Proba Probus (probably 6th cent.)

Syriac commentator on Aristotle’s writings on logic. The juxtaposition of Proba with Hiba and Komi in the ‘Catalogue’ of ʿAbdishoʿ has led to the view that he was associated with the School of Edessa and belonged to the first half of the 5th cent. On internal evidence, however, this is impossible, since he is clearly writing at a later date than the Neoplatonist Proclus (died 485), whom he even mentions by name (ms. Brit. Libr. Add. 14,660, f. 23rv); on the other hand, a date close to that of Giwargi bp. of the Arab tribes (thus Suermann) is likely to be too late, and a 6th-cent. date seems most likely. In two mss. (Berlin, Sachau 226, and Mingana Syr. 606) he is described as ‘priest, archdeacon and archiatros (chief doctor) of Antioch’.

Three works by Proba are extant:

1. A commentary on Porphyry’s ‘Introduction’ (to Aristotle’s logical works). Of this an extract was published by Baumstark (4*–12* [Syr.], 148–56 [GT]), corresponding to f. 23r–28v in a longer (but acephalous) text in Mingana Syr. 606, f. 1–28v. There are also fragments of a 9th-cent. ms. preserved in Brit. Libr. Add. 17,215, f. 7–8 and Dayr al-Suryān Syr. Fragment 88. According to Suermann (1994) this work, unlike the others, can be dated to a time between Hiba and Sergios of Reshʿayna, but this is very problematic.

2. A commentary on Aristotle’s ‘On Interpretation’, ed. Hoffmann, 62–89; an earlier ms., Brit. Libr. Add. 14,660, f. 1–46 (9th/10th cent.) contains a much longer but acephalous text (f. 1r–6r corresponds to Hoffmann 79–89). According to Mingana Syr. 606, f. 140v, the Syriac translation of the ‘On Interpretation’ (ed. Hoffmann, 23–55) was by Proba, as well, but in the other mss. it is anonymous.

3. A commentary on Aristotle’s Prior Analytics, ed. van Hoonacker.

Possibly also by him is a proposal ‘by Proba the philosopher’ for an improved numbering system in Syriac, still using the letters of the alphabet (Berlin, Sachau 153; excerpt in Sachau, Verzeichnis, 33–4).

It is just possible that this Proba is the same person as the Proba who accompanied Patr. Peter of Kallinikos to Alexandria ca. 581, who ended up as Chalcedonian metropolitan of Chalcedon.


  • A.  Baumstark, Aristoteles bei den Syrern vom 5. bis 8. Jahrhundert (1900).
  • J. G. E.  Hoffmann, De hermeneuticis apud Syros aristoteleis (1869).
  • H.  Hugonnard-Roche, ‘La théorie de la proposition selon Proba: un témoin syriaque de la tradition grecque (VIe  siècle)’, in his La logique d’Aristote du grec au syriaque (2004), 275–91.
  • H.  Hugonnard-Roche, ‘Probus (Proba)’, in Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques, ed. R.  Goulet (forthcoming).
  • H.  Suermann, ‘Die Übersetzungen des Probus und eine Theorie zur Geschichte der syrischen Übersetzungen griechischer Texte’, OC 74 (1990), 103–14.
  • H.  Suermann, ‘Anmerkungen zur Sprache der Übersetzungen und Kommentare von Aristoteles und Porphyrios bei Probus’, in SymSyr VI, 393–400.
  • A.  van Hoonacker, ‘Le traité du philosophe syrien Probus sur les Premiers Analytiques d’Aristote’, JA IX.16 (1900), 70–166.

How to Cite This Entry

Sebastian P. Brock , “Proba,” in Proba, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Sebastian P. Brock , “Proba,” in Proba, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Brock, Sebastian P. “Proba.” In Proba. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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