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Text: English (translation) Original Language: Greek
About the Author
Mark Edwards is University Lecturer in Patristics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Christ Church.
This volume contains the ancient biographies of two of the most significant personalities in the history of Platonism. The Life of Plotinus, by his student and editor Porphyry, depicts the man considered to have founded "Neoplatonism," an enigmatic figure who turned Platonism into a system more abstract and sophisticated than anything seen before. The Life of Proclus, by his student Marinus, shows a very different but equally important figure from one of the last generations of the Platonic Academy before its closing. In Proclus's life we can see clearly the religious/theurgical bent that had come to characterize the final stage of Platonism, and Proclus himself is depicted very much in the manner of a pagan holy man.
Both of the biographies are short and meandering by modern standards, but the information included says much not only about the individuals in question, but also about the expectations and perceptions surrounding these luminaries of Late Antiquity and how they were viewed by their successors. They can also be read as examples of literature intended to convey a particular message regarding these men and their philosophy.
The texts are presented in an original translation by Edwards which is clear and very readable. Edwards' introduction is also very helpful for establishing the philosophical and historical context of the works. Notes are provided for those who wish to read further on the subject, making this a good source for historians, although it should appeal to anyone interested in topics having to do with Late Antiquity and the development of ancient philosophy and religion.
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