Themistius


Themistius

Themistius (317, Paphlagonia - ca. 387 CE), named polytonic|εὐφραδής (eloquent) [Simplicius, "in Cael.", "C.A.G." vol. 7, p. 72, "in Cat." v. 8 p. 1, "in Phys." v. 9, p. 42 and v. 10, p. 968; Sophonias, "Paraphr. in...de Anima", "C.A.G." v. 23, p. 1.] , was a statesman, rhetorician and philosopher,

Life

He was born in Paphlagonia and taught at Constantinople, where, apart from a short sojourn in Rome, he resided during the rest of his life.

Though a pagan, he was admitted to the senate by Constantius II in 355. He was prefect of Constantinople in 384 on the nomination of Theodosius.

Works

His paraphrases of Aristotle's "Posterior Analytics", "Physics" and "De Anima" are valuable; but the orations in which he panegyrizes successive emperors, comparing them to Plato's true philosopher, and even to the idea itself, are servile and unworthy. Against this, however, should be set the description given by Boëthius, "disertissimus scriptor ad lucidus, et omnia ad facilitatem inteliigentiae revocans", and that of Gregory Nazianzen—with whom Themistius corresponded.

Themistius's paraphrases of the "De Caelo" and of book Λ of the "Metaphysics" have reached us only through Hebrew versions. In philosophy Themistius was an eclectic. He held that Plato and Aristotle were in substantial agreement, that God has made men free to adopt the mode of worship they prefer, and that Christianity and Hellenism were merely two forms of the one universal religion.

Footnotes

References

Original works

*Paraphrases, ed. Hermolaus Barbarus (Venice, 1499)
*The first edition of Themistius's works (Venice, 1534) included the paraphrases and eight of the orations
*Nineteen orations, ed. Petavius: 1613 and 1618
*Thirty-three orations, ed. Jean Hardouin (Paris, 1684)
*Another oration was discovered by Angelo Mai, and published at Milan in 1816.
*W. Dindorf edition of the orations (Leipzig, 1832)
*"Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca" Volume 5 (Berlin)
*"Themistii paraphrases Aristotelis librorum quae supersunt", ed. Leonhard von Spengel (Leipzig, 1866), Teubner series (reprinted 1998)

Translations

*Paraphrase of the "De Caelo" (Venice 1574) (Latin translation from Hebrew)
*Paraphrase of Book Lambda (XII) of the "Metaphysics" (Venice 1558) (Latin translation from Hebrew)
** A new edition of the latter by S. Landauer appeared in 1903 and was reprinted in 2000
*"Commentaire sur le traité de l’Ame d’Aristote, traduction de Guillaume de Moerbeke" (Latin): Louvain 1957
*"On Aristotle's "On the Soul", tr. Todd: Cornell 1996 (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)
*"On Aristotle's "Physics" book 4", tr. Todd: Cornell 2003 (Ancient Commentators on Aristotle)
*"The Private Orations of Themistius", tr. Penella: Berkeley 2000

econdary literature and selections

*Fabricius, "Bibliotheca Graeca", vi. 790 seq.
*Eduard Zeller, "History of Greek Philosophy"
*Eugène Baret, "De Themistio sophista et apud imperatores oratore" (Paris dissertation, 1853)
*Amable Jourdain's "Recherches critiques sur l'âge et l'origine des traductions latines d'Aristote" (Paris, 1819)
*"Politics, Philosophy, and Empire in the Fourth Century: Selected Orations of Themistius", Moncur and Heather: 2002

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