- Cassius Longinus (philosopher)
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Cassius Longinus (ca. 213–273 AD) was an Hellenistic rhetorician and philosophical critic. He was perhaps a native of Emesa in Syria. He studied at Alexandria under Ammonius Saccas and Origen the Pagan, and taught for thirty years in Athens, one of his pupils being Porphyry. Longinus did not embrace the Neoplatonism then being developed by Plotinus, but continued as a Platonist of the old type and his reputation as a literary critic was immense. During a visit to the east, he became a teacher, and subsequently chief counsellor to Zenobia, queen of Palmyra. It was by his advice that she endeavoured to regain her independence from Rome. Emperor Aurelian, however, crushed the revolt, and Longinus was executed.
The origin of his gentile name Cassius is unknown; it can only be conjectured that he was the client to some Cassius Longinus, or that his ancestors had received the Roman franchise through the influence of some Cassius Longinus. He was born about 213, and was killed in 273, at the age of sixty. The suggestion that his original name was Dionysius arose only because the 1st century rhetorical treatise On the Sublime was ascribed to a "Dionysius or Longinus" in the medieval period.
His native place is uncertain; some say that Longinus was born at Palmyra, and others call him a Syrian or a native of Emesa. The belief that he was of Syrian origin is only an inference from the fact that his mother was a Syrian woman, and from an obscure passage in the Historia Augusta, from which it may be inferred that he could speak the Syriac language. He may have been born at Athens, for the Suda states that Fronto of Emesa, the uncle of Longinus, taught rhetoric at Athens, and on his death in Athens left behind him Longinus, the son of his sister Frontonis.
It would seem that Fronto took special care of the education of his nephew, and on his death-bed he made him his heir. In the preface to his work On Ends, which is preserved in Porphyry's Life of Plotinus, Longinus himself relates that from his early age he made many journeys with his parents, that he visited many countries and became acquainted with all those who at the time enjoyed a great reputation as philosophers, among whom the most illustrious were Ammonius Saccas, Origen the Pagan, Plotinus, and Amelius. Of the first two Longinus was a pupil for a long time, but Longinus did not embrace the Neoplatonism then being developed by Ammonius and Plotinus, rather he continued as a Platonist of the old type.
Longinus in his study of philosophy made himself thoroughly familiar with Plato's works; and that he himself was a genuine Platonist is evident from the fragments still extant, as well as from the commentaries he wrote on several of Plato's dialogues. The few fragments of his commentaries which have come down to us show that he was free from the allegorical notions by which his contemporaries claimed to have discovered the wisdom of the ancients. His commentaries not only explained the subject-matter discussed by Plato, but also his style and diction. In opposition to Plotinus, Longinus upheld the doctrine that the Platonic ideas existed outside the divine Nous. Plotinus, after reading his treatise On First Principles, remarked that Longinus might be a scholar, but that he was no philosopher.
After Longinus had learnt all he could from Ammonius at Alexandria and the other philosophers whom he met in his travels, he returned to Athens. He there devoted himself with so much zeal to the instruction of his many pupils that he scarcely had any time left for writing. The most distinguished of his pupils was Porphyry. At Athens, Longinus seems to have lectured on philosophy and criticism, as well as on rhetoric and grammar, and the extent of his knowledge was so great, that Eunapius calls him "a living library" and "a walking museum;". The power for which Longinus was most celebrated was his critical skill, which was indeed so great that the expression "to judge like Longinus" became synonymous with "to judge correctly".
After having spent much of his life at Athens composing the best of his works, he went to the East, either to see his friends at Emesa or to settle some family affairs. It seems to have been on that occasion that he became known to queen Zenobia of Palmyra, who, being a woman of great talent, and fond of the arts and literature, made him her teacher of Greek literature. As Longinus had no extensive library at his command at Palmyra, he was obliged almost entirely to abandon his literary pursuits. He soon discovered another use for his talents, for when king Odaenathus died Queen Zenobia undertook the government of the empire. She availed herself of the advice of Longinus; it was he who advised and encouraged her to shake off Roman rule and become an independent sovereign. As a result, Zenobia wrote a spirited letter to the Roman emperor Aurelian. In 273, when Aurelian took and destroyed Palmyra, Longinus had to pay with his life for the advice which he had given to Zenobia. Longinus must have been especially pained by this catastrophe, as the queen asserted her own innocence after having fallen into the hands of the Romans, and threw all the blame upon her advisers, particularly Longinus. He bore his execution with a firmness and cheerfulness worthy of Socrates.
In his private life Longinus seems to have been amiable; for although his pupil Porphyry left him, declaring that he would seek a better philosophy in the school of Plotinus, Longinus did not show him any ill-will, but continued to treat him as a friend, and invited him to come to Palmyra. He had an ardent love of liberty, and a great frankness both in expressing his own opinions and exposing the faults and errors of others.
Notwithstanding his many avocations, Longinus composed a great number of works, which appear to have been held in the highest estimation, all of which have perished. It was once thought that the extant rhetorical treatise On the Sublime was written by him, but it is now thought to have been written by an unknown 1st century writer. Among the works listed by the Suda there are Homeric Questions; Whether Homer is a Philosopher; Homeric Problems and Solutions; and two publications on Attic diction. The most important of his philological works, - Philological Discourses - consisting of at least 21 books, is omitted. A considerable fragment of his On the Chief End is preserved by Porphyry. Under his name there are also extant Prolegomena to the Handbook of Hephaestion on metre, and the fragment of a treatise on rhetoric, inserted in the middle of a similar treatise by Apsines. It gives brief practical hints on invention, arrangement, style, memory and other things useful to the student.
- ^ Historia Augusta, Aurelian. 30
- ^ Suda, Fronton
- ^ Porphyry, Vit. Plot. 14; Proclus, ad Plat. Tim.
- ^ Eunapius, Porphyr. init.; Porphyry, Vit. Plot.; Historia Augusta, Aurelian. 30; Suda, Longinos
- ^ Photius, Bibl. Cod. 259; Sopat. Proleg. in Aristid.; Suda, Porphyrios, Longinos
- ^ Jerome, Epist. 125; Theophylact. Epist. 17
- ^ Historia Augusta, Aurelian. 27
- ^ Historia Augusta, Aurelian. 30; Suda, Longinos
- ^ Zosimus, i. 56
- ^ Porphyry, Vit. Plot. 19
- ^ Porphyry, Vit. Plot. 20
- ^ Penelope Murray, T. S. Dorsch, (2000), Classical Literary Criticism. Page ii. Penguin Classics.
- ^ Suda, Longinos
- ^ Porphyry, Vit. Plotin. 20
- L. Brisson and M. Patillon, Longinus Platonicus Philosophus et Philologus. In Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt II 36.7 (1994), 5214-99 (= Part I, "Longinus Philosophus"), II 34.4 (1998), 3023-3108 (= Part II, "Longinus Philologus").
- Irmgard Männlein-Robert, Longin Philologe und Philosoph. Eine Interpretation der Erhaltenen Zeugnisse. Munich-Leipzig: K.B. Saur, 2001. ISBN 3-598-77692-6.
- Michel Patillon and Luc Brisson (eds.), Longin. Fragments; Art rhétorique. Collection Budé, 2001. ISBN 2-251-00495-5.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1870).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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Cassius Longinus — is the abbreviated name of several historical persons:*Quintus Cassius Longinus, with Marc Anthony, one of the pro Julius Caesar tribunes who fled Rome in the lead up to Caesar s civil war *Gaius Cassius Longinus (died 42 BCE), a Roman politician … Wikipedia
Longinus — may refer to:*Gaius Cassius Longinus, usually known as Cassius , one of the assassins of Julius Caesar. *Longinus (Roman governor), a possible Roman governor of Britain ca. 159. *Cassius Longinus (philosopher), a Greek rhetorician and… … Wikipedia
Longinus (literature) — Longinus (Greek: Λογγῖνος, Longĩnos) is the conventional name of the author of the treatise, On the Sublime (Περὶ ὕψους, Perì hýpsous), a work which focuses on the effect of good writing. Longinus, sometimes referred to as Pseudo Longinus… … Wikipedia
Longinus — Longinean /lon jin ee euhn/, adj. /lon juy neuhs/, n. Dionysius Cassius /kash euhs/, A.D. 213? 273, Greek philosopher and rhetorician. * * * ▪ Greek literary critic also called Dionysius Longinus or Pseudo Longinus flourished 1st century AD… … Universalium
Longinus — [län jī′nəs] Dionysius Cassius A.D. 213? 273; Gr. Platonic philosopher & rhetorician … English World dictionary
Longinus,Dionysius Cassius — Lon·gi·nus (lŏn jīʹnəs), Dionysius Cassius. A.D. 210? 273. Greek philosopher. The influential volume of literary criticism On The Sublime is traditionally attributed to him. * * * … Universalium
LONGINUS, DIONYSIUS CASSIUS — a learned Greek philosopher, rhetorician, and critic, and eminent in all three departments, being in philosophy a Platonist of pure blood; his fame as a teacher reached the ears of Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra, and being invited to her court… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
Longinus — Lon•gi•nus [[t]lɒnˈdʒaɪ nəs[/t]] n. big Dionysius Cassius, a.d. 213?–273, Greek philosopher and rhetorician Lon•gin′e•an ˈdʒɪn i ən adj … From formal English to slang
Longinus — Longinean /lon jin ee euhn/, adj. /lon juy neuhs/, n. Dionysius Cassius /kash euhs/, A.D. 213? 273, Greek philosopher and rhetorician … Useful english dictionary
Porphyry (philosopher) — For other uses, see Porphyry (disambiguation). Porphyry of Tyre Porphire Sophiste, in a French 16th c. engraving Full name Porphyry of Tyre Born ca. 234 AD Tyre Died ca … Wikipedia