Ocellus, Lucanus

, surnamed Lucanus, as being a native of Lucania, was a philosopher of the Pythagorean school, and lived about the time or soon after Pythagoras first opened his school in Italy, 500 B. C. He wrote a book “On the Universe,” which is still extant, and from which Aristotle seems to have borrowed freely in his treatise on generation and corruption. It is not, indeed, written after the usual manner of the Pythagoreans, in the Doric dialect; but probably it has undergone a change, and, at the period when the writings of the Pythagoreans became obscure on account of the dialect in which they were written, was converted, by the industry of some learned grammarian, from the Doric to the Attic dialect. That it was originally written in the Doric, appears from several fragments preserved by Stobaeus. Little attention, therefore, Brucker thinks is due to the opinion, that this book was compiled from the writings of Aristotle, and is to be considered only as an epitome of the Peripatetic doctrine concerning nature. Whatever Aristotelian appearance the treatise in its present form may bear, is to be ascribed to the pains taken by transcribers to elucidate the work. If its doctrine be carefully compared with what has been advanced concerning the Pythagorean system, there will be little room left to doubt that it was written by a disciple of Pythagoras. The fundamental dogmas of Ocellus perfectly agree with those of the Italic school. His subtle speculations concerning the changes of the elements are consonant to the manner of the Pythagoreans, after they exchanged the obscure method of philosophising by numbers into a less disguised explanation of the causes of natural phenomena. As this book passed out of the hands of Archytas into those of Plato, it is evident that it was in being before the time of Aristotle; and it becomes probable that the Stagyrite, after his usual manner, borrowed many things from Ocellus, but in a sense very different from that of their first author. This remnant of philosophical antiquity is therefore to be received as a curious specimen of the Pythagorean doctrine, mixed, however, with some tenets peculiar to the author. | Ocellus’s work was first printed in 1539, and editions have since been given by Commelin, Visanius, Gale, the abbe Batteux, and the marquis D’Argens. Of these, the best is that by Gale in his “Opuscula,” with the Latin translation of Nogarola. 1


Fabric. Bibl, Grsec. Blount’s Censura. Brucker.