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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 3

by G.R.S. Mead

p. 28



(Title from Patrizzi (p. 38b); followed by: “To the Same Tat.”

Text: Stob., Phys., viii. 41, under heading: “Of Hermes from the [Sermons] to Tat”; G. p. 93; M. i. 64.

Ménard, Livre IV., No. v. of “Fragments from the Books of Hermes to his Son Tat,” p. 241.)

1. Now to find out concerning the three times; for they are neither by themselves, nor [yet] are they at-oned; and [yet] again they are at-oned, and by themselves [as well].

For should’st thou think the present is without the past, it can’t be present unless it has become already past. 1

For from the past the present comes, and from the present future goes.

But if we have to scrutinize more closely, thus let us argue:

2. Past time doth pass into no longer being

p. 29

this, 1 and future [time] doth not exist, in its not being present; nay, present even is not present, in its continuing.

Time, then, which stands not [steady] (ἕστηκε), but which is on the turn, without a central point at which to stop,—how can it be called in-stant (ἐνεστώς), 2 seeing even that it hath no power to stand (ἑστάναι)?

Again, past joining present, and present [joining] future, they [thus] are one; for they are not without them 3 in their sameness, and their oneness, and their continuity.

Thus, [then], time’s both continuous and discontinuous, though one and the same [time].


28:1 That is, apparently, you cannot think of the present until it is already past.

29:1 That is, apparently, “present.”

29:2 The usual term in Greek for “present,” but I have here translated it by “instant” in order to keep the word-play, which would otherwise entirely vanish in translation.

29:3 That is, apparently, any one without the other two, or any two without the other one.

Next: Excerpt VII. Of Bodies Everlasting and Bodies Perishable