"No other mystical
thinker even approaches Plotinus in power and insight and profound spiritual penetration."
(205) born and raised in Lykopolis (according to Suidas; Lycon
according to Eunapius), Upper Egypt;
(234) Beginning his study of philosophy, Plotinus had attended the
lectures of the most celebrated men of that time in Alexandria. All left him unsatisfied,
until, when he was 28 years old, he discovered Ammonius Saccas (who also taught Origen).
Spent ten years studying under Ammonius.
(242?, 44?) With the idea of learning something about Eastern
philosophies, he accompanied the Emperor Gordian on a campaign against the Persians. Both
were unsuccessful; Gordian was assassinated on this campaign, and Plotinus was even forced
to flee for his life to Antioch.
(245) With the idea of reviving classical Hellenistic philosophy
there, Plotinus moved to Rome. He was a popular lecturer, and won numerous adherents,
including the Emperor Gallienus and his wife Salonina. He had a gentle and affectionate
character, and led a deeply spiritual life (Porphyry relates that his master experienced
ecstatic union with God four times in the six years he was his disciple). Plotinus was
frequently approached for advice, and exercised the office of a sort of "spiritual
director" to people. He also took orphaned children into his house and acted as their
guardian. Porphyry described Plotinus as an "amateur," who was highly intuitive
and argued intensely. He often annoyed pupils by insisting on threshing out each problem
on its own merits as it arose, for days, if need be, rather than give the usual course of
set lectures on philosophical systems. (Porph Life 13)
(250ff) He conceived the idea of building an "ideal
city" in Campania, which Gallienus supported. The city would be called
"Platonopolis"; its inhabitants would live according to the laws of Plato.
However, the Emperor withdrew his support, possibly due to opposition from the imperial
(262-3) Porphyry [of Tyre] (232-305) becomes Plotinus pupil.
Plotinus is said to have rescued Porphyry from committing suicide. (Chadwick) A thoroughly
trained academic--Augustine refers to Porphyry as "doctissimus," "the most
notable pagan philosopher." He was intensely religious and other-worldly, unquiet and
(268) Retired from Rome to the country estate of a disciple in
Campania, where he mostly wrote down his philosophy [Plotinus wrote in Greek]. He died
there in 270.