Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (and Some More General Studies) [Book Review]

Phronesis 54 (3):286 - 296 (2009)
Abstract
The number and variety of books received since Keimpe Algra’s last set of booknotes (vol. XLIX.2, 2004) indicate the current high level of scholarly interest in this area (which I am taking as being Greek and Roman thought from the third century BC to about 200 AD). There are important new contributions on all three main Hellenistic philosophical theories, Stoicism, Epicureanism and Scepticism, as well as some studies on broader or related topics. The first book discussed here is on Hellenistic-Roman medicine, a volume by Manuela Tecusan on the Methodists.1 Despite its massive scale (over 800 pages), this is envisaged only as the first of three volumes; the second volume is to provide commentary, and a third volume, a companion to vol. 1, will cover the most important Methodist, Soranus. The present book includes about 100 pages of introduction and supporting material, consisting in part of a list of fragments and their sources and a thematic synopsis of the contents of the material included. The introduction offers a lucid and informative overview of the main features and figures of the Methodist school, and outlines the methodological principles and issues involved in making this collection. As with Stoicism (illustrated shortly), several of the most problematic interpretative questions arise in connection with Galen, who is the most important single source for this volume, though he is often highly critical of Methodism. Tecusan explains (pp. 41-2) that her original plan was to base the collection on an independent study of the manuscript tradition. In the event, she has adopted the policy of using the best or most recent available edition, but with her own textual revisions, highlighted in a selective apparatus. The translations are all her own, aiming where possible at consistency of terminology. The evidence assembled, as indicated in the synopsis of themes, covers the history and approach of the Methodist school, their relations with other schools, the main practitioners, key philosophical concepts, the medical theory and pathology of the school and individual Methodists..
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