"DURING chess games played nearly seven hundred years after Plato's death, Plotinus, the greatest of the Neo-Platonists, discussed the problem of State with Galienus, Emperor of Rome. The Roman ruler was not a profound thinker, but he had an excellent mind which inclined toward the Platonic point of view, and he frequently sought advice from the great philosopher and mystic, Plotinus. This friendship led to Plotinus confiding to the emperor his dream of a philosophic city.
"The situation and circumstances were impressive. One of the two men had the vision of the world's greatest need, the other had the power to make that vision a reality. In the Compania, not far from Rome, stood the deserted ruins of an ancient city which had been destroyed by the vandalism of men and the crumbling forces of time; Plotinus asked that this become the site of a habitation for the learned, that here with funds raised from both public and private sources a noble community be built, to be ruled over by the laws set forth in the writings of Plato, and to honor the great man the city should be called Platonopolis.
"Plotinus pointed out that such a project would not only bring honor to the wise but would confer immortality upon the name of the emperor, lasting dignity upon the whole of the Roman Empire. Galienus came to favor the project as the noblest experiment in time. But the Roman Senate viewed the matter with suspicion and alarm. To them it would be a serious misfortune for the aristocracy of wealth to be challenged by the aristocracy of learning!--the philosophers' city might finally overthrow the Empire. Always, philosophers had been especially troublesome to the smug, and Rome was in the advanced state of smugness that immediately preceded the complete collapse of the entire Empire.
"So Galenius had to discover that emperors were not all-powerful; he was quietly informed by representatives of powerful and aristocratic families that if he continued to entertain seriously the dream of a philosopher's city it would be necessary to find as his successor a ruler with a more practical turn of mind. Plotinus and the emperor continued to play chess and conversationally build philosophic cities in the privacy of the royal apartments, and Rome continued on its headlong flight toward oblivion.
"Excepting only recent years, this is the one time in history when a serious attempt was made to give wisdom a place in the temporal plan of living. Wise men are naturally endowed with the qualities of rulership, but they have had little if any voice in the rulership of the world; their voices have been heard only after the men themselves were dead. Plato lives thus today, and his words have a greater vitality in this century than they did in his time in ancient Athens. "
Manly P. Hall, The Secret Destiny of America, 1944