1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Isidore of Alexandria

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ISIDORE OF ALEXANDRIA,[1] Greek philosopher and one of the last of the Neoplatonists, lived in Athens and Alexandria towards the end of the 5th century A.D. He became head of the school in Athens in succession to Marinus who followed Proclus. His views alienated the chief members of the school and he was compelled to resign his position to Hegias. He is known principally as the preceptor of Damascius whose testimony to him in the Life of Isidorus presents him in a very favourable light as a man and a thinker. It is generally admitted, however, that he was rather an enthusiast than a thinker; reasoning with him was subsidiary to inspiration, and he preferred the theories of Pythagoras and Plato to the unimaginative logic and the practical ethics of the Stoics and the Aristotelians. He seems to have given loose rein to a sort of theosophical speculation and attached great importance to dreams and waking visions on which he used to expatiate in his public discourses.

Damascius’ Life is preserved by Photius in the Bibliotheca, and the fragments are printed in the Didot edition of Diogenes Laërtius. See Agathias, Hist. ii. 30; Photius, Bibliotheca, 181; and histories of Neoplatonism.

  1. With Isidore of Alexandria has been confused an Isidore of Gaza, mentioned by Photius. Little is known of him except that he was one of those who accompanied Damascius to the Persian court when Justinian closed the schools in Athens in 529. Suidas, in speaking of Isidore of Alexandria, says that Hypatia was his wife, but there is no means of approximating the dates (see Hypatia). Suetonius, in his Life of Nero, refers to a Cynic philosopher named Isidore, who is said to have jested publicly at the expense of Nero.