Podcast episode

Episode 186: The Esoteric Proclus, Part I: The Life and Thought of an Esoteric Sage

Diagram of what exists, from Thomas M. Johnson's translation of the Elements of Theology (Proclus' Metaphysical Elements (Στοιχείωσις θεολογική), Osceola, Missouri, 1909)
Diagram of what exists, from Thomas M. Johnson’s translation of the Elements of Theology (Proclus’ Metaphysical Elements (Στοιχείωσις θεολογική), Osceola, Missouri, 1909). Note the triads-within-triads.

Works Cited in this Episode:


[Abbreviations: PT = Platonic Theology. ET = Elements of Theology. VP = Marinus’ Life of Proclus]

Apuleius on Pythagorean sea-bathing: Metamorphoses 11.1.

Iamblichus knows which road to go down: Eunapius VS 459 Wright. Levitation: 458 Wright. Eros and Anteros: 459 Wright.


  • Proclus as initiate: into the mysteries of Platonist philosophy: VP 13. Into the vision of the higher realities: VP 22.
  • Omens to do with Proclus: Spring of Socrates and anecdote about the doorman: VP 10. Proclus has a glowing ‘halo’ while speaking: VP § 23. Eclipses before and after his death: VP 37.
  • Epiphaneiai: Telesphoros appears and heals Proclus: VP 7. Goddess in dream exhorts him the Athens and the philosophic life: VP 9 and 10. Fasted on certain days known through revelation: VP 19. Prophetic dream of Plutarch: VP § 26. Syrianus appears in a dream and forbids an Orphic commentary: VP 27. Fiery apparitions of Hekatē: VP 28. Lydian god appears to him in the sanctuary at Adratta: VP 32. Athena appears to him, bidding him prepare her a dwelling with him: VP 30.
  • The rain-miracle: VP 28 [for lore on an earlier rain-miracle, which will have ‘set the stage’ for Proclus’ achievement, see Garth Fowden. Pagan Versions of the Rain Miracle of AD 172. Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 36(1):8395, 1987].
  • Proclus’ horoscope: VP 35. For an attempt at rectification of this chart, see O. Neugebauer and H. B. van Hoesen. Greek Horoscopes. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA, 1959, pp. 35-6. See discussion in Saffrey-Segonds-Luna, in an appendix devoted to the horoscope.

Plato on the Limit/Unlimited pair: Phlb, esp. 16c-d and 26e–31b.

Plotinus finds the stolen necklace: Porph. Plot. 11.

Proclus, various:

  • Belonged to the Chain of Hermes: VP 28.
  • Physics as theology: In Tim. I 217.18–27.
  • Theurgic ascent results in immortalisation: In R. I.152.10.
  • The best Greek MS of the Parmenides commentary is available online from Gallica.

Proclus, Metaphysics/Physics (this is meant as a handy list for further reading: not every entity listed below is discussed in the episode):

  • monē-prooödos-epistrophē: e.g. ET § 35.
  • The One: the One transcends all attributes, causal nexus, and multiplicity: we quote PT III 8, 31.12-18 in the translation of Chlup 2012, p. 55; cf. PT II 12, 72.19-73·23; In Parm. II 96.22-31.
  • On the Demiurge: see especially In Tim. I, 99-319, on Timæus 28c.
  • On the iunx-gods: Comm. in Eucl. 91.3: τῶν ἰυγγικῶν θεῶν; cf. In R. 213.1 Kroll; In Crat. p. 333.15 Pasquali [iunges and teletarchs mentioned].
  • On Soul: ET §§ 184-211.
  • On the Ochēma: See especially ET §§ 205-10. It makes the soul enkosmios: in Tim. 311 C. It allows souls to recognise each other postmortem: In R. II, p. 17. ‘Garments’: ET § 209; cf. In Tim. 3.237.21-31. Planetary vices and virtues, and the ochēma: In Tim. 3.355.7-19. The periblēma is the seat of divine visions: In R. I.39, 8–10 Kroll … καὶ γὰρ τοῖς ὁρῶσιν αὐτοῖς ὁρᾶται τοῖς αὐγοειδέσι τῶν ψυχῶν περιβλήμασιν. Cf. Comm. in Eucl. Prologue Part Two, 52-52, where its rôle in sense-perception is laid out.


Beierwaltes: see Recommended Reading.

John Dillon in G.R. Morrow and J.M. Dillon, editors. Proclus’ Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1987., we quote pp. xxxii and xvi.

Antoine Faivre. Introduction. In Antoine Faivre and eds. Jacob Needleman, editors, Modern Esoteric Spirituality, pages xix-xii. SCM Press, New York, NY, 1992; we quote p. xv.

Rosán: see Recommended Reading.

David T. Runia and Michael Share, editors. Proclus: Commentary on Plato’s Timæus,Volume II. Book 2: Proclus on the Causes of the Comsos and its Creation. The University Press, Cambridge, 2008.

Recommended Reading:

Episode 186 Recommended Reading


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