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By Bertrand Dumoulin

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Marinus was more prone to theurgy than rigorous philosophical study, but was probably already ill when he succeeded Proclus. 515 ce Damascius succeeded another of his teachers, Marinus’ successor Isidore, as head of the school. It was Damascius’ task to re-establish the study of Plato, Aristotle and the 29 neoplatonism Chaldean Oracles as the main occupation of the school. Internal difficulties aside, Damascius also witnessed the period when Christian faith finally took over even the intellectual education in Athens, and the school was closed around 529.

He was the head of the school at the time of its closure, and together with six other philosophers decided to seek refuge with the Persian king Chrosroes. The success of their time in Persia is uncertain, but we know that the treaty that was soon made between Rome and Persia included a promise that the philosophers could return in peace. Very little is known of the activities of these philosophers after their return to the eastern Roman Empire. It has recently been convincingly argued that the Neoplatonic group moved to a city called Harrân, inside the borders of the Byzantine Empire but near to the Persian border.

Narbonne 1994: 26, 58)? In reply, they combined Platonic and Aristotelian ideas in the attempt, common in ancient philosophy, to find an ultimate explanation. Constancy versus change A connection between epistemology and metaphysics not unlike the one already visited may also be seen in the Neoplatonic tendency towards a hierarchy between not just the one cause and the being that originates from it, but levels internal to being. Platonic metaphysics strives to establish some intelligibility, fixity and constancy both in the world and in our thoughts (Silverman 2002: 1–3).

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