Webster's Dictionary 
(n.) A term used somewhat loosely to designate a rock consisting of a fine-grained base (usually feldspathic) through which crystals, as of feldspar or quartz, are disseminated. There are red, purple, and green varieties, which are highly esteemed as marbles.
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
( Πορφύριος ), a celebrated heathen philosopher, the ablest expounder and defender of NeoPlatonism as taught by Plotinus (q.v.), and one of the most sagacious and learned antagonists of Christianity under the Roman empire, flourished in the second half of the 3d century.
Life. — Porphyry was born A.D. 233. Eunapius and Slitlas (following, no doubt, Porphyry himself, Vit. Plot. 8, 107) in their biographies call him a Tyrian; but both St. Jerome (Praef. Epist. ad Gul.) and St. Chrysostom (Homil. VI in I and Corinth. p. 58) term him Βατανεώτης , a word on the fancied correction of which a good deal of ingenuity has been unnecessarily expended; some imagining that it is a corruption of some term of reproach (such as Βοτανιώτης , Herb-Erter, Βιοθάνατος , or Βαλανεώτης ). The more reasonable view is that the word is correct enough, and describes more accurately the birthplace of Porphyry-Batanea, the Bashan of Scripture. To account for his being called a Tyrian some have supposed that he was originally of Jewish origin, and having first embraced, and afterwards renounced Christianity, called himself a Tyrian to conceal his real origin. Heumann, making a slight alteration in the text of Chrysostom, supposed that Porphyry falsely assumed the epithet Βατανεώτης , to induce the belief that he was of Jewish origin, so that his statements with regard to the Jewish Scriptures might have the more weight. None of these conjectures seems in any degree probable. The least improbable view is that of Jonsius, who is followed by Fabricius Brucker, and others, that there was a Tyrian settlement in the district of Batanea, and that Porphyry was born there, but, from the neighborhood of the more important place, called himself. and was called by others, a Tyrian (Brucker, list. Crit. Phil. 2, 240; Harless, Ad Fabricius Bibl. Gr. 5, 725).
The original name of Porphyry was Mafchus Μάλχος , the Greek form of the Syro-Phoenician Melek), a word, as he himself tells us, which signified King. His father bore the same name, and was a man of distinguished family (Porph. Vit. Plot. c. 16). Aurelius, in dedicating a work to him, styled him Βασιλεύς . The more euphonious name Πορφύριος (in allusion to the usual color of royal robes) was subsequently devised for him by his preceptor, Longinus (Eunapius, Porph. p. 13; Suidas, s.v.). Suidas states that he lived in the reign of Aurelian, and died in that of Diocletian. Eunapius says, more explicitly, that he lived in the reigns of Gallienus, Claudius, Tacitus, Aurelian, and Probus. Porphyry himself tells us that he was thirty years of age when he first became the pupil of Plotinus, which was in the tenth year of the reign of Gallienus (Vit. Plot. 4, 99); the date of his birth was, therefore, A.D. 233. Exhibiting in his earliest youth a thirst for knowledge, a quickness of mental perception, combined with indications of intellectual vigor, his father provided the very best instruction for him, especially in philosophy and literature. From Porphyry himself, as quoted by Eusebius (Ii. E 3, 19; comp. Proclus, in Tim. 1, p. 20), it appears that when very young he was placed under the instruction of Ori Genesis This could not have been, as some have imagined, at Alexandria, for about the time of the birth of Porphyry Origen quitted Alexandria, and did not return to it. It was most likely at Caesarea that Porphyry attended the instructions of Ori Genesis Eunapius has been charged with a gross blunder in making Origen the fellow-student of Porphyry; but it does not seen necessary to suppose that he meant the celebrated Chi ch father of that name. Porphyry next removed to Athens, and became the pupil of Apolloniuse (Porph. Quaest. Comm. 25), and of the much-celebrated Longinus, whose reputation for wisdom and skill in instruction brought him scholars from all parts of the then civilized world. Under his tuition he received that early molding which subsequently secured such vigor of thought and elegance of style, and the tutor was so much pleased with his scholar that he not only warmly commended him, but applied the name to him by which alone posterity has known him. At the age of twenty he went to Rome to study under Plotinus (q.v.), but as that philosopher was not then teaching, Porphyry returned to the care of his former preceptor. At the age of thirty he went again to Rome, this time in the company of Antonius of Rhodes, and he now studied philosophy with the great exponent of Neo-Platonism, and with Plotinus's oldest disciple, Amelius ( Vi. Plot. c. 4). Porphyry remained six years, and became thoroughly attached to his master-a man endowed with an extraordinary understanding and vigorous imagination, who as a teacher of the eclectic philosophy capalle of felicitously unfolding the sublime ideas of Plato had obtained a great reputation. Under such guidance the pupil, by nature well endowed for study, and led on by his zeal for distinction and acquirements, very soon came to be regarded as one of the chief ornaments of the school.
He wrote and disputed with great freedom and masterly ability. Thus, e.g., when, having some doubts respecting a dogma which Plotinus had inculcated, Porphyry hesitated not to call the philosopher's dicta in question, and wrote a treatise endeavoring to establish in reply Ὅτι Ἔξω Τοῦ Νοῦ Ὑφέστηκε Τὰ Νοητά , hoping to get a rejoinder, which Amelius wrote by request of Plotinus. Porphyry, still unsatisfied, again wrote, and was once more replied to by Amelius, who this time succeeded in pacifying the inquisitive pupil. Porphyr; now evinced his manliness by a public recantation of his erroneous criticisms. This generous action gained so thoroughly the approbation and confidence of Plotinus that he was admitted by him to terms of close intimacy, and frequently had assigned to him the task of refuting opponents, and was besides entrusted with the still more difficult and delicate duty of correcting and arranging the writings of Plotinus (Vii. Plot. 7, 107; 13, 115; 15, 117; 24, 139). So closely did Porphyry apply himself to these studies that his health became impaired, and, naturally of hypochondriacal disposition, a cloud, settling into confirmed melancholy was cast over his mind. While in this state he formed a resolution of putting an end to his life, hoping by this method, according to the Platonic teaching, to release the soul from the prison of the body. From this mad design, however, he was dissuaded by his master, who advised a voyage to Sicily. Complying with this advice, Porphyry recovered his bodily vigor and serenity of mind, and devoted himself to authorship. He then wrote, according to Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. 6, 19) and Jerome (Catal. Script. Illust.), his treatise against the Christian religion (see below, under Works), on which account St. Amugustine (Retract. 2, 31) styles him Siculure illum cujus celeberima fisma est. The notion that this work was written in Bithynia is quite without foundation, being merely derived from a passage of Lactantius (5, 2), referring to somebody whose name is not mentioned, and who wrote against the Christians and which was supposed by Baronius to refer to Porphyry. But the account does not suit him in any respect. It was very likely about this period that Porphyry took occasion to visit Carthage. That he also went to Athens after the death of Plotinus has been inferred (by Holstenius) from a passage quoted by Eusebius, where, as the text stands, Porphyry is made to speak of celebrating the birthday of Plotinus at Athens with Longinus. There can be little doubt, however, that the reading should be, as Brucker (1. c. p. 148) suggests, Πλατώνεια , and that the incident refers to the earlier part of the life of Porphyry, otherwise the allusion will not accord with the history either of Porphyry or Longilnus.
Of the remainder of the life of Porphyry we know very little. According to Eunapius he returned to Rome, where he taught, and gave frequent public exhibitions of his acquirements and talents as a speaker, and was held in high honor by the senate and people till he died. But his mind again lost its balance, f(r lie pretended to be not only a philosopher "endued with superior wisdom, but a divine person, favored with supernatural communications from heaven." He avers that in the sixty-eighth year of his age (lit. Plot. c. 23) he had a vision of the Supreme Intelligence, the (God superior to all gods, without an image-the result, as Augustine thought, of the agency of evil spirits, but more probably an entire fiction, employed to offset the supernatural elements of Christianity, or a mere phantasm of an overwrought brain. When probably at a somewhat advanced period of his life, he married Marcella, the widow of one of his friends, and the mother of seven children (Ad Mairc. 1), with the view, as he avowed, of superintending their education. About ten months after his marriage he had occasion to leave her and go on a journey; and to console her during his absence he wrote to her an epistle, which is still extant. The date of his death cannot be fixed with any exactness; it was probably about A.D. 305 or 306.
His Philosophy. — It appears from the testimony even of antagonists, and from what we have left of Porphyry's writings, that he was a man of great abilities and very extensive learning. Eusebius speaks of him as one Τῶν Μάλιστα Διαφανῶν Καὶ Πᾶσι Γνωρίμων , Κλέος Τε Οὐ Μικρὸν Φιλοσοφίας Παῤ ῞Ελλησιν Ἀπενηνεγμένον (Praep. Ev. 3, 9); and Augustine styles him "hominem non mediocri ingenio praeditulm" (De Civ. Dei, 10, 32; comp. 19, 22). The philosophical doctrines of Porphyry were in all essential respects the same as those of his master, Plotinus. To that system he was ardently attached, and proved himself one of its most energetic defenders. His writings were all designed directly or indirectly to illustrate, commend, or establish it. His rhetorical training, extensive learning, and comparative clearness of style, no doubt did good service in the cause of his school. Thus Eunapius (Vita Porph. p. 8, Boiss) ascribes to Porphyry as his principal merit that by his perspicuous and pleasing diction he brought within the range of the understanding of all men the doctrine of Plotinus, which in the language of its author had seemed difficult and obscure. Indeed, Porphyry lays himself less claim to originality than to the merit of an expositor and defender of the doctrine of Plotinus, which he regarded as identical with that of Plato, and substantially also with that of Aristotle. Porphyry is, nevertheless, charged with inconsistencies and contradictions; his later views being frequently at variance with his earlier ones (Eunapius, Vit. Porlph. fin.; Eusebius, Precept. Ev. 4, 10; Iambl. ap. Stobeuum, Eel. 1, 866).
The reason of this may probably be found in the vacillation of his views with respect to theurgy and philosophy — a vacillation which would doubtless attract the greater attention, as it was in opposition to the general tendencies of his age and school that he ranked philosophy higher than the theurgic superstitions which were connected with the popular polytheism. With the latter, some features of his doctrines had considerable affinity. He insisted strongly on the contrast between the corporeal and the incorporeal, and the power of the latter over the former. ‘ The influence of the incorporeal was, in his view, unrestricted by the limits of space, and independent of the accident of contiguity. When free from intermixture with matter, it is omnipresent, and its power unlimited. His doctrine with regard to daemons pointed in the same direction. Over both them and the souls of the dead power could be obtained by enchantments (l)e Abst. 2, 38, 39, 41, 43, 47). Yet these notions seem to have been taken up by him rather in deference to the prevalent opinion of his times than as forming an essential part of his philosophy. Though at first somewhat disposed to favor theurgy, he still ranked philosophy above it, considering, with Plotinus, that the true method of safety consisted in the purgation of the soul and the contemplation of the eternal Deity. The increasing value set upon theurmgy, and the endeavors to raise it above philosophy itself, probably produced something like a reaction in his mind, and strengthened the doubts which he entertained with regard to the popular superstition. These doubts he set forth in a letter to the Egyptian prophet Anebos, in a series of questions. The distrust there expressed respecting the popular notions of the gods, divinations, incantations, and other theturgic arts, may have been, as Ritter believes (Gesch. der Philosophie, 4:678), the modified opinion of his later years, provoked, perhaps, by the progress of that superstition to which at an earlier period he had been less opposed. The observation of Augustine is, doubtless, in the main correct: "Ut videas eum inter vitium sacrilege curiositatis et philosophise professionem fluctuasse, et nunc hanc artem tamquam fallacem, et in ipsa actione pericuilosam, et legibus prohibitam, cavendam monere, nunc autem velut ejus laudatoribus cedentem, utilem dicere esse mundanae parti animne, non quidem intellectuali qua rerum iutelligibilium percipiatur veritas, nullas habentium similitudines corporum, sed spirituali, qua rerum corporalium capiantur imagines." The letter to Anlebos called forth a reply, which is still extant, and known under the title Περὶ Μυστηρίων , and is the production probably of Iamblichus (q.v.).
So many are the variations of Porphyry in his philosophic views from those of Plotinus, that Porphyry must really be assigned to a class of his own rather than called an exponent of Plotinus. Not only did Porphyry popularize the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus, but he distinguished it by the more practical and religious character which he gave to the system. Understanding the power of the Christian religion, which was fast superseding the national creeds, he felt the necessity for antagonizing it. He therefore undertook to spiritualize the old creeds, and to harmonize them with philosophy by treating them as symbolic. He perceived the national craving for a theology (Farrar, p. 57) which rested oil some divine authority, or revelation from the world invisible (comp. Augustine's criticism on him in Civ. Dei, 10, c. 9, 11, 26, 28); and hence he drew such a system from the real or pretended answers of oracles in his Περὶ Τῆς Ἐκ Λογίων Φιλοσοφίας , of which fragments exist in Eusebius and Augustine (Fabricius, Mibl. Gr. 5, 744). Heathens, it would seem, had consulted oracles on this very subject of Christianity; and it is these, the genuineness of which may be doubted, that he uses.
The end of philosophizing, according to Porphyry, is the salvation of the soul ( Ἡ Τῆς Ψυχῆς Σωτηρία ). The cause of evil is to be found in the soul, in its desires after the low and base, and not in the body as such (Ad Alma. 29). The means of deliverance from evil are self-purification ( Κάθαρσις ) through asceticism and the philosophical cognition of God. To divination and theurgical initiations Porphyry conceded only a subordinate significance; in his later years, especially, he was instant in warning his followers against their misuse (see, in particular. his epistle to Anebos, the Egyptian priest). He acknowledged one absolute, supreme Deity, who is to be worshipped with pure words and thoughts (Ad Miarc. 18). He also, however, distinguished two classes of visible and invisible gods, the former being composed of body and soul, and consequently neither eternal nor immutable (De Abst. 2, 34, 36, 37-39). He also distinguished between good and evil daemons, and held that the latter ought to be appeased, but that it should be the object of the philosopher to free himself as much as possible from everything placed under the power of evil daemons. For that reason, among others, he rejected all animal sacrifices (De Abst. 2, 38, 39, 43).
The ascetic tendency of his philosophy, as connected with his exalted ideas of the power of reason, which is superior to nature and the influence of daemons, conduced to raise him above the superstitious tendencies of his age; the spirit of the philosopher being, in his view, superior to all impressions from without. The object of the philosopher should be to free himself as much as possible from all desires of or dependence on that which is external, such appetites being the most hateful tyrants, from which we should be glad to be set free, even with the loss of the whole body (Ad Marc. 34). We should, therefore, restrain our sensual desires as much as possible. It was mainly in this point of view that he rejected all enjoyment of animal food (see Bernays, Theosoph. Schr. Ü ber Friummigkeit, emit krit. u. erkl. Benerk. zu Porph. Schr. Ü ber Enthaltsainkeit. p. 4-38). Though bad genii have some power over us, yet through abstinence and the steady resistance of all disturbing influences we can pursue the good in spite of them. If we could abstain from vegetable as well as animal food, he thought we should become still more like the gods (De Abst. 3, 27). It is by means of reason only that we are exalted to the supreme God, to whom nothing material should be offered, for everything material is unclean (De Abst. 1, 39, 57; 2, 34; Ad Marc. 15). He distinguishes four degrees of virtues, the lowest being political virtue, the virtue of a good man who moderates his passions. Superior to this is putrefying virtue, which completely sets the soul free from affections. Its object is to make us resemble God, and by it we become demoniacal men or good daemons. In the higher grade, when entirely given up to knowledge and the soul, man becomes a god, till at last he lives only to reason, and so becomes the father of gods, one with the one Supreme Being (Sent. 34). Porphyry appears to have taught (in his six books Περὶ Ὕλης ‘ ) more distinctly than Plotinus the doctrine of the emanation of matter from the supersensuous, and proximately from the soul (Procl. In Tim. p. 109, 133,189). The doctrine that the world is without beginning in time was defended by Porphyry against the objections of Atticus and Plutarch (Procl. In Tim. p. 119).
His Attacks against Christianity. — Porphyry has especial interest for us, however, not so much as a philosopher of the New-Platonic school, great as he was as such, but as the constructor of a new philosophy, the aim of which was not merely speculation and the enchantment of reason, but its acceptance as a national creed, and its dethronement of Christianity. When made aware that his system could not of itself accomplish all that he desired, he left the apologetic domain, and became the most determined of heathen polemics the world ever beheld or Christianity ever encountered. Lucian and Celsus, a hundred years earlier, had vainly striven to stay the rising fortunes of the Gospel. He now came forward to attempt the death- grapple, and it must be confessed that he made a most vigorous effort to retrieve a sinking cause, to turn back the tide of new ideas, and to reinstate in the minds of the people of the Roman empire the principles of an effete religious system, of a waning and insufficient philosophy.
As already indicated above, Porphyry was a man of remarkable powers of mind and of high culture, of a caliber altogether above that of Lucian and Celsus. Lucian, though endowed with keen wit, was a careless jester, and Celsus, in his attacks on the Gospel, often reminds us of the vulgar gibes and ribald remarks of Thomas Paine; but nothing of this is found in Porphyry. Speaking in the name of philosophy, he assumes a dignity, an elevation of' tone, an apparent candor in the treatment of his subject, akin to that of the judge, who is supposed impartially to survey the whole field of evidence, and to give weight to no doubtful statements, to no specious arguments. Undoubtedly honest in his convictions and in his attachment to the philosophy of his master, he brought the resources of a great, a cultured mind to bear against the more vulnerable points of the Christian system, testing it by weapons of the highest temper. Porphyry certainly enjoyed a vantage-ground in the school of philosophy to which he belonged. Platonism, as already suggested, approximated more nearly than any of the other philosophic systems of antiquity to the elevated teachings of the Gospel. But during the past century or two, while Christianity had been spreading through the Roman world this philosophy, under the teachings of Plotinus, had been drawing nearer to the doctrines of the New Testament, insomuch that to a casual observer the two streams of thought and speculation seemed likely to unite and flow on in a single channel. Like Christianity, Platonism opened a spiritual world superior to that of sense, and revealed a Supreme Being, if not absolutely free, yet capable of giving shape to the visible as the architect of the universe. It awakened also in man the consciousness of the supernatural, the divine, so that man was attracted towards the supreme spiritual existence, was permitted to have cognition of fellowship with it; not absorbed on the one hand in the depths of the infinite spirit, nor sunk on the other into the material. The one radical point of separation between the philosophy of the schools and that of the Church seemed to be the views of matter entertained by the former- that it was eternal, and the seat of evil in opposition to God. But even this view was softened as the system came in contact with the Gospel. Plotinus held that the evil principle is only apparent, and that only the good has a substantial and permanent existence. The opposers concluded that as the teachings of Christianity could not be entirely ignored or disproved, the philosophical system must be brought upon the same platform as a rival of the Gospel.
All former attacks against Christianity had proved futile because the Gospel could claim supernatural origin, and demonstrate its claims by the response which its teachings found in the depths of the human soul. Instead, therefore, of denying the grand ethical and religious principles of the evangelical scheme, Porphyry sought supernatural surroundings for his own system, and then moved in bold attack against the supernatural in Christianity, seeking to disprove, not the substance of the Gospel teachings, but the records in which that substance is delivered-an attack so general in our day among the disbelievers of the supernatural claims of Christianity. (See Rationalism).
Porphyry's course was in all respects a novel one. Indeed, it was the reverse of that pursued by all other opponents of the new religion who had preceded him. By them the facts, the records of the Gospel were acknowledged, but the facts were held to be wrong, and to have been produced by an unauthorized agency, to have been the work of magic or charms; now the lapse of a hundred years has convinced the enemy that the method of attack affording any hope of success is the direct one against the authority, the inspiration of the documents of the Gospel. If by the trenchant knife of criticism these supports could be cut away, the system would be left to sink down upon a level with philosophy, with all merely human systems of speculation.
Of the nature and merits of the work by Porphyry against Christianity it is not easy to judge, as it has not come down to us. He is reputed to have written it about the year 270, while in retirement in Sicily. It was entitled Κατὰ Χριστιανῶν . In A.D. 435 all the copies extant were burned by order of the emperor, and its contents are only preserved to us in part by the lengthy extracts made of it in the numerous refutations which were published by the Christian apologists of the early Church.
The entire work consisted of fifteen books, but only concerning five of these is information thus afforded. From these we learn that the first book of his work dragged to light some of the discrepancies, real or supposed, in Scripture. The examination of the dispute between Peter and Paul was quoted as an instance of the admixture of human ingredients in the body of apostolic teaching. His third book was directed to the subject of Scripture interpretation, especially, with some inconsistency, against the allegorical or mystical tendency which at that time marked the whole Church, and especially the Alexandrian fathers. The allegorical method coincided with, if it did not arise from, the Oriental instinct of symbolism, the natural poetry of the human mind. But in the minds of Jews and Christians it had been sanctified by its use in the Hebrew religion, and had become associated with the apocryphal literature of the Jewish Church. It is traceable to a more limited extent in the inspired writers of the New Testament, and in most of the fathers; but in the school of Alexandria it was adopted as a formal system of interpretation. It is this allegorical system which Porphyry attacked he assaulted the writings of those who had fancifully allegorized the Old Testament in the pious desire of finding Christianity in every part of it, in spite of historic conditions; and he hastily drew the inference, with something like the feeling of doubt which rash interpretations of prophecy are in danger of producing at this day, that no consistent sense can be put upon the Old Testament.
His fourth book was a criticism on the Mosaic history, and on Jewish antiquities. But the most important books in his work were the twelfth and thirteenth, which were devoted to an examination of the prophecies of Daniel; and in these he detected some of those peculiarities on which modern criticism has employed itself, and arrived at the conclusions in reference to their date revived by the English deist Collins in the last century, and by many German critics in the present. It is well known that half of the book of Daniel is historic, half prophetic. Each of these parts is distinguished from similar portions of the Old Testament by some peculiarities. Porphyry is not recorded as noticing any of those which belong to the historic part, unless we may conjecture, from his theory of the book being originally written in Greek, that he detected the presence of those Greek words in Nebuchadnezzar's edicts which many modern critics have contended could not be introduced into Chaldiea antecedently to the Macedontian conquest. The peculiarity alleged to belong to the prophetical part is its apocalyptic tone. It looks, it has been said, historical rather than prophetical. Definite events, and these in a distinct chain, are predicted with the precision of historical narrative; whereas most prophecy is a moral sermon, in which general moral predictions are given, with specific historic ones interspersed. Nor is this, which is shared in a less degree by occasional prophecies elsewhere, the only peculiarity alleged, but it is affirmed also that the definite character ceases at a particular period of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, down to which the very campaigns of the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties are noted, but subsequently to which the prophetic tone becomes more vague and indefinite.
Hence the conjecture has been hazarded that it was written in the reign of Antiochus by a Palestinian Jew, who gathered in the traditions of Daniel's life and wrote the recent history of his country in eloquent language in an apocalyptic form, which, after the literary fashion of his age, he imputed to an ancient seer, Daniel; definite up to the period at which he composed it indefinite as he gazed on the future. It was this peculiarity, the supposed ceasing of the prophecies in the book of Daniel at a definite date, which was noticed by Porphyry, and led him to suggest the theory of its authorship just named. He seems also to have entered into some examination of the specific prophecies, for he objects to the application of the words "the abomination of desolation" to other objects than that which he considers its original meaning (see Jerome on Matthew 24:15). These remarks will give an idea of the critical acuteness of Porphyry. A few other traces of Porphyry's views remain, which are of less importance, and are leveled against parts of the New Testament: e.g. the change of purpose in our blessed Lord (John 7), [Jerome, vol. 4, pt. 2, p. 521 (Dial. adv. Pelage.); Ep. (101) ad Pammach. Several are given in Holsten. (Vit. Porphyr. p. 861, the reasons why the Old Economy was abrogated if divine [Agulsst. Epist. (102, olim 49, Beledict. ed. 1689), 2, 274, where six questions are named, some of which come from Porphyry]; the question what became of the generations which lived before Christianity was proclaimed, if Christianity was the only way of salvation; objections to the severity of Peter in the death of Ananias; and the inscrutable mystery of an infinite punishment in requital for finite sin (August. Retract. bk. 2, c. 31, vol. 1, p. 53, concerning Matthew 7:2). His objections are not it will be observed, founded on quibbles like those of Celsus, but on instructive literary characteristics, many of which are greatly exaggerated or grossly misinterpreted, but still are real, and suggest difficulties or inquiries which the best modern theological critics have honorably felt to demand candid examination and explanation.
It was by no means an easy matter to reply to such a critique as Porphyry adopted, and it may be said that lie never was answered as he should have been. The reply which Origen made to Celsus set aside all the objections of the heathen disputant, but the thirty separate replies to Porphyry, among which the best are those by Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinarius, very insufficiently solve the intricate and deep problems proposed by the most successful exponent of Neo-Platonism. That he made a profound impression on the Church is seen in the fact that to all Christians his name became hateful, odious, the synonym for all that is vile and dangerous in unbelief, like that of Turk or Moslem or Papist in later ages. When Constantine wished to blacken the reputation of the Arians. he only had to attach to them the epithet of Porphyrian. That name carried in it a Satanic import, a heavy curse, able to sink to irretrievable infamy any individual or sect who bore it. A great deal of discussion has taken place respecting the assertion of Socrates (If. E. 3, 23), that in his earlier years Porphyry was a Christian, and that, having been treated with indignity by the Christians, he apostatized, and revenged himself by writing against them. The authority is so slight, and the improbability of the story so great (for it does not appear that any of his antagonists charged him with apostasy, unless it was Eusebius), while it may so easily have arisen from the fact that in his early youth Porphyry was instructed by Origen, that it may confidently be rejected. An able summary of the arguments on both sides is given by Brucker (2, 251, etc.). A doubt has been raised as to the identity of the assailant of Christianity with the Neo-Platonic philosopher, but it is totally without foundation.
Other Works. Of the very numerous writings of Porphyry the following are extant:
1. Πυθαγόρου Βίος ; supposed by many to be a fragment of his larger history of philosophers.
2. Περὶ Πλωτίνου Βίου Καὶ Τῆς Τάξεως Τῶν Βιβλίων Αὐτοῦ . (See Plotints).
3. Περὶ Ἀποχῆς Τῶν Ἐμψύχων , in four books, dedicated to his friend and fellow-disciple Firmus Castricius.
4. Fragments of his epistle Πρὸς Ἀνεβῶ Τὸν Αἰγύπτιον . Large quotations from this work are made by Eusebius in his Praepartatio Evangelica.
5. Πρὸς Τὰ Νοητὰ Ἀφορμαὶ 1.
6. ῾Ομηρικὰ Ζητήματα , addressed to Anatolius.
7. Περὶ Τοῦ Ἐν Ο᾿Δυσσείᾷ Τῶν Νυμφῶν Ἄντρου , a fanciful allegorical interpretation of the description of the cave of the nymphs in the Odyssey, showing both the ingenuity and the recklessness with which Porphyry and other writers of his stamp pressed writers and authorities of all kinds into their service, as holders of the doctrines of their school.
8. A fragment from a treatise Περὶ Στυγός , preserved by Stobmeus.
9. Εἰσαγωγή , or Περὶ Τῶν Πέντε Φωνῶν , addressed to Chrysaorius, and written by Porphyry while in Sicily. It is commonly prefixed to the Organon of Aristotle.
10. A commentary on the Categories of Aristotle, in questions and answers.
11. Some fragments of a commentary on Aristotle's books Περὶ Φυσικῆς Ἀκροάσεως .
12. A commentary on the Harmonica of Ptolemmcus, leaving off at the seventh chapter of the second book.
13. Περὶ Προσῳδιας (see Villoison, Alnead. Graeca, 2, 103-118).
14. Scholia on the Iliad, preserved at Leyden among the books and papers of Is. Vossius. A portion of them was published by Valckenaer, in an appendix to Ursinlls's Irin, with a copious account of the scholia generally. Other scholia on the Iliad, preserved in the Vatican library, were published by Villoison (Anaed. Graeca, 2, 266, etc.), and in his edition of the Iliad.
15. Portions of a commentary, apparently on the Ethics of Aristotle, and of one on the Organon.
16. Two books on the philosophy of Plato were affirmed to be extant by Gesner.
17. All epistle to his wife Marcella. This piece was discovered by Anigelo Mai in the Ambrosian library, and published at Milan in 1816. The letter is not quite complete, as the end of the MS. is mutilated. The contents of it are of a general philosophical character, designed to incite to the practice of virtue and self-restraint and the study of philosophy. The sentiments are a little obscure here and there, but many of the maxims and remarks exhibit great wisdom, and a considerable depth of very pure religious feeling. Porphyry considers sorrow to be a more wholesome discipline for the mind than pleasures (c. 7). With great energy and some eloquence he urges the cultivation of the soul and the practice of virtue, ill preference to attention to the body. His views of the Deity, of his operations, and the right mode of contemplating and worshipping him, are of a very exalted kind, some reminding the reader strongly of passages in the Scriptures. The laws under which man is placed he distinguishes into natural, civil, and divine, and marks out their respective provinces with considerable beauty and clearness.
18. A poetical fragment, from the tenth book of a work entitled Περὶ Τῆς Ἐκ Λογίων Φιλοσοφίας , is published at the end of the preceding work.
19. An introduction to the Tetirabiblos of Ptoleminus is also attributed by some to Porphyry, by others to Antiochus. The Ἐπίτομος Διήγησις Εἰς Τὰς Καθ᾿ ῾Ομήρου Πλάνας Τοῦ Ο᾿Δυσσέως , the production of Nicephorus Gregoras, has also been attributed by some to Porphyry. Besides these we have mention of the following lost works of Porphyry:
20. Περὶ Ἀγαλμάτων (Euseb. Precept. Ev. 3, 7; Stob. Ecl. Phys. 1, 25).
21. Περὶ Ἀνόδου Ψυχῆς (August. De Civ. Dei, 10: 910, etc.).
22. Περὶ Τοῦ Μίαν Ειναι Τὴν Πλάτωνος Καὶ Ἀριστοτέλους Αίρεσιν (Suidas, s.v. Πορφ ).
23. A commentary on Aristotle's treatise Περὶ Ἑρμηνείας (Boethius, ad loc. 2).
24. Πρὸς Ἀριστοτέλην , Περὶ Τοῦ Ειναι Τὴν Ψυχὴν Ἐντελέχειαν (Suidas).
25. Ε᾿Ξήγησις Τῶν Κατηγοριῶν , dedicated to Gedalius (Eustath. Ad 11. 3, 293).
26. Περὶ Ἀρχῶν (Suidas).
27. Περὶ Ἀσωμάτων (ibid.).
28. Περὶ Τοῦ Γνῶθι Σεαυτόν (ibid.).
29. Γραμματικαὶ Ἀπορίαι (ibid.).
30. A reply to the Apology for Alcibiades in the Symposium of Plato, by Diophanes (Porph. Vit. Plot. 15).
31. Ε᾿Πιγράμματα (Eustath.).
32. Περὶ Τοῦ Ἐφ᾿ Ἡμῖν , dedicated to Chrysaorius (Stob. Ecl.).
33. A treatise against a spurious work attributed to Zoroaster (Porph. Vif. Plot. 16).
34. Περὶ Θείων Ὀνομάτων (Suidas).
35. Εἰς Τὸ Θεοφράστου Περὶ Καταφάσεως Καὶ Ἀποφάσεως (Boethius in Arist. De Interpr.).
36. Εἰς Τὸ Θουκυδιδου Πεοοίμιον , Πρὸς Ἀριστείδην (Suidas).
37. Περὶ Ἰδεῶν , Πρὸς Λογγῖνον (Porph. Vit. Plot. 20).
38. ῾Ο Ἱερὸς Γάμος , a poem composed for the birthday of Plato (ibid. 15).
39. Εἰς Τὴν Τοῦ Ι᾿Ουλιανοῦ Χαλδαίου Φιλοσόφου Ἱστορίαν (Suidas).
40. Εἰς Τὴν Μινουκιανοῦ Τέχνην (ibid.).
41. ῾Ο Πρὸς Νημέρτιον Λόγος (Cyrill. C. Julian. 3, 79, etc.). It appears to have been a treatise on the providence of God.
42. ῞Οτι Ἔξω Τοῦ Ὑφέστηκε Τὸ Νόημα (Porph. Vif. Plot. 18).
43. Περὶ Τῆς ῾Ομήρου Φιλοσοφίας (Suidas).
44. Περὶ Τῆς Ἐξ ῾Ομήρου Ὠφελείας Τῶν Βασιλέων , in ten books (ibid.).
45. Περὶ Παραλελειμμένων Τῷ Ποιητῇ Ὀνομάτων . This and the two preceding were probably only parts of a larger work.
46. Περὶ Τῶν Κατὰ Πίνδαρον Τοῦ Νείλου Πηγῶν (ibid.).
47. Commentaries on several of the works of Plotinus (Eiunap. Vit. Porph.).
48. Εἰς Τὸν Σοφίστην Τοῦ Πλάτωνος (Boethius, De Divis. Proef.).
49. Σύμμικτα Ζητήματα , in seven books (Suidas).
50. Τὰ Εἰς Τὸν Τίμαιον Ὑπομνήματα , a commentary on the Timceus of Plato (Macrob. In Somn. Scip. 2, 3; Proclus, In Timaeum).
51. Περὶ Ὕλης , in six books (Suidas).
52. Φιλόλογος Ἱστορία , in five books (ibid.; Euseb. Precept. Ev. 10: 3, who quotes a passage of some length from the first book).
53. Φιλόσοφος Ἱστορία , in four books, a work on thle lives and doctrines of philosophers (Socrates, 11. E. 3, 23; Eunap. Pr. p. 10).
54. Περὶ Ψυχῆς , in five books (Suidas; Euseb. Prcap. Ev. 14: 10). 55. Περὶ Τῶν Ψυχῆς Δυνάμεων (Stob. Eclog.).
See Eusebius, Dem. Evang. 3, 6; Fabricius, Bibl. Grec. 5, 725, etc.; Holstenius, De Vita et Scriptis Porphyrii; Ritter, Gesch. d. Philos. 4, 666 sq.; Larldner, Credibility of the Gosp. Hist. pt. 2. ch. 37; Jortin, Remarks, 2, 389; Schaff, Ch. Hist. 1, 190 sq.; Neander, Ch. Hist. 1, 170 sq.; Ullman, in Stud. u. Krit. 1854; Neander, Domanzas, 1, 85, 202; 2, 467; Donaldson, Greek Lit. ch. 53; Lecks, Hist. of European Morals, 1, 344 sq.; Degerando, Hist. de la Philos. 3, 383 sq.; Valerien Parisot. Dissertatio historica de Porphyrio (1845); Ueberweg, History of Philosophy, 1, 251 sq.; Mosheim, History of the First Three Centuries, 2, 103 sq.; Theological Quarterly, 1865, 1, 59; Revue des Deux Mondles, May 15, 1866, 1. 435; Farrar, Critical History of Free Thought, p. 56 sq.; Journal Of Speculatiae Philosophy, vol. 3, No. 1, art. 3; Fisher, The Beginnings (f Christianity (N. Y. 1877, 8vo), p. 178 sq.; Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
pôr´fi - ri (in Esther 1:6 , the Revised Version margin has "porphyry" (the King James Version margin "porphyre") for בּהט , bahaṭ , English Versions of the Bible "red (marble)"; the Septuagint has σμαραγδίτης , smaragdı́tēs , which was a green stone): Porphyry is an igneous rock containing distinct crystals of feldspar in a feldspathic matrix. It may be purple or of other colors, as green. "Porphyry" is from πορφύρεος , porphúreos , "purple."
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
A Neo-Platonic philosopher of Alexandria, born at Tyre; resorted to Rome and became a disciple of Plotinus ( q. v .), whose works he edited; he wrote a work against Christianity, known only from the replies (233-305).