Plotīnus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

(Πλωτῖνος). A Greek philosopher, born A.D. 205 at Lycopolis, in Egypt. In the twentyeighth year of his life he applied himself to philosophy, and attended the lectures of the most celebrated men of that time in Alexandria. But none of these was able to satisfy him, until in Ammonius Saccas, the founder of Neo-Platonism, he discovered the teacher whom he had sought. With him he stayed for eleven years; then, in 243, he joined the expedition of the emperor Gordian against the Persians, in order to learn the Persian philosophy. In this object he failed, owing to the unsuccessful issue of the undertaking; he was even obliged to flee for his life to In 244 he went to Rome, where he worked till 269 with great success, and gained the emperor Gallienus himself and his wife Salonina as converts to his teaching, so that he even dared to conceive the idea of founding an ideal city in Campania, with the approval and support of the emperor: this city was to be called Platonopolis, and its inhabitants were to live according to the laws of Plato. Gallienus was not disinclined to enter into the plan; but it was thwarted by the opposition of the imperial counsellors. Plotinus died in 270, on the estate of a friend in Campania. With the fiftieth year of his age he had begun to reduce his teaching to a written form; the fifty-four treatises, which have been preserved to us, were published after his death by his pupil and biographer Porphyry, who revised their style and arranged them in order. They were published in six Enneads, or sets of nine books. Plotinus was the first to give a systematic development to the Neo-Platonic doctrine, or, at least, the first to put it forth in writing, not indeed with the charm of the Platonic dialogues, still less with their dialectic force, but nevertheless with depth of thought and in pithy, though at times careless and incorrect, language. It is true that there appears even in him a mystical tendency, especially in his doctrine of the ecstatic elevation of the soul to the divine being, to which he himself (according to the testimony of Porphyry) attained on four occasions; but he is still completely free from the fantastic and superstitious character of the later Neo-Platonism. See the works by Kirchner (1854); Brenning (1864); and Kleist (1884). The Enneads of Plotinus are edited by Kreuzer (1835); Kirchhoff (1856); and Müller (1878).

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