Damascius (c. 462 — after 538 CE), the last head of the Platonic Academy, is often considered
to be solely an abstruse metaphysician. This contribution corrects this distorted
picture by turning to the fragments of his Life of Isidore, a work which has hitherto rarely
been studied in its own right, viz. as a philosophical text. In the Life of Isidore we find an
accessible and largely ethical philosophy. More specifically, I focus on political virtue
and the role of the philosopher in society. The discussion of the textual material, mainly
involving the value of good deeds and frank criticism, leads us to consider significant and
surprising parallels with the Callicles episode of Plato’s Gorgias.