On Plato's "Cratylus"
Translated by Brian Duvick
Proclus' commentary on Plato's Cratylus is the only ancient commentary on this work to have come down to us, and is illuminating in two special ways. First, it is actually the work of two Neoplatonists. The majority of the material is supplied by the Athenian-based Proclus (c. 411-485 AD), who is well known for his magisterial commentaries on Plato's Timaeus and Parmenides, as well as for a host of other works involving the study of Plato. This material we have consists of excerpts from Proclus' commentary edited by another figure who appears to be a Platonist working somewhat later in Alexandria. Consequently it contains insights into the philosophy of both of the principal late antique centers of Platonism, Athens and Alexandria. Secondly, the material is divided between the grittier issues of language-theory, on which it engages freely with other ancient philosophies, and theological discussion mostly involved with the etymologies of the names of Greek gods, in which Proclus is more concerned to relate his own brand of Platonism to the 'Orphic' and 'Chaldaean' theological systems, and also to Homer. Brian Duvick's extensive notes bring out all these facets of the ancient text.
The universe is, as it were, one machine, wherein the celestial spheres are analogous to the interlocking wheels and the particular beings are like the things moved by the wheels and all events are determined by an inescapable necessity. To speak of...