Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 2, by G.R.S. Mead, , at sacred-texts.com
1. [XII. M.] Now on the subject of a “Void,” 1—which seems to almost all a thing of vast importance,—I hold the following view.
Naught is, naught could have been, naught ever will be void.
For all the members of the Cosmos are completely full; so that Cosmos itself is full and [quite] complete with bodies, diverse in quality and form, possessing each its proper kind and size.
And of these bodies—ones greater than another, or anothers less than is another, by difference of strength and size.
Of course, the stronger of them are more easily perceived, just as the larger [are]. The lesser ones, however, or the more minute, can scarcely be perceived, or not at all—those which we know are things [at all] by sense of touch alone.
Whence many come to think they are not bodies, and that there are void spaces,—which is impossible.
2. So also [for the Space] which is called
[paragraph continues] Extra-cosmic,—if there be any (which I do not believe),—[then] is it filled by Him with things Intelligible, that is things of like nature with His own Divinity; just as this Cosmos which is called the Sensible, is fully filled with bodies and with animals, consonant with its proper nature and its quality;—[bodies] the proper shape of which we do not all behold, but [see] some large beyond their proper measure, some very small; either because of the great space which lies between [them and ourselves], or else because our sight is dull; so that they seem to us to be minute, or by the multitude are thought not to exist at all, because of their too great tenuity.
I mean the daimones, who, I believe, have their abode with us, and heroes, who abide between the purest part of air above us and the earth,—where it is ever cloudless, and no [movement from the] motion of a single star [disturbs the peace].
3. Because of this, Asclepius, thou shalt call nothing void; unless thou wilt declare of what thats void, which thou dost say is void;—for instance, void of fire, of water, or things like to these.
For if it should fall out, that it should seem that anything is able to be void of things like these,—though that which seemeth void be little
or be big, it still cannot be void of spirit and of air.
1. In like way must we also talk concerning “Space,” 1—a term which by itself is void of “sense.” 2
For Space seems what it is from that of which it is [the space]. For if the qualifying 3 word is cut away, the sense is maimed.
Wherefore we shall [more] rightly say the space of water, space of fire, or [space] of things like these.
For as it is impossible that aught be void; so is Space also in itself not possible to be distinguished what it is.
For if you postulate a space without that [thing] of which it is [the space], it will appear to be void space,—which I do not believe exists in Cosmos.
2. If nothing, then, is void, so also Space by its own self does not show what it is unless you add to it lengths, breadths [and depths],—just as you add the proper marks 4 unto mens bodies.
These things, then, being thus, Asclepius, and ye who are with [him],—know the Intelligible
[paragraph continues] Cosmos (that is, [the one] which is discerned by contemplation of the mind alone) is bodiless; nor can aught corporal be mingled with its nature,—[by corporal I mean] what can be known by quality, by quantity, and numbers. For there is nothing of this kind in that.
3. This Cosmos, then, which is called Sensible, is the receptacle of all things sensible,—of species, qualities, or bodies.
But not a single one of these can quicken without God. For God is all, and by Him [are] all things, and all [are] of His Will.
For that He is all Goodness, Fitness, Wisdom, unchangeable,—that can be sensed and understood by His own self alone.
Without Him naught hath been, nor is, nor will be.
4. For all things are from Him, in Him, and through Him,—both multitudinous qualities, and mighty quantities, and magnitudes exceeding every means of measurement, and species of all forms;—which things, if thou shouldst understand, Asclepius, thou wilt give thanks to God.
And if thou shouldst observe it 1 as a whole, thou wilt be taught, by means of the True Reason, that Cosmos in itself is knowable to sense, 2 and that all things in it are wrapped
as in a vesture by that Higher Cosmos 1 [spoken of above].
1. Now every single class of living thing, 2 Asclepius, of whatsoever kind, or it be mortal or be rational, whether it be endowed with soul, or be without one, just as each has its class, 3 so does each several [class] have images of its own class.
And though each separate class of animal has in it every form of its own class, still in the selfsame [kind of] form the units differ from each other.
And so although the class of men is of one kind, so that a man can be distinguished by his [general] look, still individual men within the sameness of their [common] form do differ from each other.
2. For the idea 4 which is divine, is bodiless, and is whatever is grasped by the mind.
So that although these two, 5 from which the general form and body are derived, are bodiless, it is impossible that any single form should be produced exactly like another,—because the
moments of the hours and points of inclination [when theyre born] are different.
But they are changed as many times as there are moments in the hour of that revolving Circle in which abides that God whom we have called All-formed. 1
3. The species, 2 then, persists, as frequently producing from itself as many images, and as diverse, as there are moments in the Cosmic Revolution, 3—a Cosmos which doth [ever] change in revolution. But the idea 4 [itself] is neither changed nor turned.
So are the forms of every single genus permanent, [and yet] dissimilar in the same [general] form.
1. Asc. And does the Cosmos have a species, O Thrice-greatest one?
Tris. Dost not thou see, Asclepius, that all has been explained to thee as though to one asleep?
For what is Cosmos, or of what doth it consist, if not of all things born?
This, 5 then, you may assert of heaven, and
earth, and elements. For though the other things possess more frequent change of species, [still even] heaven, [by its] becoming moist, or dry, or cold, or hot, or clear, or dull, [all] in one kind 1 of heaven,—these [too] are frequent changes into species. 2
2. Earth hath, moreover, always many changes in its species;—both when she brings forth fruits, and when she also nourishes her bringings-forth with the return of all the fruits; the diverse qualities and quantities of air, its stoppings and its flowings 3; and before all the qualities of trees, of flowers, and berries, of scents, of savours—species.
Fire [also] brings about most numerous conversions, and divine. For these are all-formed images of Sun and Moon 4; theyre, as it were, like our own mirrors, which with their emulous resplendence give us back the likenesses of our own images.
374:1 Cf. C. H., xi. (xii.).
376:1 Cf. xv. 1 above.
376:2 Intellectu caret.
376:3 Principale,—lit. principal.
376:4 Signa; characteristics, presumably.
377:1 Sc. the Cosmos.
377:2 Sensibilem; probably referring to the sensus par excellence; that is, the higher or cosmic sense.
378:1 That is, the Intelligible Cosmos; presumably the Æon.
378:4 Species; meaning here apparently the genus or class.
378:5 Apparently the idea and mind.
379:1 Cf. C. H., xi. (xii.) 16; and C. H., xvi. 15; also xix. 3 above, and xxxvi. 2 below.
379:2 That is, apparently, the “divine species,” or idea, the genus.
379:3 Cf. xl. 3 below.
379:5 That is, that there are genera embracing many species.
380:2 The construction is here confuted and elliptical.
380:3 This clause seems to be out of place.
380:4 Presumably of the ideal Sun and Moon; for “all-formed,” cf. xxxv. 2 above.