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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 3

by G.R.S. Mead

p. 303



Text: ap. Cyril, Contra Julianum, v. 176; Migne, col. 770 A. See also Neumann (C. I.), Juliani Imperatoris Librorum contra Christianos quæ supersunt (Leipzig, 1880), p. 193. 2


That God, however, has not cared for the Hebrews only, [but rather] that in His love for all nations He hath bestowed on them [sc. the Hebrews] nothing worth very serious attention, whereas He has given us far greater and superior gifts, consider from what will follow. The Egyptians, counting up of their own race the names of not a few sages, can also say they have had many who have followed in the steps 3 of Hermes. I mean of the Third Hermes who used to come down 4 [to them] in Egypt. The Chaldæans [also can tell of] the [disciples] of Oannes and of Belus;

p. 304

and the Greeks of tens of thousands [who have the Wisdom] from Cheiron. 1 For it is from him that they derived their initiation into the mysteries of nature, and their knowledge of divine things; so that indeed [in comparison] the Hebrews seem only to give themselves airs about their own [attainments].

Here we learn from Julian that the Third Hermes, the Hermes presumably of our Sermons, was known, by those initiated into the Gnosis, to be no physical historical Teacher, but a Teaching Power or Person, who taught from within spiritually.


303:1 Julian the Emperor reigned 360-363 A.D. It was during the last year of his reign that he wrote Contra Christianos.

303:2 Also Taylor (Thomas), The Arguments of the Emperor Julian against the Christians (London, 1809), p. 36.

303:3 Lit. “from the succession” (διαδοχῆς).

303:4 ἐπιφοιτήσαντος,—“to come habitually to”; ἐπιφοίτησις is used of the “coming upon one,” or inspiration of a God.

304:1 Partially quoted by Reitzenstein (p. 175, n. 1).

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