Ancient Hermetism and Esotericism

in Aries
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

The Hermetic treatises have played a considerable role in the history of Western Esotericism. However, according to the influential definition of Antoine Faivre, Western Esotericism is a historical phenomenon originating from the fifteenth century, when Marsilio Ficino translated the Greek Corpus Hermeticum into Latin. The question, then, is if the term “esotericism” has any utility for understanding the original context of the Hermetic treatises, in the first centuries of the Common Era. The present contribution aims to give a summary account of research into ancient Hermetism, and consider the Hermetic treatises in light of the six elements of Faivre’s conception of Western Esotericism. These six elements can serve as heuristic tools to single out certain salient features of the treatises, but do not really help us gain a deeper understanding of them or the greater phenomenon of Hermetism. However, recalling the work of Hugh Urban, it will be suggested that we should use “esotericism” as an analytical term designating a social strategy, characterized by the creation of a closed social space, a claim to possess a superior faculty of knowledge, and rites of initiation to obtain this faculty and become a new human. The advantage of this second approach is that it permits us to compare the social strategies operative in the Hermetic treatises with those of other esoteric traditions, including those that do not have any historical affiliations with Hermetism.

Ancient Hermetism and Esotericism

in Aries

Sections

References

17

E.g. FestugièreLa révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste4:54.

19

Petersen‘Alt kommer jo på øjet an, der ser’passim.

24

Van BladelThe Arabic Hermes17–22.

27

FowdenThe Egyptian Hermes184–186.

28

Van BladelThe Arabic Hermes64–114.

29

See e.g. van den Broek‘Religious Practices’ 77ff. 95; Quispel ‘From the Hermetic Lodge’; idem ‘Hermes Trismegistus’ 148 156; idem ‘Reincarnation and Magic’163 170 177 186 207; Faivre Access to Western Esotericism 51ff.

31

FowdenThe Egyptian Hermes168–173; Dieleman Priests Tongues and Rites 11ff.; Tait ‘Theban Magic’ 169–182.

33

P. Vind. Gr. 12563. See FowdenThe Egyptian Hermes175; Kingsley ‘Poimandres’ 56.

34

P. Herm. Rees 2–3. See ReesPapyri from Hermopolis2–7; Matthews The Journey of Theophanes 19–23; Fowden The Egyptian Hermes 176 192.

35

Did. Alex.Trin. 2.3.26–28 (Seiler) 2.27 3.1.776a (Migne); see Fowden The Egyptian Hermes 179f.; Cyr. Alex. C. Jul. 1.548b–549c 2.580b 2.597d–600b and 4.701ab.; Damascius Vit. Isid. 243.

36

Kloppenborg and Wilson (eds.)Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World1; Martin ‘Secrecy in Hellenistic Religious Communities’ 102ff. For useful surveys see Ascough Harland and Kloppenborg Associations in the Greco-Roman World and the ongoing multi-volume Greco-Roman Associations: Texts Translations and Commentary published by de Gruyter.

37

See FowdenThe Egyptian Hermes193.

38

See FaivreAccess to Western Esotericism10–15.

43

Ibid.12.1.

44

Ibid.16.10–16; Stob. Herm. 6.10; Ascl. 5.

48

E.g. JonasThe Gnostic Religion171–173; classic passages include Ir. Haer. 1.2; Ap. JohnNHC II1.9–10.

50

Ibid.1.8.

51

Ibid.1.14–16.

53

Ibid.23.13.

59

Ibid.13.8ff.

60

FaivreAccess to Western Esotericism13.

67

Ibid.13.1.

68

See Bull‘The Tradition of Hermes’206–236.

70

Ibid.13.14.

71

Ibid.13.11.

72

Ibid.12.13.

73

See KilcherConstructing Traditionix–xvi.

75

Bull‘The Tradition of Hermes’21–28 56–57; van den Kerchove La voie d’Hermès 50–55.

76

Von StuckradLocations of Knowledge25–42.

79

MahéHermès en Haute-Égypte1:132; Fowden The Egyptian Hermes 97ff.; van den Kerchove La voie d’Hermès 66–72.

83

See Hammer‘Esotericism in New Religious Movements’449.

84

DillonThe Middle Platonists389–392.

85

E.g. PearsonAncient Gnosticism275–276; Rudolph Gnosis 25ff.; Pétrement A Separate God 463–468.

87

E.g. RudolphGnosis120–121.

91

GalenDe plac. 3.4.12; Luc. Vit. auct. 26; Clement of Alexandria Strom. 5.9.58; Iamb. Vit. Pyth. 17.72.

97

Hägg‘Canon Formation in Greek Literary Culture’ 111–113; Finkelberg ‘Homer as a Foundation Text’91–96; Lamberton Homer the Theologian.

103

See Bull‘The Tradition of Hermes’375–469.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 27 27 9
Full Text Views 17 17 17
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0