Syrianos ( † about 437 in Athens ) was a late ancient Greek philosopher ( Neoplatonist ) and head of the Neoplatonic school of philosophy in Athens.


Little is known of the life of Syrianos. He was the son of an otherwise unknown Philoxenos and came from Alexandria. Well there he laid the foundations of his education. Then he went to Athens to study at the city's neo-Platonic school of philosophy in Plutarch. Plutarch the founder of this school, which renewed the tradition of the Platonic Academy, and its first director was ( Scholarch ). When he largely withdrew because of his advanced age of the teaching, Syrianos took over the classroom. Finally Syrianos was around 432 according to Plutarch's death Scholarch.

Syrianos lived in Athens the house, which was also the location of the school. In class, he treated only all treatises ( Prague Matien ) for the purpose of Aristotle Introduction to Philosophical work and then turned to the preparation of Plato's dialogues to. In addition, he pulled up Orphic literature and the popular in Neo-Platonic circles Chaldean oracles. In addition, he also taught rhetoric. His most prominent students and a close friend was Proclus, who became his successor as Scholarch. Another student was Domninos of Larisa, who wrote an introduction to the arithmetic. Syrianos died around 437


From the writings of Syrianos little has been preserved: Comments on two papers of the rhetorician Hermogenes of Tarsus and may be incomplete recorded comment about (at least) four books of the Metaphysics of Aristotle, as well as fragments from other works. Syrianos not commented on the whole metaphysics, but only certain of the Neo-Platonic view important parts. From his treatment of Plato's dialogue Phaedrus of based his teaching Phaedrus Commentary his pupil Hermias ( Hermia ) of Alexandria gives an impression.

Lost are a number of other works, including a homer commentary in seven books, writings about the gods in Homer and Orphic theology, a statement of compliance of Orpheus, Pythagoras and Plato with regard to the oracle in ten books, a commentary on Plato's Republic in four books, and any comments on works of Plato and Aristotle. Bear witness is also a hymn to Achilles.


Syrianos was heavily influenced by the Neo-Platonist Iamblichus, but also occasionally more of its teachings from. He shared the widespread conviction in the Neoplatonists Iamblichus that Plato's philosophy completely with that of Pythagoras agree and contained the pure truth. The thus summed Platonism is according to this interpretation, even with the teachings of Homer, Parmenides, Empedocles, Socrates and the early Neoplatonists entirely consistent. Aristotle, however, is accused of being waived in certain questions of the truthful view of this tradition. Therefore Syrianos tried in his commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, to refute the criticism of the Pythagorean- Platonic metaphysics. He particularly wanted to prevent philosophy student turned away from Platonism. In his Phaedrus - commentary, he stressed that Socrates was an ambassador from a divine world, who wanted to redeem the souls of men hang down.

Following the example of Iamblichus Syrianos divided the man accessible reality hierarchically into three main levels: the intuitively comprehensible world of Nous at the top, including the area of ​​intellectual activity, of discursive thought, and at the bottom the world of sense-objects and their perception -based error- prone opinions. Which hang down from the level of Nous, wandering in the world of transience souls are capable, with the help of independently existing mathematical objects, to which all men are by nature potentially have access to understand the physical world and to lead scientific evidence because the from the demiurge brought forth the cosmos according to mathematical principles was constructed. Syrianos argues: Had the universal principles and in particular the mathematical statements - as Aristotle said - from the perception of sense objects derived by abstraction, so they would not have the status of primary and secured facts. However, such a rank set their use in scientific reasoning forward (especially after Aristotle's own understanding of science ); science lead physical phenomena back to the universal principles underlying them.

Higher than the intellect of mathematicians is the intuitive perception of metaphysical realities for Syrianos. The figures he distinguishes between the ordinary, physical world formative, composed of units and therefore numbers added together ( monadikoí arithmoí ) and the intuitively perceptible numbers the world of ideas ( eidētikoí arithmoí ). The latter represent the unchanging nature of duality, trinity, etc. and therefore does not consist of units, by the addition or subtraction, they could be changed. The real, separate existence of these numbers Syrianos defends against Aristotle. He sees in them creative principles, acting forces, whose images and effects, the usual figures were, with those expected mathematicians.

In the doctrine of the soul Syrianos argued that in each of the endless consecutive World periods every human soul would sink down at least once in the physical world. Like the other late Neoplatonists, he rejected the view of Plotinus, that human souls in the course of the transmigration of souls can enter the bodies of animals; this he held because of a fundamental opposition between the reason and the reason lots gifted impossible.


Stark was the influence of the Syrianos on his pupil Proclus, who himself on what he owed the teacher pointed. The later Neoplatonists in Athens Syrianos considered as an authority; He was given the nickname "the Great" at them. With only indirectly traditional Phaedrus commenting sat in the Renaissance humanist Marsilio Ficino apart.

Text output (partial translation)

  • Wilhelm Kroll (Ed.): Syriani in metaphysica Commentaria ( = Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca vol 6.1). Berlin 1902
  • Hugo Rabe (ed.): Syriani in Hermogenem Commentaria. 2 volumes, Leipzig, 1892-1893 ( Volume 1 and Volume 2 online )
  • Paul Couvreur (ed.): Hermiae Alexandrini in Platonis Phaedrum scholia. Hildesheim, 1971 ( reprint of Paris 1901)
  • Pink Loredana Cardullo (ed.): Siriano, esegeta di Aristotele. Vol 1: Frammenti e Testimonianze dei commentari all'Organon. Firenze 1995, ISBN 88-221-1665-8; Vol 2: Frammenti e Testimonianze del Commentario alla fisica. Catania 2000 ( Greek text, Italian translation and commentary )
  • Sarah Klitenic Wear ( ed.): The Teachings of Plato's Timaeus and Syrianus on Parmenides. Brill, Leiden / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-90-04-19290-4 ( the fragments of Syrianos ' commentaries on Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Parmenides; critical edition with English translation and commentary )


  • John Dillon, Dominic O'Meara ( translator's ): Syrianus: On Aristotle, Metaphysics 13-14. London 2006, ISBN 0-7156-3574-3.
  • Hildegund Bernard ( translator's ): Hermias of Alexandria: Comment on Plato's " Phaedrus ". Tübingen 1997, ISBN 3-16-146803-1.