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Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 2, by G.R.S. Mead, [1906], at


1. [III. M.] It is for reasons such as these, Asclepius, man is a mighty wonder,—an animal meet for our worship and for our respect.

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For he doth pass into God’s Nature, 1 as though himself were God. This genus [also] knows the genus of the daimons, as though man knew he had a [common] origin with them. He thinketh little of the part of human nature in him, from confidence in the divineness of [his] other part.

How much more happy is the blend of human nature [than of all the rest]! Joined to the Gods by his cognate divinity, a man looks down upon the part of him by means of which he’s common with the Earth.

The rest of things to which he knows he’s kin, by [reason of] the heavenly order [in him], he binds unto himself with bonds of love; and thus he turns his gaze to Heaven.

2. So, then, [man] hath his place in the more blessed station of the Midst; so that he loves [all] those below himself, and in his turn is loved by those above.

He tills the Earth. He mingles with the Elements by reason of the swiftness of his mind. He plunges into the Sea’s depths by means of its 2 profundity. He puts his values on all things.

Heaven seems not too high for him; for it is

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measured by the wisdom of his mind as though it were quite near.

No darkness of the Air obstructs the penetration of his mind. No density of Earth impedes his work. No depth of Water blunts his sight. 1

[Though still] the same [yet] is he all, and everywhere is he the same.

3. Of all these genera, those [species] which are animal have [many] roots, which stretch from the above below, 2 whereas those which are stationary 3—these from [one] living root send forth a wood of branching greenery up from below into the upper parts.

Moreover, some of them are nourished with a two-fold form of food, while others with a single form.

Twain are the forms of food—for soul and body, of which [all] animals consist. Their soul is nourished by the ever-restless motion of the World 4; their bodies have their growth from

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foods [drawn] from the water and the earth of the inferior world. 1

Spirit, 2 with which they 3 all are filled, being interblended with the rest, 4 doth make them live; sense being added, and also reason in the case of man—which hath been given to man alone as a fifth part out of the æther.

Of all the living things 5 [God] doth adorn, extend, exalt, the sense of man alone unto the understanding of the Reason of Divinity. 6

But since I am impressed to speak concerning Sense, I will a little further on set forth for you the sermon on this [point]; for that it is most holy, and [most] mighty, not less than in the Reason of Divinity itself.


1. But now I’ll finish for you what I have begun. For I was speaking at the start of union with the Gods, by which men only 7 consciously enjoy 8 the Gods’ regard,—I mean whatever men have won such rapture that they have obtained a share of that Divine Sense of intelligence which

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is the most 1 Divine of Senses, found in God and in man’s reason.

Asc. Are not the senses of all men, Thrice-greatest one, the same?

Tris. Nay, [my] Asclepius, all have not won true reason 2; but wildly rushing in pursuit of [reason’s] counterfeit, 3 they never see the thing itself, and are deceived. And this breeds evil in their minds, and [thus] transforms the best of animals into the nature of a beast and manners of the brutes.

2. But as to Sense and all things similar, I will set forth the whole discourse when [I explain] concerning Spirit.

For man is the sole animal that is twofold. One part of him is simple: the [man] “essential,” 4 as say the Greeks, but which we call the “form of the Divine Similitude.”

He also is fourfold: that which the Greeks call “hylic,” 5 [but] which we call “cosmic”; of which is made the corporal part, in which is vestured what we just have said is the divine in man, 6—in which the godhead of the Mind alone,

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together with its kin, that is the Pure Mind’s senses, findeth home and rest, its self with its own self, as though shut in the body’s walls.


316:1 This contradicts somewhat the more careful wording of C. H., x. (xi.) 1, where the term Energy is preferred.

316:2 Sc. the mind’s.

317:1 Cf. C. H., xi. (xii.) 19.

317:2 Compare with this the symbolism of the “fire-tree” and the “rootage” of the æons, in the “Simonian” system of the Gnōsis, taken by Hippolytus from the document entitled The Great Announcement (Hipp., Philos., vi. 9 and 18). Also the common figure of the Ashvattha tree of Indo-Aryan mythology; for instance, in the Kaṭhopaniṣhad, II. vi. 1: “The old, old tree that sees no morrow’s dawn, [stands] roots up, branches down” (see Mead and Chaṭṭopādhyāya’s Upaniṣhads, i. 74—London; 1896). Ashvatthaḥ = a-shvaḥ-tha, that is, “which stands not till to-morrow.” The idea is that the world-tree (saṁsāravṛikṣha) never lasts till to-morrow, for all things are perpetually changing.

317:3 Lit. non-animal.

317:4 Or Cosmos.

318:1 Cf. xi. 2.

318:2 Cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 13, and Commentary thereon.

318:3 That is, animal bodies.

318:4 Presumably the rest of the Earth elements.

318:5 Lit. animals.

318:6 Lit. the Divine Reason, Ratio, or Logos.

318:7 Sc. of the animals. Cf. xviii. 1 below.

318:8 Per-fruuntur. Cf., for the idea, xxii. 1 below.

319:1 Lit. more.

319:2 Cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 23, 24; iv. (v.) 3; and ix. 3 below.

319:3 Lit. image.

319:4 The Greek term οὐσιώδης is here retained. Cf. viii. 2 below.

319:5 The Greek ὑλικὸν being retained in the Latin.

319:6 Cf. C. H., xvi. 15.

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