On the Life of Plotinus and the Order of His Books,
LCL 440: 2-3
ΠΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΠΛΩΤΙΝΟΥ ΒΙΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΣ ΤΑΞΕΩΣ ΤΩΝ ΒΙΒΛΙΩΝ ΑΥΤΟΥ
1. Πλωτῖνος ὁ καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς γεγονὼς φιλόσοφος ἐῴκει μὲν αἰσχυνομένῳ ὅτι ἐν σώματι εἴη. Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς τοιαύτης διαθέσεως οὔτε περὶ τοῦ γένους αὐτοῦ διηγεῖσθαι ἠνείχετο οὔτε περὶ τῶν γονέων 5οὔτε περὶ τῆς πατρίδος. Ζωγράφου δὲ ἀνασχέσθαι ἢ πλάστου τοσοῦτον ἀπηξίου ὥστε καὶ λέγειν πρὸς Ἀμέλιον δεόμενον εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι ἐπιτρέψαι· οὐ γὰρ ἀρκεῖ φέρειν ὃ ἡ φύσις εἴδωλον ἡμῖν περιτέθεικεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰδώλου εἴδωλον συγχωρεῖν αὐτὸν ἀξιοῦν πολυχρονιώτερον καταλιπεῖν ὡς δή 10τι τῶν ἀξιοθεάτων ἔργων; Ὅθεν ἀπαγορεύοντος καὶ καθεδεῖσθαι ἕνεκα τούτου ἀρνουμένου ἔχων φίλον ὁ Ἀμέλιος Καρτέριον τὸν ἄριστον τῶν τότε γεγονότων ζωγράφων εἰσιέναι καὶ ἀπαντᾶν εἰς τὰς συνουσίας ποιήσας—ἐξῆν γὰρ τῷ βουλομένῳ φοιτᾶν εἰς τὰς συνουσίας—τὰς ἐκ τοῦ ὁρᾶν φαντασίας
The Life of Plotinus
On the Life of Plotinus and the Order of His Books
1. Plotinus, the philosopher of our times, seemed ashamed of being in the body. As a result of this state of mind he could never bear to talk about his race or his parents or his native country.1 And he objected so strongly to sitting to a painter or sculptor that he said to Amelius,2 who was urging him to allow a portrait of himself to be made, “Why really, is it not enough to have to carry the image in which nature has encased us, without your requesting me to agree to leave behind me a longer-lasting image of the image, as if it was something genuinely worth looking at?” In view of his denial and refusal for this reason to sit, Amelius, who had a friend, Carterius, the best painter of the time, brought him in to attend the meetings of the school—they were open to anyone who wished to come, and accustomed him by progressive
- 1Eunapius (p. 6. Boissonade) says Plotinus came from Egypt and that his birthplace was Lyco. David, in his preface to his commentary on Porphyry’s Eisagoge (4. pp. 91. 23–92. 1), gives the name of Plotinus’s birthplace as Lycopolis, probably the town of that name in Upper Egypt (though the town of the same name in the Delta may be meant). But the reliability of this information must remain somewhat suspect. It is difficult to see what good source of information could have been open to Eunapius which was not available to Porphyry.
- 2For Amelius Gentilianus from Etruria cp. Life, ch. 3, 7, 10, 17 (his epistle dedicatory to Porphyry), 18, and 20. He was, as the Life makes clear, the leading member of the school in which he seems to have acted as Plotinus’s chief assistant (cp. especially ch. 18). He was extremely pious (ch. 10) and a diffuse and voluminous writer. Nothing survives of the hundred volumes of the notes which he made at the meetings of the school.