Review of ‘Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius’ by Brian Copenhaver

“Hermetica” by Brian P. Copenhaver is a landmark work that brings the enigmatic and profound texts of the Hermetic tradition to a modern audience through a meticulous new English translation.

This volume includes the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius, offering readers an accessible entry point into the complex world of Hermetic thought.

Copenhaver’s translation stands out for its clarity and precision, capturing the mystical and philosophical essence of these ancient texts.

Copenhaver’s work is particularly valuable for its ability to convey the richness and diversity of these writings while maintaining scholarly rigor.

One of the strengths of Copenhaver’s “Hermetica” is the comprehensive introduction, which provides essential context for understanding the texts. Copenhaver situates the Hermetica within the broader landscape of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, elucidating the cultural and intellectual milieu that shaped these works.

Copenhaver explains the key themes and motifs of Hermeticism, such as the pursuit of divine knowledge, the nature of the cosmos, and the process of spiritual rebirth, making the material accessible to both newcomers and seasoned scholars.

The inclusion of extensive notes further enhances the reader’s experience. These annotations provide critical insights into the historical and philosophical background of the texts, offering explanations of obscure references and elucidating the connections between Hermeticism and other contemporary philosophical and religious movements.

Copenhaver’s scholarship is evident in the depth and breadth of his commentary, which helps readers navigate the often difficult language of the Hermetica.

The translation of the Asclepius, a key Latin Hermetic text, is another highlight of the volume. This text, with its emphasis on theurgy and the interaction between the divine and human realms, complements the Greek Corpus Hermeticum and provides a fuller picture of Hermetic thought.

It is worth noting that while “Hermetica” by Brian P. Copenhaver is relatively expensive, it is a worthwhile investment. The detailed footnotes and comprehensive annotations provide a wealth of information that significantly enriches the reading experience.

These scholarly notes are indispensable for anyone seeking a deep understanding of the Hermetic tradition, making the book a valuable addition to any serious student’s hermetic library.

Copenhaver’s “Hermetica” is not only a scholarly achievement but also a profound contribution to the understanding of Western esotericism. This book is indispensable for anyone interested in the history of philosophy, religion, and mysticism, as well as those seeking to understand the enduring influence of Hermetic ideas on Western thought.


Brian P. Copenhaver’s “Hermetica” is an exemplary work of translation and scholarship. It illuminates the depth and complexity of the Hermetic tradition, providing readers with a rich and rewarding engagement with these ancient texts. Whether you are a scholar of religious studies or a curious reader interested in the mystical traditions of antiquity, this volume is a valuable and enlightening resource.

Title: Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation, with Notes and Introduction
Author: Brian P. Copenhaver
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: 1992

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