Fragments that Remain of the Lost Writings of Proclus, by Thomas Taylor, , at sacred-texts.com
To the lovers of the wisdom of the Greeks, any remains of the writings of Proclus will always be invaluable, as he was a man who, for the variety of his powers, the beauty of his diction, the magnificence of his conceptions, and his luminous development of the abstruse dogmas of the ancients, is unrivalled among the disciples of Plato. As, therefore, of all his philosophical works that are extant, I have translated the whole of some, and parts of others, * I was also desirous to present
the English reader with a translation of the existing Fragments of such of his works as are lost.
Of these Fragments, the largest, which is on the Eternity of the World, and originally
consisted of eighteen arguments, wants only the first argument to render it complete; and of this I have endeavoured to collect the substance, from what Philoponus has written against it. There is a Latin translation of the work of Philoponus * in which these Arguments are alone to be found—by Joannes Mahotius: Lugdun. 1557. fol.; from which, as the learned reader will perceive, I have frequently been enabled to correct the printed Greek text. The acute Simplicius is of opinion, that this work of Philoponus is replete with garrulity and nugacity, and a considerable portion of his Commentary on Aristotle's Treatise on the Heavens, consists of a confutation of the sophistical reasoning of this smatterer in philosophy.
[paragraph continues] In doing this, likewise, he invokes Hercules to assist him in the purification of such an Augean stable.
It is remarkable, that though the writings of Proclus are entirely neglected, and even unknown to many who are called scholars, in this country, yet they are so much esteemed in France and Germany, that such of his works as were only before extant in manuscript, have been recently published by the very learned Professors Boissonade, Victor Cousin, and Creuzer. * The second
of these learned men, indeed, conceived so highly of the merits of Proclus, as to say of him, "that, like Homer himself, he obscures, by his own name, the names of all those that preceded him, and has drawn to himself alone the merits and praises of all [the Platonic philosophers]." The eulogy therefore, of Ammonius Hermeas, "that Proclus possessed the power of unfolding the opinions of the ancients, and a scientific judgment of the nature of things, in the highest perfection possible to humanity," *
will be immediately assented to by every one who is much conversant with the writings of this most extraordinary man. Perhaps, however, the ignorance in this country, of the writings of this Coryphean philosopher, may be very reasonably accounted for, by what Mr. Harris says in the Preface to his Hermes, viz. "’Tis perhaps too much the case with the multitude in every nation, that as they know little beyond themselves and their own affairs, so, out of this narrow sphere of knowledge, they think nothing worth knowing. As we, Britons, by our situation, live divided from the whole world, this, perhaps, will be found to be more remarkably our
case. And hence the reason, that our studies are usually satisfied in the works of our own countrymen; that in philosophy, in poetry, in every kind of subject, whether serious or ludicrous, whether sacred or profane, we think perfection with ourselves, and that it is superfluous to search farther."
v:* I have translated the whole of his Six Books on the Theology of Plato, and have added a Seventh Book, in order to supply the deficiency of another Book on p. vi this subject, which was written by Proclus, but since lost; the whole of his Commentary on the Timæus of Plato; and of his Commentary on the First Book of Euclid. I have also translated nearly the whole of his Scholia on the Cratylus; and have given a translation of the substance of his Commentaries on the First Alcibiades and Parmenides of Plato. These are from the Greek. From the barbarous Latin version of Morbeka, † I have also translated his admirable Treatise on Providence and Fate; all which are published. And I am now waiting for an opportunity, which I trust will soon be afforded me, of publishing my Translation of his Solution of Ten Doubts concerning Providence, and his Treatise on the Subsistence of Evil.
v:† This Morbeka was Archbishop of Corinth in the twelfth century.
vii:* The Greek edition of this work of Philoponus against Proclus was printed at Venice, 1535, fol.
viii:* Of the works of Proclus, the first of these Professors has published the Scholia on the Cratylus; the second, the Commentaries on the First Alcibiades, and Five out of the Seven existing Books on the Parmenides of Plato; and also, from the version of Morbeka, the Treatise on Providence and Fate; A Solution of Ten Doubts concerning Providence; and the Treatise on the Subsistence of Evil: and the third, the Commentaries on the First Alcibiades, and the Theological Elements. p. ix All these learned men have done me the honour to speak of me in the handsomest manner, both in the letters which I have received from them, and in the above-mentioned publications. The last of them, in particular, has adopted most of my emendations of the Greek text of the Theological Elements.
ix:* Ει δε τι και ημεις δυνηθειημεν εισενεγκειν περι την του βιβλιου σαφηνειαν, απονημονευσαντες των εξηγησεων του θειου ημων διδασκαλου Προκλου του πλατωνικου διαδοχου, του εις p. x ακρον της ανθρωπινης φυσεως την τε εξηγητικην των δοκουντων τοις παλαιοις δυναμιν, και την επιστημονικην της φυσεως των οντων κρισιν ασκησαντος, πολλην αν τῳ λογιῳ θεῳ χαριν ομολογησαιμεν.—Ammon. Herm. de Interpret. p. 1.