Proclo: Teologia de Platão I-X

But a greater and more difficult contest remains for me, against those lovers of the speculation of beings, who look to the science of first causes, as the end proposed in the hypothesis of the Platonic Parmenides; and this contest we will accomplish, if you please, by numerous and more known arguments.

And in the first place, we shall define what that is, about which our discourse against them will be employed; for this, I think will render the mystic doctrine of Plato concerning divine natures, apparent in the highest degree.

There are, therefore, nine hypotheses which are discussed by Parmenides in this dialogue, as we have evinced in our commentaries upon it.

And the five precedaneous hypotheses suppose that the one has a subsistence, and through this hypothesis, that all beings, the mediums of wholes, and the terminations of the progressions of things, may be supposed to subsist.

But the four hypotheses which follow these, introduce the one, not having a subsistence according to the exhortation of the dialectic method, show that by taking away the one, all beings, and such things as have an apparent existence, must be entirely subverted, and propose to themselves the confutation of this hypothesis.

And some of the hypotheses evidently conclude everything according to reason, but others (if I may be allowed the expression) perfectly evince things more impossible than impossibilities; which circumstance some prior to us perceiving, as it appears to me, necessarily to happen in these hypotheses, have considered it as deserving discussion, in their treatises on this dialogue.

With respect to the first of the hypotheses therefore, almost all agree in asserting, that Plato through this celebrates the superessential principle of wholes, as ineffable, unknown, and above all being.

But all do not explain the hypothesis posterior to this after the same manner. For the ancient Platonists, and those who participated the philosophy of Plotinus assert that an intellectual nature presents itself to the view in this hypothesis, subsisting from the superessential principle of things and endeavor to harmonize to the one and all-perfect power of intellect, such conclusions as are the result of this hypothesis.

But that leader of ours to truth about the Gods, and confabulator of Plato (that I may use the language of Homer) who transferred what was indefinite in the theory of the more ancient philosophers, to bound, and reduced the confusion of the different orders to an intellectual distinction, in the writings which he communicated to his associates; – this our leader in his treatise on the present subject, calls upon us to adopt a distinct division of the conclusions, to transfer this division to the divine orders, and to harmonize the first and most simple of the things exhibited to the first of beings; but to adapt those in the middle rank to middle natures, according to the order which they are allotted among beings; and such as are last and multiform, to ultimate progressions.

For the nature of being is not one, simple, and indivisible; but as in sensibles, the mighty heaven is one, yet it comprehends in itself a multitude of bodies; and the monad connectedly contains multitude, but in the multitude there is an order of progression;

and of sensibles, some are first, some middle, and some last; and prior to these, in souls, from one soul a multitude of souls subsists, and of these, some are placed in an order nearer, but others more remote from their wholeness, and others again fill up the medium of the extremes; –in like manner, it is doubtless necessary that among perfectly true beings, such genera as are uniform and occult, should be established in the one and first cause of wholes, but that others should proceed into all multitude, and a whole number, and that others should contain the bond of these, in a middle situation.

It is likewise by no means proper to harmonize the peculiarities of first natures with such as are second, nor of those that possess a subject order, with such as are more unical, but it is requisite that among these, some should have powers different from others, and that there should be an order in this progression of true beings, and an unfolding of second from first natures.

In short, being which subsists according to, or is characterized by the one, proceeds indeed from the unity prior to beings, but generates the whole divine genus, viz. the intelligible, intellectual, supermundane, and that which proceeds as far as to the mundane order.

But our preceptor likewise asserts, that each of the conclusions is indicative of a divine peculiarity. And though all the conclusions harmonize to all the progressions of the one being, or of being characterized by the one, yet I am of opinion, it is by no means wonderful that some conclusions should more accord with some hypotheses than with others.

For such things as express the peculiarity of certain orders, do not necessarily belong to all the Gods; but such as belong to all, are doubtless by a much greater reason present with each.

If therefore, we ascribe to Plato, an adventitious division of the divine orders, and do not clearly evince that; in other dialogues, he celebrates the progressions of the Gods from on high to the extremity of things, sometimes in fables respecting the soul, and at other times, in other theological modes, we shall absurdly attribute to him such a division of being and together with this, of the progression of the one.

But if we can evince from other dialogues, that he (as will be manifest in the course of this work) has celebrated all the kingdoms of the Gods, in a certain respect, is it not impossible, that in the most mystic of all his works, he should deliver through the first hypothesis, the exempt transcendency of the one with respect to all the genera of beings, to being itself, to a psychical essence, to form, and to matter, but that he should make no mention of the divine progressions, and their orderly separation?

For if it is proper to contemplate last things only, why do we touch on the first principle before other things? Or if we think fit to unfold the multitude of the proper hypotheses, why do we pass by the genus of the Gods, and the divisions which it contains?

Or if we unfold the natures subsisting between the first and last of things, why do we leave unknown the whole orders of those divine beings, which subsist between the one, and natures that are in any respect deified? For all these particulars evince, that the whole discourse is defective, with respect to the science of things divine.

But still farther, Socrates, in the Philebus, calls upon those that love the contemplation of beings, to use the dividing method, and always to explore the monads of total orders, and the duads, triads, or any other numbers proceeding from these.

If this then is rightly determined, it is doubtless necessary that the Parmenides, which employs the whole dialectic method, and discourses about being which is characterized by the one, should neither speculate multitude about the one, nor remain in the one monad of beings, nor in short, introduce to the one which is above all beings, the whole multitude of first beings immediately, but should unfold, as in the first order, such beings as have an occult subsistence, and are allied to the one; but as in the middle rank, those genera of the Gods which subsist according to progression, and which are more divided than the extremely united, but are allotted a union more perfect, than such as have proceeded to the utmost; and should unfold as in the last rank, such as subsist according to the last division of powers, and together with these, such as have a deified essence.

If, therefore, the first of the hypotheses is about the one which is above all multitude, it is doubtless necessary that the hypothesis which follows this, should not unfold being itself in an indefinite and indistinct manner, but should deliver all the orders of beings.

For the dividing method does not admit, that we should introduce the whole of multitude at once to the one, as Socrates teaches us in the Philebus.

Besides, we may evince the truth of what we assert from the very method of the demonstrations. For the first of the conclusions become immediately manifest from the least, most simple, most known, and as it were common conceptions. But those which are next in order to these, become apparent through a greater multitude of conceptions, and such as are more various.

And the last conclusions are entirely the most composite.

For he always uses the first conclusions, as subservient to the demonstration of those that follow, and present us with an intellectual paradigm of the order observed in geometry, or other disciplines, in the connection of these conclusions with each other.

If, therefore, discourses bring with them an image of the things of which they are interpreters, and if, as are the evolutions from demonstrations, such must the order necessarily be of the things exhibited, it appears to me to be necessary, that such things as derive their beginning from the most simple principles, must be in every respect of a more primary nature, and must be arranged as conjoined with the one; but that such as are always multiplied, and suspended from various demonstrations, must have proceeded farther from the subsistence of the one.

For the demonstrations which have two conclusions, must necessarily contain the conclusions prior to themselves; but those which contain primary, spontaneous, and simple conceptions, are not necessarily united with such as are more composite, which are exhibited through more abundant media, and which are farther distant from the principle of beings.

It appears therefore, that some of the conclusions are indicative of more divine orders, but others, of such as are more subordinate; some, of more united, and others, of more multiplied orders; and again, some, of more uniform, and others, of more multiform progressions.

For demonstrations are universally from causes, and things first. If, therefore, first are the causes of second conclusions, there is an order of causes and things caused, in the multitude of the conclusions.

For, indeed, to confound all things, and speculate them indefinitely in one, neither accords with the nature of things, nor the science of Plato.

PROCLUS. On the Theology of Plato (complete electronic text). (Martin Euser, Ed.), [s.d.]. Disponível em: <>