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Homoiōsis theōi in Alcinous’ Didascalicus

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2020. Vol. 9. No. 2. Pp. 115-122.
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Sutiapov A. A.
Moscow State University
1 Leninskiye Gory, 119234 Moscow, Russia


The article deals with Middle Platonic philosopher’s Alcinous (2nd century AD) interpretation in his “Handbook of Platonism” (Didaskalikos) of the Plato’s “dogma” about the likeness to God as the goal of human life. The key dialogues for Alcinous’ interpretation are Theaetetus (celebrated digression 176a-c), Phaedo (82a), Republic (354a) and Laws (660e), in which Socrates linked assimilation to God as far as possible with practice of virtue (temperance, justice). However, there is a certain theoretical inconsistency here, since after Aristotle’s remarks in the Nicomachean Ethics (Book VII. ch. 1, 1145a 25-27 and Book X. ch. 8, 1178b10-20) God cannot be called virtuous literally. Alcinous solves this problem in his theology by distinguishing two gods: the virtuous one (god in the heavens) and the superior to virtue (god above the heavens). The article argues that the last one is referred by Alcinous according to the usual spirit of syncretism of the age to the Metaphysics’ transcendental god of Aristotle (or the self-thinking thought), while by the virtuous god he means the Timaeus’ Demiurge, who becomes a model in his benevolent attitude towards the cosmic world for the virtuous life of philosopher. This way of life consists of contemplative and practical activities, which are necessary modes for achieving the goal of human life in Middle Platonism - likeness to God (homoiōsis theōi).


  • • virtue ethics
  • • Middle Platonism
  • • Alcinous
  • • Didascalicus


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