Born: 205 AD
Birthplace: Lycopolis, Egypt
Died: 270 AD
Location of death: Campania
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: Middle Eastern
Nationality: Ancient Rome
Executive summary: Founder of the Neoplatonic school
Plotinus, the most important representative of Neoplatonism, was born of Roman parents at Lycopolis in Egypt. At Alexandria he attended the lectures of Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the system, until 242, when he joined the Persian expedition of Gordian III, with the object of studying Persian and Indian philosophy on the spot. After the assassination of Gordian in 244, Plotinus was obliged to take refuge in Antioch, from where he made his way to Rome and set up as a teacher there. He soon attracted a large number of pupils, the most distinguished of whom were Amelius, Eustochius and Porphyry. The emperor Gallienus and his wife Salonina were also his enthusiastic admirers, and favored his idea of founding a Platonic Commonwealth (Platonopolis) in Campania (recall also Bishop George Berkeley's scheme for the Bermuda islands), but the opposition of Gallienus's counsellors and the death of Plotinus prevented the plan from being carried out. Plotinus's wide popularity was due partly to the lucidity of his teaching, but perhaps even more to his strong personality. Assent developed into veneration; he was considered to be divinely inspired, and generally credited with miraculous powers. In spite of ill-health, he continued to teach and write until his death, which took place on the estate of one of his friends near Minturnae in Campania.
Under Ammonius Plotinus became imbued with the eclectic spirit of the Alexandrian school. Having accepted the Platonic metaphysical doctrine, he applied to it the Neo-Pythagorean principles and the Oriental doctrine of Emanation. The results of this introspective mysticism were collected by him in a series of fifty-four (originally forty-eight) treatises, arranged in six "Enneads", which constitute the most authoritative exposition of Neoplatonism. This arrangement is probably due to Porphyry, to whose editorial care they were consigned. There was also another ancient edition by Eustochius, but all the existing manuscripts are based on Porphyry's edition.
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