Sacred Texts  Gnosticism and Hermetica  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 1, by G.R.S. Mead, [1906], at


XXV. 1 1. They, therefore, [do] better who believe that the things related about Typhon and Osiris and Isis are passions neither of gods nor of men, but of mighty daimones, who—as Plato and Pythagoras and Xenocrates and Chrysippus say, following the theologers of bygone days—have been born more manful than men, far surpassing us in the strength of their nature, yet not having the divine unmixed and pure, but proportioned with the nature of soul and sense of body, susceptible of pleasure and pain and all the passions, which as innate to such metamorphoses trouble some [of them] more and others less.

2. For the Gigantic and Titanic [Passions] sung of among the Greeks, and certain lawless deeds of Kronos and antagonisms of Pythōn against Apollo, and fleeings of Dionysus, and wanderings of Demeter, in no way fall behind the Osiric and Typhonic [Passions], and others which all may hear unrestrainedly spoken of in myth.

And all these things which, under the veil of mystic

p. 299

sacred rites and perfectionings, are carefully kept from being spoken of to, or being allowed to be seen by, the multitude, have a similar reason (logos). 1

XXVI. 1. Moreover, we hear Homer also on every occasion calling the good variously “godlike” and “equal to gods,” and as “having directions 2 from gods”; whereas he employs epithets connected with the daimones to both worthy and unworthy in common:

Draw nigh them daimonian! Why so fearest the Argives? 3

And again:

But when indeed for the fourth time he charged, a daimon’s equal. 4


O thou daimonian! what so great ills do Priam now
And Priam’s sons to thee, that thou dost hotly rage
Troy’s well-built town to rase? 5

—as though the daimones possessed a mixed and an unbalanced nature and propensity.

2. For which reason Plato 6 refers unto the God upon Olympus’ height things “right” and “odd,” 7 and to the daimones those that respond to these. 8

3. Moreover, Xenocrates 9 thinks that the nefast days, and all the holy days on which are strikings or beatings or fastings or blasphemies or foul language, have nothing to do with honours paid to gods or to beneficent daimones; but that there are natures in

p. 300

the circumambient, 1 mighty and powerful indeed, but difficult to turn and sullen, who take pleasure in such things, and when they get them turn to nothing worse.

4. The beneficent and good ones, again, Hesiod also calls “holy daimones” and “guardians of men”—“wealth-givers and possessors of this sovereign prerogative.” 2

5. Plato 3 again gives to this race the name of hermeneutic and of diaconic 4 ’twixt Gods and men, speeding up thitherwards men’s vows and prayers, and bringing thence prophetic answers hitherwards and gifts of [all] good things.

6. Whereas Empedocles 5 says that the daimones have to amend whatever faults they make, or discords they may strike:

“For æther’s rush doth chase them seawards; sea spews them on land’s flat; and earth into the beams of tireless sun; and he casts [them again] into the swirls of æther. One takes them from another, and all abhor [them]” 6—until after being thus chastened and purified they regain their natural place and rank.

XXVII. 1. Born from the self-same womb as these and things like them, they say, are the legends about Typhon: how that he wrought dire deeds through envy and ill-will, and after throwing all things into confusion and filling the whole earth and sea as well with ills, he afterwards did make amends.

p. 301

2. But the sister-wife 1 of Osiris who upheld his honour, after she had quenched and laid to rest Typhon’s frenzy and fury, did not allow forgetfulness and silence to overtake the struggles and trials he had endured, and her own wanderings and many [deeds] of wisdom, and many [feats] of manliness; but intermingling with the most chaste perfectionings images and under-meanings and copies of the passion she then endured, she hallowed at one and the same time a lesson of religion and a consolation to men and women placed in like circumstances.

3. And she and Osiris, being changed through virtue from good daimones into gods 2—as [were] subsequently Heracles and Dionysus—possess the dignities of gods and daimones at one and the same time, fitly combined everywhere indeed but with the greatest power among those above earth and under earth.


298:1 This chapter is quoted by Eusebius, Præp. Ev., V. v. 1.

299:1 Sc. to the mysteries of the Egyptians.

299:2 μήδεα—also meaning virilia.

299:3 Il., xiii. 810.

299:4 Il., v. 438.

299:5 Il., iv. 31 f.

299:6 Legg., 717 A.

299:7 Pythagorean technical terms.

299:8 τὰ ἀντίφωνα—the meaning seeming to be rather that of “concord” than of “discord.”

299:9 An immediate pupil of Plato’s.

300:1 The air or ether that surrounds the earth.

300:2 Op. et Dies, 126.

300:3 Symp., 202 E.

300:4 That is, “interpretative and ministering.”

300:5 E. flourished 494-434 B.C.

300:6 Stein, 377 ff.; Karsten, 16 ff.; Fairbanks, p. 204. The quotation appears to me inapposite, for Empedocles seems to be speaking of “any who defile their bodies sinfully” and not of daimones; but perhaps the “received” recombination of the fragments is at fault.

301:1 See the note on “sister-wife” in comment on Mariamnē (Hipp., Philos.—Introd.) in chapter on “Myth of Man.”—Prolegg., p. 147, n. 7.

301:2 That is to say, according to this theory the myth represented the degree of initiation by which a man passed from the stage of daimon into the state of god, or from super-man to christ.

Next: Concerning Sarapis