Simplicius of Cilicia

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Simplicius (Greek: Σιμπλίκιος; c. 490-c. 560 CE) of Cilicia,[1] was a disciple of Ammonius and Damascius, and was one of the last of the Neoplatonists. He was among the pagan philosophers persecuted by Justinian in the early 6th century, and was forced for a time to seek refuge in the Persian court, before being allowed back into the empire. He wrote extensively on the works of Aristotle. Although his writings are all commentaries on Aristotle and other authors, rather than original compositions, his intelligent and prodigious learning makes him the last great philosopher of pagan antiquity. His works have preserved much information about earlier philosophers which would have otherwise been lost.

Contents

Life

Simplicius was a disciple of Ammonius Hermiae,[2] and Damascius,[3] and was consequently one of the last members of the Neoplatonist school. The school had its headquarters in Athens. It became the centre of the last efforts to maintain Hellenistic religion against the encroachments of Christianity. Imperial edicts enacted in the 5th century against paganism gave legal protection to pagans against personal maltreatment,.[4] In the year 528 the emperor Justinian ordered that pagans should be removed from government posts. Some were robbed of their property, some put to death. The order specified that if they did not within three months convert to Christianity, they were to be banished from the Empire. In addition, it was forbidden any longer to teach philosophy and jurisprudence in Athens.[5] Probably also the property of the Platonist school, which in the time of Proclus was valued at more than 1000 gold pieces,[6] was confiscated; at least, Justinian deprived the physicians and teachers of the liberal arts of the provision-money which had been assigned to them by previous emperors, and confiscated funds which the citizens had provided for spectacles and other civic purposes.[7]

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