The Six Books of Proclus, the Platonic Successor, on the Theology of Plato/Book II
The most proper beginning however of the theory proposed by us is that from which we may be able to discover the first cause of all beings. For being impelled from this in a becoming manner, and having our conceptions purified respecting it, we shall with greater facility be able to distinguish other things. About these things therefore we must speak from the beginning as follows: It is necessary that all beings, and all the natures of beings should either be many only, there being no one in them, neither in each, nor in all of them; or that they should be one only, there being no multitude, but all things being compelled into one and the same power of existence; or it is necessary that they should be both one and many, and that being should be one in order that neither multitude itself by itself may vanquish beings, nor that we may be forced to bring together into the same thing all things and their contraries at once. These things therefore being three, which of them shall we choose? And to which of the above mentioned assertions shall we give our suffrage. It is necessary therefore severally to discuss the absurdities which attend these positions, and thus to survey after what manner the truth subsists.
If then beings are many, and in such a manner many, as we have mentioned from the beginning, so that the one is not any where to be found, many absurdities will happen to be the result, or rather all the nature of beings will at once from the first be destroyed, as there will immediately be nothing which is capable of participating the one. For it must be admitted that every being is either one certain thing, or nothing. And that indeed which is a certain being, is also one; but that which is not even one being, has not any existence whatever. Hence, if many things have a subsistence, each of the many is something or a certain one. But if each of them is nothing, or not even one thing, neither is it possible for the many to exist; for the many are many so far as each individual of the multitude exists. If, therefore, the many alone have a subsistence, and the one in no respect is, neither will the many exist. For things which are in no respect one have not any existence whatever. But if the one is not, by a much greater priority neither have the many an existence. For it necessarily follows that none of the things from which the many consist will have a subsistence.
Farther still, if the many alone have a subsistence (as has been said) all things will be infinitely infinite; and if you receive any one of the infinites whatever, this also will be immediately infinite. And with respect to the things from which this consists and which are infinite, each of these likewise will be infinite. For let something of the many be assumed, which we say is not one, this therefore will be multitude according to its own nature, since it belongs to beings, but is not nothing. If however it is multitude, this also will consist of many things, and will be many. And if you assume something of these manys, this will immediately appear to you not to be one, but many. There will likewise be immediately the same reasoning in these, and in a similar manner each, (because we falsely speak of each) will be multitude in energy. And each, as I may say, will be infinite, or rather will be infinitely infinite. For there is nothing which will not be something of this kind; since a part is many, and in a similar manner the part of a part; and this to infinity. For multitude proceeding will never stop, nor infinity, in consequence of being deprived of the nature of the one. To make beings however, to be infinitely infinite, is impossible both with respect to truth, and to the thing proposed by us.
For if being is infinitely infinite, being can neither be known, nor discovered; since the infinite is entirely incomprehensible and unknown. If also being is infinitely infinite, there will be something more infinite than the infinite. But if that something is more infinite, this will be less infinite. That, however, which is less infinite, since it is not perfectly infinite, will evidently be finite, so far as it falls short of the nature of the infinite. If, therefore, there is something which is itself according to multitude more infinite than that which is infinite in multitude there will be something more than the infinite, and the infinite will be less, yet not according to multitude. This however is impossible. Hence there is not the infinitely infinite.
Again therefore, according to this hypothesis, the same things will be according to the same, similar and disimilar. For if all the manys are not one, and each thing according to all things is not one, that which is not one will evidently suffer the same passion in consequence of the privation of the one. All things therefore being deprived of the one, after the same manner, they will on this account subsist similarly with respect to each other. But things which subsist similarly, so far as they thus subsist, are evidently similar to each other. Hence the many will be similar to each other, so far as they are deprived of the one. They will likewise according to this privation of the one be perfectly dissimilar. For it is necessary that things which are similar should suffer the same passion; so that things which do not suffer any thing that is the same, will not be similar. But things which suffer any thing that is the same, suffer also one thing. Hence things which are deprived of every one, will not suffer any thing that is the same. The many therefore will be similar and dissimilar according to the same. But this is impossible; Hence it is impossible for the many to exist which are in no respect one.
Moreover, the many will be the same with and different from each other according to the same. For if all things are similarly deprived of the one, so far indeed as all of them are similarly deprived they will be the same according to this privation; since things which subsist after the same manner according to habit are the same, and also things which are after the same manner deprived according to privation. But so far in short, as each of them is deprived of every one, so far the many will be different from each other. For if the one in the many is the same, that which is in no respect one, will in no respect be the same. The many therefore will be the same and not the same with each other. But if they are the same and not the same it is evident that they are different from each other. For that which is the same and not the same, so far as it is not the same, is not the same, by nothing else than the different. Farther still therefore, these many will be moveable and immoveable, if the one is not. For if each of them is not one, they will be immoveable according to the privation of the one. For if that which is not one should be changed, each of them would have the one; since privations being changed, entirely lead into habits the things that are changed. It is necessary however that what is not one should remain immoveable according to the privation of the one, though this very thing is itself impossible, viz. that the many should stand still. For every thing which stands still is in something which is the same, viz. it is either in the same form, or in the same place. But every thing which is in the same, is in one thing which is the same. For the same in which it is, is one thing. Every thing therefore which stands still is in one thing. The many, however, do not participate of the one. But it is perfectly impossible that things which do not participate of the one, should be in one certain thing. And things which are not in one thing cannot stand still, since things which stand still are entirely in one and the same thing. It is impossible therefore, that the many should stand still, and remain immoveable. It has been demonstrated however, that the many must necessarily stand immoveable. The same things therefore, and the same passion, (I mean the privation of the habit of the one,) are moveable and immoveable. For things immoveable, and things which stand still, so far as they are unstable, so far they must necessarily appear to be moveable.
Moreover, there is no number of beings if the one in no respect is; but all things and each thing will be not one. For the particle of number, the monad, is one, and every number itself is one. For if there are five monads, there is also the pentad; and if three monads, the triad. But the triad itself is a certain unity, and so is the pentad. So that if there is no one, there will neither be any part, nor the whole of numbers. For how can there be any number the one not existing? For the one is the principle of numbers. But the principle not existing, neither is it possible that the things which proceed from this principle should exist. Hence the one not existing, neither will there be any number.
Again, therefore, neither will there be any knowledge of beings if the one is not. For it will not be possible either to speak or think of any being. For each thing itself, and every thing of which we can speak, and in which we impress the nature of the one, will have no existence, because neither does the one exist. Hence neither will there be any discourse nor any knowledge. For discourse is one thing consisting of many things, if it is perfect. And knowledge then exists, when that which knows becomes one with that which is known. But union not existing, there will at the same time be no knowledge of things, and it will be impossible to speak about things which we know. To which we may add, that the inexplicable in the several infinites, will necessarily always fly from the bound of knowledge. For immediately each apparent infinite which he who possesses knowledge desires to understand, will escape the gnostic power hastening to come into contact with, and adhere to it, since it is incapable either of contact or adhesion. If, therefore, the many alone have an existence, the one having no subsistence whatever, so many absurdities, and a still greater number must necessarily happen to those who adopt such an hypothesis.
But if the one which is the one itself alone has a subsistence, and there is nothing else (for if there were there would not only be one but many things; since one and another thing are more than one, and are not one thing only) if this be the case, there will neither be among all things either whole, or that which has parts. For every thing which has parts is many, and every whole has parts. But the one is in no respect many. Neither therefore will there be a whole, nor that which has parts. Farther still, neither is it possible that there should be a beginning, or end of any thing. For that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end, is divisible. But the one is not divisible, because neither has it any parts. Hence, neither has it a beginning, nor a middle, nor an end. Again, if the one alone has a subsistence, no being will have figure. For every thing which has figure is either rectilinear or circular, or mixt from these. But if indeed it is rectilinear, it will have for its parts, the middle, and the extremes. If it is circular, there will be one thing in it as a middle, but other things as extremes, to which the middle extends. And if it is mixed from the right and circular line, it will consist of many things, and will not be one.
Moreover, neither will any being be in itself, nor in another thing. For that which is in another thing is different from that in which it is. But the one alone existing and nothing else (for it will by no means be in another thing) there will be no being which is in another thing. But that which is in itself will at the same time comprehend and be comprehended; and in this, to comprehend will not be the same thing as to be comprehended; nor will there be the same definition of both. There will therefore be two things, and no longer the one alone. Again, neither will any being be moved. For being moved indeed, it must necessarily be changed. But being changed it must be in another thing. If the one however alone has an existence, it is not possible for any thing to appear to be in something else. Hence it is not possible for any being to be changed. But every thing which stands still is necessarily in the same thing. And that which is in the same is in a certain same thing. The one however is in no same thing. For that which is in a certain thing, is either in itself, or in something else. But it has been demonstrated, that it is neither in itself, nor in another. Hence neither is it in a certain same thing. Neither therefore does any being stand still.
Moreover, it is impossible for any thing to be the same with, or different from any thing. For if there is nothing besides the one itself, there is not any thing which will be either the same with, or different from another thing. For there will not be any other being. And the one itself will not be different from itself; for it would be many and not one. Nor will it be the same with itself. For this thing which is same is in another, and same is not the one itself. For the one is simply one, because it is not many. But that which is same is the same with another thing. Again, neither is it possible for any thing to be similar or dissimilar to any thing. For every thing similar suffers a certain same passion; but every thing dissimilar a certain different passion. The one, however, cannot suffer any thing, nor can this be the case with any thing else besides the one; since nothing else has any existence whatever, if the one alone has a subsistence.
Farther still, in addition to these things we say that neither is it possible for any thing to be touched, nor to be separate, if there is nothing else besides the one. For how can things which have no existence be separate, or come into contact with any thing? But neither can the one either be separate from itself or touch itself. For it would thus be passive to the being touched, and the being separate. But the one suffers no other thing besides itself. It is likewise requisite that no one thing should either be equal or unequal to any thing. For that which is equal to another thing, is said to be so with reference to another thing. And the like may be said of that which is unequal. Another thing, however, has no existence, if the one alone has a subsistence. But neither can the one be equal or unequal tof itself. For if unequal, there will be one thing in it as greater, but another as less; so that it will be two things and not one. And if the one is equal to itself, the one will measure itself. This however is impossible. For the one will measure and be measured by itself, so that it will not be the one itself. Neither therefore will there be any equality or inequality in beings. If however these things are impossible, neither can any being come into contact with another, and be separate, nor be similar or dissimilar, nor be same or different, nor again, stand still, or be moved, or in short be in any thing, or have figure, or be a whole, or have parts, if the one alone has a subsistence which is void of multitude, and is without all these things. Neither however, is it possible for the many alone to have a subsistence, as was before demonstrated. And hence it is necessary that every being should be both many and one.
If this however is the case, either the many must participate of the one, or the one of the many, or both must participate of each other, or neither of each other; but the many indeed must be separate, and the one must also be separate, in order that the many and the one may subsist, as reason evinces. If, therefore, neither the one participates of the many, nor the many of the one, the same absurdities will ensue as we brought together in the hypothesis of the many alone having a subsistence. For again there will be the many separate from the one. For if the one subsists by itself, and the many do not in any respect participate of the one, the many will be infinitely infinite, they will be similar and dissimilar, same and different, moved and stable, and there will neither be any number nor any knowledge of the many. For the absence of the one compels all these consequences to be apparent in the many. It is impossible therefore, that neither the many should participate of the one, nor the one of the many.
If however, the one participates of the many, and the many of the one, and both these are in each other, it is necessary that there should be another nature besides these, which is neither one nor many. For both these being mingled in each other, it is necessary that there should be a cause of their mixture which conjoins multitude to the one, and the one to multitude. For it is necessary that every thing that is mingled, should have a cause of the mixture. For in short, if the one and multitude participate of each other, neither the one is the cause of essence to multitude, nor multitude to the one, but a certain third thing is the cause of essence to both, and which is prior to these. For what will that be which makes this to be multitude, and that to be one? And what is the cause of this communication and association with each other, the one so far as it is one never having any communication with the many? For the many so far as many, and the one so far as one are different from each other. And so far as neither is from neither, they have no sympathy with each other. What therefore is it which collects these into one, since they fly from and are unmingled with each other? For being thus discordant with each other, they cannot desire each other, or if they did their congress must be fortuitous. For if this should happen to be the case, there was a time when these were separate from each other, since now also they subsist together casually. It is however impossible for the many to subsist separate from the one. The mixture therefore is not casual. But neither is the mixture from the many, if neither one is the cause of the many, nor the many of the one. What therefore is this more excellent thing [which is the cause of the mixture?] For it is either one, or not one. But if indeed, it is the one itself, we must again inquire concerning this, whether it participates of multitude or of nothing. For if this participates, it is evident that some other thing prior to this, will for the same reason present itself to the view, and this will be the case to infinity. But if a thing of this kind is entirely void of multitude, again that which was asserted at first will not be true, viz. that the many do not participate of the one, nor the one of the many. I mean however that which is the most principal and primarily one. But there is indeed a certain one in the many, and there is also the imparticipable one, and which is simply one, and nothing else. If however that which is prior to both, is not one, it is necessary that this not one should be more excellent than the one. All things however are, and are generated what they are, through the one. And together with the one indeed every being is preserved; but separate from the one proceeds to the corruption of itself. The mixture also of the one and multitude, which the non-one affords to beings, is communion and union. The one therefore, and that which is not one, are the cause of nothing else to beings than of their being one. If however the one is the cause of a thing of this kind, that which is not one will not be the cause of that which is more excellent [than union.] But it is every where necessary that what is more excellent should be the cause to beings of another more excellent thing, according to its own power. For thus it will be more excellent as being more good, and as the cause from its own nature of a greater and more excellent good to those things to which a less good is the cause of less goodness. From these things therefore it is necessary, that the many should participate of the one, that the one should be unmingled with multitude, and that nothing should be better than the one, but that this should also be the cause of being to the many. For every thing which is deprived of the one, flies immediately into nothing, and to its own corruption. But that which is not many, is not at one and the same time not many and nothing. For to the one that which is nothing, or not one, is opposed, and to the many that which is not many is opposed. If, therefore, the one and the many are not the same, the not being many will not be the same with nothing. From thus considering the affair therefore, it appears that the one is beyond multitude, and is the cause of being to the many.
It is necessary however, that discussing the same subject after another manner, we should again see if we can in a certain respect follow what has been said, and refer it to the same end. It is necessary therefore, that there should either be one principle, or many principles; or rather, we should begin from hence. And if there are many principles, they must either possess sympathy with each other, or they must be divulsed from each other, and they must be either finite or infinite. But if there is one principle, this must either be not essence, or essence. And if it is essence, this must either be corporeal or incorporeal. And if incorporeal, it must either be separate from, or inseparable from bodies. And if separate, it must either be moveable or immoveable. But if it is not essence, it must either be inferior to all essence, or participated by essence, or imparticipable. If therefore there are many principles, and which have no sympathy with each other, no being will originate from them [conjointly,] nor will they be common to all things, but each will produce by itself. For what communication can there be between things which are naturally foreign, or what co-operation between things which are entirely of a different kind? In addition also to these things, there will be the many which do not participate of the one. For if there is a certain one common in all of them, they will not be perfectly separated essentially from each other. If therefore they are different, and there is nothing which is the same about them, they are alone many and by no means one. But if there are many principles, and which possess sympathy with each other, they will have something common, which leads all of them to sympathy, and similarly unfolds all of them to the view. For we call those things sympathetic, which happen to be passive to the same thing. But similars are entirely similar from participating one form and one nature. If however this be the case, it is necessary that that all [or universal] which is every where, and in all the principles, should be of a more principal nature than the many. This therefore gives them the power to generate sympathy with each other, and affords them communion according to nature.
Again, if there are indeed infinite principles, either the things which proceed from them are infinite, and there will thus be the infinite twice, or they are finite, and thus all the principles will not be principles. For things finite in number, will entirely proceed from finite principles. The principles therefore are in vain infinite. To which may be added, that infinity makes both the principles to be unknown, and the things which proceed from them. For the principles being unknown, it is necessary that the things which proceed from them should be unknown; since we then think that we know any thing when we know the causes and the first principles of it. But if the principles are finite, it is evident that there will be a certain number of them: for we say that number is a definite multitude. If however, there is a number of the principles, it is necessary that there should be a cause of the whole number of them. For every number is from one; and this, viz. the one is the principle of numbers. This therefore will be the principle of principles, and the cause of finite multitude, since number itself is one, and the end in the many is one, and it bounds the many by that which is one. But the principle being one, and this being essence, it is necessary if this is admitted to be either corporeal or incorporeal, that it must be acknowledged to be the principle of other things.
If therefore, body is the cause of the generation of beings, it is necessary indeed, that it should be divisible and have parts. For every body is in its own nature divisible; since every magnitude is a certain whole and that which is a whole consists of parts. These parts therefore, (but I mean each of them) must either severally participate a certain one, or not participate it. If therefore they do not participate it, they will be many alone, and by no means one. Hence, neither will that which consists from them be a whole. For there being no one, that which consists of all of them will not be one. But if each of the parts participates of something of this kind, and there is something which is the same in all of them, a thing of this kind must necessarily be incorporeal, and impartible according to its own nature. For if this also is itself corporeal, it is either wholly in each of the parts, or not wholly. If therefore, it is indeed wholly in each, it will itself be separated from itself. For the parts in which it is are separate from each other. But if it is not wholly in each of the parts, this also will be divisible, and will have parts after the same manner as the above mentioned parts; and there will again be the same inquiry concerning these, viz. whether in these also there is something common, or nothing; since if there is nothing common, we shall place the many separate from the one.
Let us however consider the whole; for every body is a whole, and has parts. What therefore will that be which is connective of the parts, since they are many? For it is necessary to say either that the whole is unific of the parts, or the parts of the whole, or that some third thing prior to both, which is neither a whole, nor has any part, connects and unites the whole with its parts, and the parts with the whole. But if the whole indeed is connective of the parts, the whole will be incorporeal and impartible. For if it is a body, this also will be partible, and will be indigent of a nature which is capable of connecting the parts; and this will be the case to infinity. But if the parts are connective of the whole, how can the many be connective of the one; and things divided, of that which consists from them? For on the contrary, it is necessary that the one should have the power of uniting the many, and not the many of uniting the one. And if that which connects both, is neither a whole nor has parts, it will be perfectly impartible. But being impartible, it is also necessarily without interval. For every thing which has interval has parts, and is divisible. But being without interval it is incorporeal; for every body possesses interval.
Farther still, it is necessary that the principle should be perpetual; for every being is perpetual or corruptible. Hence it must be admitted that the principle of beings is perpetual or corruptible. But if we should grant that this may be corrupted, there will be no being incorruptible. For the principle being destroyed, it will neither be itself generated from any thing, nor will another thing be generated from it. For it can neither be able to generate itself (since it is not, if it is not perpetual) nor can another thing be able to generate it, if it is the principle of all things. But if it is incorruptible, it will have the power of not being corrupted, and this power will be infinite, in order that it may exist to infinity through the whole of time. For every finite power of existence pertains naturally to that which is corruptible. But an infinite power pertains to perpetual natures, the existence of which continues to infinity. This infinite therefore, I mean the infinite according to power, is either impartible or partible. But if it is partible indeed, there will be the infinite in a finite body. For the principle is finite; since if it were infinite, there will be nothing else besides itself. But if it is impartible, the power of infinitely existing will be incorporeal. And the principle of beings is incorporeal, so far as it is this power through which the subject of it always is. That it is impossible therefore, the principle of beings can be corporeal is from these things evident.
If however it is incorporeal, it must either be separate, or inseparable from bodies. But if inseparable indeed, it will have all its energies in bodies, and subsisting about them. For that is inseparable from body which is not any where naturally adapted to energize except in and with bodies. But if the principle is a thing of this kind, it is evidently necessary that none of the things which subsist according to it should be more powerful, or possess greater authority than the principle of all beings. If however, nothing is more excellent in bodies than the power which subsists in and energizes about bodies, and a corporeal essence, there will not any where be intellect and the power which energizes according to intellect. For every such like motion [i. e. energy] proceeds from a power, which is entirely in its energies independent of body. But it neither was, nor is lawful for generated natures to surpass the power of their causes. For every thing which is in the things begotten is from primary natures, and the latter are the lords of the essence of the former. If therefore, the principle of beings is able to generate intellect and wisdom, how is it possible it should not generate it, on account of and in itself? For one of two things is necessary, either that intellectual perception pertains in no respect to beings, or that it is inferior to them; and that if it exists it acts in bodies only. These things however, it is impossible to assert. But if that which is the first of beings, and which is the principle of all things is separate from bodies, it is perfectly necessary to admit that it is either immoveable or moved. And if indeed it is moved, there will be something else prior to it, about which it is moved. For every thing which is moved, is naturally adapted to be moved about something else which is permanent. And farther still, besides this, it is moved through desire of another thing. For it is necessary indeed that it should be moved in consequence of desiring a certain thing; because motion itself by itself is indefinite. But the end of it is that for the sake of which it subsists. It desires however, either something else, or itself. But every thing which desires itself is immoveable. For why should any thing that is present with itself want to be in another thing? For of things which are moved, the motion of that is less to which the good is nearer, but the motion is greater of that to which the good is more remote. But that which possesses good in itself and for the sake of which it subsists, will be immoveable and stable; since being always in itself, it is in good. That however which is in itself is in same; for each thing is the same with itself. But of that which is in itself we say indeed that it stands still and is immoveable; while that which is not immoveable, is not in itself but in another, is moved towards another thing, and is perfectly indigent of good. If therefore the principle of beings is moved, but every thing which is moved is moved through the want of good, and towards another thing which is the object of desire to it, there will be something else which is desirable to the principle of beings besides itself, and about which possessing a sameness of subsistence, we must say it is moved. This however is impossible. For the principle is that for the sake of which all things subsist, which all things desire, and which is indigent of nothing. For if it were in want of something, it would be entirely subordinate to that of which it is in want, and to which its energy is directed as the object of desire. But if the principle is immoveable (for this is what remains,) it is necessary that it should be one incorporeal essence, possessing an eternal sameness of subsistence. After what manner, however, does it possess the one? And how is it one essence? For if essence and the one are the same, it must be admitted that the principle of beings is essence. But if essence is different from the one, it must be granted that to be the one is not the same thing as to be essence. And if, indeed, essence is better than the one, according to this it must be said to be with the principle. But if the one is better than essence and beyond it, the one is also the principle of essence. And if they are co-ordinate to each other, the many will be prior to the one. This, however, is impossible as we have before demonstrated. It is evident, indeed, that essence is not the same as the one. For it is not one and the same thing to say one, and that essence is one; but the former is not yet a sentence, and the latter is. To which may be added, that if essence and the one are the same, multitude will be the same as that which has no existence, and which is not essence. This, however, is impossible. For in essence the many are contained, and in that which is not essence is the one. But if essence and the one are not the same, they will not be co-ordinate to each other; for if they were co-ordinate there will be some other thing prior to them, if it is necessary that all things should subsist from one principle. And if one of these is better than the other, either the one is prior to essence, or essence is prior to the one. But if the one indeed is prior to essence, this and not essence is the principle of all things. For it is necessary that nothing should be better than the principle. And if essence is prior to the one, the one will be passive to essence, and not essence to the one. But if the one is passive to essence, it is necessary that the one and essence should be every thing, and that all such things as are one should be essence, but not that all such things as are essence should be one. There will, therefore, be a certain essence deprived of the one. If, however, this be the case, it will be nothing. For that which is deprived of the one is nothing. Hence the one is prior to essence.
But if that which is first is something which is not essence, it is absurd to assert that it is subordinate to essence. For the principle is that which has the greatest power and the most absolute authority, and is most sufficient to itself, and is not that which is most ignoble, and indigent of the many. And, in short, it is necessary that no secondary nature should be better than the principle; for it is requisite that beings should not be governed badly. But if, indeed, the principle has an order subordinate to the things which proceed from it, and the things proceeding from it are better than it, all things will be badly confounded, nor will the principle according to nature be any thing else than something which is not the most excellent of things, nor will things which proceed from the principle possess from it a power of ruling over their principle. The principle of beings, therefore, will indeed be fortuitous, and also the beings which are its progeny. But this is impossible. For things which are fortuitous (if to have a fortuitous subsistence is this, not to exist according to intellect, nor with a view to a definite end) are disorderly, infinite, and indefinite, and are all of them things which have a less frequency of subsistence. But the principle is invariably principle, and other things proceed from it. If however, that which is not essence is better than all essence, it will either be participated by it, or it will be entirely imparticipable. If, however, essence participates of the principle, of what will it be the principle? And how will it be the principle of all beings? For it is necessary that the principle of beings should be no one of beings; since if it were any one of them, it is necessarily not the principle of all beings. But every thing which is participated by another thing is said to be that by which it is participated, and in which it primarily is. The principle, however, is separate, and belongs in a greater degree to itself than to other things. Besides, every thing which is participated proceeds from another more excellent cause; since that which is imparticipable is better than that which is participate. It is not, however, possible to conceive any thing better than that which is most excellent, and which we call the principle. For it is not lawful to assert that things secondary to the principle, and which proceed from it, are in any respect better than their principle. The cause therefore of all beings is above all essence, is separate from every essence, and is neither essence, nor has essence as an addition to its nature. For such an addition as this is a diminution of simplicity, and of that which is one.
See, therefore, the third argument after these, leading us to the same conclusion with the former arguments. For it is necessary that the cause of all beings should be that of which all beings participate, to which they refer the subsistence of themselves, and which separates itself from nothing that in any respect whatever is said to have an existence. For this alone is the object of desire to beings, which primarily, or in some other way, is itself the cause of their subsistence. And it is necessary that every thing which is produced with reference to, and on account of it, should have a certain habitude with relation to it, and through this also, a similitude to it. For every habitude of one thing towards another, is predicated in a two-fold respect, either from both participating of one thing, which affords to the participants a communion with each other; or from one of them participating of the other; of which, indeed, the one as being more excellent, imparts something to that which is subordinate to itself; but the other, as being inferior, is assimilated to the more excellent nature, so far as it participates of it. Hence it is necessary, if all sensible natures possess a habitude to that which is first, aspire after, and subsist about it, either that there should be a certain third thing the cause of the habitude, or that the principle should impart to the natures posterior to itself, a tendency to itself, and that desire, through which every thing is preserved, and exists. Nothing else, however, is more excellent than that which is first. Hence, the habitude of beings, their existence, and their tendency to the first, are derived from thence. And all things participate of the principle of themselves, if it is necessary that this which is participated, should from thence become apparent in all beings, since it is the principle of all things, and deserts no being whatever. What, therefore, will this nature be, which is every where, and in all beings? Is it life and motion? But there are indeed many things which are deprived of these. Is, therefore, permanency every where, and in all things? But neither is this true. For motion, so far as it is motion, will not participate of permanency. Is much-honoured intellect, therefore, so far as it is intellect, participated by all beings? But this also is impossible. For all beings would have intellectual perception, and no being would be deprived of intellect.
Shall we say, therefore, that being itself and essence are participated by all things that in any respect whatever have a subsistence? But how is this possible? For that which is in generation, or passing into existence, is said to be, and is destitute of essence. Nor must we wonder, if it also, since it ranks among beings, should now participate of essence. For so far as it is in generation, it is not; but it ends in existence and essence when it is now actually generated, and is no longer rising into existence. All things, therefore, that have in any respect whatever a subsistence, do not participate of essence. What then will that be which is every where and by all things participated? Let us consider every being, and see what that is to which all beings are passive, and what it is which is common in all of them, as in essence, sameness, difference, permanency, and motion. Can we say, therefore, that each of these is any thing else than one thing, and not only separately, but this is also the case with the things which subsist from them; and in short, it is not possible in a certain respect to speak otherwise of all things, than this, that all things, and each thing is one. For if any thing should be deprived of the one, though you should speak of parts, or of beings, immediately, that which becomes destitute of the one, will be altogether nothing. Or with what intention do we say that a thing which is not is perfectly nothing, [or not even one thing] unless the one is the last thing which deserts beings? This it is, therefore, to become that which in no respect is, and to be perfectly deprived of the one. For it is possible for that which is not moved to be, and for that which has no being to have an hyparxis; but that which is not even one thing, and which is destitute of the one itself, will be entirely nothing. Hence the one is present with all beings; and though you should speak of multitude itself, it is necessary that this also should participate of the one; for if it does not become one thing, it is not possible for it to subsist. And if even you divide the whole to infinity, immediately nothing else than one occurs. For either that which is divided does not subsist, or becoming to be, or subsisting something else, it will be immediately one. The one, therefore, which is everywhere apparent, and is in all beings, and which deserts no being whatever, is either derived from the one which is simply one, or from that which is more excellent than the one. For it is not possible for the one to be otherwise passive, [i. e. to be consubsistent with something else] than from the first one, to which the one is no longer present, but which is the one itself, or nothing else than one.
Again, therefore, from another principle we may arrive at the same conclusion, by speaking as follows: It is necessary either that the causes of beings and things caused should proceed to infinity, and that there should be nothing first or last in beings; or that there should be no first, but that there should be the last of things, infinity existing in one part only. Or on the contrary, it is necessary that beings should proceed to infinity from a definite principle, or that there should be a certain first and last, and a boundary of beings each way. And if there are boundaries of beings, things either proceed from each other, and the generation of beings is in a circle; or if they are not from each other, either one of them is from another, or the first indeed is one, but the last not one, or the contrary, or both are one, or each is not one. If, therefore, first things, and the causes of beings are infinite, each thing will consist of infinites. For that which proceeds from a certain principle, must necessarily participate of that principle from which it proceeds. But that which derives its subsistence from many causes, will be in its own nature multiform, as participating of many powers. And that which is produced from infinites prior to itself, will have infinite peculiarities derived from the principles, and adapted to itself. Every being, therefore, being infinite, and consisting of infinites, will render all things infinitely infinite, and there will neither be a knowledge of any being, nor any evolution of powers. For the power of the infinite is perfectly unknown, and incomprehensible, by those natures to whom it is infinite.
But if things are infinite in a descending progression, whether is each of them infinite always proceeding most downward, in the same manner as we say all things do, or is each whole indeed finite, but the beings which are produced from these are infinite? For if every being according to the beginning of itself is definite, but according to its end is infinite, there will neither be in parts nor in wholes, a conversion of beings to their proper principle, nor will that which is second in order ever have a subsistence so as to be assimilated to the extremity of a pre-existent order; though as we frequently say, the summits of inferiors are conjoined with the boundaries of superiors. For where there is no last, by what contrivance can such a similitude of progression as this, and such a mutual coherence of beings be left, according to which secondary things are always conjoined to the natures prior to them? But if all things alone have an infinity of this kind, each being bounded by that which is posterior to itself, wholes will be subordinate to parts, and the parts of beings will be naturally more perfect [than wholes.] For wholes, indeed, will be without conversion to the principle prior to themselves; but parts will be converted to it after their progression. By how much the more, however, every being hastens to conjunction with that which is more perfect than itself, by so much the more must it necessarily excel, as it appears to me. And if this whole proceeding to infinity is not convolved to the summit of itself, and circularly converted and perfected according to such a conversion [it will not desire its proper good.] If, however, we admit that there is an infinity both ways these things must necessarily happen.
In addition to these things, also, there will be no common object of desire to all beings, nor any union nor sympathy of them. For things which are perfectly infinite have not that which is first in them; but not having a first, we shall not be able to say what is the common end of beings, and why some things are more excellent, but others are allotted a subordinate nature. For we call one thing better and another less excellent, from proximity to that which is best, just as we define the more and the less hot from communion with that which is hot in the first degree. And in short, we form a judgment of the more and the less from a reference to that which is a maximum. It is necessary, therefore, that the boundary in beings should be that which is first and that which is last.
But if, indeed, these are from each other, the same thing will be older and younger, cause and at the same time the thing caused, and each thing will be first and last. For it makes no difference, whether these are from each other, or the things which subsist between these. For the extremes being indifferent, how is it possible that a mutation according to essence should intervene? But if the one is from the other, whether is the first derived from the last, as some say, who generate things more excellent from things subordinate, and things more perfect from such as are more imperfect? In this case, however, must not that which is allotted the power of generating and producing the perfect, by a much greater priority perfect and adorn itself by its present power? And how is it possible that leaving itself to be of an inferior allotment it should definitely assign a more excellent order to another thing? For every thing aspires after its proper perfection, and simply desires good; though not every thing is able to participate of a thing of this kind. If, therefore, it has the power of producing this most perfect thing, that which is last will energize on account of itself prior to other things, and the whole of good, and all perfection, will be first established in itself.
But if that which is last is produced from that which is first, and the most imperfect from that which is most perfect, whether, is each of them one, or is this one, but that not one? If, however, that which is first, or that which is last, is not one, neither of them will be first or last. For, as there will be multitude in each, each of them will have the better and the worse; and neither will that which is best be unmingled with that which is inferior to it, nor that which is the most obscure of all things according to being, have so great a subjection entirely deprived of a more perfect nature; but there will be something more extreme than that which is last, and something more perfect than that which is first. For every where, that which is best if it receives another addition through that which is inferior will be more perfect than that which does not abide in the best, [through not receiving this very addition.] If, therefore, we rightly assert these things, the one is the principle of all things, and the last of beings is one. For it is necessary, I think, that the end of the progression of beings should be assimilated to the principle, and that as far as to this, the power of the first should proceed.
Summarily, therefore, recapitulating what we have said, it is necessary either that the first principle should be one, or that there should be alone many first principles, or one containing multitude in itself, or many participating of one. But if there are many first principles only, there will not be one thing from them. For what will make one and a whole, if there are many principles, and there is nothing which produces one? For it is certainly necessary that things posterior to the principles should be assimilated to them. Either, therefore, there will not be the one in any being, or it will not be from these principles; so that each of the things which in any respect whatever have a subsistence will be divided multitude alone. And again each of the parts of any being will be a thing of this kind, and we shall in no way whatever stop, dividing into minute parts essence and existence. For all things will be many, and the one will be no where in the universality of things, nor will either wholes or parts be apparent.
But if it is necessary, indeed, that there should be many principles, and that they should participate of the one, the one will be coordinated in the many. Again, however, it is necessary, that the uncoordinated should every where be more ancient than the coordinated, and the exempt than the participated. For how is the one in each of the many except from one principle which co-arranges the multitude, and converts it to itself according to the communion of the one? Again, if the first one were multiplied, the one will be passive; for at the same time it will be one and not one, and will not be that which is one [only.] It is necessary, however, in each genus of things, that there should be that which is unmingled with an inferior nature, in order that there may be that which is mingled, in the same manner as we say respecting forms. For from the equal itself, things which are equal in these sublunary realms, appear indeed as equal, though they are filled with a contrary nature; and from that which is primarily being, that which is mingled with non-being is derived, and which presents itself to the view as being. And in short every where the simple unmingled subsistence of each thing precedes those things which through remission are mingled with the privations of themselves. The one therefore is by itself exempt from all multitude; and that which is one, and at the same time not one, is not the first one, but is suspended from that which is primarily one; through the principle, indeed, participating of the one, but through the diminution arising from multitude, now manifestly exhibiting in itself the cause of separation.
That the one therefore is the principle of all things, and the first cause, and that all other things are posterior to the one, is I think evident from what has been said. I am astonished however at all the other interpreters of Plato, who admit the existence of the intellectual kingdom, but do not venerate the ineffable transcendency of the one, and its hyparxis which surpasses the whole of things. I particularly, however, wonder that this should have been the case with Origen, who was a partaker of the same erudition with Plotinus. For Origen ends in intellect and the first being, but omits the one which is beyond every intellect and every being. And if indeed he omits it, as something which is better than all knowledge, language and intellectual perception, we must say that he is neither discordant with Plato, nor with the nature of things. But if he omits it because the one is perfectly unhyparctic, and without any subsistence, and because intellect is the best of things, and that which is primarily being is the same as that which is primarily one, we cannot assent to him in asserting these things, nor will Plato admit him, and con-numerate him with his familiars. For I think that a dogma of this kind is remote from the philosophy of Plato, and is full of Peripatetic innovation. If you are willing, however, we will adduce some arguments against this dogma, and against all others who are the patrons of this opinion, and we will strenuously contend for the doctrine of Plato, and show that according to him the first cause is beyond intellect, and is exempt from all beings, as Plotinus and Porphyry, and all those who have received the philosophy of these men, conceive him to assert.
We shall begin, therefore, from the Republic; for here Socrates clearly shows that the good is established above being, and the whole intellectual order, following the analogy of the first goodness to the sun. For if, as the sovereign sun is to generation, to every thing visible, and to all visive natures according to the power generative of light, so it is necessary the good should be with reference to intellect and intelligibles, according to a cause productive of truth,—if this be the case, we must say that the sun is exempt at one and the same time from visive and visible natures, and must admit that the good transcends the natures which are always intellective, and also those which are eternally intelligible. It is better, however, to hear the Platonic words themselves: “You may say that the sun not only imparts the power of being seen to visible natures, but also that he is the cause of their generation, increase, and nutriment, not being himself generation. Certainly. We may say, therefore, that things which are known, have not only this from the good that they are known, but likewise that their being and essence are thence derived, whilst the good itself is not essence, but beyond essence, transcending it both in dignity and in power.” Through all these things, therefore, it is evident how the good and the first principle are defined by Plato to be expanded above not only the intellectual, but also the intelligible extent, and essence itself, according to union, in the same manner as it is inferred the sun surpasses all Visible natures, and perfects and generates all things by his light. How, therefore, following Plato, can we admit that intellect is the best of things, and the cause of all things? How can we assert that being itself and essence are the same with the principle which is the leader of all the divine progressions? For essence and intellect are said to subsist primarily from the good, to have their hyparxis about the good, to be filled with the light of truth proceeding from thence, and to obtain the participation which is adapted to them from the union of this light, which is more divine than intellect itself and essence, as being primarily suspended from the good, and affording in beings a similitude to that which is first. For the light which is emitted from the sun causes every thing visible to be solar-form. And the participation of the light of truth renders that which is intelligible boniform and divine. Intellect, therefore, is a god through a light which is more ancient than intellectual light and intellect itself, and that which is intelligible and at the same time intellectual participates of a divine hyparxis through a plenitude of this light being appropriately imparted to it. And in short, every divine nature is that which it is said to be, on account of this light, and is through it united to the cause of all beings. By no means, therefore, is the first good to be considered as the same with intellect, nor must it be admitted that the intelligible is more ancient than all the hyparxis of the whole of things, since it is even subordinate to the light proceeding from the good, and being perfected by this light, is conjoined according to its own order with the good itself. For we must not say that the intelligible is united to the first after the same manner as the light [of truth;] but the latter through continuity with the good is established in it without a medium; while the former, through this light, participates of a vicinity to the good; since in sensibles also, the solar light is primarily connascent with the circulation of the sun, ascends as far as to the centre of the whole sphere, and subsists on all sides about it. But all sensible natures through this obtain a similitude to the sun, each of them according to its own nature being filled with solar-form illumination. These things, therefore, will be sufficient to recall into the memory of those who love the contemplation of truth, the conceptions of Plato on this subject, and to evince that the order of intellect is secondary to the exempt transcendency of the one.
If, however, it is requisite to evince the same thing through many testimonies, let us survey what the Elean guest in the Sophista determines concerning these things. He says, therefore, it is necessary that the multitude of all beings, whether they are contraries or not, should be suspended from the one being, [i. e. from being characterized by the one;] but that the one being itself should be suspended from the one. For when we call the hot or the cold, or permanency or motion, being, we do not denominate each of these as the same with being itself. For if permanency were being itself, motion would not be being; or, if motion were such like being, permanency would not participate of the appellation of being. But it is evident that being accedes to permanency, to motion, and to every multitude of beings from one thing which is primarily being. This very thing, therefore, which is the cause of essence to all things, and which is participated by all other things, is a participant of this one, and on this account, as it is being alone, so also it is primarily being. It is, however, being itself indeed, and is not allotted to be, from participation; but it is one according to participation, and on this account it is passive to the one. But it is being primarily. If, therefore, Plato gives to the one a subsistence beyond being, in the same manner as that which is first in wholes is supposed by him to transcend beings, how is it possible that being should not be posterior to the one, since it participates of it, and on this account is denominated one?
Moreover, Socrates in the Philebus clearly demonstrates the same thing to those who are able to know wholes from parts, viz. that intellect has not the same order as the first cause of all. Investigating, therefore, the good of the human soul and its end, of which participating in every respect sufficiently it will reap the fruits of a felicity adapted to its nature, he in the first place removes pleasure from an end of this kind, and after this intellect, because neither is this replete with all the elements of the good. If, therefore, the intellect which is in us is an image of the first intellect, and the good of the whole of our life is not to be defined according to this alone, is it not necessary that in wholes also, the cause of good must be established above intellectual perfection? For if that which is primarily good subsisted according to total intellect, in us also and all other [intellectual natures,] self-sufficiency and appropriate good would be present through the participation of intellect. Our intellect, indeed, is disjoined from the good, and is indigent, and on this account requires pleasure in order to the attainment of human perfection. But a divine intellect always participates of the good, and on this account is divine. For it is boniform through the participation of good; but divine, as being suspended from the first deity. It is the same reasoning, therefore, which infers that the good is exempt from the first intellect, and which defines felicity to consist not in intelligence only, but in the all-perfect presence of the good. For the intellectual form of energy is itself by itself defective with respect to blessedness. And why is it requisite to be prolix? For Parmenides teaches us most clearly the difference of the one from essence and being, and shows that the one is exempt from all other things and from essence; for this he evinces of the one at the end of the first hypothesis. But how is it possible that the cause of essence, and which is exempt from it through supreme transcendency, should not also be beyond the intellectual order? For intellect is essence. But if in intellect there is permanency and motion, and Parmenides demonstrates that the one transcends both these, does he not immediately bring us to the ineffable cause of all things, which is prior to every intellect? And if every intellect is converted to itself, and is in itself, but the one is demonstrated to be neither in itself, nor in another, how can we any longer consider intellect as the same with the first cause of all? In what respect, also, will the one which is prior to being differ from the one being, which is the subject of the second hypothesis, if intellect is the best of things, and the first principle of all? For the one being participates of the one; but that which participates is secondary to that which is participated. That the one, however, is according to Plato more ancient than intellect and essence, is through what has been said recalled to our memory.
In the next place, if the one is neither intelligible nor intellectual, nor in short participates of the power of being, let us survey what will be the modes of leading us to it, and through what intellectual conceptions Plato unfolds as far as he is able, to his familiars, the ineffable and unknown transcendency of the first. I say then, that at one time he unfolds it through analogy, and the similitude of secondary natures; but at another time he demonstrates its exempt transcendency, and its separation from the whole of things, through negations. For in the Republic, indeed, he indicates the ineffable peculiarity and hyparxis of the good, through analogy to the sun; but in the Parmenides, he demonstrates the difference of the one with respect to all things posterior to it through negations. But he appears to me through one of these modes to unfold the progression from the first cause of all other things, and prior to other things, of the divine orders. For on this account the first cause is exempt from all the natures produced by it, because every where cause is established above its effects; and on this account the first is nothing of all things, because all things proceed from him. For he is the principle of all things, both of beings, and at the same time of non-beings. But again, according to the other of these modes, he adumbrates the conversion to the first of the things which have proceeded from it. For in each order of beings, through similitude to it there is a monad analogous to the good, which has the same relation to the whole series conjoined with it, that the good has to all the orders of the Gods. The cause, however, of this similitude is entirely the conversion of the whole of things to the good. These, therefore, proceed from thence and are converted to it. And the progression indeed of all things demonstrates to us the ascent to the first through negations; but the conversion of all things demonstrates this to us through analogies. Let not, however, any one considering these negations to be such things as privations despise such a mode of discussion, nor defining the sameness in words analogously, and words in habitudes, endeavour to calumniate this anagogic progression to the first principle. For negations, as it appears to me, extend a triple peculiarity in things. And at one time, indeed, being more primogenial than affirmations, they are procreative and perfective of the generation of them. But at another time, they are allotted an order co-ordinate to affirmations, and negation is then in no respect more venerable than affirmation. And again, at another time, they are allotted an order subordinate to affirmations, and are nothing else than the privations of them. For with respect to non-being itself, with which there is also a negation of beings, at one time considering it as beyond being, we say that it is the cause and the supplier of beings; but at another time we evince that it is equivalent to being; just as I think, the Elean guest demonstrates [in the Sophista] that non-being is in no respect less, if it be lawful so to speak, than being; and at another time we leave it as a privation of, and indigent of being. For indeed, according to this mode, we call every generation, and matter itself, non-being.
Analogies, however, are assumed for the purpose alone of indicating the similitude of secondary natures to the first principle. And neither any reason, nor habitude, nor communion of this principle with things posterior to it, becomes apparent from these. For its exempt nature is not of such a kind as is beheld in the second and third orders of beings; but the good transcends the whole of things in a much greater degree than intellect surpasses the natures posterior to itself, whether it be the demiurgic intellect, or the intellect of the whole world, or some other intellect from among the number of those that are called divine. Every intellect however, and every god, is allotted a transcendency with respect to subordinate natures, and those things of which it is the cause, inferior to that which the first principle has to every being; for this principle similarly transcends all things, and not some in a greater, but others in a less degree; since thus we should introduce a greater and less habitude of it to secondary natures. It is necessary, however, to preserve it without habitude to all things, and similarly exempt from the whole of things. But of other natures, some are indeed nearer, and others are more remote from it. For each thing proceeds from it, since it produces all things according to one cause. And different things are indeed converted to it in a different manner, this principle in the mean time, receiving no habitude or communion with things posterior to itself.
The mode of demonstration, therefore, pertaining to the one is, as we have said, twofold. For again, Plato delivers to us twofold names of the ineffable cause. In the Republic indeed he calls it the good, and demonstrates it to be the fountain of the truth which unites intellect and intelligibles. But in the Parmenides, he denominates such a principle as this the one, and shows that it gives subsistence to the divine unities. Again therefore, of these names, the one is the image of the progression of the whole of things, but the other of their conversion. For because indeed all things derive their subsistence and proceed from the first principle, on this account referring the one to it, we demonstrate that it is the cause of all multitude and every progression. For whence is multitude unfolded into light except from the one? But because again the progressions from it are naturally converted to it, and desire its ineffable and incomprehensible hyparxis, we denominate it the good. For what else is that which converts all things, and which is extended to all beings as the object of desire, but the good? For all other things subsist distributedly, and are to some beings honourable, but to others not. And every thing which in any respect whatever is said to have a subsistence aspires after some things, and avoids others. But the good is the common object of desire to all beings, and all things according to their nature verge and are extended to this. The tendency however of desiring natures is every where to the appropriate object of desire. The good therefore converts, but the one gives subsistence to all secondary natures. Let not, however, any one suppose that the ineffable can on this account be named, or that the cause of all union is doubled. For here indeed we transfer to it names, looking to that which is posterior to it, and to the progressions from, or the circular conversions to it. Because, indeed, multitude subsists from it, we ascribe to it the appellation of the one; but because all things even as far as to things that have the most obscure existence, are converted to it, we denominate it the good.
We endeavour therefore to know the unknown nature of the first principle, through the things which proceed from, and are converted to it; and we also attempt through the same things to give a name to that which is ineffable. This principle, however, is neither known by beings, nor is effable by any one of all things; but being exempt from all knowledge, and all language, and subsisting as incomprehensible, it produces from itself according to one cause all knowledge, every thing that is known, all words, and whatever can be comprehended by speech. But its unical nature, and which transcends all division, shines forth to the view dyadically in the natures posterior to it, or rather triadically. For all things abide in, proceed from, and are converted to the one. For at one and the same time, they are united to it, are in subjection to its union which is exempt from the whole of things, and desire the participation of it. And union indeed imparts a stable transcendency to all secondary natures, and which subsists in unproceeding conjunction with the cause of them. But subjection defines the progression of beings, and their separation from the imparticipable and first unity. And desire perfects the conversion of the subsisting natures, and their circular tendency to the ineffable. First natures therefore, being always entirely united, [to the ineffable] some more remotely, but others more proximately, and receiving through this union their hyparxis, and their portion of good, we endeavour to manifest through names the progression and conversion of the whole of things. But with respect to their stable comprehension, if it be lawful so to speak, in the first, and their union with the ineffable, this as being incomprehensible, and not to be apprehended by knowledge, those who were wise in divine concerns were unable to indicate it by words. But as the ineffable is primarily concealed in inaccessible places, and is exempt from all beings, thus also the union of all things with it is occult, ineffable, and unknown to all beings. For every being is united to it, neither by intellectual injection, [or projection] nor the energy of essence; since things which are destitute of knowledge are united to the first, and things deprived of all energy, participate according to their order of a conjunction with it. That which is unknown therefore in beings according to their union with the first, we neither endeavour to know, nor to manifest by names, but being more able to look to their progression and conversion, we ascribe indeed to the first two names, which we derive as resemblances from secondary natures. We also define two modes of ascent to the first, conjoining that mode which is through analogy with the appellation of the good, but that which is through negations with the appellation of the one; which Plato also indicating, in the Republic indeed calls the first the good, and at the same time makes a regression to it through analogy; but in the Parmenides establishing it as the one itself, he unfolds the transcendency of it which is exempt from beings, through negative conclusions. According to both these modes therefore, the first principle transcends both gnostic powers, and the parts of speech; but all other things afford us the cause of knowledge and of appellation. And the first principle indeed unically gives subsistence to all the unions and hyparxes of secondary natures; but the things posterior to this cause participate of it in a divided manner. These also, as we have before observed, become multiplied by abiding, proceeding and returning; but the one is at once perfectly exempt from all the prolific progressions, convertive powers, and uniform hypostases in beings. What the modes therefore are of the doctrine about the first, and through what names Plato endeavours to indicate it, and whence the names and the modes of this indication which is unknown to all things are derived, is, I think, through what has been said sufficiently manifest.
If, however, it be requisite to survey each of the dogmas about it which are scattered in the writings of Plato, and to reduce them to one science of theology, let us consider, if you are willing, prior to other things, what Socrates demonstrates in the 6th book of the Republic, conformably to the before mentioned mode, and how through analogy he teaches us the wonderful transcendency of the good with respect to all beings, and the summits of the whole of things. In the first place therefore, he distinguishes beings from each other, and establishing some of them to be intelligibles, but others sensibles, he defines science by the knowledge of beings. But he conjoins sense with sensibles, and giving a twofold division to all things, he places one exempt monad over intelligible multitude, and a second monad over sensible multitude, according to a similitude to the former monad. Of these monads also, he shows that the one is generative of intelligible light, but the other of sensible light. And he evinces that by the intelligible light indeed, all intelligibles are deiform, and boniform, according to participation from the first God; but that by the sensible light, according to the perfection derived from the sun, all sensible natures are solarform, and similar to their one monad. In addition also to what has been said, he suspends the second monad from that which reigns in the intelligible. And thus he extends all things, both the first and the last of beings, I mean intelligibles and sensibles, to the good. Such a mode of reduction to the first as this, appears to me to be most excellent, and especially adapted to theology; viz. to congregate all the Gods in the world into one union, and suspend them from their proximate monad; but to refer the supermundane Gods to the intellectual kingdom; to suspend the intellectual Gods from intelligible union; and to refer the intelligible Gods themselves, and all beings through these, to that which is first. For as the monad of mundane natures is supermundane, as the monad of supermundane natures is intellectual, and of intellectual natures intelligible, thus also it is necessary that first intelligibles should be suspended from the monad which is above intelligibles and perfected by it, and being filled with deity, should illuminate secondary natures with intelligible light. But it is necessary that intellectual natures which derive the enjoyment of their being from intelligibles, but of good and a uniform hyparxis from the first cause, should connect supermundane natures by intellectual light. And that the genera of the Gods prior to the world, through receiving a pure intellect from the intellectual Gods, but intelligible light from the intelligible Gods, and a unical light from the father of the whole of things, should send into this apparent world the illumination of the light which they possess. On this account, the sun being the summit of mundane natures, and proceeding from the etherial profundities, imparts to visible natures supernatural perfection, and causes these as much as possible to be similar to the supercelestial worlds. These things therefore we shall afterwards more abundantly discuss.
The present discourse, however, suspends all things after the above mentioned manner from the good, and the first unity. For if indeed the sun connects every thing sensible, but the good produces and perfects every thing intelligible, and of these, the second monad [i. e. the sun] is denominated the offspring of the good, and on this account causes that which is sensible to be splendid, and adorns and fills it with good, because it imitates the primogenial cause of itself,—if this be the case, all things will thus participate of the good, and will be extended to this one principle, intelligibles indeed, and the most divine of beings without a medium, but sensibles through their monad [the sun.]
Again therefore, and after another manner, Plato narrates to us in this extract from the Republic the analysis to the first principle. For he suspends all the multitudes in the world from the intelligible monads, as for instance, all beautiful things from the beautiful itself, all good things from the good, and all equal things from the equal itself. And again, he considers some things as intelligibles, but others as sensibles; but the summits of them are uniformly established in intelligibles. Again, from these intelligible forms he thinks fit to ascend still higher, and venerating in a greater degree the goodness which is beyond intelligibles, he apprehends that all intelligibles, and the monads which they contain, subsist and are perfected through it. For as we refer the sensible multitude to a monad uncoordinated with sensibles, and we think that through this monad the multitude of sensibles derives its subsistence, so it is necessary to refer the intelligible multitude to another cause which is not connumerated with intelligibles, and from which they are allotted their essence and their divine hyparxis.
Let not, however, any one fancy that Plato admits there is the same order of the good in intelligible forms, as there is prior to intelligibles. But the good indeed, which is coordinated with the beautiful, must be considered as essential, and as one of the forms which are in intelligibles. For the first good, which by conjoining the article with the noun we are accustomed to call the good, is admitted to be something superessential, and more excellent than all beings both in dignity and power; since Socrates also, when discussing the beautiful and the good, calls the one the beautiful itself and the other the good itself, and thus says he we must denominate all the things which we then very properly considered as many. Again, particularly considering each thing as being one, we denominate each thing that which it is, and thus Socrates leading us from sensible things that are beautiful and good, and in short from things that are participated, subsist in other things, and are multiplied, to the superessential unities of intelligibles and the first essences, from these again, he transfers us to the exempt cause of every thing beautiful and good. For in forms, the beautiful itself is the leader of many beautiful things, and the good itself of many goods, and each form alone gives subsistence to things similar to itself. But the first good is not only the cause of what is good, but similarly of things beautiful, as Plato elsewhere says; and “all things are for its sake, and it is the cause of every thing beautiful.”
For again, in addition to what has been said, the good which is in forms is intelligible and known, as Socrates himself teaches; but the good prior to forms is beyond beings, and is established above all knowledge. And the former is the source of essential perfection; but the latter is the supplier of good to the Gods so far as they are Gods, and is generative of goods which are prior to essences. We must not therefore apprehend that when Socrates calls the first principle the good, from the name of idea, that he directly calls it the intelligible goodness; but though the first principle is superior to all language and appellation, we permit Socrates to call it the cause of every thing beautiful and good, transferring through the things which are proximately filled by it, appellations to it. For this I think Socrates indicating asserts in all that he says about the good, that it is beyond knowledge and things that are known, and likewise beyond essence and being, according to its analogy to the sun. And after a certain admirable manner he presents us with an epitome of the negations of the one in the Parmenides. For the assertion that the good is neither truth, nor essence, nor intellect, nor science, at one and the same time separates it from the superessential unities, and every genus of the Gods, and from the intellectual and intelligible orders, and from every psychical subsistence. But these are the first things, and through the first hypothesis of the Parmenides, these are taken away from the principle of the whole of things.
Moreover, neither when he celebrates the good the leader of the divine orders, as the most splendid of being, does he denominate it most splendid as participating of light. For the first light proceeds from it to intelligibles and intellect, but he gives it this appellation as the cause of the light which is every where diffused, and as the fountain of every intelligible, or intellectual, or mundane deity. For this light is nothing else than the participation of a divine hyparxis. For as all things become boniform through participating of the good, and are filled with the illumination proceeding from thence, thus also the natures which are primarily beings are deiform; and as it is said, intelligible and intellectual essences become divine through the participation of deity. Looking therefore to all that has been said, we shall preserve the exempt transcendency of the good with reference to all beings and the divine orders. But again, in each order of beings, we must grant that there is a monad analogous to it, not only in sensibles, as Plato says the sun is, but likewise in supermundane natures, and in the genera of Gods arranged from the good prior to these. For it is evident that the natures which are nearer to the first cause and which participate of it in a greater degree, possess a greater similitude to it. And as that is the cause of all beings, so these establish monads which are the leaders of more partial orders. And Plato indeed arranges the multitudes under the monads; but extends all the monads to the exempt principle of the whole of things, and establishes them uniformly about it. It is necessary therefore that the theological science should be unfolded conformably to the divine orders, and that our conceptions about it should be transcendent, and unmingled and unconnected With other things. And we should survey indeed all secondary natures, subsisting according to and perfected about it; but we should establish it as transcending all the monads in beings, according to one excess of simplicity, and as unically arranged prior to the whole orders [of Gods.] For as the Gods themselves enact the order which is in them, thus also it is necessary that the truth concerning them, the precedaneous causes of beings, and the second and third progeny of these should be definitely distinguished.
This, therefore, is the one truth concerning the first principle, and which possesses one reason remarkably conformable to the Platonic hypothesis, viz. that this principle subsists prior to the whole orders in the Gods, that it gives subsistence to the boniform essence of the Gods, that it is the fountain of superessential goodness, and that all things posterior to it being extended towards it, are filled with good, after an ineffable manner are united to it, and subsist uniformly about it. For its unical nature is not unprolific, but it is by so much the more generative of other things, as it pre-establishes a union exempt from the things which have a subsistence. Nor does its fecundity tend to multitude and division; but it abides with undefiled purity concealed in inaccessible places. For in the natures also which are posterior to it, we every where see that what is perfect desires to generate, and that what is full hastens to impart to other things its plenitude. In a much greater degree therefore it is necessary that the nature which contains in one all perfections, and which is not a certain good, but good itself, and super-full, (if it be lawful so to speak) should be generative of the whole of things, and give subsistence to them; producing all things by being exempt from all things, and by being imparticipable, similarly generating the first and the last of beings.
You must not, however, suppose that this generation and progression is emitted in consequence of the good either being moved, or multiplied, or possessing a generative power, or energizing; since all these are secondary to the singleness of the first. For whether the good is moved, it will not be the good; since the good itself, and which is nothing else, if it were moved would depart from goodness. How, therefore, can that which is the source of goodness to beings, produce other things when deprived of good? Or whether the good is multiplied through imbecility, there will be a progression of the whole of things through a diminution, but not through an abundance of goodness. For that which in generating departs from its proper transcendency, hastens to adorn inferior natures, not through prolific perfection, but through a diminution and want of its own power. But if the good produces all things by employing power, there will be a diminution of goodness about it. For it will be two things and not one, viz. it will be good and power. And if indeed it is in want of power, that which is primarily good will be indigent. But if to be the good itself is sufficient to the perfection of the things produced, and to the plenitude of all things, why do we assume power as an addition? For additions in the Gods are ablations of transcendent unions. Let the good therefore alone be prior to power, and prior to energy. For all energy is the progeny of power. Neither, therefore, does the good energizing give subsistence to all things through energy, nor being in want of power does it fill all things with powers, nor being multiplied do all things participate of good, nor being moved do all beings enjoy the first principle. For the good precedes all powers, and all energies, and every multitude and motion; since each of these is referred to the good as to its end. The good therefore is the most final of all ends, and the centre of all desirable natures. All desirable natures, indeed, impart an end to secondary beings; but that which pre-subsists uncircumscribed by all things is the first good.
After these things, however, let us direct our attention to the conceptions about the first principle in the epistle [of Plato] to Dionysius, and survey the manner in which he considers its ineffable and immense transcendency. But perhaps some one may be indignant with us for rashly drawing to our own hypotheses the assertions of Plato, and may say that the three kings of which he speaks are all of them intellectual Gods; but that Plato does not think fit to co-arrange or connumerate the good with secondary natures. For such a connumeration ought not to be considered as adapted to the exempt transcendency of the good with respect to other things, nor in short, must it be said that the good contributes as the first with reference to another second or third cause to the completion of a triad in conjunction with other natures; but that it in a greater degree precedes every triad and every number, than the intelligible precede the intellectual Gods. How, therefore, can we connumerate with other kings the good which is at once exempt from all the divine numbers, and coarrange one as the first [king,] another as the second, and another as the third? Some one may also adduce many other things, indicating the transcendency of the first principle with respect to every thing divine. Such a one, however, in thus interpreting the words of Plato will remarkably accord with us who assert the good to be imparticipable, to transcend all the intelligible and intellectual genera, and to be established above all the divine monads.
That Plato, indeed, admits the first God to be the king of all things, and says that all things are for his sake, and that he is the cause of all beautiful things, does not I think require much proof to those who consider his words by themselves apart from their own conjectures, by introducing which they violently endeavour to accord with Plato. But that we do not assert these things connumerating [the first God with secondary natures,] Plato himself manifests, neither calling the first king the first, but alone the king of all things, nor asserting that some things are about him, as he says that second things are about that which is second, and third things about that which is third, but he says, in short, that all things are about him. And to the other kings, indeed, he introduces, number and a divided kingdom; but to the king of all things he neither attributes a part of number, nor a distribution of dominion opposite to that of the others. Such a mode of words, therefore, neither connumerates the king of all things with the other kings, nor co-arranges him as the leader of a triad with the second and third power. For of a triadic division the first monad, indeed, is the leader of first orders, and which are co-ordinate with itself; but the second of second; and the third of third orders. If, however, some one should apprehend that the first monad is the leader of all things, so as to comprehend at once both second and third allotments; yet the cause which subsists according to comprehension is different from that which similarly pervades to all things. And to the king of all things, indeed, all things are subject according to one reason and one order; but to the first of the triad, things first are subjected according to the same order; and it is necessary that things second and third should be subservient according to their communion with the remaining kings. Does not, therefore, what is here said by Plato remarkably celebrate the exempt nature of the first cause, and his un-coordination with the other kingdoms of the Gods? Since he says that this cause similarly reigns over all things, that all things subsist about him, and that for his sake essence and energy are inherent in all things.
If also Socrates in the Republic clearly teaches that the sun reigns over the world analogous to the good, let no one dare to accuse this analogy as connumerating the good with the king of mundane natures. For unless together with the similitude of secondary causes to the first principles, we think fit to preserve that exempt dominion [of the first cause] it will be impossible for us to evince that the super-mundane kings have their allotment analogous to the first cause, who subsists prior to the whole of things according to one transcendency. But what occasion is there to be prolix? For Plato indeed calls the first God king; but he does not think fit to give the others the same appellation, not only in the beginning of what he says about the first, but shortly after, he adds: “About the king himself and the natures of which I have spoken there is nothing of this kind.” The first God, therefore, alone is called king. But he is called not only the king of things first, in the same manner as the second of things second, and the third of things third, but as the cause at once of all being and all beauty. Hence the first God precedes the other causes in an exempt and uniform manner, and according to a transcendency of the whole of things, and is neither celebrated by Plato as co-ordinated with them, nor as the leader of a triad.
That these things, however, are asserted by Plato about the first God we shall learn by recurring a little to the preceding words, which are as follow: “You say, that I have not sufficiently demonstrated to you the particulars respecting the first nature. I must speak to you, therefore, in enigmas, that in case the letter should be intercepted, either by land or sea, he who reads it may not understand this part of its contents. All things are situated about the king of all; and all things are for his sake; and he is the cause of every thing beautiful.” In these words, therefore, Plato proposing to purify our conceptions about the first principle through enigmas, celebrates the king of all things, and refers to him the cause of the whole of things beautiful and good. Who, therefore, is the king of all things, except the unical God who is exempt from all things, who produces all things from himself, and is the leader of all orders according to one cause? Who is he that converts all ends to himself, and establishes them about himself? For if you call him, for whose sake all things subsist, the end of all ends, and the primogenial cause, you will not deviate from the truth concerning him. Who is he that is the cause of all beautiful things, shining upon them with divine light, and who encloses that which is deformed and without measure, and the most obscure of all things in the extremity of the universe?
If you are willing also from the words of Plato that follow the preceding, we will show that to be the recipient neither of language nor of knowledge is adapted to the first principle. For the words: “This your inquiry concerning the cause of all beautiful things is as of a nature endued with a certain quality,” are to be referred to this principle. For it is not possible to apprehend it intellectually, because it is unknown, nor to unfold it, because it is uncircumscribed; but whatever you may say of it, you will speak as of a certain thing; and you will speak indeed about it, but you will not speak it. For speaking of the things of which it is the cause, we are unable to say, or to apprehend through intelligence what it is. Here therefore, the addition of quality, and the busy energy of the soul, remove it from the goodness which is exempt from all things, by the redundancy of its conceptions about it. This likewise draws the soul down to kindred, connate, and multiform intelligibles, and prevents her from receiving that which is characterized by unity, and is occult in the participation of the good. And it is not only proper that the human soul should be purified from things co-ordinate with itself in the union and communion with that which is first, and that for this purpose it should leave all the multitude of itself behind, and exciting its own hyparxis, approach with closed eyes, as it is said, to the king of all things, and participate of his light, as much as this is lawful for it to accomplish; but intellect also, which is prior to us, and all divine natures, by their highest unions, superessential torches, and first hyparxes are united to that which is first, and always participate of its exuberant fulness; and this not so far as they are that which they are, but so far as they are exempt from things allied to themselves, and converge to the one principle of all. For the cause of all disseminated in all things impressions of his own all-perfect transcendency, and through these establishes all things about himself, and being exempt from the whole of things, is ineffably present to all things. Every thing therefore, entering into the ineffable of its own nature, finds there the symbol of the father of all. All things too naturally venerate him, and are united to him, through an appropriate mystic impression, divesting themselves of their own nature, and hastening to become his impression alone, and to participate him alone, through the desire of his unknown nature, and of the fountain of good. Hence, when they have run upwards as far as to this cause, they become tranquil, and are liberated from the parturitions and the desire which all things naturally possess of goodness unknown, ineffable, imparticipable, and transcendency full. But that what is here said is concerning the first God, and that Plato in these conceptions leaves him uncoordinated with and exempt from the other causes, has been, I think, sufficiently evinced.
Let us in the next place consider each of the dogmas, and adapt them to our conceptions concerning cause, that from these we may comprehend by a reasoning process, the scope of the whole of Plato’s theology. Let then one truth concerning the first principle be especially that which celebrates his ineffable, simple, and all-transcending nature; which establishes all things about him, but does not assert that he generates or produces any thing, or that he presubsists as the end of things posterior to himself. For such a form of words neither adds any thing to the unknown, who is exempt from all things, nor multiplies him who is established above all union, nor refers the habitude and communion of things secondary to him who is perfectly imparticipable. Nor in short, does it announce that it teaches any thing about him, or concerning his nature, but about the second and third natures which subsist after him.
Such then being this indication of the first God, and such the manner in which it venerates the ineffable, the second to this is that which converts all the desires of things to him, and celebrates him as the object of desire to and common end of all things, according to one cause which precedes all other causes. For the last of things subsists only for the sake of something else, but the first is that only for the sake of which all other things subsist: and all the intermediate natures participate of these two peculiarities. Hence they genuinely adhere to the natures which surpass them, as objects of desire, but impart the perfection of desires to subordinate beings.
The third speculation of the principle of things is far inferior to the preceding, considering him as giving subsistence to all beautiful things. For to celebrate him as the supplier of good, and as end preceding the two orders of things, is not very remote from the narration which says, that all causes are posterior to him, and derive their subsistence from him, as well those which are paternal, and the sources of good, as those that are the suppliers of prolific powers. But to ascribe to him a producing and generative cause, is still more remote from the all-perfect union of the first. For as it cannot be known or discussed by language, by secondary natures, it must not be said that it is the cause, or that it is generative of beings, but we should celebrate in silence this ineffable nature, and this perfectly causeless cause which is prior to all causes. If, however, as we endeavour to ascribe to him the good and the one, we in like manner attribute to him cause, and that which is final or paternal, we must pardon the parturition of the soul about this ineffable principle, aspiring to perceive him with the eye of intellect, and to speak about him; but, at the same time, the exempt transcendency of the one which is immense, must be considered as surpassing an indication of this kind. From these things therefore, we may receive the sacred conceptions of Plato, and an order adapted to things themselves. And we may say that the first part of this sentence sufficiently indicates the simplicity, transcendency, and in short the uncoordination with all things of the king of all. For the assertion that all things subsist about him, unfolds the hyparxis of things second, but leaves that which is beyond all things without any connexion with things posterior to it. But the second part celebrates the cause of all the Gods as prearranged in the order of end. For that which is the highest of all causes, is immediately conjoined with that which is prior to cause; but of this kind is the final cause, and that for the sake of which all things subsist. This part therefore is posterior to the other, and is woven together with the order of things, and the progression of the Platonic doctrine.
Again, the third part asserts him to be productive of all beautiful things, and thus adds to him a species of cause inferior to the final. Whence also Plotinus, I think, does not hesitate to call the first God the fountain of the beautiful. It is necessary therefore to attribute that which is best to the best of all things, that he may be the cause of all, and in reality prior to cause. But this is the good. This too, which is an admirable circumstance, may be seen in the words of Plato, that the first of these three divine dogmas, neither presumes to say any thing about the good, and this ineffable nature, nor does it permit us to refer any species of cause to it. But the second dogma leaves indeed the good ineffable, as it is fit it should, but from the habitude of things posterior to it, enables us to collect the final cause: for it does not refuse to call it that for the sake of which all things subsist. But when it asserts that all things are for the sake of the good, it excites in us the conception of the communion and co-ordination of that which is the object of desire with the desiring natures. And the third dogma evinces that the good is the cause of all beautiful things. But this is to say something concerning it, and to add to the simplicity of the first cause, and not to abide in the conceptions of the end, but to conjoin with it the producing principle of things second. And it appears to me that Plato here indicates the natures which are proximately unfolded into light after the first. For it is not possible to say any thing concerning, it except at one time being impelled to this from all things, and at another from the best of things: for it is the cause of hyparxis to all things, and unfolds its own separate union through the peculiarities of these. We ascribe to it therefore the one and the good from the donation which pervades to all things from it. For of those things of which all participate, we say there is no other cause than that which is established prior to all these. But the about which (το περι ο,) the on account of which (το δι, ο), and the from which (το αφ᾽ου,) particularly subsist in the intelligible Gods: and from these they are ascribed to the first God. For whence can we suppose the unical Gods derive their peculiarities, except from that which is prior to them? To this summit of intelligibles therefore the term about is adapted, because all the divine orders occultly proceed about this summit which is arranged prior to them. But the term on account of which pertains to the middle order of intelligibles: for all things subsist for the sake of eternity and an hyparxis perfectly entire. And the term from which is adapted to the extremity of intelligibles: for this first produces all things, and adorns them uniformly. These things, therefore, we shall indeed make more known in the doctrine which will shortly follow concerning the intelligible Gods.
In the next place, let us finish the discussion concerning the first God, with the theory of Parmenides, and unfold the mystic conceptions of the first hypothesis as far as pertains to the present purpose. For we shall refer the reader for the most perfect interpretation of them to our commentaries on that dialogue. In the first place therefore, it is requisite to determine this concerning the first hypothesis, that it comprehends as many conclusions negatively, as the hypothesis which follows it does affirmatively. For this latter demonstrates all the orders proceeding from the one; but the former evinces that the one is exempt from all the divine genera. From both these hypotheses however, it is obvious to every one how it is necessary that the cause of the whole of things should transcend his productions. For because the one is the cause of all the Gods, he transcends all things. And because he is exempt from them through transcendency, on this account he gives to all things their hypostases. For through being expanded above all things he causes all things to subsist. Since in the second and third orders also of beings, causes which are entirely exempt from their effects, more perfectly generate and connect their progeny than those causes do which are coordinate with their effects. And the one by ineffably producing all the divine orders, appears to be unically established above all. For in the productions posterior to it, cause is every where different from the things caused. And on this account nature indeed being incorporeal, is a cause which transcends bodies; but soul being perfectly perpetual, is the cause of things generated; and intellect being immoveable is the cause of every thing that is moved. If, therefore, according to each progression of beings effects are denied of their causes, it is certainly necessary to take away all things similarly from the cause of all.
In the second place, I think it is necessary that the order of the negations should be defined by those who receive theology according to the intention of Parmenides; and that it should be admitted that they proceed indeed from the monads which subsist primarily in the divine genera, and that Parmenides takes away from the one all second and third natures, according to an order adapted to each. For that which transcends more principal causes must in a much greater degree subsist prior to those that are subordinate. Parmenides, however, does not begin his negations from the Gods that are united to the first: for this genus is with difficulty distinguished from the one: because being arranged naturally [immediately] after it, it is most unical and occult, and transcendently similar to its producing cause. Parmenides therefore beginning where prior to all other things division and multitude are apparent, and proceeding regularly through all the second orders as far as to the last of things, again returns to the beginning, and shows how the one differs from the Gods that are most similar to it, and which primarily participate of it, according to one ineffable cause.
In the third place, in addition to what has been said, I determine concerning the mode of negations, that they are not privative of their subjects, but generative of things which are as it were their opposites. For because the first principle is not many, the many proceed from it, and because it is not a whole, wholeness proceeds from it, and in a similar manner in other things. And in thus determining, I speak conformably to Plato, who thinks it proper to abide in negations, and to add nothing to the one. For whatever you add, you diminish the one, and afterwards evince that it is not the one, but that which is passive to [or participates] the one. For it is thus not one only, but in addition to this possesses something else also by participation. This mode therefore of negations is exempt, unical, primary, and is a departure from the whole of things, in an unknown and ineffable transcendency of simplicity. It is likewise necessary, having attributed such a mode as this to the first God, again to exempt him from the negations also. For neither does any discourse, nor any name belong to the one, says Parmenides. But if no discourse belongs to it, it is evident that neither does negation pertain to it. For all things are secondary to the one, things knowable and knowledge, and the instruments of knowledge, and after a manner that which is impossible presents itself at the end of the hypothesis. For if nothing whatever can be said of the one, neither is this discussion itself adapted to the one. Nor is it at all wonderful that the discourse of those who wish to know the ineffable by words should terminate in that which is impossible; since all knowledge when conjoined with an object of knowledge which does not at all pertain to it loses its power. For sense, if we should say that it pertained to that which is the object of science would subvert itself; and this would be the case with science and every kind of knowledge if we should say that they belonged to that which is intelligible; so that language when conversant with that which is ineffable, being subverted about itself, has no cessation, and opposes itself.
Let us now therefore, if ever, abandon multiform knowledge, exterminate from ourselves all the variety of life, and in perfect quiet approach near to the cause of all things. For this purpose, let not only opinion and phantasy be at rest, nor the passions alone which impede our anagogic impulse to the first, be at peace; but let the air be still, and the universe itself be still. And let all things extend us with a tranquil power to communion with the ineffable. Let us also, standing there, having transcended the intelligible (if we contain any thing of this kind,) and with nearly closed eyes adoring as it were the rising sun, since it is not lawful for any being whatever intently to behold him—let us survey the sun whence the light of the intelligible Gods proceeds, emerging, as the poets say, from the bosom of the ocean; and again from this divine tranquillity descending into intellect, and from intellect, employing the reasonings of the soul, let us relate to ourselves what the natures are from which, in this progression, we shall consider the first God as exempt. And let us as it were celebrate him, not as establishing the earth and the heavens, nor as giving subsistence to souls, and the generations of all animals; for he produced these indeed, but among the last of things; but, prior to these, let us celebrate him as unfolding into light the whole intelligible and intellectual genus of Gods, together with all the supermundane and mundane divinities—as the God of all Gods, the unity of all unities, and beyond the first adyta,—as more ineffable than all silence, and more unknown than all essence,—as holy among the holies, and concealed in the intelligible Gods, And again after these things descending into a reasoning process from an intellectual hymn, and employing the irreprehensible science of dialectic, let us, following the contemplation of first causes, survey the manner in which the first God is exempt from the whole of things. And let our descent be as far as to this. But opinion and phantasy and sense, prevent us indeed from partaking of the presence of the Gods, and draw us down from Olympian goods to earth-born motions, Titannically divide the intellect that is in us, and divulse us from an establishment in wholes to the images of beings.
What therefore will be the first conception of the science proceeding from intellect, and unfolding itself into light? What other can we assert it to be than that which is the most simple and the most known of all the conceptions contained in this science? What therefore is this? “The one, says Parmenides, if it is the one will not be many.” For it is necessary that the many should participate of the one; but the one does not participate of the one, but is the one itself. Neither is that which is primarily one participable. For it would not be purely one if mingled with the many, nor that which is one, if it received the addition of that which is subordinate. The one therefore is exempt from the many. The many however subsist primarily in the summit of the first intellectual Gods, and in the intelligible place of survey, as we are taught in the second hypothesis. The one, therefore, entirely transcends an order of this kind, and is the cause of it. For the not many, is not privation, as we have said, but the cause of the many. This, therefore, Parmenides does not think it requisite to demonstrate, but as a thing most manifest to every one, he first evinces this, through the opposition as it were of the many to the one. But employing this he takes away that which follows; and he takes away that which is posterior to this by employing the conclusions prior to it, and this he always does, after the same manner. And at one time indeed, he assumes the elements of the demonstrations from proximate conclusions, but at another time from those that are more remote. For after this intelligible order of Gods, as we have said, he gives subsistence to that order which connectedly contains and bounds the extent of them, from their exempt cause. But this order is called by him in the second hypothesis parts and a whole. These therefore he denies of the one employing the many for the purpose of distinguishing the subjects and the one. For, as he says, that which is a whole and has parts is many; but the one is beyond the many. If, therefore, the one transcends the intelligible simplicity, but whole and that which has parts proceed from it in order to become the bond of the whole of this distribution, is it not necessary that the one should neither be a whole, nor be indigent of parts? And I think it is through this transcendency that the one presubsists as the cause of this order of Gods, and that it produces this order, but in an exempt manner.
In the third place after these, we may survey the order which is allotted the boundary of the intellectual and at the same time intelligible Gods, proceeding from the one, and may behold the one perfectly expanded above it. For this order indeed subsists from the second genera, and from the intellectual wholeness of the genera. But the one, as has been demonstrated, is exempt according to cause from this wholeness. The one therefore has neither beginning, or middle, or end, nor has it extremes, nor does it participate of any figure. For through these Gods, the before mentioned order of Gods becomes apparent. Whether therefore, there be a perfective summit, or what is celebrated as the middle centre in these Gods, or a termination converting the end of these divinities to their beginning, the one is similarly beyond every triple distribution. For the one would have parts, and would be many, if it participated of things of this kind. But it has been demonstrated that the one unically subsists prior to the many, and to wholeness together with its parts, as the cause of them. And you see how Parmenides indeed exhibits to us one negation of the highest order, but two negations of the middle, and three of the last order. Besides this also, he shows that the one has no extremity. But the infinite is a thing of this kind. And separately from this he likewise shows that the one is unreceptive of all figures.
Again therefore, after these triple orders we must direct our attention to the intellectual Gods subsisting from these, and receiving a tripartite division, and must demonstrate that the one transcends these also. For such is the one, says Parmenides, since it is neither in itself, nor in another. For if it were in another, it would be on all sides comprehended by that in which it is, and would every where touch that which comprehends it. But in this case, it would have a figure, would consist of parts, and on this account would be many and not one. And if it were in itself it would entirely comprehend itself in itself. But comprehending and at the same time being comprehended, it will be two, and will be no longer primarily one. The discourse therefore proceeds to the same conclusion, and evinces that the one will not be one, by the summit of the intellectual order, if any one endeavours to mingle it with other things. Hence the one being perfectly exempt from this summit also, gives subsistence to it, this summit at one and the same time participating of the third of the Gods placed above it, but being produced from the second of these Gods, and being perfected from the first, and entirely established in it.
Moreover, the one likewise generates the second intellectual order, being unmingled with it. For the one neither stands still, nor is moved. It participates therefore of neither of these; but being similarly exempt from both, it at the same time transcends the middle orders of the intellectual progression of the Gods. For if it were moved, it would be moved in a twofold respect, viz. either according to a change in quality, or local motion. But it is not possible that the one can be changed in quality; for being thus changed it will be not one, and will fall off from a unical hyparxis. Nor can it be locally moved. For it is impossible that it should be moved in a circle, because it would have parts, viz. middle and extremes. And if it changed one place for another it would be partible.
For it would be necessary that it should neither be wholly in that place to which it is moved, nor in that whence it begins to be moved. For if it were wholly in either of them, it would be immoveable, in consequence of partly not yet being moved, and partly having now ceased its motion. But if the one stands still, it is certainly necessary that it should abide in the same thing. But it has been demonstrated that the one is no where. Hence it is neither in itself, nor in another thing. In no respect therefore is the one moved, or does it stand still, which things [viz. motion and permanency] particularly belong to the middle order of intellectuals, as will be evident from the second hypothesis. For the first God produces this order also, being exempt from it. In the third place, we may survey through what next follows, the last order of intellectuals, proceeding from the one, and subordinate to it. For in this order sameness and difference subsist unitedly. But at the same time the one subsists prior to both these. For different is said to be different both from itself and from other things. And in a similar manner same is the same with itself, and with other things. But the one is not indeed different from itself, because that which is different from the one will be not one. And it is not the same with other things, lest becoming the same with them, it should latently pass into their nature. Moreover, neither is the one different from other things. For it would be at the same time one, and would have as an addition the power of difference. For so far as it is different it will not be one; since difference is not the one. Hence being one and different, it will be many and not the one. Nor is the one the same with itself. For if the one and the same differ only in name, the many will not be in consequence of participating of sameness with each other. For it is impossible that the many should become one by participating of the many. But if the one and sameness are essentially different, that which is primarily one does not participate of sameness, lest by receiving sameness in addition to the one, it should become a passive one, and not that which is primarily one. If however the extremity of intellectuals is characterized by this tetrad, it is evident that the one existing beyond this also supernally unfolds it into light, and places over the wholes of the universe a tetradic monad, the source of ornament to all secondary natures. For from hence other things primarily receive a communication with the one which are also indeed produced and connectedly contained by the one.
But after the intellectual Gods, the ineffable transcendency of the one arranges the extent of the supermundane divinities, the one in the mean time, being occultly exempt from its supermundane progeny. And this extent indeed proximately subsists from the intellectual Gods, but uniformly receives its hyparxis from the first God. This, therefore, Parmenides produces through similitude and dissimilitude, from the deity which encloses the boundary of the intellectual monads. For the similar is that which is passive to sameness, in the same manner as dissimilitude is that which is passive to difference. Parmenides therefore demonstrates that the one transcends according to one simplicity such a peculiarity of the Gods also as this. For that which is established above the power of same and different, in a much greater degree transcends the genera which are allotted a subsistence according to similitude and dissimilitude.
What therefore remains after this? Is it not evident that it is the multitude of the mundane Gods? But this also is twofold, the one being celestial, but the other sublunary. Of these, therefore, the genus which revolves in the heavens, proceeds together with the equal, the greater and the less. But in the sublunary genus the equal is allotted a difference in multitude from the celestial equality, but the unequal is again divided by the power of the more and the less. According to another genus therefore of the divine orders, there will be a monad and a duad, but above indeed, they are allied to the one and to sameness, and beneath to multitude, and the intellectual cause of difference. Hence the one transcends all these. For the equal indeed every where consists of the same parts. By what contrivance therefore is it possible that the nature which at one and the same time is exempt from sameness, and the difference which is associated with it, should participate of equality and inequality?
Besides all these divine orders therefore we must intellectually survey the genera of deified souls, and which are distributed about the Gods. For in each of the divine progressions and in the progressions also of souls, the first genus presents itself to the view connascent with the Gods; since both in the heavens, and in the sublunary region divine souls receive the division of the Gods into the world, as the Athenian Guest in a certain place demonstrates. The psychical extent therefore, is characterised by time, and by a life according to time. But the peculiarity of divine souls is shown by Parmenides to consist in their being younger and at the same time older both than themselves and other things. For revolving always according to the same time, and conjoining the beginning with the end, as at one and the same time proceeding to the end of the whole period they become younger, but as at the same time circulating to the beginning of it, they become older. All their ages however, perpetually preserve the same measures of time. Again, there is sameness in them and difference, the former indeed preserving equality, but the latter inequality, according to time. The one therefore subsists prior to divine souls, and generates these also together with the Gods. We now therefore come to the end of the whole distribution of more excellent natures; and the cause of all intelligibles at once unfolds into light the genera that follow the Gods, and that are triply divided by the three parts of time. But this cause is demonstrated by the intellectual projections of Parmenides to be also exempt from these. For that which is beyond all time and the life which is according to time, can by no contrivance become subservient to the more partial periods of time.
That which is the first of all things therefore, unfolds into light all the Gods, divine souls, and the more excellent genera, and is neither complicated with its progeny, nor multiplied about them; but being perfectly exempt from them in an admirable simplicity, and transcendency of union, it imparts to all things indifferently progression and at the same time order in the progression. Parmenides therefore beginning from the intelligible place of survey of the first intellectual Gods, proceeds thus far, according to the measures of generation, giving subsistence to the genera of the Gods, and to the natures that are united to and follow the Gods, and perpetually evinces that the one is ineffably exempt from all things. But again, from hence he returns to the beginning, and imitating the conversion of the whole of things, separates the one from the highest, viz. from the intelligible Gods. For thus especially we may survey the transcendency of the one, and the immense difference of its union from all other things, if we not only demonstrate that it is established above the second or third progressions in the divine orders, but also that it subsists prior to the intelligible unities themselves, and this in a manner conformable to the simplicity of their occult nature, and not through a variety of words, but through intellectual projection alone. For intelligibles are naturally adapted to be known by intellect. This therefore, Parmenides also evinces in reality, relinquishing logical methods, but energizing according to intellect, and asserting that the one is above essence, and being characterized by the one. For this assertion was not collected from the preceding conclusions. For the discourse about the first Gods themselves would be without demonstration, if it derived its credibility from things subordinate. At the same time therefore, Parmenides contends that all knowledge, and all the instruments of knowledge, fall short of the transcendency of the one, and beautifully end in the ineffable of that God who is beyond all things. For after scientific energies, and intellectual projections, a union with the unknown follows, to which also Parmenides referring the whole of his discussion, concludes the first hypothesis, suspending indeed all the divine genera from the one, but evincing that the one is unically exempt from all things, subsisting without the participation of intelligibles and sensibles, and in an ineffable manner giving subsistence to the participated monads. Hence also, the one is said to be beyond that one which is conjoined with essence, and at the same time to be beyond every participated multitude of unities.
- For ουσιαν it is necessary to read αιτιαν.
- For ουτος it is necessary to read αυτος.
- Ουχ is omitted in the original.
- Instead of το ον it is necessary to read το εν.
- The εν in the original which immediately precedes ουχ εν seems to be superfluous, and is therefore omitted in the translation.
- The words ασωματος are omitted in the original.
- For essence and the one being two things will participate of the many, i. e. of the first many, or two.
- For ον it is necessary to read εν.
- viz. which are multitude only without any participation of the one.
- For εξῃρηται it is necessary to read εξηρτηται. The punctuation also of the text in this place, must be altered agreeably to the translation.
- For αυτο το εν it is necessary to read αυτο το ον.
- This sentence is very erroneous in the original, as will be evident from comparing it with the above translation.
- For εν it is necessary to read ον.
- Here also ον must be substituted for εν.
- For παντα παροντα, I read παντα τα οντᾳ.
- For και here, it is necessary to read αλλα᾽.
- For σοφος, it is necessary to read σαφως.
- In the original μη is wanting after ει.
- For πραξιν, it is necessary to read ταξιν.
- For της απλοτητος I read την απλοτητα.
- For του θεου, it is necessary to read των θεων.
- For αιτιον it is necessary to read αιτιου.
- For δι᾽ ου it is necessary to read δι᾽ ο; since the former denotes the instrumental, but the latter the final cause.
- For αδυνατων, it is necessary to read αδυτων. For the occult and invisible order of Night and Phanes is called by Orpheus the adytum. So that by the first adyta, Proclus means the highest order of intelligibles.
- For των θεων it is necessary to read τοις θεοις.