Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Print publication year: 1967
  • Online publication date: March 2008

Chapter 12 - Life: Plotinus and the religion and superstition of his time

from Part III - PLOTINUS
Plotinus begins a new period in the history of Greek philosophy. One reliable source of information about the life of Plotinus is the Life of his master which Porphyry, his disciple and editor, wrote in the year 301, and prefixed to his edition, the Enneads. The general belief in the Egyptian origin of Plotinus may be based on nothing more than the fact that he studied in Alexandria. The episode in the Life which helps people to understand the attitude to the pagan religion of Plotinus's time which is indicated casually and incidentally in the Enneads is that of the famous answer to Amelius. Plotinus strongly disapproved of the Gnostic use of magic. However, there are two stories in the Life and some passages in the Enneads which have led some scholars to believe that he was not above practising it himself when the occasion required.
Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055147
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
A. H. Armstrong Was Plotinus a Magician?’, in Phronesis, 1, 1 (1955).

E. R. Dodds Tradition and Personal Achievement in the Philosophy of Plotinus’, in Journal of Roman Studies, 50 (1960).

A. C. Lloyd Neoplatonic and Aristotelian Logic’, in Phronesis, 1 (1955–6) and (also for Part IV, ch. 19).

P. Merlan Plotinus and Magic’, in Isis, 44 (1953).

J. M. Rist Plotinus on Matter and Evil’, in Phronesis, 6 (1961).

J. Trouillard Valeur critique de la mystique plotinienne’, in Revue philosophique de Louvain, 59 (1961).