2. A Cynic philosopher of some note, who lived in the latter part of the fifth century after Christ. His father Basilides was a Syrian; his mother Theoclea a native of Emesa, where probably Sallustius was born, and where he lived during the earlier part of his life.
He applied himself first to the study of jurisprudence, and cultivated the art of oratory with considerable diligence under the tuition of Eunoius at Emesa.
He subsequently abandoned his forensic studies, and took up the profession of a sophist.
He directed his attention especially to the Attic orators, and learnt all the orations of Demosthenes by heart. His own compositions were deemed not unworthy of the great models whom he imitated. Finding the instructions of Eunoius no longer of service to him, Sallustius betook himself to Alexandria, and studied under the best masters of eloquence that the city afforded. Here too he probably imbibed a taste for philosophy ; and, attracted by the fame of the Athenian school, removed to Athens, and attended the lectures of Proclus.
He soon left the Neo-Platonists however, and took up with the doctrines of the Cynics, which he maintained thenceforward with great ardour. Some curious stories are told of the experiments which he made upon himself to display or increase his power of enduring pain, and his disregard of the ordinary enjoyments of life (Suidas s. v. χυτρόπους
; Simplic. in Epict.
p. m. 63).
He assailed the philosophers of his time with considerable vehemence, to which his powers of ridicule gave additional effect He pronounced philosophy to be an impossibility, and dissuaded the young men from resorting to the teachers of it (Suidas, l.c. s. v. Ἀθηνόδωρος
. Leaving Athens he returned to Alexandria, where he employed his eloquence and wit in attacking the follies or vices of his contemporaries.
According to Photius (Cod. ccxlii. p. 342, ed. Bekker), he pretended to a sort of divination or fortune-telling, professing to be able to tell from the appearance ot a person's eyes what kind of death he would die. Sallustius was suspected of holding somewhat impious opinions regarding the gods.
He seems at least to have been unsparing in his attacks upon the fanatical theology of the Neo-Platonists.
The treatise Περὶ θεῶν καὶ τόσμου
has sometimes, without sufficient reason, been attributed to this Sallustius. (Suidas, l.c.
Phot. l.c. ;
Brucker, Hist. Crit. Philosoph.
vol. ii. p. 528, &c.)