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Porphyry

(c. 234—305) Neoplatonist philosopher


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(ad 234–c.305),

scholar, philosopher, and student of religions. He was b. probably at Tyre; studied at Athens; became a devoted disciple of Plotinus, with whom he studied in Rome (263–268). His varied writings may be classified as follows.1. Commentaries and introductions to Aristotle.2. Commentaries on Plato.3. Our edition of Plotinus' Enneads arranged into sets of nine treatises; also a lost commentary on the Enneads.4. Historical work includes scholarly research on chronology and a history of philosophy down to Plato, from which the extant Life of Pythagoras (see pythagoras ) is an excerpt.5. His metaphysical works are almost entirely lost but included the extant Sententiae, a succinct, but probably incomplete, introduction to Plotinian metaphysics which displays divergences from Plotinus.6. His publications on religion show a consistent interest in and respect for most traditions allied to a searching but constructive critique of the workings and significance of many pagan rituals. Despite his rejection of blood sacrifice in On Abstinence (see animals, attitudes to), he was in other respects a religious traditionalist. Porphyry raised but did not solve the problem of the relationship of philosophy to religion. In Against the Christians he used historical criticism to establish the lateness of the Book of Daniel.7. Philological works include Homeric Enquiries, a landmark in the history of Homeric scholarship (see homer).8. Extant works on technical subjects are a commentary (incomplete) on Ptolemy 2's Harmonics, and an introduction to his Tetrabiblos.

1. Commentaries and introductions to Aristotle.

2. Commentaries on Plato.

3. Our edition of Plotinus' Enneads arranged into sets of nine treatises; also a lost commentary on the Enneads.

4. Historical work includes scholarly research on chronology and a history of philosophy down to Plato, from which the extant Life of Pythagoras (see pythagoras ) is an excerpt.

5. His metaphysical works are almost entirely lost but included the extant Sententiae, a succinct, but probably incomplete, introduction to Plotinian metaphysics which displays divergences from Plotinus.

6. His publications on religion show a consistent interest in and respect for most traditions allied to a searching but constructive critique of the workings and significance of many pagan rituals. Despite his rejection of blood sacrifice in On Abstinence (see animals, attitudes to), he was in other respects a religious traditionalist. Porphyry raised but did not solve the problem of the relationship of philosophy to religion. In Against the Christians he used historical criticism to establish the lateness of the Book of Daniel.

7. Philological works include Homeric Enquiries, a landmark in the history of Homeric scholarship (see homer).

8. Extant works on technical subjects are a commentary (incomplete) on Ptolemy 2's Harmonics, and an introduction to his Tetrabiblos.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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