JMC : Pre-Scholastic Philosophy / by Albert Stöckl

Neo-Platonism in its Earliest Form. Plotinus.

§ 52.

1. The founder of Neo-Platonism was Ammonius Saccas, of Alexandria (A.D. 176-250). He is said to have been brought up as a Christian by his parents, but to have returned to paganism in maturer life. The nickname, Saccas, refers to the trade by which Ammonius at first procured a livelihood. His teaching was all delivered orally. We have no further account of him. He is said to have maintained that there was no essential difference between the doctrines of Plato and of Aristotle. This, however, is not beyond doubt.

2. The most remarkable of his disciples were Origen,{1} Errenius, Longinus the physiologist, and, most famous of all, Plotinus. We have no precise account of Origen and Erennius. Longinus is rather a grammarian than a philosopher; he has, however secured a place among philosophers by his treatise "On the Sublime," (Peri hupsous), which abounds in acute and striking observations. He, moreover, maintained, in opposition to the other Neo-Platonists, the doctrine that ideas exist apart from the nous. But the chief disciple of Ammonius was, as we have stated, Plotinus -- the philosopher who gave to Neo-Platonism its scientific form and scientific basis.

3. Plotinus (A.D. 205-270) always declined to state where he was born or to give any information regarding his parents or the date of his birth; these things he despised as mere earthly matters; according to his pupil, Porphyrius, he felt it a humiliation to be burdened with a body. (He was born in Lycopolis, in Egypt.) When twenty-eight years old he turned his attention to philosophy, but he could not satisfy himself with any of the then celebrated teachers in Alexandria, until at length he found in Ammonius the teacher he sought for. At the age of forty-eight he arrived in Rome. Here he began to teach, and soon secured pupils. He even carried his success so far as to win to belief in his theories the Emperor Gallienus, and his wife, Salonina. His writings show that he had made acquaintance with all the schools of Greek philosophy by a study of the chief works of each. The writings of Numenius exercised much influence upon him.

4. It was not until his fiftieth year that Plotinus set himself to commit his teaching to writing. According to the statement of Porphyrius, Origen, Erennius, and Plotinus entered into a compact not to publish the doctrines of Ammonius. But Erennius having broken the engagement, the others held themselves released from their promise. The manuscripts of Plotinus were revised after his death by his pupil, Porphyrius. the style amended and the whole published in six enneads. These six enneads are the source from which we draw our knowledge of the teaching of Plotinus. In his exposition, Plotinus lacks the aesthetic grace of the Platonic dialogues, and still more their dialectical power, but he appeals to us by his earnest trust in his own thoughts and the enthusiasm with which he expresses them.

5. As the starting point of his system, Plotinus takes the One, which he also describes as the Good. We cannot begin with the nous. For in knowledge we always have duality -- the act of cognition and the object known (nous kai noêton). This duality is inseparable, from the nous, for if we separate the noêton from the there is no nous left us, there being no object of knowledge. We cannot, however, start with duality, for duality presupposes unity. The nous is, consequently, not the primary element. For this element we must look higher than the nous. We must not then begin with reason or with the nous, but with the One or the Good, which, as such, is above the Reason. This is the first or ultimate principle of all things.

6. The primal One (primal Good) is absolute unity, simplicity, and infinity. In itself it is absolutely devoid of definite form. No attribute, in the proper sense of the term, can be predicated of it. It is above all attributes and all designations: there is no expression for it in language. It is only by denying all forms and attributes in regard to it that we can bring it in any degree within reach of our intelligence. It is not that which is (to on), not ousia, not life, not beauty, not nous; it is above being, existence, life, beauty, reason, &c. Even the predicates of unity and goodness are not applicable to this first principle in their strict sense. It transcends even these, it is the One and the Good in a transcendent sense.

7. From this primal One, as from an ultimate first principle, is evolved the multiple. This evolution is not to be understood in the sense that the primal One loses its transcendent unity while the many are evolved, and becomes a hen kai pan. Plotinus energetically rejects such a notion. The One does not become All, it ever remains above all (pro pantôn). The One may be said to be All, in the sense that all things proceed from it, but it is not one out of the number of all things; because all things exist subsequently to it, and after their existence it continues to transcend all. Still less can the multiple be formed from the One by a process of division, for in this the unity of the One would be wholly destroyed.

8. The evolution of the multiple from the One must be regarded as a process of emanation, of such a nature that the One, while permitting the multiple to emanate from it, loses nothing of what is its own in the process. The possibility of this emanation is given "in the transcendent virtue of the One, which as a being of supreme excellence admits the evolution of a lower excellence from the fulness of its perfection, without containing this lower excellence formally within itself." That this emanation is actually effected is due to the fact that this first principle is not only the primal One -- it is also the primal Good. Now, it is the nature of the good to diffuse itself. The good would not be the good if it did not bestow itself on something other than itself. The primal One, as being the primal Good, must, therefore, bring forth something other than itself; that is, cause something else to emanate from itself. This act is neither a free act nor a necessary act; such terms have no application to the primal One. The something else thus produced is not unity -- it must be plurality -- for it is not the first principle, it is a consequence of the existence of the first principle.

9. The immediate emanation from the primal One is the nous -- the image (eikôn) of the One. It is diffused around the One, like an ocean of light. In itself it is essential being (ousia), but this essence produced by the One, turns itself to the One from which it derives its origin, and in the act attains knowledge, that is to say, becomes the nous. This nous, therefore, as such, has knowledge of itself. In this nous we find a duality already established. For, although in its sell-knowledge the subject knowing and object known are one in fact, they are yet distinguished in thought. A principle of differentiation (heterotês) is thus inherent in the nous, for in it there is at least an ideal distinction between the knowing subject and the thing known. If then the primal One be the first or Supreme God, the nous is a second divinity -- the Son of the Supreme God.

10. If we inquire, in what relation this nous stands to the world of Ideas, Plotinus, in distinct opposition to Longinus, tells us that Ideas do not lie without the nous, but rather are implanted in it. When Plato in the Timaeus asserts that Ideas are objects of contemplation to the nous, it might be supposed that Plato held Ideas to exist without the nous; but, remarks Plotinus, "If this were the case then the nous would have within it merely a perception of that which really is, not the reality itself, and thus would not possess the truth which, as such, would be beyond its reach. This, however, cannot be admitted. The Divine nous cannot err. But if it possessed within it, not the genuine being (alêthinon), but only images (eidôla) of this being, it would err, for it would deem itself to possess the truth, and yet would not possess it." Ideas, then -- the noêton in this strict sense -- must be indwelling (immanent) in the nous; this, it cannot be doubted, is the genuine teaching of Plato.

11. Accordingly, the nous as ousia, is to be regarded as the union of all noêta -- of all intelligible essences, that is, of all Ideas. This nous turns its thought upon itself, and in this act of thought the unity is differentiated and a plurality of Ideas arises. Thus, then, the ousia, taken in its original unity and as known immediately in itself, is the Indeterminate -- intelligible matter -- but by thought the indeterminate becomes determinate, that is to say, reduced to a plurality or difference of Ideas. These Ideas are, therefore, in respect of the intelligible matter which underlies them, so many intelligible forms. The intelligible matter is thus seen to be that element which Plato styles "the one and the same," for it is contained in every particular idea; whereas the intelligible forms, by means of which the one ousia is differentiated and a plurality of ideas created, is that element which Plato names "the other." But this development of the one into the many does not proceed beyond the sphere of Universals, for the universal alone is really existent, and this, therefore, can alone find place in the nous.

12. But although plurality, as has been explained, is given in the nous, there is not any dissociation of the things so differentiated. For as the nous is not itself separated into parts, so the elements which differ from one another within it are inseparable. The nous is the one Universal Reason, and, as such, is an indivisible entelechy. The separation of the differentiated elements can be accomplished only in the world of phenomena, and in this sphere such separation must be accomplished, for matter can exhibit and manifest ideas only in a state of separation from one another. In this severance, the ideas manifest themselves not only as archetypal causes, but also as efficient and formative forces. For as the nous is itself an active vital principle, so also must the ideas it contains be vital principles which exhibit their activity as soon as they appear in matter.

13. Nevertheless, ideas cannot become immediately active in matter as operative and formative principles; an intermediate element must be interposed. This element is the soul. The soul is, therefore, the third principle, following the primal One and the nous.{2} It is an emanation from the nous, as the latter is an emanation from the One; and as the nous is an image of the One, so is the soul an image of the nous. The soul, therefore, is not a body, nor the inseparable entelechy of a body; it is an immaterial substance, distinct from everything corporeal. The product of the nous, in one aspect of its being it communicates with the nous, in another aspect it communicates with that product which emanates from itself -- with matter. In this wise it possesses an ideal indivisible element within it, as well as a divisible element which enters into matter, for it may be said to pervade the material world. In this sense, Plato might with truth assert that the soul is made up of an indivisible and a divisible element.

14. There is a real plurality of souls. But all stand in close relation to the supreme soul -- the universal soul, or the world-soul. The relation of the latter to the former is not that of a whole to its parts. The world-soul is a sort of universal entity which includes in itself the several individual souls, undistinguished from one another, and which brings these souls forth from itself by emanation, in the same way as the One produces the nous, and the nous produces the world-soul itself. The world-soul is no more separated from the nous than the nous is separated from the One. It exists in the nous as the latter exists in the One. But it at the same time exists in the world, for it is the soul of the world. The One and the soul form the extreme limits of the divine or super-sensible world; beneath this we have the sensible or material world.

15. Below the state of existence represented by the soul the process of emanation issues in the corporeal order. The substratum of all corporeal things is matter. Matter must therefore stand last in the series of emanations. In the process of emanation, says Plotinus, there must be a last member as well as a first. This last which produces nothing below itself, but in which the productive force is wholly exhausted -- this ultimate member of the series -- is matter. Matter is, in a certain sense, the dregs or precipitate of the process of emanation; it represents the ultimate enervation of the Ideal, in which, so to speak, the Ideal becomes extinct and issues in its contrary. It is no more than the shadow which the light of the higher emanations flings back to its uttermost boundary.

16. Accordingly, Plotinus describes matter as absolutely indeterminate and unlimited, as wanting in form, quality, and quantity. It is being without essential character, non-being (to on) in contradistinction to that which really is (the Idea); anagkê (necessity) in contradistinction to the logos (rational energy); privation in contradistinction to reality; darkness as opposed to the light of the logos. Matter is not corporeal substance, but the unseen substratum, the shadowy bathos (deep-lying element) of the corporeal. Thus, matter at every point stands in distinct contrast to the ideal.

17. The ideal is not only the really existent, it is furthermore that which alone is good. Into this sphere, too, its contrast with matter is carried. Matter is evil and the source of evil. It is, no doubt, receptive of the Form communicated to it, and, to this extent, it may be called good, but in itself it is absolutely evil (kakon). Hence, all evil, in the last resort, comes from matter. Matter is evil itself, and defiles everything with which it comes in contact.

18. Between matter, which thus forms the utmost limit of the process of emanation, and the cosmic soul, there is interposed, as a sort of third principle, the sensible world. Its constituent principles are matter and the cosmic soul in so far as by the latter, ideas, which, are the determinative principles, are infused into matter. The world-soul has, so to speak, one aspect of its being turned towards the nous, from which it receives ideas (logous); while, in another direction, it is in contact with matter, and, in this direction, becomes the universal world-soul, the universal principle of life and nature. Plotinus also styles this soul of Nature the eschaton psuchês. It is in this wise that the forming of matter into the sensible world becomes possible.

19. The soul being identified with the nous receives ideas from the latter, and by its formative activity as cosmical soul gives them existence in matter. By this formative action of the world-soul the ideas become forms (eidê) realised in matter, and manifest themselves in the entelechies of individual objects. These individual objects are the things perceptible to sense, of which the sensible world is made up. This explains the origin of the sensible as contradistinguished from the intelligible world.

20. The world of sense is thus a universal likeness of the supersensible world or nous. But this likeness, it must be allowed, is very imperfect. For, apart from the circumstance that the nous is not represented as that unit of being which it is, but by the plurality of ideas which it contains and which manifest themselves in the world of phenomena, representing only the logoi spermatikoi of the nous, it is further to be noted that matter is, in itself, but little adapted to represent the ideal, partly because, at every point, it is opposed to the ideal, and partly because it is in a state of constant flux.

21. This being so, the further question arises: What of the reality of the world of sense? The answer to this question reveals to us the essential character of the Neo-Platonic Philosophy. It is clear that, at this point, matter can no longer be regarded as a real substratum of the objects of sense -- the conception under which it was represented in the Platonic system proper. For here matter is no longer something apart from, though co-existent with, the ideal; it is itself made part of the process of emanation, described as its last product -- a notion which leads to the conclusion that its attributes are all of the negative kind. But if matter is not the real substratum of the sensible world, then the sensible world itself ceases to be intelligible as a reality. The reality of the phenomenal world disappears, and objects of sense are reduced to mere appearances.

22. How just these deductions are, appears from the manner in which Plotinus explains the nature of corporeal substance. On this point, he asserts that, taken in the entirety of their being, bodies consist of qualities which are of the intelligible not of the sensible order. The accidents which are peculiar to bodies, as such, for example, quantity, density, shape, &c., &c., are, in themselves, purely concepts of the intelligence. Now, if we take away from a body all these accidents, there is nothing left which we can call a body; the whole body, as such, disappears. It follows, therefore, that what we call a body is nothing more than the result of the combination of certain accidents, which, in themselves, are purely of the intelligible order. From the combination of these accidents arises the appearance of corporeal nature, which, however, disappears as soon as thought comes to bear upon it, and the process of abstraction dissolves the combination in which those accidents are held together. We may say, then, that corporeal things are no more than appearances; that there is, in fact, nothing corporeal; what is, is ideal only.

23. In this theory, we find it clearly intimated that the ideal, as far as it appears in the world of sense under corporeal appearances, is in a state at variance with its true nature. The ideal is here found in a condition of degradation from its higher nature -- in a condition of alienation from its transcendental origin. The existence of the world of sense supposes, therefore, a degradation or fall of the ideas from the world of intelligence. This downfall of ideas to the material order is, at the same time, their fall from the unity and perfection which belonged to them in the nous. This downfall can alone explain the fact that the sensible world, though it mirrors in itself the ideal, is, nevertheless, in itself, unreality and nothingness, and cannot bear comparison with its prototype.

24. Hitherto we have been considering merely the general principles of Neo-Platonism. Let us now glance at its system of psychology. Plotinus adduces many arguments to establish the incorporeal and immaterial nature of the soul -- following Plato for The most part and reproducing his reasonings. The soul, he says, is the principle of life; it cannot, therefore, be an outcome of the action of the body, it must come before the body, and, therefore, it must be something incorporeal. Furthermore, the soul has cognizance of the intelligible and immaterial, but this it could not have if it were not itself of the intelligible and immaterial order. The soul perceives an impression made upon the body at the point where the impression is made. It must, therefore, be present in all parts of the body at once, but this, again it could not be if it were not immaterial, &c.

25. The individuality of the soul depends upon its union with the body. This is the principle of individuation. The soul permeates the body as fire permeates the air. It is whole in the entire body, and whole in every part. It is the soul which binds the body together and holds its parts united; it would, therefore, he more appropriate to speak of the body as being in the soul than to speak of the soul as being in the body. The soul is united to the body in one respect only; in another respect it is free. It is free so far as it is active in thought, for this function not only has no need of a sensible organ, it wholly excludes it. The soul is in union with the body in so far as it is the principle of vitality and sensation; for in these functions the organs of the body are a necessity. And yet, even the faculties of sense are not, strictly speaking, located in the body, they are present within it only in so far as the soul bestows upon the organs of the body the energy which is required for their several functions.

26. The soul is not, of its nature, destined to union with the body. This union is merely the consequence of its downfall from the Supersensible world. The soul, in its original state, was above the corporeal state, but inclining downwards towards matter it forgot its higher dignity, and fell, in consequence, to the state of union with the body. The body is, therefore, an outward adjunct of the soul -- a mere accidental accretion -- it is no more than the instrument of the soul. But the soul has not lost its freedom of action in its fall, and hence its return to the Absolute is possible.

27. The universal world-soul is intimately united to the nous, from which it derives its origin, and through this union is endowed with reason; this being so, the divine nous must be immanent in human souls which have their being in the universal soul, and to this indwelling of the nous, they, too, owe their possession of reason. The nous is thus the centre of the soul -- the basis of its personality. But the nous in its turn is derived from the One, and maintains its existence in the One as the source of its being; through the nous, therefore, the soul is brought into contact with the ultimate first principle -- the One -- and is intimately united to it in vital union.

28. These principles determine the theory of cognition held by Plotinus. Plotinus, like Plato, makes no account of sensuous cognition as a means of attaining truth. Sense perception is no more than a dream of the soul. To attain the cognition of intelligible truth, the soul must retire from the avenues of sense and fall back upon its own centre -- the nous. Here it already possesses truth a priori, and it needs only to call this truth into consciousness and to develop it there. This, as has been said, it can do only when it withdraws from sense and concentrates itself in the nous, as in the central point of its being.

29. Cognition, in this theory, is not an appropriation of objective truth by the mind, it is the drawing out of truth by the mind from within itself. The whole process of cognition is accomplished by a certain self-contemplation of the nous within the soul, and involves a consciousness of the identity of subject knowing and object known. But as the soul rises to the sphere of intellectual knowledge, it enters upon a path which leads to a still higher order of knowledge, namely, the contemplation of the One. For the nous -- the universal reason -- being in union with the source of its being -- the primal One -- and contemplating the One, is enabled to rise from its act of self-contemplation in man to the contemplation of the One. And this explains how it is that man, through the nous that dwells within him, can attain to the contemplation of the Supreme Being.

30. This perfection, however, is not attainable unless the One sheds into the soul of man a special light, and thereby opens his eyes to higher contemplation. This light man cannot secure by any dialectical efforts; it must come to him suddenly. But when it shines within him, then apprehension, self-consciousness and thought disappear: in a word, all the lower degrees of knowledge are absorbed into this contemplation of the One, and man is raised to the state of ecstasy. It is only in this ecstatic condition that contemplation of the primal One is possible; this ecstatic contemplation is thus the highest stage of human cognition.

31. The basis is here laid for the teleological doctrine regarding man. Everything comes from the primal One, or primal Good, and everything must return to it again. Hence, we observe that all things -- and men more especially -- necessarily strive after good. The highest good is the primal Good or first principle the highest good of man is, therefore, attained in the knowledge of the primal Good. Now, this knowledge is attainable only in the state of ecstasy. Hence, the ecstatic contemplation of the primal Good is not only the highest degree of man's knowledge, it is also the highest form of his happiness. Plotinus is at a loss for words in which to depict the bliss which is secured by this ecstatic contemplation.

32. Ecstatic contemplation, as we have seen, can he reached only by withdrawing the soul from the things of sense. This principle leads us at once to the ethical duty of man. Mystical asceticism must be practised if man is to attain to the height of his destiny. By this asceticism the soul must combat the bodily nature with its sensual impulses and tendencies, and so deliver itself from the body and sensuality. The body hangs round the soul like a heavy burden, which weighs it down; in fact the soul has found its way into the body only in consequence of a fault committed -- an all-sufficient reason why it should crush more and more completely the energies and tendencies of sense, in order to rise again into the pure atmosphere of the intelligible world. The man who gives himself effectually to this asceticism, and, as far as may be, delivers his soul from the body, not only attains to mystical contemplation, he furthermore enters into a higher relation with the gods and with the super-sensible forces that are at work in nature, and is enabled by this communication to perform miracles and to read the future. He becomes a thaumaturgus and a prophet.

33. From the same principles Plotinus deduces his theory of moral evil. As has been observed, evil, generally speaking, has its origin in matter; it is, therefore, in the strict sense, a cosmical force. Now, man's body is composed of matter; in man, therefore, the source of evil is the body. It thus appears that moral evil consists in this: that the soul follows the impulses and tendencies of the body, surrenders itself to their control; whereas moral goodness, on the other hand, is founded on the deliverance of the soul, by ascetical practices, from the dominion of the body.

34. Connected with these notions of moral good and moral evil, we find another, which, however, is in the last analysis, identical with the former The soul we have been told, is individualized by its union with the body, and this union with the body not being the connatural state of the soul, the same may also be said of its individuality. We may, therefore, describe the essence of moral evil as the assertion of its individuality by the soul. The soul becomes wicked by its effort to assert its own individuality and its own will, in contradistinction to the universal existence within which it has its being. It becomes good when it raises itself above this individuality and merges itself in the universal.

35. In these theories we notice an unmistakable effort after a genuine morality, and to this extent Neo-Platonism may be regarded as a protest against the moral depravity of the paganism of the age. But the asceticism which Neo-Platonism sought to promote rested upon an entirely false principle and was, in consequence, powerless to effect any great moral reformation. This principle was that the body is the source of all evil. Based upon this notion, Neo-Platonic asceticism could not fail to assume a stern and hostile attitude towards the body and the outer world, and the earnestness of character which it was calculated to develop tended to become exaggerated beyond what a right conception of the natural order would warrant. The Neo-Platonic asceticism being directed against corporeal nature as evil and antagonistic in itself, was liable to degenerate into a wholly unnatural system, and so to lose all power for the regeneration of paganism. And further, it was the distinct scope of this Neo-Platonic asceticism to attain union in contemplation with the primal One, and by this means to become capable of working wonders. So far as this end was assumed to be attained, the system could lead only to arrogance and folly -- a result largely produced among the Neo-Platonists. But arrogance and folly are opposed to morality.

36. Plotinus gives various definitions of virtue. Looking to the end attained by it, he defines it as "likeness to God"; considering the character of virtuous conduct in itself, he holds it to be "action in accordance with the nature of things" (energein kata tên ousian), or "obedience to reason." He distinguishes between social, purifying and deifying virtues. The first class are concerned with external social relations, and in this class are included the four cardinal virtues: prudence fortitude, justice, and temperance. The purifying virtues (katharseis) are concerned with the freeing of the soul from sin (hamartia), by divorcing it from the things of sense; the deifying virtues are those by which men return again to the Absolute, and, in a certain sense, become one with God.

37. There are three classes of men. One class are held captive by sense, they esteem pleasure good and pain evil, they strive to attain the one and avoid the other, and herein is their wisdom expended. Another class -- capable indeed of a certain elevation, but unable to see what belongs to higher spheres -- give themselves to the practice of social virtues, devote themselves to practical pursuits, and strive to make a right choice among these lower objects. But there is a third class of men of diviner sort, endowed with higher energy and keener vision, who turn to the light that shines from on high, and rising towards the source of that light, are lifted above the regions of gloom, men who despise the things of earth and make their dwelling-place in that region where they may participate in true joy. They cannot, indeed, remain always in this state. Not having freed themselves wholly from the earth, they easily turn to it again. And thus it happens that it is but seldom even the wisest, best, and most virtuous men, enjoy the contemplation of the supreme God. (Plotinus himself, during the six years in which Porphyry, his disciple, was his associate, succeeded in reaching this height of contemplation on four occasions only.)

38. Plotinus uses the same arguments as Plato in proof of the immortality of the soul. The Platonic notion, that souls which quit the body, imperfectly purified, take with them a kind of corporeal vesture, in which they afterwards appear, is found among the doctrines of Plotinus. So, too, the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, the theory of successive generations, and the doctrine of demons. The demons are to be reverenced as well as the gods. With their aid, too, wonders may be worked. The same may also be effected by magic.

39. The most remarkable of the disciples of Plotinus were Amelius and Porphyry. Little is known regarding Amelius, but Porphyry holds an important place among the Neo-Platonists. He lived from A.D. 233 to 304, and from the year 263 onwards was a pupil of Plotinus in Rome. He professes to explain and defend the teaching of Plotinus, not to develop it. This teaching he holds to coincide with that of Plato, and to be the same in substance with that of Aristotle also. He composed a great many works. Of these the eisagôgê eis tas (Aristotelous) katêgorias, is usually prefixed to editions of Aristotle's Organon. His sketch of the system of Plotinus is set forth in a series of Latin aphorisms. We have already mentioned his arrangement of the treatises of Plotinus in six Enneads. In all these undertakings, his extensive learning and his subtle intelligence, which enabled him to enter into views the most divergent, as well as his readiness and grace of exposition, stood him in good stead.

40. The doctrine of Porphyry is distinguished from that of Plotinus by possessing a practical rather than a religions character. Porphyry defended necromancy, theurgy, and the worship of demons, but he advised caution in the use of them. He maintains that the world has not had a beginning, and he appears to have taught the emanation of matter and of the world-soul more distinctly than Plotinus himself. He combated the doctrines of the Christians, in particular the Divinity of Christ, in fifteen books kata Christianôn many refutations of which were written by the Fathers of the Church.{3}

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{1} We must distinguish this Neo-Platonist from the early ecclesiastical writer, Origen. The latter was, however, a pupil of Ammonius, as will he seen later.

{2} These three principles, the One, the nous, and the Soul, constitute the threefold divinity of the Neo-Platonists.

{3} Porphyry held Christ in contempt because he was born of a woman, and in the end crucified. Like the other pagans, he laid the blame of all public calamities upon the Christians. They were ruled, he said, by an assembly of aged matrons, and the priestly dignity among them was conferred by the favour of women. He was particularly offended by the doctrine of the resurrection of the body -- a doctrine wholly incompatible with the Neo-Platonist view that the body is essentially evil and impure. He attacks the sacred writings of the Christians, and decries and discredits the exegesis then in vogue.

We may here mention another controversial work against Christianity -- the Logoi philalêtheis pros tous Christianous published in A.D. 303, by Hierocles, governor of Bithynia, one of the most cruel of the persecutors under Diocletian. The polemical portion of this work, so far as we can gather from Eusebius' "Book" against Philostrates, is a tissue of falsehoods and calumnies directed against Christianity. Even these are not original, but for the most part copied word for word from Celsus. Every effort is made to exalt Apollonius.