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Guthrie: Vida de Plotino III

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022


This is as much as we learned about him during various interviews with him. At eight years of age he was already under instruction by a grammarian, though the habit of uncovering his nurse s breast to suck her milk, with avidity, still clung to him. One day, however, she so complained of his importunity that he became ashamed of himself, and ceased doing so. At 28 years of age he devoted himself entirely to philosophy. He was introduced to the teachers who at that time were the most famous in Alexandria. He would return from their lectures sad and discouraged.

He communicated the cause of this grief to one of his friends, who led him to Ammonius  , with whom Plo tinos was not acquainted. As soon as he heard this philosopher, he said to his friend, This is the man I was looking for!" From that day forwards he remained close to Ammonius. So great a taste for philosophy did he develop, that he made up his mind   to study that which was being taught among the Persians, and among the Hindus. When emperor Gordian prepared himself for his expedition against the Persians, Plo- tinus, then 39 years old, followed in the wake of the army. He had spent between 10 to 11 years near Ammonius. After Gordian was killed in Mesopotamia, Plotinos had considerable trouble saving himself at Antioch. He reached Rome while Philip was emperor, and when he himself was 50 years of age.

Herennius, (the pagan) Origen  , and Plotinos had agreed to keep secret the teachings they had received from Ammonius. Plotinos carried out his agreement. Herennius was the first one to break it, and Origen followed his example. The latter limited himself to writing a book entitled, «Of Daemons;» and, under the reign of Gallienus, he wrote another one to prove that «The Emperor alone is the Only Poet» (if the book was a flattery; which is not likely. Therefore it probably meant: «The King (of the universe, that is, the divine Intelligence), is the only demiurgic Creator.»)

For a long period Plotinos did not write anything. He contented himself with teaching orally what he had learned from Ammonius. He thus passed ten whole years teaching a few pupils, without committing any thing to writing. However, as he allowed his pupils to question him, it often happened that his school was disorderly, and that there were useless discussions, as I later heard from Amelius.

Amelius enrolled himself among the pupils of Plo- tinos during the third year of Plotinos s stay in Rome, which also was the third year of the reign of Claudius II, that is, 24 years. Amelius originally had been a disciple of the Stoic philosopher Lysimachus. Amelius surpassed all his fellow-pupils by his systematic methods of study. He had copied, gathered, and al most knew by heart all the works of Numenius. He composed a hundred copy-books of notes taken at the courses of Plotinos, and he gave them as a present to his adopted son, Hostilianus Hesychius, of Apamea. (Fragments of Amelius s writings are found scattered in those of Proclus  , Stobaeus, Olympiodorus  , Damas- cius, and many of the Church Fathers.)

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