to assert, as do Drrie 1955, pp. 468-469 and Goulet RHPhR 57 1977 484-488, that Origen the Christian had a Christian Ammonius for a teacher, different from Plotinus’s teacher, and that Porphyry had confused Origen the Christian with Origen the Neoplatonist, who did study under Ammonius that Porphyry would have made such a mistake is highly unlikely, see Kettler, 1979, p. 323. 3 Ammonius was originally a Christian who at some point renounced his faith to embrace Greek philosophy see Kettler 1979, 324-325, Baltes: Gnomon 56 1984 205; Porphyry, however, wrongly held that Origen the Christian was originally a pagan, misled by his extraordinary knowledge of Greek philosophy see Dodds 31 n. 1; it is very unlikely that Ammonius remained a Christian for his entire life, as Eusebius claims followed by Langenbeck, JHS 77 1957 68-69, AAWG phil. hist. Kl. 69 1967 149-151 and his student K.O. Weber, Origenes der Neuplatoniker, Zetemata 27, Munich 1962, 38: see Dodds, 27 n. 1 and 31 and S. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria, 225 n. 3. 4 The existence of the treatise On the Agreement Between Moses and Jesus, spoken of by Eusebius, might be explained by supposing that it was written either by Ammonius himself in his younger years, before his apostasy see Schrder: ANRW II 36,1, p. 504, where Kettler is cited, in Epektasis, Mlanges patristiques offerte   Jean Danielou, Paris 1972, 330, or by a homonymous Christian author, with whom Eusebius confused Ammonius. This latter hypothesis is favored by Drrie 1955, 468; Dodds, 31 n. 1; Theiler, 1; and Quasten, Patrologia I, Turin 1967, 369; see also S. Lilla, 225 n. 3. 5 The existence of a written collection of Ammonius’s lectures is accepted by von Arnim, RhM 42 1887 283- 284, Heinemann, Hermes 61 1926 3-5 and Theiler, 37-38, though denied by Zeller, Kleine Schriften II, 96-97 and Die Philos. der Griechen  III, 2, 504, Schwyzer, PWK XXI, 1, 478, Drrie, 467-468 and Dodds, 25. 6 It cannot be ruled out that Ammonius had a strong interest in Eastern religions and esp. Persian religion, which he passed on to at least some of his disciples: the fact that Plotinus and Antoninus, both disciples of Ammonius, were interested in Persian religion does not seem to be pure coincidence. 7 In his lectures Ammonius aimed to reconcile Plato’s thought with that of Aristotle, thus aligning himself with the eclectic tendency of Antiochus of Ascalon and Middle Platonism, and taken up again by Plotinus and Porphyry. 8 In his lectures, from which the Enneads are derived, Plotinus continued to keep Ammonius’s teaching in mind: Porphyry’s statements have rightly been emphasized by von Arnim, 276, and Heinemann 5. Nor can Theiler’s procedure be entirely rejected, i.e., the discovery of precise parallels between Hierocles and Origen the Christian, just as, given the close links that undoubtedly existed between Ammonius and Pantaenus in the late 2nd and early 3rd c. see above, 1, it is not entirely illegitimate to think that the numerous parallels observable between Clement of Alexandria and Plotinus can be traced to the common source of the cultural milieus of Alexandria during that period; see on this R.E. Witt, CQ 25 1931 195-204 and S. Lilla, 4 n. 2. Regarding the first principle, it cannot be established with certainty whether Ammonius identified this first principle with absolute being and intelligence as Weber, Origenes der Neuplatoniker, 160; Theiler, Forschungen zum Neuplatonismus, 10,41; Schwyzer: PWK 21,1 col. 480; Drrie: TRE 2,470; Lilla, Clement of Alex., 223-224; Baltes: Gnomon 56 1984 206-207 or considered it above beingintelligence, anticipating Plotinus Schwyzer’s thesis, Ammonios Sakkas, der Lehrer Plotins, Opladen 1983, 76-78, followed by Schrder: ANRW II 36 1987 517-522; thus in this new contribution Schwyrer modified his previous position, expounded in PWK 21,1. These two alternative solutions are not without foundation. On the one hand, Origen the Neoplatonist identified the highest principle with being-intelligence, as Proclus attests Theol. Plat. II,4 II, 31,9-11 fr. 7 Weber; and according to Porphyry Vit. Plot. 3 4,24-32 Henry Schwyzer, in his treatise The King Is the Only Maker he published Ammonius’s teaching, setting aside his pact with Herennius and Plotinus according to which the three disciples of Ammonius agreed not to reveal the teacher’s doctrine. Origen the Neoplatonist’s conception of the first principle would thus reflect that of Ammonius. On the other hand, Proclus, in expressing his surprise toward Origen the Neoplatonist, who had attended the same school as Plotinus, seems to consider the latter’s doctrine of the One-good as superior to beingintelligence to be an inheritance of Ammonius, from which Origen the Neoplatonist had distanced himself Theol. Plat. II, 4 II, 31,4-9, 25-28 SaffreyWesterink. Moreover in Vit. Plot. 3 5, 33-34 HenrySchwyzer, Porphyry says that from the outset Plotinus’s teaching was based on that of Ammonius.  

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