I will, accordingly, offer my analysis of both and post this review for both versions. Occasionally one or the other offers a better translation. This is either due to a better grasp of the text or a better source. I have not verified that this was the case. But, I can say, that often Everard provides a more fluid and less cumbersome translation.

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Extensive quotes of similar material are found in classical authors such as Joannes Stobaeus. Parts of the Hermetica appeared in the 2nd-century Gnostic library found in Nag Hammadi. Other works in Syriac , Arabic , Coptic and other languages may also be termed Hermetica — another famous tract is the Emerald Tablet , which teaches the doctrine "as above, so below".

For a long time, it was thought that these are themselves remnants of a more extensive literature, part of the syncretic cultural movement that also included the Neoplatonic philosophy of the Greco-Roman mysteries and late Orphic and Pythagorean literature and influenced Gnostic forms of the Abrahamic religions. However, there are significant differences: [7] the Hermetica are little concerned with Greek mythology or the technical minutiae of metaphysical Neoplatonism.

In addition, Neoplatonic philosophers, who quote works of Orpheus , Zoroaster and Pythagoras , cite Hermes Trismegistus less often. Still, most of these schools do agree in attributing the creation of the world to a Demiurge rather than the supreme being [8] and in accepting reincarnation. Many Christian intellectuals from all eras have written about Hermeticism, both positive and negative.

Their concerns are practical in nature, their end is a spiritual rebirth through the enlightenment of the mind: Seeing within myself an immaterial vision that came from the mercy of God, I went out of myself into an immortal body, and now I am not what I was before. I have been born in mind! During the Renaissance these texts were believed to be of ancient Egyptian origin and even today some readers, translators and scholars [14] believe them to date from Pharaonic Egypt.

Hellenisms in the language itself point to a Greek-era origin. According to Cudworth, the texts must be viewed as a terminus ad quem and not terminus a quo.

Lost Greek texts, and many of the surviving vulgate books, contained discussions of alchemy clothed in philosophical metaphor. And one text, the Asclepius, lost in Greek but partially preserved in Latin, contained a bloody prophecy of the end of Roman rule in Egypt and the resurgence of pagan Egyptian power. Thus, it would be fair to assess the Corpus Hermeticum as intellectually eclectic. Ray, B. Rees and Jean-Pierre Mahe.

This influence continued as late as the 17th century with authors such as Sir Thomas Browne. Although the most famous examples of Hermetic literature were products of Greek -speakers under Roman rule, the genre did not suddenly stop with the fall of the Empire but continued to be produced in Coptic , Syriac , Arabic , Armenian and Byzantine Greek.

The most famous example of this later Hermetica is the Emerald Tablet, known from medieval Latin and Arabic manuscripts with a possible Syriac source. Little else of this rich literature is easily accessible to non-specialists.

Nock and A. Copenhaver English, Contents of Corpus Hermeticum[ edit ] The following are the titles given to the eighteen tracts, as translated by G. Mead : I. The Sacred Sermon IV. The Cup or Monad V. On Thought and Sense X. The Key XI. Called Poemander The Third Book.

To Asclepius, to be Truly Wise.


Brian Copenhaver

Hermetic texts from Nag Hammadi. The tradition and its writings date to at least the first century B. The surviving writings of the tradition, known as the Corpus Hermeticum the "Hermetic body of writings" were lost to the Latin West after classical times, but survived in eastern Byzantine libraries. Their rediscovery and translation into Latin during the late-fifteenth century by the Italian Renaissance court of Cosimo de Medici, provided a seminal force in the development of Renaissance thought and culture. These eighteen tracts of the Corpus Hermeticum, along with the Perfect Sermon also called the Asclepius , are the foundational documents of the Hermetic tradition. The texts presented here, below, are taken from the translation of G. Mead Collection.


Scholarship[ edit ] Copenhaver studies magic and related beliefs and practices — astrology, [5] demonology, divination, Kabbalah [6] — as parts of normative philosophy and science as they were a few centuries ago. His research shows that magic [7] [8] [9] [10] and other "occult" beliefs and practices were supported primarily by the philosophy and science of Aristotle and Aristotelian scholasticism, which dominated European culture from the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries. He also studies the ancient Greek and Latin Hermetica , [11] writings from late antiquity ascribed by Renaissance scholars [12] to an ancient Egyptian god, Thoth , whose Greek name is Hermes Trismegistus. Although this legendary Hermes has often been identified as a divine patron of magic, Copenhaver has shown that the Greek Hermetic texts recovered in the fifteenth century by Marsilio Ficino [13] [14] are not about magic: their topic is a religious practice aiming at personal salvation.

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