The Prevailing Circumstances: The Pagan Philosophers of Athens in a Time of Stress


  • Emilie F. Kutash St.Josephs College/ Boston University



Neo-Platonism and Pagan philosphy


The phrase, “prevailing circumstances” (tois Parousin oikeian) is one that can be found in the work of Damascius, Proclus, Simplicius and Olympiodorus, all Neoplatonic philosophers of the Athenian School during Late Antiquity. The fact that Proclus and his successors employed veiled expressions regarding the Christian threat documents their ongoing struggle with Christian authority. The brief reign of Julian the Apostate (360-363) was a crucial juncture for pagan political survival. The Academy in Athens founded by Plutarch and organized by Proclus and his followers was an institution with little continuity with Plato’s original academy. Proclus and his followers incorporated the oriental gods, theurgic practices and promoted Platonic theology much as did Julian with a new resoluteness. There are direct links which connect the Athenian school and its prominent teachers to Julian’s followers This paper documents the ongoing pagan-Christian struggle in the Athenian School , their continued allegiance to Julian and raises the question whether they were more actively politically subversive than their writings let on..

Author Biography

Emilie F. Kutash, St.Josephs College/ Boston University

Research associate: Boston University, Adjunct Professor:St.Josephs College and Suffolk County Community College,Member, International Plato Society and International Society of Neoplatonist Philosphers


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How to Cite

Kutash, E. F. (2009). The Prevailing Circumstances: The Pagan Philosophers of Athens in a Time of Stress. Pomegranate, 10(2), 184–206.