When all the dust of Egypt had settled: dust of glory, dust of wisdom, dust of splendor and embalmment, though not the dust of commerce nor yet the concomitant dust of books–the Library and its book trade and that busy harbor– and when the Hellenic ideal was known shining in the gloom (the Hellenic sun no longer shone as it had of old), then through that twilight walked Plotinos. The commentaries, embroideries, the uncreative niggling treatises were read in that twilight, faintly. The Middle Platonists warmed themselves in the afterglow of wisdom, like graduate students writing journal articles. The Stoics and the Peripatetics had their day; valid observations were made; still the gloom pervaded the world and the Gnostics ran riot in the nascent Church.

A suggestion existed of the ineffability of the Good; but Aristotle, that college professor, that literateur, that hypocrite lecteur mon semblable mon frère, that lucid raver and man of style but not dramatic wonder who thought he had collapsed all of Plato’s Forms, was held in the philosopher’s uncontemplating esteem. Misguided metaphysician, heal thy meta-self; for the first Form is the form of the self, as Socrates well knew.

And God said: Let Plotinos be! -Speaking by his uncreated energies. And the unconstrained activities leapt surging and powerful in the cosmos, emanating to the world to summarize before proceeding: Origen! Plotinos! Augustine! And onward from them, and from Dionysius known and not known as the Aeropagite.

And Plotinos after that he had been summoned said: But if they are ideas in the mind of God, then they are objects of his intellection, and if objects of his intellection then either God is compound or they lie beyond him still. That, therefore, is the Nous, but it is not the ONE.

There were serious men in the world then. Give all for all they more than said, they felt and almost did. Oh yes, many endeavored and some even came close. Who will give himself to the love of wisdom, loving so entirely that he leaves all for it? In that twilight, bright Plotinos! first discoursing, in the circle of earnest men of varied understanding, pronouncing, then finally moving beyond discourse. He brought the last flower of Classical learning into the world: true Philosopher, meditating Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the commentaries, all, in lengthy divagating conversations, read passages and grappled problems. Learning, observing, countering, formulating and writing with the tutelage of pupil Porphyry. What Plato did not write, Plotinos did.

And that is all.

Origen endeavored, as a forerunner endeavors, but Plotinus succeeded beyond all intentions in making Theology deep.


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