Differences between Porphyry and Iamblichus on how the soul experienced temporal salvation in the present life led to significant differences concerning its ultimate destiny. Whereas Porphyry emphasized purification of the rational soul by philosophy in order to escape corporeal reality and permanent union with the One, Iamblichus stressed the importance of theurgical rituals and understood temporal existence as a positive, integrative part of the composite salvific process. Porphyry’s views can thus be described as an “eschatology of ascent,” and those of Iamblichus, an “eschatology of descent.” The differences can be explained as being due to different interpretations given to Plato’s eschatological myths by Neoplatonic philosophers, which developed into a sharp disagreement between Porphyry and Iamblichus and the latter’s eventual departure from Rome.
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