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On this page: Porphyrius – Porphyrogenitus – Porrima – Porsena



Proclus, m Timaeum.) 51. Tlepl v\if]s, in 6 books. (Suid.) 52. $t\6\oyos Iffropia, in 5 books. (Said.; Euseb. Praep. Ev. x. 3, who quotes a passage of some length from the first book.) 53. &i\6(ro<pos IffTopia, in 4 books, a work on the lives and doctrines of philosophers. (Socrates, H. E. iii. 23 ; Eunap. Pr. p. 10.) 54. Hcpl tyvxris, in five books (Suid.; Euseb. Praep. Ev. xiv. 10.) 55. Ilepl r£v $i>xns Siwfyuecoi/. (Stob. JEclog.) 56. Kard Xpicmavwv, in 15 books. This celebrated work exhibited con­ siderable acquaintance with both the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. In the first book he treated of the discrepancies and contradictions in the Scriptures themselves, endeavouring in that way to show that they were of human, and not of divine origin. He seems to have laid considerable stress on the dispute between Paul and Peter. (Hieron. Comment, in Epist. ad Galat. praef.) In the third book he treated of the modes of inter­ preting the Scriptures, attacking the allegories of Origenes. (Euseb. H.E. vi. 19). In the fourth book he treated of the Mosaic history and the antiquities of the Jews. (Euseb. /. c. i. 9.) The 12th was one of the most celebrated books. In it he attacked the book of the prophecies of Daniel (Hieron. Comment, in Dan.}, maintaining that it was the production of a contemporary of Antiochus Epi- phanes. On the refutation of this Eusebius, Apol- linaris, and Methodius bestowed considerable labour. A good deal of the contents of this book is known from St. Jerome's commentary on the book of Daniel. The 13th book either entirely or in part treated of the same subject. A number of somewhat quibbling objections were also brought by Porphyrius against the history of the Gospels. (Hieron. Epist. CI. ad Pammach., Adv. Pelag. ii., Quaest. Heb. in Gen. &c.) It seems that though he charged the Christians with having perverted the doctrines of Christ, he acknowledged the latter as an eminent sage. (Euseb. Dem. Evang. iii. 6. p. 134.) (Fabric. Bibl Graec. vol. v. p. 725, &c. ; Holstenius, de Vita et Scriptis Porphyrii; Ritter, Gesehiclite der Philosophic, xiii. c. 2, vol. iv. p. 666, &c. ; Lardner, Credibility of the Gospel History, part 2. chap, xxxvii.) [C. P. M.]

PORPHYRIUS, PUBLI'LIUS OPTATIA'-NUS, a Roman poet, who lived in the age of Constantine the Great. From his panegyric on this emperor, we learn that he had been banished for some reason; and Constantine was so pleased with the flattery of the poet, that he not only re­called him from exile, but honoured him with a letter. Hieronymus says that he was restored to his native country in a.d. 328 ; but the panegyric must have been presented to Constantine in a. d. 326, as in the manuscript it is said to have been composed in the Vicennalia of the emperor, which were celebrated in this year, and likewise from the fact that the poet praises Crispus, the son of Constantine, who was put to death by order of his father in a. d. 326. We may therefore conclude that the panegyric was written in the previous year, and was intended to celebrate the Vicennalia of the emperor. It is probable that Publilius, after his return, was raised to offices of honour and trust, since Tillemont points out (Histoire des Empereurs, vol. iv. p. 364), from an ancient writer on the praefects of the city, that there was a Publilius Optatianus, praefect of the city in A. D. 32$, and again in 333, and it is likely enough that he was the same person as the poet. This is


all that we know for certain respecting his life. From the way in which he speaks of Africa, it has been conjectured that he was a native of that pro­vince; and this is not unlikely, as the name of Optatus and Optatianus was a common one in Africa.

The poems of Porphyrius are some of the worst specimens of a dying literature. The author has purposely made them exceedingly difficult to be understood ; and their merit in his eyes, and in those of his contemporaries, seems to have consisted in the artificial manner in which he was able to represent, by lines of various lengths, different objects, such as an altar, an organ, &c. The poems which have come down to us are :—

I. The Panegyric on Constantine, already men­tioned, which consists properly of a series of short poems, all of them celebrating the praises of the emperor. There is prefixed a letter of Porphyriua to Constantine, and also a letter from the latter to the poet. This poem has been printed by Pithoeus, Potmat. Vet. Paris, 1590, 12mo. and Genev. 1596, 8vo., and by Velserus, Augustae Vindel. 1595, fo.

II. Tdyllia, of which we have three, namely, 1. Ara Pythia, 2. Syrinx, 3. Organon, with the lines so arranged as to represent the form of these objects. These three poems are printed in Werns-dorfs Poetae Latini Minores (vol. ii. pp. 365—413), who also discusses at length everything relating to the life and works of Porphyrius.

III. Epigrams, of which five are printed in the Latin Anthology (Nos. 236—240, ed. Meyer.).

PORPHYROGENITUS, a surname of Con-stantinus VII. [See Vol. I. p. 840.]

PORRIMA. [postverta.]

PORSENA*, or PORSENNA, LARSf, king of the Etruscan town of Clusium, plays a dis­tinguished part in the legends of the Tarquins. According to the common tale, as related by Livy, Tarquinius Superbus, on his expulsion from Rome, applied' first to Veii and Tarquinii for assistance ; and when the people of these towns failed in restoring him to his kingdom, he next repaired to Lars Porsena, who willingly espoused his cause, and forthwith marched against Rome at

* The quantity of the penultimate is doubtful. We might infer from the form Porsenna that the penultimate was long, but we sometimes find it short in the poets. Niebuhr indeed asserts that Martial (Epigr. xiv. 98) was guilty of a decided blunder in shortening the penultimate ; but Mr. Macaulay points out (Lays of Ancient Eome, p. 45) that other Latin poets have committed the same decided blunder, as Horace's pure iambic line (Epod. xvi. 4),

" Minacis aut Etrusca Porsenae manus,"

and Silius Italicus in several passages. The pe­nultimate, however, is not short in all the Latin poets, as the line of Virgil proves (Aen. viii. 646),

" Nee non Tarquinium ejectum Porsena jubebat,"

and the Greek writers make it long, Plut. Publ. 16, Tlopoivos, Dionys. v. 21, &c. It would, therefore, seem that the word was pro­nounced indifferently either Porsena or Porsena.

f1 Lars, Lar or Larth, was a title of honour, given to almost all the Etruscan kings or chiefs, (Comp. Milller, Etruskcr, vol. i. pp. 405, 408.)

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