P r o c l u s
All Multitude participates
in a certain respect of The One
which participates of The One, is both one and not one
thing which participates of The One, becomes so through the participation
of The One
thing which is United is different from The One Itself
Multitude is posterior to The One
consists either of things United, or of Unities
E L E M E N T S O F
T H E O L O G Y
All multitude participates in a certain respect of The
For if it in no respects participates
of The One, neither will the whole be one whole, nor each of the many of
which the multitude consists; but there will also be a certain multitude
arising from each of these, and this will be the case to infinity.
Each of these infinities, likewise,
will again be infinite multitude.
For participating in no respect of
any one, neither according to the whole of itself, nor according to each
of the many which it contains, it will be in every respect, and according
to the whole, infinite.
For each of the many which you may
assume, will either be one, or not one, will either be many or nothing.
But if each is nothing, that also
which consists of these will be nothing.
And if each is many, each will consist
of infinites infinitely: [and this not in capacity, but in energy].
These things, however, are impossible.
For neither does any being consist
of infinites infinitely assumed; since there is not more than the infinite;
but that which consists of all is more than each.
Nor is it possible for any thing
to be composed from nothing.
All multitude, therefore, participates
in a certain respect of The One.
Every thing which participates of The One, is both one
and not one
For if it is not The One Itself (since
it participates of The One) being something else besides The One, it suffers,
or is passive to it according to participation, and sustains to become
If, therefore, it is nothing besides
The One, it is one alone, and does not participate of The One, but will
be The One Itself.
But if it is something besides The
One, which is not The One, but its participant, it is both not one, and
one, not indeed such a one as The One Itself, but one being, as participating
of The One.
This, therefore, is not one, nor
is it that which The One is.
But it is one, and at the same time
a participant of The One.
Hence, being of itself not one, it
is both one and not one, being something else besides The One.
And so far indeed as it abounds,
it is not one, but so far as it is passive [to The One] it is one.
Every thing, therefore, which participates
of The One, is both one and not one.
Every thing which becomes one, becomes so through the
participation of The One, and is one, so far as it suffers the participation
of The One
For if things which are not one become
one, they doubtless become so by a conjunction and communication with each
other, and they sustain the presence of The One, not being that which The
One Itself is.
Hence, they participate of The One
so far as they suffer to become one.
For, if they are already one they
will not become one; since that which is does not become that which it
But if they become one from nothing,
i. e. from the privation of The One, since a certain one is ingenerated
in them, The One Itself is prior to them.
[And this ingenerated one must be
derived from The One Itself. Every thing, therefore, which becomes one,
becomes so through the participation of The One, &c. ]
Every thing which is united is different from The One
For if it is united, it will participate
in a certain respect of The One, so far as it is said to be united.
That, however, which participates
of The One, is both one and not one.
But The One Itself is not both one
and not one.
For if this were the case, again
the one which is in it would have both these, and this would take place
to infinity, there being no One Itself at which it is possible to stop;
but every thing being one and not one, there will be something united which
is different from The One.
For if The One is the same with the
united, it will be infinite multitude.
And in a similar manner each of the
things of which the united consists will be infinite multitude.
[Every thing, therefore, which is
united is different from The One Itself. ]
All multitude is posterior to The One
For if multitude is prior to The One,
The One indeed will participate of multitude, but multitude which is prior
to The One will not participate of The One, since that multitude existed
prior to the subsistence of The One.
For it will not participate of that
which is not; because that which participates of The One, is one and at
the same time not one; but The One will not yet subsist, that which is
first being multitude. It is, however, impossible that there should be
a certain multitude, which in no respect whatever participates of The One.
Multitude, therefore, is not prior
to The One.
But if multitude subsists simultaneously
with The One, and they are naturally co-ordinate with each other; for nothing
of time will prevent them being so; neither will The One of itself be many,
nor will multitude be one, as being at one and the same time oppositely
divided by nature, if neither is prior or posterior to the other.
Hence, multitude of itself will not
be one, and each of the things that are in it will not be one, and this
will be the case to infinity, which is impossible.
Multitude, therefore, according to
its own nature, participates of The One, and it will not be possible to
assume any thing of it which is not one.
For not being one, it will be an
infinite consisting of infinites; as has been demonstrated.
Hence, it entirely participates of
If, therefore, The One which is of
Itself one, in no respect participates of multitude, multitude will be
entirely posterior to The One; participating indeed of The One, but not
being participated by The One.
But if The One also participates
of multitude, subsisting indeed as one according to hyparxis, but as not
one, according to partici- pation, The One will be multiplied, just as
multitude is united on account of The One.
The One, therefore, will communicate
with multitude, and multitude with The One.
But things which coalesce, and communicate
in a certain respect with each other, if indeed they are collected together
by something else, that something else is prior to them.
But if they themselves collect themselves,
they are not opposed to each other. For opposites do not hasten to each
Hence, if The One and multitude are
oppositely divided, and multitude so far as multitude is not one, and The
One so far as one is not multitude, neither will one of these subsisting
in the other be one and at the same time two.
If, also, there is something prior
to them which collects them, this will either be one or not one.
But if it is not one, it will either
be many or nothing.
It will not, however, be many, lest
multitude should be prior to The One, nor yet will it be nothing.
For how can nothing congregate?
It is, therefore, one alone.
For this which is the one cannot
be many, lest there should be a progression to infinity.
It is, therefore, The One Itself,
and all multitude is from The One Itself.
Every multitude consists either of things united, or
For that each of things many will
not be itself multitude alone, and again that each part of this will not
be multitude alone is evident.
But if it is not multitude alone,
it is either united, or unities.
And if, indeed, it participates of
The One it is united; but if it consists of things of which that which
is primarily united consists, it will be unities.
For if there is The One Itself, there
is also that which primarily participates of it, and which is primarily
But this consists of unities.
For if it consists of things united,
again things united consist of certain things, and this will be the case
It is necessary, however, that what
is primarily united should consist of unities.
And thus we have discovered what
we proposed at first, [viz. that every multitude consists either of things
united, or of unities].
Excepts from Elements of Theology
Translated by Thomas Taylor
isbn 1 787819 00 5
Trust: with the edition of Elements of Theology by Proclus,
translated by Thomas Taylor.
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©1999 Roy George