Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy is often characterised in terms of competitive individuals debating orally with one another in public arenas. But it also developed over its long history a sense in which philosophers might look to an authority and offer to that authority explicit intellectual allegiance. This is most obvious in the development of the philosophical ‘schools’ with agreed founders and canonical founding texts. There also developed a tradition of commentary, interpretation, and discussion of texts—composed by ‘authorities’—which often became the focus of disagreement between members of the same school or movement and also useful targets for critics interested in attacking a whole tradition. Discussing the meaning, force, and even the authorship itself of these texts became a mode of philosophical debate.
This international conference will investigate the twin notions of ‘authorship’ and ‘authority’—the Latin word auctoritas combines these two—in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Topics to be explored include: philosophical allegiance and schism, commentary and quotation, the treatment of anonymous texts or texts of disputed authorship, the collection of authorised corpora of texts and the rejection of spurious or non-canonical works.
More details will be posted on the Faculty of Classics website.