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Proclus' Attitude to Theurgy *

  • Anne Sheppard (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 1982

Theurgy, the religious magic practised by the later Neoplatonists, has been commonly regarded as the point at which Neoplatonism degenerates into magic, superstition and irrationalism.1 A superficial glance at the ancient lives of the Neoplatonists, and in particular at Eunapius’ Lives of the Sophists, reveals a group of people interested in animating statues, favoured with visions of gods and demons, and skilled in rain-making. But when we look more closely at the works of the Neoplatonists themselves, rather than the stories biographers tell about them, we find a considerable diversity of attitudes towards theurgy and a number of attempts to fit theurgy into their philosophical system.

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
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