polytheist extractions

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 36

“Proclus left this world in the 124th year from Julian’s accession to the empire under the archonship of the younger Nicagoras in Athens on the seventeenth day of the month Munychion, or the seventeenth of April. His body received the funerary honors usual among the Athenians, as he himself had requested; for more than any other did this blessed man have the knowledge and practice of funerary honors due the dead. Under no circumstances did he neglect to render the customary homages, and on fixed yearly dates he went to visit the tombs of the Attic heroes, those of the philosophers, of his friends, and acquaintances; he performed the rites prescribed by religion, and not through some deputy, but personally. After having fulfilled this pious duty towards each of them, he went to the Academy, in a certain particular place, and by vows and prayers, he invoked the souls of his ancestors, collectively and separately; and, in another part of the building, in common with others, he made libations in honor of all those who had practiced philosophy. After all that, this holy person traced out a third distinct space and offered a sacrifice to all the souls of the dead. His body, clothed and arranged as I have said above, according to his own request, and carried by his friends, was buried in the most easterly part of the suburbs, near Mount Lycabettus, where rested the body of his teacher Syrianus.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 36


2 responses to “Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 36

  1. Apuleius Platonicus 04/20/2011 at 2:54 pm

    Marinus’ Life of Proclus is a genuine treasure trove. Bless you for posting these excerpts. Isn’t it amazing that some people try to portray Proclus, along with other late antique Platonists, as if they did not truly believe in the old Gods and the Old Ways, as if they were enemies of tradition, rather than its most stubborn defenders? Proclus & Co. were true adepts. They accomplished the Great Work of preserving the Old Magic in a form that has lasted to today.

    In this one brief paragraph we discover that Marinus marks the year of his teacher’s death by counting the years since the reign of Julian. We discover the Proclus was deeply committed to preserving Athenian traditional funerary rites, and that he also personally performed these rites frequently, that he honored both “the Attic heroes” and also “all those who had practiced philosophy.” All this flies in the face of those who try to portray Proclus as having a greater affinity for Christianity than for traditional polytheistic Hellenismos.

    • eklogai 04/20/2011 at 6:24 pm

      It’s probably one of my favorite pieces of literature from late antiquity because we get an intimate glimpse into the religious beliefs and practices of that era. Most of what we have is very theoretical and obtuse – but this is direct and personal. More than anything else I hope that that’s what this project does for people – answer the question, “What was it really like back then?” Knowing that opens up so many possibilities for us today. There are people who are worried about having direct encounters with the gods because they think that’s not really part of ancient Paganism – but it so totally was! And you’re absolutely right that there’s a lot of confusion – much of it intentional, I suspect – about the Platonists. Regardless of their philosophical speculations (which are often grossly misunderstood and deceptively rendered into English) these men dutifully performed the ancient rites, loved the gods and indeed worshiped side by side and in like fashion with their less philosophically-inclined brethren. In fact the Platonists took the lead in opposing Christianity and so deserve to be honored among the last defenders of Classical Paganism regardless of whether one adheres to their school or not.

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