The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius: 10.2 Footnote (152): AH 19-35 on God Pantomorphos 

(DH 10) 2. Nature in man is omniform, (152)* and it is an energy endowed with all qualities whose force is invisible and effects are conspicuous. An energy is a movement. Matter is a wet essence; a body is a agglomeration of matter.

*(152): AH 19-35 on God Pantomorphos:

Gods and stars

[19] ‘What gods do you say are at the very head of things, or the source of primordial causes, O Trismegistus?’

‘I am putting great things before you and unveiling divine mysteries. Before I make a start I implore the favour of heaven. There are many classes of gods of whom some are subtle and others sensory. The first are so described not because they are considered to be beyond our apprehension; indeed, we apprehend them better than the ones we call visible, as the discourse will show, and if you give your attention, you will be able to see clearly. For this discourse is sublime and the more divine for standing beyond the minds and purposes of men. If you do not hear the words of the speaker with attentive obedience the discourse will fly over you and flow round you, or rather, it will flow back and mingle again with the waters of its own source.

‘There are then gods who are the leaders of all the individual gods. The other gods follow these leaders, of whom the first is pure being. These sensory gods, true to their twofold origin, accomplish all things through their sensory nature; each works through another, and each illumines his own work.

‘The ruling principle or essence of the heavens (whatever is understood by that term) is Jupiter, for it is through the agency of heaven that Jupiter gives life to all beings. The essence of the sun is light, for the goodness of its light is poured out upon us through its orb. The thirty-six, who are called the horoscopes, that is the constellations which are always fixed in the same place, have as their essence him who is called Pantomorphon, or omniform, who gives different forms to different individuals. The seven spheres, as they are called, have as their essence her who is called Fortune or Fate through which all things are changed by the law of nature. This law is absolutely unchanging, yet all things are varied by continual movement.

‘Air is the instrument or mechanism of all things, through which everything is accomplished, and the essence of this is  [text missing here]

‘Since this is so, all things reach out to one another and are connected from lowest to highest. They are connected to what is moving towards them and to everything that appertains to them.

‘The mortal is joined to the immortal, and that which is perceptible to the senses to that which is not. In fact the whole creation, not being a multiplicity, but one, obeys Him who is the Supreme Ruler and the Supreme Lord. For all things depend upon the one and all things flow from the one. When seen from a distance they appear to be infinite, but viewed as a whole they are in truth one, though one could say two: that from which all proceeds and that by which all is made, that is the substance from which all is made. By His will and His assent everything else comes into existence.’

The name of God

[20] ‘Once more, what is this teaching, O Trismegistus?’

‘It is this, Asclepius. God, or Father, or Lord of all, or He whom men call by any other name that is more holy and reverend, should be held sacred by us because of our intelli- gence. When we contemplate so great a divine spirit we shall find we cannot name him precisely by any of these names. For the spoken word is just this: a sound from the air when it is struck by breath, expressing the whole will and thought of a man; what from the senses he has perhaps understood in his mind. The nature of his name is his whole substance ordered into a few limited and compressed syllables. It is thus in man the necessary connection between voice and ears. But the name of God is the totality of sense, of breath, of air and of all things in these or through these or from these.

‘Therefore I do not have any hope that the creator of the majesty of the whole, the Father and Lord of all, can have a single name, even one composed of many names. Indeed, He has no name, or rather He has every name since He is one and He is all, so that one must call all things by His name or give Him the name of all things. Thus, as He is single, and as He is all, He is filled with the potency of both sexes. Being ever pregnant with His own will, throughout all time He brings forth whatever He has wished to create. His will is nothing but the Good.

‘This same Good in all things is born naturally from His divinity so that all things should be as they are, and as they have been, and that they should be able to empower all things that may come to be, with the ability to give birth from them- selves. So, Asclepius, the explanation has been given to you as to why and how all things come into being.’

The mystery of love

[21] ‘What, are you saying that God is of both sexes, O Trismegistus?’

‘Not only God, Asclepius, but every being that has a soul and also those that do not. It is not possible for any one of them to exist without being fruitful. For if fecundity were withdrawn from all living beings it would be impossible for them to continue for all time to be what they are; I tell you that Nature holds and preserves within herself everything that has been brought into being. Both sexes are full of the creative force, as is the union of the two. In truth their union is incomprehensible. This you may rightly call Cupid or Venus or you may use both names.

‘Therefore take this to heart, for assuredly nothing is more true or more evident than this: that the mystery of eternal procreation was conceived by God and bestowed upon all creatures by Him, the Lord of all Nature, in which Nature dwell the greatest tenderness, joy, gladness, longing and divine love. I would explain how great is the force and how compelling the power of this mystery, were it not that each one of us knows this from reflection on his own innermost feelings. For if you observe that final moment when, through continuous interaction, we come to the point where each gender pours its fertile power into the other and the other eagerly seizes it and hides it within, then by the mutual union at this moment the woman acquires the strength of the man and the man relaxes in female passivity.

‘The performance of this sweet and vital mystery takes place in secret lest the divinity of Nature that arises from the union of sex were compelled by the mocking and ignorant to feel ashamed if the act were performed openly; much worse still, if it were seen by the enemies of religion.

Humans and gods

[22] ‘There are not many, indeed so few religious men or women in the world [mundo] that they can be counted. Thus it is that evil remains among the people through the lack of wisdom and knowledge of what really exists. For it is from the intelligence of divine reason, through which all things are constituted, that contempt for the vices of the whole world [mundi] is born, and this contempt is also their cure. But through continuing lack of experience and absence of knowledge all the vices grow strong and do irreparable damage to the soul which, being infected by them, swells up as if from poison, except in the case of those who have found the sovereign remedy: knowledge and intelligence. Therefore, even if all this will be of use only to a few people, it is worth pursuing and finishing the discussion as to why the Deity considered human beings alone worthy to receive from Him His own intelligence and knowledge.

‘So listen. After God the Father and Lord had brought forth the gods he formed man, in part from the corruption of matter, but in equal part from the divine. The imperfections of matter then remained mixed within bodies, together with other imper- fections derived from the food and nourishment which we take through necessity, as do all living beings. It is therefore inevitable that the desires arising from greed, and other vices of the mind steal into human souls.

‘As for the gods, they are composed of the purest part of Nature, and they do not need the supports of reason and knowledge. For them immortality and the vigour of eternal youth are themselves intelligence and knowledge. Yet lest they should ever become separated from these, to safeguard the unity of God’s design He established the rule of Necessity drawn up as a law in accordance with eternal law. Of all living beings He recognised man alone as having reason and knowledge through which he can turn away and distance from himself the vices of the body. He presented man with the hope of immortality and the will to reach it. So God made man both good, and capable of immortality, because of his two natures: the divine and the mortal. Through God’s will it was ordained that man was thus made superior both to the gods, who are formed only of an immortal nature, and to all other creatures. Because of this man is united to the gods in kinship and he therefore worships them through religion and through purity of mind. For their part the gods look down on all human affairs with tender love and take care of them.

Man the maker of gods

[23] ‘But that may be said only of the few men who are endowed with a faithful mind. Of those with a liking for vice let nothing be said lest this highly spiritual discourse be dishonoured by thinking of them.

‘And since I have spoken of the kinship and fellowship of men with the gods, Asclepius, acknowledge the power and strength of Man. Just as the Lord and Father, or God (his greatest name) is the creator of the heavenly gods, so Man is the maker of the gods in temples, who are content to be close to human beings. Man not only receives light, but he gives it. Not only does Man progress towards God, but he forms gods. Do you wonder at this, Asclepius, or do you doubt as most people do?’

‘I am astounded, O Trismegistus, but I willingly assent to your words and regard Man as most fortunate inasmuch as he has attained such great happiness.’

‘And he, who is the greatest of all creatures, is justly worthy of admiration. Everyone agrees that the race of gods clearly sprang from the purest part of Nature, and their symbols are simply heads which represent the whole being. But the forms of gods which men create are taken from two natures: from the divine, which is purer and far more god-like; and from that which is within men, that is, from matter. Having been formed from such matter, they are not represented by heads alone, but by the whole body with all its members. Thus humanity is always reminded of its own nature and origin as it continues to represent divinity in this way. So just as the Father and Lord has made the eternal gods to be similar to Himself, so humanity has made its gods in the likeness of its own features.’

Disaster foretold

[24] ‘Are you speaking of statues, O Trismegistus?’

‘Yes, statues, Asclepius. Do you see how you lack faith? These statues are made alive by consciousness, and they are filled with breath. They do mighty deeds. They have knowledge of the future which they predict through oracles, prophets, dreams and in many other ways. They bring illnesses to men and cure them. They give sadness and happiness according to merit. Do you not realise, Asclepius, that Egypt is the image of heaven; or to speak more precisely, all things which are set in motion and regulated in heaven have been transferred, or have descended, into Egypt? More truthfully still, our land is the temple of the whole cosmos.

‘Yet since the wise should know all that is to come, it is right that you should not be ignorant of something else. A time will come when it appears that the Egyptians have worshipped God with pure mind and sincere devotion in vain. All their holy worship will turn out to be without effect and will bear no fruit. For the gods will withdraw from earth to heaven and Egypt will be deserted. The land which used to be the seat of religion will be abandoned by the gods and become void of their presence. Not only will foreigners, pouring into the region and covering this land, neglect religion, but what is worse, religion, duties to the gods and divine worship will be prohibited with penalties prescribed by so-called laws. This holy land, this home of sanctuaries and temples, will all be filled with sepulchres and the dead. O Egypt, Egypt, only stories of your religion will survive, and these your children will not believe. Only words carved in stone will narrate your pious deeds. Scythians, Indians or other such will inhabit Egypt; it will be peopled by barbarian neighbours. The gods will return to heaven and abandon men, who will then all die. Thus Egypt, deprived of gods and men, will become a desert.

‘Now I speak to you, most holy river. I tell of your future. You will be filled with a torrent of blood, right up to your banks, and these you will burst through. Not only will your sacred waters be polluted with blood, but your banks will burst open, and the dead will far outnumber the living. Anyone who survives will be recognised only by his language as Egyptian. From his actions one would take him to be a foreigner.

Greater evils

[25] ‘Why do you weep, Asclepius? Egypt herself will be led into much worse things than these, and she will be sunk in greater evils. This once holy land which had such great love for the gods, where alone they deservedly fixed their seat on earth because of her devotion, for she taught men religion and piety, will become an example of the most ferocious cruelty. Then to men, tired of living, the cosmos will no longer seem an object of wonder or something to be reverenced.

‘Nothing better was, is or ever will be seen than the goodness of this whole cosmos, yet it will become a danger and a burden to men. Because of this people will no longer love, but come to despise it: this inimitable work of God, this glorious creation, this perfection formed with such variety of images, this instrument of God’s will, who in his work gives favour without partiality. This cosmos, a world of many forms, brings everything to unity, the unity of the all. It is a cosmos which can be revered, praised and finally loved by those able to see it. The dark will indeed be preferred to the light, and death thought better than life. No one will have any regard for heaven and a spiritual person will be deemed mad, and a materialist, wise. An angry man will be considered strong and the most evil regarded as good.

‘All the teaching about the soul that I have explained to you is that the soul is born immortal or expects to attain immortality. This teaching will not only be laughed at, but considered an illusion. It will be held as a capital offence, believe me, for a man to have given himself over to reverence of the divine mind. New rights will be created. There will be new laws. Nothing holy, nothing religious, nothing worthy of heaven or the gods which inhabit it, will either be heard or believed.

‘How grievous will be the withdrawal of gods from men! Only the evil angels will remain. Mingling with humanity they will force these wretches into all the evils of violence: wars, robbery, fraud and all those things which are contrary to the nature of souls. In those days the earth will not be stable, nor will the sea be navigable. Heaven will not be traversed by the stars, for the course of the stars will cease in the sky. Every divine voice will of necessity be stopped. The fruits of the earth will wither, and the land will no longer be fertile. The very air will hang heavy in lifeless torpor.


[26] ‘Such will be the old age of the world: irreligion, disorder, and unreason concerning all that is good. When all this happens, O Asclepius, the Lord and Father, the god who is first in power and governor under God who is the One, will consider the conduct and wilful deeds of men. Through his will, which is the goodness of God, he will take a stand against these evils and against the universal corruption. He will restrain error and every malign influence. Either he will dissolve all this in a flood, or consume it by fire, or destroy it through disease and pestilence spread through different lands. Finally he will restore the world to its ancient beauty, so that it may again appear worthy of reverence and wonder, and also that God the creator and restorer of so great a work may be worshipped by people then living with continual hymns of praise and benediction. By these events the world will be reborn. There will be a return of all that is good, a sacred and spiritual re-establishment of Nature her- self compelled by the course of time through that will, which is and was, without beginning and without end. For the will of God has no beginning, but remains the same; as it is now, so will it always be. For the nature of God is the purpose of his will.’

‘And the highest Good is this purpose, O Trismegistus?’ ‘Will is born from purpose, Asclepius, and acts of willing from will. And God wills nothing in excess, for he has unlimited abundance of everything and he wills what he has. He wills everything good, and he has everything that he wills. Therefore all that he purposes and wills is good. Such is God, and the world a reflection of that Good.’

God and the gods

[27] ‘The world is good, O Trismegistus?’

‘It is good, Asclepius, as I will teach you. For just as God

husbands and distributes to all individuals and classes all the good things which are in the world [mundo], senses, soul and life, so the world [mundus] apportions and provides all those things which seem good to mortals: the succession of births in due season, the germination, growth and ripening of the fruits of the earth and similar things. Throughout all this God, abiding above the vault of the highest heaven, is everywhere observing all that is around. For there is a place beyond heaven where there are no stars, far removed from all corporeal things.

‘The god who is the dispenser of life and whom we call Jupiter, has a realm between heaven and earth. As for the earth and the sea, they are ruled by Jupiter Plutonius. It is he who nourishes mortal creatures and all that bears fruit. The fruits, trees and soil are enlivened by the power of all these gods. But there are other gods whose powers and actions are apportioned to everything which exists. As for those gods who rule the earth, they will be dispersed and then settled in a town at the very extremity of Egypt, which will be founded towards the setting sun, and to which the whole race of mortals will hasten both by land and sea.’

‘But where are these gods now, O Trismegistus?’

‘They reside in a great city on the Libyan mountain. And that is enough on the subject for the time being.


‘We must now discuss what is immortal and what is mortal, for hope and fear of death torment many who are ignorant of true reason. Death is the result of the dissolution of the body when it is worn out by toil and the days are over in which the parts of the body were fit for living use in a single entity. Thus the body dies when it ceases to be able to carry out the living functions of a man. This then is death: the dissolution of the body and the extinction of bodily senses. It is pointless to be concerned about this. But it is necessary to be concerned about other things that ignorance and human disbelief discount.’

‘What is it, O Trismegistus, that human beings ignore or believe cannot exist?’

Life after death

[28] ‘Listen, Asclepius. When the soul has departed from the body it will come under the power of a most potent spirit who will examine its merits and judge it. When that spirit has discerned that the soul is pious and just, he permits it to remain in the region which it merits. But if he sees it covered with the stains of crime, and oblivious of its vices, he hurls it from the heights to the depths, delivering it to storms and whirlwinds, to the ever contending elements of air, fire and water so that it is caught between heaven and earth, continually buffeted in different directions by the turbulence of the world. Thus eternity for such a soul is an evil in that by immortal judgement it is sentenced to endless torture. Know then, to avoid this we must stand in awe at such a fate, we must be fearful and guard against it. The disbelievers after their crimes will be forced to believe, not from words but from experience, not from threats but from the agony of punishment.’

‘Then they are not punished by human law alone, Trismegistus?’

‘In the first place, Asclepius, everything which exists on earth is mortal. Now those beings which live according to the laws of the body depart from life by reason of the same laws. They all submit to punishments according to the merits of their life or the crimes of which they are guilty. But the punishments are worse after death since they may have been able to conceal things during life. Punishments for all these things will be given by the all-knowing divinity in exact measure to the nature of the crimes.’

The just protected

[29] ‘Who are worthy of the greatest punishments, O Trismegistus?’

‘They are those who have been condemned by human laws and thus suffered a violent death, for they seem not to have returned their life to Nature as the payment of a debt, but to have been deservedly punished. However, the just man is pro- tected by his faith in God and by intense spiritual practice. God protects such men from every evil, for He is the Father and Lord of everyone. He alone is all. He freely reveals Himself to everyone, not as though He were in some place, or possessed of some particular quality or greatness, but by illuminating man with the single intelligence of his mind. When the shades of error have been dispersed from a man’s heart and the light of truth has been perceived, that man joins himself with all his powers to the divine intelligence. Through the love of this he is set free from that part of his nature by which he is mortal and he receives firm faith in future immortality. This, then, is the difference between good and evil men. Every good man becomes illumined by his piety, by his spirituality, by his wisdom and by his worship and veneration of God. Everything is seen by the light of true reason, as though by the physical eyes. The assurance of his faith excels that of other men just as the sun excels the light of the other stars. For the sun illumines the other heavenly bodies less by the brightness of its light, than by its divinity and purity.

The Sun a second god

‘Believe that this Sun is a second god, O Asclepius, who rules all things and fills all beings in the cosmos with light, both those with a soul and those without a soul. For if the cosmos is a being which lives for ever; if it was, is and will be, nothing in it is subject to death. Since each part lives for ever (as it does), and is always within that same cosmos, and that single being is ever-living, there is no place here for death. If therefore of necessity this cosmos is everlasting, it must itself be the fullness of life and eternity. As the cosmos is everlasting, so the Sun is the everlasting ruler of all things that live and of their very life force; it gives forth life and does so continually. It is god of the living and of all things which have the potential of life in the cosmos. It is the everlasting ruler and dispenser of life itself. Yet it has given life but once. Life is provided to all living beings by eternal law in a way I shall describe.

God and eternity

[30] ‘The cosmos is moved within the very principle of life that comes from Eternity: and its place is within this living eternity. Because it is surrounded by the ever-living force of Eternity, as if held by it, it will never cease to move, nor will it ever be destroyed. The cosmos itself is the dispenser of life to everything and it is where everything ruled by the Sun exists. The movement of the cosmos comes from a twofold operation. It receives life from outside, from Eternity, and it gives life to everything within it, diversifying it according to numbers and times, which are fixed and determined by the operation of the sun and the course of the stars. For the whole cycle of time has been written in divine law. Time on earth is marked by the quality of the air and the variation of heat and cold, but celestial time by the return of the constellations to the same places in the course of their circuits. The cosmos is the container of time, and by its course and movement the cosmos is kept alive. Time is kept in being by ordained law. Through the process of alternation, order and time are responsible for the renewal of everything which is in the cosmos.

‘Since all things are thus ordered nothing is still, nothing is settled, nothing is immovable that comes into being, whether celestial or terrestrial; only God is excepted; He alone. For He is in Himself and from Himself and round Himself. He is all. He is complete and He is perfect. He is his own enduring stillness and He cannot be moved by any impulse from His place, since all things are in Him and He alone is in all things; unless anyone were bold enough to say that He moves in Eternity; but it is more accurate to say that He is motionless Eternity itself into which the movement of all cycles returns and from which the movement of all cycles begins.

Eternity and time

[31] ‘It follows that God has been for ever still and so has Eternity, which is similar to Him. Eternity contained within itself a cosmos not yet born which we rightly say is sensory. This cosmos has been brought into being as an image of Eternity, and as an imitator of Eternity. Moreover, time has the power and nature of its own stillness since although it is always in motion, it necessarily turns upon itself. Although Eternity is still, im- movable and unchanging, the course of time (which does move) always returns to Eternity, and that movement is directed by the law of time itself. Thus it happens that Eternity which alone is still through time, exists itself in time; all movement seems to take place in time.

‘Thus it is that the stillness of Eternity is in movement, and that the movement of time is made still by the unchanging law which governs its course. And thus it is credible that God is moved within Himself, by the same immobility. Indeed, in the unlimited stillness itself movement is unmoving, for the law of the unlimited is itself unmoving. Such then is the nature of this being: imperceptible, unlimited, unthinkable, immeasurable. It can neither be held in nor taken away; nor can it be hunted down. Where it is, whither it goes, whence it came, how or what it is, cannot be known. For it is moved within supreme stillness and yet this stillness is within itself; be it God or Eternity or both, or one in the other, or both in both. On account of this, Eternity is without limitation of time. But although time can be defined by number, by alternation, by periodic return through revolution, time is eternal. Thus both appear infinite, both eternal. Inasmuch as stillness is without movement, so that it can support all that moves, it is justly sovereign by virtue of its constancy.

Divine and human consciousness

[32] ‘Thus God and Eternity are the origin of all that is. But the cosmos, because it is in movement, does not have primacy, for its movement precedes its stillness, since its unchanging constancy is based on the law of everlasting movement.

‘Consciousness in its totality, being similar to divinity, is itself motionless, yet it moves itself within its own stillness. Consciousness is holy, uncorrupt and eternal and whatever can be named higher than that, if anything can be. Eternity abides in the very truth of the Supreme God. It is totally full of all sensory forms and of all knowledge. It abides, as it were, with God. Cosmic consciousness is a receptacle of all sensory forms and of all branches of knowledge. Man’s consciousness depends on the tenacity of his memory, that is, the memory of all that he has experienced. But the divine consciousness in its descent reaches as far as the human being. For Supreme God did not wish divine consciousness to be poured into all living beings, lest it should be shamed at being joined to other creatures.

‘Now the intelligence of human consciousness, be it of whatever kind or capacity, consists totally in the memory of past events, and through the tenacity of this memory it has become the ruler of the Earth. But the intelligence of Nature can be attained through the capacity of cosmic consciousness from everything which is subject to the senses in the cosmos. The consciousness of Eternity, which comes next, has also been bestowed and its quality made known by the sensory world. But the intelligence and quality of the consciousness belonging to the Supreme God is truth alone. Of this not even the faintest outline of a shadow may be seen on Earth. For where anything is known through the dimension of time there is falsehood.

‘Where you see birth, there you see delusion. So you see, Asclepius, where we stand, what we are engaged upon and what we dare to attain. But to you, O Highest God, I give thanks, for Thou hast illumined me with the light of the Divinity that is to be seen. 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.

‘Now there is this difference between intelligence and con- sciousness: through concentration of mind our intelligence comes to understand and discern the nature of the consciousness pertaining to the world, but the intelligence of the world comes to know Eternity and the gods above. And so it happens to us men that, as if through a mist, we come to see what is in heaven, as far as this is possible through the limited nature of human consciousness. Although this power of ours to discern such exalted things is very limited, it is quite unlimited when it sees through the grace of pure consciousness.

There is no void

[33] ‘As for the void which now seems so important to so many people, I consider that there is no void, there never could have been a void and there never will be a void. All parts of the cosmos are totally full, so that the cosmos itself is full and complete with bodies that differ in both form and quality; and each has its own appearance and size. One may be larger than another and one smaller; one may be more dense and another more subtle. Those that are more dense are more easily seen, as are those which are larger. Those that are smaller or subtler can only be seen with difficulty and sometimes not at all. These we know of only by keen attention. Hence many people believe that these are not bodies, but empty places, which is impossible.

‘And the same would be true of space which is said to exist outside the cosmos (that is, if it does exist, which I do not believe). I consider that space would be full of beings which can be apprehended only by mind, that is, of beings similar to its own divinity. Thus this cosmos which we say is perceptible by the senses is totally full of bodies and of beings which accord with its own nature and quality. We do not see all their true forms; indeed, some appear excessively large, and others far too small. It is either owing to the extent of the intervening space, or to the feebleness of our sight that they so appear to us, and because of their excessive smallness they are believed by many not to exist at all. I speak now of spirits which I believe dwell with us, and demi-gods which live between the purest part of the air above us and those realms where there is no fog and no clouds and no disturbance arising from any celestial body.

‘Take care, then, Asclepius, not to speak of anything as void, unless you say what it is void of, for instance, that it is void of fire or of water or similar things. For even if one happens to see an object, whether small or great, which seems to be void of these things, though it may appear empty, it cannot be empty of spirit and air.

The sensory world

[34] ‘The same should be said about “place”: it is a word that has no meaning on its own. For “place” only has meaning in relation to that of which it is the place. If this principle is removed, then the meaning of the word is incomplete. That is why we rightly speak of the place of water, or of fire, or of other similar things. For just as it is impossible for anything to be empty, so one cannot know what place is on its own. If one were to imagine a place without an object of which it is the place, then the place would appear empty, which I do not believe is possible in the cosmos. If nothing is empty, then what place is cannot be known unless you add the dimensions of length, breadth and height to it, as you do to human bodies.

‘Since this is how things are, O Asclepius, and you who are present, know that the causal world of mind, discernible only by contemplation, is incorporeal, and that nothing corporeal can be mingled with its nature, nothing distinguished by quality, quantity or number, for in it there is nothing of that kind.

‘As for this cosmos, which is called sensory, it is the receptacle of all the qualities or substances of all the sensory forms and bodies, none of which can be given life without God. For God is everything. Everything comes from Him and depends on His will. This whole is good, beautiful, wise and unique; perceived and understood by Him alone, without whom nothing ever was, is, or will be. All things are from Him, in Him and through Him: the various qualities and their many guises, the vast sizes beyond all means of measure, and forms of every kind. For these, if you understand them, O Asclepius, you will give thanks to God. If you give your attention to the whole, you will come to understand that in truth the sensory world and all within it is from the world above and is covered by that as if by a garment.

Individuals differ within an archetype

[35] ‘Every class of being, O Asclepius, whether mortal or immortal, rational or irrational, whether endowed with a soul or without a soul, each will have the characteristics belonging to its archetype. And although each being has the whole form of its archetype, yet each individual of the same form differs from the others. Although archetypal man has one form, so that a man may be known as such by his appearance, nevertheless within that same form individual men differ from each other.

‘For the ideal form, being divine, is incorporeal, as is everything which is apprehended by mind. Since therefore there are two elements of which forms consist, the corporeal and incorporeal, it is impossible for any form to come into existence exactly similar to any other form at different points of time and place. Indeed, they are changed as often as the hour has moments, during the turning of the circle in which He dwells, who has all forms, whom we have called God. So the ideal form is permanent and brings forth from itself as many and as diverse images as the revolution of the cosmos has moments, for the universe itself changes in the course of its revolution, but the ideal form itself neither changes nor revolves. Thus the forms of every class persist but there are differences within the same form.’

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