Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Immortality in ancient philosophy

New article December 10, 2002

1 Before Plato
2 Plato
3 Aristotle
4 After Aristotle



  1. References and further reading

References and further reading

Aristotle ( c. mid 4th century bc ) The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984, 2 vols. (The standard English translation; contains all the works of Aristotle referred to in this entry.)

Bostock, D. (1986) Plato’s Phaedo, Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Helpful though highly unsympathetic discussion of Plato’s most sustained discussion of immortality.)

Bremmer, J. (2002) The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife, London: Routledge. (An up-to-date survey of what is known of Orphism and the origins of the early Greek doctrine of immortality.)

Brentano, F. (1992) ‘Nous Poiētikos: Survey of Earlier Interpretations’, in M.C. Nussbaum and A.O. Rorty (eds), Essays on Aristotle’s De Anima, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (‘Nous Poiētikos’ = active intellect. A useful introduction to the controversies engendered by Aristotle’s fleeting references to psychic immortality.)

Burkert, W. (1972) Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism, trans. E.L. Minar, Jr, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (The standard work on early Pythagoreanism.)

Diels, H. and Kranz, W. (eds) (1951) Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker (Fragments of the Presocratics), Berlin: Weidmann, 6th edn. (Citations indicated by ‘fr.’(fragment) and a number. The standard collection of the ancient sources, both fragments and testimonia, the latter designated by ‘A’; Greek texts with translations into German.)

Plato (390s–347 bc ) Plato: Complete Works, ed. J.M. Cooper, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett., 1997. (The most complete one-volume edition; contains all the dialogues of Plato referred to in this entry.)

Sallustius ( c. ad 362) On the Gods and the Cosmos, trans. G. Murray, in Five Stages of Greek Religion, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951. (A manual of Neoplatonist religion.)

Sedley, D. (1999) ‘The Ideal of Godlikeness’, in G. Fine (ed.), Plato 2 – Ethics, Politics, Religion, and the Soul, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 309–28. (On the pervasive ancient theme of becoming like god.)

Warren, J. (2000) ‘Epicurean Immortality’, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy XVIII: 231–62. (Good recent survey of views.)


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