Advanced Greek Text Reading Seminar - Reading Plotinus' treatise On Nature, Contemplation and the One (III.8) [MEDS 5094]

Course Status: 
CEU code: 
MEDS 5094
CEU credits: 
ECTS credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
12 Jan 2015 - 30 Mar 2015
Co-hosting Unit(s) [if applicable]: 
Department of Philosophy
Co-hosting Unit(s) [if applicable]: 
Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies (CEMS)
Non-degree Specialization: 
EMS—Advanced Certificate in Eastern Mediterranean Studies
István Perczel
Learning Outcomes: 
The course will increase the participants’ skills of reading Greek philosophical texts, will make them know one of the most intriguing and influential philosophical texts of late antiquity and teach them a number of syntactical and lexicological novelties. Besides contributing to their proficiency in Greek, it will also prepare them to judge difficult, even controversial, passages on the basis of combined grammatical and philosophical criteria.
Assessment : 
The basis for the assessment is uniquely the performance during the reading seminars. There are no written assignments but good preparation at home for the classes will take much time!

According to Aristotle, Eudoxus considered joy the Supreme Good because joy is that all beings desire (Eth. Nic. X.2, 1172b). In this treatise, a product of his mature period, Plotinus playfully replaces joy by contemplation and claims that all living beings, be they intellectual, sensual or vegetative, desire for contemplation. He adds that the play he is playing is also a sort of contemplation and, then, carries this idea through to describe his metaphysical universe, starting by Nature creating, through contemplation, the natural forms of the visible world, and ending up at his Supreme God, the One.

 This will be the text read at this reading seminar. Through reading it, students will be introduced to both to the conceptual and to the poetic layers of late antique philosophy. Also, they will see how these playful, poetic ideas influenced school philosophy in the subsequent periods, including the Middle Ages.


 As the course consists of reading seminars, participants will have to prepare the reading at home and read parts of the texts aloud before translating it. Then, if there were to be any mistake, their peers should correct them, the instructor intervening only when the peer resources are exhausted.  After each section a free discussion will follow. 

Basic Bibliography

  • Paul Henry and Hans-Rudolf Schwyzer. Plotini Opera. (Editio maior in 3 vols. including English translation of Plotiniana Arabica or The Theology of Aristotle) Bruxelles and Paris: Museum Lessianum, 1951-1973.
  • Dominic J. O’Meara, Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995)
  • Kevin Corrigan, Reading Plotinus: A Practical Introduction to Neoplatonism (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2005)