Ocellus, Lucanus (῎Οκελλος [also ῎Οκελος, ᾿Ωκελλος, Οἴκελλος, Ουκελλος, ῎Ηκελος, ῎Εκκελος, etc.] Λευκανός), a Greek philosopher, was born in Lucania, whence his surname, and, as appears from his works, belonged to the Pythagorean school of philosophers. He flourished probably some five hundred years previous to the Christian aera. Philo, who lived in the 1st century, is the first writer who mentions him; for the letter of Archytas to Plato, and the latter's answer, quoted by Diogenes Laertius, cannot be considered genuine. According to Laertius's statement, Archytas wrote that at Plato's request he had been to Lucania, had found out the descendants of Ocellus, and obtained from them the treatises Περὶ νόμου, Περὶ βασιλεαίς, Περὶ ὁσιότητος, Περὶ τῆς τοῦ παντὸς γενέσεως, which he sent to Plato; and that he had been unable to procure any others, but would send as soon as he had discovered them. Plato thanked Archytas for his invoice, declaring that he had read the works of Ocellus with great pleasure, and that he considered him a worthy descendant of those Trojans who emigrated with Laomedon. These apocryphal documents only show that in the time of Diogenes Laertius, or of the author of the two spurious letters, there were four treatises attributed to Ocellus Lucanus, the Pythagorean philosopher, and that it was supposed he wrote others which were lost. Among the above-mentioned works there exists at present but the last, which is quite short. It is divided into four chapters. The first treats of the universe in general, τὸ πᾶν, or ὁ κόσμος; the second, of the composition of the universe; the third, of the origin of man; the fourth, of his duties, especially in the married state. Ocellus maintains that the universe has had no beginning, and can have no end; that a part of it is eternal and immutable — that is, the heavens, or the whole of the celestial bodies; and another part variable in its form, but immutable in its elements. He maintains also, in accordance with this cosmic theory, that mankind has always existed, and that man, mortal as an individual, is eternal as a species. This immortality of the species, combined with the mortality of the individuals, leads, with individuals, to the necessity of reproduction. Hence the object of sexual intercourse is not pleasure, but the procreation of children and the perpetuity of the human race. Thus in marriage decency and moderation must be observed: fortune and birth are not the only consideration; but suitability of ages, tastes, mind, etc., must be sought, in order that the union may produce healthy children and a happy family; for the families constitute the state, and the welfare of the one includes that of the other. This little treatise of Ocellus, though of no scientific value, is ingeniously conceived, and written with great clearness .
Our short analysis shows that Ocellus did not belong to the old Pythagorean school, whose ideas were more original, but less clear. His system is rather an eclectic mixture of Aristotle's physics with the metaphysics of the Eleates and the morals of the Pythagoreans. Besides this intrinsic proof of its non-authenticity which is very strong, we have another no less convincing in the fact that neither Plato nor Aristotle, nor any other philosopher before Philo, makes any mention of Ocellus or his works. Mr. Mullach supposes that the above treatise was written in the 1st century B.C., a time marked by a sort of revival of the Pythagorean system. Greek philosophy, after traversing the fruitful period of the school of Socrates, had brought forth the schools of the Academicians, the Stoics, and Epicureans. It is easy to understand how some minds. dissatisfied with the doctrines of these various schools, returned to that of Pythagoras, as more elevated in its dogmas and purer in its morals. Jubaking of Mauritania, favored the revival of the Pythagorean school by collecting. at a great expense the works of Pythagoras and of his disciples, scattered through Greece and Italy. This proceeding, however; gave occasion for frauds, among which we must count the works of Ocellus, and particularly his treatise on the Nature of the Universe. According to Mr. Mullach's opinion, the forger has proved very skillful, and avoided all coarse anachronisms in language; he, nevertheless, copied sometimes textually the expressions of philosophers of the schools of Eleas and Aristotle. Besides, we do not now possess the treatise exactly as it was originally written.
A fragment of the περὶ νὸμου, quoted in Stobaeus and other indices, shows that the works attributed to Ocellus were probably written in the Doric dialect, while the text now extant of the περὶ τῆς τοῦ παντὸς γενέσεως is written in the Attic dialect, which had in course of time become the most generally used in literature. Mr. Mullach thinks that the change was made during the Byzantinet period, perhaps in the 9th century. The treatise of Ocellus was first published by Conrad Neobar (Paris, 1539, 4to), and translated into Latin by Chretien, physician to Francis I of France (Lyons, 1541, 8vo). The edition published, together with a Latin translation, by Nogarola (Venice, 1559, 8vo), and reprinted by Jerome Comelin (1596), is better. Em. Vizzanius, professor at Padua, reprinted that treatise (Bologna, 1646; Amsterdam, 1661, 4to) with a new Latin version, and a useful though diffuse commentary. Gale, who inserted it in his Opuscula mythologica, ethica, etphysica, and:D'Argens, who published it with a French translation, in his Dissertations sur les principales questions de Zla .Metaphysique, de la Physique, et de la Morale des Anciens (Berl. 1762, 8vo), only corrected the text. Batteux. On the contrary, made good use of one of the MSS. of Ocellus, which are contained at the Imperial.Library at Paris, and his edition, together with a French translation, first published in the Recueil de l'Academie des Inscriptions (29:249294), was the best until the appearance of that.of A. F. W. Rudolphi (Leips. 1801, 8vo), which was in turn surpassed by Mr. Mullach's two editions, the first of them bearing the title Aristotelis de Melisso, Xenophane et Gorgiae disputationes, cum Eleaticorum philosophhorumfragmentis,. et Ocelli Lucani, qui fertur, de universa natura libello (Berlin, 1846). The second is included in the Fraqmenta
philosophorlum Groecorum (A. F. Didot's Bibliotheque Groeque, Paris, 1860). Ocellus Lucanus's works were translated into English by Thomas Taylor (1841, 8vo). See Diogenes Laertius, 8:80; Meiners, Gesch. d. Wissensch. in Griech. und Romans vol. i; Bardili. Epochen d. vorziiglichsten philosoph. Begriffe. (Halle, 1788); Filleborn, Beitrage z. Gesch. d. Philos. pt. x, p. 1-77; Mullach, Introduction to the Fragm. philosoph. Graec. p. 383; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. 1:43; Butler, Anc. Philos. (see Index in vol. ii); Lewes, Hist. of Philos. (see Index in vol. 2); Cocker, Christianity and Greek Philosophy. — Hoefer, Nour. Biog. Gener. 38 428; Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Biog. and Myth. rol. 3.