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Peregrinus Proteus

PEREGRINUS PROTEUS (2nd cent. A.D.), Cynic philosopher, of Parium in Mysia. At an early age he was suspected of parricide, and was obliged to leave his native place. During his wanderings he reached Palestine, where he ingratiated himself with the Christian community, and became its virtual head. His fanatical zeal and craving for notoriety led to his imprisonment, but the governor of Syria let him go free, to prevent his posing as a martyr. He then returned to Parium to claim his paternal inheritance, but finding that the circumstances of his father's death were ndt yet forgotten, he publicly surrendered all claims to the property in favour of the municipality. He resumed his wandering life, at first assisted by the Christians, but having been detected profaning the rites of the Church, he was excommunicated. During a visit to Egypt he made the acquaintance of the famous Cynic Agathobulus and joined the sect. Meeting with little encouragement, he made his way to Rome, whence he was expelled for insulting the emperor Antoninus Pius. Crossing to Greece, he finally took up his abode at Athens. Here he devoted himself to the study and teaching of philosophy, and obtained a considerable number of pupils, amongst them Aulus Gellius, who speaks of him in very favourable terms. But, having given offence by his attacks on Herodes Atticus and finding his popularity diminishing, he determined to create a sensation. He announced his intention of immolating himself on a funeral pyre at the celebration of the Olympian games in 165, and actually carried it out. Lucian, who was present, has given a full description of the event.

C. M. Wieland's Geheime Geschichte des Philosophen Peregrinus Proteus (Eng. trans., 1796) is an attempt to rehabilitate his character. See also Lucian, De morte Peregrini; Aulus Gellius xii. II; Ammianus Marcellinus xxix. ; Philostratus, Vit. Soph. ii. I, 33; J. Bernays, Lucian und die Kyniker (1875) ; E. Zeller, " Alexander und Peregrinus," in his Vortrdge und Abhandlungen, ii. (1877).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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