The conflict between the pagans and the Christian authorities of the Eastern Roman Empire has given birth to numerous polemical discussions among modern commentators, which is due to the fact that our sources on the subject were often biased. The closing of the Neo-Platonic Academy in Athens in 529 has nevertheless been cited as the end of pagan philosophy, even though its last leader, Damascius, would continue his philosophical activity around the Persian border. My paper deals with the persistent reception of one subject that was at odds with the Christian dogma, the cosmogony.
Damascius is also known for his De principiis, a lengthy treaty about the One and the Ineffable that precedes it. Although the work itself is first and foremost an answer to previous Neoplatonists, it is also an extremely valuable source for other lost Pre-Socratic cosmogonies, namely the Orphic ones, which are interpreted alongside other non-Greek creation myths in the final pages of the treatise.
On the other hand, John Lydus provides an intriguing adaptation of such creation myths in De magistratibus reipublicae Romanae, where he combines Platonic and Aristotelian ideas in order to build an explanatory model for the contemporary decline in offices of state. His choice of sources shows, however, that he was likely a pagan himself and that he had professed the official religion in order to avoid persecution. Thus, he bases his argumentation on a pagan cosmogony as a form of resistance against recent changes in Byzantine bureaucracy.