The Ancient Library

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thematics from Hero. Whether from the confusion of his doctrines, or the indistinctness of his mode of expounding them, Olympiodorus was rarely understood by his disciples. Proclus, by his ex­traordinary powers of apprehension and memory, was able, after the lectures, to repeat them almost verbatim to his fellow-pupils. He also with great ease, according to Marinus, learnt by heart the philosophical treatises of Aristotle. Olympiodorus was so delighted with him, that he offered him his daughter in marriage. Becoming at last dissatisfied with the instruction to be obtained at Alexandria, Proclus removed to Athens, where he was received by a fellow-countryman of the name of Nicolaus. By Syrianus, with whom, he formed an acquaint­ance, he was introduced to Plutarchus, the son of Nestorius, who was charmed with the aptitude and zeal displayed by so young a man (he was at the time not 20 years of age), so that though very old, he addressed himself to the task of instructing the young aspirant, and read with him Aristotle's treatise de Anima and the Phaedo of Plato. He even took him to reside with him, and termed him his son. Plutarchus at his death commended Proclus to the care of his successor Syrianus, who in his turn regarded him rather as a helper and ally in his philosophical pursuits, than as a disciple, and. took him to cultivate with him the ascetic system of life, which was becoming the practice of the school, and soon selected him as his future successor. After a sufficient foundation had been laid by the study of Aristotle, Proclus was ini­tiated into the philosophy of Plato and the mystic theology of the school. By his intense application and unwearied diligence, he achieved such rapid progress, that by his 28th year he had written his commentary on the Timaeus of Plato, as well as many other treatises. On the death of Syrianus he succeeded him, and inherited from him the house in which he resided and taught. The in­come which he derived from his school seems to have been considerable. (Phot. p. 337, b. ed. Bekk.) He also found time to take part in public affairs, giving his advice on important occasions, and, by precept and example, endeavouring to guide the conduct of the leading men. Whether it was that his interference in this way provoked hostility, or (as Hitter, vol. iv. p. 658 believes) that his eager attachment to, and diligent observance of heathen practices had drawn down upon him the suspicion of violating the laws of the Christian emperors, Proclus was compelled to quit Athens for a time ; he went to Asia, where he had the opportunity of making himself better acquainted with the mystic rites of the East. He himself compiled a collection of the Chaldaean oracles, on which he laboured for five years. After a year's absence, he came back to Athens. After his re­turn he proceeded more circumspectly in his re­ligious observances, concealing them even from his disciples, for which purpose, Marinus tells us, his house was conveniently situated. The profounder secrets of his philosophy he proclaimed only to his most confidential disciples, in meetings with respect to which it appears secrecy was enjoined (aypaQoi ffvvovffiai). Marinus records, with intense admira­tion, the perfection to which he attained in all virtues. His ascetic temper led him to decline the numerous advantageous matrimonial connec­tions that were offered to him; but towards all his friends he exhibited the greatest urbanity, watch-


ing over their welfare with the most sedulous care ; if any of them were ill, addressing the most fervent supplications to the gods for their recovery, and himself adopting all the means which he could to restore them. His friendship with Archiadas reached a perfectly Pythagorean perfection. But far beyond these mere social virtues was, in the estimation of Marinus, his devotion to the purify­ing virtues, that is, to every form of superstition and fanaticism. All the mystic rites of purification, Orphic and Chaldaean, he practised most assidu­ously. From animal food he almost totally ab­stained ; fasts and vigils, of which he prescribed to himself even more than were customary, he ob­served with scrupulous exactitude. The reverence with which he honoured the sun and moon would seem to have been unbounded. He celebrated all the important religious festivals of every nation, himself composing hymns in honour not only of Grecian deities, but of those of other nations also. Nor were departed heroes and philosophers ex-cepted from this religious veneration ; and he even performed sacred rites in honour of the departed spirits of the entire human race. Indeed, he held that the philosopher should be the hierophant of the whole world. His ordinary labours at the same time seem to have been very great. He delivered five lectures a day, besides holding a species of literary soirees. It was of course not surprising that such a man should be favoured with various apparitions and miraculous interposi­tions of the gods, in which he seems himself to have believed as devoutly as his encomiast Mari­nus. At least, he used to tell, with tears in his eyes, how a god had once appeared and proclaimed to him the glory of the city. But the still higher grade of what, in the language of the school, was termed the theurgic virtue, he attained by his profound meditations on the oracles, and the Orphic and Chaldaic mysteries, into the profound secrets of which he was initiated by Asclepigeneia, the daughter of Plutarchus, who alone was in complete possession of the theurgic knowledge and discipline, which had descended to her from the great Nes­torius. He profited so much by her instructions, as to be able, if we may believe Marinus, to call down rain in a time of drought, to stop an earth­quake, and to procure the immediate intervention of Aesculapius to cure the daughter of his friend Archiadas. It was supernaturally revealed to him in a dream, that he belonged to the Hermetic chain (a species of heathen apostolical succession), and that the soul of the Pythagorean Nicomachus dwelt in him.

Proclus died on the 17th of April, a. d. 485, the year after an eclipse of the sun mentioned by Marinus, and determined to have occurred Jan. 13. 484. The seventy-five years which Marinus assigns as the length of his life are of course lunar years. During the last five years of his life he had become superannuated, his strength having been exhausted by his fastings and other ascetic practices. According to Marinus he was endowed with the greatest bodily as well as mental advantages. His senses remained entire till his death. He was possessed of great strength and remarkable personal beauty. He was only twice or thrice in his life at­tacked with anything like severe illness, though it appears that he was somewhat liable to attacks of the gout. His powers of memory are described as prodigious. He was buried near Lycabettus. In

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