A Portrait of Plotinus

Classical Quarterly 43 (02):480- (1993)
Abstract
Porphyry's Life of Plotinus is the earliest extant memoir of a philosopher by his pupil. Historians of philosophy have embraced it as a key to the intellectual development of Plotinus, while historians of the third century have found it an invaluable supplement to the fragmentary records of this era. Yet few have cared to read it as an original work of literature, or even as the mature work of a scholar and philosopher who for centuries eclipsed his master in influence, if not in reputation. In consequence, attention has not been paid to certain striking peculiarities in Porphyry's selection and arrangement of materials, which, if studied, will shed light on the form and purpose of the whole biography. This article is devoted to a strange chapter which, as in any ancient writing, we should expect to be the most instructive because it is the first
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