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Philosophy and Theurgy in Late Antiquity

Philosophy and Theurgy in Late Antiquity

By Algis Uždavinys

326 pp

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About the Book

The ancient philosophy, in its original Orphico-Pythagorean and Platonic form, is not simply a way of life in accordance with the divine or human intellect (nous), but also the way of alchemical transformation and mystical illumination achieved through initiatic “death” and subsequent restoration at the level of divine light. As a means of spiritual reintegration and unification, ancient philosophy is inseparable from the hieratic rites. The theurgic “animation” of statues appears to be among the main keys for understanding how various royal and priestly practices, related to the daily ritual service and encounter with the divine presence in the temples, developed into the Neoplatonic mysticism of late antiquity.


“This remarkable book reintroduces us to a Platonism long forgotten in the West. In a passionate tour de force of scholarship and insight, Algis Uždavinys argues that philosophy was once a mystagogic rite of initiation transmitted by the great Neoplatonic teachers from Plotinus to Damascius. Uždavinys’s wide scholarship not only draws profound connections between Platonic philosophy, theurgy, and the ancient Egyptian wisdom that Platonists acknowledged as their source, he also draws illuminating parallels between theurgy and Indian Tantra. His enraptured prose leads us into the non-dual vision of the later Platonists where each of us is invited to become a link in the Golden Chain that extends from heaven to earth.”


Stonehill College, author of Theurgy and the Soul

“This book clearly establishes three things: that traditional myth (as the Neoplatonists maintained) is the symbolic expression of metaphysics, as metaphysics is the exegesis of myth; that Greek philosophy was not an isolated ‘miracle’ but a reinterpretation of perennial themes common to the ancient Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Indian, and especially Egyptian religions; and that Platonic philosophical discourse was but one-half of a whole which included an invocatory/contemplative practice known as ‘theurgy.’”


author of Knowings

“In this most stimulating and wide-ranging work, Algis Uzdavinys, drawing on the resources of his enormous learning, leads Neoplatonic theurgy back to its roots in Ancient Egypt, thereby setting Platonic philosophy in a new and wider context. Students of Neoplatonism will find themselves much indebted to him, and all readers will find their outlook on life significantly changed.”


Trinity College, Dublin, author of The Middle Platonists

About the Author

Algis Uždavinys was Head of the Department of Humanities at Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts, Kaunas Faculty, in his native Lithuania, before his death in 2010. His research included work on Hellenic philosophy, especially Platonism and Neoplatonism, as well as traditional mythology and metaphysics, Sufism, and traditional art.

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