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Stephen Rego on the Nous in Proclus, Part I: Exegesis

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[We apologise for the muddy audio on this one. Technology was not cooperative, as sometimes happens.]

We begin with a passage from the first section of the Platonic Theology of Proclus, wherein he lays out where in Plato a reader is to seek doctrines about each level of divinity, and expatiates on the necessity for bringing these Platonic loci into harmony with the Orphic and Chaldæan textual traditions. We then turn to the master-key for reading and harmonising all these sources, namely Syrianus’ exegesis of Plato’s Parmenides, as discussed in Proclus’ Parmenides commentary. We then proceed to explore the ways through which Proclus brings the different layers of his reading together, dialectics interacting with esoteric exegesis, different modes of reading criss-crossing across different types of text, with the whole resulting in a world of gods/types of being unparalleled in antiquity for its metaphysical complexity and polytheist inclusivity.

Interview Bio:

Stephen Rego is a serious Proclus-head engaged in exploring the higher realms of Platonist being. He maintains the Neoplatonism group on Facebook.

Works Cited in this Episode:

Translations used:

  • Platonic Theology: Simon Fortier. The Prolegomenon to Proclus’ Platonic Theology. An Introduction, Translation, and Commentary of Chapters 1-7 of Book I of the Platonic Theology. PhD thesis, Université Laval, 2014.
  • Parmenides commentary: G.R. Morrow and J.M. Dillon, editors and translators. Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1987.
  • Cratylus commentary: Brian Duvick, editor and translator. Proclus on Plato Cratylus. Bloomsbury, London/New Delhi/New York, NY/Sydney, 2007.

Lloyd Gerson’s talk on ‘Taking Plato Seriously: Proclus as Exegete’ can be watched online.

Recommended Reading:

D. Gregory MacIsaac. Proclus: Philosophy as the Exegesis of ‘Sacred’ Texts. In Torrance Kirby, Rahim Acar, and Bilal Bas, editors, Philosophy and the Abrahamic Religions: Scriptural Hermeneutics and Epistemology, pages 95-134. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambridge, 2012.

Anne Sheppard. Proclus as Exegete. In Steven Gersh, editor, Interpreting Proclus: From Antiquity to the Renaissance, pages 57-79. The University Press, Cambridge, 2014.

Nicola Spanu. Proclus and the Chaldaean Oracles: A Study on Proclean Exegesis, with a Translation and Commentary of Proclus’ Treatise on Chaldaean Philosophy. Routledge, London, 2021.

Here is a more in-depth bibliography for Parts One and Two: SHWEP Episode Recommended Reading.

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