DALMATIUS

Constantinople. Saint. Feast 3 August. Initially an officer in the imperial guard, he became a monk later in life with his son Faustus and succeeded his teacher Isaac as archimandrite of the chief convent of Constantinople. He came to Cyril’s help at the Council of Ephesus 431. After 48 years he left his monastery and led the city’s monks in solemn procession to appear before Theodosius II, who responded by calling the opposing parties to Chalcedon for clarifications. Dalmatius wrote two letters to the Council of Ephesus and an apology. CPG III, 5776-5778; DHGE 14, 27-28. The letters and the apology are respectively in PG 85, 1799 1800 Epistula ad Synodum; 1800 1801 Epistula cleri constantinopolitani ad Synodum; 1801 Apologia; Patrologia 5, 32.

DAMASCIUS d. after 538. Last representative of the Neoplatonist philosophical school. Born at Damascus in Syria, probably ca. 462. He began his studies at Alexandria, then went to Athens ca. 482 483 ca. 491 492 according to some scholars as a teacher of rhetoric. In 492 he converted to philosophy under the influence of Isidore, a Neoplatonic philosopher he had known in Alexandria, and began his studies under the guidance of Marinus, then head of the Athenian school. He took over as head of the Athenian school after 515, upon returning from a trip to Syria with Isidore. In 529 an ordinance of Justinian ratified the closing of the school, which was again flourishing under Damascius’s energetic reorganization. According to Agathias Hist.

2,30,3 31,9, the philosopher went into exile to the king of Persia, where he tried in vain to resurrect the school. He died in Syria after 538. Of his works we have two commentaries On the Phaedo, a commentary On the Philebus, a treatise On first principles and a commentary On Parmenides. Sizeable fragments of the Paradox, Life of Isidore, Treatise on Aristotle’s Meteorology, Commentary on Aristotle’s De Coelo, Treatise on Number, Space and Time and a Commentary on the First Alcibiades are found in Photius, John Philoponus, Simplicius and Olympiodorus.

Damascius effected a profound reorganization of the Neoplatonic school of Athens, restoring its philosophical values in the face of Christianity and the spread of theurgy, haughtily introduced by Iamblichus. His writings show how he completely reestablished the traditional Neoplatonic cursus based on the study of Aristotle, Plato and the Chaldean Oracles. Damascius’s metaphysics tended to exacerbate some aspects of Plotinus’s negative theology: the separation between the one and the many, already analyzed by earlier Neoplatonists, became in Damascius an unhealable rupture. The originary being is prior to both unity and multiplicity, and thus only through hyperagnoia a sort of hyper-ignorance can one have a kind of presentiment of this being. Human thought is incapable of deducing multiplicity, the knowable or the determinate.

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