As the most important philosophical work to emerge in the 700-year period between Aristotle and Augustine, The Enneads has been subject to intense scrutiny for more than 2000 years. But the mystical and abstract nature of these treatises by Plotinus continues to resist easy elucidation. In this volume, the latest in the Aarhus Studies on Mediterranean Antiquity, Asger Ousager grapples with the great neo-Platonist's conception of the individual. Is the individual free or determined? Is the Plotinian God subject to any compulsion Himself, and with what consequences for our inner and outer freedom? And finally, what are the political and ethical implications of Plotinism? Since Plotinus has traditionally been regarded as apolitical, it is the evidence that Ousager marshals for his political philosophy that forms the most intriguing part of this study. According to the author, what distinguishes Plotinus from Plato and Aristotle politically is his emphasis on natural authority, mutual cooperation and the immense potential of all people, even slaves.
The volume concludes with a brief survey of archaeological evidence for the direct social and political impact of Plotinus' thought on his own age.