a cynic philosopher, born at Parium, on the Hellespont, flourished in the reign of the Antonines.
After a youth spent in debauchery and crimes, among which he is even charged with parricide, he visited Palestine, where he turned Christian, and by dint of hypocrisy attained to some authority in the Church. Here, in order to gratify his morbid appetite for notoriety, he contrived to get thrown into prison ; but the Roman governor, perceiving his aim, disappointed him by setting him free.
He now assumed the cynic garb, and returned to his native town, where, to obliterate the memory of his crimes, he divided his inheritance among the populace.
He again set out on his travels. relying on the Christians for support; but being discovered profaning the ceremony of the Lord's Supper, he was excommunicated.
He then went to Egypt, where he made himself notorious by the open perpetration of the most disgusting obscenity. Thence he proceeded to Rome and endeavoured to attract attention by his ribaldry and abuse, for which he was expelled by the praefectus urbis. His next visit was to Elis, where he tried to incite the people against the Romans. Having exhausted all the methods of making himself conspicuous, he at length resolved on publicly burning himself at the Olympic games; and carried his resolution into effect in the 236th Olympiad, A. D. 165. The Parians raised a statue to his memory, which was reputed to be oracular. (Anaxagoras, quoted by Valois. Ad Amn. Mlarcell.
) Lucian, who knew Peregrinus in his youth, and who was present at his strange self-immolation, has perhaps overcharged the narrative of his life. Wieland was so strongly of this opinion that, being unable to refute Lucian from ancient authors, he wrote his romance of Peregrinus Proteus, as a sort of vindication of the philosopher. A. Gellius gives a much more favourable account of him. (Lucian, de Morte Prergrini ; Amm. Marc. 29.1
; Philostrat. Vit. Sophist.
2.13; A. Gel. 12.11