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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 3

by G.R.S. Mead

p. 77



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

Text: Stob., Phys., xli. 5, under heading: “Of the Same”—that is, “Of Hermes”; G. pp. 325-327; M. i. 229, 230; W. i. 322-324.

Ménard, Livre IV., No. vii. of “Fragments of the Books of Hermes to Ammon,” pp. 267, 268.)

1. [Now], every Soul is free from death and in perpetual motion.

For in the General Sermons 1 we have said some motions are by means of the activities, 2 others are owing to the bodies.

We say, moreover, that the Soul’s produced out of a certain essence,—not a matter,—incorporal itself, just as its essence is.

Now every thing that’s born, must of necessity be born from something.

All things, moreover, in which destruction followeth on birth, must of necessity have two kinds of motion with them:—the [motion] of

p. 78

the Soul, by which they’re moved; and body’s [motion], by which they wax and wane.

Moreover, also, on the former’s dissolution, the latter 1 is dissolved.

This I define, [then,] as the motion of bodies corruptible.

2. The Soul, however, is in perpetual motion,—in that perpetually it moves itself, and makes [its] motion active [too] in other things.

And so, according to this reason, every Soul is free from death, having for motion the making active of itself.

The kinds of Souls are three:—divine, [and] human, [and] irrational.

Now the divine [is that] of its divine body, in which there is the making active of itself. For it is moved in it, and moves itself.

For when it is set free from mortal lives, it separates itself from the irrational portions of itself, departs unto the godlike body, and as ’tis in perpetual motion, is moved in its own self, with the same motion as the universe.

3. The human [kind] has also something of the godlike [body], but it has joined to it as well the [parts] irrational,—the appetite and heart. 2

These latter also are immortal, in that they

p. 79

happen also in themselves to be activities; but [they are] the activities of mortal bodies.

Wherefore, they are removed far from the godlike portion of the Soul, when it is in its godlike body; but when this 1 enters in a mortal frame, they 2 also cling to it, and by the presence [of these elements] it keeps on being a human Soul.

But that of the irrationals consists of heart and appetite. And for this cause these lives are also called irrational, through deprivation of the reason of the Soul.

4. You may consider, too, as a fourth [kind] that of the soulless, which from without 3 the bodies operates in them, and sets them moving.

But this should [really] be the moving of itself within its godlike body, and the moving of these [other] things as it were by the way.


The mention of the General Sermons (§ 1) raises the question as to whether or no our extract may not be from one of the Sermons to Tat, for in all other cases these General Sermons are referred to in the Tat-literature. The contents, however, are so similar to the extracts from the Sermons to Ammon that we keep this excerpt with them.


77:1 Cf. C. H., x. (xi.) 1 and 7; xiii. (xiv.) 1; and Ex. ix. 1.

77:2 Or energies.

78:1 The former is here the body; the latter, the motion of waxing and waning.

78:2 Cf. Ex. xvii.

79:1 Sc. the divine part.

79:2 The irrational parts.

79:3 The other kinds presumably operating in bodies from within.

Next: Excerpt XIX. Of Soul, VI.