Michael Psellus or Michael Psellus the Elder or the Elder Michael Psellus
2. Michael Psellus, the elder, of Andros, flourished in the 9th century A. D.
He was extremely learned in ancient literature and philosophy, and endeavoured to resist the torrent of ignorance and barbarism which was coming upon the Christian world.
He was also an eager student of the Alexandrian philosophy.
By these pursuits he incurred the suspicion of one of his own pupils, named Constantine, who attacked him in some elegiac verses, as if he had renounced Christianity. Upon this, Psellus placed himself under the tuition of the celebrated Photius; and having thus improved his knowledge of theology, he replied to his adversary in a long iambic poem, which is not now extant. Cave places him at A. D. 870 (Hist. Litt. s. a.
vol. ii. p. 55); Baronius and others at A. D. 859 (Saxe, Onomast.
). Some writers have stated that he was the tutor of the emperor Leo VI., surnamed Sapiens; but this arises from a confusion of the emperor Leo, who was a pupil of Photius,with Leo Byzantinus, surnamed Philosophus, the grandson of John the patriarch : it was the latter who was the pupil of Psellus. Except the poem already referred to, we have no mention of any writings of the elder Psellus; but it is suspected by Cave, allatius, and others, that he was the real author of some of the works which are ascribed to the younger Psellus, especially of the Dialogue on the Operations of Daemons,
an unedited tract On Daemons,
and a small work On Stones.
The reasons for ascribing these works to the elder Psellus are their inferiority in style to the writings of the younger, and the traces they exhibit of the Alexandrian philosophy; but it is confessed that these reasons are indecisive. The Paraphrase to several Books of Aristotle, which is generally ascribed to Michael of Ephesus, is also thought by these scholars to be the work of the elder Psellus. (Compare Brucker, Hist. Grit. Philos.
vol. iii. p. 538.)