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And a Translation from the Greek of
By THOMAS TAYLOR.
Νυν αύτε σκοπόν αλλον, όν έπω τις βάλεν ανής,
Printed for the AUTHOR:
Now present the reader with the remaining part of the Com
mentaries of Proclus on Euclid : with the addition of his Theological Elements, and a History of the Restoration of the Platonic Theology, by the latter disciples of Plato. Should
Should my design be enquired into, in combining works which the superficial observer will consider as opposite and heterogeneous, I answer that it is no less novel than certain, no less important than apposite and connected. Its novelty will be evident by assuring the reader, that a vindication of philosophical Polytheism, as embraced by the wisdom, and fupported by the general voice of antiquity, is the ultimate tendency of its execution. Its connection too with geometry will be manifest to every Tyro in Platonism, and has been so copiously proved in the former volume, that it would be superfluous to repeat the demonstration in the present. I am well aware that nothing has been so much the subject of ridicule and declamation, of ignorant aspersion and impotent contempt, as the theology of the ancients.
It has supplied the harangues of the pulpit with an endless variety of popular argument, and an exhaustless source of priestly elocution. It has been equally derided by the man of learning and the merchant, by the noble and the vulgar, by the peasant and the priest. But it still lives in the works of the ancients, it is still capable of being supported by found reasoning, and sublime philosophy; and its intrinsic excellence and truth will extend its existence beyond the wreck of modern systems, and the desolation of ages. Like a strong and capacious ship it fails with majestic security through the ocean of time; and sustains with careless dignity the storms of oppofition that roar round its well-compacted sides. The blasts of calumny may indeed. im
pede its progress, but are unable to shatter its indissoluble fabric; and the prosperous gales of philosophy will always succeed the tempests of folly, and waft it with rapidity to the enlightned regions of mankind. The time perhaps is not far distant, when this fortunate change may commence. Above twelve hundred years have elapsed since the vessel of ancient wisdom visited the civilized parts of the world, and the nations were blest with its invaluable contents : and during this dreadful interval, ignorance and delusion, ja: gon and reverie, have held an undisturbed and universal reign. The depravity of the times is the subject of general complaint: genius no longer foars ; learning has evaporated into words ; and philosophy is but a name. Yet, though the restoration of ancien: theology is the ob
most ardent desires, I much fear that a period still more barbarous, with respect to philofophy; that an age still darker and more debased must precede its establishm nt on the earth. Prodigies and destruction attended, as we shall observe in the ensuing history, its departure from mankind; and defolation will doubtless be the harbinger of its future appearance. The orb of vicissitude produces renovation and decay in regular succession ; and marks, as it revolves, the dormant events of future periods with the ruinsu, characters of the past. Let us, therefore, patiently wait for, and joyfully expect the happy moment when the breezes of philosophy shall arise with abundance and vigour ; and impel the vessel of theology laden with the riches of wisdom, on our natal coast. The revolution is certain, however remote : and the prospect is of i’self sufficient to increase the vigour of exertion, and animate the expectations of hope; to enable us to brave the storms of ecclefiaftical persecution, and vanquish the resistance of folly.
Concerning Petitions and Axioms.
theses, Petitions, and Axioms, the difference between these
we have explained in the preceding books. But we now intend to discourse more accurately of petition and axiom, as especially necessary to our present design. For hypotheses, which are also called definitions, we have already explained. It is common, therefore, as well to axioms as to petitions, to require no demonstration, and no
* In the two preceding books of this work our author has displayed an uncommon degree of philosophie elegance and depth ; and in the prefent tuo, he no less manifefts the greatest geo
metrical accuracy and skill. In the former he elevate's us from participated truth to truth itself; and from the glimmering light of universals reflected in the catoptric botom of the phantafy, to the bright refulgence of ideas. In the latter he combines geometry and philofophy, occasionally clothes the rigid accuracy of demonftration with the enchanting imagery of divine imaginations, and unites the graces of di&tion with the precision and fa ctity of truth. Yet his genius, though rapid as a torrent, never pafles beyond the bounds of propriety; and though his thoughts are vehement and rast, they are at the fame time orderly and majeltic. For my own part I confess myself enamoured with the grandeur of his diction, alorished with the magnificence of his conceptions, and enlightened by the irradiations of his powerful genius. And I desire nothing fo much as that others may experience fimilar effects from this admirable work. I only add, that the study of this second part is absolutely necessary to a perfect comprehension of Eu. clid's method and meaning ; and to the underitanding geometry completely and philofophically. It is casy indeed to learn a science in a manner sufficient for mechanical purposes ; for this is accomp shed by the many: but it is arduous to learn it with a view to the perception of truth ; Vol. II.