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Individual and Society: The Anonymus Iamblichi in the context of ancient moral and political philosophy

Reintegration Fellowships


The project investigates a neglected source of evidence for the history of early Greek political and moral thought. ‘Anonymus Iamblichi’ is the (somewhat tortuous) name traditionally given to the unnamed ancient Greek author whose work have been partly preserved in the form of extended citations by the late ancient philosopher Iamblichus. The fragments contain a series of fascinating reflections on the cultivation of virtue and wealth, the origins of law and tyranny, and the relation between democracy, trust and economic flourishing in a society.


Despite his indubitable interest and importance for understanding pre-Platonic Greek moral and political thought, the Anonymus is not a household name in scholarship on ancient moral and political thought. By situating and exploring the fragments in their intellectual context, the project will lay the groundwork for future research on a number of little-explored themes in ancient philosophy, such as the nature and importance of 'civil society' and the sociology of moral virtue and economic activity.


The aim of the project is to compose the first book-length philosophical and historical commentary in English on the text of the Anonymus Iamblichi, including a thorough reassessment of the precise delineation of the fragments and an essay on the question of the identity and intellectual context of the unknown author.


How does our attitude towards our fellow citizens affect the character of our politics? The project will provide a valuable historical perspective on a theme that has moved to the centre of the political conversation over the last years: the role of trust in democratic society. In particular, it explores, from the distinctive vantage-point of an upperclass Athenian intellectual, the civic social and sociological causes of political radicalisation and polarisation.