The Moons of the Planets, the Planets around Stars, and Revolutions and Rotations of Bodies in Space

Described by the Neoplatonic Philosopher Proclus

' . . In each of the planetary spheres there are invisible stars which revolve together with their spheres . . .'

So said Proclus the Platonic successor in a.d. 438.

The non-specialist reader will never have heard of Proclus, one of the greatest intellects in the history of philosophy, who lived from a.d. 410 to 485. The only easily available English translation of this Greek philosopher's gigantic output is his Elements of Theology 1 (which is not relevant to what we are to consider here). But the persistent inquirer may obtain his Commentary on Euclid2 and his Commentary on the First Alcibiades of Plato3 in English (the former from America, the latter from Holland).


And from Liechtenstein one may now obtain in English the end of the seventh book of his Commentary on the Parmenides of Plato.4

What the persistent inquirer will likely not be told by any compendium of information on the subject is that most of the works of Proclus were translated into English by Thomas Taylor at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in England and are to be found in a handful of libraries (though even the British Museum has a far from complete collection of Taylor's life's work).

Perhaps it would be as well to quote the view of Proclus held by Thomas Taylor. One should bear in mind that Taylor was the first man to translate all of Plato's works into English - a mammoth task indeed, but not as wearying as translating most of Proclus! Here, then, is what Taylor says of Proclus:

To the lovers of the wisdom of the Greeks, any remains of the writings of Proclus will always be invaluable, as he was a man who, for the variety of his powers, the beauty of his diction, the magnificence of his conceptions, and his luminous development of the abstruse dogmas of the ancients, is unrivalled among the disciples of Plato.

There are many classical scholars who like to imply that the 'Golden Age' of Greece was the only significant era in Greek philosophy. Within this period one can conveniently place Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Demosthenes, and the historians Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon.

These brilliant names tend to blind one into accepting the false notion that Greece at any other period in its history was merely second rate in the intellects it produced. Many scholars arc passionately dedicated to deriding any Greek intellects either before or after this 'Golden Age'.


Some caustic comments have been made about this by other scholars, and there is no denying the tendency to ignore or belittle - even to suppress and deny - Greeks who preceded or followed the glorious 'Golden Greeks' who are most familiar to us. It certainly is an embarrassing fact, then, for certain classical scholars to have to face, that the Platonic Academy continued to function in Athens for over nine hundred years.

Regarding the Academy, George Sarton says in A History of Science: Ancient Science through the Golden Age of Greece:5

At the time when (the Emperor) Justinian closed its doors, (the Academy) might have celebrated its 916th anniversary. . . . the Academy changed considerably in the course of centuries; it is only the Old Academy that may be considered as Plato's Academy, and it lasted a century and a half or less.


To this one might reply that every institution is bound to change with the vicissitudes of time and that the longer it lives the more it must be expected to change. Bearing these remarks in mind, we may put it this way: the Academy of Athens, the Academy founded by Plato, lasted more than nine centuries.

Those who find chronology difficult to comprehend without analogies might wish to ponder this: the duration of the Platonic Academy (apparently on the same site) in Athens was equivalent to the duration to date on English soil of Westminster Abbey; or, the 916 years of life of the Academy as a philosophical institution was equal to the amount of time which will have elapsed from the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066 to the year 1982. (And even after the dismemberment, the Academy continued 'in exile' in Persia, etc.)


We thus see that Plato's Academy existed longer on one spot than Britain has existed since William the Conqueror.

The Platonic tradition in the broader sense, with its gnostic and heretical overtones and its myriad manifestations in later ages in such bizarre and fascinating figures as Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficino, John Dee, and even Sir Philip Sidney and the Earl of Leicester - not to mention the troubadours of Provence, Dante in Italy, and the massacred tens of thousands of Albigensians in France, the Knights Templar, and an infinite range of hopeless causes over two and a half millennia, is an agonizing and impossible problem for the orthodox mind, whatever its creed.


For Platonism in the general sense is a creed which denies creed, an anti-institutional tradition known to those who adhere to it as the 'Great Tradition'. It resembles the Society of Friends (Quakers) in insisting on nothing by way of doctrinal dogma. It is truly free, it has no membership, no tithes, no rules which are enforced; it has no Pope, no Caliph. It terrifies those weaker mentalities which crave a structured belief-system; they always try to destroy it, but succeed only in destroying individuals and individual 'movements' within the larger tradition.

How can any 'intellectual establishment' conceivably admit that this undercurrent of spirituality has flowed outside the orthodox boundaries of the official religion of Christianity since the third century and the time of Origen? And how confess that Proclus, who lived seven hundred years later than Plato, had a mind as luminous in his own way us Plato's? What happens to the the 'hermetically sealed Greek miracle' then ?


If Platonism is seen to continue as a persecuted underground movement for two thousand years and more, what conclusions must we draw about the supposed openness of orthodox Western culture ? If our commonly accepted pattern of civilization is seen to be based on a lie, based on the denial of the non-orthodox, the implications are so immense that nothing short of a total intellectual upheaval could result.


No person with a vested interest, whether a chair at a university or a weekly newspaper, a large corporation or a television station (or a diocesan see) would be completely isolated from the results which would follow. The results need not be destructive in the sense of a political or social revolution, but they would be more fundamental, and hence more far-reaching in the end. It is fear of constructive change (which amounts to fear of the unknown) which is here involved.


These indeed are problems. And they go some way to explain why the reader hears nothing of a great many subjects which have a direct relevance to the matter. One of the many such subjects is Proclus. No one dares to discuss what Proclus really stood for and what he represents beyond his own specific ideas. Even to raise the subject of a figure such as Proclus is to bring the skeleton from the closet and rattle it with a vengeance.

Proclus does not even rate his own entry in the Penguin Companion to Literature, vol. 4, which deals with classical literature. He is mentioned under an entry for Neoplatonism by D. R. Dudley:

He was a strange combination - possible in that age - of philosopher, logician, mathematician, and mystic. Neo-Platonism gave to the intellectual of the last phase of paganism a metaphysical religion. . . . The figure of the sage gazing upwards in contemplation is often found on late imperial sarcophagi.

Notice the phrase 'possible in that age', implying as it does that no person today would even consider trying to know something about so many subjects in our age of perverse over-specialization. Proclus, we are told, 'was a strange combination'. Dudley tells us nothing of what Proclus wrote, nothing of his ideas, nothing of the immense bulk of his writings, and in his bibliography refers us only to the harmless and difficult Elements of Theology. We are left to conclude that Proclus was an extinct species like the dodo, interesting only because he was 'a strange combination possible in that age'.


There are very few historians dealing with the fifth century a.d. We assume from what Dudley says that only they could be interested in a 'strange combination possible in that age'. Surely Proclus, of whom we are told nothing of importance, is totally unimportant. Would the Penguin Companion mislead its readers? Such a thing is unthinkable.

Professor A. C. Lloyd of the University of Liverpool was given the task of discussing Proclus as part of his contribution to the Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Mediaeval Philosophy,6 a compendium which did not exist before 1967 and which was reprinted with corrections in 1970. The publication of this large volume of 715 pages marked the attainment of a stage in classical scholarship where many scholars were officially agreeing that they were running out of things to do in the more usual areas and had better begin compiling guidelines for a study of the long-neglected subject of the above-mentioned book.


Such lonely figures as Richard Walzer, Philip Merlan, and the late I. P. Sheldon-Williams, long engaged in these arcane pursuits out of pure interest, were summoned to help delineate the bounds within which a new generation of students might have some new fields in which to do their Ph.D. theses and where some original work remains to be done by the professors who have now tidied up the Pre-Socratic field rather well and need new ground for some genuine problem-solving.

But to return to Professor Lloyd, who has made an interesting attempt to describe Proclus and some aspects of his thought and writings. It is important for us to know more about Proclus the man.7


Here is part of Lloyd's account:

Proclus was born at Constantinople in 410 or shortly afterwards. But his parents, who were patricians from Lycia in south-west Asia Minor, sent him to school in their country and then to Alexandria to study literature and rhetoric. Instead of law, which was his father's profession, philosophy attracted him, so he attended lectures on mathematics and Aristotle. The next stage was Athens.

His studies at the Platonic Academy there are then described, and it was this School of which he was to become the Head:

'It is not known when he took over the School, but he remained at its head till he died in 485. He never married and his only defects were a jealous nature and a short temper.'

His short temper seems to have extended to impatience with those who were slow to understand what he was saying or who made irritating difficulties over petty details. For instance, he begins his mammoth work Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato with this extraordinarily testy sentence:

'That the design of the Platonic Timaeus embraces the whole of physiology and that it pertains to the theory of the universe, discussing this from the beginning to the end, appears to me to be clearly evident to those who are not entirely illiterate.'

It is now that we begin to consider the connection which Proclus has with the larger subject of our book. We will continue with Professor Lloyd's description of Proclus:

Proclus moved in important political circles, but like other leading Platonists he was a champion of pagan worship against imperial policy and found himself more than once in trouble. There is no doubt of his personal faith in religious practices. A vegetarian diet, prayers to the sun, the rites of a Chaldaean initiate, even the observance of Egyptian holy days were scrupulously practiced.


He is said to have got his practical knowledge of theurgy from a daughter of Plutarch [the Platonist, not the author of the Lives], and according to his own claim he could conjure up luminous phantoms of Hecate. Nor is there any doubt that he put theurgy, as liberation of the soul, above philosophy. But while his philosophy is full of abstract processions and reversions, philosophy was nothing for him if not itself a reversion, a return to the One, though achieving only an incomplete union.


Its place can be seen in an almost fantastically elaborated metaphysical system: but although this system would not have been created had there not been a religion to justify, its validity does not depend and was not thought by Proclus to depend on the religion.

The connection with the mysteries of Hecate as well as Proclus's practicing Egyptian and Chaldaean mysteries immediately arouses in the alert reader the suspicion that Proclus might just possibly have known something of the Sirius mystery. Could this be the case ? In a moment we will consider some amazing opinions of Proclus on the heavenly bodies which no historian of science I have encountered has ever taken into account (probably because no one ever actually reads through that gigantic tome known as the Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato which I mentioned a moment ago).


But first let us examine any further evidence than this slim fact which might link Proclus with the general milieu of our Sirius tradition. Professor Lloyd provides further interesting remarks:

Proclus believed that his metaphysics was the true though hidden meaning of Plato and that this like all Greek 'theology' derived from the secret doctrines of Pythagoreans and Orphics. It can be studied in two works, the Elements of Theology and the Theology of Plato, with help here and there from the commentaries on the Parmenides, Timaeus, and Alcibiades.

It must be emphasized that in the form of such commentaries, the Neoplatonists produced much purely original and creative philosophy. It is fashionable at the moment to ridicule their commentary format as derivative and inferior. This is a pathetic attempt to deride what cannot or will not be appreciated. An example may be seen in the description by Professor Robert Browning of Birkbeck College, University of London, in the Penguin Companion volume, of the commentaries of Proclus's later successor Simplicius as 'misconceived and pedestrian textbooks'.


The word 'misconceived' is loaded, and immediately lets us know that Professor Browning disagrees with them in principle and therefore derides them. However, in my own reading of Simplicius's Commentary on Epictetus, for instance, I was amazed to find a luminous intellect behind the commentary, whose dissertations on free will are so startlingly contemporary that I immediately thought of comparing them with writings of our modern cybernetic age, such as the fascinating books by Norbert Weiner.


In Chapter One Simplicius speaks of 'those who pretend that our opinions and desires, and generally speaking, all of our choices and intentions, are necessary and not at our own disposal, but come from exterior causes outside ourselves, not coming from us of our own volition.' He attacks the 'Behaviourists' of his day in clear and forceful terms which are not restricted in relevance to his own times by any means.


Some of his reasoning is so acute and many of his insights are so profound, that I can see no reason why not a single word of his writings can be obtained in English from any publisher in the world.

Of the works of Proclus, it is really the Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato (which I shall abbreviate from here on as In Tim.) which is the source of Proclus's views on the cosmos and of his views of the Platonic succession of an esoteric tradition from the ancient mystery religions. Professor Lloyd, in a footnote to his passage last quoted, does not give this reference on these points, but instead refers to other works by Proclus.


In his entire treatment of Proclus, Lloyd gives only slight and cursory reference to the In Tim. However, it is to the In Tim. which we must now turn. Since page references to the Greek text of Lipsiae would be useless to most readers, I give page references to Taylor's English translation, vols. I and II.

At the end of Book IV of In Tim., Proclus says (II, 307):

'But it is Pythagoric to follow the Orphic genealogies. For the science concerning the Gods proceeded from the Orphic tradition through Pythagoras, to the Greeks, as Pythagoras himself says in the Sacred Discourse.'

The fact that he entertained this view in relation to the mystery religions is shown in his remarks about Pythagoric principles in In Tim., Book V (II, 312):

'But these are the Orphic traditions. For what Orpheus delivered mystically through arcane narrations, this Pythagoras learned, being initiated by Aglaophemus in the mystic wisdom which Orpheus derived from his mother Calliope.'

He attaches this view to his discussion in In Tim. of celestial phenomena. Not long after the above passage he says:

'Tor Orpheus calls the moon celestial earth'.

And in Book III he says:

'The Pythagoreans say ... (that) the moon is ethereal earth'.

Taking these views, as he does, and claiming to be a devotee of Hecate specifically (a 'Hymn to Hecate' by Proclus survives in which he calls her 'Guardian of the Gates' - an ancient Egyptian title of Horus - and Mother of the Gods - an ancient title of Isis; see IV, 4, 6, of Grant's Hellenistic Religions),8 Proclus seems to stand in the position as an initiate capable of knowing something of the Sirius mystery.


I have found no references, and it would have been considered impious by him to make any direct references to such an esoteric doctrine. But I have found that many theories of his clearly seem to reflect on it and be based on its premise of an invisible star. These theories are so extraordinary that I feel an account of them should be made. And the primary importance of them to us is that in them Proclus speaks with full authority in insisting that certain invisible heavenly bodies definitely exist.


These bodies are the moons of the planets and the planets of other stars. Furthermore, Proclus seems to have an incredibly enlightened view of celestial phenomena in many other ways as well.

In Book III of In Tim. Proclus says (I, 425) that the Moon is made of celestial earth. Or why else does the moon, being illuminated, produce a shadow, and why does not the solar light pervade through the whole of it ? ... we shall find that fire and earth subsist also analogously in the heavens; fire indeed, defining the essence of them, but each of the other elements being consubsistent with it.

Shortly afterwards he says:

The elements being conceived in one way as unmingled, but in another as mingled, the first mixture of them produces the heavens, which contain all things according to a fiery characteristic-----For all things are in the heaven according to a fiery mode.

We know from other citations above that the theory of the moon being celestial earth' is a 'Pythagoric-Orphic' one which Proclus has adopted. The fact that he here extends the observation to the remarks of the general nature of the celestial bodies implies that those ideas conic from the same source. The heavens are indeed of a 'fiery mode', for we now know scientifically that stars possess all the normal chemical elements in a fiery mode.


Proclus's description of celestial bodies could be perfectly in harmony with our present-day scientific knowledge. It is true, as Proclus says, that the stars may be described with 'fire indeed, describing the essence of them, but each of the other elements being consubsistent with it'. For, though they are ablaze, stars are known to contain all elements.

Proclus makes absolutely clear that when he speaks of 'fire' in the heavens he is shaking figuratively. He says (page 280):

'Hence, the fire which is there (in the heavenly bodies) is light; and it is not proper to disturb the discussion of it, by directing our attention to the gross and dark fire of the sublunary region [the below-the-moon, or earthly region].'

And to make it beyond the slightest possibility of misunderstanding, he adds (page 281) that fire in the heavens is 'fire which is not perfectly fire' but, rather, star-fire is more properly 'fire which is in energy'.

These conceptions are quite astounding in the light of modern science. In fact, modern theories of there being in space an interstellar medium which is of such a tenuous nature that it is barely perceivable to us but nevertheless quite extensive (not the old-fashioned 'Aether'!), find an uncanny forerunner in Proclus's strange statement from Book III of In Tim. (I, 425):

It is also necessary that the middle elements should be in the heavenly bodies, but that different elements should abound in different parts of the celestial regions. And in some places indeed, it is necessary that the fiery nature should widely scatter its splendor, on account of solidity, as in the starry bodies; but in others, that it should be concealed from us, as in the spheres that carry the stars.

No matter what interpretation one may put on these remarks by Proclus, the fact remains that he views the stars as congealed bodies in a celestial medium and that between them lies 'fiery matter' which is invisible to us. As for his references to the spheres, these are hardly the glassy globules familiar to us from more conventional ancient astronomy, as we shall see.

In Book IV of the In Tim. (II, 293), Proclus ridicules epicycles and says they are valuable as 'an excellent contrivance' by which to analyze and comprehend the true simple motions of the stars,

just as if someone, not being able to measure a spiral motion about a cylinder, but afterwards assuming a right line moved about it, and a point in the right line measuring its motions, should find what the quantity is of the motion about the spiral in a given time. To this therefore, the attention of those is directed, who employ evolvents, epicycles, and eccentrics, through simple motions, from which they discover a various motion.

We thus see that Proclus, despite his late date, is no prisoner of the Ptolemaic theory of the universe. Ptolemy lived three hundred years before him, but Proclus was a hold-out against his epicycles, preferring the views expressed above.


In fact, Proclus views the spheres in a way which is extremely surprising, for in Book IV of In Tim. (p. 273) he says:

'Thus also the planets are moved with an advancing motion, but not the spheres of the planets'.

This is quite a clear statement that the planets move while their 'spheres' or - dare we say it ? - orbits are really the spaces in which this movement takes place. However, we need not be too cautious here. Benjamin Jowett uses the word 'orbit' in his translation of the text of Plato (38-39) on which Proclus is here commenting. There is no reason why we should refrain from doing the same.

We are thus confronted with a clear description by Proclus (less obscure than Plato's own vague account) of the planets moving in orbits which themselves are clearly conceived as trajectory spaces. And this concept is so scientifically accurate and advanced, and so contrary to the then fashionable view that the 'spheres' of the planets moved and carried the planets along with them, that we must appreciate the precocity of Proclus in putting the notion forward so clearly and persistently.


Plato's text may be interpreted in the same way, but it is not customary to do so, and it is too vague by far.


A typical example of the standard interpretation of the passage in Plato's own Timaeus is that given by Professor A. C. Crombie in vol. I of Augustine to Galileo (though he does on page 33 describe the Timaeus quite starkly as a 'Pythagorean allegory', which is presumably a daring way to put it) on page 49:

The different spheres in which the seven 'planets', Moon, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, were set, revolved with different uniform velocities such as would represent the observed movements of those bodies.

This is purely an interpretation of a vague text. One could just as well say that Plato maintained that the spheres did not move and the planets in them were what moved, as Proclus specifically states (and as he seems to think Plato believed).

Proclus goes out of his way to say (p. 279):

(Plato) is evidently of opinion, that the planets become through themselves, more remote from, and nearer to the earth, and that their revolutions according to breadth, are made by their own progressions, and not through being carried by other things, such as evolvents or epicycles.

This puts Proclus in a position diametrically opposite Professor Crombie in interpreting the text of Plato. I am afraid that I, for one, must come down on the side of Proclus in such a contest. In any case, Professor Crombie has shown himself quick to alter a view if presented with fresh evidence on the matter, as he has demonstrated on an entirely different subject in correspondence with the author.

Near the very end of Book IV of In Tim. (pp. 293 ff.) Proclus says:

With respect to the stars, however, those that are fixed, revolve about their own centers. . . . But the planets revolve in conjunction with the inerratic sphere, and each is moved together with its sphere to the east, and revolves by itself according to breadth and depth, and about its proper centre.

It is worth while for us to examine these remarks of his closely. First of all, the 'in-erratic sphere' of the fixed stars revolves around the Earth and the planets do the same in conjunction with it. That is the simplest of the motions.


But on top of that are several more motions: first, the fixed stars rotate on their axes in a spin rotation; second, the planets do the same; third, the planets do more than that: each planet 'by itself (i.e. in separate motion from all the other stars and planets as well as separate from the 'spheres') 'revolves according to breadth and depth', which obviously refers to 'becoming by itself more remote from and nearer to the earth', as seen from the previous quote.


And this depth of planetary motion, which Proclus here specifically calls 'according to breadth and depth' literally adds a new dimension to any theory of planetary motion. For whereas anyone who observes the sky over long periods can see that the planets appear to get dimmer and brighter as if they were 'becoming more remote from and nearer to the earth', the formal description of planets operating in terms of a dimension at right angles to their apparent revolutions comes very close indeed to pointing to a central point of their revolutions which is something other than the Earth.


There was a tradition that Plato came to believe this, which was publicly proposed by Aristarchus of Samos and partially advocated by Plato's friend Heraclides of Pontus.


We know that Proclus was aware of it:

'Let Heracleides Ponticus therefore, who was an auditor of Plato, be of this opinion; for he ascribed a circular motion to the Earth' (In Tim. II, 288).

In short - that the Earth revolves around some other centre such as the sun.

'... But let it be admitted that Plato established it immovable' (ibid.).

Thus does Proclus admit the controversy and come down on the side of caution concerning revolution about the sun.

It is phenomenal that Proclus, with an insight which is difficult for us to comprehend, attributed to all celestial bodies a spin rotation about their axes. And since the Earth is a celestial body, it is to be wondered whether Proclus gathered the appropriate conclusion - that the Earth rotates and that is what makes the sky seem to revolve about us.

In considering this point we must realize that in the Timaeus, Plato mentions the rotations of the heavenly bodies on their axes (4oa-b):

'And (the Creator) gave to each of (the stars) two movements: the first, a movement on the same spot after the same manner . . . the second, a forward movement . . .'

This is an obscure way of saying the stars rotate and the sky circles. (If Plato inserted someone else's treatise into his dialogue without being fully au fait with the material - as has been maintained - it may explain the vagueness, though Plato does no better in the Laws and was a feeble astronomer.)


In the same passage as above, Plato also clearly describes the following:

'The earth, which is our nurse, circling around the pole which is extended through the universe', which refers to the rotation of the earth itself on its axis.

Proclus apparently adds of his own volition the other motions - for Plato seems only to mention two. Furthermore, Plato's text is too brief and foggy to make it clear exactly what he did mean. The one thing of which we can be certain is that Proclus expended untold tens of thousands of words expounding Plato's meanings in all fields beyond the extent to which Plato himself managed or desired to do. On some subjects this is not particularly gripping. But with this particular subject, every scrap of evidence is essential to unravelling the intended significance of Plato's statements.

In an essay of his entitled 'Platonic Questions' (not yet published in the Loeb Library series - as the last remaining of fourteen volumes, again we see Platonic studies enjoying the lowest priority - but published in English in 1874)9, Plutarch provides us with essential evidence that Plato definitely abandoned his earlier geocentric ideas, despite Proclus's nervous demurral.


Plutarch says in Question VIII:

What means Timaeus [see Plato's Timaeus, 42D] when he says that souls are dispersed into the earth, the moon, and into other instruments of time ? Does the earth move like the sun, moon, and five planets, which for their motions he calls organs or instruments of time ? Or is the earth fixed to the axis of the universe; yet not so built as to remain immovable, but to turn and wheel about, as Aristarchus and Seleucus have shown since; Aristarchus only supposing it, Seleucus positively asserting it ?


Theophrastus writes how that Plato, when he grew old repented him that he had placed the earth in the middle of the universe, which was not its place.

(Plutarch then follows with his own opinion, which is that the earth does not move.)

Theophrastus's testimony here is unimpeachable, but was probably unknown to Proclus, by whose lifetime most of Theophrastus's works would have been lost. Theophrastus was Aristotle's successor and head of the Lyceum at Athens, and an unquestionably reliable source; and Plutarch leaves us in no doubt (see 'Against Colotes the Epicurean', 14, in Moralia) that he read Theophrastus's actual works attentively, making a misquotation or secondhand report impossible in this instance.

The Seleucus who is mentioned here was a mathematician and astronomer described by George Sarton 10 as follows:

'This Babylonian was a follower of Aristarchus of Samos'.

Seleucus is described differently by Giorgio de Santillana, who gives him another nationality in The Origins of Scientific Thought, page 250:

'We know of only one [astronomer] who adopted the system [of Aristarchus] a century later, Seleucus of Seleucia, an Oriental Greek from the Persian Gulf.'

However, Plato's views on the earth's position in space are less interesting to us in themselves than as they relate to Proclus's interpretation of them, and also as they relate to modern historians of science, who tend to gloss over the possibility that Plato may have adopted a heliocentric theory of a rotating earth moving round the sun, which was obscurely expressed in the Timaeus and less tentatively adhered to by Plato 'when he grew old', bearing in mind that the Timaeus itself is no early work of Plato's.

In Plutarch's same essay, 29, we find evidence of a continuity from Plato through his student Xenocrates of the belief that the heavens contain more than one element. However, Proclus seems to transcend by far the limited theory of Plato and Xenocrates as here presented. The summary of theories of Xenocrates presumably is drawn from his lost work in six books On Astronomy unless from his one lost book on Things Pythagorean. Xenocrates was head of the Academy for twenty-five years until his death at the age of eighty-two 'from the effects of a fall over some utensil in the night', as Diogenes Laertius tells us.11

There is clear proof that Proclus did not himself originate the third motion at right angles to revolution which we have seen that Plato does not mention. We actually find it referred to by Plutarch in his dialogue 'Of the Face Appearing in the Orb of the Moon'.24


There he says:

Nor is the moon indeed moved by one motion only, but is, as they were wont to call her, Trivia, or Three-Wayed - performing her course together according to length, breadth, and depth in the Zodiac; the first of which motions mathematicians call a direct revolution, the second volutation, or an oblique winding and wheeling in and out; and the third (I know not why) an inequality; although they see that she has no motion uniform, settled, and certain, in all her circuits and reversions.

Plutarch's expressions 'mathematicians call' and 'as they were wont to call her' make clear that he is referring to some unidentified and now lost astronomical works. Plutarch's exposition is not as clear as we could wish, and in a succeeding passage is countered by another speaker who espouses the more fashionable theory of spheres which actually themselves move while, as for the moon: 'some supposing that she herself stirs not'.


It is peripherally interesting that in this retort the speaker also cites Aristarchus of Samos as being involved in a controversy over a line from Homer's Iliad which Plutarch gives and which is missing from our present text of Homer, a line advocated by Crates- and opposed by Aristarchus, which correctly describes the sea as covering 'the most part of the earth'.

We must not stray too far from Proclus. In pursuit of him, however, I wish to mention his influence on Johannes Kepler, the sixteenth-century discoverer of the three laws of planetary motion (which are the only ones we possess even now). And in this I have another complaint to make. For not one major work of Kepler's has ever been translated into English.13


This fact is enough to send one into despair. Who wants to plough through a lot of medieval Latin to read Kepler - and who can ? But what has Kepler to do with Proclus ? Well, Kepler was steeped - indeed, drenched - in Proclus. The interested reader may turn to the closing pages of Harmonies of the World in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica vol. 16, Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Kepler 14, and read for himself.


He will find there remarks about Proclus, after which Kepler says:

'But also I have recently fallen upon the hymn of Proclus the Platonic philosopher, of whom there has been much mention in the preceding books, which was composed to the Sun and filled full with venerable mysteries' in the context of speculation about 'what did the ancient Pythagoreans in Aristotle mean, who used to call the centre of the world (which they referred to as the "fire" but understood by that the sun) "the watchtower of Jupiter"?'

Here we see that Kepler, the great forerunner of Newton, was delighted with the 'venerable mysteries' of Proclus.

  • In the light of what we know now and will shortly discover further, later in this appendix, about Proclus's theories, what effect did they have on Kepler's own thinking?
    Was Proclus standing behind Kepler just as Aristarchus stood behind Copernicus?

  • When will Kepler and Proclus be fully available in English so that any intelligent person can make up his own mind without first becoming fluent in often highly technical medieval Latin?

  • But most important of all, were the greatest advances at the commencement of modern cosmological speculation made by virtue of their generation from suppressed and unorthodox ancient sources such as Proclus and Aristarchus?

  • Did the 'secret' side of ancient astronomy from the Pythagoreans to Proclus really engender the origins of our modern cosmologies?

  • And the corollary of this is: If so, are the possibilities of our making pertain breakthroughs being stymied by the very suppression of the sources which may have engendered the earliest breakthroughs ?

  • By cutting off the root of Kepler, can we really expect the branch to continue to flower?

If the facts about Proclus's theories which are being presented in this appendix really have gone unremarked by all the leading historians of science upon whom we all usually rely to tell us at second hand all the facts which we feel we have no time to discover at first hand, then something is clearly wrong with the system. We have got to overhaul the mechanics. Otherwise we shall continue to spiral downwards and think we are rising.


I am referring to means and sources of inspiration. I do not question for a moment that vast progress is made in many areas. But I do maintain most strongly that our system for deriving inspiration in theorizing about the cosmos is demented because it is incomplete, therefore unbalanced. We should by now have formulated more laws or principles of planetary motion.


But it is fashionable for those who read second-hand cribs of Kepler to deride him. He was a 'nut'. We do not attempt to study his means and methods of thinking or even acknowledge the existence of many of his most important sources. And one of those sources was Proclus. The writings of Proclus are so voluminous that I have to confess that I have not gleaned from them by any means an exhaustive survey of his views.


This Appendix is merely a sampling.


But of course we have not yet come to the most surprising views of all, which we must now consider:

(The planets') adumbrations are situations according to which they darken us and other things. For the body which is arranged after another body, becomes situated in the front of that which is posterior to it. And . . . they run under each other.

Also there arc 'their occultations under the sun, and their evolutions into light...'


Significantly he here turns to the subject:

For it is necessary to recur from the phenomena to the reminiscences of invisible natures. For as from these instruments and shadows, we are enabled to commence the contemplation of the celestial bodies; thus also from the latter, we recall to our recollection invisible circulations.

It is not an easy thing to know what Proclus is referring to. His sudden dropping of this large but obscure hint cannot be meant to be understood by everyone - not even those 'who are not entirely illiterate', as he testily warned us in the very first sentence of his huge tome. This particular work by Proclus is extremely difficult to read, and the Thomas Taylor translation has neither any index nor any form of table of contents by which to locate subjects, names or references in the text.


The Lipsiae Greek text has an index, but there is no means of correlating it with the Taylor translation, which has no textual numbering.

Can this reference to 'invisible circulations' refer to the invisible circulations of the companion of Sirius? The answer to this question cannot be a final 'no', and the possibility must be seriously considered when we read these next opinions of Proclus from In Tim. Book IV (II, 281):

As Aristotle, however, inquires why the sphere of the fixed stars, being one, comprehends many stars, but in each of the planetary spheres, which are many, there is only one star, the solution of this conformably to his own opinion may be obtained from his writings. But we have already said something concerning this, and now agreeably to what has been before asserted, we say, that each of the planets is a whole world, comprehending in itself many divine genera invisible to us.


Of all these however, the visible star has the government . . . in each of the (planetary spheres) there are invisible stars, which revolve together with their spheres; so that in each, there is both the wholeness, and a leader which is allotted an exempt transcendency. . . . each of the spheres is a world; theologists also teaching us these things when they say that there are Gods in each prior to daemons, some of which are under the government of other. . . . from all which it is evident that each of the planets is truly said to be the leader of many Gods, who give completion to its peculiar circulation.


Taylor, in a footnote, rightly calls this an 'extraordinary passage' of the treatise! Italics above are mine.

Elsewhere Proclus says (In Tim., II, 260):

'There are, however, other divine animals following the circulations of the planets, the leaders of which are the seven planets.'

Taylor adds to this in a footnote:

'And these, as we have before observed, are what the moderns call satellites'.

In another of his publications, Thomas Taylor writes, as introduction to his translation of Plato's Timaeus itself:15

(For) each of these spheres ... as we have already explained, it follows that every planet has a number of satellites surrounding it, analogous to the choir of fixed stars; and that every sphere is full of gods, angels, and daemons, subsisting according to the properties of the spheres in which they reside. This theory indeed is the grand key to the theology of the ancients, as it shews us at one view why the same god is so often celebrated with the names of other gods; which led Macrobius formerly to think that all the gods were nothing more than the different powers of the sun; and has induced the superficial, index-groping moderns to frame hypotheses concerning the ancient theology, so ridiculous that they deserve to be considered in no other light than the ravings of a madman, or the undisciplined conceptions of a child.


But that the reader may be convinced of this, let him attend to the following extraordinary passages from the divine commentaries of Proclus on the Timaeus. And in the first place, that every planet is attended with a great number of satellites, is evident from the following citation:

'There are other divine animals attending upon the circulations of the planets, the leaders of which are the seven planets; and these revolve and return in their circulations in conjunction with their leaders, just as the fixed stars are governed by the circulation of the inerratic sphere.' [p. 279] . . .

And in the same place he informs us, that the revolution of these satellites is similar to that of the planets which they attend; and this, he acquaints us a little before, is according to Plato a spiral revolution . . . (and) 'about every planet there is a number (of satellites) . . . all of them subsisting with proper circulations of their own' [p. 275].

The reader should note that Thomas Taylor describes this knowledge as 'the grand key to the theology of the ancients'. We know from a fragment of Damascius16 the Neoplatonist that,

'the Egyptian philosophers, who are resident among us, have explained their occult truth, having obtained it from certain Egyptian discourses. According to them, then, it appears to be this. The One principle of the Universe is celebrated as Unknown Darkness, and this three times pronounced as such . . .'

But wherever the information came from, the fact is that Proclus and his Neoplatonic colleagues believed the ultimate secrets of religion concerned two things: the invisible 'Dark' and invisible circulations of certain heavenly bodies, some of which were non-esoteric enough even to be specified, namely the satellites of our planetary system. Proclus winds up a dissertation on the source of this knowledge from 'sacred rumor' which concerns 'invisible circulations' also on page 247 of In Tim., II.

Since Proclus specifically describes here and in the passage from In Tim. II, 281, the orbits of the heavenly bodies as their 'circulations' (Taylor's choice of English), the 'invisible circulations' which he mentioned must be invisible orbits of heavenly bodies, and he also tells us that there are invisible heavenly bodies. So ... what invisible orbitings of invisible heavenly bodies are so important that they can, as Proclus just told us, 'enable us to commence the contemplation of celestial bodies' and vice versa ?


Is that not a most curious thought? How can he possibly mean that there are invisible orbitings so important that they may be set against the visible orbitings for importance, the one complementing the other even to the very base of our abilities to contemplate the heavens ?

The key to the paragraph from Proclus II, 281, is the expression in it:

'theologists teaching us these things'.

For in those words Proclus firmly identifies these ideas with a theological as opposed to philosophical tradition, and hence one connected with one or more of his mystery religions. This is just the evidence we need. For it is these mystery religions which we know contained the essence of the Sirius mystery as their secret doctrine. And also, as we have seen earlier, Proclus sought to interpret Plato in terms of an esoteric tradition with which Proclus himself was connected directly, as an initiate.

So we see that Proclus believed that invisible 'stars' existed which accompanied the planets, and that each of the planets was a world. And the visible star, that is the planet, 'has the government' over the invisible satellites in each case. How very like the Sirius tradition this is! And as we know from Chapter One of this book, the Dogon also knew of the moons of at least one of the planets, so that knowledge of them seems likely to have been part and parcel of the Sirius mystery.


Can we then conclude that Proclus may be one further person with knowledge of the Sirius mystery?

Proclus is more specific about his planetary moons elsewhere. In his work the Platonic Theology, Chapter XIV of Book VII (Vol. II, pages 140-1 of Taylor's translation), we read:

But the planets are called the Governors of the world (cosmocrators), and are allotted a total power. As the inerratic sphere too has a number of starry animals, so each of the planets is the leader of a multitude of animals, or of certain other things of this kind. In each of the planetary spheres, therefore, there is a number of satellites analogous to the choir of the fixed stars, subsisting with proper circulations of their own.


The revolution also of these satellites is similar to that of the planets which they follow: and this according to Plato is a spiral revolution. With respect, likewise, to these satellites, the first in order about every planet are Gods; after these daemons revolve in lucid orbicular bodies; and these are followed by partial souls such as ours.

Taylor comments in a footnote in In Tim. Book IV (II, 299):

'For "the natures successive" to the stars, are evidently their satellites, which have more than once been mentioned by Proclus.' 5

On the same page a second footnote adds:

'From what is here said by Proclus, it appears that the fixed stars, as well as the planets, have satellites, and that the stars which sometimes are visible, and at other times disappear, are of this description.'

This brings us extremely close to an outright statement of the principles of the Sirius mystery - but without any names. These footnotes are to the passage immediately following the one given a moment ago where we first considered Proclus's cryptic reference to the 'invisible circularities'.


It is interesting to note that the passage is in the form of a commentary on a specific passage in Plato's Timaeus (40-c), which is not only one of the most maddeningly obscure passages in all of Plato ('Do not expect me to explain these mysteries', bewails a baffled George Sarton, p. 451, op. cit.) but a passage which Proclus quotes including missing words not otherwise known from the official text of today!

And it is even more curious that the 'missing' words quoted by Proclus are: kai ta toutois ephexes of which Taylor says:

'These words, however, are not to be found in the text of Plato, but form a remarkable addition to it'.

Taylor should know, as he had previously translated all of Plato's dialogues including this.

Since Proclus was head of the Academy, he may be assumed to have had a reliable copy of Plato's text in the Academy library. If he did not have a reliable copy of Plato's text in Plato's own Academy, what did he have a reliable text of? Hence these words must be entertained as a possibly correct version and should probably be added to the currently accepted text by classical scholars. The meaning of the words is translated by Taylor as: 'the natures successive' - that is successive to the stars.


And Taylor's comment is:

'For the natures successive to the stars, are evidently their satellites, which have more than once been mentioned by Proclus'.

The fact that a reference to the satellites of stars was dropped from the orthodox text of Plato should come as no real surprise to us. What scribe could fathom the meaning? In copying the manuscripts over the centuries, then creep in corruptions. A reference to satellites of stars would have been too shocking, considered too bizarre.


In transmission the words must have been dropped as an incomprehensible aberration or an insertion. It was only in the Academy's own library that the original words were preserved, safe and musty, in the wrappings of some really old bookrolls with which no one tampered textually. Only in the Academy would ravages against the text of the Mantel be forbidden.

I do not believe it is a coincidence that our search through Proclus lor material relevant to the Sirius mystery has led us to a lost fragment of text of Plato's dialogue Timaeus. The fact that these words have been dropped from that dialogue - out of the entire body of Plato's work, which is otherwise so well documented from the myriad commentaries and citations over the centuries - illustrates the controversial nature of our subject as strikingly as any of the 'accidents' we have already encountered in our book.


Our Sirius mystery is not letting us down. Every subject we have approached in connection with it has been suddenly transformed as in a magic mirror in a fun house.


Nothing that seemed staid and settled has been able to remain in its mould. Even Plato's solid text begins to quiver like a live jelly. From out of so many ossified subjects have crept mysterious little creatures, which have done disrespectful dances on their premises, indicating that these subjects do not want to lie down and be declared dead. They are living. Inside them glow sylphs and secrets. We cannot force them to turn to stone.

It seems clear that the abandoned four words of text were probably dropped in order to avoid the enormous consequences which must follow upon their being retained: that Plato himself, though not particularly well acquainted with astronomy in an active professional sense, had apparently some links to a tradition which, by being esoteric, seemed to make no sense at all outside a secret 'mystery' context. This is true whether Plato wrote the passages himself or inserted the Pythagorean treatise which has been proposed (see later).

Plato's dialogue Timaeus is without doubt the most difficult and bizarre of the unquestioned Platonic writings (the Epinomis is more bizarre, but seems to have been written by Plato's disciple Philip of Opus).


Let us examine a few remarks concerning this strange work, taken from George Sarton (op. cit.):

'There is more Oriental lore in the Timaios than Greek wisdom' (p. 423, note).

'The astrologic nonsense that has done so much harm in the Western world and is still poisoning weak-minded people today was derived from the Timaios, and Plato's astrology was itself an offshoot of the Babylonian one. In justice to Plato it must be added that his own astrology remained serene and spiritual and did not degenerate into petty fortune telling' (p. 421).

'The influence of the Timaios upon later times was enormous and essentially evil' (p. 423.).

'Many scholars were deceived into accepting the fantasies of that book as gospel truths. That delusion hindered the progress of science; and the Timaios has remained to this day a source of obscurity and superstition' (p. 430).

Those are strong words. The Timaeus (the more commonly used spelling in English) obviously arouses violent reactions in some! Here we see Sarton, one of the most distinguished and respected historians of science who ever lived, raving hysterically that the 'evil' Timaeus is responsible for 'hindering the progress of science'.


Sarton's views of Plato in general are incredibly violent and hostile, though many of his criticisms of Plato are quite valid and reasonable If it were not for the purple prose. It is certainly true that there were many faults to Plato's theories, particularly his political ones which Aristotle rightly found so repulsive, and these rouse Sarton to a fury surpassing his slurs on the poor Timaeus. But this is common among expert scholars. They have to restrain themselves most of the time for purposes of professional poise and 'objective treatment'. But the mask can fracture and a raw nerve protrude.

But as for the perplexity or ire which the Timaeus seems alternatively to arouse in so many of those who attempt to study it, we should realize that the tradition is probably true which says that the major portion of the dialogue, which consists of a lengthy speech by the character named Timaeus on the nature of the universe, is really not written by Plato, but was inserted by him as the words of an apparently imaginary character (or a disguised one).


For many ancient sources maintained that this part of the dialogue was in reality a Pythagorean treatise which Plato obtained during one of his visits to Sicily. Rather than see the treatise disappear into obscurity, Plato is said to have entered it as the contribution of a character in a dialogue, using the discussion of the other characters as a means of setting it off to proper advantage. And it is this supposed Pythagorean treatise which contains all the material of interest to us in connection with the Sirius mystery.


And as for the Pythagoreans, they represented a sacred community and a mystery tradition with roots in Egypt and Babylon (of both of which countries Pythagoras himself was said to be an initiate into the mysteries).

I owe it to the reader to display the evidence that the passage in the Timaeus which is of such concern to us, and on which Proclus's commentary is based as it concerns the heavenly bodies, was not even written by Plato.


I therefore quote from Book VIII, 85, of the Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius (the Loeb Library translation):

Philolaus of Groton was a Pythagorean, and it was from him that Plato requests Dion to buy the Pythagorean treatises. . . . His doctrine is that all things are brought about by necessity and in harmonious inter-relation. He was the first to declare that the earth moves in a circle (round the central fire), though some say it was Hicetas of Syracuse.

He wrote one book, and it was this work which, according to Hermippus, some writer said that Plato the philosopher, when he went to Sicily to Dionysius's court, bought from Philolaus's relatives for the sum of forty Alexandrine minas of silver [an 'equivalent value', for this was before Alexander], from which also the Timaeus was transcribed. Others say that Plato received it as a present for having procured from Dionysius the release of a young disciple of Philolaus who had been cast into prison.

According to Demetrius in his work on Men of the Same Name, Philolaus was the first to publish the Pythagorean treatises, to which he gave the title On Nature, beginning as follows:

'Nature in the ordered universe was composed of unlimited elements, and so was the whole universe and all that is therein.'

In line with this tradition that the treatise embodied into the Platonic Timaeus was of Pythagorean origin - and presumably from thence derived itself from Egypt and Chaldaea (Babylonia) - we may read the following interesting remarks of Proclus from In Tim. Book IV (II, 273):

The Egyptians prior to (Hipparchos and Ptolemy), employing observations, and still prior to the Egyptians, the Ghaldaeans (Babylonians), being taught by the gods, prior to observations, were of a similar opinion to Plato, concerning the motion of the fixed stars. For the Oracles not once only but frequently speak of the advancing procession of the fixed stars.

Note the pointed expression 'taught by the gods, prior to observations' This highlights the aspect of the tradition as one imparted to men 'by the gods' and then later carried on in concert with observations by the ancient Egyptians. Without my going into a minute discussion of Pythagoreanism, Orphism, and what Proclus calls 'the Oracles', I hope the reader will have gathered sufficient idea of the gist of the matter.

We see that Proclus, using a slender but nevertheless substantial basis of Plato's apparently ancient Pythagorean book On Nature, as it is preserved in his Timaeus, insisted that the planets had moons, that stars also had satellites, that there were invisible bodies in space with invisible orbits which were somehow of immense importance to us, that 'the gods' instructed the ancient peoples of the Middle East in these astronomical facts which were preserved as 'Pythagorean and Orphic' traditions in the Greek world, that epicycles and other fashionable devices to explain astronomical motions were total nonsense, that the 'spheres' did not revolve but only the planets in them, and hinted at the rotation of the Earth on its axis.

Proclus was, furthermore, a known initiate of the mystery cults of the Egyptians and Babylonians and had a particular connection with rites involving Hecate, the goddess whom we know to be a form of the star Sirius. We may, therefore, conclude that Proclus is of possible interest to us in our relentless pursuit of the Sirius mystery.


For he may have known its secrets and made use of the principles of that secret tradition through the indirect means of his more general writings - by hinting broadly at 'invisible orbits' without specifying all of them, and insisting on their importance without giving any really satisfactory reasons. He seems to have been trying to get the principles across without breaking sacred vows against the revealing of the specifics of the case.


As he was extremely religious, we know from his character that he would honor such vows. But as he was passionately devoted to making known the general principles of the universe, he would have done exactly what it seems he did do - tell us the story without giving the names of the characters.

A closer study of Proclus in the future would certainly be rewarding. There are certainly other relevant passages in his works which remain to be dealt with. But we have seen that we must now re-examine Plato as well, for his Timaeus has been shown by Proclus to be a more mysterious work than even the most exasperated scholars had ever suspected.17 And the net of the Sirius mystery is meanwhile seen to spread ever wider through the ancient traditions and literature of all eras.

Two contemporaries of Proclus, named Macrobius and Martianus Capella, also wrote advanced astronomical theories, and both were also in the Neoplatonic tradition. They advocated the notion that the Earth went around the sun. When three people in one tradition at one time write and discuss such advanced material, then a milieu may be said to exist.18


But, of course, the historians of science have not yet got around to noticing this inconvenient little thing. Nor have they bothered to let us know much about Johannes Scotus Eriugena (otherwise known as John the Scot or Erigena, which is a misspelling) of the ninth century a.d., who promulgated the theories of Macrobius and Martianus Capella at the court of Charles the Bald, and wrote a mammoth philosophical work titled Periphyseon of half a million words.


The latter is now being published slowly in English by the Irish Government, who have decided that Eriugena (which means 'Irish-born') was one of their great native sons and they had better make the most of him. Alas. If only Proclus too had been born in Ireland. Perhaps this is the only way to get these things into print - or even into English. Can't someone invent some more little countries looking for famous sons, and then allocate the sons? That way we might have something of a cultural revival.


The Renaissance was due to the rediscovery of the Platonic tradition by the Florentines. When will we discover it?

This Appendix was conceived, researched, and written after the manuscript of the book had already been accepted for publication. It therefore suffers from tenuous treatment and scanty attire. But perhaps a little Proclus is better than none at all.


In a desert no one gainsays a drop of water.






  1. The Ptolemaic theory of the heavens is totally wrong.

  2. The moon is made of 'earth' which is placed in a celestial situation, hence 'celestial earth'.

  3. The planets themselves revolve, rather than their 'spheres'. They do so 'within their spheres (or orbits)'.

  4. The stars all rotate on their own axes.

  5. The planets all rotate on their own axes.

  6. The planets become 'more remote from and nearer to the earth' in their revolutions.

  7. The heavens contain all the four elements in varying proportions but tend to do so according to a 'fiery mode'. The 'fire' in the stars is different from earthly fire and is more properly 'energy'. (Earthly fire is a dark and debased form of true fire, or as Proclus expresses it: 'the dregs and sediment of fire'.)

  8. The heliocentric theory of Heracleides Ponticus is mentioned by Proclus, but rejected by him on the grounds that Plato rejected it. (Although we know from Theophrastus that Plato did accept it when old, Proclus did not know this.)

  9. The planets have invisible satellites which revolve around them.

  10. Certain fixed stars have invisible satellites too.

  11. These invisible orbitings are as important as the visible ones to us, and can 'enable us to commence the contemplation of celestial bodies'.

  12. Each planet or star is 'a world'.

  13. Proclus was initiated into the Egyptian and Babylonian mysteries and would thus have known about the Sirius mystery.

Back to Contents





  1. Elements of Theology, ed. and trans, by E. R. Dodds, Oxford, 1963.

  2. Commentary on the First Book of Euclid's Elements, trans, by Professor Glenn Morrow, Princeton University Press, 1970.

  3. Commentary on the First Alcibiades of Plato, trans, by W. O'Neill, The Hague, 1965.

  4. Corpus Platonicum Medii Aevi Series, ed. by R. Klibansky; Vol. Ill of Plato Latinus (Parmenides, Proclus in Parmenidem). Includes English translation by G. E. M. Anscombe and L. Labowsky. Warburg Institute, London, 1953. Obtainable: as Kraus Reprint, Nendeln, Liechtenstein, 1973

  5. See Bibliography. Ref. page 400.

  6. The Cambridge History of Later Greek & Early Mediaeval Philosophy, ed. by A. H. Armstrong, Cambridge, 1970.

  7. There is a Life of Proclus written by his student and successor Marinus. It was translated by Thomas Taylor and appears in Volume I of The Philosophical and Mathematical Commentaries of Proclus on the First Book of Euclid's Elements, London, 1792. A more recent publication of it in English may be found in The Philosophy of Proclus by L. J. Rosan, Cosmos, New York, 1949.

  8. Hellenistic Religions ed. by F. C. Grant, in Library of Liberal Arts series, Bobbs-Merrill, Indianapolis and New York, 1953. English translations of four hymns by Proclus are found on pp. 170-2. (In all, seven hymns and a fragment of an eighth by Proclus survive today.)

  9. In vol. V of Plutarch's Morals, ed. by W. W. Goodwin, Boston, 1874. The translation of 'Platonic Questions' is by R. Brown and on pp. 425-49.

  10. History of Science, see note 16, page 159.

  11. See Life of Xenocrates in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 2 vols., trans, by R. D. Hicks, Loeb Library series; Heinemann, London; Harvard University Press, U.S.A., 1966.

  12. Translation included in the same volume as in note 9 above. Also in Loeb Library.

  13. Three short complete works of Kepler are in English: Kepler's Dream, trans, with full text and notes, of Somnium, Sive Astronomia Lunaris, by John Lear and P. F. Kirkwood, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1965. Kepler's Conversation with Galileo's Sidereal Messenger, trans, by Edward Rosen, no. 5 of 'Sources of Science' series, Johnson Reprint Corp., London and New York, 1965. Also there is a brief treatise by Kepler on the Six- Cornered Snowflake, trans, by Colin Hardie and L. L. Whyte, Oxford University Press, 1965. Two chapters (IV and V) of Kepler's Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and one chapter (V) of his Harmonies of the World are in English, trans, by C. G. Wallis in vol. 16, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, of the 'Great Books of the Western World' series, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, Toronto, 1952. A second translation of Kepler's Dream has appeared: Kepler's Somnium, trans, and commentary by Edward Rosen, University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.

  14. See previous note.

  15. The Cratylus, Phaedo, Parmenides and Timaeus with notes on the Cratylus, English trans, of Plato by Thomas Taylor with notes, London, 1793. The quotation is from p. 388, in Taylor's Introduction to the Timaeus. The copy of this book which I consulted once belonged to the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and may be found in the Shelley collection at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

  16. Preserved and trans, in Cory, Ancient Fragments, 2nd ed., p. 320.

  17. Marinus, in his Life of Proclus, tells us that Proclus was twenty-eight years old when he wrote In Tim., which gives the date a.d. 438 at beginning of appendix.

  18. I did not think it right to take space here to enter into a full discussion of the generally ignored ancient heliocentric theories of Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Julian the Emperor (Apostate), Nicholas of Cusa, and so on. As an example of this tradition (which Proclus mentioned and rejected, mistakenly thinking that Plato had done so), I quote a passage from the Fourth Oration (to Helios) of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, 146 C-D, which may be found in the Loeb Library series, which publishes the works of Julian in three vols: 'For it is evident that the planets, as they dance in a circle about (the Sun), preserve as the measure of their motion a harmony between this god and their own movements. ... To the Greeks what I say is perhaps incomprehensible - as though one were obliged to say to them only what is known and familiar.' This indicates a distinctly esoteric tradition which was imbibed from Julian's friend and teacher the Neoplatonist Iamblichus, a predecessor of Proclus. For just before this passage, Julian had said: 'Iamblichus of Chalcis, who through his writings initiated me not only into other philosophic doctrines but these also . . . (he is) by no means inferior to (Plato) in genius . . .' I also refer the reader to 135 B of the same oration by Julian for further exposition of Julian's heliocentric ideas, all of which we may treat as fragments of lost writings of Iamblichus. I also suggest consulting Thomas Whittaker's Macrobius, Cambridge, 1923. On page 75 we find him summarizing Macrobius's beliefs: 'Mercury and Venus (have) orbits ... in which they follow the sun as satellites'. Unfortunately, no works of Martianus Capella exist in English.