La problematica natura onto-teologica del cosmo in Numenio di Apamea


  • Enrico Volpe University of Salerno



Numenius, Word Soul, Timaeus, cosmos, the third God


The metaphysical system of Numenius of Apamea is structured according to an onto-theological hierarchy, which presents three levels of reality that Numenius calls “Gods”. Even though the role of the first and the second God is of paramount importance in the metaphysics of Numenius, the third God, which is also defined “cosmos”, has a troublesome ontological status. According to Numenius, the cosmos has “dianoetic thought” since his nature derives from the “encounter” of two metaphysical principles, the demiurge, and the matter. My investigation starts from the testimony of Proclus and then it focuses on Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica, in which he quotes directly some passages from the work on Numenius On the Good.

My goal in this article is to show that Numenius conceives of the third God not as the cosmos in a material sense, but rather as the rational principle which rules the universe. In this respect, the discursive intellect and the divine nature of the cosmos seem to fit well together. The main question, however, concerns the possibility that Numenius understands the presence (or the identification) of the cosmos with a World Soul. My purpose is to show that even though Numenius does not define the third God explicitly as a “Soul”, its rational principle works as a Soul. Finally, I try to show that this conception of third God by Numenius lays the ground for the Plotinian concept of the Third Hypostasis.