Syrianus

Syrianus

Syrianus (Συριανός) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, and head of Plato's Academy in Athens, succeeding his teacher Plutarch of Athens in 431/432. He is important as the teacher of Proclus, and, like Plutarch and Proclus, as a commentator on Plato and Aristotle. His best-known extant work is a commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle. He is said to have written also on the De Caelo and the De Interpretatione of Aristotle and on Plato's Timaeus.

Life

He was a native of Alexandria, and the son of Philoxenus. We know little of his personal history, but that he came to Athens, and studied with great zeal under Plutarch of Athens, the head of the Neoplatonist school, who regarded him with great admiration and affection, and appointed him as his successor. He is important as the teacher of Proclus and Hermias. Proclus regarded him with the greatest veneration, and gave directions that at his death he should be buried in the same tomb with Syrianus.

Writings

Only a little remains of the writings of Syrianus, the surviving works are:

Among the lost works, Syrianus wrote commentaries on Aristotle's De Caelo and De Interpretatione. We learn from the commentary of Proclus on the Timaeus of Plato that Syrianus also wrote a commentary on the same book. Syrianus also wrote works on The Theology of Orpheus, and On the Harmony of Orpheus, Pythagoras and Plato with the Oracles. Theodorus Meliteniota, in his Prooemium in Astronomiam, mentions commentaries on the Magna Syntaxis of Ptolemy by the philosopher Syrianus. The Suda attributes several works to Syrianus, but which are in fact the works of Proclus.

Philosophy

The most valuable remains that we possess are the commentaries on the Metaphysics of Aristotle. In explaining the propositions of Aristotle, he appends the views held by his school on the subject in hand, and endeavours to establish the latter against the former. One of his fundamental principles is, that it is a proposition of general applicability, that the same cannot be both affirmed and denied at the same time of the same thing; but that in any sense involving the truth of either the affirmation or the denial of a proposition, it applies only to existing things, but not to that which transcends speech and knowledge, for this admits neither of affirmation nor of denial, since every assertion respecting it must be false. On the whole, the doctrines laid down in this work are those of the Neoplatonist school.

Notes

See also

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