Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft


Transmission of Ideas between Schools of Philosophy in Late Antiquity

The Mediterranean was a diverse space, considered by traditional historiography as the epicentre of the activity within the known world (oikouménē). Although geographically clearly defined, it often did not possess precisely closed political or cultural frontiers or borders. This habitable world was a holistic structure in itself. In this regard, the movement of peoples and goods was projected in and as a continual exchange between various regions and individuals. Accordingly, the human migration was a constant process that was exponentially affected by the expansion of the Roman Empire. However, there were not only traditional physical items that travelled: there were also the ideas, intellectual concepts, and new notions about the world that these people carried with them. The exchange of different thoughts took place, for instance, through papyri in a materialized and thereby more durable format but also in the teachings that these people offered as an oral presentation, thus as a performative act bound to their individual present.

Against this backdrop, schools of philosophy were a perfect hub for this particular kind of intellectual exchange in Late Antiquity (fourth-seventh centuries CE). In these schools, individuals, either as students or teachers (diadochoi), discussed and developed the prevailing philosophies of the time, especially Neoplatonism. In this project, I will follow an interdisciplinary approach to understand the relationship between masters and students that travelled and helped to widespread dissemination of knowledge (in this project they will be addressed as "knowledge-travellers"). Also, an in-depth study of the system (paideia) in which these relationships were embedded will be carried out, in order to understand the role that education played for individuals within this network.

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