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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


from Plotinus' Sixth Ennead, * Tractate 9, 7-11, Translated by Stephen Mackenna and B. S. Page
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F the mind reels before something thus alien to all we know, we must take our stand on the things of this realm and strive thence to see. But, in the looking, beware of throwing outward; this Principle does not lie away somewhere leaving the rest void; to those of power to reach, it is present; to the inapt, absent. In our daily affairs we cannot hold an object in mind if we have given ourselves elsewhere, occupied upon some other matter; that very thing must be before us to be truly the object of observation. So here also; preoccupied by the impress of something else, we are withheld under that pressure from becoming aware of The Unity; a mind gripped and fastened by some definite thing cannot take the print of the very contrary. As Matter, it is agreed, must be void of quality in order to accept the types of the universe, so and much more must the soul be kept formless if there is to be no infixed impediment to prevent it being brimmed and lit by the Primal Principle.

κινήσεται περὶ τοῦτο͵ ἀφ΄ οὗ ἐστι

Εἰ δ΄ ὅτι μηδὲν τούτων ἐστίν͵ ἀοριστεῖς τῇ γνώμῃ͵ στῆσον σαυτὸν εἰς ταῦτα͵ καὶ ἀπὸ τούτων θεῶ· θεῶ δὲ μὴ ἔξω ῥίπτων τὴν διάνοιαν. Οὐ γὰρ κεῖταί που ἐρημῶσαν αὐτοῦ τὰ ἄλλα͵ ἀλλ΄ ἔστι τῷ δυναμένῳ θίγειν ἐκεῖ παρόν͵ τῷ δ΄ ἀδυνατοῦντι οὐ πάρεστιν. Ὥσπερ δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων οὐκ ἔστι τι νοεῖν ἄλλο νοοῦντα καὶ πρὸς ἄλλῳ ὄντα͵ ἀλλὰ δεῖ μηδὲν προσάπτειν τῷ νοουμένῳ͵ ἵν΄ ᾖ αὐτὸ τὸ νοούμενον͵ οὕτω δεῖ καὶ ἐνταῦθα εἰδέναι͵ ὡς οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλου ἔχοντα ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ τύπον ἐκεῖνο νοῆσαι ἐνεργοῦντος τοῦ τύπου͵ οὐδ΄ αὖ ἄλλοις κατειλημμένην τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ κατεχομένην τυπωθῆναι τῷ τοῦ ἐναντίου τύπῳ͵ ἀλλ΄ ὥσπερ περὶ τῆς ὕλης λέγεται͵ ὡς ἄρα ἄποιον εἶναι δεῖ πάντων͵ εἰ μέλλει δέχεσθαι τοὺς πάντων τύπους͵ οὕτω καὶ πολὺ μᾶλλον ἀνείδεον τὴν ψυχὴν γίνεσθαι͵ εἰ μέλλει μηδὲν ἐμπόδιον ἐγκαθήμενον ἔσεσθαι πρὸς πλήρωσιν καὶ ἔλλαμψιν αὐτῇ τῆς φύσεως τῆς πρώτης.

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