On Hermes Trismegistus

19 10 2010

Now let us pass to divine testimonies; but I will previously bring forward one which resembles a divine testimony, both on account of its very great antiquity, and because he whom I shall name was taken from men and placed among the gods. According to Cicero, Caius Cotta the pontiff, while disputing against the Stoics concerning superstitions, and the variety of opinions which prevail respecting the gods, in order that he might, after the custom of the Academics, make everything uncertain, says that there were five Mercuries; and having enumerated four in order, says that the fifth was he by whom Argus was slain, and that on this account he fled into Egypt, and gave laws and letters to the Egyptians. The Egyptians call him Thoth; and from him the first month of their year, that is, September, received its name among them. He also built a town, which is even now called in Greek Hermopolis (the town of Mercury), and the inhabitants of Phenae honour him with religious worship. And although he was a man, yet he was of great antiquity, and most fully imbued with every kind of learning, so that the knowledge of many subjects and arts acquired for him the name of Trismegistus. He wrote books, and those in great numbers, relating to the knowledge of divine things, in which be asserts the majesty of the supreme and only God, and makes mention of Him by the same names which we use-God and Father. And that no one might inquire His name, he said that He was without name, and that on account of His very unity He does not require the peculiarity of a name. These are his own words: “God is one, but He who is one only does not need a name; for He who is self-existent is without a name.” God, therefore, has no name, because He is alone; nor is there any need of a proper name, except in cases where a multitude of persons requires a distinguishing mark, so that you may designate each person by his own mark and appellation. But God, because He is always one, has no peculiar name.

-Lactantius, found here


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9 responses

22 10 2010
KarlH

@Mike Walsh, MM

Yes, Owen Barfield’s magnum opus: Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry.

I use the term school of cognition loosely, and I refuse to answer if I’m an anthroposophist or ever have been. But I don’t disagree with Steiner’s approach to truth/the human imagination.

21 10 2010
Mike Walsh, MM

KarlH,

I find the term “school of cognition” intriguing. Could you elaborate?

20 10 2010
Arturo Vasquez

Still haven’t read it, and it is not high up on my reading list at this point.

19 10 2010
KarlH

Thanks! I’ve only been reading AV’s blog since late this spring.

19 10 2010
19 10 2010
Henry Karlson

I’ve read it, and thought it was good. Though I wouldn’t go as far as Balthasar did with it.

19 10 2010
KarlH

(I should clarify that: I used to have certain ties to that “school of cognition” and Tomberg left it at the age of 33)

19 10 2010
KarlH

I’d be interested to know Arturo’s take on it as well, if he’s read it. Valentin Tomberg is the alleged author, making it of especial interest to me: Tomberg used to belong to a specific German school of cognition to which I also have certain ties.

19 10 2010
Mike Walsh, MM

Arturo,

He figures prominently in that interesting book “Meditations on the Tarot”. Are you familiar with it?

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