The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times

The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times

By: Florian Ebeling (author), David Lorton (translator), Jan Assmann (foreword_author)Paperback

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"Perhaps Hermeticism has fascinated so many people precisely because it has made it possible to produce many analogies and relationships to various traditions: to Platonism in its many varieties, to Stoicism, to Gnostic ideas, and even to certain Aristotelian doctrines. The Gnostic, the esoteric, the Platonist, or the deist has each been able to find something familiar in the writings. One just had to have a penchant for remote antiquity, for the idea of a Golden Age, in order for Hermeticism, with its aura of an ancient Egyptian revelation, to have enjoyed such outstanding success."-from the Introduction Hermes Trismegistus, "thrice-great Hermes," emerged from the amalgamation of the wisdom gods Hermes and Thoth and is one of the most enigmatic figures of intellectual history. Since antiquity, the legendary "wise Egyptian" has been considered the creator of several mystical and magical writings on such topics as alchemy, astrology, medicine, and the transcendence of God. Philosophers of the Renaissance celebrated Hermes Trismegistus as the founder of philosophy, Freemasons called him their forefather, and Enlightenment thinkers championed religious tolerance in his name. To this day, Hermes Trismegistus is one of the central figures of the occult-his name is synonymous with the esoteric. In this scholarly yet accessible introduction to the history of Hermeticism and its mythical founder, Florian Ebeling provides a concise overview of the Corpus Hermeticum and other writings attributed to Hermes. He traces the impact of Christian and Muslim versions of the figure in medieval Europe, the power of Hermeticism and Paracelsian belief in Renaissance thought, the relationship to Pietism and to Freemasonry in early modern Europe, and the relationship to esotericism and semiotics in the modern world.

About Author

Florian Ebeling is a Lecturer at Heidelberg University. The late David Lorton, an Egyptologist, was the translator of many books, including Ancient Egypt in 101 Questions and Answers, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus, The Secret Lore of Egypt, and Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, all from Cornell. Jan Assmann is Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at Heidelberg University. His books include The Search for God in Ancient Egypt and Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, both from Cornell.


Foreword by Jan Assmann Introduction Chapter 1. Prehistory and Early History of a Phantasm What Are Hermetic Texts? - The Hermetic Texts of Late Antiquity - Hermes as Preacher of Theology and Philosophy - Hermes: Astrologer, Magus, and Alchemist - What Was Ancient Hermeticism? Chapter 2. The Middle Ages: Christian Theology and "Antediluvian" Magic Christian Hermeticism - Arab Hermeticism - Hermes Latinus - Traditions of Medieval Hermeticism Chapter 3. Renaissance: Primeval Wisdom for a New World Tradition or Rediscovery? - Hermeticism and Paracelsism - Religious Hermeticism - Two Paths of Hermeticism in the Early Modern Period Chapter 4. Seventeenth Century: High Point and Decline Casaubon and the Dating of the Hermetic Texts - Hermeticism and the Modern Natural Sciences - Hermeticism and Pietism - The Decrepitude of Hermeticism? Chapter 5. Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Between Occultism and Enlightenment Two German Editions of the Corpus Hermeticum - Hermes Trismegistus in Freemasonry - From Historical to Systematic Hermeticism Chapter 6. Twentieth Century: Systems and Esoterica Julius Evola and Esoteric Hermeticism - Umberto Eco's Hermetic Semiosis and Heinrich Rombach's Hermeticism Chronology Glossary Select Bibliography Index

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780801477492
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 176
  • ID: 9780801477492
  • weight: 283
  • ISBN10: 0801477492

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