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The Asclepius


1. [XIII. M.] But now let this suffice about such things; and let us once again return to man and reason,—gift divine, from which man has the name of rational animal.

Less to be wondered at are the things said of man,—though they are [still] to be admired. Nay, of all marvels that which wins our wonder [most] is that man has been able to find out the nature of the Gods and bring it into play.

2. Since, then, our earliest progenitors were in great error,—seeing they had no rational faith about the Gods, and that they paid no heed unto their cult and holy worship,—they chanced upon an art whereby they made Gods [for themselves].

To this invention they conjoined a power that suited it, [derived] from cosmic nature; and blending these together, since souls they could not make, [they set about] evoking daimons’ souls or those of angels; [and thus] attached them to their sacred images and holy mysteries, so that the statues should, by means of these, possess the powers of doing good and the reverse.

3. For thy forebear, Asclepius, the first discoverer of medicine, to whom there is a temple hallowed on Libya’s Mount, hard by the shore of crocodiles, in which his cosmic man reposes, that is to say his body; for that the rest [of him], or better still, the whole (if that a man when wholly [plunged] in consciousness of life, be better), hath gone back home to heaven,—still furnishing, [but] now by his divinity, the sick with all the remedies which he was wont in days gone by to give by art of medicine.

4. Hermes, which is the name of my forebear, whose home is in a place called after him, doth aid and guard all mortal [men] who come to him from every side.

As for Osiris’ [spouse]; how many are the blessings that we know Isis bestows when she’s propitious; how many does she injure when she’s wrath!

For that the terrene and the cosmic Gods are easily enraged, in that they are created and composed of the two natures.

5. And for this cause it comes to pass that these are called the “sacred animals” by the Egyptians, and that each several state gives service to the souls of those whose souls have been made holy, while they were still alive; so that [the several states] are governed by the laws [of their peculiar sacred animals], and called after their names.

It is because of this, Asclepius, those [animals] which are considered by some states deserving of their worship, in others are thought otherwise; and on account of this the states of the Egyptians wage with each other frequent war.


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