Read The Great Books

A Curated Guide for Autodidacts

The Enneads

by Plotinus

The Enneads were written by Plotinus, ancient thinker. Considered one of the foundational texts of western thought.

Separated into six separate books with multiple treatises per book, it contains much of Plotinus’ thoughts on various topics. Included is content on humanity, the world, higher powers, and science. This is an interesting book for anyone interested in ancient philosophy and thought.

For this work, there’s a few options to look at. Larson Publications has an edition, penned in ’92. This option has optional translations as notations which is handy to let the reader understand the possibilities of the language in translation. However, it doesn’t offer much else. The big issue I’ve seen is the translation is rather dense. Many readers have reported having to really focus in to understand the thoughts of the language used. I have no doubt this is relative to the original language used, but it doesn’t do much for accessibility. Cambridge University Press has an option available as well. Theirs has much more in the terms of notation and reference which is great for this piece. However, despite Cambridge’s usual prowess in printing quality copies, and the price of the book across platforms, there are a series of issues with the physical copies. Many have reported shoddy binding or fading text, to the point where it damages the readability and life of the book. This may be something that they have fixed over time but keep an eye out if this is the copy you go for. Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie has the option I would recommend. It is independently published but that shouldn’t worry you. Guthrie has Ph.D.’s from Tulane, Columbia, and Harvard Universities so his translation and writing abilities are more than enough. There is a good amount of context and a really well done translation. In addition, Guthrie has established the writings of Plotinus in chronological order for better understanding.