The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind

The Egyptian Hermes: A Historical Approach to the Late Pagan Mind

Paperback Mythos (Paperback)

By (author) Garth Fowden

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 231mm x 18mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 21 June 1993
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691024987
  • ISBN 13: 9780691024981
  • Edition statement: With a New Preface by the Auth ed.
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 465,981

Product description

Sage, scientist, and sorcerer, Hermes Trismegistus was the culture-hero of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt. A human (according to some) who had lived about the time of Moses, but now indisputably a god, he was credited with the authorship of numerous books on magic and the supernatural, alchemy, astrology, theology, and philosophy. Until the early seventeenth century, few doubted the attribution. Even when unmasked, Hermes remained a byword for the arcane. Historians of ancient philosophy have puzzled much over the origins of his mystical teachings; but this is the first investigation of the Hermetic milieu by a social historian.Starting from the complex fusions and tensions that molded Graeco-Egyptian culture, and in particular Hermetism, during the centuries after Alexander, Garth Fowden goes on to argue that the technical and philosophical Hermetica, apparently so different, might be seen as aspects of a single "way of Hermes." This assumption that philosophy and religion, even cult, bring one eventually to the same goal was typically late antique, and guaranteed the Hermetica a far-flung readership, even among Christians. The focus and conclusion of this study is an assault on the problem of the social milieu of Hermetism.

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Review quote

"[T]he books ascribed to Hermes ... fall into two divisions, the technical and the philosophical, which Fowden treats separately... [His] scholarly survery makes an excellent foundation for further study of points of detail and of paganism in general."--Shadow

Table of contents

Abbreviations Pt. IModes of Cultural Interaction The durability of Egypt The gods of Egypt Hermes Trismegistus The Hermetica 2Translation and interpretation Aretalogies of Isis and Asclepius Manetho and Chaeremon Books of Thoth and technical Hermetica Instructions and philosophical Hermetica Pt. IIThe Way of Hermes Magister omnium physicorum Sympatheia Magic Occult properties and alchemy Astrology 4Religio mentis The philosophical paideia Gnosis 5Towards a via universalis Technique and philosophy: interactions Zosimus of Panopolis Pre-Iamblichan theurgy Iamblichus of Apamea 6Hermetism and theurgy The role and understanding of ritual Bitys Pt. IIIThe Milieu of Hermetism Hermetism in Egypt The evidence of the Hermetica First-century Alexandria - and beyond Temples and priests Upper Egypt Late antique Alexandria The milieu of Hermetism: a socio-intellectual description 8Aegypti sacra deportata Conclusion Appendix: Earliest testimonies to the name 'Hermes Trismegistus' Bibliography Index