Fragments that Remain of the Lost Writings of Proclus, by Thomas Taylor, , at sacred-texts.com
Every artist either gives subsistence to the matter of that which is the subject of his art, or he causes the matter which already exists to be adapted to his purpose. And if he makes the matter which already exists to be adapted to his purpose, he makes the matter [on which his art operates]. For the thing which is properly adapted to his purpose, indicates the matter [of his art], and not simply a subject. So far, therefore, as matter is without adaptation, it has not the power of matter [i.e. not of a matter fit for the operations of art]. Whether, therefore, the artist gives subsistence to his proper matter, or whether he makes the matter when it merely exists as a subject, to be adapted to his purpose, he is entirely the maker of the matter of his proper work. But if this is true of every partial artist, much more does the divine Artist make his proper matter, either giving subsistence to matter itself, or causing it to be adapted to his purpose; in order that he may not be more ignoble than the artificers of sublunary natures, by borrowing matter which he does not return, and to which he does not give subsistence; since these restore the parts which they borrowed from him, in order to accomplish
the generation of mortal natures. * Since, therefore, the artificer of the universe is also the artificer of matter, which is defined to be the receptacle and nurse of generation, † he likewise made it to be the receptacle of generation. For it has no other existence than an existence as matter, since the definition of it is to be the receptacle of generation. Hence, whether the Demiurgus of the universe gave it the requisite adaptation, he made it to be the receptacle of generation, viz.
he made it to be matter; or whether he gave subsistence to matter, he immediately made it to be the matter of the world. Hence also every artist makes one of these. But whichever he makes of these, he makes, as we have said, matter. If, therefore, the artificer of this universe made matter to be the receptacle of generation, he either gave subsistence to the vestiges of forms, by which matter became moved in a confused and disorderly manner, being of itself immovable and perfectly formless; or we must say that these vestiges of forms proceeded into matter from some other source, viz. froth some other deity, who belongs to the intelligible order. * If, therefore, the artificer of the universe is the cause of these vestiges of forms, is it not most absurd that he should make matter properly adapted to be the receptacle of generation, and should likewise impart these vestiges, through which matter would not be adapted to be properly fashioned, but would with difficulty be rendered fit for the hypostasis of generation? For that which is disorderly is hostile to that which is orderly. But the receptacle of generation is not hostile to generation
which has an orderly arrangement. If, however, there is a certain other cause of the vestiges of forms, is it not irrational to suppose that this cause makes matter to be properly and easily adapted, but that the other causes it to be adapted with difficulty; and that the former of these causes should wait, till that which he had produced with a proper adaptation should first become unadapted, in order that he might afterwards make this universe, for the sake of which he caused matter to have a proper adaptation, as if he was not able to give perfection to that which is adapted, till it became unadapted? For it is absurd to suppose that he made matter to be easily adapted, in order that it might alone itself, by itself, receive the vestiges of forms. For in this case he would cause it to be properly adapted, that generation might be inordinately produced. But if he made matter for the purpose of its receiving generation with arrangement, how is it possible that, from those things from which, at the same time that he caused matter to be properly adapted, he gave subsistence to generation, he should wait till a disorderly arrangement took place, in order that he might thus give arrangement to that which was without arrangement, just as if he was incapable of giving subsistence to order without the privation of order? If, therefore, these things are
absurd, and the vestiges of forms were not prior in time to the arrangement of them, and the subject matter, together with the vestiges of forms, is unbegotten, the order likewise which is in them is unbegotten; nor is there any thing pertaining to these which is prior or posterior. Moreover, neither was matter first generated, and afterwards the vestiges of forms; for the very essence of it is to be matter in conjunction with the vestiges of forms. Hence, it contains these vestiges, from which it derives its subsistence as matter, and is not prior to these vestiges. For, at the same time that it is adapted to receive them, the cause which imparts them, also imparts that which is the very being of matter. Hence, if matter is unbegotten and incorruptible, having a perpetual existence, it always possessed the vestiges of forms; and, together with these also, it possessed order, as we have demonstrated. * Order, therefore, is unbegotten and incorruptible. And no one of these three ranks as first, or second, or third [according to a temporal subsistence]; but these distinctions exist only in our conceptions. Hence, this distinction in conception being taken away, all these have a simultaneous existence, viz. matter, the vestiges
of forms, and order. But from that from which order derives its subsistence, the world also is derived; so that the world will be unbegotten and incorruptible.
65:* Proclus here alludes to the following passage in the Timæus of Plato: νοησαντες οι παιδες την του πατρος ταξιν, επειθοντο αυτῃ, και λαβοντες αθανατον αρχην θνητου ζωου, μιμουμενοι τον σφετερον δημιουργον, πυρος και γης υδατος τε και αερος απο του κοσμου δανειζομενοι μορια, ως αποδοθησομενα παλιν, κ.τ.λ. i.e. "An soon as his children [i.e. the junior gods] understood the order of their father [viz. of the Demiurgus], they became obedient to this order; and receiving the immortal principle of mortal animal, in imitation of their artificer, they borrowed from the world the parts of tire and earth, water and air, as things which they should restore back again," &c.
65:† Matter is thus defined by Plato in the Timæus: for he there says of it, τινα ουν δυναμιν και φυσιν αυτο υποληπτεον, τοιανδε μαλιστα πασης ειναι γενεσεωσ υποδοχεν αυτο, οιον τιθηνην. But for οιον τιθηνην, which is the reading of all the editions of the Timæus, it is necessary, both from the citation of Proclus and the version of Ficinus, to read, και οιον τιθηνην. For his version of the latter part of this extract is, "Hanc utique generationis horum omnium receptaculum, et quasi nutricem esse." So that, according to Plato, "matter is the receptacle, and, as it were, nurse of all generation."
66:* Viz. from Phanes, according to Orpheus, or animal itself, according to Plato, which deity subsists at the extremity of the intelligible order. See the Second Book of my translation of Proclus on the Timæus.
68:* See more on this subject in the Second Book of my Translation of Proclus on the Timæus.