Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius: 5 (with quoted footnotes) 

1. Reasonable speech (52is the servant of Nous. (53For what Nous wants, speech in turn interprets. (54Nous sees everything, (55and eyes all corporeal things. (56And yet Nous does not become an observer for the eyes, but the eyes for Nous.

2. To Nous nothing is incomprehensible, (57to speech nothing ineffable: (58when you keep silent, you understand; (59when you talk, you just talk. Since Nous conceives speech in silence, (60only that speech which comes from silence and Nous is salvation. (61But that speech which comes from speech is only perdition; for by his body man is mortal, but by speech he is immortal. (62)

3. Who does not understand speech has no Nous, who talks without Nous says nothing: (63since he understands nothing, he has no Nous and he talks, for his talk is a crowd and a crowd has neither Nous nor reasonable speech. (64Speech endowed with Nous is a gift of God; (65speech without Nous is a finding of man.(66Nobody sees heaven and what is therein, but only man. (67Only man has Nous and speech. (68)

  1.  Reasonable speech (52: i.e. “logos- λόγος”is the servant of Nous. (53: CH 9.1 “…The sensory perception and understanding may seem to differ: one is connected with matter and the other with being. To me they both seem to be one and without difference; I mean in man. For in other living beings sense in one with nature, but there is understanding in man. Nous differs as much from understanding as God does from divinity. Divinity comes from God, as understanding, being akin to the Word [logos – λόγος], comes from Nous. In fact understanding and the Word are instruments of each other, for neither is the Word spoken without understanding nor does understanding appear without the Word.” -SalamanFor what Nous wants, speech in turn interprets. (54: CH 9.10 “If you are mindful, Asclepius, these things should seem true to you, but they will be beyond belief if you have no knowledge. To understand is to believe, and not to believe is not to understand. Reasoned discourse does not get to the truth, but mind is powerful, and, when it has been guided by reason up to a point, it has the means to get as far as the truth. After mind had considered all this carefully and had discovered that all of it is in harmony with the discoveries of reason, it came to believe, and in this beautiful belief it found rest. By an act of god, then, those who have understood find what I have been saying believable, but those who have not understood do not find it believable. Let this much be said about understanding and sensation.”Nous sees everything, (55: CH 13.13 “…I have nothing to tell except this: seeing within me an unfabricated vision that came from the mercy of god, I went out of myself into an immortal body, and now I am not what I was before. I have been born in mind. This thing cannot be taught, nor can it be seen through any elementary fabrication that we use here below. Therefore, the initial form even of my own constitution is of no concern. Color, touch or size I no longer have; I am a stranger to them. Now you see me with your eyes, my child, but by gazing with bodily sight you do not understand what I am; I am not seen with such eyes, my child.”and eyes all corporeal things. (56: SH 1.2 “The intervening distance dims the vision of the Beautiful. {CH 6.4 identifies the substance of God with the Beautiful.} Bodies are seen by eyes, and sights are spoken by the tongue. But what is bodiless, invisible, without shape, and not consisting of matter cannot be grasped by our senses {CH 4.9 “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 the body”; SH 2A.9 “truth is… the unchangeable Good”; SH 2A.15 “the primal truth is… not made from matter, nor embodied, not qualified by color or shape; it is us shifting, unchanging, ever existing.”} I have this insight… What cannot be expressed – this is God”; CH 7.2 “…seek a guide to take you by the hand and lead you to the portals of knowledge. There shines the light cleansed of darkness. There no one is drunk. All are sober and gaze with the heart toward one who wishes to be seen, who is neither heard nor spoken of, who is seen not with the eyes but with mind and heart. But first you must rip off the tunic that you wear, the garment of ignorance, the foundation of vice, the bonds of corruption, the dark cage, the living death, the sentient corpse, the portable tomb, the resident thief, the one who hates through what he loves and evokes through what he hates.”And yet Nous does not become an observer for the eyes, but the eyes for Nous.
  2. To Nous nothing is incomprehensible, (57: CH 10.5 “Those able to drink somewhat more deeply of the vision often fall asleep, moving out of body toward a sight most fair, just as it happened to Ouranos and Kronos, our ancestors… But we are still too weak now for this sight; we are not yet strong enough to open our mind’s eyes and look on the incorruptible, incomprehensible beauty of that good. In the moment when you have nothing to say about it, you will see it, for the knowledge of it is divine silence and suppression of all the senses.”to speech nothing ineffable: (58: FH 12A “Shortly thereafter, he says to his son: ‘Here is an inexpressible and holy discourse [or: ‘Word’/Logos (λόγος)] of wisdom concerning the sole lord of all and the God prior to thought. To speak of this being is a superhuman task.’”when you keep silent, you understand; (59: CH 1.31 “ Holy is god, the father of all… You whom we address in silence, the unspeakable, the unswayable, accept pure speech offerings from the heart and saw that reach up to you.”when you talk, you just talk. Since Nous conceives speech in silence, (60: CH 1.30 “Within myself I recorded the kindness of Poimandres, and I was deeply happy because I was filled with what I wished, for the sleep of my body became sobriety of soul, the closing of my eyes became true vision, my silence became pregnant with good, andand the birthing of the word became of progeny of goods…”only that speech which comes from silence and Nous is salvation. (61: CH 13.1 “My father, you spoke indistinctly and in riddles when talking about divinity in the General Discourses; claiming that no one can be saved before being born again, you offered no revelation. But after you talked with me coming down from the mountain, I became your suppliant and asked to learn the discourse on being born again since, of all the discourses, this one alone I do not know. And you said you would deliver it to me when ‘you were about to become a stranger to the cosmos.’ I have prepared myself, and I have steeled my purpose against the deceit of the cosmos. Grant me what I need and give me – weather aloud or in secret – the discourse on being born again that you said you would deliver. I do not know what sort of womb mankind was born from, O Trismegistusfistus, nor from what kind of seed.”But that speech which comes from speech is only perdition; for by his body man is mortal, but by speech he is immortal. (62: CH 1.15 “because of this, unlike any other living thing on earth, mankind is twofold – in the body mortal the immortal in the essential man. Even though he is immortal and has authority over all things, mankind is affected by morality because he is subject to fate; thus, although man is above the cosmic framework, he became a slave within it. He is androgyne because he comes from an androgyne father, and he never sleeps because he comes from one who is sleepless. Yet love and sleep are his masters.”)
  3. Who does not understand speech has no Nous, who talks without Nous says nothing: (63: CH 10.9 “Hermēs: ‘The virtue of soul, by contrast, is knowledge; for one who knows is good in reverent and already divine.’ Tat: ‘Who is this person, father?’ Hermēs: ‘One who says little and hears little. He fights with shadows, my son, who wastes time on talking and listening to talk. One neither speaks nor hears of god the father and the good. This being so – that there are senses in all things that are because they cannot exist without them – yet knowledge differs greatly from sensation; for sensation comes when the object prevails, while knowledge is the goal of learning, and learning is a gift from god.’”since he understands nothing, he has no Nous and he talks, for his talk is a crowd and a crowd has neither Nous nor reasonable speech. (64: CH 9.4 “Few seeds come from god, but they are potent and beautiful and good – virtue, moderation and reverence. Reverence is knowledge of god, and one who has come to know god, filled with all good things, has thoughts that are divine and not like those of the multitude. This is why those who are in knowledge do not please the multitude, nor does the multitude please them. They appear to be mad, and they bring ridicule on themselves. They are hated and scorned, and perhaps they may even be murdered. As I have said, vice must dwell here below since this is its native land. The earth is its native land, not the cosmos…”Speech endowed with Nous is a gift of God; (65: CH 10.9* “Hermēs: ‘The virtue of soul, by contrast, is knowledge; for one who knows is good in reverent and already divine.’ Tat: ‘Who is this person, father?’ Hermēs: ‘One who says little and hears little. He fights with shadows, my son, who wastes time on talking and listening to talk. One neither speaks nor hears of god the father and the good. This being so – that there are senses in all things that are because they cannot exist without them – yet knowledge differs greatly from sensation; for sensation comes when the object prevails, while knowledge is the goal of learning, and learning is a gift from god.”speech without Nous is a finding of man. (66: CH 4.4-5 ”[4] …He filled a great mixing bowl with it and sent it below, appointing a herald whom he commanded to make the following proclamation to human hearts: ‘Immerse yourself in the mixing bowl if your heart has the strength, if it believes you will rise up again to the one who sent the mixing bowl below, if it recognizes the purpose of your coming to be.’ ‘All those who heeded the proclamation and immersed themselves in mind participated in knowledge and became perfect people because they received mind. But those who missed the point of the proclamation are people of reason because they did not receive the gift of mind as well and do not know the purpose or the agents of their coming to be. [5] These people have sensations much like those of unreasoning animals, and, since their temperament is willful and angry, they feel no awe of things that deserve to be admired; they divert their attention to the pleasures and appetites of their bodies; and they believe that mankind came to be for such purposes. But those who participate in the gift that comes from god, O Tat, are immortal rather than mortal if one compares their deeds, for in a mind of their own they have comprehended all – things on earth, things in heaven and even what lies beyond heaven. Having raised themselves so far, they have seen the good and, having seen it, they have come to regard the wasting of time here below as a calamity. They have scorned every corporeal and incorporeal thing, and they hasten toward the one and only.Nobody sees heaven and what is therein, but only man. (67: CH 4.3 “Hermēs: ‘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.’ Tat: ‘For what reason, then, did god not share mind with all of them, my father?’ Hermēs: ‘He wanted it put between souls, my child, as a prize for them to contest.’”; CH 10.25  “For none of the heavenly gods will go down to earth, leaving behind the bounds of heaven, yet the human rises up to heaven and takes its measure and knows what is in its heights and its depths, and he understands all else exactly and – greater than all of this – he comes to be on high without leaving earth behind, so enormous is his range. Therefore, we must dare to say that the human on earth is a mortal god but that god in heaven is an immortal human. Through these two, then, cosmos and human, all things exist, but they all exist by action of the one.”; CH 12.19-20 “[19] Through mind, then, every living thing is immortal, but most of all mankind, who is capable of receiving god and fit to keep company with him. With this living thing alone does god converse, at night through dreams and through omens by day, and through all of them he foretells the future, through birds, through entrails, through inspiration, through the oak tree, whereby mankind also professes to know what has been, what is at hand and what will be. [20] And notice this, my child, that each living thing frequents one part of the cosmos: water for those that live in the water, earth for those that dwell on land, air for those that float above. But mankind uses them all – earth, water, air, fire. He even sees heaven, which he grasps by sensing it. And god, who is energy and power, surrounds everything and permeates everything, and understanding of god is nothing difficult, my child.”; AH 6 “Because of this, Asclepius, a human being is a great wonder, a living thing to be worshipped and honored: for he changes his nature into a god’s, as if he were a god; he knows the demonic kind inasmuch as he recognizes that he originated among them; he despises the part of him that is human nature, having put his trust in the divinity of his other part. How much happier is the blend of human nature! Conjoined to the gods by a kindred divinity, he despises inwardly that part of him in which he is earthly. All others he draws close to him in a bond of affection, recognizing his relation to them by heaven’s disposition. He looks up to heaven. He has been put in the happier place of middle status so that he might cherish those beneath him and be cherished by those above him. He cultivates the earth; he swiftly mixes into the elements; he plumbs the depths of the sea in the keenness of his mind. Everything is permitted him: heaven itself seems not too high, for he measures it in his clever thinking as if it were nearby. No misty air dims the concentration of his thought; no thick earth obstructs his work; no abysmal deep of water blocks his lofty view. He is everything, and he is everywhere…”Only man has Nous and speech. (68: CH 4.2 “so he sent the man below, an adornment of the divine body, mortal life from life immortal. And if the cosmos prevailed over living things as something ever-living, the man prevailed even over the cosmos through reason and mind. The man became a spectator of god’s work. He looked at it in astonishment and recognized its maker.”; AH 41 “As they left the sanctuary, they began praying to god and turning to the south (for when someone wants to entreat god at sunset, he should direct his gaze to that quarter, and likewise at sunrise toward the direction they call east), and they were already saying their prayer when in a hushed voice Asclepius asked: ‘Tat, do you think we should suggest that your father tell them to add frankincense and spices as we pray to god?’ When Trismegistus heard him, he was disturbed and said: ‘A bad omen, Asclepius, very bad. To burn incense and such stuff when you entreat god smacks of sacrilege. For he wants nothing who is himself all things or in whom all things are. Rather let us worship him by giving thanks, for god finds mortal gratitude to be the best incense.’ ‘We thank you, supreme and most high god, by whose grace alone we have attained the light of your knowledge; holy name that must be honored, the one name by which our ancestral faith blesses god alone, we thank you who deign to grant to all a father’s fidelity, reverence and love, along with any power that is sweeter, by giving us the gift of consciousness, reason and understanding: consciousness, by which we may know you; reason, by which we may seek you in our dim suppositions; knowledge, by which we may rejoice in knowing you. And we who are saved by your power do indeed rejoice because you have shown yourself to us wholly. We rejoice that you have deigned to make us gods for eternity even while we depend on the body. For this is mankind’s only means of giving thanks: knowledge of your majesty. We have known you, the vast light perceived only by reason. We have understood you, true life of life, the womb pregnant with all coming-to-be. We have known you, who persist eternally by conceiving all coming-to-be in its perfect fullness. Worshipping with this entire prayer the good of your goodness, we ask only this, that you wish us to persist in the love of your knowledge and that we never be cut off from such a life as this.’ ‘With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing.’)

-Footnoted quotes from the CH and AH are by Copenhaver and Litwa unless specified.

{Abc} – indicates a footnoted verse contained within Mahé’s original footnotes in DH.

(*)- indicates multiple usage of a single verse in the footnotes.

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