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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 2

by G.R.S. Mead


III. 1. Yet many have set down that she is Hermes’ daughter, and many [that she is] Prometheus’s,—I holding the latter as discoverer of wisdom and foreknowledge, and Hermes of the art of letters and the Muses’ art.

2. Wherefore, in Hermes-city, they call the foremost of the Muses Isis, as well as Righteousness, 4 in that she’s

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wise, 1 as has been said, 2 and shows 3 the mysteries of the Gods to those who are with truth and justice called the Carriers of the holy [symbols] and Wearers of the holy robes. 4

3. And these are they who carry the holy reason (logos) about the Gods, purged of all superstition and superfluity, in their soul, as in a chest, and cast robes round it 5—in secret disclosing such [things] of the opinion 6 about the Gods as are black and shadowy, and such as are clear and bright, just as they are suggested by the [sacred] dress.

4. Wherefore when the initiates of Isis at their “death” are adorned in these [robes], it is a symbol that this Reason (Logos) is with them; and with Him and naught else they go there. 7

5. For it is not the growing beard and wearing cloak that makes philosophers, O Klea, nor clothing in linen and shaving oneself that makes initiates of Isis; but a true Isiac is one who, when he by law 8 receives them, searches out by reason (logos) the [mysteries] shown and

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done concerning these Gods, and meditates upon the truth in them.


263:4 δικαιοσύνην, or Justice (Maāt), that is, the “power of the Judge,” Hermes being Judge of the Scales. The Nine are the Paut of Hermes, he being the tenth, the mystery being here read differently from the Ogdoad point of view—that is to say, macrocosmically instead of cosmically.

264:1 Or, perhaps, the reading should be “Wisdom.”

264:2 Cf. ii. 1.

264:3 δεικνύουσαν—probably a play on δικαιοσύνην.

264:4 ἱεροφόροις καὶ ἱεροστόλοις. Plutarch by his “with truth and justice” warns the reader against taking these words to mean simply the carriers of the sacred vessels and instruments in the public processions, and the sacristans or keepers of the sacred vestments.

264:5 περιστέλλοντες, which also means componere—that is, to lay out a corpse and so to bury.

264:6 οἰήσεως = δόξης, appearance, seeming—that is, the public myth; as opposed to λόγος = ἐπιστήμη, knowledge or reality.

264:7 Or “walk there”—that is, in “Hades.” Or, again, the “death” is the death unto sin when they become Alive and walk among the “dead” or ordinary men.

264:8 That is, when the initiation is a lawful one, or really takes effect; when a man’s karma permits it, that is, after passing the proper tests.

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