Front Page Titles (by Subject) II.: PREVIOUS TRANSLATIONS - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
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II.: PREVIOUS TRANSLATIONS - Plotinus, The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead [253 AD]
The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead, with Porphry’s Life of Plotinus, and the Preller-Ritter Extracts forming a Conspectus of the Plotinian System, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
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The present translation has been scrupulously compared, clause by clause, over and over again, with those undermentioned:—
The Latin of Ficino (in Creuzer’s edition).
The French of M. N. Bouillet (three vols., Paris, 1875, etc.).
A complete version; often inaccurate, often only vaguely conveying the meaning; furnished with the most copious and fascinating notes and commentary. To the elucidation of Plotinus’ general themes Bouillet brings illustrations from the entire range of religious and mystical thought, beginning with the earliest thinkers, minutely comparing Plato, borrowing from the Fathers of the Church, from works of the Eastern mysticism, from the Rabbalah, from the mediæval theologians, from Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Bossuet, Thomassin, etc. He also uses Macrobius very effectively. As Bouillet’s monumental work is long out of print and very rare, it would be a service to Plotinian studies to translate his notes and commentary entire, the Greek and Latin equally with the French. If this were done, with of course a summary of the passages of Plotinus under illustration, the book would have a great value of its own as a conspectus of the mystic thought that has entered into Christianity from outside or been evolved by Christianity from its own depths.
The German of Hermann Friedrich Mueller (2 vols., Berlin: Weidmann, 1878-80).
This valuable translation is described by its author as “literal, but scarcely palatable unless taken in conjunction with the Greek text”: both statements are true: in parts the version is, even, meaningless without a close study of the original.
The German of Otto Kiefer (2 vols., Diederichs: Jena and Leipzig, 1905).
This is a book of selections, very extensive, purporting, indeed, to omit only what is judged to be out of date, futile or incomprehensible in the original: it is substantially a Mueller made very much more readable with often improvement in sense and sometimes, it is to be feared, a deterioration.
[The translator upon reading some of the treatises translated into English by Thomas Taylor decided, for reasons mainly literary, that the work of this devoted pioneer would not be helpful in the present undertaking: it has, therefore, not been used in any part of this work except possibly by indirect suggestion from the quotations made occasionally in the commentaries of Bouillet and Creuzer.]