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Gods and ascent (1)

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03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

12 Assyrian Identity

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

4th century CE
Roman Empire
Helleno-Roman philosophers and scholars

Iamblichus, De Mysteriis 8.8:
Well then, is it possible to liberate oneself through the gods who revolve in the heavens, and at the same time to think of them as “rulers of destiny” and as “binding down our lives with indissoluble bonds?” There is actually, perhaps, no insuperable problem about this, if (one recognises that) the gods comprehend within themselves many essences and powers, and that there inhere in them in consequence a vast quantity of distinctions and even oppositions. However, one may also say this, that in each of the gods, even the visible ones, there are certain intelligible principles of essence, through which it is possible for souls to gain release from the generative process deriving from the cosmic spheres. If, then, one maintains the existence of two classes of gods, the cosmic and the supracosmic, it is through the supracosmic that the liberation of souls will come about. These matters, however, are given more detailed discussion in the treatises on the gods, specifying which stimulate ascent and in virtue of which of their powers, how they dissolve fate, and through what hieratic modes of ascent, what is the order of the cosmic nature, and how its most perfect intellectual activity manifests its ascendancy … It is the case that from their first descent the god (= the demiurge) sent down the souls for this purpose, that they should return again to him. There is therefore no element of change of plan involved in such a process of ascent, nor is there any conflict between the descents of souls and their ascents. For even as, at the universal level, the realm of generation and this universe are dependent upon intellectual reality, so also in the dispensation of souls, liberation from the processes of generation is in harmony with the care bestowed upon their introduction into generation.

Source (list of abbreviations)
Iamblichus, De Mysteriis 8.8


Clarke, Dillon and Hershell 2003, 322-325Clarke, Emma C., John M. Dillon and Jackson P. Hershbell. Iamblichus, De Mysteriis. Translated with an Introduction and Notes. Writings from the Graeco-Roman World 4. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2003.

Amar Annus

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