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Once again (compare the circumstances under which the Sosus was written), it seems that he was writing a philosophical/theological work while accompanying Lucullus on a military campaign. It is not easy to arrive at a satisfactory assessment of Antiochus’ legacy, because very few sources other than Cicero explicitly reveal any sort of debt to his work, and very little is known about his pupils’ accomplishments. From a historical point of view (the philosophical aspects of Antiochus’ legacy are explored by other chapters in this volume), we should note that several people who studied with him ended up espousing different philosophical systems (Cicero was an Academic sceptic, Aristo and Cratippus became Peripatetics); the only ‘firm’ Antiocheans among his direct pupils are Dio, Varro and Aristus.

The list does not provide hard evidence to the effect that no successor was elected, since it fails to mention minor school heads such as Carneades the Younger, while including Charmadas and Metrodorus. But at least it suggests that, if a successor was elected, he had little or no authority and reputation. The same inference can be made from Cicero’s remark at Luc. 17 that ‘while Philo was alive, the Academy did not lack advocacy (patrocinium)’. Shortly before, at Luc. 11, Cicero has claimed for himself the merit of recalling it to life.

But it is hard to imagine the work as a record of the discussions mentioned in the Ciceronian passage presented in dialogue form, because that would leave no role for Sosus himself; he is not mentioned by Cicero among those present at Alexandria, whereas the person a dialogue is named after is traditionally a participant. These difficulties can be solved if we imagine an embedded dialogue, with the Alexandrian episode narrated by Antiochus (or another participant) to Sosus. Thus, by establishing the trustworthiness of the Sosus affair as reported by Cicero, we have gained some possibly autobiographical information on what must have been a trying period of Antiochus’ life, both personally, with the move from Athens to Alexandria, and intellectually, with a frustrating challenge coming from Philo in Rome, which could undermine his philosophical position.

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Republic - Cave by Plato

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