Philoponus, Joannes

Philoponus, Joannes

(Ι᾿ωάννης ὁ Φιλόπονος), or JOANNES GRAMMATICUS (ὁ Γραμματικός), an Alexandrian theologian and philosopher of great renown, but which he little deserved on account of his extreme dulness and want of good-sense, was called Φιλόπονος because he was one of the most laborious and studious men of his age. He lived in the 7th century of our aera; one of his writings, Physica, is dated May 10, 617. He calls himself γραμματικός, undoubtedly because he taught grammar in his native town, Alexandria, and would in earlier times have been called rhetor. He was a disciple of the philosopher Ammonius. Although his celebrity is more based upon the number of his varied productions and the estimation in which they were held by his contemporaries than upon the intrinsic value of those works, he is yet so strangely connected with one of the most important events of his time (though only through subsequent tradition) that his name is sure to be handed down to future generations. We refer to the capture of Alexandria by Amru in A.D. 039, and the pretended conflagration of the famous Alexandrian library. It is in the first instance said that Philoponus adopted the Mohammedan religion on the city being taken by Amru, whence he may justly be called the last of the pure Alexandrian grammarians. Upon this, so the story goes, he requested Amru to grant him the possession of the celebrated library of Alexandria. Having informed the absent caliph Omar of the philosopher's wishes, Amru received for answer that if the books were in conformity with the Koran, they were useless, and if they did not agree with it, they were to be condemned, and ought in both cases to be destroyed. Thus the library was burned. But we now know that this story is most likely only an invention of Abulfaraj, the great Arabic writer of the 13th century, who was, however, a Christian, and who, at any rate, was the first that ever mentioned such a thing as the burning of the Alexandrian library. We consequently dismiss the matter, referring the reader to the 51st chapter of Gibbon's Decline and Fall. It is extremely doubtful that Philoponus became a Mohamomedan. His favorite authors were Plato and Aristotle, whence his tendency to heresy; and he was one of the first and principal promoters of the sect of the Tritheists, which was condemned by the Council of Constantinople of 681. Starting with Monophysite principles, taking φύσις in a concrete instead of an abstract sense, and identifying it with ὑπόστασις, Philoponus distinguished in God three individuals, and so became involved in Tritheism. This view he sought to justify by the Aristotelian categories of genus, species, and individuum. His followers were called Philoponiaci and Tritheistse. Philoponus, it may be remarked, was not the first promulgator of this error; but (as appears from Assem. Bibl. Orient. 2:327; comp. Hefele, 2:555) the Monophysite John Ascusnages, who ascribed to Christ only one nature, but to each person in the Godhead a separate nature, and on this account was banished by the emperor and excommunicated by the patriarch of Constantinople. The time of the death of Philoponus is not known. The following is a list of his works: Τῶν εἰς τὴν Μωυσέως κοσμογονίαν ἐξηγητικῶν λόγοι ζ᾿ ', Commentarii in Mosaicam Cosmogoniam, lib. 8, dedicated to Sergius, patriarch of Constantinople, who held that see from 610 to 639, and perhaps 641. Edit. Greece et Latine by Balthasar Corderius (Vienna, 1630, 4to). The editor was deficient in scholarship, and Lambecius promised a better edition, which, however, never appeared. Photius (Biblioth. cod. 75) compares the Cosmogonia with its author, and forms no good opinion of either: Disputatio de Paschale, "ad calcem Cosmogoniae," by the same editor: — Κατὰ Πρόκλου περὶ ἀϊδιότητος κόσμου λύσεις, λόγοι Ιή, Adversus Procli de AEternitate Mundi Argumenta XVIII Solutiones, commonly called De AEternitate Mundi. The end is mutilated. Edit.: the text by Victor Trincavellus (Venice, 1535, fol.); Latin versions, by Joannes Mahotius (Lyons, 1557, fol.), and by Casparus Marcellus (Venice, 1551, fol.): — De quinque Dialectis Graecae Lingues Liber. Edit. Greece, together with the writings of some other grammarians, and the Thesaurus

of Varinus Camertes (Venice, 1476, fol.; 1504, fol.; ad calcem Lexici Graeco Latini, Venice, 1524, fol.; another, ibid. 1524, fol.; Basle, 1532, fol.; Paris, 1521, fol.): — Συναγωγὴ τῶν πρὸς διάφρρον σημασίαν διαφόρως τονουμενων λέξεων, Collectio Vocum quae pro diversa significatione Accentum diversum accipiunt, in alphabetical order. It has often been published at the end of Greek dictionaries. The only separate edition is by Erasmus Schmid (Wittenb. 1615, 8vo), under the title of Cyrilli, vel, ut alii volunt, Joanni Philoponi Opusculum utilissimum de Differentiis Vocum Graecarum, quod Tonum, Spiritum, Genus, etc., to which is added the editor's Dissertatio de Pronunciatione Graeca Antiqua. Schmid appended to the dictionary of Philoponus about five times as much of his own, but he separated his additions from the text:Coummentarii in Aristotelem, viz.

(1) In Analytica Priora. Edit.: the text, Venice, 1536, fol.; Latin versions, by Gulielmus Dorotheus (Venice, 1541, fol.), Lucillus Philaltheus (ibid. 1544, 1548, 1553, 1555, fol.), Alexander Justinianus (ibid. 1560, fol.).

(2) In Analytica Posteriora. Edit.: Venice, 1504, fol., together with Anonymi Grseci Commentarii on the same work (ibid. 1534, fol.), revised and with additions, together with Eustratii, episcopi Nicaeani (who lived about 1117) Commentarii on the same work. A Greek edition of 1534 is said to exist. Latin versions by Andreas Grateolus (Venice, 1542, fol.; Paris, 1543, fol.) and by Martianus Rota (Venice, 1559, 1568, fol.).

(3) In quatuor priores Libros Physicorum. Edit.: the text, cum Praefatione Victoris Trincavelli ad Casparum Contarenum Cardinalem (Venice, 1535, fol.); Latin version, by Gulielmus Dorotheus (ibid. 1539 and 1541, fol.); a better one by Baptista Rasarius (ibid. 1558,1569, 1581, fol.). Philoponus speaks of his Scholia to the sixth book, whence we may infer that he commented upon the last four books also.

(4) In Librum unicum Meteorum. The text ad calcem Olympiodori In Meteora (Venice, 1551, fol.); Latine, by Joannes Baptistus Camotius (ibid. 1551. 1567, fol.).

(5) In Libros III de Anima. Edit. Greece, cum Trincavelli Epistola ad Nicolaum Rudolphum Cardinalem (Venice, 1553, fol.); Latine, by Gentianus Hervetus (Lyons, 1544, 1548; Venice, 1554, 1568) and by Mattheus h Bove (Venice, 1544, 1581), all in folio.

(6) In Libros V De Generatione et Interitu. Graece, cum Praefatione Asalani (Venice, 1527, fol.), together with Alexander Aphrodiseus's Meteorologia.

(7) In Libros V De Generatione Animalium, probably by Philoponus. Edit. Greece cum Petri Corcyraei Epistola Graeca ad Andream Mattheeum Aquavivam (Venice, 1526, fol.): Latine, by the same, ibid. eodem anno. Black letter.

(8) In Libros XIV Metaphysicorum. Latine by Franciscus Patricius (Ferrara, 1583, fol.). The text was never published. Philoponus wrote many other works, some of which are lost. and others have never been published. Fabricius gives an "Index Scriptorum in Philop. De Mundi AEternitate memoratorum," and an "Index Scriptorum in universis Philoponi ad Aristotelem Commentariis memoratorum," both of great length. See Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. 10:639. etc.; Cave, Hist. Litt. volume 1; Smith, Dict. of Class. Biograph. s.v.; Schaff, Church History, 3:674, 767: Illgenfeld, Patristik, page 288; Ueberweg, History of Philosophy, 1:255, 259, 347-9, 402; Alzog, Kirchengeschichte, 1:313; Stillingfleet, Works, volume 1; Gieseler, Ecclesiastical History (see Index); Hagenbach, History of Doctrines; Cudworth, Intellectual System of the Universe (see Index).

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