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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Simplicius (philosopher)

< 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

SIMPLICIUS, a native of Cilicia, a disciple of Ammonius and of Damascius, was one of the last of the Neoplatonists. When, in A.D. 529, the school of philosophy at Athens was disendowed and the teaching of philosophy forbidden, the scholars Damascius, Simplicius, Priscianus and four others resolved in 531 or 532 to seek the protection of Chosroes, king of Persia, but, though they received a hearty welcome, they found themselves unable to endure a continued residence amongst barbarians. Before two years had elapsed they returned to. Greece, Chosroes, in his treaty of peace concluded with Justinian in 533, expressly stipulating that the seven philosophers should be allowed " to return to their own homes, and to live henceforward in the enjoyment of liberty of conscience " (Agathias ii. 30, 31). After his return from Persia Simplicius wrote commentaries upon Aristotle's De coelo, Physica, De anima and Categoriae, which, with a commentary upon the Enchiridion of Epictetus, have survived. Simplicius is not an original thinker, but his remarks are thoughtful and intelligent and his learning is prodigious. To the student of Greek philosophy his commentaries are in- valuable, as they contain many fragments of the older philo- sophers as well as of his immediate predecessors. (See Neo-platonism.)

See J. A. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca, ix. 529 seq., who praises very highly Simplicius’s commentary on the Enchiridion; Ch. A. Brandis’s article in Smith’s Dict. of Greek and Roman Biography; E. Zeller, D. Phil. d. Gr. III. ii. 851 seq., also Ch. A. Brandis, " tjber d. griech. Ausleger d..Aristot. Organons, " in Abh. Berl. Akad. (1833); C. G. Zumpt, " tjber d. Bestand d. phil. Schulen in Athen," ibid. (1842); Chaignet, Histoire de la psychologie des Grecs, v. 357; Zahlfleisch, Die Polemik des S.