The present book studies prayer as a category of Platonic religious thought, from Plato to Late Antiquity. Following a chronological framework (Plato, the pseudo-Platonic Second Alcibiades, Maximus of Tyre, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus), the book examines the relationship between philosophical reflection on prayer and a series of themes and related topics: the criticism and the interpretation of traditional cults, the conceptualization of religious emotions, the philosophical explanation of how astrology and magic work, the theories of the soul, and the theological description of reality in Late Neoplatonism.
The book aims to contribute to shed new light on the relationship between religion and philosophy in Antiquity and, in particular, on the forms of “scientific” religion that appear and develop in the philosophical schools in Late Antiquity. Special attention is paid to the relationship between philosophy, religion, and rhetoric. The rhetorical dimension of prayer is explored in relation to the role of persuasion and emotion in prayer and to the idea that exegetical commentary represents a hymn in prose addressed to the gods.