Neoplatonism refers to a philosophical and religious system, beginning with the work of Plotinus in 245 AD, that teaches interpretations of the philosophy and theology of Plato, extending the Middle Platonism of the intervening centuries, c. 80–c. 245 AD. The English term 'neoplatonism', or 'Neo-Platonism', or 'Neoplatonism' comes from 18th and 19th century Germanic scholars (Germanic term: 'Neu-Platonische' in the 18th century; 'Neuplatoniker' in the 19th century) who wanted to systematize history into nameable periods.
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Neoplatonism was founded in c. 245 AD by the Egyptian philosopher Plotinus when he moved from Alexandria to Rome and established a school, where he taught an interpretation of Plato's philosophy until c. 270 AD. The neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry continued the teaching of Plotinus in Rome, until his death in 305 AD, as did the philosopher Iamblichus, who later in his life taught neoplatonic philosophy in Syria, until he died in c. 330 AD. During the middle of the 4th century, neoplatonism rapidly became the religion of a well educated minority, and November 361 AD saw the proclamation of the neoplatonist Roman emperor Julian. By 415 AD, the brilliant neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia had been the leading thinker in Alexandria for nearly 35 years, 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. In 437 AD, about five years after Plutarch had died, his former student, the neoplatonist philosopher Proclus became head of the neoplatonic school of Athens. Proclus, a prolific writer of ancient Greek philosophy and regarded by some 21st century scholars as the greatest neoplatonic philosopher of the 5th century, remained head of the neoplatonic school of Athens for nearly 50 years, until he died in 485 AD.
The neoplatonism of late antiquity in Athens ended in 529 AD after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I confirmed his Novum Justinianeum Codicem, or Codex Justinianus, on the 7th of April 529 AD, and administrators enforcing the new laws, after they had legal force on the 16th of April 529 AD, closed the last neoplatonic school in Athens, probably between 529–531 AD, where at the time it was headed by the Syrian philosopher Damascius. Some 20th and 21st century scholars say Damascius then travelled east to establish a neoplatonic school in Charrae (present-day Harran, Turkey) in the Persian Empire. After the closure of the neoplatonic school in Athens in 529 AD, Alexandria became the leading neoplatonic school, where Olympiodorus, the last neoplatonic leader of the school, lectured until slightly after 565 AD.