Neoplatonism

Neoplatonism is a philosophical and religious[1][2][3][4][5] system, beginning with the work of Plotinus in c. 245 AD,[6] that analyzes and teaches interpretations of the philosophy and theology[7][8] of Plato,[6] and which extended[9][10] the interpretations of Plato that middle Platonists developed from 80 BC to 220 AD.[11] The English term "neoplatonism",[12] or "Neo-Platonism",[13][note 1] or "Neoplatonism"[15] comes from 18th-[16] and 19th-century Germanic scholars (Germanic term: Neu-Platonische in the 18th century; Neuplatoniker in the 19th century)[17] who wanted to systematize history into nameable periods.[18]

Leading 21st-century scholarship understands neoplatonism to have begun when the Egyptian[19][20] philosopher Plotinus moved from Alexandria to Rome in c. 245 AD,[6] and there founded[18][21] the first neoplatonic school[22] where he taught an interpretation of Plato's philosophy until c. 270 AD.[23] Between c. 270 to 305 AD, the neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry continued the teaching of Plotinus in Rome,[24] as did the philosopher Iamblichus, who later in his life taught neoplatonic philosophy in Syria until c. 330 AD.[25] During the middle of the 4th century, neoplatonism rapidly became the religion of a well educated minority, and November 361 AD[26] saw the proclamation of the neoplatonist[27] Roman emperor Julian.[25]

By 415 AD, the brilliant[25] neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia had been the leading thinker in Alexandria for nearly 35 years,[28] and in Athens in the early 5th century, the neoplatonic philosopher Plutarch of Athens became head of the school of Plato in Athens, succeeding the orthodox Platonic Academy.[25] In 437 AD,[29] about five years after Plutarch had died,[30] his former student, the neoplatonist philosopher Proclus, became head of the neoplatonic school of Athens.[31] Proclus, a prolific[32] writer of ancient Greek philosophy and regarded by some 21st-century scholars as the greatest[33] neoplatonic philosopher of the 5th century, remained head of the neoplatonic school of Athens for nearly 50 years, until he died in 485 AD.[34]

The neoplatonism of late antiquity in Athens ended in 529 AD[35][36] after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I confirmed his Novum Justinianeum Codicem, or Codex Justinianus,[37] on the 7th of April 529 AD,[38] and administrators[39] enforcing the new laws, after they had legal force on the 16th of April 529 AD,[40] closed the last neoplatonic school in Athens,[6] probably between 529 and 531 AD,[41] where at the time it was headed by the Syrian philosopher Damascius.[42] Some 20th- and 21st-century scholars say Damascius then travelled east to establish a neoplatonic school in Charrae (present-day Harran,[43] Turkey) in the Persian Empire.[44] After the closure of the neoplatonic school in Athens in 529 AD, Alexandria became the leading neoplatonic school,[45] where Olympiodorus, the last[46] neoplatonic leader of the school, lectured until slightly after 565 AD.[47]


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