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Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 3, by G.R.S. Mead, [1906], at

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(Patrizzi (p. 41b) runs this on to the last without a break.

Text: Stob., Phys., xli. 6, under heading: “Of the Same”—that is, “Of Hermes”; G. pp. 327, 328; M. i. 229, 230; W. i. 324, 325.

Ménard, Livre IV., No. viii. of “Fragments of the Books of Hermes to Ammon,” pp. 269, 270.)

1. Soul, then, is an eternal intellectual essence, having for purpose 1 the reason of itself; and when it thinks with 2 [it,] 3 it doth attract [unto itself] the Harmony’s intention. 4

But when it leaves behind the body Nature makes, 5 it bideth in and by itself,—the maker of itself in the noëtic 6 world.

It ruleth its own reason, bearing in its own thought 7 a motion (called by the name of life)

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like unto [that of] that which cometh into life. 1

2. For that the thing peculiar to the Soul [is this],—to furnish other things with what is like its own peculiarity.

There are, accordingly, two lives, two motions:—one, that according to the essence of the Soul; the other, that according to the nature of the body.

The former [is] more general, [the latter is more partial]; the [life] that is according unto essence has no authority but its own self, the other [is] under necessity.

For every thing that’s moved, is under the necessity of that which moveth [it].

The motion that doth move, however, is in close union with the love of the noëtic essence.

For Soul must be incorporal,—essence that hath no share in any body Nature makes.

For were it corporal, it would have neither reason nor intelligence. 2

For every body is without intelligence; but when it doth receive of essence, it doth obtain the power of being a breathing animal.

3. The spirit 3 [hath the power to contemplate] the body; the reason of the essence hath the power to contemplate the Beautiful.

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The sensible—the spirit—is that which can discern appearances. It is distributed into the various sense-organs 1; a part of it becometh spirit by means of which we see, 2 [a part] by means of which we hear, [a part] by means of which we smell, [a part] by means of which we taste, [a part] by means of which we touch.

This spirit, when it is led upwards by the understanding, discerns that which is sensible 3; but if ’tis not, it only maketh pictures for itself.

For it is of the body, and that, too, receptible of all [impressions].

4. The reason of the essence, on the other hand, is that which is possessed of judgment. 4

The knowledge of things worthy [to be known] is co-existent with the reason; [that which is coexistent] with the spirit [is] opinion.

The latter has its operation from the surrounding world; the former, from itself.


As Exx. xvi.-xix. follow one another in Stobæus, it is highly probable that they are all taken from the same group of sermons, and as their contents are so similar to those of Exx. xiv. and xv., and these are stated by

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[paragraph continues] Stobæus to be from the “Sermons to Ammon,” we are fairly justified in grouping them all together. How many Sermons to Ammon there may have been in the collection used by Stobæus we have no means of knowing; they may also perhaps have had no distinctive title; but as Stobæus usually leaves out the titles in quoting, even when we know them from other sources, there is no definite conclusion to be drawn from his silence.


80:1 νόημα.

80:2 συννοοῦσα.

80:3 Sc. the reason.

80:4 διάνοιαν.

80:5 Lit. the physical body.

80:6 This might here be translated “the self-purposive,” to pick up the word-play on νόημα and διάνοια.

80:7 Or purpose,—νοήματι.

81:1 That is, presumably, of the same nature as the motion of the soul in incarnation or perhaps of the animal soul.

81:2 νόησιν.

81:3 Cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 13, Comment.; and Exx. xv. 2, iv. 2.

82:1 Lit. organic senses; cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 17.

82:2 Lit. spirituous sight.

82:3 That is, the sensible or phenomenal world.

82:4 τὸ φρονοῦν.

Next: Excerpt XX. The Power of Choice