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30. Plotinus

LUC BRISSON and JEAN-FRANÇOIS PRADEAU


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631210610.2006.00035.x


Extract

We are informed about the life and writings of Plotinus, who lived in the third century ce , through the work that Porphyry wrote nearly 30 years after his death: On the Life of Plotinus and the Order of His Treatises . Porphyry's project was twofold: he wanted to teach the public about the life of his master to provide an introduction to his work and teachings. The biographical part of his work is a panegyric to the way of life practiced by Plotinus, whereas its bibliographical part explains how Porphyry himself collected his Master's treatises, in order to edit them. These explanations were all the more necessary because Porphyry was the posthumous editor of treatises which Plotinus had neither edited nor collected; nor had he even written them in the form Porphyry chose to give them. Plotinus is supposed to have been born in 205 ce . The establishment of this date relies on the single testimony of the physician Eustochius, who was the only disciple near Plotinus when he died. According to some of the few testimonies we have in addition to Porphyry's biography, Plotinus came from “Lyco,” in Egypt; this may have been Lycopolis, in Upper Egypt (modern-day Assiout). Yet Plotinus was not Egyptian. His name is Latin, and his culture seems to have been essentially Greek. We know nothing about his family origins or social status. His family was evidently wealthy and cultivated. Plotinus ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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