The beginning of tractate XI from the book Mercvrii Trismegisti Pœmandres, published in Paris in 1554

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One Perceiveration
(pdf)

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From the Preface:

Following suggestions from several readers of both my translations of and commentaries on eight tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum [1] and my book The Numinous Way Of Pathei-Mathos, [2] I have collected here several essays of mine, published between 2012 and 2019, concerning my methodology in regard to translating and employing certain Ancient Greek words.

Hopefully this collection will go some way toward revealing to readers the reasoning behind why I, for example, use σωφρονεῖν in preference to σωφρονέω/σωφροσύνη and attribute to that Greek word a particular philosophical meaning – “a fair and balanced personal, individual, judgement” (that is, thoughtful reasoning, or wisdom) – rather than the English meaning now associated with the transliteration sophrosyne which is “soundness of mind, moderation”, thus avoiding the English word “mind” with all its post-classical and modern interpretations philosophical and otherwise.

Another example is pathei mathos – πάθει μάθος – which is used not in accord with Greek grammatical (inflective) usage, but in accord with the English language use of an expression, with my writings thus employing expressions such as “a pathei-mathos”, “that pathei-mathos”, “which pathei-mathos”, “our accumulated pathei-mathos”, “my pathei-mathos”, and of course “the philosophy of pathei-mathos”.

A further example is σοφόν in preference to σοφός, when the sense implied is not the usual “skilled”, or “learned” or “wise” but rather what lies beyond and what was/is the genesis of those denotata: which is the quiddity, the physis, with the denotata (σοφός: skill, learning, wisdom) a presencing [3] in an individual of that wordless quiddity, [4] that physis. [5]

In these and other instances the words are used in an Anglicized, non-inflective, way to suggest a specific philosophical term or concept different from what the original Greek does or might suggest, ancient or modern, as in the matter of σωφρονέω/σωφροσύνη. That is, they are intended to be assimilated into the English language either in their transliterated form (for instance sophronein) or in their Greek form (for instance σωφρονεῖν) and refer not to some supra-personal “idea” or ideation – ἰδέᾳ/εἶδος – or abstraction but rather to individuals.

I attempted to explain the philosophical principles behind my methodology and weltanschauung in my book The Numinous Way Of Pathei-Mathos, and in my two monographs Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos [6] and Tu Es Diaboli Ianua. [7] Which principles are (i) emphasising the individual, the personal, the unique and empathic nature of perceiveration – of apprehending and understanding Being and beings, and our own physis – over and above abstractions and ideations and thus over and above denotata – and (ii) that the classical principles or virtues of τὸ καλόν, ἀρετή, and τὸ ἀγαθὸν related to and were defined by the deeds, the lives, of individuals and not to something supra-personal such as some idea or ideation or dogma or faith or ideology, and were well-expressed in the term καλὸς κἀγαθός, which implies those who conduct themselves in a certain manner and who thus manifest – because of their innate physis or through pathei-mathos or through a certain type of education or learning – a particular personal character.

But as I noted in one of the essays included here: does my idiosyncratic use of Ancient Greek and Latin terms make my philosophy confusing, difficult to understand and difficult to appreciate? Perhaps.

However, in regard to translations such as tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum and the Gospel of John, when I have used an original phrase – for example “quidditas of semblance” in the Pœmandres tractate, and, in the Gospel of John, translated οὐρανός as Empyrean rather than the conventional Heaven, to give just two examples from the many – I have explained my interpretation in the associated commentary.

For reasons which the essays included here may make clear, I have added a slightly revised version of my Glossary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos: Vocabulary, Definitions, and Explanations, and also the Introduction to my translation of and commentary on chapters I-V of the Gospel of John. [8]

David Myatt
2020
Second Edition

[1] Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates. 2017. ISBN 978-1976452369

[2] The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos. ISBN 978-1484096642

[3] Presencing: from the classical Latin praesentia – meaning “having or implying actual presence”, as manifesting (as being presenced) in a locality or an individual. Qv. my commentary on Ιερός Λόγος 2, et sequentia, of the Corpus Hermeticum.

[4] The scholastic term quiddity derives from the 11th/12th century post-classical Latin quidditas, and avoids using the term “essence” (οὐσία) which has post-classical and modern connotations. As I noted in my commentary on tractate XI:2 of the Corpus Hermeticum,

In respect of οὐσία, qv. Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 5, 1015α:

ἐκ δὴ τῶν εἰρημένων ἡ πρώτη φύσις καὶ κυρίως λεγομένη ἐστὶν ἡ οὐσία ἡ τῶν ἐχόντων ἀρχὴν κινήσεως ἐν αὑτοῖς ᾗ αὐτά: ἡ γὰρ ὕλη τῷ ταύτης δεκτικὴ εἶναι λέγεται φύσις, καὶ αἱ γενέσεις καὶ τὸ φύεσθαι τῷ ἀπὸ ταύτης εἶναι κινήσεις. καὶ ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως τῶν φύσει ὄντων αὕτη ἐστίν, ἐνυπάρχουσά πως ἢ δυνάμει ἢ ἐντελεχείᾳ.

Given the foregoing, then principally – and to be exact – physis denotes the quidditas of beings having changement inherent within them; for substantia has been denoted by physis because it embodies this, as have the becoming that is a coming-into-being, and a burgeoning, because they are changements predicated on it. For physis is inherent changement either manifesting the potentiality of a being or as what a being, complete of itself, is.

See also my Some Notes on Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 5, 1015α, at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/aristotle-metaphysics-1015α/

[5] In respect of physis, refer to Appendix I: The Concept Of Physis

[6] Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos. 2017. ISBN 978-1979599023

[7] Tu Es Diaboli Ianua. 2017. ISBN 978-1982010935

[8] The translation and commentary are available at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/gospel-according-to-john/

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Contents:

Preface.
On Translating Ancient Greek.
A Note On Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos.
Appreciating Classical Literature.
An Indebtedness To Ancient Greek And Greco-Roman Culture.
Concerning The Gospel Of John.
On Minutiae And The Art Of Revision.
Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum.
Glossary of The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos.
Appendix I – The Concept Of Physis.
Appendix II – Towards Understanding Ancestral Culture.
Appendix III – On Ethos And Interpretation.

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Image credit:

The beginning of tractate XI from the book Mercvrii Trismegisti Pœmandres, published in Paris in 1554.


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Appreciating Classical Literature

Having read and once been in possession of a few of the printed published volumes of Thesaurus Linguae Latinae [1] I seem to at last understand how that continuing scholarly endeavour, begun decades before the First World War, is emblematic of the importance of academic scholarship, and emblematic of the temporal nature of wars and especially of such national and regional conflicts as we have endured, and continue to be involved in, during the past one hundred and fifty years.

Wars, and conflicts, with their human suffering and their often civilian deaths which an appreciation of classical (Ancient Greek and Latin) literature can place into a necessary supra-personal and supra-national perspective.

For the pathei-mathos which such literature – and often the associated mythoi – can impart is of our hubris and our need for the wisdom enshrined in the phrase καλὸς κἀγαθός. That is, in the melding of τὸ καλόν (the beautiful) and τὸ ἀγαθὸν (the honourable) as in tractate XI:3 of the Corpus Hermeticum:

Ἡ δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ σοφία τί ἔστι;
Τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ τὸ καλὸν καὶ εὐδαιμονία καὶ ἡ πᾶσα ἀρετὴ καὶ ὁ αἰών.

But the Sophia of the theos is what?
The noble, the beautiful, good fortune, arête, and Aion. [2]

Where, however, τὸ καλὸν refers, in terms of individuals, to not only physical beauty – the beautiful – but also to a particular demeanour indicative of a well-balanced, noble, personal character, as for example mentioned by Xenophon in Hellenica, Book V, 3.9,

πολλοὶ δὲ αὐτῷ καὶ τῶν περιοίκων ἐθελονταὶ καλοὶ κἀγαθοὶ
ἠκολούθουν, καὶ ξένοι τῶν τροφίμων καλουμένων, καὶ νόθοι τῶν
Σπαρτιατῶν, μάλα εὐειδεῖς τε καὶ τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει καλῶν οὐκ ἄπειροι

A personal character which Marcus Tullius Cicero also explained, in his De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum,

Honestum igitur id intellegimus, quod tale est, ut detracta omni utilitate sine ullis praemiis fructibusve per se ipsum possit iure laudari. quod quale sit, non tam definitione, qua sum usus, intellegi potest, quamquam aliquantum potest, quam communi omnium iudicio et optimi cuiusque studiis atque factis, qui permulta ob eam unam causam faciunt, quia decet, quia rectum, quia honestum est, etsi nullum consecuturum emolumentum vident. (II, 45f)

I am inclined to believe that it is unfortunate that the societies of the modern West no longer consider “a classical education” – the learning of Ancient Greek and Latin, and a study of Ancient Greek and Latin texts such as those of Cicero, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristotle – a necessity, as a way to wisdom, as a means to understanding our human physis.

That some individuals, such as the scholars engaged in endeavouring to complete Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, do still appreciate Ancient Greek and Latin texts provides this old man, in the twilight of his life, some comfort, some hope for our human future.

ἀθάνατοι θνητοί, θνητοὶ ἀθάνατοι, ζῶντες τὸν ἐκεί­νων θάνατον, τὸν δὲ ἐκείνων βίον τεθνεῶτες

The deathless are deathful, the deathful deathless, with one living the other’s dying with the other dying in that other’s life. [3]

David Myatt
December 2019

Extract from a letter to an Oxfordian friend, with footnotes post scriptum

[1] https://www.thesaurus.badw.de/en/tll-digital/tll-open-access.html
[2] As I have mentioned in several essays, and in my Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates: Translation and Commentary, the theos – ὁ θεὸς – is the chief classical deity (such as Zeus in Ancient Greek mythoi) and should not be understood as equivalent to the monotheistic creator God of Christianity and of the ancient Hebrews. For ὁ θεὸς is not omnipotent, and can be overthrown, as Zeus overthrew Kronos and as Kronos himself overthrew his own father.
[3] Heraclitus, Fragment 62, Diels-Krantz.

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All translations by DWM


John the Evangelist: Folio 209v of the Lindisfarne Gospels

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Contents

° From Mythoi To Empathy
° On Minutiae And The Art Of Revision
° An Indebtedness To Ancient Greek And Greco-Roman Culture
° The Way Of Jesus of Nazareth
° Physis And Being: Introduction To The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
° A Note Concerning θειότης
° Time And The Separation Of Otherness
° That Heavy Dust
° Telesmata In The Picatrix
° Towards Understanding Ancestral Culture
° A Pre-Socratic Fragment: Empedocles
° The Beatitudes: A Translation
° A Note On The Term Jews In The Gospel of John
° The Joy Of Words
° Two Metaphysical Contradictions Of The Modern West
° In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church: Part One
° In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church: Part Two

Some Selected Essays And Effusions
(pdf)

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Collected here are some of my more recent essays and effusions together with those which were not included in printed compilations such as Sarigthersa (2015), One Vagabond (2014) and Such Respectful Wordful Offerings As This {2017).

For this second edition I have included three essays which concern a matter relating to the Roman Catholic Church.


Image credit:
John the Evangelist. Folio 209v of the Lindisfarne Gospels
British Library Cotton MS Nero D.IV

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Tu Es Diaboli Ianua
(pdf)

Contents

° Exordium
° Part I. The Johannine Weltanschauung And The Numinous
° Part II. A Paganus Apprehension
° Part III. Numinous Metaphysics
° Appendix I. Logos Δ. The Esoteric Song
° Appendix II. A Note On The Term Jews In The Gospel of John
° Appendix III. The Human Culture Of Pathei-Mathos

Exordium

Given that the religion termed Christianity has, for over six centuries, been influential in respect of the ethos and spirituality of the culture of the West – often to the extent of having been described as manifesting that ethos and that spirituality – one of the metaphysical questions I have saught to answer over the past forty years is whether that religion is, given our thousands of years old human culture of pathei-mathos, a suitable presencing of the numinous. If it is not, then could that religion be reformed, by developing a Johannine Weltanschauung given that the Gospel According to John – τὸ κατὰ Ἰωάννην εὐαγγέλιον – arguably presents a somewhat different perspective on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth than the three other synoptic Gospels. Would such a reformation be a suitable presencing of the numinous, and if not, then what non-Christian alternatives – such as a paganus metaphysics – exist, and what is the foundation of such an alternative?

This essay thus compliments my book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos. As in that book, I have made extensive use of my translations of certain classical authors and of various hermetic texts as well as the Gospel of John, and given that those translations are currently quite accessible I have not except on a few occasions explained my interpretations of certain Greek or Latin terms since those interpretations are explained in the associated commentaries.

As noted elsewhere, I prefer the term paganus – a transliteration of the classical Latin, denoting as it does connection to Nature, to the natural, more rural, world – in preference to ‘pagan’ since paganus is, in my view and in respect of the Greco-Roman ethos, more accurate given what the term ‘pagan’ now often denotes.

The title of the essay, Tu Es Diaboli Ianua – “You Are The Nexion Of The Deofel”, literally, “You are nexion Diabolos ” – is taken from Tertullian’s De Monogamia, written at the beginning of the second century AD.

David Myatt
Winter Solstice 2017


Image credit: Attic red-figure vase, c. 500-450 BCE, depicting The Horae. Antikenmuseen, Berlin


Galaxy UGC1259. Hubble

The pdf file below contains the second edition of my book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and supersedes previously issued extracts and editions.

The text was last revised on 17.xi.17.

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Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos
Second Edition
(pdf)


Image Credit:

Galaxy UGC 12591. NASA, ESA, Hubble Space telescope.


Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV (P75). c. 175-225 CE. John, vv.1 ff. Vatican Library.

Nota Bene: This chapter (which is subject to revision) complements Volume I of my translation – chapters 1-4 – which was published in July 2017 (ISBN 978-1548913670). Volume II – containing chapters 5-10 – is scheduled for publication in 2018.

The text of chapter five was last revised on 16.x.17

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Gospel of John: Chapter Five
(pdf)

 


Image credit: Papyrus Bodmer XIV-XV (P75). c. 175-225 CE.
Gospel of John, vv.1 ff. Vatican Library

 

Δέησις Mosaic, Icon of Jesus, Hagia Sophia

The Way Of Jesus of Nazareth

A Question Of Hermeneutics?

 

As my translation of and commentary on the Gospel According To John so very slowly progresses [1] what I am (re)discovering is how different the ‘way of Jesus of Nazareth’ – as presenced in and by that particular Gospel over two thousand years ago – seems to me to be from what has so often been preached by so many and for so long regarding that religion which has become known as Christianity, dependant as such preaching so often is and has been on interpretations, and translations, of the Greek texts that form the ‘New Testament’.

What emerges from my own translation – that is, from my particular ‘interpretation of meaning’ of the Gospel According To John – is rather reminiscent of what individuals such as Julian of Norwich, George Fox, and William Penn wrote and said about Jesus and the spiritual way that the Gospels in particular revealed. This is the way of humility, of forgiveness, of love, of a personal appreciation of the divine, of the numinous; and a spiritual, interior, way somewhat different from supra-personal moralistic interpretations based on inflexible notions of ‘sin’ and thus on what is considered ‘good’ and what is considered ‘evil’.

A difference evident in many passages from the Gospel of John, such as the following two, one of which involves the Greek word πιστεύω, and which word is perhaps a relevant hermeneutical example. The conventional interpretation of meaning, in respect of New Testament texts, is ‘believe’, ‘have faith in’, so that John 3:16 is interpreted along the following lines:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (King James Bible)

Similarly in respect of other verses where πιστεύω occurs, so that the impression is of the necessity of believing, of having or acquiring faith.

Yet, and in regard to the aforementioned verse, if one interprets that particular (and another) Greek word in a more Hellenistic – a more Greek – way, then one has:

Theos so loved the world that he offered up his only begotten son so that all those trusting in him would not perish but might have life everlasting.

Not only is this personal, direct – as in personally trusting someone as opposed to a ‘blind believing’ – but there are no prior hermeneutic assumptions about ‘God’, derived as such assumptions are from over two thousand years of scriptural exegesis and preaching.

Example One. Chapter Three, 16-21

DWM:

Theos so loved the world that he offered up his only begotten son so that all those trusting in him would not perish but might have life everlasting. For Theos did not dispatch his son to the world to condemn the world, but rather that the world might be rescued through him. Whosoever trusts in him is not condemned while whomsoever does not trust is condemned for he has not trusted in the Nomen of the only begotten son of Theos.

And this is the condemnation: That the Phaos arrived in the world but mortals loved the darkness more than the Phaos, for their deeds were harmful. For anyone who does what is mean dislikes the Phaos and does not come near the Phaos lest their deeds be exposed. But whomsoever practices disclosure goes to the Phaos so that their deeds might be manifest as having been done through Theos. [2]

King James Bible:

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Example Two. Chapter Five, 1-16

DWM:

Following this, there was a Judaean feast and Jesus went to Jerusalem. And there is in Jerusalem by the place of the sheep a pool, named in the language of the Hebrews as Bethesda, which has five colonnades in which were a large number of the infirm – the blind, the limping, the withered – awaiting a change in the water since on occasion an Envoy of Theos descended into the pool, stirring the water, and whomsoever after that stirring of the water was first to enter became complete, the burden of their affliction removed.

And there was a man there who for eight and thirty years had been infirm. Jesus, seeing him lying there and knowing of that lengthy duration, said to him: “Do you seek to be complete?”

The infirm one replied: “Sir, I do not have someone who when the water is stirred could place me in that pool, and, when I go, someone else has descended before me.”

Jesus said to him: “Arise. Take your bedroll, and walk.”

And, directly, the man became complete, took up his bedroll and walked around. And it was the day of the Sabbath.

Thus did the Judaeans say to the one who had been treated: “It is the Sabbath and it is not permitted for you to carry your bedroll.”

To them he answered: “It was he who made me complete who said for me to take my bedroll and to walk around.”

So they asked him: “Who is the man who said for you to take the bedroll and walk?”

But the healed one did not know, for there was a crowd there with Jesus having betaken himself away.

Following this, Jesus discovered him in the temple and said to him: “Behold, you are complete. No more missteps, lest something worse befalls you.”

The man then went away and informed the Judaeans that it was Jesus who had made him complete, and thus did the Judaeans harass Jesus because he was doing such things on the Sabbath. [3][4]

King James Bible:

After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

Conclusion

The first example seems to me to be revealing of the personal nature of the ‘way of Jesus of Nazareth’ – of a personal trust in a particular person, in this instance a trust in Jesus because of how he and his life are recounted by the Evangelist – contrasting with a rather impersonal demand to believe, to have faith, based on doctrine as codified by someone else or by some organized regulatory and supra-local hierarchy.

The second example seems to me to be revealing of the contrast between the then organized supra-personal religion of the Judaeans – with its doctrinal forbiddance, sometimes on pain of death, of certain personal deeds – and the empathy and compassion of an individual, as evident in Jesus in the immediacy of the moment healing a long-suffering infirm man and bidding him to take up and carry his bedroll, undoubtedly aware as Jesus was that he was doing and inciting what was forbidden because for him empathy and compassion were more important than some established doctrine.

Is this contrast between what seems to be a particular dogmatism, a particular religious (hubriatic) intolerance by the Judaeans, and an individual being empathic and compassionate in the immediacy of the moment, still relevant today? Personally, I do believe it is, leading me to conclude that τὸ κατὰ Ἰωάννην εὐαγγέλιον – The Gospel According To John – contains certain truths not only about our physis as human beings but also about our relation to Being, to the divine, to the numinous. For, as described in tractate III of the Corpus Hermeticum,

The numen of all beings is theos: numinal, and of numinal physis. The origin of what exists is theos, who is Perceiveration and Physis and Substance: the sapientia which is a revealing of all beings. For the numinal is the origin: physis, vigour, incumbency, accomplishment, renewance […]

The divine is all of that mixion: renewance of the cosmic order through Physis, for Physis is presenced in the divine. [5]

David Myatt
October 2017

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Related:
https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/gospel-according-to-john/
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Footnotes

[1] Volume I (chapters 1-4) of my translation of and commentary on the Gospel According To John was published in July 2017 (ISBN 978-1548913670) with volume II (chapters 5-10) scheduled for publication in 2018.

A version in html – including chapter 5 and >, which is subject to revision and updated as and when new verses and the associated commentary are available – is (as of October 2017) at http://www.davidmyatt.info/gospel-john.html

[2] A (slightly edited) extract from my commentary on John 3:16-21.

° Nomos. νόμος. A transliteration since as with ‘logos’ a particular metaphysical principle is implied and one which requires contextual interpretation; a sense somewhat lost if the English word ‘law’ is used especially given what the word ‘law’ often now imputes.

° Phaos. Given that φάος metaphorically (qv. Iliad, Odyssey, Hesiod, etcetera) implies the being, the life, ‘the spark’, of mortals, and, generally, either (i) the illumination, the light, that arises because of the Sun and distinguishes the day from the night, or (ii) any brightness that provides illumination and thus enables things to be seen, I am inclined to avoid the vague English word ‘light’ which all other translations use and which, as in the case of God, has, in the context of the evangel of Jesus of Nazareth, acquired particular meanings mostly as a result of centuries of exegesis and which therefore conveys or might convey something that the Greek word, as used by the author of this particular Greek text, might not have done.

Hence my transliteration – using the Homeric φάος instead of φῶς – and which transliteration requires the reader to pause and consider what phaos may, or may not, mean, suggest, or imply. As in the matter of logos, it is most probably not some sort of philosophical principle, neo-Platonist or otherwise.

Interestingly, φῶς occurs in conjunction with ζωή and θεὸς and ἐγένετο and Ἄνθρωπος in the Corpus Hermeticum, thus echoing the evangel of John:

φῶς καὶ ζωή ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατήρ͵ ἐξ οὗ ἐγένετο ὁ Ἄνθρωπος (Poemandres, 1.21)

Life and phaos are [both] of Theos, The Father, Who brought human beings into existence

° For their deeds were harmful. ἦν γὰρ αὐτῶν πονηρὰ τὰ ἔργα. Harmful: that is, caused pain and suffering. To impute to πονηρός here the meaning of a moral abstract ‘evil’ is, in my view, mistaken. Similarly with the following φαῦλος in v.20 which imparts the sense of being ‘mean’, indifferent.

Since the Phaos is Jesus, those who are mean, those who do harm, avoid Jesus because (qv. 2.25) he – as the only begotten son of Theos – knows the person within and all their deeds. Thus, fearing being exposed, they avoid him, and thus cannot put their trust in him and so are condemned and therefore lose the opportunity of eternal life.

° whomsoever practices disclosure. ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν. Literally, ‘they practising the disclosing.’ That is, those who disclose – who do not hide – who they are and what deeds they have done, and who thus have no reason to fear exposure. Here, as in vv.19-20, the meaning is personal – about the character of people – and not about abstractions such as “evil” and “truth”, just as in previous verses it is about trusting in the character of Jesus. Hence why here ἀλήθεια is ‘sincerity’, a disclosing, a revealing – the opposite of lying and of being deceitful – and not some impersonal ‘truth’.

[3] Note how Jesus does not disapprovingly preach about – does not even mention – the apparently superstitious practice of infirm individuals waiting by a ‘miraculous’ pool in order to be cured.

[4] A (slightly edited) extract from my commentary on John 5:1-16.

° the place of the sheep. Since the Greek προβατικός means “of or relating to sheep” and there is no mention of a ‘gate’ (or of anything specific such as a market) I prefer a more literal translation. It is a reasonable assumption that the sheep were, and had in previous times been, kept there prior to being offered as sacrifices, as for example sheep are still so held in particular places in Mecca during Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast of sacrifice.

° named in the language of the Hebrews. ἐπιλεγομένη Ἑβραϊστὶ.

° the infirm. The Greek word ἀσθενέω implies those lacking normal physical strength.

° awaiting a change in the water. Reading ἐκδεχομένων τὴν τοῦ ὕδατος κίνησιν with the Textus Receptus, omitted by NA28, but included in ASV, Tyndale, and Wycliffe.

° Envoy of Theos. Reading άγγελος γάρ κυρίου κατά καιρών κατέβαινεν (qv. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, Book II, V, 1-4, Migne Patrologia Graeca 73) and ἐν τῇ κολυμβήθρᾳ, καὶ ἐτάρασσεν τὸ ὕδωρ· ὁ οὖν πρῶτος ἐμβὰς μετὰ τὴν ταραχὴν τοῦ ὕδατος, ὑγιὴς ἐγίνετο, ᾧ δήποτε κατειχετο νοσήματι with the Textus Receptus. The verse is omitted by NA28, but included in ASV, Tyndale, and Wycliffe.

a) envoy. As noted in the commentary on 1:51, interpreting ἄγγελος as ‘envoy’ (of theos) and not as ‘angel’, particularly given the much later Christian iconography associated with the term ‘angel’.

b) Theos. Regarding άγγελος γάρ κυρίου, qv. Matthew 28.2 ἄγγελος γὰρ κυρίου καταβὰς ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, “an envoy of [the] Lord/Master descended from Empyrean/the heavens.” Since here κύριος implies Theos (cf. John 20.28 where it is used in reference to Jesus), an interpretation such as “envoy of Theos” avoids both the phrase “envoy of the Master” – which is unsuitable given the modern connotations of the word ‘master’ – and the exegetical phrase “angel/envoy of the Lord” with all its associated and much later iconography both literal, by means of Art, and figurative, in terms of one’s imagination. An alternative expression would be “envoy of the Domine,” with Domine (from the Latin Dominus) used in English as both a respectful form of address and as signifying the authority of the person or a deity.

c) became complete. ὑγιὴς ἐγίνετο. The suggestion is of the person becoming ‘whole’, complete, sanus, and thus ceasing to be ‘broken’, incomplete, infirm.

° bedroll. κράβαττος (Latin, grabatus) has no suitable equivalent in English since in context it refers to the portable bed and bedding of the infirm. The nearest English approximation is bedroll.

° And, directly, the man became complete. καὶ εὐθέως ἐγένετο ὑγιὴς ὁ ἄνθρωπος. Metaphysically, the Evangelist is implying that ‘completeness’ – wholeness – for both the healthy and the infirm (whether infirm because of sickness or a physical infirmity) arises because of and through Jesus.

° treated. Taking the literal sense of θεραπεύω here. Hence: cared for, treated, attended to. As a healer or a physician might care for, treat, or attend to, someone.

° no more missteps. μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε. That is, make no more mistakes in judgement or in deeds. Qv. the Introduction [to Volume I of the translation] regarding translating ἁμαρτία in a theologically neutral way as ‘mistake’ or ‘error’ instead of by the now exegetical English word ‘sin’. Cf. 1.29, 8.7, et seq.

° Judaeans. Qv. my essay A Note On The Term Jews In The Gospel of John, available at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/a-note-on-the-term-jews-in-the-gospel-of-john/

° harass. διώκω. Cf. the Latin persequor, for the implication is of continually ‘following’ and pursuing him in order to not only try and worry or distress him but also (as becomes evident) to find what they regard is evidence against him in order to have him killed, qv. 5.18, 7.1, 7.19 et seq.

[5] Ιερός Λόγος: An Esoteric Mythos. Included in: David Myatt, Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates: Translation and Commentary, 2017. ISBN 978-1976452369


Image credit: Icon of Jesus, Δέησις Mosaic, Hagia Sophia

Apollo and Artémis. Louvre (Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities)

For the convenience of readers I have compiled my eight translations of and commentaries on tractates from the Corpus Hermeticum into one pdf document.

 

Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates
(pdf)
°°°


Contents

° Preface

° Tractate I. Ποιμάνδρης. Poemandres

° Tractate III.  Ιερός Λόγος. An Esoteric Mythos

° Tractate IV.  Ἑρμοῦ πρὸς Τάτ ὁ κρατῆρ ἡ μονάς. From Hermes To Thoth: Chaldron Or Monas

° Tractate VI.  ̔́Οτι ἐν μόνῳ θεῷ τὸ ἀγαθόν ἐστιν ἀλλαχόθι δὲ οὐδαμοῦ. That In The Theos Alone Is Nobility And Not Anywhere Else

° Tractate VIII. Ὅτι οὐδὲν τῶν ὄντων ἀπόλλυται ἀλλὰ τὰς μεταβολὰς ἀπωλείας καὶ θανάτους πλανώμενοι λέγουσιν. That no beings are lost, despite mortals mistakenly claiming that such transformations are death and a loss.

° Tractate XI. Νοῦς πρὸς Ἑρμῆν. From Perceiverance To Hermes

° Tractate XII. Περὶ νοῦ κοινοῦ πρὸς Τάτ. To Thoth, Concerning Mutual Perceiveration.

° Tractate XIII. Ερμού του τρισμεγίστου προς τον υιόν Τάτ εν όρει λόγος απόκρυφος περί παλιγγενεσίας και σιγής επαγγελίας. On A Mountain: Hermes Trismegistus To His Son Thoth, An Esoteric Discourse Concerning Palingenesis And The Requirement of Silence

° Bibliography

°°°

A printed version is also available: David Myatt, Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates, ISBN-13: 978-1976452369. 190 pages. 2017. BISAC: Philosophy / Metaphysics


Image credit:
Attic red-figure. Apollo and Artémis.
c.470 BCE. Louvre (Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities)


Tractate 13, Corpus Hermeticum

N.B. This has been superseded by the compilation Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates which contains translations of and commentaries on tractates I, III, IV, VI, VIII, XI, XII, XIII.

Gratis Open Access: https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/eight-tractates-v2-print.pdf

Printed book: ISBN-13: 978-1976452369. 190 pages. 2017.


Image credit: The beginning of tractate XIII from the book Mercvrii Trismegisti Pœmandres, published in Paris in 1554.


Tractate 13, Corpus Hermeticum

Some Notes On Translating Tractate XIII

As with many of the tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum, the Greek text of tractate XIII provides an interesting insight into ancient Hellenic paganism and mysticism. It also – as with most of those tractates – presents the translator with certain problems, sometimes related to textual corruption, sometimes grammatical (should ῥοίζῳ, for example, in v. 9  of XIII be related to νικηθεῖσαι or to ἐξέπτησαν) and many of which problems concern the variety of meanings which can be assigned to certain words, as for instance in the important matter of νοῦς which is invariably translated as either “intellect” or as “mind”, neither of which is satisfactory especially given what both of those English words now often denote almost two thousand years after those Greek tractates were written.

My own choice in this tractate in respect of νοῦς – as in my translations of other Hermetic tractates – is perceiveration/perceiverance, which, even though such English words hint at what I believe νοῦς meant and implied esoterically and philosophically in Hellenistic times, are not entirely satisfactory. The only reasonable alternative seems to be a transliteration, as I do in this tractate – and have done in other tractates – in respect of λόγος, θεός and several other Greek words.

However, given that the goal of the translator is to provide for the general reader an intelligible interpretation of the text, to utilize transliterations for every problematic word would fail to accomplish that goal. Which is why the translator has to use their judgement and why every translation is ‘an interpretation of meaning’.

Such problematic words occur not only in the title of tractate XIII but also from the very first line of the text. In respect of the title – Ερμού του τρισμεγίστου προς τον υιόν Τάτ εν όρει λόγος απόκρυφος περί παλιγγενεσίας και σιγής επαγγελία – there is the question of translating (i) Τάτ, (ii) λόγος απόκρυφος, (iii) παλιγγενεσία, and (iv) ἐπαγγελία. In respect of the first line there is the question, at the very beginning, of Ἐν τοῖς Γενικοῖς, and what ὦ πάτερ – and the related ὦ τέκνον – might imply.

All of which questions – and the many subsequent ones together with the Cantio Arcana (The Esoteric Song) of sections 17 and 18 – make tractate XIII most interesting in regard to ancient Hellenic paganism and mysticism.


Title

A conventional translation of the title (by GRS Mead) is: “Concerning Rebirth and the Promise of Silence Of Thrice-greatest Hermes unto Tat his Son.”

My translation, however, is:

“On A Mountain: Hermes Trismegistus To His Son Thoth, An Esoteric Discourse Concerning Palingenesis And The Requirement of Silence.”

Which translation requires some explanation:

Thoth. As in other tractates I translate Τάτ by Thoth, avoiding the conventional Tat which, in English, has a colloquial meaning inappropriate here. As to which ‘Thoth’ is meant, the consensus is that in this and some other tractates it refers to the son (possibly biologically or more probably metaphorically) of Hermes Trismegistus who himself was named by the Greeks as Thoth, with the Τάτ of some other tractates being a scribal corruption of the name Thoth.

Esoteric Discourse. λόγος απόκρυφος. While ‘esoteric’ is an apt translation in regard to απόκρυφος, ‘discourse’ is not entirely satisfactory in respect of λόγος since it could be here interpreted to mean ‘disclosure’ or ‘explanation’. However, given what follows in section 1 – πυθομένου τὸν τῆς παλιγγενεσίας λόγον μαθεῖν…παραδιδόναι μοι – ‘discourse’ does seem appropriate.

Palingenesis. Rather than ascribe a particular meaning to παλιγγενεσία – such as ‘rebirth’ or ‘regeneration’ – I have chosen the English word palingenesis (from the Latin palingenesia) with that word explained by what follows in this particular discourse, qv. sections 12 and 13.

Requirement. The sense of ἐπαγγελία here, given what is discussed in this tractate, is ‘requirement’ rather than the strident ‘command’ or what is implied by the rather vague word ‘promise’.


The First Line

The first part of the first line of XIII is: Ἐν τοῖς Γενικοῖς͵ ὦ πάτερ͵ αἰνιγματωδῶς καὶ οὐ τηλαυγῶς ἔφρασας περὶ θειότητος διαλεγόμενος.

Conventionally: “In the General Sermons, father, thou didst speak in riddles most unclear, conversing on Divinity.”

My translation is:

When, father, you in the Exoterica conversed about divinity your language was enigmatic and obscure.

Which translation, as with title, requires some explanation:

Father. The Greek ὦ πάτερ – literally ‘my father’ – is a polite form of address, akin to the English ‘sir’. Similarly, ὦ τέκνον – ‘my son’ – is a polite reply. Given the esoteric nature of the text, a possible interpretation here of ὦ πάτερ would be ‘Master’, and of ὦ τέκνον ‘my pupil’.

in the Exoterica. Ἐν τοῖς γενικοῖς. Since the term γενικῶν λόγων occurs in tractate X it is reasonable to assume that γενικός here refers to the same thing although the meaning of the term is moot given that no details are provided in this tractate nor in tractate X, nor in Stobaeus  – Excerpts, III, 1 and VI, 1 – where the term also occurs. While most translators have assumed that it refers to ‘generic’ things or ‘generalities’ and thus (by adding λόγοι) have opted for an expression such as ‘General Sermons’, and given that a transliteration – such as genikois or genikoi – is awkward, I have in respect of the γενικοὶ opted for exoterica (from the Latin via the Greek τὰ ἐξωτερικά) with the meaning of “exoteric treatises designed for or suitable to the generality of disciples or students,” with the plausible suggestion thus being that there are exoteric Hermetic treatises and esoteric Hermetic treatises, with Reitzenstein describing these other treatises as διεξοδικοί λόγοι (R.A. Reitzenstein. Poimandres. Teubner, Leipzig. 1904. p.118) a distinction he also mentioned in his later work Die Hellenistischen Mysterien Religionen. One such esoteric treatise is tractate XIII.

The Esoteric Song

This much translated part of XIII has, in my opinion, been somewhat misunderstood given, for example, that θεὸς has invariably been translated by ‘God’ – implying as that word now so often does the God of Christianity – and φῶς (as in translations of the New Testament) translated by ‘light’, with ἀλήθεια as some kind of abstract ‘truth’, and with ὕμνος as ‘hymn’ suggestive as that English word now so often is of the hymns of Christian worship.

Conventionally, the first few verses are translated along the following lines:

“Let every nature of the World receive the utterance of my hymn!
Open thou Earth! Let every bolt of the Abyss be drawn for me. Stir not, ye Trees!
I am about to hymn creation’s Lord, both All and One.
Ye Heavens open, and ye Winds stay still; and let God’s deathless Sphere receive my word.”

My translation [1] is as follows:

Let every Physis of Kosmos favourably listen to this song.
Gaia: be open, so that every defence against the Abyss is opened for me;
Trees: do not incurvate;
For I now will sing for the Master Artisan,
For All That Exists, and for The One.
Open: you Celestial Ones; and you, The Winds, be calm.
Let the deathless clan of theos accept this, my logos.

Which, for me at least, evokes – as tractate XIII does in its entirety – something redolent of paganism rather than of Christianity.

David Myatt
2017

[1] https://davidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/eight-tractates-v2-print.pdf


Image credit: The beginning of tractate XIII from the book Mercvrii Trismegisti Pœmandres, published in Paris in 1554


Botticelli - Madonna del Magnificat

The first volume of a projected series of five volumes of my translation of and commentary on the Gospel Of John is now available in print.

The Gospel According To John: A Translation And Commentary – Volume I

Chapters 1-4

ISBN-13: 978-1548913670
BISAC: Religion / Biblical Criticism & Interpretation / New Testament


Image credit: Botticelli: Madonna del Magnificat
(from the 1481 painting now in Uffizi, Florence)