Proclus Lycaeus

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Proclus Lycaeus

(extended biography)

The lunar crater Proclus is named after Proclus Lycaeus (February 8, 412 – April 17, 485).


Proclus Lycaeus was called The Successor because he was a student in a Late Antiquity academy which claimed to be a direct successor of Plato's Academy founded 818 years earlier, and eventually took on the leadership of the academy from Plutarch of Athens in 431 C.E. Most of the works he is known for are commentaries on Plato. They are said to be the best statement of late Platonic thought, a syncretism of Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic elements, which influenced emerging Christian and even Islamic philosophy. Besides the several commentaries on Plato, he wrote Elements of Theology, Platonic Theology, and Commentary on Euclid's Elements of Geometry, which is the primary souce for today's knowledge of the history of Greek mathematics. In addition, Proclus' student Marinus published works that are the foundation of what we know of Proclus' personal life and thought. The founding modern works on Proclus are (1) E. R. Dodd's transation of the Elements of Theology published in 1933 (still in print today and available at Amazon and other sources), (2) Laurence Jay Rosen's The Philosophy of Proclus: The Final Phase of Ancient Thought in 1949 (which appears to be out of print), and (3) N. Scotti Muth, who pulled together an important bibliography. However, recently there has been a minor avalanche of studies of Proclus and his work and time, and Neoplatonism in general. The DeWolf-Mansion Center for Ancient and Midieval Philosophy at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven's Plato Transformed project maintains an extensive list of all editions and translations of Proclus' work published since 1900, and an even longer bibliography of publications on Proclus since 1990.

However, in Renaissance Europe, Proclus was most known as the author of a much-translated standard astronomy textbook that went through 70 editions in the 15th and 16th Centuries. When Tranio offered his little gift to the father of his beloved Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew "And, toward the education of your daughters, I here bestow a simple instrument, and this small packet of Greek and Latin books. If you accept them, then their worth is great," a copy of Proclus' De Sphaera was no doubt among those books.

- yrcamags

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