(Ποτάυων, a Greek philosopher of the Alexandrian school, lived in the 3rd century of the Christian era, and was a native of Alexandria. According to Suidas, under Αἵρεσις and Ποτάμεων, he was a contemporary of the emperor Augustus; but Porphyry, in his life of Plotinus, states positively that Plotinus delighted in listening to Potamo's exposition of a new philosophy, of which he was laving the foundations. What was the purport of this new philosophy? It was developed in two treatises, one of which was a commentary on Plato's Timaeuts, the other a treatise on the first principles, Στοιξειώσις Both works are lost; but something is known of the second by a passage of Diogenes Laertius in the introduction to his book On the Life and Doctrines of Illustrious Philosophers. "Of late." says the biographer, "an eclectic school, ἐκλεκτική τις αἵρεσις, was founded by Potamo of Alexandria, which makes a choice among the doctrines of all sects. Two things, so he explains in his Treatise on the First Principles (Στοιχειώσις), are required to discern the truth: that which judges, reason (τὸ ἡγεμονικόν), and that by the means of which we judge, i.e. the accurate representation of the objects of our judgments. As to the principles of things, he recognizes four of them matter, quality, action, and place (τήν τε ὕλην, καὶ τὸ ποιόν, ποίησίν τε, καὶ τοπον); in other words, out of what, and by whom, how, and where a thing is done (ἐξ ου γάρ, καὶ ὑφ᾿ ου. καὶ πῶς, καὶ ἐν ῳ). The aim towards which everything should tend, according to him, is a life perfect in virtues, without discarding, however, the good of the body, nor general material interests." It follows from this passage of Diogenes Laertius, combined with the testimony of Porphyry, 1st, that Potamo was the founder of the eclectic school at Rome; 2nd, that he combined the doctrines of Plato with the Stoical and Aristotelian, and was not without original views of his own; 3rd, that in ethics he attempted a kind of conciliation of Stoicism and Epicurism. — Hoefer. But Potamo had no followers in his peculiar combinations. They were supplanted by the school that endeavored to engraft Christianity upon the older system of philosophy. See Porphyry, Vita Plotini, e.g. in Fabricius, Bibl. Grae. 2, 109; Diogenes Laertils, I'Poem. § 21; but especially Brucker, Historia Criticc Philosophis, 2, 193 sq.; Glöckner. De Potamounis Alex. Philosophiac Eclectica, recentiorum Platonicorum Disciplinae admodum dissimili, Disput. (Leips. 1745, 4to), an abstract of which is in Fabricius, 3, 184 sq. For the statement that there were two or three Potamos there is no ground. See the examination of this point in Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Biog. 2, 513.

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