The Corpus Hermeticum
The Way of Hermes

King Ammon

Thoth-Hermes was considered the founder of sacred texts, formulas and of art and science. Plato mentions the traditional story that Thoth-Hermes revealed the art of writing, geometry and astronomy to King Ammon in Thebes.

The Egyptian god Amun

According to Plato, when Theuth (Thoth-Hermes) offered the gift of reading and writing to King Thamus (Ammon), the King was displeased because he said it would weaken the memory of his subjects.

In accordance with the Hellenistic explanation of myths and gods as events and people from a distant past, it was thought that this King Ammon was an ancient king of Egypt who may have served as a role model for the creation of the god Amun.

In the Corpus Hermeticum Ammon is only mentioned in CH Book 16 ‘Asclepius to King Ammon’. In this book it is Hermes’ most senior student Asclepius instructing the king on “concerning: God; matter; evil; fate; the Sun; spiritual substance; divine nature; Man; the law of that which fills the universe; the seven stars; the image of man.”

Ammon, this time as Hammon, is again mentioned in the Asclepius:

At Tat’s entry Asclepius suggested that Hammon also be present. Trismegistus said, ‘No ill-will prevents Hammon from joining us, for I well remember that many of my writings have been dedicated to him, just as many discourses on natural philosophy and countless public discourses have been dedicated to my most loving and beloved son Tat. But on this treatise I shall inscribe your name. Call no one except Hammon lest a conversation worthy of such reverence and on such a profound subject be profaned by the arrival and presence of many people. For it is the mark of an irreligious mind to bring to the notice of a crowd of people a discourse that is totally filled with the whole majesty of the divine spirit.’
When Hammon had entered the sanctuary, and the fervour of the four men and the presence of God had filled this holy place, in due silence the minds and hearts of all hung upon the lips of Hermes, and divine love began to speak…

Asclepius 1

Hermes addresses both Asclepus as well as Ammon when he gives the lesson concerning evil:

‘Asclepius and Hammon, I have not said what is said by many: “Could God not have removed or averted evil from the nature of everything?” Absolutely no response should be given to these people. But for your sake I am going to proceed with what I have begun, and give you an answer. Those men say that God should have freed the world entirely from evil; yet it is in the world in such great measure that it seems like one of its limbs.”

Asclepius 16

Finally Hermes names Ammon when he closes the meeting:

And you, O Tat, Asclepius and Hammon, hold these divine mysteries in the secrecy of your heart. Cover them with silence and conceal them with quiet.

Asclepius 32

It is unclear what status Ammon has within the group of students. It seems that Ammon was more of a friend or student of Asclepius then he was a student of Hermes as Aclepius acts as his hermetic master in CHXVI and as it was Asclepius who invited Hammon to the sermon. But on the other hand Hermes says that many of his writings have been dedicated to Ammon.

Unfortunately not many of these writings have been found, so it is a mystery what lessons Hermes gave to Ammon. The only text we have where Hermes teaches Ammon directly is the Iatromathematica (‘Astrological Medicine’) of Hermes Trismegistus to Ammon of Egypt, a text that relates the body and its failings to the stars.

Homework Assignment

Ammon stands for our fight against the material passions and desires that makes us (our body) sick and negatively influences our soul.

You can experience Ammon’s presence in your life by observing what happens when you or the people around you irrationally follow the passions and desires of the body. In later lessons we will go deeper into how Providence, Necessity, Fate and the planets affect our body and our soul but for now it is enough just to observe.