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Proclus' Hymns

Robert van den Berg

Proclus the Neoplatonist (about 411 AD to 485) was not just the industrious author of a voluminous philosophical oeuvre, but also the composer of elegant hymns. This is one of his two surviving hymns on Aphrodite. These hymns are the object of my doctoral research. It is my contention that these hynms were not just the products of literary amateurism which have nothing to do with philosophy, like Plato's epigrams, but that they are part of Proclus' philosophical activities. In my paper Towards the Paternal Harbour. Proclean Theurgy and the Contemplation of the Forms you can read some of my ideas about how these hymns were supposed to attribute to doing philosophy.

               We sing a hymn on the series with the many names of Aphrogeneia
and the great royal source, from which all
immortal winged Erotes sprung up, of whom
some shoot with noeric arrows on souls, in order that,


once they have seized the upward leading goads of desires,
they long after seeing the fiery courts of their mother;
Some, because of the evil averting wishes and providential acts
of the Father, wishing to increase the infinite universe
aroused in the souls a yearning for the earthly existence.


Others again always supervise the multiformous
courses of the wedding songs, in order that they produce an
immortal race of much-suffering men from mortal stock;
and all care for the works of the love producing Kutheira.
But, goddess, for you have a farhearing ear everywhere,


whether you bind tightly the great heaven all around,
where, as they say, you are the divine soul of the everlasting cosmos,
or dwell in the ether above the rims of the seven circles
while pouring adamant powers forward into your series,
Listen, and may you steer the toilsome course of my life,


mistress, with your most righteous arrows,
while putting an end to the chilly impulse of unholy desires.

Literature on Proclus' hymns



Some articles on Proclus' hymns

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text content © Robert van den Berg
page originally hosted at Leiden University (Originally The Proclus Home Page at Leiden University), this page 1998, uploaded onto Kheper, new menu, 14 July 2004