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Seminar Ancient Philosophy: Time for Plotinus: Enneads III.7 [45] in context


Admission requirements

This class can be taken in fulfilment of the requirements of both the MA and the Research MA program in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (track Classics), with differential requirements.
Required knowledge to take this course: (ancient) Greek (suffient reading knowledge of ancient Greek, e.g. school exam Greek; BA-course ‘Grieks voor iedereen’).

Admission requirements for other students:

  • a BA degree in Classics obtained from a university in the Netherlands, or a comparable qualification obtained from a university outside the Netherlands. Moreover, students with an international degree have to contact the coordinator of studies to check admissibility.

  • A BA degree in Philosophy obtained from a university in the Netherlands, or a comparable qualification obtained from a university outside the Netherlands and suffient reading knowledge of ancient Greek (e.g. school exam Greek; BA-course ‘Grieks voor iedereen’). You need not be able to translate Plotinus yourself, but you should be comfortable working with a bilingual (i.e. Greek-English) edition of the text.

If you are interested in taking this course, but are not sure whether you fulfill the entry requirements, please, contact the instructor.


The elusive nature of time has always held a great attraction for physicists and philosophers alike. The founding father of Neoplatonism, Plotinus, was no exception to this rule. In this seminar we will study on his lengthy meditation On Time and Eternity (Enn. III.7 [45]) in context.

The course will consist of two parts. We will first explore Plotinus’ way of doing philosophy as well as his metaphysical system. We will do so by studying Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus, an introduction to the life and writings of Plotinus by one of his students, and Plotinus’ own treatise On the Three Primary Hypostases (Enn. V.1 [10]), in which the latter presents an outline of his metaphysics. In addition, D.J. O’Meara, Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads will be compulsory reading.

Thus prepared, we will next close read On Time and Eternity. Since Plotinus develops his ideas in dialogue with his philosophical predecessors—Plato and Aristotle in particular—and since he will in his turn influence later thinkers—for example Proclus and St. Augustine—, we will in the course of this seminar also deal with their speculations about time, as well as with some modern views on the subject.

Course objectives

  • The student acquires an in-depth understanding of Plotinus’ metaphysics and his thinking about time and eternity in particular.

  • The student is trained to analyse a complex ancient philosophical text and the pertaining modern scholarly literature.

  • The student is trained to present a complex ancient philosophical text orally in English in a clear manner.

  • The student is trained in writing an argumentive paper for which he/she him/herself develops the research question, finds relevant and more advanced philosophical literature intended for researchers in the field, and provide a critical analysis of the material;

The requirements for MA and ResMA students Classics and Ancient Civilizations are differentiated: ResMA students are expected to come up with their own original research topic, find literature, and write a scholarly report; MA students may expect more help in choosing their topic and their papers may consist of an assessment of the status quaestionis on a given question.

This research seminar contributes to the achievement of learning outcomes 4a and 4c (to give and write a clear and well-argued oral and written presentation on a research topic in accordance with academic standards) of the study programme Classics and Ancient Civilizations.


The timetable is available on the MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations website and the Research MA Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 10 ec x 28 hours = 280 hours, of which:

  • Attending classes: 6 weeks, 2x2 hours per week = 24 hours;

  • Preparing classes (reading primary and secondary literature): 12 x 5 hrs = 60 hours;

  • Preparing oral presentation: 20 hours;

  • Preparing and writing paper (6500 words): 176 hours.

Assessment method

  • Presentation (25%)

  • Final paper (75%)

Class preparation and attendance are required and are conditions for submission of the paper.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average.


The resit covers the following exam components: revised version of the final paper (75%).
The grade for the other exam component (presentation) remains in place.

Class participation, attendance, and the oral presentation is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit.

Inspection and feedback

Presentation: directly after presentation
Paper: written feedback/and or by appointment


Blackboard will be used for:

  • communication

  • distribution of materials

Reading list


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. R.M. van den Berg