Herennius Pontius: the Construction of a Samnite Philosopher.

Classical Antiquity 30 (1):119-147 (2011)
This article explores in greater depth the historiographical traditions concerning Herennius Pontius, a Samnite wisdom-practitioner who is said by the Peripatetic Aristoxenus of Tarentum to have been an interlocutor of the philosophers Archytas of Tarentum and Plato of Athens. Specifically, it argues that extant speeches attributed to Herennius Pontius in the writings of Cassius Dio and Appian preserve a philosophy of “extreme proportional benefaction” among unequals. Greek theories of ethics among unequals such as those of Aristotle and Archytas of Tarentum, which aim for moderation, can be distinguished from that attributed to Herennius Pontius, which is circumstantial and stipulates extreme responses to extremes. Romans, in particular Appius Claudius Caecus and Sulla, celebrate and espouse proverbial wisdom strikingly similar to the theory of “extreme proportional benefaction” associated with Herennius Pontius, and in contrast to Greek ethics of moderation. Such comparisons suggest that starting in the late fourth century BCE, Romans and Samnites may have held shared ideological principles, as defined against Greek cultural paradigms.
Keywords Herennius Pontius  Ancient Philosophy in Italy  Aristotle  Ethics  Roman Philosophy  Archytas of Tarentum
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