Proclus Diadochus (411 - 485 CE)

Proclus was born in Constantinople, Byzantium in 411 CE. His father Particus was a distinguished law officer in the Byzantine courts. Proclus was sent to Alexandria, a major center of scholarship at the time, so that he might study law as his father once did. Proclus soon decided that it was philosophy that he wanted to pursue, and began studies under Olympiodorus the Elder, focusing upon Aristotle. Proclus also began studies in mathematics.

Proclus grew dissatisfied with the philosophical education he was receiving in Alexandria, so he relocated to Athens where he became a student at Plato’s Academy under Plutarch and Plutarch’s pupil, Syrianus. When Syrianus had died, Proclus took his place as the head of the Academy. Proclus was, upon his appointment, given the title Diadochus, or successor. He remained at the head of the Academy until his death in 485 CE.

Proclus’ own philosophy was Neo-Platonic. His work hinged upon ideas originally developed by Plotinus and futhered by Porphyry and Iamblichus. Neo-Platonic philosophy holds that from the ultimate, indescribable reality, "the One;" gods, demons, humans, and the material universe are produced through an process of "emanation." A person has the ability to engage the One and harness its powers – the closer a person comes to engaging the One, the closer he or she is to the complete and the Good. This process is called Theurgy. (For those who have not already drawn the comparison, Neo-Platonic cosmology and philosophy, deeply resembles Vedic Indian Philosophy.)

Proclus lived a religious/ascetic life, never marrying, keeping a vegetarian diet, while regularly composing hymns to the gods. Proclus was master of mythology and legends collecting from Greek World as well as from the Orient. Proclus’ religious sentiments were intimately tied with his mathematics and philosophy, in the tradition of Pythagoras. Despite his religious bias, Proclus’ “Commentary” on Euclid, is the principle source available today of early Greek geometry. Proclus' works in Neo-Platonic Philosophy and astronomy are the chief sources that provide us with extensive and clear chronicles analyses of his predecessors and contemporaries. Proclus was the last major Greek philosopher.

Sources: 1) Lecture on Neo-Platonism (4/01) Dr. Gary Reger 2): Arcana mundi : Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman worlds, edited by Georg Luck (1985)

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