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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 2

by G.R.S. Mead


VII. 1. As to sea-fish, all [Egyptians] abstain generally (not from all [fish] but) from some;—as, for example, those of the Oxyrhynchus nome from those caught with a hook, for as they venerate the sharp-snouted fish, 5 they fear that the hook 6 is not pure when “sharp-snout” is caught by it; 7 while those of the Syēnē nome [abstain from] the “devourer,” 8 for that it seems that it appears together with the rising of the Nile, and that it shows their 9 growth to those in joy, seen as a self-sent messenger.

p. 270

2. Their priests, upon the other hand, abstain from all; and [even] on the ninth of the first month, 1 when every one of the rest of the Egyptians eats a broiled fish before his front door, 2 the priests do not taste it, but burn their fishes to ashes before the doors [of the Temple]. 3

3. And they have two reasons [for this], of which I will later on take up the sacred and extraordinary [one], according with the facts religiously deduced concerning Osiris and Typhon. The evident, the one that’s close at hand, in showing forth the fish as a not necessary and a not unsuperfluous cooked food, bears witness unto Homer, who makes neither the Phæacians of luxurious lives, nor yet the Ithakēsian Island men, use fish, nor yet Odysseus’s Companions 4 in so great a Voyage and on the Sea before they came to the last Strait. 5

4. And generally [the priests] think that the sea’s from fire and is beyond the boundaries—nor part nor element [of earth], but of another kind, a superfluity cor-rupted and cor-rupting.


269:5 τὸν ὀξύρυγχον—perhaps the pike.

269:6 ἄγκιστρον—dim. of ἄγκος, meaning a “bend” of any kind. Perhaps it may be intended as a play on the ankh tie or “noose of life,” the well-known Egyptian symbol, generally called the crux ansata.

269:7 If we read αὑτῷ for αὐτῷ it would suggest a mystic meaning, namely, “falls into his own snare.”

269:8 φαγροῦ—Vulg., sea-bream; but Hesychius spells it φάγωρος, connecting it with φαγεῖν, to devour.

269:9 Or “his” (the Nile’s); but the “self-sent messenger” (αὐτάγγελος) seems to demand “their,” and so suggests a mystical sense.

270:1 Copt. Thoth—corr. roughly with September.

270:2 πρὸ τῆς αὐλείου θύρας—that is, the outside door into the αὐλή, or court of the house. Cf. the title of the Trismegistic treatise given by Zosimus—“The Inner Door.” There may, perhaps, be some mystical connection.

270:3 Cf. Luke xxiv. 42: “And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish.” This was after His “resurrection.” Also cf. Talmud Bab., “Sanhedrin,” 103a: “That thou shalt not have a son or disciple who burns his food publicly, like Jeschu ha-Notzri” (D. J. L., 189).

270:4 Compare the Companions of Horus in the Solar Boat.

270:5 I fancy there must be some under-meaning here, and so I have put the key-words in capitals.

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