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Proclus on Plato's Theology - Book One

Proclus on Plato's Theology - Book One

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Published by Martin Euser
Proclus writing on Plato's theology, book One.
The introduction to his later chapters.
Formatted for reading from screen.
Proclus writing on Plato's theology, book One.
The introduction to his later chapters.
Formatted for reading from screen.

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Published by: Martin Euser on Mar 29, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Translated by Thomas Taylor 
Chapter I
O PERICLES, to me the dearest of friends, I am of opinion thatthe whole philosophy of Plato was at first unfolded into lightthrough the beneficent will of superior natures, exhibiting theintellect concealed in them, and the truth subsisting, together withbeings, to souls conversant with generation (so far as it is lawfulfor them to participate of such supernatural and mighty good); andagain, that afterwards having received its perfection, returning as itwere into itself and becoming unapparent to many who professedto philosophize;and who earnestly desired to engage in the investigation of truebeing, it again advanced into light. But I particularly think that themystic doctrine respecting divine concerns, which is purelyestablished on a sacred foundation, and which perpetually subsistswith the gods themselves, became thence apparent to such as are
capable of enjoying it for a time, through one man,
whom Ishould not err in calling the primary leader and hierophant of thosetrue mysteries, into which souls separated from terrestrial placesare initiated, and of those entire and stable visions, which thoseparticipate who genuinely embrace a happy and blessed life.1 Meaning Plato.But this philosophy shone forth at first from him so venerably andarcanely, as if established in sacred temples, and within theiradyta, and being unknown to many who have entered into theseholy places, in certain orderly periods of time, proceeded as muchas was possible for it into light, through certain true priests, andwho embraced a life corresponding to the tradition of such mysticconcerns. It appears likewise to me, that the whole place becamesplendid, and that illuminations of divine spectacles everywherepresented themselves to the view.These interpreters of the
(or mystic speculations) of Plato, who have unfolded to us all-sacred narrations of divineconcerns, and who were allotted a nature similar to their leader, Ishould determine to be the Egyptian Plotinus, and those whoreceived the theory from him, I mean Amelius and Porphyry,together with those in the third place who were produced likevirile statues from these, viz.: Iamblichus and Theodorus, and anyothers, who after these, following this divine choir, have energizedabout the doctrine of Plato with a divinely-inspired mind.From these, he
who, after the gods, has been our leader toeverything beautiful and good, receiving in an undefiled mannerthe most genuine and pure light of truth in the bosom of his soul,made us a partaker of all the rest of Plato's philosophy,communicated to us that arcane information which he had receivedfrom those more ancient than himself, and caused us, inconjunction with him, to be divinely agitated about the mystictruth of divine concerns.2 Meaning his preceptor Syrianus.To this man, therefore, should we undertake to return thanksadequate to the benefits which we have received from him;the whole of time would not be sufficient. But if it is necessary,not only that we should have received from others the transcendantgood of the Platonic philosophy, but that we should leave toposterity monuments of those blessed spectacles of which we havebeen spectators, and emulators to the utmost of our ability, under aleader the most perfect of the present time, and who arrived at thesummit of philosophy; perhaps we shall act properly in invokingthe gods, that they will enkindle the light of truth in our soul, andin supplicating the attendants and ministers of better natures todirect our intellect and lead it to the all-perfect, divine and
elevated, end of the Platonic theory.For I think that everywhere be who participates in the least degreeof intelligence, will begin his undertakings from the Gods, andespecially in explications respecting the Gods: for we can nootherwise be able to understand a divine nature than by beingperfected through the light of the Gods;nor divulge it to others unless governed by them, and exempt frommultiform opinions, and the variety which subsists in words,preserving at the same time the interpretation of divine names.Knowing therefore this, and complying with the exhortation of thePlatonic Timaeus, we in the first place establish the Gods asleaders of the doctrine respecting themselves. But may they inconsequence of hearing our prayers be propitious to us, andbenignantly approaching, guide the intellect of our soul, and lead itabout the Vesta of Plato, and to the arduous sublimities of thisspeculation; where, when arrived, we shall receive all the truthconcerning them, and shall obtain the best end of our parturientconceptions of divine concerns, desiring to know somethingrespecting them, inquiring about them of others, and, at the sametime, as far as we are able, exploring them ourselves.
Chapter II
And thus much by way of preface. But it is necessary that I shouldunfold the mode of the proposed doctrine, what it is requisite toexpect it will be, and define the preparatives which a hearer of itought to possess; that being properly adapted, he may approach,not to our discourses, but to the intellectually-elevated and deificphilosophy of Plato.For it is proper that convenient aptitudes of auditors should sheproposed according to the forms of discourses, just as in themysteries, those who are skillful in concerns of this kind,previously prepare receptacles for the Gods, and neither alwaysuse the same inanimate particulars, nor other animals, nor men, inorder to procure the presence of the divinities;but that alone out of each of these which is naturally capable of participating divine illumination, is by them introduced to theproposed mystic rites.The present discourse, therefore, will first of all be divided by meinto three parts. In the beginning, considering all those commonconceptions concerning the Gods, which Plato summarily delivers,together with the power and dignity everywhere of theologicalaxioms; but in the middle of this work, speculating the total ordersof the Gods, enumerating their peculiarities, defining theirprogressions after the manner of Plato, and referring everything to

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