Noûs e Bem: Beleza das Formas

VI. 7. 22
(Armstrong Selection and Translation from the Enneads)

[The beauty of the Forms in Noûs cannot move the soul to love by itself; it must be illumined, coloured, wakened to life by the Good]

When anyone sees this light [from the Good], then he is really moved to the Forms and longs for the light which plays upon them and delights in it; just as with the bodies here below our desire is not for the material things themselves but for the beauty mirrored in them. Each thing has its own particular nature, but it only becomes desirable when the Good colours it, giving a kind of grace to the things desired and inspiring passion in those who desire them. Then the soul, receiving into itself an outflow from Thence, is moved and dances wildly and is all stung with longing and becomes love. Before this it is not moved even towards Noûs, for all its beauty: the beauty of Noûs is ineffective till it catches a light from the Good, and the soul by itself lies flat and is completely ineffective and is not stirred by the presence of Noûs. But when a kind of warmth from Thence comes upon it, it gains strength and wakes and is truly winged; and though it is moved with passion for that which lies close by it, yet all the same it rises higher, to something greater which it seems to remember. And as long as there is anything higher than that which is present to it, it naturally goes on upwards, lifted by the Giver of its love. It rises above Noûs, but cannot go on above the Good, for there is nothing above. If it remains in Noûs it sees fair and noble things, but has not yet quite grasped what it is seeking. It is as if it was in the presence of a face which is certainly beautiful, but cannot, catch the eye because it has no grace playing upon its beauty. So here below, too, beauty, that which is really lovely, is what illuminates good proportions rather than the good proportions themselves. For why is there more light of beauty on a living face, and only a trace of it on a dead one, even if its flesh and its proportions are not yet wasted away? And are not statues more beautiful if they are more lifelike, even if others are better proportioned; and is not an ugly living man more beautiful than a beautiful statue? Yes, because the living is more desirable; and it is more desirable because it has soul; and it has soul because it has more the form of Good; and this means that it is somehow coloured by the light of the Good, and so wakes and rises up and lifts up that which belongs to it, and as far as it can wakes it and makes it good.