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The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus


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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

Florian Ebeling is a Lecturer at Heidelberg University. David Lorton, an Egyptologist, is the translator of many books, including Erik Hornung's books The Secret Lore of Egypt and Akhenaten and the Religion of Light, both 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.


"Demonstrating mastery of both primary texts and secondary sources, the author has constructed a convincing account of the origin, development, and influence of Hermeticism... In addition to offering this very helpful guide, which includes lapidary synopses of the primary texts, the author is the first to recognize that by the early modern period two distinct subtraditions existed within Hermeticism, one philosophical-theological and the other alchemical. Recommended."-Choice (January 2008) "Florian Ebeling's The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus should be lauded for its innovative approach to the study of Hermeticism. The text is not only informative about areas of study often left neglected but also provides insight into the ideologies and processes that went into the development of various forms of Hermetic thought."-J. S. Kupperman, Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition (2007) "Hermeticism is a fascinating but famously difficult subject. Ranging widely in space and time, The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus skillfully introduces the reader to the many gods, philosophers, scholars, and authors who comprise the Hermetic tradition. In this excellent book Florian Ebeling makes accessible a rich chapter of intellectual history, hitherto basically the preserve of a small group of specialists."-Richard Jasnow, The Johns Hopkins University "The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus will be especially interesting to those studying the various intellectual strains in Western culture from late antiquity into the eighteenth century. Florian Ebeling has ventured something quite original, namely to distinguish the philosophical/theological emphases of the Italians who were interested in the hermetic corpus and the magico-alchemical concerns of the northern European readers of the corpus."-Gerald E. Kadish, Binghamton University (SUNY) "The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus is a thoroughly investigated work dealing with an otherwise all too seldom researched topic within the field of traditional Egyptology. Although Western culture is widely recognized as being greatly indebted to Judeo-Christian and Graeco-Roman traditions, ancient Egypt's contribution to European intellectual history has often been underestimated. Florian Ebeling's history of Hermeticism from ancient to modern times is a very welcome addition to the field."-Jean Revez, University of Quebec in Montreal "Hermeticism was one of the major undercurrents in western intellectual and religious history, hard to overestimate and present even there where one would not expect it in the first place. Florian Ebeling's book proves a reliable guide through its long trajectory, combining the virtues of clear analysis and breadth of perspective."-Martin Muslow, Rutgers University

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