Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

John Finamore


The surviving fragments of Numenius' On the Good show the progression of a discernable argument; the dialogue as a whole deals with the search for a deeper understanding of the Form of the Good that is discussed in Plato's Republic. Fragment 1a provides a statement of method that governs Books 1-3. Book 1 attempts to use dialectical reasoning to reconstruct the "arguments" (logoi) of Pythagoras. Book 2 attempts to find confirmation of these arguments in the Platonic dialogues. Book 3 attempts to find further confirmation in the traditions of the "peoples of good repute." Fragment 9, taken from Book 3, gives a novel telling of the Jewish story of the Exodus, and is carefully constructed so as to be in conformity with Plato. It is best read as an allegory for the interaction of God and Matter. Book 4 is lost, but likely treated the necessity of a lower creator god beneath the highest god who is "free of labor." Book 5 introduces the Three Gods, who should be understood as the highest god, and two aspects of the lower god: a contemplative aspect and a creative aspect. Book 6 ties together the themes of the dialogue as a whole, and concludes that the Good is God.


Middle Platonism, Numenius


iv, 188 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 177-188).


Copyright 2013 Joshua Lee Langseth

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