Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Themistius

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THEMISTIUS, named eu<fr>aS? s, or "the well-languaged," was a rhetorician and philosopher of the latter half of the 4th century. Of Paphlagonian descent, he settled and taught at Constantinople. Thence he was called to Rome, but, after a short stay in the West, returned to the Eastern capital, where he resided during the rest of his life. Though a pagan, he was admitted to the senate by Constantius in 355. He was prefect of Constantinople in 384 on the nomination of Theodosius. Themistius's paraphrases of Aristotle's Posterior Analytics, Physics, and De Anima are deservedly esteemed; but weariness and disgust are the sentiments stirred by the servile orations in which he panegyrizes successive emperors, comparing first one and then another to Plato's "true philosopher," and, when all other compliments have been exhausted, to the "idea" itself. (See Keiske, quoted with approval by Dindorf in the preface to his edition: " Fuit aulicus adu lator et versipellis, vanus jactator philosophise suse, specie magis quam re cultae, ineptus et ridiculus vexator et appli cator Homer i et veteris historiae, tautologus et sophista; in omnibus orationibus paene eadem, et ubique argutias longe petitae.") Themistius's paraphrases of the De Coelo and of book A of the Metaphysics have reached us only through Hebrew versions.

The first edition of Themistius's works (Venice, 1534) included the paraphrases and eight of the orations. Nineteen orations were known to Petavius, whose editions appeared in 1613 and 1618. Harduin (Paris, 1684) gives thirty-three. Another oration was discovered by Angelo Mai, and published at Milan in 1816. The most recent editions are W. Dindorfs of the orations (Leipsic, 1832) and L. Spengel's of the paraphrases (Leipsic, 1866). The Latin translations of the Hebrew versions of the paraphrases of the DC Casio and book A of the Metaphysics were published at Venice in 1574 and 1558 respectively. See Fabricius, Blblioiheca Gr&ca, vi. 790 sq.