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G. R. S. Mead – Hermes Thrice-Greatest
Studies in Hellenistic Theosophy and Gnosis
Being a Translation of the Extant Sermons and Fragments of the Trismegistic Literature, with Prolegomena, Commentaries, and Notes
G. R. S. Mead
London and Benares
The Theosophical Publishing Society
This text is in the public domain because it was published prior to 1922.
Volume 2 – Sermons
I. Poemandres, the Shepherd of Men
I. POEMANDRES, THE SHEPHERD OF MEN
(Text: R. 328-338; P. 1-18; Pat. 5b-8.) 1
1. It chanced once on a time my mind was meditating on the things that are, 2 my thought was raised to a great height, the senses of my body being held back—just as men are who are weighed down with sleep after a fill of food, or from fatigue of body.
Methought a Being more than vast, in size beyond all bounds, called out my name and saith: What wouldst thou hear and see, and what hast thou in mind to learn and know?
2. And I do say: Who art thou?
He saith: I am Man-Shepherd, 3 Mind of all-
masterhood 1; I know what thou desirest and I’m with thee everywhere.
3. [And] I reply: I long to learn the things that are, and comprehend their nature, and know God. This is, I said, what I desire to hear.
He answered back to me: Hold in thy mind all thou wouldst know, and I will teach thee.
4. E’en with these words His aspect changed, 2 and straightway, in the twinkling of an eye, all things were opened to me, and I see a Vision limitless, all things turned into Light,—sweet, joyous [Light]. And I became transported as I gazed.
But in a little while Darkness came settling down on part [of it], awesome and gloomy, coiling in sinuous folds, 3 so that methought it like unto a snake. 4
And then the Darkness changed into some sort of a Moist Nature, tossed about beyond all power of words, belching out smoke as from a
fire, and groaning forth a wailing sound that beggars all description.
[And] after that an outcry inarticulate came forth from it, as though it were a Voice of Fire.
5. [Thereon] out of the Light . . . 1 a Holy Word (Logos) 2 descended on that Nature. And upwards to the height from the Moist Nature leaped forth pure Fire; light was it, swift and active too.
The Air, too, being light, followed after the Fire; from out the Earth-and-Water rising up to Fire so that it seemed to hang therefrom.
But Earth-and-Water stayed so mingled each with other, that Earth from Water no one could discern. 3 Yet were they moved to hear by reason of the Spirit-Word (Logos) pervading them.
6. Then saith to me Man-Shepherd: Didst understand this Vision what it means?
Nay; that shall I know, I said.
That Light, He said, am I, thy God, Mind, prior to Moist Nature which appeared from Darkness; the Light-Word (Logos) [that appeared] from Mind is Son of God.
What then?—say I.
Know that what sees in thee 1 and hears is the Lord’s Word (Logos); but Mind is Father-God. Not separate are they the one from other; just in their union [rather] is it Life consists.
Thanks be to Thee, I said.
So, understand the Light [He answered], and make friends with it.
7. And speaking thus He gazed for long into my eyes, 2 so that I trembled at the look of Him.
But when He raised His head, I see in Mind the Light, [but] now in Powers no man could number, and Cosmos 3 grown beyond all bounds, and that the Fire was compassed round about by a most mighty Power, and [now] subdued had come unto a stand.
And when I saw these things I understood by reason of Man-Shepherd’s Word (Logos).
8. But as I was in great astonishment, He saith to me again: Thou didst behold in Mind the Archetypal Form whose being is before beginning without end. Thus spake to me Man-Shepherd.
And I say: Whence then have Nature’s elements their being?
To this He answer gives: From Will of God.
[paragraph continues] [Nature 1] received the Word (Logos), and gazing on the Cosmos Beautiful 2 did copy it, making herself into a cosmos, by means of her own elements and by the births of souls.
9. And God-the-Mind, being male and female both, as Light and Life subsisting, brought forth another Mind to give things form, who, God as he was of Fire and Spirit, 3 formed Seven Rulers who enclose the cosmos that the sense perceives. 4 Men call their ruling Fate. 5
10. Straightway from out the downward elements God’s Reason (Logos) 6 leaped up to Nature’s pure formation, and was at-oned with the Formative Mind; for it was co-essential with it. 7 And Nature’s downward elements were thus left reason-less, so as to be pure matter.
11. Then the Formative Mind ([at-oned] with Reason), he who surrounds the spheres and spins them with his whirl, set turning his formations, and let them turn from a beginning boundless unto an endless end. For that the circulation
of these [spheres] begins where it doth end, as Mind doth will.
And from the downward elements Nature brought forth lives reason-less; for He did not extend the Reason (Logos) [to them]. The Air brought forth things winged; the Water things that swim, and Earth-and-Water one from another parted, as Mind willed. And from her bosom Earth produced what lives she had, four-footed things and reptiles, beasts wild and tame.
12. But All-Father Mind, being Life and Light, did bring forth Man 1 co-equal to Himself, with whom He fell in love, as being His own child; for he was beautiful beyond compare, the Image of his Sire. In very truth, God fell in love with His own Form 2; and on him did bestow all of His own formations.
13. And when he gazed upon what the Enformer had created in the Father, [Man] too wished to enform; and [so] assent was given him by the Father. 3
Changing his state to the formative sphere, 4 in that he was to have his whole authority, 5 he
gazed upon his Brother’s creatures. 1 They fell in love with him, and gave him each a share of his own ordering. 2
And after that he had well-learned their essence and had become a sharer in their nature, he had a mind to break right through the Boundary of their spheres, and to subdue 3 the might of that which pressed upon the Fire. 4
14. So he who hath the whole authority o’er [all] the mortals in the cosmos and o’er its lives irrational, bent his face downwards through 5 the Harmony, 6 breaking right through its strength, and showed to downward Nature God’s fair Form.
And when she saw that Form of beauty which can never satiate, and him who [now] possessed within himself each single energy of [all seven] Rulers as well as God’s [own] Form, she smiled with love; for ’twas as though she’d seen the image of Man’s fairest form upon her Water, his shadow on her Earth.
He in his turn beholding the form like to himself, existing in her, in her Water, loved it and willed to live in it; and with the will came act, 1 and [so] he vivified the form devoid of reason.
And Nature took the object of her love and wound herself completely round him, and they were intermingled, for they were lovers.
15. And this is why beyond all creatures on the earth man is twofold; mortal because of body, but because of the essential Man immortal.
Though deathless and possessed of sway o’er all, yet doth he suffer as a mortal doth, subject to Fate.
Thus though above the Harmony, within the Harmony he hath become a slave. Though male-female, 2 as from a Father male-female, and though he’s sleepless from a sleepless [Sire], yet is he overcome [by sleep].
16. Thereon [I say: Teach on], 3 O Mind of me, for I myself as well 4 am amorous of the Word (Logos).
The Shepherd said: This is the mystery kept hid until this day.
Nature embraced by Man brought forth a wonder, oh so wonderful. For as he had the nature of the Concord 1 of the Seven, who, as I said to thee, [were made] of Fire and Spirit 2 —Nature delayed not, but immediately brought forth seven “men,” in correspondence with the natures of the Seven, male-female and moving in the air. 3
Thereon [I said]: O Shepherd, . . . 4; for now I’m filled with great desire and long to hear; do not run off. 5
The Shepherd said: Keep silence, for not as yet have I unrolled for thee the first discourse (logos).
Lo! I am still, I said.
17. In such wise then, as I have said, the generation of these seven came to pass. Earth was as woman, her Water filled with longing; ripeness she took from Fire, spirit from AEther. Nature thus brought forth frames to suit the form of Man.
And Man from Life and Light changed into soul and mind,—from Life to soul, from Light to mind.
And thus continued all the sense-world’s
parts 1 until the period of their end and new beginnings.
18. Now listen to the rest of the discourse (logos) which thou dost long to hear.
The period being ended, the bond that bound them all was loosened by God’s Will. For all the animals being male-female, at the same time with man were loosed apart; some became partly male, some in like fashion [partly] female. And straightway God spake by His Holy Word (Logos):
“Increase ye in increasing, and multiply in multitude, ye creatures and creations all; and man that hath Mind in him, let him learn to know that he himself is deathless, and that the cause of death is love, 2 though Love is all.” 3
19. When He said this, His Forethought 4 did by means of Fate and Harmony effect their couplings and their generations founded. And so all things were multiplied according to their kind.
And he who thus hath learned to know himself, hath reached that Good which doth transcend abundance; but he who through a love that leads astray, expends his love upon his body,—
he stays in Darkness wandering, 1 and suffering through his senses things of Death.
20. What is the so great fault, said I, the ignorant commit, that they should be deprived of deathlessness?
Thou seem’st, he said, O thou, not to have given heed to what thou heardest. Did not I bid thee think?
Yea do I think, and I remember, and therefore give Thee thanks.
If thou didst think [thereon], [said He], tell me: Why do they merit death who are in Death?
It is because the gloomy Darkness is the root and base of the material frame; from it 2 came the Moist Nature; from this 3 the body in the sense-world was composed; and from this [body] Death doth the Water drain.
21. Right was thy thought, O thou! But how doth “he who knows himself, go unto Him,” as God’s Word (Logos) hath declared?
And I reply: the Father of the universals doth consist of Light and Life, and from Him Man was born.
Thou sayest well, [thus] speaking. Light and Life is Father-God, and from Him Man was born.
If then thou learnest that thou art thyself of
[paragraph continues] Life and Light, and that thou [only] happen’st to be out of them, thou shalt return again to Life. Thus did Man-Shepherd speak.
But tell me further, Mind of me, I cried, how shall I come to Life again . . . . for God doth say: “The man who hath Mind in him, let him learn to know that he himself [is deathless].”
22. Have not all men then Mind?
Thou sayest well, O thou, thus speaking. I, Mind, myself am present with holy men and good, the pure and merciful, men who live piously.
[To such] my presence doth become an aid, and straightway they gain gnosis of all things, and win the Father’s love by their pure lives, and give Him thanks, invoking on Him blessings, and chanting hymns, intent on Him with ardent love.
And ere they give the body up unto its proper death, they turn them with disgust from its sensations, from knowledge of what things they operate. 1 Nay, it is I, the Mind, that will not let the operations which befall the body, work to their [natural] end. For being door-keeper I’ll close up [all] the entrances, and cut the mental actions off which base and evil energies induce.
23. But to the Mind-less ones, the wicked and depraved, the envious and covetous, and those who murder do and love impiety, I am far off,
yielding my place to the Avenging Daimon, who sharpening the fire, tormenteth him and addeth fire to fire upon him, and rusheth on him through his senses, thus rendering him the readier for transgressions of the law, so that he meets with greater torment; nor doth he ever cease to have desire for appetites inordinate, insatiately striving in the dark. 1
24. Well hast thou taught me all, as I desired, O Mind. And now, pray, tell me further of the nature of the Way Above as now it is [for me]. 2
To this Man-Shepherd said: When thy material body is to be dissolved, first thou surrenderest the body by itself unto the work of change, and thus the form thou hadst doth vanish, and thou surrenderest thy way of life, 3 void of its energy, unto the Daimon. 4 The body’s senses next pass back into their sources, becoming separate, and resurrect as energies; and passion and desire 5 withdraw unto that nature which is void of reason.
25. And thus it is that man doth speed his way thereafter upwards through the Harmony.
To the first zone he gives the Energy of Growth and Waning; unto the second [zone], Device of Evils [now] de-energized 1; unto the third, the Guile of the Desires de-energized; unto the fourth, his Domineering Arrogance, [also] de-energized; unto the fifth, unholy Daring and the Rashness of Audacity, de-energized; unto the sixth, Striving for Wealth by evil means, deprived of its aggrandisement; and to the seventh zone, Ensnaring Falsehood, de-energized. 2
26. And then, with all the energizings of the Harmony stript from him, clothed in his proper Power, he cometh to that Nature which belongs unto the Eighth, 3 and there with those-that-are hymneth the Father.
They who are there welcome his coming there with joy; and he, made like to them that sojourn there, doth further hear the Powers who are above the Nature that belongs unto the Eighth, singing their songs of praise to God in language of their own.
And then they, in a band, 4 go to the Father home; of their own selves they make surrender of themselves to Powers, and [thus] becoming Powers they are in God. This the good end for
those who have gained Gnosis—to be made one with God.
Why shouldst thou then delay? Must it not be, since thou hast all received, that thou shouldst to the worthy point the way, in order that through thee the race of mortal kind may by [thy] God be saved?
27. This when He’d said, Man-Shepherd mingled with the Powers. 1
But I, with thanks and blessings unto the Father of the universal [Powers], was freed, full of the power He had poured into me, and full of what He’d taught me of the nature of the All and of the loftiest Vision.
And I began to preach to men the Beauty of Devotion and of Gnosis:
O ye people, earth-born folk, ye who have given yourselves to drunkenness and sleep and ignorance of God, be sober now, cease from your surfeit, cease to be glamoured by irrational sleep 2!
28. And when they heard, they came with one accord. Whereon I say:
Ye earth-born folk, why have ye given up yourselves to Death, while yet ye have the power of sharing Deathlessness? Repent, O ye, who walk with Error arm in arm and make of Ignorance the sharer of your board; get ye from out the light of Darkness, and take your part in Deathlessness, forsake Destruction!
29. And some of them with jests upon their lips 1 departed [from me], abandoning themselves unto the Way of Death; others entreated to be taught, casting themselves before my feet.
But I made them arise, and I became a leader of the Race 2 towards home, teaching the words (logoi), how and in what way they shall be saved. I sowed in them the words (logoi) of wisdom 3; of Deathless Water were they given to drink. 4
And when even was come and all sun’s beams began to set, I bade them all give thanks to God. And when they had brought to an end the giving of their thanks, each man returned to his own resting place.
30. But I recorded in my heart Man-Shepherd’s benefaction, and with my every hope fulfilled more than rejoiced. For body’s sleep became
the soul’s awakening, 1 and closing of the eyes—true vision, pregnant with Good my silence, and the utterance of my word (logos) begetting of good things.
All this befell me from my Mind, that is Man-Shepherd, Word (Logos) of all masterhood, 2 by whom being God-inspired I came unto the Plain of Truth. 3 Wherefore with all my soul and strength thanksgiving 4 give I unto Father-God.
31. Holy art Thou, O God, the universals’ Father.
Holy art Thou, O God, whose Will perfects itself by means of its own Powers.
Holy art Thou, O God, who willeth to be known and art known by Thine own.
Holy art Thou, who didst by Word (Logos) make to consist the things that are.
Holy art Thou, of whom All-nature hath been made an Image.
Holy art Thou, whose Form Nature hath never made.
Holy art Thou, more powerful than all power.
Holy art Thou, transcending all pre-eminence.
Holy Thou art, Thou better than all praise.
Accept my reason’s 1 offerings pure, from soul and heart for aye stretched up to Thee, O Thou unutterable, unspeakable, Whose Name naught but the Silence can express.
32. Give ear to me who pray that I may ne’er of Gnosis fail, [Gnosis] which is our common Being’s nature 2; and fill me with Thy Power, and with this Grace [of Thine], that I may give the Light to those in ignorance of the Race, my Brethren, and Thy Sons.
For this cause I believe, and I bear witness; I go to Life and Light. Blessed art Thou, O Father. Thy Man 3 would holy be as Thou art holy, e’en as Thou gavest him Thy full authority 4 [to be].
3:1 P. = Parthey (G.), Hermetis Trismegisti Poemander (Berlin; 1854). Pat. = Patrizzi (F.), Nova de Universis Philosophia (Venice; 1593).
3:2 περὶ τῶν ὄντων.
4:1 ὁ τῆς αὐθεντίας νοῦς. The αὐθεντία the summa potestas of all things; see R. 8, n. 1; and § 30 below. Cf. also C. H., xiii. (xiv.) 15.
4:2 ἠλλάγη τῇ ἰδέᾳ.
4:3 σκολιῶς ἐσπειραμένον. The sense is by no means certain. Menard translates “de forme sinueuse”; Everard, “coming down obliquely”; Chambers, “sinuously terminated.” But cf. in the Sethian system “the sinuous Water—that is, Darkness (see Hipp., Philos., v. 19).
4:4 Cf. Hipp., Philos., v. 9 (S. 170, 71): “They say the Serpent is the Moist Essence.”
5:1 A lacuna of six letters in the text.
5:2 The idea of the Logos was the central concept of Hellenistic theology; it was thus a word of many meanings, signifying chiefly Reason and Word, but also much else. I have accordingly throughout added the term Logos after the English equivalent most suitable to the context.
5:3 Cf. Il., vii. 99, as quoted by Apion in the chapter “Concerning the AEon” as Comment, on C. H., xi. (xii.).
6:1 That is, in vision.
6:2 Cf. C. H., xi (xii) 6.
6:3 κόσμον. The word kosmos (world-order) means either “order” or “world”; and in the original there is frequently a play upon the two meanings, as in the case of logos.
7:1 Nature and God’s Will are identical.
7:2 That is, the ideal world-order in the realms of reality.
7:3 Presumably the Pure Air of § 3.
7:4 τὸν αἰσθητὸν κόσμον. The sensible or manifested world, our present universe, as distinguished from the ideal eternal universe, the type of all universes.
7:6 The Logos which had previously descended into Nature.
7:7 ὁμοούσιος, usually translated “consubstantial”; but οὐσία is “essence” and “being” rather than “substance.”
8:1 The Prototype, Cosmic, Ideal or Perfect Man.
8:2 Or Beauty (μορφῆς).
8:3 Cf. The Gospel of Mary in the Akhmim Codex: “He nodded, and when He had thus nodded assent …” (F. F. F., 586).
8:4 The Eighth Sphere bounding the Seven.
8:5 For note on ἐξουσία, see R. in loc. and 48, n. 3.
9:1 That is the Seven Spheres fashioned by his Brother.
9:2 τάξις, rank or order.
9:3 Or “wear down” (καταπονῆσαι). The reading κατανοῆσαι, however, may be more correct; “he had a mind to come to knowledge of” this Boundary or Ring Pass not. See R. 49, n. 1.
9:4 Sc. the Mighty Power of § 9.
9:5 παρέκυψεν. Cf. Cyril, C. J., i. 33 (Frag. xiii.); R. 50: “beugt sich . . . nieder” But compare especially Plato, Phaedrus, 249 C., where he speaks of the soul “raising up her face (ἀνακύψασα) to That which is.” Cf. also Apion in Clement. Hom., vi. 4, in Comment. C. H., xi. (xii.)
9:6 That is, the harmonious interplay, concord or system of the spheres ruled by the Rulers; in other words, the cosmos of Fate.
10:1 ἐνέργεια, energy, and realization.
10:2 That is “a-sexual” but having the potentiality of both sexes.
10:3 For the various suggestions for filling up this lacuna, see R. in loc.; and for that of Keil, see R. 367.
10:4 Sc. as well as Nature.
11:2 See § 9.
11:3 μεταρσίους. A term that must have a more definite meaning than the vague “sublime” by which it is generally translated.
11:4 For Keil’s completion of the lacuna, see R. 368.
11:5 μὴ ἔκτρεχε, perhaps meaning diverge from the subject, or go too fast; lit., it means “do not run away.”
12:1 That is, the parts of what Hermes elsewhere calls the “cosmic man.”
12:2 Cf. C. H., xvi. 16.
12:3 Omitting the τἀ before ὄντα.
12:4 πρόνοια, that is Nature as Sophia or Providence or Will.
13:1 There is a word-play between πλάνης and πλανώμενος.
13:2 Sc. Darkness.
13:3 Sc. The Moist Nature.
14:1 εἰδότες αὐτῶν τὰ ἐνεργήματα.
15:1 The text of this paragraph is hopelessly confused in the MSS.
15:2 περὶ τῆς ἀνόδου τῆς γινομένης.
15:3 τὸ ἦθος, the “habitual” part of man, presumably way of life impressed by habit on the body; or it may be “class” of life as in the Vision of Er.
15:4 Cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 16.
15:5 ὁ θυμὸς καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία,—the masculine and feminine as positive and negative aspects of the “animal soul.”
16:2 Cf. C. H., xiii. (xiv.) 7.
16:3 Cf. C. H., xiii. (xiv.) 15.
16:4 τάξει, order, group, sc. of the Nine;—the Father being the Ten, or consummation.
17:1 Cf. K. K., 25: “Thus speaking God became Imperishable Mind.”
17:2 Cf. the logos, “Jesus saith, I stood in the midst of the world, and in the flesh was I seen of them, and I found all men drunken, and none found I athirst among them, and my soul grieveth over the sons of men, because they are blind in heart.” Sayings of Our Lord from an Early Greek Papyrus, Grenfell & Hunt (London; 1897).
18:1 Cf. P. S. A., xii. 2.
18:2 The Race of the Logos, of all who were conscious of the Logos in their hearts, who had repented and were thus logoi.
18:3 Cf. Mark iv. 4: “He who soweth soweth the Word (Logos)”
18:4 Cf. K. K., 1—the drink given by Isis to Horus.
19:1 νῆψις, lit. soberness, watchfulness, lucidity.
19:2 See § 2 above.
19:3 Cf. K. K. (Stob., Ec., i. 49; p. 459, 20, W.), and Damascius, in Phot., Bibl., p. 337b, 23.
19:4 εὐλογίαν,—a play on λόγος.
20:2 τῆς γνώσεως τῆς κατ᾽ οὐσίαν ἡμῶν, “our being,” that is, presumably, the “being” of man and God, the “being” which man shares with God.
20:3 Cf. C. H., xiii. (xiv.) 20.
II. (III.) TO ASCLEPIUS
Text: P. 19-30; Pat. 18b-20.)
1. Hermes. 1 All that is moved, Asclepius, is it not moved in something and by something?
Her. And must not that in which it’s moved be greater than the moved?
Asc. It must.
Her. Mover, again, has greater power than moved?
Asc. It has, of course.
Her. The nature, furthermore, of that in which it’s moved must be quite other from the nature of the moved?
Asc. It must completely.
2. Her. Is not, again, this cosmos vast, [so vast] that than it there exists no body greater?
Her. And massive too, for it is crammed with multitudes of other mighty frames, nay rather all the other bodies that there are?
Asc. It is.
Her. And yet the cosmos is a body?
Asc. It is a body.
Her. And one that’s moved?
3. Asc. Assuredly.
Her. Of what size, then, must be the space in which it’s moved; and of what kind [must be] the nature [of that space]? Must it not be far vaster [than the cosmos], in order that it may be able to find room for its continued course, so that the moved may not be cramped for want of room and lose its motion?
Asc. Something, Thrice-greatest one, it needs must be, immensely vast.
4. Her. And of what nature? Must it not be, Asclepius, of just the contrary? And is not contrary to body bodiless?
Her. Space, then, is bodiless. But bodiless must either be some godlike thing or God [Himself]. And by “some godlike thing” I mean no more the generable but the ingenerable. 1
5. If, then, space be some godlike thing, it is substantial 1; but if ’tis God [Himself], it transcends substance. But it is to be thought of otherwise [than God], and in this way.
God is first “thinkable” 2 for us, not for Himself, for that the thing that’s thought doth fall beneath the thinker’s sense. God then can not be “thinkable” unto Himself, in that He’s thought of by Himself as being nothing else than what He thinks. But He is “something else” for us, and so He’s thought of by us.
6. If space is, therefore, to be thought, [it should] not, [then, be thought as] God, but space. If God is also to be thought, [He should] not [be conceived] as space, but energy that can contain [all space].
Further, 3 all that is moved is moved not in the moved but in the stable. And that which moves [another] is of course stationary, for ’tis impossible that it should move with it.
Asc. How is it, then, that things down here, Thrice-greatest one, are moved with those that are [already] moved? For thou hast said 4 the errant spheres were moved by the inerrant one.
Her. This is not, O Asclepius, a moving with, but one against; they are not moved with
one another, but one against the other. It is this contrariety which turneth the resistance of their motion into rest. For that resistance is the rest of motion.
7. Hence, too, the errant spheres, being moved contrarily to the inerrant one, are moved by one another by mutual contrariety, [and also] by the stable one through contrariety itself. And this can otherwise not be.
The Bears 1 up there, which neither set nor rise, think’st thou they rest or move?
Asc. They move, Thrice-greatest one.
Her. And what their motion, my Asclepius?
Asc. Motion that turns for ever round the same.
Her. But revolution—motion round same—is fixed by rest. For “round-the-same” doth stop “beyond-same.” “Beyond-same” then, being stopped, if it be steadied in “round-same”—the contrary stands firm, being rendered ever stable by its contrariety.
8. Of this I’ll give thee here on earth an instance, which the eye can see. Regard the animals down here,—a man, for instance, swimming! The water moves, yet the resistance of his hands and feet give him stability, so that he is not borne along with it, nor sunk thereby.
Asc. Thou hast, Thrice-greatest one, adduced a most clear instance.
Her. All motion, then, is caused in station and by station.
The motion, therefore, of the cosmos (and of every other hylic animal 1) will not be caused by things exterior to the cosmos, but by things interior [outward] to the exterior—such [things] as soul, or spirit, or some such other thing incorporal.
’Tis not its body that doth move the living thing in it; nay, not even the whole [body of the universe a lesser] body e’en though there be no life in it. 2
9. Asc. What meanest thou by this, Thrice-greatest one? Is it not bodies, then, that move the stock and stone and all the other things inanimate?
Her. By no means, O Asclepius. The something-in-the-body, the that-which-moves the thing inanimate, this surely’s not a body, for that it moves the two of them—both body of the lifter and the lifted? So that a thing that’s lifeless will not move a lifeless thing. That which doth move [another thing] is animate, in that it is the mover.
Thou seest, then, how heavy laden is the soul,
for it alone doth lift two bodies. That things, moreover, moved are moved in something as well as moved by something is clear.
10. Asc. Yea, 1 O Thrice-greatest one, things moved must needs be moved in something void. 2
Her. Thou sayest well, O [my] Asclepius! 3 For naught of things that are is void. Alone the “is-not” ’s void [and] stranger to subsistence. For that which is subsistent can never change to void. 4
Asc. Are there, then, O Thrice-greatest one, no such things as an empty cask, for instance, and an empty jar, a cup and vat, and other things like unto them?
Her. Alack, Asclepius, for thy far-wandering from the truth! Think’st thou that things most full and most replete are void?
11. Asc. How meanest thou, Thrice-greatest one?
Her. Is not air body?
Asc. It is.
Her. And doth this body not pervade all things, and so, pervading, fill them? And “body”; doth body not consist from blending of the “four”? Full, then, of air are all thou callest void; and if of air, then of the “four.” 1
Further, of this the converse follows, that all thou callest full are void—of air; for that they have their space filled out with other bodies, and, therefore, are not able to receive the air therein. These, then, which thou dost say are void, they should be hollow named, not void; for they not only are, but they are full of air and spirit.
12. Asc. Thy argument (logos), Thrice-greatest one, is not to be gainsaid; air is a body. Further, it is this body which doth pervade all things, and so, pervading, fill them. What are we, then, to call that space in which the all doth move?
Her. The Bodiless, Asclepius.
Asc. What, then, is Bodiless?
Her. ’Tis Mind and Reason (Logos), whole out of whole, all self-embracing, free from all body, from all error free, unsensible to body and untouchable, self stayed in self, containing all, preserving those that are, whose rays, to use a
likeness, are Good, Truth, Light beyond light, the Archetype of soul.
Asc. What, then, is God?
13. Her. Not any one of these is He; for He it is that causeth them to be, both all and each and every thing of all that are. Nor hath He left a thing beside that is-not; but they are all from things-that-are and not from things-that-are-not. For that the things-that-are-not have naturally no power of being anything, but rather have the nature of the inability-to-be. And, conversely, the things-that-are have not the nature of some time not-being.
14. Asc. What say’st thou ever, then, God is?
Her. God, therefore, is not Mind, but Cause that the Mind is; God is not Spirit, but Cause that Spirit is; God is not Light, but Cause that the Light is. Hence should one honour God with these two names [the Good and Father]—names which pertain to Him alone and no one else.
For no one of the other so-called gods, no one of men, or daimones, can be in any measure Good, but God alone; and He is Good alone and nothing else. The rest of things are separable all from the Good’s nature; for [all the rest] are soul and body, which have no space that can contain 1 the Good.
15. For that as mighty is the Greatness of the Good as is the Being of all things that are—both bodies and things bodiless, things sensible and intelligible things. Call not thou, therefore, aught else Good, for thou would’st impious be; nor anything at all at any time call God but Good alone, for so thou would’st again be impious.
16. Though, then, the Good is spoken of by all, it is not understood by all, what thing it is. Not only, then, is God not understood by all, but both unto the gods and some of men they out of ignorance do give the name of Good, though they can never either be or become Good. For they are very different from God, while Good can never be distinguished from Him, for that God is the same as Good.
The rest of the immortal ones are natheless honoured with the name of God, and spoken of as gods; but God is Good not out of courtesy but out of nature. For that God’s nature and the Good is one; one is the kind of both, from which all other kinds [proceed].
The Good is He who gives all things and naught receives. 1 God, then, doth give all things and receive naught. God, then, is Good, and Good is God.
17. The other name of God is Father, again
because He is the that-which-maketh all. The part of father is to make.
Wherefore child-making is a very great and a most pious thing in life for them who think aright, and to leave life on earth without a child a very great misfortune and impiety; and he who hath no child is punished by the daimons after death.
And this the punishment: that that man’s soul who hath no child, shall be condemned unto a body with neither man’s nor woman’s nature, a thing accurst beneath the sun.
Wherefore, Asclepius, let not your sympathies be with the man who hath no child, but rather pity his mishap, knowing what punishment abides for him.
Let all that has been said, then, be to thee, Asclepius, an introduction to the gnosis of the nature of all things.
59:1 From here till the end of § 4 is quoted by Stob?us, Phys., xviii. 2; G. pp. 147-149; W. 157, 6 ff.
60:1 That is, beyond genesis, the universe of becoming, or the sensible universe.
61:2 Or intelligible.
61:3 From here till the end of § 9 (exclusive of the last sentence) is quoted by Stobaeus, Phys., xix. 2; G. pp. 154-157; W. 163, 14 ff.
61:4 Sc. in some previous sermon.
62:1 Sc. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
63:1 That is, living material organism.
63:2 That is, in the lesser body.
64:1 For a criticism of Parthey’s text of the following three paragraphs, see R., pp. 209, 300. Parthey had uncritically conflated the text of our Corpus and the readings of Stobaeus, in ignorance that he had before him two different recensions of the same text. I follow Reitzenstein.
64:2 Cf. P. S. A., xxxiii. 1.
64:3 From here to the end of § 12 is quoted by Stobaeus, Phys., xviii. 3; G. pp. 149-150; W. 158, 13 ff.
64:4 The variant in Stobaeus reads: “No single thing of things that are is void by reason of the [very nature of] subsistence. The ‘is’ could not be ‘is’ were it not full of subsistence [itself].” The rest of the variants need not be noted in translation.
65:1 The physical elements—earth, air, water and fire—were supposed to be severally combinations of the Primal Elements, Earth, Air, Water and Fire, one Element dominating in each. Thus our air would consist of a proportion of all four Great Elements, but would have Air predominant in it; and so for the rest.
66:1 In the original there is a word-play—χωριστά (separable) and χωρῆσαι (contain)—which is impossible to reproduce in translation.
67:1 Cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 3: ’Tis “He alone who taketh naught.”
III. (IV.) THE SACRED SERMON OF HERMES
(Text: P. 31-33; Pat. 8b-9.)
1. The Glory of all things is God, Godhead and Godly Nature. Source of the things that are is God, who is both Mind and Nature,—yea Matter, the Wisdom that reveals all things. Source [too] is Godhead,—yea Nature, Energy, Necessity, and End, and Making-new-again. 1
Darkness that knew no bounds was in Abyss, and Water [too] and subtle Breath intelligent; these were by Power of God in Chaos.
Then Holy Light arose; and there collected ’neath Dry Space 2 from out Moist Essence
[paragraph continues] Elements; and all the Gods do separate things out from fecund Nature.
2. All things being undefined and yet unwrought, the light things were assigned unto the height, the heavy ones had their foundations laid down underneath the moist part of Dry Space, 1 the universal things being bounded off by Fire and hanged in Breath to keep them up.
And 2 Heaven was seen in seven circles; its Gods were visible in forms of stars with all their signs; while Nature had her members made articulate together with the Gods in her. And [Heaven’s] periphery revolved in cyclic course, borne on by Breath of God.
3. And every God by his own proper power brought forth what was appointed him. Thus there arose four-footed beasts, and creeping things, and those that in the water dwell, and things with wings, and everything that beareth seed, and grass, and shoot of every flower, all having in themselves seed of again-becoming. 3
And they selected out 4 the births 5 of men for gnosis of the works of God and attestation of the energy of Nature; the multitude of men for
lordship over all beneath the Heaven and gnosis of its blessings, that they might increase in increasing and multiply in multitude, and every soul infleshed by revolution of the Cyclic Gods, for observation of the marvels of the Heaven and Heaven’s Gods’ revolution, and of the works of God and energy of Nature, for tokens of its blessings, for gnosis of the power of God, that they might know the fates that follow good and evil [deeds] and learn the cunning work of all good arts.
4. [Thus] there begins their living and their growing wise, according to the fate appointed by the revolution of the Cyclic Gods, and their deceasing for this end.
And there shall be memorials mighty of their handiworks upon the earth, leaving dim trace behind when cycles are renewed.
For every birth of flesh ensouled, and of the fruit of seed, and every handiwork, though it decay, shall of necessity renew itself, both by the renovation of the Gods and by the turning-round of Nature’s rhythmic wheel.
For that whereas the Godhead is Nature’s ever-making-new-again the cosmic mixture, Nature herself is also co-established in that Godhead.
75:1 Cf. P. S. A., xxvi 2.
75:2 Lit. “Sand”; this presumably refers to the Light, and would thus mean “within the area or sphere of Light”—that is to say, manifestation. The “Moist Essence” is apparently the Water of Chaos, or primal substance.
76:1 ὑφ᾽ ὑγρᾷ ἄμμῳ; presumably the “Water” of space. The heavy things are apparently primaeval or cosmic “Earth.”
76:2 The emended text from here to the end of the first sentence of § 3 is given by R. 47, n. 1.
76:3 Or “reincarnation” (παλιγγενεσίας).
76:5 τὰς γενέσεις.
Volume 3 – Excerpts and Fragments
Excerpts by Stobaeus
XV. THE VIRGIN OF THE WORLD [I.] 1
(Title in Patrizzi (p. 27b), in the Latin translation, “Minerva Mundi.” 2
Text: Stob., Phys., xli. 44, under heading: “From Thrice-Greatest Hermes’ Sacred Book ‘The Virgin of the World’”; G. pp. 395-419; M. i. 281-298; W. i. 385-407.
Menard, Livre III., No. i. of “Fragments of the Sacred Book entitled ‘The Virgin of the World,’” pp. 177-200.)
1. 3 So speaking Isis doth pour forth for Horus the sweet draught (the first) of
deathlessness 1 which souls have custom to receive from Gods, and thus begins her holiest discourse (logos):
Seeing that, Son Horus, Heaven, adorned with many a wreath [of starry crowns], is set o’er every nature of [all] things beneath, and that nowhere it lacketh aught of anything which the whole cosmos now doth hold,—in every way it needs must be that every nature which lies underneath, should be co-ordered and full-filled by those that lie above; for things below cannot of course give order to the ordering above.
It needs must, therefore, be the less should give place to the greater mysteries. The ordinance of the sublimer things transcends the lower; it is both sure in every way and falleth ’neath no mortal’s thought. Wherefore the [mysteries] below did sigh, fearing the wondrous beauty and the everlasting durance of the ones above,
’Twas worth the gazing 2 and the pains to see Heaven’s beauty, beauty that seemed like God,—God who was yet unknown, and the rich majesty of Night, who weaves her web with rapid light, 3 though it be less than Sun’s, and of the other mysteries 4 in turn that move in Heaven, with ordered motions and with periods
of times, with certain hidden influences 1 bestowing order on the things below and co-increasing them.
2. Thus fear succeeded fear, and searching search incessant, and for so long as the Creator of the universals willed, did ignorance retain its grip on all. But when He judged it fit to manifest Him who He is, He breathed into the Gods the Loves, and freely poured the splendour 2 which He had within His heart, into their minds, in ever greater and still greater measure; that firstly they might have the wish to seek, next they might yearn to find, and finally have power to win success as well. But this, my Horus, wonder-worthy son, could never have been done had that seed 3 been subject to death, for that as yet had no existence, but only with a soul that could vibrate responsive to the mysteries of Heaven.
3. Such was all-knowing Hermes, who saw all things, and seeing understood, and understanding had the power both to disclose and to give explanation. For what he knew, he graved on stone; yet though he graved them onto stone he hid them mostly, keeping sure silence though in speech, that every younger age of cosmic time
might seek for them. And thus, with charge unto his kinsmen of the Gods to keep sure watch, he mounted to the Stars.
To him succeeded Tat, who was at once his son and heir unto these knowledges; and not long afterwards Asclepius-Imuth, according to the will of Ptah who is Heph?stus, 1 and all the rest who were to make enquiry of the faithful certitude of heavenly contemplation, as Foreknowledge 2 willed, Foreknowledge queen of all.
4. Hermes, however, made explanation to surrounding [space], how that not even to his son (because of the yet newness of his youth) had he been able to hand on the Perfect Vision. But when the Sun did rise for me, and with all-seeing eyes I 3 gazed upon the hidden [mysteries] of that New Dawn, and contemplated them, slowly there came to me—but it was sure—conviction that the sacred symbols of the cosmic elements were hid away hard by the secrets of Osiris.
5. [Hermes], ere he returned to Heaven, invoked a spell on them, and spake these words. (For ’tis not meet, my son, that I should leave this proclamation ineffectual, but [rather] should speak forth what words [our] Hermes uttered
when he hid his books away.) Thus then he said:
“O holy books, who have been made by my immortal hands, by incorruption’s magic spells, . . . 1 free from decay throughout eternity remain and incorrupt from time! Become unseeable, unfindable, for every one whose foot shall tread the plains of this [our] land, until old Heaven doth bring forth meet instruments for you, whom the Creator shall call souls.”
Thus spake he; and, laying spells on them by means of his own works, he shuts them safe away in their own zones. And long enough the time has been since they were hid away. 2
6. And Nature, O my son, was barren, till they who then were under orders to patrol the Heaven, approaching to the God of all, their King, reported on the lethargy of things. The time was come for cosmos to awake, and this was no one’s task but His alone.
“We pray Thee, then,” they said, “direct Thy thought to things which now exist and to what things the future needs.”
7. When they spake thus, God smiled and said: “Nature, arise!” And from His word
there came a marvel, feminine, possessed of perfect beauty, gazing at which the Gods stood all-amazed. And God the Fore-father, with name of Nature, honoured her, and bade her be prolific.
Then gazing fixedly on the surrounding space, He spake these words as well: “Let Heaven be filled with all things full, and Air, and ?ther too! “God spake and it was so. And Nature with herself communing knew she must not disregard the Sire’s command; so with the help of Toil she made a daughter fair, whom she did call Invention. And on her 1 God bestowed the gift of being, and with His gift He set apart all them that had been so-far made, filled them with mysteries, and to Invention gave the power of ruling them.
8. But He, no longer willing that the world above should be inert, but thinking good to fill it full of breaths, so that its parts should not remain immotive and inert, He thus began on these 2 with use of holy arts as proper for the bringing forth of His own special work.
For taking breath from His own Breath and blending this with knowing Fire, 3 He mingled them with certain other substances which have
no power to know; and having made the two 1—either with other—one, with certain hidden words of power, He thus set all the mixture going thoroughly; until out of the compost smiled a substance, as it were, far subtler, purer far, and more translucent than the things from which it came; it was so clear that no one but the Artist could detect it.
9. And since it neither thawed when fire was set unto it (for it was made of Fire), nor yet did freeze when it had once been properly produced (for it was made of Breath), but kept its mixture’s composition a certain special kind, peculiar to itself, of special type and special blend,—(which composition, you must know, God called Psychosis, after the more auspicious meaning of the name and from the similarity of its behaviour 2)
[paragraph continues] —it was from this coagulate He fashioned souls enough in myriads, 1 moulding with order and with measure the efflorescent product of the mixture for what He willed, with skilled experience and fitting reason, so that they should not be compelled to differ any way one from another.
10. For, you must know, the efflorescence that exhaled out of the movement God induced, was not like to itself. For that its first florescence was greater, fuller, every way more pure, than was its second; its second was far second to the first, but greater far than was its third. 2 And thus the total number of degrees reached up to sixty. 3 In spite of this, in laying down the law, He ordered it that all should be eternal, as though from out one essence, the forms of which Himself alone could bring to their completion.
11. Moreover, He appointed for them limits and reservations in the height of upper Nature, 4
that they might keep the cylinder 1 a-whirl in proper order and economy and [thus] might please their Sire. And so in that all-fairest station of the ?ther He summoned unto Him the natures of all things that had as yet been made, and spake these words:
“O Souls, ye children fair of Mine own Breath and My solicitude, whom I have now with My own Hands 2 brought to successful birth and consecrate to My own world, give ear unto these words of Mine as unto laws, and meddle not with any other space but that which is appointed for you by My will.
“For you, if ye keep steadfast, the Heaven, with the star-order, and thrones I have ordained full-filled with virtue, shall stay as now they are for you; but if ye shall in any way attempt some innovation contrary to My decrees, I swear to you by My most holy Breath, and by this mixture out of which I brought you into being, and by these Hands of Mine which gave you life, 3 that I will speedily devise for you a bond and punishments.”
12. And having said these words, the God,
who is my Lord, mixed the remaining cognate elements (Water and Earth 1) together, and, as before, invoking on them certain occult words, words of great power though not so potent as the first, He set them moving rapidly, and breathed into the mixture power of life; and taking the coagulate (which like the other floated to the top), when it had been well steeped and had become consistent, He modelled out of it those of the [sacred] animals 2 possessing forms like unto men’s.
The mixtures’ residue He gave unto those souls that had gone in advance and had been summoned to the lands of Gods, to regions near the Stars, and to the [choir of] holy daimones. He said:
13. “My sons, ye children of My Nature, fashion things! Take ye the residue of what My art hath made, and let each fashion something which shall bear resemblance to his own nature. These will I further give to you as models.”
He took and set in order fair and fine, agreeably to the motions of the souls, the world of sacred animals, appending as it were to those resembling men those which came next in order, and on these types of lives He did bestow
the all-devising powers and all-contriving procreative breath of all the things which were for ever generally to be.
And He withdrew, with promises to join unto the visible productions of their hands breath that cannot be seen, 1 and essence of engendering its like to each, so that they might give birth to others like themselves. And these are under no necessity to do aught else than what they did at first.
14. [And Horus asked:]
What did the souls do, mother, then?
And Isis said:
Taking the blend of matter, Horus, son, they first looked at the Father’s mixture and adored it, and tried to find out whence it was composed; but this was not an easy thing for them to know.
They then began to fear lest they should fall beneath the Father’s wrath for trying to find out, and so they set to work to do what they were bid.
Thereon, out of the upper stuff which had its topmost layer superfluously light, they formed the race of birds; while they were doing this the mixture had become half-hardened, and by this time had taken on a firm consistency—thereon they fashioned out the race of things
which have four feet; [next they did fashion forth] the race of fish—less light and needing a moist substance of a different kind to swim in; and as the residue was of a cold and heavy nature, from it the Souls devised the race of creeping things.
15. They then, my son, as though they had done something grand, with over-busy daring armed themselves, and acted contrary to the commands they had received; and forthwith they began to overstep their proper limits and their reservations, and would no longer stay in the same place, but were for ever moving, and thought that being ever stationed in one place was death.
That they would do this thing, however, O my son (as Hermes says when he speaks unto me), had not escaped the Eye of Him who is the God and Lord of universal things; and He searched out a punishment and bond, the which they now in misery endure.
Thus was it that the Sovereign King of all resolved to fabricate with art the human frame, in order that in it the race of Souls throughout might be chastised.
16. “Then sending for me,” Hermes says, “He spake: ‘Soul of My Soul, and holy mind of My own Mind, 1 up to what point, the nature of the
things beneath, shall it be seen in gloom? How long shall what has up to now been made remain inactive and be destitute of praise? Bring hither to Me now, My son, all of the Gods in Heaven,’ said God”—as Hermes saith.
And when they came obedient to His command,—“Look down,” said He, “upon the Earth, and all beneath.” And they forthwith both looked and understood the Sovereign’s will. And when He spake to them on human kind’s behalf, they [all] agreed to furnish those who were to be, with whatsoever thing they each could best provide.
17. Sun said: “I’ll shine unto my full.”
Moon promised to pour light upon the after-the-sun course, and said she had already given birth to Fear, and Silence, and also Sleep, and Memory—a thing that would turn out to be most useful for them. 1
Cronus announced himself already sire of Justice and Necessity.
Zeus said: “So that the race which is to be may not for ever fight, already for them have I made Fortune, and Hope, and Peace.”
Ares declared he had become already sire of Struggle, Wrath, and Strife.
Nor yet did Aphrodite hesitate; she also said: “I’ll join to them Desire, my Lord, and Bliss,
and Laughter [too], so that our kindred souls, in working out their very grievous condemnation, may not exhaust their punishment unto the full.”
Full pleased were all, my son, at Aphrodite’s words.
“And for my part,” said Hermes, “I will make men’s nature well endowed; I will devote to them Prudence and Wisdom, Persuasiveness and Truth, and never will I cease from congress with Invention, but ever will I benefit the mortal life of men born underneath my types of life. 1 For that the types our Father and Creator hath set apart for me, are types of wisdom and intelligence, and more than ever [is this so] what time the motion of the Stars set over them doth have the natural power of each consonant with itself.”
18. And God, the Master of the universe, rejoiced on hearing this, and ordered that the race of men should be.
“I,” Hermes says, “was seeking for the stuff which had to be employed, and calling on the Monarch for His aid. And He gave order to the Souls to give the mixture’s residue; and taking it I found it utterly dried up.
“Thereon, in mixing it, I used more water far than was required to bring the matter back unto
its former state, so that the plasm was in every way relaxable, and weak and powerless, in order that it might not, in addition to its natural sagacity, be full of power as well.
“I moulded it, and it was fair; and I rejoiced at seeing mine own work, and from below I called upon the Monarch to behold. And He did look on it, and was rejoiced, and ordered that the Souls should be enfleshed.
“Then were they first plunged in deep gloom, and, learning that they were condemned, began to wail. 1 I was myself amazed at the Souls’ utterances.”
19. Now give good heed, son Horus, for thou art being told the Mystic Spectacle which Kamephis, our forefather, was privileged to hear from Hermes, record-writer of all deeds, and I from Kamephis, most ancient of [us] all, when he did honour me with the Black [Rite] that gives perfection; hear thou it now from me!
For when, O wondrous son of mighty fame, if they were about to be shut in their prisons, some simply uttered wails and groans—in just the self-same way as beasts that once have been at liberty, when torn from their accustomed haunts they love so well, will be bad slaves, will fight
and make revolt, and be in no agreement with their masters; nay more, if circumstance should serve, will even do to death those that oppress them. 1
Others with louder outcry hissed like snakes; another one shrieked shrilly, and ere he spake shed many tears, and, turning up and down what things served him as eyes, he said:
20. “O Heaven, thou source of our begetting, O AEther, Air, O Hands and holy Breath of God our Monarch, O ye most brilliant Stars, eyes of the Gods, O tireless light of Sun and Moon, co-nurslings of our origin,—reft from [you] all we suffer piteously.
“And this the more, in that from spacious realms of light, from out [thy] holy envelope and wealthy dome, and from the blessed government we shared with Gods, we shall be thus shut down into these honourless and lowly quarters.
“What is the so unseemly thing we miserables have done? What [crime] deserves these punishments? How many sins await us wretched ones? How many are the things we have to do in this our hopeless plight, necessities to furnish for this watery frame that is so soon dissolved?
21. “For that no longer shall our eyes behold
the souls of God; when through such watery spheres as these we see our own forefather Heaven grown small and tiny, we shall dissolve in sighs,—nay, there’ll be times we shall not see at all, 1 for sentence hath been passed on us poor things; the gift of real sight hath not been given to us, in that it hath not been permitted us to see without the light. Windows they are, not eyes! 2
“How wretchedly shall we endure to hear our kindred breaths breathe in the air, when we no longer shall be breathing with them! For home, instead of this great world high in the air, a heart’s small mass awaits us. Set Thou us free from bonds so base as these to which we have sunk down, and end our grief!
“O Lord, and Father, and our Maker, if so it be Thou hast thus quickly grown indifferent unto the works of Thine own Hands, appoint for us some limits! Still deem us worthy of some words, though they be few, while yet we can see through the whole world-order bright on every side!”
22. Thus speaking, Horus, son, the Souls gained their request; for that the Monarch came, and sitting on the Throne of Truth made answer to their prayers.
“O Souls, Love and Necessity shall be your lords, 1 they who are lords and marshals after Me of all. 2 Know, all of you who are set under My unageing rule, that as long as ye keep you free of sin, ye shall dwell in the fields of Heaven; but if some cause of blame for aught attach itself to you, ye shall dwell in the place that Destiny allots, condemned to mortal wombs.
“If, then, the things imputed to your charge be slight, leaving the bond of fleshly frames subject to death, ye shall again embrace your [father] Heaven, and sigh no more; but if ye shall commit some greater sins, and with the end appointed of your frames be not advanced, no longer shall ye dwell in Heaven, nor even in the bodies of mankind, but shall continue after that to wander round in lives irrational.” 3
23. Thus speaking, Horus mine, He gave to all the gift of breath, 1 and thus continued:
“It is not without purpose or by chance I have laid down the law of your transformings 2; but as [it will be] for the worse if ye do aught unseemly, so for the better, if ye shall will what’s worthy of your birth.
“For I, and no one else, will be the Witness and the Watcher. Know, then, it is for what ye have done heretofore, ye do endure this being shut in bodies as a punishment.
“The difference in your rebirths, accordingly, for you, shall be as I have said, a difference of bodies, and their [final] dissolution [shall be] a benefit and a [return to] the fair happiness of former days.
“But if ye think to do aught else unworthy of Me, your mind shall lose its sight so as to think the contrary [of what is true], and take the punishment for benefit; the change to better things for infamous despite.
“But the more righteous of you, who stand upon the threshold of the change to the diviner state, shall among men be righteous kings, and genuine philosophers, founders of states, and lawgivers, and real seers, and true herb-knowers,
and prophets of the Gods most excellent, skilful musicians, skilled astronomers, and augurs wise, consummate sacrificers,—as many of you as are worthy of things fair and good.
24. “Among winged tribes [they shall be] eagles, for these will neither scare away their kind nor feed on them; nay more, when they are by, no other weaker beast will be allowed by them to suffer wrong, for what will be the eagles’ nature is too just [to suffer it].
“Among four-footed things [they will be] lions,—a life of strength and of a kind which in a measure needs no sleep, in mortal body practising the exercises of immortal life—for they nor weary grow nor sleep. 1
“And among creeping things [they will be] dragons, in that this animal will have great strength and live for long, will do no harm, and in a way be friends with man, and let itself be tamed; it will possess no poison and will cast its skin, 2 as is the nature of the Gods.
“Among the things that swim [they will be] dolphins; for dolphins will take pity upon those who fall into the sea, and if they are still breathing bear them to the land, while if they’re dead they will not ever even touch them, though they will be the most voracious tribe that in the water dwells.”
25. Thus speaking God became imperishable Mind. 1 Thereon, son Horus, from the Earth uprose a very Mighty Spirit which no mass of body could contain, whose strength consisted in his intellect. And though he knew full well the things on which he questioned—the body with which man was clothed according to his type, a body fair and dignified, yet savage overmuch and full of fear—immediately he saw the souls were entering the plasms, he cried out:
“What are these called, O Hermes, Writer of the Records of the Gods?”
And when he answered “Men!”—“Hermes,” he said, “it is a daring work, this making man, with eyes inquisitive, and talkative of tongue, with power henceforth to hear things even which
are no concern of his, dainty of smell, who will use to its full his power of touch on every thing.
“Hast thou, his generator, judged it good to leave him free from care, who in the future daringly will gaze upon the fairest mysteries which Nature hath? Wouldst thou leave him without a grief, who in the days to come will make his thoughts reach unto mysteries beyond the Earth?
26. “Men will dig up the roots of plants, and will find out their juices’ qualities. Men will observe the nature of the stones. Men will dissect not only animals irrational, but they’ll dissect themselves, desiring to find out how they were made. They will stretch out their daring hands e’en to the sea, and cutting self-grown forests down will ferry one another o’er to lands beyond. [Men] will seek out as well the inner nature of the holy spaces which no foot may tread, and will chase after them into the height, desiring to observe the nature of the motion of the Heaven.
“These are yet moderate things [which they will do]. For nothing more remains than Earth’s remotest realms; nay, in their daring they will track out Night, the farthest Night of all.
27. “Naught have they, then, to stop them from receiving their initiation in the good of
freedom from all pain, and, unconstrained by terror’s grievous goads, from living softly out a life free from all care.
“Then will they not gird on the armour of an over-busy daring up to Heaven? Will they not, then, reach out their souls freed from all care unto the [primal] elements themselves?
“Teach them henceforth to long to plan out something, where they have as well to fear the danger of its ill-success, in order that they may be tamed by the sharp tooth of pain in failure of their hopes.
“Let the too busy nature of their souls be balanced by desires, and fears, and griefs, and empty hopes.
“Let loves in quick succession sway their souls, hopes, manifold desires, sometimes fulfilled, and sometimes unfulfilled, that the sweet bait of their success may draw them into struggle amid direr ills.
“Let fever lay its heavy hand on them, that losing heart they may submit desire to discipline.”
28. Thou grievest, dost thou, Horus, son, to hear thy mother put these things in words? Art thou not struck with wonder, art thou not terror-struck at how poor man was grievously oppressed? Hear what is sadder still!
When Momos said these things Hermes was pleased, for what he said was said out of affection
for him; and so he did all that he recommended, speaking thus:
“Momos, the Nature of the Breath Divine which doth surround [all things] shall not become inert. The Master of the universe appointed me as steward and as manager.
“Wherefore the overseer of His command will be the keen-eyed Goddess of the all, Adrasteia 1; and I will skilfully devise an instrument, mysterious, possessed of power of sight that cannot err, and cannot be escaped, whereto all things on earth shall of necessity be subject, from birth to final dissolution,—an instrument which binds together all that’s done. This instrument shall rule all other things on Earth as well [as man].”
29. These words, said Hermes, did I speak to Momos, and forthwith the instrument was set a-going.
When this was done, and when the souls had entered in the bodies, and [Hermes] had himself been praised for what was done, again the Monarch did convoke the Gods in session. The Gods assembled, and once more did He make proclamation, saying:
“Ye Gods, all ye who have been made of chiefest Nature, free from all decay, who have
received as your appointed lot for ever more to order out the mighty AEon, through whom all universal things will never weary grow surrendering themselves in turn the one to other,—how long shall we be rulers of this sovereignty that none can ever know? How long these things, shall they transcend the power of sight of Sun and Moon?
“Let each of us bring forth according to his power. Let us by our own energy wipe out this inert state of things; let chaos seem to be a myth incredible to future days. Set hand to mighty work; and I myself will first begin.”
30. He spake; straightway in cosmic order there began the differentiation of the up-to-then black unity [of things]. And Heaven shone forth above tricked out with all his mysteries; Earth, still a-tremble, as the Sun shone forth grew harder, and appeared with all the fair adornments that bedeck her round on every side. For beautiful to God are even things which men think mean, in that in truth they have been made to serve the laws of God.
And God rejoiced when now He saw His works a-moving; and filling full His Hands, which held as much as all surrounding space, with all that Nature had produced, and squeezing tight the handfuls mightily, He said:
“Take [these], O holy Earth, take those, all-
honoured one, who art to be the mother of all things, and henceforth lack thou naught!”
31. God spake, and opening His Hands, such Hands as God should have, He poured them all into the composition of the world. And they in the beginnings were unknown in every way; for that the Souls as newly shut in prison, not enduring their disgrace, began to strive in emulation with the Gods in Heaven, in full command of their high birth, and when held back, in that they had the same Creator, made revolt, and using weaker men as instruments, began to make them set upon each other, and range themselves in conflict, and make war among themselves.
Thus strength did mightily prevail o’er weakness, so that the strong did burn and massacre the weak, and from the holy places down they cast the living and the dead down from the holy shrines, until the Elements in their distress resolved to go to God their Monarch [to complain] about the savage state in which men lived.
The evil now being very great, the Elements approached the God who made them, and formulated their complaint in some such words as these:
32. It was moreover Fire who first received authority to speak. He said:
“O Lord, Artificer of this new World, thou
[paragraph continues] Name mysterious among the Gods, and up to now revered by all mankind, how long hast Thou, O Daimon, judged it right to leave the life of mortals without God?
“Show now Thyself unto Thy World consulting 1 Thee; initiate the savagery of life with peace; give laws to life; to right give oracles; fill with fair hopes all things; and let men fear the vengeance of the Gods, and none will sin.
“Should they receive due retribution for their sins, they will refrain henceforth from doing wrong; they will respect their oaths, and no one any more will ponder sacrilege.
“Let them be taught to render thanks for benefits received, that I, the Fire, may joyfully do service in the sacrificial rites, that they may from the altar send sweet-smelling vapours forth.
“For up to now I am polluted, Lord; and by the godless daring of these men I am compelled to burn up flesh. They will not let me be for what I was brought forth; but they adulterate with all indecency my undecaying state.”
33. And Air too said:
“I also, Master, am made turbid by the vapours which the bodies of the dead exhale, and I am pestilential, and, no longer filled with health, I gaze down from above on things I ought not to behold.”
Next Water, O my son of mighty soul, received authority to speak, and spake and said:
“O Father, O wonderful Creator of all things, Daimon self-born, and Nature’s Maker, who through Thee doth conceive all things, now at this last, command the rivers’ streams for ever to be pure, for that the rivers and the seas or wash the murderers’ hands or else receive the murdered.”
34. After came Earth in bitter grief, and taking up the tale, O son of high renown, thus she began to speak:
“O sovereign Lord, Chief of the Heavenly Ones, and Master of the Wheels, 1 Thou Ruler of us Elements, O Sire of them who stand beside Thee, from whom all things have the beginning of their increase and of their decrease, and into whom they cease again and have the end that is their due according to Necessity’s decree, O greatly honoured One, the godless rout of men doth dance upon my bosom.
“I hold in my embrace as well the nature of all things; for I, as Thou didst give command, not only bear them all, but I receive them also when they’re killed. But now am I dishonoured. The world upon the Earth though filled with all things [else] hath not a God.
“For having naught to fear they sin in everything, and from my heights, O Lord, down [dead] they fall by every evil art. And soaking with the juices of their carcases I’m all corrupt. Hence am I, Lord, compelled to hold in me those of no worth. With all I bear I would hold God as well.
“Bestow on Earth, if not Thyself, for I could not contain Thee, yet some holy Emanation 1 of Thyself. Make Thou the Earth more honoured than the rest of Elements; for it is right that she should boast of gifts from Thee, in that she giveth all.”
35. Thus spake the Elements; and God, fullfilling all things with the sound of His [most] holy Voice, spake thus:
“Depart, ye Holy Ones, ye Children worthy of a mighty Sire, nor yet in any way attempt to innovate, nor leave the whole of [this] My World without your active service.
“For now another Efflux of My Nature is among you, and he shall be a pious supervisor of all deeds—judge incorruptible of living men and monarch absolute of those beneath the earth, not only striking terror [into them] but taking vengeance on them. And by his class of birth the fate he hath deserved shall follow every man.”
And so the Elements did cease from their complaint,
upon the Master’s order, and they held their peace; and each of them continued in the exercise of his authority and in his rule.
36. And Horus thereon said:
How was it, mother, then, that Earth received God’s Efflux?
And Isis said:
I may not tell the story of [this] birth 1; for it is not permitted to describe the origin of thy descent, O Horus, [son] of mighty power, lest afterwards the way-of-birth of the immortal Gods should be known unto men,—except so far that God the Monarch, the universal Orderer and Architect, sent for a little while thy mighty sire Osiris, and the mightiest Goddess Isis, that they might help the world, for all things needed them.
’Tis they who filled life full of life. ’Tis they who caused the savagery of mutual slaughtering of men to cease. ’Tis they who hallowed precincts to the Gods their ancestors and spots for holy rites. ’Tis they who gave to men laws, food, and shelter.
’Tis they who will, says Hermes, learn to know the secrets of my records all, and will make separation of them; and some they will keep for themselves, while those that are best suited for the benefit of mortal men, they will engrave on tablet and on obelisk.
’Tis they who were the first to set up courts of law; and filled the world with justice and fair rule. ’Tis they who were the authors of good pledges and of faith, and brought the mighty witness of an oath into men’s lives.
’Tis they who taught men how to wrap up those who ceased to live, as they should be. 1
’Tis they who searched into the cruelty of death, and learned that though the spirit which goes out longs to return into men’s bodies, yet if it ever fail to have the power of getting back again, then loss of life results.
’Tis they who learned from Hermes that surrounding space was filled with daimons, and graved on hidden stones [the hidden teaching].
’Tis they alone who, taught by Hermes in God’s hidden codes, became the authors of the arts, and sciences, and all pursuits which men do practise, and givers of their laws.
’Tis they who, taught by Hermes that the things below have been disposed by God to be in sympathy with things above, established on the earth the sacred rites o’er which the mysteries in Heaven preside.
’Tis they who, knowing the destructibility of [mortal] frames, devised the grade of prophets, in all things perfected, in order that no prophet who stretched forth his hands unto the Gods,
should be in ignorance of anything, that magic and philosophy should feed the soul, and medicine preserve the body when it suffered pain.
38. And having done all this, my son, Osiris and myself perceiving that the world was [now] quite full, were thereupon demanded back by those who dwell in Heaven, but could not go above till we had made appeal unto the Monarch, that surrounding space might with this knowledge of the soul 1 be filled as well, and we ourselves succeed in making our ascent acceptable [to Him]. . . . For that God doth in hymns rejoice.
Ay, mother, Horus said. On me as well bestow the knowledge of this hymn, that I may not remain in ignorance.
And Isis said: Give ear, O son! 2
* * * * *
93:1 Or “Apple of the Eye of the World”—see Commentary. Referred to as K. K.,—i.e. Κόρη Κόσμου.
93:2 Curiously enough, though the page-headings throughout have “Minerva Mundi,” the heading of p. 28 still stands “Pupilla Mundi”—showing that Patrizzi himself was puzzled how to translate the Greek, and had probably in the first place translated it throughout “Pupilla Mundi,” or “Apple of the Eye of the World.” In his Introduction (p. 3), however, Patrizzi writes: “But there is extant also another [book of Hermes] with the title of ‘The Sacred Book,’ which we found in Cyprus, in a monastery called Enclistra, at the same time as the rest of the books, and which John Stob?us has inserted in his Physical Eclogues together with other fragments.” This would seem to suggest that Patrizzi had seen the original Sermon, and that its main title was “The Sacred Book.”
93:3 I have numbered the paragraphs for convenience of reference.
94:1 τὸ πρῶτον ἀμβροσίας.
94:2 Or contemplation, θεωρίας.
94:3 Sc. The weft and warp of stars.
94:4 The planetary spheres.
95:1 ἀπόροιαι, or emanations. Cf. R. 16, n. 4, for the conflation of the pure Egyptian emanation doctrine with astrological considerations.
95:2 Radiance or light.
95:3 Sc. the race of the Gods.
96:1 For the restored text, see R. 122.
96:2 Or Providence, πρόνοια.
96:3 The masculine is here used, the writer forgetting for the moment that he had assumed the person of Isis.
97:1 The text is here again hopeless. Meineke’s emendation (Adnot., p. cxxx.) ἃς . . . φαρμάκῳ χρίσας ἐπικρατῷ — which makes Hermes smear the books with some magical ointment—is ingenious, but hardly satisfactory, though Wachsmuth adopts it.
97:2 This is purely conjectural; the text is utterly corrupt.
98:1 Sc. Invention.
98:2 Sc. the breaths or spirits.
98:3 π?ρ νοερόν—a term in frequent use subsequently among the Later Platonists; cf. Porphyry, ap. Euseb., Pr?p. Ev., XV. xi. 16
99:1 Sc. the knowing and unknowing primal elements. Cf. P. S. A., vi.
99:2 The text is very involved and obscure, and the meaning of the writer is by no means clear. Psychosis (ψύχωσις) means either animation (quickening) or “making cold” (cf. ψύχω and ψυχόω); the name Psychosis is thus apparently supposed by the writer to have some connection with the term ἔψυχε (“freeze,” or grow cold), which he has just employed in his description of the behaviour of the mixture. In its less auspicious sense ἔψυχε meant “grow cold”; in its more auspicious meaning it signified “breathe.” But even so it must be said that the further reason (viz., similarity of behaviour) given for the choice of the term Psychosis is the exact opposite of what is stated in the description of the soul-stuff’s nature; and this is all the more puzzling when we recall the theory of Origen and his predecessors that the soul (ψυχή) was so-called precisely because it had grown cold and fallen away from the Divine heat and life. With the term cf. the σωμάτωσις of Exx. viii. 5, vii. 2.
100:1 Cf. Plato, Tim., 41: “He divided the whole mixture into souls equal in number to the stars, and assigned each soul to a star.” So also Philo, who speaks of the souls as “equal in number to the stars”—De Som., i. § 22; M. 642, P. 586 (Ri. iii. 244).
100:2 Cf. Plato, ibid.: “They [the souls] were not, however, pure as before, but diluted to the second and third degrees.
100:3 See § 56 below.
100:4 Of the Nature Above (τῆς ἄνω φύσεως); cf. the “Jerusalem Above” of the “Gnostics.” Cf. also Tim., 41 D: “And having there [that is, among the stars] placed them as in a chariot, he showed them the nature of the universe, and declared to them the laws of destiny, according to which their first birth should be one and the same for all,—no one should suffer a disadvantage at his hands; they were to be sown in the instruments of time severally adapted to them, and to come forth the most religious of animals; and as human nature was of two kinds, the superior race would hereafter be called man.” With the last sentence, cf. also 12 below.
101:1 Cf. P. S. A., xix.
101:2 Cf. § 31 below.
101:3 Cf. Hermes-Prayer, iii. 3, and note.
102:1 We have had previous mention of fire, (?ther) and air,—the psychosis being the quintessence.
102:2 These are presumably the types of life in the upper world, symbolized by the zodiac.
103:1 So Meineke in notes, following Cantor,—instead of the traditional “visible.”
104:1 Cf. Cyril, C. J., i. 15 (Frag. xvi.).
105:1 Cf. Plat. Crit., 108. br> 106:1 Sc. “signs of the zodiac,” so-called.
107:1 There is a lacuna in the text, which I have thus conjecturally completed.
108:1 The reading of this sentence has not yet been properly emended, so that its translation is somewhat conjectural.
109:1 An Orphic verse has here crept into the text from the margin. It runs: “By light it is we see; by eyes we naught behold.” Fragm. Monad., x., p. 504, Herm.
109:2 Cf. Plat., Men., 76; Seneca, Quaest. Nat., iv. 9.
110:1 Cf. Tim. 42 A: “When they should be implanted in bodies by necessity . . . they should have . . . sensation . . . and love.”
110:2 Cf. Frag. xxiii.
110:3 Cf. Tim., 42 B: “He who lived well during his appointed time was to return and dwell in his native star, and there he would have a blessed and congenial existence. But if he failed in attaining this, at the second birth, he would pass into a woman, and if, when in that state of being, he did not desist from evil, he would be continually changed into some brute who resembled him in the evil nature which he had acquired, and would not cease from his toils and transformations until he followed the revolution of the ‘same’ and the ‘like’ within him, and overcame by the help of reason the turbulent and irrational mob of later accretions, made up of fire and air and water and earth, and returned to the form of his first and better state.” Notice the omission of any reference to the inferior status of woman in the Egyptian tradition.
111:1 Lit. “their spirits”—which apparently link the souls with their bodies.
111:2 Reading μεταβολάς.
112:1 Cf. Manetho, cited in the Orthography of Choeroboscus (Cramer, Anecd. Ox., ii. 235, 32; AElian, H. A., v. 39, who follows Apion; R. 145, n. 3). But indeed this queer belief is a commonplace of the Mediaeval Bestiaries, which all go back to their second century Alexandrian prototype, the famous Physiologus, which was doubtless in part based on Aristotle’s History of Animals and Pliny’s Natural History.
112:2 ἐάσει δὲ καὶ γηράσαν. The reading is corrupt. But if we read γῆρας for γηράσαν, we have in the writer’s ornate and somewhat strained style ἐᾶν γῆρας for the usual γῆρας ἐκδύνειν found in Aristotle (H. V., 5. 7. 10; 8. 17. 11) for the changing of a serpent’s skin. The phrase “as is the nature of the Gods” may then be explained as referring to the parallel between the anciently supposed rejuvenescence of the serpent and the perpetual growing young of the Gods.
113:1 Cf. C. H., i. 27: “This when he’d said, the Shepherd mingled with the powers.” Cf. Tim., 42 E: “When the Creator had made all these ordinances He remained in His own accustomed nature.”
116:1 Nemesis, the karmic deity, “she from whom none can escape, according to the generally accepted derivation of the name.
119:1 Sc. as supplicants consulting an oracle.
120:1 Or disks, presumably the world-wheels.
121:1 τινὰ ίερὰν ὰπόρροιαν.
122:1 Cf. C. H., xiii. (xiv.) 3 (Com.).
123:1 Sc. mummification.
124:1 θεωρία, contemplative science, face to face knowledge.
124:2 The Commentary begins at the end of the following excerpt.
XXVI. THE VIRGIN OF THE WORLD [II.]
(Patrizzi (p. 32b) runs this on to the last without a break.
Text: Stob., Phys., ili. 45, under heading: “In the Same”; G. pp. 420-427; M. i. 299-304; W. i. 407-414.
Menard; Livre III., No. ii. of “Fragment,” etc., as above, pp. 201-208.)
39. Now if thou wouldst, O son of mighty soul, know aught beside, ask on!
And Horus said: O mother of great honour, I would know how royal souls are born?
And Isis said: Son Horus, the distinction which marks out the royal souls is somewhat of this kind.
Four regions are there in the universe which fall beneath a law and leadership which cannot be transgressed—Heaven, and the AEther, and the Air, and the most holy Earth.
Above in Heaven, son, the Gods do dwell, o’er whom with all the rest doth rule the Architect of all; and in the AEther [dwell] the Stars, o’er whom the mighty Light-giver the Sun holds sway; but
in the Air [live] only souls, 1 o’er whom doth rule the Moon; and on the Earth [do dwell] men and the rest of living things, o’er whom he who doth happen to be king holds sway.
40. The Gods engender, son, the kings it has deserved, to rule [the race] that lives on Earth. The rulers are the emanations of the king, of whom the nearer to him is more royal than the rest; for that the Sun, in that ’tis nearer than the Moon to God, is far more vast and potent, to whom the Moon comes second both in rank and power.
The king, then, is the last of all the other Gods, but first of men; and so long as he is upon the Earth, he is divorced from his true godship, but hath something that doth distinguish him from men and which is like to God.
The soul which is sent down to dwell in him, is from that space which is above those regions whence [the souls] descend to other men. Down from that space the souls are sent to rule for those two reasons, son.
41. They who have run a noble, blameless race throughout the cycle of their lives, and are about to be changed into Gods, [are born as kings,] in order that by exercise of kingship they may train themselves to use the power the Gods enjoy; while certain souls who are already Gods, but
have in some slight way infringed the rule of life which God inspired, are born as kings, in order that they may not, in being clothed in bodies, undergo the punishment of loss of dignity as well as nature, and that they may not, when they are enfleshed, have the same lot as other men, but have when bound what they enjoyed when free.
42. The differences which are, however, in the dispositions shown by those who play the part of kings, are not determined by distinguishing their souls, for these are all divine, but by the constitution of the angels and the daimons who attend on them. For that such souls as these descending for such purposes do not come down without a guard and escort; for Justice up above knows how to give to each what is its due estate e’en though they be made exiles from their country ever fair.
When, then, my son, the angels and the daimons who bring down the soul are of a warlike kind, it has to keep firm hold of their proclivities, forgetting its own proper deeds, but all the more remembering the doings of the other host attached to it.
When they are peaceful, then the soul as well doth order its own course in peace.
When they love justice, then it too defends the right.
When they are music-lovers, then it also sings.
And when they are truth-lovers, then it also doth philosophize.
For as it were out of necessity these souls keep a firm hold of the proclivities of those that bring them here; for they are falling down to man’s estate, forgetting their own nature, and the farther they depart from it, the more they have in memory the disposition of those [powers] which shut them [into bodies].
43. Well hast thou, mother, all explained, said Horus. But noble souls,—how they are born, thou hast not told me yet.
As on the Earth, son Horus, there are states which differ one from other, so also is it in the case of souls. For they have regions whence they start; and that which starts from a more glorious place, hath nobler birth than one which doth not so. For just as among men the free is thought more noble than the slave—(for that which is superior in souls and of a ruling nature of necessity subjects what is inferior)—so also, son, . . . . 1
* * * * *
44. And how are male and female souls produced?
Souls, Horus, son, are of the self-same nature
in themselves, in that they are from one and the same place where the Creator modelled them; nor male nor female are they. Sex is a thing of bodies, not of souls.
That which brings it about that some of them are stouter, some more delicate, is, son, that [cosmic] “air” in which all things are made. “Air” for the soul is nothing but the body which envelopes it, an element which is composed of earth and water, air and fire. 1
As, then, the composition of the female ones has more of wet and cold, but less of dry and warm, accordingly the soul which is shut in a plasm of this kind, becomes relaxed and delicate, just as the contrary is found to be in case of males.
For in their case there’s more of dry and warm, and less of cold and wet; wherefore the souls in bodies such as these are sturdy and more active.
45. And how do souls become intelligent, O mother mine?
And Isis answered:
The organ of the sight, my son, is swathed in wrappings. When these are dense and thick, the eye is dim; but when they’re thin and light, then is the sight most keen. So is it also for the soul. For it as well has envelopes incorporal appropriate to it, just as it is itself incorporal.
[paragraph continues] These envelopes are “airs” which are in us. When these are light and thin and clear, then is the soul intelligent; but, on the contrary, when they are dense and thick and turbid, then [the soul], as in bad weather, sees not at distance but only things which lie about its feet.
46. And Horus said:
What is the reason, mother, that the men outside our holiest land are not so wise of mind as our compatriots?
And Isis said:
The Earth lies in the middle of the universe upon her back, like to a human being, with eyes turned up to heaven, and portioned out into as many regions as there are limbs in man.
She turns her eyes to Heaven as though to her own Sire, 1 that with his changes she may also bring about her own.
She hath her head set to the south of all, right shoulder to south-east, left shoulder to south-west; her feet below the Bear, right foot beneath its tail, left under its head; her thighs beneath those that succeed the Bear; her waist beneath the middle [Stars].
47. A sign of this is that men in the south, who dwell upon her head, are fine about the head and have good hair.
Those in the east are ready for a fight and archer folk—for this pertains to the right hand.
Those in the west are steadier and for the most part fight with the left hand, and what is done by others with the right, they for their part attribute to the left.
Those underneath the Bear excel in feet and have especially good legs.
Those who come after them a little way, about the zone which is our present Italy and Greece, they all have well-made thighs and backs. . . .
Moreover, all these [northern] parts being whiter than the rest bear whiter men upon them.
But since the holiest land of our forebears lies in the midst of Earth, and that the midst of a man’s body serves as the precinct of the heart alone, and heart’s the spot from which the soul doth start, the men of it not only have no less the other things which all the rest possess, but as a special thing are gifted with intelligence beyond all men and filled with wisdom, in that they are begotten and brought up above her heart.
48. Further, my son, the south being the receiver of the clouds which mass themselves together from the atmosphere . . . 1
For instance, it is just because there is this concentration of them in the south, that it is said our river doth flow thence, upon the breaking up of the frost there.
For whensoe’er a cloud 1 descends, it turns the air about it into mist, and sends it downward in a kind of fog; and fog or mist is an impediment not only to the eyes, but also to the mind.
Whereas the east, O Horus, great in glory, in that ’tis thrown into confusion and made overhot by the continual risings of the sun, and in like fashion too, the west, its opposite, in that it suffers the same things through its descents, 2 afford the men born in them no conditions for clear observation. And Boreas with his concordant cold, together with their bodies doth congeal the minds of men as well.
Whereas the centre of all these being pure and undisturbed, foreknows both for itself and all that are in it. For, free from trouble, ever it brings forth, adorns and educates, and only with such weapons wars [on men], and wins the victory, and with consummate skill, like a good
satrap, 1 bestows the fruit of its own victory upon the vanquished.
49. This too expound, O lady, mother mine! For what cause is it that when men still keep alive in long disease, their rational part—their very reason and their very soul—at times becomes disabled?
And Isis answer made:
Of living things, my son, some are made friends with fire, and some with water, some with air, and some with earth, and some with two or three of these, and some with all.
And, on the contrary, again some are made enemies of fire, and some of water, some of earth, and some of air, and some of two of them, and some of three, and some of all.
For instance, son, the locust and all flies flee fire; the eagle and the hawk and all high-flying birds flee water; fish, air and earth; the snake avoids the open air. Whereas snakes and all creeping things love earth; all swimming things [love] water; winged things, air, of which they are the citizens; while those that fly still higher [love] the fire and have their habitat near it. Not that some of the animals as well do not love fire; for instance salamanders, for they even have their homes in it. It is because one or
another of the elements doth form their bodies outer envelope.
50. Each soul, accordingly, while it is in its body is weighted and constricted by these four. Moreover it is natural it also should be pleased with some of them and pained with others.
For this cause, then, it doth not reach the height of its prosperity; still, as it is divine by nature, e’en while [wrapped up] in them, it struggles and it thinks, though not such thoughts as it would think were it set free from being bound in bodies.
Moreover if these [frames] are swept with storm and stress, or of disease or fear, then is the soul itself tossed on the waves, as man 1 upon the deep with nothing steady under him.
126:1 MS. A adds “of daimones.”
128:1 A lacuna, unfortunately, here occurs in the text, and must be of some extent, for the way of both of these souls is not given.
129:1 Cf. 45 below.
130:1 Cf. P. S. A., xxiv. 1.
131:1 Something has evidently fallen out here, as the sentence is nowhere completed.
132:1 Reading νεφέλη for νεφέλ?. The text is very faulty.
132:2 These ideas of course spring from the conception of a flat earth and moving sun. The sun was thus thought to be nearer the earth at its rising and setting, and consequently those at the extremes of east and west were thought to be in danger of being burnt up by its heat.
133:1 Some historical allusion may perhaps be suspected in this term; but I can find nothing appropriate to suggest.
134:1 For ἄνθρωπος Meineke reads ἀνθέρικος (“asphodel”), and compares Callimachus, H. in Del., 193: παλιρροίῃ ἐπινήχεται ἀνθέρικος ὤς. But I see no necessity for this strained “emendation.”
XXVII. FROM THE SERMON OF ISIS TO HORUS
(Patrizzi (p. 34b) runs this on to the last without a break.
Text: Stob., Phys., xli. 68, 69, under heading, “Of Hermes: A Sermon of Isis to Horus”; G. pp. 476-481; M. i. 342-352; W. i. 458-472.
Menard: Livre III., No. iii. of “Fragments,” etc., as above, pp. 209-221.)
1. 1 In wondrous fashion—(Horus said)—hast thou explained to me, most mighty mother Isis, the details of God’s wondrous soul-making, and I remain in wonder; but not as yet hast thou told me whereto the souls when freed from body go. I would then thank thee for being made initiate by word of mouth 2 into this vision of the soul, O only mother, deathless one!
2. And Isis said:
Give ear, my son; most indispensable is this
p. 189 br> research. That which doth hold together, doth also have a place which doth not disappear. For this is what my sermon will set forth.
O wondrous, mighty son of mighty sire Osiris, [the souls] when they go forth from bodies, are not confusedly and in a rush dissolved into the air, and scattered in the rest of boundless Breath, so that they cannot any more as the same [souls] return again to bodies; nor is it possible, again, to turn them back unto that place from which they came at first—no more than water taken from the bottom of a jar can be poured 1 [back again] into the self-same place whence it was taken; nor does the same when taken take a place peculiar to it, but is mixed up with the whole mass of water. 2 Not thus is it [with souls], high-minded Horus!
3. Now as I chance myself to be as though initiate into the nature which transcendeth death, and that my feet have crossed the Plain of Truth, I will explain to thee in detail how it is; and preface this by telling thee that water is a body void of reason condensed from many compound things into a fluid mass, whereas the soul’s a thing of individual nature, son, and of a royal kind, a work of God’s [own] hands and mind, and of itself led by itself to mind.
What then doth come from “one” and not from “other,” cannot be mingled with a different thing; wherefore it needs must be that the soul’s congress with the body is a concord wrought by God’s necessity.
But that they are not [all] confusedly and [all] at random and by chance sent up again to one and the same place, but each to its own proper region, is clear from what [the soul] doth suffer while still it is in body and in plasm, when it has been made dense against its proper nature.
Now give good heed to the similitude recounted, Horus well-beloved!
4. Suppose in one and the same cage have been shut up both men and eagles, doves and swans, and swallows, hawks and sparrows, flies, and snakes, and lions, leopards, wolves, and dogs, and hares, and kine and sheep, and some amphibious animals, as seals and others, tortoises and our own crocodiles; then, that, my son, at one [and the same] moment they are [all] let out.
They [all] will turn instinctively—man to his gathering spots and roofs; the eagle to the ether, in which its nature is to spend its life; the doves into the neighbouring air; the hawks [to that] above [the doves]; the swallows where men dwell; the sparrows round the fruit-trees; the swans where they may sing; the flies about the earth, [but only] so far from it as they can
with [-out their losing] smell of man (for that the fly, my son, is fond of man especially and tends to earth); the lions and the leopards towards the hills; the wolves towards desert spots; the dogs after men’s tracks; the kine to stalls and fields; the sheep to pastures; the snakes to earth’s recesses; the seals and tortoises, with [all] their kind, unto the deeps and streams, so that they neither should be robbed of the dry land nor taken from their cognate water—each one returning to its proper place by means of its internal means of judgment.
So every soul, both in a human form and otherwise incarnate on the earth, knows where it has to go,—unless some foolish person 1 come and say, my son, that it is possible a bull should live in water and a tortoise up in air!
5. And if this be the case when they are plunged in flesh and blood—that they do nothing contrary to what’s appointed them, e’en though they are being punished (for being put in body is a punishment for them)—how much the more [is it the case] when they possess their proper liberty [and are set free] from punishment and being plunged [in body]?
Now the most holy ordering of souls is on this wise. Turn thou thy gaze above, most noble-
natured son, upon their orders. The space from height of heaven to the moon devotes itself unto the gods and stars and to the rest of providence; the space, my son, from moon to us is dwelling place of souls.
This so great air, however, has in it a belt to which it is our use to give the name of wind, a definite expanse in which it is kept moving to refresh the things on earth, and which I will hereafter tell about.
Yet in no manner by its motion on itself does it become an obstacle to souls; for though it keeps on moving, souls can dart up or dart down, 1 just as the case may be, free from all let and hindrance. For they pass through without immixture or adhesion as water flows through oil.
6. Now of this interval, Horus, my son, there are four main divisions and sixty special spaces.
Of these [divisions] the first one upwards from the earth is of four spaces, so that the earth in certain of its mountain heights and peaks extends and comes so far, but beyond these it cannot in its nature go in height.
The second after this is of eight spaces, in which the motions of the winds take place.
Give heed, O son, for thou art hearing
mysteries that must not be disclosed—of earth and heaven and all the holy air which lies between, in which there is the motion of the wind and flight of birds. For above this the air doth have no motion and sustains no life.
This [moving] air moreover hath of its own nature this authority—that it can circulate in its own spaces and also in the four of earth with all the lives which it contains, while earth cannot ascend into its [realm].
The third consists of sixteen spaces filled with subtle air and pure.
The fourth consists of two and thirty [spaces], in which there is the subtlest and the finest air; it is by means of this that [air] shuts from itself the heavens above which are by nature fiery.
7. This ordering is up and down in a straight line and has no overlapping; so that there are four main divisions, twelve intervallic ones and sixty spaces.
And in these sixty spaces dwell the souls, each one according to its nature, for though they are of one and the same substance, they’re not of the same dignity. For by so much as any space is higher from the earth than any other, by so much do the souls in them, my son, surpass in eminence the one the other. 1
What souls, however, go to each of them, I
will accordingly begin again to tell thee, Horus, [son] of great renown, taking their order from above down to the earth.
CONCERNING THE INBREATHING AND THE TRANSMIGRATION OF THE SOUL 1
8. The [air] between the earth and heavens, Horus, is spaced out by measure and by harmony.
These spaces have been named by some of our forefathers zones, by others firmaments, by others layers.
And in them dwell both souls which have been set free from their bodies, and also those which have as yet been never shut in body.
And each of them, my son, hath just the place it doth deserve; so that the godly and the kingly ones dwell in the highest space of all, those least in honour and the rest of the decadent ones [dwell] in the lowest space of all, while middling souls dwell in the middle space.
Accordingly, those souls which are sent down to rule, are sent down, Horus, from the upper zones; and when they are set free [again] they go back to the same or even still more lofty ones, unless it be they still have acted contrary
to their own nature’s dignity and the pronouncement of the Law of God.
Such souls as these the Providence above, according to the measure of their sins, doth banish down to lower spaces; just as with those which are inferior in dignity and power, it leads them up from lower [realms] to vaster and more lofty ones.
9. For up above [them all] there are two ministers of universal Providence, of whom one is the warder of the souls, the other their conductor. The warder [watches o’er the souls when out of body], while the conductor is dispatcher and distributor of souls into their bodies. The former keeps them, while the latter sends them forth according to the Will of God.
For this cause (logos) then, my son, nature on earth according to the change of deeds above doth model out the vessels and shape out the tents in which the souls are cast. 1 Two energies, experience and memory, assist her.
And this is memory’s task, [to see] that nature guards the type of every thing sent down out of its source and keeps its mixture as it is above; while of experience [the work is this, to see] conformably to every one of the descending souls it may have its embodiment, and that the
plasms may be made effective 1—that for the swift ones of the souls the bodies also may be swift, for slow ones slow, for active active ones, for sluggish sluggish ones, for powerful powerful, and for crafty crafty ones, and in a word for every one of them as it is fit.
10. For not without intention hath she clad winged things with plumage; and tricked out with senses more than ordinary and more exact those which have reason; and some of the four-footed things made strong with horns, some strong with teeth, some strong with claws and hoofs; while creeping things she hath made supple with bodies clad in easy-moving scales, which easily can glide away.
And that the watery nature of their body may not remain entirely weak, she doth provide the sharpened fangs of some of them with power; so that by reason of the fear of death [they cause] they’re stronger than the rest.
The swimming things being timorous, she gives to dwell within an element where light can exercise nor one nor other of its powers, for fire in water gives nor light nor heat. But each of them, swimming in water clad in scales or spines, flees from what frightens it where’er it will, using the water as a means of hiding it from sight.
11. For souls are shut in each class of these bodies according to their similarity [to them]. Those which have power of judgment go down into men; and those that lack it into quadrupeds, whose [only] law is force; the crafty ones [go] into reptiles, for none of them attack a man in front, but lie in wait and strike him down; and into swimming things the timid ones or those which are not worthy to enjoy the other elements. In every class, however, there are found some which no longer use their proper nature.
How [meanest thou] again, my mother? Horus said.
And Isis answered:
A man, for instance, son, o’ersteps his power of judgment; a quadruped avoids the use of force; and reptiles lose their craftiness; and birds their fear of men. So much [then] for the ordering of [souls] above and their descent, and for the making of their bodies.
12. In every class and kind of the above, my son, there may be found some regal souls; others also descend with various natures, some fiery, and some cold, some overbearing, and some mild, some skilled, some unskilled, some idle, some industrious, some one thing, some another. And this results from the arrangement of the regions whence the souls leap down to their embodiment.
For from the regal zone they leap down [into birth], the soul of the like nature ruling them 1; for there are many sovereignties. Some are of souls, and some of bodies, and some of arts, and some of sciences, and some are of ourselves.
How [meanest thou] again, my mother, “of ourselves”?
For instance, son, it is thy sire Osiris who is [the ruler] of the souls of them born after us up to this time 2; whereas the prince of every race [is ruler] of their bodies; [the king] of counsel is the father and the guide of all, Thrice-greatest Hermes; of medicine Asclepius, Hephae?stus’ son; of power and might again Osiris, and after him thyself, my son; and of philosophy Arnebeschenis; of poetry again Asclepius-Imuth.
13. For generally, my son, thou’lt find, if thou inquirest, that there are many ruling many things and many holding sway o’er many. And he who rules them all, my son, is from the highest space; while he who rules some part of them, doth have the rank of that particular realm from which he is.
Those who come from the regal zone, [have] a more ruling [part to play; those from the zone
of fire 1] become fire-workers and fire-tenders; those from the watery one live out their life in waters; those from the [zone] of science and of art are occupied with arts and sciences; those from the [zone] of inactivity inactively and heedlessly live out their lives.
For that the sources of all things wrought on the earth by word or deed, are up above, and they dispense for us their essences by weight and measure; and there is naught which hath not come down from above, and will return again to re-descend.
14. What dost thou mean again by this, my mother? Tell me!
And Isis once again did make reply: Most holy Nature hath set in living creatures the clear sign of this return. For that this breath which we breathe from above out of the air, we send out up again, to take it in [once more].
And we have in us organs, son, to do this work, and when they close their mouths whereby the breath’s received, then we no longer are as now we are, but we depart.
Moreover, son of high renown, there are some other things which we have added to us outside the weighed-out mixture [of the body].
15. What, then (said Horus), is this mixture, mother?
It is a union and a blend of the four elements; and from this blend and union a certain vapour 1 rises, which is enveloped by the soul, but circulates within the body, sharing with each, with body and with soul, its nature. And thus the differences of changes are effected both in soul and body.
For if there be in the corporeal make-up more of fire, thereon the soul, which is by nature hot, taking unto itself another thing that’s hot, and [so] being made more fiery, makes the life more energetic and more passionate, and the body quick and active.
If [there be] more of air, thereon the life becomes both light and springy and unsteady both in the soul and body.
And if there’s more of water, then the creature also doth become of supple soul and easy disposition, and ready of embrace, and able easily to meet and join with others, through water’s power of union and communion with the rest of things; for that it finds a place in all, and when it is abundant, doth dissolve what it surrounds, while if [there’s] little [of it], it sinks into and doth become what it is mingled with. As for their bodies, by dampness and by sponginess they are not made compact, but by a slight attack of sickness are dissolved, and fall away by
little and by little from the bond which holds them severally together.
And if the earthy [element] is in excess, the creature’s soul is dull, for it has not its body-texture loosely knit, or space for it to leap through, the organs of sensation being dense; but by itself it stays within, bound down by weight and density. As for its body, it is firm, but heavy and inert, and only moved of choice by [exercise of] strength.
But if there is a balanced state of all [the elements], then is the animal made hot for doing, light for moving, well-mixed for contact, and excellent for holding things together. 1
16. Accordingly those which have more in them of fire and air, these are made into birds, and have their state above hard by those elements from which they came.
While those which have more fire, less air, and earth and water equal, these are made into men, and for the creature the excess of heat is turned into sagacity; for that the mind in us is a hot thing which knows not how to burn, but has intelligence to penetrate all things.
And those which have in them more water and more earth, but moderate air and little fire,
these are turned into quadrupeds, and those which have more heat are stronger than the rest. Those which have equal earth and water, are made into reptiles. These through their lack of fire lack courage and straightforwardness; while through their having water in them they are cold; and through their having earth they heavy are and torpid; yet through their having air, they can move easily if they should choose to do so.
Those which have in them more of wet, and less of dry, these are made into fish. These through their lack of heat and air are timorous and try to hide themselves, and through excess of wet and earthy elements, they find their home, through their affinity, in fluid earth and water.
17. It is according to the share [they have] in every element and to the compass of that share, that bodies reach full growth [in man]; according to the smallness of their share the other animals have been proportioned—according to the energy which is in every element. 1
Moreover, O my well-beloved, I say, that when, out of this state [of things], the blend based on the first commixture [of the elements in any case], and the resultant vapour 2 from it,
so far preserve their own peculiarity, that neither the hot part takes on another heat, nor [does] the aery [take] another air, nor [does] the watery part another wetness, nor [yet] the earthy [take] another density, then doth the animal remain in health.
18. But if they do not, son, remain in the proportions which they had from the beginning, but are too much increased—(I do not mean in energy according to their compass or in the change of sex and body brought about by growth, but in the blend, as we have said before, of the component elements, so that the hot, for instance, is increased too much or too much lessened, and so for all the rest)—then will the animal be sick.
19. And if this [increase] doth take place in both the elements of heat and air, the soul’s tent-fellows, then doth the creature fall into symbolic dreams and ecstasies; for that a concentration of the elements whereby the bodies are dissolved has taken place. For ’tis the earthy element itself which is the condensation of the body; the watery element in it as well is a fluidity to make it dense. Whereas the aery element is that in us which has the power of motion, and fire is that which makes an end of all of them.
20. Just then as is the vapour 1 which ariseth
from the first conjunction and co-blending of the elements, as though it were a kindling or an exhalation,—whatever it may be, it mingles with the soul and draws it to itself, so that it shares its nature good or bad. And if the soul remains in its original relationship and common life with it, it keeps its rank.
But when there’s added from without some larger share than what was first laid down for it,—either to the whole mixture, or to its parts, or to one part of it,—then the resulting change effected in the vapour doth bring about a change or in the disposition of the soul or of the body.
The fire and air, as tending upward, hasten upward to the soul, which dwells in the same regions as themselves; the watery and the earthy elements, as tending down, sink down upon the body, which doth possess the self-same seat.
* * * * *
188:1 I have numbered the paragraphs for convenience of reference.
188:2 μύστης. The mystēs, speaking generally, was initiated by word of mouth, the epoptes by sight or vision.
189:1 Reading ἐπιχεῖν for ἐπέχειν.
189:2 The construction of the whole of the above paragraph is exceedingly involved.
191:1 τις τῶν τυφωνίων — an interesting phrase as showing that Typhon was regarded as the enemy of Osiris (the Logos or Reason).
192:1 Cf. the beginning of the Apocalypse of Thespesius (Aridaeus) in Plutarch, De Sera Num. Vind., xxii.
193:1 For a consideration of this ordering, see p. 168 ff. above.
194:1 This appears to be a heading inserted by Stobaeus (Phys., xli. 64) or some scribe; there seems to be no break in the text.
195:1 The text is exceedingly imperfect, and in its present state quite untranslatable.
196:1 The text is again very imperfect.
198:1 The text is here very corrupt, and the reading of the last words of the two following sentences very doubtful.
198:2 That is presumably since the time when Osiris and Isis lived on earth among men.
199:1 The text is exceedingly defective.
200:1 Cf. 17 and 20 below.
201:1 The text is faulty, the language artificial, the analogy strained, and the sense accordingly obscure. Meineke reads: γενναῖον δὲ εἰς θήξιν.
202:1 The text is utterly corrupt and has not yet been even plausibly emended.
202:2 Cf. 15 and 20.
203:1 Cf. 15 and 17.