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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Proclus

(410-485). Neo-Platonic philosopher. Proclus was born in Constantinople to Lycean parents and brought up at Xanthus in Lycea. He studied philosophy first under Olympiodorus the Elder at Alexandria and later under Plutarch and Syrianus. At an undetermined date Proclus took charge of the Platonic Academy at Athens and remained so until his death in 485.

There are over thirty references to Proclus (Proculus) in the writings of Helena P. Blavatsky. It seems that she considered much of his teaching to be in close accord with certain aspects of theosophy (CW XIV:304-5). Blavatsky often compares modern day theosophy to Neoplatonism, quoting from commentaries on Cratylus, the Timaeus and the Republic, as well as Alcibiades and the Parmenides. Proclus’ work on The Theology of Plato presents three grades of the mysteries: the Perfective (purification); the Initiation; the Epopteia or reception of pure light, when the initiate becomes the beholder of the Gods. These Beings take a variety of shapes, and Blavatsky quotes his passage on the aerial body of the Adept as being free from the “second death” of ordinary man.

The idea of perpetual motion as expressed by celestial wheels was fostered in Proclus’ treatise On Motion. Cory’s Ancient Fragments (2nd ed., p. 265) quotes Proclus upon the nature of six heavens, with the seventh “cast into the midst . . . the fire of the Sun.” Alexander Wilder states that Proclus “elaborated the entire theosophy and theurgy of his predecessors into a complete system” (see New Platonism and Alchemy p. 18).

Proclus attributed the source of the Neo-Platonic writings to Orpheus, who brought them from India. Although exiled by the Christians for a time, Proclus returned to Athens where he died in 485 CE.

Of principal interest to theosophists are Proclus’ expositions on Neoplatonic metaphysics such as his Elements of Theology.

D.E.

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