Proclus became a successful practicing lawyer. However, the experience of the practice of law made Proclus realize that he truly preferred philosophy. He returned to Alexandria, and began determinedly studying the works of Aristotle under Olympiodorus the Elder (he also began studying mathematics during this period as well with a teacher named Heron (no relation to Hero of Alexandria who was also known as Heron). Eventually, this gifted student became dissatisfied with the level of philosophical instruction available in Alexandria, and went to Athens, the preeminent philosophical center of the day, in 431 to study at the Neoplatonic successor of the famous Academy founded 800 years (in 387 BC) before by Plato; there he was taught by Plutarch of Athens, Syrianus, and Asclepigenia; he succeeded Syrianus as head of the Academy, and would in turn be succeeded on his death by Marinus of Neapolis.
He lived in Athens as a vegetarian bachelor, prosperous and generous to his friends, until the end of his life, except for a voluntary one year exile, which was designed to lessen the pressure put on him by his political-philosophical activity, little appreciated by the Christian rulers; he spent the exile traveling and being initiated into various mystery cults as befitted his universal approach to religion, trying to become "a priest of the entire universe". His house has been discovered recently in Athens, under the pavement, south of Acropolis, opposite the theater of Dionysus. He had a great devotion to the Goddess Athena, whom he believed guided him at key moments in his life. Marinus reports that when Christians removed the statue of the Goddess from the Parthenon, a beautiful woman appeared to Proclus in a dream and announced that the "Athenian Lady" wished to stay at his home. Proclus died aged ~73, and was buried near Mount Lycabettus in a tomb.
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About the Author
The translator of this work, Thomas Taylor, is known for his authoritative translations of the Platonists; he was practically the sole source of Neo-Platonic thought in the transcendentalist movement of New England. Iamblichus' Life of Pythagoras was a constant source of inspiration to the transcendentalists and a major influence on their writings throughout the Nineteenth Century. Taylor's work was enthusiastically acclaimed by Emerson, who referred to the translator as "a Greek born out of his time, and dropped on the ridicule of a blind and frivolous age."