Neoplatonism Through the Renaissance


How did lamblichus practice Neoplatonism?

Iamblichus of Syria (c. 245–325) was a student of Porphyry’s (233–309) who set up his own school in Apamea (in what is modern Syria). Porphyry had practiced theurgy—or magic—based on vegetarianism and other physical restrictions, but he thought the effectiveness of theurgy was limited to lower levels of spiritual ascent. Iamblichus developed a more elaborate system of theurgy for every stage of salvation, which was similar to Christian sacramental theology and became an integral part of Neoplatonism from then on. Iamblichus also embellished Plotinus’ system, dividing the One into two: one responsible for the creation and the other transcending it. The Roman Emperor Julian (c. 331–363) became interested in Iamblichus’ system after Iamblichus incorporated many of the Greek gods into Plotinian descriptions of creation and salvation.


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