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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 10

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 10.—That, According to Plotinus, Men, Whose Body is Mortal, are Less Wretched Than Demons, Whose Body is Eternal.

Plotinus, whose memory is quite recent, 348 enjoys the reputation of having understood Plato better than any other of his disciples.  In speaking of human souls, he says, “The Father in compassion made their bonds mortal;” 349 that is to say, he considered it due to the Father’s mercy that men, having a mortal body, should not be forever confined in the misery of this life.  But of this mercy the demons have been judged unworthy, and they have received, in conjunction with a soul subject to passions, a body not mortal like man’s, but eternal.  For they should have been happier than men if they had, like men, had a mortal body, and, like the gods, a blessed soul.  And they should have been equal to men, if in conjunction with a miserable soul they had at least received, like men, a mortal body, so that death might have freed them from trouble, if, at least, they should have attained some degree of piety.  But, as it is, they are not only no happier than men, having, like them, a miserable soul, they are also more wretched, being eternally bound to the body; for he does not leave us to infer that by some progress in wisdom and piety they can become gods, but expressly says that they are demons forever.


Footnotes

171:348

Plotinus died in 270 A.D.  For his relation to Plato, see Augustin’s Contra Acad. iii. 41.

171:349

Ennead. iv. 3. 12.


Next: Chapter 11

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