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“Let Us Leave Monuments for Posterity”: Construction of Communal Memory in Philosophical Handbooks of Late Antiquity

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Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

In late ancient Neoplatonic circles, a number of handbooks, biographies, and other introductory materials were used to orient and socialize beginning philosophy students, each undergoing a personal transformation into a new community, identity, and way of life. In this paper, centered around pedagogical textual usage of the fourth and fifth centuries C.E. in Athens and Alexandria, I focus on one aspect of this larger process: the construction and transmission of historical narrative to train new community members and introduce them to new practices and ways of thinking by couching them in terms of tradition and an identity linked to the past. I investigate what this means for the beginning students whose identities are shaped by these practices, and whose transformed way of life is informed by the particular communal history constructed in these sources.