John Palmer, Shaul Tor: Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology. A Study of Hesiod, Xenopha-nes and Parmenides. in:

Gnomon, page 196 - 201

GNO, Volume 93 (2021), Issue 3, ISSN: 0017-1417, ISSN online: 0017-1417,

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C.H.BECK, München
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B. Ballesteros: Ready, The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives 196 competence of expert ancient audiences we need exactly the kind of meticulous work that R. has done. His approach does not diminish the thrust of the proposed generative model, but prevents applying it to the contextual task of interpretation. The inclusion of Frame Semantics is valuable and gives a strong background in cognitive linguistics to Traditional Referentiality. But it reinforces the impression that the radical model proposed by the author for shared similes is problematic. One example: in Frame Semantics, invigorate and restore are ‘lexical units’ that belong to the frame Rejuvenation. They «evoke and depend on the conceptual backgrounds associated with individual frames» (here Rejuvenation: C.J. Fillmore in R. 234). Yet no competent English speaker would fail to grasp the semantic and syntagmatic difference between the two verbs. Equally (somewhat twisting R.’s alignments ‘Frame’/‘scenario’ and ‘lexical unit’/‘feature’) it is quite plausible that ancient audiences and poets would recognise the template and appreciate its contextual deployments. The final chapter advances knowledge of Homeric technique by discussing idiolectal similes: unique vehicles can join unique tenors, or unparalleled vehicle portions can join customary tenors. Idiolects are best understood against the background of what is shared, and each discussion brings us closer to the expectations of ancient audiences. The Conclusion advocates the comparative method, with a coda on R.’s next monograph, where comparative evidence will help to assess the Homeric epics’ written tradition. Despite deliberate avoidance of contextual hermeneutics (192, 208), this thoughtprovoking and carefully produced book will be fruitful reading for Homerists. Some might feel disturbed by Fränkel’s absence from the 38-page bibliography, but the comparatist will find a hoard of suggestions thanks to the author’s wide-ranging engagement with contemporary oral poetry. R.’s recasting of the importance of tradition in the light of the composer’s agency demands very serious consideration. München/London Bernardo Ballesteros * Shaul Tor: Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology. A Study of Hesiod, Xenophanes and Parmenides. Cambridge: Cambridge UP 2017. XIII, 406 S. (Cambridge Classical Studies.). This study developing the author’s Cambridge doctoral thesis approaches the emergence of systematic epistemology in early Greek thought by focusing on Hesiod, Xenophanes, and Parmenides. Its broad thesis is that their conceptions of the gods, mortals, and their relations and interactions are prior to epistemology as such. An introductory chapter on rationality and irrationality, philosophy, and religion interrogates the scholarly attitudes and expectations underwriting the tension typically perceived between reason and revelation in Parmenides in order to advocate a more integrated approach. The focus of the chapter soon expands to a treatment of some of the ways in which the relations between rational/philosophical and irrational/religious elements throughout early Greek thought have been conceptualized and how they resist dichotomization and easy GNOMON 3/93/2021 J. Palmer: Tor, Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology 197 generalization. The chapter concludes with some explanation of the choice to consider Hesiod’s ‘epistemology’. Tor proposes that Hesiod is «our earliest extant thinker who critically isolates the question of the conditions of human speculation, articulates a coherent framework within which to consider it and integrates it into a broader conception of the human condition» (52). Chapter 2’s principal focus is the Muses’ famous address to Hesiod at Theogony 26–8: ποιμένες ἄγραυλοι, κάκ᾽ ἐλέγχεα, γαστέρες οἶον, | ἴδμεν ψεύδεα πολλὰ λέγειν ἐτύμοισιν ὁμοῖα, | ἴδμεν δ᾽ εὖτ᾽ ἐθέλωμεν ἀληθέα γηρύσασθαι. Tor advocates an «ambiguous» interpretation of these lines, according to which the Muses here leave it uncertain whether the Theogony itself comprises truths, falsehoods like truths, or some combination thereof. The upshot is that these verses are «an underdetermined programmatic statement, articulated through several underdetermined key concepts», leaving «Hesiod, and us, to assess for ourselves all that they [sc. the Muses] might mean by saying what they say» (71). Ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations their words may well be, though to claim they are deliberately ambiguous goes too far. One might more plausibly take the Muses here to be distinguishing the verisimilitudinous fictions they have inspired in other poets from the truths they will communicate through Hesiod. Tor is nevertheless at pains to emphasize that where the poet speaks of matters beyond human experience and cognition, even the inspiration of epistemically superior divinities does not assure the truth of his words: «The divine origin of Hesiod’s verses means that they could be true. But he makes no guarantees» (91). The chapter concludes by contrasting the Muses’ address in the Theogony with Hesiod’s invocation of them again at the outset of the Works and Days (Op. 1– 10) and later in his advice to Perses on seafaring (Op. 646–93). Although he finds in this poem a greater measure of epistemological optimism, the ambivalence between the competing epistemological stances in the Hesiodic corpus signals for Tor that the Muses should not be understood as inspiring Hesiod so much as enabling him to «recognise in an informed and disillusioned manner the complexity of the poet’s epistemic predicament» (102). Tor’s characterization of the epistemological challenge isolated by Hesiod sets the stage for his accounts of Xenophanes and Parmenides in the remainder of the book as in various ways engaging with and transcending it. Chapter 3 pursues the themes of divine disclosure and mortal inquiry in Xenophanes. After emphasizing how traditional divinatory practice involves drawing inferences about matters beyond normal human experience and cognition on the basis of the experience of omens, oracles, or dreams given by a divinity for the purpose of such inferences, Tor proposes that Xenophanes aims to supplant such modes of disclosure with an alternative in B18 D-K: οὔτοι ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖσ᾽ ὑπέδειξαν, | ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητοῦντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. Building upon the insights of James Lesher’s study of the fragment1 and a wealth of comparative material, Tor eventually proposes that these verses point toward the alternative conception of divine disclosure he claims is suggested in the partial verse B36 D- K: ὁππόσα δὴ θνητοῖσι πεφήνασιν εἰσοράσασθαι. Here Tor inclines toward understanding πεφήνασιν transitively, with ‘gods’ understood as subject; but he 1 J. H. Lesher, ‘Xenophanes on inquiry and discovery: an alternative to the ‹Hymn to Progress› reading of Fr. 18’, Ancient Philosophy 11 (1991), 229–48. GNOMON 3/93/2021 J. Palmer: Tor, Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology 198 can only speculate as to the character of the alternative itself, which he does by trying to connect it back to Xenophanes’ positive conception of inquiry already adumbrated in B18.2. The speculation eventually extends to proposing that Xenophanes understood the divine’s intelligent supervision of the cosmos as purposively facilitating all mortal experience and belief-formation. The extensive discussion of Parmenides in Chapters 4 and 5 – given their own introduction and comprising half the book – is framed by three questions: (i) why did Parmenides write and include the Doxa (the «aetiological question»), (ii) what are the ways in which the mortal figure addressed by the goddess in the poem can think and must think (the «epistemological question»), and (iii) what is the status of the entities accounted in the Doxa given the doctrine of the Alétheia (the «ontological question»). The novelty of Tor’s approach derives from his addressing the first two questions prior to considering the third, and particularly from approaching these questions from the perspective of Parmenides’ psychology. Tor properly acknowledges that the scope, sophistication, and innovative nature of Parmenides’ cosmological theorizing in the Doxa makes untenable the once more prevalent view that its status is merely dialectical. He aligns himself with the more recent trend toward viewing the Doxa as representing Parmenides’ own theorizing about the origins and operation of the world’s mutable population; and he eventually suggests that the cosmological account is marked as failing to furnish ‘genuine conviction’ (B1.30 D-K) and as ‘deceptive’ (B8.52 D- K), not because it is false, but because mortals are prone to mistake the cosmology for an account of the nature of ultimate reality. Rather than concentrating on the epistemological and ontological distinctions that define Parmenides’ philosophy, though, Tor considers Parmenides’ theory of human cognition, as known from Theophrastus’s De sensibus and the difficult fragment Parmenides B16 D-K. Interpreting Parmenides’ account of the fundamental error of mortal beliefs as resting on their decision to posit two elements that transgress the distinction between ‘is’ and ‘is not’, Tor claims that Parmenides’ analysis of human cognition in terms of mixtures of these elements and in accordance with the principle of like-by-like means that it is a physiological necessity that mortals think in terms of and about compounds of these elements: «Consisting of Hot and Cold, we think Hot and Cold and in terms of Hot and Cold (Light and Night, Rare and Dense, Lightweight and Heavy, etc.)» (196). The analysis of Parmenides’ theory of cognition that Tor develops in considering what he terms the «epistemological question» thus determines his conclusions regarding the «aetiological question», namely, that Parmenides developed the cosmological portion of his poem because mortals cannot help but think about the things in the natural world it describes, and he aimed to provide theories that would correctly account for the origins and operations of these things. Since it is a consequence of Parmenides’ view, on Tor’s reading, that «[w]hen we think in terms of Doxa’s krisis, we cannot at the same time think in terms of Alêtheia’s krisis» (187), how is it then possible for the kouros to transcend the physiologically necessary mode of mortal thought about the world composed of Light and Night and rise to the apprehension of ultimate reality? This question becomes the focus of Chapter 5. Tor supposes that the problem here is more GNOMON 3/93/2021 J. Palmer: Tor, Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology 199 daunting than heretofore appreciated, in that the account of human cognition in B16 D-K is unqualified and universalizing, so that understanding the argumentation and substance of the Alétheia «is possible for the divine but not for the mortal mind» (224). Tor thus sets the bar for a successful interpretation extremely high, and he can only resolve the difficulty by positing that the kouros must somehow himself become divine. Tor pursues this line in great detail throughout the chapter by investigating Parmenides’ ideas on soul, eschatology, initiation, and revelation. The central claim is that the kouros’s ability to apprehend what-is depends on his acquisition of an exclusively Hot mind, one that is pure Light entirely divested of Night.1 The detailed development of this view involves attributing to Parmenides a version of the view found in Epicharmus, Euripides, and certain Attic tombstones that humans are comprised of both an earthy body and an aethereal soul, each of which returns to its place of origin at death: the body to the earth and the soul to the aether. But the evidence for attributing a version of this view to Parmenides is sparse and merely suggestive. Tor cites Theophrastus’s report at Sens. 4.5–6 that death according to Parmenides involves ‘the departure of fire’ (τὴν ἔκλειψιν τοῦ πυρὸς). He pairs this with Simplicius’s report that the divinity Parmenides describes in B12 D-K as steering all things and as initiating the hateful birth and mingling of all things also ‘sends the souls at times from the visible to the invisible and at times in the other direction’ (Simp. in Ph. 39.19–20 Diels). Tor concludes that Parmenides advocated a doctrine of metempsychosis, which he connects to his embryology. Since the evidence here is sparse, Tor fleshes it out by drawing in other eschatological texts of the period and several early Greek thinkers whose views regarding the nature of the soul are more securely attested. On the basis of these purported parallels, he concludes that Parmenides shared a widespread view of the soul as aethereal in nature, subject to transmigration, and inherently divine. The evidence for attributing such a view to Parmenides himself, however, remains at best suggestive and inconclusive. The view nevertheless becomes the basis for Tor’s claims that the kouros’s ability to understand what-is depends on a purification and isolation of the divine part within himself so that he may transcend the mode of thought physiologically necessary for those whose aethereal nature is mixed with an earthy, bodily nature and so «attain (however momentarily) the cognitive and mental condition of the discarnate, post-mortem, pure Hot soul» that is «the cognitive and mental condition of a divine thing» (250). Tor proceeds to style Parmenides as an early exponent of the idea that the goal of the philosophical life is becoming like god (ὁμοίωσις θεῷ), and he makes this notion the keynote of his interpretation of Parmenides’ proem (B1 D-K). However, this text presents difficulties for the view of the Parmenidean soul as aethereal, transmigrating, divine, and destined to return to its aethereal source that Tor cannot explain away. The proem describes the kouros’s journey to the House of Night, where he receives the revelation comprising the remainder of the poem. This place would have been well known to Parmenides’ audience from the Hesiodic Theogony (Th. 740–57) as the dwelling alternately occupied by 1 He finds inspiration for this view in G. Vlastos, ‘Parmenides’ theory of knowledge’, TAPA 77 (1946), 66–77, although he rejects Vlastos’s conflation of Light and Being. GNOMON 3/93/2021 J. Palmer: Tor, Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology 200 Night and Day while the other traverses the sky. The connection is consistent with the joint demonstration by Jaap Mansfeld, Walter Burkert, and David Furley that the trajectory of the kouros’s journey is that of a katabasis or underworld descent.1 While it is true that Parmenides represents himself as having travelled to the place where the souls of mortals travel after death, the figures and topography of the destination he describes make it virtually impossible to identify it with the place described in B12 D-K, as Tor would have it. His discussion of the proem focuses on those features that can be connected with his main thesis that the journey is an eschatological one made possible by divine powers identified as agents of the celestial and aethereal region. To cope with the features that would appear to undermine his overall interpretation, he adopts a strategy of labelling reconstruction of the proem’s topography «inevitably speculative and unsettled» (254). An appendix attempts to justify this characterization by assembling points from divergent reconstructions in order to suggest that it is uncertain whether the kouros’s journey is a katabasis, an anabasis, a combination of anabasis and katabasis, or intrinsically blurred. Tor claims that each of these types of reconstruction is compatible with Simplicius’s report regarding B12 D-K on which he builds his own view of Parmenidean metempsychosis, but this is far from clear. One sticking point is the fact that the Sun Maidens leading the chariot in which the kouros is conveyed are portrayed in the proem as taking him back to the House of Night that they previously left at dawn: ὅτε σπερχοίατο πέμπειν | Ἡλιάδες κοῦραι, προλιποῦσαι δώματα Νυκτός | εἰς φάος (B1.8b–10a D-K). Not only is the trajectory of the journey that of a katabasis from the light to the Halls of Night, the fact that the goddess who greets him upon arriving there welcomes him to ‘our home’ (ἡμέτερον δῶ, B1.25 D-K) strongly suggests that she is Night herself. Because these details undermine Tor’s broader interpretation, he seeks to dismiss them in the appendix by suggesting that Parmenides might be arriving at a different house, the House of Day, or that, even if he is arriving at the House of Night, it could be Day rather than Night who welcomes him (355 and 35525). Neither of these ill-conceived suggestions will do, however, since Night and Day are traditionally represented as occupying the same abode, a conception reflected in the use of ἡμέτερον here, and Day has presumably not been sitting at home all day waiting for the chariot of the Sun to return from traversing the sky. The reason Tor cannot ultimately come to grips with the details of Parmenides’ proem is that his broader interpretation places more confidence in Simplicius’s suggestive but uncertain report regarding B12 D-K than in Parmenides’ own words in this text. Tor claims that the kouros’s journey «culminates in some sort of sanctioned divinisation» (260), but the details of the proem itself do not describe such a thing. They do represent the kouros as an initiate who receives a profound revelation from a goddess, but he need not actually undergo divinisation to receive that revelation. That Tor’s «epistemological question» drives him 1 J. Mansfeld, ‘Die Offenbarung des Parmenides und die Menschliche Welt’ (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1964), 238; W. Burkert, ‘Das Proömium des Parmenides und die Katabasis des Pythagoras’, Phronesis 14 (1969), 1–30 at 7–9; D. J. Furley, ‘Notes on Parmenides’, in E. N. Lee, A. P. D. Mourelatos, and R. M. Rorty (eds.), ‘Exegesis and Argument’ (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1973), 1–15 at 1–5. GNOMON 3/93/2021 J. Palmer: Tor, Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology 201 to this conclusion suggests that the idea that Parmenides posited the strong physiological impediment Tor proposes to thought about the nature of reality was ill-conceived; and Tor’s core conclusion that «a mortal can sustain a higher-thanmortal thought by thinking with his divine Light soul» (280) is neither illuminating nor convincing. The treatment of Parmenides concludes with a critical review of approaches to the «ontological question» accompanied by some proposals of his own. These proposals are necessarily tentative since this study has not focused on the central features of Parmenidean ontology and epistemology. A final chapter considers Xenophanes’ relation to Hesiod and Parmenides’ relation to them both in light of the foregoing discussion and also includes some suggestions about how Empedocles might be understood as part of their tradition. Tor’s interpretations are based throughout on close readings of the key texts with due attention to the alternative ways of construing crucial verses and phrases as well as on a wealth of comparative material. The overall novelty of his approach makes for intriguing reading. The best chapters are those on Hesiod and Xenophanes. While approaching the fundamental questions of Parmenides interpretation from the perspective of his theory of cognition and the knowing subject does yield some insights, this approach also has certain inherent limitations, given that Parmenides’ psychological theories are some of the most poorly attested aspects of his thought. While Tor makes significant contributions to the understanding of those theories, the evidence for them is too sparse and uncertain for their reconstruction to serve as the basis for understanding Parmenides’ thought as a whole. Gainesville (Florida) John Palmer * Hippocrate, Tome I, 2e partie. Le Serment. Les Serments Chrétiens. La Loi. Texte établi et traduit par Jacques Jouanna. Paris: Les Belles Lettres 2018. CXCVI, 310 z.T. Doppels. (Collection des Universités de France. Association Guillaume Budé.) 65 €. In welcher Form, wenn überhaupt stantibus verbis οὐ τεμέω δὲ κτλ. (S. 4,6 in der vorliegenden Edition), las den hippokratischen Eid der Chirurg, dem ein Haus in der heutigen regio VI des antiken Pompeji gehörte? War das Exemplar in den Händen des Chirurgen aus Pompeji eventuell der Vorfahr einer der vier Manuskriptfamilien, nämlich der Marciana, der Vaticana, der Ambrosiana und der Vindobonensis, die jeweils dank der uns heute erhaltenen, aus der byzantinischen Zeit entstandenen Handschriften rekonstruierbar sind? Oder war dieses Exemplar eher Teil einer völlig anderen recensio, die keine Spur in der späteren Überlieferungsgeschichte hinterlassen hat? Solche Fragen stellen sich unmittelbar nach der Lektüre des vorliegenden Buches, einer kritischen Ausgabe der hippokratischen Schriften Eid (= Jusj.) und Gesetz (= Lex) samt zwei späteren griechischen Bearbeitungen vom Eid selbst.1 Durch die Berücksichtigung aller 1 Im Rahmen dieser Besprechung sind die lateinischen Titelabkürzungen der Schriften aus dem ‘I(ndex) H(ippocraticus)’ übernommen, s. J.-H. Kühn / U. Fleischer unter Mitarbeit von K. Alpers / A. Anastassiou / D. Irmer / V. Schmidt, ‘Index Hippocraticus’, Göttingen 1989, XV–XXIV. 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