Proclus Elements of Theology: Proposition 1-10

Translated by Juan Balboa

Editor’s note: the original translation by the great Juan Balboa includes the original Greek version of Proclus Elements of Theology alongside Juan’s translation. It also includes illustrations by Juan as well as discussions regarding Greek/English words.  For ease of reading online, I’ve omitted the Greek. 

If you’d like a PDF copy of Juan’s translation, which includes the missing material, please email

The-Academy-of-AthensTo better understand the vocabulary of this translation, please read Pierre Grimes’ Introduction.

Proposition 1

All Multitude Participates, in a certain way, of The One.

For if It Participates, in no way (of The One), neither would The Whole be One, nor each of the many of which the multitude consists; but from each of these multitudes, even more multitudes would arise, and this will be the case into infinity, and each of these infinities, would in turn be, an infinite multitude.

For by participating in no way at all of The One; neither according to The Whole Itself, nor according to each of the multitude contained in Itself, thus it will be infinite, according to every particular, and according to all.

For each of the many, which you may take up, would be either One, or Not-one, and if Not-one, then either many or nothing.

But if, on the one hand, each is nothing, that also which consists of these would be nothing; And if, on the other hand, each is many, each will consist of an infinite number of infinities: but this, is impossible.

For neither are any of The Real-Beings composed of an infinite number of infinities (for there could not be more than that which is infinite; but That which consists of All, is more than each.) Nor is it possible for anything to be composed from that which in no way exists.

Accordingly then, All Multitude, Participates in a certain way of The One.


Proposition 2

All that Participate of The One, are both One and Not-one.

For if It is not The One-Itself (for It Partakes of The One, by Being something else besides The One), It has undergone that Participation according to The One, and sustains having-become One.

If then, on the one hand, It is nothing besides The One, It “is” Simply One: and does not Participate of The One, but It “would be” The One-Itself.

But if, on the other hand, It is something besides That which is Not-one, (but That which Participates of The One, It is both, Not-one and One, not The Very One-Itself, but One-Being, by Participating of The One).

Accordingly then, by this, It is Not-one, nor The Very One: But One-Being, and at the same time, Participates of The One, and because of this, It is Not-one, According to Its Own Hyparxis, Being both One and Not-one, by Being something else besides The One; on the one hand, insofar as, It Abounds, It is Not-one; but on the other hand, insofar as, It has received (The One) from without, It is One.

Accordingly then, All that Participates of The One, is both One and Not-one.


Proposition 3

All that becomes One, becomes One by Participating of The One.

For if, on the one hand, It is Itself Not-one, then on the other hand, It is One, insofar as It has received from without Its Participation of The One, for if Those which are not In-Themselves One, were to become One, then surely They would Unite and Commune with each other in order to become One, and Abide in The Presence of The One, but not be The Very One Itself.

Accordingly then, this One Participates of The One insofar as, this One undergoes becoming One; For if on the one hand It “is” already One, then It will not become One: For by “being” That OneIt cannot become That which It “is” already.

But if They become One, from that which was formerly Not-one, then that certain One that has been generated in Them has come forth as One.


Proposition 4

All that is United is Other than The One Itself.

For if It is United, This should in a certain way Participate of The One, insofar as It is also said to be United. 

However, That which Participates of The One, is One and Not-one. But The One Itself is not both One and Not-one.

For if This were also One and Not-one, then The One in Itself would also have both of These, and this would proceed to infinity, if there were no One-Itself which would enable it to stop, but All would be One and Not-one.

Accordingly then, there is Something that Is United which is Other than The One.

For if The One were The Same with The United, then an infinite multitude would result, and so also for Each of Those Beings of which The United consists.

Proposition  5

All Multitude is Secondary/Posterior to The One.

For if Many were prior to The One, then on the one hand, The One would Partake of Many, if The Many were prior to The One, then on the other hand, it would not Partake of The One, if indeed, that multitude existed before The One came to be:

For it could not Participate of that which is not; since that which Participates of The One, is One, and at the same time, Not-one; but The One would not yet exist; if That which is Many were to be that which is first.

However, it is impossible that there should be a certain Multitude, which in no way whatsoever Participates of The One.

Accordingly then, Multitude is not Prior to The One.  But if indeed such a Nature co-existed, at the same time, with The One, and they were co-ordinate with each other (for nothing in-time prevents it), then neither will The One in Itself be Many, nor will Multitude be One, by being simultaneously oppositely divided by nature, if indeed neither is prior or posterior to the other.

Thus, Multitude In-Itself will not be One, and each of the things that are in It will not be One, and this will be the case into infinity: which is impossible.

Accordingly then, Multitude, according to Its own Nature, Participates of The One, and it will be in no way possible to grasp any part of It, which is not One: For by not being one, it will be an infinite number of infinites; as it has been demonstrated.

Accordingly then, Multitude, entirely Participates of The One.

If then on the one hand, The One which is Of-Itself Onein no way Participates of Multitude, Multitude will be entirely posterior to The One, and on the one hand It Participates of The One, but on the other hand, It is not Participated by The One.

But on the other hand, if The One also Participates of Multitude, by Existing, on the one hand, as One, according to Hyparxis, but on the other hand, as Not-one, according to Participation.

Then The One will be Multiple, just as Multitude is Unical, because of The One. Accordingly then, The One will Commune with Multitude, and Multitude with The One: But Those which Come-together and Commune in a certain way with Each-Other, if on the one hand, They are Collected-together by Something else, That Something else is Prior to Them, but if, on the other hand, They collect Themselves of Themselves, then They are not opposed to Each-Other.

For opposites do not hasten to each other (but run away from each other (Phaedo 102d).

If then, The One and Multitude are oppositely divided: and Multitude in so far as Multitude, is Not-one, and The One in so far as One, is not Multitude, neither will either of these arising in the other, be One and at the same time also Two.

But certainly, if, there were something Prior to Them, which Collects Them, this will either be One or Not-one. But if it is Not-one, it will either be Many or nothing.

It will not, however, be Many, in order that there be no Multitude prior than One, nor can it be nothing: For how can nothing come-together? Accordingly then, It is One Alone: For certainly, This which is The One, cannot be Many, in order that there not be a progression to infinity.

It is therefore, The One Itself; and from The One Itself all Multitude proceeds.


Proposition 6

All Multitude Consists either of The United or of Unities.

For it is clear that Each of The Many, on the one hand, will not be Multitude Itself Alone, and in turn, that Each Part of this Multitude, will also not be Multitude Itself Alone.

But if, on the other hand, It Is not Multitude Alone, It Is either The United, or Unities. And if, on the one hand, It Participates of The One It Is United; but if, on the other hand, It Consists of That which Is Primarily United, It will Be The Unities.

For if there is The One Itself, there is also That which Primarily Participates of It by Being Primarily United.

But This Consists of Unities: For if it consists of The United, and The United in turn, consists of particulars, this will also be the case to infinity.

Surely then it is necessary that, That which Is Primarily United should Consist of Unities: And we have discovered what we set out to prove from the beginning.


Proposition 7

All that is Productive of another is Superior to the nature of that which is produced.

For the product is either, superior, or inferior, or equal (to the producer).

First let us suppose that is equal. Accordingly then, that which is produced from this producer, will either also itself possess a power productive of something else, or it will simply be entirely unprolific.

But if, on the one hand, it should be unprolific, according to this itself; by being sterile, it will be inferior to The Producer, and through that sterility, it is unequal to its Producer, which Truly Is Prolific, and so Truly Possesses The Power to Create.

But if, on the other hand, the product is also productive of others, then it either produces that which is equal to itself, and this will also be the case with all beings, and all beings will be equal to each other, and no one being, will be better than another; if that which produces, always generates a consequent series that is equal to itself.

Or it produces that which is unequal to itself, (and thus that which is produced), will no longer be equal to that which produces it. For it is the province of equal powers to produce those which are equal.

However, the products of these powers that are unequal, will be unequal to each other,

If indeed, on the one hand, that which produces is equal to that which is prior to itself, while on the other hand, that which is produced after it, is unequal to it.

Accordingly then, it is not possible for the products to be equal to The Productive Cause. But certainly, The Producer will not in any way be inferior (to the product).

For if It Imparts Essential-Being to that which is produced, Then It will also Provide it with Essential Power. But if It is Productive of all the power of that which is posterior to It, It will also be able to create such a product as that, from Itself.

But if this be the case, It will also make Itself even more powerful.

For if Creative Powers are present, neither can impotence nor lack of will, hinder It; since All, naturally reach out, after The Good.

So that, if It is able to bring forth another being that is more perfect, It will also Perfect Itself, before It Perfects that which is posterior to Itself. Accordingly then, that which is produced, is not equal to, nor superior, than its Producing Cause.

Therefore, The Producing Cause is Superior, in every respect, than the nature of that which is produced.


Proposition 8

That which is Primarily Good, and which is no other than The Good, is The Leader of All that in any way whatsoever Participate of The Good.

For if all Beings Aspire after The Good, it is clear that That which is Primarily Good is Beyond The Real Beings.

For if It is The Same with any of The Real Beings; then either Being and The Good are The Same, or this certain Being would no longer be Aspiring after The Good; since It has The Same Hyparxis as The Good.

For That which reaches out, is in need of and has been sent-away from That which It longs for, and It is Other than That which is their object of Aspiration.

Thus on the one hand, That which is reached for, is One, but on the other hand, That which reaches, is another: and on the one hand, Being is That which Participates, and on the other hand, That which is Being Participated will be The Good.

Accordingly then, Goodness is a certain Good, inherent in certain Participants, and after Which, The Participant solely Aspires, but is not ThatThat which is Simply Good, and after which, all Beings Aspire?  For This, on the one hand, is The Common Object of Desire of All Beings.

But on the other hand, that which Arises in anything, pertains to that alone which Participates.

Accordingly, That which is Primarily Good is nothing else than Good: For whatever else that may be added, will “lessen” The Good by its addition, and will make It a certain Good, instead of That which is Simply Good.

For that which is added, is not The Good, but something less than That, that by its own Communion, will “lessen” The Good.

Proposition 9

All that is Self-sufficient, is so either according to Essential-Hyparxis or according to Energy/Activity, and It is Superior to that which is not Self-sufficient, and so it has The Cause of its Perfection It Depends upon another Essential-Hyparxis.

For if all Beings naturally Aspire after The Good, and The Oneis The Provider of Well-Being From-Itself, but the other is in need of something else, and The One will have The Cause of The Good Present (In-Itself), but the other, will have It as a separate property/quality/character (From-Another).

So then, by as much as The Former is nearer to That which Provides The Object of Desire, by so much more will It be Superior, than that which exits in need of a Separate Cause, and externally receives The Perfection of its Hyparxis, or its Energy.

Then since That which is Self-sufficient is both Similar and Less-Perfect:for It is more Similar to The Good Itself [than that which is not self-sufficient].  But It is Less-Perfect indeed, by Its Participation of The Good, and because It is not Primarily The Good.

Yet It is in a certain way akin to That, in so far as it is able to Possess The Good From Itself. But that which Participates, and Participates through Another, is more remote from That which is Primarily Good, and which is nothing else than The Good.


Proposition 10

All that is Self-sufficient is in need of That which is Simply Good.

For what else is The Self-sufficient than That which, From-Itself and In-Itself, Possesses Goodness?

Therefore, This is already Full of Goodness, and Participates of It, but, It is not, That which is Simply Good. For That, is Better than Participation and Plenitude, as it has been demonstrated. (P8)

Therefore, if That which is Self-sufficient, has Filled Itself with Goodness, That from which It has Filled Itself, will be More Superior than The Self-sufficient, and Superior to, Self-sufficiency.

And neither will That which is Simply Good be in need of any thing. For It does not aspire after anything else; for according to that aspiration, It would be less than Good!

Nor is That which is Simply Good, Self-sufficient. For then It would be Full-of-Good, and not Primarily Good.

Leave a Reply