English Translations of Footnotes 84 & 85 – in DH 7.2

Hello fellow learners! This article is written specifically to present an English translation of footnotes 84 and 85 in The Definitions of Hermēs Trismegistus to Asclepius, which can be found in “The Way of Hermes” by Clement Salaman.

Footnote 84 cites the French Paramelle-Mahé (1990-1991) p.123 n.12; while footnote 85 cites HHE (Hermès en Haute-Égypte) vol.2 p.294. Both of these are written by Jean-Pierre Mahé in French and have been translated, by myself, into English for the reader.


Paramelle-Mahé p.123 reads as follows:

 “One might wonder if there is any link between these HO [or the OH] and the fragments of the DH preceded in C. Would they originally belong to the hermetic source? In favour of this hypothesis, it could be observed that, stylistically, some passages of the OH have quite the appearance of definitions or brief sentences. In addition, the development on the human law (OH III) can bring back different formulations of the DH. Finally, it should be noted that the DH are incomplete in Armenian. They are interrupted abruptly, in DH X,7, by an interpolation inspired by Nemesius of Emesus. However, just before this interpolation, the last paragraph of the text that remained pending is parallel to SH XIX,1. Would he be defrauding us of concluding that SH XIX,2-7 would constitute the sequence of DH and that our OH would represent even later developments extracted from the hermetic source? Other arguments seem to carry weight in the opposite direction. First of all the OH are separated from the DH by a quote from CH XVI,4. In addition, they have great affinities with SH VIII and SH XV-XX, especially SH XV-XVII, which are addressed to Ammon. Now we know, by their title preserved in Armenian, that the DH are addressed to Asclepius. Finally, A.-J. Festugière detects in SH XV. XIX (which he considers to be the continuation of XVII) and XXII the influence of the pneumatic medical school, in particular the Οροι ίατριχοί [Terms of healers]) of Ps. Galen, which date at the earliest from the third century AD. If this comparison is valid, the chronological index probably also applies to our unpublished works, which are especially close to these memes extracted from Stobaeus. But such a late date contrasts with the fact that some sentences included in the DH served as a source for CH I, the famous Poimandres, which dates back to the very beginning of the second century.

HHE v.2 p.294 reads as follows: 

“(DH VII,2) That is, in ancient Egypt, the office of Khnum, the potter god, who became the Agathodemon of Ptolemaic Egypt and lends his name to one of the sages of Hermeticism. For example, the Loyalist Teaching attributes the merits to Pharon: He is the heir of every god, it is Khnum of everyone, the progenitor who creates humans. The Wisdom of Amanemope similarly teaches that man is made of clay mixed with straw and god is his Creator. However, except in the texts of Merikare are previously quoted, we do not learn the details of the office of the potter. Here again these are the the closest text to Trismegistus, in time as in form, is the Hymn to Khnum by Esna.

Hymn to Khnum:

… He opened his eyes, He cleared the access of the ears, he put The body in intimate contact with the atmosphere, He made his mouth to eat.

… He organized the race of blood in the bones…… shaping the skin on the limbs…… the hands, with their fingers, to accomplish their work…

… The bladder, to urinate… the heart, to serve as a guide… the testicles,… the anus, to fulfill its function…

… He is their father, he, Tanen, who gave birth to everything that exists… Had her mouth spat out that they were born immediately?

[Cf.] CH V,6-7:

Who drew The Circle of Eyes? Who drilled the holes in the nostrils and ears? Who made the mouth opening? Who stretched the muscles and tied them up? Who drove the vein canals? Who solidified the bones? Who covered all the flesh with skin? Who separated the fingers? Who enlarged the soles of the feet? Who pierced [passages for] the pores? Who extended the spleen? Who shaped the pyramid-shaped heart?… Who hid the shameful parts?… What father, what mother, if not the invisible God who, by his own will, made everything?”

HHE, p.294 (French)

The “Hymn to Khnum” (Khnum being the Egyptian equivalent of the Greek Agathos Daimon) is compared with and shown to us to be a reflection of two specific verses of the Corpus Hermeticum: CH 5.6-7.

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