PHILOSOPHY AND PERSONAL RELIGION
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PHILOSOPHY AND PERSONAL RELIGION book
Political (and military) life at this period was so intolerable (and, let us face it, boring) that many turned to quite other matters in order to take their minds off what was happening at the top. This was particularly true of the intelligentsia, or upper class. There were several main channels for this sort of escape: the religions, philosophy, and the novel or romance. Religion had been partly taken over by the State (cf. last chapter). But it could not take over philosophy, which was still particularly active at Athens, while Berytus (Beirut) and Apamea (Qalaat al Mudik) were also active, and Antioch was not mediocre. But one of the most widely read writers of the period seems to have come from Egypt. This was the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus (AD 205-269 /70) (see Figure 23). He has been written about in the following terms:
The main facts of his life are known from Porphyry's memoir (prefixed to editions of the Enneads). His birthplace, on which Porphyry is silent, is said by Eunapius and the Suda to have been Lyco or Lycopolis in Egypt. But his name is Roman, while his native language is almost certainly Greek.