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Who's Who Ancient Greece: The Philosophers

Plotinus (205-270 AD) A Neoplatonist

PlotinusLike Socrates, Plotinus urged people to seek God and all truth within. He was born in Egypt (in Lykopolis) and died in Rome.

The central figure of Neoplatonism and most important intellectual during the decline of antiquity, he travelled to Persia (during a military campaign), and became familiar with both Persian and Indian philosophy, set up a school in Rome when the campaign ended in defeat, in 244 AD, where he lectured for 26 years to large and very mixed audiences.

He was much esteemed for his high ethics and ideas, and for his personal integrity, living in accord with his principles, and quite ascetically, eating little, avoiding meat, observing celibacy, and refusing to pose for artists.

He praised a friend who gave up property and slaves, and who fasted every other day, embodying his ideal of being happy with very little. He began writing only after he turned fifty, his treatises published only after his death at 65, his works indicating a deep knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy, with some added elements of myticism.

He believed in a God whom he saw as the Divine 'One', from which the world had been created through emissions of force. The One he saw as being infinite and without form, attributes or thought, beyond and above all being and intellect. He believed that the human soul had three 'persons': the One, the Nous (mind or spirit), and the Soul, and, (again dividing things into categories of three, like others before him), he believed in three types of elevated beings: philosophers, musicians, and lovers.