|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 I N T E L L E C T
U A L G O D S
The intellectual Gods proceed from all the Gods prior to them
In the next place, let us survey another
order of Gods, which is called intellectual, being indeed conjoined to
the orders prior to it, but terminating the total progressions of the Gods,
converting them to their principle, and producing one circle of the primarily-efficient
and all-perfect orders.
The order of Gods which is called intellectual
the intellectual order of Gods
||is conjoined to the orders prior to it
|terminates the total progressions of the Gods
|converts them to their principle
|produces one circle of the primarily-efficient and all-perfect orders
Let us also extend the intellect that
is in us to the imparticipable and divine intellect, and distinguish the
orders and diminutions of essence that are in it, according to the narration
the imparticipable and divine intellect
the intellect that is in us
This intellectual hypostasis therefore
of the Gods, is suspended indeed from more ancient causes, and is filled
from them with total goodness and self-sufficiency.
But after these causes, it establishes
an illustrious empire over all secondary natures, binding to its dominion
all the partial progressions of the Gods. And it is denominated indeed
intellectual, because it generates an impartible and divine intellect.
But it is filled from intelligibles,
not as from those intelligibles which are co-arranged with intellect, nor
as with those which are alone divided from intellect by the conception
of the mind, but as establishing in itself unically all multitudes, and
occultly containing the evolutions of the Gods into light, and the hyparxes
It is likewise allotted the total
intellect of intellectuals, the variety of beings, and the multiform orders
of divine natures; and it convolves the end of the whole progression [of
the Gods] to the one intelligible principle. For intellectuals are converted
to intelligibles. And some intellectuals indeed are united and firmly established
prior to the divided Gods; but others are multiplied and through conversion
are conjoined to primarily-efficient causes.
Intelligible and at the same time Intellectual
The intellectual Gods however proceed
from all the Gods prior to them, receiving indeed unions from The One that
is prior to intelligibles; but essences from intelligibles; and being allotted
lives all-perfect, connective and generative of divine natures, from the
intelligible and at the same time intellectual Gods; but the intellectual
peculiarity from themselves. They likewise convert to themselves all the
divided orders, but establish themselves in intelligibles, existing wholly
through the whole, pure and unknown knowledges, and fervid lives.
Besides these things also, they are
all-perfect essences, producing all secondary natures through subsisting
from themselves, and being neither diminished by their progression, nor
receiving an addition by their progeny; but through their own never-failing
and infinite powers, being the fathers, causes, and leaders of all things.
Nor are they co-divided with their progeny, nor do they depart from themselves
in their progressions; but at once, and according to union they govern
total multitudes, and all orders, and convolve them to the intelligible,
and to occult good.
We may call the Gods in this order fathers and fabricators
Whether therefore I may speak of life,
it is not proper to think that it is such a life as we surveyed a little
before. For that was imparticipable, but this is participated. And that
indeed, was generative, but this is vivific. But it is not immanifest that
these differ from each other. For the vivific cause indeed, is also evidently
generative; but the generative cause is not entirely vivific. For it imparts
figure to things unfigured, bound to things indefinite, and perfection
to things imperfect.
Or whether I may denominate the cause
in intellectuals intelligible, it must not immediately be conceived to
be such an intelligible, as that of which we have before spoken. For that
was imparticipable, and prior to intellectuals, itself pre-existing by
itself, and exempt from wholes; not being denominated intelligible, as
the plenitude of intellect, but as the prior-cause of it, and the object
of desire and love to it, subsisting uniformly unco-ordinated with it.
The intelligible however which is
now the subject of consideration, is participated, and co-arranged with
intellect, is multiform, and contains in itself the divided causes of all
Or whether we may call the Gods in
this order fathers and fabricators, it must be admitted that this paternal
and fabricative characteristic, is different from the hyparxis of the intelligible
fathers. For they indeed were generative of whole essences; but these pre-exist
as the causes of divisible emanations, and of definite productions of form.
And they indeed contained in themselves
powers fabricative of the divine progressions; but these separate from
themselves prolific causes, and are not conjoined to them according to
union, but according to a communion subordinate to union.
For the marriages which are celebrated
by fables, and the concordant conjunction of divine natures, are in the
intellectual Gods. But the demiurgic being mingled with the vivific effluxions,
every genus of the Gods is unfolded into light, both the supermundane,
and the mundane. This, however, will be hereafter discussed.
The three intellectual fathers
Since however, we have, in short,
surveyed the peculiarity of the intellectual Gods, it remains that we should
deliver an appropriate theory concerning the division of them. For the
intellectual order is not one and indivisible, but is allotted progressions
more various than those of the more elevated genera. There will therefore
be here also three fathers, who divide the whole intellectual essence;
one indeed, being arranged according to the intelligible, but another according
to life, and another according to intellect.
The three fathers who divide the whole intellectual essence
They also imitate the intelligible
fathers who divide the intelligible breadth in a threefold manner, and
who are allotted a difference of this kind with respect to each other.
For one of these intellectual fathers proceeds analogous to the first [intelligible]
father, and is intelligible. But another proceeds analogous to the second
[intelligible] father, and binds to himself the whole of intellectual life.
And other proceeds analogous to the third father, and closes the whole
intellectual, in the same manner as he closes the intelligible order.
The intellectual fathers divide the intellectual breadth
in a threefold manner
binds to himself the whole of intellectual
closes the whole intellectual
The three undefiled Gods
But these fathers being three, and
the first indeed, abiding in himself, but the second proceeding and vivifying
all things, and the third glittering with fabricative productions, it is
evidently necessary, that the other triple Gods should be conjoined with
them; of which, one indeed will be the source to the first intellectual
God, of stable purity; but another, of undefiled progression, to the second
God; and another of exempt fabrication, to the third.
For in the Gods prior to these, the
undefiled deities were according to cause, through union without separation,
and a sameness collective of powers which are not in want of the communion
of these. But in the intellectual Gods, where there is an all-perfect separation,
as in total orders, and a greater habitude to secondary natures, unpolluted
deity or power is necessary, which has the ratio of sameness, and undeviating
subsistence, to the paternal cause, and which is co-divided with the fathers,
so that each of the undefiled Gods is conjoined with a peculiar father.
The two intellectual triads
three undefiled Gods
The separative deity
These two triads therefore have presented
themselves to our view, one indeed, of the intellectual fathers, but the
other of the undefiled Gods. There is however, besides these two, a third
other triadic monad, which is the cause of separation to intellectuals,
and which subsists together with the above mentioned triads.
The seven intellectual Gods
three undefiled Gods
the separative deity
For the fathers indeed are the suppliers
of all essence; but the inflexible Gods, of sameness. But it is evidently
fit that there should be also the cause of separation, and that this should
be one and at the same time triple, separating the intellectual Gods from
the above mentioned orders, from themselves, and from inferior natures.
The seven intellectual Gods
the three fathers
are the suppliers of all essence
the three undefiled Gods
are the suppliers of sameness
the separative deity
is the cause of separation
For why are they the leaders of another
order, if they are not divided from the first orders? Why are they multiplied,
and why do they differ from each others in their kingdoms, unless they
are separated? Why also do they transcend the partial [Gods] unless they
are also separated from these?
The cause of separation therefore,
will be for us one and a triple monad. But the paternal and undefiled causes
will be each of them a uniform triad. And what is most paradoxical of all,
the separative cause is more monadic; but the paternal and also the undefiled
cause, are each of them more triadic. For the separative monad indeed,
is the cause of separation to the other monads; but the others are the
sources of communion and union to it. Hence each of these, being separated,
becomes triadic; but the separative monad is monadic, in consequence of
being united by these.
For all intellectuals pervade through
each other, and are in each other, according to a certain admirable communion,
imitating the union of intelligibles, through being present and mingled
with each other.
The sphere also which is there, is
the intellectual order, energising in and about itself, and proceeding
into itself hebdomadically, being a monad and a hebdomad, the image, if
it be lawful so to speak, of the all-perfect intelligible monad, and unfolding
its occult union, through progression and separation. This first progression
therefore of the intellectual Gods, which is separated by us into a heptad,
we have perfectly celebrated.
Each monad is the leader of an intellectual hebdomad and extends
this hebdomad from on high, from the summit of Olympus, as far as to the
last, and terrestrial orders
Other secondary seven hebdomads, however,
are to be considered under this, which produce as far as to the last of
things, the monads of this heptad. For each monad is the leader of an intellectual
hebdomad conjoined with it, and extends this hebdomad from on high, from
the summit of Olympus, as far as to the last, and terrestrial orders.
I say, for instance, the first paternal
monad, indeed, constitutes seven such monads. But the second again constitutes
seven vivific monads. And the third, seven demiurgic monads.
Other secondary seven hebdomads
the first paternal monad
constitutes seven paternal monads
the second paternal monad
constitutes seven vivific monads
the third paternal monad
constitutes seven demiurgic monads
Each likewise of the undefiled monads
constitutes a number equal to that produced by the fathers. And the monad
of separation constitutes seven [separative monads].
For all these causes proceed in conjunction
with each other. And as the first triad of the fathers subsists together
with the undefiled triad, and the divisive monad, after the same manner
also, the second triads are allotted seven co-ordinate undefiled triads,
and separative monads.
Whence, therefore, does so great
a number of intellectual Gods present itself to our view? It is evident,
indeed, from what has been said. For the first hebdomad, indeed, the cause
of the second hebdomads, and which has the relation of a monad to them,
and which a little before we denominated an intellectual sphere, subsists
according to the intelligible breadth, imitating the paternal nature of
it through the paternal triad; but the eternity of its power, through undefiled
sameness; and the multitude shining forth in its extremities, through the
monad which is divisive of wholes.
The remaining hebdomads, however,
which are derived from this, proceed according to the intelligible and
intellectual genera. For each monad, conformably to the summits of those
genera, constitutes a monad co-arranged with the multitude proceeding from
it; since every summit is uniform [i. e. has the form of the one,] as we
have before demonstrated.
But according to the middle and third
progressions of those genera, each monad generates two triads. For the
separation of them was apparent in the middle and ultimate progressions,
as we have before observed.
As, therefore, the intelligible,
and at the same time, intellectual genera, produced the intelligible breadth,
which is of a unical nature, into a triadic multitude, after the same manner
also the intellectual monads call forth the intelligible, and at the same
time intellectual triads, into intellectual hebdomads.
And they constitute indeed the monads
which are co- arranged with the hebdomads, according to the summits of
the triads; but the two triads, according to the second and third decrements
of those triads.
Hence every hebdomad has the first
monad indeed intelligible; but the second after this, and which is triadic,
intelligible and intellectual; and the third triad, which is the next in
order, intellectual. All these likewise subsist as in intellectuals. For
they are characterised according to the peculiarity of the constitutive
The intellectual powers proceed according to the intelligible
In short, the intellectual powers
proceed according to the intelligible orders; but they constitute these
seven hebdomads according to the first intellectual orders. For it is indeed
necessary that exempt causes should be assimilated to the intelligible
Gods; but that co-arranged causes, and which proceed everywhere, should
be assimilated to the intelligible, and at the same time, intellectual
Gods; since these also are the first that divide the worlds triadically,
and pervade as far as to the last of things, connectedly containing and
perfecting all things.
But the intelligible Gods contain
the causes of wholes uniformly, and occultly. You may also say, that the
intelligible Gods produce all things uniformly; for numbers subsist in
them monadically. But the intelligible and intellectual Gods produce all
things triadically. For the monads in these are divided according to number.
And what the monad was in the former, the number is in the latter. And
the intellectual Gods produce all things hebdomadically.
all things monadically
Intelligible and Intellectual Gods
produce all things
all things hebdomadically
For they evolve the intelligible,
and at the same time, intellectual triads, into intellectual hebdomads,
and expand their contracted powers into intellectual variety; since they
define multitude itself and variety by numbers which are nearest to the
For the numbers of the partial are
different from the numbers of the total orders in the Gods. And the whole
of this intellectual number is indeed more expanded than the natures prior
to it, and is divided into more various progressions, yet it does not desert
its alliance with the monad.
For hebdomadic multitude has an abundant
affinity with the nature of the monad; since it is measured according to
it, and primarily subsists from it. And the Pythagoreans, when they denominate
the heptad light according to intellect, evidently admits its hyparxis
to be intellectual, and on this account suspended from the monad. For the
unical, which light manifests, is inherent from this in all the divine
numbers. And thus much concerning the division of these intellectuals Gods.
Saturn is the summit of a divine intellect reigning over all
the intellectual Gods
It follows in the next place, that
we should adapt the theory of Plato to this order, and show that he does
not dissent from any of the theological dogmas concerning it.
Since, therefore, we have demonstrated,
that the celestial order, which we find in the Cratylus perfectly celebrated,
possesses the middle bond of the intellectual, and at the same time, intelligible
Gods, but that under this another order of Gods is immediately arranged,
as Socrates shows in the Phaedrus, called the subcelestial arch, and which
we have considered as not divided from the heaven, - this being the case,
what order is it which divides itself from the kingdom of heaven, but is
the leader of the intellectual order of the Gods, and is primarily the
supplier of intellect, according to the doctrine of Plato, as Socrates
says in the Cratylus, except that which the mighty Saturn comprehends?
For he calls this God the first and most pure intellect. This God, therefore,
is the summit of a divine intellect, and, as he says, the purest part of
it; separating himself indeed from the celestial order, but reigning over
all the intellectual Gods; because he is full of intellect, but of a pure
intellect, and is a God extended to the summit of the intellectual hypostasis.
Hence also, he is the father of the
mighty Jupiter, and is simply father. For he who is the father of the father
of all things, is evidently allotted in a much greater degree the paternal
dignity. Saturn, therefore, is the first intellect; but the mighty Jupiter
is also an intellect, containing, as Socrates says in the Philebus, a royal
soul, and a royal intellect.
Saturn and Jupiter are two intellects, and intellectual fathers;
the one, indeed, being intellectual; but the other intelligible, in intellectuals
And these Gods are two intellects,
and intellectual fathers; the one, indeed, being intellectual; but the
other intelligible, in intellectuals.
For the Saturnian bonds which Socrates
mentions in the Cratylus, are unific of the intelligence of Jupiter about
the intelligible of his father, and fill the Jovian intellect with the
all-perfect intelligence of the Saturnian intellect.
And this I think is likewise evident
from the analogy of souls to Plato. For as he binds souls about himself,
filling them with wisdom and intelligence, thus also Saturn being the object
of desire and love to Jupiter, contains him in himself by indissoluble
And these things Socrates indicates
in the Cratylus, jesting, and at the same time being serious in what he
says. The object of desire therefore, and the intelligible to Jupiter,
is Saturn. But the mighty Jupiter himself is a divine and demiurgic intellect.
Hence, it is necessary that there
should be a third other intellectual cause, generative of life. For Jupiter
indeed is the cause of life, as Socrates says, but intellectually and secondarily.
But we say that life is every where
arranged prior to intellect. Hence, we must say that the queen Rhea, being
the mother of Jupiter, but subordinate to the father Saturn, gives completion
to this middle, existing as a vivific world, and establishing in herself
the causes of the whole of life.
These three paternal orders, therefore,
have appeared to us in intellectuals: one of them indeed subsisting according
to the intelligible power of intellectuals; but another according to divine
and intellectual life; and another according to intellectual intellect.
For we celebrate the middle deity,
herself by herself, as the mother of the demiurgus, and of wholes.
When, however, we survey her together
with the extremes, we denominate her a paternal cause, as being comprehended
in the fathers; and as generating some things together with Saturn, but
others in conjunction with Jupiter.
Plato following Orpheus, calls the inflexible and undefiled
triad of the intellectual Gods Curetic
Moreover, Plato following Orpheus,
calls the inflexible and undefiled triad of the intellectual Gods Curetic,
as is evident from what the Athenian guest says in the Laws, celebrating
the armed sports of the Curetes, and their rhythmical dance. For Orpheus
represents the Curetes who are three, as the guards of Jupiter. And the
sacred laws of the Cretans, and all the Grecian theology, refer a pure
and undefiled life and energy to this order. For `to koron', indicates
nothing else than the pure and incorruptible. Hence, we have before said,
that the mighty Saturn, as being essentially united to the cause of undefiled
purity, is a pure intellect. The paternal Gods therefore are three, and
the undefiled Gods also are three. Hence it remains that we should survey
the seventh monad.
The seven intellectual Gods
the three fathers
Saturn, Rhea and Jupiter
the three undefiled Gods
the three Curetic Gods
the separative deity
The separative deity is who accomplishes the divisions
If, therefore, we consider the fabulous
exections, both the Saturnian and the Celestial, of which Plato makes mention,
and thinks that such like narrations should always be concealed in silence,
that the arcane truth of them should be surveyed, and that they are indicative
of mystic conceptions, because these things are not fit for young men to
hear, - [if we consider these] we may obtain from them what the separative
deity is, who accomplishes the divisions, and segregates the Saturnian
genera indeed from the Celestial, and the Jovian from the Saturnian, and
who separates the whole intellectual order from the natures prior and posterior
to it, disjoins the different causes in it from each other, and always
imparts to secondary natures, secondary measures of dominion.
the separative deity
||accomplishes the divisions
|segregates the Saturnian genera from the Celestial
|segregates the Jovian genera from the Saturnian
|separates the whole intellectual order from the natures prior and posterior
|disjoins the different causes in it from each other
|always imparts to secondary natures, secondary measures of dominion
And let not any one be disturbed,
or oppose me on hearing these things. How therefore does Plato reject exections,
bonds, and the tragical apparatus of fables? For he thinks that all such
particulars will be condemned by the multitude and the stupid, through
ignorance of the arcana they contain; but that they will exhibit to the
wise certain admirable opinions.
exections, bonds, and the tragical apparatus of fables
||all such particulars will be condemned by the multitude and the stupid,
through ignorance of the arcana they contain
|they will exhibit to the wise certain admirable opinions
Hence, he indeed does not admit such
a mode of fiction, but thinks it proper to be persuaded by the ancients
who were the offspring of the Gods, and to investigate their arcane conceptions.
As therefore he rejects the Saturnian fables, when they are narrated to
Euthyprhon, and the auditors of the Republic, yet at the same time admits
them in the Cratylus, placing about the mighty Saturn and Plato, other
secondary bonds, - thus also, I think he forbids exections to be introduced
to those who known only the apparent meaning of what is said, and does
not admit that there is illegal conduct in the Gods, and nefarious aggressions
of children against their parents, but he opposes, and confutes as much
as possible such like opinions.
He assents however to their being
narrated to those who are able to penetrate into the mystic truth, and
investigate the concealed meaning of fables, and admits the separation
of wholes, whether [mythologists] are willing to denominate them exections
for the purpose of concealment, or in whatever other way they may think
fit to call them. For bonds and exections are symbols of communion and
separation, and each is the progeny of the same divine mythology.
Nor is there any occasion to wonder,
if from these things we endeavour to confirm the opinion of Plato; but
it is requisite to know how the philosophy of Plato admits all such particulars,
and how it rejects them, and in what manner he apprehends they may be the
causes of the greatest evils, and of an impious life to those that hear
them. The seven intellectual Gods therefore, will through these conceptions
appear to have been thought worthy of being mentioned by Plato.
The demiurgus fabricates the soul of the universe an image of
all the divine orders, in the same manner as he fabricates this sensible
world an image of intelligibles
It is, however, I think, necessary
syllogistically to collect the progression of them according to hebdomads,
from images. The demiurgus therefore, [in the Timaeus] fabricates the soul
of the universe an image of all the divine orders, in the same manner as
he fabricates this sensible world an image of intelligibles. And the first
place indeed, he constitutes the whole essence of the soul, and afterwards
divides it into numbers, binds it by harmonies, and adorns it with figures,
I mean the rectilinear and the circular. After this also, he divides it
into one circle and seven circles.
Whence therefore, are this monad
and hebdomad derived, except from the intellectual Gods? For figure, number
and true being, are prior to them. As in the fabrication of the soul, after
the subsistence of the psychical figure, the division of the circles according
to the monad and hebdomad follows, thus also in the Gods, after intellectual
and intelligible figure, the intellectual breadth, and that sphere of the
The multitude therefore of the seven
hebdomads subsist from the divine intellectual hebdomad entering into itself.
And on this account, the demiurgus thus divides the circles in the soul,
because he and every intellectual order, produce an intellectual hebdomad
from each monad.
I do not however assert, and now
contend, that the seven circles are allotted an hyparxis similar to the
seven Gods that proceed from the demiurgus, but that the demiurgus dividing
the soul according to circles, introduces number to the sections from the
intellectual Gods, I mean the monadic and the hebdomadic number. For the
monad indeed subsists according to the circle of sameness, but the division,
according to the circle of difference. Shortly after however, it will appear
that same and different belong to the demiurgic order.
After the division of the circles, the demiurgus assumes some
things which are symbols of the assimilative, and others which are symbols
of the liberated Gods, and through these, he refers the soul to these orders
of the Gods
Farther still, after the division
of the circles, the demiurgus assumes some things which are symbols of
the assimilative, and others which are symbols of the liberated Gods, and
through these, he refers the soul to these orders of the Gods.
If therefore figure is prior to the
intellectual Gods, but the similar and dissimilar are posterior to them,
it is evidently necessary that the monadic and at the same time hebdomadic,
should be referred to this order, and that the progression from the monad
to the hebdomad should pertain to this order.
Each therefore of the seven intellectual
Gods, is the leader of an intellectual hebdomad, as we may learn from images.
There however indeed, the hebdomad is one, and allied to itself.
The seven intellectual Gods
the three fathers: Saturn, Rhea and Jupiter
the three inflexible and undefiled Gods:
the three Curetic Gods
the separative deity
But in souls, the circles differ from
each other, according to the divine peculiarities. For they receive number
in such a manner as to preserve the proper nature which they are allotted,
connectedly containing mundane natures, and convolving the apparent by
their own circles. And thus much concerning these particulars, which afford
arguments that are not obscure of the arrangement of them by Plato.
Saturn illuminates the pure and incorruptible nature of intellect,
and establishing his own all-perfect power in his own summit of intellectuals,
abides in, and at the same time proceeds from his father [Heaven]
Again however, making another beginning,
let us speak about each [of the intellectual Gods,] as much as is sufficient
to the present theology. Let Saturn therefore, the first king of the intellectual
Gods, be now celebrated by us, who according to Socrates in the Cratylus
illuminates the pure and incorruptible nature of intellect, and establishing
his own all-perfect power in his own summit of intellectuals, abides in,
and at the same time proceeds from his father [Heaven].
He likewise divides intellectual
government from the connective, and establishes the transcendency of the
other intellectual Gods in connection with his own; but comprehends in
himself the intelligible of the demiurgic intellect, and the plenitude
of beings. Hence the Saturnian bonds, mystically, and obscurely signify
the comprehension of this intelligible, and a union with it. For the intelligible
is comprehended in intellect.
Jupiter is said to bind his father, and in placing bonds about
his father, he at the same time binds himself [to him]
As therefore, the intelligible is
indeed exempt from intellect, but intellect is said to comprehend it, thus
also Jupiter is said to bind his father. And in placing bonds about his
father, he at the same time binds himself [to him]. For a bond is the comprehension
of the things that are bound.
But the truth is as follows: Saturn
is indeed an all-perfect intellect; and the mighty Jupiter is likewise
an intellect. Each therefore being an intellect, each is also evidently
an intelligible. For every intellect is converted to itself; but being
converted to it energizes towards itself. Energizing however towards itself,
and not towards externals, it is intelligible and at the same time intellectual;
being indeed intellectual, so far as it intellectually perceives, but intelligible,
so far as it is intellectually perceived.
Hence also the Jovian intellect is
to itself intellect, and to itself intelligible. And in a similar manner
the Saturnian intellect is to itself intelligible, and to itself intellect.
But Jupiter indeed is more intellect, and Saturn more intelligible. For
the latter is established according to the intellectual summit, but the
former according to the intellectual end. And the one indeed is the object
of desire, but the other desires. And the one fills, but the other is filled.
Each of the divine natures is unconverted to that which is inferior
to itself, but is converted to itself, and through itself reverts to that
which is more excellent
Saturn therefore being intellect and
intelligible, Jupiter also is in the second place intellect and intelligible.
The intellectual however of Saturn is intelligible; but the intelligible
of Jupiter is intellectual. Jupiter therefore, being at the same time intellectual
and intelligible, intellectually perceives and comprehends himself, and
binds the intelligible in himself. But binding this in himself, he is said
to bind the intelligible prior to himself, and to comprehend it on all
For entering into himself, he proceeds
into the intelligible prior to himself, and by the intelligible which is
in himself, intellectually perceives that which is prior to himself. And
thus the intelligible is not external to intellect.
For every intellect possesses that
which is in itself without any difference with respect to itself. But again,
it intellectually perceives in itself that which is prior to itself.
For every thing which is external
to intellect, is foreign and adventitious, and pertains to an inferior
nature. But that which is pre-established in the order of cause, and which
pre-exists as the object of desire, is in the desiring natures themselves.
For being converted to, and verging
to themselves, they discover the causes of themselves, and all more ancient
natures. And by how much more perfect and uniform the conversion of the
desiring natures is about the objects of desire, by so much the more are
they present with their own desirables.
Hence every intellect, by intellectually
perceiving itself, intellectually perceives likewise, all the natures prior
to itself. And by how much the more it is united to itself, in a so much
greater degree it is established in the intelligibles prior to itself.
For the cause of any being, and which is the source of essence or of perfection
to it, is not external to that being; but that which is subordinate to
any being, is external to it, and is not the intelligible.
On this account also, each of the
divine natures is unconverted to that which is inferior to itself, but
is converted to itself, and through itself reverts to that which is more
excellent. And the intelligible indeed is not inferior to any intellect;
but every intellect energising towards itself, and comprehending the intelligibles
prior to itself, intellectually perceives them.
The demiurgic intellect is at the same time intelligible and
intellect, but has the intelligible of his father, which he binds as the
Some intelligibles likewise are such
as are conjoined with intellect. But others are such as are proximately
participated by it. And others are such as it sees more remotely, and which
are more exempt from its nature.
On this account, the demiurgic intellect
is indeed at the same time intelligible and intellect, but has the intelligible
of his father, which he binds as the fable says.
He sees however animal itself, which
is, according to Timaeus, the most beautiful of all intelligibles. And
if the illustrious Amelius, forming such conceptions as these, said that
intellect is threefold, one being that which is, another that which has,
and another that which sees, he rightly apprehends the conception of Plato,
according to my opinion.
For it is necessary that the second
intellect should not only have the intelligible, but that it should be
and have the intelligible; that it should be indeed the intelligible co-ordinate
with itself, but have the intelligible prior to itself, so far as it participates
And it is necessary that the third
intellect should see the intelligible, and should also be and have it;
that it should see indeed the first intelligible; but have that which is
proximately beyond itself; and that it should be the intelligible which
is in itself, and which is conjoined with its own intelligence, and should
be inseparable from it.
Saturn leads forth the prolific powers of his father Heaven
as far as to the last of things
If therefore, as we said from the
beginning, Jupiter intellectually perceives his father Saturn, Saturn is
indeed intelligible, but Jupiter is intellect; being one intelligible himself,
but participating of another. Hence also Plato does not simply call Saturn
intellect, but a pure and incorruptible intellect. For he in the intellectual
is intelligible. Since however, he is not simply intelligible, but as in
intellectuals, he is intellect, and is himself paternally so, being both
father and intellect, and having the paternal intellectually. In intelligibles
therefore, intellect is also father; but in intellectuals father is intellect.
Hence Saturn is a pure, immaterial
and perfect intellect, established above fabrication in the order of the
desirable. But possessing such a peculiarity as this, he is full of all
intelligibles is at it were exuberant with intellections, and establishes
twofold genera of Gods, some indeed in himself, but other posterior to
himself. And he leads forth, indeed, the prolific powers of his father
Heaven as far as to the last of things; but fills the demiurgic order with
The Theology of Plato
Excepts from Book V, chapters I to V
Translated by Thomas Taylor
isbn 1 898910 07 3
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©1999 Roy George