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Gyburg Uhlmann

The Presence of Earlier Commentators in Ammonius and Later Commentators

Ammonius Hermeiou and his school seem to obscure their sources and references by not naming their predecessors and fellow commentators who elaborated on the respective text and topic. In the paper we argue that the refraining from naming the many sources and texts that actually are the foundation of the commentator’s knowledge and interpretation is part of the process in which a school tradition is constituted and developed in late ancient Aristotelian teaching.

The comparison of texts that explicitly have different scopes and different levels of differentiation with regard to the addressed audience shines a light on the processes in which the commentators and philosophical teachers supported the knowledge acquisition of their students by certain modes of transfer of texts and concepts that were developed by former commentators or Plato and Aristotle themselves.

One of these methods is to refrain from arguing with single predecessors in detail and to rather choose to give a résumé of what earlier commentators have pointed out and of the knowledge they have achieved. By this a specific type of a school commentary was developed that can be regarded as a product of philosophical school teaching, which is analogous in form to compendia or excerpts in Byzantine times.

In order to bring forward arguments in favor of this thesis the paper discusses texts from different commentaries on the Organon including Ammonius and Stephanos On de interpretatione, and Ps.-Ammonius On the Categories.