Translated by Thomas Taylor
The translations of the writings of Plotinus by Thomas Taylor spanned virtually all of Taylor’s publishing career; a paraphrase of the treatise Concerning The Beautiful appeared in 1787 as his third publication and his Translations from the Greek of the Following Treatises of Plotinus etc. was his last publication (1834).
There are, perhaps, two surprises concerning the works of Plotinus and Thomas Taylor: The first is that he only translated half of the fifty-four treatises which have become known as The Enneads; certainly Taylor had intended to translate and publish the entire opus when he wrote his Introduction to the paraphrase of Concerning the Beautiful. But the writing of Plotinus is renowned for its demands on its would-be translators (MacKenna, writing about his struggle with The Enneads a century after Taylor says: “I took up, honestly, what was beyond my powers” and, later, “I’m in agonies over the Sixth, and not the difficulter parts, ’tis all too difficult for me and I wish I were dead . . .”). We must excuse the hard-pressed Taylor this unfulfilled intention and speculate that he did not receive the necessary support from his small band of patrons in that direction.
The second surprise is that in all the years since Taylor’s death no one has taken the opportunity to combine the five sets of treatises which appeared in Concerning The Beautiful, The Restoration of the Platonic Theology, The Five Books of Plotinus, Select Works of Plotinus, and Translations from the Greek etc. There have been no lack of enthusiasts for Taylor’s translations: R. W. Emerson, we are told, kept a copy of Select Works within easy reach of his writing table and marked and indexed it as a favourite possession. The Prometheus Trust takes great pleasure in rectifying this oversight of previous publishers with the highest confidence that the liberal reader will find in the following pages much to stimulate the mind and excite the highest aspirations.
Collected Writings of Plotinus, Thomas Taylor, The Prometheus Trust, 2000
Hardback. Octavo. Purple cloth binding. Faint scratch marks to the cover. Corners are bumped slightly. Otherwise like new. 482 pp.