Ancient Greek Philosophy


What is Ancient Greek Philosophy?

Ancient Greek Philosophy studies the philosophical activities and enquiries of the Greco-Roman thinkers. It covers a period of 1,000 years; from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. It starts from the theoretical novelty the early Presocratic thinkers such as Thales and Anaximander and ends to the late Neoplatonic and Aristotelian commentators such as Simplicius and Philoponus. Ancient Greek philosophers can be found throughout the Greek-speaking Mediterranean regions such as South Italy, Sicily, Asia Minor, Egypt and North Africa. The questions posed from the Greek thinkers concern the philosophical areas of Cosmology, Ethics, Epistemology, Logic, Metaphysics and Aesthetics such as: What is the origin of the Universe? What is the nature of Cosmos? Is there any transcendental reality beyond perceptual existence? Is there any true knowledge? Is there any ethical standard for good life?

The Philosophers

Ancient Greek Philosophers were mainly pagans and for this reason their philosophical activities were not totally welcomed by the rising Christianity. Hence the end of ancient philosophy is usually marked by the close of the Platonic Academy of Athens by the emperor Justinian in 529AD. The last director of the Academy was Damascius.

The Writings

Unfortunately only a small part of the ancient philosophical writings survive nowadays. It is noteworthy that the works of the Presocratic thinkers as well as of the Hellenistic philosophers survive only in fragments mainly from late doxographical sources. On the other hand, despite the fragmentary evidences of the Greek philosophical thought, its theoretical completeness and originality can be undoubtedly observed in the survived texts.

Time Periods

Ancient Greek Philosophy is usually divided into four time-periods: (1) Presocratic Period (6th 5th century BC); (2) Classical Period (4th century BC); (3) Hellenistic Period (late 4th 1st century BC); (4) Imperial Period (1st BC 6th century AD). Eminent thinkers and schools of these philosophical periods are the following:

    Presocratic Philosophy (6th 5th century BC)

    - The Ionians (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Heraclitus)

    - The Pythagorean School (Pythagoras, Philolaus, Archytas, Alcmaeon)

    - The Eleatic School (Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus)

    - The Pluralists and the Atomists (Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus).

    Classical Philosophy (4th century BC)

    - The Sophists (Protagoras, Gorgias, Antiphon, Hippias and Prodicus).

    - Socrates

    - Plato

    - Aristotle

    Hellenistic Philosophy (late 4th century BC 1st century AD)

    - Cynics (Antisthenes, Diogenes, Crates)

    - Stoics (Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes, Chrysippus)

    - Epicureans (Epicurus, Metrodorus, Hemarchus, Polyaenus, Lucretius)

    - Sceptics (Pyrrho of Elis, Carneades)

    Imperial Philosophy (1st century AD 6th century AD)

    - Middle-Platonism (Plutarch, Albinus, Apuleius, Atticus, Maximus Ammonius, Philo)

    - Neo-Pythagoreanism (Nicomachus, Moderatus of Gades, Numenius)

    - Early Neoplatonism (Plotinus, Porphyry, Amelius)

    - Later Neoplatonists (Iamblichus, Proclus, Damascius)



Copyright 1997-2006

Giannis Stamatellos







Presocratic Philosophy

Classical Philosophy

Hellenistic Philosophy

Imperial Philosophy