Hermes Trismegistos Ashb. 1166 e1582390322748

The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius: 10 (with quoted footnotes and translations)  

1. What is good? What bears no comparison. (148Good is invisible, (149but evil is conspicuous. (150What is a female? A receptive fluidity. (151What is a male? A seminal fluidity.

2. Nature in man is omniform, (152and it is an energy (153endowed with all qualities whose force is invisible and effects are conspicuous. An energy is a movement. (154Matter is a wet essence; (155a body is a agglomoration of matter. (156)

3. Nous is in soul, and nature is in the body. Nous is the maker of soul, and soul, the maker of the body. (157Nous is not in all soul, (158but nature is in all body. (159)

4. The immortal nature is the movement of the mortal nature, (160as to mortality, earth is its grave; and heaven is the place of the immortal. (161The immortal came into being because of the mortal, but the mortal comes into being by means of the immortal. (162Evil is a deficiency of good, (163good is fullness of itself. (164)

5. Soul is bound to be born in this world, but Nous is superior to the world. (165Just as Nous is unbegotten, so is matter too, although it can be divided. Nous is unbegotten, and matter is divisible; soul is threefold,(166and matter has three parts; (167generation (168is in soul and matter, but Nous is in God for the generation ofthe immortal beings.

6. Providence and Necessity (169are, in the mortal, birth and death, (170) and in God, unbegotten essence. The immortal beings agree with one another and the mortal envy one another with jealousy, (171because evil envy arises due to knowing death in advance. The immortal does what he always does, but the mortal does what he has never done. Death, if understood, is immortality; (172if not understood it is death. They assume that the mortal beings of this world have fallen under the dominion of the immortal, but in reality the immortal are servants of the mortal of this world. (173)

[7. Therefore soul is an immortal essence, (174eternal, intellective, having, as an intellectual thought, its reason endowed with Nous. By understanding nature, it attracts (175to itself the intellect of the planetary harmony; (176then, once it is freed from this natural body, it remains alone with itself and is grieved, belonging only to itself in the intelligible world. It rules on its reason. (177)] 

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1. What is good? What bears no comparison. (148: CH 6.5: “If you can understand god, you will understand the beautiful and good, the exceedingly bright whose brightness god surpasses. For this is incomparable beauty and inimitable good, as is god himself. As you understand god, then, also understand the beautiful and the good. Because they are not separated from god, these have nothing in common with other living things. If you ask about god, you ask also about the beautiful. Only one road travels from here to the beautiful – reverence combined with knowledge.”Good is invisible, (149: SH 2A.9 “Truth is the most perfect excellence, the undiluted Good itself; it is what is not muddied by matter nor shrouded by body. It is the naked, manifest, unshifting, sacred, and unchangeable Good. The things of this realm, my child, such as you see them, cannot receive this Good. They are corruptible, vulnerable, dissolvable, shifting, and ever-changing from one thing to another.”but evil is conspicuous. (150: CH 4.9: “Knowledge is not a beginning of the good, but it furnishes us the beginning of the good that will be known. So let us seize this beginning and travel with all speed, for the path is very crooked that leaves familiar things of the present to return to primordial things of old. Visible things delight us, but the invisible cause mistrust. Bad things are the more open to sight, but the good is invisible to what can be seen. For the good has neither shape nor outline. This is why it is like itself but unlike all others, for the bodiless cannot be visible to body.”) What is a female? A receptive fluidity. (151maybe ‘corruption’; SH 2A.16 “What I’d false decays, my child; and Providence from one who is true has seized, holds, and will hold everything on earth in decay. Apart from decay, birth could not exist. Decay follows every birth, so that it is born again. This is because what is born is born from what is decayed. What is born must decay, so that the birth of entities does nothing grind to a halt. Decay is the first Craftsman for the birth of beings. Now what is born from decay is false, since it is born now one thing, now another. Such things cannot be born as the same entities. But what is not itself, how can it be true?”What is a male? A seminal fluidity.

2. Nature in man is omniform, (152: CH 11.16 “The cosmos is omniform: it does not have forms inserted in it but changes them within itself. Since the cosmos came to be as omniform, who can have made it? Let us not call him formless. But if he, too, is omniform, he will be like the cosmos. What if he has one form? In this respect he will be less than the cosmos. What do we say he is, then, so as not to bring our discourse to an impasse? For there can be no impasse in our understanding of god. Therefore, if he has any structure in him, it is one structure, incorporeal, that does not yield to appearances. And he reveals all structures through bodies.”; SH 26.4:

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; AH 19-35 on God Pantomorphos link: https://mysteryschool1.wordpress.com/2022/03/29/dh-10-2-footnote-152-ah-19-35-on-god-pantomorphos/ ) and it is an energy (153: SH 4.6 “There are energies, Tat, which in themselves are bodiless but dwell in bodies and work through them. For this reason, Tat, inasmuch as they are bodiless, I say that they are always in a body.”endowed with all qualities whose force is invisible and effects are conspicuous. An energy is a movement. (154: SH 15.1: What is moved is moved by the energy of the movement that moves the universe. The nature of the universe affords two motions to the universe, one motion according to nature’s potentiality, and another according to its actuality. The former pervades the whole cosmos and provides it with cohesion from within, the latter is coextensive with the cosmos and envelops it from without. Both kinds of motion travel back and forth through all things in common.Matter is a wet essence; (155: CH 1.20: “…what first gives rise to each person’s body is the hateful darkness, from which comes the watery nature, from which the body was constituted in the sensible cosmos, from which death drinks.”a body is a agglomoration of matter. (156: SH 2A.1 “Concerning truth, Tat, a human being dares not speak. For a human being is an imperfect animal composed of imperfect members, a tent made up of foreign and multiple bodies. Yet what is possible and correct, this I speak: the truth is in eternal bodies alone.”; SH 26.26-27:

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3. Nous is in soul, and nature is in the body. Nous is the maker of soul, and soul, the maker of the body. (157: CH 12.2: “Where soul is there also is mind, just as there is soul wherever life is. But the soul in unreasoning animals is life devoid of mind. Mind is a benefactor of human souls; it works on them for good. In things without reason, mind assists the natural impulse arising from each, but it opposes this impulse in human souls. Every soul, as soon as it has come to be in the body, is depraved by pain and pleasure. For in a composite body pain and pleasure seethe like juices; once immersed in them, the soul drowns.”Nous is not in all soul, (158: CH 4.3 “God shared reason among all people, O Tat, but not mind, though he begrudged it to none. Grudging envy comes not from on high; it forms below in the souls of people who do not possess mind…”; AH 7 “Hermēs: ‘At the very beginning I was speaking of that conjunction with the gods which only humans enjoy fully because the gods esteem them – those humans who have gained so much happiness that they grasp the divine consciousness of understanding, the diviner consciousness that is only in god and in human understanding.’ Asclepius: ‘Is consciousness not uniform in all people, Trismegistus?’ Hermēs: ‘Not all have gained true understanding…”; DH 8.4 “The body increases and reaches perfection due to nature; and soul fills up with Nous. Every man has a body and a soul, but not every soul has Nous…”but nature is in all body. (159: SH 6.3 “There is a body that encompasses all things. Think of it as circular in shape, for such is the shape of the universe…”)

4. The immortal nature is the movement of the mortal nature, (160: AH 30 “Eternity’s lifegiving power stirs the world, and the place of the world is in living eternity itself; since everlasting life hedges it about and, in a manner of speaking, holds it together, the world will never stop moving nor be destroyed. The world itself dispenses life to everything in it, and it is the place of all things governed under the sun. The world’s motion is a twofold activity: eternity enlivens the world from without, and the world enlivens all within it, dispersing them all according to numbers and times fixed and appointed by the action of the sun and the movements of the stars, the whole chronological scheme framed in divine law. On earth one tells time by the quality of the air and the change of hot seasons and cold, but in heaven time runs by the return of the coursing stars to the same places in chronological cycles. The world is time’s receptacle; the cycling and stirring of time invigorate it. Yet time works by orderly rule: order and time cause the renewal of everything in the world through alternation. Nothing in this situation is stable, nothing fixed, nothing immobile among things that come to be in heaven and earth: the lone exception is god, and rightly he alone, for he is whole, full and perfect in himself and by himself and about himself. He is his own steadfast stability, and no external impulse can move him from his place since everything is in him and he alone in everything – unless one ventures to say that his motion is in eternity. But eternity, toward which all the stirring of time recedes and from which all the stirring of time takes its rise, is itself immobile”; CH 11.2 “…God makes eternity; eternity makes the cosmos; the cosmos makes time; time makes becoming. The essence, so to speak, of god is the good, the beautiful, happiness, wisdom; the essence of eternity is identity; of the cosmos, order; of time, change; of becoming, life and death. But the energy of god is mind and soul; the energy of eternity is permanence and immortality; of the cosmos, recurrence and counter- recurrence; of time, increase and decrease; of becoming, quality and quantity. Eternity, therefore, is in god, the cosmos in eternity, time in the cosmos, and becoming in time. And while eternity has stood still in god’s presence, the cosmos moves in eternity, time passes in the cosmos, but becoming comes to be in time.”as to mortality, earth is its grave; and heaven is the place of the immortal. (161: SH 11.2 “Every body is changeable, but not every body can be broken down. [Some bodies can be broken down.])”; SH 11.42 “Heaven receives eternal bodies, the earth receives decaying bodies.”The immortal came into being because of the mortal, but the mortal comes into being by means of the immortal. (162: SH 11.2 “Every body is changeable, but not every body can be broken down. [Some bodies can be broken down.])”; SH 11.38 “What is immortal does not share what is mortal, but the mortal shares the immortal.“) Evil is a deficiency of good, (163: CH 6.3 “With reference to humanity, one uses the term ‘good’ in comparison to ‘evil.’ Here below, the evil that is not excessive is the good, and the good is the least amount of evil here below. The good cannot be cleansed of vice here below, for the good is spoiled by evil here below and, once spoiled, it no longer remains good. Since it does not remain so, it becomes evil. The good is in god alone, then, or god himself is the good… Error is the absence of the good here below. ”good is fullness of itself. (164: CH 6.4 “As for me, I give thanks to god for what he has put in my mind, even to know of the good that it is impossible for it to exist in the cosmos. For the cosmos is a plenitude of vice, as god is a plenitude of the good, or the good of god. . . . If indeed there are things preeminently beautiful near to god’s essence, those seem perhaps even cleaner and purer in some degree which are part of him. One dares to say, Asclepius, that god’s essence if, in fact, he has an essence, is the beautiful but that the beautiful and the good are not to be detected in any of the things in the cosmos. All the things that are subject to the sight of the eyes are as phantoms and shadowy illusions, but those not subject to it, especially the essence of the beautiful and the good. . . . As the eye cannot see god, neither can it see the beautiful and the good, for they are integral parts of god alone, properties of god, peculiar to him, inseparable, most beloved; either god loves them or they love god.”)

5. Soul is bound to be born in this world, but Nous is superior to the world. (165: gerašxarhik = huperkosimosJust as Nous is unbegotten, so is matter too, although it can be divided. Nous is unbegotten, and matter is divisible; soul is threefold, (166: Reasonable, unreasonable and sensible; OH 1:

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; OH 4:

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and matter has three parts; (167: May be ‘three dimensions’; CH 13.13 “This, my child, is rebirth: no longer picturing things in three bodily dimensions…”) generation (168: bnut’iwn [phusis] means here ‘generation’ and not ‘nature’is in soul and matter, but Nous is in God for the generation ofthe immortal beings.

6. Providence and Necessity (169: CH 12.4 “But those human souls that do not have mind as a guide are affected in the same way as souls of animals without reason. When mind connives with them and gives way to longings, the rush of appetite drives such souls to the longings that lead to unreason and, like animals without reason, they never cease their irrational anger and irrational longing, and they have never had enough of evil. For angers and longings are irrational vices that exceed all limits. God has imposed the law upon these souls as a torment and a reproof.”; SH 12-14: SH 12:

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SH 13 “Necessity is a firm judgement and an unbending power of Providence.” SH 14: “[1] Now Providence firmly governs the whole world, Necessity constrains it, and Fate drives and drives round all things by force. Indeed, it’s nature is to use force. Fate is the cause of birth and decay during the time of life. [2] The universe experiences the works of Providence first, for it is the first to receive its influence. Providence is spread out in heaven because gods too revolve in heaven and are moved with a tireless and ceaseless motion. Fate also is spread out because it is moved by Necessity. Whereas Providence provides order, Fate is the cause of astral formations. Such is inescapable law that orders all things.”are, in the mortal, birth and death, (170: SH 14.1 “[1] Now Providence firmly governs the whole world, Necessity constrains it, and Fate drives and drives round all things by force. Indeed, it’s nature is to use force. Fate is the cause of birth and decay during the time of life. [2] The universe experiences the works of Providence first, for it is the first to receive its influence. Providence is spread out in heaven because gods too revolve in heaven and are moved with a tireless and ceaseless motion. Fate also is spread out because it is moved by Necessity. Whereas Providence provides order, Fate is the cause of astral formations. Such is inescapable law that orders all things.”and in God, unbegotten essence. The immortal beings agree with one another and the mortal envy one another with jealousy, (171: DH 3.2 “Many places are uninhabited by humans; for where the world is. the earth is too, but man is not on every earth. The sea is large as well as the earth, but heaven by itself is as much as both the sea and the earth. And he wanted to say that, by its magnitude, heaven is as much as both the earth and the sea, so large as the two of them may be, since by taking everything into itself, it encompassed it and it contains it enclosed within itself.”; CH 9.3 “Mind conceives every mental product: both the good, when mind receives seeds from god, as well as the contrary kind, when the seeds come from some demonic being. Unless it is illuminated by god, no part of the cosmos is without a demon that steals into the mind to sow the seed of its own energy, and what has been sown the mind conceives – adulteries, murders, assaults on one’s father, acts of sacrilege and irreverence, suicides by hanging or falling from a cliff, and all other such works of demons.”; DH 8.6 “You have the power of getting free since you have been given everything. Nobody envies you. Everything came into being for you, so that by means of either one being or of the whole, you may understand the craftsman. For you have the power of not understanding with your own will; you have the power of lacking faith and being misled, so that you understand the contrary of the real beings. Man has as much power as the gods. Only man is a free living being, only he has the power of good and evil.”because evil envy arises due to knowing death in advance. The immortal does what he always does, but the mortal does what he has never done. Death, if understood, is immortality; (172: NH 6.67,4-6 “(~) Since God has given matter a place equal to spirit in creation, there are passions in it, and they flow over a person’s body. Such a living thing can only exist if it eats this food, for it is mortal. It is also inevitable that inappropriate desires, which cause harm, come to be within such a person.”; AH 27 “…We must talk now about the immortal and the mortal, for anticipation and fear of death torture the many who do not know the true account of it. Death results from the disintegration of a body worn out with work, after the time has passed when the body’s members fit into a single mechanism with vital functions. The body dies, in fact, when it can no longer support a person’s vital processes. This is death, then: the body’s disintegration and the extinction of bodily consciousness…”; SH 11.2 “Every body is changeable, but not every body can be broken down. [Some bodies can be broken down.])”; SH 11.35 “Birth is the beginning of human decay, decay is the beginning of human birth.”; CH 8.1 “Now, my son, we must speak about soul and body and say in what way the soul is immortal and whence comes the energy that composes and dissolves the body. Death actually has nothing to do with this. Death is a notion that arises from the term ‘immortal’: either it is an empty usage, or, through the loss of the first syllable, ‘immortal’ is taken to mean ‘mortal.’ Death has to do with destruction, yet none of the things in the cosmos is destroyed. If the cosmos is a second god and an immortal living thing, it is impossible for any part of this immortal living thing to die. All things in the cosmos are parts of the cosmos, but especially mankind, the living thing that reasons.”) if not understood it is death. They assume that the mortal beings of this world have fallen under the dominion of the immortal, but in reality the immortal are servants of the mortal of this world. (173: DH 8.6-7 “[6] You have the power of getting free since you have been given everything. Nobody envies you. Everything came into being for you, so that by means of either one being or of the whole, you may understand the craftsman. For you have the power of not understanding with your own will; you have the power of lacking faith and being misled, so that you understand the contrary of the real beings. Man has as much power as the gods. Only man is a free living being, only he has the power of good and evil. [7] You do not have the power of becoming immortal ; neither does, indeed, the immortal have the power of dying. You can even become a god if you want, for it is possible! Therefore want and understand and believe and love: then you have become it!”)

[ 7. Therefore soul is an immortal essence, (174: DH 10.7 is an addition identical to SH 19.1, which we translate here from the Greek as reconstructed in: HHE, vol. 2, p. 329:

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eternal, intellective, having, as an intellectual thought, its reason endowed with Nous. By understanding nature, it attracts (175: ‘epispatai’ [not ‘epistatai’ as in the model of the Armenian version, gitē]to itself the intellect of the planetary harmony; (176: CH 1.14 “Having all authority over the cosmos of mortals and unreasoning animals, the man broke through the vault and stooped to look through the cosmic framework, thus displaying to lower nature the fair form of god. Nature smiled for love when she saw him whose fairness brings no surfeit and who holds in himself all the energy of the governors and the form of god, for in the water she saw the shape of the man’s fairest form and upon the earth its shadow. When the man saw in the water the form like himself as it was in nature, he loved it and wished to inhabit it; wish and action came in the same moment, and he inhabited the unreasoning form. Nature took hold of her beloved, hugged him all about and embraced him, for they were lovers.”then, once it is freed from this natural body, it remains alone with itself and is grieved, belonging only to itself in the intelligible world. It rules on its reason. (177: The text is incomplete. Then follows, in some Armenian manuscripts, an addition drawn from Nemesius ch. 5: DH 11.1-6; HHE, vol.2, p. 331-2, 402-5 link: https://mysteryschool1.wordpress.com/2022/03/29/dh-11-dh-10-7-footnote-177-dh-11-1-6-hhe-vol-2-p-331-2-402-5/ ) ] 

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-Footnoted quotes from the CH, AH, SH, OH, and NH are by Copenhaver, Litwa, and Meyer unless specified. Quotes from the DH and HHE are by Mahé.

(~) – indicates that I am quoting from NH, but I don’t have numbered verses so I can only make a guess based on content and context.

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