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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 3

by G.R.S. Mead

p. 75



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

Text: Stob., Phys., xli. 4, under heading: “Of the Same”—that is, “Of Hermes”; G. pp. 324, 325; M. i. 228, 229; W. i. 321, 322.

Ménard, Livre IV., No. vi. of “Fragments of the Book of Hermes to Ammon,” pp. 265, 266.)

1. Soul, Ammon, then, is essence containing its own end within itself; in [its] beginning taking to itself the way of life allotted it by Fate, it draws also unto itself a reason like to matter, possessing “heart” and “appetite.” 1

“Heart,” too, is matter; if it doth make its state accordant with the Soul’s intelligence, it, [then,] becometh courage, and is not led away by cowardice.

And “appetite” is matter, too; if it doth make its state accord with the Soul’s rational power, it [then] becometh temperance, and is not

p. 76

moved by pleasure, for reasoning fills up the “appetite’s” deficiency.

2. And when both [these] 1 are harmonized, and equalized, and both are made subordinate to the Soul’s rational power, justice is born.

For that their state of equilibrium doth take away the “heart’s” excess, and equalizes the deficiency of “appetite.”

The source of these, 2 however, is the penetrating essence of all thought, 3 its self by its own self, [working] in its own reason that doth think round everything, 4 with its own reason as its rule. 5

It is the essence that doth lead and guide as ruler; its reason is as ’twere its counsellor who thinks about all things. 6

3. The reason of the essence, then, is gnosis of those reasonings which furnish the irrational [part] with reasoning’s conjecturing, 7—a faint thing as compared with reasoning [itself], but reasoning as compared with the irrational, as echo unto voice, and moonlight to the sun.

And “heart” and “appetite” are harmonized upon a rational plan; they pull the one against the other, and [so] they learn to know in their own selves a circular intent. 8


75:1 In a metaphorical sense,—θυμὸν καὶ ἐπιθυμία; terms originally belonging to a primitive stage of culture, and often translated “anger and concupiscence”—positive and negative, denoting the “too much” and the “too little” of the animal nature, and to he paralleled with the νοῦς and ἐπίνοια of the rational nature. Cf. Ex. i. 5 and xviii. 3.

76:1 Sc. virtues,—courage and temperance.

76:2 Sc. two virtues.

76:3 ἡ διανοητικὴ οὐσία,—that is, the essence which penetrates, or pervades, all things by means of thought.

76:4 ἐν τῷ αὐτῆς περινοητικῷ λόγῳ.

76:5 Or power, or ruling principle.

76:6 ὁ περινοητικός.

76:7 εἰκασμόν.

76:8 διάνοια.

Next: Excerpt XVIII. Of Soul, V.