The first appearance of Porphyry’s influence on Blake’s poetry is to be found in The Book of Thel, written in 1787, thirty-two years before the Arlington Court tempera was painted. The theme of the poem – one to which Blake was often to return – is a debate between the Neoplatonic and the alchemical philosophies. The “terrific porter” comes not from Porphyry but from Spenser’s Garden of Adonis. The “thousand thousand naked babes” are the people of dreams, who assemble in the Galaxy by the gate of Cancer, through which they will presently descend. There is a paradisiacal quality about the early chapters of Rasselas, which must have charmed Blake, whose imaginative atmosphere in this poem is strangely akin to Johnson’s. The great difference between the Neoplatonic and the alchemical philosophies lies in their opposed conceptions of the nature of matter.