The Way of Hermes: New Translations of The Corpus Hermeticum and The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius

Overview

Paperback edition of the recent translation of the esoteric masterpiece, including the first English translation of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius

• A resource for scholars and religious seekers alike

The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius provides new insights into the actual workings of the gnostic spiritual path

The Corpus Hermeticum, a powerful fusion of Greek and Egyptian thought, is one of the ...

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Overview

Paperback edition of the recent translation of the esoteric masterpiece, including the first English translation of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius

• A resource for scholars and religious seekers alike

The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius provides new insights into the actual workings of the gnostic spiritual path

The Corpus Hermeticum, a powerful fusion of Greek and Egyptian thought, is one of the cornerstones of the Western esoteric tradition. A collection of short philosophical treatises, it was written in Greek between the first and third centuries C.E. and translated into Latin during the Renaissance by the great scholar and philosopher Marsilio Ficino. These treatises were central to the spiritual work of hermetic societies in Late Antique Alexandria (200-700 C.E.) and aimed to awaken gnosis, the direct realization of the unity of the individual and the Supreme.

In addition to this new translation of The Corpus Hermeticum, which seeks to reflect the inspirational intent of the original, The Way of Hermes includes the first English translation of the recently rediscovered manuscript of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, a collection of aphorisms used by the hermetic student to strengthen the mind during meditation. With the proper mental orientation, a state of pure perception can be achieved in which the true face of God appears. This document is of enormous value to the contemporary student of gnostic studies for its insights into the actual workings of this spiritual path.

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Editorial Reviews

Institute for Hermetic Studies
"By all standards, The Way of Hermes is the kind of contribution students of Hermeticism have been waiting for, for a long time.The Way of Hermes is a small book that will not be read quickly, and will take a lifetime to understand."
From the Publisher
"By all standards, The Way of Hermes is the kind of contribution students of Hermeticism have been waiting for, for a long time.The Way of Hermes is a small book that will not be read quickly, and will take a lifetime to understand."

The Corpus Hermeticum is a key work standing between ancient Greek civilization and the dawn of Christianity. This work dates from the very beginning of the First Millennium. This important work was previously available to the English reader only in Sir Walter Scott's rather loose and inaccurate translation. The translators of this edition have been at the forefront of the much-acclaimed volumes of translations of The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, the father of the Florentine Renaissance, who himself first translated the Hermetica into Latin. This translation has a much greater accuracy and feel for the subject than Scott's translation. This edition also includes the first published translation by Professor Mahe of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius from a recently re-discovered Greek manuscript in the Bodleian Library."

Feb 2006 Institute for Hermetic Studies
"By all standards, The Way of Hermes is the kind of contribution students of Hermeticism have been waiting for, for a long time.The Way of Hermes is a small book that will not be read quickly, and will take a lifetime to understand."
Watkins Books Stephen Hill
The Corpus Hermeticum is a key work standing between ancient Greek civilization and the dawn of Christianity. This work dates from the very beginning of the First Millennium. This important work was previously available to the English reader only in Sir Walter Scott's rather loose and inaccurate translation. The translators of this edition have been at the forefront of the much-acclaimed volumes of translations of The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, the father of the Florentine Renaissance, who himself first translated the Hermetica into Latin. This translation has a much greater accuracy and feel for the subject than Scott's translation. This edition also includes the first published translation by Professor Mahe of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius from a recently re-discovered Greek manuscript in the Bodleian Library."
Stephen Hill
The Corpus Hermeticum is a key work standing between ancient Greek civilization and the dawn of Christianity. This work dates from the very beginning of the First Millennium. This important work was previously available to the English reader only in Sir Walter Scott's rather loose and inaccurate translation. The translators of this edition have been at the forefront of the much-acclaimed volumes of translations of The Letters of Marsilio Ficino, the father of the Florentine Renaissance, who himself first translated the Hermetica into Latin. This translation has a much greater accuracy and feel for the subject than Scott's translation. This edition also includes the first published translation by Professor Mahe of The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius from a recently re-discovered Greek manuscript in the Bodleian Library."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892811861
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 3/5/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 132
  • Sales rank: 628,680
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Clement Salaman is the editor of the English translation of The Letters of Marsilio Ficino. Dorine van Oyen is a lecturer on hermetic studies in Amsterdam. William D. Wharton teaches classical history, languages, and philosophy in Boston. Jean-Pierre Mahés correspondent of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Paris.

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Read an Excerpt


The Corpus Hermeticum

Book 1
Poimandres to Hermes Trismegistus

1. Once, when mind had become intent on the things which are, and my understanding was raised to a great height, while my bodily senses were withdrawn as in sleep, when men are weighed down by too much food or by the fatigue of the body, it seemed that someone immensely great of infinite dimensions happened to call my name and said to me:
'What do you wish to hear and behold, and having beheld what do you wish to learn and know?'

2, 'Who are you?' said I.
He said, 'I am Poimandres the Nous of the Supreme. I know what you wish and I am with you everywhere.'

3. 'I wish to learn,' said I, 'the things that are and understand their nature and to know God. O how I wish to hear these things!'
He spoke to me again. 'Hold in your Nous all that you wish to learn and I will teach you.'

Book 4
Hermes to Tat

1. H—Since the Creator made the whole cosmos, not with hands but by the Word, understand that he is present and always is, creating all things, being one alone, and by his will producing all beings. For such is his body: intangible, invisible, immeasurable, indivisible, like nothing else. It is not fire, nor water, nor air, nor breath, but through it all things exist.

2. Being supremely good, he set it up in dedication to that One alone, and he wished to adorn the earth as the form of the body of God. He sent down man, a mortal being, from an immortal being. The cosmos rules over the life of living beings and man rules over the cosmos by means of speech and Nous. For man became the witness of God's work, and he worshipped the Creator and came to know him.

Book 5
Hermes to Tat

5. O that you could grow wings and fly up into the air, and that, poised between earth and heaven, you might see the firmness of earth, the liquidity of the sea, the course of the rivers and the free flow of the air, the piercing fire, the revolution of the stars, the swiftness of the heavenly movement encircling all these things. What most blessed vision, O son, to behold all that in one moment; the unmoving being moved, the unmanifest being made manifest through what it creates! This is the very order of the universe and this is the beauty of the order.

8. No one says that a statue or a portrait has come into being without a sculptor or a painter; then has this work come into being without a creator? What blindness! What sacrilege! What mindless arrogance! My son Tat, never deprive the works of creation of their creator. He is greater than anything the name of God implies, so great is the Father of all; for He is single and His work is just this: to be Father.

Book 6
Hermes to Asciepius

4. And I am thankful to God for putting even a taste of the knowledge of the Supreme Good into my Nous, because this Good cannot exist in the world. For the world is the sum total of evil; God the unlimited goodness, or rather goodness the limitless God. For the excellencies of beautiful things are round His true nature, and appear in some way even more pure and simple, for they are of God. One must have courage to say, O Asclepius, that the essence of God, if indeed He has an essence, is beauty; but no beauty and goodness are to be found in the things of the cosmos. For all things which fall under the eye are images and, as it were, paintings. But what does not fall under the eye is chiefly the excellence of beauty and goodness. And just as the eye cannot see God, so it cannot see beauty and goodness. For these are the attributes of God, perfect and complete, belonging to Him alone, they are His very own, inseparable and most beloved; either God loves them or they love God.

From Hermes Trismegistus to Asciepius: Definitions
2
3. Earth is the support of the world, the basis of the elements, the nurse of the living (beings), the receptacle of the dead; for (it comes) last after fire and water, since it became what (it is) after fire and water. What is the power of the world? To keep up for ever the immortal (beings), such as they came into being, and to always change the mortal.

4. Water is a fecund essence, the support of earth, as a nutritive essence.

5. Fire is a sterile essence, the duration of the immortal bodies and the destruction of the mortal: an infertile substance, in as much (it belongs to) the destructive fire which makes (things) disappear; and the perpetuation of the immortal (beings), since what cannot be consumed by fire is immortal and indestructible, but the mortal can be destroyed by fire.

6. Light is a good, a clear vision, (which makes) appear all of the visible (things). The essence of fire is burning. However, fire is one (thing) and light is another one. For what fire has reached shall be destroyed, but light appears just as it is by itself. Every move of soul is perceived by Nous; since it is some (kind of) energy, breath performs (it).

3
1. Nothing is uninhabited by God, for where heaven is, God (is) too, and where the world is, heaven (is) too. I think that God is in heaven, and heaven in the world.

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Table of Contents


The Corpus Hermeticum

Preface by Professor Gilles Quispel

Acknowledgements

Translators’ Foreword

Translators’ Note

TRANSLATION

Afterword

Notes on the Greek Text

Bibliography

Index

The Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius

Introduction

TRANSLATION

Notes

Bibliography

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 21, 2011

    A manageable introduction to the complex world of Hermeticism

    Hermeticism conjures up a wide variety of images and notions for people and this book goes a long way to dispel any naïve ideas of what Hermeticism is and offer an insight into the original texts that form the Corpus Hermeticum; the body of work composed in Alexandria around the time of Christ. Antoine Faivre, one of the leading scholars in the field of Western esotericism defines Hermetism as directly relating to the Corpus Hermeticum and Hermeticism including that but extending beyond into the realm of alchemy and more modern esoteric thought. This is an important distinction as the two terms are often incorrectly used interchangeably. The Corpus Hermeticum derives its name from Hermes Trismegistus, the supposed author of the Corpus Hermeticum and who until the seventeenth century was believed to be a real historical figure contemporary with Moses. While few still hold to this idea the knowledge contained within the texts is powerful and can be read again and again. The similarity between the description of Christ in the Gospel of John as the Word and the description of Poimandres as Nous in the first book of this work is interesting and points to the popularity of Logos theology in Alexandria at this time. The accusation that the author of the Gospel of John borrowed these terms from Greek philosophy or Hermetism is a contentious one and worth further investigation. Anyway, a great book and while some of the terms are hard to grasp in the beginning it¿s worth the effort.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Hermetism

    Heretism is a fascinating religion! I personally am one to read primary texts and in this case I would be extremely cautious about secondary. There were a lot of misconceptions about Hermetism in the Rennaissance era, so you've got to be careful on the accuracy of a secondary text. This work is one of two halves of the primary texts. The other half would be the technical Hermetica, which is hard to find in English & is also the cause of the misconceptions since they only considered that half. Hermetism falls into the broad category of Gnosticism, even though it is a Pagan form of it. It is highly based in Greek philosophical traditions (as you can tell when reading this). I did a 25 page research paper on Hermetism for a very high level Gnosticism class. There are Ancient Egyptian roots to it, but it is still a very Alexandrian (Greek) movement. They've combined Thoth and Hermes to form Hermes Trismegistus (meaning 3 the greatest), different from both yet similar. He has three levels to him (hence Tris). On the surface it's hard to see how he is called Hermes at all, or how he was associated with Thoth!

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