Nigidius Figulus, Publius

, one of the most learned authors of ancient Rome after Varro, flourished in the time of Cicero, was his fellow-student in philosophy and the counsellor with whom he advised in affairs of state; and, being praetor and senator, he assisted the orator in defeating the conspiracy of Catiline, and did him many services in the time of his adversity. Cicero acknowledged, that it was in concert with Nigidius, that he took those important measures which saved the commonwealth under his consulship: and, when Cicero went to his government of Cilicia, Nigidius, who was returning to Rome, after having exercised a public employment in Greece, waited for him at Ephesus; where these two friends had long philosophical conferences with Cratippus the Peripatetic. Nigidius was a professed advocate for the doctrine of Pythagoras. Cicero speaks of him as an accurate and penetrating inquirer into nature, and ascribes to him the revival of that philosophy, which formerly, for several ages, flourished in the Pythagorean schools, both in Italy and Sicily. He was a considerable proficient in mathematical and astronomical learning, and, after the example of his master, applied his knowledge of nature to the purposes of imposture. In civil affairs, he attached himself to the party of Pompey; and, upon Caesar’s accession to the supreme power, he was banished from Rome. After his time, the Pythagorean doctrine was much neglected; few persons being then able to decypher, with accuracy, the obscure dogmas of this mysterious sect. Of the impostures practised by Nigidius, there are some anecdotes told, but scarcely worth repeating. It has been thought, that these deceptions were the cause of his banishment; but this appears not to have been the case, nor did he dare to return to Rome after Julius Caesar had possessed himself of that city. He died 45 B. C. His works were entitled, “De Augurio private,” “De Animalibus,” “De Extis,” “De Vento;” and “De Diis.” He also wrote “Commentaries upon Grammar.” Fragments of these only remain, which were collected and published by James Rutgersius, who has also inserted among them the Greek translation of | A Treatise of Nigidius," by John Laurentius of Philadelphia. 1


Vossius de Scient. Math.—Fabric. Bibl. Lat.—Brucker.—Essay on his Life by Burigny, in Hist. Act. Reg. Inscript. vol. XXIX.