The Ancient Library

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however, advantageously distinguished from his predecessors, whom he so extravagantly admires, partly in confounding and jumbling things together much less than they do, especially in making very much less frequent application of spurious Orphic, Hermetic, Chaldaic, and other Theologumena of the East, and in not giving himself up to a belief in the magical theurgic superstition ; partly in pro­ceeding much more carefully and modestly in the explanation and criticism of particular points, and in striving with unwearied diligence to draw from the original sources a thorough knowledge of the older Greek philosophy. His commentaries may, therefore, without hesitation, be regarded as the richest in their contents of any that have come down to us bearing on the explanation of Aristotle. But for them, we should be without the most im­portant fragments of the writings of the Eleatics, of Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Diogenes of Apollonia, and others, which were at that time already very scarce (in Phys. Ausc. f. 31), as well as without many extracts from the lost books of Aristotle, Theophrastus and Eudemus: but for them we should hardly be able to unriddle the doctrine of the Categories, so important for the system of the Stoics. It is true he himself complains that in his time both the school and the writings of the fol­lowers of Zeno had perished (in Arist. de Caelo, 79, b). But where he cannot draw immediately from the original sources, he looks round for guides whom he can depend upon, who had made use of those sources. In addition, we have to thank him for such copious quotations from the Greek com­mentaries from the time of Andronicus Rhodius down to Ammonius and Damascius, that, for the Categories and the Physics, the outlines of a history of the interpretation and criticism of those books may be composed (comp. Ch. A. Brandis, uber die Reilienfolge der Sucker des Aristotelischen Or-ganons und Hire Griecliischen Ausleger, in the Schrifien der Berliner Akademie, 1833). With a correct idea of their importance., Simplicius has made the most diligent use of the commentaries of Alexander Aphrodisiensis and Porphyrius; and although he often enough combats the views of the former, he knew how to value, as it deserved, his (in the main) sound critical exegetical sense. He has also preserved for us intelligence of several more ancient readings, which now, in part, have vanished from the manuscripts without leaving any trace, and in the paraphrastic sections of his interpretations furnishes us here and there with valuable contributions for correcting or settling the text of Aristotle. Not less valuable are the contributions towards a knowledge of the ancient astronomical systems for which we have to thank him in his commentary on the books de Caelo. We even find in his writings some traces of a disposition for the observation of nature. (Comm. in Pliys. Ausc. 173, 176 ; de Anima, 35, b. 36.)

That Simplicius continued averse to Christianity cannot be doubted, although he abstains from as­sailing peculiarly Christian doctrines, even when he combats expressly and with bitterness the work of his contemporary, Johannes Grammation or Philoponus, directed against the Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity of the universe (in Arist. de Caelo, 6, b, &c., 72 ; in PJiys. Ausc. 257, 262, &c., 312, &c., 320) ; whether it was that he feared the church, which had now attained to unrestricted


dominion, or that he no longer felt himself firmly enough rooted in the heathen faith. In Ethics he seems to have abandoned the mystical pantheistic purification-theory of the Neo-Platonists, and to have found full satisfaction in the ethical system of the later stoics, which approximated to that of Christianity, however little he was disposed towards their logical and physical doctrines, which indeed were almost given up by Epictetus.

Of the commentaries of Simplicius on Aristotle which have come down to us, that on the books de Anima is palpably inferior to the rest in the copiousness of its information respecting the doc­trines of earlier philosophers, as well as in the care shown in making use of preceding interpreters, though there is no reason for considering it spurious. Besides these commentaries of Simplicius which have been preserved, he himself mentions expla­nations on the metaphysical books (see above), and an epitome of the Pliysica of Theophrastus. (Simplicius, in Arist. de Anima, 38.)

Editions.— Simplicius's commentary on the Cate­gories was the first that was published (by Zacha-rias Calliergus, Venet. 1499, fol.), under the title, St/uTrAi/aou SiSaavcaAou rov fjieyd\ov (T\;oAra diro (puvfjs avrov els Tas 'ApurTOTehovs Ka,Tr)joplas. A second edition was published at Basle, in 1551, by Michael Isingrin. A Latin translation of this work, by Guil. Dorotheus, was published at Venice, 1541, by Hieron. Scotus. An anonymous trans­lation was published in the same place in 1550 and 1567. Fabricius mentions two other trans­lations, published at Venice in 1500 and 1516. The earlier translation of Guil. de Moerbeka ap­pears to be still unprinted. Then, in 1526, Fran-ciscus Asulanus, the heir of the Aldi, published the commentary on the Pliysica Auscultatio, and, in the same year, the commentary on the books de Caelo (Venet. fol.). The Latin translation of the former by Lucilius Philaltheus was published at Venice, by Hieron Scotus, in 1543, 1565, 1567, and 1587, and at Paris in 1545, fol. ; the trans­lation of the latter by Guil. de Moerbeka was published at Venice in 1540, fol., that by Guil. Dorotheus at the same place in 1544, and, without the name of the translator, at the same place, in 1548, 1555, 1563, and 1584, fol. That the printed Greek text of the commentary on the books de Caelo is probably a re-translation from the Latin version of Moerbeka, was first suggested by Amad. Peyron, who at the same time gave specimens of the genuine Greek text, in the fragments of Empedocles and Parmenides (Empedoclis et Parmenidis fragmenta ex codice Taurinensis Biblioiliecae restituta et illus-trata, ab A. Peyron, Lips. 1810.) Extracts from this commentary, according to the genuine text, which exists in a number of manuscripts, may be found in the Scholia in Arhtotelem, ed. Ch. A. Brandis, Berol. 1836, pp. 468—518. A complete and amended edition of the commentaries of Sim­plicius on the Physica Auscultatio and the treatise de Caelo, is being prepared by C. Gabr. Cobet, in conjunction with Simon Karsten. The commen­tary on the books de Anima was published, together with the explanations of Alexander Aphrodisiensis on the book de Sensu et Sensibili, and the paraphrase of Michael Ephesius on the so-called Parva Natii-ralia, in Greek, also by Asulanus, Venet. 1527. The Latin translation by Joh. Faseolus was pub­lished at Venice in 1543, fol,, and another by Evangel. Lungus, in 1564 and 1587. The intro-

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