Skip to main content
  • 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 *
Armstrong, A. H.Was Plotinus a Magician?’, in Phronesis, 1, 1 (1955).
Armstrong, A. H.The Architecture of the Intelligible Universe in the Philosophy of Plotinus.Cambridge, 1940 (reprinted Amsterdam 1967).
Arnou, R.Le Désir de Dieu dans la philosophie de Plotin.Paris, 1921.
Aubin, P.L'“Image” dans l'Œuvre de Plotin’, in Recherches de Science Religieuse, 41, 3 (1953).
Bourbon de Petrella, F.Il Problema dell'Arte e della Bellezza in Plotino.Florence, 1956.
Bréhier, E.La philosophie de Plotin.Paris, 2nd edn. 1961.
Crouzel, H.Origène et Plotin, élèves d'Ammonios Saccas’, in Bulletin de Littérature Ecclésiastique de Toulouse (1956), 4; (1958), 1.
de, Keyser E., La Signification de l'Art dans les Ennéades de Plotin (Louvain, 1955).
Dodds, E. R., ‘Numenius and Ammonius’, IV, in Entretiens Hardt, V (Les Sources de Plotin), Vandœuvres, Geneve, 1960.
Dodds, E. R.Tradition and Personal Achievement in the Philosophy of Plotinus’, in Journal of Roman Studies, 50 (1960).
Gandillac, M.La Sagesse de Plotin.Paris, 1952.
Hadot, P.Plotin.Paris, 1963.
Harder, R.Plotins Leben, Wirkung und Lehre’, in Kleine Schriften, ed. Marg, W.. Munich, 1960.
Heinemann, F.Plotin.Leipzig, 1921.
Henry, P.La dernière parole de Plotin’, in Studi Classici e Orientali (Pisa), 11 (1953).
Himmerich, W.Eudaimonia : die Lehre des Plotin von der Selbstverwirklichung des Menschen.Würzburg, 1959.
Inge, W. R.The Philosophy of Plotinus, 2 vols., 3rd edn. London, 1929 (reprinted 1948).
Keyser, E.La signification de l'art dans les Ennéades de Plotin.Louvain, 1955.
Kristeller, O. O.Der Begriff der Seele in der Ethik des Plotin.Tübingen, 1929.
Langerbeck, H., ‘The Philosophy of Ammonius Saccas’, in JHS, LXXVII, Part 1 (1957).*
Lloyd, A. C.Neoplatonic and Aristotelian Logic’, in Phronesis, 1 (1955–6) and (also for Part IV, ch. 19).
Merlan, P., ‘Plotinus and Magic’, Isis, XLIV (Dec. 1953) –8;
Merlan, P.Plotinus and Magic’, in Isis, 44 (1953).
,plotinusEnneads An English translation, with notes, of the revised Henry-Schwyzer text, by Armstrong, A. H., is appearing in the Loeb Classical Library (vols, i–iii. London, 1966–7).
,plotinusEnneads Ed. Bréhier, E. (with French translation, introductions and notes), 7 vols. Paris, 1924–38.
,plotinusEnneads ed. Henry, P. and Schwyzer, H. R. (ed. minor, extensively revised: vol. I (Enn. I–III) so far published. Oxford, 1964–.
,plotinusEnneads ed. Henry, P. and Schwyzer, H. R. (vols. I–II (Vita Plotini and Enn. I–V) so far published, vol. III (Enn. VI) still to appear). Paris and Brussels, 1951–.
,plotinusEnneads ed. Harder, R., continued by Beutler, R. and Theiler, W. (with German translation and notes). Hamburg, 1956–67.
,plotinusEnneads English translation by MacKenna, S., 3rd edn., revised by Page, B. S.. Introduction by Henry, P.. London, 1962.
,plotinusEnneads French translation by Bouillet, M. M. (of value only for its extensive commentary), 3 vols. Paris, 1857–61.
,plotinusEnneads German translation by Harder, R. (first edition of the translation later revised and reprinted with text and notes: see above), 5 vols. Leipzig, 1930–7.
,plotinusEnneads Italian translation, with critical commentary, by Cilento, V., 3 vols, (the last contains an extensive bibliography by Mariën, B.). Bari, 1947–9.
,plotinusEnneads Latin translation by Ficinus, Marsilius. Florence, 1492.
Rist, J. M.Plotinus on Matter and Evil’, in Phronesis, 6 (1961).
Schwyzer, H. R.Plotinos’, in Paulys Realencyclopädie, 21. 1 (1951).
Seeberg, E., ‘Ammonius Sakkas’, in Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, LXI (1942) –70;
Trouillard, J.Valeur critique de la mystique plotinienne’, in Revue philosophique de Louvain, 59 (1961).
Trouillard, J.La Purification Plotinienne.Paris, 1955.
Weber, K.-O. in his Origenes der Neuplatoniker (Zetemata, 27 [Beck, München, 1962]).
Zaehner's, R. C. account of the thought of the Mun˙d˙aka and Svetàsvatara Upani⋅ads in his At Sundry Times (London, 1958) –16, shows some striking similarities with the thought of Plotinus, and a comparison between them by someone properly equipped by nature and training to understand both might be very fruitful.