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date: 18 November 2019

Philodemus locked

  • Thomas J. Mathiesen


(b Gadara, 110–100 bce; d ?Herculaneum, 40–35 bce). Epicurean philosopher, poet and critic of music . Philodemus went to Italy in about 65 bce and remained there until his death. He was the author of a treatise On Music, extensive parts of which have survived in a series of fragments discovered in the Herculaneum papyri, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 ce. Excavations beginning in the mid-18th century brought the first of the papyri to light, and attempts at a reconstruction of the treatise have been published since the end of the 18th century. In 1884 Johann Kemke established a text including additional material that had been discovered; he proposed that Philodemus's treatise was comprised of four books, the first of which was a doxography of the music theory of the Academy, the Peripatetics and the Stoics (including Diogenes of Babylon); the second (essentially lost) and third provided a fuller explanation of the theory of the Academy and the Peripatetics; and the fourth presented Philodemus's polemic against Diogenes and other Stoics. Until the 1980s Kemke's text was the basis for most modern scholarship, despite objections to his arrangement that were periodically raised on various grounds. With the later work of Rispoli, Neubecker and Delattre, however, Kemke's interpretation (and much of his text) has been largely supplanted. Delattre has proposed on papyrological and contextual grounds that all the fragments belong to the fourth book of Philodemus's ...

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