The Ancient Library

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804 LONGilNUS.

made many journeys with his parents, that he visited many countries, and became acquainted with all the men wno at the time enjoyed a great reputation as philosophers, and among whom the "most illustrious are Ammonius Saccas, Origen, Plotinus, and Amelius. Of the first two Longinus was a pupil for a long time, though they did not 'succeed in inspiring him with any love for that kind of speculative philosophy of which they were the founders. Longinus in his study of philosophy went to the fountain-head itself, and made himself thoroughly, familiar with the works of Plato ; and ;that he was a genuine Platonist is evident from the character of his works, or rather, fragments still ex­tant, as well as from the commentaries he wrote on 'several of Plato's dialogues; and the few fragments of these commentaries which have come down to us, •show that he had a clear and sound head, and was free from the allegorical fancies in which his con­temporaries discovered the great wisdom of the an­cients. His commentaries not only explained the subject-matter discussed by Plato, but also his style and diction. This circumstance drew upon him the contempt and ridicule of such men as Plotinus, who called him a philologer, and would not admit his claims to be a philosopher. (Porphyr. Vit. Plot. p. 116 ; Proclus, ad Plat. Tim. p. 27.)

After Longinus had derived all the advantages he could from Ammonius at Alexandria, and the other philosophers whom he met in his travels, he returned to Athens, where he had been born and bred. He there devoted himself with -so much ;zeal to the instruction of his numerous pupils, that he had scarcely any time left for the composition of any literary production. The most distinguished among his pupils was Porphyrius, whose original name was Malchus, which Longinus changed into Porphyrius, i. e. the king, or the man clad in purple. At Athens he seems to have lectured on philosophy and criticism, as well as on rhetoric and grammar (Eunap. Porphyr. init. ; Porphyr. Vit. Plot. p. 131 ; Vopisc. Aurelian. 30; Suid. s. v. Ao77?j/os), and the extent of his information was so great, that Eunapius calls him " a living library" and " a walking museum ;" but his knowledge was not a dead encumbrance to his mind, for the power for which he was most celebrated was his critical skill (Phot. Bill. Cod. 259 ; Sopat. Proleg. in Aristid. p. 3 ; Suid. s. w. Hoptytipios, Aoyywos^ and this .was indeed so great, that the expression Kara, A.oyyivQy.!Kplyeiv became synonymous with " to judge corfec'tl^l (HierOnym. Epist. 95 j Theo-phylact. Epist. .'17.).- ; A^.i^/iK;

After having spent/^'jj^sj^raftle part of his life at Athens, and coinpo^4.^1ii^ best of his works, he went to the East, v either -for the purpose of seeing his friends at Emesa or:to settle some of his family affairs. It seems to have been on that oc­casion that he became known to queen Zenobia of Palmyra, who, being a woman of great talent, and fond of the arts and literature, made him her teacher of Greek literature. As Longinus had no extensive library at his command at Palmyra, he was obliged almost entirely to abandon his literary pursuits, but another sphere of action was soon opened to ,,him there ; for when king Odenathus had died, and Zenobia had undertaken the government of her 1 empire,: s'he availed herself most extensively of the advice of Loriginus, and it was he who, being an 'ardent lover of liberty, advised and encouraged her to shake off the Roman yoke, and assert her dig-


nity as an independent sovereign. In consequence of this, Zenobia wrote a spirited letter to the Roman emperor Aurelian. (Vopisc. Aureliasn. 27.;) In a. d. 273, when Aurelian took and destroyed Palmyra, Longinus had to pay with his life for the advice which he had given to Zenobia. (Vopisc. Aurelian. 30; Suid. s. v. Aoyywo*;.} This cata­strophe must have been the more painful to Lon­ginus, since the queen, after having fallen into the hands of the Romans, asserted her own innocence, and threw all the blame upon her advisers, and more especially upon Longinus. But he bore his execution with a firmness and cheerfulness worthy of a Socrates. (Zosimus, i. 56.)

Longinus was unquestionably by far the greatest philosopher of the age, and stands forth so distinct and solitary in that age of mystic and fanciful quibblers, that it is impossible not to recognise in him a man of excellent sense, sound and independ­ent judgment, and extensive knowledge. Pie had thoroughly imbibed the spirit of Plato and Demos­thenes, from whom he derived not only that intel­lectual culture which distinguished him above all others, but also an ardent love of liberty, and a great frankness both in expressing his own opinions and exposing the faults and errors of others. (Porphyr. Vit. Plot. p. 126.) His work Ilepl vtyovs, a great part of which is still extant, surpasses in oratorical power every thing that was ever written after the time of the Greek orators, and he, like Cicero among the Romans, is the only Greek who not only knew how to teach rhetoric, but was able by his own example to show what true oratory is. Besides the Greek and Syriac languages, he was also familiar with the Latin, as we must conclude from his comparison of Cicero with Demosthenes (Ilepl ity. § 12 ; comp. Suid. s. v. blwvodpios ; Tzetz. Posthom. p. 75.) In his private life he seems to have been a man of a very amiable dis­position ; for although his pupil Porphyrius left him, declaring that he would seek a better phi­losophy in the school of Plotinus, still Longinus did not show him any ill-will on that account, but continued to treat him as a friend, and invited him to come to Palmyra. (Porphyr. Vit. Plot. pp. 120, 124, 131.) He was, and remained throughout his life, a pagan, though he was by no means hostile either to Judaism or Christianity.

Notwithstanding his manifold avocations, Lon­ginus composed a great number of works, which appear to have been held in the highest estimation, but nearly all of which have unfortunately perished. All that has come down to us consists of a con­siderable part of his work Tlepl vtyovs, or De Szib-limitate, and a number of fragments, which have been preserved as quotations in the works of con­temporary and later writers. There is scarcely any work in the range of ancient literature which, in­dependent of its excellence of style, contains so many exquisite remarks upon oratory, poetry, and good taste in general. It is addressed to one Pos-tumius Terentianus, but contains many lacunae, which cannot be filled up, since all the MSS. extant are only copies of the one which is preserved at Paris. The following is a list of his lost works :—

1. Oi (f)i\6\oyoi^ a very extensive work, since a 21st book of it is quoted. It seems to have contained information and critical remarks upon a variety of subjects. (Auctor, Vit. Apollon. Rhod.^ Ruhnken, Dissertatio PhiloL De Vit. et Script. Long. p. 28, &c.)

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