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The Gnostic Society Library

Thrice-Greatest Hermes - Volume 3

by G.R.S. Mead

p. 285




The evidence of Jamblichus 1 is of prime importance seeing that it was he who put the Later Platonic School, previously led by the purely philosophical Ammonius, Plotinus and Porphyry, into conscious touch with those centres of Gnosis into which he had been initiated, and instructed it especially in the Wisdom of Egypt in his remarkable treatise generally known by the title On the Mysteries. The authorship of this treatise is usually disputed; but as Proclus, who was in the direct tradition, attributes it to Jamblichus, the probabilities are in favour of its authenticity.

Jamblichus writes with the authority of an accredited exponent of the Egyptian Wisdom as taught in these mysteries, and under the name of “Abammon, the Teacher,” proceeds to resolve the doubts and difficulties of the School with regard to the principles of the

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sacred science as formulated by Porphyry. Jamblichus begins his task with these significant words 1:


“Hermes, the God who is our guide in [sacred] sermons, was rightly held of old as common to all priests. And seeing that it is he who has in charge the real science about the Gods, he is the same in all [our sacred sermons]. 2 And so it was to him that our ancestors attributed all the discoveries of their wisdom, attaching the name of Hermes to all the writings which had to do with such subjects. 3 And if we also enjoy that share of this God which has fallen to our lot, according to our ability [to receive him], thou dost well in submitting certain questions on theology to us priests, as thy friends, for their solution. And as I may fairly suppose that the letter sent to my disciple Anebo was written to myself, I will send thee the true answers to the questions thou hast asked. For it would not be proper that Pythagoras and Plato, and Democritus and Eudoxus, and many others of the ancient Greeks, 4 should have obtained fitting instruction

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from the recorders of the sacred science of their times, and that thou, our contemporary, who art of a like mind with these ancients, should lack guidance from the now living bearers of the title ‘Common Teachers.’” 1

From the above important passage we learn that among the Egyptians the books which dealt technically with the science of sacred things, and especially with the science of the Gods, that is to say, with the nature of the hierarchy from man upwards to the Supreme Ruler of our system, were regarded as “inspired.” The Ray of the Spiritual Sun which illumined the sacred science was distinguished as a Person, and this Person, because of a partial similarity of attributes, the Greeks had long identified with their God Hermes. He was “common” to the priests of the sacred science, that is to say, it was this special Ray of the Spiritual Sun which illumined their studies. Not, however, that all were equally illumined, for there were many grades in the mysteries, many steps up the holy ascent to union

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with Deity. Now the Rays of the Spiritual Sun are really One Light, “polarised” variously by the “spheres” of which we have heard so much in the Trismegistic treatises. These Rays come forth from the Logos, and each illuminates a certain division of the whole hierarchy of beings from the Logos to man, and characterises further the lower kingdoms, animals and plants, and minerals. Hence, for instance, among animals, we get the ibis, the ape and the dog as being especially sacred to Thoth or Hermes.


Among men generally, also, there are certain whose characteristics are of a “Hermaïc” 1 nature; the more evolved of these are adapted to certain lines of study and research, while again among those few of these who are beginning to be really conscious of the science of sacred things, that is to say, among the initiated students or priests, the direct influence of this Ray or Person begins to be consciously felt, by each, as Jamblichus says, according to his ability, for there are still many grades.

Now the peculiar unanimity that prevailed in these strictly hierarchical schools of initiation, and the grand doctrine of identification that ran throughout the whole economy—whereby the pupil became identified with the master when he received his next grade of initiation, and whereby his master was to him the living symbol of all that was above that master, that is to say, was Hermes for him, in that he was the messenger to him of the Word, and was the channel whereby the divine inspiration came to him—rendered the ascription to

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[paragraph continues] Hermes of all the sacred scriptures, such as the sermons of initiation, a very natural proceeding. It was not the case of a modern novel-writer taking out a copyright for his own precious productions, but simply of the recorder, scribe or copyist of the sacred science handing on the tradition. As long as this was confined to the disciplined schools of the sacred science it was without danger, but when irresponsible people began to copy a method, to whose discipline they refused to submit, for purposes of edification, and so appended the names of great teachers to their own lucubrations, they paved the way for that chaos of confusion in which we are at present stumbling.


Towards the end of his treatise Jamblichus, in treating of the question of the innumerable hierarchies of being and their sub-hierarchies, says that these are so multiplex that they had to be treated by the ancient priests from various aspects, and even among those who were “wise in great things” in his own time the teaching was not one and the same.

“The main states of being were completely set forth by Hermes (in the twenty thousand books, as Seleucus 1 writes, or in the thirty-six thousand five hundred and twenty-five as Manetho relates), while the sub-states are interpreted in many other writings by the ancients, some of them sub-dividing 2 some of the sub-states and others others.” 3

At first sight it would seem that we are not to suppose

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that it took 20,000 volumes to set forth the main outlines of the cosmic system. Jamblichus would seem to mean that in the library or libraries of the books treating of the sacred science, the general scheme of the cosmos was set forth, and that the details were filled in very variously by many writers, each according to the small portion of the whole he had studied or speculated on. As to the number of books again we should not be dismayed, when we reflect that a book did not mean a large roll or volume but a division or chapter of such a roll. Thus we read of a single man composing no less than 6000 “books”!

But on further reflection this view does not seem satisfactory. The ghost of the very precise number 36,525, which Jamblichus substitutes from Manetho for the vague total 20,000 of Seleucus, refuses to be laid by such a weak-kneed process.

We see at once that 365⋅25 days is a very close approximation to the length of the solar year. We know further that 36,525 years was the sum of 25 Sothiac cycles (1461 × 25 = 36,525), 1 that most sacred time-period of the Egyptian secret astronomy, which was assigned to the revolution of the zodiac or the Great Year. Now supposing after all that Jamblichus does mean that Hermes actually did write the scheme of the cosmos in 36,525 “books” or “chapters”; and supposing further that these “chapters” were not written on papyrus, but in the heavens; and supposing still further that these “chapters” were simply so many great aspects of the real sun, just as the 365⋅25 days were but aspects of the physical sun—in such case the above favourite passage, which every previous writer has referred to actual books superscribed with the

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name of Hermes, and has dragged into every treatise on the Hermetic writings, will in future have to be removed from the list, and one of the functions of the real Hermes, the Initiator and Recorder, will become apparent to those who are “wise in greater things.”


In the next chapter, after first speaking of the God over all, Jamblichus refers to the Logos, the God of our system, whom he calls “God of gods, the Monad from the One, prior to being and the source of being.” And then continues:

“For from Him cometh the essence of being and being; wherefore is He called Father of being. For He is prior to being, the source of spiritual existences; wherefore also is He called Source of spiritual things. These latter are the most ancient sources of all things, and Hermes places them before the æthereal and empyrean and celestial gods, bequeathing to us a hundred books on the history of the empyrean, and a like number on that of the æthereal, but a thousand of them concerning the celestial.” 1

I am inclined to think that there is a mistake in the numbers of these books, and that we should have 10 assigned to the first class, 100 to the second, and 1000 to the third. In any case we see that all are multiples of the perfect number 10; and that thus my theory is still supported by the further information that Jamblichus gives us.


We next come to a passage which deals directly with our Trismegistic literature. Jamblichus tells Porphyry that with the explanations he has already

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given him, he will be able to find his way in the Hermetic writings which have come into his hands.

“For the books in circulation bearing the name of Hermes contain Hermaïc doctrines, although they often use the language of the philosophers, seeing that they were translated from the Egyptian by men well skilled in philosophy.” 1

The information given by Jamblichus is precise; they were translations, but instead of a literal rendering, the translators used the usual phraseology of the Greek philosophical writers.

Jamblichus then goes on to say that physical astronomy and physical research generally were but a very small part of the Hermaïc science, by no means the most important.

For “the Egyptians deny that physics are everything; on the contrary they distinguish both the life of the soul and the life of the mind from nature, 2 not only in the case of the cosmos but also in man. They first posit Mind and Reason (Logos) as having a being peculiar to themselves, and then they tell us that the world of becoming [or generation] is created. As Forefather of all beings in generation they place the Creator, and are acquainted with the Life-giving Power which is prior to the celestial spaces and permeates them. Above the universe they place Pure Mind; this for the universe as a whole is one and undivided, but it is variously manifested in the several spheres. 3 And they do not speculate about these things with the unassisted reason, but they announce that by the divine art of their priestly science 4 they reach higher and more

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universal states [of consciousness] above the [Seven Spheres of] Destiny, ascending to God the Creator, 1 and that too without using any material means, or any other [material] assistance than the observation of a suitable opportunity.

“It was Hermes who first taught this Path. 2 And Bitys, the prophet, translated [his teachings concerning it] for King Ammon, 3 discovering them in the inner temple 4 in an inscription in the sacred characters at Saïs in Egypt. [From these writings it was that Bitys] handed on the tradition of the Name of God, as ‘That which pervadeth the whole universe.’” 5

“As to the Good Itself [the Egyptians] regard It in Its relation to the Divine as the God that transcends all thought, and in Its relation to man as the at-onement with Him—a doctrine which Bitys translated from the Hermaïc Books.” 6

From these two passages we learn that the ancient doctrine of Hermes concerning the Path, which is the keynote of our Trismegistic tracts, was to be found either in inscriptions in the sacred script in the secret chambers of the temples, into which no uninitiated person was ever permitted to enter, or in “books,” also in the sacred script; that these had never been translated until the reign of King Ammon. 7 But what are we to understand by translated? Into Greek? Not necessarily, but more probably interpreted from the

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hieroglyphic symbols into the Egyptian vernacular and written in the demotic character. The term used (διερμηνεύειν) clearly bears this sense; whereas if translation from Egyptian into Greek had been intended, we should presumably have had the same word (μεταγράφειν) employed which Jamblichus uses when speaking of the Hermetic books that had been read by Porphyry. Reitzenstein (p. 108), however, has apparently no doubt that the writings of Bitys were in Greek, and that these writings lay before Jamblichus and were the only source of his information. But I cannot be certain that this is the meaning of the Greek.

We have rather, according to my view, probably two strata of “translation”—from hieroglyphic into demotic, from demotic into Greek. As to Bitys, we know nothing more definite than Jamblichus tells us. Perhaps he was the first to translate from the sacred hieroglyphs into the vulgar tongue and script; and by that we mean the first to break the ancient rule and write down in the vulgar characters those holy sermons and treatises which previously had never before been inscribed in any but the most sacred characters. We are not, however, to suppose that Bitys was the only one to do this.

Now in our Trismegistic literature we have a deposit addressed to a King Ammon. Is it then possible that this King, whoever he was, was the initiator of a change of policy in the immemorial practice of the priests? It may be so, but at present we have not sufficient data to decide the point.


A further scrap of information concerning Bitys, however, may be gleaned from Zosimus (§ 8), when, speaking of the Logos, the Son of God, pouring His Light

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into the soul and starting it on its Return Above, to the Blessed Region where it was before it had become corporeal (as described in the Trismegistic tractate, entitled “Concerning the Inner Door”)—he writes:

“And there shall it see the Picture (πίναξ) that both Bitos hath described, and thrice-greatest Plato, and ten-thousand-times-great Hermes,—for Thōythos translated it into the first sacred tongue,—Thōth the First Man.” 1

The identity of Bitys and Bitos is thus unquestionable. 2 Reitzenstein, however, asserts that neither of these name-forms is Egyptian, and therefore approves of the identification of our Bitys with “Pitys the Thessalian” of the Papyri, 3 as Dieterich has suggested. The headings of the fragments of the writings of Pitys in the Papyri run: “The Way [or Method] of Pitys”; “Pitys to King Ostanes Greeting”; “The Way of Pitys the King”; “Of Pitys the Thessalian.”

From this Reitzenstein (n. 2) concludes that already in the second and third centuries (? A.D.) Pitys is included among the prophetical theologi and Magians. What the precise date of these Papyri may be it is not easy to determine, but, whether or not they belong to the second and third centuries, it is evident that Pitys was regarded as ancient and a contemporary of the Magian Sage Ostanes.

King, 4 referring to a passage of the Elder Pliny (Nat. Hist., xxx. 4), which remarks on the similarity of the

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[paragraph continues] Magian Gnosis with the Druidical Gnosis of Gaul and Britain, says: “Pliny by his ‘Magica’ understands the rites instituted by Zoroaster, and first promulgated by Osthanes to the outer world, this Osthanes having been ‘military chaplain’ to Xerxes during his expedition to Greece.”

This date, if we can rely upon it, would take us back to the Persian Conquest of Egypt, but what has a Thessalian Pitys to do with that?

Curiously enough also Pliny in his xxviiith Book makes use of the writings of a certain Bithus of Dyrrachium, a city on the coast of Illyricum in the Ionic Gulf, known in Grecian history as Epidamnus.

All of this is puzzling enough; but whatever conclusions may be drawn from the evidence, the clearest indication is that Bitys was ancient, and therefore that whatever translating or rather “interpreting” there may have been, it was probably from hieroglyphic into demotic, and the latter was subsequently further “interpreted” into Greek.


But is Ostanes the Magian Sage of tradition, or may we adopt the brilliant conclusion of Maspero, and equate Ostanes with Asclepius, and so place him in the same circle with Bitys, or rather see in Bitys an “Asclepius”?

At any rate the following interesting paragraph of Granger 1 deserves our closest attention in this connection, when he writes:

“Maspero, following Goodwin, has shown that Ostanes is the name of a deity who belongs to the cycle of

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[paragraph continues] Thoth. 1 His name, Ysdnw, was derived by the Egyptians themselves from a verb meaning ‘to distinguish’ and he was a patron of intellectual perception. As time went on, he gained in importance. Under the Ptolemies he was often represented upon the Temple walls (l.c.). In Pliny he appears as an early writer upon medicine. 2 Some of the prescriptions quoted as from him are quite in the Egyptian style. 3 Philo Byblius, on whom, to be sure, not much reliance can be placed, 4 mentions a book of Ostanes—the Octateuch5 It is tempting to identify this with some such collection as the six medical books which occupy the last place in Clement’s list. 6 Now Pliny, as appears from his list of authorities, does not quote Ostanes directly. If we note that Democritus is mentioned by Pliny in the same context, and that Ostanes is the legendary teacher of Democritus upon his journey to Egypt, we shall consider it at least probable that Pliny depends upon Democritus for his mention of Ostanes. The Philosopher, whose visit to Egypt may be regarded as a historical fact, would in that case be dealing with a medical collection which passes under the name of Ostanes. Asclepius, who appears in the Pœmander, will be the Greek equivalent of Ostanes. Thus the collocation of Hermes and Asclepius is analogous to the kinship of the Egyptian deities, Thoth and Ysdnw.”


That these Bitys-books contained the same doctrines as our Trismegistic writings is evident from the whole

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treatise of Jamblichus. Jamblichus throughout bases himself upon the doctrines of Hermes, 1 and clearly suggests that he does not owe his information to translations only, as was the case with Porphyry, but to records in Egyptian; but whether to the demotic treatises of the Bitys-school or to the heiroglyphic records themselves he does not say. That these doctrines were identical with the teachings in our Trismegistic literature requires no proof to any one who has read our treatises and the exposition of Jamblichus; for the benefit, however, of those who have not read Jamblichus, 2 we append a passage to show the striking similarity of ideas. Treating of the question of freewill and necessity raised by Porphyry, and replying to the objection that the Egyptians taught an astrological fatalism, Jamblichus writes:

“We must explain to you how the question stands by some further conceptions drawn from the Hermaïc writings. Man has two souls, as these writings say. The one is from the First Mind, and partakes also of the Power of the Creator, 3 while the other, the soul under constraint, comes from the revolution of the celestial [Spheres] 4; into the latter the former, the soul that is the Seer of God, insinuates itself at a later period. This then being so, the soul that descends into us from the worlds 5 keeps time with the circuits of these worlds, while the soul from the Mind, existing in us in a spiritual fashion, is free from the whirl of

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[paragraph continues] Generation; by this the bonds of Destiny are burst asunder; by this the Path up to the spiritual Gods is brought to birth; by such a life as this is that Great Art Divine, which leads us up to That beyond the Spheres of Genesis, 1 brought to its consummation.” 2


With regard to the nature of these Spheres, Jamblichus shows very clearly that they are not the physical planets, as may be seen from the following passages of his De Mysteriis:

“With regard to partial existences, then, I mean in the case of the soul in partial manifestation, 3 we must admit something of the kind we have above. For just such a life as the [human] soul emanated before it entered into a human body, and just such a type as it made ready for itself, just such a body, to use as an instrument, does it have attached to it, and just such a corresponding nature accompanies [this body] and receives the more perfect life the soul pours into it. But with regard to superior existences and those that surround the Source of All as perfect existences, the inferior are set within the superior, bodies in bodiless existences, things made in their makers; and the former are kept in position by the latter enclosing them in a sphere.

“The revolutions of the heavenly Bodies4 therefore, being from the first set in the celestial revolutions of the æthereal Soul5 for ever continue in this relationship; while the Souls of the [invisible] Worlds, 6 extending to their [common] Mind, are completely

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surrounded by it, and from the beginning have their birth in it. And Mind in like manner, both partially and as a whole, is also contained in superior states of existence.” 1

And again in another passage Jamblichus writes:

“We say that [the Spiritual Sun and Moon, and the rest] are so far from being contained within their Bodies, that on the contrary, it is they who contain these Bodies of theirs within the Spheres of their own vitality and energy. And so far are they from tending towards their Bodies, that the tendency of these very Bodies is towards their Divine Cause. Moreover, their Bodies do not impede the perfection of their Spiritual and Incorporeal Nature or disturb it by being situated in it.” 2

To this we may add what Proclus writes in his Commentary on the Timæus of Plato:

“Each of the [Seven] Planetary Spheres is a complete World containing a number of divine offspring, which are invisible to us, and over all of these Spheres the Star 3 we see is the Ruler. Now Fixed Stars differ from those 4 in the Planetary Spheres in that the former have but one Monad, namely, their system as a whole 5; while the latter, namely the invisible globes in each of the Planetary Spheres, which globes have an orbit of their own determined by the revolution of their respective Spheres, have a double Monad—namely, their system as a whole, 6 and that dominant characteristic which has been evolved by selection in the several spheres of the system. For since globes are secondary to Fixed Stars they require a double order of government,

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first subordination to their system as a whole, and then subordination to their respective spheres. 1 And that in each of these spheres there is a host 2 on the same level 3 with each, you may infer from the extremes. 4 For if the Fixed Sphere 5 has a host on the same level as itself, and Earth has a host of earthy animals, 6 just as the former a host of heavenly animals, 7 it is necessary that every whole 8 should have a number of animals on the same level with itself; indeed it is because of the latter fact that they are called wholes. The intermediate levels, however, are outside the range of our senses, the extremes only being visible, the one through the transcendent brilliance of its nature, the other through its kinship with ourselves.” 9

It is evident that we are here dealing with what are known to Theosophical students as the “planetary chains” of our system, and that therefore these Spheres are not the physical planets; the visible planets are

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but a very small portion of the globes of these chains, of some of which there are no globes at all visible. The ascription therefore of the “influence” of these Spheres to the sun, moon, and five of the visible planets is at best a makeshift, a “correspondence,” or a “symbolism.”


285:1 The exact date of Jamblichus is very conjectural. In my sketches of the “Lives of the Later Platonists” I have suggested about A.D. 255-330. See The Theosophical Review (Aug. 1896), xviii. 462, 463.

286:1 I translate from the text of Parthey (Berlin, 1857).

286:2 The term λόγος is, of course, used technically, as a sacred or inspired sermon or course of instruction.

286:3 πάντα τὰ οἰκεῖα συγγράμματα.

286:4 Parthey here adds the following interesting note: “The Egyptian teachers of Pythagoras were Œnuphis of On (Plut., De Is. et Os., 10) and Sonchis (Clem. Al., Strom., i. 15, 69); Plato was the pupil of Sechnuphis of On (Clem. l.c.) and of Chonuphis (Plut., De Gen. Socr., 578); Democritus was taught by Pammenes of Memphis (Georg. Sync., i. 471 Dind.); Eudoxus by Chonuphis of Memphis (Plut. and Clem. ll. cc.).” To this Parthey appends a list of some of the many other famous Greeks who owed their knowledge to Egyptian teachers, viz., Alcæus, Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ, Appuleius, Archimedes, Bias, Chrysippus of Cnidus, Cleobulus, Dædalus, Decæneus, Diodorus Siculus, Ellopion, Euripides, Hecatæus of Abdera, Hecatæus of Miletus, Hellanicus, Herodotus, Homerus, Lycurgus, Melampus, Musæus, Œnopides of Chios, Orpheus, Pausanias, Pherecydes, Polybius, Simmias, Solon, Sphærus, Strabo, Telecles, Thales, Theodorus, Xenophanes of Colophon, Zamolxis. I have quoted this note on purpose to show the overpowering weight of evidence which some modern theorists have to face, in order to maintain their thesis that the philosophy of Greece was solely a native product. The universal testimony of the Greeks themselves is that all their greatest philosophers, geometricians, mathematicians, historians, geographers, and especially their theosophists, were pupils of the Egyptian Wisdom; the modern theory of the unaided evolution of philosophy on the soil of Greece, which is so universally accepted, is, to my mind, entirely erroneous. The “form” or “manner” of “philosophizing” was of course solely due to Greek genius, but the “matter” of it was of hoary antiquity. Cf. Plutarch, De Is. et Os., x.

287:1 That is to say, presumably, teachers of all without distinction of race. Op. cit., i. 1.

288:1 It is from this region of ideas that the terms “mercurial temperament,” and so forth, have reached modern times over the bridge of astrological tradition.

289:1 Porphyry (De Abs., ii. c. 55) mentions a Seleucus whom he calls a “theologist”; Suidas says that Seleucus of Alexandria wrote a treatise On the Gods, in 100 books or chapters.

289:2 Reading διαλαβόντες instead of διαβάλλοντες.

289:3 Ibid., viii. 1.

290:1 See Georgius Syncellus, Chron., i. 97, ed. Dindorf. Also Eusebius, Chron., vi.

291:1 Op. cit., viii. 2.

292:1 Ibid., viii. 4.

292:2 That is, the life of the body.

292:3 Lit. distributed to all the spheres as different.

292:4 διὰ τῆς ἱερατικῆς θεουργίας,—lit. by the theurgy known to the priests.

293:1 The Mind in its creative aspect.

293:2 Sc. This Way up to God.

293:3 See Commentary on C. H. (xvi.).

293:4 Or secret shrine.

293:5 Op. cit., viii. 5.

293:6 Ibid., x. 7.

293:7 Identified by some writers with one of the last kings of the Saïtic dynasty (the xxvith), who reigned somewhere about 570 B.C. See Thomas Taylor, Iamblichus on the Mysteries, p. 306 n. (2nd ed., London, 1895). But as there is no objective evidence by which this identification can be controlled, we simply record it.

295:1 See notes appended to the extract from Zosimus.

295:2 As has already been supposed by Hoffmann and Riess in Pauly-Wissowa’s Realencyklopädie, i. 1347. R. 108.

295:3 Dieterich, Jahr. f. Phil, Suppl., xvi. 753; Wessely, Denkschr. d. K. K. Akad. (1888), pp. 92, 95, 98.

295:4 King (C. W.), The Gnostics and their Remains, 2nd ed. (London, 1887), p. 421, who, however, does not document his statement.

296:1 Granger (F.), “The Poemander of Hermes Trismegistus,” in The Journal of Theological Studies, vol. v., no. 19, ap. 1904 (London), p. 398.

297:1 Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch., xx. 142.

297:2 Nat. Hist., xxviii. 6.

297:3 P. S. B. A., ibid., 256, 261.

297:4 He, however, was very well placed to have accurate knowledge on such a point.—[G. R. S. M.]

297:5 Eus., Præp. Ev., I. x. 52.

297:6 Strom., VI. iv. 37.

298:1 Especially in Book VIII., which is entirely devoted to an exposition of Hermaïc doctrine, and ought perhaps to be here translated in full. I have, however, preferred to select the passages definitely characterized by Jamblichus as Hermaïc.

298:2 Who must be read in the original and not in the inelegant and puzzling version of Taylor, the only English translation.

298:3 The Second Mind according to “The Shepherd.”

298:4 The Seven Spheres of the Harmony.

298:5 The Seven Spheres.

299:1 πρὸς τὸ ἀγέννητον.

299:2 Op. cit., viii. 6.

299:3 That is, as an individual soul and not as the world-soul.

299:4 Physical planets.

299:5 Of all of our visible system?

299:6 That is to say, the seven spheres.

300:1 Op. cit., i. 8.

300:2 Ibid., i. 17.

300:3 That is, visible planet.

300:4 That is, perhaps, the invisible globes.

300:5 Lit. their wholeness.

300:6 In our case the whole solar system.

301:1 Or, as one would say in modern Theosophical terms, to their planetary chains.

301:2 Hierarchy.

301:3 σύστοιχον.

301:4 That is to say, we may infer from the fixed stars (or suns) and from the globes which we can see (i.e. the visible planets), the manner of those we cannot see.

301:5 The sphere of fixed stars or suns.

301:6 That is to say, all the visible globes (vulgo planets) of our system as a whole. An “animal” means a “living thing”; so that here “earthy animals” mean the living vehicles of the heavenly beings which we so erroneously call “heavenly bodies.”

301:7 That is to say, suns or solar systems.

301:8 Here whole means plane.

301:9 That is to say, the brilliant light of the suns in space, and the reflected light of the physical globes of the planetary spheres of our system. See Proclus, Commentarius in Platonis Timæum, Bk. iv., p. 279 D, E, p. 676, ed. Schneider (Vratislaviæ, 1847). The passage is very difficult to translate because of its technical nature. Taylor, in his translation (London, 1820, ii. 281, 282), misses nearly every point.

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