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Alexander of Aphrodisias on Divine Providence: Two Problems1

  • R. W. Sharples (a1)

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

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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.

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2 De providentia 1. 1–9. 2 Ruland, cf. 31. 11 ff. (cf. Bibliography). All references to this work are by Ruland's pagination, and unless otherwise indicated are to the upper of his two texts; cf. below, n. 14, and nn. 42–4. I should stress that my knowledge of the Arabic versions derives entirely from Ruland's translation and from discussions in the other secondary literature, and that it is on Ruland's German that my translations are based, except where otherwise indicated.

3 Notably in Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, 3. 17.I suspect that the position formulated and attacked at Nemesius de natura hominis 44, PG 40. 800a ft. Migne, may owe something to Alexander; cf. especially 804a and the objection, peculiarly appropriate against a Peripatetic, brought at 804b. I hope to discuss this issue more fully elsewhere.

4 By Ruland; the outlines of the work were however previously known from references in later literature (notably in Maimonides Guide 3. 16 and 3. 17) and from modern summaries, especially that by Thillet. Cf. Bibliography.

5 Especially quaestiones 1. 25 and 2. 21 (cf. Bibliography).

6 cf. quaestio 2. 21, 65. 19 ff., 70. 24 ff.; de prov. 31. 19; and also quaestio 1. 25, 41. 10, where κατ’ Ἀριστοτέλη should be kept, contra Bruns (1890), p. 230 (cf. ibid. p. 234 and Thillet, p. 318). One may compare Alexander's presentation of his doctrine of fate as Aristotle's, de fato (Bruns, 1892), 164. 13, 212. 5.

7 De prov. 33. 1 ff., 87. 5 ff.; quaestio 1. 25 41. 8 ff., 2. 19 63. 15 ff.; fr. 36 Freudenthal.

8 Fr. 36 Freudenthal; de prov. 15. 15 ff. (cf. 21. 21–23. 6). One may contrast the solution of Proclus, for whom god has definite knowledge of what is indefinite, the nature of knowledge being determined by that of the knower rather than that of the known; cf. Hager, and R. W. Sharpies, ‘Alexander of Aphrodisias de fato: some parallels’, CQ n.s. 28 (1978), 260–2, and refs. there.

9 cf. fr. 36 Freudenthal; de prov. 11. 6 ff., 101. 3 ff.

10 cf. e.g. Diogenes Laertius 5. 32; Atticus fr. 3. 56 ff., 69 ff. des Places (Paris, Budé, 1977); and Diels H., Doxographi Graeci (Berlin, 1929), 592. 11 ff., 20. The relation of the Unmoved Mover to the heavenly spheres is described as ‘providence’ by Aspasius in Eth. Nic., Comm. in Aristot. Graeca (CAG), 19. 1, 71. 23–31. Cf. Festugière A.-J., L'Idéal réligieux des Grecs et l'Évangile (Paris, 1932), pp. 224–62; P. Moraux, “L'exposé de la philosophie d'Aristote chez Diogène Laërce’, Rev. philos. de Louvain 47 (1949), 33 f., and idem (1970) (cf. Bibliography), pp. 54 ff.; Pines (1956), p. 26 n. 4; Happ.

11 Aëtius 2. 3. 4; Adrastus of Aphrodisias ap. Theon (cf. Bibliography), 149. 14 f.

12 Merlan, pp. 90 f. convincingly argues that Alexander is reacting to the criticisms of Atticus in particular.

13 De prov. 19. 3 ff., 53. 1 ff., 63. 8 ff., 67. 7 ff.; cf. 25. 1 ff. quaestio 2. 21, 68. 19 ff., 70. 9 ff. cf. Theon 149. 10 ff. ‘Primary’ (προηγ ουμένως, cf. Sharpies, ‘Responsibility, Chance and Not-Being’, BICS 22 (1975), 49) and per se are equivalent in this discussion; cf. quaestio 2. 21 66. 5,68. 2. That the Arabic ‘αlᾱ αl-qαsd αl-αwwαl, ‘according to the first intention’ (e.g. de prov. 63. 7 f.), renders προηγ ουμένως is suggested by Merlan P., Monopsychism, Mysticism, Metaconsciousness (The Hague, 1963), p. 72 n. 2, and by Gyekye K., ‘The terms “prima intentio” and “secunda intentio” in Arabic logic’, Speculum 46 (1971), 32–8. Neuwirth A., ‘Abd αl-Lαtῑf αl-Bα***dᾱῑ's Bearbeitung von Buch Lambda der arislotelischen Metaphysik (Wiesbaden, 1976), pp. 186–91, argues that in Alexander's de providentia and elsewhere there is a distinction between ‘according to the first intention’ at one extreme, ‘per accidens’ at the other, and ‘according to the second intention’ (αlᾱ αl-qαsd αl-thᾱnῑ, e.g. de prov. 57. 13 f., below n. 26; δευτέρως?) to express the intermediate notion of a providence that is neither primary nor per accidens, the notion that Alexander is seeking to establish. Pines (1956), pp. 18 f. argues that ‘according to the first intention’ sometimes renders πρ***τον, πρώτως or κυρίως; cf. Pines (1959), p. 298 and n. 20, and Ruland 136, 142. (I am grateful to Dr Richard C. Taylor for drawing my attention to the discussions by Gyekye and by Neuwirth.)

14 Quaestio 2. 21, 65. 25 ff., de prov. 63. 2 ff. (Ruland's lower text makes Alexander argue that the influence of the heavens on the sublunary is accidental; cf. Ruland 142). With the identification of the accidental and not-being at quaestio 2. 21, 65. 27 compare Sharples, above n. 13, p. 48 and nn. 106, 110 f.

15 Alexander appears to recognize a plurality of Unmoved Movers; but the question whether there is one Unmoved Mover or several does not directly affect the issue discussed in (I) below, whether providence is exercised by any being above the rank of the souls of the heavenly spheres, and I have accordingly relegated discussion of it to the Appendix. Meanwhile, references to ‘the Unmoved Mover’ in the singular, for convenience’ sake, should not be taken as excluding the possibility of a plurality.

16 Below, n. 86.

17 Ruland 136, 142, and cf. his nn. on de prov. 57. 11–59. 3.

18 Quaestio 1. 25, 41. 4–9, 2. 19, 63. 15 ff.; de prov. 61. 7 ff. cf. further below.

19 cf. Bruns (1892), i–xiv, Moraux (1942), 19–24 (but cf. also his remarks at Hermes 95 (1967), 161 n. 2); Todd R. B., ‘Alexander of Aphrodisias and the Alexandrian Quaestiones 2. 12’, Philologus 116 (1972), 293305.

20 For the connection between the complex motion of the heavens and sublunary coming-to-be cf. Aristotle de caelo 2. 3, 286a31 ff., de gen. el corr. 2. 10–11, especially 336a32, and metaph. Λ 6 1072a 10; Moraux (1967), 159 n. 3.

21 And perhaps, strictly speaking, only the lower, planetary spheres, and not the primum mobile; cf. further below. For the connection between the complex motion of the lower spheres and the preservation of kinds cf. quaest. 1. 25, 40. 30–41. 4 (below, section II) and de principiis 132. 4 ff. (Cf. Bibliography; all references to the de principiis are to page and line of Badawīs French translation.)

22 Bruns (1890), p. 230.

23 Hager, p. 179 n. 34.

24 Above, n. 17.

25 At least as far as the upper text is concerned; for the lower text cf. further below.

26 ‘Secondar’: literally ‘according to the second intention’, ‘aid αlᾱ αl-qαsd αl-thᾱnῑ (above, n. 13; Pines (1959), p. 298). An anonymous referee suggests for the last clause rather: ‘is clearly supererogatory and secondary for it (sc. God's life)’. This does not affect the point at issue, however.

17 Pines (1959), p. 298 and n. 17; he comments that ‘the permanent things’ (which, interpreted as referring to the heavenly bodies, certainly gives a better contrast with the following reference to things on earth) could be the meaning of αl-bᾱqiyα, but is easier with the emendation. Ruland renders αl-bᾱqiyα by ‘all things’.

28 cf. Pines (1959), p. 298.

29 Ruland 60, n. on 59. 1–3.

30 cf. Ruland, upper text, 60 n. 1.

31 Above, n. 10.

32 59. 12–61. 6; cf. Pines (1959), pp. 296 f. This answers Happ's worry (82 n. 45) over Maimonides’ report (465. 3 ff. Pines) that Alexander allowed providence to extend only as far as the sphere of the moon; Maimonides himself qualifies this in what follows (465. 9 ff.). Cf. Plotinus 3. 3, 7. 7; when we speak of ‘providence above’, we are speaking of it in relation to what is below. If Plotinus is drawing on Alexander here, he is characteristically transforming the latter's spatial distinction into a purely metaphysical one; cf. P. Merlan, ‘Plotinus Enneads 2.2’, TAPhA 74 (1943), 184.

33 cf. quaestio 2. 19, 63. 15 ff. (above).

34 It is true that in introducing the two ways of speaking of providence (above, n. 30, upper text) Alexander does say that providence extends also to the sublunary. But this should be understood in the light of what follows; providence is present in the heavens, as well as in the sublunary, only in the rather quixotic sense that it is there that it is exercised. (Thus Thillet p. 320 line 20 has ‘providence’ in scare-quotes.)

35 Ruland's supplement (p. 64).

36 For providence exercised by the heavenly bodies cf. also 61. 14 ff., 95. 16 ff.

37 At 65. 9 ff. it is the providence of the gods that is not accidental.

38 Above, n. 27.

39 Quaestiones 1. 1, 4. 2; 1. 25, 40. 10; 2. 3, 50. 22; 3. 5, 89. 21; 3. 12, 89. 21; de fato 169. 24, 195. 17,203. 22; de mixtione 223. 10, 33,229. 7; in metaph. (CAG 1)373. 8;de princ. 122–8 passim.

40 Quaestiones 2. 21, 65. 19, 70. 13 (τ⋯ θε***α). At Alexander in meteor. (CAG 3. 2) 6. 4–7 τ៸θε***oν, τ⋯ θε***α and τ៸ θε***oν σ***μα are all referred to as caring for the sublunary, and are clearly equivalent; so too in quaestio 2. 3, which discusses the influence of τ៸ θε***oν σ***μα (47. 30), τ⋯ θε***α (49. 29), and τ⋯ θε***α σώματα (49. 31). Alexander's references are usually to ‘gods’ in the plural (e.g. quaestio 2. 21, 60. 22, 25, de prov. 53. 3 ff., 64. 8, 66. 11); when he uses the singular it may be explained as generalizing (defato 201. 31, quaestio 2. 21, 69. 10, 13, de prov. 53. 11 ff.), but the alternation suggests principally that the question ‘one god or many?’ is not of great importance for him.

41 Quaestio 2. 19 links a reference to the Unmoved Mover closely with the observation that the heavens are not themselves in need of providential care (63. 20 f.); it therefore seems likely that it too, like quaestio 1. 25, is later than the de providentia.

42 cf. Ruland 137 ff., and above n. 14.

43 cf. de princ. 136. 34 ff., especially 138. 32. The lower text regularly speaks of'management’, tαdbῑr, whereas the upper text refers to ‘providence’, inᾱyα (Ruland, 143).

44 Ruland, 107. Ruland's lower text omits the first third of de prov., the criticisms of rival views, and includes only the subsequent positive exposition.

45 Contrast the use of ‘overflowing’ in de prov. 57. 11–14 (above).

46 465. 12 Pines.

47 De prov. 61. 7 ff., quaest. 2. 19,63. 15 ff.; cf. above. In quaest. 2. 19 Alexander actually says that the heavens are in no need of providence either for their being or for their well-being. He has indeed just indicated that their motion is caused by emulation of the Unmoved Mover (63. 20 f.); they must therefore be dependent on it for their motion, even if not for their existence, but this dependence is apparently not considered a matter of providence. (I hope to discuss elsewhere other problems that the dependence of the heavens on the Unmoved Mover raises for Alexander.) Maimonides, it may be noted, cites Alexander's treatise under the title fῑ'l tαdbῑr (Pines (1956), p. 27 n. 2).

48 Vitelli(1902), 93. 9 ff.;cf. Vitelli(1895), and Montanari E.,‘Per un'edizione del peri kraseos di Alessandro di Afrodisia’, Atti dell' Accad. toscana La Colombaria 36 (1971), 27 and n. 2. I am grateful to Professor Todd for first drawing my attention to this text.

49 The image of the ‘look-out post’ is from Plato Politicus 272e; though in the Politicus myth the subordinate gods too cease to exercise providential care when the supreme god withdraws. Closer to the position attributed to Plato by Alexander here is Timaeus 41 a ff. Admittedly the Demiurge is there concerned with the initial creation of at least a part of the universe–of the heavens and of the rational parts of human souls; and Alexander did argue that the beginning of the world in the Timaeus was intended literally by Plato (Simplicius in de caelo (CAG 7), 297 f., Philoponus de aet. mund. 213–16 Rabe; cf. K. Praechter, ‘Tauros’, RE 2 Reihe 5. 1 (1934), 68, and Baltes M., Die Weltentstehung des Platonischen Timaios (Leiden, 1976), i. 71–6). One may also compare the position of the Middle-Platonist Albinus (Alcinous), whose First God, like Aristotle's Unmoved Mover, is not concerned with the world at all (Didasc. 10. 164. 16 ff. Hermann; cf. Dillon J. M., The Middle Platonists (London, 1977), p. 282).

50 Vitelli (1902), 93. 15 ff., cf. 93. 8.

51 cf. de mixtione 226. 24 ff., mantissa 113. 12 ff.; Todd (1976), pp. 226 f.

52 [Plutarch] moralia 572F; Apuleius de Platone 96. 9 ff. Thomas; Nemesius nat. horn. 44, PG 40. 793 b Migne.

53 Apuleius expressly says that it is secondary providence that preserves the heavenly order; Plato does not state this explicitly in the Timaeus, but could be so interpreted (cf. 42e). Nemesius does attribute concern for the heavens to primary providence, with no indication that it is confined to their creation rather than their maintenance. But his account of primary providence is something of an omnium gatherum; cf. Telfer W., Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa (London, 1955), p. 434 n. 3.

54 Derived not from the Timaeus but, no doubt, from Republic 10. 620d (or, as an anonymous referee has suggested, from Phaedo 107d. But for the importance of the Republic myth in the Middle-Platonist doctrine of fate, cf. Sharpies, above n. 8, 244 n. 13 and references there), Cf. Alexander, de prov. 29. 12–31. 10.

55 Quaestio 1. 4 is also a dialogue, but in dramatic, not reported form, with speakers identified simply as ‘A’ and ‘B’ and with no attempt at a realistic setting. (It is noteworthy that mantissa 170. 3 apparently refers to a school-discussion; cf. Sharpies, above n. 13, 41 f.).

56 cf. 65. 21 ff., 70. 12–17.

57 cf. 70. 7 ff., 24 ff.

58 66. 33–67. 22; cf. 66. 25–33, and Sharpies (above n. 13) 56 n. 74, 59 n. 106. For ‘foreseen and willed’ cf. de prov. 67. 1 ff.

59 67. 30–68. 4; cf. 66. 22 ff. and 67. 22–4 (the latter deleted by Bruns; cf. next n.).

60 68. 5–11, cf. 67. 24–9. Bruns deletes 67. 22–9 as an inappropriate anticipation of what follows. It may be noted that, while 68. 9 asserts that the universal is other than the particulars, 67. 27 states the opposite.

61 De princ. 130. 42 ff., 135. 27 ff; below, nn. 77–8.

62 De prov. 69.3–11; Ruland compares the example of health at 55.6 ff. One may also compare the use of the example of the sun in the Neoplatonic tradition to argue that providence does not involve activity on God's part, or is not burdensome to him, or that concern with earthly things cannot pollute him; Plotinus 5. 1, 6. 28 (with an analogy to fire), 5. 3, 12. 39–44, Sallustius de diis 9, 16. 21 ff. Nock, Nemesius nat. hom. 44, PG 40. 805 a, Theodoret de prov. 10, PG 83. 748f., Ammonius in de int. (CAG 4. 5) 132. 19 ff., 134. 16 ff., Simplicius in Epict. Ench. 104. 14 ff. Dübner. That mortal things cannot pollute the divine sun's rays is a thought already present at Euripides Heracles 1231 f. Cf. Happ, p. 83 n. 47.

63 In quaestio 2.21 Alexander attacks the argument that providence is as essential to the divine nature as heat is to fire (69. 3–16). However, this is in the. context of his criticism of a theory that makes the gods of less worth than mortals. Further, it seems likely that the example here appears in a citation from the Platonist Atticus (Merlan 90; quaestio 2. 21, 69. 7–10 = Atticus fr. 3bis (?) des Places); Alexander might well have criticized the analogy when it was used to support a rival view, and then - in the missing positive section of quaestio 2. 21 - have gone on to re-use it in the context of his own.

64 Mantissa 109. 24 ff. Alexander de fato 30 allows that the gods may have foreknowledge of what is necessary, as opposed to what is contingent; but he is arguing dialectically, in an abstract and schematic way, and it is not clear that he is himself claiming that the gods have foreknowledge of necessary sublunary events. Cf. Sharples, above n. 8, 260 and n. 186, and also 248. That the extent of the divine intellect's knowledge of things outside itself was a topic of dispute among Peripatetics is indicated by Plotinus 6. 7, 37. 2 f. (J. M. Rist, ‘On tracking Alexander of Aphrodisias’, AGPh 48 (1966), 86.)

65 Norman R., ‘Aristotle's Philosopher-God’, Phronesis 14 (1969), 6374; cf. Movia G., Alessandro di Afrodisia tra naturalismo e misticismo (Padua, 1970), p. 75 n. 1.

66 Aristotle Metaph. ∧ 9 1075a5 ff.; cf. Sorabji R., Necessity, Cause and Blame: Aspects of Aristotle's Theory (London, 1980), 218 n. 26.

67 Sorabji, 217–19; cf. Berti E., ‘The intellection of “indivisibles” according to Aristotle, de anima 3. 6’, in Aristotle on Mind and the Senses, Proceedings of the seventh Symposium Aristotelicum, eds. Lloyd G. E. R. and Owen G. E. L. (Cambridge, 1978), pp. 141–63.

68 Professor Sorabji has informed me that this is his interpretation; for the forms of sublunary entities (considered apart from their matter) as indivisibles cf. Berti 147 f. and nn. 32, 36. However, Norman (above n. 65), while arguing that God's thought does not differ from abstract human thought in that both are ‘thought of oneself’, does allow that it may differ from human thought in the purity of its objects (71); which might suggest that it does not include knowledge of sublunary species.

69 Perhaps; but statements of necessary properties are scarcely identity-statements and, if they are reached by scientific deductions from the essences of the things involved, appear to involve discursive reasoning and an object of thought that is not simple. (Cf, however, Sorabji 219.)

70 Alexander de anima 87. 24 ff., especially 88. 9 f; quaestio 1. 25, 39. 29 ff.

71 This is suggested, for our intellects, by Merlan (Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy, ed. A. H. Armstrong, 1967, p. 118); though as he recognizes it goes beyond Alexander's explicit statements.

72 I have endeavoured to survey recent interpretations of Alexander's theory of intellect - human and divine - in section 10 of'Alexander of Aphrodisias: Scholasticism and Innovation’ (cf. Bibliography).

73 De anima 87. 24 ff., 90. 2 ff.

74 J. H. Loenen,‘Albinus'metaphysics: an attempt at rehabilitation’, Mnemosyne 4.9 (1956), 314 n. 1, speculates on the possible connection in the Platonist Albinus between the doctrine that the Forms are God's thoughts and the question of God's knowledge of the world.

75 Donini P. L., Tre studi sull'aristotelismo nel 2 secolo d.C. (Turin, 1974), p. 28; cf. Merlan (above n. 12) 17, 38–41, and idem (above n. 62), 118; and, for Aristotle, Kramer H. J., Der Ursprung der Geistmetaphysik (Amsterdam, 1964), pp. 159–73. On the plurality of the Unmoved Movers in Alexander see below, Appendix.

76 Donini, 29–35.

77 De princ. 130. 42 ff. Cf. however below, n. 82.

78 De princ. 135. 27–9.

79 cf. above, n. 63.

80 De princ. 127. 42–128. 4: ‘The body which moves in a circle must have, at the centre, some thing around which it revolves, for all that moves in place needs an unmoved thing from which its movement proceeds or around which it moves itself. And into this category there enters the earth, which is a body which is unmoved and fixed…’. Cf. also quaestio 1. 23, 36. 22 f., ‘[for the earth not to exist] is impossible; for the universe would not exist, either, if that around which it moves were done away with’. Adrastus of Aphrodisias argued that, if the uniform rotation of the universe is to take place, earth must remain at rest at the centre; Theon 149. 15–19; Zeller E., Phil. d. Griech. 3. l4 (Leipzig, 1903), p. 811 n. 2.

81 Alexander in meteor. (CAG 3. 2), 6. 16, quaestio 2. 3, 50. 7 ff.; Aristotle de caelo 2. 3, 286a31 ff., de gen. et corr. 2. 10, 337a3 ff.; Moraux (1967), pp. 159 n. 4, 166 f.

82 De princ., however, may represent an intermediate stage. For at 123. 34 f. Alexander apparently says that the heavens have no need of knowledge of things other than themselves for their preservation. This need not be a complete denial that they have such knowledge (which would contradict the passage cited in n. 68 above); but would Alexander have written thus if he had already worked out the application of both (1) and (2) to the problem of divine providence?

83 cf. above at n. 41.

84 Simplicius in phys. (CAG 10), 1261. 30 f., Alexander quaestio 1. 1, 3. 10 ff., 1. 25, 40. 10, de princ. 124. 7 ff. Cf. Pines S.,‘Omne quod movetur necesse est ab aliquo moveri’, Isis 52 (1961), 43 ff.

85 Quaestio 1. 1, 3. 14 ff.; 1.25, 40. 10 ff., especially 40. 17, 21; 2. 18, 62. 27 ff.; 2. 19,63. 18 ff.; de princ. 124. 7 ff.

86 Quaestio 1. 1, 4. 1 ff, 1. 25, 40. 8–10; Alexander ap. Simplicius in de caelo (CAG 7) 380. 5 (criticizing Herminus). Cf. next n., and Zeller (above n. 80), 817 n. 1, 827 n. 5, 828 n. 2, Ross W. D., Aristotle: Metaphysics (Oxford, 1924), pp. cxxxvi f. Alexander sometimes speaks as if the heavenly bodies were a unity endowed with a single soul; cf. Pines (above n. 84), 44 nn. 99, 106, and 46 n. 116.

87 cf. Simplicius in phys. (CAG 10), 1261. 33 ff., 1354. 16 ff., 26 ff; Zeller locc. citt., and also Simplicius ibid. 1355. 23 ff.

88 For the plurality of Unmoved Movers and the distinction between these and the sphere-souls one may also compare [Alexander] in metaph. (CAG 1) 707. 1 ff., 12 ff. And, for the plurality of Unmoved Movers, cf. above at nn. 73–6, even if it is doubtful how far Alexander's references to pure forms in the plural are to be pressed. (Cf. my forthcoming discussion referred to in n. 72.)

89 That the Unmoved Mover of the first sphere was regarded by Alexander as located in the circumference is indicated both in the present context and in Simplicius in phys. 1354. 16ff. (above, n. 87). Jaeger W.. Aristotle: Fundamentals of the History of his Development (tr. Robinson R.; 2Oxford, 1948) 361 + n. 1 does regard Simplicius in phys. 1261. 30 ff. as indicating only that there is one Unmoved Mover, that of the outermost sphere, that is distinct from the soul of its sphere.

90 Bruns (1890), pp. 230–2 showed that the first part of the discussion, from 39. 9 to 40. 8, does not belong with what follows. But the desire of the heavens to emulate the Unmoved Mover has been the object of discussion since 40. 10.

91 That is, one sphere for each of the ‘wandering’ heavenly bodies (five planets, moon and sun). One might have expected Aristotle's 55 spheres. The passage might reflect modifications in the light of later astronomical theory; cf. Adrastus of Aphrodisias ap. Theon 180. 22 ff.; Zeller 3. 14, 811 n. 3; Sambursky S., The Physical World of Late Antiquity (London, 1962), p. 138. However, Simplicius in de caelo (CAG 7), 503. 33 implies, at least ex silentio, that Alexander in his commentary on the Metaphysics confined himself to elucidating the account presented by Aristotle; so too [Alexander] in metaph. ∧ 8. Cf. also Simplicius in de caelo 32. 1–5. Simplicius in phys. 1357. 11 ff. says that the whole heaven can be regarded as a single sphere as well as eight (7+1), rather than as well as 56 (55+ 1); so too Simplicius in de caelo 552. 3, 5.

92 Bruns (1890), pp. 225 f. emended the MSS reading τιν⋯ς oὐσ⋯ας ‘some being’ here to τ***ςoὐσ⋯ας ‘the being’, objecting to Zeller's interpretation of the genitive as subjective, referring to the sphere-souls, rather than as objective, referring to the Unmoved Mover (Zeller 3. 14, 827 f. n. 5). But the genitive can still be interpreted as objective with τιν⋯ς and this reading accords better with ⋯πoཷας.

93 Bruns (1890) 226 read μόνη τ*** δε ‘by this being’; but in his 1892 edition he reverted to the MSS μόνην τ⋯νδε.

94 Both in his 1890 article (226) and in his edition Bruns begins a new sentence here; but this seems both awkward and unnecessary, since he too takes (ii) and (iii) to refer to the same motion.

95 cf. also de princ. 130. 14 ff., 41 f., 132. 20 f. 130. 17 ff. - ‘Chacun de ceux-ci conçcoit aussile premier moteur en acte, et se meut d'un mouvement circulaire qui lui est propre et qui correspond à son mouvement’ (Badawī's translation) - might seem to suggest that the proper motion of each of the lower spheres was the result of its desire to emulate a single Unmoved Mover, that of the first sphere, in its own individual way; but should the relative clause here perhaps apply to the mover rather than to the motion?

96 Quaestio 1. 25, 40. 34–41. 4, cited above in section II.

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.

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