Phoenician Neoplatonic Philosopher
Iamblichus (a.k.a. Jamblichus)
was a pupil of the Phoenician philosopher Porphyry, Anatolius, the
Life of Iamblichus
(c. 250-c. 330), the neoplatonic philosopher, was born in Chalcis, Coele-Syria
better known as the Beqaa valley of Phoenicia (Lebanon).
was a pupil of one of the first disciples of the philosopher Porphyry,
Anatolius, the peripatetic, before being a disciple of Porphyry itself.
While a student of Porphyry in Rome, he came under the influence of
the Greek Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus.
Porphyry died, Iamblichus succeed him as the head of the neoplatonic
home, he established his own school, which attempted to fuse the ideas
of Plato, those of the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras,
and Hermetism and the magical literature into a single coherent system.
succeeded in transforming the purely intellectual Neoplatonism of Plotinus
into an even more spiritual form of Greco-Roman religious philosophy
that include myths, rites, and magical formulas.
Eunapius left us
his account of Iamblichus' life:
these men came a very celebrated philosopher, Iamblichus, who was of
illustrious ancestry and belonged to an opulent and prosperous family.
His birthplace was Chalcis, a city in inner Phoenicia. As a pupil of
Anatolius, who ranks next after Porphyry, he made great progress and
attained the highest distinction in philosophy. Then leaving Anatolius
he attached himself to Porphyry, and in no respect was he inferior to
Porphyry except in harmonious structure and force of style. (...) But
because he practiced justice he gained an easy access to the ears of
the Gods; so much so that he had a multitude of disciples, and those
who desired learning flocked to him from all parts. And it is hard to
decide who among them was the most distinguished, for con-patriate Sopater
was of their number, a man who was most eloquent both in his speeches
and writings; and Aedesius and Eustathius from Cappadocia; while from
Greece came Theodorus and Euphrasius, men of superlative virtue, and
a crowd of other men not inferior in their powers of oratory, so that
it seemed marvelous that he could satisfy them all; and indeed in his
devotion to them all he never spared himself.
however, he did perform certain rites alone, apart from his friends
and disciples, when he worshipped the Divine Being. But for the most
part he conversed with his pupils and was unexacting in his mode of
life and of an ancient simplicity. As they drank their wine he used
to charm those present by his conversation and filled them as with nectar.
And they never ceased to desire this pleasure and never could have too
much of it, so that they never gave him any peace; and they appointed
the most eloquent among them to represent them, and asked: "O master,
most inspired, why do you thus occupy yourself in solitude, instead
of sharing with us your more perfect wisdom? Nevertheless a rumor has
reached us through your slaves that when you pray to the Gods you soar
aloft from the earth more than ten cubits to all appearance; that your
body and your garments change to a beautiful golden hue; and presently
when your prayer is ended your body becomes as it was before you prayed,
and then you come down to earth and associate with us." Iamblichus
was not at all inclined to laughter, but he laughed at these remarks.
And he answered them thus: "He who thus deluded you was a witty fellow;
but the facts are otherwise. For the future however you shall be present
at all that goes on." This was the sort of display that he made;
and the report of it reached the author of this work from his teacher
Chrysanthius of Sardis. He was a pupil of Aedesius, and Aedesius was
one of the leading disciples of Iamblichus, and one of those who spoke
to him as I have said. He said that there occurred the following sure
manifestations of his divine nature. The sun was traveling towards the
limits of the Lion at the time when it rises along with the constellation
called the Dog. It was the hour for sacrifice, and this had been made
ready in one of the suburban villas belonging to Iamblichus. Presently
when the rites had been duly performed and they were returning to the
city, walking slowly and at their leisure, -- for indeed their conversation
was about the Gods as was in keeping with the sacrifice -- suddenly
Iamblichus even while conversing was lost in thought, as though his
voice were cut off, and for some moments he fixed his eyes steadily
on the ground and then looked up at his friends and called to them in
a loud voice : "Let us go by another road, for a dead body has lately
been carried along this way." After saying this he turned into
another road which seemed to be less impure, and some of them turned
aside with him, who thought it was a shame to desert their teacher.
But the greater number and the more obstinate of his disciples, among
whom was Aedesius, stayed where they were, ascribing the occurrence
to a portent and scenting like hounds for the proof. And very soon those
who had buried the dead man came back. But even so the disciples did
not desist but inquired whether they had passed along this road."We
had to," they replied, "for there was no other road."
they testified also to a still more marvelous incident. When they kept
pestering Iamblichus and saying that this that I have just related was
a trifle, and perhaps due to a superior sense of smell, and that they
wished to test him in something more important, his reply to them was:
"Nay, that does not rest with me, but wait for the appointed hour."
Some time after, they decided to go to Gadara, a place which has warm
baths in the area, inferior only to those at Baiae in Italy, with which
no other baths can be compared. So they set out in the summer season.
Now he happened to be bathing and the others were bathing with him,
and they were using the same insistence, whereupon Iamblichus smiled
and said: "It is irreverent to the Gods to give you this demonstration,
but for your sakes it shall be done." There were two hot springs
smaller than the others but prettier, and he bade his disciples ask
the natives of the place by what names they used to be called in former
times. When they had done his bidding they said: "There is no pretense
about it, this spring is called Eros, and the name of the one next to
it is Anteros." He at once touched the water with his hand -- he
happened to be sitting on the ledge of the spring where the overflow
runs off -- and uttering a brief summons he called forth a boy from
the depth of the spring. He was white skinned and of medium height,
his locks were golden and his back and breast shone; and he exactly
resembled one who was bathing or had just bathed. His disciples were
overwhelmed with amazement, but Iamblichus said, "Let us go to the next
spring," and he rose and led the way, with a thoughtful air. Then he
went through the same performance there also, and summoned another Eros
like the first in all respects, except that his hair was darker and
fell loose in the sun. Both the boys embraced Iamblichus and clung closely
to him as though he were a real father. He restored them to their proper
places and went away after his bath, reverenced by his pupils. After
this the crowd of his disciples sought no further evidence, but believed
everything from the proofs that had been revealed to them, and hung
on to him as though by an unbreakable chain. Even more astonishing and
marvelous things were related of him, but I wrote down none of these
since I thought it a hazardous and sacrilegious thing to introduce a
spurious and fluid tradition into a stable and well-founded narrative.
Nay even this I record not without hesitation, as being mere hearsay,
except that I follow the lead of men who, thought they distrusted other
signs, were converted by the experience of the actual revelation. Yet
no one of his followers recorded it, as far as I know. And this I say
with good reason, since Aedesius himself asserted that he had not written
about it, nor had any other ventured to do so. (...)
(Alypius) died an old man, in Alexandria, and after him died Iamblichus
after putting forth many roots and springs of philosophy. The author
of this narrative had the good fortune to benefit by the crop that sprang
therefrom. For others of his disciples who have been mentioned were
scattered in all directions over the whole Roman Empire. (Excepts from
"Lives of the Sophists" by Eunapius.)
Works by Iamblichus
His work was considerable,
and the most sensible loss has been the Chaldean Theology quoted
by Damascius, from which five books have survived belonging to the "Collection
of Pythagorean opinions":
- The Life of
- the Protreptic,
were can be found the one by the platonic Aristotle;
- "De communi mathematica
- In Nicomachi
(Geraseni) mathematicam introductionem;a
treaty with the meaning of the numbers, and maybe the anonymous work Theologumena arithmeticae.
Strobe has preserved
important fragments from De anima, also from the Letters
to Macedonius and to Sopater About destiny, to Dexippos and to
Sopater About dialectic; and there are no more doubts about the
authenticity of De mysteriis (On The Mysteries).
Eros and Anteros: The Teachings of Iamblichus,
article by Leonard George
and Self: Iamblichus on the Paradoxes of Consciousness, article
by Leonard George, Ph.D., R.Psych
Phoenician Encyclopedia -- Phoenicia, A Bequest Unearthed (Desktop Version)
|Contact: Salim George Khalaf, Byzantine Phoenician Descendent
Salim is from Shalim, Phoenician god of dusk, whose place was Urushalim/Jerusalem
"A Bequest Unearthed, Phoenicia" — Encyclopedia Phoeniciana
|This site has been online for more than 21 years.
We have more than 420,000 words.
The equivalent of this website is about 2,000 printed pages.
DATE (Christian and Phoenician):
year 4758 after the foundation of Tyre