Hermes

, an Egyptian legislator, priest, and philosopher, lived, as some think, in the year of the world 2076, in the reign of Ninus, after Moses: and was so skilled in all profound arts and sciences, that he acquired the surname of Trismegistus, or “thrice great.Clemens Alexandrinus has given us an account of his writings, and a catalogue of some of them such as, the book containing the Hymns of the Gods another “De rationibus vitae regiae” four mo*e, “De astrologia,” that is, “De ordine fixarunl stellarum, & de conjunctione & illuminatione Solis & Lunae” ten more, entitled, “lE^arwa,‘’ or which treat of laws, of the gods, and of the whole doctrine and discipline of the priests. Upon the whole, Clemens makes Hermes the author of thirty -six books of divinity and philosophy, and six of physic; but they are all lost. There goes indeed one under his name, whose title is” Poemander;" but this is agreed by all to be supposititious, and Casaubon imagines it to be written about the beginning of the second century, by some Platonizing Christian, who, to enforce Christianity with a better grace upon Pagans, introduces Hermes Trismegistus delivering, as it were long before, the greatest part of those doctrines which are comprised in the Christian creed.

This philosopher has stood exceedingly high in the opinion of mankind, ancients as well as moderns. Plato tells us, that he was the inventor of letters, of ordinary writing, and hieroglyphics. Cicero says, that he was governor of Egypt, and invented letters, as well as delivered the first laws to the people of that country; and Suidas asserts, that he flourished before Pharoah, and acquired the surname of Trismegistus, because he gave out something oracular concerning the Trinity. Gyraldus thinks he was called Thrice Great, because he was the greatest philosopher, the greatest priest, and the greatest king. When the great lord chancellor Bacon endeavoured to do justice to the merits of our James I. he could think of no better means for this purpose, than by comparing him to Hermes Trismegistus, who was at once distinguished by the glory of a king, the illuminations of a priest, and the learning of a philosopher." 2

2

Cave. —Moreri.-Brneker. Blount’s Censura. —Saxii Onomast.

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