Peregrinus, Proteus

Peregrinus, Proteus a cynic philosopher, who was a native of Parium on the Hellespont, and flourished in the reign of the Antonines. After a youth spent in debauchery and crime, he visited Palestine, where he embraced Christianity, and by dint of hypocrisy attained to some authority in the Church. In order to gratify his morbid appetite for notoriety, he contrived to be imprisoned; but the Roman governor, perceiving the object, disappointed Peregrinus by setting him free. He now assumed the cynic garb and returned to his native town, where, to obliterate the memory of his crimes, he divided his inheritance among the populace. He again set out on his travels, relying on the Christians for his support; but being discovered profaning the ceremony of the Lord's Supper, he was excommunicated. He then went to Egypt, where in the garb of a mendicant cynic he made himself notorious by the open perpetration of the most disgusting obscenity. Thence he proceeded to Rome, and endeavored to attract attention by his ribaldry and abuse, for which he was expelled by the praefectus urbis. His next visit was to Elis, where he tried to incite the people against the Romans. Having exhausted all the methods of making himself conspicuous, he at length resolved to procure himself an immortal name by submitting to voluntary death, in imitation of Hercules. He went to the Olympian games, and in the presence of a vast concourse of spectators raised a funeral pile, and there carried his mad resolution into effect, in the 236th Olympiad, A.D. 165. The Parians raised a statue to his memory, which was reputed to be oracular (Anaxagoras, quoted by Valois, Ad. Anmm. Marcell.). Lucian, who knew Peregrinus in his youth, and who was present at his strange self- immolation, has perhaps overcharged the narrative of his life (Lucian, De Morate Peregrini, Amm. Marcell. 29:1; Philostratus, Vit. Sophist. 2:13; Gellius, Noct. Aft. 12:11; Eusebius, Chron. 01. p. 236). See Brucker, Historia Critica Philosophiae (see Index); Enlfield, History of Philosophy, p. 356, 357.

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