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Asclepius, The Perfect Sermon, Λόγος τέλειος

Asclepius iste pro sole mihi est. Deus, Deus te nobis, o Asclepi, ut divino sermoni interesses, adduxit: eique tali, qui merito omnium antea a nobis factorum, vel nobis divino munere inspiratorum, videatur esse religiosa pietate divinior: quem si intelligens videris, eris omnium bonorum tota mente plenissimus. Si tamen multa sint bona, & non unum, in quo sunt omnia. Alterum enim alterius consentaneum esse dinoscitur, omnia unius esse, aut unum esse omnia. Ita enim utrumque connexum, ut separari alterum ab utroque non possit. Sed de futuro sermone hoc diligenti intentione cognosces. Tu vero, o Asclepi, procede paululum, atque nobis, qui intersit, evoca.

Quo ingresso; Asclepius etiam Ammonem interesse suggessit. Trismegistus ait, nulla invidia Ammonem prohibet a nobis. Etenim ad ejus nomen multa meminimus a nobis esse conscripta, sicut & ad amantissimum & bonum filium , multa ex physica & ex ethica plurima, tractatum hunc autem tuo scribam nomine. Præter Aumonem vero nullum voca alterum, ne tantæ rei religiosissimus sermo multorum interventu præsentiaque violetur. Tractatum enim tota numinis majestate plenissimum irreligiosæ mentis est, multorum conscientiæ publicare. Ammone etiam adytum ingresso, sanctoque illo, quatuor virorum religione, & divina Dei completo præsentia, competenti venerabiliter silentio ex ore animis singulorum, mentibusque pendentibus, divinus Cupido sic est orsus dicere:

O Asclepi, omnis humana immortalis est anima: sed non uniformiter cunctæ, sed aliæ alio more, vel tempore.

Asclepius. Non enim, o Trismegiste, omnis unius qualitatis est anima?

Trismegistus. O Asclepi, ut celeriter de vera rationis continentia decidisti! Non enim hoc dixi, omnia unum esse, & unum omnia; utpote quia in creatore fuerint omnia, antequam creasset omnia, nec immerito ipse dictus est omnia, cujus membra sunt omnia. Hujus itaque, qui est unus omnia, vel ipse est creator omnium, in hac tota disputatione curato meminisse. De cœlo cuncta descendunt in terram, & in aquam, & in aera. Ignis solum, quod sursum versus fertur, vivificum, quod deorsum ei deserviens. At vero quidquid de alto descendit, generans est, quod sursum versus emanat nutriens. Terra sola in se ipsa consistens, omnium est receptrix, omniumque generum, quæ accipit, restitutrix. Hoc ergo totum, sicut meministi, quod est omnium vel omnia anima & mundus a natura comprehensa agitantur, ita omnium multiformi imaginum qualitate variata, ut infinitæ qualitatum ex intervallo species esse noscantur, adunatæ tamen ad hoc, ut totum unum, & ex uno omnia esse videantur.

Totus itaque quibus formatus est mundus, elementa sunt quatuor, ignis, aqua, terra, aer, mundus unus, anima una, & Deus unus. Nunc mihi adesto totus, quantum mente vales, quantum calles astutia. Divinitatis etenim ratio divina sensus intentione noscenda, torrenti simillima est fluvio, e summo in pronum præcipiti rapacitate currenti, quo efficitur, ut intentionem nostram non solum audientium, verum etiam tractantium ipsorum celeri velocitate prætereat. Cœlum ergo sensibilis Deus administrator est omnium corporum, quorum augmenta detrimentaque sol & luna sortiti sunt. Cœli vero, & ipsius animæ, & omnium, quæ in mundo insunt, ipse gubernator est, qui est effector omnium Deus. A supradictis enim omnibus, quorum idem gubernator Deus omnium frequentatio fertur influens per mundum & animam omnium generum & omnium specierum, perque rerum naturam. Mundus autem præparatus est a Deo receptaculum omniformium specierum. Naturam autem per species imaginans, mundum per quatuor elementa ad cœlum usque perduxit, cuncta Dei visibus placitura.

Omnia autem desuper pendentia in species dividuntur, hoc quod dicturus sum genere. Genera rerum omnium suas species sequuntur, ut sit ita soliditas genus, species generis particula. Genus ergo Deorum ex se Deorum faciet species. Dæmonum genus æque & hominum, similiter volucrum, & omnium, quæ in se mundus habet, sui similes species generat. Genus est & aliud animalis, genus sine anima quidem, nec tamen carens sensibus. Unde & beneficiis gaudet, & adversis minuitur atque vitiatur; omnium dico, quæ in terra, radicum, stirpiumque incolumitate vivescunt, quarum species per totam sparsæ sunt terram. Ipsum cœlum plenum est Deo. Supradicta autem genera inhabitant usque ad loca specierum, quarum omnium rerum immortales sunt species. Species enim pars est generis, ut homo humanitatis, quam necesse est sequi qualitatem sui generis. Unde efficitur, ut quamvis omnia genera sint immortalia, species tamen non omnes immortales sunt. Divinitatis enim genus & ipsum, & species immortales sunt. Reliquorum vero genera, quorum æternitas est genus, quamvis per species occidat, nascendi tamen fœcunditate servatur, ideoque species mortales sunt, ut homo mortalis sit, immortalis humanitas.

Omnibus tamen generibus, omnium generum species miscentur, quædam, quæ ante factæ sunt, quædam, quæ de his factæ sunt. Fiunt itaque quæ fiunt, aut a Diis, aut a dæmonibus, aut ab hominibus fiunt omnes simillimæ generibus suis species. Corpora enim impossibile est conformari sine nutu divino; species figurari, sine adjutorio dæmonum, animalia institui & coli sine hominibus non possunt. Quicunque igitur dæmonum a genere suo defluentes, in speciem fortuito conjuncti sunt, alicujus speciei generis divini proximitate & consortio, Diis similes habentur. Quorum vero dæmonum species qualitate sui generis perseverant, hi amantes hominum rationem, dæmones nuncupantur. Similiter est & hominum, aut eo amplior. Multiformis enim variaque humani generis species, & ipsa a prædicto desuper adveniens consortio, omnium aliarum specierum multas, & prope omnium per necessitatem conjunctiones facit, propter quod & prope Deos accedit, qui se mente, qua Diis junctus est, divina religione Diis junxerit, & dæmones, qui iis junctus est. Humani vero qui medietate sui generis contenti sunt, & reliquæ hominum species iis similes erunt, quorum se generis speciebus junxerunt.

Propter hoc, o Asclepi, magnum miraculum est homo. O animal adorandum atque honorandum! Hoc enim in naturam Dei transit, quasi ipse sit Deus, hoc dæmonum genus novit, utpote qui cum iisdem ortum se esse cognoscat. Hoc humanæ naturæ partem in se ipso despicit, alterius partis divinitate confisus. O hominum quanta est natura, temperata felicius, ac Diis cognata divinitate conjunctus, partem sui, qua terrenus est intra se, despicit: cetera omnia, quibus se necessarium esse cœlesti dispositione cognoscit, nexu secum caritatis adstringit, sicque suspicit cœlum. Sic ergo feliciore loco medietatis est positus, ut, quæ infra se sunt, diligat, ipse a superioribus diligatur. Colit terram, elementis velocitate miscetur, acumine mentis in maris profunda descendit, omnia illi licent, non cœlum illi videtur altissimum: quasi enim e proximo sagacitate animi metitur. Intentionem animi ejus nulla aeris caligo confundit, non densitas terræ operam ejus impedit, non aquæ altitudo profunda despectum ejus obtundit: omnia idem est, & ubique idem est. Horum omnium generum, quæ sunt animalia desuper, deorsum radices pervenientes habent. Inanimalium autem de imo in superna viva radice silvescunt. Quædam duplicibus aluntur elementis, quædam autem simplicibus. Alimenta autem sunt bina, animæ & corporis, e quibus animalia constant. Anima mundi inquieta semper agitatione nutritur. Corpora ex aqua & terra inferioris mundi alimentis augescunt. Spiritus quoque plena sunt omnia, permixtus cunctis cuncta vivificat, sensu addito ad hominis intelligentiam: quæ quinta pars sola homini concessa est ex æthere. Sed de animalibus cunctis, humanos tantum sensus ad divinæ rationis intelligentiam exornat, erigit, atque sustollit, Sed quoniam de sensu commoneor dicere, paulo post & hujus rationem vobis exponam. Est enim sanctissima & magna, & non minor, quam ea, quæ est divinitatis ipsius.

Sed nunc vobis expediam, quæ cœperam. Dicebam enim in ipso initio rerum de conjunctione Deorum, qua homines soli eorum dignatione perfruuntur. Quicunque etenim hominum tantum felicitatis adepti sunt, ut illum intelligentiæ divinum perciperent sensum, qui sensus est divinior in solo Deo, & in humana intelligentia.

Asclepius. Non enim omnium hominum, o Trismegiste, uniformis est sensus?

Trismegistus. Non omnes, o Asclepi, intelligentiam veram adepti sunt, sed imaginem temerario impetu nulla vera ratione inspecta sequentes decipiuntur, quæ in mentibus malitiam parit, & transformat optimum animal in naturam: feræ, moresque bestiarum. De sensu autem & de omnibus his similibus, quando & de spiritu, tunc totam vobis præstabo rationem. Solum enim animal homo duplex est, & ejus una pars simplex, quæ, ut Græci ajunt, οὐσιώδης, quam vocamus divinæ similitudinis formam. Est autem quadruplex, quod ὑλιϰὸν Græci, nos mundanum dicimus ex quo factum est corpus, quo circumtegitur illud, quod in homine divinum esse jam diximus, in quo mentis divinitas recta sola cum cognatis suis, id est, mentis puræ sensibus secum ipsa conquiescat, tanquam muro corporis septa.

Asclepius. Quid ergo oportuit, o Tri(megiste, hominem in mundo constitui, & non in ea parte, qua Deus est, eum in summa beatitudine degere?

Trismegistus. Recte quæris, o Asclepi. Et nos enim rogamus Deum, ut tribuat nobis facultatem reddendæ rationis istius. Cum enim omnia ex voluntate ejus dependeanr, tum illa vel maxime, quæ de tota summitate tractantur, quam rationem præsenti disputatione conquirimus, Audi ergo, Asclepi.

Dominus & omnium conformator, quem recte Deum dicimus, quem a se secundum fecerit, qui videri & sentiri possit, eundem secundum sensibilem ita dixerim, non ideo quod ipse sentiat, (de hoc enim, an ipse sentiat, an non, alio dicemus tempore) sed eo, quod videntium sensus incurrit. Quoniam ergo hunc fecit ex se primum & a se secundum, visusque est ei pulcher, utpote qui sit omnium bonitate plenissimus, amavit eum, ut divinitatis suæ partem. Ergo ut tantus & tam bonus esset, voluit alium, qui illum, quem ex se fecerat, intueri potuisset, simulque & rationis imitatorem & diligentiæ fecit hominem. Voluntas etenim Dei ipsa summa est perfectio,, utpote cum voluisse & perfecisse uno eodemque temporis puncto compleat. Cum itaque eum οὐσιώδη animadverteret Deus non posse omnium rerum esse diligentem, nisi eum mundano integumento contegeret, texit eum corporea domo, talesque omnes esse præcepit, ex utraque natura in unum confundens commiscensque, quantum satis esse debuisset. Itaque hominem conformavit ex animis & corporibus, id est, ex æterna & mortali natura, ut animal ita conformatum utrique origini suæ satisfacere possit, & mirari, atque orare cœlestia & æterna, & incolere atque gubernare terrena. Modo autem dico mortalia non aquam & terram, quæ duo de quatuor elementis subjecit natura hominibus, sed ea, quæ ab hominibus, aut in his, aut de his sunt: aut ipsius terræ cultus, pascua, ædificatio, portus, navigationes, communicationes, commodationes alternæ, qui est humanitatis inter se firmissimus nexus, & mundi pars, quæ est aqua & terra, quæ pars terrena mundi artium disciplinarumque cognitione atque usu servatur, sine quibus mundum Deus noluit esse perfectum. Placitum enim Dei necessitas sequitur, voluntatem comitatur effectus. Neque enim credibile est, Deo displiciturum esse, quod placuit, cum & futurum id, & placiturum, multo ante sciverit.

Sed, o Asclepi, animadverto, ut celeri mentis cupiditate festines audire, quomodo homo cœli, vel quæ in eo sunt, dilectum possit habere vel cultum. Audi itaque, o Asclepi. Dilectus Dei & cœli, cum his, quæ insunt, omnibus, una est obsequiorum frequentatio. Hanc aliud animal non confecit, nec divinorum, nec animalium, nisi solus homo. Hominum enim admirationibus, adorationibus, laudibus, obsequiis, cœlum cœlestesque delectantur. Nec immerito in hominum cœtum Musarum chorus est a summa divinitate demissus, scilicet ne terrenus mundus videretur incultior, si modulorum dulcedine caruisset, sed potius inusitatis hominum cantilenis concelebraretur, & laudibus, qui solus omnia, aut pater est omnium, atque ita cœlestibus laudibus nec in terris harmoniæ suavitas defuisset. Aliqui ergo ipsique paucissimi pura mente præditi, sortiti sunt cœli suspiciendi venerabilem curam. Quicunque autem ex duplici naturæ suæ confusione interiorem intelligentiam mole corporis resederunt, curandis elementis hisque inferioribus sunt præpositi. Animal ergo homo, non quidem eo minor, quod ex parte mortalis sit, sed eo forte aptius efficaciusque compositus ad certam rationem mortalitate auctus esse videatur: scilicet quoniam utrumque, nisi ex utraque materia, sustinere non potuisset, ex utraque formatus est, ut & terrenorum cultum, & divinitatis posset habere delectum.

Rationem vero tractatus istius, o Asclepi, non solum sagaci intentione, verum etiam cupio te animi vivacitate percipere. Est enim ratio plurimis incredibilis. Integra autem & vera percipienda sanctioribus mentibus. ltaque hinc exordiar. Æternitatis dominus Deus primus est. Secundus est mundus. Homo est tertius. Effector mundi Deus, & eorum, quæ insunt, omnium, simul cuncta gubernando, cum ipso homine gubernatore compositi: quod ita totum suscipiens homo idem curam propriam diligentiæ suæ efficit, ut sit & ipse mundus uterque ornamento sibi, ut ex hac hominis divina compositione mundus Græce rectius ϰόσμος dictus esse videatur. Is novit se, novit & mundum, scilicet ut meminerit, quid partibus conveniat suis, quæ sibi utenda, quibus sibi inserviendum sit, recognoscat: laudes gratesque maximas agens Deo, ejus imaginem venerans, non ignarus, se etiam secundum esse imaginem Dei, cujus sunt imagines duæ, mundus [scilicet] & homo. Unde efficitur, ut, quoniam est ipsius una compago, parte, qua ex anima, & sensu, & spiritu, atque ratione divinus est, velut ex elementis superioribus ascendere posse videatur in cœlum, parte vero mundana, quæ constat ex igni, & aqua, & aere, mortalis resistat in terram, ne curæ suæ omnia commendata vidua desertaque dimittat. Sic enim humanitas ex parte divina, ex alia parte mortalis est effecta in corpore consistens.

Trismegistus[i]. God, O Asclepius, hath brought thee unto us that thou mayest hear a Godly sermon, a sermon such as well may seem of all the previous ones we’ve [either] uttered, or with which we’ve been inspired by the Divine, more Godly than the piety of [ordinary] faith. If thou with eye of intellect shalt see this Word thou shalt in thy whole mind be filled quite full of all things good. If that, indeed, the “many” be the “good,” and not the “one,” in which are “all.” Indeed the difference between the two is found in their agreement, — “All” is of “One” or “One” is “All.” So closely bound is each to other, that neither can be parted from its mate. But this with diligent attention shalt thou learn from out the sermon that shall follow [this]. But do thou, O Asclepius, go forth a moment and call in the one who is to hear.

(And when he had come in, Asclepius proposed that Ammon too should be allowed to come. Thereon Thrice-greatest said:)

Trismegistus. There is no cause why Ammon should be kept away from us. For we remember how we have ourselves set down in writing many things to his address, as though unto a son most dear and most beloved, of physics many things, of ethics [too] as many as could be. It is, however, with thy name I will inscribe this treatise. But call, I prithee, no one else but Ammon, lest a most pious sermon on a so great theme be spoilt by the admission of the multitude. For ’tis the mark of an unpious mind to publish to the knowledge of the crowd a tractate brimming o’er with the full Greatness of Divinity.

(When Ammon too had come within the holy place, and when the sacred group of four was now complete with piety and with God’s goodly presence — to them, sunk in fit silence reverently, their souls and minds pendent on Hermes’ lips, thus Love  Divine began to speak.)

[ii] Trismegistus. The soul of every man, O [my] Asclepius, is deathless; yet not all in like fashion, but some in one way or [one] time, some in another.

Asclepius. Is not, then, O Thrice-greatest one, each soul of one [and the same] quality?

Trismegistus. How quickly hast thou fallen, O Asclepius, from reason’s true sobriety! Did not I say that “All” is “One,” and “One” is “All,” in as much as all things have been in the Creator before they were created. Nor is He called unfitly “All,” in that His members are the “All.” Therefore, in all this argument, see that thou keep in mind Him who is “One”-“All,” or who Himself is maker of the “All.” All things descend from Heaven to Earth, to Water and to Air. ’Tis Fire alone, in that it is borne upwards, giveth life; that which [is carried] downwards [is] subservient to Fire. Further, whatever doth descend from the above, begetteth; what floweth upwards, nourisheth. ’Tis Earth alone, in that it resteth on itself, that is Receiver of all things, and [also] the Restorer of all genera that it receives. This Whole, therefore, as thou rememberest, in that it is of all, — in other words, all things, embraced by nature under “Soul” and “World,” are in [perpetual] flux, so varied by the multiform equality of all their forms, that countless kinds of well-distinguished qualities may be discerned, yet with this bond of union, that all should seem as One, and from “One” “All.”

[iii] That, then, from which the whole Cosmos is formed, consisteth of Four Elements — Fire, Water, Earth, and Air; Cosmos [itself is] one, [its] Soul [is] one, and God is one. Now lend to me the whole of thee, — all that thou can’st in mind, all that thou skill’st in penetration. For that the Reason of Divinity may not be known except by an intention of the senses like to it. ’Tis likest to the torrent’s flood, down-dashing headlong from above with all-devouring tide; so that it comes about, that by the swiftness of its speed it is too quick for our attention, not only for the hearers, but also for the very teachers. Heaven, then, God Sensible, is the director of all bodies; bodies’ increasings and decreasings are ruled by Sun and Moon. But He who is the Ruler of the Heaven, and of its Soul as well, and of all things within the Cosmos, — He is God, who is the Maker of all things. For from all those that have been said above, o’er which the same God rules, there floweth forth a flood of all things streaming through the Cosmos and the Soul, of every class and kind, throughout the Nature of [all] things. The Cosmos hath, moreover, been prepared by God as the receptacle of forms of every kind. Forth-thinking Nature by these kinds of things, He hath extended Cosmos unto Heaven by means of the Four Elements, — all to give pleasure to the eye of God.

[iv] And all dependent from Above are subdivided into species in the fashion which I am to tell. The genera of all things company with their own species; so that the genus is a class in its entirety, the species is part of a genus. The genus of the Gods will, therefore, make the species of the Gods out of itself. In like way, too, the genus of the daimons, and of men, likewise of birds, and of all [animals] the Cosmos doth contain within itself, brings into being species like itself. There is besides a genus other than the animal, — a genus, or indeed a soul, in that it’s not without sensation, — in consequence of which it both finds happiness in suitable conditions, and pines and spoils in adverse ones; — I mean [the class] of all things on the earth which owe their life to the sound state of roots and shoots, of which the various kinds are scattered through the length and breadth of Earth. The Heaven itself is full of God. The genera we have just mentioned, therefore, occupy up to the spaces of all things whose species are immortal. For that a species is part of a genus, — as man, for instance, of mankind, — and that a part must follow its own class’s quality. From which it comes to pass that though all genera are deathless, all species are not so. The genus of Divinity is in itself and in its species [also] deathless. As for the genera of other things, — as to their genus, they [too] are everlasting; [for] though [the genus] perish in its species, yet it persists through its fecundity in being born. And for this cause its species are beneath the sway of death; so that man mortal is, mankind immortal.

[v] And yet the species of all genera are interblended with all genera; some which have previously been made, some which are made from these. The latter, then, which are being made, — either by Gods, or daimons, or by men, — are species all most closely like to their own several genera. For that it is impossible that bodies should be formed without the will of God; or species be configured without the help of daimons; or animals be taught and trained without the help of men. Whoever of the daimons, then, transcending their own genus, are, by chance, united with a species, by reason of the neighbourhood of any species of the Godlike class, — these are considered like to Gods. Whereas those species of the daimons which continue in the quality of their own class, — these love men’s rational nature [and occupy themselves with men], and are called daimons proper. Likewise is it the case with men, or more so even. Diverse and multiform, the species of mankind. And coming in itself from the association spoken of above, it of necessity doth bring about a multitude of combinations of all other species and almost of all things. Wherefore doth man draw nigh unto the Gods, if he have joined himself unto the Gods with Godlike piety by reason of his mind, whereby he is joined to the Gods; and [nigh] unto the daimons, in that he is joined unto them [as well]. Whereas those men who are contented with the mediocrity of their own class, and the remaining species of mankind, will be like those unto the species of whose class they’ve joined themselves.

[vi] It is for reasons such as these, Asclepius, man is a mighty wonder, — an animal meet for our worship and for our respect. For he doth pass into God’s Nature, as though himself were God. This genus [also] knows the genus of the daimons, as though man knew he had a [common] origin with them. He thinketh little of the part of human nature in him, from confidence in the divineness of [his] other part. How much more happy is the blend of human nature [than of all the rest]! Joined to the Gods by his cognate divinity, a man looks down upon the part of him by means of which he’s common with the Earth. The rest of things to which he knows he’s kin, by [reason of] the heavenly order [in him], he binds unto himself with bonds of love; and thus he turns his gaze to Heaven. So, then, [man] hath his place in the more blessed station of the Midst; so that he loves [all] those below himself, and in his turn is loved by those above. He tills the Earth. He mingles with the Elements by reason of the swiftness of his mind. He plunges into the Sea’s depths by means of its profundity. He puts his values on all things. Heaven seems not too high for him; for it is measured by the wisdom of his mind as though it were quite near. No darkness of the Air obstructs the penetration of his mind. No density of Earth impedes his work. No depth of Water blunts his sight.& [Though still] the same [yet] is he all, and everywhere is he the same. Of all these genera, those [species] which are animal have [many] roots, which stretch from the above below, whereas those which are stationary — these from [one] living root send forth a wood of branching greenery up from below into the upper parts. Moreover, some of them are nourished with a two-fold form of food, while others with a single form. Twain are the forms of food — for soul and body, of which [all] animals consist. Their soul is nourished by the ever-restless motion of the World; their bodies have their growth from foods [drawn] from the water and the earth of the inferior world. Spirit, with which they all are filled, being interblended with the rest, doth make them live; sense being added, and also reason in the case of man — which hath been given to man alone as a fifth part out of the æther. Of all the living things [God] doth adorn, extend, exalt, the sense of man alone unto the understanding of the Reason of Divinity. But since I am impressed to speak concerning Sense, I will a little further on set forth for you the sermon on this [point]; for that it is most holy, and [most] mighty, not less than in the Reason of Divinity itself.

[vii] But now I’ll finish for you what I have begun. For I was speaking at the start of union with the Gods, by which men only consciously enjoy the Gods’ regard, — I mean whatever men have won such rapture that they have obtained a share of that Divine Sense of intelligence which is the most Divine of Senses, found in God and in man’s reason.

Asclepius. Are not the senses of all men, Thrice-greatest one, the same?

Trismegistus. Nay, [my] Asclepius, all have not won true reason; but wildly rushing in pursuit of [reason’s] counterfeit, they never see the thing itself, and are deceived. And this breeds evil in their minds, and [thus] transforms the best of animals into the nature of a beast and manners of the brutes. But as to Sense and all things similar, I will set forth the whole discourse when [I explain] concerning Spirit. For man is the sole animal that is twofold. One part of him is simple: the [man] “essential,” (οὐσιώδης) as say the Greeks, but which we call the “form of the Divine Similitude.” He also is fourfold: that which the Greeks call “hylic,” (ὑλικὸν) [but] which we call “cosmic”; of which is made the corporal part, in which is vestured what we just have said is the divine in man, — in which the godhead of the Mind alone, together with its kin, that is the Pure Mind’s senses, findeth home and rest, its self with its own self, as though shut in the body’s walls.

Asclepius. What, then, Thrice-greatest one, has caused it that man should be planted in the world, and should not pass his life in highest happiness in that part [of the universe] where there is God?

Trismegistus. Rightly thou questionest, O [my] Asclepius! And we pray God that He bestow on us the power of setting forth this reason; since everything depends upon His Will, and specially those things that are set forth about the Highest Whole, the Reason that’s the object of our present argument. Hear, then, Asclepius!

[viii] The Lord and Maker of all things, whom we call rightly God, when from Himself He made the second [God], the Visible and Sensible, — I call him Sensible not that He hath sensation in Himself (for as to this, whether or no He have himself sensation, we will some other time declare), but that He is the object of the senses of those who see; — when, then, He made Him first, but second to Himself, and that He seemed to Him [most] fair, as one filled to the full with goodness of all things, He fell in love with Him as being part of His Divinity. (a) Accordingly, in that He was so mighty and so fair, He willed that some one else should have the power to contemplate the One He had made from Himself. And thereon He made man, — the imitator of His Reason and His Love. The Will of God is in itself complete accomplishment; inasmuch as together with His having willed, in one and the same time He hath brought it to full accomplishment. And so, when He perceived that the “essential” (οὐσιώδης) [man] could not be lover of all things, unless He clothed him in a cosmic carapace, He shut him in within a house of body, — and ordered it that all [men] should be so, — from either nature making him a single blend and fair-proportioned mixture. Therefore hath He made man of soul and body, — that is, of an eternal and a mortal nature; so that an animal thus blended can content his dual origin, — admire and worship things in heaven, and cultivate and govern things on earth. (b) By mortal things I do not mean the water or the earth [themselves], for these are two of the [immortal] elements that nature hath made subject unto men, — but [either] things that are by men, or [that are] in or from them; such as the cultivation of the earth itself, pastures, [and] buildings, harbours, voyagings, intercommunications, mutual services, which are the firmest bonds of men between themselves and that part of the Cosmos which consists [indeed] of water and of earth, [but is] the Cosmos’ terrene part, — which is preserved by knowledge and the use of arts and sciences; without which [things] God willeth not Cosmos should be complete. In that necessity doth follow what seems good to God; performance waits upon His will. Nor is it credible that that which once hath pleased Him, will become unpleasing unto God; since He hath known both what will be, and what will please Him, long before.

[ix] But, O Asclepius, I see that thou with swift desire of mind art in a hurry to be told how man can have a love and worship of the Heaven, or of the things that are therein. Hear, then, Asclepius! The love of God and Heaven, together with all them that are therein, is one perpetual act of worship. No other thing ensouled, of Gods or animals, can do this thing, save man alone. ’Tis in the admiration, adoration, [and] the praise of men, and [in their] acts of worship, that Heaven and Heaven’s hosts find their delight. Nor is it without cause the Muses’ choir hath been sent down by Highest Deity unto the host of men; in order that, forsooth, the terrene world should not seem too uncultured, had it lacked the charm of measures, but rather that with songs and praise of men accompanied with music, He might be lauded, — He who alone is all, or is the Sire of all; and so not even on the earths, should there have been an absence of the sweetness of the harmony of heavenly praise. Some, then, though they be very few, endowed with the Pure Mind, have been entrusted with the sacred charge of contemplating Heaven. Whereas those men who, from the two-fold blending of their nature, have not as yet withdrawn their inner reason from their body’s mass, these are appointed for the study of the elements, and [all] that is below them. Thus man’s an animal; yet not indeed less potent in that he’s partly mortal, but rather doth he seem to be all the more fit and efficacious for reaching Certain Reason, since he has had mortality bestowed on him as well. For it is plain he could not have sustained the strain of both, unless he had been formed out of both natures, so that he could possess the powers of cultivating Earthly things and loving Heaven.

[x] The Reason of a thesis such as this, O [my] Asclepius, I would that thou should’st grasp, not only with the keen attention of thy soul, but also with its living power [as well]. For ’tis a Reason that most men cannot believe; the Perfect and the True are to be grasped by the more holy minds. Hence, then, will I begin. The Lord of the Eternity is the first God; the second’s Cosmos; man is the third. God is the Maker of the Cosmos and of all the things therein; at the same time He ruleth all, with man himself, [who is] the ruler of the compound thing; the whole of which man taking on himself, doth make of it the proper care of his own love, in order that the two of them, himself and Cosmos, may be an ornament each unto other; so that from this divine compost of man, “World” seems most fitly called “Cosmos” (κόσμος) in Greek. He knows himself; he knows the World as well. So that he recollects, indeed, what is convenient to his own parts. He calls to mind what he must use, that they may be of service to himself; giving the greatest praise and thanks to God, His Image reverencing, — not ignorant that he is, too, God’s image the second [one]; for that there are two images of God — Cosmos and man. So that it comes to pass that, since man’s is a single structure, — in that part [of him] which doth consist of Soul, and Sense, of Spirit, and of Reason, he’s divine; so that he seems to have the power to mount from as it were the higher elements into the Heaven. But in his cosmic part, which is composed of fire, and water, and of air, he stayeth mortal on the Earth, — lest he should leave all things committed to his care forsaken and bereft. Thus human kind is made in one part deathless, and in the other part subject to death while in a body.

Est autem mensura ejus utriusque, id est, hominis ante omnis religio, quam sequitur bonitas. Ea demum tunc videtur esse perfecta, si contra cupiditatum omnium alienarum rerum sit despectus virtute munita. Sunt enim ab omnibus divinæ cognationis partibus aliena omnia, quæcunque terrena corporali cupiditate possidentur: quæ merito possessionum nomine nuncupantur, quoniam non nata nobiscum, sed postea a nobis possideri cœperunt. Omnia ergo hujusmodi ab homine aliena sunt, etiam corpus, ut & ea, quæ appetimus, & illud, ex quo appetentiæ nobis est vitium, despiciamus. Ut enim meum animum rationis ducit intentio, homo hactenus esse debuit: ut contemplatione divinitatis partem, quæ sibi juncta mortalis est, mundi interioris necessitate servandi despiciat atque contemnat. Nam ut homo ex utraque parte possit esse plenissimus, quaternis eum utriusque partis elementis animadverte esse formatum, manibus & pedibus utrisque binis, aliisque corporis membris, quibus inferiori, id est, terreno mundo deserviat. Illis vero partibus quatuor sensus animi, memoriæ, atque providentiæ, quarum ratione cuncta divina norit atque suspiciat. Unde efficitur, ut rerum diversitates, qualitates, effectus, quantitates, suspiciosa indagine sectetur. Retardatus vero gravi & nimio corporis vitio, has naturæ rerum causas, quæ veræ sunt proprie, providere non possit. Hunc ergo sic effectum conformatumque; & tali ministerio obsequioque præpositum a summo Deo, eumque competenter munde mundum servando, Deum pie colendo, digne & competenter in utroque Dei voluntati parentem, talem quo munere credis esse munerandum? Siquidem cum Dei opera sit mundus, ejusque pulchritudinem qui diligentia servat atque auget, operamque suam cum Dei voluntate conjungit, cum speciem, quam ille intentione divina formavit, adminiculo sui corporis, divino opere curaque componit, quo munere credis esse munerandum? nisi eo, quo parentes nostri munerati sunt, quo etiam nos quoque munerari, si foret divinæ pietati complacitum, optamus piissimis votis, [id est] ut emeritos atque exutos mundana custodia, nexibus mortalitatis absolutos, naturæ superioris partis, id est, divinæ, puros sanctosque restituat.

Asclepius. Juste & vere dicis, o Trismegiste. Hæc est enim merces pie sub Deo, diligenterque cum mundo viventibus. Secus enim impieque qui vixerint, & redirus denegatur in cœlum, & constituitur in corpora alia indigna sancto animo, & fœda est migratio, ut iste rationis sermo processit, o Trismegiste, futuræ æternitatis spe animæ in mundana vita periclitantur. Sed aliis incredibile, aliis fabulosum, aliis forsitan videtur esse deridendum. Res enim dulcis est in hac corporali vita, qui capitur de possessionibus fructus. Quare animam, obtorto, ut ajunt, detinet collo, ut in parte sui, qua mortalis est, inhæreat, .nec finit partem divinitatis agnoscere, invidens immortalitati malignitas. Ego enim tibi quasi prædivinans dixero, nullum post nos habiturum delectum simplicem, qui est philosophiæ, quæ sola est in cognoscenda divinitate frequens obtutus & sancta religio. Multi etenim & eam multifaria ratione confundunt. Quomodo ergo multi incomprehensibilem philosophiam efficiunt, aut quemadmodum eam multifaria ratione confundunt?

Trismegistus. O Asclepi, hoc modo in varias disciplinas, nec comprehensibiles, eam callida commentatione miscentes, Arithmeticen, & Musicen, & Geometriam. Puram autem philosophiam, eamque tantum divina religione pendentem, tantum intendere in reliquas oportebit, ut apocatastasis astrorum stationes præfinitas, cursumque commutationis numeris constare miretur. Terræ vero dimensiones, qualitates, quantitates, maris profunda, ignis vim, & horum omnium effectus naturamque cognoscens miretur, adoret, atque collaudet artem, mentemque divinam. Musicen vero nosse nihil aliud esse, nisi cunctarum rerum ordinem scire, quæque ratio divina sortita sit. Ordo enim rerum singularum in unum omnium artifici ratione collatus, concentum quendam melo divino dulcissimum verissimumque conficiet.

Asclepius. Quid ergo homines post nos erunt?

Trismegistus. Sophistarum calliditate decepti, a vera, pura, sanctaque philosophia avertentur. Simplici enim mente & anima divinitatem colere, ejusque facta venerari, agere etiam Dei voluntati gratias, quæ est bonitatis sola plenissima, hæc est nulla animi importuna curiositate violata philosophia, & de his sit hucusque tractatum. De spiritu vero & de his similibus hic sumatur exordium. Fuit Deus & ὕλη, quem Græce credimus mundum, & mundo comitabatur spiritus, [vel inerat mundo spiritus] sed non similiter ut Deo, nec Deus sunt hæc, de quibus mundus: idcirco non erant, quando nata non erant, sed in eo jam tunc erant, unde nasci habuerunt. Non enim ea sola non nata dicuntur, quæ necdum nata sunt, sed ea, quæ carent fœcunditate generandi, ita ut ex eis nihil nasci possit. Quæcunque ergo sunt, quibus inest natura generandi, hæc & generabilia sunt, de quibus nasci potest, tametsi ea ex se nata sint. Neque enim dubitatur, ex his, quæ ex se nata sunt, facile nasci posse, de quibus cuncta nascuntur. Deus ergo sempiternus, Deus æternus, nec nasci potest, nec potuit: hoc est, hoc fuit, hoc erit semper. Hæc ergo est, quæ ex se tota est, natura Dei. Ὕλη autem, vel mundi natura, & spiritus, quamvis nata non videantur a principio, tamen in se nascendi procreandique vim possident, atque naturam fœcunditatis. Etenim initium in qualitate naturæ est, quæ & conceptus & partus in se possidet vim atque materiam. Hæc itaque sine alieno conceptu est sola generabilis.

At vero ea, quæ vim solam concipiendi habent ex alterius commixtione naturæ, ita discernenda sunt, ut hic locus mundi cum his, quæ in se sunt, videatur esse non natus, qui utique in se vim totius naturæ habet. Locum autem dico, in quo sunt omnia. Neque enim hæc omnia esse potuissent, si locus deesset, qui omnia sustinere potuisset. Omnibus enim rebus, quæ fuerunt, præcavendum est loco. Nec qualitates etenim, nec quantitates, nec positiones, nec effectus dignosci potuissent earum rerum, quæ nusquam sunt. Sic ergo & mundus, quamvis natus non sit, in se tamen omnium naturas habet, utpote qui omnibus iis ad concipiendum sinus præstet fœcundissimos. Hoc ergo est totum qualitatis materiæ, quæ creabilis est, tametsi creata non est. Sicut enim in natura materiæ qualitas fœcunda est, sic & malignitatis eadem est æque fœcunda.

Nec ergo dixi, o Asclepi, & Ammon, quod a multis dicitur, non poterat Deus incidere atque avertere a rerum natura malitiam, quibus respondendum nihil omnino est. Vestri tamen causa & hæc prosequar, quæ cœperam, & rationem reddam. Dicunt enim ipsi, Deum debuisse omnifariam mundum a malitia liberare. Ita enim in mundo est, ut quasi membrum ipsius videatur esse. Provisum cautumque est, quantum rationabiliter potuisset, a summo Deo, tunc cum sensu, disciplina, intelligentia mentes hominum est munerare dignatus. Hisce enim rebus, quibus ceteris antestamus animalibus, solis possumus malitiæ fraudes, dolos, vitiaque vitare. Ea enim qui, antequam iis implicitus est, ex aspectu vitarit, is homo est divina intelligentia prudentiaque munitus. Fundamentum enim est disciplinæ in summa bonitate consistens. Spiritu autem ministrantur omnia & vegetantur in mundo, qui quasi organum vel machina summi Dei voluntati subjectus est. Itaque hactenus intelligatur a nobis mente sola intelligibilis, summus qui dicitur Deus, rector gubernatorque sensibilis Dei, ejus, qui in se circumplectitur omnem locum, omnem rerum substantiam, totamque gignentium creantiumque materiam, & omne, quidquid est, quantumcunque est.

Spiritu vero agitantur sive gubernantur omnes in mundo species, unaquæque secundum naturam suam a Deo distributam sibi. Ὕλη autem, vel mundus, omnium est receptaculum, omniumque agitatio atque frequentatio, quorum Deus gubernator dispensans omnibus rebus humanis quantum unicuique necessarium est. Spiritu. vero implet omnia, ut cujusque naturæ qualitas est. Inaltata est enim cava mundi rotunditas in modum sphæræ, ipsa sibi qualitatis vel formæ suæ causa invisibilis tota. Quippe cum quemcunque in ea summum subter despiciendi causa delegeris locum, ex eo, in imo quid sit, videre non possis, propter quod multis locis instat, qualitatemque habere creditur. Per formas enim solas specierum, quarum imaginibus videtur insculpta, quasi visibilis creditur, cum depicta monstratur. Re autem vera est sibi ipsi invisibilis semper: ex quo ejus imum vel pars, si locus est in sphæra, Græce ἀειδὴς dicitur. Siquidem εἰδεῖν Græce dicitur, quo visu primum sphæræ careant, unde & εἰδέαι dicuntur species, quod sint invisibilis formæ. Ab eo itaque, quod visu privantur, Græce ᾅδης, ab eo, quod in imo sphæræ sunt, Latine inferi nuncupantur. Hæc ergo sunt principalia & antiquiora, & quasi initia vel capita omnium, quæ sunt in his, aut per hæc, aut de his.

Asclepius. Omnia ergo ipsa, ut dicis, o Trismegiste, mundana, ut ita dixerim, specierum omnium, quæ insunt in uniuscujusque sicuti est tota substantia?

Trismegistus. Mundus itaque nutrit corpora, spiritus animas, sensus autem, quo dono cœlesti sola felix sit humanitas, alit mentem. Neque enim omnes, sed pauci, quorum ita mens est, ut tanti beneficii capax esse possit. Ut enim sole mundus, ita mens humana isto lumine clarescit, & eo amplius. Nam sol quidquid illuminat, aliquando terræ & lunæ interjectu interveniente nocte, ejus privatur lumine; sensus autem cum semel fuerit animæ commixtus humanæ, fit una ex bene coalescente commixtione naturæ, ita ut nunquam ejusmodi mentes caliginum impediantur erroribus. Unde juste sensus Deorum animas esse dixerunt. Ego vero nec eorum dico omnium, sed magnorum quorumcunque & principalium.

Asclepius. Quæ dicis vel rerum capita, vel initia primordiorum, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Magna tibi pando, & divina nudo mysteria, eujus rei initium facio exoptato favore cœlesti. Deorum genera multa sunt, eorumque omnium pars intelligibilis dicitur, alia vero sensibilis. Intelligibiles dicuntur, non ideo quod putentur non subjacere sensibus nostris: magis enim ipsos sentimus, quam eos, quos visibiles nuncupamus, sicut disputatio perdocebit, & tu, si intendas, poteris pervidere. Sublimis etenim ratio, eoque divinior ultra hominum mentes intentionesque consistens, si non attentiore aurium obsequio verba loquentium acceperit, transvolabit & transfluet, aut magis refluet, suique se fontis liquoribus miscebit. Sunt ergo omnium specierum principes Dii. Hos sequuntur Dii, quorum est princeps οὐσία. Hi sensibiles utriusque originis suæ consimiles, qui per sensibilem naturam conficiunt omnia, altera per alterum, uniusquisque opus suum illuminans. Cœli, vel quidquid est, quod eo nomine comprehenditur, οὐσιάρχης est Juppiter. Per cœlum enim Juppiter omnibus præbet vitam. Solis οὐσια est lumen. Bonum enim luminis per orbem solis nobis infunditur. xxxvi [quorum vocabulum est Horoscopi] in eodem loco semper defixorum siderum. Horum οὐσιάρχης vel princeps est, quem παντόμορφον vel omniformem vocant, qui diversis speciebus diversas formas facit. Septem sphæræ, quæ vocantur erraticæ, habent οὐσιάρχας, id est, suos principes, quam fortunam dicunt, & εἱμαρμένην, quibus immutantur omria lege naturæ stabilitate firmissima & sempiterna agitatione variata. Aer vero organum vel machina omnium, per quam omnia fiunt. Est autem οὐσιάρχης hujus secundus, mortalibus mortalia & his similia. His ergo ita se habentibus, ab imo ad summum se moventibus, sic sibi connexa sunt omnia pertinentia ad se naturaliter, ut mortalibus mortalia, sensibiliaque sensibilibus annexa sint. Summa vero gubernationis summo illi domino paret, vel esse non multa, aut potius unum. ex uno etenim cuncta pendentia, ex eoque defluentia, cum distantia videntur, creduntur esse quam plurima, [divisim] adunata vero unum vel potius duo. unde fiunt omnia, & a quo fiunt, [omnia] id est, de materia, qua fiunt, & ex ejus voluntate, cujus nutu efficiuntur alia.

Asclepius. Hæc iterum ratio quæ est, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Talis, o Asclepi. Deus etenim vel pater, vel dominus omnium, vel quocunque alio nomine ab hominibus sanctius & religiosius nuncupetur, quod inter nos intellectus nostri causa debet esse sacratum. tanti etenim ejus numinis contemplatione nullo ex iis nominibus eum definite nuncupabimus. Si enim vox hæc est ex aere percusso spiritu sonus, declarans omnem hominis voluntatem vel sensum, quem forte ex sensibus mente perceperit, cujus nominis tota substantia paucis composita [syllabis, definita] atque circumscripta est, ut esset in homine necessarium vocis auriumque commercium, simul etiam sensus & spiritus, & aeris, & omnium in his, & per hæc, aut cum his nomen est totum Dei. Non enim spero, totius majestatis effectorem, omniumque rerum patrem vel dominum unum, posse quamvis e multis composito nomine nuncupari. Hunc vero uno nomine, vel potius omni nomine, siquidem is sit unus & omnia, ut sit necesse, aut omnia esse ejus nomine, aut ipsum omnium nominibus nuncupari. Hic ergo solus ut omnia, utriusque sexus fœcunditate plenissimus, semper voluntatis suæ prægnans parit semper, quidquid voluerit procreare. Voluntas ejus est bonitas omnis. hæc eadem bonitas omnium rerum est. ex divinitate ejus natura nata, ut sint omnia, sicut sunt, & fuerunt, & futuris omnibus dehinc natura ex se nascendi sufficiat. Hæc ergo ratio, o Asclepi, tibi sit reddita, quare & quomodo fiant omnia utriusque sexus.

[xi] Now of that dual nature, — that is to say of man, — there is a chief capacity. [And that is] piety, which goodness follows after. [And] this [capacity] then, and then only, seems to be perfected, if it be fortified with virtue of despising all desires for alien things. For alien from every part of kinship with the Gods are all things on the Earth, whatever are possessed from bodily desires, — to which we rightly give the name “possessions,” in that they are not born with us, but later on begin to be possessed by us; wherefore we call them by the name possessions. All such things, then, are alien from man, — even his body. So that we can despise not only what we long for, but also that from which the vice of longing comes to us. For just as far as the increase of reason leads our soul, so far one should be man; in order that by contemplating the divine, one should look down upon, and disregard the mortal part, which hath been joined to him, through the necessity of helping on the lower world. For that, in order that a man should be complete in either part, observe that he hath been composed of elements of either part in sets of four; — with hands, and feet, both of them pairs, and with the other members of his body, by means of which he may do service to the lower (that is to say the terrene) world. And to these parts [are added other] four; — of sense, and soul, of memory, and foresight, by means of which he may become acquainted with the rest of things divine, and judge of them. Hence it is brought about that man investigates the differences and qualities, effects and quantities of things, with critical research; yet, as he is held back with the too heavy weight of body’s imperfection, he cannot properly descry the causes of the nature of [all] things which [really] are the true ones. Man, then, being thus created and composed, and to such ministry and service set by Highest God, — man, by his keeping suitably the world in proper order, [and] by his piously adoring God, in both becomingly and suitably obeying God’s Good Will, — [man being] such as this, with what reward think’st thou he should be recompensed? If that, indeed, — since Cosmos is God’s work, — he who preserves and adds on to its beauty by his love, joins his own work unto God’s Will; when he with toil and care doth fashion out the species (which He hath made [already] with His Divine Intent), with help of his own body; — with what reward think’st thou he should be recompensed, unless it be with that with which our forebears have been blest? That this may be the pleasure of God’s Love, such is our prayer for you, devoted ones. In other words, may He, when ye have served your time, and have put off the world’s restraint, and freed yourselves from deathly bonds, restore you pure and holy to the nature of your higher self, that is of the Divine!

[xii] Asclepius. Rightly and truly, O Thrice-greatest one, thou speakest. This is the prize for those who piously subordinate their lives to God and live to help the world.

Trismegistus. [To those], however, who have lived in other fashion impiously, — [to them] both is return to Heaven denied, and there’s appointed them migration into other bodies unworthy of a holy soul and base; so that, as this discourse of ours will show, souls in their life on earth run risk of losing hope of future immortality. But [all of this] doth seem to some beyond belief; a tale to others; to others [yet again], perchance, a subject for their mirth. For in this life in body, it is a pleasant thing — the pleasure that one gets from one’s possessions. ’Tis for this cause that spite, in envy of its [hope of] immortality, doth clap the soul in prison, as they say, and keep it down, so that it stays in that part of itself in which it’s mortal, nor suffers it to know the part of its divinity. For I will tell thee, as though it were prophetic-ly, that no one after us shall have the Single Love, the Love of wisdom-loving, which consists in Gnosis of Divinity alone, — [the practice of] perpetual contemplation and of holy piety. For that the many do confound philosophy with multifarious reasoning.

Asclepius. Why is it, then, the many make philosophy so hard to grasp; or wherefore is it they confound this thing with multifarious reasoning?

[xiii] Trismegistus. ’Tis in this way, Asclepius; — by mixing it, by means of subtle expositions, with divers sciences not easy to be grasped, — such as arithmetic, and music, and geometry. But Pure Philosophy, which doth depend on godly piety alone, should only so far occupy itself with other arts, that it may [know how to] appreciate the working out in numbers of the fore-appointed stations of the stars when they return, and of the course of their procession. Let her, moreover, know how to appreciate the Earth’s dimensions, its qualities and quantities, the Water’s depths, the strength of Fire, and the effects and nature of all these. [And so] let her give worship and give praise unto the Art and Mind of God. As for [true] Music, — to know this is naught else than to have knowledge of the order of all things, and whatsoe’er God’s Reason hath decreed. For that the order of each several thing when set together in one [key] for all, by means of skilful reason, will make, as ’twere, the sweetest and the truest harmony with God’s [own] Song.

[xiv] Asclepius. Who, therefore, will the men be after us?

Trismegistus. They will be led astray by sophists’ cleverness, and turned from True Philosophy, — the Pure and Holy [Love]. For that to worship God with single mind and soul, and reverence the things that He hath made, and to give thanks unto His Will, which is the only thing quite full of Good, — this is Philosophy unsullied by the soul’s rough curiousness. But of this subject let what has been said so far suffice. And now let us begin to treat of Spirit and such things. There was first God and Matter (ὕλη), which we in Greek believe [to be] the Cosmos; and Spirit was with Cosmos, or Spirit was in Cosmos, but not in like way as in God; nor were there things [as yet] from which the Cosmos [comes to birth] in God. They were not; just for the very reason that they were not, but were as yet in that [condition] whence they have had their birth. For those things only are not called ingenerable which have not yet been born, but [also] those which lack the fertilizing power of generating, so that from them naught can be born. And so whatever things there are that have in them the power of generating, — these two are generable, [that is to say,] from which birth can take place, though they be born from their own selves [alone]. For there’s no question that from those born from themselves birth can with ease take place, since from them all are born. God, then, the everlasting, God the eternal, nor can be born, nor could He have been born. That is, That was, That shall be ever. This, therefore, is God’s Nature — all from itself [alone]. But Matter (ὕλη) (or the Nature of the Cosmos) and Spirit, although they do not seem to be things born from any source, yet in themselves possess the power of generation and of generating, — the nature of fecundity. For the beginning [truly] is in [just that] quality of nature which possesses in itself the power and matter both of conception and of birth. This, then, without conception of another, is generable of its own self.

[xv] But, on the other hand, [whereas] those things which only have the power of bringing forth by blending with another nature, are thus to be distinguished, this Space of Cosmos, with those that are in it, seems not to have been born, in that [the Cosmos] has in it undoubtedly all Nature’s potency. By “Space” I mean that in which are all things. For all these things could not have been had Space not been, to hold them all. Since for all things that there have been, must be provided Space. For neither could the qualities nor quantities, nor the positions, nor [yet] the operations, be distinguished of those things which are no where. So then the Cosmos, also, though not born, still has in it the births of all; in that, indeed, it doth afford for all of them most fecund wombs for their conception. It, therefore, is the sum of [all that] quality of Matter which hath creative potency, although it hath not been [itself] created. And, seeing that [this] quality of Matter is in its nature [simple] productiveness; so the same [source] produces bad as well [as good].

[xvi] I have not, therefore, O Asclepius and Ammon, said what many say, that God could not excise and banish evil from the Scheme of Things; — to whom no answer need at all be given. Yet for your sakes I will continue what I have begun, and give a reason. They say that God ought to have freed the World from bad in every way; for so much is it in the World, that it doth seem to be as though it were one of its limbs. This was foreseen by Highest God and [due] provision made, as much as ever could have been in reason made, then when He thought it proper to endow the minds of men with sense, and science and intelligence. For it is by these things alone whereby we stand above the rest of animals, that we are able to avoid the snares and crimes of ill. For he who shall on sight have turned from them, before he hath become immeshed in them, — he is a man protected by divine intelligence and [godly] prudence. For that the ground-work of [true] science doth consist of the top-stones of virtue. It is by Spirit that all things are governed in the Cosmos, and made quick, — Spirit made subject to the Will of Highest God, as though it were an engine or machine. So far, then, [only] let Him be by us conceived, — as Him who is conceivable by mind alone, who is called Highest God, the Ruler and Director of God Sensible, of Him who in Himself includes all Space, all Substance, and all Matter, of things producing and begetting, and all whatever is, however great it be.

[xvii] It is by Spirit that all species in the Cosmos are [or] moved or ruled, — each one according to its proper nature given it by God. Matter, or Cosmos, on the other hand, is that which holds all things, — the field of motion, and the that which crowds together all; of which God is the Ruler, distributing unto all cosmic things all that is requisite to each. It is with Spirit that He fills all things, according to the quality of each one’s nature. [Now,] seeing that the hollow roundness of the Cosmos is borne round into the fashion of a sphere; by reason of its [very] quality or form, it never can be altogether visible unto itself. So that, however high a place in it thou shouldest choose for looking down below, thou could’st not see from it what is at bottom, because in many places it confronts [the senses], and so is thought to have the quality [of being visible throughout]. For it is solely owing to the forms of species, with images of which it seems insculpted, that it is thought [to be] as though ’twere visible [throughout]; but as a fact ’tis ever to itself invisible. Wherefore, its bottom, or its [lowest] part, if [such a] place there be within a sphere, is called in Greek a-eidēs; since that eidein in Greek means “seeing,” — which “being-seen” the sphere’s beginning lacks. Hence, too, the species have the name eideai, since they’re of form we cannot see. Therefore, in that they are deprived of “being-seen,” in Greek they are called Hades; in that they are at bottom of the sphere, they’re called in Latin Inferi. These, then, are principal and prior, and, as it were, the sources and the heads of all the things which are in them, through them, or from them.

[xviii] Asclepius. All things, then, in themselves (as thou, Thrice-greatest one, dost say) are cosmic [principles] (as I should say) of all the species which are in them, [or] as it were, the sum and substance of each one of them.

Trismegistus. So Cosmos, then, doth nourish bodies; the Spirit, souls; the [Higher] Sense (with which Celestial Gift mankind alone is blest) doth feed the mind. And [these are] not all men, but [they are] few, whose minds are of such quality that they can be receptive of so great a blessing. For as the World’s illumined by the Sun, so is the mind of man illumined by that Light; nay, in [still] fuller measure. For whatsoever thing the Sun doth shine upon, it is anon, by interjection of the Earth or Moon, or by the intervention of the night, robbed of its light. But once the [Higher] Sense hath been commingled with the soul of man, there is at-onement from the happy union of the blending of their natures; so that minds of this kind are never more held fast in errors of the darkness. Wherefore, with reason have they said the [Higher] Senses are the souls of Gods; to which I add: not of all Gods, but of the great ones [only]; nay, even of the principles of these.

[xix] Asclepius. What dost thou call, Thrice-greatest one, the heads of things, or sources of beginnings?

Trismegistus. Great are the mysteries which I reveal to thee, divine the secrets I disclose; and so I make beginning of this thing with prayers for Heaven’s favour. The hierarchies of Gods are numerous; and of them all one class is called the Noumenal, the other [class] the Sensible. The former are called Noumenal, not for the reason that they’re thought to lie beyond our senses; for these are just the Gods we sense more truly than the ones we call the visible, — just as our argument will prove, and thou, if thou attend, wilt be made fit to see. For that a lofty reasoning, and much more one that is too godlike for the mental grasp of [average] men, if that the speaker’s words are not received with more attentive service of the ears, — will fly and flow beyond them; or rather will flow back [again], and mingle with the streams of its own source. There are, then, [certain] Gods who are the principals of all the species. Next there come those whose essence (οὐσία) is their principal. These are the Sensible, each similar to its own dual source, who by their sensibility affect all things, — the one part through the other part [in each] making to shine the proper work of every single one. Of Heaven, — or of whatsoe’er it be that is embraced within the term, — the essence-chief (οὐσιάρχης) is Zeus; for ’tis through Heaven that Zeus gives life to all. Sun’s essence-chief is light; for the good gift of light is poured on us through the Sun’s disk. The “Thirty-six,” who have the name of Horoscopes (ὡροσκόποι), are in the [self] same space as the Fixed Stars; of these the essence-chief, or prince, is he whom they call Pantomorph (Παντόμορφον), or Omniform, who fashioneth the various forms for various species. The “Seven” who are called spheres, have essence-chiefs, that is, [have each] their proper rulers, whom they call [all together] Fortune and Heimarmenē (εἱμαρμένη), whereby all things are changed by nature’s law; perpetual stability being varied with incessant motion. (c) The Air, moreover, is the engine, or machine, through which all things are made — (there is, however, an essence-chief of this, a second [Air]) — mortal from mortal things and things like these. These hierarchies of Gods, then, being thus and [in this way] related, from bottom unto top, are [also] thus connected with each other, and tend towards themselves; so mortal things are bound to mortal, things sensible to sensible. The whole of [this grand scale of] Rulership, however, seems to Him [who is] the Highest Lord, either to be not many things, or rather [to be] one. For that from One all things depending, and flowing down from it, — when they are seen as separate, they’re thought to be as many as they possibly can be; but in their union it is one [thing], or rather two, from which all things are made; — that is, from Matter, by means of which the other things are made, and by the Will of Him, by nod of whom they’re brought to pass.

[xx] Asclepius. Is this again the reason, O Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. It is, Asclepius. For God’s the Father or the Lord of all, or whatsoever else may be the name by which He’s named more holily and piously by men, — which should be set apart among ourselves for sake of our intelligence. For if we contemplate this so transcendent God, we shall not make Him definite by any of these names. For if a [spoken] word is this: — a sound proceeding from the air, when struck by breath, denoting the whole will, perchance, of man, or else the [higher] sense, which by good chance a man perceives by means of mind, when out of [all his] senses, — a name the stuff of which, made of a syllable or two, has so been limited and pondered, that it might serve in man as necessary link between the voice and ear; — thus [must] the Name of God in full consist of Sense, and Spirit, and of Air, and of all things in them, or through, or with them. Indeed, I have no hope that the Creator of the whole of Greatness, the Father and the Lord of all the things [that are], could ever have one name, even although it should be made up of a multitude — He who cannot be named, or rather He who can be called by every name. For He, indeed, is One and All; so that it needs must be that all things should be called by the same name as His, or He Himself called by the names of all. He, then, alone, yet all-complete in the fertility of either sex, ever with child of His own Will, doth ever bring to birth whatever He hath willed to procreate. His Will is the All-goodness, which also is the Goodness of all things, born from the nature of His own Divinity, — in order that all things may be, just as they all have been, and that henceforth the nature of being born from their own selves may be sufficient to all things that will be born. Let this, then, be the reason given thee, Asclepius, wherefore and how all things are made of either sex.

Asclepius. Ergo Deum dicis, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Non solu Deum, o Asclepi sed animalia omnia & inanimalia. Impossibile enim est, aliquid eorum, quæ sunt, infœcundum esse. Fœcunditate enim demta ex omnibus, quæ sunt, impossibile erit semper esse, quæ sunt. Ego enim & naturam, & sensum, & mundum dico in se continere hanc naturam, & nata omnia conservare. Procreatione enim uterque plenus est sexus, & ejus utriusque connexio, aut, quod est verius, unitas incomprehensibilis est, quam sive Cupidinem, sive Venerem, sive utrumque poteris recte nuncupare. Hoc ergo omni vero verius manifestiusque mente percepto, quod ex omni illo totius naturæ Deo hoc sit in æternum cunctis procreandi inventum tributumque ministerium, cui summa caritas, lætitia, hilaritas, & cupiditas, amorque divinus innatus est. Et dicendum foret, quanta sit ejus mysterii vis atque necessitas, nisi ex sui contemplatione unicuique ex intimo sensu nota esse potuisset. Si enim illud extremum temporis, quo ex cerebro ad ritum pervenimus, ut utraque in utramque fundat natura progeniem, animadvertis, ut altera alterius avide rapiat [semen] interiusque recondat. Denique eo tempore ex commixtione communi virtutem marium etiam feminæ adipiscuntur, & mares femineo torpore lassescunt. Effectus itaque hujus tam blandi necessariique mysterii in occulto perpetratur, ne vulgo irridentibus imperitis utriusque naturæa divinitas ex commixtione sexus cogatur erubescere, multo magis etiam si visibus irreligiosorum hominum subjiciatur.

Sunt autem non multi, aut admodum pauci, ita ut numerari etiam in mundo possint religiosi. Unde contingit in multis remanere malitiam defectu prudentiæ scientiæque rerum omnium, quæ sunt. Ex non intellectu enim rationis divinæ, qua constituta sunt omnia, contemtus medullaque nascitur vitiorum totius mundi. Perseverante autem imperitia atque inscientia, vitia omnia convalescunt, & vulnerant animam insanabilibus vitiis: quæ infecta iisdem atque vitiata quasi venenis intumescit, nisi eorum, quorum animarum disciplina & intellectus summa curatio est. Si ergo solis & paucis hoc proderit, dignum est hunc prosequi atque expedire tractatum, quare scilicet solis hominibus intelligentiam & disciplinam suam divinitas sit impartiri dignata. Audi itaque. Deus pater & dominus, cum post Deos homines efficeret ex parte corruptiore mundi & ex divina, pari lance componderans, contigit vitia mundi corporibus commixta remanere. Et alia propter cibos victumque, quem necessario habemus cum omnibus animalibus communem, quibus de rebus necesse est cupiditatum desideria & reliqua mentis vitia animis humanis insidere. Diis vero, utpote ex parte mundissima naturæ effectis, & nullis indigentibus rationis disciplinæque adminiculis, quamvis immortalitas & unius semper ætatis vigor ipse sit eis prudentia & disciplina, tamen propter rationis unitatem, pro disciplina & intellectu, ne ab his essent alieni, ordinem necessitatis lege conscriptum æterna lege constituit, hominem ex animalibus cunctis de sola ratione disciplinaque cognoscens, per quæ vitia corporum homines avertere atque abalienare potuissent, ipsos ad intentionem spemque immortalitatis prætendens. Denique & bonum hominem, & qui posset immortalis esse, ex utraque natura composuit, divina atque mortali: & sic compositum per voluntatem Dei hominem etiam constitutum est esse meliorem Diis, qui sunt ex sola immortali natura formati, & omnium mortalium. propter quod homo Diis cognatione cunjunctus, ipsos religione & sancta mente veneratur, Diique pio affectu humana omnia respiciunt atque custodiunt.

Sed de hominibus paucis istud dictum est pia mente præditis: De vitiosis vero nihil dicendum est, ne sanctissimus sermo eorum contemplatione violetur. Et quoniam de cognatione & consortio hominum Deorumque sermo nobis indicitur, potestatem hominis, o Asclepi, vimque cognosce. Dominus & pater vel quod est summum Deus, ut effector est Deorum cœlestium, ita homo effector est Deorum, qui in templis sunt humana proximitate contenti, & non solum illuminantur, verum etiam illuminant: nec solum ad Deum proficit, verum etiam confirmat Deos. Miraris, o Asclepi, an numquid diffidis, ut multi?

Asclepius. Confundor, o Trismegiste: sed tuis verbis libenter assensus, felicissimum hominem judico, qui sit tantam felicitatem consecutus.

Trismegistus. Nec immerito: miraculo enim dignus est, qui est omnium maximus, Deorum genus omnium sine confusione manifestum est de mundissima parte naturæ esse prognatum, signaque eorum sola quasi capita pro omnibus esse: species vero Deorum, quas conformat humanitas, ex natura utraque conformatæ sunt, ex divina, quæ est prior multoque divinior, & ex ea, quæ intra homines est, id est, ex materia, qua fuerunt fabricate, & non solum capitibus solis, sed membris omnibus totoque corpore figurantur. Ita humanitas semper memor naturæ & originis suæ in illa divinitatis imitatione perseverat, ut sicut pater ac dominus, ut sui similes essent, Deos fecit æternos, ita humanitas Deos suos ex sui vultus similitudine figuraret.

Asclepius. Statuas dicis, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Statuas, o Asclepi. Videsne, quatenus tu ipse diffidas? Statuas animatas sensu, & spiritu plenas, tanta & talia facientes, statuas futurorum præscias, eaque sorte vates somniis multisque aliis rebus prædicentes imbecillitatesque hominibus facientes, easque curantes tristitiam promeritis. An ignoras, o Asclepi, quod Ægyptus imago sit cœli, aut quod est verius, translatio aut descensio omnium, quæ gubernantur atque exercentur in cœlo? Et si dicendum est, verius terra nostra totius mundi est templum, & tamen quoniam præscire cuncta prudentes decet, istud vos ignorare fas non est. Futurum tempus est, cum appareat Ægyptios incassum pia mente divinitatem & sedula religione servasse, & omnis eorum sancta veneratio in irritum casura frustrabitur. E terris enim ad cœlum est recursura divinitas, linqueturque Ægyptus, terraque, quæ fuit sedes religionum, viduata numinum præsentia destituetur. Alienigenis enim regionem istam terramque complentibus, non solum neglectus religionum, sed quod est durius, quasi de legibus a religione, pietate, cultuque divino statuetur præscripta pœna, prohibitio. Tunc terra ista sanctissima sedes delubrorum atque templorum, sepulcrorum erit mortuorumque plenissima. O Ægypte, Ægypte, religionum tuarum solæ supererunt fabulæ, & æque incredibiles posteris suis, solaque supererunt verba lapidibus incisa, tua pia facta narrantibus, & inhabitabit Ægyptum Scythes, aut Indus, aut aliquis talis, id est, vicina barbaria. Divinitas enim repetet cœlum, deserti homines toti morientur, atque ita Ægyptus Deo & homine viduata deseretur. Te vero appello, sanctissimum flumen, tibique [futura] prædico: torrenti sanguine plenus ad ripas usque erumpes, undæque divinæ non solum polluentur sanguine, sed totæ rumpentur, & vivis multo major erit numerus sepultorum; superstes vero qui erit, lingua sola cognoscetur Ægyptius, actibus vero videbitur alienus.

Quid sles, o Asclepi? & his amplius multoque deterius ipsa Ægyptus suadebitur, imbueturque pejoribus malis, quæ sancta quondam, & divinitatis amantissima Deorum in terra religionis suæ merito, sola seductio sanctitatis & impietatis magistra, erit maximæ crudelitatis exemplum. & tunc tædio hominum non admirandus videbitur mundus, neque adorandus. Hoc totum bonum, quo melius nec est, nec fuit, nec erit, quod videri possit, periclitabitur. eritque grave hominibus: ac per hoc contemnetur, nec diligetur totus hic mundus, Dei opus immutabile, gloriosa constructio, bonum multiformi imaginum varietate compositum, machina voluntatis Dei in suo opere absque invidia suffragantis, omnium in unum, quæ venerari, laudari, amari denique a videntibus possunt, multiformis adunata congestio. Nam & tenebræ præponentur lumini, & mors vita utilior judicabitur. Nemo suspiciet cœlum. Religiosus pro insano, irreligiosus putabitur prudens; furiosus fortis, pro bono habebitur pessimus. Anima enim, & omnia circum eam, quibus aut immortalis nata est, aut immortalitatem se consecuturam esse præsumit, secundum quod vobis exposui, non solum risus, sed etiam putabitur vanitas. Et mihi credite, etiam capitale periculum constituetur in eum, qui se mentis religioni dederit. Nova constituentur jura, lex nova: nihil sanctum, nihil religiosum, nec cœlo nec cœlestibus dignum audietur, aut mente credetur. Fiet Deorum ab hominibus dolenda secessio, soli nocentes angeli remanebunt, qui humanitati commixti ad omnia audaciæ mala miseros manu injecta compellent in bella, in rapinas, in fraudes, & in omnia, quæ sunt animarum naturæ contraria. Tunc nec terra constabit, nec navigabitur mare, nec cœlum astrorum cursibus, nec siderum cursus constabit in cœlo. Omnis vox divina necessaria taciturnitate mutescet, fructus terræ corrumpentur, nec fœcunda erit tellus, & ær ipse mœsto torpore languescet.

Hæc & talis senectus veniet mundi, irreligio, inordinatio, irrationabilitas bonorum omnium. Cum hæc cuncta contigerint, o Asclepi, tunc ille dominus & pater, Deus primipotens, & unus gubernator mundi, intuens in mores factaque voluntaria, voluntate sua, quæ est Dei benignitas, vitiis resistens, & corruptelæ omnium errorem revocans, malignitatem omnem vel illuvione diluens, vel igne consumens, vel morbis pestilentibus usque per diversa loca dispersis finiens, ad antiquam faciem mundum revocabit, ut & mundus ipse adorandus videatur atque mirandus, & tanti operis effector & restitutor Deus ab hominibus, qui tunc erunt, frequentibus laudum præconiis benedictionibusque celebretur. Hæc enim mundi genitura cunctarum reformatio rerum bonarum, & naturæ ipsius sanctissima & religiosissima restitutio, peracto temporis cursu, quæ est & fuit sine initio sempiterna. Voluntas etenim Dei caret initio, quæ eadem est, & ubique est sempiterna.

Asclepius. Dei enim natura consilium est voluntatis: bonitas summa consilium, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Voluntas, o Asclepi, consilio nascitur, & ipsum velle est ex voluntate. Neque enim impense aliquid vult, qui est omnium plenissimus, sed ea vult, quæ habet. Vult autem omnia bona, & habet omnia, quæ vult, omnia autem bona & cogitat, & vult. hoc autem est Deus, ejus boni imago mundus.

Asclepius. [Boni] Bonus, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Bonus, o Asclepi, ut ego te docebo. Sicuti enim Deus omnibus speciebus vel generibus, quæ in mundo sunt, distributor dispensatorque est bonorum, id est, sensus, animæ, & vitæ; sic & mundus præstitor est & tributor omnium, quæ mortalibus videntur bona, id est, alternationis partium, temporalium fructuum, nativitatis, augmentorum, & maturitatis, & horum similium. ac per hoc Deus supra verticem summi cœli consistens, ubique est, omniaque circumspicit. Sic est enim ultra cœlum locus sine stellis ab omnibus rebus corpulentis alienus. Dispensator, qui est inter cœlum & terram, locum obtinet, quem Jovem vocamus. Terræ vero & mari dominatur Juppiter Plutonius, & hic nutritor est animantium mortalium, & fructiferorum. Horum omnium viribus fructus, arbusta & terra vegetantur. Aliorum vero vires & effectus per omnia, quæ sunt, distribuuntur. Distribuentur vero, qui terræ dominantur, & collocabuntur in civitate, in summo initio Ægypti, quæ a parte solis occidentis condetur, ad quam terra marique festinabit omne mortale genus.

Asclepius. Modo tamen hoc in tempore, ubi isti sunt, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Collocati sunt in maxima civitate, in monte Libyco. & hæc eousque narrata sint. De immortali vero & de mortali, modo disserendum est. Multos enim spes timorque mortis excruciat, veræ rationis ignaros. Mors igitur efficitur dissolutione corporis labore defessi, & numeris completi, quo corporis membra in unam machinam adversus vitales usus aptantur. Moritur enim corpus, quando hominis vitalia ferre posse destiterit. Hæc ergo est mors, corporis dissolutio, & corporalis sensus interitus. De qua sollicitudo supervacua est. Sed est alia necessaria, quam aut ignoratio, aut incredibilitas contemnit humana.

Asclepius. Quid est, o Trismegiste, quod aut ignorant, aut esse posse diffidunt?

Trismegistus. Audi ergo, o Asclepi. Cum fuerit animæ a corpore facta discessio, tunc arbitrium examenque meriti ejus transiet in summi dæmonis potestatem, isque eam cum piam justamque providerit, in sibi competentibus locis manere permittit. Sin autem delictorum illitam maculis vitiisque oblitam viderit, desuper ad ima deturbans procellis turbinibusque aeris, ignis, & aquæ, sæpe discordantibus tradet, ut inter cœlum & terram mundanis fluctibus in diversa semper æternis pœnis agitata rapiatur: ut in hoc obsit animæ æternitas, quod sit immortali sententia æterno supplicio subjugata. Ergo ne his implicemur, verendum, timendum, cavendumque esse cognosce. Incredibiles enim post delicta cogentur credere, non verbis, sed exemplis, nec minis, sed ipsa passione pœnarum.

Asclepius. Non ergo, Trismegiste, hominum delida sola humana lege puniuntur.

Trismegistus. Primo, Asclepi, terrena quæ sunt omnia, mortalia sunt, tunc ea etiam, quæ sunt rationi corporali viventia, & a vivendo eadem corporum ratione deficientia, ea omnia pro vitæ meritis, aut delictis pœnis obnoxia tanto post mortem. severioribus subjiciuntur, quanto in vita forsitan fuerunt celata, dum viverent. Præscia etenim rerum omnium divinitate reddentur, perinde ut sint pro delictorum qualitatibus pœnæ.

Asclepius. Qui sunt digni majoribus pœnis, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Qui damnati humanis legibus vitam violenter amittunt, ut non naturæ animam debitam, sed pœnam pro meritis reddidisse videantur. Contra justo homini in Dei religione & in summa pietate præsidium est. Deus enim tales ab omnibus tutatur malis. Pater enim omnium & dominus, qui solus est omnia, omnibus se libenter ostendit. Non ubi sit loco, nec qualis qualitate, nec quantus sit quantitate, sed hominem sola intelligentia mentis illuminans, qui, discussis ab anima errorum tenebris, & veritatis claritate percepta, toto se sensu intelligentiæ divinæ commiscet, cujus amore a parte nature, qua mortalis est, liberatus, immortalitatis futuræ concipit fiduciam. Hoc ergo inter bonos malosque distabit. Unusquisque enim pietate, religione, prudentia, cultu & veneratione Dei clarescit, quasi oculis vera ratione perspecta, & fiducia credulitatis suæ tantum inter homines [præstans,] quantum sol lumine ceteris astris antestat. Ipse enim sol non tam magnitudine luminis, quam divinitate & sanitate ceteras stellas illuminat. Secundum enim Deum hunc crede, o Asclepi, omnia gubernantem, omniaque mundana illustrantem animalia, sive animantia, sive inanimantia. Si enim animal mundus vivens semper, & fuit, & est, & erit, nihil in mundo mortale est. Viventis etenim semper uniuscujusque partis est, quæ in ipso mundo, sicut in uno eodemque animali semper vivente, nullus est mortalitatis locus. Ergo vitæ æternitatisque ipse debet esse plenissimus, si semper eum vivere necesse est. Sol ergo sicut mundus sempiternus est, sic & ipse semper gubernator vitalium, vel totius vivacitatis eorum frequentator & dispensator est. Deus ergo viventium, vel vitalium, quæ sunt in mundo, sempiternus gubernator est, ipsiusque vitæ dispensator æternus. Semel autem dispensavit æterna lege cunctis vitalibus vitam præstans, hoc more, quo dicam.

In ipsa enim æternitatis vivacitate mundus agitatur, & in ipsa vitali æternitate locus est mundi, propter quod non corrumpetur: aliquando stabili sempiternitate vivendi circumvallatus, & quasi constrictus ipse mundus. Est igitur dispensator vita his omnibus, quæ in se sunt, & est locus omnium, quæ sub sole gubernantur, & commotio mundi ipsius ex duplici constat effectu. Vivificatur enim ipse extrinsecus ab æternitate, vivificatque ea, quæ intra se sunt, omnia, differens numeris & temporibus statutis atque infixis, cuncta per solis effectum, stellarumque discursum, omnia temporaria ratione divinaque lege conscripta. Terrenum autem tempus, aeris qualitate, æstuum frigorisque varietate dinoscitur. Cœleste vero reversionibus siderum ad eadem loca temporaria conversione recurrentium, & mundus est receptaculum temporis, cujus cursu & agitatione vegetatur. Tempus autem ordine servatur. Ordo & tempus innovationem omnium rerum, quæ in mundo sunt, per alternationem faciunt. Cunctis ergo ita se habentibus, nihil stabile, nihil fixum, nihil immobile, nec nascentium, [nec cœlestium,] nec terrenorum. Solus enim Deus, & merito solus, ipse in se, & a se, & circum se, totus est plenus atque perfectus, ipse sua firma stabilitas est, nec alicujus impulsu nec loco moveri potest, (cum in eo sint omnia, & in omnibus ipse est solus, nisi aliquis audeat dicere, ipsius commotionem in æternitate esse) sed magis & ipsa immobilis æternitas, & quæ omnium temporum agitatio remeat, & ex qua omnium temporum agitatio sumit exordium.

[xxi] Asclepius. Thou speak’st of God, then, O Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. Not only God, Asclepius, but all things living and inanimate. For ’tis impossible that any of the things that are should be unfruitful. For if fecundity should be removed from all the things that are, it could not be that they should be for ever what they are. I mean that Nature, Sense, and Cosmos, have in themselves the power of being born, and of preserving all things that are born. For either sex is full of procreation; and of each one there is a union, or, — what’s more true, — a unity incomprehensible; which you may rightly call Erōs or Aphroditē, or both [names]. This, then, is truer than all truth, and plainer than what the mind [’s eye] perceives; — that from that Universal God of Universal Nature all other things for evermore have found, and had bestowed on them, the mystery of bringing forth; in which there is innate the sweetest Charity, [and] Joy, [and] Merriment, Longing, and Love Divine. We might have had to tell the mighty power and the compulsion of this mystery, if it had not been able to be known by every one from personal experience, by observation of himself. For if thou should’st regard that supreme [point] of time when … the one nature doth pour forth the young into the other one, and when the other greedily absorbs [it] from the first, and hides it [ever] deeper [in itself]; then, at that time, out of their common congress, females attain the nature of the males, males weary grow with female listlessness. And so the consummation of this mystery, so sweet and requisite, is wrought in secret; lest, owing to the vulgar jests of ignorance, the deity of either sex should be compelled to blush at natural congress, — and much more still, if it should be subjected to the sight of impious folk.

[xxii] The pious are not numerous, however; nay, they are very few, so that they may be counted even in the world. Whence it doth come about, that in the many bad inheres, through defect of the Gnosis and Discernment of the things that are. For that it is from the intelligence of Godlike Reason, by which all things are ordered, there come to birth contempt and remedy of vice throughout the world. But when unknowingness and ignorance persist, all vicious things wax strong, and plague the soul with wounds incurable; so that, infected with them, and invitiated, it swells up, as though it were with poisons, — except for those who know the Discipline of souls and highest Cure of intellect. So, then, although it may do good to few alone, ’tis proper to develope and explain this thesis: — wherefore Divinity hath deigned to share His science and intelligence with men alone. Give ear, accordingly! When God, [our] Sire and Lord, made man, after the Gods, out of an equal mixture of a less pure cosmic part and a divine, — it [naturally] came to pass the imperfections of the cosmic part remained commingled with [our] frames, and other ones [as well], by reason of the food and sustenance we have out of necessity in common with all lives; by reason of which things it needs must be that the desires, and passions, and other vices, of the mind should occupy the souls of human kind. As for the Gods, in as much as they had been made of Nature’s fairest part, and have no need of the supports of reason and of discipline, — although, indeed, their deathlessness, the very strength of being ever of one single age, stands in this case for prudence and for science, still, for the sake of reason’s unity, instead of science and of intellect (so that the Gods should not be strange to these), — He, by His everlasting law, decreed for them an order, circumscribed by the necessity of law. While as for man, He doth distinguish him from all the other animals by reason and by discipline alone; by means of which men can remove and separate their bodies’ vices, — He helping them to hope and effort after deathlessness. In fine, He hath made man both good and able to share in immortal life, — out of two natures, [one] mortal, [one] divine. And just because he is thus fashioned by the Will of God, it is appointed that man should be superior both to the Gods, who have been made of an immortal nature only, and also to all mortal things. It is because of this that man, being joined unto the Gods by kinsmanship, doth reverence them with piety and holy mind; while, on their side, the Gods with pious sympathy regard and guard all things of men.

[xxiii] But this can only be averred of a few men endowed with pious minds. Still, of the rest, the vicious folk, we ought to say no word, for fear a very sacred sermon should be spoiled by thinking of them. And since our sermon treats of the relationship and intercourse of men and Gods, — learn, Asclepius, the power and strength of man! [Our] Lord and Father, or what is Highest God, — as He’s Creator of the Gods in Heaven, so man’s the maker of the gods who, in the temples, suffer man’s approach, and who not only have light poured on them, but who send forth [their] light [on all]; not only does a man go forward towards the God[s], but also he confirms the Gods [on earth]. Art thou surprised, Asclepius; nay is it not that even thou dost not believe?

Asclepius. I am amazed, Thrice-greatest one; but willingly I give assent to [all] thy words. I judge that man most blest who hath attained so great felicity.

Trismegistus. And rightly so; [for] he deserves our wonder, in that he is the greatest of them all. As for the genus of the Gods in Heaven, — ’tis plain from the commixture of them all, that it has been made pregnant from the fairest part of nature, and that the only signs [by which they are discerned] are, as it were, before all else their heads. Whereas the species of the gods which humankind constructs is fashioned out of either nature, — out of that nature which is more ancient and far more divine, and out of that which is in men; that is, out of the stuff of which they have been made and are configured, not only in their heads alone, but also in each limb and their whole frame. And so mankind, in imaging Divinity, stays mindful of the nature and the source of its own self. So that, just as [our] Sire and Lord did make the Gods æonian, that they might be like Him; so hath mankind configured its own gods according to the likeness of the look of its own self.

[xxiv] Asclepius. Thou dost not mean their statues, dost thou, O Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. [I mean their] statues, O Asclepius, — dost thou not see how much thou even, doubtest? — statues, ensouled with sense, and filled with spirit, which work such mighty and such [strange] results, — statues which can foresee what is to come, and which perchance can prophesy, foretelling things by dreams and many other ways, — [statues] that take their strength away from men, or cure their sorrow, if they do so deserve. Dost thou not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is the image of the Heaven; or, what is truer still, the transference, or the descent, of all that are in governance or exercise in Heaven? And if more truly [still] it must be said, — this land of ours is Shrine of all the World. Further, in that ’tis fitting that the prudent should know all before, it is not right ye should be ignorant of this. The time will come when Egypt will appear to have in vain served the Divinity with pious mind and constant worship; and all its holy cult will fall to nothingness and be in vain. For that Divinity is now about to hasten back from Earth to Heaven, and Egypt shall be left; and Earth, which was the seat of pious cults, shall be bereft and widowed of the presence of the Gods. And foreigners shall fill this region and this land; and there shall be not only the neglect of pious cults, but — what is still more painful, — as though enacted by the laws, a penalty shall be decreed against the practice of [our] pious cults and worship of the Gods — [entire] proscription of them. Then shall this holiest land, seat of [our] shrines and temples, be choked with tombs and corpses. O Egypt, Egypt, of thy pious cults tales only will remain, as far beyond belief for thy own sons [as for the rest of men]; words only will be left cut on thy stones, thy pious deeds recounting! And Egypt will be made the home of Scyth or Indian, or some one like to them, — that is a foreign neighbour. Ay, for the Godly company shall mount again to Heaven, and their forsaken worshippers shall all die out; and Egypt, thus bereft of God and man, shall be abandoned. And now I speak to thee, O River, holiest [Stream]! I tell thee what will be. With bloody torrents shalt thou overflow thy banks. Not only shall thy streams divine be stained with blood; but they shall all flow over [with the same]. The tale of tombs shall far exceed the [number of the] quick; and the surviving remnant shall be Egyptians in their tongue alone, but in their actions foreigners.

[xxv] Why dost thou weep, Asclepius? Nay, more than this, by far more wretched, — Egypt herself shall be impelled and stained with greater ills. For she, the Holy [Land], and once deservedly the most beloved by God, by reason of her pious service of the Gods on earth, — she, the sole colony of holiness, and teacher of religion [on the earth], shall be the type of all that is most barbarous. And then, out of our loathing for mankind, the World will seem no more deserving of our wonder and our praise. All this good thing, — than which there has been fairer naught that can be seen, nor is there anything, nor will there [ever] be, — will be in jeopardy. And it will prove a burden unto men; and on account of this they will despise and cease to love this Cosmos as a whole, — the changeless work of God; the glorious construction of the Good, comprised of multifold variety of forms; the engine of God’s Will, supporting His own work ungrudgingly; the multitudinous whole massed in a unity of all, that should be reverenced, praised and loved, — by them at least who have the eyes to see. For Darkness will be set before the Light, and Death will be thought preferable to Life. No one will raise his eyes to Heaven; the pious man will be considered mad, the impious a sage; the frenzied held as strong, the worst as best. For soul, and all concerning it, — whereby it doth presume that either it hath been born deathless, or that it will attain to deathlessness, according to the argument I have set forth for you, — [all this] will be considered not only food for sport, but even vanity. Nay, [if ye will] believe me, the penalty of death shall be decreed to him who shall devote himself to the Religion of the Mind. New statutes shall come into force, a novel law; naught [that is] sacred, nothing pious, naught that is worthy of the Heaven, or Gods in Heaven, shall [e’er] be heard, or [even] mentally believed. The sorrowful departure of the Gods from men takes place; bad angels only stay, who mingled with humanity will lay their hands on them, and drive the wretched folk to every ill of recklessness, — to wars, and robberies, deceits, and all those things that are opposed to the soul’s nature. Then shall the Earth no longer hold together; the Sea no longer shall be sailed upon; nor shall the Heaven continue with the Courses of the Stars, nor the Star-course in Heaven. The voice of every God shall cease in the [Great] Silence that no one can break; the fruits of Earth shall rot; nay, Earth no longer shall bring forth; and Air itself shall faint in that sad listlessness.

[xxvi] This, when it comes, shall be the World’s old age, impiety, — irregularity, and lack of rationality in all good things. And when these things all come to pass, Asclepius, — then He, [our] Lord and Sire, God First in power, and Ruler of the One God [Visible], in check of crime, and calling error back from the corruption of all things unto good manners and to deeds spontaneous with His Will (that is to say God’s Goodness), — ending all ill, by either washing it away with water-flood, or burning it away with fire, or by the means of pestilent diseases, spread throughout all hostile lands, — God will recall the Cosmos to its ancient form; (d) so that the World itself shall seem meet to be worshipped and admired; and God, the Maker and Restorer of so vast a work, be sung by the humanity who shall be then, with ceaseless heraldings of praise and [hymns of] blessing. For this [Re-] birth of Cosmos is the making new of all good things, and the most holy and most pious bringing-back again of Nature’s self, by means of a set course of time, — of Nature, which was without beginning, and which is without an end. For that God’s Will hath no beginning; and, in that ’tis the same and as it is, it is without an end.

Asclepius. Because God’s Nature’s the Determination of the Will. Determination is the Highest Good; is it not so, Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. Asclepius, Will is Determination’s child; nay, willing in itself comes from the Will. Not that He willeth aught desiring it; for that He is the Fullness of all things, and wills what things He has. He thus wills all good things, and has all that He wills. Nay, rather, He doth think and will all good. This, then, is God; the World of Good’s His Image.

[xxvii] Asclepius. [Is Cosmos] good, Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. [’Tis] good, as I will teach thee, O Asclepius. — For just as God is the Apportioner and Steward of good things to all the species, or [more correctly] genera, which are in Cosmos, — that is to say, of Sense, and Soul, and Life, — so Cosmos is the giver and bestower of all things which seem unto [us] mortals good; — that is to say, the alternation of its parts, of seasonable fruits, birth, growth, maturity, and things like these. And for this cause God doth transcend the height of highest Heaven, extending everywhere, and doth behold all things on every side. Beyond the Heaven starless Space doth stretch, stranger to every thing possessed of body. The Dispensator who’s between the Heaven and Earth, is Ruler of the Space which we call Zeus [Above]. The Earth and Sea is ruled by Zeus Below; he is the Nourisher of mortal lives, and of fruit-bearing [trees]. It is by reason of the powers of all of these that fruits, and trees, and earth, grow green. The powers and energies of [all] the other [Gods] will be distributed through all the things that are. Yea, they who rule the earth shall be distributed [through all the lands], and [finally] be gathered in a state, — at top of Egypt’s upper part, — which shall be founded towards the setting sun, and to which all the mortal race shall speed.

Asclepius. But now, just at this moment, where are they, Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. They’re gathered in a very large community, upon the Libyan Hill. And now enough concerning this hath been declared. But now the question as to deathlessness or as to death must be discussed. The expectation and the fear of death torture the multitude, who do not know True Reason. Now death is brought about by dissolution of the body, wearied out with toil, and of the number, when complete, by which the body’s members are arranged into a single engine for the purposes of life. The body dies, when it no longer can support the life-powers of a man. This, then, is death, — the body’s dissolution, and the disappearance of corporeal sense. (e) As to this death anxiety is needless. But there’s another [death] which no man can escape, but which the ignorance and unbelief of man think little of.

Asclepius. What is it, O Thrice-greatest one, that men know nothing of, or disbelieve that it can be?

[xxviii] Trismegistus. So, lend thy ear, Asclepius! When, [then,] the soul’s departure from the body shall take place, — then shall the judgment and the weighing of its merit pass into its highest daimon’s power. And when he sees it pious is and just, — he suffers it to rest in spots appropriate to it. But if he find it soiled with stains of evil deeds, and fouled with vice, — he drives it from Above into the Depths, and hands it o’er to warring hurricanes and vortices of Air, of Fire, and Water. (f) ’Twixt Heaven and Earth, upon the waves of Cosmos, is it dragged in contrary directions, for ever racked with ceaseless pains; so that in this its deathless nature doth afflict the soul, in that because of its unceasing sense, it hath the yoke of ceaseless torture set upon its neck. Know, then, that we should dread, and be afraid, and [ever] be upon our guard, lest we should be entangled in these [toils]. For those who do not now believe, will after their misdeeds be driven to believe, by facts not words, by actual sufferings of punishment and not by threats.

Asclepius. The faults of men are not, then, punished, O Thrice-greatest one, by law of man alone?

Trismegistus. In the first place, Asclepius, all things on Earth must die. Further, those things which live by reason of a body, and which do cease from living by reason of the same, — all these, according to the merits of this life, or its demerits, find due [rewards or] punishments. [And as to punishments] they’re all the more severe, if in their life [their misdeeds] chance to have been hidden, till their death. For [then] they will be made full conscious of all things by the divinity, just as they are, according to the shades of punishment allotted to their crimes.

[xxix] Asclepius. And these deserve [still] greater punishments, Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. [Assuredly;] for those condemned by laws of man do lose their life by violence, so that [all] men may see they have not yielded up their soul to pay the debt of nature, but have received the penalty of their deserts. Upon the other hand, the righteous man finds his defence in serving God and deepest piety. For God doth guard such men from every ill. Yea, He who is the Sire of all, [our] Lord, and who alone is all, doth love to show Himself to all. It is not by the place where he may be, nor by the quality which he may have, nor by the greatness which he may possess, but by the mind’s intelligence alone, that He doth shed His light on man, — [on him] who shakes the clouds of Error from his soul, and sights the brilliancy of Truth, mingling himself with the All-sense of the Divine Intelligence; through love of which he wins his freedom from that part of him o’er which Death rules, and has the seed of the assurance of his future Deathlessness implanted in him. This, then, is how the good will differ from the bad. Each several one will shine in piety, in sanctity, in prudence, in worship, and in service of [our] God, and see True Reason, as though [he looked at it] with [corporal] eyes; and each will by the confidence of his belief excel all other men, as by its light the Sun the other stars. For that it is not so much by the greatness of his light as by his holiness and his divinity, the Sun himself lights up the other stars. Yea, [my] Asclepius, thou should’st regard him as the second God, ruling all things, and giving light to all things living in the Cosmos, whether ensouled or unensouled. For if the Cosmos is a living thing, and if it has been, and it is, and will be ever-living, — naught in the Cosmos is subject to death. For of an ever-living thing, it is [the same] of every part which is; [that is,] that ’tis [as ever-living] as it is [itself]; and in the World itself [which is] for everyone, and at the self-same time an ever-living thing of life, — in it there is no place for death. And so he should be the full store of life and deathlessness; if that it needs must be that he should live for ever. And so the Sun, just as the Cosmos, lasts for aye. So is he, too, for ever ruler of [all] vital powers, or of [our] whole vitality; he is their ruler, or the one who gives them out. God, then, is the eternal ruler of all living things, or vital functions, that are in the World. He is the everlasting giver-forth of Life itself. Once for all [time] He hath bestowed Life on all vital powers; He further doth preserve them by a law that lasts for evermore, as I will [now] explain.

[xxx] For in the very Life of the Eternity is Cosmos moved; and in the very Everlastingness of Life [itself] is Cosmic Space (αἰῶνος). On which account it shall not stop at any time, nor shall it be destroyed; for that its very self is palisaded round about, and bound together as it were, by Living’s Sempiternity. Cosmos is [thus] Life-giver unto all that are in it, and is the Space of all that are in governance beneath the Sun. The motion of the Cosmos in itself consisteth of a two-fold energy. ’Tis vivified itself from the without by the Eternity, and vivifies all things that are within, making all different, by numbers and by times, fixed and appointed [for them]. Now Time’s distinguished on the Earth by quality of air, by variation of its heat and cold; in Heaven by the returnings of the stars to the same spots, the revolution of their course in Time. And while the Cosmos is the home of Time, it is kept green [itself] by reason of Time’s course and motion. Time, on the other hand, is kept by regulation. Order and Time effect renewal of all things which are in Cosmos by means of alternation. All things, then, being thus, there’s nothing stable, nothing fixed, nothing immoveable, of things that are being born, in Heaven or on the Earth. Immoveable [is] God alone, and rightly [He] alone; for He Himself is in Himself, and by Himself, and round Himself, completely full and perfect. He is His own immoveable stability. Nor by the pressure of some other one can He be moved, nor in the space [of anyone]. For in Him are all [spaces], and He Himself alone is in them all; unless someone should venture to assert that God’s own motion’s in Eternity; nay, rather, it is just Immoveable Eternity itself, back into which the motion of all times is funded, and out of which the motion of all times takes its beginning.

Deus igitur stabilis fuit, semperque est, & cum eo similiter æternitas consistit. Mundum vero non natum, quem recte sensibilem dicimus, intra se habens. Hujus Dei imago hic mundus effectus est æternitatis imitator. Habet autem tempus stabilitatis suæ vim atque naturam, quamvis semper agitetur, ea ipsa in se revertendi necessitate. Itaque quamvis sit æternitas stabilis, immobilis, atque fixa, tamen quoniam quod mobile est tempus, in æternitatem semper revocatur agitatio, eaque mobilitas ratione temporis vertitur, efficiturque, ut & ipsa æternitas immobilis quidem sola per tempus, in quo ipsa est, & est in eo, omnis agitatio videatur agitari. Ergo sic efficitur, ut & æternitatis stabilitas moveatur, & temporis mobilitas stabilis fiat, fixa lege currendi. Sic & Deum agitari credibile est in se ipsum eadem immobilitate stabilitatis. in magnitudine enim ipsius est immobilis agitatio. Hoc ergo, quod est tale, quod non subjicitur sensibus, indefinitum, incomprehensibile, inæstimabile est; nec sustineri, nec ferri, nec indagari potest. Ubi enim, & quo, & unde, aut quomodo, aut quale sit, incertum est. Fertur enim in summa stabilitate; & in ipso stabilitas est sua, seu Deus, seu æternitas, seu uterque, seu alter in altero, seu uterque in utroque sint. Propter quod æternitas sine definitione est temporis. Tempus autem, quod definiri potest vel numero, vel alternatione, vel per alterius ambitudinem reditus, æternum est. Utrumque ergo infinitum, utrumque videtur æternum. Stabilitas enim, utpote defixa, quod sustinere, quæ agitabilia sunt, possit, beneficio firmitatis, merito obtinet principatum.

Omnium ergo, quæ sunt, primordium Deus est, & æternitas. Mundus autem, quod sit mobilis, non habet principatum. Prævenit enim mobilitas ejus stabilitatem, suam in legem agitationis sempiternæ habendo immobilem firmitatem. Omnis ergo sensus divinitatis [similis,] immobilis ipse in stabilitate se commovet sua. Sanctus & incorruptus, & sempiternus est, & si quid melius potest nuncupari, Dei summi in ipsa veritate consistens æternitas, plenissimus omnium sensibilium, & totius disciplinæ, consistens, ut ita dixerim, cum Deo. Sensus vero mundanus receptaculum est sensibilium omnium specierum & disciplinarum. Humanus vero ex memoriæ tenacitate, quod memor sit omnium, quas gesserit, rerum. Usque ad humanum tamen animal sensus divinitatis descendendo pervenit. Deus enim summum divinumque sensum cunctis confundi noluit, ne erubesceret aliorum commixtione animantium. Intelligentia enim sensus humani qualis aut quanta sit, tota est in memoria præteritorum. Per eam enim memoriæ tenacitatem gubernator effectus est terræ. Intellectus autem naturæ .& qualitatis sensus mundi ex omnibus, quæ in mundo sensibilia sunt, poterit pervideri. Æternitas, quæ secunda est ex sensibili mundo, sensus datus, qualitasque dinoscitur. at intellectus [qualitatis] qualitasque sensus summi Dei sola veritas est, cujus veritatis in mundo ne quidem extrema linea umbrave dinoscitur. Ubi enim quid temporum dimensione dinoscitur? ubi sunt mendacia, ubi genituræ, ubi errores videntur? Vides ergo, o Asclepi, in quibus constituti, quæ tractemus, aut quæ audeamus attingere, Sed tibi, Deus summe, gratias ago, qui me videndæ divinitatis, tuæ luminasti lumine, & vos, o Tati, & Asclepi, & Ammon, intra secreta pectoris divina mysteria silentio tegite, & taciturnitate celate. Hoc autem differt intellectus a sensu, quod intellectus noster ad qualitatem sensus mundi intelligendam, & dinoscendam mentis pervenit intentionem. Intellectus autem mundi pervenit ad æternitatem, & Deos noscendos, qui supra se sunt. & sic contingit hominibus, ut quasi per caliginem, quæ in cœlo sunt, videamus, quantum possibile est per conditionem sensus humani. Hæc autem intentio angustissima est pervidendis tantis bonis: latissima vero, cum viderit felicitate conscientiæ.

De inani vero, quod tam magnum videtur esse quamplurimis, sic sentio. Inane nec esse aliquid, nec esse potuisse, nec futurum unquam. Omnia enim mundi sunt membra plenissima, ut ipse mundus plenus sit, atque perfectus corporibus, qualitate formaque diversis, & speciem suam habentibus & magnitudinem. Quorum unum est alio majus, aut alio aliquid minus; & validitate & tenuitate diversa. Nam & quædam eorum validiora facilius videntur, sicuti & majora. minora autem & tenuiora, aut vix videri, aut omnino non possunt, quas solum res esse attrectactione cognoscimus. Unde contingit multis credere, hic non esse corpora, & esse inanes locos: quod est impossibile. Sicuti enim quod dicitur extra mundum, si tamen est aliquid, (nec enim istud credo) sic ab eo plenum esse intelligibilium rerum, id est, divinitati suæ similium. Ut hic etiam sensibilis mundus qui dicitur, plenissimus sit corporum & animalium, naturæ suæ & qualitati convenientium, quorum facies non omnes videmus, sed quasdam ultra modum grandes, quasdam brevissimas, aut propter spatii interjecti longitudinem, aut quod acie sumus obtusi, tales nobis esse videantur, aut omnino propter nimiam brevitatem a multis non esse credantur. Dico nunc dæmones, quos credo commorari nobiscum; & heroas, quos inter aeris purissimam partem supra nos, & terram, ubi nec nebulis locus est, [nec nubibus,] nec ex signorum aliquorum agitatione commotio. Propter quod, o Asclepi, inane nihil esse dixeris, nisi cujus rei inane sit hoc, quod dicis inane, prædixeris, ut inane ab igne, ab aqua, & his similibus. Quod & si contigerit videri, quid inane possit esse a rebus hujuscemodi, quamvis breve sit vel magnum, quod inane videtur, spiritu tamen & aere vacuum esse non possit.

Similiter vero de loco dicendum est, quod vocabulum solum intellectu caret. Locus enim ex eo, cujus est, quid sit, apparet. Principali etenim demto, nominis significatio mutilatur. Quare aquæ locus, ignis locus, aut his similium recte dicimus. Sicut enim inane esse aliquid impossibile est, sic & locus solus, quid sit, dinosci non potest. Nam si posueris locum sine eo, cujus est, inanis videbitur locus, quem in mundo esse non credo. Quod si inane nihil est, nec per se, quid sit locus, apparet, nisi ei aut longitudines, aut altitudines addideris, ut corporibus hominum signa. His ergo sic se habentibus, o Asclepi, & vos, qui adestis, scitote intelligibilem mundum, id est, qui mentis solo obtutu dinoscitur, esse incorporalem; nec ejus naturæ misceri posse aliquid corporale, id est, quod possit qualitate, quantitate, numerisque dinosci. In ipso enim nihil tale consistit. Hic ergo mundus, qui dicitur sensibilis, receptaculum est omnium sensibilium specierum, qualitatum vel corporum, quæ omnia sine Deo vegetari non possunt. Omnia enim Deus, & ab eo omnia, & ejus voluntatis omnia. Quod totum est bonum, decens, & prudens, & immutabile, & ipsi soli sensibile atque intelligibile, & sine hoc nec suit aliquid, nec est, nec erit. Omnia enim ab eo, & in ipso, & per ipsum, [& variæ] & multiformes qualitates, & magnæ quantitates, & omnem mensuram excedentes magnitudines, & uniformes species quas si intellexeris, o Asclepi, gratias acturus es Deo. Si in totum animadvertes, vera ratione perdisces mundum ipsum sensibilem, & quæ in eo sunt omnia, a superiore illo mundo, quasi ex vestimento esse contecta.

Unumquodque enim genus animalium, o Asclepi, cujuscunque vel mortalis, vel rationalis, sive sit animans, sive sine anima sit, prout cuique est genus, sic singula sui generis imagines habent. Et quamvis unumquodque animalis genus omnem sui generis possideat formam, in eadem tamen forma singula sui dissimilia sunt; ut humanum genus, quamvis sit uniforme, ut homo dignosci ex aspectu possit, singuli tamen in eadem forma sui dissimiles sunt. Species enim, quæ divina est, incorporalis est, & quidquid mente comprehenditur. Cum itaque hæc duo, ex quibus constat forma & corpus, incorporalia sint, impossibile est, unamquamque formam alteri simillimam nasci, horarum & climatum distantibus punctis. Sed immutantur toties, quot hora momenta habet circuli circumcurrentis, in quo est ille omnisormis, quem diximus, Deus. Species ergo permanet, ex se toties pariens imagines tantas, tamque diversas, quanta habet conversio mundi momenta, qui mundus in conversione mutatur. Species vero nec mutatur, nec convertitur. Sic generum singulorum formæ sunt permanentes in eadem forma sibi dissimiles.

Asclepius. Et mundus speciem mutat, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Vides ergo, o Asclepi, tibi omnia quasi dormienti esse narrata. Quid est enim mundus, aut ex quibus constat, nisi ex omnibus natis? Ergo hoc vis dicere de cœlo, terra, & elementis. Namque alia magis frequenter mutantur in species: cœlum humescens, vel arescens, vel frigescens, vel ignescens, vel clarescens, vel fordescens in una cœli specie, hæ sunt quæ sæpe alternantur species. Terra vero suæ speciei multas immutationes semper habet, & cum parturit fruges, & cum eadem partu nutricat suo, cum reddit omnium fructuum varias diversasque qualitates & quantitates, ac stationes, & cursus, creantur omnes arborum, florum, baccarum qualitates, odores, sapores, species. Ignis [etiam] facit conversiones plurimas atque diversas. Solis enim & lunæ omniformes sunt imagines. Sunt enim quasi speculorum nostrorum similes, imaginum similitudines æmulo splendore reddentium.

Sed jam de talibus sint satis dicta talia. Iterum ad hominem rationemque redeamus, ex quo divino dono homo animal dictum est rationale. Minus autem miranda, & si miranda sunt, quæ de homine dicta sunt; omnium enim mirabilium vincit admirationem, quod homo divinam potuit invenire naturam, eamque efficere. Quoniam ergo proavi nostri multum errabant, circa Deorum rationem increduli, & non animadvertentes ad cultum religionemque divinam, invenerunt artem, qua Deos efficerent, cui inventæ adjunxerunt virtutem de mundi natura convenientem, eamque miscentes, quoniam animas facere non poterant, evocantes animas dæmonum vel angelorum, eas indiderunt imaginibus sanctis divinisque mysteriis, per quas [sola] idola & bene faciendi & male vires habere potuissent. Avus enim tuus, o Asclepi, medicinæ primus inventor, cui templum consecratum est in monte Libyæ circa litus crocodilorum, in quo ejus jacet mundanus homo, id est, corpus, reliquus enim vel potius totus, si est homo totus in sensu vitæ melior, remeavit in cœlum, omnia etiam nunc adjumenta hominibus præstans infirmis numine suo, quæ ante solebat medicinæ arte præbere. Hermes, cujus nomine avitum mihi nomen est, sibi cognomen patrium consistens, omnes mortales undique venientes adjuvat atque conservat. Isin vero & Osirin quam multa bona præstare propitiam, quantis obesse scimus iratam! Terrenis etenim Diis atque mundanis facile est irasci, utpote qui sint ab hominibus extraque naturam facti atque compositi. Unde contingit, ab Ægyptiis hæc sancta animalia nuncupari, & per singulas civitates coli eorum animas, quorum sunt consecratæ viventes, ita ut & eorum legibus incolantur, & eorum nominibus nuncupentur. Per hanc causam, o Asclepi, quæ aliis colenda videntur atque veneranda, apud alios dissimiliter habentur, ac propterea bellis se lacessere Ægyptiorum civitates solent.

Asclepius. Et horum, Trismegiste, Deorum qui terreni habentur, cujusmodi est qualitas?

Trismegistus. Constat, o Asclepi, de herbis, de lapidibus, & de aromatibus vim divinitatis naturalem in se habentibus, & propter hanc causam sacrificiis frequentibus obsectantur, hymnis & laudibus & dulcissimis sonis in modum cœlestis harmonie concinentibus, ut istud, quod cœleste est, cœlesti usu & frequentatione illectum, in idola possit lætum humanitas patiens longa durare per tempora. Sic Deorum fictor est homo. Et ne putes, fortuitos effectus esse terrenorum Deorum, o Ascepi, Dii cœlestes inhabitant summa cœlestia, unusquisque ordinem, quem accepit, complens atque custodiens. Hi vero nostri sigillatim quædam curantes, [quædam prævidentes] quædam sortibus & divinatione prædicentes, hisque pro modo subvenientes, humanis quasi amica cognatione auxiliantur.

Asclepius. Quam ergo partem rationis εἱμαρμένη, vel fata incolunt, o Trismegiste? anne cœlestes Dii catholicorum dominantur, terreni incolunt singula, quam εἱμαρμένην nucupamus?

Trismegistus. O Asclepi, ea est necessitas omnium, quæ geruntur, semper sibi catenatis nexibus vincta. Hæc itaque est aut effectrix rerum, aut summus Deus, aut ab ipso Deo qui secundus effectus est Deus, aut omnium cœlestium terrenarumque rerum firmata divinis legibus disciplina. Hæc itaque εἱμαρμένη & necessitas, ambæ sibi invicem individuo connexæ sunt glutinio, quarum prior εἱμαρμένη rerum omnium parit initia. Necessitas vero cogit ad effectum, quæ ex illius primordiis pendent. Has ordo consequitur, id est, contextus & dispositio temporis rerum perficiendarum. Nil est enim sine ordinis compositione. In omnibus istis mundus iste perfectus est. ipse enim mundus ordine gestatur, vel totus constat ex ordine.

[xxxi] God, then, hath [ever] been unchanging, and ever, in like fashion, with Himself hath the Eternity consisted, — having within itself Cosmos ingenerate, which we correctly call [God] Sensible. Of that [transcendent] Deity this Image hath been made, — Cosmos the imitator of Eternity. Time, further, hath the strength and nature of its own stability, in spite of its being in perpetual motion, — from its necessity of [ever] from itself reverting to itself. And so, although Eternity is stable, motionless, and fixed, still, seeing that the movement of [this] Time (which is subject to motion) is ever being recalled into Eternity, — and for that reason Time’s mobility is circular, — it comes to pass that the Eternity itself, although in its own self, is motionless, [yet] on account of Time, in which it is — (and it is in it), — it seems to be in movement as all motion. So that it comes to pass, that both Eternity’s stability becometh moved, and Time’s mobility becometh stable. So may we ever hold that God Himself is moved into Himself by [ever-] same transcendency of motion. For that stability is in His vastness motion motionless; for by His vastness is [His] law exempt from change. That, then, which so transcends, which is not subject unto sense, [which is] beyond all bounds, [and which] cannot be grasped, — That transcends all appraisement; That cannot be supported, nor borne up, nor can it be tracked out. For where, and when, and whence, and how, and what, He is, — is known to none. For He’s borne up by [His] supreme stability, and His stability is in Himself [alone], — whether [this mystery] be God, or the Eternity, or both, or one in other, or both in either. And for this cause, just as Eternity transcends the bounds of Time; so Time [itself], in that it cannot have bounds set to it by number, or by change, or by the period of the revolution of some second [kind of Time], — is of the nature of Eternity. Both, then, seem boundless, both eternal. And so stability, though naturally fixed, yet seeing that it can sustain the things that are in motion, — because of all the good it does by reason of its firmness, deservedly doth hold the chiefest place.

[xxxii] The principals of all that are, are, therefore, God and Æon. The Cosmos, on the other hand, in that ’tis moveable, is not a principal. For its mobility exceeds its own stability by treating the immoveable fixation as the law of everlasting movement. The Whole Sense, then, of the Divinity, though like [to Him] in its own self immoveable, doth set itself in motion within its own stability. ’Tis holy, incorruptible, and everlasting, and if there can be any better attribute to give to it, [’tis its], — Eternity of God supreme, in Truth itself subsisting, the Fullness of all things, of Sense, and of the whole of Science, consisting, so to say, with God. The Cosmic Sense is the container of all sensibles, [all] species, and [all] sciences. The human [higher sense consists] in the retentiveness of memory, in that it can recall all things that it hath done. For only just as far as the man-animal has the divinity of Sense descended; in that God hath not willed the highest Sense divine should be commingled with the rest of animals; lest it should blush for shame on being mingled with the other lives. For whatsoever be the quality, or the extent, of the intelligence of a man’s Sense, the whole of it consists in power of recollecting what is past. It is through his retentiveness of memory, that man’s been made the ruler of the earth. Now the intelligence of Nature can be won by quality of Cosmic Sense, — from all the things in Cosmos which sense can perceive. Concerning [this] Eternity, which is the second [one], — the Sense of this we get from out the senses’ Cosmos, and we discern its quality [by the same means]. But the intelligence of Quality [itself], the “Whatness” of the Sense of God Supreme, is Truth alone, — of which [pure] Truth not even the most tenuous sketch, or [faintest] shade, in Cosmos is discerned. For where is aught [of it] discerned by measurement of times, — wherein are seen untruths, and births [-and-deaths], and errors? Thou seest, then, Asclepius, on what we are [already] founded, with what we occupy ourselves, and after what we dare to strive. But unto Thee, O God most high, I give my thanks, in that Thou hast enlightened me with Light to see Divinity! And ye, O Tat, Asclepius and Ammon, in silence hide the mysteries divine within the secret places of your hearts, and breathe no word of their concealment! Now in our case the intellect doth differ from the sense in this, — that by the mind’s extension intellect can reach to the intelligence and the discernment of the quality of Cosmic Sense. The Intellect of Cosmos, on the other hand, extends to the Eternity and to the Gnosis of the Gods who are above itself. And thus it comes to pass for men, that we perceive the things in Heaven, as it were through a mist, as far as the condition of the human sense allows. ’Tis true that the extension [of the mind] which we possess for the survey of such transcendent things, is very narrow [still]; but [it will be] most ample when it shall perceive with the felicity of [true] self-consciousness.

[xxxiii] Now on the subject of a “Void,” — which seems to almost all a thing of vast importance, — I hold the following view. Naught is, naught could have been, naught ever will be void. For all the members of the Cosmos are completely full; so that Cosmos itself is full and [quite] complete with bodies, diverse in quality and form, possessing each its proper kind and size. And of these bodies — one’s greater than another, or another’s less than is another, by difference of strength and size. Of course, the stronger of them are more easily perceived, just as the larger [are]. The lesser ones, however, or the more minute, can scarcely be perceived, or not at all — those which we know are things [at all] by sense of touch alone. Whence many come to think they are not bodies, and that there are void spaces, — which is impossible. So also [for the Space] which is called Extra-cosmic, — if there be any (which I do not believe), — [then] is it filled by Him with things Intelligible, that is things of like nature with His own Divinity; just as this Cosmos which is called the Sensible, is fully filled with bodies and with animals, consonant with its proper nature and its quality; — [bodies] the proper shape of which we do not all behold, but [see] some large beyond their proper measure, some very small; either because of the great space which lies between [them and ourselves], or else because our sight is dull; so that they seem to us to be minute, or by the multitude are thought not to exist at all, because of their too great tenuity. I mean the daimones, who, I believe, have their abode with us, and heroes, who abide between the purest part of air above us and the earth, — where it is ever cloudless, and no [movement from the] motion of a single star [disturbs the peace]. Because of this, Asclepius, thou shalt call nothing void; unless thou wilt declare of what that’s void, which thou dost say is void; — for instance, void of fire, of water, or things like to these. For if it should fall out, that it should seem that anything is able to be void of things like these, — though that which seemeth void be little or be big, it still cannot be void of spirit and of air.

[xxxiv] In like way must we also talk concerning “Space,” — a term which by itself is void of “sense.” For Space seems what it is from that of which it is [the space]. For if the qualifying word is cut away, the sense is maimed. Wherefore we shall [more] rightly say the space of water, space of fire, or [space] of things like these. For as it is impossible that aught be void; so is Space also in itself not possible to be distinguished what it is. For if you postulate a space without that [thing] of which it is [the space], it will appear to be void space, — which I do not believe exists in Cosmos. If nothing, then, is void, so also Space by its own self does not show what it is unless you add to it lengths, breadths [and depths], — just as you add the proper marks unto men’s bodies. These things, then, being thus, Asclepius, and ye who are with [him], — know the Intelligible Cosmos (that is, [the one] which is discerned by contemplation of the mind alone) is bodiless; nor can aught corporal be mingled with its nature, — [by corporal I mean] what can be known by quality, by quantity, and numbers. For there is nothing of this kind in that. This Cosmos, then, which is called Sensible, is the receptacle of all things sensible, — of species, qualities, or bodies. But not a single one of these can quicken without God. For God is all, and by Him [are] all things, and all [are] of His Will. For that He is all Goodness, Fitness, Wisdom, unchangeable, — that can be sensed and understood by His own self alone. Without Him naught hath been, nor is, nor will be. For all things are from Him, in Him, and through Him, — both multitudinous qualities, and mighty quantities, and magnitudes exceeding every means of measurement, and species of all forms; — which things, if thou should’st understand, Asclepius, thou wilt give thanks to God. And if thou should’st observe it as a whole, thou wilt be taught, by means of the True Reason, that Cosmos in itself is knowable to sense, and that all things in it are wrapped as in a vesture by that Higher Cosmos [spoken of above].

[xxxv] Now every single class of living thing, Asclepius, of whatsoever kind, or it be mortal or be rational, whether it be endowed with soul, or be without one, just as each has its class, so does each several [class] have images of its own class. And though each separate class of animal has in it every form of its own class, still in the selfsame [kind of] form the units differ from each other. And so although the class of men is of one kind, so that a man can be distinguished by his [general] look, still individual men within the sameness of their [common] form do differ from each other. For the idea which is divine, is bodiless, and is whatever is grasped by the mind. So that although these two, from which the general form and body are derived, are bodiless, it is impossible that any single form should be produced exactly like another, — because the moments of the hours and points of inclination [when they’re born] are different. But they are changed as many times as there are moments in the hour of that revolving Circle in which abides that God whom we have called All-formed. The species, then, persists, as frequently producing from itself as many images, and as diverse, as there are moments in the Cosmic Revolution, — a Cosmos which doth [ever] change in revolution. But the idea [itself] is neither changed nor turned. So are the forms of every single genus permanent, [and yet] dissimilar in the same [general] form.

[xxxvi] Asclepius. And does the Cosmos have a species, O Thrice-greatest one?

Trismegistus. Dost not thou see, Asclepius, that all has been explained to thee as though to one asleep? For what is Cosmos, or of what doth it consist, if not of all things born? This, then, you may assert of heaven, and earth, and elements. For though the other things possess more frequent change of species, [still even] heaven, [by its] becoming moist, or dry, or cold, or hot, or clear, or dull, [all] in one kind of heaven, — these [too] are frequent changes into species. Earth hath, moreover, always many changes in its species; — both when she brings forth fruits, and when she also nourishes her bringings-forth with the return of all the fruits; the diverse qualities and quantities of air, its stoppings and its flowings; and before all the qualities of trees, of flowers, and berries, of scents, of savours — species. Fire [also] brings about most numerous conversions, and divine. For these are all-formed images of Sun and Moon; they’re, as it were, like our own mirrors, which with their emulous resplendence give us back the likenesses of our own images.

[xxxvii] But now let this suffice about such things; and let us once again return to man and reason, — gift divine, from which man has the name of rational animal. Less to be wondered at are the things said of man, — though they are [still] to be admired. Nay, of all marvels that which wins our wonder [most] is that man has been able to find out the nature of the Gods and bring it into play. Since, then, our earliest progenitors were in great error, — seeing they had no rational faith about the Gods, and that they paid no heed unto their cult and holy worship, — they chanced upon an art whereby they made Gods [for themselves]. To this invention they conjoined a power that suited it, [derived] from cosmic nature; and blending these together, since souls they could not make, [they set about] evoking daimons’ souls or those of angels; [and thus] attached them to their sacred images and holy mysteries, so that the statues should, by means of these, possess the powers of doing good and the reverse. For thy forebear, Asclepius, the first discoverer of medicine, to whom there is a temple hallowed on Libya’s Mount, hard by the shore of crocodiles, in which his cosmic man reposes, that is to say his body; for that the rest [of him], or better still, the whole (if that a man when wholly [plunged] in consciousness of life, be better), hath gone back home to heaven, — still furnishing, [but] now by his divinity, the sick with all the remedies which he was wont in days gone by to give by art of medicine. Hermes, which is the name of my forebear, whose home is in a place called after him, doth aid and guard all mortal [men] who come to him from every side. As for Osiris’ [spouse]; how many are the blessings that we know Isis bestows when she’s propitious; how many does she injure when she’s wrath! For that the terrene and the cosmic Gods are easily enraged, in that they are created and composed of the two natures. And for this cause it comes to pass that these are called the “sacred animals” by the Egyptians, and that each several state gives service to the souls of those whose souls have been made holy, while they were still alive; so that [the several states] are governed by the laws [of their peculiar sacred animals], and called after their names. It is because of this, Asclepius, those [animals] which are considered by some states deserving of their worship, in others are thought otherwise; and on account of this the states of the Egyptians wage with each other frequent war.

[xxxviii] Asclepius. And of what nature, O Thrice-greatest one, may be the quality of those who are considered terrene Gods?

Trismegistus. It doth consist, Asclepius, of plants, and stones, and spices, which contain the nature of [their own] divinity. And for this cause they are delighted with repeated sacrifice, with hymns, and lauds, and sweetest sounds, tuned to the key of Heaven’s harmonious song. So that what is of heavenly nature, being drawn down into the images by means of heavenly use and practices, may be enabled to endure with joy the nature of mankind, and sojourn with it for long periods of time. Thus is it that man is the maker of the Gods. But do not, O Asclepius, I pray thee, think the doings of the terrene Gods are the result of chance. The heavenly Gods dwell in the heights of Heaven, each filling up and watching o’er the rank he hath received; whereas these Gods of ours, each in its way, — by looking after certain things, foretelling others by oracles and prophecy, foreseeing others, and duly helping them along, — act as allies of men, as though they were our relatives and friends.

[xxxix] Asclepius. What part of the economy, Thrice-greatest one, does the Heimarmenē, or Fate, then occupy? For do not the celestial Gods rule over generals; the terrene occupy particulars?

Trismegistus. That which we call Heimarmenē, Asclepius, is the necessity of all things that are born, bound ever to themselves with interlinked enchainments. This, then, is either the effector of all things, or it is highest God, or what is made the second God by God Himself, — or else the discipline of all things both in heaven and on earth, established by the laws of the Divine. And so these twain, Fate and Necessity, are bound to one another mutually by inseparable cohesion. The former of them, the Heimarmenē, gives birth to the beginnings of all things; Necessity compels the end of [all] depending from these principals. On these doth Order follow, that is their warp-and-woof, and Time’s arrangement for the perfecting of [all] things. For there is naught without the interblend of Order. (g) That Cosmos is made perfect in all things; for Cosmos’ self is vehicled in Order, or totally consists of Order.

Hæc ergo tria, εἱμαρμένη, necessitas, ordo, vel maxime Dei nutu sunt effecta, qui mundum gubernat sua lege & ratione divina. Ab his ergo omne velle & nolle divinitus aversum est totum. Nec ira etenim commoventur, nec flectuntur gratia, sed serviunt necessitati rationis æternæ, quæ æternitas inaversibilis, immobilis, insolubilis est. Prima ergo εἱμαρμένη est, quæ velut jacto semine futurorum omnium sufficit prolem. Sequitur necessitas, qua ad effectum vi coguntur omnia. Tertius ordo, textum servans earum rerum, quas εἱμαρμένη necessitasque disponit. Hæc ergo est æternitas, quæ nec cœpit esse, nec desinet, quæ fixa immutabili lege currendi sempiterna commotione versatur, oriturque, & occidit alternis sæpe per membra, ita ut variatis temporibus, iisdem, quibus occiderat, membris oriatur: sic enim & rotunditatis volubilis ratio, ut ita sint sibi coarctata cuncta, ut quid sit volubilitatis initium ignores, cum omnia se semper & præcedere videantur & sequi. Eventus autem vel Fors insunt omnibus permixta mundanis. Dictum est nobis de singulis, ut humanitas potuit, ut voluit permisitque divinitas. Restat hoc solum nobis, ut benedicentes Deum, orantesque, ad curam corporis redeamus. Satis enim [nos] de divinis rebus tractantes [mentem] velut animi pabulis saturavimus.

De adyto vero egressi, cum Deum orare cœpissent, in austrum respicientes [erant.] Sole etenim occidente, cum quis Deum rogare voluerit, illuc debet intendere, sicut & sole oriente, in eum, qui subsolanus dicitur. Jam ergo dicentibus precationem, Asclepius ait, submissa voce: O Tati, suggeramus patri, [quod] jusserit, ut ture addito & pigmentis precem dicamus Deo. Quem Trismegistus audiens, atque commotus ait: Melius ominare, o Asclepi. Hoc enim sacrilegiis simile est, cum Deum roges, tus ceteraque incendere. Nihil enim deest ei, qui ipse est omnia, aut in eo sunt omnia. Sed nos agentes gratias adoremus. Hæ enim sunt summæ incensiones Dei, gratiæ cum aguntur a mortalibus.

Gratias tibi agimus, summe & exsuperantissime. Tua enim gratia tantum sumus cognitionis tuæ lumen consecuti. O nomen sanctum & honorandum, nomen unum, quo solus Deus est benedicendus religione paterna, quoniam omnibus paternam pietatem, & religionem, & amorem, & quæcunque est dulcior efficacia, præbere dignaris! Condonas nos sensu, ratione, intelligentia. Sensu, ut te cognoscamus. Ratione, ut te suspicionibus indagemus. Cognitione, ut te cognoscentes gaudeamus. ac numine salvati tuo gaudemus, quod te nobis ostenderis totum. Gaudemus, quod nos in corporibus sitos æternitati fueris consecrare dignatus. Hæc est enim sola humana gratulatio, cognitio majestatis tuæ. Cognovimus te, [&] lumen maximum, solo intellectu sensibili. Intelleximus te, o vitæ vera vita, o naturarum omnium fœcunda prægnatio. Cognovimus te, totius naturæ tuo conceptu plenissime: cognovimus te, æterna perseveratio. In omni enim ista oratione adorantes bonum bonitatis tuæ, hoc tantum deprecamur, ut nos velis conservare perseverantes in amore cognitionis tuæ, & nunquam ab hoc genere vitæ separari. Hoc optantes convertimus nos ad puram & sine animalibus cœnam.

[xl] So, then, these three, Fate, [and] Necessity, [and] Order, are most immediately effected by God’s Will, who rules the Cosmos by His Law and by His Holy Reason. From these, accordingly, all willing or not-willing is altogether foreign, according to God’s Will. They are not moved by wrath nor swayed by favour, but are the instruments of the Eternal Reason’s self-compulsion, which is [the Reason] of Eternity, that never can be turned aside, or changed, or be destroyed. First, then, is Fate, which, as it were, by casting in the seed, supplies the embryo of all that are to be. Follows Necessity, whereby they all are forcibly compelled unto their end. Third, Order [comes], preserving warp-and-woof of [all] the things which Fate and [which] Necessity arrange. This, then, is the Eternity, which neither doth begin nor cease to be, which, fixed by law unchangeable, abides in the unceasing motion of its course. It rises and it sets, by turns, throughout its limbs; so that by reason of Time’s changes it often rises with the very limbs with which it [once] had set. For [its] sphericity, — its law of revolution, — is of this nature, that all things are so straitly joined to their own selves, that no one knoweth what is the beginning of their revolution; since they appear for ever all to go before and follow after their own selves. Good and bad issues, [therefore,] are commingled in all cosmic things. And now it hath been told you on each several point, — as man hath power [to tell], and God hath willed it and permitted it. This, then, alone remains that we should do, — bless God and give Him praise; and so return to taking thought for body [’s comfort]. For now sufficiently have we been filled with feast of mind by our discourse on sacred things.

[xli] Now when they came forth from the holy place, they turned their faces towards the south when they began their prayers to God. For when the sun is setting, should anyone desire to pray to God, he ought to turn him thitherwards; so also at the rising of the same, unto that spot which lies beneath the sun. As they were just beginning to recite the prayer, Asclepius did whisper:

Asclepius. Let us suggest to father, Tat, — what he did bid us do, — that we should say our prayer to God with added incense and with unguents. Whom when Thrice-greatest heard, he grew distressed and said:

Trismegistus. Nay, nay, Asclepius; speak more propitious words! For this is like to profanation of [our] sacred rites, — when thou dost pray to God, to offer incense and the rest. For naught is there of which He stands in need, in that He is all things, or all are in Him. But let us worship, pouring forth our thanks. For this is the best incense in God’s sight, — when thanks are given to Him by men. [We give] Thee grace, Thou highest [and] most excellent! For by Thy Grace we have received the so great Light of Thy own Gnosis. O holy Name, fit [Name] to be adored, O Name unique, by which the Only God is to be blest through worship of [our] Sire, — [of Thee] who deignest to afford to all a Father’s piety, and care, and love, and whatsoever virtue is more sweet [than these], endowing [us] with sense, [and] reason, [and] intelligence; — with sense that we may feel Thee; with reason that we may track Thee out from the appearances of things; with means of recognition that we may joy in knowing Thee. Saved by Thy Power divine, let us rejoice that Thou hast shown Thyself to us in all Thy Fullness. Let us rejoice that Thou hast deigned to consecrate us, [still] entombed in bodies, to Eternity. For this is the sole festival of praise worthy of man, — to know Thy Majesty. We have known Thee; yea, by the Single Sense of our intelligence, we have perceived Thy Light supreme, — O Thou true Life of life, O Fecund Womb that giveth birth to every nature! We have known Thee, O Thou completely filled with the Conception from Thyself of Universal Nature! We have known Thee, O Thou Eternal Constancy! For in the whole of this our prayer in worship of Thy Good, this favour only of Thy Goodness do we crave; — that Thou wilt keep us constant in our Love of knowing Thee, and let us ne’er be cut off from this kind of Life. With this desire we [now] betake us to [our] pure and fleshless meal.

 

Footnotes

(a) The Greek original of this passage is quoted by Lactantius, Div. Institt., iv. 6, and runs as follows in Fritzsche’s (O. F.) text (Leipzig, 1842):
“The Lord and Maker of all things (whom ’tis our custom to call God) when He had made the second God, the Visible and Sensible, — I call him Sensible not that He hath sensation in Himself (for as to this, whether or no He have himself sensation, we will some other time enquire), but that He is object of senses and of mind; — when, then, He’d made Him first, and One and Only, He seemed to Him most fair, and filled quite full of all things good. At Him He marvelled, and loved Him altogether as His Son.”
With the last words, cf. Plat., Tim., 37 D.

(b) This sentence is also quoted by Lactantius (Div. Institt., vii. 13) in the original Greek, which reads:
“From the two natures, the deathless and the mortal, He made one nature, — that of man, one and the selfsame thing. And having made the selfsame [man] both somehow deathless and also somehow mortal, He brought him [forth], and set him up betwixt the godlike and immortal nature and the mortal; that seeing all he might wonder at all.”

(c) Quoted in the original Greek by Ioan. Laurentius Lydus, De Mensibus, iv. 7; Wünsch (Leipzig, 1898), p. 70, 22; as follows: “And Hermes is witness in his [book], called ‘The Perfect Sermon,’ when saying: ‘They that are called the Seven Spheres have a Source that is called Fortune or Fate, which changes all things and suffers them not to remain in the same [conditions].’”
The quotation is continued without a break; the rest of it, however, corresponds to nothing in our context, but is somewhat similar to ch. xxxix. 1, 2.

(d) The above passage is cited in the original Greek by Lactantius (Div. Institt., vii. 8) as from the “Perfect Sermon” of Hermes. As we might expect from what had been already said on this subject, it differs from our Latin translation, and runs as follows:
“Now when these things shall be as I have said, Asclepius, then will [our] Lord and Sire, the God and Maker of the First and the One God, look down on what is done, and making firm His Will, that is the Good, against disorder, — recalling error, and cleaning out the bad, either by washing it away with water-flood, or burning it away with swiftest fire, or forcibly expelling it with war and famine, — will bring again His Cosmos to its former state, and so achieve its Restoration.”

(e) This passage is quoted in the original Greek by Stobæus, Florilegium, cxx. 27 (G. iii. 464; M. iv. 105, 106; Pat. 45, under title “Death”), under the heading “Of Hermes from the [Sermons] to Asclepius.” It runs as follows:
“Now must we speak of death. For death affrights the many as the greatest of all ills, in ignorance of fact. Death is the dissolution of the toiling frame. For when the ‘number’ of the body’s joints becomes complete, — the basis of the body’s jointing being number, — that body dies; [that is,] when it no longer can support the man. And this is death, — the body’s dissolution and the disappearance of corporeal sense.”
The directness and the sturdy vigour of the Greek original has clearly lost much in the rhetorical paraphrasing of the Latin translator.

(f) The substance of these two sentences is contained in a “quotation” from the Greek by J. Laurentius Lydus, De Mensibus, iv. 149 (Wünsch, 167, 15): “According to the Egyptian Hermes who, in what is called ‘The Perfect Sermon,’ says as follows: ‘But such souls as transgress the norm of piety, when they do leave their body, are handed over to the daimones and carried downwards through the air, cast forth as from a sling into the zones of fire and hail, which poets call Pyriphlegethon and Tartarus.’” That this is a “quotation,” however, I doubt very much, for if we compare it with D. M., iv. 31 (W. 90, 24), which very faintly echoes the teaching of our chaps, iv., v., xxvii., we shall find that Tartarus and Pyriphlegethon are entirely due to Laurentius himself. The passage runs as follows:
“For the Egyptian Hermes, in his Sermon called Perfect, says that the Avenging of the daimones, being present in matter itself, chastise the human part [of us] according as it has deserved; while the Purifying ones confined to the air purify the souls after death that are trying to soar aloft, [conducting them] round the haily and fiery zones of the air, which the poets and Plato himself in the Phædo call Tartarus and Pyriphlegethon; while the Saving ones again, stationed in the lunar space, save the souls.” Cf. Ex. ix. 6.

(g) Cf. J. Laurentius Lydus, De Mensibus, iv. 7 (Wünsch, 70); the rest of the quotation following on what has been already quoted in the note to xix. 3. The Greek is either a very much shortened form or the Latin a very much expanded one, for the former may be translated as follows:
“And Fate is also fated Activity (or Energy), or God Himself, or the Order that doth follow that Activity set over all things in the heaven and all things on the earth, together with Necessity. The former (Fate) gives birth to the very beginnings of things, the latter compels the ends also to come into existence. And on them there follow Order and Law, and there is naught that’s orderless.” Cf. Ex. i. 15, and Ex. xi. 1.

 

Anmerkungen

Obiger Text folgt der englischen Übersetzung von George Robert Stow Mead (1863 – 1933), läßt jedoch die lesefeindlichen Numerierungen innerhalb der Kapitel fort und fügt die Sätze bzw. Absätze zusammen. Griechische Begriffe aus den englischen Originalfußnoten sind dem Text in runden Klammern von mir beigegeben, wichtige Textvarianten aus erhaltenen Manuskripten als Fußnoten oben beigefügt.

Mead zur Textgrundlage: „The Greek original is lost, and only a Latin version remains to us. I use the text of Hildebrand (G. F.), L. Apuleii Opera Omnia ex Fide Optimorum Codicum (Leipzig, 1842), Pars II., pp. 279-334; but have very occasionally preferred the text in Patrizzi’s Nova de Universis Philosophia (Venice, 1593), or of the Bipontine edition of Appuleius, Lucii Apuleji Madaurensis Platonici Philosophi Opera (Biponti, 1788), pp. 285-325.“

Die deutsche Übertragung von Lorenzo Ravagli erscheint mir stilistisch etwas weitschweifig, weniger knapp und präzise als die englische von Mead.

Zum Titel: Der in lateinischen Manuskripten aufgeführte variiert, die Aldus-Ausgabe führt auf fol. 173r an: „Asclepius Hermetis Trismegisti dialogus à L. Apuleio Madaurense platonico in latinum conversus“, Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius (um 250 – um 325) lag wahrscheinlich eine griechische Handschrift vor und benennt den Text in seinen Divinae institutiones, iv,6 und vii,8: „Hermes in illo libro qui λόγος τέλειος inscribitur“.

Zur lateinischen Übersetzung bemerkt Mead: „If we compare these Greek quotations with our Latin translation, we shall find, not only that the Latin is an exceedingly free rendering of the Greek, showing many expansions and contractions, and often missing the sense of the original, but also that even in Greek there were probably several recensions of the same text.“

In den Naǧ-Ḥammādī-Codices befindet sich ein größeres Fragment,
VI,8 mit Asclepius 21-29, dessen Text dem griechischen Original näher zu stehen scheint als die lateinische Übersetzung.

 

Aurelius Augustinus: De civitate Dei

Nam diuersa de illis Hermes Aegyptius, quem Trismegiston uocant, sensit et scripsit. Apuleius enim deos quidem illos negat; sed cum dicit ita inter deos et homines quadam medietate uersari, ut hominibus apud ipsos deos necessarii uideantur, cultum eorum a supernorum deorum religione non separat. Ille autem Aegyptius alios deos esse dicit a summo Deo factos, alios ab hominibus. Hoc qui audit, sicut a me positum est, putat dici de simulacris, quia opera sunt manuum hominum; at ille uisibilia et contrectabilia simulacra uelut corpora deorum esse asserit; inesse autem his quosdam spiritus inuitatos, qui ualeant aliquid siue ad nocendum siue ad desideria nonnulla complenda eorum, a quibus eis diuini honores et cultus obsequia deferuntur. Hos ergo spiritus inuisibiles per artem quandam uisibilibus rebus corporalis materiae copulare, ut sint quasi animata corpora illis spiritibus dicata et subdita simulacra, hoc esse dicit deos facere eamque magnam et mirabilem deos faciendi accepisse homines potestatem. Huius Aegyptii uerba, sicut in nostram linguam interpretata sunt, ponam. „Et quoniam de cognatione, inquit, et consortio hominum deorumque nobis indicitur sermo, potestatem hominis, o Asclepi, uimque cognosce. Dominus, inquit, et Pater uel quod est summum Deus ut effector est deorum caelestium, ita homo fictor est deorum, qui in templis sunt humana proximitate contenti.“ Et paulo post: „Ita humanitas, inquit, semper memor naturae et originis suae in illa diuinitatis imitatione perseuerat, ut, sicuti Pater ac Dominus, ut sui similes essent, deos fecit aernos, ita humanitas deos suos ex sui uultus similitudine figuraret.“ Hic cum Asclepius, ad quem maxime loquebatur, ei respondisset atque dixisset: „Statuas dicis, o Trismegiste?“ tum ille: „Statuas, inquit, o Asclepi, uides quatenus tu ipse diffidas; statuas animatas sensu et spiritu plenas tantaque facientes et talia, statuas futurorum praescias eaque sorte uate somniis multisque aliis rebus praedicentes, inbecillitates hominibus facientes easque curantes, tristitiam laetitiamque pro meritis. An ignoras, o Asclepi, quod Aegyptus imago sit caeli, aut, quod est uerius, translatio aut descensio omnium quae gubernantur atque exercentur in caelo. Ac si dicendum est uerius, terra nostra mundi totius est templum. Et tamen quoniam praescire cuncta prudentem decet, istud uos ignorare fas non est: Futurum tempus est, cum appareat Aegyptios incassum pia mente diuinitatem sedula religione seruasse.“

Deinde multis uerbis Hermes hunc locum exequitur, in quo uidetur hoc tempus praedicere, quo Christiana religio, quanto est ueracior atque sanctior, tanto uehementius et liberius cuncta fallacia figmenta subuertit, ut gratia uerissimi Saluatoris liberet hominem ab eis diis, quos facit homo, et ei Deo subdat, a quo factus est homo. Sed Hermes cum ista praedicit, uelut amicus eisdem ludificationibus daemonum loquitur, nec Christianum nomen euidenter exprimit, sed tamquam ea tollerentur atque delerentur, quorum obseruatione caelestis similitudo custodiretur in Aegypto, ita haec futura deplorans luctuosa quodam modo praedicatione testatur. Erat enim de his, de quibus dicit apostolus, quod cognoscentes Deum non sicut Deum glorificauerunt aut gratias egerunt, sed euanuerunt in cogitationibus suis, et obscuratum est insipiens cor eorum; dicentes enim se esse sapientes stulti facti sunt et inmutauerunt gloriam incorrupti Dei in similitudinem imaginis corruptibilis hominis et cetera, quae commemorare longum est. Multa quippe talia dicit de uno uero Deo fabricatore mundi, qualia ueritas habet; et nescio quo modo illa obscuratione cordis ad ista delabitur, ut diis, quos confitetur ab hominibus fieri, semper uelit homines subdi et haec futuro tempore plangat auferri quasi quicquam sit infelicius homine, cui sua figmenta dominantur; cum sit facilius, ut tamquam deos colendo, quos fecit, nec ipse sit homo, quam ut per eius cultum dii possint esse, quos fecit homo. Citius enim fit, ut homo in honore positus pecoribus non intellegens comparetur, quam ut operi Dei ad eius imaginem facto, id est ipsi homini, opus hominis praeferatur. Quapropter merito homo deficit ab illo qui eum fecit, cum sibi praeficit ipse quod fecit.

Haec uana deceptoria, perniciosa sacrilega Hermes Aegyptius, quia tempus, quo auferrentur, uenturum sciebat, dolebat; sed tam inpudenter dolebat, quam inprudenter sciebat. Non enim haec ei reuelauerat sanctus Spiritus, sicut prophetis sanctis, qui haec praeuidentes cum exultatione dicebant: Si faciet homo deos, et ecce ipsi non sunt dii ( et alio loco: Erit in illo die, dicit Dominus, exterminabo nomina simulacrorum a terra, et non iam erit eorum memoria, proprie uero de Aegypto, quod ad hanc rem adtinet, ita sanctus Esaias prophetat: Et mouebuntur manufacta Aegypti a facie eius, et cor eorum uincetur in eis, et cetera huius modi. Ex quo genere et illi erant, qui uenturum quod sciebant uenisse gaudebant; qualis Symeon, qualis Anna, qui mox natum Iesum; qualis Elisabeth, quae etiam conceptum in Spiritu agnouit; qualis Petrus reuelante Patre dicens: Tu es Christus, filius Dei uiui. Huic autem Aegyptio illi spiritus indicauerant futura tempora perditionis suae, qui etiam praesenti in carne Domino trementes dixerunt: Quid uenisti ante tempus perdere nos? siue quia subitum illis fuit, quod futurum quidem, sed tardius opinabantur, siue quia perditionem suam hanc ipsam dicebant, qua fiebat, ut cogniti spernerentur, et hoc erat ante tempus, id est ante tempus iudicii, quo aeterna damnatione puniendi sunt cum omnibus etiam hominibus, qui eorum societate detinentur, sicut religio loquitur, quae nec fallit nec fallitur, non sicut iste quasi omni uento doctrinae hinc atque inde perflatus et falsis uera permiscens dolet quasi perituram religionem, quem postea confitetur errorem.
— VIII,xxiii.

Denn der Ägypter Hermes, den man Trismegistus zubenennt, hat über die Dämonen anders geurteilt und geschrieben. Nach Apuleius nämlich sind sie allerdings nicht Götter; aber da er sie zwischen den Göttern und den Menschen in der Weise sozusagen in der Mitte schweben läßt, daß sie den Menschen in ihren Beziehungen zu den Göttern unentbehrlich erscheinen, so ist bei ihm ihr Kult mit der Verehrung der Götter unzertrennlich verbunden. Dagegen jener Ägypter läßt sich dahin vernehmen, daß die einen Götter vom höchsten Gott, andere von Menschen gemacht worden seien. Wenn man das so hört, wie es da steht, möchte man zunächst meinen, es sei von Götterbildnissen die Rede, weil diese „Werke der Menschenhand“ sind; indes bezeichnet Hermes die sichtbaren und greifbaren Bildnisse wenigstens als eine Art Leiber der Götter; in ihnen hätten auf Einladung hin gewisse Geister Wohnung genommen, die nicht ohne Macht seien, entweder zu schaden oder einige Wünsche derer zu erfüllen, die ihnen göttliche Ehren und die Huldigung des Kultus erweisen. Diese unsichtbaren Geister nun durch gewisse Mittel an sichtbare Gegenstände materieller Art zu binden, sodaß die ihnen geweihten und unterstellten Bilder gleichsam beseelte Körper seien, das nennt er Götter machen und diese große und staunenswerte Gewalt, Götter zu machen, hätten die Menschen erhalten. Ich will die betreffende Stelle aus Hermes ihrem Wortlaut nach anführen, wie sie in der Übertragung in unsere Sprache lautet: „Und da wir gerade von der Verwandtschaft und Gemeinschaft zwischen Göttern und Menschen reden, so höre, Asklepius, welche Macht und Gewalt der Mensch hierin hat. Wie der Herr und Vater oder, was das höchste ist, Gott der Schöpfer der himmlischen Götter ist, so ist der Mensch der Bildner der Götter, die sich in den Tempeln in unmittelbarer Nähe der Menschen befinden“. Und kurz darauf sagt er: „So sehr bleibt sich die Menschheit, stets eingedenk ihrer Natur und ihres Ursprungs, in der Nachahmung der Gottheit getreu, daß sie, wie der Vater und Herr nach seinem Bilde ewige Götter geschaffen hat, ihre Götter ähnlich ihrem eigenen Aussehen bildete“. Als ihm hier Asklepius, an den er sich vornehmlich wandte, erwiderte: „Du meinst wohl die Statuen, Trismegistus?“ fuhr er fort: „Freilich, die Statuen meine ich; du siehst, daß auch du Zweifel hegst; die beseelten Statuen voll Empfindung und Geist, die so Großes und Wunderbares wirken, die Statuen, kundig des Zukünftigen und es durch das Los, durch den Seher, in Träumen und sonst auf vielerlei Weise verkündend, die den Menschen Krankheiten erregen und heilen, Leid und Freud je nach Verdienst. Weißt du nicht, Asklepius, daß Ägypten ein Abbild des Himmels ist oder, richtiger gesagt, eine Übertragung und ein Herabsteigen alles dessen, was im Himmel geleitet wird und geschieht? Und wenn ich mich genauer ausdrücken soll, so ist unser Land ein Tempel der ganzen Welt. Und doch dürft ihr, weil der Weise alles vorherwissen soll, darüber nicht in Unkenntnis sein: Es wird die Zeit kommen, da es offenbar wird, daß die Ägypter unnützer Weise frommen Sinnes in eifriger Verehrung an der Gottheit festhielten.“

Darauf führt Hermes weitläufig diese Worte aus, worin er die Zeit vorherzusagen scheint, da die christliche Religion mit der Entschiedenheit und Freiheit, die eben ihrer Wahrhaftigkeit und Heiligkeit entspricht, all die trügerischen Gebilde über den Haufen wirft, damit die Gnade des einzig wahren Erlösers den Menschen von den Göttern befreie, die der Mensch geschaffen hat, und ihn dem Gott unterwürfig mache, von dem der Mensch geschaffen worden ist. Indes spricht Hermes bei dieser seiner Voraussage wie einer, der an solchen Blendwerken der Dämonen hängt, und er nennt auch dabei das Christentum nicht ausdrücklich, sondern sozusagen mit trauernder Miene gibt er Zeugnis davon und beklagt das Kommende in dem Sinne, als ob dadurch ein Gebrauch beseitigt und vernichtet werden solle, durch dessen Beobachtung das himmlische Abbild in Ägypten bewahrt wurde. Er gehört auch zu denen, über die der Apostel sagt, daß sie, „obgleich sie Gott erkannten, ihn doch nicht als Gott verherrlicht noch ihm gedankt haben, sondern sie wurden eitel in ihren Gedanken und ihr unverständiges Herz ward verfinstert; sie gaben sich nämlich für Weise aus, sind aber zu Toren geworden und verwandelten die Herrlichkeit des unvergänglichen Gottes in das Bild und Gleichnis des vergänglichen Menschen“, und was weiter folgt, hier aber anzuführen zu weitläufig wäre. Er bringt ja in der Tat über den einen wahren Gott und Weltschöpfer vieles vor, was der Wahrheit entspricht; und irgendwie verfällt er dann durch die angedeutete Verfinsterung des Herzens auf jene Ideen und meint nun, die Menschen sollten sich den Göttern, die nach seinem eigenen Eingeständnis von Menschen gemacht werden, für immer ergeben, und beklagt die künftige Beseitigung dieses Zustandes, als ob es überhaupt etwas Unseligeres geben könnte als einen Menschen, über den seine eigenen Gebilde einen beherrschenden Einfluß ausüben; da wäre doch eher noch denkbar, daß der Mensch bei der Verehrung von Gegenständen als Göttern, die er selbst gemacht hat, nicht mehr Mensch sei, als daß durch seine Verehrung Gegenstände Götter sein könnten, die der Mensch gemacht hat. Denn leichter kommt es vor, daß "ein Mensch, der in Ehren steht und es nicht bedenkt, den Tieren gleiche“, als daß dem nach Gottes Ebenbild erschaffenen Werke Gottes d. i. dem Menschen das Werk eines Menschen überzuordnen wäre. Mit Recht also kommt der Mensch dem ferne, der ihn geschaffen, wenn er sich überordnet, was er selbst geschaffen.

Mit Trauer erfüllte es Hermes, eine Zeit kommen zu sehen, da diese nichtigen, irreführenden, verderblichen und gotteslästerlichen Gebilde beseitigt würden; aber seine Trauer war ebenso unangebracht wie sein Sehen unerleuchtet. Denn ihm hatte dies nicht der heilige Geist geoffenbart, wie den heiligen Propheten, die es so kommen sahen und frohlockend ausriefen: „Wird der Mensch Götter machen, und siehe, sie sind doch keine Götter“; und an einer anderen Stelle: „Es wird geschehen an jenem Tage, spricht der Herr, da werde ich die Namen der Götzen ausrotten aus dem Lande und man wird ihrer nicht mehr gedenken“; und speziell von Ägypten weissagt mit Bezug hierauf der heilige Esaias: „Und es werden beben die Werke der Menschenhände in Ägypten vor seinem Antlitz und ihr Herz wird erliegen in ihrer Brust“, und anderes der Art. Zu dieser erleuchteten Schar gehörten auch jene, die sich freuten über die Erfüllung dessen, was kommen sollte, wie sie wußten, ein Symeon, eine Anna, die im Geiste Jesus erkannten alsbald nach seiner Geburt; eine Elisabeth, die ihn noch im Mutterschoße erkannte; ein Petrus, da er auf Offenbarung des Vaters hin sprach: „Du bist Christus, der Sohn des lebendigen Gottes“. Jenem Ägypter aber verrieten dieselben Geister ihr bevorstehendes Verderben, die ebenso zu dem im Fleische gegenwärtigen Herrn zitternd sagten: „Was bist du gekommen, uns vor der Zeit zu verderben?“ sei es, daß ihnen das zu plötzlich kam, was sie zwar erwarteten, aber doch erst später, oder daß sie als ihr Verderben die Verachtung bezeichneten, die auf ihre Entlarvung folgen mußte, und daß dies eintrat „vor der Zeit“, d. i. vor der Zeit des Gerichtes, da sie mit ewiger Verdammnis bestraft werden sollen mitsamt allen Menschen, die in Gemeinschaft mit ihnen verweilen, wie die Religion spricht, die nicht irre führt und nicht irre geht, so ganz anders als Hermes, der sozusagen „von jedem Wind der Lehre“ bald von der bald von der andern Seite angeblasen und Wahres mit Falschem mischend scheinbar den Untergang einer Religion beklagt, die er hinterher selbst als einen Irrtum bezeichnet.
— Übersetzt von Alfred Schröder. Bibliothek der Kirchenväter. München, Kempten, 1911-16.

 

Post multa enim ad hoc ipsum redit, ut iterum dicat de diis, quos homines fecerunt, ita loquens: „Sed iam de talibus sint satis dicta talia. Iterum, inquit, ad hominem rationemque redeamus, ex quo diuino dono homo animal dictum est rationale. Minus enim miranda etsi miranda sunt, quae de homine dicta sunt. Omnium enim mirabilium uicit admirationem, quod homo diuinam potuit inuenire naturam eamque efficere. Quoniam ergo proaui nostri multum errabant circa deorum rationem increduli et non animaduertentes ad cultum religionemque diuinam, inuenerunt artem, qua efficerent deos. Cui inuentae adiunxerunt uirtutem de mundi natura conuenientem, eamque miscentes, quoniam animas facere non poterant, euocantes animas daemonum uel angelorum eas indiderunt imaginibus sanctis diuinisque mysteriis, per quas idola et bene faciendi et male uires habere potuissent.“ Nescio utrum sic confiterentur ipsi daemones adiurati, quo modo iste confessus est. „Quoniam, inquit, proaui nostri multum errabant circa deorum rationem increduli et non animaduertentes ad cultum religionemque diuinam, inuenerunt artem qua efficerent deos.“ Numquidnam saltem mediocriter eos dixit errasse, ut hanc artem inuenirent faciendi deos, aut contentus fuit dicere: Errabant, nisi adderet et diceret: Multum errabant? Iste ergo multus error et incredulitas non animaduertentium ad cultum religionemque diuinam inuenit artem, qua efficeret deos. Et tamen quod multus error et incredulitas et a cultu ac religione diuina auersio animi inuenit, ut homo arte faceret deos, hoc dolet uir sapiens tamquam religionem diuinam uenturo certo tempore auferri. Vide si non et ui diuina maiorum suorum errorem praeteritum prodere, et ui diabolica poenam daemonum futuram dolere compellitur. Si enim proaui eorum multum errando circa deorum rationem incredulitate et auersione animi a cultu ac religione diuina inuenerunt artem, qua efficerent deos: quid mirum, si, haec ars detestanda quidquid fecit auersa a religione diuina, aufertur religione diuina, cum ueritas emendat errorem, fides redarguit incredulitatem, conuersio corrigit auersionem?

Si enim tacitis causis dixisset proauos suos inuenisse artem, qua facerent deos: nostrum fuit utique, si quid rectum piumque saperemus, adtendere et uidere nequaquam illos ad hanc artem peruenturos fuisse, qua homo deos facit, si a ueritate non aberrarent, si ea, quae Deo digna sunt, crederent, si animum aduerterent ad cultum religionemque diuinam; et tamen si causas artis huius nos diceremus multum errorem hominum et incredulitatem et animi errantis atque infidelis a diuina religione auersionem, utcumque ferenda esset inpudentia resistentium ueritati. Cum uero idem ipse, qui potestatem huius artis super omnia cetera miratur in homine, qua illi deos facere concessum est, et dolet uenturum esse tempus, quo haec omnia deorum figmenta ab hominibus instituta etiam legibus iubeantur auferri, confitetur tamen atque exprimit causas, quare ad ista peruentum sit, dicens proauos suos multo errore et incredulitate et animum non aduertendo ad cultum religionemque diuinam inuenisse hanc artem, qua facerent deos: nos quid oportet dicere, uel potius quid agere nisi quantas possumus gratias Domino Deo nostro, qui haec contrariis causis, quam instituta sunt, abstulit? Nam quod instituit multitudo erroris, abstulit uia ueritatis; quod instituit incredulitas, abstulit fides; quod instituit a cultu diuinae religionis auersio, abstulit ad unum uerum Deum sanctumque conuersio; nec in sola Aegypto, quam solam in isto plangit daemonum spiritus, sed in omni terra, quae cantat Domino canticum nouum, sicut uere sacrae et uere propheticae litterae praenuntiarunt, ubi scriptum est: Cantate Domino canticum nouum, cantate Domino omnis terra. Titulus quippe psalmi huius est: Quando domus aedificabatur post captiuitatem. Aedificatur enim domus Domino ciuitas Dei, quae est sancta ecclesia, in omni terra post eam captiuitatem, qua illos homines, de quibus credentibus in Deum tamquam lapidibus uiuis domus aedificatur, captos daemonia possidebant. Neque enim, quia deos homo faciebat, ideo non ab eis possidebatur ipse qui fecerat, quando in eorum societatem colendo traducebatur; societatem dico, non idolorum stolidorum, sed uersutorum daemoniorum. Nam quid sunt idola, nisi quod eadem scriptura dicit: Oculos habent, et non uidebunt, et quidquid tale de materiis licet affabre effigiatis, tamen uita sensuque carentibus dicendum fuit? Sed inmundi spiritus eisdem simulacris arte illa nefaria conligati cultorum suorum animas in suam societatem redigendo miserabiliter captiuauerant. Vnde dicit apostolus: Scimus quia nihil est idolum; sed quae immolant gentes, daemoniis immolant, et non Deo ; nolo uos socios fieri daemoniorum. Post hanc ergo captiuitatem, qua homines a malignis daemonibus tenebantur, Dei domus aedificatur in omni terra; unde titulum ille psalmus accepit, ubi dicitur: Cantate Domino canticum nouum, cantate Domino omnis terra. Cantate Domino, benedicite nomen eius, bene nuntiate diem ex die salutare eius. Adnuntiate in gentibus gloriam eius, in omnibus populis mirabilia eius; quoniam magnus Dominus et laudabilis nimis, terribilis est super omnes deos. Quia omnes dii gentium daemonia, dominus autem caecos fecit.

Qui ergo doluit uenturum fuisse tempus, quo auferretur cultus idolorum et in eos, qui colerent, dominatio daemoniorum, malo spiritu instigatus semper uolebat istam captiuitatem manere, qua transacta psalmus canit aedificari domum in omni terra. Praenuntiabat illa Hermes dolendo; praenuntiabat haec propheta gaudendo. Et quia Spiritus uictor est, qui haec per sanctos prophetas canebat, etiam Hermes ipse ea, quae nolebat et dolebat auferri, non a prudentibus et fidelibus et religiosis, sed ab errantibus et incredulis et a cultu diuinae religionis auersis esse instituta miris modis coactus est confiteri. Qui quamuis eos appellet deos, tamen cum dicit a talibus hominibus factos, quales esse utique non debemus, uelit nolit, ostendit colendos non esse ab eis, qui tales non sunt, quales fuerunt a quibus facti sunt, hoc est a prudentibus, fidelibus, religiosis; simul etiam demonstrans ipsos homines, qui eos fecerunt, sibimet inportasse, ut eos haberent deos, qui non erant dii. Verum est quippe illud propheticum: Si faciet homo deos, et ecce ipsi non sunt dii. Deos ergo tales, talium deos, arte factos a talibus, [cum appellasset Hermes,] id est idolis daemones per artem nescio quam cupiditatum suarum uinculis inligatos cum appellaret factos ab hominibus deos, non tamen eis dedit, quod Platonicus Apuleius (unde iam satis diximus et quam sit inconueniens absurdumque monstrauimus), ut ipsi essent interpretes et intercessores inter deos, quos fecit Deus, et homines, quos idem fecit Deus; hinc adferentes uota, inde munera referentes. Nimis enim stultum est credere deos, quos fecerunt homines, plus ualere apud deos, quos fecit Deus, quam ualent ipsi homines, quos idem ipse fecit Deus. Daemon quippe simulacro arte impia conligatus ab homine factus est deus, sed tali homini, non omni homini. Qualis est ergo iste deus, quem non faceret homo nisi errans et incredulus et auersus a uero Deo? Porro si daemones, qui coluntur in templis, per artem nescio quam imaginibus inditi, hoc est uisibilibus simulacris, ab eis hominibus, qui hac arte fecerunt deos, cum aberrarent auersique essent a cultu et religione diuina, non sunt internuntii nec interpretes inter homines et deos, et propter suos pessimos ac turpissimos mores, et quod homines, quamuis errantes et increduli et auersi a cultu ac religione diuina, tamen eis sine dubio meliores sunt, quos deos ipsi arte fecerunt: restat, ut, quod possunt, tamquam daemones possint, uel quasi beneficia praestando magis nocentes, quia magis decipientes, uel aperte malefaciendo (nec tamen quodlibet horum, nisi quando permittuntur alta et secreta Dei prouidentia), non autem tamquam medii inter homines et deos per amicitiam deorum multum apud homines ualeant. Hi enim diis bonis, quos sanctos angelos nos uocamus rationalesque creaturas sanctae caelestis habitationis siue sedes siue dominationes siue principatus siue potestates, amici esse omnino non possunt, a quibus tam longe absunt animi affectione, quam longe absunt a uirtutibus uitia et a bonitate malitia.
— VIII,xxiv.

Nach vielen Worten nämlich kehrt er wieder zu dem Ausgangspunkt zurück, zu den Göttern, die von Menschen geschaffen worden sind, und sagt von ihnen folgendes: „Doch genug hierüber. Wenden wir uns wieder dem Menschen und seiner Vernunft zu, jener göttlichen Gabe, die ihm die Bezeichnung: vernunftbegabtes Wesen eintrug. Denn was bisher über den Menschen vorgebracht worden ist, erscheint noch nicht als das Wunderbarste. Das Wunder aller Wunder ist nämlich dies, daß dem Menschen die Fähigkeit zuteil ward, die göttliche Natur zu erfinden und ins Leben zu rufen. Weil nun also unsere Vorfahren, ungläubig, wie sie waren, und unachtsam auf eine gotteswürdige Verehrung und Religion, hinsichtlich des Wesens der Götter in schwerem Irrtum befangen waren, erfanden sie eine Kunst, mittels deren sie Götter ins Leben zu rufen vermochten. Dieser Kunst fügten sie eine entsprechende Kraft aus der Natur der Welt bei und indem sie sie damit verbanden, riefen sie, da sie eine Seele zu schaffen nicht imstande waren, die Seelen von Dämonen oder Engeln herbei und bannten sie in die heiligen Bilder und in die göttlichen Mysterien, damit die Bildnisse durch diese Seelen die Macht hätten, Gutes und Böses zuzufügen“. Wollte man Dämonen beschwören, sie würden kaum soviel eingestehen, als hier Hermes eingestanden hat. Er sagt: „Weil unsere Vorfahren, ungläubig, wie sie waren, und unachtsam auf eine gotteswürdige Verehrung und Religion, hinsichtlich des Wesens der Götter in schwerem Irrtum befangen waren, erfanden sie eine Kunst, mittels deren sie Götter ins Leben zu rufen vermochten“. Hätte er es wenigstens als einen mäßigen Irrtum bezeichnet, daß sie diese Kunst des Göttermachens erfanden, oder hätte er sich begnügt, einfach zu sagen: „Darin gingen sie in die Irre“, aber nein, er geht weiter und sagt: „Sie waren in einem schweren Irrtum befangen“. Und dieser schwere Irrtum demnach und ihr Unglaube, verbunden mit Gleichgültigkeit gegen eine gotteswürdige Verehrung und Religion, gab ihnen eine Kunst an die Hand, mittels deren der Irrtum Götter ins Leben zu rufen vermochte. Aber gleichwohl beklagt Hermes, der weise Mann, daß diese aus schwerem Irrtum und aus Ungläubigkeit und aus Abkehr des Geistes von einer gotteswürdigen Verehrung und Religion hervorgegangene Erfindung, wonach der Mensch künstlich Götter machen kann, in Zukunft einmal zur bestimmten Zeit beseitigt werden soll, als würde damit eine gotteswürdige Religion beseitigt. Ist es nicht, als ob er einerseits unter göttlichem Einfluß den Irrtum seiner Vorfahren in der Vergangenheit aufzudecken, und andrerseits unter teuflischem Einfluß die Bestrafung der Dämonen in der Zukunft zu beklagen sich getrieben fühlte? Denn wenn ihre Vorfahren unter dem Druck eines schweren Irrtums über das Wesen der Götter aus Unglauben und Abkehr des Geistes von einer gotteswürdigen Verehrung und Religion die Kunst erfunden haben, Götter ins Leben zu rufen, was wunder dann, wenn das, was diese höchst verwerfliche Kunst in ihrer Abkehr von gotteswürdiger Religion geschaffen hat, durch die gotteswürdige Religion beseitigt wird, indem die Wahrheit den Irrtum ausmerzt, der Glaube den Unglauben überführt und an Stelle der Abkehr die Hinkehr tritt?

Hätte er nämlich, ohne Gründe anzugeben, einfach gesagt, seine Vorfahren hätten die Kunst erfunden, Götter zu machen, so wäre natürlich uns die Aufgabe zugefallen, wenn wir überhaupt recht und fromm fühlten, zu beachten und zu erkennen, daß sie zu solcher Kunst gewiß nicht gekommen wären, wenn sie nicht von der Wahrheit abgeirrt wären, wenn sie einen gotteswürdigen Glauben gehabt und ihrem Geist die Richtung auf eine gotteswürdige Verehrung und Religion gegeben hätten; und doch wäre, wenn wir erst als die Ursachen dieser Kunst einen schweren Irrtum der Menschen, den Unglauben und die Abkehr des irrenden und ungläubigen Geistes von einer gotteswürdigen Religion bezeichneten, die Hartnäckigkeit der Widersacher der Wahrheit noch einigermaßen erträglich. Da nun aber derselbe Hermes, der die Macht zu solcher Kunst, wodurch es dem Menschen verliehen ist, Götter zu machen, mehr als alles andere anstaunt am Menschen und es beklagt, daß eine Zeit kommen werde, da all diese von Menschen geschaffenen Wahngebilde von Göttern sogar gesetzlich abgeschafft werden, gleichwohl die Ursachen, weshalb es dazu gekommen ist, mit dürren Worten selbst zugibt, indem er sagt, seine Vorfahren seien aus schwerem Irrtum, aus Unglauben und aus Gleichgültigkeit gegen eine gotteswürdige Verehrung und Religion auf diese Kunst des Göttermachens verfallen, was brauchen da wir noch zu sagen als eben nur den größten Dank dem Herrn unserm Gott, der solchen Frevel durch die seiner Einführung entgegengesetzten Ursachen wieder beseitigt hat? Denn was ein Übermaß von Irrtum eingeführt hat, ist auf dem Wege der Wahrheit beseitigt worden; was der Unglaube eingeführt hat, ist durch den Glauben beseitigt worden; was die Abkehr von einer gotteswürdigen Verehrung und Religion eingeführt hat, ist durch die Hinkehr zum einen, wahren und heiligen Gott beseitigt worden; und zwar nicht bloß in Ägypten, dessen Verlust allein es ist, den der Geist der Dämonen durch den Mund des Hermes beklagt, sondern auf der ganzen Erde, die nun dem Herrn ein neues Lied singt, wie das die wirklich heiligen und wirklich prophetischen Schriften vorher gesagt haben in der Stelle: „Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, singet dem Herrn alle Lande“. Lautet doch der Titel dieses Psalmes: „Als das Haus aufgebaut wurde nach der Gefangenschaft“. Als Haus wird nämlich dem Herrn erbaut der Staat Gottes, der die heilige Kirche ist; er wird ihm erbaut auf der ganzen Erde nach Beendigung der Gefangenschaft, durch die die Dämonen jene Menschen im Besitz hatten, aus denen durch den Glauben an Gott das Haus erbaut wird wie aus lebendigen Steinen. Denn der Mensch darf nicht glauben, daß der Mensch deshalb, weil er selbst die Götter machte, von ihnen nicht hätte in Besitz genommen werden können, er, der Urheber der Götter; vielmehr wurde er durch ihre Verehrung in die Gemeinschaft mit ihnen hineingezogen, ich meine nicht in die Gemeinschaft mit blöden Götzen, sondern mit verschlagenen Dämonen. Götzen sind ja weiter nichts als Gebilde, wie sie die heilige Schrift beschreibt: „Sie haben Augen und werden nicht sehen“, und was sonst noch in dieser Art von solchen, wenn auch noch so kunstvoll gestalteten, doch eben des Lebens und der Empfindung ermangelnden Gebilden zu sagen war. Aber die unreinen Geister hatten, mit diesen Bildern durch jene ruchlose Kunst zusammengekoppelt, die Seelen ihrer Verehrer in die Gemeinschaft mit sich hineingezogen und dadurch der unwürdigsten Gefangenschaft unterworfen. Deshalb sagt der Apostel: „Wir wissen, daß der Götze nichts ist; aber was die Heiden opfern, das opfern sie den Dämonen und nicht Gott; ich will nicht, daß ihr Gemeinschaft habt mit den Dämonen“. Nach Beendigung dieser Gefangenschaft also, in der die Menschen von bösen Dämonen festgehalten wurden, wird das Haus Gottes auf der ganzen Erde aufgebaut; danach ist jener Psalm betitelt, worin es heißt: „Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, singet dem Herrn, alle Lande. Singet dem Herrn, benedeit seinen Namen, verkündet Tag für Tag die Freudenbotschaft seines Heiles. Verkündet unter den Völkern seine Herrlichkeit, unter allen Nationen seine Wunder; denn groß ist der Herr und des Preises würdig über die Maßen, ist furchtbar über alle Götter. Denn alle Götter der Heiden sind Dämonen, der Herr aber hat die Himmel gemacht.“

Also war der, der mit Wehklagen die Zeit kommen sah, da die Verehrung der Götzen und die Herrschaft der Dämonen über ihre Verehrer ein Ende nehmen sollte, von einem bösen Geiste geleitet, als er wünschte, daß die Gefangenschaft stets fürdauere, nach deren Beendigung das Haus auf der ganzen Erde erbaut wird, wie es im Psalme heißt. Hermes sagte das eine trauernd voraus, der Prophet das andere freudig. Und weil der Geist, der solches durch die heiligen Propheten weissagte, die Oberhand behält, so war auch Hermes seinerseits wunderbarer Weise genötigt zu bekennen, daß die Einrichtungen, deren Beseitigung er nicht wünschte, sondern verwünschte, nicht von einsichtsvollen, gläubigen und religiösen Menschen getroffen worden seien, sondern von verirrten, ungläubigen und der Pflege einer gotteswürdigen Religion entfremdeten Menschen. Und obgleich er ihre Schöpfungen Götter nennt, so gibt er doch dadurch, daß er sie auf Menschen zurückführt von Eigenschaften, wie wir sie doch wohl nicht haben sollen, ob er will oder nicht, deutlich zu verstehen, daß diese Götter von denen nicht verehrt zu werden brauchen, die nicht die Eigenschaften der Urheber dieser Götter haben, das heißt also, nicht von einsichtsvollen, gläubigen und religiösen Menschen; und zugleich beweist er auch, daß die Menschen, die solche Götter gemacht haben, sich damit Götter auf den Hals geladen haben, die keine waren. Steht doch fest das Wort des Propheten: „Wird der Mensch Götter machen, und siehe, sie sind doch keine Götter“. Wenn nun aber auch Hermes solche Götter, die Götter solcher Menschen, künstlich gemacht von solchen Menschen, d. h. die Dämonen, die mittels irgend welcher Kunst durch die Bande ihrer Begierden an Götzenbilder gefesselt wurden, als von Menschen gemachte Götter bezeichnete, so teilte er ihnen doch nicht die Aufgabe zu, wie der Platoniker Apuleius (wovon bereits ausführlich die Rede war und nachgewiesen wurde, wie unpassend und ungereimt dies sei), nämlich Dolmetscher und Vermittler zu sein zwischen den Göttern, die Gott geschaffen hat, und den Menschen, die derselbe Gott geschaffen hat, und von hienieden die Wünsche emporzutragen, von dort oben die Gaben herabzubringen. Es wäre ja auch doch zu albern, anzunehmen, daß Götter, die von Menschen geschaffen wurden, bei den Göttern, die Gott geschaffen hat, mehr vermöchten als die Menschen selbst, die auch Gott geschaffen hat. Denn der durch gottlose Kunst an ein Götterbildnis gebundene Dämon ist vom Menschen zum Gott gemacht worden, freilich nur für einen solchen Menschen, nicht für jeden Menschen. Was ist also das für ein Gott, den der Mensch nicht machen würde, ging er nicht die Wege des Irrtums, des Unglaubens und der Abkehr vom wahren Gott? Wenn nun die Dämonen, die in den Tempeln durch irgend welche Kunst in die Bilder d. i. in die sichtbaren Götterbildnisse gebannt, von Menschen verehrt werden, die durch solche Kunst sie zu Göttern gemacht haben im Irrtum und in der Abkehr von gotteswürdiger Verehrung und Religion, nicht Dolmetscher und Vermittler zwischen den Göttern und den Menschen sein können, sowohl wegen ihrer sittlichen Schlechtigkeit und Verkommenheit als auch deshalb nicht, weil die Menschen, so sehr sie auch in die Irre gehen und ungläubig und jeder gotteswürdigen Verehrung und Religion abgeneigt sind, doch ohne Zweifel besser sind als sie, die sie selbst durch Kunst zu Göttern gemacht haben, so bleibt nur übrig, daß solche Götter das, was sie vermögen, in ihrer Eigenschaft als Dämonen vermögen, und zwar sowohl dann, wenn sie zum Schein Wohltaten gewähren, aber dabei mehr Schaden anrichten, weil sie dadurch erst recht irre leiten, als auch dann, wenn sie offen Unheil stiften (das eine wie das andere vermögen sie jedoch nur, wenn es ihnen durch die erhabene und verborgene Vorsehung Gottes gestattet wird), daß sie aber nicht in der Eigenschaft von Mittlern zwischen den Menschen und den Göttern kraft freundschaftlicher Beziehung zu den Göttern vielvermögend sind zugunsten der Menschen. Denn sie können zu den guten Göttern, die wir unsererseits als heilige Engel und als die vernunftbegabten Geschöpfe des heiligen, himmlischen Wohnsitzes bezeichnen, „seien es Throne oder Herrschaften, Fürstentümer oder Gewalten“, unmöglich im Verhältnis von Freunden stehen, da sie von ihnen der Gesinnungsrichtung nach so weit abstehen, wie die Laster von den Tugenden und die Bosheit von der Güte.

 

Sane aduertendum est, quo modo iste Aegyptius, cum doleret tempus esse uenturum, quo illa auferrentur ex Aegypto, quae fatetur a multum errantibus et incredulis et a cultu diuinae religionis auersis esse instituta, ait inter cetera: „Tunc terra ista, sanctissima sedes delubrorum atque templorum, sepulcrorum erit mortuorumque plenissima“; quasi uero, si illa non auferrentur, non essent homines morituri, aut alibi essent mortui ponendi quam in terra; et utique, quanto plus uolueretur temporis et dierum, tanto maior esset numerus sepulcrorum propter maiorem numerum mortuorum. Sed hoc uidetur dolere, quod memoriae martyrum nostrorum templis eorum delubrisque succederent, ut uidelicet, qui haec legunt animo a nobis auerso atque peruerso, putent a paganis cultos fuisse deos in templis, a nobis autem coli mortuos in sepulcris. Tanta enim homines impii caecitate in montes quodam modo offendunt resque oculos suos ferientes nolunt uidere, ut non adtendant in omnibus litteris paganorum aut non inueniri aut uix inueniri deos, qui non homines fuerint mortuisque diuini honores delati sint. Omitto, quod Varro dicit omnes ab eis mortuos existimari manes deos et probat per ea sacra, quae omnibus fere mortuis exhibentur, ubi et ludos commemorat funebres, tamquam hoc sit maximum diuinitatis indicium, quod non soleant ludi nisi numinibus celebrari.

Hermes ipse, de quo nunc agitur, in eodem ipso libro, ubi quasi futura praenuntiando deplorans ait: „Tunc terra ista, sanctissima sedes delubrorum atque templorum, sepulcrorum erit mortuorumque plenissima“, deos Aegypti homines mortuos esse testatur. Cum enim dixisset proauos suos multum errantes circa deorum rationem, incredulos et non animaduertentes ad cultum religionemque diuinam, inuenisse artem, qua efficerent deos: „Cui inuentae, inquit, adiunxerunt uirtutem de mundi natura conuenientem eamque miscentes, quoniam animas facere non poterant, euocantes animas daemonum uel angelorum eas indiderunt imaginibus sanctis diuinisque mysteriis, per quas idola et bene faciendi et male uires habere potuissent.“ Deinde sequitur tamquam hoc exemplis probaturus et dicit: „Auus enim tuus, o Asclepi, medicinae primus Inuentor, cui templum consecratum est in monte Libyae circa litus crocodilorum, in quo eius iacet mundanus homo, id est corpus; reliquus enim, uel potius totus, si est homo totus in sensu uitae, melior remeauit in caelum, omnia etiam nunc hominibus adiumenta praestans infirmis numine nunc suo, quae solebat medicinae arte praebere.“ Ecce dixit mortuum coli pro deo in eo loco, ubi habebat sepulcrum, falsus ac fallens, quod remeauit in caelum. Adiungens deinde aliud: „Hermes, inquit, cuius auitum mihi nomen est, nonne in sibi cognomine patria consistens omnes morales undique uenientes adiuuat atque conseruat?“ Hic enim Hermes maior, id est Mercurius, quem dicit auum suum fuisse, in Hermopoli, hoc est in sui nominis ciuitate, esse perhibetur. Ecce duos deos dicit homines fuisse, Aesculapium et Mercurium. Sed de Aesculapio et Graeci et Latini hoc idem sentiunt; Mercurium autem multi non putant fuisse mortalem, quem tamen iste auum suum fuisse testatur. At enim alius est ille, alius iste, quamuis eodem nomine nuncupentur. Non multum pugno, alius ille sit, alius iste; uerum et iste, sicut Aesculapius, ex homine deus secundum testimonium tanti apud suos uiri, huius Trismegisti, nepotis sui.

Adhuc addit et dicit: „Isin uero Osiris quam multa bona praestare propitiam, quantis obesse scimus iratam!“ Deinde ut ostenderet ex hoc genere esse deos, quos illa arte homines faciunt (unde dat intellegi daemones se opinari ex hominum mortuorum animis extitisse, quos per artem, quam inuenerunt homines multum errantes, increduli et inreligiosi, ait inditos simulacris, quia hi, qui tales deos faciebant, animas facere non utique poterant), cum de Iside dixisset, quod commemoraui, „quantis obesse scimus iratam“, secutus adiunxit: „Terrenis etenim diis atque mundanis facile est irasci, utpote qui sint ab hominibus ex utraque natura facti atque compositi.“ „Ex utraque natura“ dicit ex anima et corpore, ut pro anima sit daemon, pro corpore simulacrum. „Vnde contigit, inquit, ab Aegyptiis haec sancta animalia nuncupari colique per singulas ciuitates eorum animas, quorum sunt consecratae uiuentes, ita ut eorum legibus incolantur et eorum nominibus nuncupentur.“ Vbi est illa uelut querela luctuosa, quod terra Aegypti, sanctissima sedes delubrorum atque templorum, sepulcrorum futura esset mortuorumque plenissima? Nempe spiritus fallax, cuius instinctu Hermes ista dicebat, per eum ipsum coactus est confiteri iam tunc illam terram sepulcrorum et mortuorum, quos pro diis colebant, fuisse plenissimam. Sed dolor daemonum per eum loquebatur, qui suas futuras poenas apud sanctorum martyrum memorias inminere maerebant. In multis enim talibus locis torquentur et confitentur et de possessis hominum corporibus eiciuntur.
— VIII,xxvi.

Immerhin ist beachtenswert, wie dieser Ägypter in demselben Zusammenhang, wo er mit Bedauern von der Zeit spricht, da die Einrichtungen in Ägypten ihr Ende finden sollen, die nach seinem eigenen Eingeständnis von weit abirrenden, ungläubigen und der Pflege gotteswürdiger Religion ferne stehenden Menschen getroffen worden sind, unter anderm sagt: „Alsdann wird dieses Land, der hochheilige Boden der Heiligtümer und Tempel, ein großes Gräber- und Totenfeld werden“; als wenn die Menschen, wenn jene Einrichtungen nicht verschwänden, nicht hätten sterben oder die Toten anderswo als im Lande hätten bestattet werden müssen, und selbstverständlich, je längere Zeit verfließen würde, umso größer die Zahl der Gräber würde wegen der sich mehrenden Zahl der Toten. Allein er scheint vielmehr darüber der Trauer Ausdruck geben zu wollen, daß die Gedächtnisstätten unserer Märtyrer an die Stelle ihrer Tempel und Heiligtümer treten würden; es sollten wohl die, die das mit einer uns abgeneigten und schlechten Gesinnung lesen, zu der Meinung kommen, von den Heiden seien Götter in Tempeln verehrt worden, wir aber verehrten Tote in Gräbern. Denn mit solcher Blindheit rennen gottlose Menschen sozusagen wider Berge an und wollen sie Dinge, die ihren Augen wehe tun, einfach nicht sehen, daß sie nicht beachten, wie sich in der gesamten Literatur der Heiden keine oder fast keine Götter finden, die nicht Menschen gewesen wären, denen nach ihrem Tode göttliche Ehren erwiesen werden. Ich will hier nicht erst an Varros Ausspruch erinnern, daß von den Heiden alle Verstorbenen für Manengötter gehalten wurden und an seinen Beweis für diese Behauptung aus dem heiligen Dienst, der fast allen Verstorbenen erwiesen wird, wobei er auch auf die Totenspiele hinweist, als wäre das das Hauptkennzeichen der Göttlichkeit, weil man Spiele nur Gottheiten zu weihen pflege.

Hermes, um den es sich hier handelt, gibt ja selbst in dem nämlichen Buche, worin er wie eine Art Seher klagend spricht: „Alsdann wird dieses Land, der hochheilige Boden der Heiligtümer und Tempel, ein großes Gräber- und Totenfeld werden“, Zeugnis dafür, daß die Götter Ägyptens verstorbene Menschen seien. Nachdem er nämlich erwähnt hat, daß seine Vorfahren, weil sie sich über das Wesen der Götter in schwerem Irrtum befanden und ungläubig waren und unachtsam auf eise gotteswürdige Verehrung und Religion, eine Kunst erfunden hätten, mittels deren sie Götter ins Leben zu rufen vermochten, läßt er sich dahin vernehmen: „Dieser Kunst fügten sie eine entsprechende Kraft aus der Natur der Welt bei und indem sie sie damit verbanden, riefen sie, da sie eine Seele zu schaffen nicht imstande waren, die Seelen von Dämonen oder Engeln herbei und bannten sie in die heiligen Bilder und in die göttlichen Mysterien, damit die Bildnisse durch diese Seelen die Macht hätten, Gutes und Böses zuzufügen.“ Darauf fährt er fort, wie um seine Worte mit Beispielen zu belegen: „Denn dein Großvater, Asklepius, der Erfinder der Arzneikunde, dem auf einem Berge Lybiens in der Nähe des Krokodilgestades ein Tempel geweiht ist, worin sein irdischer Mensch ruht, d. h. sein Leib — denn sein übrig Teil oder vielmehr der ganze Mensch, wofern der ganze Mensch in Leben und Empfindung besteht, ist in vollkommenerem Zustand in den Himmel zurückgekehrt —, gewährt auch jetzt den kranken Menschen durch seine göttliche Wundermacht all die Hilfe, die er durch die Kunst der Medizin darzubieten pflegte“. Er sagt also mit aller wünschenswerten Deutlichkeit, daß ein Verstorbener als Gott verehrt werde an der Stätte, wo er sein Grab hatte, wobei er jedoch darin sich irrt und irreführt, daß er sagt, er sei in den Himmel zurückgekehrt. Er gibt sodann noch ein weiteres Beispiel: „Und läßt nicht Hermes, mein Großvater, dessen Namen ich führe, in seiner nach ihm benannten Vaterstadt, wo er seinen Sitz hat, allen Sterblichen, die von überallher kommen, seinen Beistand und Schutz angedeihen?“ Dieser ältere Hermes nämlich d. i. Mercurius, den er seinen Großvater nennt, soll sich in Hermopolis, das ist die nach ihm benannte Stadt, befinden. Also von zwei Göttern sagt er ausdrücklich, daß sie Menschen gewesen seien, von Äskulap und von Mercurius. Allein von Äskulap nehmen die Griechen und die Lateiner das gleiche an; Mercurius jedoch gilt in den Augen vieler nicht als Sterblicher, obwohl Trismegistus bezeugt, daß er sein Großvater gewesen sei. Aber der Gott Hermes ist doch ein anderer als der Großvater des Trismegistus, wenn auch beide den gleichen Namen führen. Darüber streite ich nicht lang; mag Hermes-Mercurius ein anderer sein als Hermes, der Großvater des Trismegistus; es genügt, daß auch dieser, wie Äskulap, aus einem Menschen ein Gott ward nach dem Zeugnis eines bei den Seinigen so hoch angesehenen Mannes, eben des Trismegistus, seines Enkels.

Hermes fährt weiter fort: „Wieviele Güter, wir wissen es ja, verleiht doch Isis, des Osiris Gemahlin, wenn sie gnädig ist, wie arg schadet sie, wenn sie zürnt!“ Und um darzutun, daß die Götter, die mittels der erwähnten Kunst von Menschen geschaffen werden, zu dieser Art von reizbaren Göttern gehören (woraus man abnehmen mag, daß er die Dämonen, die nach ihm mittels einer Kunst, welche von weit abirrenden, ungläubigen und unfrommen Menschen erfunden ward, in Bildnisse gebannt wurden, weil diese Göttermacher eben doch keine Seele zu erschaffen vermochten, aus den Seelen verstorbener Menschen erstehen läßt), so schließt er an die angeführten Worte: „wie arg schadet sie, wenn sie zürnt“ die Bemerkung an: „Denn die irdischen und der Welt angehörigen Götter können wohl in Zorn geraten, da sie von den Menschen aus beiden Naturen geschaffen und zusammengesetzt sind“. Unter den „beiden Naturen“ versteht er Seele und Leib, wobei der Dämon die Stelle der Seele, das Bildnis die des Leibes vertritt. „So kam es“, fährt er fort, „daß diese Schöpfungen der Menschen von den Ägyptern als heilige Lebewesen bezeichnet werden und daß in den einzelnen Städten die Seelen, die sich bei Lebzeiten ihrer Träger geheiligt haben, verehrt werden und zwar in der Weise, daß sich die Einwohner nach deren Vorschriften richten und die Städte nach deren Namen benannt werden.“ Wo bleibt nun noch Platz für die heuchlerische Klage und Trauer, daß das Land Ägypten, der hochheilige Sitz der Heiligtümer und Tempel, ein großes Gräber- und Leichenfeld werden würde? Hier hat offenbar der Truggeist, auf dessen Anregung hin Hermes der Klage Ausdruck gab, eben durch des Hermes Mund eingestehen müssen, daß dieses Land schon damals ein Gräber- und Leichenfeld war, ein Friedhof von solchen, die sie als Götter verehrten. Es war der Schmerz der Dämonen, der aus ihm sprach, und sie trauerten darüber, daß ihnen dereinst an den Gedächtnisstätten der heiligen Märtyrer Peinen bevorstehen sollten. Denn an vielen solchen Stätten werden sie gequält und zum Bekenntnis gebracht und aus den besessenen Menschenleibern vertrieben.

 

Marsilio Ficino: Mercurii ad Æsculapium sermo universalis

Deus atque ipsa diuinitas dico nunc non quod genitum sed quod ingenitum. Si ergo diuinum sit, essentia est; sin deus, super essentiam. Intelligibile autem id hoc pacto: intelligibilis enim deus primus non sibi, sed nobis extitit; intelligibile quippe intelligenti per sensum subincidit; deus itaque minime sibi intelligibilis; non enim aliud quiddam existens preter id quod intelligit, intelligitur a se ipso; est tamen differens quiddam a nobis, iccirco a nobis intelligitur. Quod si intelligibilis locus, non deus, immo locus; sin ut deus, haud sane ut locus, verum tamquam discretiuus actus. Omne autem quod mouetur, non in moto sed in quodam stabili mouetur; ipsum quoque quod mouet etiam permanet. impossibile enim est cum eo simul agitari.

Æsculapius. Quonam igitur pacto, Trismegiste, ea quæ in mundo insunt mutantur una cum iis quæ mouent. Nam speras erraticas ab aplane spera moueri dicebas.

Trismegistus. Iste non motus, o Æsculapi, sed resistentia est. Non enim eodem, sed modo contrario gradiuntur; oppositio uero reuerberatione motionis stabilem continet; repercussio enim stationis agitatio est; ideoque erraticæ spere e contraria ac aplane subalternæ inuicem discurrendo obuiatione contraria circa oppositionem huiusmodi ab ea quæ perstat agitantur. Quod quidem aliter habere se nequit. Nam Artos ipsas, quas nosti nec exoriri umquam nec mergi circa idem perpetuo recurrentes, num moueri censes an consistere potius?

Æsculapius. Moueri, o Trismegiste.

Trismegistus. Quonam motu Æsculapi?

Æsculapius. Motione circa idem sempiterne currente.

Trismegistus. At uero circulatio illa idem & circa idem motus a statione contentus. Ipsum namque circa idem prohibet quod super ipsum; impeditum autem id quod super ipsum, circa idem instat, atque ita contraria agitatio firma est, ab ipsa oppositione perpetuo stabilita. Exempla tibi ante oculos ponam in terris uiuentium, ueluti dum homo quis natat, currente nimirum aqua, manuum simul & pedum repercussio stare hominem efficit, ne cum aqua pariter collabatur aut mergatur in eam.

Æsculapius. Perspicuum, o Trismegiste exemplum in medium attulisti.

Trismegistus. Quodcumque ergo mouetur, in statu & a statu mouetur. Motus itaque animalis omnis, quod ex materia constat, nequaquam fit ab ijs quæ sunt extrema mundum, cæterum ab internis ad externa, seu ab anima siue a spiritu siue ab alio quodam incorporali. Corpus enim corpus animatum minime mouet, sed neque totum simul corpus, etsi inanimatum existat.

Æsculapius. Qua ratione id asseris, o Trismegiste.

Trismegistus. Ligna & lapides, & cætera omnia, quæcumque animam habent, non mouentur a corporibus, Æsculapi. Quod enim intra corpus mouens ipsum inanimatum, non utique corpus illud est. quo mouentur utraque, & corpus eius quod fert eiusque quod fertur; inde illud quoque quod dormit animatum est, ob eam potissimum rationem, quod mouet. Nonne ergo perspicis animam tunc onerari maxime, quando sola duo corpora substinet? Quin etiam manifestum est quicquid mouetur in aliquo & ab aliquo stante moueri.

Æsculapius. In illo utique mutari oportet quæ mutantur, o Trismegiste.

Trismegistus. Recte dicis, Æsculapi. Nihil est in rerum ordine uacuum; solum uero quod non est, quod priuetur existentia, uacuum nuncupandum. Nihil enim reperiri potest quod, cum existat, uacuum sit.

Æsculapius. Nonne reperiuntur etiam quædam uacua, Trismegiste, ueluti dolium uacuum, uacuus puteus & similia quoque quam plurima?

Trismegistus. Heu, quam procul a ueritate uagaris, o Æsculapi! Quæ & ampla & maxime omnium plena sunt, ea tu uacua putas.

Æsculapius. Quomodo id, o Trismegiste?

Trismegistus. Aer profecto corpus est; id corpus reliqua penetrat discurrensque replet omnia. Corpus enim huiusmodi est ex corporibus non compositum. Quo fit ut quæcumque tu uacua nuncupas, plena sint aeris. Itaque concaua potius ista quam uacua nominari debent. Nam & existunt & aeris spiritusque sunt plena.

Æsculapius. Inuicta atque indubia hæc est ratio, Trismegiste. Aer corpus est; id corpus reliqua permanat atque influens complet omnia. Locum in quo omne mouetur, quid esse dicemus?

Trismegistus. Incorporeum, o Æsculapi.

Æsculapius. Incorporeum uero quid?

Trismegistus. Mens ac ratio sese complectens, libera ab omni corporis mole, ab errore aliena, impatibilis. intangibilis, ipsa sibi asistens, purgans atque seruans omnia, cuius radi sunt bonum, ueritas principale lumen primaque animarum forma.

Æsculapius. Deus quid est?

Trismegistus. Quod nullum ex his est, horum tamen omnium ut sint causa, præsens quidem cunctis, præsens etiam unicuique, nec quicquam permictit non esse; omnia vero ex his quæ sunt procreantur, de nihilo autem nihil prouenit. Nam quæ minimæ sunt, naturam nullam habent qua fieri ualeant, at naturam potius qua non ualeant; contra ea quæ sunt, naturam quidem non habent per quam aliquando non existant.

Æsculapius. Quid igitur ais de non esse aliquando?

Trismegistus. Deus profecto mens non est, at uero ut sit mens causa; nec spiritus, sed causa qua spiritus extat; neque lumen, uerum causa qua lumen existit. Vnde deum colere oportet duobus iis cognomentis, quæ soli competunt illi, cæterorum uero nulli penitus congruunt. Etenim ex his qui præter ipsum appellantur dii, seu dæmones siue homines, nullus esse tam bonus potest quam deus unicus. Is enim ipsum bonum est nec aliud quicquam præter bonum; reliqua omnia ab ipsa boni natura secreta sunt; corpus quidem & anima locum habent nullum quo bonum capiant. Tam ampla enim est bonitas quam existentia rerum omnium, tum corporalium, tum etiam incorporalium, sensibiliumque, & intelligibilium. Id bonum est, is est deus. Caue itaque nequando dixeris aliud quicquam bonum: prophanus enim hic foret error. Neque etiam dixeris deum aliud quiddam præter solum bonum: in eamdem quippe impietatem incideres. Sermone igitur ab omnibus bonum pronunciatur; quid tamen sit, non ab omnibus intelligitur. Iccirco deus non cognoscitur ab omnibus. Verum propter ignorantiam tum deos, tum etiam nonnullos homines bonos nominant; numquam tamen esse boni possunt neque etiam fieri. Reliqui igitur dii cuncti immortales honorati nomine dei; deus autem bonum non secundum honorationem, sed ipsa sui natura. Vna enim dei natura est, ipsum scilicet bonum; unum quidem est in utriusque nominibus, unde cuncta genera profluunt. Bonus enim porrigit uniuersa, neque accipit quicquam. Deus exhibet omnia, capit nihil. Igitur deus bonum ac bonum deus. Altera dei appellatio pater est, ob eam causam quod omnia gignit. Patris enim officium generare. Quapropter præstans id in uita censetur studium atque pium apud sapientes, procreatio liberorum; extrema uero omnium calamitas & impietas accidit illi qui absque filiis e uita decedit, qua de causa dæmonibus dat pœnas post obitum. Supplicium denique huiuscemodi est, ut sterilis anima in corpus quoddam per iudicium migret cui nec maris nec feminæ natura insit, quod quidem a sole eleuatum est atque connexum. Igitur, o Æsculapi, cum homine qui nullos genuit filios nullum habeto commertium; infelicitatis tamen eius miscere, cum noueris quæ hunc mulcta post interitum maneat. Tot igitur tibi & talia dicta sint, Æsculapi, ex quibus præcognitio quædam omnium naturæ colligitur.
Opera et quæ hactenus extitere et quæ in lucem nunc primum prodiere omnia. Basel: Henricpetri, 1576. II, pp. 1839-1841.
Der Text ist nach der Ausgabe von Maurizio Campanelli: Mercurio Trismegisto, Pimander sive de potestate et sapientia dei, Torino: Nino Aragno, 2011, pp. 21-26, korrigiert, die Orthographie folgt dem Basler Druck.

God and divinity itself. I speak now not of that which is engendered, but of that which is not engendered. Thus if it is divine, it is essence. If it is God it is above essence. But it is intelligible in the following manner: for God is the first to be intelligible, not to himself but to us. For the intelligible comes to he who perceives it. Therefore God is unintelligible to himself. For he has no existence other than that which he perceives: perceived by himself. But he is separate from us, and is therefore perceived by us. If place is intelligible, it is not as God but as place. If as God, certainly not as place, but rather as discernible activity. All that is moved, is not moved within something that moves, but within something that is immobile. And that which sets in motion also remains fast. For it is impossible that they should be moved together.

Æsculapius: If so, Trismegistus, how come all that exists in the world, is moved together with that which moves it? For you have said that the wandering spheres are moved by the fixed sphere.

Trismegistus: This is not motion, Aesculapius, but rather resistance, for they progress not in the same, but in the opposite way. Indeed resistance constitutes an immobile repulsion of motion. For repulsion is the motion of the immobile. Thus the wandering spheres are moved in opposition to the fixed sphere, rushing apart, the one beneath the other, moving in opposition to that which is immobile. And this cannot be otherwise. You may know that Ursa Major and Minor, constantly orbiting the same point, neither rise nor set. Do you think they move or remain fixed?

Æsculapius: They move, O Trismegistus.

Trismegistus: And what sort of motion, Aesculapius?

Æsculapius: By constant motion around the same point.

Trismegistus: But this revolution is motion around the same point, maintained by lack of motion, for this motion around that point hinders that which is above it. And that which is hindered above it, remains fixed around the same point. And thus the steadfast counter-motion is made so by the same constant opposition. I will give you a clear example, from among the living creatures. For example, when a man swims, although the water possesses a current, the hands and feet together, through their resistance, maintain his stability, so that he is neither swept away with the waters nor drowns in them.

Æsculapius: O Trismegistus, you have given a clear example.

Trismegistus: Thus that which is moved, is moved in immobility and by immobility. The movement of all living things made of matter is never brought about by elements outside the world, but rather by internal elements acting upon the external, by soul or spirit, or some other incorporeal thing. For a body does not move an animate body, nor any body whatsoever, albeit inanimate.

Æsculapius: How do you explain this, O Trismegistus?

Trismegistus: Wooden objects and stones and all that is animate, are not moved by bodies, Aesculapius. It is that which is in the body moving the inanimate object - by no means the body itself - by which the two are moved, both the body that bears and that which is borne. And that which is inactive is also animated, primarily because it moves. Do you not see that the soul bears a very great burden, bearing two bodies alone. It is then manifest that what is moved is moved within something and by something immobile.

Æsculapius: Do those things which are moved need to be moved in [something immobile], O Trismegistus?

Trismegistus: You speak well, Aesculapius. Nothing in the order of things is a vacuum. Only that which is not, which lacks existence, can be called a vacuum. For nothing could exist and be a vacuum.

Æsculapius: Is there nothing that is empty, Trismegistus? Like an empty jar, an empty well, and all things of this sort?

Trismegistus: O how far you are from the truth, Aesculapius. You believe that which is full and brimming to be empty.

Æsculapius: How come, O Trismegistus?

Trismegistus: Air is certainly a body. This body penetrates others, and expanding, fills everything, for a body of this kind is not made up of bodies. And so things you call empty are full of air. They should thus be called hollow rather than empty. For they both exist and are filled with air and breath.

Æsculapius: These words are irrefutable, Trismegistus. Air is a body. This body pervades others, and expanding fills everything. What should we call the place in which all is moved?

Trismegistus: Incorporeal, O Aesculapius.

Æsculapius: And what is incorporeal?

Trismegistus: Mind and reason enclosing itself, free of all physical mass, without error, unsuffering, untouchable, set within itself, purifying and safeguarding all, and its rays are good, truth, the first light, and the archetype of souls.

Æsculapius: What is God?

Trismegistus: None of these things, but nevertheless the reason of their being, existing for all of them and for each of them. And he does not allow any not to exist, but all is created from that which is, and nothing comes from nothing. For those things which are not, lack a nature by which they might come into being, but possess a nature by which they might not come into being. While those things which are, lack a nature by which they might not exist at any time.

Æsculapius: What do you mean by not existing at any time?

Trismegistus: God is certainly not Mind, but nevertheless the reason of its being. Nor is he Spirit, but nevertheless the reason of its being. Nor is he Light, but nevertheless the reason of its being. Hence God must be revered with the two names which are unique to him and belong to no other. Of those other than him, who are called gods, demons or men, none can be as good as the only God. He is good itself and nothing but good, and all other things are separate from this nature of good. And body and soul have no place from which to obtain good, for goodness is as great as the existence of all things, whether corporeal or incorporeal, tangible or intelligible. This is the good. This is God. Beware therefore, lest you call anything else good, for this would be an impious mistake, and lest you say that God is anything other than good, for this too would be impious. For good is uttered by all, but not understood by all. For this reason, God is not grasped by all, but in ignorance both gods and some men are called good, while they can neither be nor become good. Thus all the other immortal gods are honoured with the name ‘god’, but God is the good not by honour, but by his own nature. For the nature of God is only one thing - the good. This is one thing with two names, from which all kinds derive. For the good being, gives all and receives nothing. God gives everything and takes nothing, so that God is good and good is God. Another name of God is the Father, because He creates all. For it is the function of a father to beget. Procreation is therefore considered by the wise to be a significant and pious task in life, while all calamity and impiety befall he who dies childless. For this reason he is castigated by demons after death. The punishment is as follows: the barren soul, through judgement, enters a body which is neither male nor female in nature, a thing which is elevated and bound together by the sun. Therefore Aesculapius, do not consort with one who has no children. You should rather, pity his misfortune, as you know what awaits him after death. This is all you should be told, as it should be told, Aesculapius, and it comprises foreknowledge of the nature of all things.

— Translated from Ficino’s Latin version by Ilana Klutstein.


Translated from the Greek by G. R. S. Mead:Hermes. All that is moved, Asclepius, is it not moved in something and by something?
Asclepius. Assuredly.
Hermes. And must not that in which it’s moved be greater than the moved?
Asclepius. It must.
Hermes. Mover, again, has greater power than moved?
Asclepius. It has, of course.
Hermes. The nature, furthermore, of that in which it’s moved must be quite other from the nature of the moved?
Asclepius. It must completely.
Hermes. Is not, again, this cosmos vast, [so vast] that than it there exists no body greater?
Asclepius. Assuredly.
Hermes. And massive too, for it is crammed with multitudes of other mighty frames, nay rather all the other bodies that there are?
Asclepius. It is.
Hermes. And yet the cosmos is a body?
Asclepius. It is a body.
Hermes. And one that’s moved?
Asclepius. Assuredly.
Hermes. 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?
Asclepius. Something, Thrice-greatest one, it needs must be, immensely vast.
Hermes. And of what nature? Must it not be, Asclepius, of just the contrary? And is not contrary to body bodiless?
Asclepius. Agreed.
Hermes. 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. 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” 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. 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, 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.
Asclepius. 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.
Hermes. 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. 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 up there, which neither set nor rise, think’st thou they rest or move?
Asclepius. They move, Thrice-greatest one.
Hermes. And what their motion, my Asclepius?
Asclepius. Motion that turns for ever round the same.
Hermes. 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. 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.
Asclepius. Thou hast, Thrice-greatest one, adduced a most clear instance.
Hermes. 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.
Asclepius. 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?
Hermes. 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.
Asclepius. Yea, O Thrice-greatest one, things moved must needs be moved in something void.
Hermes. 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.
Asclepius. 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?
Hermes. Alack, Asclepius, for thy far-wandering from the truth! Think’st thou that things most full and most replete are void?
Asclepius. How meanest thou, Thrice-greatest one?
Hermes. Is not air body?
Asclepius. It is.
Hermes. 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.” 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.
Asclepius. 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?
Hermes. The Bodiless, Asclepius.
Asclepius. What, then, is Bodiless?
Hermes. ’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.
Asclepius. What, then, is God?
Hermes. 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.
Asclepius. What say’st thou ever, then, God is?
Hermes. 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. 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. 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. 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.

 

Frances A. Yates: Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition

Egyptian Religion. The Asclepius or The Perfect Word (that the latter is the correct title would have been known from Lactantius who calls it Sermo Perfectus; optimist gnosis).

Hermes Trismegistus, Asclepius, Tat, and Hammon meet together in an Egyptian temple. No others were admitted, for it would be impious to divulge to the masses a teaching entirely filled with the divine majesty. When the fervour of the four men and the presence of God had filled the holy place, the divine love (divinus Cupido) began to speak through the lips of Hermes.

All descends from heaven, from the One who is the All, by the intermediary of the heaven. Attend carefully to this, with full application of your divine intellect, for the doctrine of the divinity is like a torrential flood coming down from the heights with violent impetuosity. From the celestial bodies there are spread throughout the world continual effluvia, through the souls of all species and of all individuals from one end to the other of nature. Matter has been prepared by God to be the receptacle of all forms; and nature, imprinting the forms by means of the four elements, prolongs up to heaven the series of beings.

All species reproduce their individuals, whether demons, men, birds, animals, and so on. The individuals of the human race are diverse; having come down from on high where they had commerce with the race of demons they contract links with all other species. That man is near to the gods who, thanks to the spirit which relates him to the gods, has united himself to them with a religion inspired by heaven.

And so, O Asclepius, man is a magnum miraculum, a being worthy of reverence and honour. For he goes into the nature of a god as though he were himself a god; he has familiarity with the race of demons, knowing that he is of the same origin; he despises that part of his nature which is only human for he has put his hope in the divinity of the other part.

Man is united to the gods by what he has of the divine, his intellect; all other creatures are bound to him by the celestial plan and he attaches them to himself by knots of love. This union of gods with men is not for all men but only for those who have the faculty of intellection. Thus alone among creatures, man is double, one part like God, the other formed of the elements. The reason why man was condemned to this double nature is as follows.

When God had created the second god, he seemed to him beautiful and he loved him as the offspring of his divinity (“as his Son” according to Lactantius, who regards this as one of the passages in which Hermes prophesies Christianity). But there had to be another being who could contemplate what God had made and so he created man. Seeing that man could not regulate all things unless he gave him a material envelope he gave him a body. Thus man was formed from a double origin, so that he could both admire and adore celestial things and take care of terrestrial things and govern them.

The soul of the gods is said to be all intellect, but this is true only of the superior gods, for there are many gods, some intelligible, some sensible.

The chief or principal gods are as follows (I here combine two passages on the principal gods).

The Ruler of Heaven is Jupiter; and through the intermediary of heaven he dispenses life to all beings. (Possibly an earlier statement that it is breath or spiritus which keeps life in all the beings of the world relates to this supremacy of Jupiter, the god of Air.) Jupiter occupies a place intermediary between heaven and earth. The Sun, or Light, for it is through the intermediary of the solar circle that light is spread to all. The Sun illuminates the other stars not so much by the power of his light as by his divinity and sanctity. He must be held as the second god. The world is living and all things in it are alive and it is the sun which governs all living things.

Next in the order of gods are the Thirty-Six, which are called Horoscopes, that is stars fixed in the same place who have for their chief a god called Pantomorph or Omniform who imposes their particular forms on the individual of each species. No individual form can be born exactly the same as another; these forms change as many times an hour as there are moments within the circle in the interior of which resides the great god Omniform. (These thirty-six gods are the decans, or divisions of ten degrees into which the 360 degrees of the circle of the zodiac are divided. Note in the Egyptian theological system here presented the great importance of the sun and the zodiac with its decans.)

Finally, in the list of gods come the seven spheres who have as their ruler Fortune or Destiny. Air is the instrument or organ of all these gods.

Having spoken of the society which unites gods and men, you must know, O Asclepius, the power and force of man. Just as the Lord and Father is the creator of the gods of heaven, so man is the author of the gods who reside in the temples. Not only does he receive life, but he gives it in his turn. Not only does he progress towards God, but he makes gods.

Do you mean the statues, O Trismegistus?

Yes, the statues, Asclepius. They are animated statues full of sensus and spiritus who can accomplish many things, foretelling the future, giving ills to men and curing them.

(I attach here a later passage on the man-made gods.)

What we have said about man is already marvellous, but most marvellous of all is that he has been able to discover the nature of the gods and to reproduce it. Our first ancestors invented the art of making gods. They mingled a virtue, drawn from material nature, to the substance of the statues, and “since they could not actually create souls, after having evoked the souls of demons or angels, they introduced these into their idols by holy and divine rites, so that the idols had the power of doing good and evil.” These terrestrial or man-made gods result from a composition of herbs, stones, and aromatics which contain in themselves an occult virtue of divine efficacy. And if one tries to please them with numerous sacrifices, hymns, songs of praise, sweet concerts which recall the harmony of heaven, this is in order that the celestial element which has been introduced into the idol by the repeated practice of the celestial rites may joyously support its long dwelling amongst men. That is how man makes gods. Hermes adds as examples of such gods, the worship of Asclepius, of his own ancestor, Hermes, and of Isis (implying the cult of the statues of these divinities); and he mentions here, too, the Egyptian worship of animals.

(I revert now to an earlier part of the Asclepius.)

Yet the religion of Egypt, and its wise and true cult of the divine All in One, is destined to pass away.
— London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964. pp. 35-37.

 

Vincent Hunink: Apuleius and the Asclepius.

The objections commonly raised against Apuleian authorship are open to doubt. Especially the assumed late date may be questioned, since it is mainly based on evidence of Augustine and Lactantius which is not alltogether conclusive.

On the other hand, there are indications on several levels, that may well point to Apuleius. His insatiable curiosity about philosophy and religion, mystery cults, magic and Egypt would make it not unlikely that he sought access to Hermetic sources. A translation of a dialogue in Greek would fit in perfectly in his oeuvre. Nothing in the style or idiom seems to make his authorship impossible. On the contrary, there are even several important stylistical and lexical parallels between the Ascl. and the Apuleian corpus.
pp. 298-299. In: Vigiliae Christianae 50, 1996, 288-308.

 

Matthias Heiduk: Offene Geheimnisse – Hermetische Texte und verborgenes Wissen in der mittelalterlichen Rezeption von Augustinus bis Albertus Magnus

Gestaltet ist der ‚Asclepius‘ als Dialog zwischen Hermes und seinem namengebenden Schüler Asklepios bzw. Asclepius gemäß der lateinischen Fassung. Die vertraute Unterredimg erfolgt im Beisein zweier weiterer mythischer ‚Lehrlingsgestalten‘, Tat und Ammon, die sich allerdings in den Dialog nicht einschalten und daher keine weitere Rolle spielen. Das Gespräch findet in einem Heiligtum statt, dem richtigen Ort, wie es heißt, für göttliche Inspiration. Gleich in seiner Begrüßung fällt Hermes eine erste zentrale Aussage: Gott ist einer und alles. Auf die einleitende Frage des Asclepius, ob die Seele in allen Menschen von einerlei Art sei, führt Hermes zunächst seine Lehre von Gott und dem Schöpfungswerk aus und beginnt dabei mit dem Aufbau des Kosmos.

Wichtige Bestandteile der Schöpfung seien die Natur, die Seele, die vier Elemente und die Gattungen und Einzelformen. Die Vielfalt des Kosmos gehe aus der schöpferischen, immer wieder stattfindenden Verbindung der Gattungen und Einzelformen mit der Seele und mit der Materie hervor. Mit dem Element des Feuers wache der sichtbare Gott, der Himmel, über diesen Prozess. Die Gattungen (Götter, Dämonen, Menschen, Tiere und Pflanzen) seien unsterblich, die Einzelformen von Mensch, Tier und Pflanze hingegen nicht. Doch die Einzelformen einer Gattung könnten durchaus eine Verbindung mit anderen Gattungen eingehen, der Mensch etwa vermag sich so Dämonen oder Tieren anzunähern. Nach der Erschaffung eines zweiten, wahrnehmbaren und wahrnehmenden Gottes, habe der Schöpfergott den Menschen ins Leben gerufen, damit dieser ihn betrachten könne. Der Mensch besäße dazu einen göttlichen Teil, der ihn zur Himmelsschau und damit zur Erkenntnis befähige, den Geist, das aus dem Äther stammende fünfte Element. Den Geist müsse er auch benutzen, um sich den höheren Sphären anzunähern, sein Körper hindere dabei. Dadurch bestünde aber kein Anlass zur Körperfeindlichkeit. Im körperlichen Geschlechtsakt etwa spiegele sich der kosmische Schöpfungsvorgang. Der Körper sei aber auch notwendiger Bestandteil des irdischen Daseins, in dem dem Menschen die Aufgabe zukomme, mit seinen kulturellen Leistungen Gottes Schöpferkraft zu preisen. In den Genuss der Gotteserkenntnis könnten jedoch nur Auserwählte gelangen, deren Geist sich von den unteren Ebenen des Kosmos zu lösen vermöge. Daher obläge nur diesem exklusiven Kreis der Gottesdienst. In der Abfolge Gott-Kosmos-Mensch stelle der Mensch also ein Doppelwesen dar, das sich zur Gottesschau emporheben könne, zugleich aber auch der Gefahr des lasterhaften Begehrens ausgesetzt sei, das ihn von der Gotteserkenntnis abhalte. Wer gottgefällig lebe und seiner irdischen Aufgabe gerecht würde, würde von seinem Körper nach dem Tod befreit und könne in die geistigen Regionen aufsteigen. Der dem materiellen Besitz Verhaftete würde jedoch körperlich wiedergeboren.

Hermes rechnet mit der Ablehnung seiner Lehre über Lohn und Strafe nach dem Tod; denn weltlicher Genuss halte die Menschen von der Wahrheit ab. Auch die wahre Philosophie würde verfälscht, wenn sie sich in wissenschaftliche Teildisziplinen aufgliedere, die nicht mehr auf die Gotteserkenntnis ausgerichtet seien, sondern die Phänomene selbst zum Gegenstand erhöben. Nach dieser Wissenschaftskritik fährt Hermes mit weiteren Darlegungen zum Geist und seinen Zusammenhängen mit Gott und der Materie fort. Ein Aspekt bildet dabei die Frage nach dem Bösen. Denn die Ursache des Bösen läge nicht in der Materie, mit der der kosmische Raum gleichgesetzt wird, der alles in sich aufnehme wie ein zweigeschlechtliches Wesen, sondern das Böse befände sich allein im Menschen, der sich nicht dem Geistigen zuwende. Der Geist sei also Werkzeug des sinnlich nicht wahrnehmbaren Schöpfergottes. Da Namen aber aus dem Bereich der menschlichen Wahrnehmung herrührten, könne es für Gott keinen hinreichenden Namen geben, es sei denn, sein allumfassendes Wesen würde durch alle Namen ausgedrückt.

Vom Schöpfergott unterscheidet Hermes weitere intelligible Götter und sinnlich wahrnehmbare Sterngötter, deren Seele zugleich der Geist sei. Von diesen Sterngöttern vermöge der Mensch in heiligen Zeremonien unter Verwendung bestimmter Materialien und Essenzen, wie an späterer Stelle im ‚Asclepius‘ noch genauer ausgeführt wird, beseelte Götterbilder herzustellen, mit denen Gewaltiges bewirkt werden könne. Ägypten mit seinen Götterbildern sei daher Tempel der ganzen Welt, in dem sich alle Vorgänge des himmlischen Geschehens widerspiegelten. Es schließt sich im Text eine apokalyptische Vision an, in der Hermes eine die Religionsfreiheit einengende Gesetzgebung vorhersieht, worauf der Dienst an den Göttern aufhöre. Die Götter verließen die Erde und nur die bösen Engel blieben zurück. Die eintretende Unordnung der Welt beseitige erst das Eingreifen des Schöpfergottes vermittels Katastrophen und Kriege. Danach siedelten sich gemeinsam Menschen und Götter im Westen Ägyptens an.

An die Apokalypse schließen sich lose Einzelausführungen an, die im Wesentlichen vorherige Aussagen nochmals vertiefend aufgreifen. Dazu zählt beispielsweise das Verhältnis von Ewigkeit und Zeit. Gott wird dabei die Ewigkeit und dem Kosmos die Zeit zugeordnet, beide würden sich gegenseitig bedingen. Die Zeit trete als Wechsel der Jahreszeiten auf Erden auf und im Himmel würde sie durch die Bahnen der Gestirne vorherbestimmt. Unterschiede zwischen den Einzelformen der Gattungen wiederum gingen auf verschiedene Entstehungsorte und –zeiten zurück – Voraussetzung für astrologische Divination. Mit den Planetenbahnen sei wiederum das Schicksal verbunden. Vorsehung, Schicksal und Notwendigkeit seien die Garanten der göttlichen Weltordnung, in denen der Kausalzusammenhang aller Dinge festgelegt sei.

Der Dialog endet in einem gemeinsamen Gebet mit der Bitte, den Menschen in seiner Erkenntnisfähigkeit zu bewahren. Denn aus der Erkenntnis folge Heil, Errettung und Vergöttlichung. Nach dem langen Gebet in Richtung der untergehenden Sonne wenden sich die Beteiligten einem fleischlosen Mahl zu, und der Text des ‚Asclepius‘ endet. (...)
 

Insgesamt also erfuhr der lateinische ‚Asclepius‘ bis 1300 eine rege Verbreitung im Gebiet der einstigen Karolinger- und Angelsachsenreiche. Den regionalen Traditionen entsprechen in etwa auch die stemmatischen Beziehungen der Handschriften. Die ‚deutsche‘ Familie weist dabei die engsten Verknüpfungen zum ältesten Überlieferungsträger aus Brüssel auf; der Münchner Codex (M) und der Vaticanus 3385 (V) gehen vermutlich unmittelbar auf die gleiche Textvorlage zurück, von deren Ursprung wohl auch das Brüssler Manuskript (B) abstammt; aus der gleichen Quelle, wenn nicht gar aus dem Brüsseler Codex selbst, schöpfte auch der Leidener Gronovianus (LG). Eher einer Seitenlinie entspringt der Wolfenbüttler Gudianus (G). Die Mitglieder der ‚französichen‘ Familie entstammen im Wesentlichen zwei Zweigen. Aus einer vermeintlichen Vorstufe gingen der Leidener Vossianus (N) und die Vorlage für den Parisinus 6634 (P) und den Florentiner Laurentianus 76.36 (L) hervor. Entferntere Verwandtschaft zeigt die Linie mit dem Florentiner San Marco-Codex (F) und dem wiederum abgespaltenen Manuskript von Kopenhagen (K). (...)

Im Falle des lateinischen ‚Asclepius‘ zogen bislang nur die Anmerkungen des Nicolaus Cusanus größere Aufmerksamkeit der Forschung auf sich.
— Matthias Heiduk: Offene Geheimnisse – Hermetische Texte und verborgenes Wissen in der mittelalterlichen Rezeption von Augustinus bis Albertus Magnus. Freiburg: Dissertation, 2007. pp. 87-90, 92 & 96.

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Hermes Trismegistus

Was he one or many, merging
  Name and fame in one,
Like a stream, to which, converging,
  Many streamlets run?
 
Who shall call his dreams fallacious?
  Who has searched or sought
All the unexplored and spacious
  Universe of thought?
 
Who in his own skill confiding,
  Shall with rule and line
Mark the border-land dividing
  Human and divine?
 
Trismegistus! Three times greatest!
  How thy name sublime
Has descended to this latest
  Progeny of time!