Shepherd, 3rd c. Rome

[1] “God, Asclepius, god has brought you to us so that you might join in a divine discourse, such a discourse as, in justice, seems more divine in its reverent fidelity than any we have had before, more than any that divine power inspired in us. If you are seen to understand it, your whole mind will be completely full of all good things – assuming that there are many goods and not one good in which all are. Admittedly, the one is consistent with the other: all are of one or all are one, for they are linked so that one cannot be separated from the other. But you will learn this by careful concentration from the discourse to come. Now go out for a moment, Asclepius, and call Tat (Thoth) to join us.”

Asclepius iste: pro sole mihi est deus. deus te nobis o Asclepi (vt diuino sermoni inter esses) adduxit. eique tali: qui merito omnium antea a nobis factorum / vel nobis diuino numine / inspiratorum / videatur esse religiosa pietate diuinior. quem si intelligeris videris: eris omnium bonorum / tota mente plenissimus / si tamen multa sint bona / et non vnum in quo sunt omnia. alterum enim alterius consentaneum esse dinoscitur: omnia vnius esse / aut vnum esse omnia. ita enim vnum alteri connexum: vt separari alterum ab altero non possit. Sed de futuro sermone: hoc diligenti intentione cognosces. tu vero o Asclepi procede paululum: atque nobis qui intersit / euoca.

When Tat came in, Asclepius suggested that Hammon (Ammon-Ra) also join them. Trismegistus said: “No jealousy keeps Hammon from us; indeed, we recall having written many things in his name, as we have also written so much on physical and popular topics for Tat, our dearest and most loving son. But this treatise I shall write in your name. Call no one but Hammon lest the presence and interference of the many profane this most reverent discourse on so great a subject, for the mind is irreverent that would make public, by the awareness of the many, a treatise so very full of the majesty of divinity.”

quo ingresso: Asclepius etiam Amnonem interesse suggessit.Trismegistus ait. nulla inuidia Amnonem prohibet a nobis. etenim ad eius nomen multa meminimus a nobis esse scripta: sicuti etiam ad amantissimum et charissimum filium / multa de physica / & exoticaque quamplurima Tractatum hunc autem: tuo ascribam nomini. preter Amnonem vero nullum voca alterum: ne tantem rei religiosissimus sermo / multorum interuentu venientium presentiaque violetur. tractatum autem tota numinis maiestate plenissimum: irreligiose mentis est multorum conscientie publicare.

When Hammon had also come into the sanctuary, the reverence of the four men and the divine presence of god filled that holy place; duly silent, the minds and thoughts of each of them waited respectfully for a word from Hermes, and then divine love began to speak.

Amnone etiam adytum ingresso / sanctoque illo quattuor virorum religione & diuina dei completo presentia: competenti venerabiliter silentio ex ore Hermu animis singulorum mentibusque pendentibus / diuinus Cupido sic exorsus est dicere.

[2] “Every human soul is immortal, Asclepius, but not all in the same way; some differ in manner and time from others.”

TRISAE. [sic] o Asclepi omnis humana immortalis [fol.28v] est anima: sed non vniformiter cuncte / sed alie alio more vel tempore.

“Is it not true, Trismegistus, that every soul is of the same quality?”

ASCLE. Non enim o trismegiste: omnis vnius qualitatis est anima.

“Asclepius, how quickly you have lapsed from reason’s true restraint! Did I not say that all are one and one all inasmuch as all were in the creator before he created them all? Not unjustly was he called all, whose members are all. In this whole discussion, then, take care to remember him who alone is all or who is himself the creator of all.”

TRISME. o Asclepi: vt celeriter de vera rationis continentia didicisti. Non enim hoc dixi: omnia vnum esse et vnum omnia / vt que in creatore fuerunt omnia / antequam creasset omnia. nec immerito ipse dictus est omnia: cuius membra sunt omnia. huius itaque qui est vnus omnia / vel ipse creator omnium: in hac tota disputatione / curato meminisse.

“From the heavens all things come into earth and water and air. Only the fire that moves upward is lifegiving; what moves down is subservient to it. But whatever descends from on high is a breeder; what diffuses upward is a feeder. Earth, who alone stands still in herself, is the receptacle of all and the renewer of all the kinds that she takes in. Therefore, this is the whole — as you remember — because it is all and consists of all. Soul and matter, embraced by nature, are so stirred by the varied multiform quality of all images that, in the discontinuity of their qualities, the forms are known to be infinite, yet they are united to this end: that the whole might seem to be one and that all might seem to be from one. [3] The elements by which the whole of matter has been formed, then, are four: fire, water, earth, air. One matter, one soul and one god.”

de celo cuncta descendunt / in terram / & in aquam / et in aera. Ignis solum quod sursum versus fertur / viuificum: quod deorsum / ei deseruiens. at vero quidquid de alto descendit: generans est. quod sursum versus emanat: nutriens. terra sola in se ipsam consistens: omnium est receptrix / omniumque generum que accipit restitutrix. hoc ergo toto (sicut meministi) quod est omnium vel omnia: anima et mundus a natura comprehensa agitantur. ita omnium multiformi imaginum equalitate variata: vt infinite qualitatum ex interuallo species esse noscantur. adunate tamen ad hoc: vt totum vnum et ex vno / omnia esse videantur. totus itaque quibus formatus est mundus: elementa sunt quattuor / ignis / aqua / terra / aer / mundus vnus / anima vna / deus vnus.

• “Now give me your whole attention, all your strength of mind, all your clever ingenuity. Giving an account of divinity, whose knowing needs a godlike concentration of consciousness, is most like a river running in torrent from a height, sweeping, plunging, so that its rapid rush outraces our concentration, not only as we listen but even as we teach.”

Nunc mihi adesto totus quantum mente vales / quantum calles astutia. diuinitatis etenim ratio / diuina sensus intentione noscenda: torrenti simillima est fluuio / e summo in pronum / praecipiti rapacitate currenti. quo efficitur: vt intentione nostram non solum audientium verum etiam tractantium ipsorum / celeri velocitate pretereat. [fol.29r]

“The heavens, a perceptible god, administer all bodies whose growth and decline have been charged to the sun and moon. But god, who is their maker, is himself governor of heaven and of soul itself and of all things that are in the world. From all these, all governed by the same god, a continuous influence carries through the world and through the soul of all kinds and all forms throughout nature. God prepared matter as a receptacle for omniform forms, but nature, imaging matter with forms by means of the four elements, causes all things to reach as far as heaven so that they will be pleasing in the sight of god.”

[Caput II] c Elum ergo sensibilis deus / administrator est omnium [c]orporum: quorum augmenta / detrimentaque sol et luna sortiti sunt. celi vero / et ipsius anime / et omnium que in mundo sunt: ipse gubernator est: qui est omnium effector deus. a supradictis enim omnibus quorum gubernator est omnium frequens per mundum fertur influxio / & per animam omnium generum / et specierum omnium / perque rerum naturam. mundus autem preparatus est a deo: receptaculum omniformium specierum. naturam autem per species efficians: mundum per quattuor elementa ad celum vsque adduxit. Cuncta: dei visibus placitura.

[4] “All things that depend from above, however, are divided into forms in the way that I am about to explain. Forms of all things follow kinds, so that the kind is the entirety while the form is a smaller part of the kind. Thus, the kind made up of gods will produce from itself the forms of gods. The kind made up of demons, as that of humans and likewise birds and all things that the world contains, breeds forms resembling itself. There is another kind of living thing, a kind without soul yet not lacking senses; it thus finds joy in good treatment, harm and weakness in adversity. I am speaking of all those things that come to life in the earth when their roots and stems are undamaged; their forms have been scattered all over the earth. Heaven itself is full of god. The aforesaid kinds, however, dwell as far as the places that belong to its forms, and the forms of all these things are immortal. Now a form is part of a kind, as a human is of humanity, and it must follow the quality of its kind. Whence, although all kinds are immortal, it happens that not all forms are immortal. In the case of divinity, both kind and form are immortal. The fertility of coming to be preserves the kinds of other things, where eternity belongs to the kind even though the forms perish. Thus, there are mortal forms, (but not kinds,) so that a human is mortal and humanity immortal.”

omnia autem desuper pendentia: in species diuiduntur / hoc quo dicturus sum modo. genera rerum omnium suas species sequuntur: vt sit ita totalitas genus: species generis particula. genus ergo deorum / demonumque genus: eque et hominum / similiter et volucrum. et omnium que in se mundus habet: sibi similes species generat. genus est & aliud animalis: genus sine sensibus quidem attamen non carens anima / vnde beneficijs gaudet / [fol.29v] et aduersis minuitur atque viciatur. omnium dico que in terra radicum / stirpiumque incolumitate viuiscunt: quatum species per totam terrani sparse sunt. ipsum celum plenum est deo. supradicta autem genera inhabitant vsque ad loca specierum / earum rerum: quarum omnes immortales sunt species. Species enimi generis est pars / vt homo humanitatis: quam necesse est sequi qualitatem sui generis. vnde efficitur vt quamuis omnia genera sint immortalia: species tamen non omnes immortales sunt. Diuinitatis enim genus et ipsum & species immortales sunt: reliquorum vero genera quorum eternitas est generis / quamuis per species occidat / nascendi tamen fecunditate seruatur. ideoque species mortales sunt / vt homo mortalis: immortalis humanitas.

[5] “However, the forms of all kinds combine with all kinds; some were made before; some are made from those that were made. Those made by gods or by demons or by humans are all forms closely resembling their kinds. It is impossible for bodies to be shaped without divine assent, for forms to be figured without the aid of demons, and without humans soulless things cannot be started and kept going. Therefore, because they are conjoined to some form of a divine kind, any demons who by chance drop down from their kind into a form are considered godlike by nearness and association. But those demons are called friendly to humans whose forms persist in the quality of their kind. For humans the pattern is similar but broader. The form of humankind is multiform and various: coming down from association with the (higher form) just described, it makes many conjunctions with all other forms and, of necessity, makes them with almost everything. Hence, one who has joined himself to the gods in divine reverence, using the mind that joins him to the gods, almost attains divinity. And one who has been joined to the demons attains their condition. Human are they who remain content with the middle status of their kind, and the remaining forms of people will be like those kinds to whose forms they adjoin themselves.”

omnibus tamen generibus: omnium generum species miscentur. quedam que antefacte sunt: quedam que de his facte sunt. hec autem que fiunt / aut a dijs / aut a demonibus / aut ab hominibus: omnes simillime generibus suis species. corpora enim impossibile est conformari sine nutu diuino: species figurari sine adiutorio demonum. animalia institui et coli: sine hominibus non possunt. quicunque igitur demonum a genere suo defluentes / in speciem fortuito coniuncti sunt alicuius speciei generis diuini: proximitate et consortio dijs similes habentur. quorum vero demonum species qualitate sui generis perseuerant: hi amantes hominum rationem / demones nuncupantur. similis est et hominum species: aut eo amplior. multiformis enim / variaque humani generis species. et ipsa a predicto desuper adueniens consortio: omnium aliarum specierum multas / et prope / monium per necessitatem coniunctiones facit. propter quod et prope deos accedit: qui se mente / qua dijs iunctus [Zählung springt von 29 auf 40: fol.40r] est diuina religione diis iunxerit. et demones qui ijs iunctus est. humani vero: qui medietati sui generis contenti sunt. et relique omnium species / ijs similes erunt: quorum se generis speciebus adiunxerint. [fol.40v

[6] “Because of this, Asclepius, a human being is a great wonder, a living thing to be worshipped and honored: for he changes his nature into a god’s, as if he were a god; he knows the demonic kind inasmuch as he recognizes that he originated among them; he despises the part of him that is human nature, having put his trust in the divinity of his other part. How much happier is the blend of human nature! Conjoined to the gods by a kindred divinity, he despises inwardly that part of him in which he is earthly. All others he draws close to him in a bond of affection, recognizing his relation to them by heaven’s disposition. He looks up to heaven. He has been put in the happier place of middle status so that he might cherish those beneath him and be cherished by those above him. He cultivates the earth; he swiftly mixes into the elements; he plumbs the depths of the sea in the keenness of his mind. Everything is permitted him: heaven itself seems not too high, for he measures it in his clever thinking as if it were nearby. No misty air dims the concentration of his thought; no thick earth obstructs his work; no abysmal deep of water blocks his lofty view. He is everything, and he is everywhere.”

Caput III

p Ropter hoc o asclepi magnum miraculum est homo: animal adorandum et honorandum. hoc enim in naturam dei transit: quasi ipse sit deus. hoc demonum genus nouit: vt pote qui cum eijsdem ortum se esse cognoscat. hoc humane nature partem in se ipso despicit: alterius partis diuinitate confisus. O hominum quanto est natura temperata felicius: ac dijs cognata. diuinitate coniunctus / partem sui qua terrenus est intra se despicit. cetera omnia quibus se necessarium esse celesti dispositione cognoscit nexu seest charitatis astringit. sicque suspicit celum. sic ergo feliciore loco medietatis est positus: vt que infra se sunt diligat / ipse a superioribus diligatur. colit terram. elementis velocitate miscetur: acumine mentis in maris profunda descendit. omnia illi lucent: non celum videtur altissimum. quasi enim e proximo sagacitate animi intuetur. intentionem animi eius nulla aeris calligo confundit. non densitas terre operam eius impedit. non aque altitudo profunda despectum eius obtundit. omnia idem est /

“Of all these kinds, the ensouled have roots reaching them from on high to below, but living things without soul branch from a root that grows from beneath to above. Some things are nourished on composite food, others on simple food. The types of food are two: one for the soul, the other for the body – the two substances of which living things consist. Soul feeds on the ever restless stirring of the world. Bodies grow on water and earth, foods of the lower world. The spirit that fills all mixes with everything and enlivens everything. And in humans consciousness is added to understanding: only this fifth part, granted to humanity, comes from the aether. Of all living things, consciousness equips only the human, exalts it, raises it up to understand the divine plan. But since I am reminded to speak about consciousness, I shall also set forth an account of it for you a little later. It is a great subject and very holy, no less than an account of divinity itself.”

et vbique idem est horum omnium generum quae sunt animalia: desuper deorsum radices peruenientes habent. in animalium vero de imo in superna vna radice siluescunt. quedam duplicibus aluntur elementis: quedam autem simplicibus. alimenta autem sunt bina / anime et corporis e quibus animalia constant. anima mundi: inquieta semper agitatione nutritur. corporea ex aqua [fol.41r] et terra inferioris mundi: alimentis augescunt. Spiritus (quo plena sunt omnia ) permixtus cunctis: cuncta viuificat / sensu adito ad hominis intelligentiam / que quinta pars sola homini concessa est ex ethere. sed de animalibus cunctis: humanos tantum sensus ad diuine rationis intelligentiam exornat / erigit atque sustollit. sed quoniam de sensu commoneor dicere: paulo post et huius rationem vobis exponam. est enim sanctissima et magna: et non minor quam ea que est diuinitatis ipsius.

“But now let me finish for you what I began. [7] At the very beginning I was speaking of that conjunction with the gods which only humans enjoy fully because the gods esteem them – those humans who have gained so much happiness that they grasp the divine consciousness of understanding, the diviner consciousness that is only in god and in human understanding.”

sed nunc vobis expediam: que ceperam. dicebam enim in ipso initio rerum de coniunctione deorum: qua homines soli (eorum dignatione) perfruuntur. verum ij hominum quicunque tantum felicitatis adepti sunt: vt illum intelligentie diuinum perciperent sensum / qui sensus est diuinior in solo deo et in humana intelligentia.

“Is consciousness not uniform in all people, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Non enim omnium hominum o Trismegiste vniformis est sensus.

“Not all have gained true understanding, Asclepius. They are deceived, pursuing, on rash impulse and without due consideration of reason, an image that begets malice in their minds and transforms the best of living things into a beastly nature with brutal habits. When I speak about spirit, I will give you a full account of consciousness and related topics.”

TRISME. Non omnes o Asclepi intelligentiam veram adepti sunt. sed imaginem tamerario impetu / nulla vera ratione inspecta / sequentes: decipiuntur. que in mentibus malicia parit: et transformat optimum animal in naturam fere / morsque beluarum. de sensu autem / et de omnibus similibus: quando et de spiritu / tunc totam vobis prestabo rationem.

“Mankind is the only living thing that is twofold: one part of him is simple, what the Greeks call ousi?d?s, what we call a form of divine likeness. What the Greeks call hulikos and we call earthly is fourfold. From it is made the body that covers over what we have already termed divine in mankind; it covers the divinity of pure mind, which rests alone with its kindred, the thoughts of pure mind, at pease with itself as if sheltered by a wall of body.”

Solum enim animal homo duplex est. & eius vna pars simplex est. quam vt greci aiunt ????????: aut quam vocamus diuine similitudinis formam. est autem quadruplex quod ???????? greci nos mundanum dicimus. ex quo factum est corpus: quo circumtegitur illud / quod in homine diuinum esse iam diximus. in quo mentis diuinitas tecta sola / cum cognatis suis id est mentis pure sensibus secum ipsa conquiescat / tanquam muro corporis septa. [fol.41v]

“Why then, Trismegistus, should humans have been put in the world? Why do they not live in the highest happiness in the region where god is?”

Caput IIII

a SCLE. quid ergo oportuit o Trismegiste / hominem in mundo constitui: et non ea parte (qua deus est) eum in summa beatitudine degere?

“You are right to ask, Asclepius. Indeed, we beseech god to grant us the strength to find a reason for it. Although everything depends on god’s will, those things especially depend on it that concern the summit of the all, the all whose reason we seek in our present inquiry.”

TRISME. Recte queris o Asclepi. & nos enim deum rogamus vt tribuat nobis facultatem reddende ra= [fol.42r] tionis istius. cum enim omnia voluntate eius dependeant: tum illa vel maxime que de tota summitate tractantur / quam rationem presenti disputatione conquirimus:

[8] “Listen, then, Asclepius. When the master and shaper of all things, whom rightly we call god, made a god next after himself who can be seen and sensed (I call this second god sensible not because he senses but because he impinges on the senses of those who see him; at another time we shall discuss whether he senses or not), then, having made this god as his first production and second after himself, it seemed beautiful to him since it was entirely full of the goodness of everything, and he loved it as the progeny of his own divinity. Then, so great and good was he that he wanted there to be another to admire the one he had made from himself, and straightaway he made mankind, imitator of his reason and attentiveness. God’s will is itself perfect achievement since willing and achievement are complete for him at one and the same moment of time. After he (had made) mankind ousi?d?s and noticed that he could not take care of everything unless he was covered over with a material wrapping, god covered him with a bodily dwelling and commanded that all humans be like this, mingling and combining the two natures into one in their just proportions. Thus god shapes mankind from the nature of soul and of body, from the eternal and the mortal, in other words, so that the living being so shaped can prove adequate to both its beginnings, wondering at heavenly beings and worshipping them, tending earthly beings and governing them.”

audi ergo Asclepi. dominus et omnium conformator quem recte deum dicimus: cum a se secundum fecerit qui videri et sentiri possit / eundem secundum sensibilem ita dixerim / non ideo quod ipse sentiat (de hoc enim / an ipse sentiat an non: alio dicemus tempore) sed eo quod videntium sensus incurrit. quoniam ergo hunc fecit ex se primum / et a se secundum / visusque est ei pulcher / vt pote qui sit omnium bonitate plenissimus: amauit eum / vt diuinitatis sue partem. ergo qui tantus et tam bonus esset: voluit alium qui illum quem ex se fecerat / intueri potuisset / simulque et rationis imitatorem et diligentie / fecit hominem. voluntas etenim dei: ipsa summa est perfectio. vtpote cum voluisse & perfecisse vno eodemque temporis puncto compleat. cum itaque ??????? animaduerteret deus / non posse omnium rerum esse diligentem / nisi eam mundano integumento contegeret: texit eam corporea domo. talesque omnes esse precepit ex vtraque natura: in vnum confundens / miscensque / quantum satis esse debuisset. Itaque hominem conformauit ex animi et corporis (id est ex eterna et mortali) natura. vt animal ita conformatum vtrique origini sue satisfacere possit / et mirari atque orare celestia et eterna / & incolere atque gubernare terrena.

“Just now, in speaking about mortal things, I mean to speak not about water and earth, those two of the four elements that nature has made subject to humans, but about what humans make of those elements or in them – agriculture, pasturage, building, harbors, navigation, social intercourse, reciprocal exchange – the strongest bond among humans or between humanity and the parts of the world that are water and earth. Learning the arts and sciences and using them preserves this earthly part of the world; god willed it that the world would be incomplete without them. Necessity follows god’s pleasure; result attends upon his will. That anything agreed by god should become disagreeable to him is incredible since he would have known long before that he would agree and that it was to be.”

modo autem dico mortalia / non aquam et terram / que duo de quatuor elementis subiecit natura hominibus. sed ea quae ab hominibus aut in his aut de his fiunt. vt ipsius terre cultus / pascua / edificatio / portus / nauigationes communicationes / commodationes alterne: qui est huma= [fol.42v] nitatis inter se firmissimus nexus. et pars est mundi quam est aqua et terra: que pars terrena mundi / artium disciplinarumque cognitione atque vsu seruatur. sine quibus mundum deus noluit esse perfectum. placitatur effectus. neque enim credibile est deo displiciturum esse quod placuit: cum et futurum id / & placiturum multo ante sciuerit.

[9] “But I notice, Asclepius, that mind’s quick desire hastens you to learn how mankind can cherish heaven (or the things in it) and tend to its honor. Listen, then, Asclepius. Cherishing the god of heaven and all that heaven contains means but one thing: constant assiduous service. Except for mankind alone, no living thing, neither divine nor (mortal), has done this service. Heaven and heavenly beings take delight in wonderment, worship, praise and service from humans. Rightly the supreme divinity sent the chorus of Muses down to meet mankind lest the earthly world lack sweet melody and seem thereby less civilized; instead, with songs set to music, humans praised and glorified him who alone is all and is father of all, and thus, owing to their praise of heaven, earth has not been devoid of the charms of harmony. Some very small number of these humans, endowed with pure mind, have been allotted the honored duty of looking up to heaven. But those who lagged behind (at) a lower reach of understanding, under the body’s bulk and because theirs is a mingled twofold nature, have been appointed to care for the elements and these lower objects. Mankind is a living thing, then, but none the lesser for being partly mortal; indeed, for one purpose his composition seems perhaps fitter and abler, enriched by mortality. Had he not been made of both materials, he would not have been able to keep them both, so he was formed of both, to tend to earth and to cherish divinity as well.”

Cap V

s Ed o Asclepi: animaduerto vt celeri mentis cupiditate / festines audire / quomodo homo celi vel eorum que in eo sunt delectum possit habere vel cultum. audi itaque o Asclepi: delectus dei celi cum ijs. quam insunt omnibus / vna est obsequiorum frequentatio. hanc aliud animal non confecit / nec diuinorum / nec animalium: nisi solus homo. hominum enim admirationibus / adorationibus / laudibus / obsequijs: celum / celesteque delectantur. nec immerito in hominum cetum musarum / chorus est a summa diuinitate demissus: scilicet ne terrenus mundus [fol.43r] videretur incultior / si modulorum dulcedine caruisset. sed potius vt modulatis hominum cantilenis: concelebraretur laudibus / qui solus omnia aut pater est omnium. atque ita celestibus laudibus: nec in terris harmonie suauitas defuisset. aliqui enim ipsique paucissimi / pura mente perditi: sortiti sunt celi suspiciendi venerabiliorem curam. quicumque autem ex duplici nature sue confusione / interiorem intelligentiam mole corporis resciderunt: curandis elementis / hisque inferioribus sunt prepositi. animal ergo homo non quidem eo est minor / quod ex parte moralis sit: sed ex eo forte aptius efficatiusque compositus / ad certam rationem mortalitate auctus esse videatur. scilicet quoniam vtrumque nisi ex vtraque natura sustinere non potuisset: ex vtraque formatus est vt et terrenum et diuinum posset habere delectum.

[10] “Asclepius, I want you to grasp the theory that follows, not only through thoughtful concentration but also with an energetic attitude. The theory seems incredible to most, but holier minds should grasp it as sound and true. Now let me begin.”

rationem vero tractatus istius o Asclepi: non solum sagaci intentione verum etiam cupio te animi viuacitate percipere. est enim ratio plurimis incredibilis: integra autem et vera percipienda sanctioribus mentibus. itaque hinc exordiar.

“The master of eternity is the first god, the world is second, mankind is third. God is maker of the world and all it contains, governing all things along with mankind, who governs what is composite. Taking responsibility for the whole of this – the proper concern of his attentiveness – mankind brings it about that he and the world are ornaments to one another so that, on account of mankind’s divine composition, it seems right to call him a well-ordered world, though kosmos in Greek would be better. Mankind knows himself and knows the world: thus, it follows that he is mindful of what his role is and of what is useful to him; also, that he recognizes what interests he should serve, giving greatest thanks and praise to god and honoring his image but not ignoring that he, too, is the second image of god, who has two images, world and mankind.

Caput VI

e Ternitas dominus / deus primus est: secundus est mundus / homo est tertius. effector mundi: deus et eorum que insunt omnium / simul cuncta gubernando cum ipso homine gubernatore composita. quod est totum suscipiens homo: id est curam proprie effecit diligentie sue / vt sit ipse et mundus / vterque ornamento sibi. vt ex hac hominis diuina compositione: mundus grece rectius ?????? [kosmos] dictus videatur. Is nouit se: no= [fol.43v] uit et mundum: scilicet vt meminerit quid partibus conueniat suis. quibus sibi vtendum: quibus sibi inseruiendum sit recognoscat. laudes gratesque maximas agens deo: eius imaginem venerans / non ignarus se etiam secundam esse imaginem dei. cuius sunt imagines due: mundus scilicet et homo.

Whence, though mankind is an integral construction, it happens that in the part that makes him divine, he seems able to rise up to heaven, as if from higher elements – soul and consciousness, spirit and reason. But in his material part – consisting of fire (and earth,) water and air – he remains fixed on the ground, a mortal, lest he disregard all the terms of his charge as void and empty. Thus, humankind is divine in one part, in another part mortal, residing in a body.”

vnde efficitur: vt quoniam est ipsius vna compago / parte qua ex anima / et sensu / et spiritu / atque ratione / diuinus est / velut ex elementis superioribus ascendere posse videatur in celum. parte vero mundana / que constat ex igne et aqua et aere mortalis restet in terra / vt nature sue omnia mundana vidua desertaque dimittat. sic enim humanitas ex parte diuina / & ex parte mortalis est effecta / in corpore consistens.

[11] “For him – for mankind, that is – and for the sum of his parts, the ultimate standard is reverence, from which goodness follows. Goodness is deemed perfect only when fortified by the virtue of disdain, which repels desire for every alien thing. Any earthly possessions owned out of bodily desire are all alien to every part of his divine kinship. To name such things `possessions’ is correct because they do not come to be with us but come to be possessed by us later on, wherefore we call them by the name `possessions.’ Everything of this kind, then, is alien to mankind, even the body, and we should despise both the things we yearn for and the source within us of the vice of yearning. The aim of the argument leads me to think that mankind was bound to be (human) only to this extent, that by contemplating divinity he should scorn and despise that mortal part joined to him by the need to preserve the lower world. Now in order for mankind in both his parts to have all that he can, note that he was formed with a quaternary of elements in either part: with pairs of hands and feet and other bodily members to serve the lower or earthly world; and with those four faculties of thought, consciousness, memory and foresight by means of which he knows all things divine and looks up to them. Hence, searching warily, mankind hunts in things for variations, qualities, effects and quantities, and yet, because the heavy and excessive vice of body slows him down, he cannot rightly discern the true causes of their nature.

est autem mensura eius vtriusque / id est hominis: ante omnes religio / quam sequitur bonitas. ea demum tunc videtur esse perfecta: si etiam cupiditatum omnium alienarum rerum / sit despectus virtute munita. sunt enim ab omnibus diuine cogitationis partibus / aliena omnia: quecunque terrena corporali cupiditate possidentur. quam merito possessionum nomine nuncupantur: quoniam non nata sunt nobiscum / sed postea a nobis possideri receperunt. omnia ergo huiusmodi ab homine aliena sunt: etiam corpus vt et ea que apetimus / & illud ex quo appetentie nobis est vicium: despiciamus. vt enim animum rationis ducit intentio: homo hactenus esse debuit. vt contemplatione diuinitatis: partem (que sibi iuncta mortalis est / mundi interioris necessitate seruandi) despiciat / atque contemnat. nam vt homo ex vtraque parte possit esse plenissimus: quaternis eum vtriusque partis elementis animaduerte esse formatum. manibus et pedibus vtrisque binis / aliisque corporis membris: quibus [fol. 44r] inferiori (id est terreno) mundo deseruiat. illis vero partibus quatuor: sensus: animi / memorie / atque prouidentie. quarum ratione: cuncta diuina norit atque suspiciat. vnde efficitur vt rerum diuiersitates / qualitates / effectus / quantitates: suspiciosa indagine homo sectetur. Retardatus vero graui et nimio corporis vicio: has nature rerum causas / que vere sunt / proprie peruidere non possit.

Therefore, given that mankind was made and shaped in this way and that the supreme god appointed him to such duty and service, if he observes the worldly order in an orderly way, if he adores god faithfully, complying duly and worthily with god’s will in both its aspects, with what prize do you believe such a being should be presented? (Seeing that the world is god’s work, one who attentively preserves and enriches its beauty conjoins his own work with god’s will when, lending his body in daily work and care, he arranges the scene formed by god’s divine intention.) Is it not the prize our parents had, the one we wish – in most faithful prayer – may be presented to us as well if it be agreeable to divine fidelity: the prize, that is, of discharge and release from worldly honor his works, also to give thanks to god’s will (which alone is completely filled with good), this is a philosophy unprofaned by relentlessly curious thinking.”

hunc ergo sic effectum / conformatumque et tali ministerio obsequioque prepositum a summo deo / eumque competenter / munde mundum seruando / deum pie colendo / digne et competenter in vtroque dei voluntati parentem: talem / quo munere credis esse munerandum (siquidem cum dei opera sit mundus: eiusque pulchritudinem qui diligentia seruat atque auget/ operamque suam cum dei voluntate coniungit / cum speciem quam ille intentione diuina formauit / adminiculo sui corporis / diurno opere curaque componit) nisi eo quo parentes nostri munerati sunt? quo etiam nos quoque munerari / si fuerit diuine pietati complacitum optamus pijssimis votis: vt emeritos atque exutos mundana custodia / nexibus mortalibus absolutos / nature superioris partis id est diuine / puros sanctosque restituat.

“And this is our account of these topics. From this point let us begin the treatment of spirit and related matters.”

Caput VII

d E spiritu vero et de his similibus:

“There was god and hule (which we take as the Greek for `matter’), and attending matter was spirit, or rather spirit was in matter, but it was not in matter as it was in god nor as the things from which the world came were in god. Because these things had not come to be, they were not as yet, but by then they already were in that from which they had their, coming to be. Not only of those that have not yet come to be, but also of those that lack the fertility for breeding so that nothing can come to be from them, is it said that they do not produce being. Therefore, things can breed that have in them a nature capable of breeding; something can come to be from them even though they have come to be from themselves (for there is no doubt that the things from which all come to be can easily come to be from those that have come to be from themselves). The everlasting god, god eternal, neither can nor could have come to be – that which is, which was, which always will be. This is the nature of god, then, which is wholly from itself.”

hinc sumatur exordium. fuit deus et hyle (quam grece credimus mundum) et mundo comitabatur spiritus: sed non similiter vt deo. nec deus sunt hec: de quibus mundus est. iccirco non erant: quando nata non erant. [fol.45v] sed in eo iam tunc erant: vnde nasci habuerunt. Non enim ea sola non nata dicuntur / que nec dum nata sunt: sed ea que carent fecunditate generandi: ita vt ex eis nihil nasci possit. Quecunque ergo sunt / quibus inest natura generandi: hec et generabilia sunt / que de his nasci possunt / tametsi ea ex se nata sunt. neque enim dubitatur: ex ijs que ex se nata sunt/ facile nasci posse ea / de quibus cuncta nascuntur. Deus ergo sempiternus / deus eternus: nec nasci potest nec potuit. hic est / hic fuit / hic erit semper. hec ergo est: que ex se tota est / natura dei.

“But hule (or the nature of matter) and spirit, though from the beginning they seem not to have come to be, nonetheless possess in themselves the power and nature of coming to be and procreating. For the beginning of fertility is in the quality of nature, which possesses in itself the power and the material for conceiving and giving birth. Nature, therefore, can breed alone without conceiving by another.”

Hyle autem vel mundi natura / et spiritus: quamuis nata videantur a principio / tamen in se nascendi procreandique vim possident / atque naturam fecunditatis. etenim initium in qualitate nature est: que et conceptus / et partus in se possidet vim / atque naturam. hec itaque sine alieno conceptu est: sola generabilis.

[15] “By contrast, things that have the power to conceive only by coupling with natures outside themselves must be divided in such a way that the place of the world along with its contents are seen not to have come to be – which place in any event has in itself the power of the whole of nature. `Place’ I call that in which all things are, for none of them could have been, lacking a place to keep them all (a place must be provided for everything that is to be); the fact is, that if things were nowhere, one could not distinguish their qualities, quantities, positions or effects.”

at vero ea que vim solam concipiendi habent : ex alterius commixtione nature / ita discernenda sunt / vt hic locus mundi cum ijs que in se sunt / videatur esse non natus. qui vtique in se vim totius nature habet. locum autem dico: in quo sunt omnia. neque enim hec omnia esse potuissent: si locus deesset / qui omnia sustinere potuisset. omnibus enim rebus que fuerunt: precauendum est loco. nec qualitates enim / nec quantitates / nec positiones / nec effectus dignosci potuissent / earum rerum que nusquam sunt.

“Therefore, although matter did not come to be, it nonetheless has in itself the natures of all things inasmuch as it furnishes them most fertile wombs for conceiving. The whole of matter’s quality, then, is to be creative, even though it was not created

sic ergo et mundus quamuis natus non sit: in se tamen omnium naturam habet vt pote qui omnibus ijs ad concipiendum sinus prestat fecundissimos. hoc ergo est totum qualitatis / materieque quam creabilis est: tametsi creata non est.

. Just as there is a fertile custody, of loosing the bonds of mortality so that god may restore us, pure and holy, to the nature of our higher part, to the divine?”


[12] “What you say is right and true, Trismegistus.”

ASCLE. Iuste et vere dicis o Trismegiste.

“Yes, this is the payment for those who live faithfully under god, who live attentively with the world. For the unfaithful it goes differently: return to heaven is denied them, and a vile migration unworthy of a holy soul puts them in other bodies.”

hec enim merces: pie sub deo / diligenter cum mundo viuentibus. secus en / impieque qui vixerint: & reditus denegatur in celum / et constituitur in corpora alia / indigena sancto animo et feda migratio.

“As the pattern of your discourse has developed, Trismegistus, it seems that souls run a great risk in this earthly life regarding hope of eternity to come.”

vt iste rationis sermo processit o Trismegiste: future eternitatis spe anime / in mundana vita periclitantur.

“Of course, but some find this incredible, others fictitious, others laughable perhaps. For in this bodily life the pleasure one takes from possessions is a delight, but this delight, as they say, is a noose round the soul’s neck that keeps mankind tied to the part that makes him mortal, nor does the malice that begrudges immortality let him acknowledge the part of divinity in him. Speaking as a prophet, I will tell you that after us will remain none of that simple regard for philosophy found only in the continuing reflection and holy reverence by which one must recognize divinity. The many make philosophy obscure in the multiplicity of their reasoning.”

sed alijs incredibile / alijs fabulosum: alijs forsitan videatur esse deridendum. Res enim dulcis est: in hac corporali vita / qui capitur de possessionibus [fol.44v] fructus. quare animam obtorto (vt aiunt) detinet collo: vt in parte sui que mortalis est inhereat / nec sinit partem diuinitatis agnoscere / inuidens immortalitati malignitas. ego enim tibi quasi prediuinans dixero: nullum post nos habiturum delectum simplicem / qui est philosophie / que sola est in cognoscenda diuinitate frequens obtutus / et sancta religio. multi etenim eam multifaria ratione confundunt.


“What is it that the many do to make philosophy incomprehensible? How do they obscure it in the multiplicity of their reasoning?”

Quomodo ergo multi incomprehensibilem philosophiam afficiunt: aut quemadmodum multifaria ratione confundunt?



[13] “In this way, Asclepius: by combining it through ingenious argument with various branches of study that are not comprehensible – arithm?tik? and music and geometry. Pure philosophy that depends only on reverence for god should attend to these other matters only to wonder at the recurrence of the stars, how their measure stays constant in prescribed stations and in the orbit of their turning; it should learn the dimensions, qualities and quantities of the land, the depths of the sea, the power of fire and the nature and effects of all such things in order to commend, worship and wonder at the skill and mind of god. Knowing music is nothing more than being versed in the correct sequence of all things together as allotted by divine reason. By divine song, this sequencing or marshalling of each particular thing into a single whole through reason’s craftwork produces a certain concord – very sweet and very true.”

TRISME. o Asclepi: hoc modo. in varias disciplinas nec comprehensibiles / eam callida commentatione miscentes / Arithmeticam / Musicam / Geometriam. Puram autem philosophiam eamque tantum diuina religione pendentem: tantum intendere in reliquas oportebit / vt apocatastases astrorum / stationes prefinitas / cursuque commutationis / numeris constare miretur. Terre vero dimensiones / qualitates / quantitates / maris profunda / ignis vim / et horum omnium effectus / naturam cognoscens: miretur / adoret / atque collaudet artem / mentemque diuinam. Musicen vero nosse: nihil aliud est / nisi cunctarum rerum ordinem scire / queque sit diuina ratio sortita. Ordo enim rerum singularum / in vnum omnium artifici ratione collatus: concentum quendam melo diuino dulcissonum / verissimumque conficiet.



ASCLE. Quid ergo homines post nos erunt?

[14] “Accordingly, the people who will come after us, deceived by the ingenuity of sophists, will be estranged from the true, pure and holy philosophy. To adore the godhead with simple mind and soul and to quality in the nature of matter, so also is the same matter equally fertile in malice.”

TRISME. Sophistarum calliditate decepti: a vera / pura sanctaque philosophia auertentur. simplici enim mente & anima: diuinitatem colere / eiusque facta / venerari / sicut enim natura / materia qualitatis fecunda est: sic et malignitatis eadem est eque fecunda.


agere etiam dei voluntati gratias (que est bonitatis sola plenissima) hec est nulla animi importuna curiositate / violata philosophia. et de his sit hucusque tractatum. [fol.45r]

[16] “Thus, Asclepius and Hammon, I have not said what the many say: Was god not able to put an end to evil and banish it from nature?’ One need not respond to them at all, but for your sake I shall pursue this question as well since I have opened it, and I will give you an answer. Now these people say that god should have freed the world of every kind of evil, yet evil is so much in the world that it seems almost to be an organ of the world. Acting as reasonably as possible, the supreme god took care to provide against evil when he deigned to endow human minds with consciousness, learning and understanding, for it is these gifts alone, by which we surpass other living things, that enable us to avoid the tricks, snares and vices of evil. He that avoids them on sight, before they entangle him, that person has been fortified by divine understanding and foresight, for the foundation of learning resides in the highest good.”

Nec ego dixi o As= [fol.46r] clepi: & Amon (quod a multis dicitur) num poterat deus incidere / atque auertere a rerum natura maliciam? quibus respondendum nihil omnino est. Vestri tamen causa / & id prosequar / quod ceperam et rationem reddam. dicunt enim ipsi deum debuisse: omnifariam mundum a malicia liberasse. ita enim in mundo est: vt quasi membrum ipsius videatur esse. prouisum cautumque est (quantum rationabiliter potuisset) a summo deo: tunc cum sensu / disciplina / intelligentia / mentes hominum est munerare dignatus. his enim rebus quibus ceteris antestamus animalibus: soli possumus / malitie fraudes / dolos / viciaque vitare. ea enim qui antequam ijs implicitus est / ex aspectu vitarit: is homo est diuina intelligentia prudentiaque munitus. fundamentum enim est discipline / in summa bonitate consistens.

“Spirit supplies and invigorates all things in the world; like an instrument or a mechanism it is subject to the will of the supreme god. For now let this be our understanding of these issues.”

spiritu autem ministrantur omnia & vegetantur in mundo: et quasi organum vel machina summi dei / voluntati subiectus est.

“Understood by mind alone, the god called `supreme’ is ruler and governor of that sensible god who encloses within him all place, all the substance of things, all the matter of things that produce and procreate, all that there is whatsoever and however much there is.

itaque hactenus intelligatur a nobis mente sola intelligibilis summus: qui dicitur deus / rector / gubernatorque sensibilis dei / eius qui in se complectitur omnem locum / omnem rerum substantiam / totamque gignentium / creantiumque materiam / et omne quicquid est quantumcumque est.

 [17] But spirit stirs and governs all the forms in the world, each according to the nature allotted it by god. Hul? or matter, however, receives them all, (spirit) stirs and concentrates them all, and god governs them, apportioning to all things in the world as much as each one needs. He fills them all with spirit, breathing it into each thing according to the quality of its nature.”

spiritu vero agitantur siue gubernantur omnes in mundo species: vnaqueque secundum naturam suam a deo distributam sibi. Hyle autem vel mundus omnium est receptaculum / omniumque agitatio atque frequentatio: quorum deus gubernator / dispensans omnibus rebus mundanis / quantum vnicuique necessarium est. spiritu vero implet omnia: vt cuiusque nature / qualitas est.

“This hollow of the world, round like a sphere, cannot itself, because of its quality or shape, be wholly visible. Choose any place high on the sphere from which to look down, and you cannot see bottom from there. Because of this, many believe that it has the same quality as place. They believe it is visible after a fashion, but only through shapes of the forms whose images seem to be imprinted when one shows a picture of it. In itself, however, the real thing remains always invisible. Hence, the bottom – {if it is a part or a place} in the sphere – is called Haid?s in Greek because in Greek `to see’ is idein, and there is no-seeing the bottom of a sphere. And the forms are called `ideas’ because they are visible forms. The (regions) called Haidês in Greek because they are deprived of visibility are called `infernal’ in Latin because they are at the bottom of the sphere.”

Est enim caua mundi rotunditas in modum sphere: ipsa sibi qualitas vel forme sue causa. inuisibilis tota: quippe cum quencunque [fol.46v] in ea summum subter despiciendi causa delegeris locum / ex eo in imo quid sit videre non possis. propter quod multis locis instar / qualitatemque habere creditur / per formas enim solas specierum / quarum imaginibus videtur insculpta: quasi visibilis creditur / cum depicta monstratur / re autem vera est sibiipsi inuisibilis semper. ex quo eius imum vel pars (si locus est) in sphera grece ???? dicitur. siquidem ?????? grece videre dicitur: quo visu imum sphere careat. vnde et ???? dicuntur species: quod sint inuisibilis forme. ab eo itaque quod visu priuantur: grece ades / ab eo quod in imo sphere sunt / latine inferi nuncupantur.

“Such, then, are the original things, the primeval things, the sources or beginnings of all, as it were, for all are in them or through them or from them.”

Hec ergo sunt principia et antiquiora et quasi initia vel capita omnium que sunt: in his / aut per hec / aut de his.

[18] “All these of which you speak, Trismegistus, what are they?”


“The whole substance of all the forms in the world and of each one of them in its normal state is, if I may say so, `material.’ Matter nourishes bodies; spirit nourishes souls. But consciousness, the heavenly gift that is happiness for humanity alone (not all humans, but only the few who have the mind to contain so great a bounty – as the sun lights up the world, so the human mind shines with the light of consciousness, but it is greater, for whatever the sun illuminates is sometimes deprived of its light by the interposition of earth and moon and the intervening night), consciousness, once coupled with the human soul, becomes one material in the closely joined coupling, so that minds of this sort are never obstructed by the errors of darkness. They are right who have said that the soul of the gods is consciousness, though I say it is the soul not of all gods but only of the great and original gods.”

ASCLE. Omnia ergo ipsa (vt dicis) que sunt o Trismegiste mundana (ut ita dixerim) specierum omniumque insunt / in vniuscuiusque sicuti est / tota substantia. TRISME. Mundus itaque nutrit corpora: spiritus animas. sensus autem (quo dono celesti sola felix sit humanitas) alit mentem. neque enim omnes / sed pauci quorum ita mens est vt tanti beneficij capax esse possit. vt enim sole mundus : ita mens humana isto clarescit lumine / et eo amplius. Nam sol quicquid illuminat / aliquando terre et lune interiectu / interueniente nocte: eius priuatur lumine. sensus autem cum semel fuerit anime commixtur humane: fit vna ex bene coalescente commixtione natura. ita vt nunquam eiusmodi mentes caliginum impediantur erroribus. vnde iuste / sensus deorum animas / esse dixerunt. ego vero nec eorum dico omnium: sed magnorum quorumque et principalium. [fol.47r]

[19] “Which gods do you call the sources of things or the first beginnings, Trismegistus?”

Caput VIII

a SCLE. Quos dicis rerum capita vel initia primordiorum o Trismegiste?

“Longing for heaven’s favor, I begin by disclosing great things to you and exposing divine mysteries.”

TRISME. Magna tibi pando: & diuina nudo mysteria. cuius rei initium facio: exoptato fauore celesti.

“There are many kinds of gods, of whom one part is intelligible, the other sensible. Gods are not said to be intelligible because they are considered beyond the reach of our faculties; in fact, we are more conscious of these intelligible gods than of those we call visible, as you will be able to see from our discussion if you pay attention. For my discourse is indeed a lofty one, all the more divine for remaining beyond human thought and effort, and, unless your ears take in the words I speak and do heedful service, my discourse will fly past you and flow by you or rather flow back within itself, mixing with the streaming of its source.”

Deorum genera multa sunt: eorumque omnium pars intelligibilis / alia vero sensibilis pars. intelligibiles dicuntur / non ideo quod putentur non subiacere sensibus nostris ( magis enim sentimus eos: quam eos quos visibiles nuncupamus) sicuti disputatio perdocebit: et tu si intendas poteris peruidere. sublimis enim ratio / eoque diuinior vltra hominum mentes / intentionesque consistens: si non attentiore aurium obsequio / verba loquentium acceperis / transuolabit et transfluet / aut magis reflu= [fol.47v] et / suique fontis liquoribus miscebit se /

“The heads of all classes are gods, after whom come gods who have a head-(of)-ousia; these are the sensible gods, true to both their origins, who produce everything throughout sensible nature, one thing through another, each god illuminating his own work. The ousiarch?s of heaven (whatever one means by that word) is Jupiter, for Jupiter supplies life through heaven to all things. Light is the ousiarchês of the sun, for the blessing of light pours down on us through the orb of the sun. The thirty-six (the term is `horoscopes’), the stars that are always fixed in the same place, have as their head or ousiarchês the one called Pantomorphos or Omniform, who makes various forms within various classes. The so-called seven spheres have the ousiarchai or heads called Fortune and Heimarmen?, whereby all things change according to nature’s law and a steadfast stability that stirs in everlasting variation. Air is the instrument or mechanism of all the gods, that through which all things are made; its ousiarch?s is the second....”

sunt ergo omnium specierum principes dij: hos sequuntur dij quorum est princeps ?????. hi sensibiles vtriusque originis sue consimiles: qui per sensibilem naturam conficiunt omnia. altera per alterum vnusquisque opus suum illuminans. celi / vel quicquid est quod eo nomine conprehenditur: ????????? est iupiter. per celum enim: iupiter omnibus prebet vitam. solis ????????? est lumen. Bonum enim luminis: per orbem solis nobis infunditur. xxxvi (quorum vocabulum est Horoscopij) in eodem loco semper defixorum siderum: horum ????????? vel princeps est / quem Pantomorphon vel Omniformem vocant. qui diuersis speciebus: diuersas formas facit. septem sphere que vocantur erratice habent ????????? id est suos principes: quam fortunam dicunt / & ?????????? / quibus immutantur omnia / lege nature stabilitate firmissima / et sermpiterna agitatione variata. aer vero organum est / vel machina omnium: per quam omnia fiunt. est autem vsiarches huius secundus.

.. to mortals the mortal and to them their like. Given such conditions, all things from bottom to top {reach out to one another and link together in mutual connections. But ...} mortals are attached to immortals and sensibles to insensibles. And the whole of it complies with that supreme governor, the master, so that really there are not many, but rather one. In fact, all depend from one and flow from it though they seem separated and are believed to be many. Taken together, however, they are one or rather two, whence all are made and by which they are made — out of the matter, in other words, of which they are made, and from the will of him whose assent makes them different.”

mortalibus mortalia: & his similia. His ergo ita se habentibus ab imo ad summum se mouentibus: sic sibi connexa sunt omnia pertinentia ad se naturaliter / vt mortalibus mortalia / sensibiliaque sensibilibus annexa sint: summa vero gubernationis / summo illi domino paret / vt non multa / aut potius vnum. ex vno etenim cuncta pendentia / ex eo potius defluentia: cum distantia videntur / creduntur esse plurima diuisim. adunata vero vnum vel potius duo: vnde fiunt omnia / et a quo fiunt. id est de materia de qua fiunt: et ex eius voluntate / cuius nutu efficiuntur alia.

[20] “Once more, Trismegistus, what does this explanation say?”

ASCLE. Hec iterum ratio que est o Trismegiste.

“This, Asclepius: God, father, master of all, whatever name people use to call him something holier or more reverent, a name that should be sacred among us because of the understanding we have (given the greatness of this divinity, none of these titles will name him precisely; if a word is this — the sound of spirit striking the air and declaring a person’s whole wish or meaning as his mind happens to grasp it from the senses, a name, its whole content defined and circumscribed, composed of a few syllables, providing the necessary exchange between human voice and ears — then the whole of god’s name also includes meaning and spirit and air and everything at once that is in them or through them or from them; no, I cannot hope to name the maker of all majesty, the father and master of everything, with a single name, even a name composed of many names; he is nameless or rather he is all-named since he is one and all, so that one must call all things by his name or call him by the names of everything), god, the only and the all, completely full of the fertility of both sexes and ever pregnant with his own will, always begets whatever he wishes to procreate. His will is all goodness. From his divinity the same goodness that is in all things came to be naturally so that all might be as they are and were, so that to all things to come hereafter they might provide the power to come to be of themselves. This is the explanation given to you, Asclepius, why and how all things are made.”

TRISME. Talis o Asclepi. Deus etenim vel pater / vel domi= [fol.48r] nus omnium / vel quocumque alio nomine ab hominibus sanctius et religiosus nuncupetur / quod inter nos / intellectus nostri causa / debet esse sacratum: tanti eius numinis contemplatione / nullo ex ijs nominibus eum definite nuncupauimus. si enim vox hec est ex aere spiritu percusso sonus / declarans omnem hominis voluntatem vel sensum / quem forte ex sensibus mente perceperit / cuius nominis tota substantia paucis composita syllabis / definita atque circumscripta est / vt esset in homine necessarium vocis auriumque commertium / simul et sensus / et spiritus / & aeris / & omnium in his / et per hec: an cum his nomen est totum dei? non enim spero: totius maiestatis effectorem / omniumque rerum patrem vel dominum / vno posse quamuis e multis composito nomine nuncupari. hunc vero vno nomine vel potius omni nomine (siquidem is sit vnus & omnia sit) necesse aut omnia esse eius nomen / aut ipsum omnium nominibus nuncupari. hic ergo solus vt omnia: vtriusque sexus fecunditate plenissimus / semper voluntate sua pregnans / parit quicquid voluerit procreare. Voluntas eius est bonitas omnis. hec eadem bonitas omnium rerum est. ex diuinitate eius: natura nata / vt sint omnia sicut sunt / & fuerunt / & futuris omnibus de hinc natura ex se nascendi sufficiat. hec ergo ratio o Asclepi tibi sit reddita: quare / et quomodo fiant omnia vtriusque sexus.

[21] “Do you say that god is of both sexes, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Ergo deum dicis o Trismegiste.

“Not only god, Asclepius, but all things ensouled and soulless, for it is impossible for any of the things that are to be infertile. Take away fertility from all the things that now exist, and it will be impossible for them to be forever. I say {that sensation and growth are also in the nature of things, that the world} contains growth within it and preserves all that have come to be. For each sex is full of fecundity, and the linking of the two or, more accurately, their union is incomprehensible. If you call it Cupid or Venus or both, you will be correct.”

TRISME. Non solum deum o Asclepi: sed animalia omnia / et inanimalia. impossibile enim est aliquid eorum que sunt: infecundum esse. fecunditate enim dempta ex omnibus que sunt: impossibile erit semper esse que sunt. Ego enim et naturam / et sensum / & mundum dico in se continere hanc naturam: & nata omnia in se conseruare. procreatione enim [fol.48v] vterque plenus est sexus / et eius vtriusque connexio aut (quod est verius) vnitas incomprehensibilis est. quam siue cupidinem / siue venerem / siue vtrumque poteris recte nuncupare.

“Grasp this in your mind as truer and plainer than anything else: that god, this master of the whole of nature, devised and granted to all things this mystery of procreation unto eternity, in which arose the greatest affection, pleasure, gaiety, desire and love divine. One should explain how great is the force and compulsion of this mystery, were it not that each individual already knows from contemplation and inward consciousness. For if you take note of that final moment to which we come after constant rubbing when each of the two natures pours its issue into the other and one hungrily snatches (love) from the other and buries it deeper, finally at that moment from the common coupling females gain the potency of males and males are exhausted with the lethargy of females. Therefore, the act of this mystery, so sweet and vital, is done in secret so that the divinity that arises in both natures from the sexual coupling should not be forced to feel the shame that would come from the laughter of the ignorant if it happened in public or, much worse, if it were open to the sight of irreverent people.”

percepto: quod ex omni illo loco totius nature deo / hoc sit cunctis in eternum procreandi inuentum tributumque ministerium. cui summa charitas / letitia / hilaritas / & cupiditas / amorque diuinus / innatus est. & dicendum foret quanta sit eius ministerij vis / atque necessitas: nisi ex sui contemplatione vnicuique ex intimo sensu nota esse potuisset. si enim illud extremum temporis / quo ex cerebro ad ritum peruenimus / vt vtraque in vtramque fundat natura progeniem: animaduertis vt altera alterius auide rapiat semen / interiusque recondat. denique eo tempore ex commixtione communi virtutem marium etiam semine adipiscuntur: et mares femineo corpore latescunt. Effectus itaque huius tam blandi / necessarijque ministerij in occulto perpetratur: ne vulgo irridentibus imperitis / vtriusque nature diuinitas ex commixtione sexus cogatur erubescere. multo magis etiam: si visibus irreligiosorum hominum subijciatur.

[22] “The reverent are not many, in any case, no more than a few whose number in the world can be counted, whence it happens that evil remains in the many because they lack wisdom and knowledge of all the things that are. Scorn for the vices of the whole world — and a cure for those vices — comes from understanding the divine plan upon which all things have been based. But when ignorance and folly persist, all vices thrive and wound the soul with incurable disorders. Tainted and corrupted by them, the soul grows inflamed as if poisoned — except the souls of those who have the sovereign remedy of learning and understanding.”

sunt autem non multi aut admodum pauci: ita vt numerari etiam in mundo possint religiosi. vnde contigit in multis remanere malitiam: defectu prudentie / scientieque rerum omnium que sunt. ex intellectu enim religionis diuine / qua constituta sunt omnia: cemtemptus medelaque nascitur vitiorum totius mundi. perseuerante autem imperitia atque inscitia: vitia omnia conualescunt / vulnerantque animam insanabilibus viciis. que infecta ijsdem / atque viciata / quasi venenis intumescit: nisi eorum quorum animarum disciplina & intellectus / summa curatio est. hoc ergo omni vero verius / manifestiusque mente

“Therefore, since my help is only for the few, it will be worthwhile to follow and finish this treatise, which tells why divinity deigned to impart its understanding and learning to humans alone. Hear me, then.”

si ergo [fol.49r] solis et paucis hoc proderit: dignum est hunc prosequi atque expedire tractatum. quare scilicet solis hominibus intelligentiam / et disciplinam suam / diuinitas sit impartiri dignata: audi itaque.

“God, the father and master, made gods first and then humans, taking equal portions from the more corrupt part of matter and from the divine; thus it happened that the vices of matter remained coupled with bodies, along with other vices caused by the foods and sustenance that we are obliged to share with all living things. Hence it is inevitable that the longings of desire and the other vices of mind sink into human souls. Even though immortality and unaging vigor were wisdom and learning enough for the gods, who were made of nature’s cleanest part and had no need of help from reason and learning, nonetheless, because god’s plan was a unity, he established in eternal law an order of necessity framed in law, which stood in place of learning and understanding lest the gods be detached from them, for among all living things god recognized mankind by the unique reason and learning through which humans could banish and spurn the vices of bodies, and he made them reach for immortality as their hope and intention. In short, god made mankind good and capable of immortality through his two natures, divine and mortal, and so god willed the arrangement whereby mankind was ordained to be better than the gods, who were formed only from the immortal nature, and better than all other mortals as well. Consequently, since he is conjoined to them in kinship, mankind honors the gods with reverent and holy mind; the gods also show concern for all things human and watch over them in faithful affection. [23] But one may say this only of the few people endowed with faithful mind. Of the vice-ridden say nothing, lest we profane this most holy discourse by considering them.”

deus pater et dominus / cum post deo homines efficeret ex parte corruptiore mundi & ex diuina / pari lance componderans: contigit vicia mundi corporibus commixta remanere / & alia propter cibos / victumque quem necessario habemus cum omnibus animalibus communem. quibus de rebus necesse est cupiditatum desideria / et reliqua mentis vicia: animis humanis incidere. ijs vero vtpote ex parte mundissima nature effectis / et nullis indigentibus rationis / disciplineque adminiculis (quamuis immortalitas / et vnius semper etatis vigor ipse sit eis prudentia & disciplina) tamen propter rationis vnitatem / pro disciplina et intellectu ne ab his essent alieni / ordinem necessitatis lege conscriptum / eterna lege constituit. hominem ex animalibus cunctis de sola ratione disciplinaque agnoscens: per que vicia corporum / homines auertere atque abalienare potuissent: ipsos ad intentionem / spemque immortalitatis pretendit. denique et bonum hominem qui posset immortalis esse: ex vtraque natura composuit diuina atque mortali. et sic compositum per voluntatem dei hominem / etiam constitutum est esse meliorem ijs: qui sunt ex sola immortali natura formati / et omnibus mortalibus. propter quod homo dijs cognatione coniunctus: ipsos religione / et sancta mente veneratur. dijque etiampio affectu: humana omnia respiciunt / atque custodiunt. sed de hominibus paucis istud dictum est / pia mente preditis. de viciosis vero nihil dicendum est: ne sanctissimus sermo / eorum contemplatione violetur. [fol.49v]


“And since this discourse proclaims to us the kinship and association between humans and gods, Asclepius, you must recognize mankind’s power and strength. Just as the master and father – or god, to use his most august name – is maker of the heavenly gods, so it is mankind who fashions the temple gods who are content to be near to humans. Not only is mankind glorified; he glorifies as well. He not only advances toward god; he also makes the gods strong. Are you surprised, Asclepius? Surely you do not lack confidence, as the many do.”


e T quoniam de cognatione & consortio hominum deorumque / sermo nobis indicitur: potestatem hominis o Asclepi / vimque cognosce. dominus et pater vel (quod est summum) deus / vt effector est deorum celestium: ita homo effector est deorum / qui in templis sunt / humana proximitate contenti. & non [fol.50r] solum illuminantur: verum etiam illuminant. nec solum ad eum proficit: verumetiam confirmat deos. Miraris o Asclepi: an nunquid diffidis vt multi?

“I am confused, Trismegistus, but I gladly agree to what you say, and I find mankind most fortunate to have attained such happiness.”

ASCLE. Confundor o Trismegiste: sed tuis verbis libenter assensus / felicissimum hominem iudico / qui sit tantam felicitatem consecutus.

“Mankind certainly deserves admiration, as the greatest of all beings. All plainly admit that the race of gods sprang from the cleanest part of nature and that their signs are like heads that stand for the whole being. But the figures of gods that humans form have been formed of both natures – from the divine, which is purer and more divine by far, and from the material of which they are built, whose nature falls short of the human – and they represent not only the heads but all the limbs andthe whole body. Always mindful of its nature and origin, humanity persists in imitating divinity, representing its gods in semblance of its own features, just as the father and master made his gods eternal to resemble him.”

TRISME. Nec immerito miraculo dignus est: qui maximus est omnium deorum. Genus enim omnium sine confusione manifestum est de mundissima parte nature propagatum. signaque eorum: sola pro omnibus esse quasi capita. species vero deorum / quas conformat humanitas: ex natura vtraque conformata est. ex diuina que est prior / multoque diuinior: et ex ea que intra homines est / id est ex materia qua fuerunt fabricate. & non solum capitibus solis: sed membris omnibus / totoque corpore configurantur. Ita humanitas / memor nature & originis sue: in illa diuinitatis imitatione perseue[r]at. vt sicuti pater ac dominus / vt sibi similes essent / deos fecit eternos: ita humanitas / deos suos ex sui vultus similitudine figuraret.

[24] “Are you talking about statues, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Statuas dicis o Trismegiste?

“Statues, Asclepius, yes. See how little trust you have! I mean statues ensouled and conscious, filled with spirit and doing great deeds; statues that foreknow the future and predict it by lots, by prophecy, by dreams and by many other means; statues that make people ill and cure them, bringing them pain and pleasure as each deserves.”

TRISME. Statuas: o Asclepi. videsne: quatenus tu ipse diffidas. statuas animatas / sensu et spiritu plenas / tanta et talia facientes. statuas futurorum prescias / easque forte vates omnes somnijs multisque alijs rebus predicentes / [i]mbecillitates hominibus facientes / easque curantes / tristiciamque pro meritis.

“Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven or, to be more precise, that everything governed and moved in heaven came down to Egypt and was transferred there? If truth were told, our land is the temple of the whole world.”

An ignoras o Asclepi: quod egyptus imago sit celi / aut quod est verius / translatio & descensio omnium que gubernantur atque exercentur in celo? et si dicendum est verius: terra nostra totius mundi est templum.

“And yet, since it befits the wise to know all things in advance, of this you must not remain ignorant: a time will come when it will appear that the Egyptians paid respect to divinity with faithful mind and painstaking reverence – to no purpose. All their holy worship will be disappointed and perish without effect, for divinity will return from earth to heaven, and Egypt will be abandoned. The land that was the seat of reverence will be widowed by the powers and left destitute of their presence. When foreigners occupy the land and territory, not only will reverence fall into neglect but, even harder, a prohibition under penalty prescribed by law (so-called) will be enacted against reverence, fidelity and divine worship. Then this most holy land, seat of shrines and temples, will be filled completely with tombs and corpses.”

et tamen quoniam prescire cuncta prudentes decet: istud vos ignorare fas non est. futurum tempus est: cum appareat egyptios in cassum pia mente [fol.50v] diuinitatem sedula religione seruasse. et omnis eorum sancta veneratio: in irritum casura frustrabitur. e terris enim: ad celum est recursura diuinitas. linquetur egyptus: terraque (que fuit diuinitatis sedes) religione viduata / numinum presentia destituetur. alienigenis enim regionem istam / terramque complentibus / non solum neglectus religionum: sed (quod est durius) quasi de legibus / a religione / pietate / cultuque diuino statuetur. proscripta pena: prohibitio erit. tunc terra ista / sanctissima sedes delubrorum / atque templorum: sepulchrorum erit / mortuorumque plenissima.

“O Egypt, Egypt, of your reverent deeds only stories will survive, and they will be incredible to your children! Only words cut in stone will survive to tell your faithful works, and the Scythian or Indian or some such neighbor barbarian will dwell in Egypt. For divinity goes back to heaven, and all the people will die, deserted, as Egypt will be widowed and deserted by god and human. I call to you, most holy river, and I tell your future: a torrent of blood will fill you to the banks, and you will burst over them; not only will blood pollute your divine waters, it will also make them break out everywhere, and the number of the entombed will be much larger than the living. Whoever survives will be recognized as Egyptian only by his language; in his actions he will seem a foreigner.”

O egypte / egypte: religionum tuarum sole supererunt fabule / et eque incredibiles posteris suis / solaque supererunt verba lapidibus inscisa / tua pia facta narrantibus. & inhabitabit egyptum scithes aut indus / aut aliquis talis / id est vicinia barbara. diuinitas enim repetet celum: deserti homines toti morientur / atque ita egyptus deo et homine viduata deseretur. Te vero appello sanctissimum flumen / tibique futura predico. torrenti sanguine plenus: ad ripas vsque erumpes. vndeque diuine non solum proluentur sanguine: sed tote rumpentur. & viuis: multo maior erit numerus sepultorum. superstes vero qui fuerit: lingua sola cognoscetur egyptijs / actibus vero videbitur alienis.

[25] “Asclepius, why do you weep? Egypt herself will be persuaded to deeds much wickeder than these, and she will be steeped in evils far worse. A land once holy, most loving of divinity, by reason of her reverence the only land on earth where the gods settled, she who taught holiness and fidelity will be an example of utter (un)belief. In their weariness the people of that time will find the world nothing to wonder at or to worship. This all – a good thing that never had nor has nor will have its better – will be endangered. People will find it oppressive and scorn it. They will not cherish this entire world, a work of god beyond compare, a glorious construction, a bounty composed of images in multiform variety, a mechanism for god’s will ungrudgingly supporting his work, making a unity of everything that can be honored, praised and finally loved by those who see it, a multiform accumulation taken as a single thing.”

quid fles o Asclepi? & his amplius / multoque deterius / ipsa egyptus suadebitur / imbueturque maioribus malis: que sancta quondam & diuinitatis amantissima deorum in terra / religionis sue merito: sola seductio sanctitatis. et pietatis magistra: erit maxime crudelitatis exemplum. et tunc tedio homnium: non admirandus videbitur mundus / neque adorandus. hoc totum bonum quo melius nec est / nec fuit / nec erit / quod videri possit: periclitabitur / eritque graue hominibus ac per hoc contemnetur: nec diligetur totus hic mundus dei opus [fol.51r] immutabile / gloriosa constructio / bonum multiformi imaginum varietate compositum / machina voluntatis dei / in suo opere sine inuidia suffragantis in vnum omnia que venerari laudari amari denique a videntibus possunt / multiformis adunata congestio.

“They will prefer shadows to light, and they will find death more expedient than life. No one will look up to heaven. The reverent will be thought mad, the irreverent wise; the lunatic will be thought brave, and the scoundrel will be taken for a decent person. Soul and all teachings about soul (that soul began as immortal or else expects to attain immortality) as I revealed them to you will be considered not simply laughable but even illusory. But – believe me – whoever dedicates himself to reverence of mind will find himself facing a capital penalty. They will establish new laws, new justice. Nothing holy, nothing reverent nor worthy of heaven or heavenly beings will be heard of or believed in the mind.”

Nam et tenebre preponentur lumini: & mors vita vtilior iudicabitur. nemo suspiciet celum: religiosus pro insano / irreligiosus putabitur prudens / furiosus fortis / pro bono habebitur pessimus. anima enim et omnia circum eam quibus aut mortalis nata est / aut immortalitatem se consecuturam esse presumit (secundum quod vobis exposui) non solum risus / sed etiam putabitur vanitas. sed mihi credite: etiam periculum capitale constituetur in eum / qui se mentis religioni dederit. noua constituentur iura: lex noua. nihil sanctum / nihil religiosum: nec celo nec celestibus dignum audietur / aut mente credetur.

“How mournful when the gods withdraw from mankind! Only the baleful angels remain to mingle with humans, seizing the wretches and driving them to every outrageous crime – war, looting, trickery and all that is contrary to the nature of souls. Then neither will the earth stand firm nor the sea be sailable; stars will not cross heaven nor will the course of the stars stand firm in heaven. Every divine voice will grow mute in enforced silence. The fruits of the earth will rot; the soil will no more be fertile; and the very air will droop in gloomy lethargy.”

fit deorum ab hominibus dolenda secessio: soli nocentes angeli remanent. qui humanitati commixti: ad omnia audacie mala miseros (manu iniecta) compellent in bella / in rapinas / in fraudes / & in omnia que sunt animarum nature contraria. tunc nec terra constabit: nec nauigabitur mare. nec celum astrorum cursibus: nec siderum cursus constabit in celo. omnis vox diuina: necessaria taciturnitate mutescet. fructus terre corrumpentur: nec fecunda erit tellus. et aer ipse: mesto torpore languescet.

[26] “Such will be the old age of the world: irreverence, disorder, disregard for everything good. When all this comes to pass, Asclepius, then the master and father, the god whose power is primary, governor of the first god, will look on this conduct and these willful crimes, and in an act of will – which is god’s benevolence – he will take his stand against the vices and the perversion in everything, righting wrongs, washing away malice in a flood or consuming it in fire or ending it by spreading pestilential disease everywhere. Then he will restore the world to its beauty of old so that the world itself will again seem deserving of worship and wonder, and with constant benedictions and proclamations of praise the people of that time will honor the god who makes and restores so great a work. And this will be the geniture of the world: a reformation of all good things and a restitution, most holy and most reverent, of nature itself, reordered in the course of time (but through an act of will,) which is and was everlasting and without beginning. For god’s will has no beginning; it remains the same, everlasting in its present state. God’s nature is deliberation; will is the supreme goodness.”

hec et talis senectus veniet: mundi irreligio / & inordinatio / et irrationabilitas bonorum omnium cum hec cuncta contigerint o Asclepi: tunc ille dominus et pater deus primipotens et vnius gubernator mundi / intuens in mores factaque voluntaria: voluntate sua (que est dei benignitas[)] vicijs resistens / & corruptele om= [fol.51v] nium errorem reuocans / malignitatem omnem vel assuuione diluens / vel igne consumens / vel morbis pestilentibus vbique per diuersa loca dispersis finiens: ad antiquam faciem mundum reuocabit. vt et mundus ipse adorandus videatur atque mirandus: & tanti operis effector & restitutor deus / ab omnibus qui tunc erunt frequentibus laudum preconijs / benedictionibusque celebretur. hec enim mundi genitura / cunctarum reformatio rerum bonarum: & nature ipsius sanctissima & religiosissima restitutio / peracto temporis cursu / que est & fuit sine initio sempiterna. voluntas etenim dei caret initio: que eadem est & vbique est sempiterna. ASCLE. dei enim natura consilium est voluntatis: bonitas summa /

“Deliberation (is will), Trismegistus?”

consilium o Trismegiste.

“Will comes to be from deliberation, Asclepius, and the very act of willing comes from will. God wills nothing in excess since he is completely full of all things and wills what he has. He wills all that is good, and he has all that he wills. All things are good that he considers and wills. Such is god, and the world is his image – (good) from good.”

TRISME. o Asclepi: voluntas consilio nascitur / & ipsum velle est ex voluntate. neque enim impense aliquid vult / qui est omnium plenissimus: et ea que vult habet. vult autem omnia bona: et habet omnia que vult. omnia autem bona & cogitat et vult. hoc est autem deus: eius boni imago mundus.

[27] “Good, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Bonus o Trismegiste.

“Good, Asclepius, as I shall teach you. For just as god dispenses and distributes his bounty – consciousness, soul and life – to all forms and kinds in the world, so the world grants and supplies all that mortals deem good, the succession of seasons, fruits emerging, growing and ripening, and other such things. And thus, seated atop the summit of the highest heaven, god is everywhere and surveys everything all around. For there is a starless place beyond heaven remote from all bodily objects. The one who dispenses (life,) whom we call Jupiter, occupies the place between heaven and earth. But Jupiter Plutonius rules over earth and sea, and it is he who nourishes mortal things that have soul and bear fruit. The powers of these gods invigorate crops, trees and soil, but powers and effects of other gods will be distributed through all things that are. The gods who rule the earth will (withdraw), and they will be stationed in a city founded at Egypt’s farthest border toward the setting sun, where the whole race of mortals will hasten by land and sea.”

TRISME. Bonus o Asclepi: vt ego te docebo. sicuti enim deus omnibus speciebus vel generibus que in mundo sunt distributor / dispensatorque est bonorum / id est sunsus anime et vite: sic et mundus prestitor est et tributor monium / que mortalibus videntur bona / id est alternationis partium / temporalium fructuum / natiuitatis / augmentorum / et maturitatis / horum similium. ac per hoc deus supra verticem summi celi consistens: vbique est / omniaque circumspicit. sic est enim vltra celum locus sine stellis / ab omnibus rebus corpulentis alienus. dispensator (qui est inter celum et terram) locum obtinet: quem Iouem vocamus. [fol.52r ] terre vero et mari: dominatur Iupiter plutonius. et hic nutritor est animantium mortalium / & fructiferarum. horum omnium viribus: fructus / arbusta / et terra vegetantur. aliorum vero vires & effectus per omnia que sunt distribuuntur. Distribuentur vero qui terre dominantur: et collocabuntur in ciuitate in summo initio egypti / que a parte solis occidentis condetur. ad quam terra / marique festinabis omne mortale genus.

“But tell me where these gods of yours are now, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Modo tamen hoc in tempore: vbi isti sunt o Trismegiste?

“Stationed in the great city on the Libyan mountain. And, for the time being, let that be their story.”

TRISME. Collocati sunt in maxima ciuitate in monte libyco: & hec eo vsque narata sint. [fol.52v]


“We must talk now about the immortal and the mortal, for anticipation and fear of death torture the many who do not know the true account of it. Death results from the disintegration of a body worn out with work, after the time has passed when the body’s members fit into a single mechanism with vital functions. The body dies, in fact, when it can no longer support a person’s vital processes. This is death, then: the body’s disintegration and the extinction of bodily consciousness.

Caput X

d E immortali vero & mortali / modo disserendum est. multos enim spes / timorque mortis / vere rationis ignaros / excruciat. mors enim efficitur: dissolutione corporis labore defessi / & numeri completi quo corporis membra in vnam machinam ad vsus vitales aptantur. moritur enim corpus: quando hominis vitalia ferre posse destiterit. hec ergo est mors: corporis dissolutio et corporalis sensus interitus. de qua sollicitudo superuacua est.

Worrying about it is pointless. But there is another problem worth worrying about, though people disregard it out of ignorance or disbelief.”

Sed et alia necessaria: quam aut ignorantia aut incredulitas contemnit humana.

“What is it that they ignore, Trismegistus, or whose possibility they question?”

ASCLE. Quid est o Trismegiste: quod aut ignorant / aut esse posse diffidunt.

[28] “Listen then, Asclepius. When soul withdraws from the body, it passes to the jurisdiction of the chief demon who weighs and judges its merit, and if he finds it faithful and upright, he lets it stay in places suitable to it. But if he sees the soul smeared with the stains of wrongdoing and dirtied with vice, he sends it tumbling down from on high to the depths below and consigns it to the storms and whirlpools of air, fire and water in their ceaseless clashing – its endless punishment to be swept back and forth between heaven and earth in the streams of matter. Then the soul’s bane is its own eternity, for an undying sentence oppresses it with eternal torment. To escape this snare, let us recognize what we must fear, dread and avoid. After they have done wrong, the unbelievers will be forced to believe, not by words but by example, not threats but real suffering of punishment.”

TRISME. Audi ergo o Asclepi: cum fuerit anime a corpore facta discessio / tunc arbitrium examenque meriti eius transiliet in summi demonis potestatem. isque eam (cum piam iustamque preuiderit) in sui competentibus locis / manere permit [fol.35r=53r] tet. Sinautem delictorum illitam maculis / vicijsque oblitam viderit: desuper ad ima deturbans / procellis turbinibusque aeris / ignis et aque sepe discordantibus tradet. atque inter celum et terram: mundanis fluctibus / in diuersa semper eternis penis agitata / raptabitur. vt in hoc obsit anime eternitas: quod sit immortali sententia / eterno iudicio subiugata. Ergo ne his implicemur verendum / timendum / cauendumque esse cognognosce [sic]. incredibiles enim: post delicta cogentur credere / non verbis sed exemplis / nec minis sed ipsa passione penarum.

“Is it not human law only that punishes the wrongs that humans do, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Non ergo Trismegiste: hominum delicta / sola humana lege puniuntur.

“In the first place, Asclepius, everything earthly is mortal, as are also those beings that live in a bodily state and fade from life in that same bodily state. They are all subject to penalties for the right or wrong they have done in life, and the penalties after death are more severe in so far as their wrongdoing may have been hidden during life. The divinity foreknows all of it, so one pays the penalty precisely in proportion to one’s wrongdoing.”

TRISME. Primo enim o Asclepi: terrena omnia que sunt / mortalia sunt. tunc ea etiam que sunt ratione corporali viuentia / & a viuendo eadem corporali lege deficientia: ea omnia pro vite meritis aut delictis / penis obnoxia / tanto post mortem seuioribus subiiciuntur / quanto inulta forsitan fuerint zelata dum viuerent. prescia enim rerum omnium diuinitate: reddentur / perinde (vt sunt) pro delictorum qualitatibus pene.

[29] “Who deserve the greater penalties, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Qui sunt digni maioribus penis: o Trismegiste?

“Those condemned by human laws who lose their lives violently so that they seem to have been penalized deservedly and not to have paid their debt to nature with a soul. On the other hand, the upright person’s defence lies in reverence for god and supreme fidelity. God protects such people from all evils. For the father and master of all, who alone is all, shows himself freely to all – not where as in a place nor how as through some quality nor how much as in a quantity but by illuminating people with the understanding that comes only through mind. And when the shadows of error have been scattered from a person’s soul and he has perceived the light of truth, he couples himself with divine understanding in his whole consciousness, and when his love of it has freed him from the part of nature that makes him mortal, he conceives confidence in immortality to come. This is what will separate the good from the wicked. When he has seen the light of reason as if with his eyes, every good person is enlightened by fidelity, reverence, wisdom, worship and respect for god, and the confidence of his belief puts him as far from humanity as the sun outshines the stars. In fact, the sun illuminates the other stars not so much by the intensity of its light as by its divinity and holiness. The sun is indeed a second god, Asclepius, believe it, governing all things and shedding light on all that are in the world, ensouled and soulless.”

TRISME. Qui damnati humanis legibus vitam violenter amittunt: vt non nature animam debitam / sed penam pro meritis reddidisse videantur. contra iusto homini / in dei religione / & in summa pietate presidium est. Deus enim tales: ab omnibus tutatur malis. pater enim omnium et dominus qui solus est omnia: omnibus se libenter ostendit. Non vbi sit loco / nec qualis sit qualitate / nec quantus quantitate: sed hominem sola intelligentia mentis / illuminans. qui (discussis ab animo errorum tenebris / et veritatis claritate precepta: toto se sensu intelligentie [fol.53v] diuine commiscet / cuius amore / a parte nature qua mrotalis est liberatus: immortalitatis future concipit fiduciam. hoc ergo inter bonos malosque distabit. vnusquisque enim: pietate / religione / prudentia / cultu / & veneratione dei clarescit / quasi oculus vera ratione perspecta. & fiducia credulitatis sue intantum inter homines prestat: quantum sol ceteris astris lumine suo antistat. ipse enim sol: non tam magnitudine numinis quam diuinitate & sanctitate / ceteras stellas illuminat. secundum enim deum hunc crede o Asclepi: cetera omnia gubernantem / omniaque mundana illustrantem animalia / siue animantia / siue inanimantia. Si enim animal mundus viuensque semper / et fuit / et est / & erit: nihil in mundo mortale est.

“For if the world was and is and will be a living thing that lives forever, nothing in the world is mortal. Since each part of it, as such in its actual state, lives forever and also lives in a world which is itself a single living thing that lives forever, there is no place in it for mortality, so if the world must always live, the world must be completely full of life and eternity. Just as the world is everlasting, then, so the sun is ever the governor of things that have life and of all their power to live, dispensing and continuing it. Hence, god is the everlasting governor of things living in the world and of those that have life, and he dispenses this life eternally. He dispensed it all at once, however: life is supplied by eternal law to all that have it, in the way that I shall describe.”

viuentis etenim semper / vnuscuiusque partis que est in ipso mundo sicuti in vno eodemque animali semper viuente: nullus est mortalitatis locus. ergo vite / eterintatisque [sic] / ipse esse debet plenissimus: si semper eum necesse est viuere. Sol ergo (sicuti mundus) sempiternus est: sic & ipse semper gubernator vitalium / vel totius viuacitatis / eorumque frequentator / & dispensator est. Deus ergo viuentium vel vitalium / que sunt in mundo: sempiternus gubernator est / ipsiusque vite dispensator eternus. semel autem dispensauit eterna lege cunctis vitalibus vitam prestans / hoc more quo dicam.

[30] “Eternity’s lifegiving power stirs the world, and the place of the world is in living eternity itself; since everlasting life hedges it about and, in a manner of speaking, holds it together, the world will never stop moving nor be destroyed.

In ipsa enim viuacitate eternitatis: mundus agitatur. et in ipsa vitali eternitate: locus est mundi. propter quod: nec stabit aliquando / nec corrumpetur aliquando / sempiternitate viuendi circumuallatus / et quasi constrictus ipse mundus.

The world itself dispenses life to everything in it, and it is the place of all things governed under the sun. The world’s motion is a twofold activity: eternity enlivens the world from without, and the world enlivens all within it, dispersing them all according to numbers and times fixed and appointed by the action of the sun and the movements of the stars, the whole chronological scheme framed in divine law. On earth one tells time by the quality of the air and the change of hot seasons and cold, but in heaven time runs by the return of the coursing stars to the same places in chronological cycles. The world is time’s receptacle; the cycling and stirring of time invigorate it. Yet time works by orderly rule: order and time cause the renewal of everything in the world through alternation.

Est igitur dispensator vite: omnibus que in se sunt. et est locus omnium: que sub sole gubernantur. cuius mundi commotio: ex [fol.54r] duplici constat effectu. viuificatur enim ipse extrinsecus ab ab [sic] eternitate: viuificatque ea que intra se sunt ommia [sic] / differens numeris et temporibus statutis atque prefixis. cuncta per solis effectum / stellarumque discursum. omnia temporalia / ratione / diuinaque lege conscripta. terrenum autem tempus aeris qualitate estuum / frigorisque varietate dignoscitur: celeste vero reuersionibus siderum ad eadem loca / temporali conuersione recurrentium. et mundus est receptaculum temporis: cuius cursu et agitatione vegetatur. tempus autem ordine seruatur. ordo et tempus innouationem omnium rerum / que in mundo sunt: per alternationem faciunt.

Nothing in this situation is stable, nothing fixed, nothing immobile among things that come to be in heaven and earth: the lone exception is god, and rightly he alone, for he is whole, full and perfect in himself and by himself and about himself. He is his own steadfast stability, and no external impulse can move him from his place since everything is in him and he alone in everything – unless one ventures to say that his motion is in eternity. But eternity, toward which all the stirring of time recedes and from which all the stirring of time takes its rise, is itself immobile.”

Caput XI

c Vnctis ergo ita se habentibus nihil stabile / nihil fixum / nihil immobile / nec nascentium / nec celestium / nec terrenorum. solus enim deus / et merito solus: in se / et a se / et circum se totus est plenus atque perfectus. isque sua firma stabilitas est: nec alicuius impulsu / nec loco moueri potest / cum in eo sint omnia. et in omnibus ipse est solus. nisi aliquis audeat dicere: sui commotionem in eternitate esse. sed magis etiam et ipsa immobilis eternitas: in quam [fol.54v] omnium temporum agitatio remeat / et ex qua omnium temprum agitatio sumit exordium.

[31] “Therefore, god has (always) been stable, and eternity likewise has always stood still along with him, holding within it a world that had not come to be, the one we correctly call sensible. This sensible world, which imitates eternity, was made in the image of that god. Though it always stirs, time in its own way still has the power and character of stability by the very necessity of recurring upon itself. Thus, although eternity is stable, immobile and fixed, yet because the stirring of time (which moves) always comes back to eternity and because the movement turns in a temporal pattern, it happens that eternity (which in itself does not move) seems to be stirred through the time in which it is, and it is in time that all the stirring goes on. So it happens that eternity’s stability is moved and that time’s mobility becomes stable by the fixed law of its cycle. Thus may one also believe that god stirs within himself – but in the same immobility, for because of its immensity the stirring of his stability is in fact immobile. The law of immensity itself is immobile. This being, then, which is not of a kind to be accessible to the senses, lies beyond limitation, comprehension and calculation. It cannot be carried or fetched or hunted down. Where it is, whither it goes, whence it came, how it acts, what it is – uncertain. It carries on in exalted stability, and its stability acts within it: god, eternity, both, one in the other or both in both. Consequently, eternity has no limitation within time. But time, granted that it can be limited by number or alternation or periodic return through recurrence, is eternal.

deus igitur stabilis fuit: semperque cum eo similiter eternitas constitit / mundum non natum quem (recte sensibilem dicimus) intra se habens / huius dei imago. hinc mundus effectus est eternitatis imitator / habet autem tempus stabilitatis sue vim / atque naturam (quis semper agitetur) ea ipsa in se reuertendi necessitate. itaque quamuis sit eternitas stabilis / immobilis atque fixa: tamen quoniam mobilitate temporis / in eternitatem semper reuocatur agitatio / eaque mobilitas ratione temporis vertitur / efficitur vt et ipsa eternitas immobilis quidem / sola per tempus in quo ipsa est / et est in eo omnis agitatio / videatur agitari. sic efficitur vt et eternitatis stabilitas moueatur: et temporis mobilitas stabilis fiat fixa lege currendi. sic et deum agitari credibile est: in se ipsum eadem immobilitate. stabilitatis enim ipsius in magnitudine est immobilis agitatio. ipsius enim magnitudinis immobilis lex est. Hoc ergo quod est tale / quod / non subijcitur sensibus: infinitum / incomprehensibile inestimabile est. nec sustineri / nec ferri nec indagari potest. vnde enim / et quo / et vbi / aut quomodo / aut quale sit: incertum est. fertur enim in summa stabilitate: & in ipso stabilitas sua / seu deus seu eternitas / seu vterque / seu alter in altero / siue vterque in vtroque sint. propter quod eternitas: sine diffinitione est temporis. tempus autem quod diffiniri potest / vel numero vel alternatione / vel per alterius ambitudinem rediens: eternum est. vtrumque ergo infinitum:

Both are infinite, then; both seem eternal. For stability, firmly fixed to sustain the things that can be stirred, rightly takes first place owing to its steadfastness.”

vtroque videtur eternum stabilitas enim vtpote defixa: quod sustinere que agitabilia sunt possit / beneficio firmitatis merito obtinet principatum. omnium enim que [fol.55r] sunt:

[32] “The beginnings of everything, then, are god and eternity. But because it is mobile the world does not hold first place; mobility exceeds stability in it even though, conforming to the law that keeps it ever stirring, it has a steadfastness free of motion.”

primordia deus est et eternitas. mundus autem quod sit mobilis: non habet principatum. preuenit enim: mobilitas eius stabilitatem suam in lege agitationis sempiterne: habendo immobilem firmitatem.

“The total consciousness that resembles divinity, immobile in itself, moves itself in its own stability. It is holy, uncorrupted, everlasting and whatever one can say better of it – if anything can be better than the eternity of the supreme god that rests in truth itself – completely full of all sensible forms and of the whole ordering, resting, so to speak, with god. The world’s consciousness is the receptacle of all sensible forms and orderings. But to be mindful of all that it has done, human (consciousness depends on) memory’s tenacity. In its descent, the divinity of consciousness reaches down only as far as the human animal, for the supreme god did not want the divine consciousness to mingle with every living thing. He did not want it to be ashamed from coupling with the other living things. The understanding of human consciousness, what it is and how great it is, comes entirely from memory of past events. (Because of his tenacity of memory, he was even made governor of earth.) The understanding of nature, however, and the quality of the world’s consciousness can be fully perceived from all the things in the world that sense can detect. Eternity’s understanding, which comes next, is a consciousness gained from the sensible world, from which its quality can be discerned. But the quality of consciousness in the supreme god and the understanding of that quality is truth alone. Not a shadow, not even the faintest trace of this truth can be discerned in the world, for there is falsehood wherever one discerns anything by measuring time, and where there is geniture one finds error.”

Omnis ergo sensus diuinitatis / similis / immobilis: ipse in stabilitate sua se commouet. sanctus / & incorruptus / & sempiternus est: et si quid melius potest nuncupari. in ipsa dei summi veritate consistens eternitas / plenissimus omnium sensibilium et totius discipline / consistens (vt ita dixerim) cum deo. sensus vero mundanus: receptaculum est omnium sensibilium / et specierum / et disciplinarum. humanus vero ex memorie tenacitate: quod memor sit omnium / quas gesserit rerum. vsque ad humanum enim animal sensus diuinitatis descendendo peruenit. Deus enim sensum summum / diuinumque cunctis confundi noluit: ne erubesceret aliorum commixtione animantium. Intelligentia enim sensus humani / qualis / aut quanta sit: tota in memoria est preteritorum. per eam enim memorie tenacitatem: gubernator effectus est terre. Intellectus autem nature et qualitatis. et sensus mundi / ex omnibus que in mundo sensibilia sunt: poterit peruideri. eternitas / que secunda est: ex sensibile mundo / sensus datus / qualitasque dignoscitur. at intellectus qualitatis / qualitasque sensus summi dei: sola veritas est. cuius veritatis in mundo ne quidem extrema linea vmbra dignoscitur. vbi enim quid temporum dimensione cognoscitur: vbi sunt mendacia / vbi geniture / vbi errores videntur.

“So you see the depth of the subjects we deal with, Asclepius, and what we venture to achieve. But to you, supreme god, I give thanks for enlightening me with the light by which divinity can be seen. And you, Tat and Asclepius and Hammon, hide these divine mysteries among the secrets of your heart and shield them with silence.”

Vides ergo o Asclepi in quibus constituti: que tractemus aut que audeamus attingere. sed tibi deus summe / gratias ago: qui me vidende diuinitatis tue illuminasti lumine. et vos o Tati et Asclepi et Ammon: [fol.55v] intra secreta pectoris / diuina mysteria silentio tegite / et taciturnitate celate.

“Understanding differs from consciousness in this, however: that our understanding comes to understand and discern the quality of the consciousness of the world by concentrating the mind, while the world’s understanding comes to know eternity and the gods who are above the world. And thus it comes about that we humans see the things that are in heaven as if through a mist, to the extent that we can, given the condition of human consciousness. When it comes to seeing great things, our concentration is quite confined, but once it has seen, the happiness of our awareness is vast.”

hoc autem differt intellectus a sensu: quod intellectus noster / ad qualitatem sensus mundi intelligendam et dignoscendam / mentis peruenit intentione. Intellectus autem mundi / peruenit ad eternitatem et deos noscendos: qui supra se su[n]t. et sic contingit nobis hominibus: vt quasi per caliginem ea que in celo sunt / videamus / quantum possibile est per conditionem sensus humani. hec autem intentio peruidendis tantis bonis angustissima est: latissima vero cum viderit felicitate conscientie.

[33] “On the void that so many consider an important topic now, I hold the following: there is no such thing as a void, nor can there have been, nor will there ever be. For all the members of the world are completely full so that the world itself is complete and filled with bodies diverse in quality and form, each having its own shape and size. Some are larger than others, some smaller, and they differ in density and rarity. The denser, like the larger, are easier to see, but the smaller and rarer are very difficult or altogether impossible to see, and we can detect them only by touch. Hence, many believe that these are not bodies and that they are empty places – which is impossible.

Caput XII

d E inani vero / quodque etiam mag[n]um videtur esse quamplurimis: sic sentio / inane nec esse aliquid nec esse potuisse / nec futurum vnquam. omnia enim mundi sunt membra plenissima: vt ipse mundus plenus sit atque perfectus corporibus / qualitate formaque diuersis / & speciem suam habentibus & magnitudinem. quorum vnum est alio maius aut alio minus: & validitate & tenuitate diuersa. Nam et quaedam eorum validiora facilius videntur / sicuti et maiora: minora vero & tenuiora / aut vix videri / aut omnino non possunt. quas solum res esse: attrectatione cognoscimus. vnde contingit multis credere hec non esse corpora: sed esse inanes locos / quod est impossibile.

For just as that which is said to be `beyond the world’ (if there is any such thing, I do not believe that (it is void)) is full of intelligible things resembling it in divinity, as

sicuti enim quod dicitur extra mundum / si tamen est aliquid (nec istud enim credo) sic abeo plenum esse intelligibilium rerum / [fol. 56r] id est diuinitatis sue similium.

I take it, so also is this world that we call `sensible’ completely full of bodies and living things that conform to its nature and quality. We do not see them all in their true aspects, but some as far too large, others as much too tiny; they look like this to us either because they are far away from us or because our eyes have gone bad. Or else, because they are so very tiny, many believe that they do not exist at all. (I am speaking now of the demons who always stay near us, so I believe, and the heroes who dwell between the purest part of the air above us and the place where there are no fogs or clouds or disturbance from the stirring of the signs.) Consequently, Asclepius, you are to call nothing `void’ unless you mean to say that what you call `void’ is `void-of’ something – void of fire or void of water and so on. Thus, though one may see something that can be void of such things as these, in no event can it be empty of spirit and air, no matter how small or large the thing that seems void.”

vt hic etiam qui dicitur sensibilis mundus: plenissimus sit corporum / & animalium / nature sue & qualitati conuenientium. quorum facies non omnes videmus: sed quasdam vltra modum grandes / quasdam breuissimas: aut propter spacij interiecti longitudinem / aut quod acie sumus obtusi tales nobis esse videantur / aut omnino propter nimiam breuitatem / a multis non esse credantur. dico nunc demonas: quos credo commorari nobiscum / et heroas / quos inter aeris purissimam partem supra nos et terram / vbi nec nebulis locus / nec ex signorum aliquorum agitatione commotio. propter quod o Asclepi / inane nichil esse dixeris: nisi cuius rei inane sit hoc / quod dicis inane / predixeris / vt inane a igni / et a aqua / et ab hiis similibus. quod et si contigerit videri / quod inane possit esse a rebus huiusmodi / quamuis breue sit vel magnum quod inane videtur: spiritu tamen et aere vacuum esse non possit.

[34] “One must say the same about place, which lacks meaning as a term in isolation. For the evidence of place is from that whose place it is; indeed, take away this most important feature, and you truncate the sense of the word. This is why we may speak correctly of the place of water, the place of fire, and so on. Just as it is impossible for anything to be void, so the meaning of place in isolation is indiscernible. If you assume a place apart from that of which it is the place, it would seem to be an empty place, which, I believe, cannot exist in the world. If nothing is void, it is also evident that nothing is place as such, except as you add visible marks to it – length, breadth, height – as you would to human bodies.”

Similiter vero de loco dicendum est. quod vocabulum solum / intellectu caret. Locus enim ex eo cuius est: quid sit apparet. Principali etenim nomine dempto: significatio mutilatur. Quare aque locus / ignis locus / aut his similium: recte dicimus. sicuti enim inane esse aliquid impossibile est: sic et locus solus / quid sit / dignosci non potest. Nam si posueris locum sine eo cuius est: inanis videbitur locus / quem in mundo esse non credo. quod si inane nihil est: nec per se quid sit locus apparet / nisi ei aut longitudines aut latitudines aut altitudines addideris vt corporibus hominum signa.

“Asclepius and the rest of you here: given these conditions, know that the intelligible world, discernible only through mind’s intuition, is incorporeal and that nothing corporeal can be combined with its nature, nothing discernible by quality, quantity and number, for there is no such thing in it.”

his vero sic se habentibus o Asclepi / et vos qui adestis: scitote intelligibilem mundum id est deum qui mentis solo obtuttu [sic] dignoscitur esse incorporalem / nec eius nature mi= [fol.56v] sceri posse aliquid corporale / id est quod possit qualitate / quantitate / numerisque dignosci. in ipso enim nihil tale constitit.

“The world called `sensible’ is the receptacle of all the sensible forms or qualities of bodies, none of which can be invigorated without god. For god is everything; everything comes from him; everything depends on his will. And the whole of it is good, fair, wise, inimitable, to god alone sensible and intelligible. Without god there was nothing, nor is, nor will be, for all things are from him, in him and through him: qualities multiform and various, great quantities, all immeasurable magnitudes and omniform forms. If you come to understand them, Asclepius, you will thank god. And if you consider the whole, you will learn that thesensible world itself and all it contains are in truth covered over by that higher world as if by a garment.”

hic ergo mundus qui dicitur sensibilis: receptaculum omnium sensibilium specierum / qualitatum / vel corporum / que omnia sine deo vegetari non possunt. Omnia enim deus / & ab eo omnia: et eius voluntate omnia. quod totum est bonum / decens / et prudens / in imitabile [immutabile, Ap.]: et ipsi soli sensibile atque intelligibile. & sine hoc nec fuit aliquid / nec est / nec erit. omnia enim ab eo / et in ipso / & per ipsum: & multiformes qualitates / et magne quantitates / et omnem mensuram excedentes magnitudines / et omniformes species. quas si intellexeris o Asclepi: gratias acturus es deo. sui totum animaduertes: vera ratione perdisces mundum ipsum sensibilem / et que in eo sunt omnia / a superiore illo mundo / quasi ex vestimento esse contenta.

[35] “Each kind of living thing, Asclepius, no matter whether mortal or immortal, rational (or irrational), whether ensouled or soulless, every one has the appearance of its kind in keeping with its relation to the kind. And although each kind of living thing possesses the whole form of its kind, within that same form each of them differs from the other: for example, although man-kind is one in form, so that a human can be distinguished on sight, each person within the same form differs from the others. For the class is divine and incorporeal, as is anything apprehended by the mind. Therefore, since these two components that make up forms are bodies (and) the non-bodily, it is impossible for any form to come to be in close similarity with another at distant points of time and latitude. The forms change as often as the hour has moments in the turning circle where the god resides whom we have called Omniform. The class persists, begetting copies of itself as often, as many and as diverse as the rotation of the world has moments. As it rotates the world changes, but the class neither changes nor rotates. Thus, the forms of each kind persist, though within the same form there are differences.”

Vnumquodque enim genus animalium o Asclepi cuiuscunque / vel mortalis / vel immortalis / vel rationalis siue sit animans / siue non sit: prout cuiusque est genus / sic singula generis sui imagines habent. et quamuis vnumquodque animalis genus / omnem sui generis possideat formam: in eadem tamen. sui forma singula dissimilia sunt. vt hominum genus quamuis sit vniforme / vt homo dignosci ex affectu possit: singuli tamem in eadem forma / sibi / dissimiles sunt. species enim que diuina est: incorporalis est / et quidquid mente comprehenditur. Cum itaque hec duo ex quibus constat forma / & corpora et incorporalia sint: impossibile est vnamquamque formam alteri simillima nasci / horarum et climatum distantibus punctis. sed immutantur tocies: quot hora momenta habet circuli circumcurrentis / in quo est ille omniformis [(]quem diximus [)] deus spe= [fol.57r] cies ergo permanet: ex se toties pariens imagines tantas / tamque diuersas / quanta habet conuersio mundi momenta. qui mundus in conuersione mutatur: species vero nec mutatur / nec conuertitur. sic generum singulorum forme sunt permanentes: in eadem forma / sibi dissimiles.

[36] “And does the world change its form, Trismegistus?”

ASCLE. Et mundus speciem mutat o Trismegiste.

“You see, Asclepius: it is as if I had been telling you all this in your sleep. What is the world, really? Of what does it consist if not of all the things that have come to be? What you mean to ask about, then, is heaven, earth and the elements. What else changes its form more continually? Heaven becomes wet or dry, cold or hot, clear or foul; these forms keep changing into one another under the one form of heaven. Earth is always undergoing many transformations in form as it begets its fruits, as it promotes the growth of what it has begotten, and as it produces the various qualities and different quantities of all its fruits, their stages or courses of growth, and especially the qualities, odors, tastes and forms of trees, flowers and shrubs. Fire causes many alterations that are divine. Indeed, the appearances of sun and moon are omniform, rather like our mirrors that reproduce likenesses through reflections comparable in brilliance. [37] But now enough has been said of such things.”

TRISME. Vides ergo o Asclepi tibi omnia quasi dormiente esse narrata. Quid est enim mundus / aut ex quibus constat: nisi ex omnibus natis. ASCLE. ergo vis dicere de celo / terra et elementis. TRISME. Namque alia magis frequenter mutantur in species / celum humescens vel arescens vel frigescens / vel ignescens vel clarescens vel sordescens: in vna celi specie he sunt qui specie alternantur species. terra vero sue speciei multas immutationes semper habet: & cum parturit fruges et cum eadem partus nutricat suos / cum reddit omnium fructuum varias diuersasque qualitates et quantitates / ac stationes et cursus ad omnes arborum / florum / baccharum qualitates / odores / sapores / species. Ignis etiam facit conuersiones plurimas / atque diuinas. solis enim et lune omniformes imagines. sunt enim quasi speculorum nostrorum / similes imaginum similitudines / emulo splendore reddentium. sed iam de talibus sint satis dicta talia.

“Let us turn again to mankind and reason, that divine gift whereby a human is called a rational animal. What we have said of mankind is wondrous, but less wondrous than this: it exceeds the wonderment of all wonders that humans have been able to discover the divine nature and how to make it. Our ancestors once erred gravely on the theory of divinity; they were unbelieving and inattentive to worship and reverence for god. But then they discovered the art of making gods. To their discovery they added a conformable power arising from the nature of matter. Because they could not make souls, they mixed this power in and called up the souls of demons or angels and implanted them in likenesses through holy and divine mysteries, whence the idols could have the power to do good and evil.”

Caput XIII

i Terum ad hominem / rationemque redeamus ex quo diuino dono / homo animal dictum est rationale. minus enim miranda (etsi miranda sunt) que de homine dicta sunt. sed omnium mirabilium vicit admirationem: quod homo diuinam potuit inuenire naturam / eamque efficere. quoniam ergo proaui nostri multum errabant / circa deorum rationem increduli / et non animaduertentes ad cultum / religionemque diuinam: inuenerunt artem qua deos efficerent. cui inuente / adiunxerunt virtutem de mundi natura conuenientem / eamque miscentes et (quoniam animas facere non poterant) euocantes animas demonum / vel angelorum / eas indiderunt imaginibus sanctis / diuinisque misterijs. per quas solas idola et benefaciendi et malefaciendi vires habere potuissent.

“Take your ancestor, for example: he was the first to discover medicine, Asclepius. They dedicated a temple to him on the Libyan mountain near the shore of the crocodiles. There lies his material person – his body, in other words. The rest, or rather, the whole of him (if the whole person consists in consciousness of life) went back happier to heaven. Even now he still provides help to sick people by his divine power, as he used to offer it through the art of medicine. And Hermes, whose family name I bear, does he not dwell in his native city that was named for him, where mortals come from all around for his aid and protection? Isis, wife of Osiris: we know how much good she can do when well disposed, when angered how much harm! Anger comes easily to earthly and material gods because humans have made and assembled them from both natures. Whence it happens that these are called holy animals by the Egyptians, who throughout their cities worship the souls of those deified while alive, in order that cities might go on living by their laws and calling themselves by their names. For this reason, Asclepius, because what one group worships and honors another group treats differently, Egypt’s cities constantly assail one another in war.”

Auus enim tuus o Asclepi / medicine primus inuentor / cui templum consecratum est in monte lybie circa littus crocodyllorum / in quo eius iacet mundanus homo id est corpus (reliquus enim / vel potius totus: si est homo [fol.58r] totus in sensu vite / melior remeauit in celum) omnia etiam nunc adiumenta hominibus prestans infirmis numine suo / que ante solebat / medicine arte prebere. Hermes cuius [+nomine: Ap.] auitum mihi nomen est: nonne in sibi cognomini patria consistens / omnes mortales vndique venientes adiuuat / atque conseruat? Isin vero vxori Osyris / que multa bona prestare propitia / [tantum: Ap.] obesse scimus irata. terrenis [etenim?] dijs atque mundanis: facile est irasci / vtpote qui sunt ab hominibus / extraque naturam facti atque compositi. vnde contingit ab egyptijs hec sancta animalia nuncupari / colique per singulas ciuitates eorum animas / qui ea consecrauere viuentes. ita vt eorum legibus incolantur / et eorum nominibus nuncupentur. per hanc causam o Asclepi / [et] alijs que colenda videntur atque veneranda / apud alios dissimiliter habentur / ac propterea bellis se lacessere egyptiorum ciuitates solent.

[38] “And the quality of these gods who are considered earthly – what sort of thing is it, Trismegistus?”

ASCLEPIVS. Et horum o Trismegiste deorum / qui terreni habentur / cuiusmodi est qualitas?

“It comes from a mixture of plants, stones and spices, Asclepius, that have in them a natural power of divinity. And this is why those gods are entertained with constant sacrifices, with hymns, praises and sweet sounds in tune with heaven’s harmony: so that the heavenly ingredient enticed into the idol by constant communication with heaven may gladly endure its long stay among humankind. Thus does man fashion his gods.”

TRISME. Constat o Asclepi: de herbis / de lapidibus / de aromatibus / vim diuinitatis naturalem in se habentibus. et propter hanc causam: sacrificija frequentibus oblectantur hymnis / et laudibus / dulcissimis sonis in modum celestis harmonie concinentibus. vt illud quod celeste est: celesti vsu et frequentatione illectum in idola possit letum / humanitatis patiens / longa durare per tempora. sic deorum fictor est homo.

“Do not suppose that these earthly gods act aimlessly, Asclepius. Heavenly gods inhabit heaven’s heights, each one heading up the order assigned to him and watching over it. But here below our gods render aid to humans as if through loving kinship, looking after some things individually, foretelling some things through lots and divination, and planning ahead to give help by other means, each in his own way.”

& ne putes fortuitos effectus esse terrenorum deorum o asclepi. dij celestes inhabitant summa celestia / vnusquique ordinem quem accepit complens / atque custodiens. Hi vero nostri sigillatim quedam curantes quedam sortibus et diuinatione predicentes quedam prouidentes / hisque pro modo subuenientes: humanis quasi amica cognatione auxiliantur. [fol.58v]

[39] “Then what part of the plan belongs to Heimarmen? or the Fates, Trismegistus? The heavenly gods rule universals, but singulars belong to the earthly gods – correct?”


a SCLE. quam ergo partem rationis ????????? vel fata incolunt o Trismegiste: si celestes dij vniuersim dominantur / terreni incolunt singula: quam ????????? nuncupamus?

“What we call Heimarmen?, Asclepius, is the necessity in all events, which are always bound to one another by links that form a chain. She is the maker of everything, then, or else the supreme god, or the second god made by the supreme god, or the ordering of all things in heaven and earth made steadfast by divine laws. Therefore, this Heimarmen? and Necessity are bound to one another by an unbreakable glue, and, of the two, Heimarmen? comes first, begetting the sources of all things, but the things that depend on her beginning them are forced into activity by Necessity. What follows them both is Order, the structure and temporal arrangement of the things that must be brought about. For without the fitting together of an order, there is nothing, and in everything the world’s order is complete. Order is the vehicle of the world itself, and the whole consists of order.”

TRIS. O Asclepi ea est necessitas omnium que geruntur / semper sibi catenatis nexibus iuncta. hec itaque est aut effectrix rerum / aut deus summus / aut ab ipso deo qui secundus effectus est deus / aut omnium celestium terrenarumque rerum firmata diuinis legibus disciplina. Hec itaque ????????? & necessitas / ambe sibi inuicem indiuiduo connexe sunt glutino: quarum prior ????????? rerum omnium parit initia / necessitas vero cogit ad effectum / que ex illius primordijs pendent. has ordo consequitur / id est contextus et dispositio temporis / rerum perficiendarum. nihil est enim sine ordinis compositione. In omnibus istis: mundus iste perfectus est. Ipse enim mundus ordine gestatur: vel totus constat ex ordine.

[40] “These three, then – Heimarmenê, Necessity and Order – are in the very fullest sense the products of god’s assent, who governs the world by his own law and divine plan, and god has barred them altogether from every act of willing or willing-not. Not disturbed by anger nor swayed by kindness, they subject themselves to the necessity of the eternal plan. And the plan is eternity itself: irresistible, immovable, indestructible.

Hec ergo tria: ????????? id est fatum / necessitas / ordo / vel maxime dei nutu sunt effecta / [fol.59r] mundum gubernat sua lege et ratione diuina.Ab his ergo omne velle & nolle diuinitus auersum est totum: nec ira etenim commouentur / nec flectuntur gratia / sed seruiunt necessitati rationis eterne. que eternitas: inauersibilis / immobilis / insolubilis est.

First comes Heimarmen?, then, who provides progeny enough for all to come with the seed she has sown, as it were, and Necessity follows, forcing them all into activity by compulsion. Order comes third to preserve the structure of the things that Heimarmen? and Necessity arrange. This is eternity, then, which can neither begin to be nor cease being, which turns round and round in everlasting motion under the fixed and unchanging law of its cycle, its parts rising and falling time and again so that as time changes the same parts that had fallen rise anew. Circularity gives the turning a pattern that crowds everything together so that you cannot know where the turning starts (assuming that it starts) since everything always seems to follow and also to precede itself. But accident and chance are also mixed into everything material in the world.”

Prima ergo ????????? est que velut iacto semine futurorum omnium suscipit prolem. sequitur necessitas: qua ad effectum vi coguntur omnia. Tertius ordo: textum seruans earum rerum / quas ????????? necessitasque disponit. hec est ergo eternitas: que nec capit esse / nec desinet / que fixa immutabili lege currendi / sempiterna commotione seruatur. oriturque & occidit alterna sepe per membra: ita vt variatis temporibus / ijsdem quibus occiderat membris / oriatur. sic est enim rotunditas volubilis ratio: vt ita sibi coartata sint cuncta / vt quid sit volubilitatis initium ignores / cum omnia se semper et precedere et sequi videantur. Euentus autem et fors: insunt omnibus permixta mundanis.


“I have told you everything that a human being could say, with god’s willingness and permission. Blessing god and praying, it remains for us only to return to the care of the body. We have dealt enough with theology, and we souls have eaten our fill, so to speak.”

Caput XV [fol.59v]

d Ictum est nobis de singulis vt humanitas potuit / vt voluit permisitque diuinitas: restat hoc solum nobis / vt benedicentes deum / orantesque ad curam corporis redeamus. satis enim de diuinis rebus tractantes: mentem velut animi pabulis saturauimus.

[41] As they left the sanctuary, they began praying to god and turning to the south (for when someone wants to entreat god at sunset, he should direct his gaze to that quarter, and likewise at sunrise toward the direction they call east), and they were already saying their prayer when in a hushed voice Asclepius asked: “Tat, do you think we should suggest that your father tell them to add frankincense and spices as we pray to god?”

de adyto vere egressi: cum deum orare cepissent / in austrum respicientes erant. sole etenim occidente / cum quis deum orare voluerit: illuc debet intendere. sicut et sole oriente: in eum qui subsolanus dicitur. Iam ergo dicentibus precationem: Asclepius ait submissa voce / o Tati suggeramus patri / iusserit vt thure addito et pigmentis precem dicamus deo.

When Trismegistus heard him, he was disturbed and said: “A bad omen, Asclepius, very bad. To burn incense and such stuff when you entreat god smacks of sacrilege. For he wants nothing who is himself all things or in whom all things are. Rather let us worship him by giving thanks, for god finds mortal gratitude to be the best incense.”

Trismegistus audiens / atque commotus / ait: melius / melius ominare o Asclepi. hoc enim sacrilegijs simile est: cum deum roges / thus atque cetera incendere. nihil enim deest ei: qui ipse est omnia / aut in eo sunt omnia. sed nos agentes gratias: adoremus. hec enim sunt summe incensiones dei cum aguntur gratie a mortalibus.

“We thank you, supreme and most high god, by whose grace alone we have attained the light of your knowledge; holy name that must be honored, the one name by which our ancestral faith blesses god alone, we thank you who deign to grant to all a father’s fidelity, reverence and love, along with any power that is sweeter, by giving us the gift of consciousness, reason and understanding: consciousness, by which we may know you; reason, by which we may seek you in our dim suppositions; knowledge, by which we may rejoice in knowing you.

Gratias tibi agimus o summe / et exuperantissime. tua enim gratia: tantum sumus cognitionis tue lumen consecuti. nomen sanctum & honorandum. nomen vnum: quo solus deus est benedicendus religione paterna. quoniam omnibus paternam pietatem / & religionem / & amorem / et quecunque est dulcior efficatia / prebere dignaris: cum donas nos sensu / ratione / intelligentia. sensu: vt te cognoscamus. ratione: vt te suspicionibus indagemus. intelligentia: vt te cognitione cognoscentes / gaudeamus.

And we who are saved by your power do indeed rejoice because you have shown yourself to us wholly. We rejoice that you have deigned to make us gods for eternity even while we depend on the body. For this is mankind’s only means of giving thanks: knowledge of your majesty.

ac numine saluati tuo gaudeamus: quod nobis te ostenderis totum. gaudeamus: quod nos in corporibus sitos / eternitati fueris consecrare dignatus. hec est enim sola humana gratulatio. cognitio maiestatis tue.

We have known you, the vast light perceived only by reason.

cognouimus te: & lumen maximum / solo intellectu sen [fol.60r] sibili intelleximus te:

We have understood you, true life of life, the womb pregnant with all coming-to-be.

o vite vera via. o naturarum omnium fecundapregnatio.

We have known you, who persist eternally by conceiving all comingto-be in its perfect fullness.

cognouimus te: totius nature / tuo conceptu plenissime.

Worshipping with this entire prayer the good of your goodness, we ask only this, that you wish us to persist in the love of your knowledge and that we never be cut off from such a life as this.”

cognouimus te: eterna perseueratio. in omni enim ista oratione / adorantes bonum bonitatis tue / hoc tantum deprecamur / vt nos velis seruare / perseuerantes in amore cognitionis tue / & nunquam ab hoc vite separari genere.

“With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing.”

hec optantes: conuertimus nos ad puram / & sine animalibus cenam.



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