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P. III. Summer's Night; that aufpicious Gleam between the setting and the rifing Sun, which, tho' it cannot retain the Luftre of the Day, helps at least to fave us from the Totality of Darkness.
A curfory Difquifition, illuftrated by a few felect Inftances, will conftitute the Subject of the prefent Effay; and these Inftances we fhall bring from among THREE CLASSES OF MEN, who had each a large share in the transactions of those times; from THE BYZANTINE GREEKS, from THE ARABIANS or SARACENS, and from the Inhabitants of Western Europe, at that time called THE LATINS. We fhall give Precedence, as we think they merit it, to the GREEKS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, altho' it is not always easy to preserve an exact Chronology, because in each of these three Claffes many eminent men were contemporary.
CHA P. II.
Concerning the first Class, THE BYZAN-
MONIUS -PHILOPONUS Fate of the fine Library at Alexandria.
IMPLICIUS and AMMONIUS were Ch. II. Greek Authors, who flourished at ATHENS during the fixth Century; for Athens, long after her Trophies at Marathon, long after her politieal Sovereignty was no more, ftill maintained her Empire in Philofophy and the fine Arts*.
Philofophy indeed, when thefe Authors wrote, was finking apace. The Stoic Syftem, and even the Stoic Writings were the greater part of them loftt.
*See below, Chap. III.
+ See Philofoph. Arrangements, p. 253.
P. III. Sects had fhared the fame fate. None fub
fifted but the Platonic, and the Peripatetic; which, being both derived from a common fource (that is to fay, the Pythagorean) were at this period blended, and commonly cultivated by the fame Perfons.
SIMPLICIUS and AMMONIUS, being bred in this School, and well initiated in its Principles, found no reason, from their education, to make Syftems for themselves; a practice, referable fometimes to real Genius, but more often to not knowing, what others have invented before.
CONSCIOUS therefore they could not excel their great Predeceffors, they thought, like many others, that the Commenting of their Works was doing mankind the moft effential Service.
'Twas this, which gave rife, long before their time, to that Tribe of CoмMENTATORS,
MENTATORS, who, in the perfon of An- Ch. II. dronicus the Rhodian, began under Auguftus, and who continued, for ages after, in an orderly fucceffion.
SIMPLICIUS wrote a variety of Comments upon different parts of Aristotle, but his Comment upon the Phyfics is peculiarly valuable, as it is filled with quotations from Anaxagoras, Democritus, Parmenides, and other Philofophers, who flourished fo early, as before the time of Arifotle, and whofe fragments many of them are not to be found elfe-where.
As this Compilation must have been the refult of extensive Reading, we may juftly diftinguish him by the title of a learned Commentator*.
For a fuller and more accurate account of SIMPLICIUS see Fabricii Biblioth. Græc. Tom. VIII. p. 620, &c.
AMMONIUS wrote Comments on the firft and fecond Tracts of Ariftotle's Logic, as likewise upon the Introductory Discourse of the Philofopher Porphyry. His manner of writing is orderly; his ftile clear and copious; copious in its better sense, by leaving nothing unexplained, not copious by perplexing us with tiresome Tautology.
To those, who wish for a tafte of this Literature, I know no Author, who better merits perufal. THE PREFACE to his Comment on Porphyry is a curious account of Philofophy under its many and different Definitions, every one of which he explaines with perfpicuity, and precifion. THE PREFACE to his Comment on the Predicaments gives us an ingenius Plan of Critical Scrutiny; in other words furnishes us with a fuite of leading Queries, by which, before we read a Book, we may learn what it is, and judge,