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5. A New Platonist, who lived at Alexandria about the middle of the fifth century, and enjoyed a very great reputation.


Commentary on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras

Hierocles is commonly considered to be the author of a commentary on the golden verses of Pythagoras, which is still extant, and in which the author endeavours to give an intelligible account of the philosophy of Pythagoras. The verses of Pythagoras form the basis, but the commentator endeavours to give a succinct view of the whole philosophy of Pythagoras, whence his work is of some importance to us, and may serve as a guide in the study of the Pythagorean philosophy.


Latin Edition

This commentary was first published in a Latin translation by J. Aurispa, Padua, 1474, 4to., and afterwards at Rome, 1475, 1493, 1495, 4to., and at Basel, 1543, 8vo.

Greek Editions

The Greek original with a new Latin version was first edited by J. Curterius, Paris, 1583, 12mo. A better edition, incorporating also the fragments of other works of Hierocles, was published by J. Pearson, London, 1654 and 1655, 4to., and with additions and improvements by P. Needham, Cambridge, 1709, 8vo. A still better edition of the commentary alone is that by R. Warren, London, 1742, 8vo.

On Providence, Fate, and the reconciliation of man's free will with the divine government of the world.

Hierocles was further the author of an extensive work entitled Περὶ προνόας καὶ εἱμαρμένης καὶ τοῦ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν πρὸς τὴν Δείαν ἡγεμονίαν συντάξεως, that is, On Providence, Fate, and the reconciliation of man's free will with the divine government of the world. The whole consisted of seven books, and was dedicated to Olympiodorus; but the work is now lost, and all that has come down to us consists of some extracts from it preserved in Photius (Bibl. Cod. 214, 251).


These extracts are also found separately in some MSS., and were published by F. Morelli at Paris, 1593 and 1597, 8vo. They are also contained in Pearson's and Needham's editions of the Commentary on Pythagoras. From these extracts we see that Hierocles endeavored to show the agreement between Plato and Aristotle against the doctrines of the Stoics and Epicureans, and to refute those who attempted to deny the Divine Providence.

A Third Work of an Ethical Nature

A third work of an ethical nature is known to us from a number of extracts in Stobaeus (see the passages referred to above, under No. 3), on justice, on reverence towards the gods, on the conduct towards parents and relations, towards one's country, on marriage, &c. The maxims they inculcate are of a highly estimable kind. The work to which these extracts belonged probably bore the title Τὰ φιλοσοφούμενα (Suid. s. v. Ἐμποδών; Apostol. Prov. 9.90).


These extracts are likewise contained in Pearson's and Needham's editions of the Commentary.


There is another work, which is referred to under the title of Οἰκονομικός, but which probably formed only a part of the Τὰ φιλοσοφούμενα

Notes on the Gorgias of Plato

Lastly, we have to notice that Theosebius, a disciple of Hierocles, published a commentary on the Gorgias of Plato, which consisted of notes taken down by the disciple in the lectures of Hierocles. (Phot. Bibl. Cod. 292.)


There is extant a work called Ἀστεῖα, a collection of ludicrous tales and anecdotes, droll ideas, and silly speeches of school pedants, &c., which was formerly ascribed to Hierocles the New Platonist ; but it is obviously the production of a very insignificant person, who must have lived at a later time than the New Platonist.


It was first published by Marq. Freherus, Ladenburg, 1605, 8vo., and afterwards by J. A. Schier, Leipzig, 1750, 8vo.; it is also contained in Pearson's and Needham's editions of the Commentary on Pythagoras, and in J. de Rhoer's Observationes Philologicae, Groningen, 1768, 8vo.

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