Dictionary of Literature: Porphyry

Porphyry, in the geological sense of that vain, crystal-veined, purple-clad stone one finds in the company of the malachite and Parian marble worked into the colonnades of any Byzantine basilica; in the literary sense of Porfiry Petrovich, that soft faintness shaded into the text of Crime and Punishment; in the philosophical sense of Porphyrios, the Neoplatonic editor of Plotinus’ Enneads, a Plato to Late Antiquity’s Socrates (q.v The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, by Karl Marx); in the historical sense of Porfirio Diaz, Mexican plunderer, creator of the slogan pan o palo, famous for monopolizing pan, and panoplying palo.

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