Proclus Lycaeus Quotes

Wherever there is number, there is beauty.
Proclus Lycaeus
The mathematician speculates the causes of a certain sensible effect, without considering its actual existence; for the contemplation of universals excludes the knowledge of particulars; and he whose intellectual eye is fixed on that which is general and comprehensive, will think but little of that which is sensible and singular.
Proclus Lycaeus
This therefore is Mathematics:
She reminds you of the invisible forms of the soul;
She gives life to her own discoveries;
She awakens the mind and purifies the intellect;
She brings light to our intrinsic ideas;
She abolishes oblivion and ignorance which are ours by birth.
Proclus Lycaeus
The divine narration however, of Plato alone, despises all corporeal natures, with reference to principles. Because, indeed, every thing divisible and endued with interval, is naturally unable either to produce or preserve itself, but possesses its being, energy, and passivity through soul, and the motions which soul contains. But Plato demonstrates that the psychical essence [i.e. the essence pertaining to soul] is more ancient than bodies, but is suspended from an intellectual hypostasis. For every thing which is moved according to time, though it may be self-moved, is indeed of a more ruling nature than things moved by others, but is posterior to an eternal motion. He shows, therefore, as we have said, that intellect is the father and cause of bodies and souls, and that all things both subsist and energize about it, which are allotted a life conversant with transitions and evolutions.
Proclus Lycaeus (Platonic Theology - Book 1, Chapter III)
Great goddess, hear! and on my dark’ned mind
Pour thy pure light in measure unconfin’d;—
That sacred light, O all-protecting queen,
Which beams eternal from thy face serene:
My soul, while wand’ring on the earth, inspire
 With thy own blessed and impulsive fire;
And from thy fables, mystic and divine,
Give all her powers with holy light to shine.
Give love, give wisdom, and a power to love,
Incessant tending to the realms above; 
Such as, unconscious of base earth’s control,
Gently attracts the vice-subduing soul;
From night’s dark region aids her to retire,
And once more gain the palace of her sire:
And if on me some just misfortune press, 
Remove th’ affliction, and thy suppliant bless.
All-saving goddess, to my prayer incline!
Nor let those horrid punishments be mine
Which guilty souls in Tartarus confine,
With fetters fast’ned to its brazen floors,
And lock’d by hell’s tremendous iron doors.
Hear me, and save (for power is all thy own)
A soul desirous to be thine alone.
Proclus Lycaeus (Hymn to Minerva)
But, farther, from the common confession of those interpreters of Plato, who were skilled in divine concerns, we can demonstrate the same things as we have above asserted. For Plotinus, in his book On Numbers, enquiring whether beings subsist prior to numbers, or numbers prior to beings, clearly asserts that the first being subsists prior to numbers, and that it generates the divine number. But if this is rightly determined by him, and being is generative of the first number, but number is produced by being, it is not proper to confound the order of these genera, nor to collect them into one hypostasis, nor, since Plato separately produces first being, and separately number, to refer each of the conclusions to the same order. For it is by no means lawful, that cause and the thing caused, should have either the same power, or the same order: but these are distinct from each other; and the science concerning them is likewise distinct, and neither the nature, nor the definition of them is one and the same.

But, after Plotinus, Porphyry in his treatise On Principles, evinces by many and beautiful arguments, that intellect is eternal, but that at the same time, it contains in itself something prior to the eternal, and through which it is conjoined with the one. For the one is above all eternity, but the eternal has a second, or rather third order in intellect. For it appears to me to be necessary that eternity should be established in the middle of that which is prior to the eternal, and the eternal. But of this hereafter. At the same time, thus much may be collected from what has been said, that intellect contains something in itself better than the eternal. Admitting this, therefore, we ask the father of this assertion, whether this something better than the eternal is not only being characterized by the one, but is a whole and parts, and all multitude, number and figure, that which is moved, and that which is permanent; or whether we are to ascribe some of the conclusions to it, but not others? For it is impossible that all these can accord with a nature prior to eternity, since every intellectual motion, and likewise permanency, are established in eternity. But if we are to ascribe some of the conclusions to it, and not others, it is evident that other orders in intellect are to be investigated, and that each of the conclusions is to be referred to that order, to which it appears particularly adapted. For intellect is not one in number, and an atom, as it appeared to be to some of the ancients, but it comprehends in itself the whole progression of first being.

But the third who makes for our purpose after these, is the divine Jamblichus, who, in his treatise Concerning the Gods, accuses those who place the genera of being in intelligibles, because the number and variety of these is more remote from the one. But afterwards he informs us where these ought to be placed. For they are produced in the end of the intellectual order, by the Gods which there subsist. How the genera of being, however, both are, and are not in intelligibles, will be hereafter apparent. But if, according to his arrangement of the divine orders, intelligibles are exempt from the genera of being, much more are they exempt from similitude and dissimilitude, equality and inequality. Each of the conclusions, therefore, ought not in a similar manner to be accommodated to all things, so as to refer them to the whole breadth of the intelligible, or intellectual order. Hence from what the best of the interpreters have said, when philosophizing according to their own doctrines, both the multitude of the divine orders, and of the Platonic arguments, are to be considered as proceeding according to an orderly distinction.

In addition, likewise, to what has been said, this also may be asserted, that we cannot, on any other hypothesis, obtain a rational solution of the many doubts which present themselves on this subject, but shall ignorantly ascribe what is rash and vain to this treatise of Plato. For in the first place, why are there only so many conclusions, and neither more nor less? For there are fourteen conclusions. But as there are so many, we cannot assign the reason of this, unless we distribute them in conjunction with things themselves. In the second place, neither shall we be able to find the cause of the order of the conclusions with respect to each other, and how some have a prior, and others a posterior establishment, according to the reason of science, unless the order of the conclusions proceeds in conjunction with the progression of beings. In the third place, why do some of the conclusions become known from things proximately demonstrated, but others from preceding demonstrations? For that the one is a whole and contains parts, is demonstrated from being, which is characterized by the one; but its subsistence in itself and in another, is placed in a proximate order, after the possession of figure, but is demonstrated from whole and parts. Or why are some things often demonstrated, from two of the particulars previously evinced, but others from one of them? For we shall be ignorant of each of these, and shall neither be able scientifically to speculate their number, nor their order, nor their alliance to each other, unless following things themselves, we evince that this whole hypothesis is a dialectic arrangement, proceeding from on high through all the middle genera, as far as to the termination of first being.
Proclus Lycaeus (Platonic Theology - Book 1, Chapter XI)
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Proclus Biography

Proclus Lycaeus portrait

Born: 412
Died: 485

Proclus Lycaeus, also referred to as the 'Successor, was a Greek Neoplatonic philosopher who is best known for being one of the last major philosophers of the ancient world and for his intricate and highly developed system of the Neoplatonic worldview.

Notable Works

Elements of Theology (5th Century)
Elements of Physics
The Hymns of Proclus
Platonic Theology
On Providence and Fate
On the Existence of Evils

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