Proclus: Metaphysical Elements

This digital edition 2005 by Joseph H. Peterson. Last updated Jan 21, 2021.

NOTE: For a more recent translation, see Proclus: The Elements of Theology, tr. E. R. Dodds (1963).

Proclus, one of the so-called Neo-Platonic philosophers (411-485 CE), had an enormous influence on the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius, Ficino, Pico, Agrippa, Bruno, and others. This work is also known as Elements of Theology.

Note: All of the page numbers have anchor tags, so can be referenced individually, for example, Likewise, the propositions can be referenced, for example, Errata and addenda have been incorporated, and other obvious typos corrected.

Please let me know if you find any other typos, or have suggestions for improving this e-text or web site. Thanks. -JHP, November 8, 2005.

Author: Proclus, ca. 410-485.
Title: Proclus’ Metaphysical elements ... / translated from the original Greek by Thos. M. Johnson.
Published: Osceola, Mo : [Press of the Republican], 1909.
Description: 201 p. : ill.
Location: University of Minnesota: TC Wilson Library
Ref No: 192P94 OM
Other Title: Metaphysical elements.
Contributor: Johnson, Thomas Moore, 1851-1919
Material Type: bks
System No. 000942594


I.On the One...1
II.On Unity...6
III.On Producing Causes and Effects...7
IV.On the First Good, Which is Called The Good Itself...8
V.On The Self-sufficient...9
VI.On Cause...10
VII.On the Immovable and Self-motive Principle or Cause...13
VIII.On an Incorporeal Essence, and What the Characteristic of it is...14
IX.That Intellect is not the First Cause...19
X.On the Imparticipable...22
XI.On the Perfect...24
XII.On that Which Produces...25
XIII.On the Perpetual, Demonstrating That the World is Perpetual...39
XIV.On Eternity and Eternal Natures...42
XV.On Providence...88
XVI.On Intellect...118
XVII.On Soul...135
Additional Notes and Elucidative Excerpts...159

Proclus' Metaphysical Elements
(StoiceiwsiV qeologikh)

Translated from the Original Greek by


Editor of The Platonist

"Virtuous, therefore, is the man who relieves the corporeal wants of others, who wipes away the tear of sorrow, and gives agony repose; but more virtu­ous he who, by disseminating wisdom, expels ig­norance from the soul, and thus benefits the im­mortal part of man. For it may indeed be truly said, that he who has not even a knowledge of com­mon things is a brute among men, that he who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone is a man among brutes; but that he who knows all that can be known by intellectual energy is a God among men."


The Greatest American Thinker,
who for over fifty years has battled in de­fense
of God, Freedom and Immortality, against
sottish atheists and materialists, this book is dedi­cated
as an expression of admiration and friendship.



Proclus, the famous philosopher, mathematician, and poet, came into the world of time and sense on the 8th day of February, A. D. 410, at Byzantium, and mi­grated from this physical life on April the 17th. 485 A.D.1 His parents, Patricius and Marcella, were Lycians and of an illustrious family. He was taken immed­iately after his birth to their native country, to the city of Xanthus, which was consecrated to Apollo. And this happened to him by a certain divine providence: for it was necessary that he who was to be the leader of all sciences should be educated under the presiding Deity of the Muses. He received his elementary edu­cation in Lycia, and then went to Alexandria, in Egypt, and became a pupil of Leonas the rhetorician, and Orion the grammarian. He likewise attended the schools of the Roman teachers, and acquired an accu­rate knowledge of the Latin language. But his tutelar Goddess exhorted him to study philosophy, and to go to the Athenian schools. In obedience to this exhorta­tion he attended the lectures of Olympiodorus, an emi­nent Peripatetic, in order to learn the doctrine of Aris­totle; and he was instructed in mathematical disciplines by Hero. On one occasion, after hearing a lecture by Olympiodorus, a man who was gifted with much eloquence, [ii] and who, by the rapidity of his speech and the depth of his subject was understood by but very few of his auditors, Proclus repeated to his companions the lecture nearly word for word, though the discourse was copious. He comprehended with great facility the writings of Aristotle pertaining to rational philosophy, though the bare reading of them is difficult to those who attempt the task. After learning all that his Alexandrian masters could teach him, he went to Athens accompanied by the Gods who preside over eloquence and philosophy, and by beneficent daemons. For that he might preserve the genuine and entire suc­cession of Plato, he was brought by the Gods to the city of the guardian (Athene) of Philosophy. Hence Proclus was called by way of preeminence the Pla­tonic Successor. At Athens he became the pupil of the first of philosophers, Syrianus,2 the son of Philoxenus, who not only taught him but made him the com­panion of his philosophic life, having found him such an auditor and successor as he had a long time sought for, and one who was capable of apprehending a multitude of disciplines and divine dogmas. In less than two years, therefore, Proclus read with Syrianus all the works of Aristotle, viz. his Logic, Ethics, Politics, Phys­ics, and Theological Science. And being sufficiently instructed in these as in certain proteleia,3 i. e., things [iii] preparatory to initiation, and lesser mysteries Syrianus led him to the sacred discipline of Plato, in an orderly progression, and not, according to the Chaldaean Oracle, with a transcendent foot. And he likewise enabled Proclus to survey with him truly divine mysteries, with [iv] the eyes of his soul free from material darkness, and with an undefiled intellectual vision. But Proclus, em­ploying sleepless exercise and attention, both by night and by day, and synoptically and judiciously recording the discourses of Syrianus, made so great a progress in his studies that by the time he was twenty-eight years of age he had composed a multitude of works, among them his Commentary on the Timæus, which is truly subtle and full of erudition. But from this course of training his manners became more adorned; and as he advanced in science he increased in virtue. The soul of Proclus, concentrating itself, and retiring into the depth of its essence, departed in a certain respect from body, while it yet appeared to be contained in its dark receptacle. For he possessed a Prudence, not like that of a civil character, which is conversant with the admin­istration of fluctuating particulars, but Prudence itself, by itself pure, which is engaged in contemplating, and converting itself to itself, in nowise agreeing with a cor­poreal nature. He likewise possessed a Temperance free from the inferior part or body, which is not even moderately influenced by perturbations, but is abstracted from all affections. And, lastly, he acquired a Forti­tude, which does not fear a departure from the body. But reason and intellect dominating in him, and the in­ferior powers of his soul no longer opposing them­selves to purifying Justice, his whole life was adorned with the divine irradiations of genuine Virtue. Proclus, having perfected himself in this form of the virtues, ad­vancing as it were by the highest and most mystical step ascended to the greatest and most consummate virtues, being conducted by a prosperous nature and scientific discipline. For being now purified, rising above generation, and despising the wand or thyrsus-bearers in it,5 he was divinely inspired about the [v] Primal Essences, and became an inspector of the truly blessed spectacles which are in the Intelligible Sphere. It was no longer necessary for him to acquire a knowl­edge of them by processes of reasoning and demon­strations, but surveying them as it were by direct vision, and beholding by simple intuitions of the thinking power the paradigms in the Divine Intellect, he ob­tained a virtue which no one would rightly call Pru­dence, but rather Wisdom, or something even more venerable than this.6 Proclus therefore energizing ac­cording to this virtue easily comprehended all the the­ology of the Greeks and Barbarians, and that which is adumbrated in mythological fictions, and revealed it to those who are willing and able to understand it. He explained likewise every thing more enthusiastically than others, and brought the different theologies into harmony with each other. At the same time, investi­gating the writings of the Ancients, whatever he found in them genuine he judiciously adopted, but every thing [vi] of a vain and fruitless character he entirely rejected as erroneous. He likewise strenuously refuted by a dili­gent examination those doctrines which were contrary to truth. In his associations, too, with others he power­fully and clearly discussed the subjects presented for consideration, and delineated them in his writings. For he was laborious beyond measure: in one day he de­livered five and sometimes more lectures, and wrote as many as seven hundred verses.... In the beginning of his forty-second year he appeared to himself to pro­nounce with a loud voice these verses:

1. The following sketch of Proclus is taken almost verbatim from Marinus' Life of his Master. This biography is an admir­able production, and gives us much curious and interesting in­formation about the philosophic life of the Successors of Plato. It is unfortunate that Taylor's English version of it is practically in­accessible. (It was printed in 1792.) The original text was edited by Fabricius, Hamburg, 1700, Lond., 1703; by Boissonade, Leip., 1814, and in the Cobet edition of Diogenes Laertius, Paris, 1850; and by Cousin, in his Procli Opera Inedita, Paris, 1864.

2. This truly great man appears to have been the first who thoroughly penetrated the profundity contained in the writings of the more ancient philosophers, contemporary with and prior to Plato, and to have demonstrated the admirable agreement of their doctrines with each other. Unfortunately but few of his works are extant. —T.

3. Aristotle's philosophy when compared with the discipline of Plato is, I think, deservedly considered in this place as bearing the relation of the proteleia to the epopteia in sacred mysteries. Now the proteleia, i.e., things previous to perfection, belong to the initiated, and the mystics; the former of whom were intro­duced into some lighter ceremonies only, but the mystics were permitted to be present with certain preliminary and lesser sacred concerns. On the other hand the epoptaa were admitted into the sanctuary of the greater sacred rites, and became specta­tors of the symbols and more interior ceremonies. Aristotle indeed appears to be every where an enemy to the doctrine of ideas, as un­derstood by Plato, though they are doubtless the leading stars of all true philosophy. However the great excellence of his works, considered as an introduction to the divine theology of Plato, de­serves the most unbounded commendation. Agreeable to this Damascius informs us that Isidorus the philosopher, "grasped only slightly the rhetorical and poetical arts, but devoted himself to the more divine philosophy of Aristotle. Discovering, however, that this was based more on necessary reasons than intuitive intellect, that the procedure by method was deemed sufficient, and that it did not entirely employ a divine or intellectual insight, he was but little solicitous about his doctrine. But when he tasted the conceptions of Plato, he did not think it worth while "to look any further," as Pindar says, [Olymp. I. 183.] but expecting to gain his desired end if he could penetrate into the adyta of Plato's thought, he there­fore directed to this purpose the whole course of his application. Of the most ancient philosophers, he deified Pythagoras and Plato, believing that they were among those winged souls which in the supercelestial place, in the plain of Truth, and in the meadow there, are nourished by divine ideas." (Photii Bibliotheca, p. 337. Vol. II. ed. Bekker.) —T.

The form of the foregoing note has been changed somewhat, and the quotation from Damascius extended. This note was written in 1792: Taylor's mature conclusion was that the opposi­tion of Aristotle to the Platonic doctrines, even to that of Ideas, was purely apparent. "He strenuously maintained that Aristotle was not only the pupil but in the strictest sense the holder of the Platonic dogmas; contrary to the ignorant and rash deduc­tions of the moderns, who had never fully comprehended either master or pupil."

5. The narthex (wand or thrysus) is a symbol of material and partible fabrication .because it has as it were a false form: for it is wood and not wood. More rightly is it so called on ac­count of its sundered continuity, whence it is likewise a Titanic plant. For they hold it before Dionysus (Bacchus) instead of his paternal sceptre, and through this they call him into a partible nature. Moreover, the Titans are wand or thyrsus-bearers; and Prometheus concealed fire in a reed, by which we may under­stand either that he draws down celestial light into generation, or leads the soul into body, or calls forth divine illumination, the whole of which is ungenerated, into generation. Hence Socrates Orphically calls the multitude thyrsus-bearers, because they live Titanically. —Olympiodorus: Commentary on the Phædo, p. 96, (ed. Finckh, Heilbron. 1847).

6. Doubtless the fashionable philosophasters of this mater­ialistic age will shake their empty heads over the intellectual training of Proclus and brand it as "mystical," but since the opinion of these sapient gentlemen arises from ignorance and in­capacity it will not disturb those whose thought ranges beyond the barriers of sense and matter.
Lo! on my soul a sacred fire descends,
Whose vivid power the intellect extends;
From whence far beaming thro' dull body's night.
It soars to aether deck'd with starry light;
And with soft murmurs thro the azure round,
The lucid regions of the Gods resound.

Moreover, he clearly perceived that he belonged to the Hermetic chain; and was persuaded by a dream that he possessed the soul of Nicomachus the Pythag­orean.7

Ammonius Hermeias, a genuine Platonist and likewise [vii] one of the best of the Aristotelian commentators, says (Com. De Interpret. Aristot.): "If we are able to add any thing to the elucidation of this book from recollect­ing the interpretations of our divine teacher, Proclus the Platonic Successor, who possessed the power of un­folding the opinions of the Ancients, and a scientific judgment of the nature of things, in the highest perfec­tion possible to humanity, we shall be very grateful to the God of discourse (Hermes)." Cousin declares (Procli Opera, Præfatio Generalis): "Proclus was illustri­ous as an astronomer; he was the first among the philol­ogists of his age; he had so comprehended all religions in his mind, and regarded them with such equal reverence, [viii] that he was as it were the hierophant of the whole universe: nor was it wonderful that a man possessing such a profound knowledge of nature and science should have this initiation into all sacred mysteries.... As he was the head of the Athenian School and of all later philosophy, so I may affirm that all the earlier is found gathered up in him, and that he may be taken as the one interpreter of the whole philosophy of the Greeks.... I shall set it down as an established fact that nothing great was thought out by Iamblichus, Por­phyry, and Plotinus, either in Ethics, Metaphysics, or Physics, which is not found expressed more clearly and methodically in Proclus.... The threefold division of Greek Philosophy may be reduced ultimately to one, which being the same always, by a natural and certain progress enlarges and unfolds itself, and moves on through three stages intimately connected, the first be­ing contained in the second, the second in the third, so that the man who after the lapse of ages finds himself at the end of this gradually evolving series, on the high­est apex of that third age, as he embraces all the ac­cumulations of former times in himself, stands as the representative of each sect of Greece, emphatically the Greek philosopher — such a man I say was Proclus, in whom it seems to me are combined and from whom shine forth in no irregular or uncertain rays all the phil­osophical lights which have illuminated Greece in vari­ous times, to wit Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus."

7. No opinion is more celebrated than that of the metem­psychosis of Pythagoras, but perhaps no doctrine is more gener­ally mistaken. By most of the present day it is exploded as ridiculous; and the few who retain some veneration for its founder endeavor to destroy the literal, and to confine it to an al­legorical meaning. By some of the ancients this mutation was limited to similar bodies; so that they conceived the human soul might transmigrate into various human bodies, but not into those of brutes. And this was the opinion of Hierocles, as may be seen in his Commentary on the Golden Verses. But why may not the human soul become connected with subordinate, as well as with superior lives, by a tendency of inclination? Do not similars love to be united; and is there not in all kinds of life something similar and common? Hence when the affec­tions of the soul verge to a baser nature, while connected with a human body, these affections, on the dissolution of such a body, become enveloped as it were in a brutal nature, and the rational eye in this case clouded with perturbations is oppressed by the irrational energies of the brute, and surveys nothing but the dark phantasms of a degraded imagination. But this doctrine is vindicated by Proclus, with his usual acuteness, 1n his admir­able Commentaries on the Timæus, Lib, 5. p. 329, [Vol. III. p. 294. ed. Diehl], as follows: "It is usual to inquire how human souls can descend into brute animals. And some indeed think that there are certain similitudes of men to brutes, which they call brutal lives: for it is not possible that a rational essence can become the soul of a brute. But others allow that it may be immedi­ately sent into irrational animals, because all souls are of a similar form; so that they may become wolves and leopards and mollusks. But true reason indeed asserts that the human soul may enter into brutes, yet in such a manner that it may retain its own proper life; the soul riding as it were on and bound by sympathy to the brutal nature. And that this is the only mode of insinua­tion we have proved by a multitude of arguments, in our Com­mentaries on the Phædrus. If however it be requisite to remind the reader that this is the opinion of Plato, we may observe that in his Republic he says that the soul of Thersites assumed the na­ture of an ape, but not the body of an ape; and in the Phædrus that the soul descends into a brutal life, but not into a brutal body. For the life is conjoined to its proper soul. And in this place he says that it 'is changed into a brutal nature.' For a brutal nature is not a brutal body, but a brutal life." —T.

These eulogies, which may seem extravagant to those who know Proclus, if at all, only through the average historian of Philosophy, are in my deliberate judgment, a judgment formed after a study of many years of the writings of Proclus, based on the truth.

Proclus was unquestionably one of the greatest phi­losophers of any age or country. His authority was [ix] dominant during his own time: in all subsequent ages, directly and indirectly, he exerted an enormous and far-reaching influence through his writings, especially the Metaphysical Elements, which were generally read, either in the original or in translation. The noted Liber de Causis, which was compiled almost textually from the Metaphysical Elements, was one of the most famous and widely-circulated books of the medieval ages, and the source of many of the conceptions of the medieval thinkers, Christian and Arabian. It was at­tributed to Aristotle, and was variously known as Liber de essentia purae bonitatis, De causis causarum, De Intelligentiis, De Esse, etc. Jourdain says that the phi­losophy of the 10th Century cannot be known well, un­less the Liber de Causis and Fons Vitae are analyzed. Renan thought that the Liber de Causis holds in germ all the scholastic philosophy. Haureau9 observes: "Such is the 'Book concerning Causes,' which has made so great an uproar; which, according to the Church, has ruined so many consciences; which has produced at least so many scandals."

9. De La Phil. Scol. 1. 389.

It would be superfluous to enumerate the names of all the thinkers who were nurtured by his philosophic conceptions, but a few may be mentioned. The writings of Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite, which profoundly inspired and influenced Christian thought for many centuries, owe much to Proclus. Generally, and particularly in his treatise On the Divine Names, Dionysius borrowed extensively from him. The hierarchies of Dionysius are modelled on the different orders of the "gods" (qeoi) which are divine natures, es­sences or forces, of varying power and rank.

During the Renaissance Proclus, made known to the Latin world by the translations of divers of his [x] works by William of Moerbeke10 and Marsilius Ficinus [Ficino], was one of the mighty intellectual forces which emanci­pated mankind from the shackles of prejudice, bigotry, and ignorance. Later, the writings of Giordano Bruno and Benedict Spinoza show that they drew from Proclus some of their cardinal doctrines.

In Modern times the influence of Proclus has not diminished. Many distinguished scholars and thinkers, though in all cases not directly, have been stimulated or inspired by his thought. Hegel, for instance, studied Proclus deeply, and was largely indebted to him. He gave special attention to the Elements, as is evidenced by his correspondence with Creuzer on the text.11

10. William of Moerbeke, Archbishop of Corinth, who flourished in the 13th Century, translated from the Greek into Latin several books of Proclus, among which was the Metaphysical Elements. He records that he finished his translation of the Elements on the 18th. day of May, 1268, at Viterbo, Italy. This is extant in Ms., but has never been printed. A Ms. Expositio of the Elements, by Brother Berealdus of the Dominican Order, written in 1454, is pre­served in the library of Balliol College, Oxford. The Commentary of Thomas Aquinas on the Liber De Causis is published in the com­plete editions of his works. Aquinas knew that this book was an Arabic abstract of the Metaphysical Elements of Proclus.

11. Creuzer's edition was dedicated to Hegel and Van Heusde, Cousin dedicated his edition of Proclus' Commentary on the Parmenides to Boissonade, Schelling, and Hegel.

If the reader wishes to ascertain what the character of Proclus was not, and to get a travesty of his philos­ophy, he may peruse "Alexandria and Her Schools" by Charles Kingsley, one of the blind leaders of the blind in philosophical science, a gentleman who was in the habit of vilifying whatever he did not understand, and who was no more qualified to explain or criticize what he termed "Neo-Platonism" than an Esquimo [Eskimo].

I first read the Greek text of the Metaphysical El­ements, ((StoiceiwsiV qeologikh), in Creuzer's edition, [xi] in the Winter of 1872—73. At that time many of the Propositions were beyond my full comprehension, but the study of the whole book was to me an intellectual discipline of inestimable value, and the Propositions which I mastered amply repaid all the time and thought expended upon them. In the Spring of 1873 I read Taylor's translation, published in 1792,12 in connection with the original. His notes illuminated many of the dark places.

12. A second, revised edition appeared in 1816.

In translating the Metaphysical Elements I have spent many intensely laborious but very pleasant and extremely profitable hours. The translation is based on Taylor's, but it would be an act of injustice to him to call my version a revision of his, though my indebted­ness to him is large, and is cheerfully acknowledged. Many of the Propositions I retranslated entirely, and in the others more or less changes were made, for the sake of perspicuity or by way of correction. Taylor's notes are generally truly illuminative of the subject, and I have reprinted nearly all of them. I am also much indebted to Mr. Thomas Whittaker, whose book, "The Neo-Platonists", may be strongly commended to all students. His abstract of the Elements is excellent.

Purely philological notes have been omitted. These rightly belong to an edition of the original text, which some day I may publish. As a rule the text as edited by Creuzer, (Francof. 1822), has been followed, but I have adopted most of the emendations of Taylor, and made a few of my own. The Latin version of Franciscus Patricius, (Ferrar. 1583),13 is a valuable aid to the interpretation of the original. He undoubtedly used a [xii] much more perfect manuscript than any which is now known,

13. This is of course a very rare book. It was only in April last that I was able, after a search of many years, to find a copy.

Greek words and quotations are printed without the accents. It is difficult to get them printed correctly, but there is a better reason for dispensing with them: they are practically useless. They "seldom occur in Greek manuscripts before the seventh century" of the Chris­tian era. Accents were invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium about 200 B. C, for the purpose of preserv­ing the true pronunciation of the Hellenic language. This they failed to do: the true pronunciation is lost, beyond recovery. We should remember that accents were not devised for scholars.

Probably the best preparation for the apprehen­sion of the Elements is a mastery of Plotinus' treatise On the Three Archical Hypostases of Things, viz. The Good, Intellect, and Soul. He demonstrates that the Primary Causes can be neither more nor less than these. "But these three are thus denominated, because they are not consubsistent; and they are not consubsistent, because they are essentially different from each other. For, according to Plato, The Good is superes-sential; Intellect is an impartible, immovable essence; and Soul is a self-motive essence, and subsists as a medium be­tween Intellect and the nature which is distributed about bodies." The chief aim of Proclus in the Elements is to demonstrate and develop this Platonic insight. The work "contains two hundred and eleven propositions, disposed in a scientific order, and supported by the firmest demonstrations. They begin from super-es­sential unity, and proceed gradually through all the beautiful and wonderful progressions of divine causes, ending in the self-moving energies of soul. They pos­sess all the accuracy of Euclid, and all the subtility and sublimity necessary to a knowledge of the most profound theology, and may be considered as bearing [xiii] the same relation to the Pythagoric and Platonic wisdom as Euclid's Elements to the most abstruse geometry."

Mr. D. E. Wagenhals, of Nashville, Ills., has in­geniously and admirably illustrated the Propositions of the Metaphysical Elements by geometrical diagrams — a work which I heartily hope will soon be given to the public. These diagrams will much facilitate the student's apprehension of the Elements. In an Appendix, two specimens of these diagrams are pre­sented, by the kindness of Mr. Wagenhals.

At the request of friends, a few notes of personal intellectual history are here given. My introduction to the so-called Neo-Platonic philosophy was on a day in the Spring of 1870 when, roaming around the Library of the University of Notre Dame,14 Indiana, seeking any book of interest, especially of a classical nature, I found half a dozen dust covered volumes of the old Classical Journal, (published in London, 1810—1829). How these volumes ever gained entrance into the Li­brary, I have often wondered. Be that as it may, there they were, and the first article I saw when I opened one of them was the Chaldaean Oracles,15 ed­ited, translated and annotated by the famous Thomas Taylor the Platonist. (Taylor shows that the Chaldaean and Platonic teachings on important points were iden­tical). There were other translations and papers by Taylor, and through them I discovered the existence of the mighty thinkers, the genuine disciples of Plato.

14. Then and now the principal Catholic University in America.

15. The last edition of the Chaldaean Oracles is by Kroll, (Breslau, 1894). It is philologically good, but philosophically worthless.

In the latter part of August, 1870,16 on my way to the University, I purchased in St. Louis the April No., 1869, of the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, which contains the Sentences of Porphyry, translated by my friend, the late Prof. Thomas Davidson. My attention had been called to it by a press notice giving the contents of this particular number.

16. In June of this year I read Emerson's works, (2 vols., 1869), and his magnificent eulogy at the end of his essay on Intellect on the Trismegisti, among whom he ranks the "Neo-Platonists," im­pressed me greatly. It is somewhat curious that my first knowl­edge of Emerson came through a hostile review in the Catholic World of this very edition. Emerson is one of the best stimu­lants to the study of Philosophy, of which I know.

In December, 1870, I procured the original text of the writings of Plotinus, (2 vols., ed, by Adolph Kirchhoff, Lips., 1856). Later I procured the Paris edition, (1855), which has Prolegomena and the Latin version of Marsilius Ficinus [Ficino].17 In 1871 I picked up Taylor's version of the Select Works of Plotinus, (London, 1817), which is excellent, though almost as concise as the original, and is enriched with useful notes and an Introduction profoundly interesting and valuable. But I soon found that it was an Herculean task to reach the insights of Plotinus. I had a fair mastery of the lan­guage, but to apprehend his Thought was very difficult. But I persevered. The gathering of Platonic knowl­edge, if a matter of constant toil and activity, was [xv] equally a matter of perpetual delight and profit. My appetite for Wisdom was immeasurably stimulated, and it is still insatiably strong. And thus gradually I was able to recall a knowledge of the wonderful and mar­velous Philosophy, of which Plato is the chief exponent — the Philosophy whose principles will never become obsolete, for they are "the same yesterday, and to day, and forever": the Philosophy which, as Proclus truly says, "came to mankind for the benefit of terrestrial souls, in lieu of statues, temples, and the whole of sa­cred institutions; and which is the leader of intellectual salvation alike to the men that, now are and to those who shall come hereafter." True, I knew something of Plato, even before this, I had read several of his works in a wretched English version,18 and the Apology and Crito in the Greek, but my "knowledge" was [xvi] merely superficial. I had never until now found the key which would admit me into the penetralia of his Thought. But when I read Taylor and Plotinus, then indeed was the darkness of ignorance dispersed — then I could truly say,

"Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops."

By an indefatigable study of the Platonic text, with these and others of the Golden Chain of the Platonic Succession as guides, I was enabled to find and travel the way to the divine Ideas of Plato. The way was not easy, for

"The path by which to deity we climb
Is arduous, rough, ineffable, sublime,"

but every step taken was an encouragement to proceed, by reason of the gain of new insights and a contin­uous accession of intellectual power.

17. Several years ago I was fortunate to secure a copy of the first edition of Ficinus' translation, which appeared at Florence, Italy, in the month of May, 1492, folio. It is a magnificent speci­men of typography. The type is large and elegant, the paper is of a superior quality, the margins are wide, and the printing is fine — it will indeed compare favorably with that of the present time. The publication of this work opened to mankind a new in­tellectual world, just as the discovery of America by Columbus in the same year opened a new physical world.

18. A childish performance, translated from the French of Dacier, by "several Hands," (London, 1701). It passed through six or seven editions, however, in spite of or on account of its worthlessness. The "several Hands" apparently conspired to make this production stale, flat, and unprofitable. All the intellectual vital­ity, force, and energy of the Platonic text disappear in this ver­sion, and the thought evaporates into persiflage.

Of the three English versions of Plato's complete writings, Tay­lor's is the best, despite some verbal imperfections and infelicities. He knew more Plato, if others knew more Greek. The Bohn translation is largely a piece of hack-work, done to order: it is purely verbal. The translators criticize Taylor severely, but are under deep obligations to him, and inmost of the difficult passages adopt his renderings! Jowett's version is popular, and is highly esteemed by many. Three editions of it have appeared. In the second and third numerous changes were made. Jowett aimed to make his work better, but his efforts were confined chiefly to the improve­ment of his style. In his anxiety to turn polished Greek into polished English, he often allowed the force and thought of Plato to escape him. The Platonic style is characteristic of the Greek, and is untranslatable, either into English or any other language. Still, Jowett doubtless expresses as much of the Platonic thought as the average reader will or can assimilate.
The Platonic are the only writings to which I can return, in health or in sickness, without satiety, fatigue, or dissatisfaction. It matters not how often I open these golden books, I find thoughts and ideas which lift me above the sordid and material cares of life, and which are a perennial consolation and a refuge. These ideas are primarily in the noumenal world, and our apprehension and participation of them here, in the region of time and space, is a foretaste of a perfect participation hereafter, if we qualify ourselves for such an exalted intellectual experience.


Osceola, Mo., U. S. A. October, 1909.


Proclus' Metaphysical Elements

On The One


Every multitude partakes in some respect of The One.

For if it in no way or degree participates of The One, neither will the whole be one, nor each of the many things from which multitude arises, but each mul­titude will originate from certain or particular things, and this will continue ad infinitum. And of these in­finites each will be again infinite multitude. For, if multitude partakes in no respect of any one, neither as a whole nor through any of its parts, it will be in every re­spect indeterminate. Each of the many, whichever you may assume, will be one or not one; and if not one will be either many or nothing. But if each of the many is nothing, that likewise which arises from these will be nothing. If each is many, each will consist of infinites without limit. But this is impossible. For there is no being constituted of infinites without limit, since there is nothing greater than the infinite itself; and that which consists of all is greater than each particular thing. Neither is any thing composed of nothing. Every mul­titude therefore partakes in some respect of The One.1

1. Proclus understands by multitude or number everything which is mixed, compounded, or in any respect non-simple — in brief, all things other than the Supreme One. It has been shown that all things partake in some degree of oneness. By virtue of this participation every number or individual thing is at the same time one and non-one — one through participation or communion but not one essentially, because in this case it would be One it­self, and not merely a participant of it. So far as any individual or thing departs from its primal abiding with the Supreme Unity, so far it becomes multiplied or compounded: it becomes one or re­turns to its original abode exactly to the degree that it rids itself of multiplicity or everything alien to its true nature.

The orders of multitude are three: (1) Primary, consisting of unities; (2) Composite, consisting of things united; (3) Sim­ple, consisting of the last of things.

"There exist no more beautiful lines in English poetry than the following, taken from the "Adonais," lines in which the whole system of Plotinus [and Proclus] is summed up in exquisite words:

The One remains, the many change and pass,
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity." Kuhns: The Sense of the Infinite.


Every thing which partakes of The One is alike one and not one.

For though it is not The One itself — since it partic­ipates of The One and is therefore other than it is — it experiences [2] The One through participation, and is thus able to become one. If therefore it is nothing besides The One, it is one alone, and will not participate of The One but will be The One itself. But if it is something other than The One, which is not The One but a par­ticipant of it, it is alike one and non-one, — one being, indeed, since it partakes of oneness, but not oneness it­self. This therefore is neither The One itself, nor that which The One is. But, since it is one and at the same time a participant of The One, and on this account not one per se, it is alike one and not one, because it is something other than The One. And so far as it is multiplied it is not one; and so far as it experiences a privation of number or multitude it is one. Every thing, therefore, which participates of The One is alike one and not one.



Every thing which becomes one, becomes so by the partici­pation of The One, and is one so far as it experi­ences the participation of The One.

For if the things which are not one become one, they doubtless become so by a harmonious alliance and association with each other, and experience the presence of The One, though they are not that which The One is. Hence they participate of The One, so far as they allow themselves to become one. But if they are already one, they will not become one: for that which is, does not become that which it already is. But if they become one from that which was previously not one, they will possess The One, since a certain one was ingenerated in their nature. [And this ingenerated one must be de­rived from The One itself. Everything, therefore, which becomes one, becomes so by the participation of The One, etc.]


Every thing which is united is different from The One itself.

For if it is united it will participate in a certain re­spect of The One, so far as it is rightly said to be united. That, however, which is a participant of The One is both one and not one. But The One itself is not both one and not one: for if this was so, again the one which is in it would have both of these, and this would take place ad infinitum, if there was no One itself at which it is possible to stop; but every thing being one and not one, there will be something united, which is different from The One. For if The One is the same as the united, it will be infinite multitude. And in a similar manner each of the things of which the united [4] consists will be infinite multitude. Every thing, there­fore, which is united is different from The One itself.


All multitude is posterior to The One.

For if multitude is prior to The One, The One in­deed will participate of multitude, but multitude which is prior will not participate of The One, since prior to the existence of The One that multitude was. For it does not participate of that which is not: because a par­ticipant of The One is one and at the same time not one — but, on the hypothesis, The One will not yet subsist, that which is first being multitude. But it is impossible that there should be a certain multitude which in no respect whatever participates of The One. Multitude, there­fore, is not prior to The One. But if multitude and The One subsist simultaneously, they will be naturally co-ordinate with each other, and intimately related. Nothing in time prohibits this, since neither is The One essentially many, nor is multitude The One, because they are directly opposite to each other by nature, if neither is prior or posterior to the other. Hence mul­titude essentially will not be one, and each of the things which are in it will not be one, and this will be the case to infinity, which is impossible. Multitude, therefore, according to its own nature participates of The One, and there is no thing of it which is not one. For if it is not one it will be an infinite, consisting of infinites, as has been demonstrated. Hence it entirely partici­pates of The One. If therefore The One, which is es­sentially one, in no possible respect participates of multitude, multitude will be wholly posterior to The One — participating indeed of The One, but not being par­ticipated by it. But if The One participates of multi­tude, subsisting indeed as one according to its essence, [5] but as not one according to participation, The One will be multitude, just as multitude is united by reason of The One. The One therefore will communicate with multitude, and multitude with The One.2 But things which coalesce and communicate with each other in a certain respect, if they are impelled together by another, that is prior to them: but if they themselves harmonize they are not antagonistic to each other. For opposites do not hasten to each other. If therefore The One and [6] multitude are oppositely divided, and multitude so far as it is multitude is not one, and The One so far as it is one is not multitude, neither will one of these sub­sisting in the other be one and at the same time two. And if there is something prior to them, which impells them to harmonize, this will be either one or not one. But if it is not one, it will be either many or nothing. But neither will it be many, lest multitude should be prior to The One, nor will it be nothing. For how could nothing impell together those things which are something or many? It is therefore one alone. For t his one is not many, lest there should be a progres­sion to infinity. It is therefore The One itself, and all multitude proceeds from The One itself.

2. It is a fundamental principle of the Platonic Philosophy that all things primarily proceed from, and depend on, One First Cause. It necessarily follows from this principle that One pre­cedes Many; or, in other words, that pure, simple being is prior to the compound or multiplied. Every being, other than the First, is to a greater or less degree a number or multitude. Every number or individual thing must in some respect participate of primal one­ness — otherwise it could not exist as a whole, nor in each of its parts. In brief, Oneness is absolutely essential to the in­dividual existence of every being or thing. "All beings are beings through The One, both such as are primarily beings, and such as in any respect whatever are said to be classed in the order of beings. What indeed would they be, if they were not one? Truly, if deprived of oneness, they are no longer that which they were said to be. Neither would an army or a choir or a herd exist, as such, unless each of them was one. But neither would a house or a ship have an existence, unless they possessed The One; since a house is one thing, and also a ship, which one if they lose the house will no longer be a house, nor the ship a ship. Contin­ued magnitudes, therefore, unless The One is present in them, will not exist. Hence when they are divided, so far as they lose The One they change their existence. The bodies, also, of plants and animals, each of which is one, if they fly from The One, thereby becoming dissipated into multitude, will lose the essence which they before possessed, no longer being that which they were, but becoming other things, and continuing to be these so long as they are one. Health, likewise, subsists when the body is congregated into one, [i. e. when it possesses symmetry], and beauty flourishes when the nature of The One confines the parts of the body. And Virtue reigns in the soul when the soul tends to unity, and is unit­ed in one concord."-Plotinus: En. VI. Lib. 9.1.

On Unity.


Every multitude consists either of things united, or of unities.

It is evident that each of things many will not be it­self multitude alone, and, again, that each part of this will not be multitude alone. But if it is not multitude alone, it is either united or unities. And if indeed it partakes of The One it is united; but if it consists of things of which that which is primarily united consists, it will be unities. For if The One itself exists, there is also that which primarily participates of it, and which is prima­rily united. But this consists of unities: for if it consists of things united, again, things united consist of certain things, and this will be the case to infinity. It is neces­sary, however, that what is primarily united should con­sist of unities. And thus we have discovered what we proposed at first, [viz. that every multitude consists either of things united, or of unities.] [7]

On Producing Causes and Effects.


Every thing productive of another is better than the na­ture of that which is produced.

For it is either superior, or inferior, or equal. Hence that which is produced from this has itself either a power productive of something else, or it is entirely unprolific. But if it is unprolific, by reason of this fact it will be inferior to and unequal to its producer, which is prolific, and has the power of producing. But if it is productive of other things, it either produces that which is equal to itself, and this similarly in all things, and all beings will be equal to each other, and no one thing will be better than another, that which produces always generating that which is equal to itself, in a consequent series; or it produces that which is unequal to itself, and thus that which is produced will no longer be equal to its producer. For it is the province of equal powers to pro­duce equal things: the progeny of these, however, will be unequal to each other, if that which produces indeed is equal to the cause prior to itself, but the thing posterior to it is unequal to it. Hence it is not right that the thing produced should be equal to its producing cause. Moreover, neither will that which produces ever be less than that which is produced by it. For if it imparts essence to the thing produced, it will also supply it with essential power. And if it is productive of all the power which that posterior to itself possesses, it will certainly be able to make itself such as its production is. But if this be so, it will also make itself more powerful; impotency cannot hinder, the productive power being present, nor a defect of will, — since all things naturally desire the good. Hence, if it is able to render another thing more perfect, it will also perfect itself before it perfects [8] that which is posterior to itself. The thing produced, therefore, is neither equal to nor better than its produc­ing cause: and hence the producing cause is in every respect better than the nature of the thing produced.

On the First Good, Which is Called The Good Itself.


That which is primarily good, and which is no other than The Good itself, is superior to all things which in any way whatever participate of good.

For if all beings desire good, it is evident that the Primary Good is beyond beings. If it is the same with a certain one of beings, either being and The Good are the same, and this particular being will no longer desire good, since it is The Good itself — for that which desires anything is indigent of that which it desires, and is dif­ferent from it — or, being is one thing, and the good an­other. And if some one being and The Good are the same, being indeed will participate, and that which is participated in being will be The Good. Hence, on this hypothesis, The Good is a certain good inherent in a certain participant and which the participant alone desires, but is not that which is simply good, and which all things desire: for this Good is the common object of desire to all beings. But that which is in­herent in a certain thing pertains to that alone which participates of it. Hence that which is pri­marily good is nothing else than The Good itself. The adding of any thing else to The Good is to diminish it by the addition, making it a certain or particular good instead of that which is simply good. For the addition, since it is not The Good but something less than it, will by its association diminish The Good. [9]

On The Self-sufficient.


Every thing which is self-sufficient, either according to es­sence or energy, is better than that which is not self-suffi­cient, and depends on another cause for its perfection.

For if all beings naturally desire good, and one thing supplies well-being from itself, but another is in­digent of something else, the one indeed will have the cause of good present, but the other separate and apart. To the degree, therefore, that the former is nearer to that which supplies the object of desire, to that extent will it be superior to that which is indigent of a separate cause, and which externally receives the perfection of its nature or its energy. For since the self-sufficient is both similar and diminished, it is more similar to The Good itself [than that which is not self-sufficient]. It is diminished indeed by participating of The Good, and because it is not primarily The Good, though it is allied to it in a certain respect so far as it is able to possess good of and from itself. But to participate good, and to participate through another, are more remote from that which is primarily good, and which is nothing else than good.


Every thing which is self-sufficient is inferior to that which is simply good.

For what else is the self-sufficient than that which from and in itself possesses good? But this is now full of good, and participates of it, but is not that which is simply good: for that is better than participation and plenitude, as has been demonstrated. If therefore the self-sufficient fills itself with good, that from which it [10] fills itself will be better than the self-sufficient, and will be superior to self-sufficiency. And that which is simply good will not be indigent of any thing: for it does not desire any thing else, since the desiring would indicate a deficiency. Nor is the simply good self-sufficient, for in that case it would be full of good, but not that which is primarily The Good.3

3. "For Intellect subsists after The First, and is indigent of nourishment and intelligence, being proximate to that nature which is indigent of nothing, not even intelligence (thought). In­tellect, however, has true plenitude and thought, because it has these primarily: but that which is prior to Intellect and these neither needs nor has, otherwise it would not be The Good itself." —Plotinus: En. III. Lib, viii. 11.

On Cause.


All beings proceed from One First Cause.

For either there is no cause of any being, or the causes of all finite things revolve in a circle, or the as­cent (progression) is to infinity, and one thing is the cause of another, and the presubsistence of essence (cause) will in no respect cease. If, however, there is no cause of beings, there will be neither an order of things second and first, of things perfecting and perfec­ted, of things adorning and adorned, of things generat­ing and generated, and of agents and patients, nor will there be any science of beings. For the knowledge of causes is the work of science, and we are then said to know scientifically when we know the causes of things. But if causes revolve in a circle, the same things will be prior and posterior, more powerful and more imbecile. For every thing which produces is better than the nature of that which is produced. Nor does it make a differ­ence to conjoin cause to effect, and through many or [11] fewer media to produce from cause. For cause will be superior to all the intermediate natures of which it is the cause; and the more numerous the media the greater is the causality of the cause.

And if the addition of causes is to infinity, and there is always again a cause prior to another, there will be no science of any being: for there is not a knowledge of any thing infinite. But causes being unknown, neither will there be a science of the things consequent to the causes. If, therefore, it is necessary that there should be a cause of beings, and causes are distinct from the things caused, and there is not an ascent to infinity, there is a First Cause of beings, from which as from a root every thing proceeds,—some things indeed being nearer to but others more remote from it. The neces­sity of the existence of One Principle has been demon­strated, because all multitude is secondary to The One.


The Principle and First Cause of all beings is The Good It­self.

For if all things proceed from one cause, [as has been demonstrated], it is necessary to call that cause either The Good, or that which is better than The Good. But if it is better than The Good, is any thing imparted by it to beings, and to the nature of beings, or nothing? And if nothing is imparted by it, an absurdity will re­sult. For we would no longer rank it in the order of causes, since it is everywhere necessary that something should be present from cause to the things caused, and especially from the First Cause, on which all things de­pend, and by reason of which every being exists. But if something is imparted by it, in the same manner as there is by The Good, there will be something better than goodness in beings, emanating from the First Cause. [12]

For if it is better than and above The Good it will in no way bestow on secondary natures any thing inferior to that which is imparted by the nature posterior to itself. But what can be greater than goodness? Since that which is better than other things is so called because it is a participant to a greater degree of the good. Hence if the not good cannot be said to be better than The Good, it must be entirely secondary to it. If, too, all beings desire The Good how is it possible that there should be any thing prior to this cause? For if they also desire that which is prior to The Good, how can they specially desire The Good? But if they do not de­sire it, how is it possible that they should not desire the cause of all, since they proceed from it? If therefore The Good is that on which all beings depend, The Good is the Principle and First Cause of all things.


Every good has the power of uniting its participants, and every union is good; and The Good is the same as The One.

For if The Good is preservative of all beings — by reason of which it is desirable to all things — that indeed which is preservative and connective of the essence of every thing is The One. For by The One all things are preserved, but dispersion expells every thing from its essence. If this be the case, The Good will cause those things to which it is present to be one, and will connect and contain them through union. And if The One is collective and connective of beings, it will perfect each of them by its presence. The union therefore which unites a thing with all is a good. But if union is a good per se, and Good itself has a unifying power, that which is simply good and simply one are the same, causing beings to be both good and one. Hence those things which in a certain way or respect fall off from The Good, [13] at the same time lose the participation of The One. And those things which become destitute of The One, being filled with separation, are equally deprived of The Good. Goodness therefore is union, and union is goodness, and The Good itself is one, and The One is that which is primarily Good.4

4. "The Good is that on which all depends, and which all things desire and have as a principle, and of which they are all indigent, while The Good itself lacks absolutely nothing, is wholly self-suffi­cient, and is the measure and limit of all; producing of itself in­tellect, essence, soul, life and intellectual energy." Plotinus: En. I. Lib. 8. 10.

On the Immovable and Self-motive Principle or Cause.


Every being is either immovable or moved. And if moved, it is either moved by itself, or by another: and if it is moved by itself it is self-motive, but if by another it is alter-motive. Every nature, therefore, is either immovable, self-motive, or alter-motive.

For it is necessary, since there are alter-motive natures, that there also should be that which is immov­able, and the self-motive nature, which is a medium be­tween them. For if every alter-motive thing is moved because it is moved by another, motions will be either in a circle, or they will proceed to infinity. But neither will they be in a circle, nor proceed ad infinitum, since all beings are limited by the Principle of things, and that which moves is better than that which is moved. Hence there will be something immovable, which first moves. But if this be so, it is necessary that the self-motive exist. For if all things should stop, what will that be which is first moved? It cannot be the immovable, for this is not naturally adapted to be moved; nor the alter-motive, [14] for that is moved by another. It remains, there­fore, that the self-motive nature is that which is primari­ly moved. It is this, too, which unites alter-motive na­tures to that which is immovable, being in a certain re­spect a medium, moving and at the same time being moved: for of these, the immovable moves only, but the alter-motive is moved only. Every thing, therefore, is either immovable, or self-motive, or alter-motive.

Corollary.— From the premises, therefore, it is evident, that of things which are moved, the self-motive nature is the first; but that of things which move other things the immovable is the first.5

5. Axiom 1.: "All things are either in themselves or in others." Axiom 2.: "That which cannot be conceived as through another must be conceived as through itself." —Spinoza.

On an Incorporeal Essence, and What the Characteristic of it is.


Every thing which is able to return to itself is incorporeal.

For no body is, by reason of its nature, competent to return to itself. For if that which is converted to anything is conjoined with that to which it is converted, it is evident that all the parts of the body which is con­verted to itself will be conjoined with all the parts. For a thing is converted to itself, when both that which is converted, and that to which it is converted, become one. This however is impossible in body, and, in short, in all partible things. For the whole of that which is partible is not conjoined with the whole, on account of the separation of its parts, which lie outside one another. No body, therefore, is naturally able to return to itself, so that the whole may be converted to the whole. Hence, [15] if there is anything which has the power of returning to itself, it is incorporeal and impartible.6

6. There is no more important or significant word in the Platonic vocabulary than epistrofh, epistrefein (a conversion, a turning back, a return to self). It is comprehensive more or less of self-activity, self-development, self-determination, self-knowl­edge, self-reflection, self-relation, self-consciousness. It is essen­tially self-reflection or self-relation.

"Great stress is laid on self-relation (epistrefein) as the form of the highest order of being; and this is what Hegel's school of philosophy lay so much stress upon, as the doctrine of "return-to-self." It is the form of consciousness, and life, and moral habit; and its image is found in the Cosmos in the shape of orbital move­ment, diurnal revolution, recurrence of seasons, etc. The external image of this return-to-self-through-other has given the forms of speech in all languages for what is divine, and hence the sun-myth and other astronomical scaffolding of mythologies." —Dr. Harris. (Memoir of A. Bronson Alcott, by F. B. Sanborn and William T. Harris. This is one of the most interesting and valuable biogra­phies in the English language.)

"The Intellect sees because it is turned back to its origin, the One; its movement is circular, i. e. reflexive, or turned back upon itself, conscious." —Plotinus: En. V. Lib. I. ch 7. "For there are two orders of knowing, (Plotinus, En. V. Lib. 6.), — self-knowing and the knowing of something different from the self. Self-know­ing is the primary or highest act of the Intellect, — that whereby it returns to its source, the One." —Dr. Harris.

Nothing really exists which is not self-determined and self-related, — which has not a self which it maintains through all its changes." —Hegel.


Every thing which is able to return to itself has an essence separate from every body.

For unless it was separate from every body whatso­ever, it would not have a certain activity or act apart from body: since it is impossible that, the essence being inseparable from body, an activity (act) proceeding from essence (body) should be separate. For in this case its activity would be better than its essence, because the [16] latter indeed would be indigent of bodies, but the former unindigent and self-sufficient. If therefore any thing is inseparable in essence from body, it is similarly insepar­able in activity (act), — or, rather, it is much more insep­arable. But if this be so, it will not return to itself: for that which returns to itself, being something other than body, has an activity separate from body, and which is not either through or with body, since the activity, and that to which the activity is directed, are not at all in­digent of body: hence that which returns to itself is wholly separate from bodies.


Every thing which moves itself primarily,7 is able to re­turn to itself.

For if it moves itself, and its motive energy is directed to itself, that which moves and that which is moved are at the same time one. For it either moves in a part or is moved in a part, or the whole moves and is moved, or the whole moves, but a part is moved, or the contrary. But if one part, indeed, is that which moves, and another part is that which is moved, it will not be essentially self-motive, since it will consist of things which are not self-motive, but which appear in­deed to be so, yet are not so essentially.

If, however, the whole moves, but the part is mov­ed, or the contrary, there will be a certain part in each which in one and the same subject moves and at the same time is moved.8 And this is that which is pri­marily self-motive. If, however, one and the same thing moves and is moved, it will have the energy of moving [17] to and within itself, being motive of itself. But it returns to that toward which it energizes. Every thing, there­fore, which primarily moves itself, is able to return to itself.

7. Or, is primarily self-active.

8. For if the whole moves, the part which is moved will at the same time be motive. —T.


Every thing which imparts being to others is itself primari­ly that which it communicates to other natures.

For if it gives being, and makes the impartance from its own essence, that which it gives is subordinate to its own essence,9 which is truly greater and more per­fect, since every nature which is able to constitute any thing is better than that which is constituted by it—hence the giver is essentially superior to that which is given, but is not the same with it, for the one exists primarily, but the other secondarily. For it is necessary that either each should be the same, and that there should be one reason and definition of each, or that there should be nothing common and the same in each, or that the one should subsist primarily, but the other secondarily. If, however, there is the same reason and definition of each, the one will no longer be cause, but the other effect; nor will the one subsist essentially, but the other in a partici­pant; nor will the one be the maker, but the other the thing made. But if they have nothing which is the same, the one will not constitute the other from its very being, because in that case it imparts nothing. Hence it follows that the one which gives is primary, but that the other to which existence is given is secondary; the former supplying the latter from its very being.

9. See the 7th Proposition.


Every thing which is primarily inherent in a certain nature of beings is present to all the beings which are arranged according to that nature, conformably to one reason, and in the same manner.

For unless it was present to all of them in the same manner, but present to some and not to others, it is evi­dent that it would not be primarily in that nature, but in some things primarily, and in others secondarily, which sometimes participate of it. For that which at one time exists, but at another time does not, does not exist pri­marily, nor of itself: but it is adventitious, and comes from some other place to the things in which it is thus inherent.


The essence of soul is beyond all bodies, the intellectual na­ture is beyond all souls, and The One is beyond, all intel­lectual hypostases.

For every body is movable by another, but is not naturally competent to move itself, but by the presence of soul it is moved of itself, lives through soul, and, when soul is present is in a certain respect self-movable, but when it is absent is alter-movable, because any self-mov­able nature which it may have it receives from soul, which is allotted a self-movable essence: since, to what­ever nature soul is present, to this it imparts self-motion. Soul is, however, by a much greater priority that which it imparts by its very being. Hence it is beyond bodies, which become self-movable by participation, because it is essentially self-movable. Again, however, soul which is moved from itself has an order secondary to the im­movable nature, which subsists immovable, in activity or energy. Because of all the natures that are moved, the self-movable essence is the leader; but of all that [19] move, the immovable is the leader. If, therefore, soul, being moved from itself moves other things, it is neces­sary that prior to it there should be that which moves immovably. But intellect moves, being immovable, and energizing always in the same manner. For soul through intellect participates of perpetual thought, just as body through soul possesses the power of moving itself. For if perpetual intellection or thinking was pri­marily in soul, it would be inherent in all souls, in the same manner as the self-motive power. Hence per­petual thinking is not primarily in soul. It is necessary, therefore, that prior to it there should be that which is primarily intelligent: and hence intellect is prior to souls.

Moreover, The One is prior to intellect. For intel­lect, though it is immovable, yet is not The One; for it thinks itself, and energizes about itself. And of The One indeed all beings, in whatever way they may exist, participate; but all beings do not participate of intellect. For those beings to whom intellect is present by partici­pation necessarily participate of knowledge; because intellectual knowledge is the principle and first cause of gnostic energy. The One, therefore, is beyond intel­lect, nor is there anything beyond The One: for The One and The Good are the same. But The Good, as has been demonstrated, is the principle of all things.

That Intellect is not the First Cause.


Every order, beginning from a monad, proceeds into a multi­tude co-ordinate to the monad, and the multitude of every order is referred to one monad.

For the monad, having the relation of a principle, generates a multitude allied to itself. Hence one causal chain and one whole order has a decrement into multitude [20] from the monad. For there would no longer be an order, or a chain, if the monad remained of itself un-prolific. But multitude is again referred to the one common cause of all coordinate natures. For that in every multitude which is the same has not its progres­sion from one of those things of which the multitude consists. For that which subsists from one alone of the many is not common to all, but eminently possesses the peculiarity of that one alone. Hence, since in every order there is a certain communion, connection, and sameness, through which some things are said to be co­ordinate, but others of a different order, it is evident that sameness comes to every order from one principle.10 In each order, therefore there is one monad prior to the multitude, which imparts one ratio and connection to the natures arranged in it, both to each other and to the whole.

10. See Additional Notes.

For let one thing be the cause of another, among things that are under the same causal chain or series; but that which ranks as the cause of the one series must necessarily be prior to all in that series, and all things must be generated by it as coordinate, not so that each will be a certain particular thing, but that each will be­long to this order.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that both one and multitude are inherent in the nature of body; that nature has many natures co-dependent on it; and that many natures proceed from the one nature of the universe. Further, that the order of souls originates from one first soul, proceeds with diminution into the multitude of souls, and reduces multitude into one; that in the intellectual essence there is an intellectual monad, and a multitude of intellects proceeding from one intel­lect, and returning to it; that there is a multitude of [21] unities in The One which is prior to all things; and that in these unities there is a striving for The One. Hence, after the Primal One there are unities;11 after the First Intellect there are intellects; after the First Soul there are souls; and after Total Nature there are natures.

11. This will be evident by considering that The One, or the First Principle of all, must produce that which first proceeds from himself by union. And as his first production must be the most similar of all things to himself, and must be at the same time mul­titude, — or in what respect would it differ from The One — hence it is necessary that this progression be no other than self-perfect unities. In consequence thereof of this sublime doctrine, as Proclus beautifully observes, (Theol. Plat. p. 123), there is One God and many gods; one Unity and many unities prior to beings; and one Goodness and many goodnesses, after the First Good. It likewise follows that the First Principle of all is a super-essential One, and that after this One there are many super-essential unities. And we may consider every unity of beings as the flower of some certain being; and as the summit and centre about which every be­ing subsists. For a further account and confirmation of this sub­lime doctrine, study the third book of Proclus on Plato's Theol­ogy. —T.


Every thing which subsists primarily and principally in each order is one, and is neither two, nor more than two, but is wholly one alone.

For, if it be possible, let there be two things which thus subsist, since there will be the same impossibility if there are more than two; or let that which subsists pri­marily consist of each of these. But if, indeed, it con­sists of each it will again be one, and there will not be two things which are first. And if it be one of the two, each will not be first. Nor, if both are equally primary, will each have a principal subsistence. For if one of them is primary, but this is not the same with the other, what will it be in that order? For that subsists primarily [22] which is nothing else than that which it is said to be. But each of these being different is, and at the same time is not, that which it is said to be.

If, therefore, these differ from each other, but they do not primarily differ so far as they are that which they are said to be, — for this primarily experiences that which is the same, — both will not be first, but will be that of which both participating are thereby said to subsist pri­marily.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that what is primarily being is one alone, and that there are not two primary beings, or more than two; that the first intellect is one alone, and that there are not two first in­tellects; and that the first soul is one. This is also the case with every form, such as the primarily beautiful and the primarily equal. Thus, too, with respect to the form of animals, and the form of man, the first of each is one; for the demonstration is the same.

On the Imparticipable.


Every imparticipable produces the things which are partici­pated: and all the natures which are participated strive for imparticipable essences.

For that which is imparticipable, having the rela­tion of a monad, as subsisting from itself and not from another, and being exempt from participants, produces those things which may be participated. For either it is of itself barren, remaining within itself, and possessing nothing worthy of honor, or it will impart something from itself. And that which receives indeed from it will participate it; but that which was given will subsist. But everything participating of another by which it is gen­erated, is secondary to that which is similarly present to [23] all things, and which fills all things from itself. For that which is in one only is not in others. But that which is similarly present to all things, in order that it may illuminate all, is not in one thing, but is prior to all things. For it is either in all things, or in one of all, or is prior to all. But that indeed which is in all things, being distributed into all, will again require another thing which may unite that which is distributed. And all things will no longer participate of the same thing, but this of one and that of another, the one being divid­ed. But if it is in one alone of all things it will no longer be common to all, but to one thing. Hence, if it is common to all things able to participate, and is com­mon to all, it will be prior to all. But this is imparticipable, [because it neither is nor can be participated by anything.]12

12. The imparticipable is that which is not consubsistent with a subordinate nature. Thus imparticipable intellect is the intellect which is not consubsistent with soul, but is exempt from it. And imparticipable soul is the soul which is not consubsistent with body. And so in other things. —T.


Every thing which participates is inferior to that which is participated by it; and that which is participated is in­ferior to that which is imparticipable.

For that which participates, since it is imperfect prior to participation, but becomes perfect through par­ticipation, is entirely secondary to that which is par­ticipated so far as it is perfect by participating. For so far as it was imperfect it is inferior to that which it par­ticipates, which causes it to become perfect. But that which is participated by a certain one and not by all, is on this account allotted an hyparxis or essence subordi­nate to that which is common to all things, and not to a certain one thing: for the latter is more allied but the [24] former less to the cause of all.

The imparticipable, therefore, is the leader of things which are participated; but the latter are the leaders of participants. For, in short, the imparticipable is one prior to the many; but that which is participated in the many is one and at the same time not one; and every­thing which participates is not one and at the same time one.

On the Perfect.


Everything perfect proceeds to the generation of those things which it is able to produce, imitating the One Principle of all.

For as the one Principle by reason of its own good­ness is unically constitutive of all beings, — for The Good and The One are the same, so that the boniform is the same with the unical, — thus, also, those things which are posterior to the First Principle, on account of their perfection, hasten to generate beings inferior to their own essence: for perfection is a certain part or quality of The Good, and the perfect so far as it is perfect imi­tates The Good. But The Good is constitutive of all things: so that the perfect is likewise productive accord­ing to its nature of those things which it is able to pro­duce. And that indeed which is more perfect, the more perfect it is the more numerous are the progeny of which it is the cause. For that which is more perfect partici­pates in a greater degree of The Good. It is therefore nearer to The Good, is more allied to the cause of all, and is the cause of a greater number of effects. That, however, which is more imperfect, the more imperfect it is the less numerous are the effects of which it is the cause; for, being more remote from the producer of [25] everything, it is the cause of fewer effects. For to that which constitutes, or adorns, or perfects, or connects, or vivifies, or fabricates all things, that nature is most allied which produces a greater number of each of these; but that is more remote which produces a less number of each.

Corollary.— From the premises it is evident that the nature which is most remote from the Principle of all is unprolific and is not the cause of anything. For if it generated a certain thing, and had something posterior to itself, it is evident that it would no longer be the most remote, but that which it produced would be more re­mote than itself from the Principle of all things; it would therefore be nearer to productive power, and, in addition, would imitate the cause which is productive of all beings.

On that Which Produces.


Every cause which is productive of other things, itself abid­ing in itself, produces the natures posterior to itself, and those which are successive.

For if it imitates The One, but that immovably constitutes the things posterior to itself, everything which produces will possess in a similar manner the cause of productive energy. But The One constitutes things im­movably. For if through motion, the motion will be in it; and, being moved, it will no longer be The One, be­cause it will be changed from The One. But if motion subsists together with or after it, it will also be from The One, and either there will be a progression to in­finity, or The One will produce immovably, and every thing which produces will imitate the producing cause [26] of all things. For everywhere from that which is primari­ly that which is not primarily derives its subsistence; so that the nature which is productive of certain things orig­inates from that which is productive of all things. Hence every producing cause produces subsequent natures from itself. And while productive natures abide in themselves undiminished, secondary natures are produced by them. For that which is in any respect diminished cannot abide such as it is.


Every producing cause, by reason of its perfection and abun­dance of power, is productive of secondary natures.

For if it produced not on account of the perfect, but through a defect of power, it would not be able to pre­serve its own order immovable. For that which imparts being to another thing through defect and imbecility imparts subsistence to it through its own mutation and change in quality. But every thing which produces re­mains such as it is, and in consequence of thus remain­ing that which is posterior to it proceeds into existence. Hence, being full and perfect, it constitutes secondary natures immovably and without diminution, it being that which it is, and neither being changed into them nor diminished. For that which is produced is not a distri­bution into parts of the producing cause; since this is neither appropriate to generation, nor to generating causes. Nor is it a transition of one nature into another: for it does not become the matter of that which pro­ceeds; since it remains such as it is, and that which is produced is different from it. Hence that which gener­ates abides without alteration and undiminished; through prolific power multiplies itself, and from itself imparts secondary hypostases or natures. [27]


Every producing cause constitutes things similar to itself, prior to such as are dissimilar.

For since that which produces is necessarily more excellent than the thing produced, they can never be simply the same with each other and equal in power. But if they are not the same and equal, but different and unequal, they are either entirely separated from each other, or they are both united and separated. If, how­ever, they are entirely separated, they will not accord with each other, and nowhere will that which proceeds from a cause sympathize with it. Hence, neither will one of these participate of the other, since they are en­tirely different from it. For that which is participated gives communion to its participant with reference to that of which it participates. Moreover, it is necessary that the thing caused should participate of its cause, as from thence deriving its essence.

But if that which is produced is partly separated from and partly united to its producing cause, — if, indeed, it experiences each of these equally, — it will equally par­ticipate and not participate: so that in the same manner it will have essence and not have it from the producing cause. And if it is more separated from than united to it, the thing generated will be more foreign than allied to that by which it is generated, will be more unadapted than adapted to it, and be more deprived of than possess sympathy with it. If, therefore, the things which pro­ceed from causes are allied to them according to their very being, have sympathy with them, are naturally de­pendent on them, and aspire after contact with them, desiring good, and obtaining the object of their desire through the cause of their existence—if this be the case, it is evident that things produced are in a greater degree Med to their producing causes than separated from [28] them. Things, however, which are more united are more similar than dissimilar to the natures to which they are especially united. Every producing cause, therefore, constitutes things similar to itself prior to such as are dissimilar.


Every progression is effected through a similitude of second­ary to primary natures.

For if that which produces constitutes similars prior to dissimilars, the similitude derived from the producing causes will constitute the things produced. For similars are rendered similar through similitude, and not through dissimilitude. If, therefore, progression in its diminu­tion preserves a certain sameness of that which is gen­erated with that which generates, and shows that such as the generator is primarily so is that posterior to it secondarily, it will have its nature through similitude.


Everything which is produced from a certain thing without a medium, abides in its producing cause, and proceeds from it.

For if every progression is effected while primary natures remain permanent, and is accomplished through similitude, similars being constituted prior to dissimilars — if this be the case, that which is produced will in a certain respect abide in its producing cause. For that which entirely proceeds will have nothing which is the same with the abiding cause, but will be perfectly separ­ated from it. But if it has anything in common with and united to it, it will abide in its cause in the same manner as that abides in itself. If, however, it abides only but does not proceed, it will in no respect differ from its cause, nor will it while that abides be generated something different from it. For if it is something different [29] it is separated and apart from its cause. If, how­ever, it is apart, but the cause abides, it will proceed from the cause in order that while it abides it may be separated from it. So far, therefore, as that which is produced has something which is the same with the pro­ducing cause, it abides in it; but so far as it is different, it proceeds from it. Being, however, similar, it is in a certain respect at once both the same and different. Hence it abides and at the same time proceeds, and does neither of these without the other.


Every thing which proceeds from, another essentially, returns to that from which it proceeds.

For if it should proceed, indeed, but should not re­turn to the cause of this progression, it would not desire its cause. For everything which desires is converted to the object of its desire. Moreover, every thing desires good, and to each thing the attainment of it is through the proximate cause. Every thing, therefore, desires its cause: and the cause of being to any particular thing is likewise the cause of well-being (good) to it. But desire is primarily directed to the cause of well-being: and con­version or return is to that to which desire primarily tends.


Every conversion or return is effected through the similitude of the things converted to that to which they are converted.

For every thing which is converted hastens to be conjoined with its cause, and desires communion and colligation with it. But similitude binds all things to­gether, just as dissimilitude separates and disjoins all things. If, therefore, conversion or return is a certain communion and contact, but all communion and all contact [30] are through similitude — if this be the case, every conversion will be effected through similitude.


Every thing which proceeds from another and returns to it has a circular energy (activity).

For if it returns to that from which it proceeds, it con­joins the end to the beginning, and the motion is one and continuous — emanating from the abiding cause and re­turning to it. Hence all things proceed in a circle from causes to causes: but there are greater and less circles of conversions (returns), some of which are to the na­tures immediately above the things which are converted, but others are to still higher natures, and so on to the Principle of all things. For all things proceed from this Principle, and return to it.13

13. In order to understand this Proposition the reader must observe that the hypothesis requires that both the progression and regression subsist together. And this hypothesis is no less proper than true: for unless effects were continually converted to their causes they could not exist, since they depend on these for their subsistence, and this can only be procured by conversion. —T.


Every thing which is converted according to nature makes its return to that from which it received the progression of its characteristic essence.

For if it is converted according to nature, it will have an essential desire for that to which it is converted. But if this be the case, the whole being of it depends on that to which it makes an essential conversion, and it is essentially similar to it. Hence also it has a natural sympathy with it because it is cognate to the essence of it. If this be so, either the being of each is the same, or the one is derived from the other, or both are allotted similitude from a certain other one. But if the being of [31] each is the same, how is the one naturally converted to the other? And if both are from a certain one, it will be according to nature for each to be converted to that one. It remains, therefore, that the one must derive its being from the other. But if this be the case, the pro­gression will be from that to which the conversion or return is according to nature.

Corollary.— From these things, therefore, it is evi­dent that intellect is the object of desire to all things, that all things proceed from intellect, and that the whole world, though it is eternal, possesses its essence from intellect. For the world is not prevented from proceed­ing from intellect because it is eternal: neither because it is always arranged is it not converted to intellect, but it always proceeds, is essentially eternal, always convert­ed, and is indissoluble because it always remains in the same order.


Every thing caused abides in, proceeds from, and returns to, its cause.

For if it alone abided, it would in no respect differ from its cause, since it would be without separation and distinction from it. For progression is accompanied with separation. But if it alone proceeded, it would be unconjoined and deprived of sympathy with its cause, having no communication with it whatever. And if it were alone converted, how can that which has not its essence from the cause be essentially converted to that which is foreign to its nature? But if it should abide and proceed, but should not return, how will there be a natural desire to everything of well-being and of good, and an excitation to its generating cause? And if it should proceed and return, but should not abide, how, being separated from its cause, will it hasten to be con­joined with it? For it was unconjoined prior to its departure; [32] since, if it had been conjoined, it would entirely have abided in it. But if it should abide and return, but should not proceed, how can that which is not separated be able to revert to its cause? For every thing which is converted resembles that which is resolved into the nature from which it is essentially divided. It is necessary, therefore, either that it should abide alone, or return alone, or alone proceed, or that the extremes should be bound to each other, or that the medium should be con­joined with each of the extremes, or that all should be conjoined. Hence it follows that every thing must abide in its cause, proceed from, and return to it.14

14. The return or conversion {epistrofh) is a rectifying of the way of life (enstasewV epanorqwsiV). As all things proceed from The One, so all yearn for their Principle and return to it, to the extent of their power. There are three primary forms of return, viz, through essence, through life, through knowledge. And in every Principle there are abiding, progression and return (monh, proodoV, epistrofh)


Of all things which are multiplied in progression the first are more perfect than the second, the second than those posterior to them, arid after the same manner succes­sively.

For if progressions separate productions from their causes, and there are diminutions of things secondary with respect to those which are first, it follows that first natures in proceeding are more conjoined with their causes, being as it were germinations from them. But secondary natures are more remote from their causes, and in a similar manner those which are successive. Things, however, which are nearer and more allied to their causes are more perfect. For causes are more perfect than things caused. But things which are more remote are more imperfect, because they are dissimilar to their causes. [33]


Of all things which subsist according to conversion, the first are more imperfect than the second, and the second, than those that follow; but the last are the most perfect.

For if conversions are effected in a circle, and con­version or return is to that from which progression is derived, but progression is from that which is most per­fect, hence conversion tends to the most perfect. And if conversion first begins from that in which progression terminates, but progression terminates in that which is most imperfect, conversion will begin from the most im­perfect. Hence in things which subsist according to conversion, the most imperfect are the first, but the most perfect are the last.


Every thing which proceeds from many causes returns through as many, and every conversion is through the same causes which produced the progression.15

For since both progression and return become through similitude, that indeed which passes immediate­ly from a certain thing likewise immediately returns to it. For the similitude here is without a medium. But [34] that which requires a medium in proceeding requires also a medium in returning. For it is necessary that each should be effected with reference to the same thing. Hence the return will be first to the medium, and then to that which is better than the medium. Therefore the causes of being to each thing are equal in number to the causes of well-being, and vice versa.

15. "The principal momenta in the dialectical process by which, according to Proclus, the formation of the world was accomplished, are the issuing of a thing from the cause and its return to the same. That which is brought forth is at the same time like and unlike its cause: in virtue of its likeness it is contained and remains in its cause; in virtue of its unlikeness it is separated from it; it must return to its cause by becoming like it, and in this return the same stadia are involved as in the previous forward or out-coming movement. All reality is subject to this law of triadic development. But the oftener the process is repeated the less per­fect is the result. What is first is highest, the last is the lowest in rank and worth. The development is a descending one, and may be symbolized by the descending course of a spiral line." —Ueberweg.


Every being either alone essentially returns, or vitally, or gnostically.

For either it alone possesses being from its cause, or life with being, or it receives from thence a gnostic power. So far, therefore, as every being alone is, it makes an essential conversion, but so far as it lives, a vital, and so far as it knows, agnostic conversion. For as it proceed­ed from its cause, so does it return to it, and the measures of its conversion are limited by the measures according to its progression. The desire to return therefore is to some according to being alone, this desire being an aptitude for the participation of causes; but to others it is accord­ing to life, being a motion to more excellent natures; and to others it is according to knowledge, being a conscious perception of the goodness of their causes.


The natures which exist from and of themselves, and have a self-subsistent essence, precede those which proceed from, another cause.

For if every nature which is self-sufficient, either by reason of its essence or energy, is more excellent than that which depends on another cause; and that which produces itself, since it produces the being of itself, is sufficient to itself with respect to essence; and that which is alone produced by another is not sufficient to itself; [35] and the self-sufficient is more allied to The Good; and things more allied and similar to their causes subsist from cause prior to such as are dissimilar; — this being the case, the natures which are produced by themselves, and are self-subsistent, are more ancient than those which proceed into existence from another cause alone. For either there will be nothing self-subsistent, or The Good is a thing of this kind, or the first things which subsist from The Good. But if there is nothing self-subsistent, truly there will not be in anything self-suffici­ency. It will not be in The Good, since that being The One is better than self-sufficiency: it is also The Good it­self, and not that which possesses The Good. Nor will self-sufficiency be in things posterior to The Good: for all things will be indigent of that which is prior to their nature. But if The Good is self-subsistent, because it produces itself, it will not be The One. For that which proceeds from The One is not The One. And it would proceed from itself, if it was self-subsistent; so that The One would at the same time be one and not one. Hence it is necessary that the self-subsistent should be posterior to the First. And it is evident that it will be prior to things which alone proceed from another cause: for it has a more principal subsistence than these, and is more allied to The Good, as has been demonstrated.


Every thing which is in another is alone produced, by another; but every thing which is in itself is self-subsistent.

For that which is in another and is indigent of a subject can never be generative of itself. For that which is naturally competent to generate itself does not require another base, because it is contained by itself, and is preserved in itself apart from a subject. But that which abides, and is able to be established in itself, is produc­tive of itself, itself proceeding into itself, and being connective [36] of itself: and thus it is in itself, as the thing caused is in its cause. For it is not in itself, as in place or as in a subject: since place is different from that which is in place, and that which is in a subject is different from the subject. But this which is in itself is the same with that in which it is inherent. It is therefore self-subsistent, and abides in itself as that which is from a cause is in the cause.


Every thing self-subsistent is able to return to itself.

For if it proceeds from itself, it will likewise return to itself. For to that which is the source of a progres­sion there is a return coordinate to the progression. For if it alone proceeded from itself, and did not return to it­self, it would never strive for its characteristic good, and that which it is able to impart to itself. Every cause, how­ever, is able to impart to that which proceeds from it both essence and well-being conjoined with this essence. Hence that which is self-subsistent will impart this to itself. This therefore is the proper good to that which is self-subsistent. And hence this will not be the object of desire to that which does not return to itself. But not desiring this good, it will not obtain it, and not ob­taining it, it will be imperfect and not self-sufficient. If, however, self-sufficiency and perfection belong to any­thing, it must be to that which is self-subsistent. Hence it will desire and obtain its characteristic good, and will return to itself.


Every thing which is able to return to itself is self-subsistent.

For if it returns to itself according to nature, it is perfect in the conversion to itself, and will possess essence from itself. For from every thing to which there is a return according to nature, there is equally a progression [37] according to essence. If, therefore, it imparts well-being to itself, it will likewise undoubtedly impart being to itself, and will be the lord of its own hypostasis or nature. Hence that which is able to revert to itself is self-subsistent.


Every thing which is able to return to itself through energy or activity, is likewise able to return to itself through essence.

For if it is capable of reverting to itself through its activity but not through its essence, it will be more ex­cellent in activity than in essence, the former being revertive, but the latter not. For that which depends on itself is better than that which alone depends on another. And that which has a power of preserving itself is more perfect than that which is alone preserved by another. If, therefore, it is revertible to itself through the activity emanating from essence, it will also be allotted a re­vertible essence, so that it will not alone energize within itself but will depend on itself, and will be contained, connected, and perfected by itself.


Every thing self-subsistent is unbegotten.

For if it be generated, because of its generation it will be imperfect of itself, and will be indigent of per­fection emanating from another. Because, however, it produces itself, it is perfect and self-sufficient. For every thing generated is perfected by another, which imparts generation to it not yet existing. For genera­tion is a path from the imperfect to its contrary, the per­fect. But if anything produces itself it is always per­fect, since it is always present with the cause of itself, or rather is inherent in that which is perfective of its es­sence.



Every thing self-subsistent is incorruptible.

For if it should be corrupted, it would depart from itself and would be without itself. This, however, is im­possible. For, since it is one, it is at the same time cause and the thing caused. But every thing which is cor­rupted, is corrupted departing from its cause. For so far as it adheres to that which contains, connects, and preserves it, it is connected and preserved. But that which is self-subsistent never leaves its cause because it does not desert itself: for it is its own cause. Every­thing, therefore, which is self-subsistent is incorruptible.


Every thing self-subsistent is impartible and simple.

For if it is partible, since it is self-subsistent, it will constitute itself partible, and the whole will return to itself, and all will be in all itself.16 This, however, is im­possible. Hence that which is self-subsistent is impart­ible, but it is likewise simple. For, if it is a composite, one thing in it will be less but another more excellent, and the more will be derived from the less excellent, and the less from the more excellent, if the whole proceeds from itself.17 Further, it would not be self-sufficient, since it would be indigent of its own elements, of which it consists.18 [39]

Every thing, therefore, which is self-subsistent is impartible and simple.

16. This is absurd, because every partible nature must be converted to something different from itself, on account of its parts. So, likewise, since a self-subsistent nature resides in itself, if such a nature was partible one divisible whole would be in another, not different from itself. —T.

17. Because every composite consists of matter and form; the former of which is less and the latter more excellent. —T.

18. See Porphyry's Auxiliaries to the Perception of Intelligible Natures, Nos. XXXIII. and XXXVI.

On the Perpetual, Demonstrating That the World is Perpetual.19


Every thing which is not perpetual is either a composite subsists in another.

For either it is dissoluble into those things of which [40] it consists, and is entirely composed of the things into which it is dissolved, or it is indigent of a subject and, leaving the subject, it departs into nonentity. But if it is simple in itself it will be indissoluble and incapable of being dissipated.


Every self-subsistent nature is perpetual.

For there are two modes according to which it is necessary a thing should not be perpetual: the one aris­ing from composition, and the other from a subsistence in something else, as in a subject. That which is self-subsistent, however, is neither a composite but a simple, nor in another but in itself. Hence it is perpetual.

19. "He participates also the eternity of Intellect, as an image thereof; otherwise he would at some time cease to possess that image. But this is not an image formed by art; and every image formed by nature lasts as long as its archetype endures. For this reason they are not in the right who suppose that the sensible world will perish while the intelligible remains, and who think the former was produced as the result of deliberation on the part of the Creator. For whatever be the manner of such a creation, they will not understand, nor do they know, that as long as that intelli­gible world shines, this world of ours will never fail, but since that is, this also exists. But the intelligible world ever was and ever will be; for we are obliged, by the desire of signifying something concerning it, to employ such words as these," i.e., such expres­sions as "was" and "will be" cannot properly be applied to that which is eternal. —Plotinus: En. V. Lib. 8. 12. An excellent trans­lation of this book, Concerning Intelligible Beauty, by W. C. Ward, appeared in The Theosophical Review. See further, on the Per­petuity of the World, Plotinus: En. II. Lib. 1., On the Heaven, and En. III. Lib. 7., On Eternity and Time; Proclus: Theol. Plat. Lib. III. 16., and Stobaeus in Eclog. Lib. I. cap. 22.

To aidion, The Perpetual. Is that which subsists always, but is connected with the three parts of time, the past, present, and future. Hence the fabricator of the world is eternal, but the world is perpetual. —T.

To aiwnion, The Eternal. Is that which has a never ending subsistence, without any connection with time. For Eternity, as it is profoundly defined by Plotinus, is infinite life, the whole of which is at once present, without any thing belonging to it being consumed, and in which there is neither past nor future. (En. III. Lib. 7.) -T.


Every thing which is measured by time, either according to essence or according to activity, is generation so far as it is measured by time.

For if it is measured by time it will belong to it to be, or to act, in time; and the was and the will be, which differ from each other, pertain to it. For if the was and the will be were the same in number, that which is mea­sured by time would suffer nothing by time proceeding, and always having one part prior and another posterior. If, therefore, the was and the will be are different, that which is measured by time is becoming to be and never is, but proceeds together with time by which it is mea­sured, existing in a tendency to being.20

20. See Additional Notes.

It likewise does not stop in the same state of being, but is always receiving another and another being, just as the now in time is always another and another, through the progression of time. Hence it is not a simultaneous whole; for it subsists in a dispersion of temporal extension, [41] and is co-extended with time. This, however, is to possess being in non-being. For that which is becom­ing to be is not that which is become. Generation, therefore, is such a kind of being.


Every thing self-subsistent is essentially exempt from the natures which are measured by time.

For if that which is self-subsistent is unbegotten, it will not be measured by time, according to existence. For generation is conversant with the nature which is measured by time. Hence nothing self-subsistent has its being in time.


Every thing eternal is a whole which subsists at once: whether it has its essence alone eternal, possessing the whole at once present, but not having one of its parts al­ready constituted, and another to be constituted because it is not yet in existence, but as much as is pos­sible it now possesses the whole without diminu­tion and without extension — or whether it has its activ­ity as well as its essence at once present, it possessing this likewise collectively, abiding in the same measure of perfection, and as it were fixed immovably and without transition according to one arid the same boundary.

For if the eternal, as the name denotes, is unceas­ing being, but being and becoming to be are different from unceasing being, it is not right that it should have one thing prior and another posterior. For in that case it would be generation and not being. But where there is neither prior nor posterior, nor was and will be, but being alone, and this a whole, there every thing subsists at once that which it is. The same thing likewise takes place with respect to the activity of that which is eternal. [42]

Corollary.— From this it is evident that eternity is the cause to wholes of their existence as wholes, since every thing which is eternal either in essence or in en­ergy, has the whole of its essence or energy present to itself.

On Eternity and Eternal Natures.


Eternity subsists prior to all eternal natures, and time exists prior to every thing which subsists in time.

For if everywhere the natures which are partici­pated are prior to their participants, and imparticipables are prior to participated natures, it is evident that the eternal is one thing, the eternity which is in the eternal another, and eternity itself another. And the first of these indeed subsists as a participant, the second as a thing participated, and the third as an imparticipable. That likewise which is in time is one thing, for it is a participant; the time which is in this is another thing, for it is participated: and the time prior to this is another thing, for it is imparticipable. Everywhere, also, each of these is from the imparticipable, which is in all things the same. But that which is participated is in those things only by which it is participated. For there are many eternal and many temporal natures, in all of which eternity subsists by participation. The time also which is in temporal natures subsists divisibly; but the time which they participate is indivisible. And there is one time prior to both of these. Eternity itself, likewise, is an eternity of eternities, and time itself is a time of times; and the one constitutes participated eternity, but other participated time.21

21. See Plato's Timaeus, pp. 36, 38; Aristotle's On the Heaven, I. 9; Plotinus' book, On Eternity and Time; Proclus On the Theol­ogy of Plato, I. 13., III. 16., and V. 30; and Jo, Laur. Lydus De Mensibus, p. 41.


Every eternity is the measure of eternal natures, and every time is the measure of things in time; and these are the only two measures of life and motion in beings.

For every thing which measures, either measures according to a part, or it measures the whole at once when it is adapted to that which is measured. That which measures, therefore, according to the whole is eternity, but that which measures according to parts is time. Hence there are only two measures, the one of things eternal, but the other of things in time.


Every thing which subsists in time, either subsists through the whole of time, or has its hypostasis once in a part of time.

For if all progressions are through similitude, and things more similar to first natures subsist in union with them prior to those which are dissimilar, but it is impos­sible for things which are generated in a part of time to be conjoined with eternal natures — for, because they are generated they differ from first natures, which are self-subsistent, and as existing at one time they are sepa­rated from things which always exist, but the media be­tween these are the things which are partly similar and partly dissimilar to them — this being the case, the medium between things which are at one time gene­rated and those that exist always is either that which is always becoming to be, or that which is at one time, or that which is not truly being. It is, however, impossible it should be that which at one time only truly is. And that which is at one time not truly being is the same with that which is becoming to be: hence this is not the medium. It follows, therefore, that the medium be­tween both is that which is always becoming to be, conjoined [44] indeed with the worse of the two through becom­ing to be, but through subsisting always imitating an eternal nature.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that the perpetuity is two-fold, the one eternal, but the other temporal. The one likewise a stable, but the other a flow­ing perpetuity. And the one indeed has its being united, and the whole subsisting at once, but the other diffused and expanded according to temporal extension. And the one is a whole of itself, but the other consists of parts, each of which is separate, according to prior and posterior.


Every thing which is produced by secondary natures is pro­duced in a greater degree by prior and more causal na­tures, by whom those which are secondary were also produced.

For if that which is secondary has the whole of its essence from that which is prior to it, its power of pro­ducing is also derived from thence, — for productive powers are essentially in producing causes, and give com­pletion to the essence of them. But if it is allotted the power of producing from a superior cause, it will have from that its existence as the cause of things of which it is the cause, and its power of constituting other things will be measured from thence. If, how­ever, this be the case, the things proceeding from it are effects through that which is prior to it. For the one perfects a cause, and the other the thing caused. But if this be so, the thing caused is from thence rendered such as it is.

Moreover, that it is likewise in a greater degree perfected from thence is evident. For if that which is first imparts to that which is second the cause of [45] producing, it will primarily possess this cause; and on this account that which is secondary generates, re­ceiving from the first a secondary generative power. If however, the one becomes productive through par­ticipation, but the other in a way superior to partici­pation and primarily, that will be in a greater degree a cause which imparts generative power to another thing proximate to its own nature.


Every cause energizes prior to the thing caused, and consti­tutes more effects posterior to it.

For so far as it is cause it is more perfect and more powerful than that which is posterior to it, and by reason of this is the cause of more effects. For it is the province of a greater power to produce more, of an equal power to produce equal, and of a less power to produce a less, number of effects. And the power which is able to effect greater things among similars is also capable of effecting those which are less. But that which is able to effect those which are less is not neces­sarily capable of producing those which are greater. If, therefore, the cause is more powerful, it is productive of more numerous effects.

Moreover, the effects which the thing caused is able to produce, the cause is in a greater degree able to pro­duce. For every thing which is produced by secondary natures is in a greater degree produced by those which are prior and more causal. All things, therefore, which the thing caused is naturally able to produce co-exist with and are produced by the cause. But if likewise it produces prior to it, it is indeed evident that it energizes prior to the thing caused, according to the energy which is productive of it. Every cause, therefore, energizes prior to the thing caused, and with it and posterior to [46] it constitutes other things.

Corollary.— Hence it is evident that of the things of which soul is the cause, intellect likewise is the cause; but that soul is not equally the cause of the things of which intellect is the cause. But intellect energizes prior to the soul. And the things which soul imparts to secondary natures, intellect likewise imparts in a greater degree: and when soul no longer energizes, in­tellect imparts by illumination the gifts of itself to those things to which soul does not impart herself. For that which is inanimate, so far as it participates of form par­ticipates of intellect, and the production of intellect.22 Moreover, of the things of which intellect is the cause, The Good likewise is the cause; but not vice versa. For the privations of forms are from The Good; since all things are from thence. But intellect, since it is form, does not constitute privation.

22. See Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, I.13. II.4. and III.7., where the conceptions of Parmenides, Plato, Plotinus, and others on the subject are examined and unfolded.


Every thing which is produced by many is more composite than that which is produced by fewer causes.

For if every cause imparts something to that which proceeds from it, more causes will impart a greater num­ber of gifts, but fewer causes a less number. Hence, of participants some will consist of a greater number of things, but others of a less number, of which each par­ticipates; some, indeed, through a progression from a greater number of causes, but others from a less. Those, however, which proceed from a greater number of causes are more composite, but those from a less num­ber of the same causes are more simple. Every thing, therefore, which is produced by a greater number of causes is more composite, but that which is produced by [47] a less number is more simple, For the more composite participates of those things of which the more simple participates, but the contrary to this is not true.


Every thing which is simple in essence is either better or worse than composite natures.

For if the beings which are the extremes of things are produced by fewer and more simple causes, but those which are in the middle by a great number of causes, the latter indeed will be composites, but of the former some are more simple according to that which is better, but others according to that which is worse. That the extremes, however, are produced by fewer causes is evident, because the natures which are higher begin to produce prior to those which are subordi­nate, and extend beyond them to things to which su­bordinate natures do not proceed, through a diminution of power. Therefore the last of things, i.e., matter, is most simple, as well as the first of things, because it proceeds from the first alone. But, of these simplicities one is better than all composition, but the other accord­ing to that which is worse. And there is the same rea­soning with respect to all things.23

23. See Aristotle's Metaphysics, VII. 17. and Plotinus: En. V. 3.13., En. IV. 7.2., En. VI. 2., 9, 10., and Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, VI. 11. -A


Every thing which is the cause of many effects is better than that which is allotted a power of producing few, and which produces the paints of those things the wholes of which the other constitutes.

For if the one is the cause of a few, but the other of many effects, but the former are parts of the latter, that which constitutes many effects will produce all that [48] the other produces, but not vice versa. Hence the former of these two is more powerful and more comprehensive. For as that which proceeds is to that which proceeds, so is one productive power to another, when assumed with reference to each other. For that which is able to ef­fect a greater number of things possesses a greater and more total power. But this is nearer to the cause of all things. That, however, which is nearer to the cause is in a greater degree good, just as the cause of all is The Good itself. Hence that which is the cause of many effects is essentially more excellent than that which produces a few.


Every power which is impartible is greater, but when divid­ed is less.

For if it is divided it proceeds into multitude. And if this be so, it becomes more remote from The One. But because of this it is able to effect a fewer number of things, through departing from The One, which con­tains it, and will be imperfect, since the good of every­thing consists in union.


Every multitude which is nearer to The One is less in quan­tity than things more remote from it, but is greater in power.

For that which is nearer to is more similar to The One. But The One constitutes all things without hav­ing any multitude in itself. Hence that which is more similar to it, since it is the cause of a greater number of effects, if The One is the cause of all things, will be more unical and more impartible and thereby resemble The One. As, therefore, that which is less multiplied is more allied to The One, so likewise, since it is allied [49] to the cause of all things, it is productive of a greater number of effects. Hence it is more powerful.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that there are more corporeal natures than souls; more souls than intellectual natures; and more intellects than divine unities. And there is the same reason or proportion in all other things.


Every thing which is imparticipable constitutes two-fold or­ders of participated natures — one in things which occa­sionally participate, but the other in things which always and connascently participate.

For that which is always participated is more sim­ilar to the imparticipable than that which is occasionally participated. Hence before the imparticipable estab­lishes that which is occasionally it will establish that which is always participable, and which by being partic­ipated differs from that which is posterior to it, but by the always is more allied and more similar to the im­participable. Nor are there alone things which are oc­casionally participated; for prior to these are the natures which are always participated, through which these also are bound to imparticipables according to a certain well-ordered progression. Nor are there alone things which are always participated. For these, possessing an inextinguishable power, since they are always, are prolific of other things which are occasionally partici­pated, and as far as to these the diminution proceeds.

Corollary.— From hence it is evident that of the unions proceeding from The One, and which illuminate beings, some are always but others occasionally partici­pated. Intellectual participations, likewise, are in a similar manner twofold, as also are the animations of souls and the participations of other forms. For beauty, similitude, permanency, and sameness, since [50] they are imparticipable, are participated through na­tures which always participate, and, secondarily, by those that occasionally participate according to the same order.24

24. See Plotinus' book, On the Beautiful, (En. I. 6), chapters 1 and 2. This whole work is replete with wonderful insights, and will richly repay the deepest study. A revised reprint of Tay­lor's translation of this book appeared in Vol. I. nos. 11 and 12 of The Platonist, and a new version by the late Prof. Thomas Davidson, a scholar of remarkable attain­ments, was published in no, 4 of the Bibliotheca Platonica The best edition of the text is that by Creuzer, Heidelbere 1814, with valuable and copious notes.


Every archical monad constitutes a twofold number; one of self-perfect hypostases or natures, but the other of illumi­nations which possess their hypostasis in other things.25

For if progression is according to diminution through things appropriate to producing causes, perfect natures will proceed from the all-perfect, and through these as media imperfect natures will proceed in a well-ordered progression, so that some will be self-perfect hypostases, but others will be imperfect. And the im­perfect will become the forms of participants: for, because [51] they are imperfect, they will be indigent of subjects in their very nature. But the self-perfect hy­postases will produce things which participate of them­selves: for, since they are perfect, they will indeed fill these from themselves, and establish them in themselves. But they will require nothing of inferior natures to their own subsistence. Self-perfect hypostases, therefore, through their separation into multitude are indeed diminished with respect to their principal monad, but through their self-perfect hyparxis they are in a certain respect assim­ilated to it. But imperfect hypostases, by reason of subsisting in other things, are remote from that which subsists from itself, and through their imperfection are separated from that which perfects all things. Progres­sions, however, are through similars, even to natures which are entirely dissimilar. Every archical monad, therefore, constitutes a twofold number.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that of the unities some are self-perfect proceeding from The One, but others are illuminations of unities and intel­lect. And some of them are self-perfect essences, but others are only the images of souls which are animated. And hence neither is every union a God — but this is true of a self-perfect unity alone — nor is every intel­lectual peculiarity an intellect, but an essential peculiar­ity alone is entitled to this appellation; nor is every il­lumination of soul a soul, but there are likewise images of souls.

25. An 'archical monad' is one which has the relation of a principle to an entity. According to Butherus, (quoted by Stobaeus in Eclog. I. 5), "number is composed of monads. The mo­nad is the principle and measure of beings, simple, unbegotten, perpetual, alone, pure, self-subsistent, the beginning and first na­ture." All that is known of Butherus is that he was a Pythag­orean of Cyzicus, a city of Mysia, Asia Minor, and that he flour­ished about the 4th Century, B.C. Aside from the quotations preserved by Stobaeus, there is nothing extant of his writings.

The author of the Theologumena Arithmeticae, who was al­most certainly Iamblichus, says that "the monad is the principle of number." See the valuable Introductio Arithmetica of Nicomachus of Gerasa, I. 11. Also, Plotinus, On the Three Archical Hypostases, (En. V. 1.), Auxiliaries of Porphyry, No. XXXVIII. and Proclus, On the Theology of Plato, I. 3.

Taylor's Theoretic Arithmetic, (London, 1816), contains an accurate and exhaustive exposition of the nature of the monad and numbers, drawn from ancient authorities, with the addition of original matter. It is the best work on the subject.


Every thing which subsists in any manner whatsoever, either subsists causally, having the form of a principle, or according to hyparxis, or according to participation, iconically.

For either that which is produced is seen in that which produces, as preexisting in cause, because every [52] cause antecedently contains in itself the thing caused, being that primarily which the thing caused is second­arily, — or that which produces is seen in that which is produced. For the latter, participating of the former, exhibits in itself secondarily that which the producing cause is primarily. Or each thing is beheld in its own order, and is neither seen in the cause nor in the effect. For the cause is better than that which exists out of the cause. But that which is in the effect is inferior to that which exists out of the cause, but is not in anything else. It is, however, necessary there should be that which in this manner is. But every thing subsists ac­cording to hyparxis in its own order.26

26. By uparxiV, hyparxis, in these Elements is meant that characteristic or summit of any nature through which it subsists, and in the Gods is the same with the unity and deity of their na­tures. And by upostasiV, hypostasis, is meant any individual nature, whether essential or superessential, considered as something distinct and different from accident. —T.


All beings in relation to each other are either wholes or parts, or the same or different.

For either some of them contain, but the others are contained, or they neither contain nor are contained. And they either experience something which is the same, as participating of one, or they are separated from each other. But if they contain they will be wholes, and if they are contained, parts. If, likewise, many things participate of one, they are the same according to one. But if they are alone many things, so far as they are many they will be different from each other.


Every totality is either prior to parts, or consists of parts, or is in a part.

For either the form of each thing is surveyed in its [53] cause, and we call that which subsists in its cause a whole prior to parts, because it presubsists in the cause, or it is seen in the parts which participate of it. And this in a twofold respect: for it is either seen in all the parts together, and this is a whole consisting of parts, any part of which being absent diminishes the whole, — or, it is seen in each of the parts, so that the part like­wise becomes by participation a whole; which makes the part to be a whole partially. The whole, therefore, which is according to hyparxis consists of parts; but the whole which is prior to parts is according to cause. And the whole which is in a part is according to participa­tion: for this, likewise, according to an ultimate diminu­tion or remission is a whole so far as it imitates the whole which consists of parts, since it is not any casual part, but that which is capable of being assimilated to a whole of which the parts likewise are wholes.


Every whole which is in a part is a part of that whole which consists of parts.

For if it is a part, it is a part of a certain whole. And it is either a part of the whole which it contains, according to which it is said to be a whole in a part, — but thus it will be a part of itself, the part will be equal to the whole, and each will be the same, — or it will be a part of a certain other whole. And if of some other, it is either the only part of that, and thus again it will in no respect differ from the whole, being one part of one thing, — or it will be a part in conjunction with another part. For of every whole the parts are more than one, and that will be a whole of the many parts of which it consists. And thus the whole which is in a part is a part of the whole which consists of parts.



Every whole which consists of parts participates of the whole­ness which is prior to parts.27

For if it consists of parts the whole is passive, i.e., the whole participates of another whole. For the parts becoming one are passive to a whole on account of their union, and the whole subsists in parts which are not wholes. But the imparticipable subsist prior to every­thing which is participated. The imparticipable whole­ness, therefore, subsists prior to that which is partici­pated. Hence there is a certain form of wholeness [55] prior to the whole which consists of parts, which is not passive to a whole, but is wholeness itself, and from which the wholeness consisting of parts is derived. For the whole, indeed, which consists of parts subsists in many places and in many things, in various ways. It is however, necessary that there should be a monad es­sentially of all totalities. For neither is each of these wholes genuine, since it is indigent of parts which are not wholes, of which it consists. Nor is the whole which is in a certain thing capable of being the cause of wholeness to all other things. Hence that which is the cause to all wholes of their being wholes is prior to parts. For if this also consisted of parts, it would be a certain whole and not simply whole. And, again, this would be from another whole, and so on to infinity; or it will subsist on account of that which is primarily a whole, and which is not a whole from parts, but is a wholeness.

27. A totality of wholeness (olothV) is a whole which has a perpetual subsistence, and which comprehends in itself all the multitude of which it is the cause. —T.

Of these four elements the constitution of the world took in the whole of each. Of the whole of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth its Artificer fabricated it, leaving no part of any one of these nor any power of them outside: intending thereby, first, that the world should be an animal in the highest degree a perfect whole composed of perfect parts. —Plato: Timaeus, VII.

The doctrine of these perfect parts or wholes of the universe is of the first importance in the philosophy of Plato, and forms one of the grand articles of belief in the creed of the Platonic philosopher. —T.

I believe that as the world considered as one great compre­hending whole is a divine animal, so likewise every whole which it contains is a world, possessing in the first place a self-perfect unity proceeding from the ineffable, by which it becomes a god; in the second place, a divine intellect; in the third place, a divine soul; and in the last place, a deified body. That each of these wholes is the producing cause of all the multitude which it contains, and on this account is said to be a whole prior to parts, because consider­ed as possessing an eternal form which holds all its parts together, and gives to the whole perpetuity of subsistence, it is not indigent of such parts to the perfection of its being. And that it follows by a geometrical necessity that these wholes which rank thus high in the universe must be animated. —T.

See Plotinus: En. IV. 3. 2., and Proclus in Plat. Theol. pp. 111 sq. 155 sq. 221 sq.


Every thing which is more total is among principal causes, and, prior to partial natures illuminates participants; and that which participates something remains secon­dary to principal causes.

For it begins its activity in secondary natures prior to that which is posterior to it, and is present with the presence of it. When, likewise, that which is posterior to it no longer acts the more causal is still present, and continues to act. And this not only in different subjects but likewise in each of the natures which sometimes participate. Thus it is necessary, for instance, that be­ing should be first generated, then animal, and then man. And man indeed is no more, if the rational power departs, but there is still animal, breathing and senti­ent. And, again, life failing, being remains. For [56] though a thing does not live, yet it has existence. And there is a similar reasoning in all things.28

The cause, however, of this is, that the more causal nature, being more efficacious, acts prior to that which participates. For the thing caused experiences first that which is more powerful. And that which is sec­ondary again acting, that which is more powerful acts with it. Because everything which the secondary na­ture produces, that which is more causal produces like­wise in conjunction with it. And if the former fails, the latter is still present. For the communication of the more powerful cause, operating in a greater degree, leaves last that which participates it. For through the com­munication of the secondary nature it corroborates its own illumination.

28. See the very valuable and profound work of Plotinus, On the Nature of Living itself and on the Nature of Man, (En. I. 1.) My translation of this book was printed in Vol. IV. Nos. 5 and 6 of The Platonist. See, further, Plotinus: En. VI. 1. and En. VI. 6. 9.; Damascius Peri twn Prwtwn Arcwn, p. 69, ed. Ruelle, Paris, 1899; and Syrianus in Aristot. Metaphys. II. p. 46, ed. Kroll, Berlin, 1902.

Of the massive treatise of Damascius, Doubts and Solutions concerning First Principles, "which has preserved a most valu­able store of recondite wisdom, and unfolded some of the sublimest mysteries of the ancient theology," unfortunately there is no English translation. In No. 2 of the Bibliotheca Platonica I began the publication of an English version, preceded by a bio­graphical and bibliographical introduction, but only six chapters appeared. As I have said elsewhere, he alone who is able to rise above sensuous perceptions, and cognize universals, can compre­hend and appreciate this work.

The Commentary of Syrianus on the II. III. XII. and XIII. books of the Metaphysics of Aristotle, an exposition of great learning and subtle reasoning, awaits a translation into any language other than the Latin. Parts of it however were translated by Taylor, in his notes to Aristotle's Metaphysics. It is an absolute and com­plete refutation of all the objections, apparent or otherwise, urged by Aristotle and the Peripatetics against the Platonic doctrines, especially that of Ideas.


All things which are among principal causes, since they pos­sess a more universal and higher order in their effects, ac­cording to the illuminations proceeding from them, be­come in a certain respect subject to the communications of more partial causes. And the illuminations indeed from higher causes receive the progressions from second­ary causes; but the latter are established in the former. And thus some participations precede others, and some representations extend after others, beginning from on high, to the same subject, more total causes having a prior activity, but those which are more partial supplying their participants with their communications, posterior to the activities of more total causes.

For if more causal natures act prior to those which are secondary on account of exuberance of power, and are present to those which have a more imperfect aptitude, and likewise illuminate them; but things more subordinate and secondary in rank are supplied from those which are more causal, it is evident that the illum­inations of superior natures antecedently comprehend that which participates of both of these, and give stabil­ity to the communications of things subordinate. But these illuminations of superior causes employ the re­semblances of subordinate natures as foundations, and operate on that which participates of them, the superior causes themselves having a prior activity.


All things which in their participants have the relation of a subject proceed from more perfect and total causes.

For the causes of a greater number of effects are more powerful and total, and are nearer to The One, than the causes of fewer effects. But the natures which constitute the things which are antecedently the subjects [58] of others, are the causes of a greater number of effects, constituting the properties or peculiarities prior to the presence of forms. And hence these among causes are more universal and perfect.

Corollary.— From hence it is evident why matter which derives its subsistence from The One is of itself destitute of form: and why body, though it participates of being, is of itself destitute of soul. For matter, since it is the subject of all things, proceeds from the cause of all; but body, because it is the subject of animation, de­rives its subsistence from that which is more universal than soul, because it participates in a certain respect of being.29

29. By matter proceeding from the cause of all, nothing more is meant than that it depends entirely on the First Cause for its shadowy and unreal subsistence: for, as the emanations of causes are extended in proportion to their eminence, hence the proces­sions of the one extend beyond those of every other cause, and even leave faint traces of their illuminations in the dark receptacle of matter. -T.

See Plotinus: En, II. 4., which discusses the nature of matter most acutely and satisfactorily; Auxiliaries of Porphyry, Nos. XXI. XXVIII. and XXIX.; and Tholuck's Ssufismus Sive Theosophia Persarum Pantheistica.


Every whole is at the same time a certain being and partici­pates of being, but not every being is a whole.

For either being and whole are the same, or the one is prior but the other posterior. If, however, a part so far as it is a part is being, (for a whole is from parts which have a being), yet it is not of itself likewise a whole. Being, therefore, and whole are not the same: for if this were the case, a part would be a nonentity. But if a part was a nonentity, the whole would not exist. For every whole is a whole of parts, either as existing prior to them, and therefore causally containing them in [59] itself, or as subsisting in them. But the part not exist­ing, neither is it possible for the whole to exist. If, how­ever, whole is prior to being, every being will immediately be a whole. Again, therefore, there will not be a part. This, however, is impossible. For if the whole is a whole, since it is the whole of a part, the part will be a part of the whole. It follows, therefore, that every whole is indeed a being, but not every being is a whole.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that be­ing is primarily beyond wholeness. For the one indeed, viz. being, is present to a greater number of things; since being is present to parts, so far as they are parts. But the other, viz. wholeness, is present to a less num­ber of things. For that which is the cause of a greater number of effects is more excellent; but the cause of a less number is of a subordinate nature, as has been demonstrated.


Every form is a certain whole; for it consists of many things, each of which completes the form. But not every whole is a form.

For a particular thing is an indivisible whole, but so far as it is indivisible it is not a form. For every whole consists of parts; but form is that which may be divided into individual forms. Whole, therefore, is one thing, and form another. And the one is present to many things, but the other to a few. Hence whole is above the forms of beings.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that whole has a mediate order between being and forms. And hence it follows that being subsists prior to forms, and that forms are beings, but that not every being is a form. Whence likewise privations in the effects of causes are in a certain respect beings, but are no longer forms, [60] and by virtue of the unical power of being they likewise receive a certain obscure reflexion of being.30

30. Thus matter possesses a certain obscure image of being, but does not preserve the most debile impression of form. For as the gradations of being are more extended than those of form, and as matter is the last of things, hence matter may be said to retain the footstep of being in its dark receptacle, whilst the processions of form are reflected like echoes from its rebounding seat. —T.


Every cause which is rightly so called is exempt from its effect.

For if it is in the effect it either imparts completion to it, or is in a certain respect indigent of it in order to its existence, and thus it will be more imperfect than the thing caused. For being in the effect it is rather a con-cause than a cause, and is either a part of that which is generated, or an instrument of the maker. For that which is a part in the thing generated is more imper­fect than the whole. The cause, likewise, which is in the effect is an instrument of generation to the maker, being unable to define of itself the measures of produc­tion. Every cause, therefore, which is rightly so denomi­nated, if it is more perfect than that which proceeds from it, imparts to its effect the measure of generation, and is exempt from instruments and elements, and, in brief, from everything which is called a con-cause.


Every thing which proceeds from, an immovable cause has an immutable hyparxis: but every thing which proceeds from a movable cause has a mutable hyparxis.

For if that which makes is entirely immovable, it does not produce that which is second from itself through motion, but by its very being. If, however, this be the case, it has that which proceeds from it con­current with its own essence. And if this be so, it will [61] produce as long as it exists. But it exists always, and therefore it always constitutes that which is posterior to itself. Hence this always emanates from thence, and always is, conjoining with the ever according to activity of the cause its own ever according to progression. If, however, the cause is moved that likewise which be­comes from it is essentially mutable. For that which has its being through motion, changes its being when its movable cause is changed. For if, though produced from motion, it should itself remain immutable, it would be better than its producing cause: but this is impossible. It will not therefore be immutable. Hence it will be mut­able, and will be essentially moved, imitating the motion of that which constituted, it.


Everything which is in capacity or power proceeds from that which is in activity: and that which is in capacity pro­ceeds to that which is in activity. That likewise which is in a certain respect in capacity, so far as it is in capacity, is the offspring of that which is in a certain respect in ac­tivity: but that which is all things in capacity proceeds from that which is all things in activity.31

31. See the "classical place" of Aristotle's Metaphysics, VIII. 5.; the book of Plotinus, On that which is in capacity and activity, (En. II. 5); and the dictum of Proclus (Plat. Theol. II. 4.): "for every activity is the progeny of power."

For that which is in capacity is not naturally com­petent to bring itself into activity, because it is imperfect. For, since it is imperfect, if it should become the cause to itself of perfection, and this in activity, the cause will be more imperfect than that which is produced by it. Hence that which is in capacity, so far as it is in capac­ity, will not be the cause to itself of a subsistence in ac­tivity. For, on this hypothesis, so far as it is imperfect, it would be the cause of perfection; [62] since everything which is in capacity, so far as it is in capacity is imperfect, but that which is in activity is per­fect. Hence if that which was in capacity becomes in activity, it will have its perfection from something else. And this will either be in capacity — but thus again the imperfect will be generative of the perfect — or it will be in activity, and either some other or this which was in capacity will be that which becomes in activity. But if some other which is in activity produces, operating ac­cording to its own peculiarity, it will not by being in capacity make that which is in another to be in activity; nor will this which is now made be in activity, unless it becomes this so far as it was in capacity. It follows, therefore, that from that which is in activity that which is in capacity must be changed into that which is in ac­tivity.

PROPOSITION LXXVIII. Every power is either perfect or imperfect.

For the power which is prolific of activity is per­fect, because it makes other things to be perfect through its own activities. That, however, which is perfective of other things is in a greater degree perfect, because it is more self-perfect. But the power which is indigent of another which pre-exists in activity, according to which in­digence it is something in capacity, is imperfect. For it is indigent of the perfection which is in another, in order that by participating of it, it may become perfect. Hence such a power as this is of itself imperfect. So that the power of that which is in energy is perfect, because it is prolific of energy: but the power of that which is in capacity is imperfect, because it derives its perfection from the power which is in activity.


Every thing which becomes, becomes from a twofold power.

For it is requisite that the thing which becomes [63] should possess aptitude, and an imperfect power. And that which makes, since it is in activity that which the thing generated is in capacity, antecedently comprehends a perfect power. For every activity proceeds from an inherent power. For if that which makes did not pos­sess power, how could it act and produce another? And if that which is generated did not possess an inherent power through aptitude to become, how could it come into existence? For that which makes or acts, makes or acts in that which is receptive of acts, but not in any casual thing, and which is not naturally adapted to be acted upon by the agent.


Every body of itself is naturally adapted to be passive, but every thing incorporeal to act. One, indeed, is essentially inefficacious, but the other is impassive. That which is incorporeal, however, may become passive by its associa­tion with the body; just as bodies are able to act through the participation of incorporeals.

For body so far as it is body is alone divisible, and through this becomes passive, being entirely partible, and this to infinity. But that which is incorporeal, be­cause it is simple, is impassive. For neither is that which is impartible capable of being divided, nor can that be changed in quality which is not a composite. Either, therefore, nothing will be effective, or this must be affirmed of an incorporeal nature; since body, so far as it is body does not act, because it is alone liable to be divided and to be acted upon. For everything which acts has an effective power; so that body, so far as it is body, will not act but so far as it contains in itself a power of acting. But body is essentially inefficacious and impotent, and hence when it acts it acts through the participation of power. Moreover, incorporeal natures becoming in bodies, participate of passions and various [64] affections; since they are divided with bodies, and en­joy their partible nature, though according to their own essence they are impartible.32

32. See Aristot. Metaphys. II. 4. IV. 2.; De Anima, II. 1.; De Generat. et Corrupt. 1. 2. 1. 5.; Plotinus: En. II. 4. 6., En. II. 7. 2., En. IV. 7. 1.; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XIX-XXIX; Proclus in Plat. Theol. II. 12. Wyttenbach, in his edition of the Phaedo, (pp. 195-198), has some excellent observations on the subject.


Every thing which is participated separably, is present to its participant by a certain inseparable power which it im­parts to it.

For if it is itself present to the participant in a sep­arate manner, and is not in it, as if it possessed its sub­sistence in it, a certain medium between the two is nec­essary, connecting the one with the other, and which is more similar to that which is participated, and subsists in the participant. For if this medium is separable, how can it be participated by the participant, since the par­ticipant neither contains the medium nor anything pro­ceeding from it? A power and illumination therefore proceeding from that which is separable into the participant, conjoins both. Hence one of these will be that through which the participation is effected, another will be that which is participated, and another that which participates.


Every thing incorporeal, since it is revertible to itself, when it is participated by other things is participated in a sep­arable manner.

For, if in an inseparable manner, the activity of it would not be separate from its participant, nor likewise its essence. If, however, this were the case, it would not return to itself. For, if it returns, it will be separate [65] from its participant, each being different from the other. If, therefore, it is able to return to itself it will be participated in a separable manner, when it is partic­ipated by other things.


Every nature which is gnostic of itself is able to return wholly to itself.

For, knowing itself it is evident that it returns to itself in activity. For the knower and that which is known are one. And the knowledge of itself returns to itself as to that which is known. This knowledge, like­wise, since it belongs to the knower, is a certain activity; but it is an activity of itself returning to itself, because it is able to know itself. Moreover, that it returns to it­self essentially, if through activity, has been demon­strated. For every nature which by action or energiz­ing returns to itself has likewise an essence verging to and subsisting in itself.


Every nature which always is possesses an infinite power.

For if its hypostasis is never failing, the power likewise according to which it is that which it is, and is able to exist, is infinite. For if the power of existing was finite, it would sometime or other fail. But this failing, the existence also of that which possesses it would fail, and it would no longer be that which always is. It is necessary, therefore, that the power of that which always is, and which connects and contains it es­sentially, should be infinite.


Every nature which is always becoming to be, possesses an infinite power of becoming to be.

For if it is always rising into existence, the power [66] of generation in it is never failing. For if this power was finite, it would cease in an infinite time. But the power of becoming to be ceasing, that which is rising into being according to this power would cease, and thus it would no longer be always becoming to be. It is, however, according to the hypothesis, always becoming to be, and hence it possesses an infinite power of rising into existence.


Every nature, which is truly being is infinite, neither through multitude nor through magnitude, but by power alone.

For every infinite is either in discrete, or in con­tinued quantity, or in power. But that which always is, is infinite, by reason of having an inextinguishable life, a never-failing hyparxis, and an undiminished activity. But it is neither infinite on account of magnitude, — for that which is truly being is without magnitude, being self-subsistent, since every nature self-subsistent is im­partible and simple, — nor is it infinite on account of multitude, for it has in the most eminent degree the form of The One, because it is most proximate and most allied to it. But it is infinite according to power, and hence it is likewise impartible and infinite: and the more it is one and impartible, the more it is infinite. For the power which is divided becomes imbecile and finite, and powers which are entirely divided are in every respect finite. For ultimate powers, and which are most remote from The One, are in a certain respect finite, on account of their distribution into parts. But primary powers, on account of their impartibility, are infinite — for a separation into parts divulses and dis­solves the power of every thing — but impartibility, com­pressing and contracting that which it contains, renders it never-failing and undiminished in itself.

Moreover, infinity according to magnitude, and [67] likewise according to multitude, is entirely a privation and falling off from impartibility. For that which is finite is most near to the impartible, but the infinite is most remote from it, because it entirely departs from The One. Hence that which is infinite according to power, is not infinite either according to multitude or magni­tude, since infinite power subsists in union with impar­tibility. But the infinite either in multitude or magni­tude is most remote from the impartible. If, therefore, that which is truly being was infinite either in magni­tude or multitude, it would not possess infinite power. But it has infinite power, and therefore is not infinite either according to multitude or according to mag­nitude.33

33. For the sources of this Proposition, see the Philebus of Plato, especially pp. 24, 158; Aristot. Metaphys. X. 10.; Plotinus: En. II. 4. 14.; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XXXIII et XXXVI.; and Proclus in Theol. Plat. II. 1, IV. 31 sqq.


Every eternal nature is being, but not every being is eternal.

For the participation of being is present in a cer­tain respect to generated natures, so far as each of these is not that which in no respect is. But if that which be­comes is not entirely deprived of being, it is in a certain respect being. The eternal, however, is in no respect whatever present to generated natures, and especially not to those which do not even participate of the perpetuity which subsists according to the whole of time. Moreover, every thing eternal always is. For it participates of eternity, which imparts to the natures by which it is par­ticipated to be always that which they are. Being, there­fore, is participated by a greater number of things than eternity: and hence being is beyond eternity. For by those natures by whom eternity is participated, being is likewise participated: but not every thing which participates [68] of being participates likewise of eternity.


Every nature which is truly being is either prior to eternity, or in eternity, or participates of eternity.

That there is true being prior to eternity, has been demonstrated. But true being is likewise in eternity: for eternity possesses the always in union with being. And every nature which is eternal has both the being and always by participation. Eternity, however, pos­sesses the always primarily, but being by participation. But Being itself is primarily being.


Every nature which is truly being consists of bound and infinity.

For if it has infinite power, it is evident that it is infinite, and on this account is constituted of the in­finite. If likewise it is impartible, and unical, through this it participates of bound: for that which participates of unity is bounded. Moreover, it is impartible, and therefore possesses infinite power. Hence every thing which is truly or primarily being is constituted of bound and infinity.


The first bound and the first infinity subsist by themselves, prior to every thing which is constituted of bound and the infinite.

For if beings which subsist by themselves are prior to those which are certain beings, because they are com­mon to all essences and principal causes, and not the causes of certain, but in brief of all beings, it is neces­sary that the first bound and the first infinity should be prior to that which is constituted of both of these. For [69] the bound in that which is mixed participates of infinity, and the infinite participates of bound. But of every thing that which is the first is no other than that which it is. It is not, therefore, proper that the first infi­nite should have the form of bound, or that the first bound should have the form of infinity. These, there­fore, are primarily prior to that which is mixed.


Every power is either finite or infinite. But every finite power emanates from infinite power: and infinite power ema­nates from the first infinity.

For the powers which exist at a certain time are finite, falling from the infinity of existing always: but the powers of eternal beings are infinite, because they never desert their own hyparxis.


Every multitude of infinite powers depends on one first infin­ity, which is not a participated power, nor does it subsist in things which are endued with power, but by and of it­self; not being the power of a certain participant, but the cause of all beings.

For though the first being possesses power, yet it is not power itself: for it likewise has bound. But the first power is infinity: because infinite powers are infi­nite through the participation of infinity. Infinity itself, therefore, will be prior to all powers, through which be­ing likewise has infinite power, and all things participate of infinity. For infinity is not the first, or the ineffable principle of all, since that is the measure of all things, because it is The Good and The One. Nor is infinity being: for this is infinite, but not infinity itself. Hence infinity subsists between that which is first and being itself, and is the cause of all infinite powers and of all the infinity which is in beings. [70]


Every infinite which is in true beings is neither infinite to superior natures, nor is it infinite to itself.

For that by which each thing is infinite, by this likewise it exists uncircumscribed. But every thing which is in true beings is bounded by itself, and by all the things prior to it. It follows, therefore, that the in­finite which is in true beings is infinite to subordinate natures alone, above which it is so expanded in power that it is incomprehensible by all of them. For in what­ever manner they may extend themselves towards this infinite, yet it has something entirely exempt from them. And though all things enter into it, yet it has something occult and incomprehensible by secondary natures. Though likewise it evolves the powers which it contains, yet it possesses something on account of its union insurmountable, contracted, and surpassing the evolution of beings. Since, however, it contains and bounds itself, it will not be infinite to itself, nor much less to the natures above it, since it has a portion of the infinity which is in them. For the powers of more total or universal natures are more infinite because they are more universal, and rank nearer to the first infinity.34

34. The reader must not be surprised to find that among in­finities some are more infinite than others. For as among beings some are truer than others, and possess more of real being in pro­portion as they approach nearer to Being itself, — at the same time that they are all in a certain respect beings — so infinites possess more of infinity as they approach nearer to the Infinite itself. Thus, for instance, Eternity possesses infinity more truly than time, though time also is infinite; because the infinity of Eternity is a stable, indivisible life, but the infinity of time consists in an unceasing progression, or as it were an unwearied pursuit of in­finity, which it can alone obtain in an extended and partible man­ner. And this difference among infinites extends even to matter itself, which is the most degraded and abject of all infinities, because it is infinite only in the most dormant capacity. —T.


Every perpetuity is indeed a certain infinity, but not every infinity is a perpetuity.

For there are many infinities which have the infi­nite not on account of the always, — such, for instance, as the infinity according to magnitude, the infinity ac­cording to multitude, and the infinity of matter: and whatever else there may be of the like kind which is in­finite, either because it cannot be passed over, or through the indefiniteness of its essence. That perpe­tuity, however, is a certain infinity is evident: for that which never fails is infinite. But this is that which al­ways has an inexhaustible hypostasis or nature. In­finity, therefore, is prior to perpetuity. For that which constitutes a greater number of effects, and is more uni­versal, is more causal. Hence the first infinity is beyond eternity, and infinity itself is prior to eternity.35

35. On the Infinite and Infinity, see Plotinus: En. II. 4.


Every power which is more single is more infinite than that which is multiplied.

For if the first infinity is nearest to The One, of powers that power which is more allied to The One is in a greater degree infinite than that which recedes from it. For, being multiplied, it loses its uniform na­ture, abiding in which it possessed a transcendency with respect to other powers, because it was contained therein by reason of its impartibility. For in partible natures themselves the powers when congregated are united; but when divided they are increased in number, and be­come obscured. [72]


The power of every finite body, which is infinite, is in­corporeal.

For if it was corporeal, if this body indeed is finite, the infinite will be contained in the finite. But if the body is infinite, it will not be power so far as it is body. For if so far as it is body it is finite, but power is infi­nite, it will not be power so far as it is body. Hence the power which is infinite in a finite body is incorporeal.


Every archical cause in each series or causal chain imparts to the whole series its characteristic; and that which the cause is primarily, the series is according to diminution.36

For if it is the leader of the whole series, and all co-ordinate natures are co-arranged with reference to it, it is evident that it imparts to all in the series the one idea according to which they are placed in that series. For either all things partake of similitude to this cause with­out a cause, or that which is the same in all emanates from it. But that the participation should be without a [73] cause is impossible: for that which is without a cause is likewise fortuitous. But the fortuitous does not hap­pen in things in which there is order, connection, and an invariable sameness of subsistence. From the prin­cipal cause, therefore, every series receives the charac­teristic of the hypostasis or nature of that cause. But if so, it is evident that it receives this characteristic with a descent and decrement adapted to secondary natures. For either the characteristic exists similarly in the leader, and the natures which are secondary, and in this case in what way would the principal cause be the leader, and the secondary natures be allotted an hypos­tasis after the leader? Or, it exists dissimilarly. And if this be so, it is evident that sameness emanates to the multitude from one, but not vice versa: and that the characteristic of the series which primarily preexists in one (the leader), is secondary in the multitude.

36. "But as there are many genera of Gods emanating from the power of Zeus, the father of all, truly each is allotted a place in the Homeric chain, and all are referred to Zeus and all depend on him, who is a much more beautiful chain than that golden one, or any other which one may imagine." —Aristides: Oration I. p 6, Vol. I. ed. Dindorf.

"Try me if such be your will: — all ye Gods join together and prove me! Letting the golden chain — that encompasses all — from the heavens, Down; and with strength united, attempt, if ye can, to subvert me! Vain were the fruitless toil:— strive all as ye may, ye succeed not: Zeus is the highest still — despite your attempts to remove him!
But, if I will to move, without effort I drag you before me;
Drag you aloft with ease, wide earth and the depths of the ocean;
Binding the links of the chain to a peak of the mighty Olympus:
Leaving the chain, and all, in the firmament swinging before me.
Such, and so strong, do I rule: — over Gods as I rule over mortals. —Homer: The Iliad, VIII. 18-26 (Dart's translation).

[See illustration in appendix.]


Every separate cause is at one and the same time everywhere and nowhere.

For by the impartance of its own power it is every­where. For this is a cause which replenishes the na­tures which are naturally adapted to participate of it, rules over all secondary beings, and is present to all things by the prolific progressions of its illuminations. But by an essence unmingled with things in place, and by its exempt purity, it is nowhere. For if it is sepa­rate, it is established above all things. In a similar manner, likewise, it is in no one of the natures inferior to itself. For if it was alone everywhere, it would not in­deed be prevented from being a cause, and from sub­sisting in all its participants: but it would not be prior to all of them in a separate manner. If likewise it was nowhere without being everywhere, it would not indeed be prevented from being prior to all things, and from [74] being nothing pertaining to subordinate natures. But it would not be in all things, since causes are naturally adapted to be in their effects by the abundant and un-envying impartances of themselves. In order, therefore, that, existing as a cause it may be in all things which are able to partake of it, and that being separate in itself it may be prior to all the natures which are filled by it, it is everywhere and at the same time nowhere.

And it is not indeed partly everywhere and partly nowhere. For thus it would be divulsed and separate from itself, if one part of it was everywhere in all things, but another was nowhere and prior to all things. But the whole of it is everywhere, and in a similar manner nowhere. For the things which are able to participate of it meet with the whole of it, and find the whole pres­ent to themselves, while at the same time it is wholly exempt from them. For the participant does not place this separate cause in itself, but participates of it to the extent of its capacity. Nor by the impartance of itself does it become contracted by the multitude of the par­ticipations of it: for it is separate. Nor do its partici­pants participate of it defectively; for that which imparts is everywhere.


Every imparticipable, so far as it is imparticipable, is not constituted by another cause. But it is itself the prin­ciple and cause of all its participants; and thus every principle in each causal chain is unbegotten.37

For if it is imparticipable in its own series or chain [75] it is allotted the principality, and does not proceed from other things. For it would no longer be the first, if it received this characteristic, according to which it is im­participable, from another. But if it is inferior to other things, and proceeds from them, it does not pro­ceed from them so far as it is imparticipable, but so far as it participates. For of the things from which it orig­inates it doubtless participates, and these things do not exist primarily: but that which is imparticipable exists primarily. Hence it is not from a cause so far as it is imparticipable. For so far as it is from a cause it par­ticipates, and is not imparticipable. But so far as it is imparticipable it is the cause of things which are par­ticipated, and is not itself a participant of other things.38

37. Hence as all things proceed from the Ineffable that which is imparticipable proceeds also from it, yet not as from a cause, but as from that which is better than cause. The procession, therefore, of the imparticipable from the Ineffable is arrhtoV ekfansiV, an ineffable evolution into light. —T.

[See illustration in appendix.]

38. See Plotinus: En. V. 5. 9 sq; En. VI. 9. 4 sq.


Every chain of wholes is extended to an imparticipable cause and principle: but all imparticipables depend on the one principle of all things.39

39. See Plotinus: En. V. 3. 12 sq.

For if each chain suffers a certain sameness, there is in each a certain leader, the cause of this sameness. For as all beings are from one, so every chain is from one. But, again, all imparticipable monads are referred to The One; because all of them are analogous to The One. So far, therefore, as they likewise suffer some­thing which is the same through an analogy to The One, so far a reduction of them to The One is effected. And so far, indeed, as all of them are from The One, no one of these is a principle, but they emanate from that as from a principle: but so far as each is imparticip­able, so far each is a principle. Hence, since they are the principles of certain things, they depend on the prin­ciple of all things: for that is the principle of all [76] things of which all things participate. All things however alone participate of the first; but of other things not all but certain things participate. Hence likewise The One is simply the first, but other things are firsts with reference to a certain thing, but are not firsts simply.


Imparticipable intellect is the leader of all things which participate of intellect, imparticipable life of all things, which participate of life, and imparticipable being of all things which participate of being. And of these, being is prior to life, but life is prior to intellect.

For because in each causal chain of beings imparticipables are prior to things which are participated, it is necessary that intellect should be prior to intellectuals, that life should be prior to vital natures, and that being itself should be prior to beings. Because however that which is the cause of more effects precedes that which is the cause of fewer, hence among these being will be the first; for it is present to all things to which life and intellect are present. For every thing which lives and participates of intelligence necessarily is; but not vice versa. For many beings neither live, nor energize intellectually. But life is the second. For all things which participate of intellect participate likewise of life, but not vice versa. For many things indeed live, but are destitute of knowledge. And intellect is the third. For every thing which is in any manner what­soever gnostic, likewise lives and is. If therefore be­ing is the cause of more effects, but life of fewer, and intellect of still fewer, being is the first in the causal order, life the second, and intellect the third.40

40. Compare Aristot. De Anima I. 5. III. 4. et Joan. Philoponi Com. Prooemium; Plotinus: En. V. 5. 1 sq., En. VI. 5. 5 sq.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. I. 25, II. 11.; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XV. sqq.; Iamblichus De Mysteriis Aegyptt. I. 7 et Galeus in notis p. 190.


All beings which exist in any manner whatsoever consist of bound and the infinite through that which is primarily being. But all living beings are motive or active of them­selves through the first life. And all gnostic beings par­ticipate of knowledge through the first intellect.

For if that which is imparticipable in each causal chain imparts its own characteristic to all the natures under the same chain, it is evident that the first being likewise imparts to all things both bound and infinity, since it is itself primarily mixed from these. Life like­wise imparts to all things the motion or activity which it possesses in itself. For life is the first progression and motion from the stable hypostasis or nature of be­ing. And intellect imparts knowledge to all things: for the summit of all knowledge is in intellect, and intellect is the first gnostic nature.


All things are in all, but each is appropriately in each.

For in being there are life and intellect; and in life being and thought; and in intellect being and life. But in intellect, indeed, all things subsist intellectually, in life vitally, and in being all things are truly beings. For since every thing subsists either according to cause, or according to hyparxis, or according to participation; and since in the first the others are according to cause; in the second the first is according to participation, and the third according to cause; and in the third the natures prior to it are according to participation, — this being the case, life and intellect have a prior or causal subsistence in being. Since, however, each thing is characterized according to hyparxis, and neither according to cause (for cause deals with effects,) nor according to participa­tion (for that is external of which a thing participates,) [78] — hence in being there are truly life and thought, essen­tial life and essential intellect. And in life there is be­ing indeed according to participation, but thought ac­cording to cause. Each of these, however, subsists there vitally: for the hyparxis is according to life. And in in­tellect life and essence subsist according to participa­tion, and each of these subsists there intellectually. For the being or essence of intellect is gnostic, and life is knowledge.


Every thing which is primarily eternal has both an eternal essence and activity.

For if it primarily participates of the perpetuity of eternity, it does not partially participate of it, but en­tirely. For either it participates of it in activity, but not in essence. This however is impossible: since in this case energy would be more excellent than essence. Or, it participates of it according to essence, but does not participate of it according to activity. In this case, however, that which is primarily eternal, and that which primarily participates of time, will be the same. And time, indeed, will primarily measure the essence of cer­tain things, but eternity which is more excellent than all time will not measure the essence of any thing, if that which is primarily eternal is not essentially contained by eternity. Hence every thing which is primarily eternal has both an eternal essence and activity.


Every thing immortal is perpetual; but not every thing per­petual is immortal.

For if the immortal is that which always participates of life, but that which always participates of life partici­pates likewise of being, and that which always lives always [79] is, — hence everything immortal is perpetual. But the immortal is that which is unreceptive of death, and al­ways lives: and the perpetual is that which is unreceptive of non-being, and always is. If, however, there are many beings more or less excellent than life which are unre­ceptive of death but exist always, — not every thing there­fore which is perpetual is immortal. That, however, there are many beings not immortal which exist always, is evident. For there are certain beings, indeed, which are destitute of life, but which exist always, and are in­destructible. For as being is related to life, so is the perpetual to the immortal. For the life which cannot be taken away is immortal, and the being which cannot be taken away is perpetual. But being is more compre­hensive than life, and therefore the perpetual is more comprehensive than the immortal.41

41. See Aristot. Topicc. IV. 5. et VI. 3.; Plotinus En. III. 1.1 sq., En. III. 7. 1 sq.; Platonis Phaedon. p. 105 D, and annotation of Wyttenbaeh, p. 280 sqq.


Between every thing which is entirely eternal both in essence and activity, and every thing which has its essence in time, the medium, is that which is partly eternal and partly measured by time.

For that which has its essence comprehended by time is entirely temporal, and by a much greater pri­ority this will be allotted a temporal activity. But that which is entirely temporal is in every respect dissimilar to that which is entirely eternal. But all causal pro­gressions are through similars. Hence there is some­thing between these. The medium, therefore, is either that which is eternal in essence, but temporal in activity, or vice versa. This latter, however, is impossible: for in that case activity would be more excellent than essence. [80] It follows therefore that the medium is the former of these.


Every thing which is partly eternal and, partly temporal is at one and the same time being and generation.

For every thing eternal is being, and that which is measured by time is generation: so that if the same thing participates of time and eternity, yet not accord­ing to the same, it will be both being and generation, but not both according to one of these alone.42

42. As to the argument, see Platonis Timaeum p. 27 sq.; Aristot. De Generat. et Corrupt. I. 3.; Plutarch, advers. Colotem, p. 547 sq. Wyttenb. et Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XIII. et XIV.

Corollary.— From these things it is evident that generation, indeed, having a temporal essence depends on that which partly partakes of being and partly of generation, participating at once of eternity and time. But this is related to that which is in every respect eter­nal: and that which is in every respect eternal is related to being which is prior to the eternal.


Every thing which is partial in each order is able to partici­pate in a twofold respect of the monad which is in the proximately superior order, viz. either through its own wholeness, or through that which is partial in the supe­rior order and co-ordinate with the thing according to an analogy to the whole caitsal chain.

For if the return to all things is through sim­ilitude, that which is partial in an inferior order is dissimilar to that which is monadic and a whole in a su­perior order; and is as that which is partial to a whole, and as one order to another. But a partial nature is similar to a whole of the same causal chain through a [81] communion of characteristic, and to the proximately su­perior co-ordinate characteristic through an analogous hypostasis or nature. It is evident, therefore, that through these media a return from one to the other is effected, as through similars to that which is similar. For the one is similar as the partial to that which is par­tial, but the other as that which is the appropriate of the same chain. But the whole of the superior chain is dis­similar in both these respects.


Every partial or particular intellect participates of the Pri­mal Unity which is above intellect, both through the Uni­versal Intellect and through the partial unity which is co-ordinate with it. And every partial soul participates of Universal Intellect through Universal Soul, and through a partial intellect. And every partial nature of body participates of Universal Soul through Universal Mature, and a partial soul.

For every thing partial participates of the monad which is in a superior order, either through its charac­teristic wholeness (universality) or through that which is partial in that order, and which is co-ordinate with the partial nature.43

43. As to the argument, see Plotinus: En. VI. 2. 4. sqq., and Proclus in Plat. Theol. II. 1.


Of all the things which are arranged in each causal chain, those which are first and are conjoined with their mo­nad are able to participate of the natures which are proximately established in the superior causal chain through analogy. But those which are more imperfect and remote from their proper principle are not naturally adapted to enjoy these natures.

For because the things which are first are allied to [82] those in a superior series, being allotted a better and more divine nature in the order to which they belong, but the things which are more imperfect proceed further from their principle, and are allotted a secondary and ministrant but not a primary and leading progression in the whole causal chain, — this being the case, the former are necessarily connascently conjoined to the things in a superior order; but the latter are unable to be conjoined with them. For all things are not of an equal dignity, though they may belong to the same or­der. For neither is there one and the same ratio in all: but all things proceed from their proper monad as from one and return to one. Hence they are not allotted the same power. But some things are able to receive proximately the participations of superior natures; but others, by reason of their distant progressions from their prin­ciples, are deprived of a power of this kind.


Of every intellectual causal chain some are divine intellects, receiving the participations of the Gods; but others are intellects alone. And of every psychical chain some are in­tellectual souls, which depend on their proper intellects; but others are souls alone.44 And of every corporeal na­ture some have souls supernally presiding over them, but others are natures alone, destitute of the presence of souls.

44. See Plat. Phaedr. p. 247 sq.; Hermiae Commentar. p. 134 sqq. ed. Couvreur; Aristot. De Anima III. 4. cum Jo. Philoponi Commentar.; Plotinus: En. IV. 1.; Proclus in Plat. Tim. p. 74 sq. et Porphyrii Sententt. cap. I—XI.

For of each causal chain not the whole genus is naturally adapted to depend on that which is prior to itself, but only that which is more perfect in it, and fit to be connascent with superior natures. Neither, there­fore, is every intellect attached to a deity, but those in­tellects only which are supreme and most single: for [83] these are cognate to the divine unities. Nor do all souls participate of participable intellect, but those only which are most intellectual. Nor do all corporeal natures en­joy the presence of soul, and of the soul which is par­ticipated, but those only which are more perfect, and possess in a greater degree the form of reason. And this is the mode of demonstration in all.


Of every order those things which are primal have the form of the natures prior to them.

For the highest genera in each order are conjoined through similitude to the natures which are above them, and through the connexion of the progression of wholes the subject are conjoined to the superior natures. Hence such as the superior natures are primarily, such like­wise is the form which these highest genera are allotted, and which is cognate to the nature of those in the su­perior order. Likewise they appear to be, through the characteristic of their subsistence, such as the natures which are prior to them.


Every divine number is unical.

For if a divine number has a precedaneous cause, viz. The One, just as an intellectual number has intel­lect, and a psychical number soul, and if multitude is every where analogous to its cause, it is evident that a divine number is unical, since The One is God. But this follows, since The One and The Good are the same; for The Good and God are the same. For that beyond which there is nothing, and which all things de­sire, is God. And likewise that from which all things proceed, and to which all things tend, is The Good. If therefore there is a multitude of Gods, the multitude is [84] unical. But that there is a multitude of Gods (divine unities) is evident: for every archical cause is the leader of an appropriate multitude which is similar and cognate to the cause.45

45. See Plotinus: En. V. Lib. I. 5.; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XXXVIII.; Proclus in Plat. Theolog. Lib. IV. 29; Theologumena Arithmeticae, p. 4 sq. ed. Ast.; Jo. Laur. Lydus De Mensibus, Lib. II. cap. 4., and Additional Notes.


Every God is a self-perfect unity, and every self-perfect unity is a God.

For if the number of unities is two fold, as has been demonstrated, and some are self-perfect, but others are illuminations from the self-perfect unities, and if a divine number is allied to and connatural with The One and The Good, the Gods are self-perfect unities. And, vice versa, if there is a self-perfect unity it is a God. For as unity is in the most eminent degree allied to The One, and the self-perfect to The Good, so likewise ac­cording to both of these the self-perfect participates of the divine peculiarity and is a God. But if a God was a unity, yet not a self-perfect unity, or a self-perfect hypostasis, yet not a unity, he would be arranged in an­other order, on account of the mutation of the peculiarity.


Every God is super essential, supervital, and superintellectual.

For if each is a self-perfect unity, but neither es­sence, life, or intellect is a unity, but that which is unit­ed, it is evident that every God is beyond each of these, viz., essence, life, and intellect. For if these differ from each other, but all are in all, each of these being all will not be one only. Further, if the first God is superessential, [85] but every God is of the primary causal chain, so far as it is a God, each will be superessential. But that the first God is superessential, is evident.46 For essence is not the same with unity, nor is to exist the same thing as to be united. If, however, these are not the same, either the first God is both of these, and in this case he will not be one only, but something else besides The One, and will participate of unity, but will not be The One itself, — or, he is one of these. But if indeed he is essence, he will be indigent of The One. It is, how­ever, impossible that The Good and The First should be indigent. Hence he is one alone, and therefore superessential. But if each thing imparts the peculiar­ity of that which it is primarily to the whole causal chain [of which it is the leader], every divine number is superessential; since every archical cause produces sim­ilars prior to dissimilars. If, therefore, the first God is superessential, all the Gods will be superessential: for they will be entirely similar to the First. Since, how­ever, they are likewise essences they will be produced from the first essence, as the monads of essences.

46. See Additional Notes.


Every deity except The One is participable.

For that The One is imparticipable is evident, since if it was participated, and thereby related to another, it would no longer be similarly the cause of all things, of both primary and secondary beings. But that the other unities are participated, we shall thus demonstrate. For if there is another imparticipable unity after the First, in what will it differ from The One? For either it subsists in the same manner as that; and in this case how is the one the second, but the other first? Or it does not subsist in the same manner: and thus one of these will be The One [86] itself, but the other one and not one. This non-one, likewise, if it is no hypostasis whatever will be one alone. But if it is a certain hypostasis other than The One, in this case The One will be participated by the non-one: and that will be a self-perfect one which con­joins the non-one with The One. So that again God will be this [viz. the one] so far as he is God. But that which is non-one will subsist in the participation of The One. Every unity, therefore, which subsists after The One is participable, and every God is participable.47

47. See Plotinus: En. V. 5. 12 sq., and Proclus in Plat. Theol. I. 19. II. 4.


Every God is the measure of beings.

For if every God is unical, he defines and measures all the multitude of beings. For all multitudes, since they are in their own nature indefinite, are bounded through The One. But that which is unical, measuring and determining the natures to which it is present, leads into bound that which by its own power is not bounded. For the unical has the form of The One by participation. But that which is uniform recedes from indefiniteness and infinity: and the more uniform it is the less is it indefinite, and without measure. Every multi­tude of beings, therefore, is measured by the divine unities.48

48. See the Theaetetus, p. 152 A; the Cratylus, p. 386 A; Aristot. Metaphys. III. 5., and Plotinus: En. VI. 8. 17.

The basis of this Proposition is Plato De Legg. IV. p. 716: "But God is specially to us the measure of all things — much more indeed than any man, according to the opinion of the vulgar." Plato refers to the childish notion of Protagoras, which was an echo of the belief of the multitude, that "man is the measure of all things." Proclus acutely observes: "the argument of Protag­oras is this: if such as things appear to be to every man such they are, the wise will not exist, but only the foolish. But the second assertion is not true, neither therefore is the first." (Scholia on the Cratylus, no. XXXVIII.) This and other equally irrational notions, such as "might makes right," ought to have sunk into utter oblivion by reason of their essential absurdity, inanity, and weakness, but they reappear even in this enlight­ened (?) century, branded as "new," "up-to-date," "scien­tific thought," etc. The people who hold and disseminate these sensuous chimeras are ignorantly called "advanced thinkers." In truth they are neither "advanced" nor "thinkers." All their "thinking" is done on the animal plane. Unable to apprehend the eternal and immutable ideas, which are perennially fresh and ever valid, these philosophasters are reviving antiquated opinions which were exploded and refuted thousand of years ago.


Every thing which is in the Gods pre-exists in them according to their peculiarities. And the peculiarity of the Gods is unical and super essential. Hence all things are contained in them unically and superessentially.

For if everything subsists in a three-fold manner, viz. either according to cause, or according to hyparxis, or according to participation, but the first number of all things is the divine number, nothing will be in the Gods according to participation, but all things will subsist in them either according to hyparxis, or according to cause. The things, however, which they antecedently contain because they are the causes of all things, they antecedently contain in a manner appropriate to their own union. For every being which is the leader of secondary natures causally, contains the cause of things subordinate in a way naturally adapted to itself. All things, therefore, are in the Gods unically and superes­sentially.49

49. See Plotinus: En. VI. 8. 18 sqq.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. I. 24. III. 1.; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XXXVIII.; Iamblichus De Mysteriis Aegyptt. VIII. 2.


Every God subsists through its own superessential goodness, and is good neither through participation, nor through essence, but superessentially; since habits and essences are allotted a secondary and remote order from the Gods.

For if the first God is The One and The Good, and so far as he is The One he is likewise The Good, and so far as he is The Good he is likewise The One, if this be the case, every causal chain of the Gods is uniform and boniform according to one peculiarity, and each of the Gods is not a unity and goodness according to any other thing. But each so far as he is a unity is a good­ness, and so far as he is a goodness is a unity. To the degree, likewise, that the Gods posterior to the first God proceed from the First they are boniform and uniform, since the First is The One and The Good: but as Gods they are all unities and goodnesses.

As, therefore, the one of the Gods is superessen­tial, so likewise is their goodness, since it is no other than the one. For each of them is no other than the good, but is good alone; as neither is each any other than the one, but is one alone.50

50. See Plotinus: En, I. 7. 1 sq.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. I. 15. I. 23.

On Providence.


Every God has in its own essence a providence of the whole of things. And a providential activity is primarily in the Gods.

For all other things which are posterior to the Gods, act providentially through the participation of them: but providence is connascent with the Gods. For [89] if to impart good to the subjects of providential activity is the prerogative of the providential peculiarity, but all the Gods are goodnesses, either they do not impart themselves to anything, and thus nothing will be good in secondary natures. And whence will that be derived which subsists according to participation, except from those natures which primarily possess peculiarities? Or, if they do impart themselves they impart good, and because of this providentially attend to all things. Prov­idence, therefore, subsists primarily in the Gods. For where is the activity which is prior to intellect, except in superessential natures? But providence (pronoia), as the name signifies, is an energy or activity prior to intellect (energeia esti pro nou). The Gods, therefore, by reason of their essence, and because they are good­nesses, provide for all things, filling all things with the goodness which is prior to intellect.51

51. We may further infer the necessity of Providence in the Gods from considering that as they are the productive causes of all things, so all things abide and are radically established in their natures. For where can any thing subsist, which is not contained in their unknown and all-pervading comprehensions? But if this be the case, since all things are in reality the offspring of the Gods they must continually be the objects of their providential exer­tions. For as goodness is the characteristic of these divine natures, it is impossible that they should abandon their progeny, or cease to impart their beneficent, unenvying, and all-powerful communi­cations. Nor must we think that these providential exertions are laborious to the Gods, — since, as Proclus well observes, (Theol. Plat. p. 41), "that which is according to nature is not laborious to any thing: for neither is it laborious to fire to impart heat, nor to snow to refrigerate, nor to bodies themselves to energize accord­ing to their peculiar powers. Nor, prior to bodies, is it laborious to natures themselves to nourish, or generate, or increase: for these are the works of natures. Nor again, prior to these, is it laborious to souls to exert their peculiar energies: for many of their energies are attended with delight, many are the result of their essence, and many motions are produced by their presence alone." Hence if the communication of good naturally belongs to the Gods, Providence also is natural to these divinities, which they exert in a tranquil, unpolluted, and incorporeal manner.

Should it be inquired in what manner Providence operates, the following beautiful passage from Proclus On the Parmenides, as cited by Ficinus [Ficino] in his commentary on that dialogue, will give us abundant satisfaction: "Let us conceive a ship agitated by the winds and waves, and let us suppose that the imagination of some one is so powerful that while he imagines the sea, the sea immediately flows; that while he imagines the ship, the ship is construct­ed; and that the winds and waves arise agreeable to his imagina­tion, and as the consequences of its vehement energy. Now it is evident that such a one would not be compelled in surveying these particulars to employ a confused and distracted vision, but both his knowledge and operation would equally subsist in a uniform manner. And such is the simplicity of Divine Intelligence with respect to the intuition and fabrication of inferior concerns." —T.


Every divine nature has for its essence goodness, but a unical power, and a knowledge arcane and incomprehensible by all secondary natures.

For if it is provident of the whole of things, there is in it a power dominating the subjects of its providential activity; through which power, unsubdued and uncircumscribed by all things, divine natures fill all things with, and subject all things to, themselves. For every archical cause of other things, and which is dominative of them through abundance of power, rules and dominates according to nature.

The first power, therefore, is in the Gods, not in­deed dominating some things but not others, but equally comprehending in itself primarily the powers of all be­ings, this power neither being essential nor much less unessential, but connascent with the hyparxis of the Gods, and superessential. Moreover, the boundaries of all cognitions presubsist uniformly in the Gods. For through divine knowledge, which is exempt from the whole of things, all other cognitions subsist; which divine [91] cognition is neither intellectual, nor much less a certain knowledge posterior to intellect, but is estab­lished according to the divine characteristic above intel­lect. If, therefore, there is a divine knowledge, this knowledge is arcane and uniform: and if there is a power uncircumscribed by all things, this power is in a simi­lar manner comprehensive of all things. If, likewise, there is a divine goodness, this goodness defines the hyparxis of the Gods: since, if all things are in the Gods, knowledge, power, and goodness are likewise in them. But their hyparxis is characterized by that which is most excellent, and their hypostasis or nature likewise is according to that which is best. But this is goodness.52

52. Compare the Philebus, p. 64 sqq.; the Timaeus, p. 29 sq.; Plotinus: En. I. 7. 1. sq., En. V. 9. 2.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. V. 17.


Every divine nature provides for secondary natures, and is exempt from the subjects of its providential care, provi­dence neither remitting the pure and unical transcend­ency of that which is divine, nor a separate union abolish­ing providence.

For divine beings abiding in their unical nature, and in their own hyparxis, fill all things with the power of themselves. And every thing which is able to par­ticipate of them enjoys the good which it is capable of receiving, according to the measures of its own hypos­tasis; divine natures in the mean time illuminating all things by their very being, or rather prior to being. For since they are no other than goodness, they supply without envy all things with an abundance of good, by their very being, not making a distribution according to a reasoning process; things receiving indeed accord­ing to their worth, and divine natures imparting ac­cording to their hyparxis. Neither, therefore, in providing [92] for other things do the Gods receive a habitude or alliance with the subjects of their providential care: for they benefit all things by being that which they are. But every nature which makes by its very essence, makes without habitude, [and with an unrestrained en­ergy], since habitude is an addition to essence. Hence likewise it is preternatural. Nor because they are sep­arate do the Gods withdraw their providential care: for thus they would subvert — which it is not lawful to say — their own hyparxis, the characteristic of which is good­ness. For it is the province of goodness to extend it­self to every thing which is able to participate of it. And the greatest is not that which is boniform, but that which is beneficent (the doer of good). Either, therefore, no being will possess this beneficent nature, or the Gods will possess this beneficent nature, or the Gods will possess it prior to beings. For it is not pos­sible that a greater good should be present to the na­tures which are good by participation, but a less good to those which are primarily good.


Every divine nature is itself, by reason of its superessential union, ineffable and unknown to all secondary natures; but it is comprehended and known by its participants. Hence that which is First is alone entirely unknown, be­cause it is imparticipable.

For all knowledge which arises through reasoning deals with beings, and in beings possesses the appre­hension of truth, since it comes into contact with con­ceptions, and subsists in intellections. But the Gods are beyond all beings. Neither, therefore, is that which is divine the object of opinion, nor can it be appre­hended by the dianoetic power, or by intellection. For every being is either sensible, and therefore the object [93] of opinion; or truly existing being, and therefore the object of intellect, or it is between these, existing as be­ing and at the same time as generated, and therefore the object of the dianoetic power (discursive reason). If, therefore, the Gods are superessential, and subsist prior to beings, they cannot be apprehended by either opinion, or by science and discursive reason, or by in­telligence. But the nature of their peculiarities is known by the beings which depend on them: and this by a necessary consequence. For the differences of participants are co-divided conformably to the peculiari­ties of the participated natures. And neither does ev­ery thing participate of every thing: for there is no co­ordination of things perfectly dissimilar. Nor does any casual thing participate of that which is casual. But that which is kindred is conjoined to that which is kin­dred, and proceeds from that to which it is allied.53

53. Compare Plotinus: En. VI. 8. 7 sq.; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. XXVI.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. V. 28., and Commentary of Olympiodorus on the First Alcibiades, p. 133, ed. Creuzer.

The reader must remember that the Gods are alone superes­sential through their unities, which are the characteristics of their natures: for as irrationality is the essential signature of a brute, and rationality of a man, so a divine unity is the invariable characteristic of a God. —T.


Every God knows partible natures impartibly, temporal na­tures without time, things which are not necessary neces­sarily, mutable natures immutably; and, summarily, all things in a manner more excellent than the order of things known.

For if every thing which is with the Gods is with them according to their characteristic, it is evident that the knowledge in the Gods of things inferior will not subsist according to the nature of the inferior [94] things, but according to the exempt transcendency of the Gods. Hence their knowledge of multiplied and passive natures will be uniform and impassive. If, therefore, the object of knowledge is partible, divine knowledge will be impartible. If the objects which are known are mutable, the knowledge of the Gods will be immutable; if they are contingent, they will be known by the Gods necessarily; and if they are indefinite, definitely. For that which is divine does not receive knowledge from subordinate beings in such a way that the knowl­edge is of the same nature as that of the thing known. But subordinate beings become indefinite and uncer­tain about the definite nature of the Gods, are changed about their immutability, receive passively that which is impassive in them, and temporally that which in them is without time. For it is possible for subordinate to be sur­passed by more excellent natures; but it is not lawful for the Gods to receive any thing from beings inferior to themselves.54

54. For an unfolding of the argument of this Proposition see the Phaedrus, p. 247 and the Commentary of Hermeias; the Philebus, p. 61; Plotinus: En. V. 8. 4., En. VI. 7. 36; and Proclus in Plat. Theol. pp. 54, 282, 294, 306, 308.


Every God, from that order from, which he began to unfold himself into light, proceeds through all secondary na­tures, always indeed multiplying and dividing the impartances of himself, but preserving the characteristic of his own hypostasis.

For progressions becoming through diminution, first natures are every where in a certain manner multiplied into the decrements of secondary natures. But these proceeding according to a similitude to their producing causes receive their orderly distribution, so that the whole of that which proceeds is in a manner the same [95] with and different from that which abides; through its diminution indeed appearing to be different, but through continuity with its cause not departing from sameness with it. But such as that which abides is among first, such as that which proceeds is among sec­ondary natures; and thus an indissoluble communion of the causal chain is preserved. Each of the Gods, therefore, is unfolded into light appropriately in the or­ders in which he makes his evolution.55 But he proceeds from thence as far as to the last of things, through the generative power of primary natures. He is always, however, multiplied through a progression from unity into multitude. But he preserves identity in the pro­gression, through the similitude of the things which pro­ceed to the leader and primary cause of each causal chain.

55. The source of this is in the Phaedrus, p. 246: "Zeus, the mighty leader in heaven, driving a winged chariot, heads the di­vine procession, disposing and presiding over all things; and after him follows an army of Gods and daemons, distributed into eleven divisions." Read the illuminating comment of Hermeias, and the notes of Ast, on this passage. Lamprias in Plutarch (Sympos. IX. 5.) says that Plato "calls the intelligible nature of the heaven a winged chariot, the harmonious revolution of the universe." Plotinus, (En. V. 8. 10.), says: "Wherefore Zeus himself, who is the most ancient of the other Gods, whom he leads, proceeds first to the contemplation of the intelligible world; and the other Gods, daemons and souls, who are able to perceive these transcendently lucid objects, follow him." Add Plotinus: En. III. 2. 1.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. IV. 16.; Damascius Peri Arcwn.


Every God who is nearer to The One is more universal, but the God who is more remote from it is more particular.

For the God who is the cause of more effects is nearer to that which produces all things; but he who is the cause of fewer is more remote from it. And he in­deed who is the cause of many effects is more universal; [96] but he who is the cause of fewer is more particular. And each, indeed, is a unity; but the one is greater and the other less in power. The more partial Gods like­wise are generated from the more universal: the latter not being divided, since they are unities; nor changed in quality, because they are immovable; nor multiplied by habitude, for they are unmingled. But from them­selves, through an abundance of power, they generate secondary progressions, which are the decrements of the natures prior to them.


Every divine nature, since it is simple, is specially primary, and on this account is most self-sufficient.

For that it is simple is evident from its unity; since every divine nature is most unical. But a nature of this kind is transcendently simple. That it is likewise most sufficient to itself may be learned by considering that a composite nature is indigent, if not of other things to which it is external, yet of those things of which it is composed. But that which is most simple and unical, and which establishes itself in The Good, is most self-sufficient. Such, however, is every divine nature. Neither, therefore, is it indigent of other things, since it is goodness itself, nor of things requisite to composi­tion, because it is unical.


Every God, when participated by natures nearer to himself, is participated without a medium; but when -participat­ed by natures more remote from himself, the participa­tion is through fewer or more media.

For the former, since they are uniform and self-ex­istent through their cognation, are able to participate immediately of the divine unities; but the latter, through [97] their diminution and extension into multitude require other things which are more united, in order that they may participate of the unities themselves, and not of things united. For united multitude subsists between unity itself and divided multitude; being indeed able to coalesce with unity, but allied in a certain respect to di­vided multitude, through the appearance or image of multitude.


Every divine body is divine through a divine soul: every soul is divine through a divine intellect: and every intellect is divine through the participation of a divine unity. Unity indeed is of itself a God: intellect is most divine: soul is divine, but body is deiform.

For if every number of the Gods is above intellect, but participations are effected through cognate and similar natures, the impartible essence will primarily participate of the superessential unities: secondarily the nature which comes into contact with generation will participate of them; and, thirdly, generation. Each of these likewise participates of them through the proxi-mately superior natures: the peculiarity of the Gods in­deed proceeding even to the last of things in its partici­pants, but through media cognate to itself. For unity indeed imparts its transcendent power in divine concerns to the first intellect, and causes this intellect to be like itself according to unical multitude. But through intel­lect it is likewise present to soul, conjoining soul with intellect and co-inflaming it [with divine fire], when this intellect is participate. And through soul it imparts even to body an echo or resonance of its own pecu­liarity, if it is a body which participates in any respect of soul. And thus body becomes not only animated and intellectual, but likewise divine, receiving life and [98] motion from soul, indissoluble permanency from intel­lect, and divine union from the unity which is participated. For each of these imparts its own hyparxis to the subsequent nature.56

56. As to the argument, see the Timaeus, p. 30; Plotinus: En. IV. 3. 21., En. IV. 4. 9 sq.; Proclus in Plat. Theol. p. 126 sq,; Porphyrii Sententt. cap. 1—VII.


In every divine order the things which are first are more ex­empt from the natures proximately arranged under them, than these latter are from things subsequent. And secon­dary natures are more dependent on their proximate su­periors, than following natures are dependent on these.

For the more unical and universal a nature is, the more is it allotted a greater transcendency with respect to subsequent natures. And the more diminished it is in power, the more is it connascent with the natures pos­terior to itself. And the higher natures indeed are more united with their more principal causes; but inferior na­tures are less united with them. For to be more exempt from subordinate natures, and to be more united to su­perior, implies a greater power: on the contrary, to re­cede in a greater degree from more excellent, and to be co-passive with subordinate natures, implies a diminution of power. And this happens to secondary, but not to primary natures, in every order of things.


Every God, begins his own activity from himself.

For he first exhibits in himself the peculiarity of his presence to secondary natures, because he likewise im­parts himself to other things according to his own exu­berant plentitude. For neither does deficiency belong to the Gods, nor plentitude alone. For every thing deficient [99] is imperfect, and it is impossible that the imper­fect should make another thing perfect. But that which is full is alone self-sufficient, and is not yet prepared to impart itself. It is necessary, therefore, that the nature which fills other things, and which extends to other things the impartances of itself should be super-plenary or exuberantly full. Hence if a divine nature fills all things from itself with the good which it contains in it­self, each deity is exuberantly full. And if this be so, primarily possessing in itself the peculiarity which it im­parts to others, it will extend to them the communica­tions of super-plenary goodness.


All the orders of the Gods are bound in union by a medium.

For all the progressions of beings are effected through similars; and much more will the orders of the Gods possess an indissoluble continuity, because they subsist uniformly, and are defined according to the one, which is the archical cause of their existence. The decrements, therefore, are produced unitedly, and alone according to the similitude in beings of secondary to primary natures. And this is so, because the hyparxis of the Gods much more consists in union than the sub­sistence of beings. All the divine genera, therefore, are bound together by appropriate media; and primary natures do not proceed into progressions perfectly dif­ferent without a medium, but through the genera com­mon to each, from which they proceed and of which they are immediately the causes. For these congre­gate the extremes into one union, being spread under some things connascently, but proximately exempt from others: and they preserve the well-ordered progeny of divine natures. [100]


Every God is a beneficent unity or an unific (enopoioVoi) good­ness; and each God so far as he is a deity has this hyparxis. The first God, however, is simply good, and simply one; but each posterior to the First is a certain good­ness, and a certain unity.

For the divine peculiarity distinguishes the unities and goodnesses of the Gods, so that each of the Gods benefits all things, according to a certain peculiarity of goodness, such as that of perfecting, containing, or de­fending: for each of these is a certain good, but not every good. But the First God pre-establishes a unical cause, and hence is The Good, which constitutes all goodness. For all the hyparxes of the Gods are not together equal to The One; so great a transcendency is the First God allotted with respect to the multitude of the Gods.


Every divine intellect knows as intellect, but acts providentially as a God.

For it is the illustrious prerogative of intellect to know beings, and to have its perfection in intellections; but it is the province of a God to act providentially, and to fill all things with good. This impartance, however, and replenishing with good is accomplished through the union of the replenishing natures with the causes. prior to themselves; which union intellect likewise imi­tating passes into sameness with intelligibles. A divine intellect, therefore, so far as it acts providentially is a God; because providence is an activity prior to intellect. Hence as a God it imparts itself to all things, but as an intellect it is not present to all things: for a divine na­ture extends to things into which the intellectual pecul­iarity does not proceed. For beings which are without [101] intellect desire to act providentially, and to participate of a certain good. And the reason of this is because all things do not desire intellect, not even all which are able to participate of it, but all things desire good, and hasten to obtain it.


Every divine unity is participated by some being immedi­ately; and every deified nature is extended to one divine unity. As many likewise as are the unities which are participated, so many are the genera of beings which participate.

For neither two or more unities are participated by one being. For how, when the peculiarities in the uni­ties are changed would that which is connascent with each unity remain unchanged, since contact becomes through similitude? Nor is one unity participated in a divided manner by many beings: for many beings are unable to be conjoined with unity, and as beings they are unconjoined with the unity which is prior to beings, and as many they are separated from unity. It is nec­essary, however, that the nature which participates should be partly similar to that which is participated, and partly different and dissimilar. Since, therefore, that which participates is one of beings, but unity is superessential, and according to this they are dissimilar, it is necessary that the participant should be one that thereby it may be similar to the one which is participat­ed, though of these the latter is one in such a manner as to be unity, but the former so as to be passive to the one, and to be united through the participation of unity.