Philo on dance

René Bloch, “Tänze, die keine Tänze waren’: Widersprüchliches über den Tanz bei Philon von Alexandrien,”  K. Schlapbach (Hg.), Aspects of Roman Dance Culture: Religious Cults, Theatrical Entertainments, Metaphorical Appropriations. Potsdamer Altertumswissenschaftliche Beiträge. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2022, 101-115.


” The oeuvre of Philo of Alexandria does not lend itself to easy systematization. Scholarly attempts, such as those by Harry A. Wolfson and, more recently, by Maren Niehoff, reach their limits not least due to the manifold contradictions in Philo’s work. Philo’s remarks on dance can serve as an example: sharp condemnations of dance and music stand in contrast with various norms of appreciation. Philo distinguishes the frivolous mime and pantomime, which he condemns, from the cosmic dance with its philosophical and theological insights. While music and dance can distract from what is truly important, they are nevertheless considered part of a thorough education. Most explicit is Philo’s meandering handling of dance in his report on the Therapeutae ( De Vita Contemplativa).”