An alternative theory of
Porphyry and Celsus
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In the case of Porphyry however, the author Porphyry actually existed, and was considered perhaps the greatest of intellectuals in the Roman empire at the beginning of the fourth century. Porphyry wrote voluminously in his life, but unless he lived to see the rise of Constantine from Rome between the years of 312 and 324 CE, then he did not write anything against the christians, because they did not then exist.
Instead, desiring to become supreme not only of the military and the civilian activities, Constantine had malevolent and despotic designs in the realm of fourth century literature. He therefore instructed Eusebius to forge in the name of Porphyry additional writings which he would then use in a political sense.
Constantine commanded Eusebius to forge a scathing polemic against his own newly invented religion (christianity). With this document in his possession, the despot was then free to express justifiable anger and thus edict for the destruction of all Porphyry's literature, which he did in no uncertain terms (It is preserved, see below)
There are a number of citations which may be called in support of this hypothesis with respect to the forgery of Porphyry by Eusebius, for the reasons provided above. These are:
Additionally, there is the related issue of the writings of Hierocles, quoted by Eusebius in his unmitigated attack on the writings of Philostratus, and the historical neopythagorean sage and author, Apollonius of Tyana. Perhaps Hierocles wrote against the new God of Constantine, but perhaps he did not. Perhaps it was simply another case of fabricating a document by which Constantine might destroy the works of Apollonius of Tyana, and Philostratus, as we know he intended for the works of both Porphyry and Arius.
Constantine on Porphyry ...
(1) According to Constantine, Porphyry "found the reward which befitted him"
Yet we know of any ancient source that tells us when and how Porphyry died.
(2) The writings of Porphyry were "righteously destroyed"
(3) "The writings of Arius .. shall be delivered to be burned with fire"
(4) "The penalty for secreting Arius' writings shall be death"
(5) "The capital punishment [is to be] by beheading without delay"
It was the ultimatum of a supreme imperial mafia thug dictator,
known to historians circa 325 CE as "a brigand";
and to become known in future years as "a ward irresponsible for his own actions".
Here is the Letter of King Con.
Inasmuch as Arius imitates the evil and the wicked, it is right that, like them, he should be rebuked and rejected. As therefore Porphyry, who was an enemy of the fear of God, and wrote wicked and unlawful writings against the religion of Christians, found the reward which befitted him, that he might be a reproach to all generations after, because he fully and insatiably used base fame; so that on this account his writings were righteously destroyed; thus also now it seems good that Arius and the holders of his opinion should all be called Porphyrians, that he may be named by the name of those whose evil ways he imitates: And not only this, but also that all the writings of Arius, wherever they be found, shall be delivered to be burned with fire, in order that not only his wicked and evil doctrine may be destroyed, but also that the memory of himself and of his doctrine may be blotted out, that there may not by any means remain to him remembrance in the world. Now this also I ordain, that if any one shall be found secreting any writing composed by Arius, and shall not forthwith deliver up and burn it with fire, his punishment shall be death; for as soon as he is caught in this he shall suffer capital punishment by beheading without delay. (Preserved in Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History 1:9. A translation of a Syriac translation of this, written in 501, is in B. H. Cowper’s, Syriac Miscellanies, Extracts From The Syriac Ms. No. 14528 In The British Museum, Lond. 1861, p. 6–7)
Eunapius' Fragment on Porphyry
Further information for anyone interested in the life and the (unknown and unmentioned) death of the fourth century academic Porphyry. This is quoted from Eunapius:
It seems that he attained to an advanced old age.
At any rate he left behind him many speculations
that conflict with the books that he had previously published;
with regard to which we can only suppose
that he changed his opinions as he grew older.
He is said to have departed this life in Rome.
Here it appears that Eunapius provides us with information related to two issues:
Thus it is likely that Eusebius himself wrote both Philosophy of the Oracles and those only very few remaining fragments of Against the Christians, and by rank forgery, and with the backing of "Bullneck", passed off these works in the name of Porphyry.
The following summary of Porphyry is sourced from a Stanford University article on pythagoreanism:
Since so many of his works survive only in fragments, it is hard to be sure precisely how Porphyry presented Pythagoras. It would appear, however, that Pythagoras was not made the source of all Greek philosophy, as he was in the Neopythagorean writings, but was rather presented one of a number of sages both Greek and non-Greek (e.g. Indians, Egyptians and Hebrews), who promulgated a divinely revealed philosophy. This philosophy is, in fact, Platonic in origin as it relies on the Platonic distinction between the intelligible and sensible realms; Porphyry unhistorically assigns it back to these earlier thinkers, including Pythagoras. Pythagoras' philosophy is thus said to aim at freeing the mind from the fetters of the body so that it can attain a vision of the intelligible and eternal beings (Life of Pythagoras 46-47). O'Meara thus seems correct to conclude that Porphyry was “…not a Pythagoreanizing Platonist … but rather a universalizing Platonist: he finds his Platonism both in Pythagoras and in very many other quarters” (1989, 25-29).