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In many a volume of laborious controversy, they CHAP, exposed the weakness of the understanding and the corruption of the heart, insulted human nature in the sages of antiquity, and proscribed the spirit of philosophical inquiry, so repugnant to the doctrine, or at least to the temper of an humble believer. The surviving sect of the Platonists, whom Plato would have blushed to acknowledge, extravagantly mingled a sublime theory with the practice of superstition and magic; and as they re.. mained alone in the midst of a Christian world, they indulged a secret rancour against the government of the church and state, whose severity was still suspended over their heads. About a century after the reign of Julian*, Proclus+ was permitted Proclus . to teach in the philosophic chair of the academy, and such was his industry, that he frequently, in the same day, pronounced five lessons, and composed seven hundred lines. His sagacious mind ex. plored the deepest questions of morals and meta: physics, and he ventured to urge eighteen argua ments against the Christian doctrine of the creation of the world. But in the intervals of study, he personally conversed with Pan, Æsculapius, and Miperva, in whose mysteries he was secretly initiated,
This is no fanciful æra : the Pagans reckoned their calamities from the reign of their hero. Proclus, whose nativity is marked by his horoscope (A. D. 412, February 8, at C. P.), died 124 years aro 18A18 Bassaws, A. D. 485. (Marin, in Vita Procli, c. 36.).
+ The life of Proclus, by Marirus, was published by Fabricius (Hamburgh, 1700. et ad calcem Bibliot. Latin. Lond. 5703). See Suidas (tom. iii. p. 185, 186.), Fabricius (Bibliot. Græc. 1. v. c. 26. p. 449–552.), and Brucker (Hist. Crit. Philosoph. tom. ii. P. 319-326.).
GHA P. and whose prostrate statues he adored; in the de
vout persuasion that the philosopher, who is a ci. tizen of the universe, should be the priest of its various deities. An eclipse of the sun announced his approaching end ; and his life, with that of his scholar Isidore *, compiled by two of their most
learned disciples, exhibits a deplorable picture of His gucces- the second childhood of human reason. Yet the
golden chain, as it was fondly styled, of the Pla. 485—329. tonic succession, continued forty-four years from
the death of Proclus to the edict of Justinian t, which imposed a perpetual silence on the schools of Athens, and excited the grief and indignation of the few remaining votaries of Grecian science and superstition. Seven friends and philosophers, Diogenes and Hermias, Eulalius and Priscian, Damascius, Isidore, and Simplicius, who dissented from the religion of their sovereign, embraced the resolution of seeking, in a foreign land, the freedom which was denied in their native country. They had heard, and they credulously believed, that the republic of Plato was realized in the despotic government of Persia, and that a patriotic king reigned over the happiest and most virtuous of nations. They were soon astonished by the natural discovery, that Persia resembled the other countries of the globe; that Chosroes, who affected the name of a philosopher, was vain, cruel, and ambitious;
* The life of Isidore was composed by Damascius (apud Photium, cod. ccxlii, p. 1028-1076.). See the last age of the Pagan Philosophers in Brucker (tom. ii. p. 341-351.).
+ The suppression of the schools of Athens is recorded by John Malala (tom. ii. p. 187. sur Decio Cos. Sol.), and an anonymous Chronicle in the Vatican library (ápud Aleman. p. 106.).
that bigotry, and a spirit of intolerance, prevailed CHA P. among the Magi; that the nobles were haughty, XL. the courtiers servile, and the magistrates unjust; that the guilty sometimes escaped, and that the innocent were often oppressed. The disappointment of the philosophers provoked them to overlook the real virtues of the Persians; and they were scandalized, more deeply perhaps than became their profession, with the plurality of wives and concubines, the incestuous marriages, and the custom of exposing dead bodies to the dogs and vultures, instead of hiding them in the earth, or consuming them with fire. Their repentance was expressed by a precipitate return, and they loudly declared that they had rather die on the borders of the empire, than enjoy the wealth and favour of the Barbarian. From this journey, however, they derived a benefit which reflects the purest lustre on the character of Chosroes. He required, that the seven sages who had visited the court of Persia, should be exempted from the penal laws which Justinian enacted against his Pagan subjects; and this privilege, expressly stipulated in a treaty of peace, was guarded by the vigilance of a powerful mediator*. Simplicius and his companions ended their lives in peace and obscurity; and as they left no disciples, they terminate the long list of Grecian philosophers, who may be justly praised, notwithstanding their defects, as the wisest and most vir.
Agathias (1. ii. p. 69, 70, 71.) relates this curious story. Chosroes ascended the throne in the year 531, and made his first peace with the Romans in the beginning of 533, a date most compatible with his young fame and the old age of Isidore (Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iii. p. 404. Pagi, tom. ii. P. 543. 550.).
The last of
the philo sophers,
CHA P. virtuous of their contemporaries. The writings of Simplicius are now extant. His physical and metaphysical commentaries on Aristotle have passed away with the fashion of the times; but his moral interpretation of Epictetus, is preserved in the library of Nations, as a classic book, most excellently adapted to direct the will, to purify the heart, and to confirm the understanding, by a just confidence in the nature both of God and man.
The Roman consulship
About the same time that Pythagoras first inextinguish vented the appellation of philosopher, liberty and the consulship were founded at Rome by the elder A. D. 541. Brutus. The revolutions of the consular office,
ed by Justi
which may be viewed in the successive lights of a substance, a shadow, and a name, have been occasionally mentioned in the present history. The first magistrates of the republic had been chosen by the people, to exercise, in the senate and in the camp, the powers of peace and war, which were afterwards translated to the emperors. But the tradition of ancient dignity was long revered by the Romans and Barbarians. A Gothic historian applauds the consulship of Theodoric as the height of all temporal glory and greatness*; the king of Italy himself congratulates those annual favourites of fortune, who, without the cares, enjoyed the splendour of the throne; and at the end of a thousand years, two consuls were created by the sovereigns of Rome and Constantinople, for the sole purpose of giving a date to the year, and a festival to the people. But the expences of this festival
57. p. 696.
*Cassidor, Variarum Epist. vi. t. Jornandes, c. edit. Grot. Quod summum bonum primumque in mundo decus edicitur.
festival, in which the wealthy and the vain aspired CA P. to surpass their predecessors, insensibly arose to the enormous sum of fourscore thousand pounds; the wisest senators declined an useless honour, which involved the certain ruin of their families; and to this reluctance I should impute the frequent chasms in the last age of the consular Fasti. The prede. cessors of Justinian had assisted from the public treasures the dignity of the less opulent candidates; the avarice of that prince preferred the cheaper and more convenient method of advice and regulation*. Seven processions or spectacles were the number to which his edict confined the horse and chariot races, the athletic sports, the music, and pantomimes of the theatre, and the hunting of wild beasts; and small pieces of silver were discreetly substituted to the gold medals, which had always excited tumult and drunkenness, when they were scattered with a profuse hand among the populace. Notwithstanding these precautions, and his own example, the succession of consuls finally ceased in the thirteenth year of Justinian, whose despotic temper might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom t. Yet the annual consulship still lived in the minds of the people; they fondly expected its speedy restoration; they applauded
See the regulations of Justinian (Novell. cv.), dated at Constantinople, July 5, and addressed to Strategius, treasurer of the empire.
+Procopius, in Anecdot. c. 26. Aleman, p. 106. In the xviiith year after the consulship of Basilius, according to the reckoning of Marcellinus, Victor, Marius, &c. the secret history was composed, and, in the eyes of Procopius, the consulship was finally abolished.