|T h e T h e o l o g
y o f P l a t o
b y P
r o c l u s
T H E D I V I N E
N A T U R E
Concerning the truth which is in the Gods
In the next place, let us speak concerning
the truth which is in the Gods; for this in addition to what has been said
is concluded by Socrates, because a divine nature is without falsehood,
and is neither the cause of deception or ignorance to us, or to any other
We must understand therefore, that
divine truth is exempt from the truth which consists in words, so far as
this truth is composite, and in a certain respect is mingled with its contrary,
and because its subsistence consists of things that are not true. For the
first parts do not admit of a truth of this kind, unless some one being
persuaded by what Socrates asserts in the Cratylus, should say that these
also are after another manner true.
Divine truth also is exempt from
psychical truth, whether it is surveyed in opinions or in sciences, so
far as it is in a certain respect divisible, and is not beings themselves,
but is assimilated to and co-harmonized with beings, and as being perfected
in motion and mutation falls short of the truth which is always firm, stable
and of a principal nature.
Divine truth is likewise again exempt
from intellectual truth, because though this subsists according to essence,
and is said to be and is, beings themselves, through the power of sameness,
yet again, through difference, it is separated from the essence of them,
and preserves its peculiar hypostasis unconfused with respect to them.
The truth therefore of the Gods alone,
is the undivided union and all-perfect communion of them. And through this
the ineffable knowledge of the Gods, surpasses all knowledge, and all secondary
forms of knowledge participate of an appropriate perfection. But this knowledge
alone of the Gods contractedly comprehends these secondary forms of knowledge,
and all beings according to an ineffable union.
And through this the Gods know all
things at once, wholes and parts, beings and non-beings, things eternal
and things temporal, not in the same manner as intellect by the universal
knows a part, and by being, non-being, but they know every thing immediately,
such things as are common, and such as are particulars, though you should
speak of the most absurd of all things, though you should speak of the
infinity of contingencies, or even of matter itself.
The knowledge and truth of the Gods is alone known to the Gods
If, however, you investigate the mode
of the knowledge and truth of the Gods, concerning all things that have
a subsistence in any respect whatever, it is ineffable and incomprehensible
by the projecting energies of the human intellect; but is alone known to
the Gods themselves.
And I indeed admire those Platonists
that attribute to intellect the knowledge of all things, of individuals,
of things preternatural, and in short, of evils, and on this account establish
intellectual paradigms of these. But I much more admire those who separate
the intellectual peculiarity from divine union. For intellect is the first
fabrication and progeny of the Gods.
These therefore assign to intellect
whole and first causes, and such as are according to nature, and to the
Gods a power which is capable of adorning and generating all things. For
The One is every where, but whole is not every where. And of The One indeed
matter participates and every being; but of intellect and intellectual
species and genera, all things do not participate.
All things therefore are alone from
the Gods, and real truth is with them who know all things unically. For
on this account also, in oracles the Gods similarly teach all things, wholes
and parts, things eternal, and such as are generated through the whole
of time. For being exempt from eternal beings, and from those that exist
in time, they contract in themselves the knowledge of each and of all things,
according to one united truth.
If therefore any falsehood occurs
in the oracles of the Gods, we must not say that a thing of this kind originates
from the Gods, but from the recipients, or the instruments, or the places,
or the times. For all these contribute to the participation of divine knowledge,
and when they are appropriately co-adapted to the Gods, they receive a
pure illumination of the truth which is established in them.
But when they are separated from
the Gods through inaptitude, and become discordant with them, then they
obscure the truth which proceeds from them. What kind of falsehood therefore
can be said to be derived from the Gods, who produce all the species of
knowledge? What deception can there be with those who establish in themselves
the whole of truth?
In the same manner, as it appears
to me, the Gods extend good to all things, but always that which is willing
and able receives the extended good, as Socrates says in the Phaedrus.
And a divine nature indeed is causeless
of evil, but that which departs from it, and gravitates downwards, is elongated
through itself; thus also, the Gods indeed are always the suppliers of
truth, but those natures are illuminated by them, who are lawfully their
participants. For the Elean wise man says, that the eye of the soul in
the multitude, is not strong enough to look to the truth.
Truth is the leader to the Gods of every good
The Athenian guest also celebrates
this truth which subsists primarily in the Gods; for he says that truth
is the leader to the Gods of every good, and likewise of every good to
For as the truth which is in souls
conjoins them with intellect, and as intellectual truth conducts all the
intellectual orders to The One, thus also the truth of the Gods unites
the divine unities to the fountain of all good, with which being conjoined,
they are filled with all boniform power.
For every where the hyparxis of truth
has a cause which is collective of multitude into one; since in the Republic
also, the light proceeding from The Good and which conjoins intellect with
the intelligible, is denominated by Plato truth.
This characteristic property therefore,
which unites and binds together the natures that fill and the natures that
are filled, according to all the orders of the Gods, must be arranged as
originating supernally and proceeding as far as to the last of things.
What is the goodness, what the wisdom, and what the beauty of
To us however discussing what pertains
to every divine nature, what we assert will be known from those commonly
received truths adduced in the Phaedrus, and which we have before mentioned.
Socrates therefore says that every
thing divine is beautiful, wise, and good and he indicates that this triad
pervades to all the progressions of the Gods.
What therefore is the goodness, what
the wisdom, and what the beauty of the Gods?
With respect to the goodness of the
Gods therefore, we have before observed, that it preserves and gives subsistence
to the whole of things, that it every where exists as the summit, as that
which fills subordinate natures, and as pre-existing in every order analogous
to the first principle of the divine orders. For according to this all
the Gods are conjoined with the one cause of all things, and on account
of this primarily derive their subsistence as Gods. For in all beings there
is not any thing more perfect than the good, and the Gods. To the most
excellent of beings therefore, and which are in every respect perfect,
the best and most perfect of things is adapted.
From Book I, chapters XX and XXI
Excepts from The Theology of Plato
Translated by Thomas Taylor
isbn 1 898910 07 3
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©1999 Roy George