“Neoplatonic Influence in the Writings of Robert Grosseteste”

“Neoplatonic Influence in the Writings of Robert Grosseteste”

Hendrix, John Shannon (Roger Williams University)

School of Architecture, Art, and Historic Preservation Faculty Papers (2008)


Robert Grosseteste was appointed the first chancellor of Oxford University in 1221. He lectured in theology there from 1225 to 1230, and became the first reader to the Greyfriars or Franciscans in 1230. In 1235 he became the Bishop of Lincoln, which he remained until his death in 1253.1 He wrote several treatises which con-tain Platonic and Neoplatonic influences, most notably De luce, on the metaphysics of light; De lineis, angulis et figuris, on mathematical reasoning in the natural sciences; Hexaemeron, a commentary on Genesis; and Commentary on the Posterior Analytics, all written between 1228 and 1235. The Neoplatonic influences probably come from Latin translations of Arabic commentaries on Aristotle, most notably the al-Madina al-Fadila, or Virtuous City, of Alfarabi; and theShifa: De anima and Commentary on the Theology of Aristotle of Avicenna, or Ibn Sina.

Grosseteste’s first studies were probably at the cathedral school in Lincoln in the late 1180s, after which he was active at the cathedral school of Hereford in the 1190s, which was a center for Arabic learning at the time. He then studied at Oxford from around 1199 to 1209.

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