Plotinus was born in Upper Egypt, more specifically in Lycopolis in 204 CE. When he was twenty-eight he moved to Alexandria to study philosophy. While in Alexandria, he was tremendously influenced by Plato and Aristotle and therefore studied their works immensely. Subsequent to working under Ammonius for approximately ten years, he joined the Emperor Gordians campaign against the Parthians (Persians) in 243 AD. He joined the campaign, partly because he was somewhat intrigued by the Persians philosophies, but mainly because he was reatly interested in the philosophers of India and Persia.
Plotinuss plan failed: the emperor was assassinated in Mesopotamia and he was coerced to escape to Antioch in order to save his life. In 244 AD, he made his way to Rome and started his own school of philosophy. He was such a distinguished teacher, that he received rave reviews from highly eminent people, including the Emperor Gallienus and his wife Salonina. Not long after the school was founded, he thought up the idea for a model city, Platonopolis, in a city called Campania in Southern Italy.
His idea was for the city to live according to the laws of Plato. Even though Gallienus was completely supportive of this plan, the other “imperial counselors” were not; therefore, the idea did not go any further. He continued to teach at his school in Rome until 268 AD. From that point, he retired to a rural estate of one of his disciples in Campania. During the last few years of his life, he began to put down in writing, his responses to the most common questions that were raised during his seminars.
These responses were written in essays, primarily because the extent of most of the answers could not fully be answered in depth in the seminars. It was there where he died, in 270, of what was thought to be leprosy. Although Plotinus wrote several of these essays, he did not publish them. Porphyry, one of his students, fifty four of these essays in six “Enneades. ” He put them in “logical order” and “chronological sequence. ” Marsilio Ficino in Florence printed the “Enneades” in Latin in 1492.