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PETOSIRIS, PSEUDO-

(fl. Egypt, second and first centuries b.c.)

astrology.

 

During antiquity several texts relating to divination and astrology circulated under the names Petosiris and Nechepso. Nechepso is the name of a king whom Manetho included in the twenty-sixth Egyptian dynasty (ca. 600 B.C); and the most famous Petosiris was the high priest of Thoth (ca. 300 B.C. [?]),1 although many others bore this name signifying Gift of Osiris. Whether the author of the works circulating under their names had these two individuals, or some others, in mind we cannot know.

The fragments of these works, which were collected by E. Riess,2 fall into four main groups: (1) those using astral omens as developed by the Egyptians in the Achemenid and Ptolemaic periods from Mesopotamian prototypes to give general indications; (2) those derived from a revelation-text in which Nechepso the king, guided by Petosiris, sees a vision that grants him a knowledge of horoscopic truth; (3) a treatise on astrological botany for medical purposes and another on decanic medicine; and (4) treatises on numerology

(1) The fragments of texts employing astral omina are largely from authors of late antiquity: Hephaestio of Thebes (fl. ca. 415), Proclus (410485), and John Lydus (fl. ca. 560). As preserved to us, the fragments represent radical reworkings of the original texts. It is those fragments, and especially fragment 6 (Riess), which C. Bezold and F. Boll3 saw to be related to Mesopotamian texts and that allowed Kroll4 to date the original to the second century B.C. The fragments belonging to this text5 use as omens eclipses, the heliacal rising of Sirius, and comets. Fragments 66 uses as omens the color of the eclipsed the heliacal rising of Sirius, and comets. Fragment 6 uses as omns the color of the esclipsed body; the simultaneous occurrence of winds blowing from th several directions and of shooting stars, halos, lightning, and rainl and the presence of the eclipsed body in each of the signs of the zodiac (a substitution for Egyptian months). Fragment 6 also divides the day or night into four periods, each of which has three seasonal hours. Most of these elements are found in the demotic papyrus published by R. A. Parker,7 and many of them in the relevant tablets of the Sin and Shamash sections of the Babylonian astral omen series Enũma Anu Enlil.

Fragment 88 summarizes a similar treatment of eclipse omens from Campestrius, who follows the Petosirian traditions. Fragment 7,9 also on eclipse omens, seems to be from another but still ancient source in which the scheme of geographical references was rather strictly limited to Egypt and its neighbors in contrast to fragment 6, where the eclipses affect the whole Eurasian continent.

Fragment 1210 gives annual predictions based on the situation at the heliacal rising of Sirius, including the positions of the planets and the color of the star and direction of the winds; it is to be compared to the demotic papyrus published by G. R. Hughes11 and also with Eudoxius12 and Pseudo-Zoroaster.13 In the middle of Hephaestio, I, 23, is a description of the manner in which the effective force of the planets is transmitted through the spheres to the sublunar sphere. This passage presupposes both Aristotelian physical theories and a planetary system based on epicycles, eccentrics, or both. If the passage is a genuine quotation form a text written in the second century B.C., it is of the greatest interest as providing the earliest evidence known to us of a theory of astral influence. The fragment contains other elements of interest to a historian of horoscopyfor example, a categorization of the planets as malefic or benefic and the use of aspects. But these elements may have been added by Hephaestio or some unknown predecessor, or the whole chapter may have nothing to do with the work published under the names of Nechepso and Petosiris.

Very doubtful indeed is the attribution to that work of fragments 914 1015 and 11.16 The ominous bodies are the comets, of which there was originally one type associated with each of the planets. Such comets of the planets are found also in early Sanskrit astral omen texts (for example, in the Gargasamhitã ), but we have as yet no cuneiform tablets that would give us a common source. In any case, there is little reason to assign these specific fragments to Nechepso and Petosiris

Perhaps also forming a part of the astral omen texts are two other sets of fragments dealing with problems that interested the earliest men who attempted to convert general omens into ones significant for individuals and who used Babylonian techniques. These two problems are the date of a natives conception17 and the computation of the length of his life based on the rising times between the ascendent and the nonagesimal.18

(2) The horoscopic text includes all of the passages from Valen Anthologies (I give the references to the edition by W. Kroll [Berlin, 1908]) and some from Firmicus Maternus. In it Nechepso saw a vision,19 which included a perception of the motions of the planets that is redolent of pre-Ptolemaic astronomy. He described what he had learned from this revelation in at least thirteen books of very obscure iambic senarii. As we know the ideas there expressed only through the dim intellect of Vettius Valens, we are not surprised to find the mysteries largely either self contradictory or too fragmentary to be comprehended fully. Some passages in Valens20 indicate that he knew of a separate work of Petosiris (entitled Definitions ) in addition to that of Nechepso, to whom he usually refers as the king, although in another place21 he speaks of the king and Petosiris together. several passages22 contain quotations from the kings thirteenth book.

Among the principal astrological doctrines discussed by Nechepso and Petosiris in the poetic work (or works) available to Valens are the computation of the length of life of the native;23 the calculation of the Lot of Fortune, which is also used in computing the length of life;24 the determination of good and bad times during the natives life, based on various methods of continuous horoscopy (the planetary periods, the lord of the year, and the revolution of the years of nativities); 25 dangerous or climacteric times;26 and various aspects of the natives life: travel,27 injury,28 children,29 and death.30 It is probable that Firmicus Maternus drew upon this same collection for his references to Petosiris and Nechepsos geniture of the universe,31 his statement that Petosiris only lightly touched upon the doctrine of the decans,32 and his denial that Petosiris and Nechepso dealt with the Sphaera barbarica. Add also the discussion of initiatives in Julian,33

(3) Nechepso is known as an authority on materia medica (plants and stones) under astral influence.34

(4) The numerological treatises are of two sorts, both explained in a letter of Petosiris to King Nechepso, which is extant in numerous recensions. The simpler form utilizes only the numerical equivalent of the Greek letters in the querists name; the second form utilizes the day of the lunar month and the Circle of Petosiris.35 Another numerological text, which is based on the zodiacal signs, occurs in a letter addressed to Nechepso.36

The significance of Pseudo-Petosiris works (esp. 1 and 2) is their illumination ofalthough in a very fragmentary formtwo important processes of Ptolemaic science: the development of the astral omens that the Egyptians of the Achemenid period had derived from Mesopotamia, and the invention of a new science of astrology based on Greek astronomy and physics in conjunction with Hellenistic mysticism and Egypto-Babylonian divination from astral omens. The effect of their teachings on their successors was profound, although the primitiveness of their methods meant that only their heirs of a mystic (Valens) or antiquarian (Hephaestio and Lydus) bent cite them in detail. That influence is acknowledged not only in the fragments mentioned above, but also at various places in the important Epitome Parisina 37

NOTES

1. G. Lefebvre, Le tombeau de Petosiris, 3 vols. (Cairo, 19231924).

2. E. Riess, Nechepsonis et Petosiridis fragmenta magica, in Philologus, Supplementband 6 (1892), 327394, to which many more fragments could be added.

3. C. Bezold and F. Boll, Reflexe astrologischer Keilinschriften bei griechischen Schriftstellern (Heidelberg, 1911).

4. W. Kroll, Aus der Geschichte der Astrologie, in Neue JahrbÜcher fÜr das Klassische Altertum, Geschichte und Deutsche Literatur, 7 (1901), 559577, esp. 573577.

5. Frs. 612 in Riess, some of which are very dubious.

6. Hephaestio, I, 21, who attributes the material to the ancient Egyptians; another version, using Roman months rather than zodiacal signs, was published by F. Boll, in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VII (Brussels, 1908), 129151.

7. R. A. Parker, A Vienna Demotic Papyrus on Eclipse and lunar-omina (Providence, 1959).

8. Lydus, De ostentis, 9.

9. Hephaestio, 1, 22.

10. Hephaestio, I, 23, who attributes it to the ancient, wise Egyptians; ef; Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, V, pt. 1 (Brussels, 1904), 204

11. G. R. Hughes, A Demotic Astrological Text, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 10 (1951), 256264.

12. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VII, 181187.

13. Geoponica, I, 8 and I, 10 = fr. 0,40; and fr. 0,41 in J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les mages hellánisás, II (Paris, 1938), 178183.

14. John Lydus, De ostentis, 1115, from Campestrius.

15. Hephaestio, I, 24.

16. Servius, In Aeneidem, X, 272, who follows Avienus, but also mentions Campestris (sic!) and Petosiris.

17. Fr. 14; cf. Achinapolus in Vitruvius, De architectura, IX, 6,2; Pseudo-Zoroaster, fr. 0,14 Bidez-Cumont, II, 161162; and A. Sachs, in Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 6 (1952), 5860.

18. Frs. 16 and 17 and also fr. 5 (Valens, III, 16) and Valens, III, 3, and VIII, 6; cf. Berosus, frs. 32 and 33 in P. Schnabel, Berossos und die babylonisch-hellenistische Literatur (LeipzigBerlin, 1923), 264. Also see Hephaestio, II, 18, 72 (this quotation does not include the important fragment of the Salmeschoeniaca, II, 18, 7475), and Plinys report of their computation of the distances of the planetary spheres (fr. 2). This last may belong to 2.

19. Fr. 1; Valens, VI, preface.

20. Valens, II, 3; VIII, 5; IX, 1.

21. Ibid., VII, 5; cf. III, 10.

22. Ibid., II, 3; III, 14; IX, preface; IX, 1.

23. Ibid., III, 10 = fr. 18, which gives a computation based on a point computed similarly to a Lot and entirely different from the method employed in the passages we have assigned to 1.

24. This is given in Nechepsos thirteenth book and in Petosiris, Definitions ; Valens, II, 3; III, 14 = fr. 19; IX, 1.

25. Valens, V, 6 = fr. 20 and VII, 5 = fr. 21; cf. III, 14; VI, 1.

26. Ibid., III, 11 = fr. 23.

27. ibid., II, 28.

28. Ibid., II, 36; cf. fr. 27 from Firmicus.

29. ibid., II, 39.

30. Ibid., II, 41 = fr. 24.

31. Fr. 25, where they are correctly stated to be drawing on an Hermetic source; cf. lest. 6.

32. Fr. 13, but cf. fr. 28.

33. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, I (Brussels, 1898), 138. (I doubt the authenticity of the brief statement about quartile and trine aspect published in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VI [Brussels, 1903], 62.)

34. Frs. 2832 and 3536; the latter two, drawn from the work of Thessalus, should now be consulted in the edition of H.-V. Friedrich (Meisenheim am Glan, 1968); cf, also Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, I, 126.

35. Frs. 3742; see also Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, I, 128; IV (Brussels, 1903), 120121; XI, pt. 2 (Brussels, 1934), 152154, 163164; Pseudo-Bede in Patrologia Latina, XC, cols. 963966; and cf. Psellus in a letter published in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VIII, pt. 1 (Brussels, 1929), 131.

36. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VII, 161162.

37. Ibid., VIII, pt. 3 (Brussels, 1912), 91119.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aside from Riesss collection of fragments, the main study of Pseudo-Petosiris is C. Darmstadt, De Nechepsonis-Petosiridis Isagoge quaestiones selectae (Leipzig, 1916); unfortunately, he attributes to Nechepso-Petosiris far more than the evidence of the fragments warrants. Rather unsatisfactory arlicles are W. Kroll in Pauly-Wissoas Real-Encyclopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 16 (1935), cols. 21602167; 19 (1938), col. 1165; and W. Gundel and H. G. Gundel, Astrologumena (Wiesbaden, 1966), 2736.

David Pingree

Petosiris to Nechepso

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 

 
figure similar to Petosiris's Circle from Ole Worm's Computus Runicus.

Petosiris to Nechepso is a letter describing an ancient divination technique using numerology and a diagram. It is likely to be a pseudepigraph. [1] Petosiris and Nechepso are considered to be the founders of astrology in some traditions.[2] One translation of this letter into Latin is attributed to Saint Bede [3], and can be found in Cotton Tiberius. The technique is known by several names, including the Petosiris Circle[4], the Sphere of Apuleius, Columcille's Circle, and Democritus's Sphere. The attribution of ancient authors is a typical practice of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and the technique may arise from this tradition. Examples of the figure are known from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.[5]

The technique involves calculating the numerical value of a patient's name, then dividing by 30 or 29, a number derived from the lunar month to find the remainder, which is (mod 29) or (mod 30) in modular arithmetic. The number is then found on the diagram, to determine the prognosis.

In summary we have as follows, leaving aside here the complex and important cometary theories of the pre-socratics, Aristotle, and the Stoics. First, ca. 145-35 B.C.E. Nechepso-Petosiris wrote a book of astrology including a passage on cometary prognosis based on heavenly region of appearance. He (they?) assumed that comets were fiery (the standard theory of the era) without further ado. His view of comets seems to be that they appear in, move toward, or pause in, any quadrant of the sky. Their descriptions are irrelevant to their nature, serving only to identify them. Within the next century five further books were written. Epigenes refined the standard theory with details about whirl-winds and the like (Sen. QN 7.4-10), referred to the Chaldaians (sc. Nechepso-Petosiris?), was also an astrologer (cp. Pliny 7.160, 193), and has the simplest view of the planets (when they seem close together they are: Sen. QN 7.4.2)82). Although fundamentally Epigenes' theory is simple, it seems to have involved a detailed reworking of Aristotle's theory (Sen. QN 7.4.2-4, cp. Pliny 2.82 anonymous)83), perhaps making use of Hipparchos or of Hipparchos' Babylonian sources (note Pliny 7.193: Epigenes apud Babylonios ... obseruationes siderum coctilibus laterculis inscriptas docet). First, the three outer planets by their conjunctions generate thunder and lightning (fulgurationes being watery, fulmina containing the dry exhalation). Then the events called trabes and faces are formed from

 

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Mummification

PETOSIRIS, PSEUDO-

(fl. Egypt, second and first centuries b.c.)

astrology.

 

During antiquity several texts relating to divination and astrology circulated under the names Petosiris and Nechepso. Nechepso is the name of a king whom Manetho included in the twenty-sixth Egyptian dynasty (ca. 600 B.C); and the most famous Petosiris was the high priest of Thoth (ca. 300 B.C. [?]),1 although many others bore this name signifying Gift of Osiris. Whether the author of the works circulating under their names had these two individuals, or some others, in mind we cannot know.

The fragments of these works, which were collected by E. Riess,2 fall into four main groups: (1) those using astral omens as developed by the Egyptians in the Achemenid and Ptolemaic periods from Mesopotamian prototypes to give general indications; (2) those derived from a revelation-text in which Nechepso the king, guided by Petosiris, sees a vision that grants him a knowledge of horoscopic truth; (3) a treatise on astrological botany for medical purposes and another on decanic medicine; and (4) treatises on numerology

(1) The fragments of texts employing astral omina are largely from authors of late antiquity: Hephaestio of Thebes (fl. ca. 415), Proclus (410485), and John Lydus (fl. ca. 560). As preserved to us, the fragments represent radical reworkings of the original texts. It is those fragments, and especially fragment 6 (Riess), which C. Bezold and F. Boll3 saw to be related to Mesopotamian texts and that allowed Kroll4 to date the original to the second century B.C. The fragments belonging to this text5 use as omens eclipses, the heliacal rising of Sirius, and comets. Fragments 66 uses as omens the color of the eclipsed the heliacal rising of Sirius, and comets. Fragment 6 uses as omns the color of the esclipsed body; the simultaneous occurrence of winds blowing from th several directions and of shooting stars, halos, lightning, and rainl and the presence of the eclipsed body in each of the signs of the zodiac (a substitution for Egyptian months). Fragment 6 also divides the day or night into four periods, each of which has three seasonal hours. Most of these elements are found in the demotic papyrus published by R. A. Parker,7 and many of them in the relevant tablets of the Sin and Shamash sections of the Babylonian astral omen series Enũma Anu Enlil.

Fragment 88 summarizes a similar treatment of eclipse omens from Campestrius, who follows the Petosirian traditions. Fragment 7,9 also on eclipse omens, seems to be from another but still ancient source in which the scheme of geographical references was rather strictly limited to Egypt and its neighbors in contrast to fragment 6, where the eclipses affect the whole Eurasian continent.

Fragment 1210 gives annual predictions based on the situation at the heliacal rising of Sirius, including the positions of the planets and the color of the star and direction of the winds; it is to be compared to the demotic papyrus published by G. R. Hughes11 and also with Eudoxius12 and Pseudo-Zoroaster.13 In the middle of Hephaestio, I, 23, is a description of the manner in which the effective force of the planets is transmitted through the spheres to the sublunar sphere. This passage presupposes both Aristotelian physical theories and a planetary system based on epicycles, eccentrics, or both. If the passage is a genuine quotation form a text written in the second century B.C., it is of the greatest interest as providing the earliest evidence known to us of a theory of astral influence. The fragment contains other elements of interest to a historian of horoscopyfor example, a categorization of the planets as malefic or benefic and the use of aspects. But these elements may have been added by Hephaestio or some unknown predecessor, or the whole chapter may have nothing to do with the work published under the names of Nechepso and Petosiris.

Very doubtful indeed is the attribution to that work of fragments 914 1015 and 11.16 The ominous bodies are the comets, of which there was originally one type associated with each of the planets. Such comets of the planets are found also in early Sanskrit astral omen texts (for example, in the Gargasamhitã ), but we have as yet no cuneiform tablets that would give us a common source. In any case, there is little reason to assign these specific fragments to Nechepso and Petosiris

Perhaps also forming a part of the astral omen texts are two other sets of fragments dealing with problems that interested the earliest men who attempted to convert general omens into ones significant for individuals and who used Babylonian techniques. These two problems are the date of a natives conception17 and the computation of the length of his life based on the rising times between the ascendent and the nonagesimal.18

(2) The horoscopic text includes all of the passages from Valen Anthologies (I give the references to the edition by W. Kroll [Berlin, 1908]) and some from Firmicus Maternus. In it Nechepso saw a vision,19 which included a perception of the motions of the planets that is redolent of pre-Ptolemaic astronomy. He described what he had learned from this revelation in at least thirteen books of very obscure iambic senarii. As we know the ideas there expressed only through the dim intellect of Vettius Valens, we are not surprised to find the mysteries largely either self contradictory or too fragmentary to be comprehended fully. Some passages in Valens20 indicate that he knew of a separate work of Petosiris (entitled Definitions ) in addition to that of Nechepso, to whom he usually refers as the king, although in another place21 he speaks of the king and Petosiris together. several passages22 contain quotations from the kings thirteenth book.

Among the principal astrological doctrines discussed by Nechepso and Petosiris in the poetic work (or works) available to Valens are the computation of the length of life of the native;23 the calculation of the Lot of Fortune, which is also used in computing the length of life;24 the determination of good and bad times during the natives life, based on various methods of continuous horoscopy (the planetary periods, the lord of the year, and the revolution of the years of nativities); 25 dangerous or climacteric times;26 and various aspects of the natives life: travel,27 injury,28 children,29 and death.30 It is probable that Firmicus Maternus drew upon this same collection for his references to Petosiris and Nechepsos geniture of the universe,31 his statement that Petosiris only lightly touched upon the doctrine of the decans,32 and his denial that Petosiris and Nechepso dealt with the Sphaera barbarica. Add also the discussion of initiatives in Julian,33

(3) Nechepso is known as an authority on materia medica (plants and stones) under astral influence.34

(4) The numerological treatises are of two sorts, both explained in a letter of Petosiris to King Nechepso, which is extant in numerous recensions. The simpler form utilizes only the numerical equivalent of the Greek letters in the querists name; the second form utilizes the day of the lunar month and the Circle of Petosiris.35 Another numerological text, which is based on the zodiacal signs, occurs in a letter addressed to Nechepso.36

The significance of Pseudo-Petosiris works (esp. 1 and 2) is their illumination ofalthough in a very fragmentary formtwo important processes of Ptolemaic science: the development of the astral omens that the Egyptians of the Achemenid period had derived from Mesopotamia, and the invention of a new science of astrology based on Greek astronomy and physics in conjunction with Hellenistic mysticism and Egypto-Babylonian divination from astral omens. The effect of their teachings on their successors was profound, although the primitiveness of their methods meant that only their heirs of a mystic (Valens) or antiquarian (Hephaestio and Lydus) bent cite them in detail. That influence is acknowledged not only in the fragments mentioned above, but also at various places in the important Epitome Parisina 37

NOTES

1. G. Lefebvre, Le tombeau de Petosiris, 3 vols. (Cairo, 19231924).

2. E. Riess, Nechepsonis et Petosiridis fragmenta magica, in Philologus, Supplementband 6 (1892), 327394, to which many more fragments could be added.

3. C. Bezold and F. Boll, Reflexe astrologischer Keilinschriften bei griechischen Schriftstellern (Heidelberg, 1911).

4. W. Kroll, Aus der Geschichte der Astrologie, in Neue JahrbÜcher fÜr das Klassische Altertum, Geschichte und Deutsche Literatur, 7 (1901), 559577, esp. 573577.

5. Frs. 612 in Riess, some of which are very dubious.

6. Hephaestio, I, 21, who attributes the material to the ancient Egyptians; another version, using Roman months rather than zodiacal signs, was published by F. Boll, in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VII (Brussels, 1908), 129151.

7. R. A. Parker, A Vienna Demotic Papyrus on Eclipse and lunar-omina (Providence, 1959).

8. Lydus, De ostentis, 9.

9. Hephaestio, 1, 22.

10. Hephaestio, I, 23, who attributes it to the ancient, wise Egyptians; ef; Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, V, pt. 1 (Brussels, 1904), 204

11. G. R. Hughes, A Demotic Astrological Text, in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 10 (1951), 256264.

12. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VII, 181187.

13. Geoponica, I, 8 and I, 10 = fr. 0,40; and fr. 0,41 in J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les mages hellánisás, II (Paris, 1938), 178183.

14. John Lydus, De ostentis, 1115, from Campestrius.

15. Hephaestio, I, 24.

16. Servius, In Aeneidem, X, 272, who follows Avienus, but also mentions Campestris (sic!) and Petosiris.

17. Fr. 14; cf. Achinapolus in Vitruvius, De architectura, IX, 6,2; Pseudo-Zoroaster, fr. 0,14 Bidez-Cumont, II, 161162; and A. Sachs, in Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 6 (1952), 5860.

18. Frs. 16 and 17 and also fr. 5 (Valens, III, 16) and Valens, III, 3, and VIII, 6; cf. Berosus, frs. 32 and 33 in P. Schnabel, Berossos und die babylonisch-hellenistische Literatur (LeipzigBerlin, 1923), 264. Also see Hephaestio, II, 18, 72 (this quotation does not include the important fragment of the Salmeschoeniaca, II, 18, 7475), and Plinys report of their computation of the distances of the planetary spheres (fr. 2). This last may belong to 2.

19. Fr. 1; Valens, VI, preface.

20. Valens, II, 3; VIII, 5; IX, 1.

21. Ibid., VII, 5; cf. III, 10.

22. Ibid., II, 3; III, 14; IX, preface; IX, 1.

23. Ibid., III, 10 = fr. 18, which gives a computation based on a point computed similarly to a Lot and entirely different from the method employed in the passages we have assigned to 1.

24. This is given in Nechepsos thirteenth book and in Petosiris, Definitions ; Valens, II, 3; III, 14 = fr. 19; IX, 1.

25. Valens, V, 6 = fr. 20 and VII, 5 = fr. 21; cf. III, 14; VI, 1.

26. Ibid., III, 11 = fr. 23.

27. ibid., II, 28.

28. Ibid., II, 36; cf. fr. 27 from Firmicus.

29. ibid., II, 39.

30. Ibid., II, 41 = fr. 24.

31. Fr. 25, where they are correctly stated to be drawing on an Hermetic source; cf. lest. 6.

32. Fr. 13, but cf. fr. 28.

33. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, I (Brussels, 1898), 138. (I doubt the authenticity of the brief statement about quartile and trine aspect published in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VI [Brussels, 1903], 62.)

34. Frs. 2832 and 3536; the latter two, drawn from the work of Thessalus, should now be consulted in the edition of H.-V. Friedrich (Meisenheim am Glan, 1968); cf, also Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, I, 126.

35. Frs. 3742; see also Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, I, 128; IV (Brussels, 1903), 120121; XI, pt. 2 (Brussels, 1934), 152154, 163164; Pseudo-Bede in Patrologia Latina, XC, cols. 963966; and cf. Psellus in a letter published in Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VIII, pt. 1 (Brussels, 1929), 131.

36. Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, VII, 161162.

37. Ibid., VIII, pt. 3 (Brussels, 1912), 91119.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aside from Riesss collection of fragments, the main study of Pseudo-Petosiris is C. Darmstadt, De Nechepsonis-Petosiridis Isagoge quaestiones selectae (Leipzig, 1916); unfortunately, he attributes to Nechepso-Petosiris far more than the evidence of the fragments warrants. Rather unsatisfactory arlicles are W. Kroll in Pauly-Wissoas Real-Encyclopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 16 (1935), cols. 21602167; 19 (1938), col. 1165; and W. Gundel and H. G. Gundel, Astrologumena (Wiesbaden, 1966), 2736.

David Pingree

Petosiris to Nechepso

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 

 
figure similar to Petosiris's Circle from Ole Worm's Computus Runicus.

Petosiris to Nechepso is a letter describing an ancient divination technique using numerology and a diagram. It is likely to be a pseudepigraph. [1] Petosiris and Nechepso are considered to be the founders of astrology in some traditions.[2] One translation of this letter into Latin is attributed to Saint Bede [3], and can be found in Cotton Tiberius. The technique is known by several names, including the Petosiris Circle[4], the Sphere of Apuleius, Columcille's Circle, and Democritus's Sphere. The attribution of ancient authors is a typical practice of Neoplatonism and Gnosticism, and the technique may arise from this tradition. Examples of the figure are known from Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.[5]

The technique involves calculating the numerical value of a patient's name, then dividing by 30 or 29, a number derived from the lunar month to find the remainder, which is (mod 29) or (mod 30) in modular arithmetic. The number is then found on the diagram, to determine the prognosis.

In summary we have as follows, leaving aside here the complex and important cometary theories of the pre-socratics, Aristotle, and the Stoics. First, ca. 145-35 B.C.E. Nechepso-Petosiris wrote a book of astrology including a passage on cometary prognosis based on heavenly region of appearance. He (they?) assumed that comets were fiery (the standard theory of the era) without further ado. His view of comets seems to be that they appear in, move toward, or pause in, any quadrant of the sky. Their descriptions are irrelevant to their nature, serving only to identify them. Within the next century five further books were written. Epigenes refined the standard theory with details about whirl-winds and the like (Sen. QN 7.4-10), referred to the Chaldaians (sc. Nechepso-Petosiris?), was also an astrologer (cp. Pliny 7.160, 193), and has the simplest view of the planets (when they seem close together they are: Sen. QN 7.4.2)82). Although fundamentally Epigenes' theory is simple, it seems to have involved a detailed reworking of Aristotle's theory (Sen. QN 7.4.2-4, cp. Pliny 2.82 anonymous)83), perhaps making use of Hipparchos or of Hipparchos' Babylonian sources (note Pliny 7.193: Epigenes apud Babylonios ... obseruationes siderum coctilibus laterculis inscriptas docet). First, the three outer planets by their conjunctions generate thunder and lightning (fulgurationes being watery, fulmina containing the dry exhalation). Then the events called trabes and faces are formed from

 

III

THOTH THE MASTER OF WISDOM

THOTH (TEḤUTI)

The present chapter will be devoted to a brief consideration of the nature, powers, and attributes of the divine personification Thoth (Teḥuti), the Master of Wisdom and Truth, on the ground of pure Egyptian tradition. As I have unfortunately no sufficient knowledge of Egyptian, I am not in a position to control by the texts the information which will be set before the reader; it will, however, be derived from the works of specialists, and mainly from the most recent study on the subject, the two sumptuous volumes of Dr E. A. Wallis Budge, the keeper of the Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities in the British Museum.

First of all, however, let us see what the German scholar Pietschmann has had to say on Thoth in his monograph specially devoted to Thrice-greatest Hermes according to Egyptian, Greek, and Oriental traditions. 1

The first part of Pietschmann’s treatise, in which he seems to be content, as far as his own taste and feeling are concerned, to trace the original of the grandiose concept of the Thrice-greatest to the naïve conception of an “ibis-headed moon-god,” is devoted to the consideration of what he calls the god Teχ-Ṭeḥuti among

the Egyptians. Why Pietschmann should have chosen this double form of the name for his sub-title is not very clear. The variants appear to be Teḥ, Teḥu, Teḥut, and Teḥuti—of which it would seem that the Greek form Thoth is an attempt to transliterate Teḥut. There are, however, it may be remarked, no less than eighteen variants of the name found in Greek and Latin. I should thus myself be inclined to use the form Teḥut if it were permissible; but of this I am not quite sure, as the weak-sounding though undoubtedly more common form Teḥuti, is usually employed by scholars. As, however, Teḥuti, to my ears at any rate, is not a very dignified sounding cognomen, I shall use the Greek form Thoth as being the more familiar to English readers.

THOTH ACCORDING TO PIETSCHMANN

Horapollo tells us that the ibis was the symbol of Thoth as the “master of the heart and reason in all men,” 1 though why this was so must remain hidden in the mystery of the “sacred animals,” which has not yet to my knowledge been in any way explained.

And as Thoth, the Logos, was in the hearts of all, so was he the heart of the world whose life directed and permeated all things. 2

Thus the temple, as the dwelling of the God, was regarded as a model of the world, and its building as a copy of the world-building. And just as Thoth had ordained measure, number, and order in the universe, so was he the master-architect of temple-building and of all the mystic monuments. Thus, as the ordering world-mind, a text addresses Thoth as follows:

“Thou art the great, the only God, the Soul of the Becoming.” 1

To aid him in the world Thoth has a spouse, or syzygy, Nehe-māut. She is, among the Gnostics, the Sophia-aspect of the Logos. She is presumably the Nature of our Trismegistic treatises. Together Thoth and Nehe-māut are the initiators of all order, rule, and law in the universe.

Thus Thoth is especially the representative of the Spirit, the Inner Reason of all things; he is the Protector of all earthly laws, and every regulation of human society. 2 Says a text:

“His law is firmly established, like that of Thoth.” 3

As representative of the Reason immanent in the world, Thoth is the mediator through whom the world is brought into manifestation. He is the Tongue of Rā, the Herald of the Will of Rā, 4 and the Lord of Sacred Speech. 5

“What emanates from the opening of his mouth, that cometh to pass; he speaks, and it is his command; he is the Source of Speech, the Vehicle of Knowledge, the Revealer of the Hidden.” 6

  Thoth is thus the God of writing and all the arts and sciences. On a monument of Seti I. he is called “Scribe of the nine Gods.” He writes “the truth of the nine Gods,” and is called “Scribe of the King of Gods and men.”

Hence he is naturally inventor of the hieroglyphics, and patron and protector of all temple-archives and libraries, and of all scribes. At the entrance of one of the halls of the Memnonium at Thebes, the famous “Library of Osymandias,” called “The great House of Life,” we find Thoth as “Lord in the Hall of Books.” 1

In the Ebers papyrus we read: “His guide is Thoth, who bestows on him the gifts of his speech, who makes the books, and illumines those who are learned therein, and the physicians who follow him, that they may work cures.”

We shall see that one of the classes of priests was devoted to the healing of the body, just as another was devoted to the healing of the soul.

These books are also called “The Great Gnoses of Thoth.” 2 Thoth was thus God of medicine, but not so much by drugs as by means of mesmeric methods and certain “magic formulæ.” Thus he is addressed as “Thoth, Lord of Heaven, who givest all life, all health.” 3

THE THREE GRADES OF THE EGYPTIAN MYSTERIES

Moreover, Thoth was also Lord of Rebirth: 4 “Thou hast given life in the Land of the Living; Thou hast made them live in the Region of Flames; Thou hast given respect of thy counsels in the breasts and in the hearts of men—mortals, intelligences, creatures of light.”

The Land of the Living was the Invisible World, a glorious Land of Light and Life for the seers of ancient Egypt. Mortals, Intelligences, Creatures of Light, were, says Pietschmann, the “three grades of the Egyptian mysteries.” 1 These grades were, one may assume from our treatises: (1) Mortals—probationary pupils who were instructed in the doctrine, but who had not yet realised the inner vision; (2) Intelligences—those who had done so and had become “men,” that is to say who had received the “Mind”; (3) Beings (or Sons) of Light—those who had become one with the Light, that is to say those who had reached the nirvāṇic consciousness.

So much for what Pietschmann can be made to tell us of Thoth as Wisdom-God among the Egyptians.

THOTH ACCORDING TO REITZENSTEIN

To the information in Pietschmann may be added that which is given by Reitzenstein in the second of his two important studies, Zwei religionsgeschichtliche Fragen nach ungedruckten Texten der Strassburger Bibliothek (Strassburg, 1901). This second study deals with “Creation-myths and the Logos-doctrine,” the special Creation-myths treated of being found in a hitherto unpublished Greek text, which hands on purely Egyptian ideas in Greek dress and with Greek god-names, and which is of great interest and importance for the general subject of which our present studies form part.

  The writer of this cosmogonical fragment was a priest or prophet of Hermes, and Hermes plays the most important part in the creation-story. Reitzenstein then proceeds to show that in the oldest Egyptian cosmogony the cosmos is brought into being through the Divine Word, which Thoth, who seems to have originally been equated with the Sun-god, speaks forth. This gives him the opportunity of setting down the attributes ascribed to Thoth in Egypt in pre-Greek times. 1 As, however, the same ground is covered more fully by Budge, we will now turn to his Gods of the Egyptians, or Studies in Egyptian Mythology (London, 1904), vol. i. pp. 400 ff., and lay under contribution the chapter entitled “Thoth (Teḥuti) and Maāt, and the other Goddesses who were associated with him,” as the most recent work on the subject by a specialist in Egyptological studies, whose opinions, it is true, may doubtless on many points be called into question by other specialists, but whose data must be accepted by the layman as based on prolonged first-hand study of the original texts. In using the material supplied by Dr Budge, however, I shall venture on setting it forth as it appears to me—that is to say, with the ideas awakened in my own mind by the study of his facts.

THOTH ACCORDING TO BUDGE

In the Hymns to Rā in the Ritual or Book of the Dead, and in works of a similar nature, we find that Thoth and Maāt stand one on either side of the Great God in his Boat, and that their existence was believed to be coeval with his own. Maāt is thus seen to be the feminine counterpart, syzygy or shakti, of Thoth, and her name is associated with the idea of Truth and Righteousness—that which is right, true, real, genuine, upright, righteous, just, steadfast, unalterable.

HIS DEIFIC TITLES

 

From the inscriptions of the later dynastic period, moreover, we learn that Thoth was called “Lord of Khemennu (Hermopolis), Self-created, to whom none hath given birth, God One.” He is the great Measurer, the Logos, “He who reckons in Heaven, the Counter of the Stars, the Enumerator of the Earth and of what is therein, and the Measurer of the Earth.”

He is the “Heart of Rā which cometh forth in the form of the God Thoth.”

As Lord of Hermopolis, where was his chief shrine, and of his temples in other cities, he was called “Lord of Divine Words,” “Lord of Maāt,” “Judge of the two Combatant Gods”—that is, of Horus and Set. Among other titles we find him called “Twice-great,” and “Thrice-great.” “From this last,” says Budge, “were derived the epithets ‘Trismegistus’ and ‘Termaximus’ of the classical writers.” We, however, doubt if this is so, and prefer the explanation of Griffith, as we shall see later on.

In addition to these deific titles, which identify him with the Logos in the highest meaning of the term, he was also regarded as the Inventor and God of all arts and sciences; he was “Lord of Books,” “Scribe of the Gods,” and “Mighty in speech”—that is to say, “his words took effect,” says Budge; his was the power of the “Spoken Word,” the Word whose language is action and realisation. He was said to be the author of many of the so-called “funeral works” by means of which the “deceased” gained everlasting life. These books were, however, rather in their origin sermons of initiation for living men, setting forth the “death unto sin and the new birth unto righteousness.” Thus in the Book of the Dead he plays a part to which are assigned powers greater than those of Osiris or even of Rā himself.

HIS SYMBOLS AND NAME

He is usually depicted in human form with the head of an ibis, or sometimes as an ibis; but why he is so symbolised remains a mystery even unto this day. It is also of little purpose to set down the emblems he carries, or the various crowns he wears, without some notion of what these hidden symbols of a lost wisdom may purport. The meanings of these sacred signs were clear enough, we may believe, to those who were initiated into the “Language of the Word”; to them they revealed the mystery, while for the profane they veiled and still veil their true significance.

Teḥuti, the Egyptian name of Thoth, it has been suggested, is to be derived from teḥu, the supposed oldest name of the ibis in Egypt; the termination ti thus signifying that he who was thus called possessed the powers and qualities of the ibis.

But if this is the true derivation, seeing that Teḥuti in his highest aspect is a synonym for the Logos of our system at the very least, I would suggest that we should rather exalt the “ibis” to the heavens than drag down the sublime concept of that Logos to considerations connected with a degenerate fowl of earth, and believe that the Egyptians chose it in wisdom rather than folly, as being some far-off reflection of a certain Great Bird of the Cosmic Depths, a member of that circle of Sacred Animals of which the now conventional Signs of the Zodiac are but faint sky-glyphs.

But the derivation of the name Teḥuti which seems to have been favoured by the Egyptians themselves was from tekh, which usually means a “weight,” but is also found as the name of Thoth himself. Now the determinative for the word tekh is the sign for the “heart”; moreover, Horapollo (i. 36) tells us that when the Egyptians wish to write “heart” they draw an ibis, adding, “for this bird was dedicated to Hermes (Thoth) as Lord of all Knowledge and Understanding.” Is it possible, however, that in this Horapollo was either mistaken or has said less than he knew; and that the Egyptians once wrote simply “heart” for Thoth, who presided over the “weighing of the heart,” but subsequently, in their love of mystery, and owing to the name-play, substituted the bird tekh or teknu, which we know closely resembled the ibis, for the more sacred symbol?

The now commonest name for Thoth, however, is Egy. hab, Copt, hibōi, Gk. ibis; and it is the white ibis (Abû Hannes) which is the Ibis religiosa, so say Liddell and Scott. Another of the commonest symbolic forms of Thoth is the dog-headed ape. Thus among birds he is glyphed as the ibis, among animals as the cynocephalus. The main apparent reason for this, as we shall see later on, is because the ibis was regarded as the wisest of birds, and the ape of animals. 1

In the Judgment Scene of the Book of the Dead the dog-headed ape (Āān) is seated on the top of the beam of the Balance in which the heart of the deceased is weighed; his duty apparently is to watch the pointer and tell his master Thoth when the beam is level. Brugsch has suggested that this ape is a form of Thoth as God of “equilibrium,” and that it elsewhere symbolises the equinoxes; but this does not explain the ape. Thoth is indeed, as we have seen, the Balancer—“Judge of the two Combatant Gods,” 1 Horus and Set; he it is who stands at the meeting of the Two Ways, at the junction of Order and Chaos; but this by no means explains the puzzling cynocephalus. It was in one sense presumably connected with a certain state of consciousness, a reflection of the true Mind, just as were the lion and the eagle (or hawk); it “mimicked” that Mind better than the rest of the “animals.”

Horapollo (i. 16), basing himself on some Hellenistic sources, tells us that the Egyptians symbolised the equinoxes by a sitting cynocephalus. One of the reasons which he gives for this is delightfully “Physiologic”; he tells us that at the equinoxes once every two hours, or twelve times a day, the cynocephalus micturates. 2 From this as from so many of such tales we learn what the “sacred animal” did in heaven, rather than what the physical ape performed on earth. (Cf. R. 265, n. 3.)

THE SHRINE OF THOTH

“The principal seat of the Thoth-cult was Khemennu, or Hermopolis, a city famous in Egyptian mythology as the place containing the “high ground on which Rā rested when he rose for the first time.”

Dare I here speculate that in this we have the mountain of our “Secret Sermon on the Mountain,”

  and that it was in the Thoth mystery-tradition of Hermopolis that the candidates for initiation were taught to ascend the mountain of their own inner natures, on the top of which the Spiritual Sun would rise and rest upon their heads “for the first time,” as Isis says in our “Virgin of the World” treatise?

THOTH AND HIS COMPANY OF EIGHT

At Khemennu 1 Thoth was regarded as the head of a Company of Eight—four pairs of divinities or divine powers, each a syzygy of male and female powers, positive and negative, active and passive, the oldest example of the Gnostic Ogdoad.

This was long ago the view of Brugsch, and it is now strongly supported by Budge, on the evidence of the texts, as against the opinion of Maspero, who would make the Hermopolitan a copy of the Heliopolitan Paut, or Company, which included Osiris and Isis. Budge, however, squarely declares that “the four pairs of gods of Hermopolis belong to a far older conception of the theogony than that of the company of gods of Heliopolis.”

If this judgment is well founded, we have here a most interesting parallel in the Osirian type of our Trismegistic literature, in which Osiris and Isis look to Hermes (Thoth) as their teacher, as being far older and wiser than themselves.

The great struggle between Light and Darkness, of the God of Light and the God of Darkness, goes back to the earliest Egyptian tradition, and the fights of Rā and Āpep, Ḥeru-Behuṭet and Set, and Horus, son of Isis, and Set, are “in reality only different versions of one and the same story, though belonging to different periods.” The Horus and Set version is apparently the most recent. The names of the Light God and Dark God thus change, but what does not change is the name of the Arbiter, the Mediator, “whose duty it was to prevent either God from gaining a decisive victory, and from destroying one another.” This Balancer was Thoth, who had to keep the opposites in equilibrium.

THE HOUSE OF THE NET

The name of the Temple of Thoth at Khemennu, or the City of Eight, was Ḥet Ȧbtit, or “House of the Net”—a very curious expression. From Ch. cliii. of the Ritual, however, we learn that there was a mysterious Net which, as Budge says, “was supposed to exist in the Under World and that the deceased regarded it with horror and detestation. Every part of it—its poles, and ropes, and weights, and small cords, and hooks—had names which he was obliged to learn if he wished to escape from it, and make use of it to catch food for himself, instead of being caught by ‘those who laid snares.’”

Interpreting this from the mystical standpoint of the doctrine of Rebirth, or the rising from the dead—that is to say, of the spiritual resurrection of those who had died to the darkness of their lower natures and had become alive to the light of the spiritual life, and this too while alive in the body and not after the death of this physical frame—I would venture to suggest that this Net was the symbol of a certain condition of the inner nature which shut in the man into the limitations of the conventional life of the world, and shut him off from the memory of his true self. The poles, ropes, weights, small cords, and hooks were symbols of the anatomy and physiology, so to say, of the invisible “body” or “carapace” or “egg” or “envelope” of the soul. The normal man was emeshed in this engine of Fate; the man who received the Mind inverted this Net, so to speak, transmuted and transformed it, so that he could catch food for himself. “Come ye after me and I will make you fishers of men.” The food with which the “Christ” nourishes his “body” is supplied by men.

Thus in a prayer in this chapter of the Ritual we read: “Hail, thou ‘God who lookest behind thee,’ 1 thou ‘God who hast gained the mastery over thine heart,’ 2 I go a-fishing with the cordage [? net] of the ‘Uniter of the earth,’ and of him that maketh a way through the earth. 3 Hail ye Fishers who have given birth to your own fathers, 4 who lay snares with your nets, and who go round about in the chambers of the waters, take ye not me in the net wherewith ye ensnare the helpless fiends, and rope me not in with the rope wherewith ye roped in the abominable fiends of earth, which had a frame which reached unto heaven, and weighted parts that rested upon earth.” 5

  And in another chapter (cxxxiii.) the little man says to the Great Man within him: “Lift thyself up, O thou Rā, who dwellest in this divine shrine; draw thou unto thyself the winds, inhale the North wind, and swallow thou the beqesu of thy net on the day wherein thou breathest Maāt.”

“On the day wherein thou breathest Maāt” suggests the inbreathing or inspiration of Truth and Righteousness, the Holy Ghost, or Holy Breath or Life, the Spouse of the Ordering Mind or Logos. The winds are presumably the four great cosmic currents of the Divine Breath, the North wind being the “down-breath” of the Great Sphere.

The term beqesu has not yet been deciphered (can it mean knots?); but the swallowing of the Net seems to suggest the transformation of it, inwardly digesting of it, in such a fashion that the lower is set free and becomes one with the higher.

And that this idea of a net is very ancient, especially in its macrocosmic significance, is evidenced by the parallel of the Assyrian and Babylonian versions of the great fight between the Sun-god Marduk and the Chaotic Mother Tiamat and her titanic and daimonic powers of disordered motion and instability—both Egyptian and Babylonian traditions probably being derived from some primitive common source.

“He (Marduk) set lightning in front of him, with burning fire he filled his body. He made a net to enclose the inward parts of Tiamat, the Four Winds he set so that nothing of her might escape; the South wind and the North wind, and the East wind and the West wind, he brought near to the net which his father Anu had given him.” 1

Now in the Hymns of the popular Hermes-cult found in the Greek Magic Papyri, one of the most favourite forms of address to Hermes is “O thou of the four winds.” Moreover, we may compare with the rope with which the Fishers “rope the abominable fiends of earth,” the passage of Athenagoras to which we have already referred, and in which he tells us concerning the Mysteries that the mythos ran that Zeus, after dismembering his father, and taking the kingdom, pursued his mother Rhea who refused his nuptials. “But she having assumed a serpent form, he also assumed the same form, and having bound her with what is called the ‘Noose of Hercules’ (τῷ καλουμένῳ Ἡρακλειωτικῷ ἄμματι), was joined with her. And the symbol of this transformation is the Rod of Hermes.”

Here again it is the symbolic Caduceus that represents the equilibrium between the opposed forces; it is the power of Thoth that binds and loosens; he holds the keys of heaven and hell, of life and death. It is further quite evident that Athenagoras is referring to a Hellenistic form of the Mysteries, in which the influence of Egypt is dominant. The “Noose of Hercules” is thus presumably the “Noose of Ptah.” Now Ptah is the creator and generator, and his “Noose” or “Tie” is probably the Ankh-tie or symbol of life, the familiar crux ansata, of which the older form is a twisted rope, probably representing the binding together of male and female life in generation. Ptah is also the God of Fire, and we should not forget that it is Hephaistos in Greek myth who catches Aphrodite and Ares in a Net which he has cunningly contrived—at which the gods laughed in High Olympus.

In the list of titles of the numerous works belonging to the cycle of Orphic literature, one is called The Veil (Πέπλος) and another The Net (Δίκτυον). 1

In the Panathenæa the famous Peplum, Veil, Web, or Robe of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, was borne aloft like the sail of a galley; but this was the symbol only of the Mysteries. Mystically it signified the Veil of the Universe, studded with stars, the many-coloured Veil of Nature, 2 the famous Veil or Robe of Isis, that no “mortal” or “dead man” has raised, for that Veil was the spiritual nature of the man himself, and to raise it he had to transcend the limits of individuality, break the bonds of death, and so become consciously immortal.

Eschenbach 3 is thus quite correct when, in another of its aspects, he refers this Veil to the famous Net of Vulcan. Moreover Aristotle, quoting the Orphic writings, speaks of the “living creature born in the webs of the Net”; 4 while Photius tells us that the book of Dionysius Ægeensis, entitled Netting, or Concerning Nets (Δικτυακά), treated of the generation of mortals. 5 And Plato himself likens the intertwining of the nerves, veins, and arteries to the “network of a basket” or a bird-cage. 6

All of which, I think, shows that Thoth’s Temple of the Net must have had some more profound significance in its name than that it was a building in which “the emblem of a net, or perhaps a net itself, was venerated,” as Budge lamely surmises.

 

THOTH THE LOGOS

But to resume. We have seen that Thoth was considered to be the “heart” and “tongue” of Rā the Supreme—that is, not only the reason and mental powers of the god Rā, and the means whereby they were translated into speech, but rather the Controller of the life and Instrument of the utterance of the Supreme Will; He was the Logos in the fullest sense of that mysterious name, the Creative Word. He it is who utters the “words” whereby the Will of the Supreme is carried into effect, and his utterance is that of Necessity and Law; his “words” are not the words of feeble human speech, but the compelling orders of the Creative Will.

“He spoke the words which resulted in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and he taught Isis the words which enabled her to revivify the dead body of Osiris, in suchwise that Osiris could beget a child by her; and he gave her the formulæ which brought back her son Horus to life after he had been stung to death by a scorpion.”

All of which, I believe, refers microcosmically to the mystery of the resurrection from the dead, by the power of the Logos. “Osiris” must die before he can be raised, and beget a son, who is himself, by immaculate conception within his own spiritual nature. “Horus” must be poisoned to death by the scorpion of “Typhon” before he can be raised by the baptism of the pure waters of Life.

THE WORDS OF THOTH

Thoth’s “knowledge and powers of calculation measured out the heavens and planned the earth, and everything which is in them; his will and power kept the forces in heaven and earth in equilibrium; it was his skill in celestial mathematics which made proper use of the laws (maāt) upon which the foundation and maintenance of the universe rested; it was he who directed the motions of the heavenly bodies and their times and seasons; and without his words the gods, whose existence depended upon them, could not have kept their place among the followers of Rā”—but would presumably have disappeared into another universe.

Thoth is the Judge of the dead, the Recorder and Balancer of all “words,” the Recording Angel; for the testing of the soul in the Balance of the Hall of Osiris is called the “weighing of words” and not of “actions.” But these “words” were not the words a man uttered, nor even the “reasons” he thought he had for his deeds, but the innermost intentions of his soul, the ways of the will of his being.

This doctrine of “words” as expressions of will, however, had, in addition to its moral significance, a magical application. “The whole efficacy of prayer appears to have depended upon the manner and tone of voice in which the words were spoken.”

It was Thoth who taught these words-of-power and how to utter them; he was the Master of what the Hindus would call mantra-vidyā, or the science of invocation or sacred chanting. These mantrāḥ were held in ancient Egypt, as they were and are to-day in India, and elsewhere among knowers of such matters, of special efficacy in affecting the “bodies” and conditions of that fluid nature which exists midway between the comparative solidity of normal physical nature and the fixed nature of the mind.

These “words” were connected with vital “breath” and the knowing use of it; that is to say, they were only really efficacious when the spoken words of physical sound corresponded naturally in their vowels and consonants, or their fluid and fixed elements, with the permutations and combinations of the inner elements of Nature; they then and only then were maā or true or authentic or real—that is to say, they were “words-of -power” in that they compelled matter to shape itself according to true cosmic notions.

Thus in a book called The Book of Breathings, it is said: “Thoth, the most mighty God, the Lord of Khemennu, cometh to thee, and he writeth for thee The Book of Breathings with his own fingers. 1 Thus thy soul shall breathe for ever and ever, and thy form shall be endowed with life upon earth, and thou shalt be made a God, along with the souls of the Gods, and they shall be the heart of Rā [for thee], and thy members shall be the members of the Great God.”

THOTH AND THE OSIRIFIED

In the Ritual we learn of the services which Thoth performs for “Osiris,” that is for the Osirified, for he repeats them for every man who has been acquitted in the Judgment. Of three striking passages quoted by Budge, we will give the following as the most comprehensible, and therefore the seemingly most important for us. It is to be found in Ch. clxxxiii. and runs as follows, in the words placed in the mouth of the one who is being resurrected into an Osiris.

“I have come unto thee, O son of Nut, Osiris, Prince of everlastingness; I am in the following of God Thoth, and I have rejoiced at everything which he hath done for thee. He hath brought unto thee sweet air for thy nose, and life and strength for thy beautiful face, and the North wind which cometh forth from Tem for thy nostrils. . . . He hath made God Shu to shine upon thy body; he hath illumined thy path with rays of splendour; he hath destroyed for thee [all] the evil defects which belong to thy members by the magical power of the words of his utterance. He hath made the two Horus brethren to be at peace for thee; 1 he hath destroyed the storm wind and the hurricane; he hath made the Two Combatants to be gracious unto thee, and the two lands 2 to be at peace before thee; he hath put away the wrath which was in their hearts, and each hath become reconciled unto his brother.”

THOTH THE MEASURER

Budge then proceeds to give the attributes of Thoth as connected with time-periods and the instruments of time, the sun and moon. As Ȧāh-Teḥuti, he is the Measurer and Regulator of times and seasons, and is clearly not the Moon-god simply—though Budge says that he clearly is—for Thoth as Ȧāh is the “Great Lord, the Lord of Heaven, the King of the Gods”; he is the “Maker of Eternity and Creator of Everlastingness.” He is, therefore, not only the Æon, but its creator; and that is something vastly different from the Moon-god.

THE TITLE “THRICE-GREATEST”

On p. 401 our authority has already told us that one of the titles of Thoth is “Thrice-great,” and that the Greeks derived the honorific title Trismegistus from this; but on p. 415 he adds: “The title given to him in some inscriptions, ‘three times great, great’  [that is, greatest], from which the Greeks derived their appellation of the god ὁ τρισμέγιστος, or ‘ter maximus,’ has not yet been satisfactorily explained, and at present the exact meaning which the Egyptians assigned to it is unknown.”

If this title is found in the texts, it will settle a point of long controversy, for it has been strenuously denied that it ever occurs in the hieroglyphics; unfortunately, however, Dr Budge gives us no references. To the above sentence our distinguished Egyptologist appends a note to the effect that a number of valuable facts on the subject have been collected by Pietschmann in the book we have already made known to our readers. We have, however, not been able to find any valuable facts in Pietschmann which are in any way an elucidation of the term Thrice-greatest; but to this point we will return in another chapter.

THE SUPREMACY OF THOTH

The peculiar supremacy ascribed to Thoth by the Egyptians, however, has been amply demonstrated, and, as the great authority to whom we are so deeply indebted, says in his concluding words: “It is quite clear that Thoth held in their minds a position which was quite different from that of any other god, and that the attributes which they ascribed to him were unlike the greater number of those of any member of their companies of gods. The character of Thoth is a lofty and a beautiful conception, and is, perhaps, the highest idea of deity ever fashioned in the Egyptian mind, which, as we have already seen, was somewhat prone to dwell on the material side of divine matters. Thoth, however, as the personification of the Mind of God, and as the all-pervading, and governing, and directing power of heaven and earth, forms a feature of the Egyptian religion which is as sublime as the belief in the resurrection of the dead in a spiritual body, and as the doctrine of everlasting life.”

Thoth is then the Logos of God, who in his relation to mankind becomes the Supreme Master of Wisdom, 1 the Mind of all masterhood.

We will now turn to one whose views are considered heterodox by conservative and unimaginative critics, 2 who confine themselves solely to externals, and to the lowest and most physical meanings of the hieroglyphics—to one who has, I believe, come nearer to the truth than any of his critics, and whose labours are most highly appreciated by all lovers of Egyptian mystic lore.

THE VIEWS OF A SCHOLAR-MYSTIC

The last work of W. Marsham Adams 3 deserves the closest attention of every theosophical student. Not, however, that we think the author’s views with regard to a number of points of detail, and especially with regard to the make-up of the Great Pyramid, are to be accepted in any but the most provisional manner, for as yet we in all probability do not know what the full contents of that pyramid are, only a portion of them being known to us according to some seers. The chief merit of the book before us is the intuitional grasp of  its author on the general nature of the mystery-cultus, as derived from the texts, and especially those of the Ritual or the so-called Book of the Dead, as Lepsius named it, setting a bad fashion which is not yet out of fashion. The Egyptian priests themselves, according to our author, called it The Book of the Master of the Secret House, the Secret House being, according to Adams, the Great Pyramid, otherwise called the “Light.”

THE SPIRITUAL NATURE OF THE INNER TRADITION OF EGYPTIAN WISDOM

In his Preface the author gives us clearly to understand that he regards the Wisdom of Egypt as forming the main background of some of the principal teachings of Early Christianity; and that this view is strongly confirmed by a careful study of the Trismegistic literature and its sources, will be made apparent in the course of our own labours. But before we proceed to quote from the former Fellow of New College, Oxford, whose recent death is regretted by all lovers of Egypt’s Wisdom, we must enter a protest.

Mr Adams has severely handicapped his work; indeed, he has destroyed nine-tenths of its value for scholars, by neglecting to append the necessary references to the texts which he cites. Such an omission is suicidal, and, indeed, it would be impossible for us to quote Mr Adams were it not that our Trismegistic literature permits us—we might almost say compels us—to take his view of the spiritual nature of the inner tradition of Egyptian Wisdom. Not, however, by any means that our author has traversed the same ground; he has not even mentioned the name of the Thrice-greatest one, and seems to have been ignorant of our treatises. Mr Adams claims to have arrived at hconclusions solely from the Egyptian texts themselves, and to have been confirmed in his ideas by personal inspection of the monuments. In fact, he considers it a waste of time to pay attention to anything written in Greek about Egyptian ideas, and speaks of “the distortion and misrepresentation wherein those ideas were involved, when filtered through the highly imaginative but singularly unobservant intellect of Greece.” 1 Thus we have a writer attacking the same problem from a totally different standpoint—for we ourselves regard the Greek tradition of the Egyptian Gnosis as a most valuable adjunct to our means of knowledge of the Mind of Egypt—and yet reaching very similar conclusions.

THE HOLY LAND OF EGYPT AND ITS INITIATES

The Holy Land of those who had gone out from the body, watered by the Celestial Nile, the River of Heaven, of which the earthly river was a symbol and parallel, was divided into three regions, or states: (1) Rusta, the Territory of Initiation; (2) Aahlu, the Territory of Illumination; and (3) Amenti, the Place of Union with the Unseen Father. 2

“In the religion of Egypt, the deepest and most fascinating mystery of antiquity, the visible creation, was conceived as the counterpart of the unseen world. 3 And the substance consisted not of a mere vague belief in the life beyond the grave, but in tracing out the Path whereby the Just, when the portal of the tomb is lifted up, 4 passes through the successive stages of Initiation, of Illumination, and of Perfection, necessary to fit him for an endless union with Light, the Great Creator.” 1

Thus we are told that at a certain point in Aahlu, the Territory of Illumination, the Osirified, the purified soul, has achieved the “Passage of the Sun”—that is to say, has passed beyond the mortal mind-plane; he opens the Gates of the Celestial Nile and receives the Atf-crown of Illumination, “fashioned after the form of the Zodiacal light, the glory of the supreme heaven.” This is presumably the “crown of lives” referred to in our sermons, which he receives in the sphere called “Eight,” and with which he goes to the Father.

The Guide and Conductor through all these grades was Thoth the Eternal Wisdom; 2 and we are told that:

THOTH THE INITIATOR

“Thoth the Divine Wisdom, clothes the spirit of the Justified 3 a million times in a garment of true linen, 4 othat substance, that is to say, which by its purity and its brilliancy reminds us of the mantles, woven out of rays of light, wherewith the sun enwraps the earth afresh each day as she rotates before him; just as the soul of man is invested with new radiance each time that he turns to the presence of his Creator.” Again, “in the harmonious proportion of the universe,” the Egyptians saw “the Eternal Wisdom, Thoth, ‘the Mind and Will of God.’” 1

We have seen that Pietschmann considers the original of Thoth, the God of Wisdom, to be nothing more than the ibis-headed moon-god, thus intentionally deriving the origin of the Great Initiator from what he considers to be the crude beginnings of primitive ideas. But Thoth was the Great Reckoner, the Recorder of the Balance of Justice, the Teller of the Kārmic Scales. Now the mortal time-recorder for the Egyptians was the moon, “for if we consider the motion of the moon relatively to the sun, we shall find that the time that it takes in covering a space equal to its own disc is just an hour. . . . Now, that measure of the ‘Hour’ was peculiarly sacred in Egypt; each of the twenty-four which elapse during a single rotation of the earth being consecrated to its own particular deity, twelve of light and twelve of darkness. ‘Explain the God in the hour,’ is the demand made of the adept in the Ritual when standing in the Hall of Truth. And that God in the hour, we learn, was Thoth, the ‘Lord of the Moon and the Reckoner of the Universe.’” 2

Again, with regard to the moon-phases, the first day of the lunar month was called “the conception of the moon,” the second its “birth,” and so on step by step till it was full. Now the time of all lower initiations was the full moon. Thus “in the lunar representationson the walls of the temple of Denderah we have fourteen steps leading up to the fifteenth or highest, whereon was enthroned Thoth, the Lord of the Moon.” 1

For some such reasons was Thoth called Lord of the Moon, not that the moon gave birth to the idea of Thoth. We must not seek for the origin of the Wisdom-tradition in its lower symbols. For in the inscription on the coffin of Ankhnes-Ra-Neferab—that is of her “whose life was the Sacred Heart of Ra”—we read: “Thy name is the Moon, the Heart of Silence, the Lord of the Unseen World” 2—of the space “as far as the moon,” or the “sublunary region,” as the old books say, the first after-death state, where souls are purified from earthly stains.

SOME OF THE DOCTRINES OF INITIATION

The end set before the neophyte was illumination, and the whole cult and discipline and doctrines insisted on this one way to Wisdom. The religion of Egypt was essentially the Religion of the Light.

But “most characteristic of all was the omnipotent and all-dominating sense of the fatherhood of God, producing the familiar and in some respects even joyous aspect which the Egyptians imparted to the idea of death.” And “to the sense which the priests at least possessed, both of the divine personality and of their own ultimate union with the personal deity [the Logos], far more probably than to any artificial pretension to a supposed exclusiveness, may be ascribed the mystery enshrouding their religion.” 3

And as Light was the Father of the Religion of Illumination, so was Life, his consort or syzygy, the Mother of the Religion of Joy. “Life was the centre, the circumference, the totality of Good. Life was the sceptre in the hand of Amen; life was the richest ‘gift of Osiris.’ ‘Be not ungrateful to thy Creator,’ says the sage Ptah-Hotep, in what is perhaps the oldest document in existence, ‘for he has given thee life.’ ‘I am the Fount of Light,’ says the Creator in the Ritual. ‘I pierce the Darkness. I make clear the Path for all; the Lord of Joy.’” 1 Or again, as the postulant prays to the setting sun: “O height of Love, thou openest the double gate of the Horizon.” 2

Here we have the full doctrine of the Light and Life which is the keynote of our treatises. Again, the doctrine of the endless turning of the spheres, which “end where they begin,” in the words of “The Shepherd,” is shown in the great fourth year festival of Hep-Tep or “Completion-Beginning,” when “the revolution and the rotation of our planet were simultaneously completed and begun afresh.” 3

THE TEMPLES OF INITIATION

That the ancient temples of initiation in Egypt were models of the Sophia Above, or of the “Heavenly Jerusalem,” to use a Jewish Gnostic term, or, in other words, of the Type of the world-building, we may well believe. Thus it is with interest that we read the remarks of Adams on the temple of Denderah (or Annu), rebuilt several times according to the ancient plans, and an important centre of the mystery-cultus. The temple was dedicated to Hat-Hor, whose ancient title was the Virgin-Mother.

“In the centre of the temple is the Hall of the Altar, with entrances opening east and west; and beyond it lies the great hall of the temple entitled the Hall of

the Child in his Cradle, from whence access is obtained to the secret and sealed shrine entered once a year by the high priest, on the night of mid-summer.” 1

There were also various other halls and chambers each having a distinctive name, “bearing reference, for the most part, to the Mysteries of the light and of a divine Birth.” We have such names as: Hall of the Golden Rays, Chamber of Gold, Chamber of Birth, Dwelling of the Golden One, Chamber of Flames.

Now as the famous planisphere of Denderah—a wall-painting transferred bodily from the temple to Paris, early in the last century—“contains the northern and southern points, we are enabled to correlate the parts of that picture with the various parts of the temple, and thereby to discover a striking correspondence between the different parts of the inscription and the titles of the chambers and halls occupying relative positions.” 2

Thus we have in the planisphere corresponding to the halls and chambers such names as: Horus, the Entrance of the Golden Heavens, the Golden Heaven of Isis, Horizon of Light, Palace Chamber of Supreme Light, Heavenly Flame of Burning Gold. “And as the chief hall of the temple was the Hall of the Child in his Cradle, so the chief representation on the planisphere is the holy Mother with the divine Child in her arms.”

THE MYSTERY OF THE BIRTH OF HORUS.

Now the great mystery of Egypt was the second birth, the “Birth of Horus.” In “The Virgin of the World,” a long fragment of the lost Trismegistic treatise, “The Sacred Book,” preserved by Stobæus, Isis says to Horus: I will not tell of this birth; I must not, mighty Horus, reveal the origin of thy race, lest men should in the future know the generation of the Gods. Of the nature of this rebirth we are familiar from our treatises. But in spite of such clear indications the mystery of the Golden Horus has not yet been revealed.

In another passage from the same book Isis declares that the sovereignty or kingship of philosophy is in the hands of Harnebeschenis. This transliterated Egyptian name is given by Pietschmann 1 as originally either Hor neb en χennu (Horus the Lord of Xennu), or as Hor nub en χennu (the Golden Horus of Xennu). His hieroglyph was the golden hawk, who flies nearest the sun, and gazes upon it with unwinking eyes, a fit symbol for the new-born, the “man” illuminate.

Indeed, says Adams, “throughout the sacred writings of Egypt, there is no doctrine of which more frequent mention is made than that of a divine birth.” 2

In what circle of ideas to place the Birth of Horus the theosophical student may perhaps glean by reversing the stages given in the following interesting passage of our author:

“In the Teaching of Egypt, around the radiant being, which in its regenerate life could assimilate itself to the glory of the Godhead, was formed the ‘khaibit,’ or luminous atmosphere, consisting of a series of ethereal envelopes, at once shading and diffusing its flaming lustre, as the earth’s atmosphere shades and diffuses the solar rays. And at each successive transformation (Ritual, lxxvii-lxxxvii.) it descended nearer to the moral [? normal] conditions of humanity. From the form of the golden hawk, the semblance of the absolute divine substance of the one eternal self-existent being, it passes to the ‘Lord of Time,’ the image of the Creator, since with the creation time began. Presently it assumes the form of a lily, the vignette in the Ritual representing the head of Osiris enshrined in that flower; the Godhead manifested in the flesh coming forth from immaculate purity. ‘I am the pure lily,’ we read, ‘coming forth from the lily of light. I am the source of illumination and the channel of the breath of immortal beauty. I bring the messages; Horus accomplishes them.’ Later the soul passes into the form of the uræus, ‘the soul of the earth.’ . . . And finally it assumes the semblance of a crocodile; becoming subject, that is, to the passions of humanity. For the human passions, being part of the nature wherein man was originally created, are not intrinsically evil but only become evil when insubordinate to the soul.” 1

“THE BOOK OF THE MASTER”

And not only was the Deity worshipped as the Source of Light and Life, but also as the Fount of Love. “I am the Fount of Joy,” says the Creator in the Ritual, and when the Atf-crown of illumination is set upon the head of the triumphant candidate after accomplishing the “Passage of the Sun,” as referred to above, the hymn proclaims that “north and south of that crown is Love.” 2 Into this Love the catechumen was initiated from the Secret Scroll, whose name is thus given in one of the copies: “This Book is the Greatest of Mysteries. Do not let the eye of anyone look upon it—that were an abomination. ‘The Book of the Master of the Secret House’ is its name.” 3

The whole conception of the doctrine exposed in its chapters is instruction in Light and Life.

But are we to suppose that the majority were really instructed in this wisdom?—for we find it customary to wrap up some chapters of this Secret Scroll with almost every mummy. By no means. It seems to me that there are at least three phases in the use of this scripture, and in the process of degeneration from knowledge to superstition which can be so clearly traced in the history of Egypt. First there was the real instruction, followed by initiation while living; secondly, there was the recitation of the instruction over the uninitiated dead to aid the soul of the departed in the middle passage; and thirdly, there was the burying a chapter or series of chapters of the Book of the Master as a talisman to protect the defunct, when in far later times the true meaning of the words written in the sacred characters had been lost, though they were still “superstitiously” regarded as magical “words of power.”

The recitation of some of the chapters over the dead body of the uninitiated, however, is not to be set down as a useless “superstition,” but was a very efficacious form of “prayers for the dead.” After a man’s decease he was in conscious contact with the unseen world, even though he may have been sceptical of its existence, or at any rate unfit to be taught its real nature, prior to his decease. But after the soul was freed from the prison of the body, even the uninitiated was in a condition to be instructed on the nature of the path he then perforce must travel. But as he could not even then properly pronounce the “words” of the sacred tongue, the initiated priest recited or chanted the passages.

THE STEPS OF THE PATH

“For the doctrine contained in those mystic writings was nothing else than an account of the Path pursued by the Just when, the bonds of the flesh being loosed, he passed through stage after stage of spiritual growth—the Entrance on Light, the Instruction in Wisdom, the Second Birth of the Soul, the Instruction in the Well of Life, the Ordeal of Fire, and the Justification in Judgment; until, illumined in the secret Truth and adorned with the jewels of Immortality, he became indissolubly united with Him whose name, says the Egyptian Ritual, is Light, Great Creator.” 1

It should, however, be remembered that this must not be taken in its absolute sense even for the initiate, much less for the uninitiated. For even in the mystic schools themselves, as we may see from our treatises, there were three modes in which knowledge could be communicated—“By simple instruction, by distant vision, or by personal participation.” 2 For indeed there were many phases of being, many steps of the great ladder, each in ever greater fullness embracing the stages mentioned, each a reflection or copy of a higher phase.

Thus, for example, “the solemn address, described in the Sai-an-Sinsin, of the ‘Gods in the House of Osiris,’ followed by the response of the ‘Gods in the House of Glory’—the joyous song of the holy departed who stand victorious before the judgment-seat, echoed triumphantly by the inner chorus of their beloved who have gone before them into the fullness of life” 3—must be taken as indicative of several stages. Such, for instance, as the normal union of the man’s consciousness with that of his higher ego, after exhausting his spiritual aspirations in the intermediate heaven-world—this is the joining the “those-that-are” of “The Shepherd” treatise, in other words, the harvest of those past lives of his that are worthy of immortality; or again the still higher union of the initiated with the “pure mind”; or again the still sublimer union of the Master with the nirvāṇic consciousness; and so on perchance to still greater Glories.

Thus we are told that the new twice-born, on his initiation, “clothed in power and crowned with light, traverses the abodes or scenes of his former weakness, there to discern, by his own enlightened perception, how it is ‘Osiris who satisfies the balance of Him who rules the heavens’; to exert in its supernal freedom his creative will, now the lord, not the slave of the senses; and to rejoice in the just suffering which wrought his Illumination and Mastery.” 1

But higher and still higher he has yet to soar beyond earth and planets and even beyond the sun, “across the awful chasms of the unfathomable depths to far-off Sothis, the Land of Eternal Dawn, to the Ante-chamber of the Infinite Morning.” 2

AN ILLUMINATIVE STUDY

Many other passages of great beauty and deep interest could we quote from the pages of Marsham Adams’ illuminative study, but enough has been said for our purpose. The Wisdom of Egypt was the main source of our treatises without a doubt. Even if only one-hundredth part of what our author writes were the truth, our case would be established; and if Egypt did not teach this Wisdom, then we must perforce bow down before Mr Adams as the inventor of one of the most grandiose religions of the universe. But the student of inner nature knows that it is not an invention, and though, if he be a scholar at the same time, he cannot but regret that Mr Adams has omitted his references, he must leave the critic one or other of the horns of the dilemma; they must either declare that our author has invented it all and pay homage to what in that case would be his sublime genius, or admit that the ancient texts themselves have inspired Mr Adams with these ideas. And if this be a foretaste of what Egypt has preserved for us, what may not the future reveal to continued study and sympathetic interpretation!


IV

THE POPULAR THEURGIC HERMES-CULT IN THE GREEK MAGIC PAPYRI

THE “RELIGION OF HERMES”

That at one period the “Religion of Hermes” was not only widely spread, but practically supreme, in popular Hellenistic circles, may be seen from a study of the texts of the numerous magic papyri which have been preserved, and made accessible to us by the industry of such immensely laborious scholars as Leemans, Dieterich, Wessely, and Kenyon.

The Greek Hermes prayers, as with many others of a similar nature, are manifestly overworkings of more ancient types, and, as we might expect, are of a strongly syncretistic nature. In them we can distinguish in popular forms, based on the ancient traditions of Egyptian magic, most interesting shadows of the philosophic and theosophic ideas which our Trismegistic literature has set forth for us in the clear light of dignified simplicity.

But just as we now know that the once so-called “Gnostic,” Abraxas and Abraxoid amulets, gems, and rings pertained to the general popular magical religion and had nothing to do with the Gnosis proper, so we may be sure that the circles of high mysticism, who refused to offer to God even so pure a sacrifice as

p. 83

the burnt offering of incense, and deemed naught worthy of Him, short of the “prayers and praises of the mind,” had nothing directly to do with the popular Hermes prayers, least of all with the invocatory rites of popular theurgy, and phylactery or amulet consecration.

Nevertheless, there is much of interest for us in these invocations, and much that can throw side-lights on the higher teaching and practice which transformed all external rites into the discipline of inner spiritual experience.

The following prayers, which, as far as I know, have not been previously translated, are rendered from the most recently revised texts of Reitzenstein, who has omitted the magic names, and emended the previous editions. I cannot but think, however, that these texts might be submitted to a more searching analysis than has yet been accorded them. They seem to present somewhat similar phenomena to the recensions of the Book of the Dead; that is to say, fragments of material from the tradition of a greater past have been adapted and overworked for the needs of a lesser age. Indeed, the whole effort of the Trismegistic schools seems to have been to restore the memory of that greater past; it had been forgotten, and its dim record had become a superstition instead of a living faith, a degenerate magic instead of a potent theurgy. The theurgy of our prayers is that of dwarfs; the theurgy of the past was believed to have been that of giants.

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I. AN INVOCATION TO HERMES AS THE GOOD MIND 1

[Revised text, R. 15-18; Leemans (C.), Papyri Græc. Mus. Ant. Pub. Lug. Bat. (Leyden, 1885), II. 141, 14 ff., and V. 27, 27 ff.; Dieterich (A.), Abraxas (Leipzig, 1891), 195, 4 ff.; and Jahrbücher f. class. Phil., Suppl. XVI. 808 ff. (Papyrus Mag. Mus. Lug. Bat.).]

1. Come unto me, O thou of the four winds, 2 almighty one, 3 who breathest spirit into men to give them life;

2. Whose name is hidden, and beyond the power of men to speak; 4 no prophet [even] can pronounce it; yea, even daimons, when they hear thy name, are fearful!

3. O thou, whose tireless eyes are sun and moon, 5—[eyes] that shine in the pupils 6 of the eyes of men!

4. O thou, who hast the heaven for head, æther for body, [and] earth for feet, and for the water round thee ocean’s deep! 7 Thou the Good Daimon art, who art the sire of all things good, and nurse of the whole world. 8

5. Thy everlasting revelling-place 9 is set above.

6. Thine the good emanations 10 of the stars,—those daimons, fortunes, and those fates by whom are given

 wealth, good blend [of nature], 1 and good children, good fortune, and good burial. For thou art lord of life,—

7. Thou who art king of heavens and earth and all that dwell in them;

8. Whose Righteousness is never put away; whose Muses hymn thy glorious name; whom the eight Wardens guard,—thou the possessor of the Truth 2 pure of all lie!

9. Thy Name and Spirit rest upon the good. 3

10. O mayst thou come into my mind and heart for all the length of my life’s days, and bring unto accomplishment all things my soul desires!

11. For thou art I, and I am thou. 4 Whate’er I speak, may it for ever be; for that I have thy Name 5 to guard me in my heart. 6

 12. And every serpent 1 roused shall have no power o’er me, nor shall I be opposed by any spirit, or daimonial power, or any plague, or any of the evils in the Unseen World; 2 for that I have thy Name within my soul.

13. Thee I invoke; come unto me, Good, altogether good, [come] to the good, 3—thou whom no magic can enchant, no magic can control, 4 who givest me good health, security, 5 good store, good fame, victory, [and] strength, and cheerful countenance! 6

14. Cast down the eyes of all who are against me, and give me grace on all my deeds! 7

II. AN INVOCATION TO LORD HERMES

[Revised and restored text, stripped of later overworkings, R. 20, 21. Wessely (C.), Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, “Neue griechische Zauberpapyri” (Vienna, 1893), vol. xlii. p. 55; Kenyon (F. G.), Greek Papyri in the British Museum (London, 1893), i. 116.]

1. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, even as into women’s wombs [come] babes! 8

2. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, who dost collect the food of gods and men! 9

3. Lord Hermes, come to me, and give me grace, [and] food, [and] victory, [and] health and happiness, and cheerful countenance, 1 beauty and powers in sight of all!

4. I know thy Name that shineth forth in heaven; I know thy forms 2 as well; I know thy tree; 3 I know thy wood 4 as well.

5. I know thee, Hermes, who thou art, and whence thou art, and what thy city is.

6. I know thy names in the Egyptian tongue, 5 and thy true name as it is written on the holy tablet in the holy place at Hermes’ city, where thou dost have thy birth.

7. I know thee, Hermes, and thou [knowest] me; [and] I am thou, and thou art I. 6

8. Come unto me; fulfil all that I crave; be favourable to me together with good fortune and the blessing of the Good. 7

III. AN INVOCATION TO LORD HERMES

[Revised and restored text, R. 21. It is worked in with the preceding, but is of later date.]

1. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, O thou of many names, who know’st the secrets hidden both beneath the poles [of heaven] and underneath the earth!

 2. Come unto me, Lord Hermes, thou benefactor, who doest good to all the world!

3. Give ear to me, [and] give me grace with all that are on earth; open for me the hands of all that give like thee; 1 [and] make them give me what their hands contain!

4. Even as Horus, 2 if e’er he called on thee, O greatest of all gods, in every trial, in every space, ’gainst gods, and men, and daimones, and things that live in water and on earth,—had grace and riches with gods, and men, and every living thing beneath the earth;—so let me, too, who call on thee! So give me grace, form, beauty!

6. Hear me, O Hermes, doer of good deeds, thou the inventor of [all] incantations, 3 speak me good words! 4

7. Hear me, O Hermes, for I have done all things [that I should do] for thy black dog-ape, 5 lord of the nether ones!

8. O, soften all [towards me], and give me might

 [and] form, 1 and let them give me gold, and silver [too], and food of every kind continually.

9. Preserve me evermore for the eternity from spells, deceits, and witchery of every kind, from evil tongues, from every check and every enmity of gods and men!

10. Give unto me grace, victory, success, and satisfaction!

11. For thou art I, and I am thou; thy Name is mine, and mine is thine; for that I am thy likeness. 2

12. Whatever shall befall me in this year, or month, or day, or hour,—it shall befall the Mighty God, whose symbol is upon the holy vessel’s prow. 3

 

IV. AN INVOCATION TO THOTH AS LOGOS

[Revised text, R. 22. Leemans, op. cit., II. 103, 7; Dieterich, op. cit., 189.]

1. Thee I invoke alone, thou who alone in all the world imposest order upon gods and men, 1 who dost transform thyself in holy forms, 2 making to be from things that are not, and from the things that are making the not to be.

2. O holy Thoth, 3 the true sight of whose face none of the gods endures!

3. Make me to be in every creature’s name 4—wolf, dog, [or] lion, fire, tree, [or] vulture, 5 wall, 6 [or] water, 7 or what thou will’st, for thou art able [so to do].

V. AN INVOCATION TO HERMES AS THE SPIRITUAL LIGHT

[Revised text R. 22, 23. Leemans, ibid., II. 87, 24; Dieterich, ibid., 176, 1.]

1. Thee I invoke who hast created all, who dost transcend the whole, the self-begotten God, who seest all and hearest all, but who art seen by none.

2. For thou didst give the sun his glory and all might, the moon her increase and her decrease, and [unto both] their ordained course. Though thou didst not diminish aught the [powers of] darkness, the still more ancient [than the sun and moon], thou mad’st them equal [with it]. 1

3. For when thou didst shine forth, Cosmos came into being, and light appeared, and all things were dispensed through thee; wherefore they all are under thee.

4. O thou, whose actual form none of the gods can see, who dost transform thyself into them all in visions [that men see], O thou Eternity of the eternity. 2

5. Thee I invoke, O Lord, that thy true form may manifest to me, for that I am in servitude below thy world, 3 slave to thy angel and unto thy fear. 4

6. Through thee the pole and earth are fixed.

7. Thee I invoke, O Lord, e’en as the gods whom thou hast made to shine, that they may have their power.

 

The above prayers afford us some striking examples of the popular Hellenistic form of the Hermes religion, 5 in its theurgic phase. In it Hermes is regarded as the Mind 1 or Logos. The Mind is invoked to enter the mind and heart (I. 10). 2 With the shining out of the Mind, the Spiritual or Intelligible Light shines forth in the world and man (v. 3). The Mind is thus the guide of souls. 3 He is also identified with the Good Daimon (of whom Chnuphis or Horus are variants), with the Great Ocean, the Heaven-Space or Celestial Nile, the Great Green, the Light, the Æon.

In connection with the above invocations Reitzenstein gives the text of a very interesting ritual of lower theurgy, or rite of the sacred flame, which he characterises by the term “mystery of lychnomancy or lamp-magic.” This is the lower side of such high vision as is referred to in “The Shepherd of Men” treatise and in the rite described in the following passage of the Pistis Sophia, 272, 373:

“Jesus said unto his disciples: Come unto me! And they came unto him. He turned to the four quarters of the world, and spake the Great Name over their heads, and blessed them, and breathed on their eyes.

“Jesus said unto them: Look, see what ye may see!

“And lifting up their eyes they saw a great Light, exceeding vast, which no dweller on earth could describe.

“He said to them again: Gaze into the Light, and see what ye may see!

“They said: We see fire and water, and wine and blood.”

VI. THE MYSTIC RITE OF THE FLAME

[Revised text, R. 25-27. Wessely, op. cit., “Griechische zauberpapyrus von Paris und London” (Vienna, 1888), 68, 930 ff.]

(a) Invocation to the Light 1

1. I invoke thee, O God, the living one, 2 who dost show forth thy splendour in the fire, thou unseen Father of the Light! 3 Pour forth thy strength; awake thy daimon, and come down into this fire; inspire it with [thy] holy spirit; show me thy might, and let the house of the almighty God, which is within this light, be opened for me! Let there be light,—[thy] breadth-depth-length-height-ray; 1 and let the Lord, the [God] within, shine forth!

(b) A Stronger Form to be used if the Flame dies down

2. I adjure thee, O Light, holy ray, breadth-depth-length-height-ray, by the holy names which I have uttered, 2 and am now about to speak . . . abide with me in this same hour, until I have besought thy God, and learnt about the things that I desire!

(c) The Theagogy or Invocation of the God proper

3. Thee I invoke, thou mightiest God and Master . . . thou who enlightenest all and pour’st thy rays by means of thine own power on all the world, O God of gods!

4. O Word (Logos) that orderest night and day, who guid’st the ship, 3 and hold’st the helm, thou dragon-slayer, 4 Good Holy Daimon . . . !

5. To whom the East and West give praise as thou dost rise and set, thou who art blest by all the gods, angels, and daimones!

6. Come, show thyself to me, O God of gods . . . !

7. Enter, make manifest thyself to me, O Lord; for I invoke as the three apes invoke thee—who symbol-wise name forth thy holy Name.

 8. In thy ape-form 1 enter, appear to me, O Lord; for I name forth thy mightiest names!

9. O thou who hast thy throne about the height of cosmos, 2 and judgest all, encircled with the sphere of Surety and Truth! 3

10. Enter, appear to me, O Lord, for that I was before the fire and snow, and shall be after [them];

11. I am the one who has been born from heaven. 4

12. Enter, appear to me, O Lord of mighty names, whom all have in their hearts, 5 who dost burst open rocks, 6 and mak’st the names of gods to move!

13. Enter, appear to me, O Lord, who hast thy power and strength in tire, who hast thy throne within the seven poles. 7

 14. And on thy head a golden crown, and in thy hand a staff . . . 1 by which thou sendest forth the gods!

15. Enter, O Lord, and give me answer with thy holy voice, that I may clearly hear and truthfully about this thing!

(d) A Stronger Form of Adjuration if (c) fails

16. He doth enjoin thee, He the great living God, who is for the eternities of the eternities, the shaker and the thunderer, who doth create each soul and every birth. Enter, appear to me, O Lord, joyous, benignant, gentle, glorious, free from all wrath; for I adjure thee by the Lord [of all]!

(e) The Greeting when the Presence of the God is manifested

17. Hail Lord, O God of gods, thou benefactor . . . ! Hail to thy glories 2 ever more, O Lord!

(f) The Farewell to the God

18. I give thee thanks, O Lord. Depart, O Lord, to thine own heavens, thine own realms, and thine own course, preserving me in health, free from all harm, free from all fear of any ka, 1 free from all stripes, and all dismay, hearkening to me for all the days of [all] my life!

(g) The Farewell to the Flame

19. Depart, O holy ray; depart, O fair and holy light of highest God!

 

In connection with the above, we may also take the following ritual-prayer used in the consecration of an amulet ring.

VII. A PRAYER OF CONSECRATION

[Revised text, R. 28, 29. Wessely, ibid., 84, 1598 ff.]

1. Thee I invoke, O greatest God, Lord everlasting, thou world-ruler, above the world, beneath the world, mighty sea-ruler;

2. Who shinest forth at dawn, out from the East rising for all the world, and setting in the West!

3. Come unto me, thou who dost rise from the four winds, joyous Good Daimon, for whom the heaven is thy revelling-place! 2

4. I call upon thy holy, mighty, hidden names which thou dost joy to hear.

5. When thou dost shine the earth doth sprout afresh, the trees bear fruit when thou dost laugh, the animals bring forth when thou dost turn to them.

6. Give glory, honour, grace, fortune and power . . . !

7. Thee I invoke, the great in heaven . . . , O dazzling Sun, who shed’st thy beams on all the world!

8. Thou art the mighty serpent, the chief of all thgods, 1 O thou who dost possess Egypt’s beginning, 2 and the end of all the world!

9. Thou art the [God] who saileth o’er the ocean; thou art the [God] who doth come into sight each day.

10. O thou who art above the world, and art beneath the world, O mighty ruler of the sea, give ear unto my voice this day, this night, these holy hours [of thine], and through this amulet let that be done for which I consecrate it!

THE MAIN SOURCE OF THE TRISMEGISTIC LITERATURE ACCORDING TO MANETHO, HIGH PRIEST OF EGYPT

HERMES AT THE BEGINNING OF THE HELLENISTIC PERIOD

The more intimate contact of Greek thought and philosophy with Egyptian lore and mystic tradition began immediately with the brilliant era of the Lagides, who gradually made Alexandria the intellectual and religious, philosophic and scientific, centre of the Hellenistic world.

Thoth-Hermes, as we have seen, had been for the Egyptians from the earliest times the teacher of all ancient and hidden wisdom; he was par excellence the writer of all sacred scripture and the scribe of the gods. We should then naturally expect that his dominating influence would play a leading part in the new development; and this, indeed, is amply demonstrated by the evidence of the religious art of the time, which presents us with specimens of statues of the Greek type of Hermes, bearing at the same time either the feather of truth (the special symbol of Maāt) on the head, or the papyrus-roll in the hand 1—both symbols of Thoth in his dual character as revealer and scribe. Of the complex nature of the mystic and apocalyptic literature that thus came into existence we have very distinct testimony. 1 In keeping with its Egyptian prototype it was all cast in a theological and theosophical mould, whether it treated of physics, or medicine, or astrology. Thus we learn that Pamphilus, the grammarian, 2 was intimately acquainted with a Greek-Egyptian literature dealing with “sacred plants” and their virtues as determined by the influences of the thirty-six Decans; this lore, he tells us, was derived from the “Books ascribed to the Egyptian Hermes.” 3

PETOSIRIS AND NECHEPSO

Of still greater interest are the Greek fragments of Petosiris and Nechepso which have come down to us. 4 These Greek fragments are to be dated at least before the end of the second century B.C., 5 and afford us striking parallels with our extant Trismegistic literature.

In them we find the Prophet Petosiris represented as the teacher and counsellor of King Nechepso, as Asclepius of Ammon in one type of our literature; while it is Hermes who reveals the secret wisdom to two younger gods, Asclepius and Anubis, as in our sermons he does to Asclepius and Tat.

As to Petosiris himself, Suidas (s.v.) tells us that he was an Egyptian philosopher who wrote on comparative Greek and Egyptian theology, making selections from the “Holy Books,” and treating of astrology and the Egyptian Mysteries. Moreover, Proclus 1 tells us that Petosiris had an intimate knowledge of every order of the Gods and Angels, and refers to a hieratic formula of theurgic invocation to the greatest of the goddesses (Necessity), for inducing the vision of this Power, and the ritual of the manner of addressing her when she appeared, as handed on by the same Petosiris.

The mystical nature of this literature is still more clearly shown in what Vettius Valens 2 tells us of Nechepso, who surpassed the Ammon of our literature and attained to direct knowledge of the Inner Way.

Vettius, in the first half of the first century A.D., laments that he did not live in those days of initiate kings and rulers and sages who occupied themselves with the Sacred Science, when the clear Æther spake face to face with them without disguise, or holding back aught, in answer to their deep scrutiny of holy things. In those days so great was their love of the holy mysteries, so high their virtue, that they left the earth below them, and in their deathless souls became “heaven-walkers” 3 and knowers of things divine.

Vettius then quotes from a Greek apocalyptic treatise of Nechepso, where the King tells us that he had remained in contemplation all night gazing into the æther; and so in ecstasy he had left his body, 4 and had then heard a heavenly Voice 5 addressing him. This Voice was not merely a sound, but appeared as a

 substantial presence, who guided Nechepso on his way through the heaven-space.

It is, moreover, exceedingly probable that the magnificent spectacle of the star-spheres 1 to which Vettius refers, speaking of it as “the most transcendent and most blessed vision (θεωρία) of all,” was taken directly from the same source.

With this we may compare the wish of Trismegistus that Tat might get him the wings of the soul and enjoy that fair sight, 2 and the seeing of it by Hermes himself through the Mind. 3

All of which proves the existence of books in Greek in middle Ptolemaic times treating in the same manner of identical subjects with those contained in our Trismegistic literature.

MANETHO THE BELOVED OF THOTH

When, then, the sovereignty of Egypt passed into the hands of the Diadochi of Alexander, and the Ptolemies made Alexandria the centre of learning in the Greek world, by the foundation of the ever-famous Museum and Library and Schools in their capital, there arose an extraordinary enthusiasm for translating, paraphrasing, and summarising into Greek of the old scriptures and records of the nations. The most famous name of such translators and compilers and comparative theologians is that of Manetho, 4 who introduced the treasures of Egyptian mysticism, theology, mythology, history, and chronology to the Grecian world. Moreover, seeing that the veracity and reliability of Manetho as a historian is with every day more and more accepted as we become better acquainted with the monuments, he seems to have done his work loyally enough.

Manetho was contemporary with the first two Ptolemies; that is to say, he lived in the last years of the fourth and the first half of the third century B.C. He was a priest of Heliopolis (On), 1 and was thoroughly trained in all Greek culture 2 as well as being most learned in the ancient Wisdom of Egypt. 3 Manetho not only wrote on historical subjects, but also on the mystic philosophy and religion of his country, and it is from his books in all probability that Plutarch and others drew their information on things Egyptian. Manetho derived his information from the hieroglyphic inscriptions in the temples 4 and from the rest of the priestly records; but unfortunately his books are almost entirely lost, and we only possess fragments quoted by later writers.

THE LETTER OF MANETHO TO PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS

One of these quotations is of great importance for our present enquiry. It is preserved by Georgius Syncellus, 1 and is stated to be taken from a work of Manetho called Sothis 2 a work that has otherwise entirely disappeared. The passage with the introductory sentence of the monk Syncellus runs as follows:

“It is proposed then to make a few extracts concerning the Egyptian dynasties from the Books of Manetho. [This Manetho,] being high priest of the Heathen temples in Egypt, based his replies [to King Ptolemy] on the monuments 3 which lay in the Seriadic country. [These monuments,] he tells us, were engraved in the sacred language and in the characters of the sacred writing by Thoth, the first Hermes; after the flood they were translated from the sacred language into the then common tongue, 4 but [still written] in hieroglyphic characters, and stored away in books by the Good Daimon’s son and the second Hermes, father of Tat—in the inner chambers of the temples of Egypt.

‘“In the Book of Sothis Manetho addresses King Philadelphus, the second Ptolemy, personally, writing as follows word for word:

“‘The Letter of Manetho, the Sebennyte, to Ptolemy Philadelphus.

“‘To the great King Ptolemy Philadelphus, the venerable: I, Manetho, high priest and scribe of the holy fanes in Egypt, citizen of Heliopolis but by birth a Sebennyte, 5 to my master Ptolemy send greeting.

“‘We 1 must make calculations concerning all the points which you may wish us to examine into, to answer your questions 2 concerning what will happen to the world. According to your commands, the sacred books, written by our forefather Thrice-greatest Hermes, which I study, shall be shown to you. My lord and king, farewell.’”

THE IMPORTANCE OF MANETHO’S STATEMENT IN HIS “SOTHIS”

Here we have a verbal quotation from a document purporting to be written prior to 250 B.C. It is evidently one of a number of letters exchanged between Manetho and Ptolemy II. Ptolemy has heard of the past according to the records of Egypt; can the priests tell him anything of the future? They can, replies Manetho; but it will be necessary to make a number of calculations. Ptolemy has also expressed a strong desire to see the documents from which Manetho derived his information, and the high priest promises to let him see them.

These books are ascribed to Hermes, the Thrice-greatest, and this is the first time that the title is used in extant Greek literature. This Hermes was the second, the father of Tat, we are told elsewhere by Manetho, and son of the Good Spirit (Agathodaimon), who was the first Hermes. Here we have the precise grading of the degrees in our treatises: (i.) The Shepherd of Men, or The Mind; (ii.) Thrice-greatest; (iii.) Tat. This refers to the ever-present distinction of pupil and master, and the Master of masters.

If, however, we seek for historical allusions, we may perhaps be permitted to conclude that the first Hermes, that is to say the first priesthood among the Egyptians, used a sacred language, or in other words a language which in the time of the second Hermes, or second priesthood, was no longer spoken. It was presumably archaic Egyptian. The two successions of priests and prophets were separated by a “flood.” This “flood” was presumably connected with, if not the origin of, the flood of which Solon heard from the priest of Saïs, which happened some nine thousand years before his time, and of which we have considerable information given us in the Timæus and Critias of Plato. 1 The Good Angel is the same as the Mind, as we learn from the Trismegistic literature, and was regarded as the father of Hermes Trismegistus. This seems to be a figurative way of saying that the archaic civilisation of Egypt before the flood, which presumably swept over the country when the Atlantic Island went down, was regarded as one of great excellence. It was the time of the Gods or Divine Kings or Demi-Gods, whose wisdom was handed on in mystic tradition, or revived into some semblance of its former greatness, by the lesser descendants of that race who returned from exile, or reincarnated on earth, to take charge of the new populations who had gradually returned to the lower Nile plains after the flood had subsided.

Thus we have three epochs of tradition of the Egyptian mystery-cultus: (i.) The first Thoth or Agathodaimon, the original tradition preserved in the sacred language and character in the stone monuments of the Seriadic land, presumably the Egypt prior to the Atlantic flood; (ii.) the second Thoth, the Thrice-greatest, the mystery-school after the period of the great inundation, whose records and doctrines were preserved not only in inscriptions but also in MSS., still written in the sacred character, but in the Egyptian tongue as it was spoken after the people reoccupied the country; and (iii.) Tat, the priesthood of Manetho’s day, and presumably of some centuries prior to his time, who spoke a yet later form of Egyptian, and from whose demotic translations further translations or paraphrases were made in Greek.

IS “SOTHIS” A FORGERY?

This natural line of descent of the fundamental doctrines in the tradition of the Trismegistic literature, however, is scouted by encyclopædism, which would have our sermons to be Neoplatonic forgeries, though on what slender grounds it bases its view we have already seen. It will now be interesting to see how the testimony of Manetho is disposed of. Our encyclopædias tell us that the book Sothis is obviously a late forgery; parrot-like they repeat this statement; but nowhere in them do we find a single word of proof brought forward. Let us then see whether any scholars have dealt with the problem outside of encyclopædism. Very little work has been done on the subject. The fullest summary of the position is given by C. Müller. 1 Müller bases his assertion on Böckh, 2 and Böckh on Letronne. 3

The arguments are as follows: (i.) That the term “venerable” (σεβαστός) is not used prior to the time of the Roman emperors; (ii.) that Egypt knows no flood; (iii.) that the ancient mythology of Egypt knows no first and second Hermes; (iv.) that Egypt has no Seriadic land; (v.) that the term “Trismegistus” is of late use.

THE ARGUMENTS OF ENCYCLOPÆDISM REFUTED

Let us take these arguments in order and examine them, bearing in mind, however, that the whole question has been prejudiced from the start, and that encyclopædism, in order to maintain its hypothesis of the spuriousness of our Trismegistic writings, is bound to argue the spuriousness of Manetho’s Sothis. The categorical statements of Manetho are exceedingly distressing to the former hypothesis; in fact, they give it the lie direct. As to the arguments, then:

(i.) The term σεβαστός is in later times equated with “Augustus,” the honorific title of the Roman emperors. Therefore, it is argued, it could not have been used prior to their times. But why not? The king to an Egyptian was divine—every inscription proves it—and the term “venerable” was in early times always applied to the Gods. Why not then apply it to the “Great King”? Indeed, what could be more natural than to do so?

(ii.) We have already shown that, according to Plato, Egypt knew most accurately of a Flood; Plato further tells us that Solon got his information from the priests of Saïs, who told him that all the records were preserved in the temple of Neïth.

It is not here the place to discuss the Atlanticum of Plato and the long history of opinion connected wit it, for that would require a volume in itself. I have, however, acquainted myself with all the arguments for and against the authenticity of at least the germ of this tradition, and with the problems of comparative mythology and folklore involved in it, and also with the recent literature of the subject which seeks to corroborate the main conceptions of Plato by the researches of seership. All this, taken in conjunction with the general subject of the “myths” of Plato, and the latest views on this subject, has convinced me that the greatest of Greek philosophers did not jest when, his dialectic having gone as far as it could, he sought refuge in the mystery-traditions for corroboration of those intuitions which his unaided intellect could not demonstrate.

It can of course be argued that every reference to a flood in Egyptian Hellenistic literature is but a repetition of what the incredulous must regard as Plato’s brilliant romance; but in this connection, as in many others, it is equally arguable that all such references—Plato’s included—are derivable from one and the same source—namely, Egypt herself.

And, indeed, on 9th November 1904, at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Archæology, a paper by Professor Naville was read by Mr F. Legge on “A Mention of a Flood in the Book of the Dead.” The flood in question is that described in the Leyden version as Ch. clxxv. 1

(iii.) Cicero (106-44 B.C.) speaks of five Mercurii, the last two of whom were Egyptian. 2 One was the “son of Father Nile,” whose name the Egyptians considered it impiety to pronounce—and for whom, presumably, they substituted the term Agathodaimon; and the second was the later Thoyth, the-founder of Hermopolis. 1 Cicero could hardly have invented this; it must have been a commonplace of his day, most probably derived in the first instance from the writings of Manetho, from which generally the Greeks, and those imbued with Greek culture, derived all their information about Egypt.

And, indeed, Reitzenstein (p. 139), though he refers the information given by Syncellus to a Pseudo-Manetho (without a word of explanation, however), admits that the genealogy of Hermes there given is in its main features old. 2

THE SERIADIC LAND

(iv.) The statement that Egypt knew no Seriadic land or country seems to be a confident assertion, but the following considerations may perhaps throw a different light on the matter.

In the astronomical science of the Egyptians the most conspicuous solar system near our own, represented in the heavens by the brilliant Sirius, was of supreme interest. Cycles of immense importance were determined by it, and it entered into the highest mysticism of Egyptian initiation. Sirius was, as it were, the guardian star of Egypt. Now ancient Egypt was a sacred land, laid out in its nomes or provinces according to the heavens, having centres in its body corresponding to the centres or ganglia of the heavens. As the Hindus had a Heavenly Ganges (Ākāsha-Gangā) and an earthly Ganges, so had the heavens a Celestial Nile, and Egypt a physical Nile, the life-giver of the land. The yearly inundation, which meant and means everything for ancient and modern Khem, was observed with great minuteness, and recorded with immense pains, the basis of its cycle being the Sothiac or Siriadic; Sirius (Seirios) being called in Greek transliteration Sothis and Seth (Eg. Sepṭ). What more natural name, then, to give to the country than the Seriadic Land?

The Nile records in ancient times were self-registered by pyramids, obelisks, and temples, and in later times nearly all monuments were built according to the type of the masonic instruments of the Egyptian astrogeological science. This science has been studied in our own times by an Egyptian, and the results of his researches have been printed “for private circulation,” and a copy of them is to be found in the British Museum. In his Preface the author writes as follows: 1

“The astrogeological science gave birth to a monumental system, by means of which the fruits of the accumulated observations and experience of the human race have been preserved, outliving writings, inscriptions, traditions, and nationalities. The principal monuments had imparted to them the essential property of being autochronous landmarks of a geochronological nature. Many of them recorded, hydromathematically, the knowledge in astronomy, in geography, and in the dimension and figure of the earth obtained in their respective epochs. They were Siriadic monuments, because their magistral lines were projected to the scale

of the revolutions of the cycles of the star Surios (sic) in terms of the standard astrogeological cubit.”

Doubtless our author flogs his theory too severely, as all such writers do; but nilometry and the rest was certainly one of the most important branches of the priestly science.

THE STELÆ OF HERMES

But before we deal with the last objection urged against the authenticity of Manetho’s Sothis, we will add a few words more concerning these Seriadic monuments known in antiquity as the Stelae of Hermes or of Seth, and erroneously spoken of in Latin and English as the “Columns” or “Pillars” of Hermes.

The general reader may perhaps be puzzled at the variety of spelling of the name of the star, but he should recollect that the difficulties of transliteration from one language to another are always great, and especially so when the two languages belong to different families. Thus we find the variants of Teḥuti, the Egyptian name of Hermes, transliterated in no less than nineteen various forms in Greek and two in Latin—such as Thoyth, Thath, Tat, etc. 1 Similarly we find the name of the famous Indian lawgiver transliterated into English as Manu, Menu, Menoo, etc.

With regard to these “Mercurii Columnæ,” it was the common tradition, as we have already pointed out, that Pythagoras, Plato, and others got their wisdom from these columns, that is to say, monuments. 2 The historian Ammianus Marcellinus, 1 the friend of the Emperor Julian, has preserved for us a peculiarity of the construction of some of these pyramids or temples which is of interest. The passage to which we refer runs as follows:

“There are certain underground galleries and passages full of windings, which, it is said, the adepts in the ancient rites (knowing that the flood was coming, and fearing that the memory of the sacred ceremonies would be obliterated) constructed in various places, distributed in the interior [of the buildings], which were mined out with great labour. And levelling the walls, 2 they engraved on them numerous kinds of birds and animals, and countless varieties [of creatures] of another world, which they called hieroglyphic characters.” 3

We are thus told of another peculiarity of some of the Seriadic monuments, and of the “Books preserved from the Flood” of which there were so many traditions. These are the records to which Sanchuniathon and Manetho make reference.

THE SONS OF SETH-HERMES

The Egyptian account is straightforward enough; but when Josephus, following the traditional practice of his race in exploiting the myths of more ancient nations for the purpose of building up Jewish history—for th Mosaic Books supply innumerable examples of the working-up of elements which the Jews found in the records of older nations—runs away with the idea that Seth (the Egyptian Sirius) was the Biblical patriarch Seth, the Jewish “antiquarian” enters on a path of romance and not of history. ’Tis thus he uses the Egyptian Seriadic tradition for his own purposes:

“All of these [the Sons of Seth] being of good disposition, dwelt happily together in the same country free from quarrels, without any misfortune happening to the end of their lives. The [great] subject of their studies was that wisdom which deals with the heavenly bodies and their orderly arrangement. In order that their discoveries should not be lost to mankind and perish before they became known (for Adam had foretold that there would be an alternate disappearance of all things 1 by the force of fire and owing to the strength and mass of water)—they made two monuments, 2 one of brick and the other of stone, and on each of them engraved their discoveries. In order that if it should happen that the brick one should be done away with by the heavy downpour, 3 the stone one might survive and let men know what was inscribed upon it, at the same time informing them that a brick one had also been made by them. And it remains even to the present day in the Siriad land.” 4

This passage is of great interest not only as affording a very good example of the method of inventing Jewish “antiquities,” but also as permitting us to recover the outlines of the original Egyptian account which Josephus purloined and adapted. The Sons of Seth were the initiates of the archaic priesthood of the First Hermes. Adam has been substituted for the First Man, in the sense of our “Shepherd” tradition; and the two kinds of monuments (which Josephus seems to regard as two single structures and not as relating to two classes of buildings) may refer to the brick structures and temples of that age, and to specially constructed and more lasting monuments of stone—perhaps rock-cut temples, or the most ancient pyramids. I have also asked myself the question as to whether there may not be some clue concealed in this “brick monument” reference to the puzzling statement in the Babylonian Talmud 1 that Jesus set up a “brick-bat” and worshipped it. Jesus is said in the Talmud Jeschu Stories to have “learned magic in Egypt,” and the magical wisdom of ancient Egypt is here said to have been recorded on monuments of brick. 2

Reitzenstein (p. 183), after pointing to the similarity of tradition as to the Seriadic Land contained in Josephus, and in what he characterises as Pseudo-Manetho, 3 adds the interesting information that the Seriadic Land is borne witness to by an inscription as being the home and native land of Isis; indeed, the Goddess herself is given the name of Neilotis or Seirias; she is the fertile earth and is Egypt. 4

To continue, then, with the consideration of the arguments urged against the authenticity of Manetho’s Sothis. With regard to objection (iv.), we have given very good reasons for concluding that so far from Egypt “knowing no Seriadic land,” Egypt was the Seriadic Land par excellence, and the Books of Hermes were the direct descendants of the archaic stone monuments of that land. And further, we have shown that our Trismegistic writings are a step or two further down in the same line of descent. The whole hangs together logically and naturally.

We have thus removed four of the five props which support the hypothesis of forgery with regard to the Sothis document. Let us now see whether the remaining prop will bear the weight of the structure.

THE EPITHET “THRICE-GREATEST”

(v.) We are told that the term “Trismegistus” is of late use. This assertion is based entirely on the hypothesis that all our extant Trismegistic writings are Neoplatonic forgeries of the third or at best the second century, before which time the name Thrice-greatest was never heard of. The term Trismegistus must go as far back as the earliest of these writings, at any rate, and where we must place that we shall see at the end of our investigations.

That the peculiar designation Trismegistus was known in the first century even among the Romans, however, is evident from the famous Latin epigrammatist Martial (v. 24), who in singing the praise of one Hermes, a famous gladiator, brings his pæan to a climax with the line:

Hermes omnia solus et ter unus1

A verse which an anonymous translator in 1695 freely renders as

Hermes engrosses all men’s gifts in one,
And Trismegistus’ name deserves alone.

 

Such a popular reference shows that the name Trismegistus was a household word, and argues for many years of use before the days of Martial (A.D. 43-104?). But have we no other evidence?

In the trilingual inscription (hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek) on the famous Rosetta Stone, which sings the praises of Ptolemy Epiphanes (210-181 B.C.), Hermes is called the “Great-and-Great.” 1 Letronne renders this deux fois grand2 and in his notes 3 says that the term “Trismegistus” was not known at this date, thus contemptuously waving aside Manetho’s Sothis. Had it been known, he says, it would undoubtedly have been used instead of the feebler expression “great-and-great.” 4 But why undoubtedly? Let us enquire a little further into the matter. The Egyptian reduplicated form of this attribute of Hermes, ȧā ȧā, the “great-great,” is frequently elsewhere found with a prefixed sign which may be transliterated ur5 So that if the more simple form is translated by “great, great,” the intensive form would naturally be rendered “great, great, great,” or “three times great.” But we have to deal with the form “thrice-greatest,” a superlative intensive. We have many examples of adjectives intensified with the particle τρίς in Greek, 6 but no early instances of their superlatives; therefore, what? Apparently that the term “Trismegistus” is a late invention.

But may we not legitimately suppose, in the absence of further information, that when the Egyptian had intensified his reduplicated form he had come to an end of his resources—it was the highest term of greatness that he could get out of his language? Not so when he used Greek. He could go a step further in the more plastic Hellenic tongue. Why, then, did he not use “thrice-greatest” instead of “great-and-great” on the Rosetta Stone?

Because he was translating ȧā ȧā and not its intensified form. But why did he not use the intensified form in the demotic inscription? Well, “whys” are endless; but may we not suppose that, as Ptolemy was being praised for his justice, which he is said to have exercised “as Hermes the great-and-great,” the reduplicated form was sufficient for this attribute of the idealised priesthood, while the still more honorific title was reserved for Hermes as the personified Wisdom? Or, again, may it not have been politic to refrain from adjectives which would have dimmed the greatness of Ptolemy?

THE CLUE OF GRIFFITHS

So I wrote in November 1899, when the major part of this chapter was first published in The Theosophical Review. Shortly afterwards, however, I came across an entirely new clue. In his Stories of the High Priests of Memphis: the Sethon of Herodotus and the Demotic Tales of Khamuas (Oxford, 1900), F. Ll. Griffiths presents us with the translation of an exceedingly interesting demotic text, found on the verso of two Greek documents, the contents of which prove them to be official land-registers of the seventh year of Claudius (A.D. 46-47). There is also “strong evidence for attributing the demotic text to some time within thirty years from that date” (p. 41). So much for the copy of the original; but what of its contents? As they belong to the most important cycle of folk-tates of Egypt, it is to be assumed that their form and substance is old.

In this papyrus we are told that on an occasion of great need when the Pharaoh of Egypt was being overcome at a distance by the sorceries of the Ethiopian enchanters, he was saved, and the magic of the Black Ones sent back upon them, by a certain Hor, son of Pa-neshe, most learned in the Books. Before his great trial of strength with the Ethiopian spells, we read of this Hor that:

“He entered the temple of Khmûn; he made his offerings and his libations before Thoth, the Eight-times-great, the Lord of Khmûn, the Great God” (p. 58).

To this Griffiths appends the following note:

“‘Thoth, eight times great’; the remains of the signs indicate this reading. The title, which here appears for the first time in Egyptian literature, is the equivalent of τρισμέγιστος [thrice-greatest], a late epithet first used about the date of this MS. 1 ὁ is μέγας [great], which we may represent algebraically by a; ὁ ὁ (2a), a common title of Thoth in late hieroglyphic, is μέγας καὶ μέγας [great and great] on the Rosetta Stone, but probably represents μέγιστος [greatest], and 8ὁ is therefore τρισμέγιστος [thrice-greatest], i.e. (2a)³. The famous epithet of Hermes which has puzzled commentators thus displays its mathematical formation. 6ὁ = 3(2a) would not fill thelacuna on the papyrus, nor would it give the obviously intended reference to the name of Thoth’s city, ‘the Eighth,’ and the mythological interpretation of that name.”

The mythological interpretation of that name, namely Khmun (Khemen-nw), which Budge transliterates Khemennu, Griffiths says is “the eighth city,” i.e. “the eighth in Upper Egypt going up the river.” 1

We are loth to deprive any one of a so fair adaptation to environment in the evolution of purely physical interpretation; but we are afraid that our readers will have already learned for themselves that Khemennu was the City of the Eight, the City of the Ogdoad, and will expect some less mundane explanation of the name; not that we altogether object to Khemennu being the “Eighth City up the River,” if that river is interpreted as the Celestial Nile on which the soul of the initiated sailed in the solar boat.

Reitzenstein then is wrong in supposing (p. 117, n. 6) that Griffiths connects the honorific title Trismegistus with the eight cynocephali who form the paut of Thoth; but we may do so.

The nature of this symbolic Ogdoad is most clearly seen in the inscription of Dêr-el-Bahari, of the time of the Twenty-second Dynasty which Maspero has lately published. 2

In it the Osirified says to the Supreme:

“I am One who becomes Two; I am Two who becomes Four; I am Four who becomes Eight; I am the One after that.”

So also in the first Hermes Prayer, quoted in a preceding chapter, addressed to Hermes as Agathodaimon,

  Thoth is he “whom the Eight Wardens guard.”

These Eight, we may perhaps be permitted to speculate, were generated Two from One, ȧā ȧā, Greatest; Four from Two, Twice-greatest; Eight from Four, Thrice-greatest.

Such a combination would specially commend itself to men trained in Pythagorean mathematical symbols, as were doubtless many who took part in compiling the Egyptian Hellenistic theosophical literature.

I, therefore, conclude that the honorific title Thrice-greatest can very well go back to early Ptolemaic times; and therefore, as far as I can see, the authenticity of Manetho’s Sothis stands unimpugned as far as any arguments so far brought against it are concerned. I therefore regard the quotation of Syncellus as a most valuable piece of information in tracing the genesis of the Trismegistic literature. Whether or not any of our extant sermons can be placed among these earlier forms of this literature will be discussed later on.

THE EARLIEST TRISMEGISTIC LITERATURE

That, however, literature of a similar nature existed in early and middle Ptolemaic times we have already seen from the material adduced at the beginning of this chapter; we may therefore fitly conclude it by pointing out that in later Ptolemaic times, and down to the first century A.D., we find in the same literature specimens of cosmogenesis closely resembling the main elements of the world-formation given in our “Shepherd” treatise.

An excellent example is that of the fragmentary cosmogonical poem, the text of which Reitzenstein has printed in his Zwei religionsgesch. Fragen, to which we have already referred. This poem Reitzenstein (p. 92) dates as belonging to the first century B.C., though it may probably be earlier; it declares itself to be of the Hermes tradition, both in its statement about itself and also in the fact that it is Hermes, the Beloved Son of Zeus, who is the Logos-Creator of the cosmos, and also the progenitor or “father” of the prophet-poet who writes the vision.

PHILO BYBLIUS

But not only did the tradition of Egyptian Hermes dominate the Greek forms of cosmogony which emanated from Alexandria and spread through the Hellenic world, but it also imposed itself upon the forms of cosmogony and the history-writing of other nations; the most striking example of this is to be found in the Phœnician Histories of Philo Byblius, who lived in the second half of the first century A.D.

The fragments of this work are of great interest to our present enquiry, as they tend to show that both Egypt and Phœnicia, the two most sacred nations, derived their cosmogonical knowledge and mystery-traditions from the same source; that source being traced to the most archaic Books of Thoth.

This is all, no doubt, an overwriting of Phœnician records in the light of Egyptian tradition; Philo, however, would have us regard his work as a Greek translation or paraphrase of a compilation made by an ancient and learned Phœnician priest, Sanchuniathon, based immediately upon archaic Phœnician records by one who was also learned in the oral tradition of his own mysteries.

The initial question as to whether Philo had a genuine Phœnician document before him or not, need

not occupy us here, save in the most superficial fashion, as we are at present interested in the Egyptian elements of his account solely, and not in disentangling the native Phœnician substratum.

It must, however, in fairness be said that though the Byblian prefaces his account with an introduction and intersperses it with occasional remarks, all this is transparently his own, and is clearly distinguishable from what have every appearance of being translated passages.

ARE HIS “PHŒNICIAN HISTORIES” A FORGERY?

The general theory, however, since the time of Orelli 1 has been that Philo forged the whole of this cosmogony and history. On the contrary, it was made considerable use of by Porphyry in his criticism of Christianity, and Eusebius 2 quotes the passages used by Porphyry. 3 The whole work of Philo, moreover, is claimed to be recovered by Wagenfeld, who has elaborately defended its genuineness. 4 There indeed seems no reason to accept the forgery-hypothesis, which apparently rests on an even flimsier basis than the forgery-theory of the Trismegistic writings. The work, on the contrary, considered as a specimen of Phœnician story strongly influenced by Egyptian tradition, is a most interesting document for understanding the ancient Semitic mystery-tradition as distinguished from Jewish adaptations of general Semitic legend—in other words, the distinction of Semitismus and Israëlitismus. Porphyry was not only a Semite himself but also a good critic, and not likely to base his arguments on a forgery; nor would Philo have ventured to put forward a forgery when there were thousands of learned and fanatical Jews who would have been only too glad to expose it.

Philo tells us that the Phœnician public traditions being chaotic, “Sanchuniathon, a man of great learning and a busy searcher [after knowledge], who especially desired to know the first principles from which all things are derived, most carefully examined the Books of Taaut, for he knew that Taaut was the first of all under the sun who discovered the use of letters and the writing of records. So he started from him, making him as it were his foundation—from him the Logos whom the Egyptians called Thōuth, the Alexandrians Thōth, 1 but whom the Greeks have turned into Hermes.” 2

SANCHUNIATHON AND THE BOOKS OF HERMES

This evidently means that the source of Sanchuniathon’s information as to the mystic beginning of things was derived from the Books of Thoth, and

 that this was so may be seen from the following passage:

“He supposes the beginning of all things to consist of a Dark Mist of a spiritual nature, or as it were a Breath of dark mist, and of a turbid Chaos black as Erebus; 1 that these were boundless, and for many an age 2 remained without a bound. ‘But when,’ he 3 says, ‘the Spirit fell in love with his own principles, 4 and they were interblended, that interweaving was called Love; 5 and this Love was the origin of the creation of all things. But [Chaos] did not know its own creation. 6 From its embrace with Spirit Mōt was born. 7 From her [Mōt, the Great Mother] it was that every seed of the creation came, the birth of all the cosmic bodies.

“‘[First of all] there were [Great] Lives 8 devoid of sensation, and out of these came subsequently [Great]

Lives possessed of intelligence. 1 The latter were called Zophasemin (that is to say, “Overseers of the Heavens”). The latter were fashioned in the form of eggs, and shone forth as Mōt, the Sun and Moon, the Stars and the great Planetary Spheres.

“‘Now as the [original] nebula began to lighten, through its heat mists and clouds of sea and earth 2 were produced, and gigantic downpours and torrents of the waters in the firmaments. Even after they were separated, 3 they were still carried from their proper places by the heat of the sun, and all the [watery and earthy elements] met together again in the nebula one with the other, and dashed together, amid thunder and lightning; and over the crash of the thunderings the [Great] Rational Lives before-mentioned watched, 4 while on the land and sea male and female cowered at their echo and were dismayed.’

“After this our author proceeds to say: ‘These things we found written in the Cosmogony of Taaut, and in his commentaries, based on his researches and the evidences which his intelligence saw and discovered, and so enlightened us.’” 5

There are many other points of interest in Philo’s translation, but we need not elaborate them here. One point, however, must not be omitted, because of its importance with regard to the Hermes-Æsculapius tradition, an important factor in the Trismegistic writings.

“And Cronus [Ammon] going to the land of the South gave the whole of Egypt to the God Taaut to be his kingdom. All these things were first recorded by the Seven Sons of Sydyk, the Cabiri, and their eighth brother, Asclepius, as it was commanded them by the God Taaut.” 1

Æsculapius is here at once identified with the cult of the “Great Gods” (כבר, KBR, Kabirim), who were, according to the old Semitic tradition, the Sons of King Sydyk (? Melchizedec). The whole subject of the very ancient mysteries of these Great Gods is one of immense interest, but we must not be tempted to follow this alluring bye-path. 2 Enough has been said to show that both Sanchuniathon and the writer of “The Shepherd” drew their accounts of cosmogony from the same sources, namely, the “Books of Thoth,” or, in other words, the Egyptian mystery-tradition.

 


AN EGYPTIAN PROTOTYPE OF THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE PŒMANDRES’ COSMOGONY

THE HIGHER CRITICISM OF THE “PŒMANDRES”

One has only to read through the remains of the Trismegistic literature preserved to us to assure himself that the whole of it looked back to the Pœmandres instruction as the most primitive form of the tradition in the language of Greece. The extant form of our “Pœmandres” sermon is clearly not the most primitive form; but whatever that form was, it must have contained the cosmological part.

Now, if we regard this cosmogenesis as a purely literary compilation, the task of the higher criticism will be to try to sift out the various elements in it, and if possible to trace them to their sources.

But before making any attempt of this nature, it will be as well to consider the nature of the literary art of our document. It purports itself to be an apocalypse, or rather the record of an apocalyptic vision, and not a purely literary compilation from already existing literary sources. It declares itself to be the work of a seer and prophet and not of a scribe or commentator; it claims to be an inspired document, a scripture, and not the work of a schoolman.

Of this class of writing we have very many examples in other scriptures, and it will be as well to consider

p. 129

briefly the nature of such documents. In the original form of apocalypses we do not as a rule find that prior formal literary material is used—that is to say, we do not find that previously existing written sources are incorporated; what we do find is that in almost every case the seer uses the forms and terms of previously existing ideas to express what he sees. These forms and terms are found in already existing written and oral traditions, and the prophetical writer is compelled to use the thought-language of his own mind and of that of his age to express himself. This, however, does not negate the possibility of his having seen a true vision, of his having been inspired.

It is evident that whoever wrote the “Pœmandres” must have been saturated with the religious, mystical, philosophic, and scientific thought of his age, clothed in the forms of the thought-language of his day; and it is also clear that whatever “newness” there may have been in him, was owing to the nature of the “touch” of inspiration he had received. This striking of a new keynote, as it were, in his inner nature, enabled him to regroup and reconstruct the previous ideas he had imbibed from his studies.

A PROTOTYPE OF ITS COSMOGENESIS

Now as far as our cosmogenesis is concerned, it has not yet been found possible to trace the exact verbal forms of its elements to any precise literary sources, but it has been found possible to point to written sources which contain similar ideas; and not only so, but with regard to the main features of it, a distinct prototype has been found in Egypt itself. This discovery is due to Reitzenstein (pp. 59 ff.),and the prototype is to be found in an Egyptian inscription in the British

p. 130

[paragraph continues] Museum, which was first read correctly and interpreted by Dr J. H. Breasted. 1 Before using it, however, Reitzenstein got his colleague Professor Spiegelberg to go through it; and again when Maspero, in reviewing 2 Breasted’s work, had further confirmed the view of it which Reitzenstein had in his mind, Spiegelberg again revised certain points in the translation owing to Maspero’s suggestions.

The inscription itself is dated about the eighth century B.C., but it states that it is the reproduction of a then old written text from the temple of Ptah at Memphis.

The chief content has to do with the Osiris-myth, but into this is inserted the distinctive Ptah-doctrine. Ptah is supposed by some to have originally been simply the god of handicraft, seeing that he is equated by the Greek interpreters of god-names with Hephaistos. He was, however, rather the Demiurgus, for in very early times he is found in the closest connection with the Gods of Heaven and Gods of Light, and is conceived as the Dispenser of all life.

In our text Ptah is brought into the closest relations with the Supreme Deity (Atum). This “God the Father” emanates from himself eight deities (the Ogdoad). Each one of these is Ptah with a distinctive epithet. To the fourth 3 of them, “Ptah the Great,” a theological system is attached, which, though not entirely ignoring the former presentation, is but loosely interwoven with it.

Before, however, Reitzenstein proceeds to deal with this, he gives Professor Spiegelberg’s translation of a Prayer to Ptah, of the time of Ramses III. (c. 1233 B.C.), from the Papyrus Harris (I. 44, 3 ff.), in order to make clearer the circle of ideas into which we shall be introduced. This Prayer is as follows:

A PRAISE-GIVING TO PTAH

 

“Hail to thee! Thou art great, thou art old, Tatenen, 1 Father of the gods,
God ancient from the beginning;
Who fashioned men,
Who made the gods,
Who began with the creation as the first creator,
Who created for all who came after him,
Who made the heaven; as his heart 2 he created it;
Who hanged it up,
As God Shu raised himself; 3
Who founded the earth of thy own power,
Who circled in the primal water of the Great Green, 4
Who created the invisible world, which brings the dead bodies to rest;

 

Who let Rā come to make them glad,
As Prince of Eternity,
Lord of Eternity,
Lord of Life;
Who fills the lungs with air,
Who gives breath to every nostril,
Who vivifies all beings with his gifts.
Length of life, fortune, and fate are subject unto him
They live by that which goeth forth out of his mouth. 1
Who made contentment for all the gods,
In his form of ancient primal water; 2
Lord of Eternity, to whom Eternity is subject,
Breath of Life for all beings.”

 

There are other hymns of an exactly similar nature in which other gods are praised, especially Thoth and Horus. And now to turn to our inscription, and to that part of the text assigned to the fourth of the Forms of Manifestation, or Aspects or Persons, of Ptah.

PTAH-THOTH THE WISE ONE

l. 52. Ptah the Great is the heart and tongue of the god-circle. 3

§ 1, l. 53. (Two gods) 4 are they, the one as heart, the other as tongue, emanations of Atum. Exceeding great is Ptah; if he . . . then are their ka’s in this heart and tongue [of his].

l. 54. When Horus arose in him (Atum) as Ptah, and when Thoth arose in him as Ptah, the power of heart and tongue came into being through him. (It is Atum) who brings forth his being out of every body and out of every mouth of all the gods. All men, all quadrupeds, all creeping things live through his thinking and uttering whatsoever he will.

§ 2, l. 55. His god-circle is before him; he is teeth [and] lips, vessels [and] hands. Atum (is in his) god-circle; Atum is in his vessels, in his hands; the god-circle is also teeth and lips in that mouth which hath uttered the name of everything, and out of which Shu and Tefnut have proceeded. 1

l. 56. Then the god-circle organised the seeing of the eye, the hearing of the ear, the smelling of the nose, wherewith they made the desire of the heart to arise. And this [heart] it is which accomplishes every desire, but it is the tongue which repeats 2 what the heart desires.

§ 3. He (Ptah) gives existence 3 unto all gods, to Atum and his god-circle, for every god-word 4 comes into existence through the desire of the heart and the command of the tongue.

l. 57. He makes the ka . . . ; he makes all nourishment and all offerings 5 with this word; he makes what  is loved and what is hated. He gives life to the pious, death to the impious. He makes every fabric, and every fabrication.

l. 58. The doing of the arms, the going of the feet, the movement of all limbs, is accomplished by the utterance of the word, because of the desire of the heart, [the word] which comes from the tongue and effects the whole of all things. So arises the teaching: Atum has made the gods to become Ptah Tatenen 1 so soon as the gods come into existence. All things proceed from him: sacrifice and food as well as oblation and all fair things.

§ 4, l. 59. He is Thoth the Wise, whose power is greater than that of the other gods. He (Thoth) at-oned himself with Ptah, after he had brought forth all things and all god-words; 2 after that he had fashioned the gods, had made the cities, settled the nomes, established the gods in their shrines,

l. 60. When he had ordained their sacrifices, founded their shrines, and had made statues of [? for] their bodies for their contentment.

§ 5. If the gods enter into their body, so is he (Ptah) in every wood, in every jewel, in every metal. 3 All things thrive after him if they [the gods] are there. To him all gods and their ka’s make oblation, uniting and binding themselves together [for him who is] Lord of the Two Lands. 4

 With these words the special theological system attached to the fourth person of Ptah is concluded, and the text returns to the Osiris-myth.

EGYPTIAN SYNCRETISM 1000 B.C.

From this most interesting inscription copied from an ancient written document, we learn in the first place that in Egypt already, a good thousand years before the date of our “Pœmandres,” we have what the critical mind would call a distinct specimen of syncretism; namely, an attempt to combine three God-myths, or traditions, into a single system. These, if we persist in taking a purely traditional view, are: (i.) The Hermopolitan myth of Thoth as the Logos-Demiurge, who also in it frequently appears as an aspect of the Supreme; (ii.) The doctrine of the Ptah-priests of Memphis, according to which Ptah as the Primal Deity creates himself and all gods and men, and fashions the world; and (iii.) The Heliopolitan theology, in which Atum as the first of an ennead of gods unites his eight fellow-gods in himself and is the Primal God and Primal Basis of all things.

In all this the scribe or prophet has employed very early conceptions: on the one hand, that the plurality of gods are but “members” of a One and Only God; and on the other, that a sharply-defined and in some respect special God is similar to another more-general God in some particular attribute of his. Thus Atum is really the Primal God; but the God-circle, his “Body” (or Pleroma), consists of Eight different Forms of Ptah. Atum has emanated them; he is therefore “he who himself creates himself”; but equally so has Ptah created Atum and himself. The most important Member of this universal Ptah-Being or Cosmic God is Ptah the Great, who is Heart and Tongue—the former as Horus, the latter as Thoth. Thoth proceeds into manifestation as Tongue or Word to accomplish the cosmic purpose; but the Word is only the thought which has proceeded, or in a certain fashion emanated, out of the Person. Thoth and Horus are inseparably united with Ptah.

Reitzenstein thinks that the occasion for introducing the whole of this system into an exposition which otherwise deals with the Osiris-myth, was afforded by the parts played by Horus and Thoth in that myth. But it is evidently in itself a special system in which Thoth was the One God, the Word by whom all things were made.

All of this must be quite manifest to any careful reader, and therefore there is no reason for its further elaboration. But though we have recovered one specimen of this kind of syncretism only, it is not to be supposed that it was unusual; indeed, it was a necessity in Egypt, where, beyond all other lands, the idea of a number of divinities united in one, each showing forth in separation some attribute dominantly, but in union possessing simultaneously the attributes of all the others, was the only key possible to a state of affairs where a plurality of gods existed side by side with the doctrines of the One and the All.

THE DOCTRINE OF “PŒMANDRES” COMPARED WITH THAT OF ITS PROTOTYPE

Nevertheless, our inscription is not only of general use, but of special use for an elucidation of the main elements in the “Pœmandres” cosmogony. Any attempt to translate the ideas of the Atum-Ptah-Thoth combination into Greek could have resulted in no other nomenclature than θέος (God)—δημιουργὸς or δημιουργὸς νοῦς (Demiurge or Demiurgic Mind)—νοῦς\ and λόγος (Mind and Word), as is the case in our treatise.

This argument is all the stronger if we reflect that if Thoth, after the ordering of the cosmos, at-oned himself again with Ptah, then he must have completed this ordering which was emanated from Ptah. It is thus that the writer has brought to clear expression the conception that the Word is the Proceeding Thought of Ptah, and that both are inseparably united with one another.

So, too, we find in the “Pœmandres” that the Logos, after the completion of the cosmic ordering, returns to the Demiurgic Mind and is at-oned with him.

This similarity of fundamental conception cannot be due to chance, and we must therefore conclude that a doctrine essentially corresponding with the theology of our inscription is the main source of the “Pœmandres” cosmogony. This fairly establishes the main content of our cosmogony on an Egyptian ground.

If to this we add the general Egyptian belief that a man’s soul, after being “purified” in the after-death state, goes back to God, to live for the eternity as a god with the gods, 1 then we have established the chief part of the “Pœmandres” treatise as the Hellenised doctrine of the Egyptian priests—the mystery-tradition.

With all of this agrees the thought that the God as Mind dwells in the pious, as we learn from the Hermes Prayers. So also it is Ptah in our inscription who gives life to the pious and death to the impious. In very early accounts we find Ptah, the Mind, is the imparter of the gnosis for the gods—that is, as a Greek would say, he was the inventor of philosophy, as indeed Diogenes Laërtius tells us (Proœm. 1): “The Egyptians declare that Hephaistos was the source of philosophy, the presidents of which are priests and prophets.” Ptah, the Mind, reveals himself to his own and gives them good counsel; “Ptah hath spoken to thee,” Suidas tells us (s.v.), was a Greek-Egyptian saying, which is best elucidated by the Stele of Intef, which tells us that the people say of the heart of Intef: “It is an oracle of the god which is in every body.” 1

All of this and much more of a like nature make it indubitably clear that the fundamental conceptions of the “Pœmandres” are Egyptian, and that the theory of Neoplatonic forgery must be for ever abandoned; so that even the dreams of Dévéria are nearer the truth than the confident assertions of many a great name in scholarship.

THE MAN-DOCTRINE

But what, says Reitzenstein (p. 69), is not Egyptian, is the doctrine of the Man, the Heavenly Man, the Son of God, who descends and becomes a slave of the Fate-Sphere; the Man who, though originally endowed with all power, descends into weakness and bondage, and has to win his own freedom and regain his original state.

This doctrine seems to have been in its origin part and parcel of the Chaldæan mystery-tradition; but it was widely spread in Hellenistic circles, and had analogies in all the great mystery-traditions, as we shall now proceed to see, and chiefly by the analysis of what has hitherto been regarded as one of the most chaotic and puzzling documents of Gnosticism


VII

THE MYTH OF MAN IN THE MYSTERIES

THE GNOSTIC TRADITION

But All-Father Mind, being Life and Light, did bring forth Man (Ἄνθρωπον) co-equal to Himself.” 1

So runs the opening paragraph of what we may call the soteriological part of the “Pœmandres” treatise of our Trismegistic literature. This Man or Anthrōpos is the Spiritual Prototype of humanity and of every individual man, and is a technical term found in a number of the early Christianised Gnostic systems.

For instance, in a system some outlines of which are preserved in the polemical Refutation of Irenæus, 2 and which the Bishop of Lyons seems to associate with an Ophite tradition, while Theodoret 3 ascribes it to the Sethians, we are told that in the Unutterable Depth were two Great Lights,—the First Man, or Father, and His Son, the Second Man; and also the Holy Spirit, the First Woman, or Mother of all living.

In this tradition, moreover, the Son of the Mother—the chief Formative Power of the seven Demiurgic Potencies of the sensible cosmos—is called Ialdabaōth (? the Child of the Egg), who boasts himself to be

 supreme. But his mother, Wisdom, reproves his pride, saying unto him: “Lie not, Ialdabaōth, for above thee is the Father of All, First Man, and Man Son of Man.” 1

THE “PHILOSOPHUMENA” OF HIPPOLYTUS

But the main source of our information on this Anthrōpos tradition, in its Christianised Gnostic form, is to be found in Hippolytus’ Philosophumena; or, Refutation of all Heresies.

In 1842, Minoïdes Mynas, a learned Greek, sent on a literary mission by the French Government, discovered in one of the monasteries on Mount Athos the only MS. (generally ascribed to the fourteenth century) which we possess of this extremely valuable work. It was originally in ten books, but, unfortunately, the first three and the beginning of the fourth are missing from our MS. The first book, however, was already known, though previously erroneously ascribed to Origen, and was accordingly prefixed to the text of the editio princeps of our work by Emmanuel Miller (Oxford, 1851).

The missing Books II. and III. dealt respectively with the doctrines and mysteries of the Egyptians and with those of the Chaldæans. Hippolytus (Proœm.) boasts that he has divulged all their mysteries, as well as the secrets of those Christian mystics whom he stigmatises as heretics, and to whom he devotes Books V.-IX.

It is a curious fact that it is precisely those Books wherein this divulging of the Mysteries was attempted, which should be missing; not only have they disappeared, but in the Epitome at the beginning of Book X. the summary of their contents is also omitted. This seems almost to point to a deliberate removal of just that information which would be of priceless value to us to-day, not only for the general history of the evolution of religious ideas, but also for filling in an important part of the background of the environment of infant Christianity.

Why, then, were these books cut out? Were the subsequent Christian Orthodox deterred by religious scruples, or were they afraid to circulate this information? Hippolytus himself seems to have had no such hesitation; he is ever delightedly boasting that he is giving away to the multitude the most sacred secrets of others; it seems to have been his special métier to cry aloud on the house-tops what had been whispered in their secret chambers. It was for him a delicious triumph over “error” to boast, “I have your secret documents, and I am going to publish them!”

Why, then, should those who came after him hesitate? Surely they were like-minded with Hippolytus, and would have been as delighted as himself in humbling the pride of the hated Mystery-institutions in the dust? Can it possibly be that they saw far more clearly than he did that quite other deductions might be drawn from his “startling revelations”?

THE NAASSENES

That far other deductions could be drawn from the Mystery-rites and Mystery-myths was at anyrate the view of a tradition of early Jewish and Christian mystics whom Hippolytus calls Naassenes. The claim of these Gnostics was practically that Christianity, or rather the Good News of the Christ, was precisely the consummation of the inner doctrine of the Mystery-institutions of all the nations; the end of them all was the revelation of the Mystery of Man.

It is further to be noticed that these Naassenes, “who call themselves Gnostics” (v. 2), are the very first school of Christian “heresy” with which Hippolytus deals; he puts them in the forefront of his Refutation, as being, presumably, in his opinion, the oldest, or, at anyrate, as representing the most ancient form of Christian “heresy.”

Although the name Naassene (Ναασσηνοί) is derived from the Hebrew Naḥash (Serpent), Hippolytus does not call them Ophites; indeed, he reserves the latter name to a body to which he also gives (viii. 20) the name Caïnites and Nochaïtæ (Νοχαϊταί)—? Nachaïtæ, again, from Nachash 1—and considers them of not sufficient importance for further mention.

These Naassenes possessed many secret books or apocrypha—that is, books kept back from general circulation—and also regarded as authoritative the following scriptures: The Gospel of Perfection, The Gospel of Eve, The Questions of Mary, 2 Concerning the Offspring of Mary, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel according to Thomas, and The Gospel according to the Egyptians. All of which points somewhat to an Alexandrian or Egyptian circle.

ANALYSIS OF HIPPOLYTUS’ ACCOUNT OF THE NAASSENE DOCUMENT

One of their secret MSS. had fallen into the hands of Hippolytus. It is in the Bishop of Portus’ quotations from this document that Reitzenstein (pp. 81 ff.) seeks to discover what he calls the “Hellenistic Myth of the God Anthrōpos.” His theory is that, by eliminating the Christian citations and thoughts of the Naassene writer, we are face to face with a purely Heathen document.

The reproduction of their views, as given by Hippolytus, 1 falls according to Reitzenstein into three divisions.

(i.) The first begins with the explanation of the name “Naassene” (S. 131, 1; C. 139, 1 2), and, after giving a few brief headings, ends (S. 134, 8; C. 141, 2) with the statement that the writer of the MS. said they had their tradition from James, the Brother of the Lord, who had delivered it to Mariamnē.

(iii.) The third begins (S. 170, 64; C. 178, 1) with another explanation of the name. In both of these parts are found remains of hymns from some liturgical collection.

(ii.) Between i. and ii. lies a longer exposition in which Hippolytus tries to show that the Naassene doctrines are taken from the Mysteries, culminating in the assertion that the Naassenes, as a matter of fact, were nothing else than sectaries of the Mysteries of the Mother of the Gods, in proof of which he quotes at length from a secret document of their school.

Our interest in these quotations, however, is very different from that of Hippolytus, for, as Reitzenstein has now shown, it is manifest on inspection that the Christian quotations and thoughts in this document violently disrupt its underlying continuity, and that they are for the most part easily removable without damage to the sense.

With regard to the Old Testament quotations it is not always so easy to disentangle them from the Hellenistic source, much less from the New Testament quotations; the phenomena, however, presented by them are of such a nature that, in my opinion, there is ample evidence before us that there was a Jewish working-over of the matter before it came into the hands of the Christian overwriter. Reitzenstein, however, does not venture so far.

Even, then, if we were content with Reitzenstein’s analysis only, it is quite clear that the quotations from the Old Testament formed no part of the original; and that we have, therefore, before us what was once a purely Heathen text, with Gnostic Christian scholia, or rather overworked by a Christian Gnostic. The original Pagan text had, accordingly, been cut up by the Naassene overwriter before ever it came into the hands of Hippolytus.

Now, as the Christianised text must have been for some time in private circulation before it reached the library of the Bishop of Portus 1—even if we make no allowance for a Jewish Hellenistic stratum of overwriting, still seeing that Hippolytus’ own view was that, in the Naassene MS., he had before him a basic document of those whom he regarded as the earliest Christian “heretics”—it is quite evident that if we were to place the date of the original Hellenistic source in the first century, we should not be doing violence even to the ecclesiastical traditional absurdity that Gnosticism first sullied the orthodox purity of the Church only in the reign of Trajan (96-117 A.D.). But we will return to the question of date later on.

As the whole matter is not only one of considerable interest for the student of our treatises, but also of the greatest importance for the student of the history of Gnosticism, I shall give a translation of Hippolytus’ introductory and concluding sections, as well as of the intermediate section which specially concerns us, so that the reader may have a view of the whole medley as it comes to us from the hands of the heresy-hunting bishop.

I shall, moreover, proceed a stage further in the analysis of the material of Hippolytus than Reitzenstein has done, and hope, when the evidence has been laid before the reader, to win his assent to what appears to me to be the natural sifting out of the various elements, with resultant phenomena which are of the greatest importance for the history of Gnosticism, and, therefore, of the evolution of Christian dogmatics, and which lead to conclusions that are far too serious to be treated in the short space of a single chapter of our present essay.

In the following analysis H. stands for Hippolytus; C. for the Christian Gnostic final overwriter, the “Naassene” whose MS. lay before H.; J. for the Naassene Jewish mystic who preceded C. and overworked the original; S. for the original Heathen Hellenistic Source.

As H. and C. are of secondary importance for our immediate enquiry, though of themselves of the greatest value and interest, I shall print them in smaller type. J. I shall print in the same type as S., as nearer in contact with S. than C., and as being sometimes more difficult to detach from S. than from C.

The reader, to have the text of Hippolytus before him, must neglect all the critical indications and read straight on.  With these brief preliminary indications we will, then, present the reader with a translation of the first section, or introductory part, 1 of Hippolytus’ exposure or exposition of the Naassene doctrines, begging him to remember throughout that it is a portrait painted by the hand of one of their bitterest foes.

HIPPOLYTUS’ INTRODUCTION

H. The priests and chiefs of [this] doctrine 2 were first of all those who were called Naasseni—so named in Hebrew, [in which] “serpent” is called naas3 But subsequently they called themselves Gnostics, pretending that they alone knew the Depths.

From these many separated themselves and [so] turned the school, which was originally a single one, into numerous sects, setting forth the same ideas in various doctrinal forms, as our argument will show as it advances.

These [Naassenes] honour as the Logos (Reason) of all universals 4 Man, and Son of Man. This Man is male-female, and is called by them Adamas. 5 And they have many intricate 6 hymns in his honour. These hymns—to dispose of them briefly—run somewhat as follows:

J. ‘“From Thee’ [is] Father, and ‘Through Thee’ 7 Mother—the two Immortal Names, 8 Parents of Æons, O Thou who hast the Heaven for Thy City, O Man of Mighty Names.” 9

 H. And they divide him into three, like Gēryōnēs; 1 for, they say, he has a mental, psychic, and choïc [aspect]; 2 and they think that the Gnosis of 3 this [Man] is the beginning of the possibility of knowing God, saying:

J. The beginning of Perfection [is] the Gnosis of Man, but the Gnosis of God is perfected Perfection. 4

H. All these, he says 5—mental, psychic, and earthy—descended together into one man—Jesus, born of Mary.

And these three Men, he says, spake each from their own special essences to their own special folk.

For of the universal principles there are three kinds [or races]—the angelic, psychic, and earthy; and three churches—angelic, psychic, and earthy named the Elect, Called, and Bound.

These are the chief heads from a very large number of doctrines, 6 which, he says, James, the Brother of the Lord, handed on to Mariamnē. 7

 But in order that we may put an end to the lying accounts of these impious [heretics] concerning Mariamnē, and James, and the Saviour Himself, 1 let us come to the Initiations from which they get this myth—if you like [to call it so]—to the non-Grecian and Grecian [Initiations]; and let us see how, by combining together the secret Mysteries of all the Gentiles which must not be spoken of, and by telling lies about the Christ, they take in those who do not know that these things are the Orgies of the Gentiles.

Now, since the foundation of their system is Man Adamas, and they say it has been written of him, “Who shall declare his generation?” 2—learn how they have taken the undiscoverable and contradictory generation of Man and plastered it on the Christ.

THE MATERIAL FOR THE RECOVERY OF THE ORIGINAL HELLENISTIC DOCUMENT

(1) S. “Earth (say the Greeks 3) first brought forth Man—bearing a fair gift, desiring to be mother not of plants without feeling, nor of brutes without reason, but of a tamed God-loving life.

“Difficult is it (H. he says 4) to discover whether it was among the Bœotians that Alalkomeneus rose from the Kephisian Lake as first of men; or whether it was the Idæan Kurētes, race divine, or the Phrygian Korybantes, whom Helios saw first sprouting forth tree-like; or whether Arkadia brought forth Pelasgos [first], older than the Moon; or Eleusis Diaulos, dweller in Raria; or Lēmnos Kabeiros, fair child of ineffable orgies; 1 or whether Pallēnē Phlegræan Alkyoneus, eldest of Giants.

“The Libyans say that Garamas, 2 rising from parched plains, first picked sweet date of Zeus; while Neilos, making fat the mud of Egypt to this day (H. he says), breeds living things, and renders from damp heat things clothed in flesh.” 3

The Assyrians say it was with them Ōannēs, the Fish-eater; while the Chaldæans [say that it was] Adam.

(2) J. And this Adam they [the Chaldæans] say was the man that Earth produced—a body only, and that he lay breathless, motionless, immovable, like a statue, being an image of that Man Above—

H. —of whom they sing, and brought into existence by the many Powers, 1 concerning which there is much detailed teaching.

J. In order, then, that the Great Man from Above—

C. From whom, as is said, every fatherhood has its name on earth or in the heavens. 2

J. —might be completely brought low, there was given unto him 3 Soul also, in order that through the Soul the enclosed plasm of the Great, Most-fair, and Perfect Man might suffer and be chastened.

H. For thus they call Him. They seek to discover then further what is the Soul, and whence, and of what nature, that by entering into man and moving him, it should enslave and chasten the plasm of the Perfect Man; but they seek this also not from the Scriptures, but from the Mysteries.

(3) S. And they 4 say that Soul is very difficult to discover, and hard to understand; for it never remains of the same appearance, or form, or in the same state, so that one can describe it by a general type, 5 or comprehend it by an essential quality.

H. These variegated metamorphoses they 6 have laid down in the Gospel, superscribed “According to the Egyptians.” 7

S. They are accordingly in doubt—

H. —like all the rest of the Gentiles—

J. —whether it [sc. the Soul] is from the Pre-existing [One], or from the Self-begotten, or from the Streaming Chaos. 8

H. And first of all, in considering the triple division of Man, they fly for help to the Initiations of the Assyrians; for the Assyrians were the first to consider the Soul triple and [yet] one.

(4) S. Now every nature (H. he says) yearns after Soul—one in one way and another in another.

For Soul is cause of all in Genesis. All things that are sustained and grow (H. he says) need Soul. Indeed, no sustenance (H. he says) or growth is possible without the presence of Soul.

Nay, even stones (H. he says) are ensouled; 1 for they have the power of increase [or growth]; and growth could not take place without sustenance; for it is by addition that things which increase grow; and addition is the sustenance of that which is sustained. 2

(5) Now the Assyrians call this [Mystery] Adōnis (or Endymiōn). And whenever it is called Adōnis (H. he says), it is Aphroditē who is in love with and desires Soul so-called.

H. And Aphroditē is Genesis according to them. 3

But when Persephonē (that is, Korē) is in love with Adōnis, Soul becomes subject to Death, separated from Aphrodite (that is, from Genesis).

But if Selēnē is impassioned of Endymiōn, and is in love with [formal] beauty, 1 it is the Nature of the higher [spaces 2] (H. he says) which desires Soul.

(6 3) But if (H. he says) the Mother of the Gods emasculate Attis—she, too, regarding him as the object of her love—it is the Blessed Nature Above of the supercosmic and æonian [spaces] which calls back the masculine power of Soul to herself. 4

H. For Man, he says, is male-female. According, then, to this theory of theirs, the intercourse between man and woman is exhibited as most mischievous, and is forbidden according to their teaching.

J. For Attis (H. he says) is emasculated—that is, [Soul is separated] from the earthy parts of the creation [tending] downwards, and ascends in quest of the Æonian Essence Above—

C. —where (H. he says) is “neither male nor female,” 1 but a new creature, a new man, who is male-female.

H. What they call “Above” I will explain when I come to the proper place. And they say that this theory is supported not simply by [the myth] of Rhea, but also, to put it briefly, by universal creation.

Nay, they make out that this is [even] what was said by the Word (Logos): 2

C. “For the invisible 3 things of Him [God]—namely, His Eternal 4 Power and Godhead—are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by His things that are made; so that they [men] are without excuse. Because that, though knowing God, they glorified Him not as God, nor did they give [Him] thanks, but their non-understanding heart was made foolish. 5

“Professing themselves to be wise, they convicted themselves of folly, and changed the Glory of the Incorruptible God into the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and creeping things. 1 . . . 2

“Wherefore also God gave them up to passions of dishonour; for both their females did change their natural use to that which is against nature—

H. And what the natural use is, according to them, we will say later on.

C. —“and likewise also their males, leaving the natural use of the female, burned in their lust for one another, males with males working unseemliness 3

H. And “unseemliness,” according to them, is the First and Blessed Formless Essence, the Cause of all forms for things enformed. 4

C. —“and receiving in themselves the recompense of their Error which was meet.”

H. For in these words which Paul spake is contained, they say, the whole of their hidden and ineffable Mystery of the Blessed Bliss.

For what is promised by the [rite of the] bath 5 is nothing else, according to them, than the introduction into Unfading Bliss of him who, according to them, is washed with Living Water, and anointed with the Chrism that no tongue can declare. 6

 (7) And they say that not only the Mysteries of the Assyrians and Phrygians substantiate this teaching (logos) concerning the Blessed Nature, which is at once hidden and manifest [but also those of the Egyptians 1].

C. 2 [The Nature] which (H. he says) is the Kingdom of the Heavens sought for within man—

H. —concerning which [Nature] they hand on a distinct tradition in the Gospel entitled According to Thomas, saying as follows:

C. “He who seeketh shall find me in children from the age of seven years 3; for in them at the fourteenth year 4 [lit. æon] I hidden am made manifest.”

H. But this is not Christ’s Saying but that of Hippocrates:

“A boy of seven years [is] half a father.” 5

Hence as they place the Original Nature of the universals in the Original Seed, having learned the Hippocratian dictum that a child of seven is half a father, they say at fourteen years, according to Thomas, it is manifested. This 6 is their ineffable and mysterious Logos. 7

(8 8) S. (H.—At anyrate they say that) the Egyptians—who are the most ancient of men after the Phrygians, who at the same time were confessedly the first to communicate to mankind the Mystery-rites and Orgies of all the Gods, and to declare their Forms and Energies—have the mysteries of Isis, holy, venerable, and not to be disclosed to the uninitiated.

 H. And these are nothing else than the robbing of the member of Osiris, and its being sought for by the seven-robed and black-mantled 1 [Goddess].

And (they [the Egyptians] say) Osiris is Water. 2 And Seven-robed Nature—

H. —having round her, nay, robing herself in seven ætheric vestures—for thus they 3 allegorically designate the planet-stars, calling [their spheres] ætheric vestures—

S. —being metamorphosed, as ever-changing Genesis, by the Ineffable and Uncopiable and Incomprehensible and Formless, is shown forth as creation.

J. And this is what (H. he says) is said in the Scripture:

“Seven times the Just shall fall and rise again.” 4

For these “fallings” (H. he says) are the changes of the stars, 5 set in motion by the Mover of all things.

(9) S. Accordingly they 6 declare concerning the Essence of the Seed which is the cause of all things in Genesis, that it is none of these things, but that it begets and makes all generated things, saying:

“I become what I will, and am what I am.” 1

Therefore (H. he says) That which moves all is unmoved; for It remains what It is, making all things, and becomes no one of the things produced.

(H. He says that) This is the Only Good—

C. And concerning this was spoken what was said by the Saviour:

“Why callest thou me Good? One is Good 2—my Father in the Heavens, who maketh His sun to rise on righteous and unrighteous, and sendeth rain on saints and sinners.” 3

H. And who are the saints on whom He sendeth rain and the sinners on whom He also sendeth rain—this also he tells subsequently with the rest.

S. —and (H. that) This is the Great, Hidden, and Unknown Mystery of the Egyptians, Hidden and [yet] Revealed.

For there is no temple (H. he says) before the entrance of which the Hidden [Mystery] does not stand naked, pointing from below above, and crowned with all its fruits of generation.

(10) And (H. they say) it stands so symbolised not only in the most sacred temples before the statues, but also set up for general knowledge—

C. —as it were “a light not under the bushel, but” set “on the candlestick” 1—a preaching “heralded forth on the house-tops.” 2

S. —on all the roads and in all the streets, and alongside the very houses as a boundary and limit of the dwelling; (H. that) This is the God spoken of by all, for they call Him Bringer-of-good, not knowing what they say.

H. And this mystery [-symbol] the Greeks got from the Egyptians, and have it [even] to this day.

At anyrate, he says, we see the “Hermes” 3 honoured by them in this form.

(11) S. And the Cyllenians, treating [this symbol] with special honour, [regard it as the] Logos. 4

For (H. he says) Hermes is [the] Logos, who, as being the Interpreter and Fabricator of all things that have been and are and shall be, was honoured by them under the symbolism of this figure, namely an ithyphallus.

And that he (H. that is Hermes, so symbolised) is  Conductor and Reconductor of souls, 1 and Cause of souls, has not escaped the notice of the poets (H. of the Gentiles), when saying:

“But Cyllenian Hermes summoned forth the souls
Of men mindful” 2— \

—not the “suitors” of Penelope (H. he says), hapless wights! but of those who are roused from sleep, and have their memory restored to them—

“From what honour and [how great] degree of blessedness.” 3

J. That is, from the Blessed Man Above—

H. —or Original Man, or Adamas, as they 4 think—

J. —they 5 have been thus brought down into the plasm of clay, in order that they may be enslaved to the Demiurge of this creation, Esaldaios 6

H. —a fiery God, fourth in number, for thus they call the Demiurge and Father of this special cosmos. 7

(13) S. “And he 1 holds a rod in his hands,
Beautiful, golden; and with it he spell-binds the eyes of men,
Whomsoever he would, and wakes them again too from sleep.” 2

This (H. he says) is He who alone hath the power of life and death. 3

J. Concerning Him it is written: “Thou shalt shepherd them with a rod of iron.” 4

But the poet (H. he says), wishing to embellish the incomprehensibility of the Blessed Nature of the Logos, bestowed upon Him a golden instead of an iron rod.

S. “He spell-binds the eyes” of the dead (H. he says), and “wakes them again too from sleep”—those who are waked from sleep and become “mindful.” 5

C. Concerning them the Scripture saith: “Awake thou that sleepest, and rise, and Christ will give thee light.” 6

This is the Christ, the Son of Man (H. he says), expressed in all who are born from the Logos, whom no expression can express.

S. This (H. he says) is the Great Ineffable Mystery of the Eleusinia: “Hye Kye.” 7

J. And that (H. he says) all things have been put under Him, this too has been said: “Into all the earth hath gone forth their sound.” 1

(14) S. And “Hermes leads them, moving his rod, and they follow, squeaking” 2—the souls in a cluster, as the poet hath shown in the following image:

“But as when bats into some awesome cave’s recess
Fly squeaking—should one from out the cluster fall
Down from the rock, they cling to one another.” 3

 

J. The “rock” (H. he says) means Adamas. This (H. he says) is the “corner-stone”—

C. —“that hath become the head of the corner.” 4 For in the  “Head” is the expressive Brain 1 of the Essence, from which [Brain] “every fatherhood” 2 has its expression—

J. —which “I insert in the foundation of Zion.” 3

[By this] (H. he says) he 4 means, allegorically, the plasm of man. For the Adamas who is “inserted” is [the inner man, and the “foundations of Zion” are 5] the “teeth”—the “fence of the teeth,” as Homer says—the Wall and Palisade 6 in which is the inner man, fallen into it from the Primal Man, the Adamas Above—[the Stone] “cut without hands” 7 cutting it, and brought down into the plasm of forgetfulness, the earthy, clayey [plasm].

(15) S. And (H. he says that) they followed Him squeaking 8—the souls, the Logos.

 

“Thus they went squeaking together; and he led them on,
Hermes, the guileless, down the dark ways.” 9

That is, (H. he says) [He led them] into the eternal lands free from all guile. For where (H. he says) went they?

 

(16) “They passed by the streams of Ocean, and by the White Rock,
By the Gates of the Sun, and the People of Dreams.” 10

For He (H. he says) is Ocean—“birth-causing of gods and birth-causing of men” 1—flowing and ebbing for ever, now up and now down.

J. When Ocean flows down (H. he says), it is the birth-causing of men; and when [it flows] up, towards the Wall and Palisade, and the “White Rock,” it is the birth-causing of gods.

This (H. he says) is what is written:

“‘I have said ye are Gods and all Sons of the Highest’ 2—if ye hasten to flee from Egypt and get you beyond the Red Sea into the Desert”; that is, from the intercourse below to the Jerusalem Above, who is the Mother of the Living. 3 “But if ye turn back again into Egypt”—that is, to the intercourse below—“‘ye shall die like men.’” 4

For (H. he says) all the generation below is subject to death, but the [birth] begotten above is superior to death.

C. For from water alone—that is, spirit—is begotten the spiritual [man], not the fleshly; the lower [man] is fleshly. That is (H. he says) what is written: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” 5

H. This is their 6 spiritual birth.

J. This (H. he says) is the Great Jordan, which, flowing downwards and preventing the sons of Israel from going forth out of Egypt, or from the intercourse below—

H. —for Egypt is the body, according to them—

J. —was turned back by Jesus 1 and made to flow upwards.

H. Following after these and such like [follies], these most wonderful “Gnostics,” discoverers of a new grammatical art, imagine that their prophet Homer showed forth these things arcanely; and, introducing those who are not initiated into the Sacred Scriptures into such notions, they make a mock of them.

And they say that he who says that all things are from One, is in error, [but] he who says they are from Three is right, and will furnish proof of the first principles [of things]. 2

J. For one (H. he says) is the Blessed Nature of the Blessed Man Above, Adamas; and one is the [Nature] Below, which is subject to Death; and one is the Race without a king 3 which is born Above—where (H. he says) is Mariam the sought-for, and Jothōr the great sage, and Sepphōra the seeing, and Moses whose begetting is not in Egypt—for sons were born to him in Madiam. 4

S. And this (H. he says) also did not escape the notice of the poets:

“All things were threefold divided, and each received his share of honour.” 1

C. For the Greatnesses (H. he says) needs must be spoken, but so spoken by all everywhere, “that hearing they may not hear, and seeing they may not see.” 2

J. For unless (H. he says) the Greatnesses 3 were spoken, the cosmos would not be able to hold together. These are the Three More-than-mighty Words (Logoi): Kaulakau, Saulasau, Zeēsar;—Kaulakau, the [Logos] Above, Adamas; Saulasau, the [Logos] Below; Zeēsar, the Jordan flowing upwards. 4

(17 5) S. He (H. he says) is the male-female Man in all, whom the ignorant call three-bodied Gēryonēs—Earth-flow-er, as though flowing from the earth; 1 while the Greek [theologi] generally call Him the “Heavenly Horn of Mēn,” 2 because He has mixed and mingled 3 all things with all.

C. For “all things (H. he says) were made through Him, and without Him no one thing was made that was made. In Him is Life.” 4

This (H. he says) is “Life,” the ineffable Race of perfect men, which was unknown to former generations.

And the “nothing” 5 which hath been made “without Him,” is the special cosmos; 6 for the latter hath been made without Him by the third and fourth [? Ruler]. 7

  J. This 1 (H. he says) is the drinking-vessel—the Cup in which “the King drinketh and divineth.” 2

This (H. he says) was found hidden in the “fair seed” of Benjamin.

(18) S. The Greeks also speak of it (H. he says) with inspired tongue, as follows:

“Bring water, bring [me] wine, boy!
Give me to drink, and sink me in slumber! 3
My Cup tells me of what race I must be born,
[Speaking with silence unspeaking].” 4

C. This (H. he says) would be sufficient alone if men would understand—the Cup of Anacreon speaking forth speechlessly the Ineffable Mystery.

J. For (H. he says) Anacreon’s Cup is speechless—in as much as it tells him (says Anacreon) with speechless sound of what Race he must be born—

C. —that is, spiritual, not carnal—

J. —if he hear the Hidden Mystery in Silence.

C. And this is the Water at those Fair Nuptials which Jesus turned and made Wine.

“This (H. he says) is the great and true beginning of the signs which Jesus wrought in Cana of Galilee, and made manifest His Kingship [or Kingdom] of the Heavens.” 5

This (H. he says) is the Kingship [or Kingdom] of the Heavens within us, 6 stored up as a Treasure, 7 as “Leaven hid in three measures of Flour.” 8

 (19 1) S. This is (H. he says) the Great Ineffable Mystery of the Samothracians,—

C. —which it is lawful for the perfect alone to know—[that is] (H. he says) for us.

J. For the Samothracians, in the Mysteries which are solemnised among them, explicitly hand on the tradition that this Adam is the Man Original.

S. Moreover, 2 in the initiation temple of the Samothracians stand two statues of naked men, with both hands raised to heaven and ithyphallic, like the statue of Hermes in Cyllene. 3

J. The statues aforesaid are images of the Man Original. 4

C. And [also] of the regenerated 5 spiritual [man], in all things of like substance with that Man.

This (H. he says) is what was spoken by the Saviour:

“If ye do not drink My Blood and eat My Flesh, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens. 6

“But even if ye drink (H. he says) the Cup which I drink, 7 where I go, there ye cannot come.” 8

 For He knew (H. he says) of which nature each of His disciples is, and that it needs must be that each of them should go to his own nature.

For from the twelve tribes (H. he says) He chose twelve disciples, and through them He spake to every tribe. 1

On this account (H. he says) all have not heard the preachings of the twelve disciples; and even if they hear, they cannot receive them. For the [preachings] which are not according to their nature are contrary to it.

(20) S. This [Man] (H. he says) the Thracians who dwell round Haimos call Korybas, 2 and the Phrygians in like manner with the Thracians; for taking the source of His descent from the Head Above 3

J. —and from the expressive Brain 4

S. —and passing through all the sources of all things beneath—how and in what manner He descends we do not understand.

J. This is (H. he says) what was spoken:

“His Voice we heard, but His Form we have not seen.” 5

For (H. he says) the Voice of Him, when He hath been delegated and expressed, is heard, but the Form that descended from Above, from the Inexpressible [Man]—what it is, no one knows. It is in the earthy plasm, but no one has knowledge of it.

This [Man] (H. he says) is He who “inhabiteth the Flood,” 1 according to the Psalter, who cries and calls from “many waters.” 2

The “many waters” (H. he says) are the manifold genesis of men subject to death, from which He shouts and calls to the Inexpressible Man, saying:

“Save my [? Thy] alone-begotten from the lions.” 3

To this [Man] (H. he says) it hath been spoken:

“Thou art my Son, O Israel, 4 fear not; should’st thou pass through rivers, they shall not engulph thee; should’st thou pass through fire, it shall not consume thee.” 5

By “rivers” (H. he says) he 6 means the Moist Essence of Genesis, and by “fire” the impulse and desire towards Genesis.

And: “Thou art mine; fear not.” 7

And again he 8 says:

“If a mother forget her children so as not to take pity on them or give them suck, [then] I too will forget you” 9—saith Adamas (H. he says) to his own men.

“Nay, even if a woman shall forget them, I will not forget you. Upon my hands have I graven you.” 10

And concerning His Ascent—

C. —that is, his regeneration in order that he may be born spiritual, not fleshly.

J. —the Scripture saith (H. he says):

“Lift up the gates, ye who are rulers of you, and be

 ye lift up ye everlasting gates, and the King of Glory shall come in.” 1

This is a wonder of wonders.

“For who (H. he says) is this King of Glory? 2 A worm 3 and no man, the scorn of men, and the contempt of the people. 4 He is the King of Glory, the Mighty in War.” 5

By “War” he 6 means the “[war] in the body,” for the plasm is compounded of warring elements, as it is written (H. he says):

“Remember the war that is [warred] in the body.” 7

This (H. he says) is the Entrance, and this is the Gate, which Jacob saw, when he journeyed into Mesopotamia. 8

C. Which is the passing from childhood to puberty and manhood; that is, it was made known to him who journeyed into Mesopotamia.

J. And Meso-potamia (H. he says) is the Stream of Great Ocean flowing from the middle of the Perfect Man.

And he 9 marvelled at the Heavenly Gate, saying:

“How terrible [is] this place! This is naught else than the House of God; yea, this [is] the Gate of Heaven.” 10

C. On this account (H. he says) Jesus saith:

“I am the True Door.” 11

J. And he 12 who says these things is (H. he says)

the [one] from the Inexpressible Man, expressed from Above—

C. —as the perfect man. The not-perfect man, therefore, cannot be saved unless he be regenerated passing through this Gate.

(21) S. This same [Man] (H. he says) the Phrygians call also Papa; 1 for He calmed 2 all things which, prior to His own manifestation, were in disorderly and inharmonious movement.

For the name Papa (H. he says) is [the] Sound-of-all-things-together in Heaven, and on Earth, and beneath the Earth, saying: “Calm, calm” 3 the discord of the cosmos.

C. And: Make “peace for them that are far”—that is, the material and earthy—“and peace for them that are near” 4—that is, the spiritual and knowing and perfect men.

(22) S. The Phrygians call Him also Dead—when buried in the body as though in a tomb or sepulchre.

C. This (H. he says) is what is said:

“Ye are whited sepulchres, filled (H. he says) within with bones of the dead, 5 for Man, the Living [One] 6 is not in you.”

And again He says:

“The dead shall leap forth from their graves” 7

—that is, from their earthy bodies, regenerated spiritual, not fleshly.

This (H. he says) is the Resurrection which takes place

through the Gate of the Heavens, through which all those who do not pass (H. he says) remain Dead.

S. The same Phrygians again call this very same [Man], after the transformation, God [or a God]. 1

C. For he becomes (H. he says) God when, rising from the Dead, through such a Gate, he shall pass into Heaven.

This is the Gate (H. he says) which Paul, the Apostle, knew, setting it ajar in a mystery, and saying that he was caught up by an angel and came to the second, nay the third heaven, into Paradise itself, and saw what he saw, and heard ineffable words, which it is not lawful for man to utter. 2

These (H. he says) are the Mysteries, ineffable [yet] spoken of by all,—

“—which [also we speak, yet] not in words taught of human wisdom, but in [words] taught of Spirit, comparing things spiritual with spiritual things. But the psychic man receiveth not the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him.” 3

And these (H. he says) are the Ineffable Mysteries of the Spirit which we alone know.

Concerning these (H. he says) the Saviour said:

“No one is able to come to Me, unless my Heavenly Father draw him.” 4

For it is exceedingly difficult (H. he says) to receive and accept this Great Ineffable Mystery.

And again (H. he says) the Saviour said:

“Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord! shall enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens, but he who doeth the Will of My Father who is in the Heavens” 5

—which [Will] they must do, and not hear only, to enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens.

 And again He said (H. he says):

“The tax-gatherers and harlots go before you into the Kingdom of the Heavens.” 1

For by “tax-gatherers” (τελῶναι) are meant (H. he says) those who receive the consummations 2 (τέλη) of the universal [principles]; and we (H. he says) are the “tax-gatherers” 3 [upon whom the consummations of the æons have come” 4].

For the “consummations” (H. he says) are the Seeds disseminated into the cosmos from the Inexpressible [Man], by means of which the whole cosmos is consummated; for by means of these also it began to be.

And this (H. he says) is what is said:

“The Sower went forth to sow. And some [Seeds] fell by the way-side, and were trodden under foot; and others on stony places, and they sprang up (H. he says), but because they had no depth, they withered and died.

“Others (H. he says) fell on the fair and good ground, and brought forth fruit—one a hundred, another sixty, and another thirty.

“He who hath (H. he says) ears to hear, let him hear!” 5

That is (H. he says), no one has been a hearer of these Mysteries, save only the gnostic, perfect [man].

This (H. he says) is the “fair and good ground” of which Moses saith:

“I will bring you into a fair and good land, into a land flowing with milk and honey.” 6

This (H. he says) is the “honey and milk” by tasting which the perfect [men] become free from all rule, 7 and share in the Fullness.

This (H. he says) is the Fullness whereby all things that are generated both are and are full-filled from the Ingenerable [Man].

 (23) S. This same [Man] is called by the Phrygians Unfruitful.

C. For He is unfruitful as long as He is fleshly and works the work of the flesh.

This (H. he says) is what is said:

“Every tree that beareth not good fruit, is cut down and cast into the fire.” 1

For these “fruits” (H. he says) are the logic, 2 living men only who pass through the third Gate. 3

J. At anyrate they 4 say:

“If ye have eaten dead things and made living ones, what will ye make if ye eat living things?” 5

And by “living things” they mean logoi and minds and men—the “pearls” of that Inexpressible [Man] cast into the plasm below. 6

C. This is what He saith (H. he says):

“Cast not the holy thing to the dogs nor the pearls to the swine.” 7

H. For they say that the work of swine is the intercourse of man with woman.

(24 8) S. This same [Man] (H. he says) the Phrygians also call Ai-polos; 9 not because (H. he says) He feeds she-goats and he-goats, as the (C.—psychics 1) interpret the name, but because (H. he says) He is Aei-polos—that is, “Always-turning” (Aei-polōn), 2 revolving and driving round the whole cosmos in [its] revolution; for polein is to “turn” and change things.

Hence (H. he says) all call the two centres 3 of heaven poles. And the poet also (H. he says) when he says: “Hither there comes and there goes (pōleitai) Old Man of the Sea, whose words are e’er true—Egypt’s undying Prōteus.” 4

  [By pōleitai] he does not mean “he is put on sale,” 1 but “he turns about” [or comes and goes] there,—as though it were, [he spins] and goes round.

And the cities in which we live, in that we turn about and circulate in them, are called poleis.

Thus (H. he says) the Phrygians call Aipolos this [Man] who turns all things at all times all ways, and changes them into things kin.

(25) The Phrygians, moreover (H. he says), call Him Fruitful.

J. For (H. he says):

“Many more are the children of the desolate [woman] than of her who hath her husband.” 2

C. That is, the regenerated, deathless, and ever-continuing [children] are many, although few are they [thus] generated; but the fleshly (H. he says) all perish, though many are they [thus] generated.

C. For this cause (H. he says):

“Rachel bewailed her children, and would not (H. he says) be comforted weeping over them; for she knew (H. he says) that they are not.” 1

J. And Jeremiah also laments the Jerusalem Below—not the city in Phœnicia, 2 but the generation below—which is subject to destruction.

C. For Jeremiah also (H. he says) knew the perfect man, regenerated from water and spirit, not fleshly.

J. At anyrate the same Jeremiah said:

“He is man, and who shall know him?” 3

C. Thus (H. he says) the knowledge of the perfect man is deep and hard to comprehend.

J. For “The beginning of Perfection (H. he says) is Gnosis of man, but Gnosis of God is perfect Perfection.” 4

(26) S. And the Phrygians (H. he says) call Him also “Plucked Green Wheat-ear”; and after the Phrygians the Athenians [so designate Him], when, in the secret rites at Eleusis, they show those who receive in silence the final initiation there into the Great—

C. —and marvellous and most perfect—

S. —Epoptic Mystery, a plucked wheat-ear. 5

And this Wheat-ear is also with the Athenians the Light-giver 1

C. —perfect [and] mighty—

J. —from the Inexpressible—

S. —as the hierophant himself—not emasculated like the “Attis,” 2 but made eunuch with hemlock juice—

C. —and divorced from all fleshly generation—

S. —in the night, at Eleusis, solemnising the Great Ineffable Mysteries, when the bright light streams forth, 3 shouts and cries aloud, saying:

“[Our] Lady hath brought forth a Holy Son: Brimō [hath given birth] to Brimos”—

—that is, the Strong to the Strong.

(27) J. And “[Our] Lady” (H. he says) is the Genesis—

C. —the Spiritual, Heavenly [Genesis]—

J. —Above. And the Strong is he who is thus generated.

For it is the Mystery called “Eleusis” and “Anaktoreion”;—“Eleusis,” because we—

C. —the spiritual—

J. —come 2 from Above, streaming down from Adamas, for eleus-esthai (H. he says) is “to come”; and “Anaktoreion” [from anag-esthai, “leading back,” that is 3] from “returning” 4 Above. 5

This [Return] (H. he says) is that of which those who are initiated into the great Mysteries of the Eleusinia speak.

(28) S. And the law is that after they have been initiated into the Little Mysteries, they should be further initiated into the Great.

“For greater deaths do greater lots obtain.” 6

The Little (H. he says) are the Mysteries of

 Persephonē Below; concerning which Mysteries and the way leading there and—

C. —being broad and wide,—

—taking [men] to Persephonē, the poet also speaks:

 

“Beneath this there is another path death-cold,
Hollow and clayey. But this 1 is best to lead
To grove delightsome of far-honoured Aphroditē.” 2

 

These 3 are (H. he says) the Little Mysteries—

C. —those of the fleshly generation—

S. —and after men have been initiated into them, they should cease for a little, and become initiated in the Great—

C. —heavenly [Mysteries].

S. For they to whom the “deaths” in them 4 are appointed, “receive greater lots.”

J. For this [Mystery] (H. he says) is the Gate of Heaven, and this is the House of God, where the Good God dwells alone; into which [House] (H. he says) no impure [man] shall come—

C. —no psychic, no fleshly [man]—

J. —but it is kept under watch for the spiritual alone; where when they come, they must cast away their garments, and all become bridegrooms, obtaining their true manhood 5 through the Virginal Spirit.

For this (H. he says) is the Virgin big with child, conceiving and bearing a Son 1

C. —not psychic, not fleshly, but a blessed Æon of Æons. 2

Concerning these [Mysteries] (H. he says) the Saviour hath explicitly said that:

“Narrow and strait is the Way that leadeth to Life, and few are they who enter it; but broad and wide [is] the Way that leadeth to Destruction, and many are they who journey thereby.” 3

S. 4 Moreover, also, the Phrygians say that the Father of wholes 5 is Amygdalos 6

J. —no [ordinary] tree 7 (H. he says); but that He is that Amygdalos the Pre-existing, who having in Himself the Perfect Fruit, as it were, throbbing 8 and moving in [His] Depth, He tore asunder 9 His Womb, and gave birth to His own Son 10

 

 C. —the Invisible, Unnameable, and Ineffable [One] of whom we tell. 1

S. For “amyxai” 2 is, as it were, “to break” and “cut open”; just as (H. he says) in the case of inflamed bodies and those which have some internal tumour, when physicians lance them, they speak of “amychas.” 3

Thus (H. he says) the Phrygians call him Amygdalos.

C. From whom proceeded and was born the Invisible—

“Through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made.” 4

(30) S. The Phrygians also say that that which is generated from Him is Syriktēs. 5

J. For that which is generated is Spirit in harmony. 6

C. For “God (H. he says) is Spirit.” 7

Wherefore He says:

“Neither in this mountain do the true worshippers worship, nor in Jerusalem, but in Spirit.” 8

 For the worship of the perfect [men] (H. he says) is spiritual, not fleshly.

J. And “Spirit” (H. he says) is there where both Father and Son are named, generated there from Him 1 and the Father.

S. He 2 (H. he says) is the Many-named, Myriad-eyed, Incomprehensible, whom every nature desires, some one way, some another.

J. This (H. he says) is the Word 3 of God, which is:

“The Word of Announcement of the Great Power. Wherefore It shall be sealed, and hidden, and concealed, stored in the Habitation, where the Root of the Universals has its foundation—

“Of Æons, Powers, Intelligences, Gods, Angels, Spirits Delegate, Existing Non-existences, Generated Ingenerables, Comprehensible Incomprehensibles,—Years, Months, Days, Hours,—of [the] Boundless Point, from which the most minute begins to increase by parts. 4

“For (H. he says) the Point which is nothing and is composed of nothing, though partless, will become by means of its own Thought a Greatness 1 beyond our own comprehension.”

C. This [Point] (H. he says) is the Kingdom of the Heavens, the “grain of mustard seed,” 2 the partless point, the first existing for the body; which no one (H. he says) knows save the spiritual [men] alone.

J. This (H. he says) is what is said:

“They are neither words nor languages whereby their 3 sounds are heard.” 4

H. These things, [then,] which are said and done by all men, they thus interpret off-hand to their peculiar theory (νοῦν), pretending that they are all done with a spiritual meaning.

For which cause also they 5 say that the performers in the theatres—they, too, neither say nor do anything without Design. 6

S. For example (H. he says), when the people assemble in the theatres, and a man comes on the stage, clad in a robe different from all others, with lute 7 in hand on which he plays, and thus chants the Great Mysteries, not knowing what he says: 8

“Whether blest Child of Kronos,
or of Zeus, or of Great Rhea,—
Hail, Attis, thou mournful song 9 of Rhea!

 

Assyrians call thee thrice-longed-for Adōnis;
all Egypt [calls thee] Osiris;
the Wisdom of Hellas [names thee] Mēn’s Heavenly Horn;
the Samothracians [call thee] august Adama;
the Hæmonians, Korybas;
the Phrygians [name thee] Papa sometimes,
at times again Dead, or God, 1 or Unfruitful,
or Aipolos, or Green Reaped 2 Wheat-ear,
or the Fruitful that Amygdalos brought forth,
Man, Piper . . . Attis!”

 

H. He [S.] says that this is the Attis of many forms of whom they [NN., in H.’s opinion] sing as follows:

 

S. “Of Attis will I sing, of Rhea’s [Belovèd];—
not with the boomings 3 of bells,
nor with the deep-toned 4 pipe of Idæan Kurētes;
but I will blend my song with Phoebus’ music of the lyre.
Evoï! Evan!—for [thou art] Pan, [thou] Bacchus [art],
and Shepherd of bright stars!”

 

HIPPOLYTUS’ CONCLUSION

H. For these and suchlike reasons these [Naassenes] frequent what are called the Mysteries of the Great Mother, believing that they obtain the clearest view of the Universal Mystery from the things done in them.

For they have nothing beyond the [mysteries] therein enacted except that they are not emasculated. Their sole “accomplishment,” [however,] is the business of the Eunuch, for they most severely and vigilantly enjoin to abstain, as though emasculated, from intercourse with women. And the rest of their business, as we have stated at length, they carry out just like the Eunuchs.And they honour nothing else but “Naas,” 1 being called Naasseni. And Naas is the Serpent—

J. 2—from whom (H. he says) are all those [things] called naous 3 under heaven, from naas.

To that Naas alone every shrine and every rite of initiation and every mystery (H. he says) is dedicated; and, in general, no initiation can be found under heaven in which a naos does not play a part, and [also] the Naas in it, from which it has got the name of naos.

(H. Moreover, they say that) the Serpent is the Moist Essence—

H. —just as [did] also Thales the Milesian 4

J. —and (H. that) naught at all of existing things, immortal or mortal, animate or inanimate, can hold together without Him.

[And they say] (H. that) all things are subject to Him, and (H. that) He is Good, and has all things in Him as in “the horn of the one-horned bull”; 5 so that He distributes beauty and bloom to all that exist according to each one’s nature and peculiarity, as though permeating all, just as [the River] “proceeding forth out of Eden and dividing itself into four sources.” 6

H. And they say that Eden is His Brain, as though it were bound and constricted in its surrounding vestures like heavens; while Paradise they consider to be the Man as far as His Head only.

This River, then, coming forth out of Eden (H. that is, from His Brain), is divided into four streams.

 And the name of the first river is called Pheisōn. “This is that which encircles all the land of Evilat, there where is the gold, and the gold of that land is fair; there too is the ruby and the green stone.” 1

This (H. he says) is His Eye—by its dignity and colours bearing witness to what is said.

The name of the second river is Geōn. “This is that which encircles all the land of Æthiopia.” 2

This (H. he says) is [His organ of] Hearing; for it is labyrinth-like.

And the name of the third is Tigris. “This is that which flows the opposite way to the Assyrians.” 3

This (H. he says) is [His organ of] Smell, for the current of it is very rapid; and it “flows the opposite way to the Assyrians,” because after the breath is breathed out, on breathing in again, the breath that is drawn in from without, from the air, comes in more rapidly, and with greater force. For this (H. he says) is the nature of respiration.

“And the fourth river [is] Euphratēs.” 4

This (H. they say) [is] the mouth, through which by the utterance of prayer and entrance of food, the (? C.—spiritual, perfect) man is rejoiced, and nourished and expressed. 5

This [River] (H. he says) is the Water above the Firmament. 6

C. Concerning which (H. he says) the Saviour hath said:

“If thou hadst known Who it is Who asketh, thou wouldst have asked from Him [in return], and He would have given thee to drink of Living Water bubbling [forth].” 7

 J. To this Water (H. he says) every nature comes, each selecting its own essence, and from this Water there comes to each nature what is proper [to it] (H. he says), more surely than iron to magnet, 1 and gold to the bone 2 of the sea-hawk, and chaff to amber.

C. And if any man (H. he says) is “blind from birth,” 3 and hath not seen “the True Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” 4—let him see again through us, and let him see as it were through—

J. 5 —Paradise, planted with Trees and all kinds of seeds, the Water flowing amid all the Trees and Seeds, and [then] shall he see that from one and the same Water the Olive selects and draws Oil, and the Vine Wine, and each of the rest of the Trees according to its kind.

But (H. he says) that Man is of no honour in the World, though of great honour [in Heaven, betrayed] 1 by those who know not to those who know Him not, being accounted “as a drop from a cask.” 2

But we (H. he says)

C. —are the spiritual [men] who—

J. —choose for ourselves from—

C. —the Living Water—

J. —the Euphrates, that flows through the midst of Babylon, what is proper [to each of us]—journeying through the True Gate—

C. —which is Jesus the Blessed.

And of all men we alone are Christians, 3 accomplishing the Mystery at the third Gate—

J. —and being anointed with the Ineffable Chrism from the Horn, 4 like David [was], not from the flask 5 of clay, like Saul—

C. —who was fellow-citizen with an evil dæmon of fleshly desire.

H. These things, then, we have set down as a few out of many. For innumerable are the attempts of their folly, silly and crazy. But since we have, to the best of our ability, exposed their unknowable Gnosis, it seems best to set down the following also.

This is a Psalm which they have improvised; by means of which they fancy they thus sing the praises of all the mysteries of their Error. 6

J. 1 “First [was there] Mind the Generative 2 Law of All; 3
Second to the Firstborn was Liquid Chaos;
Third Soul through toil received the Law.
Wherefore, with a deer’s 4 form surrounding her,
She labours at her task beneath Death’s rule.
Now, holding sway, 5 she sees the Light;
And now, cast into piteous plight, she weeps;
Now she weeps, and now rejoices;
Now she weeps, and now is judged;
Now is judged, and now she dieth;
Now is born, with no way out for her; in misery
She enters in her wandering the labyrinth of ills.
(? C.—And Jesus 6 said): O Father, see!
[Behold] the struggle still of ills on earth!

 

Far from Thy Breath 1 away she 2 wanders!
She seeks to flee the bitter Chaos, 3
And knows not how she shall pass through.
Wherefore, send me, O Father!
Seals in my hands, I will descend;
Through Æons universal will I make a Path;
Through Mysteries all I’ll open up a Way!
And Forms of Gods will I display; 4
The secrets of the Holy Path I will hand on,
And call them Gnosis.” 5

 

CONCLUSION OF ANALYSIS

All this may have seemed, quite naturally, contemptible foolishness to the theological prejudices of our worthy Church Father; but it is difficult for me, even in the twentieth century, not to recognise the beauty of this fine Mystic Hymn, and I hope it may be equally difficult for at least some of my readers.

But to return to the consideration of our much overwritten Source.

This Source is plainly a commentary, or elaborate paraphrase, of the Recitation Ode, “Whether, blest Child of Kronos,” which comes at the end (§ 30) and not, as we should expect, at the beginning, and has probably been displaced by Hippolytus. It is an exegetical

 commentary written from the standpoint of the Anthrōpos-theory of the Mysteries (? originally Chaldæan), the Man-doctrine.

This commentary seems for the most part to run on so connectedly, that we can almost persuade ourselves that we have most of it before us, the lacunæ being practically insignificant. Paragraphs 6 and 7 S., however, are plainly misplaced, and §§ 17 and 18 S. also as evidently break the connection. 1

THE HELLENIST COMMENTATOR

The writer is transparently a man learned in the various Mystery-rites, and his information is of the greatest possible importance for a study of this exceedingly obscure subject from an historical standpoint.

With § 8 S., and the Egyptian Mystery-doctrine, we come to what is of peculiar interest for our present Trismegistic studies. Osiris is the Heavenly Man, the Logos; not only so, but in straitest connection with this tradition we have an exposition of the Hermes-doctrine, set forth by a system of allegorical interpretations of the Bible of Hellas—the Poems of the Homeric cycle. Here we have the evident syncrasia Thoth = Osiris = Hermes, a Hermes of the “Greek Wisdom,” as the Recitation Ode phrases it, and a doctrine which H., basing himself on the commentator (§ 10), squarely asserts the Greeks got from Egypt.

Nor is it without importance for us that in closest connection with Hermes there follow the apparently misplaced sections 17 and 18, dealing with the “Heavenly Horn,” or drinking-horn, of the Greek Wisdom, and the “Cup” of Anacreon; with which we may compare the Crater, Mixing-bowl or Cup, in which,

 

p. 194

according to Plato’s Timæus, the Creator mingled and mixed the elements and souls, and also the spiritual Cup of the Mind in our Trismegistic treatise, “The Crater or Monas,” C. H., iv. (v.).

But above all things is it astonishing that we should find the commentator in S. quoting (§ 9) a logos from a document which, as we have shown in the note appended to the passage, is in every probability a Trismegistic treatise of the Pœmandres type.

THE JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN OVERWRITERS

This commentary S. was worked over by a Jewish Hellenistic mystic J., whose general ideas and method of exegesis are exactly paralleled by those of Philo. In my opinion, he was a contemporary of that period and a member of one of those communities whom Philo classes generally as Therapeut. He was, moreover, not a worshipper of the serpent, but a worshipper of that Glorious Reality symbolised as the Serpent of Wisdom, and this connects him with initiation into Egypto-Chaldæan or Chaldæo-Egyptian Mysteries. These he finds set forth allegorically in the prophetical scriptures of his race. His quotations from the LXX. show him to be, like Philo, an Alexandrian Hellenistic Jew; the LXX. was his Targum.

J. again was overwritten by C., a Christian Gnostic, no enemy of either J. or S., but one who claimed that he and his were the true realisers of all that had gone before; he is somewhat boastful, but yet recognises that the Christ-doctrine is not an innovation but a consummation. The phenomena presented by the New Testament quotations of C. are, in my opinion, of extraordinary interest, especially his quotations from or parallels with the Fourth Gospel. His quotations from or parallels with the Synoptics are almost of the same nature as those of Justin; he is rather dealing with “Memoirs of the Apostles” than with verbatim quotations from our stereotyped Gospels. His parallels with the Fourth Gospel also seem to me to open up the question as to whether or no he is in touch with “Sources” of that “Johannine” document.

On top of all our strata and deposits, we have—to continue the metaphor of excavation, and if it be not thought somewhat uncharitable—the refutatory rubbish of Hippolytus, which need no longer detain us here.

I would, therefore, suggest that C. is to be placed somewhere about the middle of the second century A.D.; J. is contemporary with Philo—say the first quarter of the first century A.D.; the Pagan commentator of S. is prior to J.—say somewhere in the last half of the first century B.C.; while the Recitation Ode is still earlier, and can therefore be placed anywhere in the early Hellenistic period, the termini being thus 300-50 B.C. 1

And if the redactor or commentator in S. is to be placed somewhere in the last half of the first century B.C. (and this is, of course, taking only the minimum of liberty), then the Pœmandres type of our literature, which J. quotes as scripture, must, in its original Greek form, be placed back of that—say at least in the first half of the first century B.C., as a moderate estimate. 2 If those dates are not proved,

 I am at anyrate fairly confident they cannot be disproved.

ZOSIMUS AND THE ANTHROPOS-DOCTRINE

That, moreover, the Anthrōpos-doctrine, to the spirit of which the whole commentary of our S. exegete is accommodated, was also fundamental with the adherents of the Trismegistic tradition, may be clearly seen from the interesting passage (which we give in the Fragments at the end of the third Volume) of Zosimus, a member of what Reitzenstein calls the Pœmandres Community, who flourished somewhere at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth century A.D. 1

The sources of Zosimus for the Anthrōpos-doctrine, he tells us, are, in addition to the Books of Hermes, certain translations into Greek and Egyptian of books containing traditions (mystery-traditions, presumably) of the Chaldæans, Parthians, Medes, and Hebrews on the subject. This statement is of the very first importance for the history of Gnosticism as well as for appreciating certain elements in Trismegisticism. Though the indication of this literature is vague, it nevertheless mentions four factors as involved in the Hebrew tradition; the Gnostic Hebrews, as we should

expect, were handing on elements from Chaldæan, Parthian, and Median traditions. Translations of these books were to be found scattered throughout Egypt, and especially in the great library at Alexandria.

There is, in my opinion, no necessity precisely, with Reitzenstein (p. 106, n. 6), to designate these books the “Ptolemaic Books,” and so to associate them with a notice found in the apocryphal “Eighth Book of Moses,” where, together with that of the Archangelic Book of Moses, there is mention of the Fifth Book of the “Ptolemaic Books,” described as a book of multifarious wisdom under the title “One and All,” and containing the account of the “Genesis of Fire and Darkness.” 1

Another source of Zosimus was the Pinax of Bitos or Bitys, of whom we shall treat in considering the information of Jamblichus.

From all of these indications we are assured that there was already in the first centuries B.C. a well-developed Hellenistic doctrine of the descent of man from the Man Above, and of his return to that heavenly state by his mastery of the powers of the cosmos.

PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA ON THE MAN-DOCTRINE

This date is further confirmed by the testimony of Philo (c. 30 B.C.-45 A.D.).

For, quoting the verse: “We are all sons of One Man,” 2 he addresses those who are “companions of wisdom and knowledge” as those who are “Sons of one and the same Father—no mortal father, but an immortal Sire, the Man of God, who being the Reason (Logos) of the Eternal, is of necessity himself eternal.” 3

And again, a little further on:

“And if a man should not as yet have the good fortune to be worthy to be called Son of God, let him strive manfully to set himself in order 1 according to His First-born Reason (Logos), the Oldest Angel, who is as though it were the Angel-chief of many names; for he is called Dominion, and Name of God, and Reason, and Man-after-His-Likeness, and Seeing Israel.

“And for this reason I was induced a little before to praise the principles of those who say: ‘We are all sons of One Man.’ For even if we have not yet become fit to be judged Sons of God, we may at any rate be Sons of His Eternal Likeness, His Most Holy Reason (Logos); for Reason, the Eldest of all Angels, is God’s Likeness [or Image].” 2

Thus Philo gives us additional proof, if more were needed, for the full Anthrōpos-doctrine was evidently fundamental in his circle—that is to say, in the thought-atmosphere of the Hellenistic theology, or the religio-philosophy, or theosophy, of his day, the beginning of the first century A.D.

This date alone is sufficient for our purpose; but it is not too bold a statement even to say that the Man-Mystery was a fundamental concept of the brilliant period of the Hellenistic syncretism which succeeded to the founding of Alexandria—the period of the expansion of Hellas beyond her national borders; in other words, her birth into the greater world.

It is enough to know that the Mystery was hidden and yet revealed in the shadow-garments of Chaldæan, Babylonian, Magian, Phœnician, Hebrew, Egyptian, Phrygian, Thracian, and Greek mystery-traditions. It was, in brief, fundamental in all such wisdom-shows, and necessarily so, for it was the Christ-Mystery.


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