The Theological And Philosophical Works Of Hermes Trismegistus

The Theological And Philosophical Works Of Hermes Trismegistus Cover

Book: The Theological And Philosophical Works Of Hermes Trismegistus by John David Chambers

THE IMercurius or Hermes Trismegistus of legend was a personage, an Egyptian sage or succession of sages, who, since the time of Plato, has been identified with the Thoth (the name of the month September) of that people. This Thoth is the reputed author of the "Kitual of the Dead," or, as styled in Egyptian phraseology, the "Manifestation of Light" to the Soul, who through it declared the will of the Gods and the mysterious nature of Divine things to Man. 1 Dr Pietschmann, in his work on Hermes, which exhaustively treats of this subject, 2 gives a list of authorities for these facts, ranging from Plato down to Syncellus, circa A.D. 790. He states, however (p. 33), that by the time that the so-called Hermeneutical writings were collected together, the identity of Hermes with Thoth was forgotten, and Thoth became his son Tat, and Asclepius his disciple, both of whom he instructs in the writings now translated. Subsequently Pietschmann informs us, quoting Letronne, 3 that the epithet " Trismegistus " appears first in the second century of the Christian era, and that, before that period, Hermes was designated by the repetition of the " peyas, ft'eyas, neya; " only, as on the Eosetta Stone. Both Thoth and Hermes were gods of writing and of magic in their respective cultures. Thus, the Greek god of interpretive communication was combined with the Egyptian god of wisdom as a patron of astrology and alchemy. In addition, both gods were psychopomps; guiding souls to the afterlife. And there is also a connection with the Egyptian Priest and Polymath Imhotep[citation needed]. AMycenaean Greek reference found on a Linear B clay tablet at Pylos[3] to a deity or semi-deity called TI-RI-SE-RO-E, Trisheros (the "thrice or triple hero[4]") could be connected to the later epithet "thrice wise" "Trismegistus", applied to Hermes/Thoth. On the same Tn 316 tablet as well as other Linear B tablets, found in Pylos and Knossos, appears the name of the deity "Hermes" as E-MA-A, but not in any apparent connection with the "Trisheros". This Interpretation of poorly understood Mycenaean material is disputed, since Hermes Trismegistus is not referenced in any of the copious sources before he emerges in Hellenistic Egypt. The majority of Greeks, and later Romans, did not accept Hermes Trismegistus in the place of Hermes[citation needed]. The two gods remained distinct from one another. Cicero noted several individuals referred to as "Hermes": "the fifth, who is worshipped by the people of Pheneus [in Arcadia], is said to have killed Argus, and for this reason to have fled to Egypt, and to have given the Egyptians their laws and alphabet: he it is whom the Egyptians call Theyt."[5] In the same place, Cicero mentions a "fourth Mercury (Hermes) was the son of the Nile, whose name may not be spoken by the Egyptians." The most likely interpretation of this passage is as two variants on the same syncretism of Greek Hermes and Egyptian Thoth (or sometimes other gods); the one viewed from the Greek-Arcadian perspective (the fifth, who went from Greece to Egypt), the other viewed from the Egyptian perspective (the fourth, where Hermes turns out "actually" to have been a "son of the Nile," i.e. a native god). Both these very good early references in Cicero (most ancient Trismegistus material is from early centuries CE) corroborate the view that Thrice-Great Hermes originated in Hellenistic Egypt through syncretism with Egyptian gods (the Hermetica refer most often to Thoth and Amun)

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