The Six Books of Proclus, the Platonic Successor, on the Theology of Plato/Book III

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Such therefore is the theology with Plato concerning the first God, as it appears to me, and so great is the transcendency which it is allotted with respect to all other discussions of divine concerns; at one and the same time venerably preserving the ineffable union of this God exempt from the whole of things, uncircumscribed by all gnostic comprehensions, and apart from all beings; and unfolding the anagogic paths to him, perfecting that parturient desire which souls always possess of the father, and progenitor of all things, and enkindling that torch in them, by which they are especially conjoined with the unknown transcendency of the one. But after this imparticipable, ineffable, and truly superessential cause, which is separated from all essence, power and energy, the discussion of the Gods immediately follows. For to what other thing prior to the unities is it lawful to be conjoined with the one, or what else can be more united to the unical God than the multitude of Gods? Concerning these therefore, we shall in the next place unfold the inartificial theory of Plato, invoking the Gods themselves to enkindle in us the light of truth. I wish however prior to entering on the particulars of this theory, to convince the reader, and to make it evident to him through demonstration, that there are necessarily as many orders of the Gods, as the Parmenides of Plato unfolds to us in the second hypothesis.

This therefore is I think prior to all other things apparent to those whose conceptions are not perverted, that every where, but especially in the divine orders, second progressions, are completed through the similitude of these to their proper principles. For nature and intellect, and every generative cause, are naturally adapted to produce and conjoin to themselves things similar, prior to such as as are dissimilar to themselves. For if it is necessary that the progression of beings should be continued, and that no vacuum should intervene either in incorporeal natures, or in bodies, it is necessary that every thing which proceeds naturally should proceed through similitude. For it is by no means lawful that the thing caused should be the same with its cause; since a remission and deficiency of the union of the producing cause generates secondary natures. For again, if that which is second were the same as that which is first, each would be similarly the same, and one would not be cause, but the other the thing caused. If however, the one by its very being, or essentially, has an exuberance of productive power, but the other falls short of the power that produced it, these are naturally separated from each other, and the generative cause precedes in excellence the thing generated, and there is not a sameness of things which so greatly differ. But if that which is second is not the same with that which is first, if indeed it is different only, they will not be conjoined to each other, nor will the one participate of the other. For contact and participation, are indeed a communion of things conjoined, and a sympathy of participants with the natures they participate. But if it is at the same time the same with and different from that which is first, if indeed the sameness is indigent, and vanquished by the power which is contrary to it, the one will no longer be the leader of the progression of beings, nor will every generative cause subsist prior to things of a secondary nature, in the order of the good. For the one is not the cause of division, but of friendship. And the good converts generated natures to their causes. But the conversion and friendship of things secondary to such as are primary is through similitude, but not through a dissimilar nature. If therefore the one is the cause of the whole of things, and if the good is in an exempt manner desirable to all things, it will every where give subsistence to the progeny of precedaneous causes, through similitude, in order that progression may be according to the one, and that the conversion of things which have proceeded may be to the good. For without similitude there will neither be the conversion of things to their proper principles, nor the generation of effects. Let this therefore be considered as a thing admitted in this place.

But the second thing besides this, and which is demonstrated through this, is, that it is necessary every monad should produce a number co-ordinate to itself, nature indeed a natural, but soul a psychical, and intellect an intellectual number. For if every thing generative generates similars prior to dissimilars, as has been before demonstrated, every cause will certainly deliver its own form and peculiarity to its own progeny, and before it gives subsistence to far distant progressions, and things which are separated from its nature, it will produce things essentially near to it, and conjoined with it through similitude. Every monad therefore, gives subsistence to a multitude indeed, as generating that which is second to itself, and which divides the powers that presubsist occultly in itself. For those things which are uniformly and contractedly in the monad, present themselves to the view separately in the progeny of the monad. And this indeed the wholeness of nature manifests, since it contains in one the reasons, [i. e. productive principles] of all things both in the heavens and in the sublunary region; but distributes the powers of itself to the natures which are divided from it about bodies. For the nature of earth, of fire, and of the moon, possesses from the wholeness of nature its peculiarity and form, and energizes together with this wholeness, and contains its own allottment. This also the monad of the mathematical sciences and of numbers manifests. For this being all things primarily, and spermatically producing in itself the forms of numbers, distributes different powers to different externally proceeding numbers. For it is not possible that what is generated, should at once receive all the abundance of its generator. And it is necessary that the prolific power of every thing that pre-exists in the cause[1] itself should become apparent. The monad therefore gives subsistence to a multitude about itself, and to number which distributes the peculiarities that abide collectively in itself. Since however, as was before observed, the similar is always more allied to cause than the dissimilar, there will be one multitude of similars to the monad, proceeding from the monad; and another of dissimilars. But again, the multitude which is similar to the monad is that in a divided manner which the monad is indivisibly. For if the monad possesses a peculiar power and hyparxis, there will be the same form of hyparxis in the multitude together with a remission with reference to the whole.

After this however, it is necessary to consider in the third place, that of progressions, such as are nearer to their cause are indicative of a greater multitude of things, and are at the same time in a certain respect equal to their containing causes; but that such as are more remote possess a less extended power of signification; and on account of the diminution of their power, change and diminish at the same time the amplitude of production. For if, of progressions, that which subsists the first in order is more similar to its principle, and that which gives subsistence to the greatest number is both with respect to essence and power more similar to the generating principle of all things, it is necessary that of secondary natures, such as are nearer to the monad, and which receive dominion after it, should give a greater extent to their productions; but that such things as are more separated from their primary monad should neither pervade in a similar manner through all things, nor extend their efficacious energies to far distant progressions. And again, as similar to this, it is necessary that the nature which gives subsistence to the greatest number of effects, should be arranged next to the monad its principle; and that the nature generative of a more numerous progeny, because it is more similar to the supplying cause of all things than that which is generative of a few, must be arranged nearer to the monad, according to hyparxis. For if it is more remote, it will be more dissimilar to the first principle; but if it is more dissimilar, it will neither possess a power comprehending the power of similar natures, nor an energy abundantly prolific. For an abundant cause is allied to the cause of all. And universally, that which is generative of a more abundant, is more naturally allied to its principle than that which is productive of a less numerous progeny. For the production of fewer effects is a defect of power; but a defect of power is a diminution of essence; and a diminution of essence becomes redundant on account of dissimilitude to its cause, and a departure from the first principle.

Again therefore, in addition to what has been said, we shall assert this which possesses the most indubitable truth, that prior to the causes which are participated, it is every where necessary that imparticipable causes should have a prior subsistence in the whole of things. For if it is necessary that a cause should have the same relation to its progeny as the one to all the nature of beings, and that it should naturally possess this order towards things secondary; but the one is imparticipable, being similarly exempt from all beings, as unically producing all things;—if this be the case, it is requisite that every other cause which imitates the transcendency of the one with respect to all things, should be exempt from the natures which are in secondary ranks, and which are participated by them. And again, as equivalent to this, it is requisite that every imparticipable and primary cause should establish monads of secondary natures similar to itself, prior to such as are dissimilar. I say, for instance, it is requisite that one soul should distribute many souls to different natures; and one intellect participated intellects to many souls. For thus the first exempt genus will every where have an order analogous to the one. And secondary natures which participate kindred causes will be analogous to these causes, and through the similitude of these will be conjoined with their imparticipable principle. Hence prior to the forms which are in other things, those are established which subsist in themselves; exempt causes prior to such as are co-ordinate; and imparticipable monads prior to such as are participate. And consequently (as that which is demonstrated at the same time with this) the exempt causes are generative of the co-ordinate, and imparticipable natures extend participate monads to their progeny. And natures which subsist from themselves produce the powers which are resident in other things. These things therefore being discussed, let us consider how each of the divine genera subsists through analogy,[2] and survey following Plato himself, what are the first and most total orders of the Gods. For having discovered and demonstrated this, we shall perhaps be able to perceive the truth concerning these several orders.

It is necessary therefore, from the before-mentioned axioms, since there is one unity the principle of the whole of things, and from which every hyparxis derives its subsistence, that this unity should produce from itself, prior to all other things, a multitude characterized by unity, and a number most allied to its cause. For if every other cause constitutes a progeny similar to itself prior to that which is dissimilar, much more must the one unfold into light after this manner things posterior to itself, since it is beyond similitude, and the one itself must produce according to union things which primarily proced from it. For how can the one give subsistence to its progeny except unically? For nature generates things secondary to itself physically, soul psychically, and intellect intellectually. The one therefore is the cause of the whole of things according to union, and the progression from the one is uniform. But if that which primarily produces all things is the one, and the progression from it is unical, it is certainly necessary that the multitude thence produced should be self-perfect unities, most allied to their producing cause. Farther still, if every monad constitutes a number adapted to itself, as was before demonstrated, by a much greater priority must the one generate a number of this kind. For in the progression of things, that which is produced is frequently dissimilar to its producing cause, through the dominion of difference: for such are the last of things, and which are far distant from their proper principles. But the first number, and which is connascent with the one, is uniform, ineffable, superessential, and perfectly similar to its cause. For in the first causes, neither does difference intervening separate from the generator the things begotten, and transfer them into another order, nor does the motion of the cause effecting a remission of power, produce into dissimilitude and indefiniteness the generation of the whole of things; but the cause of all things being unically raised above all motion and division, has established about itself a divine number, and has united it toits own simplicity. The one therefore prior to beings has given subsistence to the unities of beings.

For again, according to another mode [of considering the subject] it is necessary that primary beings should participate of the first cause through their proximate unities. For secondary things are severally conjoined to the natures prior to them through similars; bodies indeed to the soul which ranks as a whole, through the several souls [which they participate]; but souls to universal intellect through intellectual monads; and first beings, through unical hyparxes to the one. For being is in its own nature dissimilar to the one. For essence and that which is in want of union externally derived, are unadapted to be conjoined with that which is super-essential, and with the first union, and are far distant from it. But the unities of beings, since they derive their subsistence from the imparticipable unity, and which is exempt from the whole of things, are able to conjoin beings to the one, and to convert them to themselves.

It appears therefore to me, that Parmenides demonstrating these things through the second hypothesis, connects the one with being, surveys all things about the one, and evinces that this proceeding nature, and which extends its progressions as far as to the last of things is the one. For prior to true beings it was necessary to constitute the unities; since it neither was nor is lawful, says Timæus, for that which is the best of things to effect any thing else than that which is most beautiful. But this is in a remarkable degree most similar to that which is best. To the one however, a unical multitude is most similar; since the demiurgus of the universe also being good, constituted all things similar to himself through goodness itself. Much more therefore, does the fountain of all good produce goodnesses naturally united to itself, and establish them in beings. Hence there is one God, and many Gods, one unity and many unities prior to beings, and one goodness, and many after the one goodness, through which the demiurgic intellect is good; and every intellect is divine, whether it be an intellectual or intelligible intellect. And that which is primarily superessential is the one; and there are many superessentials after the one. Whether therefore, is this multitude of unities imparticipable in the same manner as the one itself, or is it participated by beings, and is each unity of beings the flower as it were of a certain being, and the summit and center of it, about which each being[3] subsists? But if these unities also are imparticipable, in what do they differ from the one? For each of them is one, and primarily subsists from the one. Or in what being more redundant than the first cause were they constituted by it? For it is every where necessary that what is second being subordinate to that which is prior to itself, should fall short of the union of its producing[4] cause, and by the addition of a certain thing should have a diminution of the monadic simplicity of the first. What addition therefore, can we adduce, or what redundancy besides the one, if each of these also is by itself one? For if each of them is one and many, we shall appear to transfer to them the peculiarity of being. But if each is one only, in the same manner as the one itself, why does this rank as the cause which is exempt from all things, but each of these is allotted a secondary dignity? Neither therefore shall we preserve the transcendency of the first with reference to the things posterior to it, nor can we admit that the unities proceeding from it are unconfused either with respect to themselves, or to the one principle of them.

But neither shall we be persuaded by Parmenides who produces the one together with being, and demonstrates that there are as many parts of the one as there are of being; that each being[5] also participates of the one, but that the one is every where consubsistent with being; and in short, who asserts that the one of the second hypothesis participates of being, and is participated by being, the participation in each not being the same. For the one indeed participates of being, as not being primarily one, nor exempt from being, but as illuminating truly-existing essence. But being participates of the one, as that which is connected by it, and filled with divine union, and converted to the one itself which is imparticipable. For the participated monads conjoin beings to the one which is exempt from the whole of things, in the same manner as participated intellects conjoin souls to the intellect which ranks as a whole, and as participated souls conjoin bodies to the soul which ranks as a whole. For it is not possible that the dissimilar genera of secondary natures should be united without media to the cause which is exempt from multitude; but it is necessary that the contact should be effected through similars. For a similar multitude, so far indeed as it is multitude, communicates with the dissimilar; but so far as it is similar to the monad prior to itself, it is conjoined with it. Being established therefore, in the middle of both, it is united to the whole, and to the one which is prior to multitude. But it contains in itself remote progressions, and which are of themselves dissimilar to the one. Through itself also, it converts all things to that one, and thus all things are extended to the first cause of the whole of things, dissimilars indeed through similars,[6] but similars through themselves. For similitude itself by itself conducts and binds the many to the one, and converts secondary natures to the monads prior to them. For the very being of similars so far as they are similars is derived from the one. Hence, it conjoins multitude to that from which it is allotted its progression. And on this account similitude is that which it is, causing many things to be allied, to possess sympathy with themselves, and friendship with each other and the one.


If however it be requisite, not only by employing the intellectual projections of Parmenides to unfold the multitude of Gods participated by beings, but also concisely to demonstrate the theory of Socrates about these particulars, we must recollect what is written in the Republic, where he says that the light proceeding from the good is unific of intellect and of beings. For through these things the good is demonstrated to be exempt from being and essence, in the same manner as the sun is exempt from visible natures. But this light being in intelligibles illuminates them, in the same manner as the solar-form light which is in visible natures. For visible natures no otherwise become apparent, and known to the sight, than through the light which is ingenerated in them. All intelligibles therefore become boniform through the participation of light, and through this light, every true[7] being is most similar to the good. If, therefore, it makes no difference to speak of this light, or of the one (for this light conjoins intelligibles, and causes them to be one, as deriving its subsistence from the one) if this be the case, the deity proceeding from the first is participable, and all the multitude of unities is participable. And that indeed which is truly superessential is the one. But each of the other Gods, according to his proper hyparxis, by which he is a superessential God, is similar to the first; but they are participated by essence and being. According to this reasoning therefore, the Gods appear to us to be unities, and participable unities, binding indeed all beings to themselves, but conjoining through themselves to the one which similarly transcends all things, the natures posterior to themselves.

Since therefore each of the Gods is indeed a unity, but is participated by some being, whether shall we say that the same being participates of each of the unities or that the participants of some of the unities are more, but of others less numerous? And if this be the case either the participants of the superior unities must be more, but of the inferior must be fewer in number, or vice versa. For it is necessary that there should be an order of the unities, in the same manner as we see that of numbers some are nearer to their principle, but others more remote from it. And that some are more simple, but others more composite, and exceed indeed in quantity, but suffer a diminution in power. But it is well that we have mentioned numbers. For if it is necessary to survey the order of the first monads with respect to each other, and their progression about beings, from these as images, in these also the monads which are nearer to the one will be participated by things which are more simple in essence, but those which are more remote from it, will be participated by more composite essences. For thus the participation will be according to the analogous; first monads being always participated by the first beings, but second monads by secondary beings. For again, if the first is exempt from all things, and is imparticipable, but that which is connascent with the most simple nature and the one is more similar to the imparticipable than that which is connascent with a more various and multiform nature, and which has more powers suspended from it,—if this be the case, it is perfectly obvious, that the unities which are nearer to the one are necessarily participated by the first and most simple essences; but that those which are more remote are participated by more composite essences, which are less in power, but are greater in number and multitude. For in short, additions in these unities are ablations of powers; and that which is nearer to the one, which surpasses the whole of things by an admirable simplicity, is more uniform, and is consubsistent with more total orders. And it happens according to the ratio of power, that the simplicity of the first unities is transcendent. For those things which are the causes of a greater number of effects, imitate as much as possible the cause of all things, but those which are the causes of fewer effects, have an essence more various than the natures that are prior to them.[8] For this variety distributes into minute parts and diminishes the power which abides in one. Moreover, in participated souls also, such as are first and most divine subsist in simple and perpetual bodies. Others again are connected with bodies that are simple, but in conjunction with these with material bodies also. And others are connected at one and the same time with simple, material and composite bodies. For the celestial souls indeed rule over simple bodies, and such as have an immaterial and immutable subsistence. But the souls that govern the wholes of the elements, are at the same time invested with etherial garments, and at the same time through these are carried in the wholes of the elements, which as wholes indeed are perpetual and simple, but as material receive generation and corruption, and composition from dissimilar natures. And the souls that rank in the third order, are those which proximately inspire with life their luciform[9] vehicles, but also attract from the simple element material vestments, pour into these a secondary life, and through these communicate with composite and multiform bodies, and sustain through this participation another third life.

If, however, you are willing to survey the intellectual orders, some of these are arranged in the souls which rank as wholes, and in the most divine of mundane souls, which also they govern in a becoming manner. But others being arranged in the souls of the more excellent genera, are proximately participated by the rulers that are in them; and are participated secondarily by more partial essences. But again they arrange third intellectual orders in partial souls. And according as the power which they are allotted is diminished, in such proportion is participation in them more various, and far more composite than the participation of the natures that are prior to them. If, therefore, this is the mode of participation in all beings, it is certainly necessary that of the Gods also those that are nearer to the one, should be carried in the more simple parts of being, but that those which have proceeded to a greater distance should be carried in the more composite parts of being. For the participations of second genera are divided after this manner according to a similitude to them.

Again therefore, we may summarily say, that after the one principle of the whole of things, the Gods present themselves to our view as self-perfect monads, participated by beings.[10] How many orders therefore there are of beings we shall afterwards unfold, and show what beings are allotted a more simple, and what a more various hyparxis. Of all, beings then, the last is that which is corporeal. For this derives its being, and all its perfection from another more ancient cause, and is neither allotted simplicity nor composition, nor perpetuity, nor incorruptibility from its own power. For no body is either self-subsistent, or self-begotten; but every thing which is so contracting in one, cause, and that which proceeds from cause, is incorporeal and impartible. And in short, that which is the cause of hyparxis to itself, imparts also to itself an infinite power of existence. For never deserting itself, it will never cease to be, or depart from its own subsistence. For every thing that is corrupted, is corrupted through being separated from the power that supplied it with being. But that which imparts being to itself, as it is not separated from itself, is allotted through itself a perpetual essence. No body however, since it is not the cause of perpetuity to itself, will be perpetual. For every thing which is perpetual possesses an infinite power. But body being finite is not the cause of infinite power. For infinite power is incorporeal, because all power is incorporeal. But this is evident, because greater powers are every where. But no body is capable of being wholly every where. If therefore, no-body imparts to itself power, whether the power be infinite or finite, but that which is self-subsistent imparts to itself the power of being, and of existing perpetually, no body will be self-subsistent. Whence therefore is being imparted to bodies, and what is it which is adapted proximately to supply them with being? Must we not say that the cause of being to bodies primarily is that which by being present renders the nature of body more perfect than its kindred bodies [when they are deprived of it?] This indeed is obvious to every one. For it is the province of that which imparts perfection to connect also the essence of secondary natures, since perfection itself is the perfection of essence. What therefore is that of which bodies participating, are said to be better than the bodies which do not participate of it? Is it not evident that it is soul? For we say that animated bodies are more perfect than such as are inanimate. Soul therefore is primarily beyond bodies; and it must be admitted that all heaven and every thing corporeal is the vehicle of soul. Hence, these two orders of beings present themselves to our view; the one indeed being corporeal, but the other which is above this, psychical.

With respect to soul itself however, whether is it the same with or different from intellect? For as the body which participates of soul is perfect, thus also the soul is perfect which participates of intellect. And of the soul indeed, which is able to live according to reason, all things do not participate: but of intellect and intellectual illumination rational souls participate, and also such things as partake of any kind of knowledge. And soul indeed energizes according to time; but intellect comprehends in eternity both its essence, and at the same time its stable energy. And not every soul indeed is adapted to preserve immutably and without diminution the perfection of itself; but every intellect is always perfect, and possesses a never-failing power of its own blessedness. The intellectual genus therefore is essentially beyond the psychical; since the former, neither in whole nor in partial intellects, admits the entrance of the nature of evil; but the latter being undefiled in whole souls, departs in partial souls from its own proper blessedness. What therefore is the first of beings? Shall we say intellect, or prior to this the extent of life? For soul indeed is self-vital, supplying itself with life; and intellect is the best and most perfect, and as we have said, an eternal life. But the life of intellect is indeed in a certain respect intellectual, and is mingled from the intellectual and vital peculiarity. It is necessary however, that there should be life itself. Whether therefore is life or intellect the more excellent thing? But if gnostic beings only participate of intellect, but such beings as are destitute of knowledge participate of life, (for we say that plants live) it is certainly necessary that life should be arranged above intellect, being the cause of a greater number of effects, and imparting by illumination more gifts from itself than intellect. What then? Is life the first of beings? And is to live the same thing as to be? But this is impossible. For if life is that which is primarily being, and to be vital is the same thing as to have being, and there is the same definition of both life and being, every thing which participates of life would also participate of being, and every thing which participates of existence would likewise participate of life. For if each is the same thing all things would similarly participate of being and life. All vital natures indeed have essence and being; but there are many beings that are destitute of life. Being therefore subsists prior to the first life. For that which is more universal, and the cause of a greater number of effects, is nearer to the one, as has been before demonstrated. Soul therefore is that which is primarily established above bodies; but intellect is beyond soul;[11] life is more ancient than intellect; and being which is primarily being is established above all these. Every thing also which participates of soul, by a much greater priority participates of intellect; but not every thing which enjoys intellectual efficiency, is also adapted to participate of soul. For of soul rational animals only participate; since we say that the rational soul is truly soul. For Plato in the Republic says, that the work of soul is to reason and survey beings. And every soul [i. e. every rational soul] is immortal, as it is written in the Phædrus; the irrational soul being mortal, according to the demiurgus in the Timæus. And in short, it is in many places evident that Plato considers the rational soul to be truly soul, but others to be the images of souls, so far as these also are intellectual and vital, and together with whole souls produce the lives that are distributed about bodies. Of intellect however, we not only admit that rational animals participate, but also such other animals as possess a gnostic power; I mean such as possess the phantasy, memory and sense; since Socrates also in the Philebus refers all such animals to the intellectual series. For taking away intellect from the life which is according to pleasure, he likewise takes away not only the rational life, but every, gnostic power of the irrational life. For all knowledge is the progeny of intellect, in the same manner as all reason is an image of soul.

Moreover, all things which participate of intellect, by a much greater priority participate of life, some things indeed more obscurely, but others more manifestly. But all living beings do not participate of intellectual power, since plants indeed are animals, as Timæus says, but they neither participate of sense, or phantasy; unless some one should say that they have a co-sensation of what is pleasing and painful. And in short, the orectic powers every where are lives, and the images of the whole of life, and the last productions of life; but they are of themselves destitute of intellect and without any participation of the gnostic power. Hence also, they are of themselves indefinite, and deprived of all knowledge.

Again therefore, all animals indeed receive a portion of being, and different animals a different portion, according to their respective natures; but all beings are not similarly able to participate of life; since we say that qualities and all passions, and the last of bodies, receive the ultimate effective energy of being, but we do not also say that they participate of life. Being therefore is more ancient than life; life than intellect; and intellect than soul. For it is necessary that the causes of a greater number of effects being more ancient and according to order more principal, should preside over causes which are able to produce and adorn fewer effects. Very properly therefore, does Plato in the Timæus give subsistence to soul from intellect, as being secondary to it according to its own nature. But in the Laws he says that intellect is moved similarly to a sphere fashioned by a wheel.[12] For that which is moved, is moved by participating of life, and is nothing else than real life about motion. And in the Sophista he exempts being from all the total genera of things, and from motion. For being, says he, according to its own nature, neither stands still, nor is moved. But that which neither stands still nor is moved, is beyond eternal life.

These four causes therefore being prior to a corporeal subsistence, viz. essence, life, intellect and soul, soul indeed participates of all the causes prior to itself, being allotted reason from its own peculiarity, but intellect, life and being, from more ancient causes. Hence it gives subsistence to things posterior to itself in a fourfold manner. For according to its being indeed, it produces all things as far as to bodies; according to its life, all things which are said to live, even as far as to plants; according to its intellect, all things which possess a gnostic power, even as far as to the most irrational natures; and according to its reason, the first of the natures that are able to participate of it.[13] But intellect being established beyond soul, and existing as the plenitude of life and being, adorns all things in a threefold manner, imparting indeed by illumination the power of the intellectual peculiarity to all gnostic beings, but supplying the participation of life to a still greater number, and of being to all those to whom primary being imparts itself. But life being arranged above intellect, presubsists as the cause of the same things in a twofold respect, vivifying secondary natures indeed, together with intellect, and filling from itself with the rivers of life, such things as are naturally adapted to live, but together with being supernally producing essence in all things. But being itself which is primarily being generates all things by its very existence, all lives, and intellects and souls, and is uniformly present to all things, and is exempt from the whole of things according to one cause which gives subsistence to all things. Hence it is the most similar of all things to the one, and unites the comprehension of beings in itself to the first principle of the whole of things, through which all beings, and non-being, wholes and parts, forms and the privations of forms subsist, which privations do not necessarily participate of being, but it is entirely necessary that they should participate of the one.

These things as it appears to me persuaded the Elean guest in the Sophista, when discussing that which is perfectly being, to admit that not only being is there, but also life, intellect and soul. For if true and real being is venerable and honorable, intellect is there in the first place, says he. For it is not lawful for that which is of itself venerable and immaterial to be without intellect. But if intellect is in that which is perfectly being, intellect will entirely be moved. For it is not possible for intellect ever to subsist, either without motion or permanency. But if intellect is moved and stands still, there are in being both life and motion. Hence, from what has been said, three things become apparent, viz. being, life and intellect. Moreover, soul also in the next place is discovered through these things. For it is necessary, says he, that life and intellect which before were by themselves, should also be in soul. For every soul is a plenitude of life and intellect, participating of both, which the Elean guest indicating adds, “Shall we say that both these are inherent in it, but yet it does not possess these in soul?” For to possess, as some one says in a certain place, is secondary to existing. And soul indeed participates of each of these according to the peculiarity of itself; but it mingles the rational form of its own hyparxis, with the intellectual vivific power. But both intellect and life subsist prior to soul, the former as being moved and standing still at one and the same time, and the latter as being motion and permanency. These four monads also, soul, intellect, life and being are not only mentioned by Plato here, but in many other places. And as in soul all things subsist according to participation, so in intellect the things which are prior to it subsist, and in life that which is prior to life. For we say that life exists, or has a being. Or how could it be said to be arranged in being unless it participated of being? We likewise say that intellect is and lives. For it is moved, and is a portion of being. Hence it is the third of the more comprehensive monads. Prior however to beings which are participated, it is every where necessary that imparticipable causes should subsist, as was before demonstrated, conformably to the similitude of beings to the one. Being therefore which is primarily being, is imparticipable; but life first participates of being, yet is imparticipable, being exempt from intellect. And intellect is filled indeed from being and life; but is imparticipable in souls, and in the natures posterior to itself. Intellect also presides over soul, imparting to it by illumination the participation of life and being; but being imparticipable subsists prior to bodies. The last order of beings therefore is that to which bodies are annexed; celestial bodies indeed primarily, but sublunary bodies with the addition of material [vestments.] This therefore is the progression of beings, through life, intellect and soul, ending in a corporeal nature.

If, however, it is necessary that the superessential unities of the Gods which derive their subsistence from the imparticipable cause[14] of all things should be participated, some of them indeed, by the first orders in beings, others by the middle, and others by the last orders, as was before demonstrated, it is evident that some of them deify the imparticipable portion of being, but that others illuminate life, others intellect, others soul, and others bodies. And of the last unities indeed, not only bodies participate, but likewise soul, intellect, life and essence. For intellect in itself is a plenitude of life and being. But from the unities which are above this world intellect is suspended, and the psychical power, which preexists in intellect. From the unities above these, imparticipable and intellectual intellect is suspended. From those that are beyond these, the first and imparticipable life is suspended. And from the highest unities, the first being itself, and which is the most divine of beings, is suspended. Hence Parmenides beginning from the one being, produces from thence the whole orders of the Gods. These things therefore being previously determined by us, let us speak concerning the divine dialogues, beginning from on high, and producing from the one the whole orders of the Gods. Let us also, following Plato, in the first place demonstrate the several orders from other dialogues, by arguments which cannot be confuted. Afterwards, let us thus conjoin and assimilate the conclusions of Parmenides, to the divine progressions, adapting the first conclusions to the first, but the last to the last progressions.


Again therefore, the mystic doctrine concerning the one must be resumed by us, in order that proceeding from the first principle, we may celebrate the second and third principles of the whole of things. Of all beings therefore, and of the Gods that produce beings, one exempt and imparticipable cause preexists,—a cause ineffable indeed by all language, and unknown by all knowledge and incomprehensible, unfolding all things into light from itself, subsisting ineffably prior to, and converting all things to itself, but existing as the best end of all things. This cause therefore, which is truly exempt from all causes, and which gives subsistence unically to all the unities of divine natures, and to all the genera of beings, and their progressions, Socrates in the Republic calls the good, and through its analogy to the sun reveals its admirable and unknown transcendency with respect to all intelligibles. But again, Parmenides denominates it the one. And through negations demonstrates the exempt and ineffable hyparxis of this one which is the cause of the whole of things. But the discourse in the epistle to Dionysius proceeding through enigmas, celebrates it as that about which all things subsist, and as the cause of all beautiful things. In the Philebus however, Socrates celebrates it as that which gives subsistence to the whole of things, because it is the cause of all deity. For all the Gods derive their existence as Gods from the first God. Whether therefore, it be lawful to denominate it the fountain of deity, or the kingdom of beings, or the unity of all unities, or the goodness which is generative of truth, or an hyparxis exempt from all these things, and beyond all causes, both the paternal and the generative, let it be honored by us in silence, and prior to silence by union, and of the mystic end may it impart by illumination a portion adapted to our souls.

But let us survey with intellect the biformed principles proceeding from and posterior to it. For what else is it necessary to arrange after the union of the whole theory, than the duad of principles? What[15] the two principles therefore are of the divine orders after the first principle, we shall in the next place survey. For conformably to the theology of our ancestors, Plato also establishes two principles after the one. In the Philebus therefore, Socrates says, that God gives subsistence to bound and infinity, and through these mingling all beings, has produced them, the nature of beings, according to Philolaus subsisting from the connexion of things bounded, and things infinite. If, therefore, all beings subsist from these, it is evident that they themselves have a subsistence prior to beings. And if secondary natures participate of these mingled together, these will subsist unmingled prior to the whole of things. For the progression of the divine orders originates, not from things coordinated and which exist in others, but from things exempt, and which are established in themselves. As therefore the one is prior to things united, and as that which is passive to the one, has a second order after the imparticipable union, thus also the two principles of beings, prior to the participation of and commixture with beings, are themselves by themselves the causes of the whole of things. For it is necessary that bound should be prior to things bounded, and infinity prior to infinites, according to the similitude to the one of things which proceed from it. For again, if we should produce beings immediately after the one, we shall no where find the peculiarity of the one subsisting purely. For neither is being the same with the one, but it participates of the one, nor in reality is that which is the first the one; for, as has been frequently said, it is better than the one. Where therefore is that which is most properly and entirely one? Hence there is a certain one prior to being, which gives subsistence to being, and is primarily the cause of it; since that which is prior to it is beyond union, and is a cause without habitude with respect to all things, and imparticipable, being exempt from all things. If however this one is the cause of being, and constitutes it, there will be a power in it generative of being. For every thing which produces, produces according to its own power, which is allotted a subsistence between that which produces and the things produced, and is of the one the progression and as it were extension, but of the other is the pre-arranged generative cause. For being which is produced from these, and which is not the one itself, but uniform, possesses its progression indeed from the one, through the power which produces and unfolds it into light from the one; but its occult union from the hyparxis of the one. This one therefore which subsists prior to power, and first presubsists from the imparticipable and unknown cause of the whole of things, Socrates in the Philebus calls bound, but he denominates the power of it which is generative of being, infinity. But he thus speaks in that dialogue, “God we said has exhibited the bound, and also the infinite of beings.”

The first therefore and unical God, is without any addition denominated by him God; because each of the second Gods is participated by being, and has being suspended from its nature. But the first indeed, as being exempt[16] from the whole of beings, is God, defined according to the ineffable itself, the unical alone, and superessential. But the bound and the infinite of beings, unfold into light that unknown and imparticipable cause; bound indeed, being the cause of stable, uniform, and connective deity; but the infinite being the cause of power proceeding to all things and capable of being multiplied, and in short, being the leader of every generative distribution. For all union and wholeness, and communion of beings, and all the divine measures, are suspended[17] from the first bound. But all division, prolific production, and progression into multitude, derive their subsistence from this most principal infinity. Hence, when we say that each of the divine orders abides[18] and at the same time proceeds, we must confess that it stably abides indeed, according to bound, but proceeds according to infinity, and that at one and the same time it has unity and multitude, and we must suspend the former from the principle of bound, but the latter from that of infinity. And in short, of all the opposition in the divine genera, we must refer that which is the more excellent to bound, but that which is subordinate to infinity. For from these two principles all things have their progression into being, even as far as to the last of things. For eternity itself participates at once of bound and infinity; so far indeed, as it is the intelligible measure, it participates of bound; but so far as it is the cause of a never-failing power of existing, it participates of infinity. And intellect, so far indeed as it is uniform, and whole, and so far as it is connective of paradigmatical measures, so far it is the progeny of bound. But again, so far as it produces all things eternally, and subsists conformably to the whole of eternity, supplying all things with existence at once, and always possessing its own power undiminished, so far it is the progeny of infinity. And soul indeed, in consequence of measuring its own life, by restitutions and periods, and introducing a boundary to its own motions, is referred to the cause of bound; but in consequence of having no cessation of motions, but making the end of one period the beginning of the whole of a second vital circulation, it is referred to the order of infinity. The whole of this heaven also, according to the wholeness of itself, its connexion, the order of its periods, and the measures of its restitutions, is bounded. But according to its prolific powers, its various evolutions, and the never-failing revolutions of its orbs, it participates of infinity. Moreover, the whole of generation, in consequence of all its forms being bounded, and always permanent after the same manner, and in consequence of its own circle which imitates the celestial circulation, is similar to bound. But again, in consequence of the variety of the particulars of which it consists, their unceasing mutation, and the intervention of the more and the less in the participations of forms, it is the image of infinity. And in addition to these things, every natural production, according to its form indeed, is similar to bound, but according to its matter, resembles infinity. For these are suspended in the last place[19] from the two principles posterior to the one, and as far as to these the progression of their productive power extends. Each of these also is one, but form is the measure and boundary of matter, and is in a greater degree one. Matter however is all things in capacity, so far as it derives its subsistence from the first power. There, however, power is generative of all things. But the power of matter is imperfect, and is indigent of the hypostasis which is generative[20] of all things according to energy. Very properly therefore is it said by Socrates that all beings are from bound and infinity, and that these two intelligible principles primarily derive their subsistence from God. For that which congregates both of them, and perfects them, and unfolds itself into light through all beings is the one prior to the duad. And union indeed is derived to all things through that which is first; but the division of the two orders of things is generated from these primary causes, and through these is extended to the unknown and ineffable principle. Let it therefore be manifest through these things, what the two principles of beings are, which become proximately apparent from the one, according to the theology of Plato.


In the next place let us show what the third[21] thing is which presents itself to the view from these principles. It is every where therefore called that which is mixed, as deriving its subsistence from bound and infinity. But if bound is the bound of beings, and the infinite is the infinite of beings, and beings are the things which have a subsistence from both these, as Socrates himself clearly teaches us, it is evident that the first of things mingled, is the first of beings. This, however, is nothing else than that which is highest in beings, which is being itself, and nothing else than being. My meaning is, that this is evident through those things by which we demonstrate that what is primarily being, is comprehensive of all things intelligibly, and of life and intellect. For we say that life is triadic vitally, and intellect intellectually; and also that these three things being life and intellect are every where. But all things presubsist primarily and essentially in being. For there essence, life and intellect subsist, and the summit of beings. Life however is the middle centre of being, which is denominated and is intelligible life. But intellect is the boundary of being, and is intelligible intellect. For in the intelligible there is intellect, and in intellect the intelligible. There however intellect subsists intelligibly, but in intellect, the intelligible subsists intellectually.

And essence indeed is that which is stable in being, and which is woven together with the first principles, and does not depart from the one. But life is that which proceeds from the principles, and is connascent with infinite power. And intellect is that which converts itself to the principles, conjoins the end with the beginning, and produces one intelligible circle. The first of beings therefore is that which is mingled from the first principles, and is triple, one thing which it contains subsisting in it essentially, another vitally, and another intellectually, but all things presubsisting in it essentially. I mean however by the first of beings essence. For essence itself is the summit of all beings, and is as it were the monad of the whole of things. In all things therefore, essence is the first. And in each thing that which is essential is the most ancient, as deriving its subsistence from the Vesta of beings. For the intelligible is especially this. Since intellect indeed is that which is gnostic, life is intelligence, and being is intelligible. If however every being is mingled, but essence is being itself, prior to all other things essence is that which subsists as mingled from the two principles proceeding from the one. Hence Socrates indicating how the mode of generation in the two principles differs from that of the mixture says, “that God has exhibited bound and infinity “For they are unities deriving their subsistence from the one, and as it were luminous patefactions from the imparticipable and first union. But with respect to producing a mixture, and mingling through the first principles, by how much to make is subordinate to the unfolding into light, and generation to patefaction, by so much is that which is mixed allotted a progression from the one, inferior to that of the two principles.

That which is mixed therefore, is intelligible essence, and subsists primarily from [the first] God, from whom infinity also and bound are derived, But it subsists secondarily from the principles posterior to the unical God, I mean from bound and infinity. For the fourth cause which is effective of the mixture is again God himself; since if any other cause should be admitted besides this, there will no longer be a fourth cause, but a fifth will be introduced. For the first cause was God, who unfolds into light the two principles. But after him are the two principles bound and infinity. And the mixture is the fourth thing. If therefore the cause of the mixture is different from the first divine cause, this cause will be the fifth and not the fourth thing, as Socrates says it is. Farther still, in addition to these things, if we say that God is especially the supplier of union to beings, and the mixture itself of the principles is a union into the hypostasis of being, God is also certainly the cause of this primarily. Moreover, Socrates in the Republic clearly evinces that the good is the cause of being and essence to intelligibles, in the same manner as the sun is to visible natures. Is it not therefore necessary, if that which is mixed is primarily being, to refer it to the first God, and to say that it receives its progression from him? If also the demiurgus in the Timæus, constitutes the essence of the soul itself by itself from an impartible and a partible essence, which is the same thing as to constitute it from bound and infinity; for the soul according to bound is similar to the impartible, but according to infinity, to the partible essence;—if therefore the demiurgus mingles the essence of the soul from these, and again separately, from same and different, and if from these being now preexistent, he constitutes the whole soul, must we not much more say that the first God is the cause of the first essence? That which is mixed therefore, proceeds, as we have said, from the first God, and does not subsist from the principles alone posterior to the one, but proceeds also from these, and is triadic. And in the first place indeed, it participates from God of ineffable union, and the whole of its subsistence. But from bound, it receives hyparxis, and the uniform, and a stable peculiarity. And from infinity, it receives power, and the occult power which is in itself, of all things. For in short, since it is one and not one, the one is inherent in it according to bound, but the non-one according to infinity. The mixture however of both these, and its wholeness, are derived from the first God. That which is mixed therefore, is a monad, because it participates of the one; and it is biformed, so far as it proceeds from the two principles; but it is a triad, so far as in every mixture, these three things are necessary according to Socrates, viz. beauty, truth, and symmetry. Concerning these things however, we shall speak again.

In what manner, however, essence is that which is first mixed, we shall now explain. For this is of all things the most difficult to discover, viz. what that is which is primarily being, as the Elean guest also somewhere says; for it is most dubious how being is not less than non-being. In what manner therefore essence subsists from bound and infinity must be shown. For if bound and infinity are superessential, essence may appear to have its subsistence from non-essences. How therefore can non-essences produce essence? Or is not this the case in all other things which subsist through the mixture of each other? For that which is produced from things mingled together, is not the same with things that are not mingled. For neither is soul the same with the genera, from which, being mingled together, the father generated it, nor is a happy life the same with the life which is according to intellect, or with the life which is according to pleasure, nor is the one in bodies the same with its elements. Hence it is not wonderful, if that which is primarily being, though it is neither bound nor infinity, subsists from both these, and is mixed, superessential natures themselves not being assumed in the mixture of it, but secondary progressions from them coalescing into the subsistence of essence. Thus therefore being consists of these, as participating of both, possessing indeed the uniform from bound, but the generative, and in short, occult multitude from infinity. For it is all things occultly, and on this account, is the cause of all beings; which also the Elean guest indicating to us, calls being the first power, as subsisting according to the participation of the first power, and participating of hyparxis from bound, and of power from infinity. Afterwards however, the Elean guest defines being to be power, as prolific and generative of all things, and as being all things uniformly. For power is every where the cause of prolific progressions, and of all multitude; occult power indeed being the cause of occult multitude; but the power which exists in energy, and which unfolds itself into light, being the cause of all-perfect multitude. Through this cause therefore, I think, that every being, and every essence has connascent powers. For it participates of infinity, and derives its hyparxis indeed from bound, but its power from infinity. And being is nothing else than a monad of many powers, and a multiplied hyparxis, and on this account being is one many. The many however subsist occultly and without separation in the first natures; but with separation in secondary natures. For by how much being is nearer to the one, by so much the more does it conceal multitude, and is defined according to union alone. It appears to me also that Plotinus and his followers, frequently indicating these things, produce being from form and intelligible matter, arranging form[22] as analogous to the one, and to hyparxis, but power as analogous to matter. And if indeed they say this, they speak rightly. But if they ascribe a certain formless and indefinite nature to an intelligible essence, they appear to me to wander from the conceptions of Plato on this subject. For the infinite is not the matter of bound, but the power of it, nor is bound the form of the infinite, but the hyparxis of it. But being consists of both these, as not only standing in the one, but receiving a multitude of unities and powers which are mingled into one essence.


That therefore which is primarily being is through these things denominated by Plato that which is mixed. And through the similitude of it, generation also is mingled from bound and infinity. And the infinite indeed in this is imperfect power; but the bound in it is form and the morphe of this power. On this account we establish this power to be matter, not possessing existence in energy, and requiring to be bounded by something else. We no longer however say that it is lawful to call the power of being matter, since it is generative of energies, produces all beings from itself, and is prolific of the perfect powers in beings. For the power of matter being imperfect dissimilarly imitates the power of being; and becoming multitude in capacity, it expresses the parturition of multitude in the power of being.[23] Moreover, the form of matter imitates ultimately bound, since it gives limits to matter, and terminates its infinity. But it is multiplied and divided about it. It is also mingled with the privation of matter, and represents the supreme union of the hyparxis of being, by its essence always advancing to existence, and always tending to decay. For those things which subsist in the first natures according to transcendency, are in such as are last according to deficiency. For that also which is primarily being is mixed, is exempt from the bound of infinite life, and is the cause of it. But that which consists of the last[24] of forms and the first matter, is in its own nature void of life; since it possesses life in capacity. For there indeed generative causes subsist prior to their progeny, and things perfect prior to such as are imperfect. But here things in capacity are prior to such as are in energy, and concauses are subject to the things which are produced from them. This however, I think, happens naturally, because the gifts of the first principles pervade as far as to the last of things, and not only generate more perfect natures, but also such as have a more imperfect subsistence. And on this account that which is mixed is the cause of generation, and of the nature which is mingled here. The bound and infinity however, which are prior to being, are not only the causes of this nature, but also of the elements of it, of which that which is mixed is not the cause, so far as it is mixed. For bound and infinity are twofold. And one kind of these is exempt from the things mingled, but another kind is assumed to the completion of the mixture. For I think it is every where necessary that prior to things that are mingled, there should be such as are unmingled, prior to things imperfect, such as are perfect, prior to parts, wholes, and prior to things that are in others, such as are in themselves; and this Socrates persuades us to admit not in one thing only, but also in beauty and symmetry, and in all forms. If therefore the second and third genera of being and forms subsist prior to their participants, how can we assert that bound and infinity which pervade through all beings have their first subsistence as things mingled? It must be admitted therefore, that they are unmingled and separate from being, and that being is derived from them, and at the same time consists of them. It is derived from them indeed, because they have a prior subsistence; but it consists of them, because they subsist in being according to a second progression.

The genera of being also are twofold; some of them indeed being fabricative of beings, but others existing as the elements of the nature of each being. For some of them indeed presubsist themselves by themselves, as possessing a productive power; but others being generated from these, constitute each particular being. Let no one therefore any longer wonder, how Socrates indeed in the Philebus establishes that which is mingled, prior to bound and infinity, but we on the contrary evince that bound and infinity are exempt from that which is mixed. For each is twofold, and the one indeed is prior to being, but the other is in being; and the one is generative, but the other is the element of the mixture. Of this kind also, are the bound and infinity of the mixed life, each being the element of the whole of felicity. Hence also each is indigent of each. And neither is intellect by itself desirable, nor perfect pleasure. It is necessary however, that the good should consist of all these, viz. of the desirable, the sufficient, and the perfect. Bound itself therefore and infinity, which are separate, subsist according to cause prior to that which is mixed. But the bound and infinity which are mixed are more imperfect than the mixture. Hence, from what has been said, it is evident what the things are of which the mixture consists.


In the next place, we must speak of the triad, which is consubsistent with this mixture. For every mixture, if it is rightly made, as Socrates says, requires these three things, beauty, truth, and symmetry. For neither will any thing base, if it is introduced into the mixture, impart rectitude, since it will be the cause of error, and of inordinate prerogative, nor if truth is at any time separated, will it suffer the mixture to consist of things that are pure, and which are in reality subdued, but it will fill the whole with an image and with non-being. Nor without symmetry will there be a communion of the elements, and an elegant association. Symmetry, therefore, is necessary to the union of the things that are mingled, and to an appropriate communion. But truth is necessary to purity. And beauty to order; which also renders the whole lovely. For when each thing in the mixture has a place adapted to itself, it renders both the elements, and the arrangement resulting from them, beautiful. Here therefore, in the first mixture, these three things are apparent, symmetry, truth, and beauty. And symmetry indeed is the cause to the mixture, that being is one; truth is the cause of the reality of its existence; and beauty is the cause of its being intelligible. Hence it is intelligible and truly being. That also which is primarily being is more uniform, and intellect is conjoined to it, according to its familiarity with the beautiful. But each participates of existence, because it is being derived from being. That which is mixed however, is supreme among beings, because it is united to the good. And it appears to me, that the divine Iamblichus perceiving these three causes of being, defines the intelligible in these three, viz. in symmetry, truth, and beauty, and unfolds the intelligible Gods through these in the Platonic theology. In what manner indeed, the intelligible breadth consists of these, will be most evident as we proceed. Now however, from what has been said, it is perfectly manifest why Socrates says that this triad is found to be in the vestibules of the good. For that which is primarily being participates of this triad through its union with the good. For because indeed the good is the measure of all beings, the first being becomes itself commensurate. Because the former is prior to being, the latter subsists truly and really. And because the former is good and desirable, the latter presents itself to the view as the beautiful itself. Here therefore, the first beauty also subsists; and on this account the one is not only the cause of good, but likewise of beauty, as Plato says in his Epistles. Beauty however subsists here occultly, since this order comprehends all things uniformly, in consequence of subsisting primarily from the principles [bound and infinity]. But where and how beauty is unfolded into light, we shall shortly explain.


Such therefore, is the first triad of intelligibles, according to Socrates in the Philebus, viz. bound, infinite, and that which is mixed from these. And of these, bound indeed is a God proceeding to the intelligible summit, from the imparticipable and first God, measuring and defining all things, and giving subsistence to every paternal, connective, and undefiled genus of Gods. But infinite is the never-failing power of this God, unfolding into light all the generative orders, and all infinity, both that which is prior to essence, and that which is essential, and also that which proceeds as far as to the last matter. And that which is mixed, is the first and highest order of the Gods, comprehending all things occultly, deriving its completion indeed through the intelligible connective triad, but unically comprehending the cause of every being, and establishing its summit in the first intelligibles, exempt from the whole of things.


After this first triad subsisting from, and conjoined with the one, we shall celebrate the second, proceeding from this, and deriving its completion through things analogous[25] to the triad prior to it. For in this also it is necessary that being should participate, and that the one should be participated, and likewise that this one which is secondarily one, should be generative of that which is secondarily being. For every where participated deity constitutes about itself that which participates it. Thus whole souls render bodies consubsistent with their causes: and partial souls generate, in conjunction with the Gods, irrational souls. Much more therefore, do the Gods produce in conjunction with the one all things. Hence, as the first of the unities generates the summit of being, so likewise the middle unity constitutes the middle being. But every thing which generates, and every thing which makes or produces, possesses a power prolific of the things produced, according to which it produces, corroborates and connects its progeny. Again therefore, there will be a second triad unfolded into light analogously to the first. And one thing indeed, is the summit of it, which we call one, deity, and hyparxis. But another thing is the middle of it, which we call power. And another thing is the extremity of it, which we say is that which is secondarily being. This however is intelligible life. For all things are in the intelligible, as was before demonstrated, viz. to be, to live, and to energize intellectually. And the summit indeed, of the intelligible order, is all things according to cause, and as we have frequently said, occultly. But the middle of it, causes multitude to shine forth, and proceeds from the union of being into manifest light. And the extremity of it, is now all intelligible multitude, and the order of intelligible forms. For forms have their subsistence at the extremity of the intelligible order. For it is necessary that forms should subsist first and become apparent in intellect. If therefore being abides exemptly in the first mixture, but now proceeds, and is generated dyadically from the monad, there will be motion about it; and if there is motion, it is also necessary that there should be intelligible life. For every where motion is a certain life, since some one calls even the motion of material bodies life. That which is first therefore, in this second triad, may be called bound; that which is second in it, infinity; and that which is the third, life. For the second triad also is a God, possessing prolific power, and unfolding into light from, and about itself, that which is secondarily being. Here however also, the triad is analogous to the first triad.

But again, it is necessary to comprehend by reasoning the peculiarity of this triad. For the first triad being all things, but intelligibly and unically, and as I may say, speaking Platonically, according to the form of bound, the second triad is indeed all things, but vitally, and as I may say, following the philosopher, according to the form of infinity, just as the third triad proceeds according to the peculiarity of that which is mixed. For as in the progression according to breadth, that which is mixed presents itself to the view as the third, so likewise in the progression according to depth of intelligibles, the third has the order of that which is mixed with reference to the superior triads. The middle triad therefore, is indeed all things, but is characterized by intelligible infinity. For the three principles after the first, orderly distribute for us the intelligible genus of the Gods. For bound indeed, unfolds into light the first triad; but infinity the second; and that which is mixed, the third. It is infinite power therefore, according to which the second triad is characterized. For being the middle, it subsists according to the middle of the first triad, being all things from all. For in each triad, there is bound, infinity, and that which is mixed. But the peculiarity of the monads being respectively different, evolves the intelligible order of the Gods. The middle triad however, thus subsisting, but I say thus, because it consists of all the things of which the triad prior to it consists, yet it contains and connects the middle of intelligibles according to infinite power, and is filled indeed from a more elevated union, but fills the union posterior to itself with the powers of being. And it is measured indeed, from thence uniformly, but measures the third triad by the power of itself. And it abides indeed, in the first triad stably, but it establishes in itself the triad which is next in order. And in short, it binds to itself the intelligible centre, and establishes one intelligible coherence; causing indeed that which is occult and possesses the form of the one in the first triad, to shine forth; but collecting the intelligible multitude of the third triad, and comprehending it on all sides. The being however, which gives completion to this triad is mixed, in the same manner as the being of the triad prior to it, and receives the peculiarity of life. For the infinity in this generates life.

It is likewise necessary that this triad should participate of the three things, symmetry, truth, and beauty. That which is primarily being however, principally subsists according to symmetry, which unites it, and conjoins it to the good. But the second triad, principally subsists according to truth. For because it participates of that which is primarily being, it is being, and truly being. And the third triad principally subsists according to the beautiful. For there intelligible multitude, order and beauty, first shine forth to the view. Hence this being is the most beautiful of all intelligibles. This however will be discussed hereafter. As there is a triad therefore, in each of the mixtures, the first indeed, symmetry especially comprehends and connects; the second truth, and the third beauty. And this induced the divine Iamblichus to say, that Plato in these three defines the whole of the intelligible [order]. For all are in each, but one of these predominates more in one of the intelligible monads than in another. Moreover, the third triad presents itself to the view after this. For it is necessary that the extremity of being should also be deified, and should participate of an intelligible unity. For beings are not more in number than the unities, as Parmenides says, nor are the unities more numerous than beings; but each progression of being participates of the one; since this universe also, according to each part of itself, is governed by soul and intellect. By a much greater priority therefore, must the intelligible in its first, middle, and last hypostases, participate of the intelligible Gods.


As the first unity therefore, after the exempt cause of all things, unfolds into light intelligible being, and the second unity, intelligible life, thus also the third constitutes about itself, intelligible intellect, and fills it with divine union, constituting power as the medium between itself and being, through which it gives completion to this being, and converts it to itself. In this therefore, every intelligible multitude shines forth to the view. For the whole of this being is intelligible intellect, life, and essence. And it is neither all things according to cause, in the same manner as that which is primarily being, nor does it cause all things to shine forth, as the second being does, but it is as it were all things according to energy, and openly. Hence also, it is the boundary of all intelligibles. For since the progression of beings is accomplished according to similitude, the first being is most similar to the one; the second, is parturient with multitude, and is the origin of separation; but the third, is now all-perfect, and unfolds into light in itself, intelligible multitude and form.

Farther still, as the first triad abides occultly in bound, and fixes in itself every thing that is stable in intelligibles; but the second abides and at the same time proceeds; so the third, after progression converts the intelligible end to the beginning, and convolves the order to itself. For it is every where the province of intellect to convert and converge to the intelligible. All these likewise are uniform [i. e. have the form of one] and intelligible, viz. the abiding, the proceeding, and the returning. For each of these is not asserted after the same manner in intelligibles. And the intelligible genus of Gods[26] is unical, simple, and occult, conjoining itself to the one itself which is prior to beings; and unfolds[27] into light nothing else than the transcendency of the one. For these three triads, mystically announce that unknown cause the first and perfectly imparticipable God. The first of them indeed, announcing his ineffable union; the second his transcendency, by which he surpasses all powers; and the third, his all-perfect generation of beings. For as they are able to comprehend the principle which surpasses both the union and the powers of all beings, so they exhibit to secondary natures, his[28] admirable transcendency; receiving indeed separately the unical power and dominion of the first God; but unfolding into light intelligibly the cause which is prior to intelligibles. For these Gods though they are allotted a simplicity which is equally exempt from all the divine orders, yet they fall short of the union of the father. Of this triad therefore, which converts all intelligibles to the first principle, and convolves the multitude apparent in itself to the stable union of the whole of things, one thing is bound, and unity and hyparxis; another, is infinity and power; and another is that which is mixed, essence, life, and intelligible intellect. But the whole triad subsists according to being, and is the intellect of the first triad. For the first triad is an intelligible God primarily. But the triad posterior to it is an intelligible and intellectual God. And the third triad is an intellectual God. These three deities also, and triadic monads, give completion to the intelligible genera. For they are monads according to their deities; since all other things are suspended from the Gods, and also powers and beings. But they are triads according to a separate division. For bound, infinity, and that which is mixed, have a threefold subsistence; but in one place indeed, all things are according to bound; in another, all things are according to infinity; and in another, all things are according to that which is mixed. And in one place, that which is mixed is essence; in another, it is intelligible life; and in another, intelligible intellect. In this last therefore, forms subsist primarily. For the separation of intelligibles, unfolds the order of forms; because form is being, but is not simply being. Hence that which is primarily being, is being itself, and is that which is being. But that which is the second being, is power, proceeding indeed from the first being, and existing as it were a duad generative of the multitude of beings, but not yet being multitude. And that which, is the third being, is itself the multitude of beings; being there existing with separation. For being is the exempt cause of those things which forms constitute divisibly. And of the things of which being is productive collectively, of these, forms are the cause in a way attended with separation. Because forms indeed, are causes productive of separation in their effects, and also because forms are called the paradigms of beings. Being however, is the cause of all things posterior to itself, but is not the paradigm of them. For paradigms are the causes of things which are separated according to existence, and which have different characters of essence. After the one therefore which is prior to beings, that which is one-many occultly, and the united subsists. On this account, it is that which is divided into multitude, and which tends from the uniform to the splendid. But the last of intelligibles, is that from which a certain distribution into parts originates, and which is comprehensive of intelligible multitude.


Socrates therefore, in the Philebus, affords us such like auxiliaries to the theory of the intelligible triads. It is requisite however, not only to abide in these conceptions, but also to demonstrate the theology of Plato about these triads from other dialogues, and from them to point out one truth adapted to the things themselves. We shall assume therefore, what is written in the Timæus, and shall follow our leader [Syrianus] who has unfolded to us the arcane mysteries of these triads, and conjoin with the end of what has been said the beginning of the following discussion. In the Timæus therefore, Plato investigating what the paradigm of the whole world is, discovers that it is comprehensive of all intelligible animals, that it is all-perfect, that it is the most beautiful of intelligibles, that it is only-begotten, and that it is the intelligible of the demiurgus. He likewise denominates it animal itself, as being the intelligible paradigm of every animal, and of that which is the object of sense. Hence it is necessary that this animal itself, because it is all-perfect, and the most beautiful of intelligibles, should be established in the intelligible orders. For though there is intelligible animal in the demiurgus, yet it is rather intellectual than intelligible, and is not the most beautiful of all intelligibles, but is second to them in beauty and power. For primary beauty is in the intelligible Gods. In the demiurgus also, there are not only four forms of the things contained in the world, but there is all the multitude of forms. For in him the paradigms of individual forms presubsist. But animal itself is totally constitutive of all animals by the intelligible tetrad. The demiurgus likewise is not like animal itself only-begotten among beings, but subsists in conjunction with the vivific cause, together with which he constitutes the second genera of being, mingling them in the crater or bowl, in order to the generation of souls. For of the things of which intelligible animal is effective and at the same time generative, of these the demiurgus is allotted the cause in a divided manner, in conjunction with the crater. Hence, as I have said, animal itself is exempt from the demiurgus, and is, as Timæus every where denominates it, intelligible.

Nevertheless, because forms are first separated in it, and because it is all-perfect, it subsists in the third order of intelligibles. For neither that which is primarily, nor that which is secondarily being,[29] is all-perfect. For the former is beyond all separation; but the latter generates indeed, and is parturient with intelligibles, but is not yet the multitude of beings. If therefore neither of these is multitude, how can either of them be all-perfect multitude? If however all-perfect multitude shines forth in the third triad of intelligibles, as was a little before demonstrated, but animal itself is the first paradigm (for it is comprehensive of all intelligible animals, is an only-begotten paradigm, and is not conjoined with any other principle) it is necessary that animal itself should be established according to this order. For either there will not be an intelligible paradigm, (and in this case, how will sensibles be images of intelligibles? Or how will the intelligible Gods be the fathers of the whole of things?) Or if there is, it is the third in intelligibles. For the natures which are prior to the triad in intelligibles, are not all-perfect; since they are exempt from the division into multitude. But the natures posterior to it are not only-begotten. For they proceed together with others; the male indeed, with the female, and those that are of a demiurgic together with those that are of a generative characteristic. Nor are they the most beautiful of intelligibles; for beauty is in the intelligible. But animal itself is all-perfect, and at the same time only begotten. The first paradigm of beings therefore, is arranged in the third triad of intelligibles. Moreover, animal itself is eternal, as Timæus himself says. For says he, “the nature of animal is eternal.” And again, in another place he asserts, “that the paradigm is through all eternity being.” If therefore it is eternal, it participates of eternity. And if that which participates is every where secondary to that which is participated, animal itself is secondary to eternity. And if it is through all eternity being, it is filled with the whole power of eternity. If this however be the case, it subsists proximately after eternity. For that which enjoys the whole of causes, is arranged proximately after them.


Moreover, if eternity has the same ratio to intelligible animal, which time has to that which is sensible, but the universe proximately participates of time (for time was generated together with the universe) it is certainly necessary that animal itself should primarily participate of eternity. Eternity therefore is beyond the first paradigm. For eternity indeed measures the existence of animal itself: but animal itself is measured and filled with perpetuity from it. To which may be added, that we assert eternity to be the cause of immortality to all things. Hence eternity is that which is primarily immortal. For as that which is primarily being is the cause of existence to all things, but that which is effective of form is itself prior to other forms, so that which is the cause of perpetuity and immortality, is itself primarily immortal. The dæmoniacal Aristotle also rightly calls eternity immortal and divine, and that from whence the existence and life of all things are suspended. If however it is that which is primarily immortal, and not according to participation, but is as it were immortality and perpetuity, it will be life, possessing from itself the ever, and exuberantly scattering the power of perpetuity, and extending it to other things, so far as each is naturally adapted to receive it. For the immortal is in life, and subsists together with life. Hence Socrates in the Phædo,[30] after many and beautiful demonstrations of the psychical immortality, says, “God therefore, my dear Cebes, and the form itself of life, are much more immortal.” Hence, intelligible life, and the God who is connective of this life, primarily possess the immortal, and are the fountain of the whole of perpetuity. But this is eternity. Eternity therefore has its subsistence in life, and will be established in the middle of the intelligible order.

Farther still, it is necessary to assert that intelligible eternity is one of these three things, viz. that it subsists either according to being, or according to life, or according to intelligible intellect. But being, as the Elean guest says, according to its own nature, neither stands still, nor is moved. For if being is being to all things, and essence is a thing of this kind, much more must this be the case; with intelligible essence, and that which is primarily being. For they are nothing else than essence only. But being unfolds motion and permanency, and the other genera of beings, in the second and third, progressions of itself. The first being therefore, as we have said, is at one and the same time exempt from motion and permanency. But eternity according to Timæus abides in one. Hence also time imitates in its motion the intelligible permanency of eternity. Eternity therefore does not subsist according, to that which is primarily being, nor yet according to intelligible intellect.[31] For neither is soul time, which is moved through the whole of time. And in short, in divine beings, that which is participated is everywhere established above that which participates. But the eternal participates of eternity, just as that which is temporal participates of time. Eternity therefore is prior to intelligible intellect, and posterior to being; so that it is established in the middle of the intelligible breadth. And as animal itself is eternal, so likewise eternity is that which is always being. For as animal itself participates of eternity, so eternity participates of being, and is the cause of existence, of perpetual life, and intellection, and measures the essences, powers and energies of all things.


Since, however, eternity subsists according to the middle centre of intelligibles, and animal itself according to the extremity of them, and the most splendid of that which is intelligible, what is that which is the first of intelligibles, and how is it denominated by Timæus? He says therefore of eternity, that while it abides in one, time proceeds according to number; and that by motion it adumbrates the permanency of eternity, but by number, its stable union. What therefore is that one, in which Timæus says eternity abides? For it is necessary either to say that it is the one of eternity, or the one which transcends all intelligibles, or the one of the first triad. But if indeed, we say that it is the imparticipable one, how is it possible that any thing can abide in that which is exempt from all things; and which neither admits the habitude nor communion of secondary natures with itself? For every thing which abides in any thing, is in a certain respect on all sides comprehended by that in which we say it abides. It is however perfectly impossible that the first one should either comprehend any being, or be coarranged with beings. But if any one should suppose that it is the one of eternity, in which Timæus says eternity abides, in this case, eternity will be in itself. It is necessary however, that it should abide in itself, by having its subsistence in abiding in that which is prior to itself. For to abide in that which is prior to, is better than the establishment of things in themselves, in the same manner as it is more perfect than the collocation of better in less excellent natures. If therefore eternity abides in itself, to what shall we primarily assign permanency in that which is prior to itself? For it is necessary that this being more divine, should have its generation prior to that which is inferior to it. If therefore eternity can neither abide in itself, nor in the one which is prior to beings, it is evident that abiding in one according to Timæus, it is established in the one of the first triad, or rather in the whole of that triad. For, as we have before observed, the first triad is the cause of stability to all beings, in the same manner as the middle triad is the cause of their progression, and the third triad of their conversion to their principle.


Again therefore, three orders of intelligibles present themselves to our view, according to the doctrine of Timæus, viz. animal itself, eternity, and the one. And through this one, and the firm establishment in it, eternity has fixed the intelligible kingdom. But through eternity, animal itself defines the boundary of the intelligible Gods, according to a perpetual and invariable sameness. And animal itself indeed, having proceeded tetradically, is suspended from the duad in eternity. For eternity is the ever in conjunction with being. But the duad in eternity participates of the intelligible monad, which Timæus on this account denominates one, as being the monad and principle of all the intelligible breadth. Since otherwise indeed, he very properly calls the first triad one, in consequence of its being especially characterized according to bound, denominating it from bound. But he calls the middle triad dyadically, eternity, connecting the names; because this triad is defined according to intelligible power. And he denominates the third triad animal itself, transferring the appellation to the whole of it, from the extremity of the triad. The first triad therefore is the union of all the intelligibles, being in a certain respect coordinated with them. For the union is different from this which is exempt from intelligibles and imparticipable. It is also the supplier of stable power. For all things are established on account of it. But eternity is primary being, and is that which is primarily established. Hence, with respect to the permanency of the whole of things, we say that the first triad is that on account of which this permanency is effected; but that the second triad is that by which it is produced. For the firm establishment of beings is indeed according to this second triad, but is on account of the first. But the second triad is the proximate measure of all beings, and is coordinated with the things that are measured. There are also at one and the same time in it, bound and infinity; bound indeed, so far as it measures intelligibles; but infinity, so far as it is the cause of perpetuity, and the ever. For according to the oracle, eternity is the cause of never-failing life, of unwearied power, and unsluggish energy. Nevertheless, eternity is more characterised by infinity [than by bound.] For it comprehends in itself infinite time. And time indeed has bound and infinity in a divided manner. For according to its continuity, it is infinite; but according to the now it is bounded. For the now is a bound. But eternity establishes bound and infinity in the same. For it is a unity and power. And according to the one indeed, it is bound; but according to power infinite; which time[32] also demonstrates as from images; because the middle triad [of intelligibles] has bound, infinity, and that which is mixed. For whence is the bound of time derived except from eternal bound? For the temporal bound also is impartible, in the same manner as the bound of eternity is one. For the impartible is the image of the one. Whence likewise is the infinity of the continuity of time derived except from the power of the infinite? For the latter is a stable infinity, but the former an infinity which is moved. And as the latter stands still according to the one, so the former is moved according to number. Since whence is the alliance of time with lives, except from the first principle [of life, eternity?] But time proceeds through all temporal life.

Again, therefore, from these things it is evident, that eternity subsists according to the middle of the intelligible Gods. For here there is infinite life, and the cause of all life, intellectual, psychical, and that which subsists partibly in bodies. But eternity is the father and supplier of infinite life; since eternity is also the cause of all immortality and perpetuity; And Plotinus, exhibiting, in a most divinely inspired manner, the peculiarity[33] of eternity, according to the theology of Plato, defines it to be infinite life, at once unfolding into light the whole of itself, and its own being. For establishing its life in the intelligible centre, and through the one indeed measuring its being, and fixing it in that which is prior to itself, but through power causing it to be infinite, it unfolds indeed the uniform transcendency of the first triad, but defines the termination of the Gods, and extends from the middle on all sides, and to all the intelligible breadth. Moreover the third triad is filled indeed with intelligible life,[34] and on this account is an intelligible animal, and the first animal. For it primarily participates of the whole nature of this life; but unfolds into light in itself the first of forms, to which also the demiurgic intellect extending itself, constitutes the whole world, and is itself the intelligible universe, and the apparent world the sensible universe. Hence also, Plato denominates animal itself all-perfect. Or rather, if you are willing we will speak thus: that in this third triad, there are bound, infinity, and that which is mixed, which we have called intelligible intellect. Hence the whole triad is denominated only-begotten from the father which is in it. For the cause of bound imparts that which is uncoordinated with other things; and an exempt transcendency. For that which comprehends, says Timæus, all such animals as are intelligible, will not be the second with any other; since again, it would be requisite that there should be another animal about it. Hence that which comprehends in one all intelligible animals is a whole. But every where whole is referred[35] to bound, and parts to infinity. So that if on this account animal itself is only-begotten, it will possess this peculiarity according to bound. But again, it is denominated eternal according to the power of it. For this power especially pertains to that which is eternal. For eternity is infinite power abiding in one, and proceeding stably. Animal itself, however, is all-perfect according to intellect. For that which unfolds in itself all the intelligible separation of being, is intelligible intellect. And that intellect, according to the decision of Plato, will be all-perfect, which comprehends all intelligibles, and defines the boundary of the intelligible order. The only-begotten, therefore, the eternal, the all-perfect, bound, infinity, and that which is mixed, manifest the nature of intelligible animal. On this account, Timæus also, in these three conclusions, reminds us of the paradigm, viz. in the conclusion which shews that the universe is only-begotten, and again, in the generation of time, and in the all-perfect comprehension of all animals.

If likewise Timæus says, that animal itself is the most beautiful of all intelligibles, and that this has the third order in intelligibles, it will not be wonderful. For it has been before asserted by us, that every where the cause of the best mixture is the triad symmetry, truth, and beauty. But beauty principally shines forth in the third progression of being, and exhibits its luminous nature together with intelligible forms, just as truth shines forth in the second, and symmetry in the first progression of being. If, however, truth is indeed the first, beauty the second, and symmetry the third, it is by no means wonderful, that according to order, truth and beauty should be prior to symmetry; but that symmetry being more apparent in the first triad than the other two, should shine forth as the third in the secondary progressions. For these three subsist occultly in the first triad. And truth indeed, so far as it is intelligible knowledge, is in the second triad; but beauty so far as it is the form of forms is in the third triad. For that this triad subsists there first, is evident from this, that truth is primarily in that which is especially being, prior to knowledge. But beauty, which pervades as far as to the last of beings, is necessarily in the first being, from which the last of beings are derived. And the first symmetry is in that which is primarily mixed. For every mixture requires symmetry, in order that what is produced from it may be one certain thing. Though these three things, therefore, presubsist there, for we assume, as acknowledged universally, that symmetry is there, and the most beautiful of intelligible animals, as Timæus says, yet at present we shall dismiss the further consideration of them, as we have elsewhere precedaneously discussed them, and have especially endeavoured to enforce what we conceive to be the opinion of Plato concerning their order. For we have spoken of these things in a treatise consisting of one book, in which we demonstrate that truth is co-ordinate to the philosopher, beauty to the lover, and symmetry to the musician; and that such as is the order of these lives, such also is the relation of truth, beauty, and symmetry to each other.

Animal itself, therefore, may with the greatest justice, be called most beautiful, so far as it is eminently contained in intelligible beauty. For beauty is wont to be carried in forms, and is as it were the form of forms, unfolding that which is occult in the good, causing its loveliness to shine forth, and attracting to its own splendor the desire which is concealed about it. And to the good indeed, all things possess a silent and arcane tendency; but we are excited to the beautiful with astonishment and motion. For the illumination from it, and its efficacy, acutely pervade through every sou], and as being the most similar of all things to the good, it converts every soul that surveys it. The soul also, beholding that which is arcane shining forth as it were to the view, rejoices in, and admires that which it sees, and is astonished about it. And as in the most holy of the mysteries, prior to the mystic spectacles, those that are initiated, are seized with astonishment, so in intelligibles prior to the participation of the good, beauty shining forth, astonishes those that behold it, converts the soul to itself, and being established in the vestibules [of the good] shows what that is which is in the adyta, and what the transcendency is of occult good. Through these things therefore, let it be apparent whence beauty originates, and how it first shines forth; and also that animal itself is the most beautiful of all intelligibles.


Since, however, Timæus says that the primary and intelligible paradigms have their subsistence in intelligible animal, and that all these are four, unfolding themselves first into light, according to the all-perfect tetrad,—this being the case, in the first place it deserves to be considered, that as species or forms present themselves to the view in the intelligible, it is necessary by a much greater priority, that the genera of beings should pre-subsist in intelligibles. For it is not possible to admit that forms are intelligible, but that genera are intellectual only. But as forms exist intelligibly indeed, according to their first subsistence, but the pleroma, or plenitude of them shines forth in the intellectual gods,[36] and divides that which is total into more partial decrements, produces the uniform, into multitude, and expands that which is exempt into co-ordinate causes, thus also the genera of being are occultly and indivisibly in intelligibles, but are accompanied with separation in intellectuals. And on this account the first triad indeed has essence for that which is mixed; but the second has life, where there was motion and permanency, life both abiding and proceeding; and in the third there are sameness and difference. For the all-perfect multitude indeed, is through intelligible difference, but the united and that which is comprehensive in common of parts according to genera, and according to one, is through intelligible sameness. And all these subsist intelligibly, essentially, and uniformly in these triads.

In the first place therefore, this deserves to be inferred by those who love to survey the nature of things, and it is also fit that they should attribute co-ordinate genera to intelligible forms. For it neither was nor will be lawful for genera to shine forth secondarily[37] after forms. Hence much more must it be admitted that genera subsist in the intelligible after the above-mentioned manner, by those who admit that there are intelligible forms. In the next place, in addition to these things we must survey how this tetrad of forms subsists, and how it shines forth in intelligible intellect analogous to the principles. For it is divided into a monad and triad. For so far as the idea of the celestial gods is arranged prior to the others, it is defined according to a divine cause. It appears however to me that intelligible intellect returning to the principles of the whole of things, according to the conversion of itself, it becomes the plenitude of forms, and is all things intellectually and at the same time intelligibly, comprehending in itself the causes of beings, and being full of the ineffable and exempt cause of all things, constitutes the monad of the gods; whence also, Plato I think calls it the idea of the gods. But receiving the intellectual causes of the three principles posterior to the one, it exhibits three ideas after this, one of them indeed, being the cause of air-wandering and volant animals, this cause proceeding analogous to bound. Hence also it constitutes gods that are uniform, elevating, undefiled, united to the celestial gods, and which receive measures second in dignity to theirs, and have the same relation to those gods that govern generation co-ordinately, as the celestial gods have to these, according to exempt transcendency. But it exhibits the cause of the aquatic gods, co-ordinate with generative and infinite power, and which produces gods that are the suppliers of motion and prolific abundance, and that are the inspective guardians of life; since also this water itself which is the object of sense is under the dominion of effusion, infinite lation and indefiniteness. Hence likewise it is attributed to vivific powers. And intelligible intellect exhibits the precedaneous cause of terrestrial and pedestrious gods, in a manner adapted to the nature of that which is mixed. It also generates gods who contain the end of the whole of things, who are stable, who subdue the formless nature of matter by the last forms, and fix the seat of mundane natures in the one centre of the universe. For deriving their subsistence from the first Vesta as it were, or seat of beings, they stably define this mundane seat. Thus therefore forms first unfold themselves into light in intelligible intellect, possessing their progression and order according to the first principles. It is necessary however, in addition to these things, to infer this in the third place, following Timæus, that according to this triad, the multitude of intelligible parts shines forth, and the whole is divided into an all-perfect order of parts. For that, says he, of which other intelligible animals both according to one, and according to genera are parts, is the first and most beautiful paradigm of the universe. But if other intelligible animals are parts of this, it is evident that it is a whole, comprehending in itself the multitude of intelligible parts, and that it is connective of all intelligible parts. It must be inferred therefore that this triad is the first cause of production and fabrication. For if it contains the primary paradigms of things, it is evident that the orderly distribution of secondary natures, originates from it. And if it is an animal constitutive of all animals, every psychical extent, and all the extent of bodies, have their progression from thence; and it will also comprehend the intelligible causes of all the vivific and demiurgic orders.


Such conceptions, therefore, as these, may be assumed from what is written in the Timæus concerning the three intelligible triads, conformably to what is said of them in the Philebus, surveying in each bound, infinity, and that which is mixed. If you are willing also, we will show from what is scattered in the Sophista, that Plato had the same conception as we have concerning the first principles. The Elean guest therefore, in that dialogue, doubting against the assertion of Parmenides that the universe is one, unfolding intelligible multitude, and showing how it is suspended from the one, at first indeed, he argues from the one being [or being characterized by the one] and reminds us that this is passive to the one, and participates of the one, but is not the one itself, nor that which is primarily one. But afterwards, he produces the conception of the distinction between the imparticipable one and being, from whole. For if the one being is a whole, as Parmenides testifies, but that which is a whole has parts, and that which has parts, is not the one itself, the one being will not be the same as the one. In the third place therefore, he argues from the all-perfect. For that which is perfectly divided, and is connective of many parts, can never have the same subsistence as that which is entirely one. And having proceeded thus far he shows that what is void of multitude, is in its own nature exempt from the one being, proceeding in the demonstration of this through three arguments. And at one time indeed, he begins from the one being, at another time from whole, and at another from all. It is better however to hear the words themselves of Plato. That the one therefore, is not the same with the one being, he proves through the following words. “But what with respect to those who assert that the universe is one? Must we not enquire to the utmost of our power what they say being is? Certainly. To this question therefore they may answer: Do you say there is one thing alone? We do say so. Or will they not speak, in this manner? They will. What then, do you call being any thing? Yes. Do you call it the one, employing two names respecting the same thing? Or how do you say? What will be their answer after this O guest?” Through this therefore, Plato separating the one and being from each other, and showing that the conception of the one is different from that of being, and that these are not the same with each other, evinces that the most proper and primary one is exempt from the one being. For the one being does not abide purely in an hyparxis void of multitude and possessing the form of one. But the one itself is exempt from every addition. For by whatever you may add to it, you will diminish its supreme and ineffable union. Hence it is necessary to arrange the one prior to the one being, and to suspend the one being from that which is one alone. For if the one and the one being were the same, and it made no difference to say one and being (since if they differed, the one would again be changed from the one being,) if therefore the one differs in no respect from the one being, all things will be one, and there will not be multitude in beings, nor will it be possible to denominate things, lest there should be two things, the thing and the name. For being exempt from all multitude, and all division, there will neither be a name of any thing, nor any discourse about it, but the name will appear to be the same with the thing. And neither will a name be the name of a thing, but a name will be the name of a name, if a thing is the same with a name, and a name is the same with a thing,[38] and a thing will be the thing of a thing. For all things will exist about a thing the same as about a name, through the union of the thing and the name. If therefore, these things are absurd, and the one is, and also being, and being participates of the one, the one and the one being are not the same.

But that whole also is not the same with the one, Plato afterwards demonstrates [in the same dialogue,] beginning as follows: “What then? Will they say that whole is different from the one being, or that it is the same with it? Undoubtedly they will and do say so. If therefore whole is, as Parmenides says, “that which is every where similar to the bulk of a perfect sphere, entirely possessing equal powers from the middle; for nothing is greater or more stable than this:”—if this be the case, it is necessary that being should have a middle and extremities. And having these, there is every necessity that it should have parts. Or how shall we say? Just so. Nothing however hinders but that when it is divided, it may have the passion of the one in all its parts, and that thus the all and whole may be one. Undoubtedly. But is it not impossible that that which suffers these things should be the one? Why? Because according to right reason, that which is truly one should be said to be entirely without parts. It must indeed necessarily be so. But such a thing as we have just now mentioned, in consequence of consisting of many parts would not accord with the one.” Through these things therefore, the Elean guest arguing from wholeness after the one being, and also from the division of the parts of wholeness, demonstrates that the all is not one. For if whole is in beings, as Parmenides in his verses testifies it is, all things will not be the one. For the one is impartible; but whole possesses parts. Whole therefore is not the one itself. For that transcends all things and wholeness; but whole is passive to the one. Hence also it is denominated whole; for it is not the one itself. Hence all things are not one void of separation and multiplication.

Moreover, the all is comprehensive of many parts. For whole indeed, consists at first of two parts; but the all possesses a multitude of parts, and participating of wholeness at the same time is all, as being perfectly distributed into parts. This therefore is not the one itself, but is passive to the one. For the one itself is impartible. But it is impartible in such a manner as to be exempt from all parts. Hence the all is not the same with the one. We therefore, have divided whole and the all, but Plato conjoins them, when he says: “Nothing however hinders but that when it is divided, it may have the passion of the one in all its parts, and that thus the all and whole may be one.” At the same time however, they are divided after the above mentioned manner. From these three arguments therefore, the Elean guest separates the one from the participants of the one, and doubts against those who assert all things to be one, viz. the one being, whole and the all; of which the all indeed participates of whole, and is a self-perfect multitude, consisting of many parts; but whole participates of being. For being is not whole, as Parmenides testifies. These therefore, having such an order as this, is it not necessary that the arguments of Plato should be made conformably to the three intelligible[39] triads? For it was requisite, since Parmenides defined the one being in intelligibles, that Plato should from thence derive his demonstrations of the distinction between the one prior to intelligibles, and the one which is in intelligibles. For the doubts against Parmenides, evince in many places that the one which is participated derives its subsistence from the imparticipable union. The one[40] therefore is not in these triads, but the one being and whole. But with respect to the all, it is evident that it is in the extremity of the intelligible order. For that which is in every respect perfect, and all intelligible multitude, have their subsistence in that extremity. But whole is in the middle centre, and in the bond of the intelligible breadth. For whole is adapted to have a subsistence prior to the all; since the all is a whole, but whole is not necessarily all. For the all is divided multitude; but that which contains multitude in itself, and which is not yet separated is whole. And this especially pertains to eternity. For eternity is the measure of all intelligible multitude, just as whole is the coherence and union of the all. But the one being is in the first triad. For the one is especially the peculiarity of this triad, as Timæus also has demonstrated. And being which is occultly and intelligibly being, and which is the cause of essence to all other things, primarily shines forth there. Again therefore, following the Elean guest, three triads present themselves to our view; the first indeed according to the one being; the second according to whole; and the third according to the all. To which also the demiurgus of the universe looking, adorns the sensible universe, defining the visible nature with reference to that intellgible all; but time with reference to the intelligible wholeness. On which account also time is continued. And as the intelligible whole comprehends two parts, but contains the parts in one boundary, after the same manner, time also is bounded by the now, but by its twofold parts is infinite. These things therefore, we shall shortly after more fully discuss when we speak concerning the Parmenides. For the conceptions of the Elean guest are the proteleia of the mysteries of the Parmenides. Before however we turn to the Parmenides, let us discuss, if it is agreeable to you, the three triads from the beginning, collecting the conception of Plato from his assertions that are scattered in many places.


There are three triads therefore, as we have frequently observed, and they are divided after this manner into bound, infinity, and that which is mixed. Hence there are triple intelligible bounds, triple infinities, and triple mixtures. But of every intelligible triad, the bound in each is denominated father; the infinite, power; and that which is mixed, intellect. And let not anyone apprehend that these names are foreign from the philosophy of Plato. For it will appear that he uses these appellations in the before mentioned triads more than any one. For he denominates the first God father and lord in his Epistles. It is evident however, that as the first God surpasses even the paternal order, the first paternal is in the intelligible Gods. For these are they that are most eminently allied to the one, and that intelligibly unfold his ineffable and unknown union. If therefore the first God is denominated one and father from the natures that proximately proceed from him,—if this be the case, as the intelligible Gods are primarily unities, so likewise they are primarily fathers. For Plato gives names to the ineffable in a twofold respect, either from the summits of beings, or from all beings. For through these the transcendency of the one is known. Moreover, the Elean guest calls being that which is powerful and power. The first power therefore exists prior to being, and is united to the father; but it particularly accords with being, which also it fills. Hence being as participating of power is denominated powerful; but as united to it, and producing all beings according to it, it is called power. If however both Plato himself, and his most genuine disciples, frequently call all [true] beings intellect (on which account, in many places they make three principles, the good, intellect and soul, denominating every [true] being intellect) you will also have the third in these intellect. But it is necessary not to be ignorant of the difference. For with respect to intellect, one kind is intellect as with reference to hyparxis. For when we denominate the unity in each triad intelligible, as the object of desire to being, and as filling being, then we call that which ranks as the third in the triad intellect. For it is intelligible as essence and intellect, but not as the intellect of essence, but of father and deity. For every participated deity is intelligible, as being the plenitude of its participant. But another kind is intellect which is the intellect of essence; according to which we say that the being of the third triad, is the intellect of that which is primarily being. For this is essential intellect, being allotted its own essence by energizing.[41] For all things are essentially in it, and both the more simple genera, and the primary paradigms; for it is intelligible intellect. But the third kind is intellectual intellect, which subsists analogous to intelligible intellect, is conjoined with it, and is filled from it, possessing intellectually those things which are in the other intelligibly. And in short, it is necessary every where that such things as are first according to each series, should have the form of the things that are prior to them. Hence also they are called things first, and possess a certain transcendency of essence towards coordinate natures. Since therefore, that which is prior to intelligibles is God, the first intelligibles are Gods and unities. And since the intelligible is essential, the first intellects are essences. Since also intellect is every where according to its own nature intellectual, the first souls are intellectual. Because likewise, souls are the plenitudes of life, the first of bodies are most vital. And because the bodies that are perpetual are moved in a circle, the summits of material bodies are moved in conjunction with those bodies that are perpetual. This therefore is the cause why the unities are frequently called intelligibles, and beings intelligible intellects.

That Plato however knew this triad, I mean father, power and intellect, we shall learn by looking to the demiurgic order. For in this the triad is most remarkably apparent. Hence, on account of its union with the intelligible, it is filled with this triad, and possesses these things in a more divided manner than animal itself, or intelligible eternity. Immediately therefore, in the beginning of the fabrication in the Timæus, the demiurgus calls himself father, “Of which works I am the demiurgus and father.” But shortly after he unfolds his power, “Imitating my power in your generation.” This therefore is also wonderful, that he has delivered to us the most theological conception concerning power. For in the first place indeed, he calls it the power of the father, when he says, “Of which works I am the demiurgus and father,” and that the power is his, [is evident from the words,] “Imitating my power:” so that according to Plato power is of the father. And in the next place, he ascribes to this power a peculiarity generative of the whole of things; for this is evident from the words “In your generation.” Power therefore is the cause of generation and of the progression of beings. And in the last place, he delivers the intellectual peculiarity of the demiurgus. “Having thus spoke, again into the former crater in which he had tempered the soul of the universe, he poured mingling the remainder of the former mixture.” For to pour, to mingle, mixture, and to be productive of soul, pertain to intellect. Though what necessity is there for asserting these things, since prior to this he calls the demiurgus intellect. “Whatever ideas therefore intellect perceived by the dianoetic energy in animal itself, such and so many he conceived it necessary for this universe to contain.” Hence the demiurgus is father, and power and intellect. And he possesses these things as much as possible on account of intelligibles. For he is a God as father, on account of them. He is also power, and the generator of wholes, and knows beings intellectually, on account of them. For in them intelligible knowledge first subsists. Much more therefore are father, power and intellect in intelligibles; from which also the demiurgus being filled, participates of this triad. For Plato assumes each of these analogously; For as the paternal triad in intelligibles gives subsistence to intelligible eternity, so the demiurgus makes those works to be indissoluble of which he is the father. And as in intelligibles, eternity proceeding according to all power generates intelligible animal itself, so the demiurgic power gives subsistence to mundane animals that are perpetual and divine, and imparts to the junior Gods another power which is generative of mortal animals. That any one therefore may assume these names from Plato is evident from what has been said.

Since however, being has an hypostasis triply in intelligibles, one is primarily being and prior to the eternal; but another is secondarily being, and the first eternity; and another is being ultimately, and is intelligible and eternal intellect. And here indeed there is being, but there eternity, and there intellect. And eternity is more comprehensive than intellect; but being than eternity. For every intellect is eternal, but not every thing eternal is intellect. For soul according to its essence is eternal, and every thing which participates of eternity, participates also by a much greater priority of being. For with perpetuity of existence, existence is entirely consubsistent. But that which participates of existence is not universally eternally being. For bodies also participate in a certain respect of the nature of existence, but they are not eternal. Intellect therefore constitutes an intellectual essence only, so far as it is intellect; since so far as it is also life and being it constitutes all things. But eternity constitutes both the intellectual and psychical essence. For the mixture [in the second triad] was intelligible life. But being constitutes the intellectual, the psychical, and the corporeal life. For matter also is being [most obscurely,] and is capacity indeed, but formless being, and non-being, falling off from the participation of being. If, however, someone should say that it is being in power or capacity, yet it has this power from being. For capacity is the forerunning participation of energy. And thus much concerning these things.

But what sufficient argument of division does Socrates afford us in the Phædrus, concerning these intelligible triads? And how from what is delivered by him may we recur to the conception of the hypostasis of the most principal Gods? Socrates therefore in that dialogue, being inspired by the Nymphs, celebrates every thing divine as beautiful, wise and good, and says that by these the soul is nourished. But if every thing divine is a thing of this kind, this is the case with the intelligible by a much greater priority. And all these indeed are every where, but in the first triad, the good principally subsists; in the second the wise; and in the third the beautiful. For in this there is the most beautiful of intelligibles. But in the second triad truth and the first intelligence subsist. And in the first there is the commensurate, which we say is the same as the good. But Socrates in the Philebus says that the element of the good is the desirable, the sufficient, and the perfect. The desirable therefore pertains indeed to bound; for it is the union and goodness of all the triad, and the triad converges about it. But the sufficient pertains to infinity. For sufficiency is a power capable of pervading to all things, and of being present to all things without impediment. And the perfect pertains to that which is mixed. For this is that which is primarily triadic; since every mixture has its coalition from the triad. The elements therefore of the good unfold to us the first triad; and the elements of intelligible Wisdom, the second triad. But every thing wise is full of being, is generative of truth, and is convertive of imperfect natures to their perfection. The full therefore pertains to the second bound; for this is uniformly filled with the participation of the natures prior to itself. For the full is every where adapted to bound, just as that which cannot be filled is adapted to the infinite. But the prolific pertains to the second power, and to infinity. For that which does not abide in the fullness of itself, but is prolific and generative of other things, is especially indicative of divine infinity. And the convertive pertains to that which is mixed. For this as being allotted the end of the triad, converts every thing imperfect to the full, and unites itself prior to other things to the bound of the whole triad.


Moreover, the elements of beauty are the peculiarities of the third triad of intelligibles. But these are, as we have before observed, the lovely, the delicate, and the splendid. the lovely therefore, being arranged analogous to the desirable, pertains to bound. But the delicate being coordinate to the sufficient, pertains to the infinite power which is in the beautiful. And the splendid is of an intellectual peculiarity. For this is the beautiful of beauty; is that which illuminates all things, and astonishes those that are able to behold it. And as apparent beauty shining most manifestly, is seen through the clearest of the senses (for the objects of this sense have many differences according to Aristotle, and this sense pervades farther than the rest) so likewise intelligible beauty appears to the intellect of the soul shining intelligibly. For it is an intelligible form. And on this account the splendor of beauty is apparent to intellect. Splendid beauty therefore, as Socrates calls it, shines forth at the extremity of the intelligible order. For this is the most splendid of intelligibles, is intelligible intellect, and is that which emits the intelligible light, that when it appeared astonished the intellectual Gods, and made them admire their father, as Orpheus says. Such therefore is the preparation to the science of the intelligible Gods which may from these things be assumed. And now it will appear how beauty is indeed occultly in the end of the first intelligible triad, but subsists in the third triad so as to have manifestly proceeded into light. For in the former it subsists according to one form only; but in the latter it subsists triadically. It is also evident how each of the triads is at one and the same time a monad and a triad. For the first triad being characterized according to the good, derives its completion from the three elements of the good. But the second being characterized by the wise is contained in the triad of wisdom. And the third subsisting according to the beautiful, is all-perfect through the triad of beauty. If however the beautiful is occultly in the first triad, and shines forth triadically in the third, it is evident that intelligible intellect loves the first triad, and has love conjoined with its beauty. And this is the intelligible love of the first beauty. From these therefore, intellectual love proceeds, together with faith and truth, as we have before observed. For the three intelligible monads, the good, the wise and the beautiful, constitute three powers which lead upwards all other things, and prior to other things the intellectual Gods. Concerning these things however, we shall speak hereafter.


Let us now then direct our attention to the theory of the Parmenides. But I wish again to remind the reader of what we have before demonstrated. It has been shown therefore, that it is necessary to divide the second hypothesis into the whole progressions of the one being; and that this hypothesis is nothing else than the generation and progression of the Gods, proceeding supernally from the supreme union of intelligibles as far as to a deified essence. For the discussion is not, as some say it is, in the first hypothesis, concerning God and the Gods. For it was not lawful to Parmenides to conjoin multitude with the one, and the one with multitude. For the first God is perfectly exempt from the whole of things. But in the first hypothesis essence, and even the one itself, are taken away from the first God. That such an ablation, however, as this is not adapted to the other Gods is evident te every one. Moreover, neither does Parmenides in the first hypothesis speak about the intelligible Gods, as they say he does; for they assert that the negations are of these Gods, because they are conjoined with the one, and in simplicity and union precede[42] all the divine genera. For how can the similar or the dissimilar, or contact and the privation of contact, and all the other particulars which are denied of the one, be inherent in the intelligible Gods? They appear indeed to me to be right in asserting that the things which are taken away are similitudes of the Gods; but they do not speak rightly when they say that all of them are similitudes of the intelligible Gods. To which it may be added, in opposition to this assertion, that the discussion is again concerning the intelligible Gods in the second hypothesis. For the things which are denied in the first, are affirmed in the second hypothesis. This therefore, as I have said, is demonstrated that the conclusions with reference to each other have the order of prior and posterior, of causes and effects. It is necessary therefore, that proceeding from the beginning, we should adapt the first conclusions to the first orders, the middle conclusions to the middle orders, and the last conclusions to the last orders, and should demonstrate that as many questions are asked, as there are progressions of the divine orders. And in the first place, we must deliver the doctrine of Parmenides concerning the intelligible Gods, of whom we have proposed to speak; since Plato speaks about these in many places, partly indicating, and partly clearly unfolding his meaning.

It is necessary however, that we should collect into one the elaborate and synoptical theory about each order, since it would not be proper now to repeat the exposition which we have given in our commentaries on that dialogue. But assuming each of the conclusions itself by itself, I will endeavour to refer it to an appropriate order of the Gods, following in so doing the divine inspirations of our leader [Syrianus]. For we also through his assistance have with a divine head pursued these sacred paths about the theory of the Parmenides being, agitated with a divine fury, and wakened as from a profound sleep to this arcane mystic discipline. And thus much concerning the mode of the whole of the conclusions. But from hence I shall pass to the narration of the things proposed.

The first and imparticipable one therefore, which preexists, beyond the whole of things, and not only beyond the unities that participate, but also those that are participated, is celebrated through the first hypothesis, being demonstrated to be the cause of all things ineffably, but not being defined itself in any one of all things, nor having any power or peculiarity of a kindred nature with the other Gods. But after this [imparticipable one,] that which is alone superessential and surpassing, and unmingled with all hyparxis, is a unity participated by being, and constituting about itself the first essence, and by the addition of this participation becoming more redundant than that which is primarily one. This however is a superessential hyparxis, and the hyparxis of the first intelligible triad. As there are therefore these two things in the first triad, viz. the one and being, and the former generates, but the latter is generated, and the former perfects, but the latter is perfected, it is necessary that the middle of both should be power, through which and together with which the one constitutes and is perfective of being. For the progression of being from the one, and its conversion to the one, is through power. For what else conjoins being to the one, or causes the one to be participated by being except power? For it is the progression of the one, and its extension to being. Hence, in all the divine genera powers precede progressions and generations. This triad therefore, the one, power and being, is the summit of intelligibles. The first of these indeed producing; the third being produced; and the second being suspended from the one, but coalescing with being.


This triad therefore, Parmenides delivers immediately in the beginning of the second hypothesis, adjoining to the one the most simple participation of essence. But he calls it the one being, and says that being participates of the one, and the one of being. The participation however of these is different. For the one[43] indeed so participates of being, as illuminating and filling, and deifying being; but being so participates of the one, as suspended from the one, and deified by it. But the habitude which is the middle of both, is not with them void of essence. For neither is the habitude which is among sensibles in no respect being, and much more is this the case with the habitude which is there. But this habitude is biformed. For it is of the one, and is connascent with being. For it is the motion of the one, and its progression into being. Parmenides delivers this triad, beginning what he says about it as follows: “See therefore from the beginning if the one is. Is it possible then for it to be, and yet not to participate of essence? It is not possible.” But he ends speaking about it in the following words: “Will therefore that which is said be any thing else than this, that the one participates of essence, when it is summarily asserted by any one that the one is? It will not.” This therefore is the first intelligible triad, the one, being, and the habitude of both, through which being is of the one and the one of being, in a manner perfectly admirable; Plato indicating through these things, that the father is the father of intellect, and that intellect is the intellect of the father, and that power is concealed between the extremes. For deity is the father of the triad, and being is the intellect of this deity. Yet it is not intellect in the same way as we are accustomed to call the intellect of essence. For every such intellect stands still and is moved, as the Elean guest says. But that which is primarily being, neither stands still, nor is moved, as he also teaches. The first triad therefore is called one being; since power is here occultly. For the triad does not proceed from itself; but subsists without separation and uniformly, being primarily defined according to divine union. Hence, this is the first participation of essence, which participates of the one through power as the middle, which collects together and separates both the one and being. And it is superessential indeed, but is conjoined with essence. We must never think therefore that all power is the progeny of essence. For the powers of the Gods are superessential, and are consubsistent with the unities themselves of the Gods. And through this power the Gods are generative of beings. Rightly therefore, does poetry every where assert that the Gods are able to do all things. For essential powers indeed are not capable of effecting all things; since they are not constitutive of superessential natures. The first triad therefore, is through these things unfolded to us by Parmenides.


But immediately after this, the second triad is allotted a progression, which Parmenides characterizes by intelligible wholeness, as we have shown in the Sophista. For the first triad being uniform, and possessing all things intelligibly and occultly, viz. hyparxis, power and being, so that power which is the cause of division, subsisting between the one and being, is concealed, and becomes apparent through the communion of the extremes with each other,—the second triad proceeds, being characterized by the first intelligible power, and having the monads in itself distinguished from each other. For all things being united and without distinction in the first triad, distinction and separation shine forth in this triad. Being also and power are more divided from each other. And that which consists of these is no longer one being [or being characterized by the one,] but is a whole, so that it has the one and being in itself as parts. For above indeed [i. e. in the first triad] all things are prior to parts and wholeness. But in this triad there are both parts and a whole, power unfolding itself into light. For as there is separation here, there are parts and the whole consisting of these. The second triad therefore is called intelligible wholeness. But the parts of it, the one and being, I call the extremes. And power being here the middle, connects the one and being, and does not cause them to be one, in the same manner as in the first triad. Since also it is the middle of both, through its communion indeed with being, it renders the one one being; but through its communion with the one, it perfectly causes being to be one. And thus the one being consists of two parts, viz. of being which is characterised by the one, and of the one which is characterized by being, as Parmenides himself says. He begins therefore to speak about this triad as follows: “Again therefore, let us say if the one is what will happen. Consider then if it is not necessary that this hypothesis should signify the one to be a thing of such a kind as to have parts?” But he ends in the following words: “That which is one therefore is a whole, and has a part.”

Through these things therefore Parmenides defines the second order of intelligibles to be a wholeness. For as existence is derived to all things from the first triad, so whole from the second, and an all-perfect division from the third. This however will be considered by us hereafter. Wholeness therefore is triple, being either prior to parts, or consisting of parts, or subsisting in a part, according to the doctrine of Plato. For in the Politicus indeed, he calls genus a whole, but species a part, not that genus derives its completion from species, but exists prior to it. And in the Timæus he says that the world is a whole of wholes. And all the world indeed derives its completion from parts that are wholes; but each of the parts is a whole, not as the universe is, but partially. Wholeness therefore, being triple as we have said, according to Plato, the unity, and the intelligible and occult cause of these is now delivered, unically comprehending and constituting three wholenesses; according to the hyparxis indeed of itself, the wholeness prior to parts; but according to its power, the wholeness which is from parts; and according to its being the wholeness which is in a part. For the one is prior to all multitude; but power communicates in a certain respect with both the extremes, and comprehends in itself the peculiarities of them; and being in a certain respect participates of the one. Hence the first of the wholenesses, or that which is prior to parts is derived from a unical hyparxis. For it is a monad, and is itself constitutive of parts, and of the multitude which is in them. But the second wholeness is from power. For it derives its completion from parts, just as in the power which is collective of the one and being, the extremes in a certain respect shine forth to the view. And the third wholeness is from being. For being is a part, and is the progeny both of power and the one,[44] and possesses each of these partially. After the intelligible therefore, three wholenesses are divided according to the different orders of beings. But the intelligible wholeness comprehends the three unically, and is the intelligibly connective monad of this triad, every way extending the powers of itself from the middle of the intelligible and occult order.


Immediately after this triad we may see another proceeding, in which all intelligible multitude shines forth, and which Parmenides indeed constitutes a wholeness, but a wholeness consisting of many parts. For after the occult union of the first triad, and the dyadic separation of the second, the progression of the third is generated, which has indeed its subsistence from parts, but the parts are many, with the multitude of which the triad prior to it is parturient. For in this triad there is a unity, and power, and being. But the one is multiplied, and also being and power. And thus all the triad indeed is a wholeness; but each of its extremes, viz. the one and being, as it is multitude conjoined through collective power, is again divided and multiplied. For this power conjoining unical multitude to the multitude of beings, of some of these it causes each through progression to be being characterized by the one, but of others each according to participation to be the one characterized by being. For here indeed there are two parts of the wholeness, the one and being; but the one participates of being, for it is conjoined with it; and being participates of the one. the one of being therefore, is again divided, so that the one and being generate a second unity conjoined with the part of being. But being participating of the one, is again separated into being and the one. For it generates a more partial being suspended from a more partial unity. And being consists of more partial deified beings, and is a more specific monad. The cause however of this progression is power. For power is effective of two things, and is the operator of multitude. For the one indeed calls forth into multitude, but being converts to the participation of the divine unities. Whence therefore does Parmenides begin to teach us concerning this triad? And where does he conclude his discourse about it? The beginning, therefore, of what he says on this subject is as follows: “What then? Can each of these parts of the one being, viz. the one and being, desert each other, so that the one shall not be a part of being, or being shall not be a part of the one? It cannot be.”[45] But he ends thus: “Will not, therefore, the one being after this manner be an infinite multitude? It seems so.”

In the first place, therefore, it is proper to understand the manner of the progression of the divine genera; and that conformably to the intelligible monad, which we arrange according to the one being, the duad posterior to it which we call a wholeness [proceeds.] But we say that it consists of two parts which are separated by power, and that intelligible multitude presents itself to the view from the monad and the duad. For when all things are said to be parts of the one being, viz. secondary things, and such as become apparent through the separating cause of power, then Parmenides delivers the union which pervades from the monad to the third triad. But when power separating and conjoining the unities and beings, gives completion to multitude, then the participation of the duad becomes perfectly apparent, as I think Parmenides demonstrates when he says, “so that it is necessary two things should always be generated, and that there should never be one thing (only.)” This triad, therefore, proceeds according to both the preexistent triads, flowing according to the Oracle, and proceeding to all intelligible multitude. For infinite multitude is indicative of this flux, and of the incomprehensible nature of power. Hence, in the first place, I have said that the hypostasis of this triad is through these things demonstrated to be suspended from the triads prior to it. And in the next place, I say, that this triad, according to Parmenides, is primogenial. For this first imparts the power of being generated; and Parmenides calls the multitude which is in it in generation, [i. e. becoming to be, or rising into existence.] For he says: “And the part will be generated from two parts at least.” And again: “Whatever part is generated, will always have these parts.” And in what follows: “So that it is necessary it should always be generated two things, and should never be one.” Does not he, therefore, who frequently uses the word generation in teaching concerning the progression of the intelligible multitude, proclaim that the natures prior to this order are more united to each other? But this order proceeds to a greater extent, unfolds the occult nature of the triads prior to itself, and is primogenial, unfolding in itself prolific power.

In addition to these things also, it is necessary to consider the infinity of multitude, not as those think fit to speak, who assume the infinite in quantity, but since in the principles of the whole of things, there are bound and infinity, the former being the cause of the union, but the latter of the separation of multitude, Parmenides calls the first and intelligible multitude infinite, because all multitude indeed, according to its own nature, is infinite, as being the progeny of the first infinity. All intelligible multitude, however, is a thing of this kind. For it is the first multitude, and multitude itself. But multitude itself is the first progeny of intelligible infinity. Intelligible multitude, therefore, is on this account infinite, as unfolding into light the first infinity, and this infinity is the same with the all-perfect. For that which has proceeded to the all, and as far as it is requisite an intelligible nature should proceed, through the power which is generative of the whole of things, is infinite. For it cannot be comprehended by any other thing. But intelligible multitude is comprehensive of all intelligible multitude. For if indeed that which is primarily infinite, was infinite according to quantity, it would be requisite to admit that the intelligible is infinite multitude of this kind. Since, however, the intelligible is infinite power, it is necessary that the participant of the primarily infinite, should cause infinity to shine forth according to the power which is comprehensive of all prior natures. And if it be requisite to relate my own opinion, as that which is primarily one is primarily bound, so that which is primarily multitude is infinite multitude. For it receives the whole power of infinity, and producing all unities, and all beings, as far as to the most individual natures, it possesses never-failing power. It is, therefore, more total than all multitude, and is an incomprehensible infinite. Hence unfolding into light all multitude, it bounds and measures it by infinite power, and through wholeness introduces bound to all things. These things, therefore, may be assumed from Parmenides concerning the third intelligible triad.


Let us in the next place speak in common about all the intelligible triads. With respect to the first triad, therefore, which is occult, and is allotted the intelligible summit in intelligibles, Plato at one time proceeding from the union which is in it, and its exempt transcendency with respect to the other triads, denominates it one, as in the Timæus. For eternity, says he, abides in one. But reason evinces that this one is the first triad of intelligibles. But at another time proceeding from the extremities which are in it, viz. that which is participated, and that which participates, he calls it the one being, considering the power which is comprehended in these as ineffable, in consequence of its subsisting uniformly and occultly. And at another time, he unfolds the whole of it, according to the monads which are in it, bound, infinity, and that which is mixed; bound indeed indicating its divine hyparxis, infinity its generative power, and that which is mixed, the essence proceeding from this power. Plato, therefore, as I have said, teaches us through these names the first intelligible triad; at one time indeed through one name, but at another through two names, and at another again through three names, unfolding it to our view. For there is a triad in it, according to which the whole is characterized; and a duad according to which the extremes communicate with each other; and a monad which exhibits the ineffable, occult, and unical nature of the first, through its own monads.

But the second triad after this, Plato denominates in the Timæus indeed, eternity; but in the Parmenides the first wholeness. How these, however, are allotted the same peculiarity we may learn by considering that every thing eternal is indeed a whole; viz. if it is perfectly eternal, and has the whole of its essence and energy at once present. For every intellect is a thing of this kind, perfectly establishing at once in itself, the whole of intellectual perception. It likewise does not possess one part of being, but is deprived of another part, nor does it partially participate of energy, but it summarily comprehends the whole of being, and the whole of intelligence. If, however, in its energies it proceeded according to time, but had an eternal essence, it would be allotted the whole of the latter, and this always stably the same, but would possess the former variably, so as to exert different energies at different times. Eternity, therefore, is every where the cause of wholeness to the natures to which it is primarily present. But whole also is every where comprehensive of perpetuity. For no whole abandons either its essence or its proper perfection; but that which is primarily corrupted and vitiated is a partial nature. For on this account also the whole world is perpetual, viz. because it is a whole, and this is likewise the case with all that the heavens contain, and with each of the elements. For every where wholeness is connective of subjects. Hence eternity is consubsistent with wholeness, and whole and eternity are the same. Each also is a measure, the one of things eternal, and of all perpetual natures, but the other of parts and of all multitude. Since, however, there are three wholenesses, one indeed being prior to parts, another subsisting from parts, and another in a part,—through the wholeness which is prior to parts, eternity measures those unities of divine natures which are exempt from beings; but through the wholeness which derives its subsistence from parts, it measures the unities that are co-ordinate with beings; and through the wholeness which is in a part, it measures all beings and whole essences. For these wholenesses being parts of the divine unities, they possess partibly what pre-exists unically in the unities. And, moreover, eternity is nothing else than the ever shining forth from the unity which is connected with being. But whole consists of two parts, viz. of the one and being, power existing as the collector of the parts. According to both these conceptions, therefore, the duad pertaining to the middle intelligible triad, unfolds the uniform and occult hypostasis of the first triad.

Moreover, in the Timæus, Plato calls the third triad of intelligibles, animal itself, intelligible, all-perfect, and only-begotten. But in the Parmenides he denominates it infinite multitude, and a wholeness comprehensive of many parts. And in the Sophista he perpetually calls it the intelligible distributed into many beings. All these assertions, therefore, are the progeny of one science, and tend to one intelligible truth. For when Timæus calls this triad intelligible animal, he also asserts it to be all-perfect, and comprehensive of intelligible animals as its parts, both according to one and according to parts. Hence animal itself is according to this a whole, comprehensive of intelligible animals as its parts. And Parmenides, when he shows that the one being is all-perfect multitude, demonstrates that it is consubsistent with this order. For the infinite will be all-powerful and all-perfect, as we have before observed, comprehending in itself an intelligible multitude of parts, which also it generates; some of these being more total, but others more partial, and as Timæus says, both according to one, and according to genera. Farther still, as he calls animal itself eternal and only-begotten, so Parmenides first attributes the ever and to be generated, to infinite multitude, when he says, “And thus, according to the same reasoning, whatever part is generated will always possess these two parts: for the one will always contain being, and being the one; so that two things will necessarily always be generated, and no part will ever be one”

Who, therefore, so clearly reminds us of eternal animal, and the primogenial triad, as Parmenides, first assuming in this order generation and the ever, and so continually using each of these? The same thing, therefore, is both an all-perfect animal, and all-powerful intelligible multitude. For the first infinity being power, and every intelligible subsisting according to it, and receiving from it a division into parts, I think it proper to call it all-powerful; thus avoiding the appellation of the infinite, which disturbs the multitude. That, however, which in these things is both difficult to understand, and for which Plato especially deserves to be admired, we must not omit, but demonstrate to the genuine lovers of truth. For intelligible animal comprehends four intelligible ideas, according to which it not only constitutes the genera of Gods, but also the more excellent kind of beings after the Gods, and also mortal animals themselves; for generating it extends the idea of air-wandering, the idea of aquatic, and the idea of terrestrial animals, from the Gods as far as to mortal animals. Since animal itself, therefore, comprehends four ideas, and through the same paradigms produces totally divine, dæmoniacal and mortal animals, this deservedly produces a doubt in those who love the contemplation of truth, how, the causes being the same, and the same primary paradigms preexisting, some of the natures which are constituted are Gods, others dæmons, and others mortal animals. For all these being generated with reference to one form, how is it possible they should not have the same form and nature; since it is requisite that one idea should every where be generative of things that have a similar form? For on this account we admit the hypothesis of ideas, in order that the intelligible genus of Gods may possess and contain prior to multitude monads productive of similar natures. This doubt,[46] therefore, being so difficult, some one may solve it logically by saying, that all things which subsist according to one form are not synonimous, and that they do not similarly participate of their common cause, but some things primarily, and others ultimately. For each form is the leader of a certain series, beginning supernally, and subsiding as far as to the last of things. For according to the oracle, all things begin supernally to extend their admirable rays to the downward place. Hence it will not be wonderful that the same idea should preexist as the cause of Gods, dæmons, and mortal animals, producing all things totally, and delivering the more partial separation of things to the demiurgic order, in the same manner as this order delivers the production of individuals to the junior Gods. For intelligibles are the causes of whole series; but intellectuals of divisions according to common genera. Supermundane forms are the causes of specific differences; but mundane of things which are now individuals. For they are causes which are moved, and are the leaders of mutation to their progeny.

If however it be requisite to survey the thing itself by itself, and how one intelligible form is the cause[47] of Gods, and dæmons and mortals, Parmenides alone is able to satisfy us about the parts which are contained in the intelligible multitude. For he characterizes some things according to being, but others according to the one. For the one being, indeed, is absorbed by the one, but being which is one is rather absorbed by being, and the one being, and being which is one, contain in themselves each of the intelligible animals. According to the one being, therefore, Parmenides constitutes the divine genera, together with an appropriate peculiarity. But according to being which is one, he constitutes the genera posterior to the Gods. And according to the one being indeed of being which is one, he constitutes the genera of dæmons, but according to being which is one, the mortal genera. And again, according to the one being of the one being, he constitutes the first and highest genera of the Gods; but according to the being which is one of it, the second genera, and which have an angelic order. And thus all things are full of Gods, angels, dæmons, animals, and mortal natures. And you see how the medium is preserved of the more excellent genera. For being which is one is the angelic boundary of the one being which produces the Gods. But the one being is the dæmoniacal summit of being which is one, and which adorns secondary natures. As to the unions, however, of secondary natures, it is not immanifest that they approximate to multitude, and to the progression of the natures placed above them. Nor must you wonder if being which is one is the cause of angels, but the one being of dæmons. For in one place, being which is one is a part of the one being, but in another the one being is a part of being which is one. And here, indeed, the union is essential, but there essence has the form of the one. For the summit of being which is one is a thing of this kind. Deservedly, therefore, is intelligible multitude all-powerful, and intelligible animal all-perfect, as being at once the cause of all things, and this as far as to the last of things, Plato all but exclaiming, [in the words of the Chaldæan Oracle,] “Thence a fiery whirlwind sweeping along, obscures the flower of fire, leaping at the same time into the cavities of the worlds.” For the divine unities proceeding gradually, generate the multitude of all mundane natures. This triad, therefore, is the fountain and cause of all things: and from it all the life, and all the progression of the Gods, and the genera superior to us, and of mortal animals subsist. For it produces totally and uniformly all things, and binds to itself the whole principles of the divisible rivers of vivification, and the production of forms.


Again, therefore, let us recur from the divided theory of intelligibles to the all-perfect and one science of them, and let us say to ourselves, that this intelligible genus of the Gods is unically exempt from all the other divine orders, and is neither called intelligible as known by a partial intellect, nor as comprehended by intelligence in conjunction with reason, nor yet as preexisting in all-perfect intellect. For it transcends both total and partial intelligibles, and exists prior to all intellectual objects, being an imparticipable and divine intelligible. Hence, also, it is allotted the same transcendency with respect to all the intelligible orders, as the one with respect to every genus of the Gods. For this intelligible is imparticipable, and supernally fills the divine and intellectual orders. For if every intellect is intelligible to itself, it possesses this property through the intelligible Gods. For plenitude is derived to all things from thence. And thus the intelligible is at the same time exempt from intellect, existing itself by itself; and at the same time the intelligible is not external to intellect. For there is an intelligible which is conjoined with intellect; the co-ordinate being derived from that which is exempt, the participated from that which is imparticipable, that which is inherent from that which is preexistent, and that which is multiplied from that which is uniform. Intelligible simplicity, therefore, must not be defined to be such as that which we are accustomed to assert of intelligibles. For in these the one becomes equal to multitude, and separation to the uniform sameness of essence. But intelligible simplicity is uniform, without separation and occult, excelling every divisible form of life, and intellectual multitude. Hence I do not place intelligible simplicity in the order of idea. For this form is partial, and is subordinate to intelligible union. But I consider it as the hyparxis of divine natures, and as generative of the whole of the good which is distributed to all divine natures, and in which the Gods themselves subsist. For the goodness of the Gods, is neither form nor habit, but the plenitude of divine self-sufficiency and divine power, according to which the Gods fill all things with good. In a much greater degree, therefore, are the intelligible Gods, because they are united to the good, wholly full of superessential goodness, and being established in this, they contain in it the supreme hyparxis of themselves. Very properly, therefore, do we say that the intelligible Gods unfold the ineffable principle of all things, and his admirable transcendency and union; subsisting themselves indeed occultly, but comprehending multitude uniformly and unically; reigning over the whole of things exemptly, and being uncoordinated with all the other Gods. For as the good illuminates all things with superessential light, and exhibits the Gods who are the fathers of all things, so likewise the intelligible genus of Gods, according to a similitude to the good, imparts from itself to all the secondary Gods, intelligible plenitude. Hence, according to each distribution of the Gods, there is an appropriate intelligible multitude, just as a monad analogous to the good exists prior to each of the divine orders. And this monad indeed is the preexistent leader of union to secondary natures. But intelligible multitude is the preexistent source of beauty, self-sufficiency, power, essence, and all intelligible goods. For the Gods antecedently and intelligibly comprehend all intellectual natures, and contain in themselves all[48] things according to supreme union.

  1. For αιτιαν it is necessary to read αιτιᾳ.
  2. For αναλυσεως it is necessary to read αναλογιας.
  3. For εν it is necessary to read ον.
  4. For παροντος it appears requisite to read παραγοντος.
  5. Here also for εν it is necessary to read ον.
  6. For ανομοιων it is necessary to read ομοιων.
  7. οντως is omitted in the original.
  8. Instead of τα μεν γαρ πλειονων αιτια, και των παντων αιτιων κατα την δυναμεν των προ αυτων ποικιλωτερων κατα την ουσιαν εστιν, it is necessary to read τα μεν γαρ πλειονων αιτια, και των παντων αιτιον κατα δυναμιν μιμουνται, τα δε των ελασσονων των προ αυτων ποικιλωτερα κατα την ουσιαν εστιν.
  9. For αυτοειδεσιν it is requisite to read αυγοειδεσιν.
  10. In the original here, about a line and a half is so defective, that not being able to supply the deficiency, I have not attempted to translate it.
  11. Instead of ζωης here it is necessary to read ψυχης.
  12. For εντονοις it is necessary to read εν τορνοις.
  13. For αυτοις read αυτης.
  14. For αιτιων it is necessary to read αιτιας.
  15. For τινος it is necessary to read τινες.
  16. For εξηρηται it is necessary to read εξηρτηται.
  17. Here also it is necessary for εξηρηται to read εξηρτηται.
  18. μενειν is omitted in the original.
  19. For εσχατων it is necessary to read εσχατως.
  20. The word γεννητικης is omitted in the original.
  21. τριτον is omitted in the original.
  22. For πληθος in the original it is necessary to read ειδος.
  23. The punctuation in the latter part of this sentence in the original is erroneous: for instead of και την εν εκεινῃ του πληθους ωδινα δυναμες γενομενη, το πληθος απεικασατο, it should be και την εν εκεινῃ του πληθους ωδινα δυναμει γενομενη το πληθος, απεικασατο.
  24. For πρωτου here, it is necessary to read εσχατου. For in this place, Proclus is speaking of body.
  25. For αλογων it is necessary to read αναλογων.
  26. The words των μετα in the original immediately before το νοητον θεων γενος, are to be rejected as superfluous.
  27. εκφαινει is omitted in the original.
  28. For εκεινοις, it is necessary to read εκεινης.
  29. viz. Intelligible life, or life itself, or the first life.
  30. For Φαιδρῳ it is necessary to read Φαιδωνι.
  31. It is here necessary to supply αλλ᾽ ουδε κατα τον νουν τον νοητον.
  32. ο χρονος is omitted in the original.
  33. Instead of αῖδιοτητα, it is necessary to read εδιοτητα.
  34. ζωης is omitted in the original.
  35. Instead of προ του περατος, and προ της απειριας, it is necessary to read πϱος του περατος, and προς της απειριας.
  36. For νοητοις it is necessary to read νοεροις.
  37. For δευτερα it is necessary to read δευτερως.
  38. Instead of το πραγμα τῳ ονοματι, it is necessary to read το ονομα τῳ πραγματι.
  39. For νοερας here it is necessary to read νοητας.
  40. It is requisite here to supply το εν.
  41. For αυτο το ενεργειν it is necessary to read αυτῳ τῳ ενεϱγειν.
  42. For προσχοντες it is necessary to read πϱοεχοντες.
  43. In the original εν ον, but the true reading is evidently εν alone.
  44. Instead of οντος it is necessary to read ενος.
  45. It is necessary to correct the text here, and to read as follows: τε ουν; των μοριων εκατερον τουτων του ενος οντος το, τε εν και το ον αρα απολειπεσθον, ἢ το εν. κ. τ. λ.
  46. Instead of απειϱιας, it is necessary to read αποϱιας.
  47. It seems requisite to supply the word αιτιον after the words το εν νοητον ειδος.
  48. Instead of τα καθ᾽ ενωσιν, it is requisite to read παντα καθ᾽ ενωσιν, and then the end of this book will be complete, and not defective as the Latin translator Portus imagined it was.