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date: 24 April 2024



  • John Dillon


  • Philosophy

Proclus, Neoplatonist philosopher (410 ce or 412–485; see neoplatonism). Born in Lycia of wealthy parents, he was destined for the law, but after some study in Alexandria (1), came to Athens in search of philosophical enlightenment, where he spent the rest of his life. He studied with Plutarch of Athens and Syrianus, whom he succeeded as head of the Platonic school (diadochos) in 437. His importance as a creative thinker has sometimes been exaggerated: most of the new features which distinguish his Neoplatonism from that of Plotinus, such as the postulation of triadic ‘moments’ within each hypostasis, or of ‘henads’ within the realm of the One, are traceable, at least in germ, to Iamblichus (2) or Syrianus. But he is the last great systematizer of the Greek philosophical inheritance, and as such exerted a powerful influence on medieval and Renaissance thought, and even, through Hegel, on German idealism. His learning was encyclopaedic and his output vast. Extant works include the following:


Philosophical treatises: Elements of Theology, a concise summary of Neoplatonic metaphysics; Platonic Theology, a more elaborate account of the same; Elements of Physics, based on Aristotle's theory of motion; Opuscula: On Providence, On Fate, and On Evil, long known only in William of Moerbeke's Latin trans., but now rediscovered in Greek, plagiarized by Isaac Sebastocrator.


Commentaries on Plato (1): On the Timaeus; On the Republic, really a series of independent essays; On the Parmenides; On the Alcibiades; On the Cratylus (excerpts).


Scientific works: Outline of Astronomical Theories; Commentary on the First Book ofEuclid's Elements. There are also a commentary on Ptolemy (4)'s Tetrabiblos and a work on eclipses, which have received no modern edition.


Literary works: Hymns; Chrestomathia, a handbook of literature extant in epitome only, authorship disputed (see epic cycle); scholia on Hesiod, Works and Days.


  • Marinus, Vita Procli, ed. J. F. Boissonade (1814).
  • The Elements of Theology ed. E. R. Dodds (2nd edn. 1963).
  • Proclus, Procli Diadochi Lycii Institutio physica. Edited by A. Ritzenfeld. Leipzig: Teubner, 1912.
  • Théologie platonicienne, ed. H.-D. Saffrey and L. G. Westerink (Budé, 1968–94).
  • Against Timarchus, ed. E. Diehl (Teubner, 1903–6).
  • Proclus, Procli Diadochi in Platonis Rem pvblicam commentarii. Edited by W. Kroll. Leipzig: Teubner, 1899–1901.
  • Commentary on the first Alcibiades of Plato,ed. L. G. Westerink (1954).
  • A. Ségonds, Sur le premier Alcibiade de Platon (Budé, 1985–6).
  • Proclus, Procli Diadochi in Platonis Cratylum commentaria. Edited by G. Pasquali Teubner. Leipzig: Teubner, 1908.
  • F. Romano, Lezioni sul "Cratilo" di Platone (1989).
  • Procli Hymni, ed. E. Vogt (1957).
  • Recherches sur la Chrestomathie de Proclos ed. A. Severyns (1938–63).
  • Commentaire sur le Parménide de Platon, eds. A. Ségonds, C. Steel, and C. Luna (Budé, 2007– ).
  • L. J. Rosán, The Philosophy of Proclus (1949).
  • R. Beutler, Real-Encyclopädie d. klassischen Altertumswissenschaft “Proklos.”
  • W. Beierwaltes, Proklos: Grundzüge seiner Metaphysik (1965).
  • R. T. Wallis, Neoplatonism (1972), ch. 5.
  • S. Gersh, Kinesis Akinetos: A Study of Spiritual Motion in the Philosophy of Proclus (1973).
  • J. Trouillard, La Mystagogie de Proclus (1982).
  • J. Pépin and H.-D. Saffrey (eds.), Proclus, lecteur et interprète des anciens (1987).
  • L. Siorvanes, Proclus: Neoplatonic Philosophy and Science (1996).