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Proclus Diadochus- Biography

Encyclopaedia Britannica Entry. 11th edition,  (with Greek text transliterated)

PROCLUS, or PROCULUS (A.D. 410-485), the chief representative of the later Neoplatonists, was born at Constantinople, but brought up at Xanthus in Lycia. Having studied grammar under Orion and philosophy under Olympiodorus the Peripatetic, at Alexandria, he proceeded to Athens. There he attended the lectures of the Neoplatonists Plutarch and Syrianus, and about 450 succeeded the latter in the chair of philosophy (hence his surname Diadochus, which, however, is referred by others to his being the successor of Plato). As an ardent upholder of the old pagan religion Proclus incurred the hatred of the Christians, and was obliged to take refuge in Asia Minor. After a years absence he returned to Athens, where he remained until his death. His epitaph, written by himself, is to be found in Anthologia palatina, vii. 451. Although possessed of ample means, Proclus led a most temperate, even ascetic life, and employed his wealth in generous relief of the poor. He was supposed to hold communion with the gods, who endowed him with miraculous powers. He acted up to his famous saying that the philosopher should be the hierophant of the whole world by celebrating Egyptian and Chaldaean as well as Greek festivals, and on certain days performing sacred rites in honour of all the dead.

His great literary activity was chiefly devoted to the elucidation of the writings of Plato. There are still extant commentaries on the First Alcibiades, Parmentides, Republic, Timaeus and Cratylus. His views are more fully expounded in the Peri tês kata Platôna Theologias (In Platonis theologiam). The Stoicheiôsis Theologika (Institutio theologica) contains a compendious account of the principles of Neoplatonism and the modifications introduced in it by Proclus himself. The pseudo-Aristotelian De causis is an Arabic extract from this work, ascribed to Alfarabius (d. 950), circulated in the west by means of a Latin translation (ed. 0. Bardenhewer, Freiburg, 1882). It was answered by the Christian rhetorician Procopius of Gaza in a treatise which was deliberately appropriated without acknowledgment by Nicolaus of Methone, a Byzantine theologian of the 12th century (see W. Christ, Gesch. der griechischen Litteratur, 1898, 692). Other philosophical works by Proclus are Stoicheiôsis phusikê hê Peri kinêseos (Institutio physica sive De motu, a compendium of the last five books of Aristotle’s Peri phusikês akpoaseôs, De physica auscultatione), and De providentia et fato, Decem dubitationes circa providentiam, De malorum subsistentia, known only by the Latin translation of William of Moerbeke (archbishop of Corinth, 12771281), who also translated the Stoicheiôsis Theologika into Latin. In addition to the epitaph already mentioned, Proclus was the author of hymns, seven of which have been preserved (to Helios, Aphrodite, the Muses, the Gods, the Lycian Aphrodite, Hecate and Janus, and Athena), and of an epigram in the Greek Anthology (Anthol. pal. iii, 3, 166 in Didot edition.) His astronomical and mathematical writings include Hupotupôsis tôn astronomikôn hupotheseôn (Hypotyposis astronomicarum positionum, ed. C. Manitius, Leipzig, 1909); Peri sphairas (De sphaera); Paraphrasis eis tôn Ptolemaiou tetrabiblon, a paraphrase of the difficult passages in Ptolemys astrological work Tetrabiblus; Eis to prôton tôn Eukleidou stoicheiôn, a commentary on the first book of Euclids Elements; a short treatise on the effect of eclipses (De effectibus eclipsium, only in a Latin translation).

His grammatical works are: a commentary on the Works and Days of Hesiod (incomplete); some scholia on Homer; an elementary treatise on the epistolary style, Peri hepistolimaiou charaktêros (Characteres epistolici), attributed in some MSS. to Libanius. The Chrêstomathia grammatikê by a Proclus, who is identified by Suidas with the Neoplatonist, is probably the work of a grammarian of the 2nd or 3rd century, though Wilamowitz-Mollendorff (Philolog. Untersuch. vii.; supported by O. Immiscli in Festschrift Th. Gomperz, pp. 237274) agrees with Suidas, According to Suidas, he was also the author of Epicheirêmata iê kata Christianôn (Animadversiones duodeviginti in christianos), This work, identified by W. Christ with the Institutio theologica, was answered by Joannes Phioponus (7th century) in his De aeternate mundi. Some of his commentary on the Chaldaean Oracles (Logia Chaldika) has been discovered in modern times.