Fragments that Remain of the Lost Writings of Proclus, by Thomas Taylor, , at sacred-texts.com
If things which always subsist according to sameness, and in a similar manner, alone pertain to the most divine of all things, as Plato says in the Politicus,—if this be the case, and if the Demiurgus ranks among the most divine of beings, it pertains to him to subsist eternally after the same and in a similar manner. But if he does not rank among the most divine of things, neither must we say that he is a God who has an eternal existence, nor that he is the best of causes. We assert, however, these things of him as it is written in the Timæus. A subsistence, therefore, according to the same and in a similar manner, is adapted to his nature. For, if that which does not exist always should possess a subsistence according to invariable sameness, that which does not exist always will always be the same. And if that which is the best of causes does not exist invariably the same, it will not be the best. But these things being absurd, it is necessary that the best of causes, and which exists eternally, should be most divine; and that being most divine, it should subsist always according to the same, and in a similar manner. It pertains, however, to that which thus subsists, never to have any variation
in its existence: for this is contrary to an eternally invariable sameness of subsistence. But it pertains to that which never at any time subsists differently, never at one time to cease from being an effective cause, and at another to be effective; or at one time to be, and at another not to be effective. For this is to subsist differently at different times; viz. to be now effective, but afterwards not, and not to be now effective, but to be effective afterwards. But that which never at any one time is not efficient, and afterwards efficient, or now efficient, and afterwards non-efficient, must necessarily always be an efficient cause in energy, or always not be such a cause. For there are no other consequences besides these. For the extremes are, to be always efficient, and to be always non-efficient. But the media are, for the efficient cause to produce that afterwards which it did not produce before; or, on the contrary, not to produce again that which it had once produced. * It is, however, impossible that the Demiurgus
being the Demiurgus, should never at any time be an effective cause: for it is not adapted to an artificer to be always unemployed. For how can he be an artificer who never produces any thing? It is necessary, therefore, that the Demiurgus should be an efficient cause, and that he should always fabricate that of which he is the efficient. But the Demiurgus, who always fabricates, must necessarily always make the world. It is necessary, therefore, that the world should neither have a temporal beginning of being fabricated, nor an end. For, if it had a beginning, it would not always have been adorned; and if it should have an end, it will not always be adorned. It is necessary, however, that the world should always be adorned, because it is also necessary that the Demiurgus should always adorn. But this will be the case, if he always snakes with invariable sameness of energy: and he will thus make, if he always subsists after the same and in a similar manner. It is necessary, therefore, that the world should be a world without a beginning and without an end, and that it should be unbegotten and incorruptible. Hence, if the Demiurgus possesses an invarible sameness of subsistence, it is necessary that the world should be without generation, and without corruption. So
that if Plato clearly asserts this [of the Demiurgus], the world also, according to him, is unbegotten and incorruptible.
If, therefore, Plato says, in the Politicus and the Timæus, * that God is absent. from the world, and again is present with it, being first absent from, and afterwards present with it, (for after this manner, says he, the universe subsisted, as it was likely it should, when Divinity was not present with it); and if Plato similarly asserts both these things, and therefore says, that at one time the world is changed from a disorderly into an orderly condition of being, but that at another time it passes from an orderly into an inordinate state, until Divinity again assumes the helm of government;—if, therefore, this is asserted by Plato, it
is not proper that Atticus should alone direct his attention to what is said in the Timæus. For there Divinity, who was at one time absent from, is represented as being at another time present with, that from which he was absent. But it is requisite that Atticus should also consider what is asserted in the Politicus, in which the Divinity, who at one time was present with, is represented as absent from that with which he was present. And as through the former he produced order from that which was in a disorderly state, so through the latter, after order, he caused a privation of order to take place. If, therefore, Plato says, that both these mutations were produced by the Demiurgus, respecting that visible god the world, prior to the existence of the world, it is impossible that they should have any subsistence except in our mental conception. For, since Divinity always exists with invariable sameness, he does not say that the world subsists differently at different times, as if possessing this variable subsistence through him, which can only be asserted of partial natures; but he says [speaking enigmatically], that the world is either arranged, or deprived of arrangement, through Divinity being differently affected at different times. If, however, it is impossible that Divinity should be thus affected, because he possesses an invariable sameness of subsistence, it is
likewise impossible that the world should have at one time a disorderly, and at another an orderly existence. And I should say, that this is truly a divine contrivance of the wisdom of Plato, by which he infers, from the eternal energy of Divinity, that the world is at one and the same time unbegotten and incorruptible; and assigns the absence and presence of Divinity as the cause of the order and disorder of the world. * For, if Divinity alone is the cause of the alternate order and disorder of the world, and it is impossible for him not to subsist, because it is impossible for Divinity to subsist differently at different times, it is also absurd to conceive an alternate subsistence of order and disorder about the world. If, therefore, Divinity is always invariably the same, he is not at one time present with, and at another absent from the world. And if this be the case, the world is not at one time arranged, and at another without arrangement. For the presence of Divinity indeed with the world would confer order, but his absence the privation of order
on it. But if the world was not at one time arranged, nor at another was, or will be, without arrangement, it always was arranged. But if it was always arranged, it was arranged from an infinite time, and will for an infinite time continue to be arranged. And this Plato proclaims in such a manner, as to become manifest even to the deaf, viz. that the paradigm of the world exists through all eternity, and that the world always was, and is, and will be. As, therefore, the world will be to infinity, so likewise it was from infinity, and it is not proper, since Plato gives it an infinite duration, both with respect to the past and the future, that the friends of Plato should make it to be finite with respect to the past, but infinite with respect to the future; but it is requisite that they should speak conformably to the decision of their master. For thus the world will possess an imitation of the perpetuity of eternity; not having only the half, but the whole of the infinity of time. This, however, was the thing proposed by the Demiurgus, viz. to assimilate time to eternity, and the world to eternal animal [its exemplar], by giving it an existence through the whole of time.
The principal result, however, of all that has been said is this, that no one, with respect to the world, is so pious as Plato, or any other who, conformably to him, says, that the world subsists in a
disorderly condition, when Divinity is no longer invariably the same, viz. when the Divinity [by whom the world was fabricated] is not an intelligible Cod. For a subsistence according to invariable sameness pertains to the intelligible gods. Either, therefore, both the world and the Demiurgus are gods, or neither of them is a god. And in the latter case, one of them not being a god, will produce disorder, but the other a subsistence which is not invariably the same. And the privation of order of the one will arise from the want of an invariable sameness of subsistence in the other. For the one [i.e. the world] will no otherwise be disorderly, than because the other [i.e. the Demiurgus] is not with invariable sameness, either present with or absent from the world: for it is necessary that the world should be entirely similar to its maker. If, therefore, in conception only, Divinity is at one time present with and at another absent from the world, it follows that the world, in conception only, is at one time arranged, and at another without arrangement. For it is necessary that what subsists in conception only should pertain to both; so that if, from Divinity being present, the world is arranged, it necessarily follows that it is not arranged when he is not present. But if, in reality, [i.e. not in conception
only,] the universe is at one time * arranged, and at another without arrangement, by a much greater priority, Divinity will in reality be at one time present with, and at another absent from the universe. For it will not follow [absolutely], from the world being arranged, or being without arrangement, that Divinity is either absent from or present with it; but the contrary will take place: so that the prior assertion will be true, to which this is necessarily consequent. † If, therefore, this is impossible, because Divinity subsists eternally with invariable sameness, it is also impossible that the world should at one time be without arrangement, and at another be arranged. For that which is consequent to what is impossible, is necessarily impossible; since, as the dialectic laws say, the possible is consequent to that which is possible. Hence, by admitting that it is possible for the world to have been once
without arrangement, it will also be possible for it to have been arranged at a certain time, and for Divinity to have been once absent from, and again present with, the world. If, therefore, the latter is impossible, the former likewise is impossible: hence the world is always arranged, and Divinity is always present with the world. And neither was the world arranged from a prior disorderly state of subsistence: for neither was Divinity once absent, and afterwards present; nor will the world, from being arranged, afterwards be without arrangement. For the maker of it was not once * present with, and afterwards wilt be absent from it. And, according to Plato, if the world is necessarily generable and corruptible, there is an equal necessity that the Demiurgus of the world should not rank among the most divine of beings, though it pertains to him to have an invariable sameness of subsistence. If, therefore, it is necessary to be piously disposed towards the maker of the universe, it is also necessary to be thus disposed towards the world; or if we form erroneous conceptions about the latter, our conceptions will, by a much greater priority, be erroneous and unbecoming
about the former; and not only about him, but likewise about every thing divine. For, if an invariable sameness of subsistence is common to all divine natures, it is necessary either to preserve this in all of them, and after the same manner to preserve it with respect to the Demiurgus; or, if we reject this in one of them, neither will it be credible in the rest.
83:* For that which produces afterwards what it did not before, so far as it produces, unites with that extreme, which is always efficient. And that which does not produce again what it had once produced, so far as it does not produce, unites with the other extreme, which is always non-efficient. They are therefore media between these two extremes.
85:* In the Politicus Plato says, "that the universe at one time is conducted by another divine cause, receiving again an externally acquired life, and a renewed immortality from the Demiurgus; but that at another time, when he remits the reins of government, it proceeds by itself, and being thus left for a time, performs many myriads of retrograde revolutions." See vol. iv. p. 122 of my Translation of Plato, in which the fable, of which these words are a part, is beautifully explained from Proclus. And in the Timæus, it is said by Plato, "that when the Demiurgus began to adorn the universe, he first of all figured with forms and numbers, fire and earth, water and air, which possessed indeed certain vestiges of the true elements, but were in every respect so constituted as it is likely any thing will be from which Deity is absent." See vol. ii. of my Translation of Plato.
87:* Plato does not mean to insinuate by this, that Divinity is actually at one time present with, and at another absent from, the world, for he is eternally present with it, and in a manner invariably the same; but in thus speaking, he only indicates what would be the necessary consequence of his being alternately present with and absent from the universe.
90:* In the original, ποτε is erroneously omitted, as is evident both from the sense of the passage, and the version of Mahotius.
90:† By the prior assertion, Proclus means this, that the world, in conception only, is at one time arranged, and at another without arrangement, in consequence of the maker of it being, in conception only, at one time present with, and at another absent from it.
91:* In the original, ουτε γαρ εκεινος ου παρων αυθις ου παρεστι. But for ου παρων, it is requisite to read ποτε παρων. The version of Mahotius also is, conformably to this emendation, "Non enim ille ante præsens, postea non præsens erit."