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Porphyry, Letter to his wife Marcella.  London: George Redway (1896) Preface to the online edition

The ΠΟΡΦΥΡΙΟΥ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΟΥ ΠΡΟΣ ΜΑΡΚΕΛΛΑΝ (Porphyry the Philosopher To Marcella) was unknown until a text under that title was discovered in the Ambrosian library in Milan by Cardinal Angelo Mai.  The only manuscript known is Codex Ambrosianus Q. 13 sup., and the text is on folios 214v-222r.  The manuscript was written around 1500 AD, and contains gaps and a fragmentary ending which probably also existed in the manuscript from which it was copied.  The text is divided in modern editions into 35 chapters.

After discovering the text, Cardinal Mai published the text promptly in 1816.  An edition with further emendations by J. C. von Orelli appeared in 1819, while Mai produced a revised edition in 1831 with a Latin translation.   A new edition appeared by Augustus Nauck in 1860, with a second edition in 1886.  This was the text used by Alice Zimmern (1855–1939) for her translation of 1896; a revised translation appeared in 1910, which, however, appears very uncommon and my attempts to borrow the copy in Glasgow University Library have so far been unsuccessful.  This text is thus based on that from the Phanes Press reprint, with "'tis" changed to "it is" and Philoktetes to Philoctetes.

Eunapius tells us that Porphyry married Marcella when an old man, and indeed Porphyry himself in the text says that he is "declining into old age" (c.1).  Little is known of Marcella.  Cyril of Alexandria says that she was a Christian (Contra Julianum VI. 209B), while Aristocritus says that she was Jewish (Erbse, Frag. gr. Theos. 201, θ.85). 


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This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2007. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.  

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts