Ammonius, Saccas

, surnamed Saccas, one of the most celebrated philosophers of his age, was born in Alexandria, and flourished about the beginning of the third century. His history and his opinions have been the subject of much dispute among modern writers, to some of whom we shall refer at the close of this article, after stating what appears to be the probable account. In the third century, Alexandria was the most renowned seminary of learning. A set of philosophers appeared there who called themselves Eclectics, because, without tying themselves down to any one set of rules, they chose what they thought most agreeable to truth from different masters and sects. Their pretensions were specious, and they preserved the appearance of candour, moderation, and dispassionate inquiry, in words and declarations, as their successors, the modern free-thinkers, have since done. Ammonius Saccas seems to have reduced the opinions of these Eclectics to a system. Plato was his principal guide; but he invented many | things of which Plato never dreamed. What his religious profession was, is disputed among the learned. Undoubtedly he was educated a Christian; and although Porphyry, in his enmity against Christianity, observes that he forsook the Gospel, and returned to Gentilism, yet the testimony of Eusebius, who must have known the fact, proves that he continued a Christian all his days. His tracts on the agreement of Moses and Jesus, and his harmony of the four gospels, demonstrate that he desired to be considered as a Christian. His opinion, however, was, that all religions, vulgar and philosophical, Grecian and barbarous, Jewish and Gentile, meant the same thing at bottom. He undertook, by allegorizing and subtilizing various fables and systems, to make up a coalition of all sects and religions; and from his labours, continued by his disciples, some of whose works still remain, his followers were taught to look on Jew, philosopher, vulgar Pagan, and Christian, as all of the same creed. Longinus and Plotinus appear to have been the disciples of Ammonius, who is supposed to have died about the year 243. His history and principles are discussed by Dr. Lardner, in his Credibility, and by Mosheim in his history, the translator of which differs from Dr. Lardner in toto, and has been in this respect followed by Milner in his Church History recently published. 1

1 Lanlner’s Works. Mosheim and Milner’s Church Histories. Cave, vol. I. Gen. Dict. —Saxii Onomasticon.