The format was not unknown before the first century BCE but new in extensive philosophical use. The commentaries emerged when Platonists and Aristotelians observed the need to teach the philosophy of these ancient masters to their students and to systematise their philosophy to respond to rival schools.
Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science by Sorabji Richard - AbeBooks
In the late ancient schools, Plato and Aristotle were considered great thinkers, whose views needed to be studied carefully when considering any matter at hand. Many also argued that, despite the initial appearance to the contrary, there is no deep disagreement between Plato and Aristotle but, rather, a division of labour; Aristotle is dominant in natural philosophy and Plato in theology.
However, this harmony thesis was not universally accepted. Despite their respect for Plato and Aristotle, the commentators were not mere followers of these authors. They developed, criticised and transformed the doctrines in significant ways, not only by suggesting different answers to the same questions but also by transforming the questions themselves.
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