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The Prometheus Trust’s Tenth Annual Conference





10-12 JULY 2015


Previous year’s conferences: click here

Reporting Diotima's teaching in the Symposium, Socrates says that she discoursed upon the philosopher-initiate's attainment of supreme beauty through embracing that which is true and real, and that she concluded by claiming of him that, "begetting true virtue, and bringing her up till she is grown mature, he would become a favourite of the Gods; and at length would be, if any man ever be, himself one of the immortals." As so often when Plato writes about the highest goals of human life, here he had left room for succeeding generations of philosophers to consider for themselves whether or not we are immortal, what kind of immortality we may possess in potential, and how that might be actualized.

This conference, coming almost two and a half thousand years after the dialogue with its great claim was written, invites papers from those who have explored others' thoughtful responses to it, and, above all, their own reflections upon it. We especially value a mix of participants and presenters – academic and non-academic, specialist and non-specialist – and encourage all those who are following the ways of philosophy to contribute.

Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should be with us at the latest by Saturday, 28 March 2015. Acceptance of these will be confirmed as quickly as possible after this date.

Papers should be around 2500-3000 words or 20 minutes’ presentation (we usually allow a further 15-20 minutes for a question and answer session after each presentation).

Bookings should be received by us not later than Friday, 10 April 2015.


The Trustees are delighted to announce that the keynote speech will be given by Dr Donka D Markus; below is a synopsis of her proposed address:

Immortality through selfless divine immortal love

Although the soul according to the Platonic tradition was immortal, the actualization of its immortality in the Symposium (212A) depended upon establishing an affectionate friendship with the divine (theophiles) after climbing the ladder of divine erōs (Symp 211C) that elevated the soul to higher levels of selflessness (aphthonia) at every rung. No stone was to be left unturned “to attain truth and in so far as it is possible for human nature to partake of immortality” (Tim. 90C). This great effort entailed increasing selflessness by ‘thinking immortal and divine thoughts’, ‘caring for one’s divine part’ and ‘magnifying one’s indwelling daimon,” i.e. the immortal self attuned to the divine and free from the self-absorbed bodily mortal part.

What did ‘caring for the divine part’ entail? I will draw upon Plato and a selection of Neoplatonic texts to explore this question. Among other things, this care (therapeia) entailed the removal of arrogance (Plotinus’ tolma) that feeds otherness (mortality) and bars from immortality. It entailed turning away from the rush to material shares, as Proclus put it. It entailed developing receptivity to the power of selfless anagogic erōs “praised as the source of the greatest blessings to us” (Phaedr. 266B). These blessings included rendering the soul fit for return to its source and thus the actualization of the Platonic ideal of ‘becoming like god’, the attainment of immortality by decreasing and shedding the mortal part. I will conclude that the Platonic practices aimed at ‘the care for the divine part’ took a variety of forms, but were all inspired by selfless erōs raising the soul encased in a mortal body to awareness of what it truly is: immortal.

Dr Markus graduated in Classics from the University of Sofia, Bulgaria with an MA thesis about Aristotle and gained another in Greek Philosophy with a thesis on the Pre-Socratics; she gained her PhD from the University of Michigan in 1997 in Late Latin Literature and has been teaching Latin at that university since 1999.  She is interested in Plato and Neoplatonic texts, particularly their protreptic and anagogic value.  She has had many articles and reviews published and presented many conference papers.


The Trustees are very pleased to announce that the Thomas Taylor Lecture will be given by Professor John M Dillon. Below is a synopsis of his lecture:

“Our goal is not to become good men – our goal is to become gods!”

This assertion of Plotinus (Ennead I 2,7) may seem a bold, even a bombastic, one, but he meant it. That is the goal that he set himself, and which he believed that he achieved. The problem is, though, in what respect and degree do we become gods? And if that involves immortality, then immortality for what? Not for our bodies, certainly, but for every level of our souls, or only some select portion? And how much of our ‘normal’ consciousness and personality would that bring along with it? All these questions are in fact addressed by Plotinus in various parts of his works, and it is with those that I shall be concerned in this talk, with some help from Thomas Taylor.

Professor Dillon gained his PhD at the University of California in Berkeley with a thesis on the Fragments of Iamblichus’ Commentary on the Timaeus, was on the Faculty of Classics there from 1969 to 1980, and spent the years from 1980 to his retirement in 2006 as Regius Professor of Greek at Trinity College Dublin. In 1997, he founded the Centre for the Study of the Platonic Tradition in Trinity College in which he continues to be active. He is the author or editor of a series of books on Greek Philosophy, in particular the history of the Platonic tradition, and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy, the Academy of Athens and patron of The Prometheus Trust.

 For details of the conference programme, click here


The conference will take place at Purley Chase Centre, Mancetter, near Atherstone in Warwickshire, which is comfortable and well appointed.  Residential prices are for full board for the weekend (from Friday supper to Sunday tea) and are 140 (single ensuite), 120 (twin ensuite) and 100 (dormitory) – participants are encouraged to attend for the whole weekend and there are no reductions for partial attendance.  There is limited ensuite accommodation available and a few delegates may be asked to share. If you are a student or on a low income and cannot afford these charges, please contact the Treasurer in confidence ( to apply for a bursary.

Conference fee: This charge is 40 and is payable with your booking. It is non-refundable in the event of cancellation. There are no concessions for the this charge. Accommodation fees are payable by end of May.

Booking forms are available from the links below or from the Conference Secretary at the above address or phone number or by email: Completed forms with your deposit of 40 should be returned by FRIDAY, 10 APRIL at the very latest, and before if possible as places are limited.

Conference 15 - Booking Form PDF             Conference 15 - Booking Form WORD format

For further enquiries and further details please contact the Conference Secretary, Briony Addey at:

6 Fairways, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wiltshire, BA13 3RU, UK or email or phone 01373 (0044 1373 from outside the UK) 228195


Travel: By Car: The centre is just over 2 kilometres South of the A5 near Atherstone. It can be approached from all points of the compass via the motorway network, using M1, M6, M42 or M69 for instance. If travelling along the A5 from the East then just before Atherstone, take the B4111 towards Mancetter. If you are travelling along the A5 from the West, go past Atherstone on the dual carriageway and when you reach the large roundabout at the end, take the right exit towards Mancetter B4111. After about a quarter of a mile on B4111, just past The Plough pub and the church, take a right turn to Purley Chase Golf Club (brown road sign). Over the traffic light controlled bridge, follow the road round to the right and up through the trees, Purley Chase Centre is about a quarter of a mile further on, on the right.

By rail:The nearest main line railway station is at Nuneaton, about 10 kilometres away. Nuneaton is on the main line between London and Lancashire, and trains also serve Atherstone about 2 miles away. These towns are also served by various bus and coach services. A taxi from Atherstone railway station to the Centre costs roughly 12. Local Taxi companies are: AAA Taxis: 01827 713637 A.R.