Categoriae decem

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The Categoriae decem, also known as the Ten Categories and as the Paraphrasis Themistiana,[1] was a Latin summary of the Categories of Aristotle. It is thought to date to the fourth century. Once and traditionally attributed to St. Augustine, it is now no longer thought to be his work.[2][3]

From the eighth century onwards, this text became one of the major sources of logical teaching in medieval Europe,[4][5] where it was taken at times as a full translation of Aristotle's work, rather than a compression. Its importance rests in the revival of the study of logic it stimulated in the early medieval West, beginning, it would seem, at the court of Charlemagne. Those influenced included Alcuin,[6] particularly in his De Dialectica,[7] Fridugisus [8] and Johannes Scotus Eriugena.[9][10]

From around the eleventh century the influence of the Categoriae decem waned, as translations of the original work of Aristotle gained currency in Western Europe.


  1. ^ The Themistian paraphrase, an attribution to Themistius; other scholars play safe with Pseudo-Augustinus.
  2. ^ According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [1]: 'An anonymous paraphrase of the Categories falsely attributed to Augustine and traditionally known as Categoriae Decem has survived only because it was widely read and used in the early Middle Ages.'
  3. ^ See, for example, this PDF, p.34.
  4. ^ A.Arlig's unpublished Ohio PhD thesis, 'A study in early medieval Mereology' Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine., note p.34, describes its popularity in the ninth and tenth centuries. It was glossed by Heiric, this PDF, note p.30.
  5. ^ The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy[2] describes the work as ‘neoplatonic’; it also states 'In the early Middle Ages, Neoplatonic works such as the Categoriae decem were very important'[3].
  6. ^ 'It seems to have been Alcuin who introduced both Boethius' discussions of logic and the Categoriae Decem into general circulation in the Frankish kingdom, or at least, it is in his writings that the earliest extant evidence of these works being read is to be seen'. Rosamond McKitterick, The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians (1983), p.287. On p.286 she includes Ratramnus of Corbie with those knowing Aristotle through the work.
  7. ^ Edited in J-P. Migne, Patrologia Latina
  8. ^ S.Haverkamp, 'Making something of Nothing: the Content and Context of Fredegisus of Tours' 'De substantia nihili et tenebrarum' Archived November 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., unpublished thesis, Utrecht 2006 ,
  9. ^ Eriugena's synthesis began with Dionysius' two branches of theology: apophatic and cataphatic. Apophasis was then considered from the perspective of the ten categories of Aristotle, interpreted through Augustine and the ps.-Augustinian Categoriae decem. ([4] p.23)
  10. ^ [5] Archived October 9, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., reference to John Marenbon, ‘John Scottus and the “Categoriae decem”’, in Werner Beierwaltes (ed.), Eriugena: Studien zu seinen Quellen, Vorträge des III. Internationalen Eriugena-Colloquiums, Freiburg im Breisgau, 27.–30. August 1979


  • Edition in the Aristoteles Latinus, editor Lorenzo Minio-Paluello: Categoriae vel Praedicamenta. Translatio Boethii, Editio Composite, Translatio Guillelmi de Moerbeka, Lemmata e Simplicii commentario decerpta, Pseudo-Augustini Paraphrasis Themistiana - Desclée De Brouwer (Bruges-Paris 1961).