The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

Alexander of Aphrodisias on Divine Providence: Two Problems1

R. W. Sharplesa1

a1 University College London

The position on the question of divine providence of the Aristotelian commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. c. A.D. 200) is of particular interest. It marks an attempt to find a via media between the Epicurean denial of any divine concern for the world, on the one hand, and the Stoic view that divine providence governs it in every detail, on the other.2 As an expression of such a middle course it finds a place in later classifications of views concerning providence.3 It is also of topical interest: Alexander's fullest discussion, in his treatise De providentia (On Providence) (surviving only in two Arabic versions), has only recently been edited and translated,4 although some aspects of his position had long been known from other texts preserved in Greek.5


1 Details of modern works cited in the notes by author's name only, and of editions of ancient works, will be found, unless otherwise indicated, in the Bibliography. I am very grateful to Dr F. W. Zimmermann for reading an earlier draft of this paper, and also for the comments of Professor A. A. Long and of an anonymous referee; the responsibility for remaining errors is of course entirely my own.