The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West

Overview

Alchemy, astrology, and other secret sciences have Egyptian roots, and films, popular fiction, and comic books frequently draw upon Egyptian themes. Rosicrucianism, Mormonism, and Afrocentrism all share Egyptian-derived elements. Modern-day esoteric endeavors find an endlessly renewable intellectual reservoir in ancient Egyptian culture, Erik Hornung believes, and are almost inconceivable without Egypt. Although such persistence assures Egyptosophical ideas an extraordinarily widespread impact, the field of ...
See more details below
Hardcover (New Edition)
$31.76
BN.com price
(Save 18%)$38.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (28) from $6.00   
  • New (12) from $9.23   
  • Used (16) from $6.00   
Sending request ...

Overview

Alchemy, astrology, and other secret sciences have Egyptian roots, and films, popular fiction, and comic books frequently draw upon Egyptian themes. Rosicrucianism, Mormonism, and Afrocentrism all share Egyptian-derived elements. Modern-day esoteric endeavors find an endlessly renewable intellectual reservoir in ancient Egyptian culture, Erik Hornung believes, and are almost inconceivable without Egypt. Although such persistence assures Egyptosophical ideas an extraordinarily widespread impact, the field of Egyptology has largely overlooked this phenomenon.In The Secret Lore of Egypt, Hornung traces the influence of the esoteric image of Egypt, especially as it is manifested by the god Thoth, on European intellectual history since antiquity and finds it reasserted even today in the United States. From Gnostic writings and Romantic poetry to Freemasonry and the Theosophist movement, Egyptian deities re-emerge in ever-surprising guises. Since ancient times, Egypt has been associated with esoteric practices and beliefs and regarded as the source of all secret knowledge—an association that, Hornung says, is only loosely connected with historical reality.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hornung traces the influences of this imaginary Egypt on Western culture from the classical world, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to the present day. . . . Recommended for academic libraries and specialized collections."—Library Journal, September 2001

"Erik Hornung has rare and perhaps unique advantages for tackling an important and overdue task, namely that of revalorizing the spiritual heritage of Egypt while at the same time describing fairly and rigorously the image of that country in the West. . . This book is written with vigor and in the author's typically enthusiastic, pellucid style. And how enlivening it is to be reminded that there are colleagues whose learning is broad enough to include familiarity with the Qabalah, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the philosophy of Herder. . . . Congratulations, then, to Professor Hornung for having produced a scholarly, original, and entertaining work, which covers a vast amount of ground with an astonishingly light touch. Those who know the subject of Egyptian survivals will be further enlightened by this volume."—Terence DuQuesne, Discussions in Egyptology

"Hornung traces Western preoccupation with ancient Egypt as an epitome of the mysterious 'other,' the source of lost or esoteric wisdom, the original font of human knowledge. . . . He concludes with provocative points about the general curricular neglect of Egyptology, yet he also muses on the potential value of a reformed 'Hermetism' in a world crying for reconciliation. . . . Great reading for those with the necessary background. All levels and collections."—Choice, September 2002, Vol. 40, No. 1

"The book makes for delightful reading, even though (or, perhaps, because) one cannot be but utterly amazed about the degree of gullibility through the centuries as far as the secret wisdom of ancient Egypt is concerned. . . . On the whole this is a very instructive and charming book that deserves a wide readership."—Pieter W. van der Horst, UItrecht University. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.04.18

"I recommend this well-written volume to anyone seriously interested in what Egypt ever meant and presently means to the whole world."—Anthony Spalinger, University of Auckland, Electronic Antiquity 7:1, February 2003

"Hornung's Secret Lore is . . . enjoyable, dealing with what he calls Egyptosophy, the notion that ancient Egypt is the source of all wisdom and that conventional Egyptology has misunderstood many aspects of this culture."—Antiquity 76 (2002)

"Erik Hornung has rare and perhaps unique advantages for tackling an important and overdue task, namely that of revalorizing the spiritual heritage of Egypt while at the same time describing fairly and rigorously the image of that country in the West...Esoteric Egypt is written with vigour and in the author's typically enthusiastic, pellucid style. And how enlivening it is to be reminded that there are colleagues whose learning is broad enough to include familiarity with the Qabalah, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the philosophy of Herder...Congratulations, then, to Professor Hornung for having produced a scholarly, original, and entertaining work, which covers a vast amount of ground with an astonishingly light touch. Those who know the subject of Egyptian survivals will be further enlightened by this volume."—Terence DuQuesne, Discussions in Egyptology

Library Journal
The author of four previous Cornell University Press volumes on Egyptology, Hornung (emeritus, Univ. of Basel) here focuses on "Egyptosophy." This concept is defined as "the study of an imaginary Egypt viewed as the profound source of all esoteric lore. This Egypt is a timeless idea bearing only a loose relationship to the historical reality." Hornung traces the influences of this imaginary Egypt on Western culture from the classical world, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to the present day. He argues that the god Thoth and various Egyptian sages known to the ancient Greeks coalesced into the legendary Hermes Trismegistus, the creator of the art of writing and civilization. Hornung views these mystical and magical "Egyptian" elements as a basis for Gnosticism as well as other secret and metaphysical societies, among them the Rosicrucians, the Freemasons, and the Theosophists. The text presumes extensive knowledge of Western philosophy, art history, and religion; references are made to "the Madonna Platytera" and the "Gnostic Pistis Sophia," for example, without any footnotes or explanations. Recommended for academic libraries and specialized collections. (Illustrations and index not seen.) Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
The study of Egypt as the fount of all wisdom and stronghold of hermetic lore, already strong in antiquity, Hornung (Egyptology, U. of Basel) calls Egyptosophy. Though it was soundly rebuffed by Egyptology, based on conventional science and history, he thinks its continuing impact on western culture deserves scholarly attention. He reviews the various occult traditions and their expression during various eras. The original was published by C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Munich, in 1999, and translated by David Lorton, who has also translated Hornung's earlier books for Cornell. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801438479
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Lorton, an Egyptologist, is the translator of many books, including Erik Hornung's books The Secret Lore of Egypt and Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, both from Cornell.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Translator's Note
Introduction 1
1 The Ancient Roots of the "Other" Egypt 5
2 Foreign Wonderland on the Nile: The Greek Writers 19
3 Power and Influence of the Stars 26
4 Alchemy: The Art of Transformation 34
5 Gnosis: Creation as Flaw 43
6 Hermetism: Thoth as Hermes Trismegistus 48
7 Egypt of the Magical Arts 55
8 The Spread of Egyptian Cults: Isis and Osiris 64
9 Medieval Traditions 73
10 The Renaissance of Hermetism and Hieroglyphs 83
11 Travels to Egypt: Wonder upon Wonder 92
12 Triumphs of Erudition: Kircher, Spencer, and Cudworth 98
13 "Reformation of the Whole Wide World": The Rosicrucians 106
14 The Ideal of a Fraternity: The Freemasons 116
15 Goethe and Romanticism: "Thinking Hieroglyphically" 128
16 Theosophy and Anthroposophy 141
17 Pyramids, Sphinx, Mummies: A Curse on the Pharaohs 155
18 Egypt a la Mode: Modern Egyptosophy and Afrocentrism 173
19 Outlook: Egypt as Hope and Alternative 189
Chronology 203
Glossary 207
Bibliography 209
Index 221
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)