1. [VIII. M.] Asc. What dost thou call, Thrice-greatest one, the heads of things, or sources of beginnings?
Tris. Great are the mysteries which I reveal to thee, divine the secrets I disclose; and so I
make beginning of this thing 1 with prayers for Heavens favour.
The hierarchies 2 of Gods are numerous; and of them all one class is called the Noumenal, 3 the other [class] the Sensible. 4
The former are called Noumenal, not for the reason that theyre thought to lie beyond our 5 senses; for these are just the Gods we sense more truly than the ones we call the visible,—just as our argument will prove, and thou, if thou attend, wilt be made fit to see.
For that a lofty reasoning, and much more one that is too godlike for the mental grasp of [average] men, if that the speakers words are not received 6 with more attentive service of the ears,—will fly and flow beyond them; or rather will flow back [again], and mingle with the streams of its own source. 7
2. There are, then, [certain] Gods who are the principals 8 of all the species.
Next there come those whose essence 1 is their principal. These are the Sensible, each similar to its own dual source, 2 who by their sensibility 3 affect all things,—the one part through the other part [in each] making to shine the proper work of every single one.
Of Heaven,—or of whatsoeer it be that is embraced within the term,—the essence-chief 4 is Zeus; for tis through Heaven that Zeus gives life to all.
Suns essence-chief is light; for the good gift of light is poured on us through the Suns disk.
3. The “Thirty-six,” who have the name of Horoscopes, 5 are in the [self] same space as the Fixed Stars; of these the essence-chief, or prince, is he whom they call Pantomorph, or Omniform, 6 who fashioneth the various forms for various species.
The “Seven” who are called spheres, have essence-chiefs, that is, [have each] their proper rulers, whom they call [all together] Fortune and Heimarmenē, 7 whereby all things are changed
by natures law; perpetual stability being varied with incessant motion. 1
The Air, moreover, is the engine, or machine, through which all things are made—(there is, however, an essence-chief of this, a second [Air])—mortal from mortal things and things like these. 2
4. These hierarchies of Gods, then, being thus and [in this way] related, 3 from bottom unto top, are [also] thus connected with each other, and tend towards themselves; so mortal things are bound to mortal, things sensible to sensible.
The whole of [this grand scale of] Rulership, however, seems to Him [who is] the Highest Lord, either to be not many things, or rather [to be] one.
For that from One all things depending, 4 and flowing down from it,—when they are seen as
separate, theyre thought to be as many as they possibly can be; but in their union it is one [thing], or rather two, from which all things are made;—that is, from Matter, by means of which the other things are made, and by the Will of Him, by nod of whom theyre brought to pass.
1. Asc. Is this again the reason, O Thrice-greatest one?
Tris. It is, Asclepius. For Gods the Father or the Lord of all, or whatsoever else may be the name by which Hes named more holily and piously by men,—which should be set apart among ourselves for sake of our intelligence.
For if we contemplate this so transcendent God, we shall not make Him definite by any of these names.
For if a [spoken] word 1 is this:—a sound proceeding from the air, when struck by breath, 2 denoting the whole will, perchance, of man, or else the [higher] sense, which by good chance a man perceives by means of mind, when out of [all his] senses, 3—a name the stuff of which,
made of a syllable or two, has so been limited and pondered, that it might serve in man as necessary link between the voice and ear;—thus [must] the Name of God in full consist of Sense, and Spirit, and of Air, and of all things in them, or through, or with them. 1
2. Indeed, I have no hope that the Creator of the whole of Greatness, the Father and the Lord of all the things [that are], could ever have one name, even although it should be made up of a multitude—He who cannot be named, or rather He who can be called by every name.
For He, indeed, is One and All 2; so that it needs must be that all things should be called by the same name as His, or He Himself called by the names of all.
3. He, then, alone, yet all-complete in the fertility of either sex, ever with child of His own Will, doth ever bring to birth whatever He hath willed to procreate.
His Will is the All-goodness, which also is the Goodness of all things, born from the nature of His own Divinity,—in order that all things may be, just as they all have been, and that henceforth the nature of being born from their own selves may be sufficient to all things that will be born.
Let this, then, be the reason given thee, Asclepius, wherefore and how all things are made of either sex.
1. Asc. Thou speakst of God, then, O Thrice-greatest one?
Tris. Not only God, Asclepius, but all things living and inanimate. For tis impossible that any of the things that are should be unfruitful.
For if fecundity should be removed from all the things that are, it could not be that they should be for ever what they are. I mean that Nature, 1 Sense, and Cosmos, have in themselves the power of being born, 2 and of preserving all things that are born.
For either sex is full of procreation; and of each one there is a union, or,—whats more true,—a unity incomprehensible; which you may rightly call Erōs 3 or Aphroditē, or both [names].
2. This, then, is truer than all truth, and plainer than what the mind [s eye] perceives;—that from that Universal God of Universal Nature all other things for evermore have found, and had bestowed on them, the mystery of
bringing forth; in which there is innate the sweetest Charity, [and] Joy, [and] Merriment, Longing, and Love Divine.
We might have had to tell the mighty power and the compulsion of this mystery, if it had not been able to be known by every one from personal experience, by observation of himself.
3. For if thou shouldst regard that supreme [point] of time when . . . 1 the one nature doth pour forth the young into the other one, and when the other greedily absorbs [it] from the first, and hides it [ever] deeper [in itself]; then, at that time, out of their common congress, females attain the nature of the males, males weary grow with female listlessness.
And so the consummation of this mystery, so sweet and requisite, is wrought in secret; lest, owing to the vulgar jests of ignorance, the deity of either sex should be compelled to blush at natural congress,—and much more still, if it should be subjected to the sight of impious folk.
1. The pious are not numerous, however; nay, they are very few, so that they may be counted even in the world. 2
Whence it doth come about, that in the many
bad inheres, through defect of the Gnosis and Discernment of the things that are.
For that it is from the intelligence of Godlike Reason, 1 by which all things are ordered, there come to birth contempt and remedy of vice throughout the world.
But when unknowingness and ignorance persist, all vicious things wax strong, and plague the soul with wounds incurable; so that, infected with them, and invitiated, it swells up, as though it were with poisons,—except for those who know the Discipline of souls and highest Cure of intellect.
2. So, then, although it may do good to few alone, tis proper to develope and explain this thesis:—wherefore Divinity hath deigned to share His science and intelligence with men alone. Give ear, accordingly!
When God, [our] Sire and Lord, made man, after the Gods, out of an equal mixture of a less pure cosmic part and a divine,—it [naturally] came to pass the imperfections 2 of the cosmic part remained commingled with [our] frames, and other ones 3 [as well], by reason of the food and sustenance we have out of necessity in common with all lives 4; by reason of which
things it needs must be that the desires, and passions, and other vices, of the mind should occupy the souls of human kind.
3. As for the Gods, in as much as they had been made of Natures fairest 1 part, and have no need of the supports of reason and of discipline, 2—although, indeed, their deathlessness, the very strength of being ever of one single age, stands in this case for prudence and for science, still, for the sake of reasons unity, instead of science and of intellect (so that the Gods should not be strange to these),—He, by His everlasting law, decreed for them an order, 3 circumscribed by the necessity of law.
While as for man, He doth distinguish him from all the other animals by reason and by discipline alone; by means of which men can remove and separate their bodies vices,—He helping them to hope and effort after deathlessness.
4. In fine, He hath made man both good and able to share in immortal life,—out of two natures, [one] mortal, [one] divine.
And just because he is thus fashioned by the Will of God, it is appointed that man should be superior both to the Gods, who have been made
of an immortal nature only, and also to all mortal things.
It is because of this that man, being joined unto the Gods by kinsmanship, doth reverence them with piety and holy mind; while, on their side, the Gods with pious sympathy regard and guard all things of men.
1. But this can only be averred of a few men endowed with pious minds. Still, of the rest, the vicious folk, we ought to say no word, for fear a very sacred sermon should be spoiled by thinking of them.
340:1 Initium facio; or perhaps perform the sacred rite, or give initiation.
340:3 Intelligibilis (= οἱ νοητοί); lit. that which can be known by intellect (alone).
340:4 Sensibilis (= οἱ αἰσθητοί); lit. that which can be known by the senses.
340:5 That is, the “Sense” of those who have reached the “Trismegistic” grade, though of course beyond the range of the normal senses.
340:6 The text is faulty.
340:7 Cf. x. 1 above; and C. H., x. (xi.) 17.
341:1 The Greek original οὐσία being retained.
341:2 That is, presumably, essence and sensibility.
341:3 That is, presumably, their power of affecting the senses.
341:4 The Greek οὐσιάρχης is retained in the Latin.
341:5 Horoscopi (= ὡροσκόποι); generally called Decans; cf. Ex. ix., where the Decans are explained.
341:6 Παντόμορφον vel omniformem; see xxxv. below; also C. H., xi. (xii.) 16, Comment.
341:7 That is, Fate, εἱμαρμένη.
342:1 Quoted in the original Greek by Ioan. Laurentius Lydus, De Mensibus, iv. 7; Wünsch (Leipzig, 1898), p. 70, 22; as follows: “And Hermes is witness in his [book], called The Perfect Sermon, when saying: They that are called the Seven Spheres have a Source that is called Fortune or Fate, which changes all things and suffers them not to remain in the same [conditions].” The quotation is continued without a break; the rest of it, however, corresponds to nothing in our context, but is somewhat similar to ch. xxxix. 1, 2.
342:2 That is, the region of things subject to death. The text is faulty. Cf. with this “engine” the “cylinder” of the K. K. Fragments (10).
342:3 Ab imo ad summum se admoventibus; for admoventibus compare “genus admotum superis,” Silius Italicus, viii. 295.
342:4 Cf. iv. 1 above, and the note.
343:1 Vox (= name), presumably λόγος in the original; a play on “word” and “reason,” but also referring to the mysterious “name” of a person.
343:2 Spiritu, or spirit.
343:3 Ex sensibus = presumably, in ecstasis.
344:1 The text of this paragraph is very unsatisfactory.
344:2 Cf. i. 1 above.
345:1 Here, presumably, meaning hyle.
345:2 Naturam again.
345:3 Cf. 1, 2, above.
346:1 Quo ex crebro attritu prurimus ut . . . .
346:2 Cf. Ex. i. 16.
347:1 Cf. vii. 1 above.
347:2 Vitia; lit. vices.
347:3 Sc. imperfections.
347:4 Lit. animals.
348:1 Mundissima—that is, most cosmic, or “adorned.”
348:2 Or science.
348:3 Ordinem—that is, Cosmos. Compare this also with the idea of the Gnostic Horos which “surrounds” the Plērōma.