The Perfect Sermon, or

The Asclepius


1. [VIII. M.] Asc. What dost thou call, Thrice-greatest one, the heads of things, or sources of beginnings?

Tris. Great are the mysteries which I reveal to thee, divine the secrets I disclose; and so I make beginning of this thing with prayers for Heaven’s favour.

The hierarchies of Gods are numerous; and of them all one class is called the Noumenal, the other [class] the Sensible.

The former are called Noumenal, not for the reason that they’re thought to lie beyond our senses; for these are just the Gods we sense more truly than the ones we call the visible,—just as our argument will prove, and thou, if thou attend, wilt be made fit to see.

For that a lofty reasoning, and much more one that is too godlike for the mental grasp of [average] men, if that the speaker’s words are not received with more attentive service of the ears,—will fly and flow beyond them; or rather will flow back [again], and mingle with the streams of its own source.

2. There are, then, [certain] Gods who are the principals of all the species.

Next there come those whose essence is their principal. These are the Sensible, each similar to its own dual source, who by their sensibility affect all things,—the one part through the other part [in each] making to shine the proper work of every single one.

Of Heaven,—or of whatsoe’er it be that is embraced within the term,—the essence-chief is Zeus; for ’tis through Heaven that Zeus gives life to all.

Sun’s essence-chief is light; for the good gift of light is poured on us through the Sun’s disk.

3. The “Thirty-six,” who have the name of Horoscopes, are in the [self] same space as the Fixed Stars; of these the essence-chief, or prince, is he whom they call Pantomorph, or Omniform, who fashioneth the various forms for various species.

The “Seven” who are called spheres, have essence-chiefs, that is, [have each] their proper rulers, whom they call [all together] Fortune and Heimarmenē, whereby all things are changed by nature’s law; perpetual stability being varied with incessant motion.

The Air, moreover, is the engine, or machine, through which all things are made—(there is, however, an essence-chief of this, a second [Air])—mortal from mortal things and things like these.

4. These hierarchies of Gods, then, being thus and [in this way] related, from bottom unto top, are [also] thus connected with each other, and tend towards themselves; so mortal things are bound to mortal, things sensible to sensible.

The whole of [this grand scale of] Rulership, however, seems to Him [who is] the Highest Lord, either to be not many things, or rather [to be] one.

For that from One all things depending, and flowing down from it,—when they are seen as separate, they’re thought to be as many as they possibly can be; but in their union it is one [thing], or rather two, from which all things are made;—that is, from Matter, by means of which the other things are made, and by the Will of Him, by nod of whom they’re brought to pass.

Previous | The Corpus Hermeticum | Next