Rapport aux Anciens et évolution de la polémique contre le moyen-platonisme dans les Discours platoniciens (Or. II-IV) d'Aelius Aristide

Authors: Voyer, Martin
Advisor: Morand, Anne-France
Abstract: Aelius Aristides' Platonic orations (Or. II-IV) – the In Defense of Oratory (Or. II), the To Capito (Or. IV), and the In Defense of the Four – have mostly been studied synchronically, as if they formed a single work written under the same circumstances. Moreover, the relations between these orations and Middle Platonism have not yet been thoroughly investigated. This thesis aims to better understand the progression of these orations by tying the polemic with the context of Middle Platonism. The two privileged lines of inquiry concern the relationship with the Greek cultural tradition: the first is the attitude advocated and observed towards Plato and the Ancients; the second is composed of the principles governing the exegesis of this philosopher's texts. It is also about better defining the specificity and relevance of the In Defense of the Four, the least studied oration of the corpus. The diachronic approach dictates the structure of the thesis: the orations are studied in their writing order. Regarding the first line of inquiry, that of the attitude towards the Ancients, the type of relationship that is advocated and put into practice remains essentially the same across the three orations: Aristides promotes rivalry and he carries it out quite openly with Plato. However, changes, that can be explained in the light of Middle Platonism, appear with each text. In Defense of Oratory exalts the audacity that is required to contradict an Ancient as opposed to the cowardice of those Platonists who dare not oppose a figure of authority. From the To Capito onwards, the emphasis is on the restraint and respect that should characterize the treatment of the Ancients. From this oration to the last one, In Defense of the Four, the writing increasingly embraces a rhetoric of restraint while increasing the intensity of the reprimands. The In Defense of the Four appears to be the culmination of the Aristidian project because it transforms the relation with tradition in a major and structuring theme, in addition to clarifying the issue raised by this question during the imperial era, namely the survival of Hellenism. The Platonic orations are consistent with regard to the second line of inquiry, the exegesis of Plato's dialogues, because they all point out the insufficiency of the Middle Platonic categories. However, only the In Defense of the Four tackles the Gorgias on the basis of these categories. It is also in this discourse that a constant specular effect between Plato and Aristides appears: the former would corrupt readers with straightforward and unrestrained critiques, whereas the latter tries to do the exact opposite. The specificity of the In Defense of the Four also manifests itself in the increasing importance taken by the theme of the actions aimed at preserving Hellenism. On this point, the political actions and the pedagogy of the Four are represented in such a way as to intersect in their principles the education that Aristides intends to implement through his speech. In both cases, success depends on the ability to adapt to circumstances, a skill which Aristides manifests by modifying his style according to the virtues he exalts. In this way, he himself becomes a model of the virtues he praises and their appropriate application according to the circumstances. The Four protected Greece against the barbarians: Aristides tries to imitate them culturally, at a time when paideia is, in his eyes, threatened by popular philosophers.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2021
Open Access Date: 14 June 2021
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/69368
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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