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Taylor: Introdução a Plotino

quinta-feira 24 de março de 2022


The philosophy of Plato   is deeply indebted to two very extraordinary men, who rank among the chief of its leaders and hierophants, viz. Plotinus   and Proclus  ; to the former for its restoration, and to the latter for the complete development of all its sublimities and mysteries.

It is indeed a remarkable historical fact, though but little known, that the depths of this philosophy, as I have elsewhere observed (see the General Introduction to my translation of Plato  .), were not perfectly fathomed, except by his immediate disciples, for more than five hundred years after its first propagation. For though Crantor, Atticus, Albinus, Galen   and Plutarch  , were men of great genius, and made no common proficiency in philosophic attainments, yet they appear not to have developed the profundity of Plato  ’s conceptions ; they withdrew not the veil which covers his secret meaning, like the curtains which guarded the adytum of temples from the profane eye; and they saw not that all behind the veil is luminous, and that there divine spectacles (see my dissertation on the "Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries" in Numbers XV. and XVI. of the " Pamphleteer.") every where present themselves to the view. This task was reserved for men who were born indeed in a baser age, but who being allotted a nature similar to their master were the true interpreters of his sublime and mystic speculations. Of these Plotinus   was the leader, and to him this philosophy is indebted for its genuine restoration, and for that succession of philosophic heroes, who were luminous links of the golden chain of deity. The commencement indeed of this restoration of philosophy originated from Ammonius   Saccas, but the completion of it was the work of Plotinus  . For the former of these, who was by birth an Alexandrian, and at first nothing more than a porter, opened a philosophical school at Alexandria, but with a determination not to commit the more abstruse and theological dogmas of his philosophy to writing. Indeed, this truly great man was so fearful of profaning these sublime mysteries, by exposing them to vulgar inspection, that he revealed them to his disciples Erennius, Origen, and Plotinus  , on the condition of inviolable secrecy, and under the guard of irrevocable oaths. However, fortunately for posterity, Erennius dissolved the compact, and Origen (not the Christian father of that name) imitating Erennius, disclosed a part of his master’s secrets, in a curious treatise on Daemons, which unfortunately is lost. But the publications of these two great men were but trifling efforts to restore the mystic wisdom of antiquity, since the evolution of it into light free from the enigmas in which it had been before enveloped, was reserved for the divine genius of Plotinus  .

Of this very extraordinary man there is a long and interesting life extant by his disciple Porphyry  , from which the following particulars are selected for the information of the English reader.

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