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Porphyrios ( ancient Greek Πορφύριος , Latinized Porphyrius , originally Syriac Malik ; * around 233 in Tire , † between 301 and 305 in Rome ) was an ancient philosopher of the Neoplatonic direction and a well-known scholar. He was distinguished by an exceptional education and literary productivity as well as by the diversity of his fields of work. In addition to philosophical and philosophical-historical works, his complete works included numerous writings on other topics (all in Greek), most of which have not survived. In particular, he dealt with philological and religious topics. In addition, he wrote manuals on astronomy, astrology and musicology.

An important concern of Porphyry was the commentary on the works of Plato and Aristotle . In contrast to his teacher Plotinus , the founder of Neoplatonism, he did not criticize the logical writings of Aristotle, but rather accepted Aristotelian logic and integrated it into his Platonism . This connection of the teachings of Plato with those of Aristotle was groundbreaking for the later Neoplatonism. Porphyrios wrote an introduction ( isagogue ) into Aristotelian logic, which was extremely influential as a standard work of logic in late antiquity and in the Middle Ages.

Porphyry also became known as an opponent of Christianity and a critic of the Bible . His extensive pamphlet "Against the Christians" caused a sensation, in which he not only put forward philosophical considerations but, as a pioneer of historical-philological biblical criticism, also cited historical and philological arguments.


Notes in his works and a biography from around 400 in the biographical collection "Lives of the Philosophers and the Sophists" of Eunapios of Sardis provide information about the life of Porphyry . Eunapios drew his knowledge from the writings of Porphyrios; he probably still had access to the works of the philosopher, which are now lost.

Porphyrios was of Syrian origin and was originally called like his father Malik (Greek Μάλϰος Malkos or Μάλχος Malchos ), which means “king” in his Phoenician mother tongue . That is why he was later called “King” (βασιλεύς Basileus ) in Greek . His hometown was Tire. In the year 263 he was thirty, so his birth is to be set at 233.

Porphyry came from a respected family and received a careful upbringing. Nothing is known about his childhood. The assertion of the church historian Socrates of Constantinople that he was temporarily a Christian is not credible. To study he went to Athens , where he studied mathematics, grammar and rhetoric , but above all philosophy. His most important teacher in Athens was the famous philologist and philosopher Longinos , with whom he had a lifelong friendship. According to Eunapios' report, he received the name Porphyrios ("the purple one") from Longinos. The name can be interpreted as an allusion to the royal purple clothing and thus to his birth name; perhaps there is a connection with the famous purple production in his hometown Tire.

In 263 he moved to Rome. There Plotinus , the founder of Neoplatonism, had founded a school of philosophy, which Porphyrios immediately joined. In ontology, Plotinus took a different position than Longinos with regard to the theory of ideas , which Porphyrios initially refused to accept. However, with the help of his student Amelios Gentilianos , Plotinus succeeded in convincing Porphyry of his doctrine in the course of a controversy over the exchange of pamphlets. Thereupon Porphyrios revoked his previous view in writing. He became an avid supporter of Plotin's Neoplatonism. On behalf of his teacher, he critically examined competing teachings.

When Porphyry suffered from melancholy , he considered putting an end to his life. To dissuade him, Plotinus 268 moved him to move to Lilybaion (now Marsala ) in Sicily . Porphyrios stayed there for a long time and obtained healing from his suffering. He was still in touch with Plotinus. He did not accept an invitation from Longinos to Phenicia .

Later, as Eunapios writes, he returned to Rome and took over the management of the school of the now deceased Plotinus. He arranged the philosophical legacy of the deceased, which Plotinus had entrusted him with.

Porphyrios was a well-educated polymath. His best-known students were Iamblichos of Chalkis , who also came from Syria and who later became his philosophical opponent, and Theodoros of Asine . Another prominent student was Chrysaorius , a Roman politician who was a senator and suffect consul and belonged to the famous Symmachi family; Porphyrios dedicated several of his works to him.

Porphyrios reports on a spiritual experience at the age of 68: He only came close once to the “first, otherworldly God”, “who has no shape and no form and has his seat above the spirit and the whole spiritual world”, and he had united with him.

Porphyrios Marcella, the widow of a friend who had seven children, only married at an advanced age. In 301 he was still alive; presumably he died not long afterwards, before Emperor Diocletian's abdication (305), according to Eunapios in Rome.


Porphyrios wrote writings on different areas of philosophy: on logic, metaphysics , ethics, science of the soul and the history of philosophy. In his more than 60 works he also dealt with religion, mythology, rhetoric, grammar, literary criticism, astronomy and music theory. Only a small part of his complete works has survived.

Works that have survived in whole or in part


The beginning of the Isagogue in the manuscript Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana , Gr. IV 53, fol. 1r (13th century)

The isagogue (“introduction”), an introduction to Aristotelian logic intended for beginners , had by far the greatest aftereffect among the writings of Porphyry . He wrote it during his stay in Sicily at the request of his pupil Chrysaorius. It used to be believed that the full title was Eisagōgḗ eis tas Aristotélous katēgorías ("Introduction to the categories of Aristotle"). But this is not the case; The isagogue was to introduce not only Aristotle's theory of categories, but also logic, the basis of which was the theory of categories, and thus the study of philosophy, which presupposed knowledge of logic.

In the isagogue , Porphyry assumes that the reader is familiar with the content of Aristotle's writing on categories. In addition to the Aristotelian schema of ten categories, he established - following Aristotle's guidelines - a group of five fundamental concepts, the later so-called predicables : genus (génos) , species (eídos) , difference (diaphorá) , proprium (ídion) and accidental (symbebēkós ) . In this classification system, the categories belong to the genus; they are the highest genera. The predicables should not only contribute to the understanding of the theory of categories, but above all should also be a means of defining, classifying and demonstrating and thus the most important instruments of any philosophical investigation.

In the foreword, Porphyrios asks the general terms - species (Latin: species ) and genera (Latin: genera ) - the questions that became the starting point of the universal dispute in the Middle Ages : whether species and genera exist as an independent reality or only as products of thought, whether theirs, if any independent existence is to be understood as physical or as incorporeal and whether they are bound to the objects of sense perception or exist independently of them. Porphyrios does not want to answer these questions here, however, since this must be reserved for a detailed investigation.

History of philosophy with a biography of Pythagoras

The “history of philosophy” (Philósophos historía) in four books has been lost except for fragments. It contained biographies of philosophers who were considered important by the Neoplatonists, and descriptions of their teachings. In the first book, among other things, the seven wise men were treated. The third book contained the biography of Socrates . The work ended with Plato, to whom the fourth book was dedicated. Obviously Porphyrios viewed the history of Greek philosophy as a process that reached its climax and at the same time its completion with Plato. Everything that follows appears from this perspective as a mere interpretation of Plato's teaching.

The biography of Pythagoras (Pythagórou bíos) , which formed part of the first book and was probably distributed separately at an early stage, has been preserved. As a source it has a higher status than the Pythagoras biography of Iamblichus, but like this one has numerous legendary decorations. What is striking in the fragments of the “History of Philosophy” is the critical presentation of Socrates, which Porphyry took from a source hostile to Socrates ( Aristoxenus ).

Biography of Plotinus

Long after Plotin's death, Porphyrios organized and edited the writings of his deceased teacher in the last years of his life. In 301 he published them in the usual classification as Enneades ("groups of nine", six books of nine scripts each). As an introduction to this collection, he added a very valuable biography of Plotinus: "About Plotinus life and the arrangement of his writings" ( Peri Plotínou bíou kai tēs táxeōs tōn biblíōn autoú , Latin Vita Plotini ).

About abstaining from the ensouled

The text "About abstaining from the ensouled" ( Peri apochḗs empsýchōn , Latin De abstinentia , four books) is addressed to the Neo-Platonist Castricius Firmus . Porphyrios represents a vegetarianism that is both ethically (with considerations of justice ) justified and ascetically motivated . In doing so, he cites counter arguments and goes into them in order to convince Castricius, who had turned away from this diet. He also criticizes the animal sacrifices , which are not appropriate to a philosophically understood religious practice. For a philosophical way of life, among other things, a meatless diet is required. The digestion of meat food puts a strain on the body, its procurement and preparation is time-consuming and therefore distracts from the important tasks of the philosopher. It is a luxury that is incompatible with philosophical frugality. In support of his arguments, he cites a wealth of relevant statements from older, now partially lost literature. The fourth book gives an insight into Porphyrios' conception of the history of civilization; it deals with the history of nutrition among the Greeks and the dietary habits of various peoples. He also goes into the myth of the world ages, according to which people in the Golden Age did not use violence against one another or against animals.

About the nymph grotto in the Odyssey

In the treatise “About the nymph grotto in the Odyssey” ( Peri tou en Odysseía tōn Nymphṓn ántrou , Latin De antro nympharum ), Porphyrios symbolically interprets a description in Homer's Odyssey , where a grotto dedicated to the nymphs on Ithaca is described. In doing so, he juxtaposes different interpretations that he considers legitimate. For Homer, the grotto is the place where Odysseus reaches his home in Ithaca. For Porphyrios it symbolizes the sensually perceptible, material world into which the human soul has descended. At the same time, because of its darkness, the grotto is also a symbol of the invisible spiritual forces in the material world. Porphyrios relies on older relevant literature, in particular a lost work by the Middle Platonist Numenios . Regardless of the symbolic character of the grotto, he believes that it is also geographically a reality; it is an ancient sanctuary from pre-Homeric times. The inadequately elaborated treatise is, in the opinion of Karin Alt, an early work by Porphyry from the time before he became a pupil of Plotinus; other ancient scholars advocate a later date.

To Marcella

The ( protreptic ) writing “An Marcella” (Pros Markéllan) , which invites philosophy, has the form of a letter intended for publication to Porphyrios' wife Marcella. The philosopher wrote the letter when he was on a long journey that he began ten months after the wedding. The text has only survived in a single manuscript, in which the conclusion is missing.

Porphyrios comforts Marcella, who is obviously in an unpleasant situation, and points out that philosophy shows the way out of the suffering of earthly existence. But he also emphasizes that the philosophical way of salvation is demanding and exhausting. He warns urgently against affects that are harmful to the soul, as well as against human delusions with which one should not stain the divine. One of the delusions he particularly counts is the belief that there is divine anger and that one can influence God through requests or offerings. He thinks that a connection with God is only possible through a right mind.

Letter to Anebo

In a letter addressed to the Egyptian priest Anebo, Porphyrios asks critical questions about the nature of the Egyptian gods and benign demons as well as about the philosophical doctrines and the relationship between humans and gods in Egyptian religious practice. He would also like to gain clarity about the Egyptian understanding of providence and free will . Apparently he wants to show the reader the questionability of a non-philosophically reflected exercise of conventional religious practices.

On the "categories" of Aristotle in question and answer

In addition to the isagogue , Porphyrios also wrote a short explanation of Aristotle's theory of categories, consisting of questions and their answers, entitled "On the categories of Aristotle in question and answer" (Eis tas Aristotélous katēgorías kata peúsin kai apókrisin) . The incompletely transmitted work was intended for beginners' lessons.

To Gauros about the animation of embryos

The writing "To Gauros about the animation of embryos " (Pros Gaúron peri tou pōs empsychoútai ta émbrya) was earlier mistakenly attributed to Galen . Porphyry's authorship is not certain, but it is very likely; in any case, the work reflects his ideas. The question of whether an embryo is a sensory being ( zṓon , human or animal) or whether it is at the level of a plant is discussed . The embryo lacks the sensory perception and the urge for local movement, it only has the ability to nourish and grow and is therefore plant-like. The question therefore arises whether there is a soul in the embryo - albeit not yet activated - and when, if so, it is animated. Porphyrios gives different opinions and takes the view that the soul connects with the body only after birth. The animation takes place from outside, in that the soul joins the body; it is attracted to it like iron to a magnet. In addition to this external soul that takes over the body after birth, there is also a lower, plant-like soul that is already present in the embryo and enables it to take in food and grow; it is the carrier of the genetic information from the parents. The plant-like nature of the embryonic soul can be recognized, among other things, by the fact that nourishment is not supplied to the embryo through the mouth but through the navel, as is the case with the plant through the root and stem.

Sentences that lead to the intelligible

The “sentences that lead to the intelligible ” ( Aphormaí pros ta noētá , Latin Sententiae ad intelligibilia ducentes ) are incomplete. It is a compilation of quotations and paraphrased statements from the writings of Plotinus. Porphyrios simplifies and systematizes the utterances of his teacher. His collection, into which he occasionally added unplotinic ideas, shows which doctrines of Plotinus he considers to be particularly noteworthy. His thinking revolves around the contrast between the intelligible and the sensually perceptible world.

Homer problems

The "Homer problems" (Homēriká zētḗmata) are a compilation of questions of Homer philology . A large part of it concerns the meaning of individual words and expressions. Extensive passages of the work have been preserved.

Commentary on the theory of harmony of Ptolemy

The Commentary on the Harmoniká of Klaudios Ptolemaios (Eis ta harmoniká Ptolemaíou hypómnēma) deals with the history and methodology of musicology, acoustics and harmonics , whereby the harmony of the spheres is also discussed. It was often copied together with the annotated work of Ptolemy and thus gained widespread use. His division of musical instruments into wind, string and percussion instruments became the system of divisio instrumentorum that was customary up to modern times .

Introduction to the Apotelesmatics of Ptolemy

The "Introduction to the Apotelesmatik des Ptolemaios" (Eisagōgḗ eis tēn apotelesmatikḗn tou Ptolemaíou) is an astronomical and astrological introduction to Ptolemaios' manual of astrology (Tetrabiblos) .

Lost Works

Of most of Porphyry's works, only the titles or themes and in some cases individual fragments have survived. It is possible that some of the traditional titles do not refer to independent writings, but only to individual chapters of works by Porphyry.

Commentary philosophical writings

  • Comments on Plato. Porphyrios commented on several dialogues of Plato: the Politeia , the Kratylos , the Phaedo , the Philebos , the Sophistes , the Timaeus and the Parmenides . From Parmenides -Comment fragments were in a palimpsest narrated the case of a library fire in 1904 Turin was destroyed. At this point, however, the fragments had already been critically edited. Pierre Hadot has identified Porphyrios as the author.
  • A commentary on Aristotle's De Interpretatione that Ammonius Hermiae and Boethius quote.
  • An introductory work on the categorical syllogisms according to Aristotle, taken from Boethius material.
  • A commentary on Aristotle's physics that Simplikios extensively cites in his physics commentary.
  • A commentary on the book Lambda by Aristotle's Metaphysics , which Simplikios mentions in his commentary on Aristotle's writing Across Heaven .
  • The great commentary on the categories of Aristotle in seven books, dedicated to an otherwise unknown philosopher named Gedaleios (Latin Ad Gedalium "An Gedalius"). In it, Porphyrios refuted objections of earlier Platonists to the general validity of Aristotle's system of categories. In categories -Comment of Simplikios some extracts are obtained from this work.
  • A commentary on one of Aristotle's ethical writings in twelve books that is only mentioned in Arabic sources.
  • Notes on some of Plotin's writings. Porphyrios mentions in his biography of Plotinus that he wrote the explanations (hypomnḗmata) at the request of friends who wanted to obtain complete clarity about these writings.
  • A commentary on Theophrast's work “On Affirmation and Negation” mentioned by Boethius.

Treatises on metaphysics and anthropology

  • “About the first principles” (Peri archṓn) in two books, cited in the Suda and quoted by Proclus , dealt with the hypostases , with Plotin's doctrine of hypostasis forming the basis.
  • “About matter” (Peri hýlēs) in six books, cited in the Suda and quoted by Simplikios in his physics commentary.
  • "About the incorporeal" (Peri asōmátōn) , cited in the Suda.
  • “Mixed Investigations” (Sýmmikta zētḗmata) in six books; a number of fragments have survived. The focus is on the Platonic theory of the soul. The work was not intended specifically for Platonists, but rather for a relatively broad audience of philosophically interested readers.
  • “About the soul against Boëthos” (Peri psychḗs pros Bóēthon) in five books. Quotations from this text are handed down in the Praeparatio evangelica of Eusebios of Caesarea . It is disputed whether the philosopher Boëthos, against whose theory of the soul Porphyrios polemics, is the Aristotelian Boëthos of Sidon (1st century BC) or a stoic of the same name from Sidon of the 2nd century BC. Acts.
  • “On the difference between Plato and Aristotle” (Peri diastáseōs Plátōnos kai Aristotélous) , dedicated to Senator Chrysaorius. Only mentioned in the Suda is a text " About the fact that Plato and Aristotle's school is one" (Peri tou mían eínai tēn Plátōnos kai Aristotélous haíresin) ; according to a controversial hypothesis, this is just another title of the first-mentioned work.
  • "Against those who separate the intelligible from the spirit" (Pros tous apo tou nou chōrízontas to noētón) , a text quoted by Timaeus the Sophist .
  • Three writings on the theory of ideas in the context of controversies with Amelios Gentilianos and Longinos on the question of whether the ideas exist outside the nous or in it. In the first two writings, Porphyrios defends Longinos' position against Plotinus and Amelios, in the third, a Palinody , he justifies the opposite view after changing his mind. The palinody is possibly identical with the writing “Against those who separate the intelligible from the spirit”.
  • “About the potencies of the soul” (Peri tōn tēs psychḗs dynámeōn) ; extensive fragments have come down to us from Stobaius .
  • “About sensory perception” (Peri aisthḗseōs) , quoted by Emesa in Nemesios .
  • "About sleep and wakefulness" (Peri hýpnou kai egrēgórseōs) , only known from a mention in the Kitāb al-Fihrist of the scholar ibn an-Nadīm (10th century).

The title mentioned in the Suda "Against Aristotle on the doctrine that the soul is entelechy ", according to the prevailing research opinion, does not refer to a separate work, but to part of the text "About the soul against Boëthos".

Works on religious and ethical topics

  • “On what is in our power” (Peri tou eph 'hēmín) , a treatise dedicated to Senator Chrysaorius on the causality behind human destinies. Stobaius provides detailed quotations from this work, in which, among other things, the myth of Er in Plato's Politeia is interpreted.
  • “About 'know yourself'” (Peri tou gnṓthi sautón) , a text in four books addressed to Iamblichos, in which Porphyrios emphasizes the ethical aspect of self-knowledge. Three fragments have come down to us from Stobaius.
  • "To Nemertios" (Pros Nēmértion lógos) , a writing in which Porphyrios deals with the question of evil and defends Providence . The church father Kyrill of Alexandria passed on quotations from this work in his work “Against Julian”.
  • “On the return of the soul” (in Latin translation De regressu animae ), a treatise probably translated into Latin by Marius Victorinus , which the Church Father Augustine often quotes. The theme is the return of the soul to its spiritual home. Here Porphyrios deals, among other things, with the influence of benevolent and malevolent spirits on the soul striving for salvation and also goes into the role of the “ soul vehicle ”. With regard to the prospect of the redemption of human souls, he takes a fundamentally optimistic attitude. For him, the purification of the soul through philosophical endeavors plays a central role.
  • A response to a publicly read work by the rhetorician Diophanes, who, with reference to the erotic component of the relationship between Socrates and Alcibiades in Plato's Dialog Symposium, had expressed the opinion that a philosophy student should be prepared to engage in a sexual relationship with his teacher.
  • “Against the Christians” (Katá Christianṓn) . Plotinus placed great emphasis on fighting religions which he considered harmful. Therefore he polemicized against the Gnostics and probably entrusted Porphyrios with the task of refuting the teaching of the Christians. Probably following this mandate, Porphyrios wrote - but only after Plotin's death - the pamphlet "Against the Christians" in fifteen books. The work has not been preserved because the manuscripts were systematically destroyed after the victory of Christianity. However, individual arguments can be reconstructed from quotations.
  • "About the wisdom from the oracles" (Peri tēs ek logíōn philosophías) , a work on oracles and religious practices. Numerous fragments have survived.
  • "About the images of the gods" (Peri agalmátōn) , a text about the symbolic interpretation of the attributes of the gods in their pictorial representations. Several fragments, some of them long, have been preserved. Porphyrios defends the traditional worship of images of gods, interpreting their symbolism in the sense that the depicted deities with their attributes stand for natural processes and cosmic forces at the same time. He turns against the Jewish and Christian criticism, which assumes that the statues and material symbols of gods in the pagan cult are equated with the gods and worshiped as deities.
  • "On divine names" (Peri theíōn onomátōn) , a work cited in the Suda.
  • "To (the oracles) of Julians the Chaldean" (Eis ta Ioulianoú tou Chaldaíou) , perhaps identical with "The oracles of the Chaldeans" ( Tōn Chaldaíōn ta lógia , a writing about the Chaldean oracles ).
  • "Against the Book of Zoroaster" (Pros to tou Zōroástrou biblíon) , a treatise mentioned by Porphyrios in his biography Plotinus, in which he proves a work ascribed to Zarathustra as spurious on behalf of Plotinus .
  • A poem "Holy Wedding" (hierós gámos) in an enthusiastic style that Porphyrios wrote on the occasion of a celebration of Plato's birthday; it met with approval from Plotinus.

Writings on Homer

  • "About the philosophy of Homer" (Peri tēs Homḗrou philosophías) , only known from the mention in the Suda. Porphyry believed that Homer was a philosopher whose poetry contained philosophical teachings.
  • "About the benefits of Homer for the kings" (Peri tēs ex Homḗrou ōpheleías tōn basiléōn) in ten books, only known from the mention in the Suda.
  • "About the Styx" (Peri Stygós) , a text about the underworld river Styx and about the underworld and the existence of the souls of the deceased according to Homer. Stobaios provides nine extracts, some of them extensive. Porphyrios describes in detail the different regions of the underworld (of Hades) and their respective inhabitants. The Hades consists of two main parts, the border of which is formed by the Acheron River , which encircles the inner area of ​​the underworld. The outside area has a hell of a character; the souls there remember their earthly existence and suffer punishments, which are not carried out physically, but only consist of ideas (phantasíai) of the souls. These include the punishments of Sisyphus and Tantalus . Anyone who crosses the Acheron and gets into the interior loses the memory of human life, which also ends their suffering.

Writings on rhetoric and grammar

  • “Grammatical questions of doubt” (Grammatikaí aporíai) , a script known only from its mention in the Suda.
  • "Philological Lecture" (Philólogos akróasis) is the name of a text that Eusebios of Caesarea quotes. It is probably identical to the Philólogos historía in five books, which is cited in the Suda.
  • "To the Prologue of Thucydides " (Eis to Thoukydídou prooímion) , a script known only from its mention in the Suda, the content of which was probably rhetorical, since Thucydides was studied in rhetoric class.
  • “Against Aristeides(Pros Aristeídēn) , a work in seven books known only from the mention in the Suda, which probably contained a response to Aristeides' criticism of Plato's position on rhetoric.
  • "Zum Handbuch des Minukianos" (Eis tēn Minoukianoú téchnēn) , a treatise on rhetoric in the form of a commentary on the handbook of a rhetorician named Minukianos (Latin Minucianus).
  • "The art of stasis" (Hē peri tōn stáseōn téchnē) , a text on the theory of status in rhetoric.
  • “Collection of rhetorical questions” (Synagōgḗ tōn rhētorikṓn zētēmátōn) ; All that has survived is a quote in a Scholion from the rhetoric manual of Hermogenes of Tarsus .

Scientific works

  • "Across the Nile springs to Pindar " (Peri tōn katá Píndaron tou Neílou pēgṓn) , a script known only from its mention in the Suda.
  • "Introduction to Astronomy" (Eisagōgḗ astronomouménōn) in three books, a work known only from its mention in the Suda.
  • “Book of the elements” is the title of an otherwise unknown work that the medieval scholar ibn an-Nadīm calls in his kitāb al-Fihrist , where he states that it has been partially translated into Syrian.

Presumed chronicle

In research it was long considered certain that Porphyrios wrote a chronicle that reached from the mythical conquest of Troy to 270. It was assumed that Eusebius of Caesarea had taken news material from it into his chronicle. Brian Croke denied this in 1983 because the reasoning was inadequate. Timothy D. Barnes pointed out in 1994 that the only evidence for the existence of the Chronicle, a passage in ibn an-Nadīms kitāb al-Fihrist , was incorrectly translated; in reality there is no talk of a chronicle, but of the "history of philosophy" of Porphyry. However, the assertion in the early medieval “History of Armenia” by the pseudo- Moses von Choren that Porphyrios spoke about the end of the Arsakid dynasty and the founding of the Sasanid Empire is unclear; this can perhaps speak for a lost historical work of Porphyry, which does not have to be a chronicle. In more recent research literature, the hypothesis of a chronicle of Porphyry is sometimes retained.

Philosophical teaching

Classification in the history of philosophy

Porphyry shared most of the core beliefs of his teacher Plotinus. Therefore he belongs to the movement within Platonism founded by Plotinus, called Neo-Platonism since the 19th century, in contrast to his first teacher Longinos, who is still classified as Middle Platonism . He interpreted Plotin's teaching, supplemented it with his own considerations and changed some details. After an initial disagreement, he also agreed with Plotin's position, according to which this is the case, with regard to the question of whether the Platonic ideas are to be located within the nous.

However, there are also differences between the teachings of the two philosophers, and some Middle Platonic ideas can be found in the works of Porphyry. The two thinkers were of different opinion regarding, among other things, Aristotelianism. In contrast to Plotinus, Porphyrios valued Aristotle and accepted his theory of categories, also with regard to its validity for the intelligible (spiritual) world. His argumentation prevailed in late antique philosophy and paved the way for general acceptance of the theory of categories.

Ontology and theory of the soul

Like Plotinus, Porphyry also assumes a harmoniously ordered hierarchy of things that are. Both thinkers assume that above the material, sensually perceptible world there is the area of ​​the intelligible world, which is divided into levels. However, while the ontological hierarchy in Plotinus in a überseienden a (hen) culminates in Porphyry is the supreme principle not something Überseiendes but the absolute being.

The individual levels (with the exception of the perfect uppermost level) are more or less imperfect depending on their ontological rank, but each of them is natural in its particularity and good from the point of view of its function within the framework of the entire order of being. What disturbs this order is to be regarded as a failure. Naturally, the lower always turns to the higher and orientates itself on it. But it is possible for the human soul to turn to the levels of being below it - especially the bodies - through an act of will. By violating the actually natural direction of her attention, she becomes entangled in suffering. The solution to the problems that this creates consists in turning the soul around and realigning it to the intelligible world.

For Porphyrios, this constellation forms the pivot of his philosophy, which is strongly influenced by metaphysical and religious questions. At the center of his thinking is the question of the salvation of the soul from its existence in the body and in the material world. Like Plotinus, he evaluates matter and the physical as bad and as the cause of evil; Salvation therefore means consistent liberation from the influence of the material.

Just like Plotinus and the later Neoplatonists, Porphyry followed the Platonic doctrine of the transmigration of souls . The transmigration of souls is the result of the soul's descent into the physical world. Porphyry believes that the cause of this fateful descent is an attractiveness of the body, which causes the soul to voluntarily, but to its disaster, turn to the material and connect with a body. The soul thus follows an unnatural tendency. Porphyrios characterizes the voluntariness and at the same time the volatility of this connection by stating that body and soul relate to one another like lovers.

In the text “About what is in our power”, Porphyrios assumes that the soul, before entering the body, freely chooses its future living conditions according to its inclination. The inclination depends on previous experiences of the soul. With the choice, the framework is determined within which life will play out according to the respective needs. For example, a soul chooses the life of a man and then accomplishes and suffers what is necessary in a man's life.

The descent of the soul into the area of ​​becoming and passing away, in which it inhabits different bodies one after the other, should be followed by its ascent and its return to its spiritual home. An indispensable condition for this is their purification, which is made possible by virtue. This requires asceticism , which weakens the influence of the body on the soul. The means of ascent are a consistently philosophical way of life and the attainment of the necessary knowledge, not - as later with Porphyrios' pupil Iamblichos - theurgy (cultic action, through which man opens up to divine influence). The soul is not redeemed through the intervention of an external divine authority, but it redeems itself through its own efforts (as with Plotinus). In this, however, the deity comes to her aid, because she cannot reach the perfection of wisdom on her own. In principle, the ascent is possible because the essence of the soul, which determines its natural belonging to the intelligible world, cannot be impaired by its descent, but always remains intact. Everything that happens to her in the material world affects her only externally and cannot hurt her. The ascension is a return of the soul to itself.

Porphyrius, like Plato and Plotinus, considers a final separation of the soul from the cycle of transmigration of souls to be possible and worth striving for. He sees the meaning of the soul's descent into the material world and its abode in bodies in the fact that through it it becomes acquainted with the evils that are inevitably connected with a material way of existence. This will free her forever from the need for such experiences. For Porphyrios, however, final redemption presupposes that the soul has qualified for it through long and intensive philosophical endeavors.

In the text “About the potencies of the soul”, Porphyrios strives for a harmonization of the Platonic theory of the soul, which proceeds from parts of the soul, and the Aristotelian, which examines the faculties (potencies, forces) of the soul. He works out the difference between sharing and wealth. There is a genus difference between parts, whereas assets, although they are different, can belong to the same genus. If a part is added to or taken from a thing, the thing changes as a result; however, this need not be the case when assets are added or removed. Parts are quantitative quantities and therefore always spatially separated, while the faculties in their carrier exist unseparated from one another, are themselves partless and penetrate the carrier. For Porphyrios the soul is immaterial in itself and therefore partless. Only through their presence in the body, which consists of parts, and their interaction with it, does the impression of soul parts arise.

Porphyrios ascribes a certain measure of reason to the souls of animals; he thinks that they have a share in the Logos , which he turns against the contrary view of the Stoics . The logos is present in animals, but limited to a function as a factor of order; in humans it controls life. In contrast to Plotinus, Porphyrios rules out human souls from entering animal bodies; however, he has developed a differentiated doctrine in this regard, which is reproduced incompletely and therefore distorted in late antique literature. He does not assume a fundamental, a priori existent essential difference between animal and human souls, but assumes that each soul can decide in a primary act of choice for a human or an animal existence. In a secondary act of choice, she then lays down further details of her future earthly life. If a primary decision has been made for the human form of life, this leads to the logos dominating from now on. Therefore, in the context of future secondary acts of choice, with which this soul decides on individual incarnations, an animal life is no longer considered.


Like Plotinus, Porphyry distinguishes four classes of virtues ; these are, in ascending order, political virtues, purifying virtues, virtues of a soul turning to the nous (intellect), and virtues of the nous. The political virtues act to moderate affects and enable sensible social interaction. The purifying virtues lead to the indifferent attitude of the philosopher, who frees himself from external influences and approaches the deity. The third group are theoretical (contemplative or contemplative ) virtues of the soul; they serve the turning of the soul to the intelligible world. The virtues of the nous occupy a special position as the top group; they relate to the spiritual virtues (the other three groups) like archetypes to images. Whoever has higher virtues inevitably also has the lower ones.

Individuation principle

For Porphyry, the individual is a thing that is determined by a bundle of properties, the composition of which cannot exist in exactly the same way in any other thing; for example, Socrates is characterized by a combination of qualities that are not found in any other human being. Accordingly, the specific combinations of properties of the individual things are the principle of individuation . The individual not only exhibits his or her individual combination of properties, but is nothing other than these properties in this combination.

Criticism of Christianity

In the book “Against the Christians”, Porphyrios presents arguments, some of which still play a role today in disputes about Christianity. With a historical biblical criticism he turns against the authenticity of the Bible as a divine revelation, with philosophical considerations he wants to prove the Christian doctrine as irrational. Among other things, he puts forward the following thoughts:

  • He tries to discredit the allegorical exegesis popular with Christian authors . Using an arbitrarily constructed example, he wants to show that with a violent interpretation of a text everything can be interpreted: Homer's Achilles can be interpreted as Christ and his Trojan opponent Hector , who is subject to him, as the devil . He does not dislike the idea of ​​a symbolic interpretation per se - he himself interprets Homer's poetry in this way - but rather its application to a text that he considers unsuitable for it, with an unfair intention being pursued. His accusation is that the allegorical exegesis of the Bible is used to cover up contradictions and inconsistencies that would exist with a literal understanding.
  • He criticizes the attempts of Christians to interpret passages of the Tanakh as prophecies relating to the future ministry of Christ, and thus to show Christ as the Messiah . In this regard, he deals intensively with the book of Daniel . He comes to the conclusion that this book was only written in the 2nd century BC, i.e. around four centuries after the time of the historical persons who appear in it. Therefore, the book of Daniel should be seen against the background of the time it was written. With this, Porphyrios turns against the claim of Christian authors that the work of Christ and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in the year 70 were prophetically announced in the Book of Daniel .
  • He points out that Jesus' preaching was intended for simple, uneducated people and that God hid them from the wise and discerning ( Matthew 11:25  EU ). It is therefore inconsistent that after the presentation of the Gospels, Jesus spoke in enigmatic parables that needed to be interpreted; those who speak in front of a simple audience have to express themselves clearly and adapt their speech to the limited comprehension of their listeners in order to be understood.
  • He points out in detail the differences between the representations in the four Gospels and argues on the basis of individual passages that the evangelists were not very familiar with the Tanakh. In addition, the apostles disagreed among themselves, as can be seen from the conflict between Peter and Paul .
  • If Christ were God, God would have suffered on the cross, which is incompatible with his nature, for a God cannot be subjected to suffering.
  • If God had intervened in the course of history at a certain point in time and in a certain place through the work of Christ and thus brought about the redemption of Christians, he would have served the earlier generations and all those who did not hear about it and also knew nothing about Moses , arbitrarily withheld the possibility of salvation.


Ancient and Middle Ages

The extensive formation of Porphyry found general admiration in late antiquity. The church father Augustine called him the "most learned of the philosophers"; The Neoplatonist Simplikios expressed himself similarly. Probably because of his thorough knowledge of Christian teachings and because he was acquainted with Origen in his youth , the late antique legend arose that Porphyry was originally a Christian and later apostated from the faith. Proclus wrote that Porphyry became "more than anyone else the perfect explanation of the truths hidden in myth". However, Iamblichus and Eunapios thought they had discovered discrepancies in his philosophical statements, which Iamblichos attributed to uncertainty, Eunapios to a change of opinion. Augustine also believed to be able to recognize fluctuating views in Porphyrios.

Porphyry's decision to accept Aristotle's theory of categories, unlike Plotinus, was extraordinarily momentous. His conviction that Aristotelian logic was compatible with Platonism led to Neoplatonism, which became the dominant philosophical direction in late antiquity, recognizing Aristotle as an authority and incorporating some of his writings into the course.

Porphyrios was the most important mediator of Middle Platonic ideas to the later Neo-Platonists, who mostly owed their knowledge of Middle Platonic literature directly or indirectly to him. The aftermath of his extensive Timaeus commentary, which shaped all other Timaeus commentaries in antiquity, was particularly strong . But Porphyry was not the undisputed authority of the Neo-Platonists of late antiquity; some of them, especially Iamblichus, criticized his doctrines.

Porphyrios was known as Furfūriyūs by the Arabic-speaking scholars of the Middle Ages . They had access to Arabic translations of some of his works, including, in addition to the Isagogue, Aristotle Commentaries, the Letter to Anebo, and at least part of the history of philosophy.


Porphyrios (right) in a fictional dialogue with the medieval philosopher Averroes ; Illustration in an Italian manuscript of the 14th century, Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France , Lat. 6823

As early as late antiquity, the isagogue was an important textbook for beginners' philosophical classes; the church father Jerome mentioned that he was introduced to logic through her. At the beginning of the 6th century Boethius stated that since the time of Porphyry everyone who wanted to learn logic had started with this book. That is why Greek and Latin commentaries on the isagogue were written in ancient times . It was first translated into Latin by Marius Victorinus in the 4th century, then by Boethius in the first decade of the 6th century. The free translation of Victorinus, which has only survived in fragments, had little aftereffect, that of Boethius an extraordinarily broad and lasting one; it has come down to us in around 300 manuscripts. In addition, the isagogue was translated into Syriac twice - in the 6th and 7th centuries ; An Armenian translation dates from the 6th or 7th century , later three Arabic translations or paraphrases were made. In the 6th century a scholar named Probus wrote a commentary in Syrian, fragments of which have survived; Syrian scholias emerged around 700 .

In the Middle Ages, the isagogue was an authoritative handbook of logic in the Byzantine Empire as well as among Latin-speaking scholars of the West and the Arabic-speaking world. Excerpts and adaptations were also common in Greek-speaking countries. Latin, Syrian and Arabic commentaries on the isagogue testify to the intensive engagement of medieval scholars with this work. In his Isagoge commentary, Wilhelm von Ockham opposed interpretations of Porphyrios' text, which he considered to be erroneous, and interpreted the work from his antiplatonic perspective. In doing so, however, he abstained from any criticism of Porphyry's conception. Among the Arabic-speaking authors who the Isagoge commentary or paraphrased, including al-Fārābī and Avicenna .

The tree of Porphyry on a fresco (18th century) in the library of the Schussenried monastery

As in the Isagoge five basic concepts of logic, the five predicables be treated - genus, species, difference , accident and Proper (specific feature) -, she was in the Middle Ages by the name "The five terms" (quinque voces) known. The late medieval arbor Porphyriana , the "porphyry tree", a schematic representation of the order of terms according to their degree of generality, reminds of Porphyrios as the author of the isagogue . It resembles a tree, the root of which is the most specific and the top of which is the most general.

Against the Christians

According to a research hypothesis, "Against the Christians" served the anti-Christian polemics that accompanied the persecution of Christians from Emperor Diocletian , which began in 303 . After the Constantinian change , Christian circles tried to suppress the apparently influential work. As early as 324/325, Emperor Constantine the Great ordered the destruction of all copies of the script and forbade their possession with the threat of punishment. This was the first state censorship measure imposed in the interests of the major Christian church. In an edict of 333 directed against the theologian Arius , Constantine violently attacked Porphyry as an enemy of the faith; he called the Arians , the followers of the doctrine of Arius, "Porphyry", since they, like Porphyry, denied the deity of Christ.

Late antiquity church fathers dealt intensively with the work. Just like "Against the Christians", the sometimes very extensive counter-writings of the Christian apologists who tried to refute Porphyrios are almost completely lost. The first known counterscript was written by Methodius of Olympos, perhaps during Porphyrius' lifetime, the second (25 books) by Eusebius of Caesarea, the third (30 books) by Apollinaris of Laodicea . After 325, the Christian critics hardly had access to the original text because of the extermination action, but only had information from second or third hand. 448 let the emperors Theodosius II and Valentinian III. Burn all copies of "Against the Christians" that can still be found in public. In the edict announcing this measure, they indicated that such writings can arouse the wrath of God.

Negative judgments about Porphyrios in the Middle Ages were based on the polemics directed against him during the patristic era. In the 12th century, John of Salisbury described him as a "very bad fighter for Catholic truth". In medieval Byzantine literature he was known as "the one who spoke out against Christianity".

Early modern age

The famous humanist Marsilio Ficino worked as a translator of works by Porphyry into Latin; In 1492 his translation of the biography of Plotinus was printed in Florence, and in 1497 in Venice his translation of the "Sentences". The first print of the original text of the Isagoge appeared in 1495 , and the text on the Nymphengrotte was published for the first time in 1521; both prints were aldines . Giovanni Bernardino Feliciano published in Venice in 1547 a Latin translation of the text “On abstaining from the ensouled”; he also translated "On the categories of Aristotle in question and answer" into Latin. Pietro Vettori (Petrus Victorius) published the first edition of the original Greek texts of “On abstinence from the ensouled” and the “Sentences” in Florence in 1548. In 1580 the first edition of the Greek text of Plotin's biography appeared in the printing works of Pietro Perna in Basel.

Interest in the text “Against the Christians” awoke in the 17th century. Hugo Grotius put together some fragments that he took from the works of the church fathers, but did not publish anything. Lukas Holste (Holstenius) was the first scholar to publish a collection of the fragments and attempt a reconstruction of the lost work; his study appeared in Rome in 1630. In the 18th century Lessing expressed his regret that not a single fragment had survived; Holste's work was apparently unknown to him.

The 'tree of Porphyry' probably from a translation by Boethius


In 1814 the writer and philologist Giacomo Leopardi wrote a Latin commentary on the Plotinus biography of Porphyry, which was not printed until 1982. In 1827 Leopardi wrote a Dialogo di Plotino e di Porfirio on the question of the justification for a self-chosen death; in it Plotinus explains to the weary Porphyry that it is wrong to evade one's duties by taking one's own life.

William Blake knew the script about the nymph grotto; he was inspired by her to create his tempera painting The Sea of ​​Time and Space from 1821 , and traces of his reception of this work by Porphyry can also be seen in his poetry.

The question of which passages in patristic literature can actually be used to extract authentic fragments of “Against the Christians” is a controversial issue in research literature.

In modern research, the judgments about the achievements of Porphyry have turned out differently. His biblical criticism finds recognition; Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff already remarked that he “was able to draw really historical conclusions from the interpretation, something very rare, especially at that time”. A rather negative assessment says that as a thinker he did little original work, but mainly collected and explained existing knowledge. On the other hand, it is asserted that this judgment disregards the fact that some of his surviving writings are intended for beginners and are therefore tailored to their level of knowledge. For didactic reasons, Porphyrios presented some facts in a simplified manner for readers with little previous knowledge. One should not infer the author's philosophical level from such statements. While Porphyrios was mainly considered to explain and disseminate Plotinian ideas in older research, his independence has been more developed and appreciated since the second half of the 20th century.

Editions (partly with translation)

Issues of several works

  • Adolf Busse (ed.): Porphyrii isagoge et in Aristotelis categorias commentarium . Verlag Georg Reimer, Berlin 1887 ( Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca Vol. 4 Part 1; critical edition of the Isagoge including the Latin translation by Boethius and the writing On the 'Categories' of Aristotle in question and answer ; the latter edition is outdated. Online: BNF )
  • Édouard des Places (Ed.): Porphyre: Vie de Pythagore, Lettre à Marcella . Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1982, ISBN 2-251-00361-4 (critical edition with French translation; French translation of the fragments of the history of philosophy in the appendix )
  • Andrew Smith (Ed.): Porphyrii philosophi fragmenta . Teubner, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-8154-1721-X (critical edition of fragments from the lost works of Porphyry)
  • Angelo Raffaele Sodano (Ed.): Porfirio: Vangelo di un pagano . Rusconi, Milano 1993, ISBN 88-18-20023-2 (contains the Greek text [uncritical] with Italian translation of the following works or fragments: To Marcella , About the soul against Boëthos , About the 'Knowing yourself' , Eunapios' biography of Porphyry)

Individual works (critical editions)

Comments and introductions to works by other authors

  • Andrew Barker (Ed.): Porphyry's commentary on Ptolemy's Harmonics. A Greek Text and Annotated Translation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2015, ISBN 978-1-107-00385-9
  • Richard Bodéüs (Ed.): Porphyre: Commentaire aux Catégories d'Aristote . Vrin, Paris 2008, ISBN 978-2-7116-1994-8 ( On the "categories" of Aristotle in question and answer with French translation)
  • Emilie Boer , Stefan Weinstock (eds.): Porphyrii philosophi introductio in tetrabiblum Ptolemaei . In: Stefan Weinstock (Ed.): Catalogus codicum astrologorum Graecorum , Volume 5, Part 4: Codices Romani, pars quarta , Bruxelles 1940, pp. 185–228
  • Pierre Hadot (ed.): Porfirio: Commentario al "Parmenide" di Platone . Vita e pensiero, Milano 1993, ISBN 88-343-0545-0 (with introduction and Italian translation)
  • Massimo Raffa (Ed.): Porphyrius: Commentarius in Claudii Ptolemaei harmonica. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-042516-1
  • Angelo Raffaele Sodano (Ed.): Porphyrii in Platonis Timaeum commentariorum fragmenta . Napoli 1964

Writings on Homer

  • Cristiano Castelletti (Ed.): Porfirio: Sullo Stige . Bompiani, Milano 2006, ISBN 88-452-5711-8 (with Italian translation and commentary)
  • John M. Duffy et al. a. (Ed.): Porphyry: The Cave of the Nymphs in the Odyssey . Arethusa, Buffalo (New York) 1969 (with English translation, without commentary)
  • John A. MacPhail (Ed.): Porphyry's Homeric Questions on the Iliad . De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-019543-9 (with English translation. Review by Pieter W. van der Horst, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.06.02 )
  • Hermann Schrader (Ed.): Porphyrii quaestionum Homericarum ad Odysseam pertinentium reliquiae . Teubner, Leipzig 1890
  • Laura Simonini (Ed.): Porfirio: L'antro delle Ninfe . Adelphi, Milano 1986 (with Italian translation and detailed commentary)
  • Angelo Sodano Raffaele (ed.): Porphyrii quaestionum Homericarum liber I . Giannini, Napoli 1970

Against the Christians

  • Richard Goulet: Cinq nouveaux fragments nominaux du traité de Porphyre “Contre les chrétiens” . In: Vigiliae Christianae . Vol. 64, 2010, pp. 140-159
  • Giuseppe Muscolino (Ed.): Porfirio: Contro i cristiani nella raccolta di Adolf von Harnack con tutti i nuovi frammenti in appendice . Bompiani, Milano 2009, ISBN 978-88-452-6227-2 (with Italian translation)

Other works

  • Jean Bouffartigue , Michel Patillon a. a. (Ed.): Porphyre: De l'abstinence . 3 volumes, Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1977–1995 (with French translation)
  • Luc Brisson (ed.): Porphyre: Sentences . 2 volumes, Vrin, Paris 2005 (with French translation, detailed commentary and studies by several scholars; Volume 2 pp. 795–835 English translation of the sentences by John Dillon)
  • Luc Brisson et al. a. (Ed.): Porphyre: La Vie de Plotin . 2 volumes, Vrin, Paris 1982–1992 (with French translation, commentary and numerous individual studies by various scholars)
  • Richard Harder (ed.): Porphyrios: About Plotin's life and about the order of his writings . Meiner, Hamburg 1958 (= Plotin's writings , translated by Richard Harder, Vol. 5c: Appendix ; with German translation)
  • Karl Kalbfleisch (Ed.): The Neoplatonic font Πρὸς Γαῦρον περὶ τοῦ πῶς ἐμψυχοῦται τὰ ἔμβρυα from the Parisian manuscript, wrongly ascribed to Galen, published for the first time . Berlin 1895
  • Erich Lamberz (Ed.): Porphyrii sententiae ad intelligibilia ducentes . Teubner, Leipzig 1975
  • Kathleen O'Brien Wicker (Ed.): Porphyry the Philosopher: To Marcella . Scholars Press, Atlanta (Georgia) 1987, ISBN 1-55540-139-2 (with English translation and commentary)
  • Walter Pötscher (Ed.): Porphyrios: Pros Markellan . Brill, Leiden 1969 (with German translation and commentary)
  • Angelo Raffaele Sodano (Ed.): Porfirio: Lettera ad Anebo . L'Arte Tipografica, Napoli 1958 (with Italian translation)



  • Matthias Becker: Porphyrios, Contra Christianos. New collection of fragments, testimonies and dubias with introduction, translation and annotations (= texts and comments. Vol. 52). De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-044005-8 .
  • Ulrich Jurisch: Basic questions of embryonic development from the perspective of a Neoplatonist. Translation and editing of Porphyry's writing on the animation of embryos . Dissertation Erlangen 1991.
  • Carlos J. Larrain: The Sentences of Porphyrios . Lang, Frankfurt a. M. 1987, ISBN 3-8204-8683-6 (also contains a critical edition of Ficino's Latin translation and an examination of the handwritten tradition)
  • Detlef Weigt: Porphyrios: About abstinence from carnal food . Superbia, Leipzig 2004, ISBN 3-937554-03-3 (edited version of a translation made in 1879 of the text On abstaining from the animated , without comment)
  • Hans Günter Zekl : Porphyrios: Introduction to the categories of Aristotle (isagogue) . In: Hans Günter Zekl: Aristoteles: Categories, Hermeneutics (= Aristoteles: Organon. Volume 2). Meiner, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-7873-1313-3 , pp. 153-188.


  • Jonathan Barnes : Porphyry: Introduction . Clarendon Press, Oxford 2003, ISBN 0-19-924614-9 (translation of the isagogue with extensive commentary)
  • Robert M. Berchman: Porphyry: Against the Christians . Brill, Leiden 2005, ISBN 90-04-14811-6 (translation of the fragments of the work Against the Christians with a detailed introduction)
  • Gillian Clark: Porphyry: On Abstinence from Killing Animals . Cornell University Press, Ithaca (New York) 2000, ISBN 0-8014-3692-3 (translation of the text On Abstention from the Inspirited with Commentary)
  • Robin R. Schlunk: Porphyry: The Homeric Questions . Peter Lang, New York 1993, ISBN 0-8204-1606-1 (translation with Greek text without critical apparatus)
  • Steven K. Strange: Porphyry: On Aristotle's Categories . Cornell University Press, Ithaca (New York) 1992, ISBN 0-8014-2816-5 (translation of the text On the "Categories" of Aristotle in question and answer )


  • Henri Dominique Saffrey, Alain-Philippe Segonds (eds.): Porphyre: Lettre à Anébon l'Égyptien . Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2012, ISBN 978-2-251-00576-8 (French translation with Greek and Latin text of the fragments without critical apparatus and with commentary)


Overview representations



  • Giuseppe Girgenti: Porfirio negli ultimi cinquant'anni . Vita e Pensiero, Milano 1994, ISBN 88-343-0813-1 (bibliography of publications from the period 1940–1994 with summaries of contents)

Web links

Commons : Porphyrios  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. The common approaches vary between 232 and 234; Richard Goulet pleads for 234: Le système chronologique de la Vie de Plotin . In: Luc Brisson u. a. (Ed.): Porphyre: La Vie de Plotin , Volume 1, Paris 1982, pp. 187-227, here: 207-211.
  2. Socrates of Constantinople, Church History 3, 23, 38. See Richard Goulet: Variations romanesques sur la mélancolie de Porphyre . In: Hermes 110, 1982, pp. 443-457, here: 455-457.
  3. ^ Richard Goulet: Variations romanesques sur la mélancolie de Porphyre . In: Hermes 110, 1982, pp. 443-457, here: 446 f.
  4. However, the credibility of this message is disputed by Henri Dominique Saffrey: Pourquoi Porphyre at-il édité Plotin? In: Luc Brisson u. a. (Ed.): Porphyre: La Vie de Plotin , Vol. 2, Paris 1992, pp. 31-64, here: 35, 44.
  5. On Chrysaorius see Marie-Odile Goulet-Cazé: Chrysaorius . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, pp. 323-324.
  6. ^ Porphyrios, Vita Plotini 23.
  7. See on this marriage Udo Hartmann : Spätantike Philosophinnen. Women in the philosophers' lives from Porphyrios to Damascius. In: Robert Rollinger , Christoph Ulf (Eds.): Women and Gender , Vienna 2006, pp. 43–79, here: 55–57.
  8. Jonathan Barnes: Porphyry: Introduction , Oxford 2003, pp. XIV – XVI.
  9. See on the predicables in Porphyrios Hans Günter Zekl: Aristoteles: Categories, Hermeneutik , Hamburg 1998, p. LIV – LXI.
  10. ^ Günther Christian Hansen : Porphyrios about Socrates . In: Philologus 138, 1994, pp. 264-266.
  11. Homer, Odyssey 13, 102-112.
  12. Karin Alt: Homer's nymph grotto in the interpretation of Porphyrios . In: Hermes 126, 1998, pp. 466-487; see. Anna Penati Bernardini: Il motivo dell'antro nell'esegesi porfiriana di Od. XIII, 102-112. In: Aevum 62, 1988, pp. 116-123, here: 119-121.
  13. ^ Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes : The Platonism in antike , Vol. 6.1, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2002, pp. 94-100, 323-332; Franz Xaver Risch: The porphyry script ad Gaurum as ἱερὸς λόγος . In: Zeitschrift für antikes Christianentum 10, 2006, pp. 260–275, here: 263–265.
  14. Margaret J. Kartomi: On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments , Chicago / London 1990, p. 120.
  15. ^ Pierre-Henri Hadot: Fragments d'un commentaire de Porphyre sur le Parménide . In: Revue des Études grecques 74, 1961, pp. 410-438. Hadot's results have met with broad, but not unanimous, approval. See Jens Halfwassen: Plotin and the Neo-Platonism , Munich 2004, p. 144 f.
  16. ^ Porphyrios, Vita Plotini 26.
  17. ^ Proclus, Theologia Platonica 1,11.
  18. See the study by Heinrich Dörrie on this work: Porphyrios' "Symmikta zetemata" , Munich 1959.
  19. See also John Dillon: Boéthos . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, p. 122; Jean-Pierre Schneider: Boethos de Sidon . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Vol. 2, Paris 1994, pp. 126–130, here: 130.
  20. See also George F. Karamanolis: Plato and Aristotle in Agreement? , Oxford 2006, pp. 243-253. Karamanolis rejects the hypothesis.
  21. Andrew Smith, however, has a different opinion: A Porphyrian Treatise against Aristotle? In: Francis X. Martin, John A. Richmond (Eds.): From Augustine to Eriugena , Washington (DC) 1991, pp. 183-186.
  22. For receiver Nemertios see Stéphane Toulouse: Nèmertios . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Volume 4, Paris 2005, pp. 620–625.
  23. Timothy D. Barnes advocates late dating (4th century): Scholarship or propaganda? Porphyry Against the Christians and its historical setting . In: Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 39, 1994, pp. 53-65, here: 57-62. Brian Croke, for example, represents an early approach (around 271/272): The Era of Porphyry's Anti-Christian Polemic . In: The Journal of Religious History 13, 1984-1985, pp. 1-14.
  24. See on this work Cristiano Castelletti: Le traité sur le Styx du philosophe neoplatonicien Porphyre . In: Les Études Classiques 75, 2007, pp. 23–36.
  25. Eusebios of Caesarea, Praeparatio evangelica 10.3.
  26. On alleged quotes from this work in Gorgias commentary on Olympiodorus the Younger see Charles A. Behr: Citations of Porphyry's Against Aristides Preserved in Olympiodorus . In: American Journal of Philology 89, 1968, pp. 186-199.
  27. See on this work Malcolm Heath : Porphyry's rhetoric . In: Classical Quarterly 53, 2003, pp. 141-166.
  28. Malcolm Heath: Porphyry's rhetoric . In: Classical Quarterly 53, 2003, pp. 141–166, here: 143 f.
  29. Malcolm Heath: Porphyry's rhetoric . In: Classical Quarterly 53, 2003, pp. 141–166, here: 144.
  30. ^ Brian Croke: Porphyry's Anti-Christian Chronology . In: Journal of Theological Studies 34, 1983, pp. 168-185.
  31. Timothy D. Barnes: Scholarship or propaganda? Porphyry Against the Christians and its historical setting . In: Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 39, 1994, pp. 53-65, here: 55-57.
  32. ^ Paweł Janiszewski: The Missing Link. Greek Pagan Historiography in the Second Half of the Third Century and in the Fourth Century AD , Warszawa 2006, p. 410 f .; see also pp. 403–410 to refute the older arguments for the existence of the alleged Chronicle of Porphyry.
  33. For example with Udo Hartmann: The history writing . In: Klaus-Peter Johne : The time of the soldier emperors . Vol. 2, Berlin 2008, p. 893 ff., Here: p. 915 and note 62.
  34. On Porphyrios' reception of Aristotle see George F. Karamanolis: Plato and Aristotle in Agreement? , Oxford 2006, pp. 243-330.
  35. Heinrich Dörrie: The doctrine of the soul . In: Heinrich Dörrie u. a .: Porphyries. Huit exposés suivis de discussions , Genève 1966, pp. 165–191, here: 181 f.
  36. ^ Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: The Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 6.2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 2002, pp. 289-306.
  37. Jean Bouffartigue, Michel Patillon a. a. (Ed.): Porphyre: De l'abstinence , Volume 1, Paris 1977, p. LV.
  38. Michael Bland Simmons: Universal Salvation in Late Antiquity , Oxford 2015, pp. 159–165.
  39. Michael Bland Simmons: Universal Salvation in Late Antiquity , Oxford 2015, pp. 165–169.
  40. Michael Bland Simmons: Universal Salvation in Late Antiquity , Oxford 2015, pp. 169–180; Jeannie Carlier: L'après-mort selon Porphyre . In: Annick Charles-Saget (ed.): Retour, repentir et constitution de soi , Paris 1998, pp. 133–160, here: 133–138; Andrew Smith: Porphyry's Place in the Neoplatonic Tradition , Den Haag 1974, pp. 56-68.
  41. Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Platonism in antiquity , Vol. 2, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1990, pp. 82 f., 329–331.
  42. Jeannie Carlier: L'après-mort selon Porphyre . In: Annick Charles-Saget (ed.): Retour, repentir et constitution de soi , Paris 1998, pp. 133–160, here: 139–160.
  43. Werner Deuse: Investigations on Middle Platonic and Neo-Platonic Soul Doctrine, Wiesbaden 1983, pp. 129–212.
  44. See also Riccardo Chiaradonna: La teoria dell'individuo in Porfirio e l'ἰδίως ποιόν stoico . In: Elenchos 21, 2000, pp. 303-331; Richard Sorabji : Porphyry on self-awareness, true self, and individual . In: George Karamanolis, Anne Sheppard (ed.): Studies on Porphyry , London 2007, pp. 61–69, here: 67–69.
  45. Gerhard Binder : A polemic of Porphyry against the allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament by the Christians . In: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 3, 1969, pp. 81–95, here: 91–95.
  46. Richard Goulet et al. a .: Porphyre de Tyr . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Volume 5, Part 2 (= V b), Paris 2012, pp. 1289–1468, here: 1292 f., 1427.
  47. ^ Proklos, In Platonis rem publicam II 96.10-15 Kroll; Greek text and translation by Heinrich Dörrie, Matthias Baltes: Der Platonismus in der Antike , Vol. 3, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt 1993, pp. 18-20 (and commentary on pp. 152 f.).
  48. Richard Walzer : Furfūriyūs . In: The Encyclopaedia of Islam , Volume 2, Leiden 1965, pp. 948 f.
  49. Jerome, Letters 50: 1.
  50. Boethius, In isagogen Porphyrii commenta (editio prima) 1.5.
  51. Richard Goulet et al. a .: Porphyre de Tyr . In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques , Volume 5, Part 2 (= V b), Paris 2012, pp. 1289–1468, here: 1429–1431.
  52. Timothy D. Barnes: Scholarship or propaganda? Porphyry Against the Christians and its historical setting . In: Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 39, 1994, pp. 53–65, here: 53.
  53. John of Salisbury, Policraticus 7,6.
  54. ^ Documents from Richard Goulet: Hypothèses récentes sur le traité de Porphyre Contre les chrétiens . In: Michel Narcy, Eric Rebillard (eds.): Hellénisme et christianisme , Villeneuve d'Ascq 2004, pp. 61–109, here: 78 f.
  55. See Pier Franco Beatrice: Le traité de Porphyre contre les Chrétiens. L'état de la question . In: Kernos 4, 1991, pp. 119-138, here: 122-124.
  56. ^ Claudio Moreschini (ed.): Giacomo Leopardi: Porphyrii de vita Plotini et ordine librorum eius , Firenze 1982.
  57. Kathleen Raine: Blake and Tradition , Vol. 1, Princeton 1968, pp. 75-117; Robert Lamberton: Porphyry: On The Cave of the Nymphs , Barrytown (New York) 1983, p. 15 f.
  58. ^ Richard Goulet: Hypothèses récentes sur le traité de Porphyre Contre les chrétiens . In: Michel Narcy, Eric Rebillard (eds.): Hellénisme et christianisme , Villeneuve d'Ascq 2004, pp. 61-109.
  59. ^ Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff u. a .: Greek and Latin Literature and Language , Berlin 1905, p. 195.
  60. This is how Willy Theiler judges, for example : Investigations on ancient literature , Berlin 1970, p. 539.
  61. Michael Chase, Roger Harmon: Porphyrios . In: Der Neue Pauly Vol. 10, Stuttgart 2001, Col. 174-181, here: 176.
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