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Plotinus - The Enneads - Just so the soul, entering this drama of the universe



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Plotinus – The Enneads

Just so the soul, entering this drama of the universe, making itself a part of the play, bringing to its acting its personal excellence or defect, set in a definite place at the entry and accepting from the Author its entire role – superimposed upon its own character and conduct – just so it receives in the end its punishment and reward.

But these actors, souls, hold a peculiar dignity; they act in a vaster place than any stage; the Author has made them masters of all this world; they have a wide choice of place; they themselves determine the honour or discredit in which they are agents since their place and part are in keeping with their quality; they therefore fit into the reason-principle of the universe, each adjusted, most legitimately to the appropriate environment, as every string of the lyre is set in the precisely right position, determined by the principle directing musical utterance, for the due production of the tones within its capacity.  All is just and good in the universe in which every actor is set in his own quite appropriate place, though it be to utter in the darkness and in Tartarus the dreadful sounds whose utterance there is well.

This universe is good not when the individual is stone, but when everyone throws in his own voice towards a total harmony singing out a life – thin, harsh imperfect though it may be.


Similarly the reason-principle entire is one, but it is broken into unequal parts; hence the difference of place found in the universe, better spots and worse; and hence the inequality of souls, finding their appropriate surroundings amid this local inequality.  The diverse places of this sphere, the souls of unequal grade and unlike conduct, are well exemplified by the distinction of parts in the syrinx or any other instrument; there is local difference, but from every position every string gives forth its own tone, the sound appropriate at once, to its particular place and to the entire plan

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