|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 M U N D A N
E G O D S
The mundane Gods, or those divinities who give completion to
the sensible world, are assigned the last order of deific progression
The mundane Gods, or those divinities
who give completion to the sensible world, are assigned the last order
of deific progression, as we are informed by Plato in the preceding book.
They also divide the universe, and obtain perpetual allotments and receptacles
in it, and through these weave one and the best polity of the universe.
Each of the mundane genera likewise enjoy the energy of the liberated governors
of the universe, according to a measure adapted to each, and especially
such as are able to follow the powers of these Gods.
For in the Gods themselves we may
perceive a twofold energy, the one indeed being co-arranged with the subjects
of their providential care, but the other being exempt and separate. According,
therefore, to the first of these energies, the mundane Gods govern sensibles,
and convolve and convert them to themselves; but according to the other,
they follow the liberated Gods, and together with them are elevated to
an intelligible nature.
The twofold energy of the mundane Gods
the mundane Gods
||energy co-arranged with the subjects of their
||the mundane Gods govern sensibles, and convolve
and convert them to themselves
|energy exempt and separate from the subjects
of their providential care
||the mundane Gods follow the liberated Gods, and
together with them are elevated to an intelligible nature
The mundane Gods also perfectly unfold
the psychical peculiarity into light; and receive the illuminations of
all the divinities prior to them. Hence too, they rule over the universe
imitating the liberated Gods, adorn sublunary natures with forms, and assimilate
them to intellectual paradigms, imitating the ruling Gods. They likewise
pour forth the whole of the life which is inseparable from body, from the
one fountain of souls, establishing it as an image of the life which is
separate from a corporeal nature, and unite themselves to this fountain.
The world is throughout filled with deity
Again, the world is said by Plato
in the Timaeus to be the image of the eternal, i.e. of the intelligible
Gods. For it is filled from them with deity, and the progressions into
it of the mundane Gods, are as it were certain rivers and illuminations
of the intelligible Gods.
These progressions also the world
receives, not only according to the celestial part of it, but according
to the whole of itself.
For in the air, the earth and sea,
there are advents of terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial Gods. Hence the world
is throughout filled with deity; and on this account is according to the
whole of itself the image of the intelligible Gods.
Not that it receives indeed these
Gods themselves; for images do not receive the exempt essences of the total
Gods; but illuminations poured from thence on the secondary orders, to
the reception of which they are commensurate.
Of the mundane Gods, some are the causes of the existence of
the world; others animate it; others again harmonize it thus composed of
different natures; and others, lastly, guard and preserve it when harmonically
Farther still, of the mundane Gods,
some are the causes of the existence of the world; others animate it; others
again harmonize it thus composed of different natures; and others, lastly,
guard and preserve it when harmonically arranged. And since these orders
are four, and each consists of things first, middle and last, it is necessary
that the disposers of these should be twelve. Hence Jupiter, Neptune, and
Vulcan, fabricate the world; Ceres, Juno and Diana animate it; Mercury,
Venus, and Apollo harmonize it; and lastly, Vesta, Minerva, and Mars, preside
over it with a guardian power.
The four orders of the mundane Gods
the mundane Gods
||Jupiter, Neptune, and Vulcan
||fabricate the world
|Ceres, Juno and Diana
||animate the world
|Mercury, Venus, and Apollo
||harmonize the world
|Vesta, Minerva, and Mars
||preside over the world with a guardian power
But the truth of this may be seen
in statues as in enigmas. For Apollo harmonizes the lyre; Pallas is invested
with arms; and Venus is naked; since harmony generates beauty, and beauty
is not concealed in objects of sensible inspection.
Since, however, these Gods primarily
possess the world, it is necessary to consider the other mundane Gods as
subsisting in these; as Bacchus in Jupiter, Esculapius in Apollo, and the
Graces in Venus.
We may likewise, behold the spheres
with which they are connected; viz. Vesta with earth, Neptune with water,
Juno with air, and Vulcan with fire. But the six superior Gods we denominate
from general custom. For Apollo and Diana are assumed for the sun and moon;
but the orb of Saturn is attributed to Ceres; aether to Pallas; and heaven
is common to them all. And thus much concerning the mundane Gods in general,
the sources of their progression, their orders, powers, and spheres.
The spheres with which the mundane Gods are connected
common to them all
||orb of Saturn
The division of the mundane Gods is into the celestial and sublunar
The division, however, of the mundane
Gods is into the celestial and sublunary. And of the celestial, the divinity
of the inerratic sphere has the relation of a monad to the divinities of
the planets. But the triad under this monad consists of Saturn, Jupiter,
and Mars; of which the first is the cause of connected comprehension, the
second of symmetry, and the third of division and separation.
is the cause of connected comprehension
is the cause of of symmetry
is the cause of of division and separation
And again, with respect to the sublunary
deities, the moon ranks as a monad, being the cause of all generation and
corruption. But the triad under it, consists of the divinities who preside
over the elements of air, water and earth.
Between these are the planets that
revolve with an equal velocity. And of these, the sun indeed unfolds truth
into light, Venus beauty, and Mercury the symmetry of reasons or productive
principles, conformably to the analogy of the three monads mentioned by
Plato in the Philebus, as subsisting in the vestibule of The Good.
||unfolds truth into light
||unfolds the symmetry of reasons or productive principles
It may also be said that the moon
is the cause of nature to the mortal genera, being the visible image of
the fontal nature existing in the goddess Rhea. But the sun is the fabricator
of all the senses, because he is the author of seeing and of being seen.
Mercury is the cause of the motions of the phantasy; for the sun gives
subsistence to the essence of the phantasy, so far as it is the same with
sense. But Venus is the cause of the appetites of that irrational part
of the soul which is called desire; and Mars, of those irascible motions
which are conformable to nature. Jupiter also, is the common cause of all
vital, and Saturn of all gnostic powers.
||is the common cause of all gnostic powers
||is the common cause of all vital
||is the cause of those irascible motions which are conformable to nature
||is the cause of the appetites of that irrational part of the soul which
is called desire
||is the cause of the motions of the phantasy
||is the fabricator of all the senses
||is the cause of nature to the mortal genera
For all the irrational forms may be
divided into these. The causes, therefore, of these, are antecedently comprehended
in the celestial Gods, and in the spheres with which they are connected.
The allotments of the mundane Gods are conformable to the divisions
of the universe
The allotments also of the mundane
Gods are conformable to the divisions of the universe. But the universe
is divided by demiurgic numbers, viz. by the duad, triad, tetrad, pentad,
hebdomad, and dodecad.
The universe is divided by demiurgic numbers
For after the one fabrication of things
by the demiurgus, the division of the universe into two parts, heaven and
generation (or the sublunary region), gives subsistence to twofold allotments,
the celestial and the sublunary.
After this, the triad divides the
universe, to which Homer alludes when he says that Neptune is allotted
the hoary deep, Jupiter, the extended heavens, and Pluto, the subterranean
But after the triple distribution,
the tetradic follows, which gives a fourfold arrangement to the elements
in the universe, as the Pythagoreans say, viz. the celestial and the ethereal,
above the earth and under the earth.
The universe also receives a division
into five parts. For the world is one and quintuple, and is appropriately
divided by celestial, empyreal, aerial, aquatic and terrestrial figures
and presiding Gods.
After this follows its division into
seven parts. For the heptad beginning supernally from the inerratic sphere,
pervades through all the elements.
And in the last place is the division
of the universe by the dodecad, viz. into the sphere of the fixed stars,
the spheres of the seven planets, and the spheres of the four elements.
The allotments of angels and daemons is co-suspended from the
Moreover, the allotment of angels
and daemons is co-suspended from the divine allotments, but has a more
For one divine allotment comprehends
in itself many angelic, and a still greater number of daemoniacal allotments;
since every angel rules over many daemons, and every angelic allotment
is surrounded with numerous daemoniacal allotments. For what a monad is
in the Gods, that a tribe is among daemons.
Here, therefore, instead of the triad
we must assume three compositions, and instead of the tetrad or dodecad,
four or twelve choirs following their respective leaders. And thus we shall
always preserve the higher allotments.
For as in essences, powers and energies,
progressions generate multitude; thus also in allotments, such as are first,
have a precedency in power, but are diminished in multitude, as being nearer
to the one father of the universe, and the whole and one providence which
extends to all things. But secondary allotments, have a diminution of power,
but an increase of multitude. And thus much concerning allotments in general.
Since, however, according to a division
of the universe into two parts, we have distributed allotments into the
celestial and sublunary, there can be no doubt what the former are, and
whether they possess an invariable sameness of subsistence.
But the sublunary allotments are
deservedly a subject of admiration, whether they are said to be perpetual
or not. For since all things in generation are continually changing and
flowing, how can the allotments of the providential rulers of them be said
to be perpetual?
For things in generation are not
perpetual. But if their allotments are not perpetual, how is it possible
to suppose that divine government can subsist differently at different
For an allotment is neither a certain
separate energy of the Gods, so that sublunary natures changing, we might
say that it is exempt and remains immutable, nor is it that which is governed
alone, so that no absurdity would follow from admitting that an allotment
is in a flowing condition, and is conversant with all-various mutations;
but it is a providential inspection, and unrestrained government of divinity
over sublunary concerns.
Such being the doubts with which
this subject is attended, the following appears to be the only solution
of the difficulty.
The natures that are in generation and generation itself, have
also something immutable, and which is naturally adapted to remain perpetually
We must say then, that it is not proper
to consider all the natures that are in generation and generation itself,
as alone consisting of things mutable and flowing, but that there is also
something immutable in these, and which is naturally adapted to remain
perpetually the same.
For the interval which receives and
comprehends in itself all the parts of the world, and which has an arrangement
through all bodies, is immoveable, lest being moved it should require another
place, and thus should proceed from one receptacle to another ad infinitum.
The etherial vehicles also of divine
souls with which they are circularly invested, and which imitate the lives
in the heavens, have a perpetual essence, and are eternally suspended from
these divine souls themselves, being full of prolific powers, and performing
a circular motion, according to a certain secondary revolution of the celestial
And in the third place the wholeness
of the elements has a permanent subsistence, though the parts are all-variously
corrupted. For it is necessary that every form in the universe should be
never failing, in order that the universe may be perfect, and that being
generated from an immoveable cause, it may be immoveable in its essence.
But every wholeness is a form; or rather it is that which it is said to
be through the participation of one all-perfect form.
The allotments of the Gods do not change, nor do they subsist
differently at different times
And here we may see the orderly progression
of the nature of bodies. For the interval of the universe is immoveable
according to every kind of motion. But the vehicles of divine souls alone
receive a mutation according to place; for such a motion as this, is most
remote from essential mutation. And the wholeness of the elements admits
in its parts the other motions of bodies, but the whole remains perfectly
The celestial allotments also which
proximately divide the interval of the universe, co-distribute likewise
the heavens themselves. But those in the sublunary region, are primarily
indeed allotted the parts which are in the interval of the universe, but
afterwards they make a distribution according to the definite vehicles
And in the third place, they remain
perpetually the same according to the total parts of generation. The allotments
of the Gods therefore do not change, nor do they subsist differently at
different times; for they have not their subsistence proximately in that
which may be changed.
Partial souls such as ours, which at different times embrace
different lives, some of them indeed, choose lives accommodated to their
appropriate Gods, but others foreign lives, through oblivion of the divinities
to whom they belong
How therefore do the illuminations
of the Gods accede to these? How are the dissolutions of sacred rites effected?
And how is the same place at different times under the influence of different
May it not be said, that since the
Gods have perpetual allotments, and divide the earth according to divine
numbers, similarly to the sections of the heavens, the parts of the earth
also are illuminated, so far as they participate of aptitude.
But the circulation of the heavenly
bodies, through the figures which they possess produce this aptitude; divine
illumination at the same time imparting a power more excellent than the
nature which is present to these parts of the earth.
This aptitude is also effected by
nature herself as a whole inserting divine impressions in each of the illuminated
parts, through which they spontaneously participate of the Gods.
For as these parts depend on the
Gods, nature inserts in such of them, as are different, different images
of the divinities.
Times too co-operate in producing
this aptitude, according to which other things also are governed; the proper
temperature of the air; and in short, every thing by which we are surrounded
contributes to the increase and diminution of this aptitude.
When therefore conformably to a concurrence
of these many causes, an aptitude to the participation of the Gods is ingenerated
in some one of the natures which are disposed to be changed, then a certain
divinity is unfolded into light, which prior to this was concealed through
the inaptitude of the recipients; possessing indeed his appropriate allotment
eternally, and always extending the participation of himself, similarly
to illuminations from the sun, but not being always participated by sublunary
natures, in consequence of their inaptitude to such participation.
For as with respect to partial souls
such as ours, which at different times embrace different lives, some of
them indeed, choose lives accommodated to their appropriate Gods, but others
foreign lives, through oblivion of the divinities to whom they belong;
thus also with respect to sacred places, some are adapted to the power
which there receives its allotment, but others are suspended from a different
order. And on this account, as the Athenian guest in Plato says, some places
are more fortunate, but others more unfortunate.
The allotments of the Gods remain perpetually unchanged, but
that the participants of them, at one time indeed enjoy the beneficent
influence of the presiding powers, but at another are deprived of it
The divine Iamblichus however, doubts
how the Gods are said to be allotted certain places according to definite
times, as by Plato in the Timaeus, Minerva is said to have been first allotted
the guardianship of Athens, and afterwards of Sais.
For if their allotment commenced
from a certain time, it will also at a certain time cease. For every thing
which is measured by time is of this kind. And farther still was the place
which at a certain time they are allotted, without a presiding deity prior
to this allotment, or was it under the government of other Gods?
For if it was without a presiding
deity, how is it to be admitted that a certain part of the universe was
once entirely destitute of divinity?
How can any place remain without
the guardianship of superior beings?
And, if any place is sufficient to
the preservation of itself, how does it afterwards become the allotment
of some one of the Gods?
But if it should be said that it
is afterwards under the government of another God, of whom it becomes this
allotment, this also is absurd. For the second God does not divulse the
government and allotment of the former, nor do the Gods alternately occupy
the places of each other, nor daemons change their allotments.
Such being the doubts on this subject,
he solves them by saying that the allotments of the Gods remain perpetually
unchanged, but that the participants of them, at one time indeed enjoy
the beneficent influence of the presiding powers, but at another are deprived
of it. He adds that these are the mutations measured by time, which sacred
institutes frequently call the birth-day of the Gods.
The Theology of Plato Proclus
Excepts from Book VII, chapters I and II
Translated by Thomas Taylor
isbn 1 898910 07 3
to the top
©1999 Roy George