This small collection of essays by two authors shares the assumption that ancient philosophy was not primarily a doctrinal edifice, but a way of life. The three parts are conceived as starting points for further research. Part I: ‘Elementary education in late antique Platonism’ poses the question how late antique philosophical writings, especially those cast as biography, proposed that the young person acquire the first seeds of philosophy in the course of his or her general education. How, for example, was the practice of philosophy as a way of life encouraged through the formulation of ideal systems of education such as that attributed to Pythagoras, aimed at making those who sent through it ‘a like God as possible’ but at the same time oriented towards constructing a viable human society?
Parts II and III focus on the greatest of the later Greek philosophers, Plotinus. Part II: ‘Plotinus’s life and teaching’ examines the Great Treatise in its historical setting. In Part III: ‘Plotinus’s posterity’ the reception of his thought among Christians and Muslims is studied together rather than separately, as is normally the case among specialists in patristics and Arabic philosophy. This brief discussion is linked to a much wider historiographical project in which philosophical developments are brought into the same framework as political, social and economic considerations in the First Millennium. It is, after all, primarily through religions and philosophies inculcated in this period that the late antique and early Islamic world still acts on ours.